Second Opinion

Purchasing your San Diego North County home may be one of the biggest purchases of your life.   The first major step is to get your financing lined up.  Many clients come to me preapproved by a lender. If so they may be well on their way to homeownership.  However, financing or lender performance is where we run into most of our problems in escrow. This is especially true with out of area or Internet lenders.  That is why I recommend getting a second opinion on financing.

For a good referral of a back up lender, contact Gary Harmon.

I have several trusted lenders that I work with that will provide your with a complimentary second opinion on your home loan even if you are already preapproved. Best of all, since they have worked with me many times, they will alway “shoot straight.”  If they have a better rate, you might consider using them. If not, it confirms that you have a good rate.  Since it is free you have nothing to lose and every to gain.

Hottest Real Estate Markets

If you are wondering what will be the hottest real estate markets in the next 18 months, I will share with you CNNMoney’s opinion.  Sorry to say that San Diego real estate and North County real estate were not included.  In fact, only one California city was mentioned, Madera, California.  Even though local markets are not in the list, we know that San Diego North County real estate inventory is very low and decreasing.  This should start to cause our home prices to increase.  Waiting on the bottom of the San Diego home market, better get on board.

The 10 cities in which home values may rise fastest are :

  1. Madera,  California (Forecasted 21.5% gain through 2013)
  2. Medford,  Oregon (Forecasted 21.5% gain through 2013)
  3. Yuma,  Arizona (Forecasted 21.5% gain through 2013)
  4. Corvallis,  Oregon (Forecasted 21.5% gain through 2013)
  5. Eugene, Oregon (Forecasted 21.5% gain through 2013)
  6. Olympia, Washington (Forecasted 21.5% gain through 2013)
  7. Boise, Idaho (Forecasted 21.5% gain through 2013)
  8. Billings, Montana (Forecasted 21.5% gain through 2013)
  9. Lewiston, Idaho (Forecasted 21.5% gain through 2013)
  10. Sante Fe, New Mexico (Forecasted 21.5% gain through 2013)

To get a personal tour of San Diego North County homes, contact Gary Harmon, you military off base housing expert.

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San Marcos High School Ranks High

California has just released the most recent academic data and our own San Marcos High School (San Marcos Knights) ranked 7th out of 65 San Diego County high schools.  Listed below are the top 15 schools.  Not that San Marcos High Shcool ranks high, ahead of Poway High School, Rancho Bernardo High School, and La Jolla High School.  Mission Hills High School is also in the top 15.   Elementary and Middle Schools in San Marcos Unified School District are also doing well as the district ranked 4th out of the 11 districts  in San Diego.   The school rankings are great news for potential buyers of San Marcos homes, Lake San Marcos homes, and Varadero homes.     See current listings of San Marcos homes for sale, including Lake San Marcos homes and Varadero homes below rankings.

  • Canyon Crest Academy in the San Dieguito Union High School District – 910.
  • Scripps Ranch High School in the San Diego Unified School District – 883.
  • Torrey Pines High School in the San Dieguito Union High School District – 881.
  • Coronado High School in the Coronado Unified School District – 872.
  • Del Norte High School in the Poway Unified School District – 864.
  • Westview High School in the Poway Unified School District – 860.
  • San Marcos High School in the San Marcos Unified School District – 859.
  • Poway High School in the Poway Unified School District – 854.
  • San Dieguito Academy in the San Dieguito Union High School District – 854.
  • Bonita Vista High School in the Sweetwater Union High School District – 851.
  • La Jolla High School in the San Diego Unified School District – 849.
  • Mira Mesa High School in the San Diego Unified School District – 846.
  • Olympian High School in the Sweetwater Union High School District – 845.
  • Rancho Bernardo High School in the Poway Unified School District – 841.
  • Mission Hills High School in the San Marcos Unified School District – 834.

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[idx-listings city=”San Marcos” propertytypes=”335″ orderby=”Price” orderdir=”DESC” count=”25″ showlargerphotos=”true”]

To see San Marcos homes for Sale, including Lake San Marcos, contact Gary Harmon.

Buy San Diego Homes Now – Why Wait?

Invest in San Diego North County Real EstateIt seems that every time we’re talking about San Diego North County homes, the conversation immediately goes to the financial aspects of buying a North County home.
How’s the market? Should I wait to try and get a “better buy”? Where are prices headed? Where are interest rates headed?   Should I wait until I can get a “steal”?The interesting thing about all these questions is that survey after survey keep telling us that price is not the primary reason families buy a San Diego North County home. However, money is typically considered in terms of affordability and in light of not paying rent to a landlord.  See surveys under photo.The Survey Says:According to the 2011 National Housing Pulse Survey, most Americans still believe that owning a home is a solid financial decision, and a majority of renters aspire to home ownership as a long-term goal. Seven in ten Americans also agreed that buying a home is a good financial decision while almost two-thirds said now is a good time to purchase a home. The top five reasons given in the “National Housing Survey” for buying a home are, in order:

  1.  It means having a good place to raise children and provide them with a good education
  2.  You have a physical structure where you and your family feel safe
  3.  It allows you to have more space for your family
  4.  It gives you control over what you do with your living space (renovations and updates)
  5.  Paying rent is not perceived as a good investment—at the end of the rental period all you have is a stack of cancelled checks.

The top four reasons given in the “Myers Research and Strategic Services Survey” for buying a home are, in order:

  1.  Home ownership provides a stable and safe environment for children and other family members
  2. • Home ownership means the money you spend on housing goes toward building equity, rather than to a landlord
  3.  Home ownership creates the opportunity to live in a neighborhood that you enjoy
  4.  Home ownership allows you the right to decorate, modify and renovate your home as you see fit

The Survey’s Bottom Line?Finances and price dominate the conversation when we talk about buying a home. However, when it comes down to it, we actually buy for the same reasons our parents and grandparents did—we want a better lifestyle for ourselves and our families. And now, with affordability in Southern California at its best level in decades, it makes all the sense to buy for all the right reasons.Why Wait?As the chart below illustrates, by “staying on the fence” you may have saved a few dollars in terms of your monthly payment, but you missed an entire year of the other benefits of home ownership.To find the North County home of your dreams, contact Gary Harmon now.

Writing a Real Estate Purchase Offer

Make Your Offer a Win – Win

Once you have looked at Carlsbad homes for sale and found the Carlsbad home of your dreams, writing the offer becomes very important.  You don’t want to pay too much, but you want to be successful in buying that Carlsbad real estate.  It is time to set contact Gary Harmon, your Real Living Lifestyles real estate agent and write the purchase offer.

Most things are negotiable in the offer, but in San DiegoNorth County there is a standard to follow on most items.  A good rule of thumb, using an old clicke, is to make any offer a win-win for everyone.  Your Realtor will know how to advise you.

Keep Your Offer Simple

Keep the purchase offer on the Carlsbad home for sale as simple as possible.  For example, don’t ask for closing cost back unless you need the cash.  Carlsbad sellers will only be looking at the net price.  Don’t ask for repairs up front.  You can handle those later in the request for repairs.  Structure you offer to keep things simple and clear for everyone to understand.  If there are any items of personal property you are requesting that don’t normally come with the home, do them separately after you have an acceptance on the home.  Don’t forget the big picture which is to buy your Carlsbad home, not to get a good deal on a refrigerator, etc.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Focus only on what is important.  The first important thing is the sales price.  Your Carlsbad Realtor, Gary Harmon, can provide you with comps of other Carlsbad homes to help you pick the right offer price.  In this current Carlsbad real estate market, homes are selling at or above listing price.  Many times you won’t get a counter offer, so put your best foot forward.  The deposit, usually at least one percent of the purchase price, is the next important item.  How long  an escrow will you need?   It takes at least 30-45 days to get all the loan details worked out.  Other items to consider are who pays escrow, title, and other closing cost.  Ask your Realtor, Gary Harmon, what is customary in the Carlsbad area.

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.

Benefits of an FHA Loan

What are the main benefits of an FHA loan or mortgage?  See answers under photo.

  • You can get a loan approval to buy a Carlsbad home or other San Diego real estate with a loan of up to $697,500.
  • San Diego buyers only have to put 3.5% as a downpayment.
  • The Carlsbad real estate seller can credit up to 6% for all closing cost ( recurring and non-recurring).
  • The North County buyer can get a gift from a family member which is allowed to cover all cash to close.
  • You can have a 640 minimum FICO score.
  • There are no declining market reductions to LTV.
  • The process is streamline: no appraisal, no cost refinance available (must be paying off FHA loan).

Any questions about an FHA loan, contact Gary Harmon.  He will put you in touch with an expert San Diego North County lender such as Charla Rueda of Conerstone Lending.

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.

Optimistic about the San Diego Real Estate Market

As you may already know, we commissioned Prudential’s Global Market Research Group to survey consumers between the ages of 25-64 who are in the market to buy a home.
Our Prudential 2011 survey found that Americans are significantly more optimistic about real estate today than a year ago and, despite economic volatility, their belief in real estate as a good investment is unshaken. In fact, most feel that the real estate market and property values will see recovery in the next year or two, and they highlighted the importance of real estate agents in the home-buying and selling process.

Prudential launched a media blitz in the early-morning hours of March 10 starting with 21 live television and radio interviews and two taped sessions. Survey coverage was picked up by 174 TV stations and national radio programs representing more than 25 million viewers and listeners. (Prudential agents can watch a sampling of these interviews linked from the PREA Center “Top Story” section and on the NextWork community site.)
We also blanketed the national and regional press as well as real estate trade publications with our press release, “Americans Confident in Recovery of Real Estate Market.” The Wall Street Journal was among the first to file stories. When the dust finally settled our press release generated 19,503 headline impressions on the Internet.
A simple Google search returned 23 pages of results including postings on media and trade association sites, affiliate websites, agent blogs and even the sites of other real estate companies. Our press release was viewed and posted on media sites in Sweden, Canada, France, Germany, United Kingdom, India and the Republic of Korea, which is great as America continues as a highly desirable market for international investors.

We at Prudential California Realty are optimistic about the San Diego Real Estate Market.  For more information about San Diego North County real estate, contact Gary Harmon, your San Diego North County Realtor.

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Search Like a Pro

Make sure you don’t miss the advanced search tools available for free on my main website,   For instance, you can search for properties by Area, Map, Zip Code, or MLS Number. If you see a property that you like, click on its thumbnail picture or hit the View Details button to see additional photographs and a detailed description of the North County homes.

Buying a San Diego North County home can be overwhelming if you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re looking for. Do you want to live near the beach or inland?  Are you looking for a detached property or perhaps a condominium? How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? Once you’ve come up with a list of requirements, you can save time by saving your preferred search parameters.

On the Property Search page, make your selections for your preferred area, number of bedrooms, and other details, and select Save Search. At this point, you can choose a name for your search, such as “2 bedroom Rural Houses” or “Homes in the Downtown Area.” Once you’ve named and saved your search, you can quickly access this search from the Saved Searches folder in your account, 24 hours a day. Every time you select a saved search, your pre-selected search criteria will be applied to the listings, and you’ll see all the properties that match your criteria. This feature can be a real time saver, as you don’t have to enter the information every time you want to look for homes.

Did you know that you can bookmark your favorite North County properties for quick viewing later? When you’re looking at a property’s Details page, you’ll see a button that says Add to Favorites. Click the button, and that property will be instantly saved to your own hidden Favorites folder on the site.

If you’d also like to share listings with friends and family, just click Send to a Friend, and the listing details will be sent to their email inbox. If a paper version of the listing is more convenient, simply hit Print, and you’ll be taken to a printer-friendly version of the listing details. On your browser, go to File and Print. Voila!

Are you looking for more information than just current property listings? Would you like to learn about North County neighborhoods in the San Diego North County market? has tons of great information about market conditions, nearby amenities, local schools, and much more.  Just click on the blue community button of your choice at the top ot  Simply select the community or neighborhood you’d like to read more about.

Have you spotted any San Diego North county listings you like? If so, you can easily arrange to view it in person by clicking Request a Showing from a property’s Details page. You’ll be taken to a brief form where you can post your preferred dates and times, or ask questions about the property. I’ll be in contact with you as soon as possible to schedule your tour!

See Current Listings of ALL San Diego North County homes now!  For more information, contact Gary Harmon, your top San Diego North County Realtor.