La   Mesa is one of San Diego County’s best kept secrets! Easy access to major freeways, charming downtown village and some great restaurants.  This year, to celebrate La Mesa‘s 100th anniversary, the 4th Annual Taste of La Mesa – Taste of the Century will include expanded venue & restaurants! Eat your heart out with tastings from 30 local restaurants! Tickets are on sale now!

DATE: Monday, June 11, 2012

Time: 5:00pm to 8:00pm
VIP Tasting: 5:00 – 6:00pm
(VIP Tasting continues through 8pm)
General Admission: 6:00 – 8:00pm

Where:
La Mesa Community Center
4975 Memorial Drive
La Mesa, CA 91942

Cost:
General Admission: $35 (6 – 8 pm)
VIP Ticket: $50 (5 – 8 pm)
VIP opportunity includes “Up Close & Personal” tasting with our food vendors, restaurants and beverage providers exclusively between 5 – 6 p.m. VIP Ticket(s) includes “Preferred Parking.”

Beverages: Pricing does NOT include beverages. Alcoholic beverages may be purchased for $5.00 per glass.

For information about purchasing tickets and to see a list of the participating restaurants, click here.  Bon appétit!

 

To learn more about some of the great homes available in La Mesa, just give me a call!

 

 

 

I just spent a great afternoon outdoors (no rain today :), cutting back my rose bushes. It’s an annual chore that I always enjoy as it sets the stage for a year of beautiful blooms. I know that rose care in general can seem daunting, (especially if your thumb is less than green) but it really isn’t that complicated, and the plants are mostly hardy enough to survive even the worst pruning job.

Although pruning methods can vary according to the type of rose, (floribunda, climbing, miniature, etc.,) here are some general tips to take the mystery out of the task:

1. Roses should be pruned because it encourages new growth, removes any dead wood and helps shape the plant.

2. The time of year to prune will vary according to the weather and where you live. Generally you want to prune while the plants are dormant, or just ready to break dormancy. A good indicator is to look at the reddish bumps on the canes. These are the leaf buds. As they begin to swell, it’s time to prune. In colder areas this is usually early Spring, while here in San Diego, the plants hardly go dormant and you can prune in December or January.

3. Using sharp, by-pass pruning shears, start by removing all dead wood and any weak or twiggy branches that are less than the diameter of a pencil. Trim to open up the interior of the bush. Make sure you’re wearing heavy garden gloves!

4. Next trim back the remaining branches by making a 45 degree cut about ¼ inch above buds that are facing the outside of the bush. This will encourage outward growth versus branches that cross each other on the interior of the bush. You should trim off about ½ the height of each cane. Climbing roses that are mature and climbing where you want them should not be cut back as low as bush roses.

5. Make sure the cuts are clean and not ragged. Many also dab a bit of Elmer’s glue on the cuts to prevent the intrusion of pests or infection.

6. Finally, remove any growth below the graft at the base of the plant and any remaining foliage.

It’s really hard to mess this up. In fact, most people err on the side of not cutting back far enough. And if you aren’t pleased with the results, try again next year!

Want to plant some beautiful roses in a San Diego home? Just give me a call or start your search on my web site.

Marti Kilby
Broker Associate
Myers Real Estate Group
619-846-9249

I moved with my parents to Fletcher Hills when I was 8 years old, and lived there until fleeing the nest for college.  And now I’m back with my husband, living again in my childhood home, wondering where the time has gone!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Fletcher Hills it is a suburban area of east San Diego County, located on the north and south sides of (you guessed it), Fletcher Parkway, just before the Parkway goes down the hill into the heart of El Cajon. 

The area was developed by Colonel Ed Fletcher (1872-1955) who was a prominent San Diegan and responsible for the development of Fletcher Hills, Mt. Helix, Del Mar, and other communities.   The Colonel was a major advocate of road and water projects that aided in the development of San Diego County.  He served in the California Senate where he authored laws that created the San Diego County Water Authority and transferred ownership of Mission Bay to the City.  What I remember about the Fletchers is that one of the Colonel’s sons and his family lived about a block away and to my mom; it was sort of like having royalty as a neighbor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the exception of a few subdivisions, most homes in Fletcher Hills are custom single family homes on good-sized lots.  When we first moved into our home, it was quite rural, and many families had horses.  A large horse arena at the end of Rippey Street was the site of major horse shows and competitions.  Today, the arena, and most of the horses and bridle paths are gone, but the numerous canyons and open spaces still provide a bit of a country feel.

Fletcher Hills is a very desirable area because of its many custom homes, large lots, proximity to freeways, shopping and good schools.  Prices for a single family home range from $300,000 – $800,000.  This is a very typical  home for the area, though it is somewhat larger than most:  4 bedrooms, with 2.5 baths, ranch style built in 1966 with an updated kitchen and beautiful backyard.  The home is a standard sale being offered at $579,888.  

 

For a personal tour, just give me a call and you’ll learn why I’m happy at home in Fletcher Hills.

I’m currently working with a sweet young couple looking to buy their first home here in San Diego.  Yesterday we found one that seems to have most everything they’re looking for, so we sat down to talk about writing an offer.  Prior to showing them homes of course, I made sure they were pre-approved at the price point of our search.

Discussing the offer and reviewing the confidential remarks on the MLS listing sheet, I ran into the words that make my blood boil, “Offer MUST include a pre-approval by Bank of America loan officer Bill Jones.”  This makes me crazy!  Here in San Diego it appears that Bank of America and Chase require a pre-approval by one of their assigned loan officers on all of their REOs.

My buyer looked at me like I was nuts.  “Why do they need another pre-approval when I just went through the whole process at my credit union?”  He is a VA buyer and has a perfectly good pre-approval from Navy Federal Credit Union, so why in the world does he need one from B of A?  I didn’t have a very good answer for him.

I also handle some REO listings and I understand that the banks don’t want to waste time with an unqualified buyer, and that they are trying to build loan business.  But, rather than create obstacles to offers, wouldn’t it make more sense for the listing agent to request an additional pre-approval ONLY if the original one seemed a bit sketchy?  Or, if they really want the business, how about offering an incentive like a free appraisal or point reduction?

When it’s time to write an offer, I want to move quickly – not waste a couple of days chasing down more paperwork!

I think we all agree that the lack of regulation in the mortgage lending industry was a primary cause of the housing market collapse.  Not everyone with a pulse should qualify for a zero- down, $400,000 mortgage.  However, the new rules being proposed by the federal government could be the fatal blow to a struggling housing industry that is barely surviving on life-support.

The cornerstone of the proposal is the idea that the very best rates and terms for conventional loans would be reserved for the very best borrowers…..sounds somewhat reasonable, until you understand what an exclusive club that would be, and how difficult it would make buying for first-time or lower-income borrowers.

First, a 20% down payment would be required.  In some parts of the country, you can buy a nice home for $150,000, but even so that would mean a down payment of $30,000 – a big number for a lot of people.  But here inSan Diegowhere a nice 2 bedroom condo is going to cost you around $320,000, a buyer would need $64,000, which is most likely a staggering sum for anyone considering a condo purchase.

If you think that sounds a bit harsh, you’ll love the other suggested requirements for the so-called “Qualified Residential Mortgage” or QRM:

  • Strict debt-to-income ratios.  A max of 28% of gross monthly income could be used for housing expense and total monthly debt could not exceed 36%.  Currently, both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae guidelines take other factors besides DTI into consideration, and Freddie can go up to an overall debt-to-income ratio of 45%.  And of course, this is fully documented income, so tough luck for the self-employed.
  • To refinance your existing loan for a better rate you would need a minimum of 25% equity, and if you wanted to take out any cash, 30% equity would be required.  Today’s requirements vary by lender, but are no where near that strict.
  • Pristine credit.  If you were 60 days late on any account in the past two years you would not qualify.

So to put this into perspective, let’s see what someone might be able to afford here inSan Diegowhere the median household income is $67,000.  Their total monthly housing expense, including tax and insurance could not exceed $1,563.  This means they could purchase a single family home for $295,000 (if they could find one that would qualify for conventional financing), but would need a down payment of $59,000.  Presuming their monthly take-home pay is $4,466 and they are currently renting a 2 bedroom apartment for $1200, and after all other expenses they could still manage to save $500 a month, it would take these would-be home buyers 9.8 years to save for the down payment!

What if you don’t qualify?  Get ready to pay-up.  The mortgage industry estimates that non-QRM rates will be from .75 – 3.00% higher, again pushing more people out of the market with higher rates.  So if you are like the majority of today’s borrowers and don’t have a big down payment, make an above average income and have perfect credit you could be paying 8.00% interest while the QRM borrower will pay just 5.00%.  Sounds really fair and I’m sure that will mean a big boost to the housing market, right?

This is a total over-reaction that threatens to kill the small gains and recovery that we’ve seen in the past year.  I agree that reforms are necessary, but requirements should not be so stringent that home ownership is only accessible to a privileged minority.  If only the wealthy can purchase a home, some of our troubled neighborhoods (where the QRM buyers won’t want to live themselves) will be owned by investors and would-be buyers will be doomed to a life-time of renting from them.  I don’t know about you, but to me this doesn’t sound like a way to re-build neighborhoods or salvage the American Dream of home ownership.

Back in November, and then again in December, I predicted that San Diego had seen the bottom and we would continue to see small gains in home values in 2011.  Over the first quarter however, there has been a lot of talk and statistics about home prices falling nationwide and some folks seemed anxious to prove me wrong. 

Well this morning, I can happily say I was right.  The just-released Standard and Poors/Case-Schiller Home Price Index for January reveals a 1.00% decrease in home values over the previous month…….except for two cities, Washington, D.C. and San Diego!  The index tracks values in 20 cities and overall, values were down 3.10% over January 2010 – only Washington, D.C., and San Diego showed a year-to-year gain.

So, to all of you who are waiting to buy in San Diego, fearful that values will continue to drop, pay attention.  Now is the time to buy….unless of course you want to pay 2.00-4.00% more at a higher interest rate a year from now.  Just a thought.

Home prices across the country have taken a roller coaster ride over the past few years with far more hair-raising dips than inclines.  According to a Fiserv, Inc. report, the ups and down may not be totally over, but the financial services company predicts that by the end of 2011 75% of U.S. metro areas will see stable prices.

The good news for San Diego is that we are only one of three metro areas that had prices stabilize in recent months.  San Francisco and Washington, D.C. are the other two.  Still suffering are hard-hit areas including Miami, Phoenix and Las Vegas where prices are not expected to smooth out until late 2012.

This is not to say that we won’t see some price reductions in certain neighborhoods, but overall the downward slide in value is over for most San Diego homeowners.  Foreclosures, unemployment, and restricted access to credit will continue to be the three negative factors influencing our market, but increased demand based on low prices and low interest rates seems to be balancing our market favorably.

So is this a good time to buy?  As I’ve said before…..absolutely!  Prices are already increasing in many areas, but if you’re curious about where you can get the most bang for your buck in San Diego county, give me a call.

I attended a 90 minute webinar yesterday, designed to get me straightened out about the importance of social media and how to use it effectively in my business.  The presenters are somehow experts (though obviously they’ve only been doing this for a few years).   They spoke about LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogging and how to position yourself on all of this media to gain massive lists of people who will magically consider you the go-to person for your specialty.

My mind is reeling.  First of all, I consider myself very good at what I do, and pride myself on the service I provide to all of my real estate clients.  But I don’t take myself so seriously as to think that there will be 30,000 people just waiting for my next tweet!  And even if I did, do I really want the responsibility of keeping-up this continual stream of content bits and pieces? 

The experts pointed out that the average user spends 55 minutes on Facebook every day, not to mention time spent updating LinkedIn, sending tweets, uploading a new video, or of course, composing a new blog post.  Besides feeling that I am totally failing Social Media 101, I came away from the webinar wondering when I’m supposed to actually do any of the real work I’m trying to promote!   Having thousands of people like me or what I do is useless if I don’t have the time to do it.  So I’ll keep you posted on my progress, but don’t expect a tweet any time soon.

For the first time since June, pending home sales (number of contracts signed), dropped in September by 1.8% according to the National Association of Realtors. The report was unveiled on Friday as the Association began its annual convention in New Orleans.  This came as a surprise to many as a group of Reuter’s polled economists had recently anticipated an increase of 3%.  So why the drop?

Paul Dales, U.S. economist for Capital Economics surmised that the lower number was a result of the recent foreclosure mess; deals signed in September, might have fallen apart in October as banks pulled some foreclosures from the market and buyers got cold feet.  But that doesn’t really make sense as the September drop occurred before any of the problems with foreclosure affidavits came to light.

I think that one of the most obvious factors is the continued unemployment rate that has now been at 9.5% or higher for the past 15 months.  People who aren’t working, or fear that their employment is tenuous don’t buy houses.  Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist also pointed out that “tight credit and appraisals coming in below the negotiated price continue to constrain the market.”

So as noted in my post on November 3, Capital Economics continues to predict a bit more of a gloomy future for the housing market.  Dales says that “existing sales may well fall back,” and described housing activity as “bouncing along the bottom.”  NAR on the other hand continues to be a bit more optimistic, forecasting an increase in existing home sales in 2011 to 5.1 million, up from 4.8 million this year.  I’ll keep you posted as soon as I have the San Diego numbers for September, but I’m siding with NAR and remain cautiously optimistic about sales in America’s Finest City, especially if lenders loosen their stranglehold on the market by approving more home loans.

If anyone had told me four years ago that today over 90% of my business would be short sales and REOs, I would have said they were crazy.  The reality of course is that the boom of those days is the bust of today, and it doesn’t look much brighter on the immediate horizon.

According to California Association of Realtors Vice President and Chief Economist, Leslie Appleton-Young, “The wild cards for 2011 include federal housing policies, actions of underwater homeowners, and the strength of the economic recovery.  What is certain is that favorable home prices and historically low interest rates will continue to make owning a home in California attractive for those who are in a position to buy.”

 OK.  Sounds like a glimmer of hope….unless you’re one of the homeowners that is underwater with no life boat in sight.  Knowing that you can no longer afford your home is incredibly stressful, and for most home owners, their lenders offer little help, despite federal programs.

This blog is dedicated to every homeowner who can’t sleep at night and is asking themselves, “What do I do now?”  My goal is to provide information that will help homeowners understand their options for buying, keeping, or selling their homes in this troubled market. With the banks and the government changing the rules every day, I’ll help make sense of the news, share my experience and insider perspective,  and have some fun along the way.  Most fear is based on lack of knowledge.  By sharing what I know and being here for your questions, I hope to take the “stress” out of distressed property sales, whether considering a short sale, or an REO purchase. 

So let me know how I can help.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find a reliable source that does.  It’s that simple.  Over the next two weeks I’ll be adding some good resource information about short sales, so check back soon!  Looking forward to sharing and hearing from you!