Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

Weaker manufacturing data and a more dovish tone from the Federal Reserve left mortgage rates unchanged relative to last week. However, interest rate-sensitive sectors of the economy – such as consumer mortgage demand and homebuilder construction sentiment – are on the mend, which indicates that lower interest rates are beginning to have a positive impact on some segments of the economy.

How do I Use a Pest Control Report?

Structural Pest Control (SPC) report is not a legislatively mandated seller disclosure in a California real estate transaction, unlike a Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) or a Natural Hazard Disclosure (NHD). Most conventional lenders do not require a NSPC report or termite clearance.

However, the existence of pests such as termites adversely affects the value of property. Since this fact relates to value, the seller is compelled to disclose their presence before the buyer makes a decision setting the price and closing conditions in an offer submitted to the seller. 

To best disclose a pest infestation, the seller orders an SPC report. The report is included as part of the marketing package for delivery to prospective buyers or their agents when they inquire about the property — before the seller enters into a purchase agreement with the buyer. 

A Pest Control Certification — a certificate of clearance — is issued by the SPC company to indicate the property is free of infestation or infection in the visible and accessible areas. This certification is commonly called a termite clearance. If any infestation or infection is not corrected, it will be noted in the certification. The SPC report separates the findings and recommendations into two categories: 

1. Section I items, listing items with visible evidence of active infestations, infections or conditions that have resulted in or from infestation or infection; and 

2. Section II items, listing conditions deemed likely to lead to infestation or infection but where no visible evidence of infestation or infection was found. 

If a seller has obtained an SPC report which discloses the existence of conditions that have an adverse effect on value and does not inform the buyer of the contents of the report, the seller is defrauding the buyer. Therefore, the buyer may pursue the seller and the seller’s broker/agent to recover the cost of repairs, either prior to or after the close of escrow. Provisions in the purchase agreement allowing the seller to entirely avoid the cost of termite clearance and repairs are not enforceable when known defects go undisclosed at the time the buyer and seller enter into a purchase agreement.  

Further, when the seller does not provide an SPC report, the buyer needs to consider ordering their own SPC report.

Read This Before You Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets

If you’ve  noticed the cost of new appliances, countertops, and cabinets, it’s no surprise that renovating a kitchen is one of the most expensive remodeling projects. While few homeowners find ways to boost the look of a dated refrigerator or tired granite, transforming a kitchen by freshening the cabinets that make up most of the room’s visual space is entirely within reach. But there’s more to the job than buying a gallon of your favorite color.

The saying that a successful paint job relies on diligent prep work is fitting when finishing previously coated cabinets. Unlike drywall, cabinets are made out of a variety of materials—from wood to metal—that are then covered with a range of finishes, from oil-based paint to plastics. But armed with the right primer, quality paint, the patience not to rush the process, and a long weekend, a DIYer can overhaul a kitchen without going over budget.

Cabinets can account for nearly 40 percent of a kitchen’s cost. Here’s how three common cabinet upgrades stack up in an average 10-by-10-foot kitchen. Repainting would cost less than $200. Adding new drawers and doors runs about $1,300, while upgrading to ready-to-assemble cabinets starts at about $1,630.

Read the rest HERE!

Who moves to California?

High taxes. Stifling regulations. Exorbitant housing costs. Freeway gridlock. Fires and floods.

Hand-wringing over an exodus of disillusioned Californians may be a Golden State pastime, the subject of political punditry and strung-out social media threads.

But the latest data are far from dire. The U.S. Census Bureau, in its newly released surveys for 2017, shows that California’s net migration remained fairly stable. Since 2010, as the economic recovery took hold and housing prices skyrocketed, departures accelerated — but the number of newcomers rose steadily as well.

The state attracts a steady stream of college graduates, especially from the East Coast, even as many less-educated residents moveto neighboring states — and to Texas — in search of a lower cost of living.

Consider that in 2017:

  • More people left California (661,026) than arrived (523,131) from other U.S. states. But for the nation’s most populous state, with 39 million residents, that amounted to a tiny fraction in net departures: just 0.35%.
  • Among the 25-years-and-older set, the state lost a net 86,890 residents without bachelor’s degrees, and just 4,443 with a four-year degree. It gained 11,653 people with graduate degrees.
  • No state boasts more loudly of its attractions than Texas. Indeed, 63,174 people relocated from California to the nation’s second-most populous state, more than to anywhere else in the U.S. But it’s also true that no state sent more people here than the Lone Star State — 40,999.

“The cost of living, especially housing, is what stops the whole world from moving to California,” said USC demographer Dowell Myers, a longtime census expert. “Otherwise, who wouldn’t prefer California? We have superior weather. We have mountains and oceans. And we have better jobs — better paying and more specialized, whether in tech, entertainment, the arts or medicine.”

In the 1980s, Myers said, “millions of people came to California — too many — and that created an anti-growth backlash. But California has been losing people to other states since 2004. We lost people in the bubble because housing prices were so high. We lost them in the recession because our job market was worse than the rest of the country.”

Ask people why they came or left, and the reasons are often multifaceted. A few of them shared their stories:

Read the rest HERE

2018: Housing Market Review

While the 2017 housing market was marked by renewed optimism fueled by stock market strength, higher wages and a competitive environment for home sales, 2018 delivered a more seasoned prudence toward residential real estate. Home buyers, now steeped in several years of rising prices and low inventory, became more selective in their purchase choices as housing affordability achieved a ten-year low. Yet the appetite for home buying remained strong enough to drive prices upward in virtually all markets across the country. In fact, national home prices have risen 53 percent from February 2012 to September 2018. That mark is a less dramatic but still sizable 40 percent increase when inflation is factored in. The national median household income was last reported with a year-over-year increase of 1.8 percent, while home prices have gone up 5.5 percent in roughly the same amount of time. That kind of gap can’t be sustained indefinitely, but prices are still expected to rise in most areas, albeit at a much slower pace.

Sales: Pending sales decreased 11.0 percent, closing 2018 at 13,707. Closed sales were down 12.3 percent to finish the year at 13,636. A booming economy would seem to indicate more sales, but fewer homes to choose from coupled with lower affordability made it tougher for buyers in 2018.

Listings: Year-over-year, the number of homes available for sale was higher by 38.6 percent. There were 2,512 active listings at the end of 2018. New listings increased by 5.0 percent to finish the year at 21,195.

Distressed: The foreclosure market continues to be a hint of its former unhealthy peaks. In 2018, the percentage of closed sales that were either foreclosure or short sale decreased by 13.3 percent to end the year at 6.5 percent of the market

Prices: Home prices were up compared to last year. The overall median sales price increased 6.7 percent to $640,000 for the year. Single-Family Detached home prices were up 6.8 percent compared to last year, and Single-Family Attached home prices were up 5.8 percent.

List Price Received: Sellers received, on average, 97.3 percent of their original list price at sale, a year-over-year reduction of 0.4 percent. If demand shrinks in 2019, original list price received at sale could drop as well.

Consumer optimism has been tested by four interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve in 2018. Meanwhile, GDP growth was at 4.2 percent in Q2 2018, dropped to 3.4 percent in Q3 2018 and is expected to be about 2.9 percent in Q4 2018 when figures are released.

Looking strictly at market fundamentals, recent Fed and GDP changes will not cause a dramatic shift away from the current state of the housing market. The booming sales at increased prices over the last several years may not be the same thrill ride to observe in 2019, but a long-awaited increase in inventory is something positive to consider, even if it arrives in the form of shrinking demand amidst rising mortgage rates.

The biggest potential problem for residential real estate in 2019 might be human psychology. A fear of buying at the height of the market could create home purchase delays by a large pool of potential first-time buyers, thus creating an environment of declining sales. If the truth of a positive economic outlook coupled with responsible lending practices and more available homes for sale captures the collective American psyche, the most likely outcome for 2019 is market balance.

How to get your security deposit back in San Diego

More than half of San Diego County residents are renters and almost all have to put down a significant amount of money when they move into a new place. The dreaded security deposit typically involves one month’s rent but there are also extreme cases of requiring first and last month’s rent up front.

Since 2003, I have lived in 19 apartments across 11 cities. Aside from having a pretty wild sight-seeing adventure, moving was always difficult and security deposits were a huge issue. There was always the anxiety of waiting to get my landlord to give the deposit back while trying to get enough money for my new place.

Recently, I had a Hillcrest property manager tell me I couldn’t get a $300 pet deposit back because it was nonrefundable. I informed her that was illegal in California and, eventually, the landlord got involved and I got the deposit back.

There are likely hundreds of renters across San Diego County having similar issues — especially with a historically low homeownership rate in the county. Landlords also need protection from nightmare tenants but, on the flip side, tenants fighting bad landlords may need additional money they don’t have for a legal battle.

Read the rest HERE.

What Are the Best Ceiling Fans for Your Home?

The best ceiling fans will keep a room cool and be a budget-friendly stand-in for pricey air-conditioning. They look nice, too! While they don’t actually lower the temperature or remove humidity from a space, as air-conditioning does, they can make a substantial difference in warmer climates, thanks to something called the “wind-chill effect.” This is when your hair follicles register air movement which, in turn, makes you feel colder. The increased air flow also helps to evaporate sweat, another cooling sensation.

But choosing the best ceiling fan for your home can be a daunting task, especially with so many options out there. You want to buy something reliable that still fits perfectly into your budget. Before you head to the hardware or decor store, take a look at this guide on ceiling fans, with tidbits to help make buying one a whole lot smoother.

All about blades

You can choose a modern ceiling fan with one blade or shell out close to $1,000 for a tricked-out 10-blade model. But according to Consumer Reports, spending big bucks doesn’t guarantee a better fan—just a more elaborate design.

When deciding on the number of blades you need, keep this rule of thumb in mind: The more blades a ceiling fan has, the more weight there is pulling on the motor. “This pulling results in a fan that spins slower, but it’s also quieter than a two- or three-blade fan,” says Kelly Phillips of, a source for ceiling fan information.

Large blades with texture also make more noise than smooth blades.

Here’s what else to keep in mind in the blade numbers game:

Number of blades: Since fewer blades mean a lighter fan, one with two or three blades allows the motor to move at a high speed and move the air with greater force. “Fewer blades may be perfect for those who need stronger air circulation, despite the increased noise,” says Phillips. This makes three-blade fans perfect for spaces with high ceilings, or outdoors, where noise is less of an issue.
Four blades plus:
 The most common ceiling fan you’ll find in households is a standard four- or five-blade fan, says Phillips. These fans move at slower speeds than their three-blade counterparts, which results in less noise. “They do a great job at circulating air in a living or bedroom,” says Phillips.

Best ceiling fans for each room

No matter which style you choose, the most important thing is to choose a fan that fits the room you install it in. Here’s the size that will work best for the various rooms in your home.

29- to 36-inch fan: A smaller fan is great for bathrooms, laundry rooms, or breakfast nooks.

42- to 48-inch fan: Perfect for average-size rooms like bedrooms, kitchens, or dining rooms.

52- to 56-inch fan: Use for cooling your larger rooms—think a living room or master bedroom.

60-inch fan: This size will work best for great rooms or other large areas.

Know your fan’s CFM

The airflow produced by ceiling fans is measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM, and should be noted on the manufacturer’s website. While 4,000 CFM is the average for a ceiling fan, the higher the CFM, the cooler you’ll be, says Perez.

Read the rest HERE!

Least expensive San Diego homes to sell in 2018

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder for some of the cheapest homes to sell in 2018. In a year when San Diego County’s median home price hit its highest point in history — $583,000 in August — a few buyers were able to nab properties that were far less expensive but not without some disadvantages, like remote locations or plenty of deferred maintenance.

Many of the homes could just be tear-downs that will make way for a new home on the site, or a second property for someone to get away to on the weekends.

  • 7555 Broken Cinch Trl, Julian — $90,000 (Tie)
    This one-bedroom, one-bath home was advertised as a “diamond in the rough” west of Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The home is only 480 square feet, but the property is two acres and completely surrounded by a fence.

While it is far away from job centers, like many homes on this list, it might be a quicker drive than from other desert homes. It would take roughly one hour and 40 minutes to get to downtown San Diego and an hour and 20 minutes to Escondido.

A selling point of the property is it is surrounded by park land that can’t be developed, allowing for amazing views and wildflowers in the spring. The home was built in 1982, making it one of the newer desert homes on our list. It was originally listed for $110,000 in April, before selling about a month later.

Listing agent Mary Watkins said the previous owner worked at the park but had to move closer to the coast for health reasons. She said the new owner planned to use the property as a getaway. “It wasn’t the best property I’ve ever done,” she said. “But, it was a good value for what they paid for it.”

Read the rest HERE

Could rent control be coming to San Diego?

A statewide vote to allow more widespread rent control could have big implications for San Diego County if it passes.

The effort, led by tenants rights groups and bankrolled by Los Angeles HIV/AIDS activist Michael Weinstein, qualified for the Nov. 6 ballot in June.

If approved by voters, the initiative would repeal a 1995 law that limited county and city governments’ ability to slow rent hikes. Even if it passes, it would still be up to local lawmakers to approve rent control or approve citizens’ initiatives.

San Diego is one of the few big cities in California with no form of rent control, unlike San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

Alan Gin, an economist at the University of San Diego, said rent limitations may help some people but it could result in less housing being built, something desperately needed in the state.

“Housing prices have gotten way out of hand in California,” he said. “Even though I don’t think (rent control) will work, I can understand people’s frustration.”

Economists typically argue that rent control will lead to a reduction in the quality and quantity of housing available. But, that hasn’t stopped frustrated renters in San Diego and the rest of California from taking action.

The average San Diego County rent in March was $1,887, pushed up by an influx of new, high-end apartments downtown, said MarketPointe Realty Advisors. It has increased 8 percent in a year.

A local organizer for Prop 10, Paola Martinez, said low-income Californians are struggling to survive. She said arguments that rent control would slow housing production are hard to stomach for low-income renters.

“Housing is being created, it’s just not the type of housing we need,” she said of new residential projects. “We are not building affordable housing.”

One of the most common arguments against rent control is that if a landlord knows they can’t charge more, they won’t fix up the apartment. Try telling that to a San Diego renter, Martinez said.

“Even without rent control, those issues are still there,” she said. “We’re seeing increases of rent at a super high rate in pretty deplorable conditions, uninhabitable conditions. Their landlords aren’t making any repairs, even when they are increasing the rent.”

Prop. 10 would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which bans cities and counties from capping rent increases on apartments built after 1995. If passed, it means new apartment buildings that are being constructed downtown could be subject to the law. The act also prevents rent control on single-family homes.

Read the rest HERE!