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It Pays To Use A Realtor®

February 21, 2014

ItPaysToUseRealtor

Consider me your resource for all things real estate!  Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more. Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117.  

Men, Women Lust Over Homes Differently

February 14, 2014

menandwomenrealestate

Source: “Realtor.com Survey: Men, Women Dig on Digs Differently,” Realtor.com®   (Feb. 6, 2014)

Sixty-nine percent of consumers recently admitting to having a “home crush”—a property they liked so much they were drawn back to looking at it more than once online or in person, according to a new realtor.com® survey of 1,000 consumers. But men and women respond quite differently to these crushes, according to the survey.

For example, the survey found that women are more likely than men to have a crush on a home that was out of their financial league. Forty-one percent of women revealed their home crush is out of their price range, compared to only 30 percent of men who said the same.

Men were more likely than women to move from one home crush to another. Thirty-six percent of men surveyed say they find a new house crush weekly, compared to 29 percent of women.

But when it comes to true love, the sexes agreed on one thing that makes them most fall in love with a home: outdoor living space. Both men and women identified this feature as the top attribute in a home. Women’s hearts tended to be set a-flutter by open floor plans, great curb appeal, and appliances and fixtures, while men said they swooned over good garage space, curb appeal, and open floor plans.

“Whether it’s love or real estate, having a short list of deal breakers is critical for finding ‘the one’ to help buyers weed through the crushes to find the home of their dreams,” says Leslie Piper, consumer housing specialist at realtor.com®.

Consider me your resource for all things real estate!  Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more. Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117.  

Home of the Future

February 7, 2014

Samsung Smart Home

 

By: Healther Skyler

 
The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) recently wrapped up in Las Vegas, and one idea creating a big buzz was “The Connected Home.” This isn’t a particularly new idea, and it has been talked about for years at CES, but it appears as if the technology is finally catching up with the idea, and having your very own connected home is not so very far away.

These new technologies, which include such devices as voice-controlled thermostats, toothbrushes that can tell you whether or not you’re doing a good job on your teeth, and refrigerators that play music are part of a new world of web-connected devices dubbed “The Internet of Things.”

According to the Gartner research firm, by 2020, the Internet of Things will include 26 billion devices, with a market worth of $1.9 trillion.

What can the Internet of Things do for your home? Will these new devices enable your bed to make itself and leave a chocolate on your pillow? Not quite, but some of the new features are pretty handy. Here’s a roundup of some of the new and upcoming products featured at CES, to give you a better idea of what a home of the future will look like.

Connected Appliances
A Bluetooth-enable refrigerator that allows you to listen to music in your kitchen? A washer/dryer that can be commanded to clean from afar? These are two of the new “connected home” products featured at CES.

Whirlpool® debuted a line of Smart Appliances that give you the option of checking to see that everything is running smoothly at home, even when you’re far away. There is a washer/dryer pair called the “Duet.” You can monitor energy usage and access certain settings when you’re out, but you can’t get it to suck the laundry from the floor and wash it while you’re gone. Each one runs you approximately $1,700.

The refrigerator keeps you up-to-date on temperature settings, and power outages and allows you to manage other features such as your drinking water. This retails for about $2,000.

The $949 smart dishwasher, allows you to monitor energy use and lets you know when certain parts need replacing.

Samsung is another player in the smart home arena. The company’s platform, called “Samsung Smart Home,” debuted at CES and the roll-out along with pricing is planned during the first half of the year.

The initial platform consists of three main services: Device Control, Home View, and Smart Customer Service. With Device Control you can access customized settings for all of your devices from your smartphone—while you’re out of the house—or on your Smart TV when you’re at home. You have the ability to control multiple devices at once, no matter how far you travel. The service will also allow you to use voice commands with your Galaxy Gear or Smart TV remote. You can tell your device that you’re “going out,” for example, and your connected lights and appliances of choice will turn off as you leave. Smart!

Robotic Vacuums
Robotic vacuums are nothing new, but now they are getting more affordable. Neato Robotics already has a robotic vacuum, but this year they’re launching one that’s more affordable to the masses. In March, you’ll be able to pick up the Neato XV Essential for $379 at Walmart.com

The iRobot Roomba has a new version out as well. It boasts 60 percent more storage space and greater cleaning capacity than the former version and retails for $699.

The company also makes a robotic pool cleaner!

A Smart Crockpot?
It doesn’t get much better than this. A slow cooker that you can control from your smart phone, so your pork ribs are falling perfectly off the bone by the time you arrive home. This is a product from Belkin that launches sometime this spring and is set to retail for $99.99.

Control Your Climate & Beyond
Trane, Herman Miller, and Nest are a sampling of companies who want to help you control the climate of your home from afar. These devices not only adjust your temperature, but look better on your wall than their old counterparts.

Nest also made the recent leap to the connected smoke detector. The sleek, round-edged square has a pale blue light glowing at its center which acts as a motion detector night light, to help guide your way through a dark hallway. This smart smoke alarm will also alert you to any smoke or fire problems at home when you’re not there.

A Smart Toothbrush?
The perfect gift for your kids. Now you can see if they actually brushed their teeth and if they did a thorough job! The Kolibree toothbrush claims to be the first “connected toothbrush” that improves your brushing habits. Not only does it track how often your brush your teeth (or not), it claims to know what parts of your mouth you missed or didn’t pay enough attention to.

Wifi Lightbulbs
Controlling your lights while away is another feature of the connected home. Forgot to turn on lights to scare away the burglars? Not a problem. Do it with your smartphone.

An Intelligent Lock
Another connected home feature of note at CES was the Goji Smartlock. The lock takes a picture of visitors at your front door and can be accessed via your smartphone.

Consider me your resource for all things real estate!  Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more. Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117.  

7 Signs of An Up-and-Coming Neighborhood

January 31, 2014

7 Signs of An Up-and-Coming Neighborhood

By:  Tara-Nicholle Nelson
Trulia

Live in a town large enough for a time long enough, and you’ll undoubtedly be made privy to a story of the one that got away. The neighborhood that got away, that is – the neighborhood that all the locals saw as down for the count, pshawing away little sprouts of area upturn, until one day the formerly downtrodden district was teeming with new businesses, new residents, new life – and newly high property values, to the advantage of those few brave souls who decided to go all in before the place actually arrived.

Maybe you’re a first-time buyer trying to squeeze every iota of value out of your precious house hunting dollars, or you just love the prospect of being an early settler in your city’s Next Big Neighborhood. In any event, it can be daunting and even scary to try to figure out whether a neighborhood is up-and-coming or down-and-out. Home value increases are an obvious indicator, but by the time values are up it’s often too late to get in on the early advantage of buying in a neighborhood before it’s potential has been realized.

If you’re ready, willing and able to take on the challenge of buying in a diamond-in-the-rough type neighborhood, here are some signs to look for before property values shoot through the roof.

1. On-trend businesses are moving in. In my neck of the woods, when a co-working space, a Whole Foods or a Blue Bottle coffee moves into the neighborhood, it’s a sign that the nature of things might be changing. This is just as true for small, local businesses that attract people with disposable income as it is for businesses that sell the basics with flair. In fact, most larger businesses do a fair amount of economic research and projections on the neighborhood before moving in. Watching big industry and business moves can be a great way to spot emerging areas with strong fundamentals way before you might otherwise be able to see them yourself.

2. Uber-convenient location in a land-impacted metro. If you live in a densely populated metro area – especially one that is coastal – or an urban setting with intense governmental restrictions on building, demand for homes will continue to grow as the population does, but the supply will remain somewhat limited. In many of these situations, neighborhoods that have been downtrodden but have very convenient proximity to employment centers, public transportation, freeways and bridges tend to be prime for whole-neighborhood remodeling in times of population growth or rapid real estate price rises in already-prime areas.

3. Downsides have an expiration date. If there’s one major issue that has caused an area to be less desirable for decades, and that issue is being eliminated or ameliorated, it could set the neighborhood up for a turnaround. For example, striking crime decreases or a major employer moving into the area where none were before can spark a serious real estate renaissance in an area which has some of the other desirable features on this list.

Also, keep in mind that a new generation of home buyers has a new set of values, and might simply not be concerned or deterred by things their parents might have viewed as turn-offs. Living above a commercial unit might have been a deal-killer for my parents, but my son thinks it’s cool – even desirable, depending on the business on the ground floor. Similarly, gritty and urban might not be the descriptors of your dream home, but some twenty-something first-time buyers in major metros are seeking exactly that feel.

4. Architectural themes with a following. Many up-and-coming neighborhoods find themselves pulled by aficionados of the particular type of architecture that characterizes the neighborhood. Often, down-at-the-heels neighborhoods that are riddled with Tudors, Victorians, Spanish-style homes or even Mid-Century Moderns will see a surge of revitalization when a fresh generation of frugal home buyers falls in love with the style and realizes the deals that can be had there vs. other, already prime areas in town.

5. At least one major economic development is brewing. Never underestimate the power of a major economic development to overhaul a neighborhood’s fate. From Google and Microsoft building cloud storage data centers in Des Moines to a new light rail station going live in Denver, one large-scale employer or infrastructure development can be a very early, very strong sign that an area will see it’s real estate fortunes rise. (That said, areas dependent on one near-obsolete employer or industry can see their fates decline rapidly. Look for industry-wide investment in an area, vs. a single company’s investment.)

6. Fixing is in the air. When you see that an area long known for its rundown homes has a number of homes being renovated and rehabbed from the inside out, this can be a sign of fledgling neighborhood turnaround. If you spot these sorts of projects visually, it might be worth taking a trip down to the City Building Permit counter to see whether the staff has seen the same uptick in individual owners’ investment in the area, and if so, what they think the story of the neighborhood might be – or might become. City staffers often have a wealth of information at the ready, everything from pending commercial development applications that could change the whole landscape of an area to projects the city itself has funded or will prioritize due to its own development initiatives.

7. Slow but steady decrease in DOM. Ten years ago, I listed a charming, pristine home on a not-so-charming, less-than pristine street – the location was its fatal flaw, and the place just lagged on the market as a result. Now, Millennials buying their first homes are salivating over that precise location, for its mix of urban feel; new trendy restaurants and yoga studios; and complete convenience to both the subway and the Bay Bridge. In between now and then, though, those who were watching carefully would have noticed how homes that once took 90 days to sell gradually were selling in 45, then in a couple of weeks – and would have noticed that this decline in the number of days an average listing stayed on the market (DOM) occurred way before the home prices themselves increased. A slow, steady decrease in DOM is a smart, early sign that a neighborhood might be poised on the precipice of up-and-coming status. Ask your agent to help clue you in as to where precisely those areas might be, in your town.

Consider me your resource for all things real estate!  Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more. Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117.  

What You Should Know About Your Home and Your 2013 Taxes

January 24, 2014

Home Ownership Taxes 2013 IRS

By: Dona DeZubeRealtor.com

It’s the last year for three sweet home tax benefits, but the first for a way simpler home office deduction.

These days few things start a fight on Capitol Hill faster than taxes. Despite the fact that three important tax benefits used by millions of American homeowners are days from expiring, Congress is unlikely to do anything to re-up them any time soon.

So if you’re eligible, tax year 2013 is possibly the last time to claim the private mortgage insurance (PMI) deduction, the energy tax credit, and debt forgiveness benefit, all of which all expire on Dec. 31, 2013.

At least there’s one piece of good news for homeowners: If you have a home office, there’s a new, simpler option for calculating the home office deduction for which you may qualify on your 2013 taxes.

Meanwhile, here’s what you need to know about those expiring benefits as you ready your taxes:

PMI Deduction

This tax rule lets you deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance, which is what you pay your lender each month if you put down less than 20% on a home. PMI protects the lender if you default on the home loan. Your deduction could amount to a couple hundred dollars depending on your tax bracket and other factors.

Find out if you qualify for and how to take the PMI deduction.

Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

This sweet little tax credit lets you offset what you owe the IRS dollar-for-dollar for up to 10% of the amount you spent on certain home energy-efficiency upgrades, from insulation to water heaters. On the downside, the credit is capped at $500 (less in some cases). But on the bright side, the right improvement could lower your utility bills indefinitely.

Related: Take back your energy bills with these high-ROI energy-efficiency practices.

Debt Forgiveness

When you go through a short sale, foreclosure, or deed-in-lieu, your lender typically lets you off the hook for some or all of what you owe on your mortgage.

That forgiven mortgage debt is income, on which you’d typically have to pay income tax.

Suppose you’re in financial distress and your lender agrees to let you short-sell your home, say for $50,000 less than you owe on the mortgage, and forgive you for the balance. Without the protection of the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, you’ll owe income tax on that $50,000.

It’s likely if you had the money to pay income tax on $50,000, you’d have used it to pay your mortgage in the first place.

New Simplified Option for the Home Office Deduction

This may be the last year for the benefits above, but a new one kicks in for the 2013 tax year. If you work from home, you may qualify to use a new, simplified option for claiming thehome office deduction when you file your 2013 taxes.

How much simpler is it? It lets you claim $5 per sq. ft. for up to 300 sq. ft. instead of having to compute the actual expenses of your home office using a 43-line form. To calculate the square footage of your office, just multiply the length of two walls. For example, an 8-by-10-foot room is 80 sq. ft. And at $5 per, that’s $400.

Although using the simplified option is obviously easier, the basic requirements for claiming the home office deduction haven’t changed. Your home office still must be used for business purposes:

  • Exclusively, and
  • On a regular basis.

Related: Which Home Office Set-Ups Qualify for a Deduction?

Why Might the Tax Benefits Not Be Renewed?

Although the expiring tax benefits were renewed retroactively in past years, that may not happen in 2014 because many in Congress would like to see comprehensive tax reform rather than scattershot renewals of individual provisions. This could delay a decision on the homeownership tax benefits until the big picture budget and tax issues are resolved.

So if you can, enjoy them now!

Consider me your resource for all things real estate!  Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more. Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117.  

Real Estate @ a Glance: JANUARY 2014 Edition

January 14, 2014

Here is the most recent information on the San Diego housing market. For specific information on your neighborhood or a market analysis on your home, please send me an email or call me at 619-325-4192.

JANUARY 2014 :: SAN DIEGO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

- Comparative Sales – Existing Homes – December 2013

Attached Homes

  • Total Sales Volume: $288,399,290 = 1.006 % higher than one year ago
  • Average Sales Price: $356,489 = 11.993higher than one year ago
  • Average days on the Market: 55 days = -36.47 % lower than one year ago

Real Estate Total Sales SDAR

Detached Homes

  • Total Sales Volume: $1,036,983,118 = -6.378% lower than one year ago
  • Average Sales Price: $651,781 = 17.925 % higher than one year ago
  • Average days on the Market: 59 days = -22.368% lower than one year ago

mediansales

The following graphic charts San Diego County’s market data for Active, Contingent and Pending listings over the last year.

active

NOTE:   Please refer to this CAR link to get updated numbers as they become available.

San Diego County market statistics provided by CAR and SDAR.

For up-to-date information on the market, please contact me.

2014 Real Estate Prognostications

January 10, 2014

2014 Real Estate

 

The U.S. real estate market made a robust comeback in 2013, surpassing expectations of many economists, as the combination of low inventories and historically low interest rates caused home prices to rise and even helped fuel bidding wars in some markets, surpassing the expectations of many economists. While positive trends, such as increasing home values, are expected to continue into 2014, mortgage rates are also expected to rise in the coming year and could put a damper on home buyers’ abilities to afford new homes.

Looking back at some 2013 data can give us a hint of the year ahead:

1. Inventory Should Gradually Stabilize and Return to Traditional Seasonal Levels

The beginning of 2013 could be characterized as the “year of low inventory” as buyer demand ramped up and homeowners waited for further price increases and evidence of a solid economic recovery before putting their homes on the market. The year began with a significant shortage of inventory (reported by realtor.com®), and then as early as February the level of shortages started to decline slowly. As 2013 comes to a close, inventory is approximately the same as a year ago. However, homes are selling faster than in 2012, with the median age of the inventory down by 11 percent.

2. More Homeowners Are Likely to Return to Positive Equity

Rising prices helped 2.5 million homeowners who were previously underwater regain positive equity status during the second quarter of 2013. However, approximately 7.1 million homes were still in negative equity at that time and an estimated 10 million homeowners, or about 21.1 percent of all homeowners with a mortgage, remained “under-equitied,” with less than 20 percent in home equity. The good news is that prices are expected to continue rising in 2014, which will lift more homeowners into positive territory. According to Realtor.com®, median list prices for homes in October rose 7.57 percent above the same month of 2012.

3. Mortgage Rates Are Expected to Rise

Mortgage rates increased approximately 100 basis points in 2013 and are likely to rise in 2014. The new chairman-designate of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, is expected to continue the policies of Chairman Ben Bernanke, including keeping mortgage rates low by buying blocks of mortgage-backed securities. However, the Fed has considered tapering its bond-buying activity as the economy improves, which could lead to a slight increase in interest rates.

4. Foreclosure Activity Is Expected to Slow

Foreclosure sales are likely to play a minimal role in the housing market in 2014. September 2013 was the 36th consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity. Foreclosure inventory has dropped to multi-year lows, down nearly 33 percent since the end of 2012. Foreclosure starts were down 39 percent in the third quarter of 2013 to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2006.

5. Further Declines in Home Affordability Are Expected

The National Association of REALTORS®’ Home Affordability Index, which compares home prices with income, dropped to a five-year low in 2013 as price increases outpaced income growth. If the U.S. economy begins to grow at a faster pace and incomes begin to rise, though, the affordability index will slide further from rising mortgage rates.

While no one can predict with certainty what the housing market holds in store for 2014, a constant in real estate is always that local markets vary widely in their performance. National numbers can tell a story about the economy in general, but home prices, inventory and foreclosure activity depend on local market conditions.

Please email me or call 619.888.2117 for the most up-to-date information about your market.

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