7 Steps to Earthquake Safety

Escondido HomeEverywhere in the Escondido real estate area may be susceptible to damage from an earthquake, maybe even a big one.  We all need to be ready.

  1. Identify earthquake hazards in your Escondido home. Secure everything around your Escondido property that might  fall and hurt someone.  This is easily done if you do items as you buy them.  For example, when I bought my big screen tv, I secured it to the wall of my Escondido home with a safety wire.  If you are starting from scratch, buy a stud finder at Escondido Home Depot or Lowes and use it to find the proper studs.  Of course, the water heater in the garage must have straps.
  2. Create a diaster plan. Talk with each one in your family and plan what to do in case of an earthquake.  Have a meeting place outside of your Escondido home, but close by so everyone can be quickly accounted for.  Learn basic first aid if possible.  Have a place away from your Escondido property you can call, preferably out of state.  The out of state phone lines won’t be as crowded.  Learn how to deal with a lack of utilities and basic services.  Also, expect aftershocks.
  3. Make up some disaster supplies kits.  These kits would be useful in any type of emergency.  Everyone in your Escondido home should have one.  It is a good idea to have one at home, school, work, etc.    You should have a large kit for your home that would last everyone three days to a week.  These kits should contain food, water, clothes, and sanitary supplies.  Your San Diego Red Cross sells kits and also has tips on what to put in the kits if you make your own.
  4. Have your Escondido property checked to identify any weaknesses.   There are common issues that a home inspector will know that could help your Escondido home be stronger.  If you just purchase an  Escondido home, your Escondido real estate inspector will have made sure you had earthquake straps.
  5. During an Earthquake you should drop, cover and hold on.  Drop to the floor, take cover under a strong table or desk, and hold on firmly.  If there are no tables closeby, drop to the floor next to an interior wall of your Escondido home.
  6. After the quake, check everything for damages or injuries.  Always be calm and take care of yourself  first so you will be ok to help others.  When  you are sure you are safe, then you can start helping others.  You need to know how to turn off leaking gas, water, or electricity if necessary.
  7. When you know you ae safe, you can continue to follow your disaster plan.  Stay away from the coast if there is any possibility of a tsunami.  Listen to your battery powered radio for any emergency instructions.  The station would be 600 AM .   Call your out of area contact and let them know you are ok.     For Escondido real estate information, call Gary Harmon, your top Escondido Realtor.

Reduce Your Escondido Property Taxes

Decline in Escondido Home Values

Prudential California RealtyMost Escondido home owners are aware that Escondido property values have been declining.  In many parts of San Diego County, the decline has been relatively dramatic. That decline may mean a reduction in Escondido property taxes, however.  Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment passed in California in 1978, allows a temporary reduction in assessed value (which is what your Escondido property taxes are based on) when a property suffers a “decline-in-value.” That decline in Escondido home value occurs when the Escondido real estate market value of the Escondido property is less than the assessed value as of January 1st.  Does a decline in a property’s market value require a reduction in Escondido property taxes? The answer is that it depends on the Market Value and the Taxable Value.


  • Market Value – Is how much the property would sell for (the unconditional sales price)
  • Taxable Value – Is established by the Assessor, (the Prop. 13 value), and this value may be increased by a
    CPI factor of up to 2% per year as specified by California laws

A temporary reduction in Escondido property taxes can only be granted if the Escondido home Market Value falls below the Prop. 13 value (Taxable Value).   Some property purchased in 2005, 2006 and 2007 would be the most likely to qualify. Property is valued for property tax purposes each year as of January 1. If you’d like information about recent comparable sales in the Escondido real estate  area to see what today’s value may be, simply contact Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor.   I’d be happy to help you!

Grade Your Realtors Website

Shop and Compare

Gary's GradeNo matter what you decide to buy in life, you always shop and compare and try to make sure you are getting the best value for your money.  Before you hire an Escondido Realtor to sell your home, you should definitely do the same thing.  After all, your Escondido property is probably your most important investment.

According to the San Diego North County Association of Realtors over 87% of Escondido home buyers start their search on the Internet. Before you hire someone to sell your Escondido property, you want to make sure they will maximize the chance of Selling your Escondido home. Is there an objective way to measure your Escondido Realtors website marketing effectiveness?  There are really two ways and the first is called Website Grader.

Website Grader

Website Grader is a free tool that measures the marketing effectiveness of your Escondido Realtors website. It provides a score that incorporates things like website traffic, SEO, social popularity and other technical factors. To use Website Grader go to the webpage: http://websitegrader.com/.  Enter the url address of any Escondido Realtor webpages that you would like to check. Then click on the box that says “Generate Report.” The higher the score the more effective is the Realtors website. The Website Grader score of Gary Harmon.com is “89.”

Google Keywords

The second way to grade your Escondido Realtors website is to see how it ranks in Google. Go to http://www.google.com/ and type in different search words that should apply to selling your Escondido real estate. Try “escondido realtor, escondido real estate, or escondido homes.” A good Escondido realtors webpage is found on page one or two of Google.

Pick the Best

Before you list your Escondido home, check out your Realtors website. Pick an Escondido Realtor that has a site that will mazimize the chance of getting the most visitors to their site. Pick a site with a high Website Grader Score and a high Google page rank. Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor has such a site. Hire Gary Harmon with Prudential California Realty and put Gary’s winning team to work for you.

Escondido Property Tax Refunds -Where Are They?

Escondido Property TaxProperty Tax Refunds on Escondido Real Estate

Where is your Escondido property tax refund on your Escondido home.  The price of your Escondido property has gone down every year for the last four or five years. You have filed a request with the County to refigure your assessed value on you Escondido home, but you keep paying the high property taxes here in San Diego.  You are in the same  boat as thousands of other Escondido home owners.
I am including an article from the North County Times to expose the problem.

“The San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office continues to take in millions of dollars more in property taxes than is owed and then lags in returning the money to taxpayers, according to a 2009 audit. The examination of the treasurer’s property tax refund account concluded that nearly $8 million needed to be refunded or funneled to the county’s general fund if the person or entity who was owed the money could not be located.

It’s been a problem that stretches back to 2003 and has dragged on, despite a series of examinations in the years since. The most recent independent audit, conducted over nine months by the firm of Kessler International, found a variety of problems in how the treasurer’s office manages what is known as the Property Tax Trust and Refund account. That report was issued in March but never shared with the public.” Of course, this is an election year and Dan is running again.

This problem will not be easily solved, but Dan McAllister vows changes are being implemented to correct years-old problem.  If you would like to find out how to lower your property taxes, contact Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor.  Gary Harmon will provide you with a property tax reassessment form along with instructions on how and when to file.

Saftey Tips to Protect Your Escondido Home

House FireHere in San Diego North County winter is upon us.  We are getting our usually limited rain, and the mornings and nights are a little chilly.  If you are thinking of using a small portable heater in you Escondido home please observe these safety tips.

  • Don’t use an extension cord  to plug in your heater in you Escondido home.  Using any type of cord will greatly increase the chance of a home fire.
  • Don’t use your heater on the same circut in your Escondido home as other electrical appliances that use a lot of electricity.  The circuit in you Escondido property could easily overload.
  • Don’t use your portable heater near sources of combustion in you Escondido real estate.  For example, a lot of heaters in your Escondido home should not be used on carpets or under desk or counters.

A little common sense will go a long way in helping help protect your Escondido real estate.  House fires here in Escondido and San Diego North County are the single biggest source of diasters that effect most people.  There is a house fire every 28 hours according  to the San Diego American Red Cross.  For more helpful information or to buy or sell an Escondido property, contact Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor.

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) – Escondido Real Estate

Escondido KitchenThe most common question I get as your Escondido real estate expert from friends, family, and clients is “how is the real estate market doing?”  That is always a very difficult question to answer correctly because the answer can be case specific.  What I mean is it can depend on what type of Escondido real estate help you need.  In general, the market for Escondido homes is very complex.  No one can be sure if prices are still going down or going to rise.  One thing I can say for sure, the change in Escondido real estate prices should be slow either way.  If you are waiting for prices to go up so you can sell your Escondido home, you should probably have a plan “B” and consider selling now.

A comparative market analysis helps you if you are thinking of either buying Escondido homes or selling an Escondido home.  You can’t get an accurate number of the value of your Escondido property by just looking at an Internet site like Zillo.  To get an accurate picture you need to have your Escondido Realtor do a personalized CMA for your particular need.  Your Realtor will dig deeper,  make numerous phone calls to other Realtors, rather than just look at the most recent sales prices in the multiple listing service.  He will evaluate how long each Escondido home has been on the market.  He will look at the motivation of the Escondido seller.  Your Escondido Realtor will check out the condition of the home and what type of sale took place.  Was it a short sale, REO, or regular sale?  All have an affect on the final sales price of the Escondido home.  As you can see the superficial comparison of Escondido homes and their sales will no longer do.  Such an approach could even be misleading.

Before you buy an Escondido home or sell Escondido real estate, get an accurate picture by contacting Gary Harmon, you top Escondido Realtor.

Buyer's Choice Act and Escondido Real Estate

AB 957 and How it Effects Escondido Real Estate

New legislation was signed into California law in December of 2009 effecting us here in San Diego North County.   There are several points that Escondido home  buyers and Escondido home sellers should be aware of:
  1. A seller of REO residential Escondido real estate with four or fewer units “shall not require directly or indirectly as a condition of selling the Escondido property that title insurance covering the Escondido property or escrow service provided in connection with the sale of the property be purchased by the buyer from a particular title insurer or escrow agent.”  What  this means in plain language is that the bank, selling bank owned property, cannot require you the Escondido buyer to user their title insurance company or their escrow company.  This is only true if you the buyer are paying for these services.  Gary’s winning team member, Pickford Escrow  and The Escrow Firm have closed over 9,000 REO (bank real estate owned) transactions in the last 18 months.
  2. The bill provides that “sale” is intended by the Legislature to “include the receipt of an offer to purchase that  residential  Escondido property.” – means it is intended to prohibit sellers from conditioning the receipt of an offer to buy an Escondido REO property on the buyer’s agreement to use a specific title insurer or escrow agent.  That means the bank has to look at your offer reguardless of which title or escrow company you choose.  California Title Company, one of Gary’s winning team members is also experienced in bank REO’s sales.
  3. AB 957 does NOT prohibit an Escondido buyer “from agreeing to accept the services of a title insurer or escrow agent recommended by the seller” PROVIDED THAT “written notice of the right to make an independent selection of those services is first provided by the seller to the buyer.”  That means it is  ok to use who the bank recommends provided they disclose that it is your choice.
  4. AB 957 only applies to title insurance or escrow services “purchased by” or paid for by the Escondido buyer.  That means if the bank is paying for both sides, they get to pick.
  5. A seller who violates AB 957 “Shall be liable to a buyer in an amount equal to three times all charges made for the title insurance or escrow service.” A violation of AB 957 is also deemed to be a violation of the seller’s license law which can subject the seller to discipline by its licensing entity.
Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor, Pickford Escrow,  and California Title Company are excited about working with you on transacations that we could not work on before this law was passed. We look forward to closing your next REO deal!  Contact Gary Harmon to get more information on bank foreclosure sales.  You can also do a free foreclosures search by using Foreclosue Radar  provide by Gary Harmon.

Escondido Homes: To Buy or Rent, Part 2.

Yesterday we looked into good reasons for considering Escondido home ownership.  Today we are going to take a look at what Escondido home ownership means and how it differs from living in an Escondido Rental.

Escondido Home Ownership comes with Responsibilities.

There are many things involved in owning Escondido real estate besides just making the payments and keeping a roof over your head.  Along with your Escondido house, you acquire responsibility for repair and maintenance.  This applies not only to the house itself, but to the surrounding landscaping.  Many homeowners find they actually enjoy the responsibilities and that the benefits far out weigh the efforts required.

Owning Escondido Real Estate has its Benefits.

Owning Escondido real estate allows you to express yourself.   You are in charge of the landscaping, remodeling, and pet-keeping decisions at a much different level that when you had an Escondido rental.   Escondido home ownership also allows the following:

  • If purchased correctly, your Escondido home can be a good long-term investment.
  • There can be many tax advantages that go along with owning Esconidido real estate.
  • Escondido property ownership allows you to become more involved in the commuinity.

There has never been a better time to purchase an Escondido home, especially if your are a first-time home buyer.  You may be eligible for the first-time home buyer tax credit.  Rates continue to be low.  If Escondido home ownership appeals to you, call Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor and get started today.

Staging: Secret To Selling Your Escondido Home In A Down Market

Escondio Home

Staging for Selling

You have just seen a series of post on how to ready your Escondido property for sale.  Remember the saying, “People buy what they see and not what will be.”  Or,  “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”   We have just discussed approximately 100 ways to get your Escondido home ready for sale.  But, what if you have to move and leave your home vacant.  There is always something a little unappealing and sad about a vacant Escondido house.  That is where staging or showcasing your home comes in.

Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor, can arrange to have a professional company stage your home and keep it ready for sale.  In a recent survey of Realtors, over two-thirds estimated that a staged Escondido home sells for 10 to 20% more and closes 60 to 90 days faster than a vacant Escondido property.  Staging companies (and we recommend Showhomes) help take the stress out of showing and selling your Escondido property by providing a turnkey package including whole-house furnishings, a professional staging and a live-in Home Manager to keep your Escondido home in show-to-sell condition seven days a week.  Staging a home can save you the Escondido homeowner holding  cost such as utility bills, cleaning fees, vacant house insurance premiums,and mortgage interest expense.  The Escondido homeowner savings  combined with a higher sales price, typically far exeed any  staging fees.  Staging companies, like Showhomes, provide commercial liability insurance on each home.

Whether a Escondido buyer, Escondido seller, or Escondido Realtor, the Escondido home selling and purchasing process is fraught with potholes.  In this weak Escondiodo real estate market, everyone involved in the selling process must increase their efforts. In order to sell Escondido homes at top dollar, Escondido houses must be “prepared for sales.” That’s where Staging, sometimes called showcasing,  becomes the secret weapon.   Contact Gary Harmon, your top Esondido Realtor more information on this great selling technique.

The Entry Way of Your Escondido Home

This is another post relating to 100 Ways to Prepare Your Escondido Home for Sale.  Remember, “You never get a second chance at a first impression,” so when the front door of your Escondido house swings open, things need to look good.

  • If you foyer has a beautiful floor, focus on that.  Make sure it is shined and maintained scrupulously.
  • Keep furniture to a minimum in the entry way.  You want to make it feel as large as possible.
  • If you have ugly rugs entry floor, put them away unless the weather is bad.
  • If you see the stairs as soon as the front door opens, make sure the carpet is clean.
  • Paint any worn spots on the walls, repair any wallpaper, in general make sure the area looks first class.
  • Make sure the bannister in your Escondido home is not loose.
  • Make sure the stairs don’t creak.
  • If there are windows in the entry, make sure they sparkle.
  • The front doors, both inside and out must be perfect.  And, please make sure the lock works easily.
  • Fresh cut flowers from the yard adds a nice touch on an entry table.

The front door and front entry will play a big part in getting your potential Escondido buyer off it a positive viewing of you Escondido property.   For more tips read the other related post.   To find out more about successfully selling your Escondido real estate, contact Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor.