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Posts Tagged ‘Rachel LaMar’

The Art of Client Care 101

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Most people think all real estate professionals do is sell homes. Those of us in the industry, or should I say those of us who view real estate as a profession and not just a part time job, understand that as agents and brokers we really wear many hats – we educate, help plan, offer designing and staging advice, research, market, and counsel…which has many subcategories, from advisor (of course being careful never to offer legal or financial advice, unless you are an attorney or financial advisor) to therapist.hats

Taking great care of clients requires a variety of skills, including patience, dedication and the ability to teach and communicate. Most importantly, it involves compassion – those who excel at client care see every real estate sale as not just a paycheck, but as a big decision for their clients, and the clients’ needs and concerns are and should be the top priority. This is not as easy as it may seem, and sadly there are agents who are not able to properly care for their clients.

Here are some great ways to make sure you are giving your clients what they need from day one:

1.  Communication is key: phone calls, email/text reminders. Communication is obviously key to a successful relationship. Find out how your clients like to receive information and call or send (or both) reminders a few days before, such as when paperwork is due, inspection dates, or when contingencies need to be removed.

2.  Provide a playlist. No matter who your client may be – a first time homebuyer, second home buyer, investor, seller or distressed seller – everyone benefits from having a list of what to expect. From the start it is helpful to provide a playlist of what your client can expect from you and how the process works. When you list a home or open escrow with a buyer, you should present your client with a list of dates and timelines, highlighting what will happen and what is needed from the client at what times. I also include what I will be doing in these lists. Of course, a list for a first time homebuyer will likely contain more information compared to one for an investor, but nonetheless this is a great tool.

3.  Calendar. I like to include a calendar with my list, with each item from the list entered on the calendar, since people have different preferences as to how to decipher information. It may see redundant but it is a visual aide and many people like this.

4.  Let clients know how to reach you, and be available. Believe it or not this is very important. Clients want to feel that they can get a hold of you if they have questions or concerns. I have had several people tell me they didn’t like their last agent because s/he was hard to get a hold of.

Helping others is really the crux of the real estate business. Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest decisions of many peoples’ lives, and agents need to keep this in mind. Help your clients to understand the process. If there are concerns, figure out how to address them so that the clients can decide whether to proceed or not. If you do the right thing you will be rewarded far beyond expectations down the road, and you will enjoy your work.

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Buyers and Sellers Aren’t the Only Ones With Choices

Monday, April 14th, 2014

In my 11 years in the real estate industry I have learned many important lessons, but by far one of the most important is that agents have a right to choose, and they should not be afraid to do so.stress

In real estate there are more agents than there are buyers and sellers. Oftentimes agents compete for business – and there are many who will do whatever it takes to secure that listing or “win” that buyer. Of course in the end the buyer or seller is the one who will make the choice and decide with whom they feel the most comfortable, but as agents we too have can choose whether we want to work with that potential client.

I learned the hard way years ago when I took a listing that literally ended up making me sick. I had a seller who did not treat me with respect and constantly blamed me for the home not selling (in reality, this seller did not want to listen to my advice nor to what the comparable home sale values indicated). That was a red flag for me, but I figured the seller would come around and so I proceeded to market the home on the seller’s terms.

Needless to say, the home ended up selling many months down the road for the price I originally suggested, and after many marketing dollars and much effort on my part. I also had to relist it (which I was not going to do but since the seller practically begged me to do so I laid some ground rules about how I was to be treated – which were short-lived in practice). The entire process was beyond stressful and took over the bulk of my work hours, and when the seller called or I drove by the home I felt anxious.

These days I trust my instincts right off the bat. I met a potential seller not long ago and made the decision I could not work with that person. A commission is just not worth the stress of working with someone who does not respect and appreciate hard work.

The bottom line is that agents can be choosy too, and keeping sane and preventing burn-out is more important than a paycheck…at least in my book. Those who do not agree will likely find themselves unhappy very quickly, which will have a negative effect on how others perceive their work. I’d rather continue to enjoy what I do, and have others notice that!

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Explore San Diego: Torrey Pines Gliderport

Monday, April 7th, 2014

If you haven’t been to the Torrey Pines Gliderport you are in for a treat. You don’t have to hang glide or paraglide to visit, and you will get to enjoy some of the best views in San Diego. I have lived here for over 20 years and this past weekend was my first time visiting – and I found myself asking why!images

Hang and paraglider enthusiasts know this famous spot because it offers some of the best winds and views, gliding 320 feet above sea level and the cliffs of La Jolla. It is really wonderful to sit and watch them…and you may end up wanting to do so yourself. There are also some great trails just next door too, if you want to take it all in that way. Many people also visit this spot to fly sail planes.

images-1The Cliffhanger is a little restaurant that serves up sandwiches, salads, coffee and soft drinks, and a daily soup, and you can enjoy your lunch on the large view deck. The wait on weekends can be long but the view is a great distraction. On weekends you may even get to enjoy a live band. It is definitely a wonderful place to just sit and relax. It is windy, so bring a light jacket.

For those who are inspired by the flyers, there is a shop and you can sign up to fly tandem with an experienced pilot. They also offer a flight school – check the website for more information.

The glider port is located at 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive in La Jolla. The number is 858-452-9858, or you can visit the website by clicking here.

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Carlsbad Market Report for April 2014

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Spring is definitely in the air in Carlsbad, and frankly there is no better place to be right now that North San Diego! The Carlsbad Flower Fields are in bloom and they are breathtaking, the sun is shining and the ocean is starting to warm up. Everywhere you look there are colorful flowers and green hills. We are definitely lucky to live here.

So what is going on in the real estate market in North San Diego? Here is a snapshot for Carlsbad:

Detached Homes

There are currently 181 active listings in Carlsbad (manufactured homes are not included). Here is the break down by zip code:

92008 (Northwestern Carlsbad):  36 current active listings, with prices ranging from $545,000 to $7,750,000, with a average list price of $1.4 million.

92010 (Northeastern Carlsbad): 17 homes for sale, with an average list price just under $690,000.

92011 (Southwestern Carlsbad): 38 detached homes for sale, ranging from $489,000 to $2.69 million. The average list price is $1.18 million.

92009 (Southeastern Carlsbad): 74 active listings ranging from $595,000 to over $3 million, giving us an average list price of $1.5 million.

Attached Homes

Attached homes include townhomes, twinhomes and other attached homes such as condominiums.

92008 (Northwestern Carlsbad): 13 active listings, from $299,000 to $1.495 million, with an average list price of $550,000.

92010 (Northeastern Carlsbad): 8 active homes, listed at $370,000-$499,000. Average list price is $438,000.

92011 (Southwestern Carlsbad): 18 active properties, with prices ranging from $399,000 t0 $699,000, with an average list price of $507,000.

92009 (Southeastern Carlsbad): 42 active listings, ranging from $265,000-$825,000. Average list price is $479,000.

For a detailed list of any of these categories, or any other North San Diego cities, please contact me and I will be happy to email it to you. If you have any questions about the market in North San Diego I am happy to assist you. Have a wonderful Spring!

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San Diego Calendar of Events April 2014

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Happy April everyone! There is a lot to do in America’s Finest City and throughout San Diego county, so enjoy!

 

April 5, 11th Annual San Diego Tartan Day Festival
A Scottish festival at the International Cottages.  Features San Diego’s best Scottish bands and dancers. Includes pipes/drums and re-enactment groups. Free event.
Time: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: Balboa Park (lawn area at the House of Pacific Relations Cottage of Scotland)
For more information visit www.tartandaysd.com
April 5, After Dark Dash 5K
How about a nighttime running event for a change? This 5K will be run in downtown San Diego under city streetlights. Get some healthy exercise while providing funds for a San Diego based charity. Refer to website for registration information.
Time: 10:00 am – 11:30 pm
Location: 10th Ave. and K St., Downtown San Diego
For more information visit www.afterdarkdash.com
April 6, NBTS San Diego Brain Tumor Walk
The San Diego Brain Tumor Walk connects teams of brain tumor survivors, patients, family members, caregivers and friends for an inspiring, family-friendly fundraising 5K walk.
Time: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
Location: NTC Park – Liberty Station, 2455 Cushing Rd., San Diego
For more information visit www.braintumor.org
April 12, Taste of Julian & Art Walk
Taste of Julian is a self-guided culinary tour to explore the one-of-a-kind restaurants throughout Julian and its surrounding area. Every year, thousands of people flock to Julian for its delicious apple pie varieties but there are a number of unique restaurants that offer gourmet delights. Also featured is a free art stroll showcasing original artwork by local artists. Tickets: $20, $25.
Time: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Location: Julian, CA – East County
For more information visit www.jma.memberlodge.org
April 12 – 13, Oceanside Jaycee’s Carnival
A traditional family oriented carnival that includes rides, games, and food booths. Sponsored by the Oceanside Jaycee’s.
Time: 1:00 pm – 12:00 am
Location: Oceanside CA – Vacant lot next to DMV: 4005 Plaza Dr – Oceanside CA 92056
For more information visit www.ci.oceanside.ca.us
April 13, Third Avenue Village Spring Festival & Street Faire
Enjoy performances, food, contests and family friendly fun! Celebrating Chula Vista’s historic Third Avenue Village, the festival will feature live entertainment, food, artisan, commercial and community vendor booths, a kid’s fun zone and more.
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: Third Avenue – from G to E Streets, Chula Vista
For more information visit www.thirdavenuevillage.com
April 13, Peace – Love – Run
Get in the groove and choose the course that suits you: a Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, and a Kids Dash. The courses are perfect for both beginners and seasoned athletes, plus there are medals for all finishers. Admission: $75 (Half Marathon) / $50 (10K) / $30 (5K) / $20 (Kids Dash).
Time: 7:00 am – 12:00 pm
Location: East Mission Bay – south of the Hilton Hotel
For more information visit www.peace-love-run.com
April 19, 7th Annual CityBeat Festival of Beers
Over 50 local craft brewers offering samplings from a variety of their homegrown beers. It’s a beer lovers paradise where you can stroll from booth to booth and sample beer. The event is accompanied with music and tasty food. Admission $35.00 – $40.00.
Time: 1:00 am – 5:30 pm
Location: El Cajon Boulevard – front of the Lafayette Hotel, between Texas & Mississippi Streets
For more information visit www.citybeatbeerfest.com
April 19, Chicano Park Day Anniversary Celebration
A historic public arts site, Chicano Park is recognized worldwide for its mural paintings of Chicano and Mexican history. The celebration features cultural music & dance, food, arts & craft vendors, kids (all ages) art workshop and a classic low rider car display. Free Event.
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: Chicano Park, Barrio Logan, Cesar Chavez Parkway exit – under the Coronado Bay Bridge.
For more information visit www.chicano-park.org
April 20, Easter Eggstravaganza
One festive day, three ways to play! Between two dynamic egg hunts, beachfront brunch and pictures with the Easter Bunny, there’s fun to be had by all!
Time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: Belmont Park, Mission Beach, 3146 Mission Blvd.
For more information visit www.belmontpark.com
April 26, Annual Lakeside Western Days Parade
A festive parade filled with one of the largest equestrian participations on the West Coast. Bands, clowns, classic cars, off-roaders, queens, princesses and local dignitaries. In conjunction with the Lakeside Rodeo.
Time: 9:35 am – 12:00 pm
Location: Woodside & Main, Lakeside
For more information visit lakesidechamber.org
April 26, Encinitas Garden Festival and Tour
An all-day celebration of community, gardening, and the horticultural heritage of Encinitas. Each year, the Encinitas Garden Festival & Tour visits one of the Encinitas’ unique neighborhoods for a self-guided walking tour. Park in the Encinitas School District parking lot. Buses start leaving the lot at 9:45 am. See website for ticket info.
Time: 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
Location: Encinitas School District Parking Lot, 499 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas
For more information visit encinitasgardenfestival.org
April 26, 29th Annual Linda Vista Multi-Cultural Fair & Parade
A cultural celebration offering food, merchandise, performances, and carnival rides. There will be a kids zone, carnival zone, education lane, and World Arts Village. This event is in conjunction with the Linda Vista Multi-Cultural Parade.
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Parade: 11:00am
Location: 6900 block of Linda Vista Rd., Linda Vista
For more information visit www.lindavistafair.org
April 26 – 27, 30th Annual Mission Federal ArtWalk
The region’s largest outdoor art festival.  Includes paintings, sculpture, photography, digital art, mixed media, music, and dance. Art collectors and visitors interact with artists, view and purchase their artwo
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Beware the Dangers of Reverse Mortgages

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Reverse mortgages have been a popular retirement option amongst those over the age of 62. They allow homeowners to convert the equity in their homes to cash, so they can live with no mortgage payments or other debt, fund home improvements and repairs,  and have cash reserves on hand. The home is like a bank and the borrowers have zero payments but get “paid” from the equity in the home on a monthly basis.dreamstime_6887078

It is  important to understand that what may seem like a great idea is really just a deferment of payment. The reverse mortgage allows the homeowners to postpone payments on the loan (yes, it is a loan) until death, a move, or sale of the home.

The tricky part of reverse mortgages is understanding how they effect the heirs of the homeowners. If you are considering a reverse mortgage, or if you have parents who may be, you need to fully understand the legalities before making any decisions. Customarily once the borrowers die the heirs are supposed to have the opportunity to pay off the loan for a percentage of the full amount. But there have been many reports that the reverse mortgage companies have been demanding the heirs pay off the mortgages in full, or else face foreclosure of the property.

The big problem for heirs is that many of the properties have risen in value since the time the reverse mortgage was obtained. Thus even if they are offered to pay only a percentage of the loan amount (usually 95%), the payment is based on the current fair market value of the home. Many heirs do not know their rights and the lenders are not telling them either, according to articles and lawsuits.

The key with reverse mortgages is to understand what will happen to the home if the borrowers die. Borrowers need to be aware of the rules that govern how their heirs will have to handle the property in order to avoid foreclosure, and they need to make sure to discuss this with their heirs. Those who are in the heir position should know their rights before the time comes to exercise them, because time limits could play against them if they sit and wait.

If you are considering a reverse mortgage it is important to discuss your options with your accountant or financial planner, and I definitely recommend a visit to your attorney as well. If your parents are reverse mortgage borrowers it is imperative to understand their loan and your rights as an heir before it is too late.

 

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California’s Water Crisis

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

The following infographic contains interesting information about the water shortage in California, and how it will effect residents moving forward.

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It’s a Seller’s Market, But Where are the Sellers?

Friday, March 21st, 2014

You may have read lately that here in Southern California home prices continue to rise. You may also have noticed that there do not seem to be many homes listed for sale. Combine that with the fact that there are definitely buyers out there looking for homes to purchase, interest rates are still historically low, and it’s no wonder some people are concerned.For sale

Spring officially started yesterday, and with it comes the expected home selling season, which usually lasts into mid-summer. This is the time that those who are planning to move start seriously looking at homes, and those planning to sell get ready to do so. There have been new listings in my area, but it feels like a lot less than normal for this time of year. Where are the sellers and why are they not stepping forward to list their homes?

The main reason is that there is low inventory of homes on the market in many areas. Most sellers sell and simultaneously buy another property. If there are no homes on the market for them to consider they will likely hold off on listing their property until that changes, creating a Catch-22 situation. This keeps the cycle going and in turn causes housing prices to rise, as buyers have to compete for the little inventory that is on the market.

Another reason for lower inventory could include lack of sufficient equity in the home to purchase a replacement property (although many homeowners have come out of negative equity situations in the last year or so due to price increases).

Hopefully the sellers WILL soon step up and put their homes on the market. When this happens we will see a few things:

Lots of interest from buyers

The possibility of multiple offers

A likelihood of higher prices as a result of the above

Hopefully more sellers who are not buying replacement properties (such as 2nd homeowners, investors, or those moving out of the area) will step forward soon to give the market some momentum. It is a great time to be a seller right now.

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6 Ways to Keep Your Real Estate Business Thriving

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

The real estate industry, like many other industries, has changed dramatically over the last few decades. Since technology is constantly changing it can be hard for agents and brokers to stay on top of every new gadget and system, and most brokerages offer endless training sessions (in house or via third parties) to keep their agents up to date on everything.- but this can be overwhelming.

Keeping up with the fast and changing pace, and still finding time to focus on current and past clients can make anyone crazy. So how does one maintain a healthy balance of what is new and helpful in this industry, and continue to support and grow relationships with valued clients? It can be difficult, but it is necessary. Here are some ways to do that.

1. Nuture client connections: There is nothing more important than keeping in touch with your clients. For me it is fun, because I love my clients. But when your database gets large it can also be difficult to carve out time. I try to meet clients for lunch or coffee, but when I have weeks where I am slammed I make calls or send emails saying hello, and try to make a future plan to meet.

Your clients are your BEST source of business. Because the majority of my work is referral based I would not be in business if I didn’t keep in touch with clients. Some clients have referred multiple parties to me, and some send me referrals years after they have bought or sold a home with me.

2. Stick to a Schedule: This is the most important aspect of any business, so if you are not working on a schedule you should be. To better clarify this, not working on a schedule is like living paycheck to paycheck (which ironically is what you will end up doing). You need to make time each day for phone calls, appointments, meetings, social media, and client contacts. I find the best way to do this is to plan out my week on Sunday nights.

Keep in mind that of course schedules can change – you may get a phone call to show property, for example – but try your best to stick to your schedule. I put everything in my schedule, even my workouts and personal appointments. That way I know what time I have free and I try to book last minute appointments during those times first.

checklist3. Make time for technology: It is important to set aside time each week to learn something new, or to keep up with technology you are already using. With so many websites, apps, management systems and gadgets it can make anyone crazy. Set aside at least an hour or two each week to read up on what is new and possibly try something. Since it can be overwhelming to know where to start if you are new to this idea, it is helpful to ask other agents or simply read some great real estate blogs. You will find things you cannot live without and those that you can toss aside. It’s all a learning process and it is ongoing, so don’t be afraid to get started.

4. Use a client management system: I find that if there is one thing I don’t mind spending money on, it is my client management system. All my client data is in one place, including birthdays and house anniversaries. My clients all get a monthly email newsletter from me so they don’t forget about me, and I can sent mass emails on holidays and other important information I want to share. This is an investment that pays off in spades. If you don’t know which one to choose I suggest asking other agents what they use and whether they are satisfied. Just because one is more expensive than the others does not mean it is better.

5. Maintain a valuable website. Many agents’ websites are canned sites that do not offer fresh and valuable content. I am always adding to my site and it is a constant work in progress. My site is also linked to my blog site, where for the last 5 years I have been blogging about real estate, property law and my area. I also have helpful links on my site where clients can get current market data reports, learn about distressed sales, and research local schools, to name a few.

You don’t have to spend a lot on a website and can create one that you can manage yourself. If you want to link to the MLS you will have to pay a fee for that, but it is a good idea for your clients. Keep in mind that your website should be an extension of your personality and the way you do business – make it so that the visitors can get a good sense of who you are and how you can help them.

6. Blog.   I have been blogging for 5 years and I enjoy it. Even if you are not a writer like me you can be a blogger. The idea is to tell people about the industry and more importantly about issues that affect your specific area. Keep it relevant and fun. People love videos and photos, so if writing is not your thing you can use imagery instead of words. Setting yourself up as the local expert will help you make valuable human connections.

Of course, there are many more things you can do to grow and maintain your business, but sticking to the above will benefit you and make your daily schedule less hectic and manageable so that you can be more productive.

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4 Homebuyer Expectations for Spring/Summer

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Right now it is a tricky time to be a buyer, and that is because we are still coming out of the winter season and inventory is very low in many places (including here in North San Diego). I have multiple buyers but there is very little to show them (and they have seen everything that meets their criteria already). Here are the expectations that many buyers and real estate agents have for Spring:house_shoppingcart

More inventory. This is by far the number one expectation. I am excited to see more properties list (and plan to list a few myself). There are many buyers out there who are qualified and ready, but are willing to wait until they find the right property…thus I believe today’s market is different from the feeding frenzy prior to the housing collapse. Buyers are more savvy and will not settle for properties that do not meet their requirements or are overpriced. With more inventory there will be more opportunities, and the market will continue to do well.

Price stabilization. In most areas I believe we have seen the last of crazy price increases, like we saw in 2013. I do believe that if inventory does not increase substantially there may be some properties that list and do sell for prices higher than comparables, so this could happen in some areas. But for the most part I think we will see stabilization and “normal” price increases of about 5% or so this year.

Better quality listings. Since buyers are more savvy today they expect listings to similarly look their best. Agents who list properties should discuss with their sellers the best ways to showcase their homes – be it decluttering, staging, painting, landscaping, etc. There are many great ways to show your home in it’s best light that do not have to cost a lot of money (click here for ideas). For those sellers who do not agree with this it is sad to say that they will not get top dollar and may not even have many showings at all. Agents need to use professional photography and have virtual tours – two things that buyers expect.

It used to be that buyers would come view a home even if the photos looked bad or the price was too high…those days are over. Sellers need to cater to buyers and lure them in with a home that offers high quality, low maintenance and curb appeal.

Rising interest rates. We have already seen interest rates rise slightly a few times this year. While I do not think we will see big rate increases I do believe that rates will continue to inch up. Since this fact can make a difference in monthly payments, as well as downpayments if buyers do not adjust downwards on their home searches, those who are ready to purchase will want to do so sooner rather than later to get the best rates. This is great news for sellers, but they also need to keep in mind the above quality expectations – homes that show well and are priced right will likely sell quickly this Spring and Summer.

If you are considering selling your home this Spring or Summer, speak with an experienced real estate agent in your area about what you can do to best showcase your home. Oftentimes it is helpful to have the sellers look at it from a buyer’s perspective – if they were the buyers what would they want or expect?

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