Now is the Best Time to Sell Your Escondido Home

It is spring in the Escondido real estate area and the flowers around your Escondido home are starting to bloom.    The skies have cleared of rain and the days are mostly sunny.  The lawn is looking lush green and is at its very best.  First impressions of your Escondido property are always the most important. NOW is when Escondido buyers will get that great first impression when they drive up in front of your home. 

In is a know fact in the San Diego North County area that Escondido buyers like to buy in the spring.  One of the main reasons is that tax season is over and they can now concentrate on their Escondido home search.   Another reason is that buyers like to buy in the spring so they are ready to move when school is out for the summer.  After summer the Escondido real estate market slows considerably.  So, the best months to have your Escondido house on the market are April through August. 

The San Diego North County real estate market is getting stronger.  Data Quick released results yesterday saying  the market has improved and prices have increased over this time last year.  The State of California is coming out with a new tax credit of $10,000 on May 1st  to help boost California real estate sales for new and first-time home buyers.  Interest rates are still relative low.   So the best thing you can do is list your Escondido real estate now.

To get a free CMA (competitive market analysis) of your Escondido home, contact Gary Harmon, your top Escondido Realtor.

Escondido Homes – Life of an Escrow

Once you have written a contract on your Escondido real estate purchase and it has been accepted by the Escondido seller, your escrow should start.  Hopefully you have chosen to work with a full service escrow company like Pickford Escrow.  The following will describe what takes place during the four week escrow period based on a 30 day escrow period.

Week 1 – Opening Escrow on you Escondido home

  • Escrow gets a copy of the fully executed purchase contract on your Escondido house.  Many times this includes counter offers.
  • The Escondido buyer takes his deposit to escrow (usually within the first 3 days).
  • The escrow company request lender information and/ or a pre-qual letter.  These can be provided by HomeServices Lending.
  • Escrow opens a title order with the chosen title company.  Gary recommends California Title Company (CalTitle).
  • Escrow request CC&R’s and payoff demands.
  • Faxes escrow instructions to both Gary Harmon, your Escondido real estate agent, and the other Realtor.
  • Sends out escrow packages to both the Escondido buyer and Escondido seller for completion.

Your Escondido Realtor, Gary Harmon will make sure the physical inspection, Disclosure Source natural hazard report, and pest control inspection are ordered.

Week 2 – Of your Escondido home escrow

  • Gary Harmon, your top Escondido Realtor, will call escrow to make sure paperwork is being returned.
  • The Escondido selling agent, will check to make sure the lender has the completed loan package.
  • Make sure the credit report is in and the Escondido property appraisal is ordered.
  • Title report and CC&R’s are sent to the Escondido buyer
  • Check  to make sure termite inspection has been done and a copy forwarded to escrow.
  • Check with Pickford Escrow to make sure payoff demands, HOA demands, and docs have been ordered.

Week 3 – Escrow on Escondido property continues

  • You Escondido real estate agent checks with escrow to see what may still be outstanding. 
  • Your Escondido Realtor follows up on outstanding items and checks loan status.
  • Has the termite work on the Escondido real estate been finished?
  • Have repairs been completed as specified in the Escondido home repair request?
  • Order Escondido home protection plan from First American.

Final Week – Escondido home escrow

  • Docs should now be back to escrow for a on  time closing
  • Make an appointment with Escondido buyer to sign docs.  Also, let buyer know how much money to bring in.
  • Go over any final items with your Escondido Realtor and transaction coordinator.
  • All docs go back to the lender and escrow coordinates with lender to fund the Escondido buyer’s loan.
  • When the loan funds, and documents record, your Escondido home escrow closes.  Your Escondido real estate agent will get you your key.

For more information on escrow, title, etc., contact Gary Harmon, your best 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.

Cracked Slab – Escondido Dream Home

I just answered a buyers question on and I though my answer might benefit some of my Escondido buyers.  Question:   We found our dream home and it’s going to auction in a few weeks after not selling as a short sale. Perfect area, etc .. but has a cracked slab.  Could we get an FHA loan for it “As is” ?  We have a very tight budget so big money for additional contrctor’s inspection isn’t an option.  Loosing sleep over this. Any suggestions ?

My answer is as follows:  You have some very good advice from fellow agents, but my advice is to RUN AWAY from that house. There are many good Escondido homes on the market and myself or any other fine Escondido Realtor would be glad to help you find one. Auctions are a hard way to buy and no-one has your six.  Also, you will need to sell your Escondido home someday and would have to disclose to a potential buyer that your home had a cracked slab. Even if it is fixed and is perfect, future Escondido home buyers will have doubts and skip it in favor of a home with no preceived problems. We all have enough problems, leave this one for someone else.

If you would like my help in finding a great Escondido home call me at 760-745-1220 or check out my blog at or web at

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.

How Escondido Home Buyers Search for Homes has Changed

The way buyers search for Escondido homes for sale has changed.

In the past few years, the way prospective Escondido home buyers find and purchase Escondido real

estate has changed. Forever gone are the days when Escondido buyers came to town, were attracted

to the Prudential California Realty sign and stopped into the local Prudential Realty office to see what

was available by going through the San Diego MLS book.  Also, gone is the practice of going through

the San Diego Union or North County Times newspaper ads each Sunday for the family looking to

purchase an Escondido home. Foot traffic, people seeing the Prudential yard sign, your Escondido

Realtor doing floor duty—all these things that use to produce buyer prospects for Escondido homes

for sale, are  not in the quantity they used to.

Escondido home buyers start their searches on the Internet.

Things have changed and the Escondido home buyer usually starts their Escondido real estate search

on the Internet.  Most start with a Google search.  Today’s Escondido home buyer is most likely to

simply sit down in front of a laptop, go to Google, type in “Escondido homes for sale,” Escondido real

estate,” or Escondido Realtor.  Your agents website or blog must appear on the first two pages of the

search results for the above terms that buyers are using.  If your Escondido Realtor is Gary Harmon,

his blog will be on the first two pages for all the important search terms and

your home will be found.  Increase the chances of selling your Escondido real estate, contact Gary


Spruce Up the Interior of Your Escondido Home

Spruce Up Interior

Spruce Up Interior

We have concentrated on the outside of your Escondido home and now it is time to go inside and make some changes. Try to look at your Escondido property through the eyes of a potential buyer. Remember, “People buy what they see and not what will be.” Most of the suggestions that follow will help improve any kind of Escondido real estate. Most of these ideas apply to all room in the house.

  • The first thing you probably should notice is the carpet.  Is it clean, is it a good current color, is in worn or in good shape?   I know you are thinking that the Escondido buyer can buy new carpet when they move in, but don’t count on it.  Remember the slogan above and do what needs to be done.  New carpet that updates and cleans up your Escondido home can easily pay for itself.
  • The next large thing your buyers may notice is the walls.  Consider getting rid of any “strong” colors.  Neutralize your Escondido house.  Remember you want the buyer to think of it as their potential home.  Clean all walls where necessary, patch holes, and repaint if needed.  Escondido real estate with new carpet and paint seldom stays on the market for long.  It also lets you get the most money for you Escondido home.
  • Remember our saying, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness?”  That goes double when marketing your home.   Give every room in the house a thorough deep cleaning.  Some buyers need the home move in ready.
  • Almost forgot the most important thing, “Escondido homes that smell are Escondido homes that don’t sell.”  You may have grow a custom to the pet smells in your home, but the potential Escondido buyer will notice them right away.  How do you know if you have pet smells?  You could also ask a friend, neighbor, or your Escondido Realtor if they smell anything.  Problem with this is that people trying to be polite and nice don’t always give you the straight scoop.  Here is the rule.  If you have a dog or cat, you have smells.

Work on the items above,  see the other hints in my earlier post, and contact Gary Harmon, that’s me, to get your Escondido home sold fast.

Say Goodbye to Closing Cost Surprises

RESPA Reform on Escondido Home Purchases

The government is stepping in once again under a RESPA reform to try to protect the Escondido home buyer.  The problem has been where the lenders upfront “good-faith estimate” is way off from what the actual charges are on the Escondido real estate purchase at close of escrow. This has been especially true in title insurance and settlement charges. Starting January 1, 2010, there will be three categories of charges; Escondido home fees that cannot increase from upfront estimates, fees that have a 10% wiggle factor, and fees that can increase without limit.

Zero Increase Category

  • Escondido home loan origination fees
  • Points for a specific interest rate
  • San Diego County transfer taxes
  • Processing and underwriting charges

Basicially, if the lender has total control, they must be totally accurate.

10% Increase Category

Charges in this category apply to the total of all charges and not to any individual charge.

  • Title services and the lender’s title insurance policy when the lender requires you to use their preferred services
  • San Diego County recording charges
  • Other services selected by the lender such as the appraiser, credit report, or upfront MIP

Note, the above charges are charges the lender has some control over, but not total control.  The government gives them 10% wiggle room.

Charges That Can Change Without Limit

These are charges totally selected by the Escondido buyer and the lender does not have any control.

  • Initial escrow deposit
  • Daily interest charges
  • Escondido real estate homeowner’s insurance
  • Borrower chosen Escondido home title insurance
  • Escondido purchaser escorw charges where buyer chose escrow

Hopefully, these new RESPA guidelines will stop surprises at the closing of your Escondido home.   Questions about these charges, please contact Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor, or Joyce Nathan at HomeServices Lending.

FHA is Going Away?

What’s the Problem?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac making reckless loans with low or no down payments have got us in one of the largest financial recessions in history.  Escondido sellers have definitely felt the pain.  Trillions are being spent to try to fix the problem, but is history just repeating itself in a different form.  This year FHA has been the financing resource that cash strapped Escondido buyers have looked to to buy Escondido real estate.  The problem in a nut-shell is that the buyers using FHA finaning have very little “skin in the game.”  These Escondido home buyers have been able to get loans with only 3.5% down.  The minute a Escondido home closes escrow the owner is already upside down if they needed to sell the home.  (It takes about 7.5% in commissions and cost to sell a home so if someone only put down 3%, they are already 4.5% in the hole when they close escrow.)   This just leads to less committment by buyers and more Escondido real estate foreclosures or short sales.  These problems cause the FHA financial problems.

An independent actuarial study has found that the FHA’s insurance fund reserves are far below where they should be and far below the congressionally mandated minimums.  Althought FHA won’t be going away, they must find ways to increase their reserves and to become more financially stable.

Higher Down Payments

One of the ways the FHA could improve their position is to require higher down payments than the current requirement of 3.5 %.    Fannie Mae’s chief credit officer in the 80’s who is now a mortgage industry consultant recommends 10%.    The new requirement will probably end up at closer to 5% which borders on more irresponsible lending.

Higher Mortgage Insurance

FHA currently charges 1.75% of the loan amount for mortgage insurance premiums.  These are paid through escrow and are paid upfront.  Most Escondido home buyers would just roll that into their loan.  In addition to the upfront mortgage insurance payment, FHA charges an annual premium, paid in monthly installments, of .5 to .55 percent depending on the down payment amount.  FHA is considering an upfront of 2% and and annual increase to .6 %. 

Cutting Escondido Home Seller Concessions

On of the attractive features of the FHA financing is that the agency has allowed seller concessions of up to 6% of the purchase price to go towards loan cost and closing cost.  Once again this encourages buyers to have little or no “skin in the game.”  Many in congress would like to see this decreased to around 2 %. 

Tighter Credit Standards

FHA is by far the easiest and most flexible player when evaluating a buyers creditworthiness.  It doesn’t even have a minimum FICO score requirement.  FHA is also more tolerant of Escondido buyers credit history than other lenders.  FHA tends to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  For example, I just had a buyer that could not get a conventional loan even with 47% down and FHA approved the same buyer’s loan with only minimum down.

It is clear that the FHA needs to improve and tighten up its practices .  Is FHA going away? No!  If your are considering buying Escondido real estate in the near future and are thinking of going FHA, you might want to get that Escondido home purchased before the FHA changes and tightens the rules.