Win-Win: San Diego North County Buyers and Sellers

San Diego North County home buyers and sellers can rejoice that mortgage interest rates are at year-long lows in the first week of May, compared to 5% a year ago for the week ending May 5, 2010, says Freddie Mac.  Couple that with the fact that 69% of first-time home buyers can afford an entry-lev el home in California (as of Q4 2010) and it appears that housing is indeed on the rebound.

Advice for San Diego North County Buyers

With every spike in affordability comes a corresponding increase in mortgage applications. As mortgage firms operate with smaller staff and greater risk assessment, expect your loan to take longer than usual. Lock in your low rate now by applying for your loan and providing the lender every piece of documentation he or she requires.

Advice for San Diego North County Sellers

This is not the time to price at the top of the market. Bank appraisals of your home may come in lower than you might expect if underwriters have any cause for concern. Your buyer’s loan may go through a second review process to make certain the lender is meeting today’s strict  underwriting guidelines.

Don’t miss out on this great North County real estate market, contact Gary Harmon, you top North County Realtor.

Housing Affordability Index – Why Buy Now?

The Housing Affordability Index reached a record high of 192.3 for February, 2011. Two contributing factors to the Index are the price adjustments homes have experienced in recent years combined with the unusually low mortgage rates make this an outstanding opportunity for North County home buyers who can qualify.

Before the housing bubble burst in 2006, the index average for the year was 108. The higher prices and higher interest rates restricted many San Diego buyers from purchasing.  The opportunities are not being seized by some San Diego North County buyers because there is confusion in the marketplace. North County home buyers are uncertain whether they would qualify and whether now is a good time to be purchasing a home.

All markets are different and every situation is unique. The only certain way to determine would be to investigate your individual situation. You owe it to yourself and your family to visit with Gary Harmon, a Prudential real estate professional, who can show you the real cost of San Diego North County housing and introduce you to our affiliate, HomeServices Lending powered by Wells Fargo.

For more San Diego North County home information, contact Gary Harmon, your North County Realtor.

See  Now is the Time to Buy a Carlsbad North County Home.  Also see,  The Time to Buy a San Diego North County Home is Now.

The National Association of Realtors releases the affordability index at the end of each month with a two month lag time for compiling the information. When the index is at 100, a median income family can afford a median price home. As the index increases, housing affordability increases.

San Diego North County Real Estate Facts – April 2011

Below the photo is a summary of current real estate conditions in San Diego North County.

• The median price for all North County home sales – attached and detached – increased from $358,000 in February 2011 to $393,500 in March 2011.
• Detached homes in North County rose 7.82 percent from $417,500 in February 2011 to $450,165 in March 2011, the largest monthly price increase in the past 12 months. Year-over median single-family detached homes in North San Diego County declined four percent, from $469,000 in March 2010, the second month of year-over declines following an 18-month trend of increases in median price (with the exception of August 2010).
• The number of single family detached North County listings (active and contingent) increased 3.93 percent to 4,626 ending March 2011, the third monthly increase. Year-over listings increased by 14.11 percent from March 2010.
• The number of sold North San Diego County SFD homes jumped 50 percent from February 2011 to March 2011 and increased 4.72 percent year-over from March 2010.
• Median days-on-market for single-family detached North County homes decreased from 69 days in February 2011 to 58 days in March 2011.

The above information on San Diego North County real estate was furnished courtesy of the North San Diego County Association of Realtors.   To get more San Diego home information, contact Gary Harmon, your San Diego North County Realtor.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Safety Tips from San Diego North County Home Inspections

Read the following safety tips and put them in practice.  They may save your life or the life of someone you love.

  • Have your gas water heaters and gas furnaces serviced and inspected annually, a poor running appliance will not burn efficiently and as a byproduct – produce unsafe levels of carbon monoxide.
  • When using your fireplace, follow the manufacturers safety instructions for safe operation.
  • Use the internet to obtain operating manuals or write to the manufacturer for your appliances.
  • Have flue vents repaired if disconnected or damaged on water heaters and furnaces.
  • Do make sure the “firedoor” installed between the garage and house has a working self closing device and the door is properly weather-stripped.
  • Do make sure no doors enter a sleeping room from a garage.
  • Do make sure that no one is sleeping in a garage conversion (illegal room) where the gas appliances are still in the garage.
  • Homes in California must now have carbon monoxide (CO) detectors installed by July 2011 under a new bill signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on May 7, 2010.
  • Up to 40 California residents die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • This was reported as one of the compelling reasons for this Senate Bill to be introduced.
  • New & remodel construction will also include CO detectors.
  • A carbon monoxide detector is required if your San Diego North County home has a fossil fuel burning device; this would be:
     A gas water heater
     A gas furnace
     A fireplace (gas fired or not)
     A gas stove or wood burning stove
     An attached garage

Through the years we have seen other mandatory items to be installed when completing a real estate transaction. These include: smoke detectors, seismic strapping water heaters and now carbon monoxide detectors.

  • The cost of the Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector will be somewhere between $30-$50.
  • For simplicity, a combo smoke detector/ CO detector is available.
  • Fines may be levied for noncompliant properties.
  • Prior to installing the CO detector: READ THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR PROPER PLACEMENT.
  • Also, note the life expectancy of the product as it will have to be replaced at the manufacturer recommended intervals, approximately every 5-6 years.


Larger homes where the bedrooms are separated by floors and large square footages may very well need more than one carbon monoxide detector, therefore it is recommended you read the installation instructions and request clarification from your local code enforcement divisions in the city or county where you live.

If you are thinking of buying or selling a San Diego North County home, contact Gary Harmon, your North County Realtor.

More Mass Transit or More Freeway Lanes?

Do you think the following article by the National Association of Realtors reflects opinions here of San Diego North County home owners?  I think not, but read it for yourself and let me know what you think North County home owners want when buying a home.   Do you think San Diego North County home owners would prefer most of our taxes going for mass transit like the Sprinter or Coaster or would we all like some more freeway lanes?

Americans favor walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, with 56 percent of respondents preferring smart-growth communities over ones that require more driving between home, work, and recreation. That’s according to a recent study, the Community Preference Survey, from the National Association of REALTORS®.
“REALTORS® care about improving communities through smart-growth initiatives,” said NAR President Ron Phipps. “Our members don’t just sell homes, they sell neighborhoods. REALTORS® understand that different home buyers are looking for all kinds of neighborhood settings and that many home buyers want walkable, transit-accessible communities.”
Walkable communities are defined as those where shops, restaurants, and local businesses are within walking distance from homes. According to the survey, when considering a home purchase, 77 percent of respondents said they would look for neighborhoods with abundant sidewalks and other pedestrian-friendly features, and 50 percent would like to see improvements to existing public transportation rather than initiatives to build new roads and developments.
The survey also revealed that while space is important to home buyers, many are willing to sacrifice square footage for less driving. Eighty percent of those surveyed would prefer to live in a single-family, detached home as long as it didn’t require a longer commute, but nearly three out of five of those surveyed — 59 percent — would choose a smaller home if it meant a commute time of 20 minutes or less.
The survey also found community characteristics are very important to most people. When considering a home purchase, 88 percent of respondents placed more value on the quality of the neighborhood than the size of the home, and 77 percent of those surveyed want communities with high-quality schools.   Sourse is NAR, the National Association of Realtors.

If you would like to know more about buying a San Diego North County home, contact Gary Harmon, your top North County Realtor.

Home Warranty – Who Does it Benefit?

Home Buyers Protection

By covering major home systems and appliances, a Home Protection Plan can help make buying or selling a San Diego North County home a more rewarding experience.   See reasons below photo.

Home Warranty - San Diego North County Home

San Diego Home buyers benefit:

  • Coverage for unexpected repair or replacement costs of many of your North County home’s major systems and appliances.
  • Convenience with access to our network of local certified contractors through our service representatives available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
  • Budget protection by only paying a nominal service fee per trade call in most situations.

San Diego Home sellers benefit:

  • Competitive edge for a faster sale.
  • Potential additional negotiating power to sell your San Diego home at a higher price.
  • Reduce after-sale liability.

When representing you as your North County Realtor I work with First American Home Warranty, one of my Winning Team Members.  When you buy a San Diego North County home, I suggest you also purchase a home warranty on your new home.  First American Home Warranty has been on the my winning team for many years.  First American has provided over 1,000,000 homeowners with high quality service since 1984.  It has an “A” rating by A.M. Best which stands for excellent.  I carry a home warranty on my own personal residence provided by First American Home Warranty.  For more information on home warranties, contact Gary Harmon, your North County Realtor.

  To find your San Diego North County home, contact Gary Harmon.

Selling Your Oceanside Home in a Distressed Market

Distressed property sales made up over 60 percent of  the California homes resale market last month.  It’s a challenging market…requiring a name you can trust like Prudential California Realty.  Selling your Oceanside home in a distressed market also requires special preparation. 

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.”   What if you have to move and leave your Oceanside home vacant.  There is always something a little unappealing and sad about a vacant Oceanside house.  Oceanside homes for sale show better, sell faster, and for more money when there is staging or showcasing  of your home.

Gary Harmon, your Oceanside 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 Oceanside home sells for 10 to 20% more and closes 60 to 90 days faster than a vacant Oceanside property.  Staging companies (and we recommend Showhomes) help take the stress out of showing and selling your Oceanside property by providing a turnkey package including whole-house furnishings, a professional staging and a live-in Home Manager to keep your Oceanside home in show-to-sell condition seven days a week.  Staging a home can save you the Oceanside homeowner holding  cost such as utility bills, cleaning fees, vacant house insurance premiums,and mortgage interest expense.  The Oceanside 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 Oceanside buyer, Oceanside seller, or Oceanside Realtor, the Oceanside home selling and purchasing process is fraught with potholes.  In this weak San Diego North County real estate market, everyone involved in the selling process must increase their efforts. In order to sell Oceanside homes at top dollar, Oceanside houses must be “prepared for sales.” That’s where Staging, sometimes called showcasing,  becomes the secret weapon.   Contact Gary Harmon, your top Oceanside Realtor for more information on this great selling technique.  See Current Listings of Oceanside Homes.  If you live in Ocean Hills Country Club homes and are thinking of selling, check out Ocean Hills retirement living.

Reasons to Buy a San Diego North County Home NOW

If you have been on the fence waiting for the best time to buy a San Diego North County home, NOW is the time.  See 5 reason below photo.

Housing Affordability Still at Record High Levels

Each month the National Association of Realtors issues its “Housing Affordability Index,” which measures the ability of the average family, in a particular geographical area, to afford the average priced home for that area.
In September 2010 the national affordability index was 179.1. This means that if a family with the median income of $61,395 wanted to purchase a median-priced existing single-family home at $172,600 (with a 20% down payment of $34,520), they would have 179.1% of the qualifying income needed to purchase that home.  Of course in California, the index was lower.  For San Diego North County homes ist was about 140.  This is still great and considerably above the 2009 level.

Interest Rates Are at Historic Lows

In the 1990s rates were higher than 8 percent. This look back through time makes it easy to see that today’s mortgage rates are relatively low.  Take the first step toward a San Diego North County home purchase and
contact me.  I will put you in touch with a great HomeServices Lender.   They will do a PriorityBuyer® preapproval to see how much you qualify for at today’s interest rates.

Tax Advantages of Homeownership

Whether you’re a first-time buyer, up-sizing, or down-sizing, most North County homeowners qualify for tax breaks annually.

  • Interest paid on a home mortgage is almost always tax
    deductible (up to the value of the primary residence)
  • Property taxes are typically deductible for most San Diego North County homeowners

Plus, for most San Diego homeowners, there are no capital gains taxes when a primary residence is sold.

Inventory of foreclosure and short sale properties

Also called real-estate owned or REO, lender-mediated, lenderowned, or non-traditional, these properties may appeal to bargain hunters looking for that hidden gem.

Inventory of homes overall is at an 10.5-month supply nationally. 

It is a buyer’s market!  More sellers than buyers in the marketplace can mean more choices and more bargaining power for buyers.  (Information above courtesy of HomeServices Lending, a Wells Fargo Affiliated Lender.)

To get a personal tour of San Diego North County homes, contact Gary Harmon, your top North County Realtor.

Tip on Moving with Pets

Easing your pet’s transition to your San Diego North County home.

Moving to a new San Diego North County home can be stressful on your pets, but there are many things you can do to make the process as painless as possible.  See 10 great tips on moving with pets to your new SanDiego North County home under photo.
  • Update your pet’s tag. Make sure your pet is wearing a sturdy collar with an identification tag that is labeled with your current contact information. The tag should include your San Diego North County home location, telephone number, and cell phone number so that you can be reached immediately during the move.
  • Ask for veterinary records. If you’re moving far enough away that you’ll need a new vet, you should ask for a current copy of your pet’s vaccinations. You also can ask for your pet’s medical history to give to your new vet, although that can normally be faxed directly to the new medical-care provider upon request. Depending on your destination, your pet may need additional vaccinations, medications, and health certificates. Have your current vet’s phone number handy in case of an emergency, or in case your new vet would like more information about your pet.
  • Keep medications and food on hand. Keep at least one week’s worth of food and medication with you in case of an emergency. Vets can’t write a prescription without a prior doctor/patient relationship, which can cause delays if you need medication right away. You may want to ask for an extra prescription refill before you move. The same preparation should be taken with special therapeutic foods — purchase an extra supply in case you can’t find the food right away in your new area.
  • Seclude your pet from chaos. Pets can feel vulnerable on moving day. Keep them in a safe, quiet, well-ventilated place, such as the bathroom, on moving day with a “Do Not Disturb!  Pets Inside!” sign posted on the door. There are many light, collapsible travel crates on the market if you choose to buy one. However, make sure your pet is familiar with the new crate before moving day by gradually introducing him or her to the crate before your trip. Be sure
    the crate is well-ventilated and sturdy enough for stress-chewers; otherwise, a nervous pet could escape.
  • Prepare a first aid kit. First aid is not a substitute for emergency veterinary care, but being prepared and knowing basic first aid could save your pet’s life. A few recommended supplies: Your veterinarian’s phone number, gauze to wrap wounds or to muzzle your pet, adhesive tape for bandages, non-stick bandages, towels, and hydrogen peroxide (3 percent). You can use a door, board, blanket or floor mat as an emergency stretcher and a soft cloth, rope,
    necktie, leash, or nylon stocking for an emergency muzzle.
  • Play it safe in the car. It’s best to travel with your dog in a crate; second-best is to use a restraining harness. When it comes to cats, it’s always best for their safety and yours to use a well-ventilated carrier in the car. Secure the crate or carrier with a seat belt and provide your pet with familiar toys. Never keep your pet in the open bed of a truck or the storage area of a moving van. In any season, a pet left alone in a parked vehicle is vulnerable to injury and
    theft. If you’ll be using overnight lodging, plan ahead by searching for pet-friendly hotels. Have plenty of kitty litter and plastic bags on hand, and keep your pet on its regular diet and eating schedule.
  • Get ready for takeoff. When traveling by air,check with the airline about any pet requirements or restrictions to be sure you’ve prepared your pet for a safe trip. Some airlines will allow pets in the cabin, depending on the animal’s size, but you’ll need to purchase a special airline crate that fits under the seat in front of you. Give yourself plenty of time to work out any arrangements necessary including consulting with your veterinarian and the U.S.  Department of Agriculture. If traveling is stressful for your pet, consult your veterinarian about ways that might lessen the stress of travel.
  • Find a new veterinary clinic and emergency hospital.  Before you move, ask your vet to recommend a doctor in your new locale. Talk to other pet owners when visiting the new community, and call the state veterinary medical association (VMA) for veterinarians in your location. When choosing a new veterinary hospital, ask for an impromptu tour; kennels should be kept clean at all times, not just when a client’s expected. You may also want to schedule an appointment to meet the vets. Now ask yourself: Are the receptionists, doctors, technicians, and assistants friendly, professional and knowledgeable? Are the office hours and location convenient? Does the clinic offer emergency or specialty services or boarding? If the hospital doesn’t meet your criteria, keep looking until you’re assured that your pet will receive the best possible care.
  • Prep your new San Diego North County home for pets. Pets may be frightened and confused in new surroundings. Upon your arrival at your new San Diego North County home, immediately set out all the familiar and necessary things your pet will need: food, water, medications, bed, litter box, toys, etc. Pack these items in a handy spot so they can be unpacked right away. Keep all external windows and doors closed when your pet is unsupervised, and be cautious of narrow gaps behind or between appliances where nervous pets may try to hide.  If your old San Diego North County home is nearby, your pet may try to find a way back there. To be safe, give the new San Diego North County home owners or your former neighbors your phone number and a photo of your pet, and ask them to contact you if your pet is found nearby.
  • Learn more about your new area. Once you find a new veterinarian, ask if there are any local health concerns such as heart worm or Lyme disease, or any vaccinations or medications your pet may require. Also, be aware of any unique laws. For example, there are restrictive breed laws in some cities. San Diego North County homeowner associations also may have restrictions — perhaps requiring that all dogs are kept on leashes. If you will be moving to a new country, carry an updated rabies vaccination and health certificate. It is very important to contact the Agriculture Department or embassy of the country or state to which you’re traveling to obtain specific information on special documents, quarantine, or costs to bring the animal into the country.
If your are considering buying or selling, contact Gary Harmon, your North County Realtor.

San Diego North County Homes Statistics – January 2011

The February 2011 HomeDex™ report provides January 2011 housing statistics for San Diego North County homes.

  1. The median price for all San Diego North County homes decreased in January 2011 to $360,000.
  2. The median priced single-family detached North County home rose 1.74 percent from $438,357 in December 2010 to $446,000 in January 2011.
  3. Year-over median single-family detached San Diego North County homes increased 6.19 percent from $420,000 in January 2010, making 18 months of year-over increases in median price (with the exception of August 2010).
  4. While the number of single-family detached North County homes sold fell 32.87 percent from December 2010 to January 2011, the number of SFD listings (active and contingent) increased 8.08 percent from 3,962 ending December 2010 to 4,282 ending January 2011, following four months of declines.
  5. Listings were up 20.69 percent year-over from January 2011.
  6. Median days on market for single-family detached North County homes remained at 68 days in January 2011.

If you would like to take advantage of todays low prices in the San Diego North County real estate market, contact Gary Harmon, a Hadley Home Team Realtor.