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October 11, 2018

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Household changing? Getting married (or divorced)? Time for a change of scenery or job relocation? Want to invest? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

 

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Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist: 7 Tasks to Tackle

October 4, 2018

Once autumn’s chill is in the air, we don’t think twice about swapping our tank tops for sweaters and stocking our pantry with pumpkin-spice everything. So why wouldn’t we prepare our houses for the chill, too?Yes, that first freeze can often take us by surprise, leading to major headaches and thousands of dollars in repairs. So before you start stuffing your bookshelves with decorative gourds and planning the best Thanksgiving dinner your in-laws will ever eat, take a swing through these simple fall maintenance tasks. We promise a little prep work now will help keep your home running smoothly all season long.

1. Prep your pipes

The term “winterization” is a bit of a misnomer: Yes, you’re prepping your home for winter, but the hard work needs to happen in autumn. And that’s especially true when it comes to your pipes.

DIY: “Shut off all faucets and valves, and drain any outdoor piping, like sprinkler systems, before the temperature drops,” says Jane Li, a senior project manager at Mercury Insurance. To be extra careful, Li recommends putting away any outdoor hoses and wrapping socks around outdoor faucets.

Call in the pros: If your winterization efforts uncover a leaky pipe, hire a plumber to fix the mess before the temperature drops. On average, a plumber will cost $300, but a broken pipe could run you upward of $5,000, depending on how much water damage there is. In other words, consider this money well spent.

2. Keep out the critters

Just as you’ll spend more time indoors when the weather cools, rodents and pests will seek out a warm place, too—like your home.

“Mice especially are flexible little creatures and can get through holes that aren’t much bigger than a dime,” says Karen Thompson, an editor at InsectCop.net, which researches and evaluates pest-control products and methods.

DIY: Take a tour of your property, seeking out any cracks that might let a critter sneak inside. Seal any openings with spray foam or steel wool.

“As a bonus, doing this will let you not only avoid rodents, but also ants and fleas,” Thompson says.

Call in the pros: If there’s evidence these pesky little guys have already infiltrated your space, consider bringing in a pro. An exterminator will charge between $90 and $250 for an initial consultation, and costs will scale from there depending on what you need.

3. “FALL”-proof your space

Whether you’re getting up there in years or frequently hosting elderly parents, use the fall season to prevent, um, falls.

“Falls make up almost one-third of all nonfatal injuries in America, and a little prevention can go a long way toward keeping you safe,” says Jason Biddle, who runs The Helping Home, a resource for aging in place.

DIY: Use the “FALL” mnemonic to make sure your place is slip-proof:

  • Floors: Scan your floors for fall risks. Look for clutter, slipper stairs, and loose rugs. Add sticky padding to prevent slips.
  • Activities:: What does your daily routine look like? You might need grab bars in the shower, or a second handrail by the stairs.
  • Lighting: Is your home bright enough to see any potential hazards? “A well-lit home can help [you] avoid tripping on dining table legs, floor planters, and out-of-sight power cords,” Biddle says.
  • Leaving: Examine your porch and outdoor paths. Are there any broken steps or overgrown shrubs that might trip you up when leaving your home?

Call in the pros: Your home might require a major aging-in-place adjustment, like installing a lift or wheelchair ramp. Costs for a motorized stairway lift start at $3,000, and a wheelchair ramp could run $1,500.

4. Remove or cover your air conditioner

Unless you live in the desert or the deep South, you probably don’t run your air conditioner during autumn. But you might be letting your system waste away if you leave it sitting out in the elements all fall and winter long, which can damage the fan and coils.

DIY: “Window units should be removed, covered, and placed in an area like the garage for safekeeping until they’re needed again,” says Richard Ciresi, who runs Aire Serv in Louisville, KY. Outdoor AC units should be properly covered.

Call in the pros: If you’ve noticed your HVAC system running sluggishly all summer, now’s a great time for an inspection, which will probably cost a little more than $300.

5. Check the fireplace

Your wood-burning fireplace has been sitting dormant for months now. Make sure it’s good to go before you light it up.

DIY: Before getting your fireplace inspected, make sure you’re not putting any living things in danger.

“Check the top of the chimney for areas where birds may have nested,” Ciresi says. But check local laws first: It might be illegal to relocate active nests. Once the birds have moved on, however, you can break up the nest freely. (Just be sure to wear gloves.)

Call in the pros: Most chimney sweeps can help break up a nest, too. Besides, you’ll be needing their help for another fall must-do: sweeping the chimney. A professional inspection and sweep will cost between $100 and $250.

6. Prep your firewood pile

Nasty pests like carpenter ants or termites love hiding out in your firewood. Don’t let them hitch a ride inside.

DIY: If you’re building a firewood pile this autumn, make sure to keep those logs at least 20 feet from your home.

“This ensures that even if the wood has pests, they are less likely to transfer from the wood to your home,” Thompson says. Firewood should also be elevated during storage, which makes it even more difficult for bugs to sneak inside the wood.

Call in the pros:If you spot termites in your firewood pile, call in the pros before hauling a single log inside. Treating a local infestation might set you back $150.

7. Switch your ceiling fans

Your ceiling fans are designed to cool you off during the summer—but they also serve a need during the chilly seasons.

DIY: “Many people don’t realize the difference made with the simple reversal of your ceiling fans,” Ciresi says. “Hot air always rises, and ceiling fans are uniquely designed to direct airflow exactly where you need it most.”

Every ceiling fan has a switch hidden on its base. When the mercury level drops, flip that switch so the fan is moving clockwise.

“This updraft allows hot air to get pushed down into your rooms,” Ciresi says. “This is especially useful in rooms with very high ceilings.”

Call in the pros: Pay attention to your home’s temperature on chilly days. Are you still cold? Consider an energy audit, which will cost about $400—but may help you save tremendously on your energy bills over the next few years.

By: Jamie Wiebe, ClientDirect

 

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Household changing? Getting married (or divorced)? Time for a change of scenery or job relocation? Want to invest? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

 

Real Estate @ A Glance – September 2018 Edition

September 24, 2018

Local Market Update - San Diego County - Real Estate
Real estate is about location, location, location . . .  If you have questions about the market in your specific area, please contact me via email or call 619-888-2117.

 

Rising home prices, higher interest rates and increased building material costs have pressured housing affordability to a ten-year low, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Keen market observers have been watching this situation take shape for quite some time. Nationally, median household income has risen 2.6% in the last 12 months, while home prices are up 6.0%. That kind of gap will eventually create fewer sales due to affordability concerns, which is happening in several markets, especially in the middle to high-middle price ranges.

While some are starting to look for recessionary signs like fewer sales, dropping prices and even foreclosures, others are taking a more cautious and research-based approached to their predictions. The fact remains that the trends do not yet support a dramatic shift away from what has been experienced over the last several years. Housing starts are performing admirably if not excitingly, prices are still inching upward, supply remains low and consumers are optimistic. The U.S. economy is under scrutiny but certainly not deteriorating.

 

 

 

 

 

How energy-efficient windows work

September 20, 2018

 

Kevin Clark/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Getting energy-efficient windows for your home is widely lauded as a way to cut down on drafts and save money on heating bills … only how much do these replacement windows cost—and really save you, anyway?

To help you crunch the numbers and do some concrete cost-benefit analysis, here’s everything you need to know about adding energy-efficient windows to your home.

Several elements contribute to the overall energy efficiency of windows:

Frames: If you have old windows, they are likely to have aluminum frames. The problem with that is aluminum allows hot and cold air to easily pass through from one side to the other. “A vinyl or fiberglass frame [which you’ll find in updated windows] is much more energy efficient,” says Michal Bohm, owner of BM Windows, a replacement window company in San Diego. Both of these materials are poor conductors of heat, and thus better insulation.

Number of panes: Most older windows have a single pane of glass that lets the heat of your home slip out during the winter months. (And do a similarly so-so job of keeping your air conditioning contained during the summer.) Energy-efficient windows will have two, or even three, panes to cocoon your home.

Fancy glass: In between these panes of glass, manufacturers of energy-efficient windows insert an inert gas like argon or krypton. Because these are denser than air, they reduce the amount of air that is transferred into and out of your house.

These insulated glass units (IGUs) also feature what’s known as low-emissivity (“low-e”) glass. Think of it as sunscreen for your house.

“Low-e glass features a microscopically thin layer of metallic oxides that both control infrared light and reflect the sun’s ultraviolet rays,” says Larry Patterson, franchise owner of Glass Doctor, a Neighborly Company in Dallas. “This has the combined effect of reducing solar heat gain in the summer and lowering home heat loss in the winter.”

Window installation: How your windows are installed can also make a huge difference in their performance. “You can buy the most expensive windows on the market, with the best energy- efficiency ratings, but if they aren’t installed properly, you won’t see the energy savings,” Bohm says.

Hint: When you’re ready to upgrade, think about hiring a replacement window company that has a professional installation team, rather than a company that outsources the installation to subcontractors or general laborers.

How much will energy-efficient windows save you?

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that you’ll save between $126 to $465 a year by replacing single-pane windows in your home. Already have double-pane windows? You can still reap savings by switching them out with energy-efficient ones, but far less. Plan on $27 to $111 per year.

Where you live also matters.

“The average savings overall are about $250 in warmer states and $150 in colder states,” says David Bakke, a personal finance expert at Money Crashers.

Since the average replacement cost runs around $150 per window, depending upon how many you have to replace, you may see savings after even one year or two.

Do energy-efficient windows have other benefits?

Energy-efficient windows are also excellent at reducing noise pollution. “Most homeowners report that 60%-75% of exterior noise is muted when they installed IGUs in their home,” says Patterson.

Low-e coatings on windows also help reduce sun damage to your furniture, carpets, and even personal items like photos by up to 75%.

Plus, consider the value you could add to your home. Notes Bohm, “a conservative estimate would be to expect to recoup about 70% of the purchase price of your replacement windows when it comes time to sell your home.”

Combine that with your monthly energy savings, Bohm adds, and “your windows should more than pay for themselves.”

What are the best energy-efficient windows to buy?

Fortunately, “Manufacturers have made significant technology advancements over the years, and new labeling requirements allow you to more easily compare window performance,” says Mark Montgomery, vice president of marketing for Ply Gem Windows.

Any windows you choose should have an Energy Star rating. This means the windows will meet or exceed energy code requirements.

Next, pay attention to what’s called the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label. This lets you geek out on comparing such nitty-gritty properties as U-factor (the rate of the window’s non-solar heat loss or gain) and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC—the fraction of solar radiation that passes through the windows). If your eyes just glazed over at that list, don’t panic. Energy.gov’s comprehensive Efficient Windows Collaborative can help you select the right windows based on your geography and climate.

Keep in mind, too, that many cities, states, and utility companies offer incentives or rebates for homeowners who decide to upgrade to energy-efficient windows. Ask a window company what’s available in your area, or search for current deals on Energystar.gov.

Article from: realtor.com

 

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Household changing? Getting married (or divorced)? Time for a change of scenery or job relocation? Want to invest? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

 

What is Mills Act?

September 13, 2018

 

Information provided by SOHO.

A historical designation can provide a property tax reduction. San Diego is a relatively young town, but many residents are beginning to take notice of one of our most valuable resources, our historic sites and houses. The Mills Act, named for San Diegan James Mills, a former State Senator, provides an important monetary incentive designed to encourage the preservation, maintenance, and restoration of designated historic properties. If you have questions on the calculation of the assessed value, please call the Assessor’s Office at (858) 505-6262.

What is the Mills Act?
The Mills Act provides that property that is subject to a historical property contract be valued using the rental income that could be expected from that property rather than using comparable sales to establish the assessed value. This generally results in a much lower assessment if the property has been recently purchased.

How does my property qualify for the Mills Act?
It must meet qualifying criteria such as significant architecture, association with a historically significant event or person, or location in a historic district, such as Marston Hills. Once designated as a historical site, the owner can then enter into a voluntary contract with that city.

How long is the contract an is it canceled if I sell the property?
The term of the contract is ten years, however, it is automatically extended unless the property owner cancels the contract. The new owner would receive the full benefit of the contract because the contract goes with the property.

Is the property owner required to open the property to the public?
No, the law was revised in 1985 when new legislation relaxed the rules to encourage the preservation of historic properties. Prior to that time, any property under contract had to be open to the public for tours. After the 1985 revision, many additional properties have been placed under contract.

Do all historical properties in San Diego County qualify for the Mills Act?
No, only the City of San Diego, the City of Chula Vista, the City of Coronado, the City of Escondido, the City of La Mesa, and the City of National City have enacted ordinances to grant the Mills Act exclusion. The County of San Diego has also passed an ordinance for historical properties in the unincorporated areas of the county.

How many properties are benefiting under the Mills Act in San Diego County?
Currently, there are approximately 370 properties under contract with the various cities that receive this property tax benefit.

What is the Assessor’s role in the process?
Although the individual cities actually place the property under a historical contract, the Assessor’s Office must determine the actual assessed value based on a formula under State law, using the income that could be generated from the property.

What kind of savings can I expect on my property tax bill?
Typically, property owners can expect a 20% to 70% savings on their property taxes. Under State law, the lesser of 1) the current market value, 2) the Proposition 13 value, or 3) the restricted value based on the rents will be used to calculate your property taxes. It is possible that the Proposition 13 value may actually be lower than the restricted value, and the property would receive no benefit.

Since I have owned my property for many years and already have a very low assessment, is it worthwhile to apply for the Mills Act?
Some owners who would receive no benefit still apply for the Mills Act. It can be a selling point to a potential buyer because the property would not be reappraised at its full market value upon sale if the property were already under a historical contract.

Once my property is listed on a historic register, are there any binding restrictions that will affect my property?
Yes, once that property is designated on a Federal, State, or local register, it is subject to the rules and regulations of the Office of Historic Preservation of the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, and the Historic Building Code. In effect, the owner must protect, maintain, and rehabilitate the property into perpetuity.

Mills Act Benefits
-10-year contract, which is renewable
-Once a property is designated as a Historical Property, it must be permanently maintained as a historical site

  • Who should I contact if I want to place my property under the Mills Act?
    Each city has its own ordinance and criteria to determine if a particular property qualifies.

Do you have questions about the Mills Act? Are you thinking of buying a historic home or home that could receive historic designation? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

 

Mortgage Musts

September 6, 2018

 

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Are you thinking of buying your first home? Do you know someone who is ready to graduate from renting to homeownership? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

How to Price a Home in a Seller’s Market: Go Low, or Shoot for the Stars?

August 30, 2018

 

 

Article from: Realtor.com

 

How to price a home in a seller’s market may be a question that’s top of mind if you’re listing your home. Much of the United States right now is a seller’s market—which spells potential for major profits. Lucky you!

However: Some sellers may see this as an opportunity to set the bar high—maybe too high—when it comes to their list price. Others may decide on a lower asking price, in hopes of generating a bidding war.

So which pricing strategy works best in a seller’s market? Every approach has its pros and cons, so here’s how to determine the best one for you.

First, assess the landscape

Before you go about setting your list price, you’ll want to survey your area to see whether you’re truly in a seller’s market, says Seth Lejeune, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Collegeville, PA.

For a quick assessment, you can check out where your city ranks on realtor.com’s Market Hotness Index, which uses the latest housing data to show which cities are heating up for home sellers.

For a deeper look at your market, however, you’ll have to analyze a few key variables:

  • Average days on market (DOM). This measurement shows the median age of real estate listings in your area. If houses are selling in your neighborhood in less than 10 days, its a strong sellers market, Lejeune says. You can find what the average DOM is in your city using realtor.com’s Local Market Trends tool.
  • Asking vs. final home price. In seller’s markets, bidding wars can often erupt among buyers, which means that sellers may enjoy a final sales price equal to their asking price, or more. So, if a home is listed at $450,000 and sells for $450,000 or higher, that’s a seller’s market. In a strong seller’s market, the final sales price is typically at least 10% higher than the asking price. You can compare the listing prices vs. the closing prices in various cities across the country at realtor.com/local.
  • Home prices over time. Rising home prices over time are a sure sign of a seller’s market. You can determine whether home prices are rising or falling in your city by looking at your ZIP code’s “market price curve” on BuilderOnline.com.

Pricing strategy No. 1: Listing at market value

To assess your home’s “fair market value”—i.e., what your house is actually worth in today’s market (not just what it’s worth in your head)—you can enter your address in realtor.com/sell to get a ballpark figure for your home’s value.

To hone that number further, check what comparable homes recently sold for in your area. Good agents can help you synthesize this info into an asking price that you can justify and stand by, which is important once the negotiations on a home get rolling.

“If you’re working with a real estate agent who understands the market, you have to trust their comps,” says Lou Nimkoff, president at the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

Even in a seller’s market, Lejeune generally recommends that sellers list their house at market value. “You have to forget the noise, especially if you’re looking to sell in a reasonable period of time,” he says. “For most sellers, it’s always the best strategy, regardless of the status of the market.”

The bottom line: By listing at market value, you’ll be in a good position to get a full-price offer relatively quickly.

Not in a rush to sell? Keep reading.

Pricing strategy No. 2: Listing high

If you’re not on a tight timetable to sell, you could price your home above market value—typically 5% to 10% more—to see if you can nab a great offer. But that approach has its flaws.

For starters, “The last thing you want to do is price your home too high and then have it just sit on the market,” says Nimkoff. When that happens, your house can become stigmatized in the eyes of home buyers, which can make it even more difficult to sell, Nimkoff says.

You might also have trouble closing the sale if your lender’s appraisal of your home’s price doesn’t come in at that same high number.

“Even if you find a buyer that’s willing to pay you $400,000 for a $300,000 house, a lender may not loan that much money,” Nimkoff says. “So, unless you have an all-cash buyer, it would be next to impossible to close the sale.”

That being said, some people have success selling over asking price by targeting investors with the ability to make cash offers, says Dan Burz, an agent at Douglas Elliman in New York and New Jersey.

The bottom line: By listing above market value, your home might sell at a premium—but there’s a greater risk that it doesn’t sell, especially if you’re unwilling to reduce the price.

Pricing strategy No. 3: List low

One way to get your property more exposure, Nimkoff says, is to set the list price below market value—generally 5% to 10% under—in an effort to attract more buyers and potentially spark a bidding war. “If you price low, you can probably get multiple offers within one to two days,” says Nimkoff.

A bidding war is a good problem to have if you’re a seller, but “the more offers you receive, the more options you have, which can make choosing the best offer challenging,” Nimkoff says.

For some sellers, the most appealing offer is the one with the fewest contingencies; for others, the best offer is the highest bid. It depends on your priorities.

The bottom line: This strategy can backfire if you receive only one offer for asking price or less. That’s less likely to happen in a seller’s market, but it’s always a possibility. There’s also less wiggle room for you to negotiate if you receive a lowball offer.

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Household changing? Getting married (or divorced)? Time for a change of scenery or job relocation? Want to invest? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

 

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