Fix Up Your Escondido Home for Spring

Considering selling your Escondido property this spring?  Now’s a good time to complete some spring maintenance to make sure your home is in tip-top shape.   Even if you aren’t planning to sell your Escondido home, you should still add these chores to your list to help preserve your home’s value and help avoid major repairs later on.

Check the outside of your Escondido Property

Look for any damage caused by winter’s weather. Check for those sagging or loose gutters.  Over the fall and winter, leaves, dirt and debris may have accumulated in your gutters.  Check your gutters for clogging and damage and schedule an appointment for cleaning. Check the condition of your stucco, clean or patch if necessary.  Check the eaves and patio cover for dry rot.  Promptly schedule repairs for those items you can’t do yourself.

Walk around your yard as if you were a first-time visitor. What impression does your Escondido real estate make?  Loosen the soil around perennials, plant annuals or a vegetable garden. Prune shrubs and trees.  Fertilize you lawn and remove weeds from the flowerbeds.

If your sprinklers have been off for the winter, turn them back on. Test your automatic sprinkler system. Reset your timer.  Replace old washers or sprinkler heads.

Don’t forget the backyard! Is it time to condition your deck? Be sure to hammer in any loose nails, or replace them with galvanized deck screws. Replace any broken boards or rails. Consider renting a power washer to clean dirt and mildew from the wood, and then apply an all-weather sealer or stain. Then dust off that patio furniture you kept protected over the winter.

Repair any broken fence boards and paint or seal them as needed. Wash windows and screens.

Take a Tour Inside Your Escondido Home

Start making a list of things to do in each room. Then go to work. Dust walls and ceilings to remove cobwebs and wash any grimy areas. Wash window curtains or remove drapes for dry cleaning. Deep clean rugs and carpets. Dust and polish wood or laminate floors.  Make sure tile grout is clean.

Clean fan blades using mild soapy water. Check the central air-conditioning unit for debris and obstructions; vacuum the main condenser coil on top of the unit.

Make sure all exhaust fans and vents are clean and clear.  Don’t forget to remove the lint buildup from the clothes dryer vent.  Take strainers off the ends of all the lavatory faucets and clean them.

One often-overlooked area is the fireplace.  Be sure to sweep ashes carefully into a dustpan.  Have the flue professionally cleaned every few years. Look around for clutter. Are there items you don’t use any longer?  If you are planning on moving, what items will you not need? Consider having a garage sale and then either donate or trash the remaining items.

And lastly, don’t forget to replace batteries in smoke detectors and change air filters.  A good time to change them is when you change your clock for daylight savings.

Although performing these spring chores may be dreaded task, they go a long way in maintaining and even enhancing the attractiveness and quality Escondido your home.  With more buyers out and about, you must be sure your Escondido property is ready for its next new owner!

For more information read “100 Ways to Prepare Your Escondido Home for Sale.”

If  you are considering placing your Escondido home for sale, call Gary Harmon, you top Escondido Realtor.

Minimize Identity Theft

Idenity Theft

No longer do thieves have to break into you Escondido home to steal from you.  They can just steal your identity or steal through your computer if you are careless.  Below are some things you can do to help minimize the chance of electronic theft or identity theft.

—If you bank online, frequently check your accounts to spot errors or fraudulent transactions. The sooner you detect a problem, the easier it can be to fix.  Also, look over each of your credit card bills each month for unauthorized charges.

—Don’t respond to “urgent” requests. Never give out your Social Security, credit or debit card numbers or PIN in response to an unsolicited e-mail, text message or phone call. That “urgent” message purportedly from a bank, merchant or government agency (such as the IRS) could be a scam attempting to trick you into divulging personal and account information.  If you are concerned about the urgent request, log into your account and see if you have any messages. In the case of credit cards, call the number on the back of the card and ask them if they have tried to contact you about anything.

—Watch out for bogus text messages. Cell phone texts claiming that your bank account has been “blocked” and that you must call to fix the problem can be a scam. If you make the call, you’ll likely be asked for your account and PIN, which can be used to create counterfeit debit cards.

—Don’t open attachments or click on links in unsolicited e-mails. Your computer could become infected with “spyware” that changes your security settings and records your keystrokes. It lets online thieves silently steal your passwords, bank or credit-card numbers and obtain answers to security questions, like your mother’s maiden name.

-Shred items that have your personal information and account numbers before throwing them in the trash.

-PayPal is where I personally see most of the fraud attempts against me.  I get a bogus message wanting me to click to log in to PayPal.  If you use that login link, anything you give them is lost.  Tip: If you use PayPal, anything officially from PayPal will address you by name.  Also, like above, log into your PayPal account directly yourself if you need to check something.  Never click a link in an email to login.

By using a little common sense, you can help minimize the risk of identity fraud. To minimize risk when buying or selling Escondido real estate fraud, always use a top Escondido Realtor, like Gary Harmon.

New California First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit

With the Federal Tax Credit expiring on April 30, 2010, Governor Schwarzenegger saves the day by signing AB 183 into law.  The new first-time homebuyer tax credit becomes effetive on May 1, 2010.    It will be on a first come, first serve basis and when the $200 million runs out the credit is over.  Unlike the previous state tax credit which applied only to new residences, this credit will be split equally between new (previously unoccupied homes) and existing homes.   This website will discuss how the credit affects Escondido real estate purchases, but the same rules would apply to other San Diego North County real estate sales. 

First of all to qualify for the first-time homebuyer tax credit, you must be a first-time Escondido home buyer.    The amount of the tax credit on your Escondido home purchase is limited to 5% of the Escondido home for sale price or $10,000, which ever is smaller.  You will receive you tax credit over three consecutive years.  To be eligible you must purchase a qualified Escondido home between May 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010.   If you enter an enforceable purchase contract before December 31, 2010, it must close escrow before August 1, 2011 to qualify.   Again, when the money runs out the program is over.

The new California first-time homebuyer tax credit is expected to have a very positive impact on the Escondido home economy and around the state.  Nearly 40% of first-time home buyers said they would not have purchased without the Federal tax credit.  The California credit is expected to provide similar results.   For more information about tax credits, contact Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor.

Short Sale – Escondido Real Estate

What is the difference in a short sale of an Escondido home and a foreclosure? What is an REO and a bank owned property? Escondido home buyers often lump all of these distressed sales together, but they are very different and must be approached in different ways.

Foreclosure, REO, or Bank Owned Property

Let’s start by addressing the foreclosure which is easier to define. A foreclosure is a process where the bank takes back ownership of the Escondido real estate. The bank files a notice of foreclosue against the Escondido home. After 120 days the bank can then take ownership of the property. The homeowner is out of the loop so to speak. Properties that have been taken back by this process are often referred to as bank on properties or reo’s which stands for “real estate owned.” From a buyers point of view, foreclosures, reo’s, bank owned homes are very attractive. Buyers can make offers and the bank can make an immediate decision. For Esconido home buyers needing to move into a home right away this type of purchase beats the short sale.

Short Sale

A short sale is a sale where the proceeds from the sale of the property will not be enough money to pay off all of the leins against the Escondido property. A short sale requires approval from the lein holders. Many times this takes much more time than the Escondido buyer is willing to wait. Short sales have advantages and disadvantages from both the buyer and seller angle. This blog will take a look at all the various angles of the Escondido short sale in future blogs on this subject. For immediate information, call Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor. For immediate reading see Gary’s main website.  Get a summary of  “Short Sale Basics.”  Find out  “How to Qualify for a Short Sale.”  Find, “What are the Advantages of a Short Sale.”  And see “Short Sale Supporting Documentation” a lender may need.

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.

Expansion of Home Improvement Tax Credit

Tax credits for making energy efficient Escondido home improvements are now 30% of the cost of the improvements.  The maximum amount you can receive is $1,500.  So for example, if you added qualified improvements to your Escondido house of $4,000 the credit you would receive a tax refund of $1,200 when you file your tax returns. Eligible Escondido home improvements include energy efficient exterior windows and doors,furnaces, heat pumps insulation, central air conditioners and water heaters. Generally, your Escondido home improvement contractor and/or the manufacturer selling the improvements issues a certification that clarifies whether the improvements meet the necessary standards for energy efficiency. Places like the Escondido Home Depot can also help you know what qualifies.  Most newer models of modern windows, furnaces, and air conditioners meet these requirements. If you’ve been of doing any of the improvements that qualify, this spring might be a good time to upgrade your Escondido property.  Watch for the great springs sales, get a good price and then a tax break.  There is also a substantial credit for adding solar panels to you Escondido house.  Before you do so read my post “Solar Panels – Free Energy?”

To get more Escondido real estate information, contact Gary Harmon, your Escondido real estate agent.

Disaster Supply Kit for Your Escondido Home

Natural Disaster

If you live in the Escondido real estate area, you should be prepared for at least two major kinds of natural disasters.  In a previous post, I shared with you the “7 Steps to Earthquake Safety.”    The other major potential disaster in the Escondido real estate area is fire.  Not just wildfires, but more often just Escondido house fires.  If fact, in San Diego North County house fires are by far the number one disaster. 

With any kind of disaster you need to be prepared as well as possible.  You should be prepared to evacuate your Escondido home or to stay in the Escondido property if necessary.  To deal with a disaster you need to have a diaster plan and you should have a disaster supply kit.  You can buy these from the San Diego branch of the American Red Cross or make your own.  You should store your supplies in waterproof, sturdy, and easy to carry containers.  Duffle bags and backpacks work well.   You have to be ready to just “grab and go” if necessary. 

When making your own disaster supply kit for your Escondido home you should include enough items to last you and your family for at least three days.   The following is a list of things to include:

  • A basic first aid kit
  • An extra set of car and Escondido house keys
  • A list of prescriptions (you also might want to grab your prescriptions at the last minute)
  • Battery powered radio and flashlight ( store the batteries separately)
  • Lighter and matches (don’t take or light candles)
  • Basic tools and a few kitchen dishes and utensils
  • Change of clothes and shoes
  • Sleeping bags or blankets
  • Water to last at least 3 days (one gallon per person per day)
  • Food that won’t spoil or that needs very little cooking
  • A manual can opener

Most of these items for your Escondido home disaster supply kit are very inexpensive.  Don’t make your kits too heavy to carry.  Don’t make your Escondido property disaster kit too complicated.  If you do you will never get one made.  Remember, any kit is better than no kit.  Be prepared.  Also, be sure to refresh food and water in the kits as needed. 

For Escondido real estate information, contact Gary Harmon, your Escondido real estate agent.

Escondido Real Estate Market Statistics for February


Escondido HomeThe median price of available Escondido Homes for Sale this Feb 15, 2010 is $399,900.   The 598 Escondido houses  have a market time of 146 days.  The Escondido real estate market has been consistently cool for several weeks.   Escondido home inventory and days on the market have been rising. It is still a buyer’s market and Escondido real estate prices have continued to fall somewhat. 

Statistical information in this monthly report is supplied by Pickford Escrow and was developed by Altos Research.

Escondido Homes Market Summary (Feb 15, 2010)
Zip 92025
Zip 92026
Zip 92027

Median Escondido Homes Asking Price 


List Price per Square Foot
Average Days on the Market
Median Escondido Homes Size (sqft)  
Median # of Bedrooms
Median # of Baths


The median prices in Escondido homes in the above table does not always give the whole picture.   It sometimes helps to look at Escondido home median prices broken down by quarters.  The following for Escondido homes for sale is an average of all four zip codes.  The median Escondido properties price for the most expensive 25% of Escondido homes is $765,000.  The median price for the upper middle 25% is $485,000.  The lower middle median price for Escondido properties is $320,000 and the bottom 25% of Escondido homes for sale median price is $218,000.  For more information about Escondido homes for sale, contact Gary Harmon your Escondido real estate agent and top Escondido Realtor.

Tips on Contacting Escondido Home Owners in Default

Be quick in contacting the Escondido home owner.

You have always heard, “The early bird gets the worm.”  That is very true when trying to get a good deal on Escondido real estate.  You should not wait too long before you make contact with the Escondido home owner that is in default.  Remember it is 120 days from the notice of default until the bank usually takes back the Escondido house.  Once you have gotten together a down payment, have been prequalified with a good lender like HomeServices Lending, you need to make contact with the home owner for any Escondido property that you have interest in.

Be nimble when contacting the Escondido home owner.

You basically have the following three ways to contact the Escondido property owner.

  1. Send the Escondido property owner a note or letter.  An email would work, but you probably do not have that address.
  2. Call the Escondido home owner if you have a telephone number.
  3. Drive to the Escondido property and knock on the door.  I do not recommend the 3rd option; there may be risk involved.

You may find that you end up using some combination of the above three methods to get intouch with the owner.  Contacting these Escondido home owners who are in default can be the most intimidating step in trying to buy a pre-foreclosure Escondido property.  When the house is already bank owned (REO) you would be contacting a lender directly.  Inexperienced Escondido foreclosure buyers should contact their Escondido Realtor who has some expertise in Escondido foreclosures.

If you are able to make contact with the Escondido owner, remember that they have no obligation to talk to you or work with you.  Let them know that you will give them an option that will be beneficial to them as well as to you as the Escondido home buyer.  You want to make it win-win.  Help the Escondido home owner walk away from the bad situation that they are in without an Escondido foreclosure on their credit.  Even better if they can walk away with a minimum amount of cash.

Be professional will dealing with a pre-foreclosure owner of an Escondido home.

After you have made initial contact, try to set up a meeting so you can see the Escondido real estate and discuss the situations and many options.  Be sure to find out how many loans are against the Escondido home.  If the home is “underwater” where there is more debt than value to the home, you should probably just walk away.  It would be very difficult for you to negoiate a short sale on their Escondido property.

When you contact the Escondido owner they may not want to talk to you immediately.  In that case leave them your name, phone #, email address, etc. and tell them to call you if they change their mind.

Last Tip when contacting an Escondido pre-foreclosure owner.

Expect some rejection from the pre-foreclosure owner.  They are in a very bad and sometimes embarrasing situation.  Try to be sensitive that they are going through hard times.  They may feel that you are just there to try to take advantage of them.  In any case, be prepared, be respectful, and just move on if they are not interested.  Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor, has delt with many short sale and foreclosure situation.  Let his 21 years of experience help you save money and hassle on your next Escondido home purchase.

Escondido Foreclosures – How do I buy?

How do I buy a pre-foreclosure Escondido home?

An Escondido home becomes a pre-foreclosure when it has a notice of default filed against the Escondido real estate.  There is usually a sale at auction 120 days after the pre-foreclosure is filed.  During this 120 day period the Escondido home owner still has a chance to stop the entire process by paying off what is owed on his Escondido home or selling his Escondido property.  You may contact the owner during this period, but they may not be ready to talk at this time.  To find pre-foreclosures of Escondido homes, use “Free Foreclosure Search.”

How do I buy an auction Escondido home?

After the Escondido property owner fails to make several mortgage payments the bank may file a notice of default on the Escondido house.  After 120 days the property will usually be scheduled for auction.  During the 120 days the Escondido homeowner has a grace period to bring payments up to date and to stop the foreclosure proceedings against his Escondido home.  If the Escondido homeowner fails to do so, his Escondido property will probably be sold at auction.  You can find Escondido properties scheduled for auction along with the dates of the auction at “Free Foreclosure search.”  For more information on how to actually buy this Escondido auction homes, contact Gary Harmon your Escondido Realtor.

How do I buy Escondido foreclosure homes?

Escondido foreclosure homes are homes the bank has taken back through the foreclosure process.  Most banks will list these properties with an Escondido Realtor.  You can find these Escondido homes by using “Free Foreclosure Search,” “Quick Homes Search” or use “Listingbook.”  Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor can help you find these homes and get the best deal available.

How do I contact the owners in default?

The only time you can contact the owners in default is during the pre-foreclosue period on their Escondido real estate.  This is usually about a 120 day window.  See Gary Harmon’s next post on “How do I contact the owners in default?” for great tips.