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17 Business Stories to Watch in 2017

January 5, 2017



By: San Diego Union Tribune, January 1, 20117 – Staff Writers

1: Nuclear energy

The San Onofre nuclear plant isn’t producing electricity anymore, but it will still generate headlines in 2017. A state superior court will hear a lawsuit in March challenging a decision by the California Coastal Commission to store some 3.6 million pounds spent nuclear waste on the facility’s site. And the original agreement shutting down the plant that left about 70 percent of costs on the shoulders of ratepayers is getting reviewed by the California Public Utilities Commission as well as in a case before a federal appeals court.

2: Qualcomm

Slowing smartphone sales have investors worried about long-term growth. Qualcomm rejected a break-up idea and got much larger, buying NXP Semiconductors and its share of the global automotive chip market, in a deal valued at $47 billion including the assumption of NXP debt. Now Chief Executive Steve Mollenkopf must integrate 44,000 NXP employees into Qualcomm’s 30,000, as well as keep investing heavily in the world’s transition to super-fast 5G technology.

3. ViaSat

Carlsbad’s ViaSat has bet more than $1 billion that satellites have a place in providing more bandwidth to the world. In 2017 engineers plan to launch the $625 million ViaSat-2, bringing 300 gigabits of capacity to its network. That’s about double the 140 gigabit capacity of ViaSat-1, which launched in 2011 and has about 700,000 residential subscribers, including Wi-Fi for commercial airlines such as American, JetBlue and United.

4: SeaWorld

When the Orlando-based company said in 2016 that it would end the captive breeding of orcas at its marine parks, the big question was whether that could revive the struggling business. San Diego will be on the vanguard in 2017 when it becomes the first of the three marine parks to replace Shamu with a show that focuses on the killer whales’ natural behaviors in the wild. Shareholders will applaud if the move reverses falling revenue and attendance.

5: San Diego Convention Center

With the November defeat of the Chargers’ ballot proposal to build a joint stadium and convention center downtown, backers of a contiguous expansion of the waterfront center are hoping to get the project back on track this year. But voters just rejected higher hotel taxes, and a lawsuit by attorney Cory Briggs challenges the legality of such construction in the coastal zone. Hoteliers have lots of persuading to do.

6. Ben Carson, home builder?

Life in San Diego County is heavily subsidized by the federal government, but that could change under Ben Carson, president-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The county gets roughly $250 million a year just for Section 8 vouchers, and developers use federal tax credits to build subsidized housing. Carson, who grew up in subsidized housing, is a vocal critic of government handouts and could change how San Diego houses its poor.

7. Mortgage rates

Mortgage rates have already gone up since the election, boosting payments and making homebuying less affordable. Rates for a typical 30-year fixed rate mortgage were 3.59 percent the day before Donald Trump’s victory. It was 4.36 percent on Dec. 27 . With three more expected Federal Reserve rates in 2017, rates could continue to rise.

8. Tijuana

Tijuana is in the middle of building up to 2,000 new condos while the peso has continued to drop in value since the U.S. election. This lowers purchase costs for buyers using dollars, but makes imported materials and appliances more expensive. Despite claims from Mexican developers, many industry watchers wonder what will happen if money dries up during construction.

9. Rent prices

As of September, rent increased nearly 9 percent in a year but CoStar is predicting rent will rise just 3.6 percent in 2017. With less profit growth, more landlords may consider turning apartments into condos. If rent goes up more than expected, we may see louder calls for rent control, pressure on employers to find places for their workers, and a dip in local consumer confidence.

10. Financial markets

Stock investors will pay keen attention to clues that the “Trump Rally” foretells longer life for the bull market that began in 2009. With corporate profits fading at the end of 2016, high equity prices raise the odds of a correction. Meanwhile, higher U.S. interest rates have hurt bond values, causing paper losses for pension funds, insurance companies and retirees who rely on fixed-income investments. A Bank of England study said global markets had delivered the lowest interest rates in 5,000 years of recorded history. Bouncing off that bottom could rock the financial system.

11. Artificial intelligence and personal assistants

Alexa, will Apple release a voice-powered assistant for the home? Apple isn’t saying, yet consumers can expect the battle for the household to heat up among tech superpowers in 2017. Artificial intelligence will play a deciding role in which companies win or lose. Now that Amazon’s Echo is a public success story, Google is trying to transfer its search-giant smarts to the living room through Google Home. The biggest question mark is whether Apple will tap the original AI assistant, Siri, to enter the fray.

12. The Beachhead

San Diego is following the startup money trail to the Bay Area, where the San Diego Venture Group, with financial backing from the city, will operate a satellite office, dubbed “The Beachhead.” The venue, opening in January, is meant to help local tech businesses secure Silicon Valley-sized funding rounds from top-tier investors. But what can a five-desk office really accomplish in the nation’s tech mecca? We should find out by the end of 2017.

13. Navy Broadway Complex

Developer Doug Manchester hopes to begin construction this year on the $1.2 billion hotel-office-retail replacement for the Navy buildings that have dominated the foot of Broadway since the 1920s. Legal problems have stymied construction ever since Manchester won a 99-year lease in 2006, and there’s always a chance of further litigation.

14. Port development

Anthony’s Fish Grotto will close at the end of January and then a new Brigantine restaurant complex will go up next to the Star of India. Further design work and negotiations will take place at the port’s biggest redevelopments, Seaport Village and Harbor Island. And the first draft of a new master plan and environmental analysis will be issued.

15. A new plan for the old library

Civic San Diego is expected to announce early in the year who will win the contract to reuse the old Central Library at 820 E St. The building was vacated when the new, much bigger replacement opened a few blocks to the east in 2013. New ideas that have been considered include education, a startup business incubator and commercial uses.

16. Balboa Park

The Plaza de Panama no-parking plan has received renewed City Council approval to move forward with building a parking garage south of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and divert cars from the Cabrillo Bridge via a bypass bridge from the west. But preservationists have filed a new lawsuit on environmental grounds, and supporters still have meet their $30 million target to cover their portion of the $79 million plan; the balance will come from the city. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year, headed for completion in 2019.

17. Commercial real estate

With vacancies dropping and rents rising, industrial development is hot with several projects expected to break ground. Office development is facing similar trends, yet a start on major high-rises has yet to announced. The retail sector will see the opening of the Westfield UTC mall expansion, but Westfield’s plans for a major redo to Horton Plaza remain unknown. The Pendry Hotel is opening early in the year in the Gaslamp Quarter, while several others are under construction, ready to start in 2017 or being proposed to meet San Diego’s rising business and tourist traveler demand.

U-T staff writers Mike Freeman, Dan McSwain, Phillip Molnar, Rob Nikolewski, Roger Showley, Jennifer Van Grove and Lori Weisberg contributed to this report.


Consider me your #1 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. 

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

December 29, 2016

By: Melinda Fulmer

In the spirit of new beginnings, HGTV has consulted the experts and come up with some resolutions that will make your home a more beautiful, efficient, clean and green place in the coming year.

Here are our five picks for the best home improvement resolutions for the new year and how to achieve them:

1: Streamline the stuff

One of the best and least expensive ways to feel better about your home is to clear it of clutter.

Each year most of us acquire a mountain of stuff. Without some regular purging, cabinets and drawers get jam-packed and it becomes hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most. (All that clutter also makes your house look dated and dirty, designers say.)

This year resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don’t use, wear or love and donate it to charity. After that, think twice about what you bring in, says Antoinette Nue, an Atlanta consultant who specializes in helping people simplify and go green.

“Fill your home with the things that raise your energy level and make you feel good, and get rid of the things that drain your energy or are broken,” she says.

Stash useful (but not beautiful) items such as DVDs, remotes and those kicked-off shoes in simple woven baskets. Group similar items together on sleek trays, says Stuart McCormick, a designer with Liz Levin Interiors in Washington D.C.

Clear your counters of everything you don’t use on a daily basis. And get ready to breathe a little easier in your own home.

2: Make it safe and sound

Your home may be beautiful, but is it safe? There are a few things that every homeowner should do to ensure that they’re not living with a potential health hazard or fire risk.

First, check your house for radon. This colorless, odorless gas causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year from the radioactive particles it traps in your lungs as you breathe, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One in every fifteen homes has elevated levels. And with test kits costing as little as $20 at your local hardware store, there’s no reason not to get right on that.

While we’re on the subject of deadly gas, make sure you install a carbon monoxide detector on every bedroom floor in addition to fire detectors. If a chimney flue or furnace vent gets blocked or leaks, carbon monoxide could back up in your house and kill you. Like a radon test, this is a small investment — $40 or more — for such an important safeguard.

Watch out for dryer lint. We know you clean the little trap inside the door, but most people neglect to clean the vents and ducts behind the dryer. Lint may seem innocent, but it’s highly combustible, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, accounting for more than 15,000 building fires a year.

Make sure your house can breathe. Hickory Hills, Ill. home inspector Jack McGraw is always surprised at how many people’s bathrooms and attics aren’t vented to the outside (or the vents are covered over with shingles.) This makes you a prime candidate for mold.

And if you’re considering a remodel — and your home was last built or remodeled before 1978 — consider testing for lead paint and asbestos flooring. It will have to handled properly during removal, or particles can be released into the air for you to ingest.

3: Shrink your bills (and your carbon footprint in the process)

When people think of going green, they often think it takes solar panels or a hybrid car to make a difference.

Not so, says Bob Schildgen, who writes the “Hey Mr. Green” column for Sierra magazine. It just takes a little old-fashioned common sense.

The best place to start is by cutting your energy usage in your home:

  • Remember your mom’s advice and switch off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Turn off your air conditioner when you leave the house and dial your heater down to 55 degrees at night.
  • Install compact fluorescent bulbs and low-flow showerheads.
  • Try drying some of your clothes on the line and wait for the dishwasher or washing machine to be full before you run them.
  • Turn off your power strips and/or set your home computer to revert to sleep mode when not in use.
  • Water your yard less. Put in drought-tolerant landscaping if necessary.
  • Give composting a try. Your garden will thank you.

4: Work out a weekly system for keeping your house clean

Cleaning with Scrub Brush

Here are a few tips for keeping the mess under control from Jeff Campbell, author of the book Speed Cleaning and owner of the Clean Team housekeeping service in San Francisco.

Daily: Dishes go in the dishwasher every night – no excuses! Dirty clothes go in the hamper and jackets or clean clothes are hung in the closet. Bring everything back to its assigned place.

Weekly: Clean your entire house, using these tips:

  • Keep all of your cleaners, as well as rubber gloves and spare cleaning cloths – in a portable carryall that moves with you from room to room.
  • Stash cleaning implements such as a toothbrush, scraper, sponge, a few cleaning cloths and plastic bags in a builder’s apron that you wear when you clean. Hook your glass cleaner and all-purpose cleaning spray on the loops to keep your hands free as you work around the room clockwise, cleaning from high (cabinets) to low (floors.)
  • Focus on one type of cleaning at a time. It’s faster, Campbell says. Wipe down fingerprints on all of the cabinets, for instance, before moving on to spraying and wiping counters. Then move on to windows and mirrors and appliances. Once that’s done move on to sweeping and then mopping floors.
  • For optimum efficiency, enlist the help of your family. If you can, divide the jobs among at least three parties: One of you can do the dusting/vacuuming and changing beds, the other can do the bathroom cleanup, leaving only the kitchen and trash emptying for you to handle. The upside? You can get the whole house done in 45 minutes, Campbell says, leaving more time on the weekends for the park or the movies.

5: Get your place ready for entertaining

Each year most of us vow to spend more time with family and friends. To make you feel like inviting people in, why not give the areas you entertain in a little update?

You don’t have go for broke here and invest in a new kitchen remodel. All it takes to get a fresh new look is a little bit of rearranging and a few updates says designer McCormick.

One easy update that makes your home seem more “finished” is the addition of plants, she says.

“They bring in new energy and help clean the air,” she says. “And it’s a great way to decorate if you’re on a budget.”

A couple of dramatic presentations like a large flowering agapanthus or potted palm in a bright ceramic planter that complements your existing color scheme will do the trick.

Pulling out a new accent color from your existing decor can make the whole room seem fresh. Pick an underused color in the room and add more of it in the form of a new pillow or throw to update your look, McCormick advises. A colorful rug or runner can also help anchor your space.

Lastly, take some time to rearrange your furniture so it is oriented in conversation groups and not just facing the television. That just might up for chances for real conversation and connection in the New Year.

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. 

Holiday Home Safety Tips

December 22, 2016

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What is a Broker’s Open House? A Smart Way to Market Your Home

December 15, 2016



Broker's Open House - Real Estate

Disclaimer: Agents have discretion as to how they host a particular broker’s open house and which elements in this article they may elect to use.  In short, this strategy is good idea in one’s overall selling strategy. – Lisa Ashkins


By: Tara Mastroeni

If you’re trying to sell your home, it’s likely your real estate agent has suggested hosting a broker’s open house. But, what is that, exactly? Long story short, it’s an open house not for home buyers, but for their agents so they can determine whether your home is right for any of their clients.

Here’s how to decide how to make the most of this marketing opportunity:

How a broker’s open house is different
The biggest difference between a broker’s open house and a standard open house is who ends up on the invite list. While standard open houses are quite flexible about who can stop by—and might include anyone from potential buyers to curious neighbors—the guest list for a broker’s open house is strictly limited to other real estate agents and industry professionals.

Time is another differing factor. Usually, standard open houses are hosted on Sunday afternoons, because the vast majority of potential buyers have weekends free for house hunting. On the other hand, because a broker’s open house caters to agents—whose weekend schedules are often packed with home showings for clients—it is often held midweek, when agents are more likely to be available.

What happens at a broker’s open house?
At its core, this is another tool that real estate agents use to help market a home. In addition to internet marketing systems like the multiple listing service, it’s a method of debuting your listing to industry professionals in your community.

Once your agent schedules a broker’s open, he will advertise it to his network of industry contacts. Usually a free lunch is also offered as an incentive to show up. On the day of the event, the other agents will be given a chance to tour your home, enjoy the free lunch while catching up with colleagues, and offer your agent their opinions on the property.

Typically, broker’s open houses are held within the first few days of a home being put on the market in order to capitalize on the initial burst of interest that often accompanies new listings. But if there is ever a dramatic adjustment to how your home is being marketed—such as a significant drop in price—your agent may suggest hosting another broker’s open house in order to spread the news.

The benefits of a broker’s open house for sellers
If you’re the type who doesn’t relish the idea of opening your home to crowds of looky-loos who’ll tramp through your rooms and open every closet and medicine cabinet, then a professionally targeted broker’s open may be appealing.

If all goes according to plan, the agents who tour the house will go through their mental Rolodex to see if your property would be a good fit for any of their clients. If so, they’ll likely bring those clients back for a private showing in the near future, especially if the broker’s open was well-attended.

“It creates a sense of urgency“, says Stephen Marchese of Re/Max Central in Blue Bell, PA. “And, a higher perceived value of the house.”

However, even if an offer doesn’t come directly from the broker’s open, it can offer a valuable critique of how your home looks in comparison with other properties currently on the market in your area. Since REALTORS® regularly have the chance to view a variety of homes, they have the ability to give your agent feedback on how your home is being perceived by others—and how to better attract buyers.

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. 

Who’s Buying Homes?

December 8, 2016

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Five signs you’re ready to buy your first home

December 1, 2016




By Greg Smith
Source:  Washington Post

Purchasing a home is one of the biggest decisions of your life. Not just because it’s the place where you’ll lay your head each night, but also because your home is one of the largest purchases you’re likely to make.

As a certified financial planner, I know that purchasing a home, especially for a first-time buyer, can be an extremely stressful, although exciting, time. Over the past few years, as the housing market around Washington has improved, I’ve noticed a few telltale signs that a client is financially prepared to purchase their first home. If you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner, consider these five things.

1. You have positive cash flow.

Positive cash flow means you’re bringing in more income than you’re spending on everyday items and debt payments. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau puts the debt-to-income ratio at 43 percent. This ratio is one way that lenders measure your ability to repay debt. It can be calculated by dividing your total recurring monthly debt by your gross monthly income. However, just because lenders use this ratio, you may need to take a stricter approach. The debt-to-income ratio uses gross income, which means income before taxes, when really we pay bills with net income after taxes.

If you’re carrying a great deal of consumer debt, paying just the monthly minimums and increasing your balances every month, you need to get your debt in order before taking on additional debt. If you pay off your credit balances monthly and would still have room in your budget after swapping your rent check for a mortgage payment, then you are definitely a candidate for buying a home.

2. You have enough saved for a down payment.

Many home buyers take money out of their 401(k) or Individual Retirement Account to cover the down payment. This is a costly mistake that can negatively impact retirement savings. Taking money from your 401(k) or IRA denies years of compounding interest and has to be paid back with post-tax money. Instead, dedicate a savings account, which is more liquid, to be used for a down payment.

3. You have job security.

Or, you have a steady stream of income with a high degree of predictability. You will need to reliably generate enough income to withstand a monthly mortgage payment.

A monthly rent check in the Washington region may be comparable to the principal and interest payment of a mortgage here, but mortgage payments also include property taxes and higher insurance costs. The upside to a mortgage payment is the tax deduction. As a result of a larger tax deduction, less money may need to be withheld from your paycheck.

4. You’re ready for a commitment.

You’ve probably given a lot of thought to the house itself, but first-time home buyers should also take into account supplementary expenses. Unlike renting, there is no longer a landlord to fix a broken dishwasher. Additional expenses to consider include home maintenance repairs and replacements, and the expense of selling the home if and when you ever do.

You should be prepared to pay these additional expenses, and not be shaken by the possibility that you may eventually have to replace the roof. You should be excited to make the space your own and identify what that means to you. If you want to renovate the kitchen and bathroom on the house, add that cost to your budget.

5. You’re ready to put down roots.

Before you jump into a home or neighborhood, do your due diligence. A home can be viewed as an investment, but that’s not the sole purpose of why you buy. You want the stability it provides and a home that is your own. Depending on how long you plan to live there, your home may or may not appreciate, so you should look at it as more than just a way to build equity.

Greg Smith is a certified financial planner at the Wise Investor Group at Robert W. Baird & Co. in Reston, Va.
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: November 2016 Edition

November 16, 2016




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 619-888-2117.


As we enter the final quarter of 2016, not much has changed since the year began. Market predictions have been, in a word, predictable. A relatively comfortable pace of activity has been maintained thanks to continuing low unemployment and mortgage rates. The one basic drag on market acceleration has been inventory decline. There is little to indicate that the low inventory situation will resolve anytime soon.

Builder confidence is as high as it has been in more than a decade, yet the pace of economic growth has been slow enough to cause pause. A low number of first-time buyer purchases and a looming demographic shift also seem to be curbing the desire to start new single-family construction projects. As older Americans retire and downsize, single-family listings are expected to rise. The waiting is the hardest part.

Median Sales Price: $518,000
Days on the Market Until Sale: 34
Housing Affordability Index: 2016-Q2: 26%
Months Supply: 2.1

As we just completed the 2016 election season, I thought I would add one additional graphic to show real estate trends during election years. I’ve had clients contact me inquiring how the market has responded in the past, and what may occur in the near future. We can’t know for sure, but here are some interesting statistics.


2016 Election and Real Estate



To view larger image, click here.

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