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.

Do's of Mortgage Fraud Prevention

Escondido HomeYesterday, we discussed tips to prevent mortage fraud when buying Escondido real estate.  We focused on the “don’ts.”   Again, when you are in the market to buy Escondido real estate, the first thing you should do is to get pre-qualified with a lender.  I recommend HomeServices Lending.  During the process of buying your Escondido home and getting a loan here are some  “Do’s” that can help avoid mortgage fraud.

  • Do provide your confidential financial and personal info to your trusted mortgage lender.  Gary Harmon, your Escondid0 Realtor, has been in the Escondido real estate business locally and can help you choose a trusted lender.
  • Do always be totally honest when completing the Escondido home loan application.
  • Do request and keep copies of everything you provide to the lenders and everything you are ask to sign.  If you feel uncomfortable, call Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor for advice.
  • Do review the Good Faith Estimate of Closing Cost carefully.
  • Do ask about any parties being paid if you are unfamiliar with their names.
  • Do ask about any fees that you may not understand.
  • Do lock in your interest rate as soon as you get a rate you like.
  • Do read everything presented to you before you sign.  Don’t let anyone rush you.

Follow the do’s and don’ts of these last post for a better Escondido home loan experience.   For more information, call Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor.

Tips to Prevent Mortgage Fraud

Escondido home loan

HomeServices Lending

When you are in the market to buy Escondido real estate, the first thing you should do is to get pre-qualified with a lender.  I recommend HomeServices Lending and Charla Rueda at Bank of America.  During the process of buying your Escondido home and getting a loan here are some  “Don’ts” that can help avoid mortgage fraud.

When getting your Escondido home mortgage:

  • Don’t provide false information about your job, income, credit or bank accounts.
  • Don’t lend your credit info or social security # to anyone so they can take out a loan in your name.
  • Don’t close on any loan on an Escondido house that has any false of misleading information.
  • Don’t use appraisals that have incorrect or inflated values on the Escondido home.
  • Don’t use down payment or earnest money that did not come from you.
  • Don’t pay your good faith deposit to anyone except Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor or directly to the escrow company you are using for the Escondido home purchase.
  • Don’t let anyone sign anything for you during the Escondido real estate purchase.
  • Don’t expect to get “paid” for purchasing a home.  You will need to bring a certified check to escrow prior to closing on your Escondido property.
  • Don’t pay anyone any additional fees or cost for the loan after it closes.  When in doubt, check with Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor.

The Do’s of mortgage fraud prevention tips will be listed in a p0st to follow.  For Escondido real estate information that you can trust, contact Gary Harmon, your top Escondido Realtor.

Escondido Market Update

Escondido Housing Market  as of 2-15-2010

This week the median price for a home in the  Escondido real estate area was $399,900. This is down from the median price in November of 2009 of $415,000.  The average asking price per squae foot was $193.  The inventory of Escondido homes for sale is increasing.  This is partially due to the usual homes coming on the market after the first of the year.  The other contributing factor, and somewhat more concerning, is the slow down in sales of Escondido homes. In is definitely a buyers market as the demand level is low relative to the available inventory of Escondido homes for sale.  This weakening Escondido real estate market has caused prices to start to come down. See the chart below for trends supplied by Altos Research.

Escondido Market Data

Another good way to look at Escondido real estate data is to look at sales by quartiles, the most expensive to the least. In the top or first quartile the median sales price was $749,500.  Down from $875,000.  In the second quartile Escondido housing prices were $485,000, down from $508,000. In the 3rd quartile Escondido properties had a median price of $319,990, down from $339,000 .  And in the bottom quartile Escondido housing had a median price of $217,000 which was up from $210,000 last November.  To get more current market conditions on Escondido homes for sale, call Gary Harmon, your Prudential California Realty Escondido Realtor.

Pledge to Escondido Home Buyers during Negoiations

Escondido Floral

“Someone accepted the offer on the Escondido house that I wrote, now what?”   This is a question that I get from a lot of Escondido house buyers.   After week of searching, they have found their Escondido dream home.  Not it is time to write an offer and start the negoiations.  But, how much should you offer?  How much will be enough or too much?  Here are some of the things that happen during the negotiation process.  I will strive to provide the following services:

  • Review with my Escondido buyer all the forms and documents involved in buying Escondido real estate.  The purchase documents and supporting documentation on your Escondido home purchase are prepared online in a computer program called ” Winforms.”  These forms are uniform California Association of Realtor (CAR) forms used by all Escondido Realtors.  They can be printed, faxed, e-faxed, or sent to you as pdf attachments.
  • Provide a copy of all documents needed for the lender you have selected for your Escondido home purchase.   HomeServices Lending is one of the Gary Harmon team members and is an excellent choice.
  • Prepare a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) showing comparable Escondido properties currently on the market, in escrow, or recently sold.  This comparison will aid you in making an informed decision on your initial offering price and any counters that are usually necessary.
  • Present your  Escondido real estate purchase offer to the sellers on your behalf.
  • Present your Escondido home purchase offer in a timely manner and in person if you desire.
  • Discuss with Escondido buyers the most comfortable negotiating strategy and work within your parameters based on our current Escondido housing market conditions.
  • Based on the type of Escondido housing offer you choose to write, discuss the best possible strategy to get your offer approved.
  • Inform you immediately of the Escondido sellers response to your offer when presented.
  • Keep you updated daily on the progress be made during the negoiations.  If your offer is on a bank owned property or short sale, will keep you up to date as information becomes available.
  • Deliver to you the final executed purchase documents on your new Escondido real estate.

For more information on what takes place during the purchase of Escondido properties, contact Gary Harmon, your Escondido Realtor.  See Gary’s eariler post on what takes place during a home search:  Watcht for a new post  that will  describe what happens during the escrow period on your Escondido house.  Gary is proud to recomment Pickford Escrow.

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!