Timeshare Scams

Over the years, I have owned 8 different timeshare weeks, and I can say it was a great way for me and my family to vacation.  I owned Carlsbad Inn, Tamarack, Lawrence Welk, Kahana Falls in Maui, and Plantation Village in the Cayman Islands.  I traded my timeshares for great vacations at Harborside Atlantis,  Manhatten Club in New York,  Vistanna Disney World, Kauai, Key West, Saint Martin, Aruba, Bonaire, and many other great places.  When I sold these timeshares, I sold them myself, and I seldom lost any money.

  1. There was one thing in common with all these timeshares…I bought them “cheap” on the resale market.  If you bought your timeshare from a timeshare developer, you are probably in trouble.  Don’t get desparate, avoid being ripped off.  Most timeshare scams involve a promise of a quick sale of the seller’s timeshare interest in exchange for an upfront fee. However, after the fee is collected, little or nothing is done to sell your timeshare interest. But, as is the case with most scams, there are variations of timeshare resale fraud as well. The following are three of the most common fraudulent practices, according to DRE officials:
    1. Unlicensed and illegitimate timeshare reseller fraudsters pose as legitimate and licensed real estate brokers, thereby providing a false sense of security, and then demand the payment of monies up front in connection with the purported resales. However, no services of any kind are actually provided.
    2. Scammers falsely tell timeshare owners that the “agent” has found a “ready and willing” buyer for their timeshares. The scammer asks for listing or “paperwork fee” to effect the transaction, but once the fee is collected, the seller never hears from the company again.
    3. Fraudsters pose as timeshare buyers and use such advertising slogans as “Will Buy Your Timeshare for Cash”, “Timeshares Wanted”, or something similar, to lure timeshare owners. The scammers then ask the owners for “a small amount” of money up front to process the paperwork for the transfer. Once those monies are paid, the owners never hear from the scammers again.

The following practical advice can help consumers from falling victim to a timeshare scam:

  • The request for an upfront or advance fee is a red flag. You should contact DRE before agreeing to pay an advance fee to determine the lawfulness of the fee.
  • Only licensed real estate brokers may list and sell “timeshares for resale”. Check the license status on the DRE’s website to determine if the company or broker is properly licensed.
  • Request a copy of the reseller agent’s written contract that you will be required to sign and a written disclosure of all fees and costs, and you are wise to never pay for services or assistance in advance of the performance of services.
  •  Check out the company or persons with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Check them out through a Google, Facebook, or related search on the Internet. Often consumers who have been scammed will post their experiences, insights, and warnings long before any criminal, civil or administrative action has been brought against the scammers.
  • If you have been a victim of a timeshare scam, file a complaint with the Department of Real Estate.

Several places that I have gone to sell my timeshares are “Timesharing Today” magazine, TUG (Timeshare User Group at Tug2.net)  and the website “Redweek.com.”   If you wonder what your time share is worth on the resale market, these sources are also a good place to look.

I think the timeshare marketplace has changed over the years and there is no longer a need to own a timeshare.  You can go to Redweek.com and rent a timeshare for about the same price as the timeshare owners are paying for just their maintenance fees.  Don’t pay what they are asking, but negoitate.  Renting a timeshare this way is fun, cheaper, and you don’t have any ownership responsibility.

If you would like any type of real estate advice, contact Gary Harmon, your San Diego North County Realtor.


San Diego North County Market Statistics February 2012

The March 2012 HomeDex™ Report provides February 2012 San Diego housing statistics. Information in this report is used by permission from the North San Diego County Association of Realtors® (NSDCAR). Gary Harmon, your Real Living Lifestyles Realtor, has been a member of NSDCAR for over 22 years.

• The median price for all San Diego North County home sales – attached and detached – increased to $357,500 in February 2012 compared to $344,500 in January 2012.
• North County detached homes increased 3.75 percent to $415,000 in February 2012 compared to $400,000 in January 2012. Year-over median price of San Diego North County homes was stable with a small 0.6 percent fall compared to the $417,500 in February 2011.
• The San Diego countywide median SFD price increased 3.12 percent in February 2012 to $359,900 compared to $349,000 in January 2012.
• The number of San Diego North Country homes – detached listings (active and contingent) have remained steady through early 2012, decreasing just 0.92 percent from January 2012 to February 2012.
• The number of sold North San Diego County homes – detached units increased 20.37 percent in February 2012 compared to January 2012 (after a 32.21 percent fall last month), and jumped 27.13 percent year-over compared to February 2011. Each of the last four months experienced double-digit year-over increases in home sales.
• Median days-on-market for North County single-family detached homes sold decreased to 66 days in February 2012 compared to 68 days in January 2012.


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Five Star Award Winner – Gary Harmon

Congratulations Gary Harmon! You are a 2012 Five Star Real Estate Agent

Five Star Professional conducted research to determine the North County real estate agents in the San Diego area who rated highest in overall satisfaction. Clients, peers and industry experts participated in research that resulted in Gary Harmon’s selection as a Five Star Real Estate Agent.

How was Gary Harmon selected?

Our research team contacted consumers in the San Diego area and asked if they had experience working with a real estate agent. Consumers who agreed to participate in the survey provided the name of the real estate agent and rated that individual according to key criteria such as integrity, negotiation and closing preparation.

Surveys were sent to San Diego area residents who recently purchased a home over $150,000 (more than 40,000 households) within a 12-month period (April 2010 to April 2011) and 1,000 subscribers of San Diego Magazine. An additional 250 surveys were sent to mortgage and title companies.

The survey data was collected and scored, resulting in the list of 2012 San Diego Five Star Real Estate Agents.

These results place Gary Harmon in the top 7% of all Realtors in San Diego County.

As a Five Star award winner, Gary Harmon will be listed in the special advertising section of San Diego Magazine and on the Five Star Professional website.

You can get the same personal service that made Gary Harmon a Five Star Award Winner.  Contact Gary Harmon, for your best move ever.

San Diego North County – Coastal and Inland

2011 in running out so I wanted to share the home sales trends, here and around the nation.   First let’s look at the national trends.  The news remains encouraging on a nationwide scale as home sales continue to improve, posting a gain of 13.5% in October over last year.   See always up to date San Diego North County homes market statistics.  Market changes from September to October by region are listed below:

  • Sales increased 4.4% in the West
  • Sales increased 2.8% in the Midwest
  • Sales increased 2.1% in the South
  • Sales decreased 5.1% in the Northeast

Some of the reasons for the continued increase are as follows:   Job creation, rising rents and record high affordability conditions.

Now, lets take a look by zip code at the market changes for San Diego North County homes.

To view San Diego North County homes in person, contact Gary Harmon, your top North County Realtor.

San Diego Real Estate Market Statistics December 2011

The December 2011 HomeDex™ Report provides November 2011 San Diego housing statistics. Information in this report is used by permission from the North San Diego County Association of Realtors® (NSDCAR). Gary Harmon, your Real Living Lifestyles Realtor, has been a member of NSDCAR for over 21 years.

• The median price for all North County home sales – attached and detached – decreased to $350,000 in November 2011 compared to $354,500 in October 2011.
• Detached homes in North County declined 2.21 percent to $400,000 in November 2011 from $409,058 in October 2011; Monthly median prices have declined during the past 7 months of 2011.
• The countywide median SFD price declined 2.03 percent from $357,250 in October 2011 to $350,000 in November 2011.  Year-over countywide median SFD price decreased 10.26 percent from November 2010.
• The number of North San Diego SFD listings (active and contingent) declined 6.9 percent from October 2011 compared to November 2011.
• The number of sold North San Diego County SFD units jumped 9.28 percent in November 2011 compared to October 2011, and increased 13.92 percent year-over compared to November 2010.
• Median days-on-market for single-family detached homes sold in North County rose to 65 days in November 2011 compared to 63 days in October 2011.
• The HomeDex affordability percentage for all homes in North San Diego County – attached and detached – increased to 44 percent in November 2011 compared to 41 percent in October 2011.
If you like San Diego North County home statistics, you can always be up to date with Gary’s Altos Research Reports by major North County communities. Follow these links: Carlsbad homes, Oceanside homes, Encinitas homes, Vista homes, San Marcos homes, and Escondido homes.

To schedule a personal tour of homes in San Diego North County, contact Gary Harmon, your Real Living Lifestyles Realtor. If you would like to search for properties on your own, just click on the community of interest listed under “Current Listing” in the column immediately to the right.

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Internet Marketing Gains Top Spot in North County Home Sales

87% of All San Diego Home Buyers Start on the Internet

The National Association of Realtors say that over 87% of all buyers start on the Internet.  Therefore, if you are a San Diego North County seller, you should select your real estate agent based on how well your agent can market your San Diego North County home on the Internet.   My website blog: www.GaryHarmon.com and my website: www.HomeInfoSanDiego.com excels in marketing clients homes on the Internet with over 100 key phrases on the first pages of Google Searches

How Does Your San Diego Agent Rank

Be an informed seller.  See how any agent you are considering performs on the Internet before you list your most important investment.  Log into www.Websitegrader.com.  Put any agent’s website url address in the blank and click “Generate Report.”   This gives you an objective score of how any agent ranks on their ability to market your property on the internet.  My rank is listed below for you to compare.  Also,  YouTube is the # 3 largest search engine.  Go to www.youtube.com and put “garywharmon” in the search blank.  Click “Search.”  Try that with other agents.  If you shop and compare, the results will be clear.

Gary Harmon Ranks in the Top 5%

See how Gary can customize an Internet marketing plan to get your San Diego North County home sold.   Contact Gary Harmon, today.


How San Diego Home Buyers Use the Internet

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Home Warranty – Home Protection Plan

When a San Diego North County buyer finds a home and writes an offer, I always encourage them to ask for a home warranty from the seller.  If the seller will not pay, I would encourage all of my North County buyers to go ahead and buy it for themselves.  I also practice what I preach by carring a home warranty on my own Lake San Marcos home.     One of  my winning team members is HSA Home Warranty, home protection plan. 

The HSA Home Warranty basic BUYER coverage w/$55 deductible is $330 TOTAL.

 The basic BUYER coverage includes: Heat, Plumbing, Electrical, Roof Leaks, garage door opener including hinges, springs and remote transmitters, Refrigerator including icemaker/crusher and beverage dispenser, thermostats, routing of drain line stoppages including hydro-jetting, toilet tank, bowl & wax ring seals replaced with builder standard, whirlpool bathtub, hot water heater including tankless water heater, primary sump pump and instant hot water dispenser, central vacuum, door bell, smoke alarms, ceiling fans, interior attic and exhaust fans, trash compactor including lock/key assembly and bucket, dishwasher including racks, baskets & rollers, garbage disposal, Oven/Range including interior lining, clocks, rotisseries, racks, handles, knobs and dials, and built in microwave including interior lining, door glass, clock and shelves. All of this is highlighted on page 3 of the Coverage Highlights page of the brochure attached.
You can upgrade to the BUYER 7 Star Plus Upgrade which costs only $455, plus any additional Buyer Options such as Washer/Dryer $50. HSA Home Warranty offers swimming pool coverage including the salt water circuit board and cell for only $125!

The $455 Buyer 7 Star PLUS Policy Upgrade includes all of the basic coverage plus:

Central Air, refrigerant recovery and ductwork, crane charges (roof top ac units), Toilets replaced with like quality; faucets and shower heads, $250 towards code violations (earthquake straps on hwt) – $300 towards modifications on approved central heat, air or hwt, removal and disposal of replaced equipment (ex: hwt, ac unit, etc.), mismatched heating and cooling systems, failures due to improper installations, modifications and/or repairs.
The most comprehensive coverage is certainly the BUYER 7 Star Plus Plan = $455 TOTAL  (plus any additional BUYER options).

 If you have any questions or need more informatin on an HSA Home Warranty, contact Gary Harmon  for experienced solutions to all your real estate needs.


More Safety Tips – San Diego Halloween

Halloween – October 31st

Halloween Safety Tips

When escorting your little San Diego trick-or-treaters always insure that costumes are safe for extrended wear.  Make sure your child can see and breath easily.  If necessary, trim the length of costumes to avoid tripping.  Shoes should be worn at all times.

Be careful with jack-o-lanterns with candels or pumkins with candels and make sure no one gets too close, especially those with long wigs or costumes.

Carry a flashlight and give your young ones glow sticks or glow bracelets.  Use your flaslight to help everyone avoid trip hazards and to make sure autos see you.  Halloween should be fun and by making kids aware of potential hazards, all of you can have a good time.

If you are a driver on Halloween, plan for a nerve-wracking experience.  Trying to navigate San Diego and avoid all the small children crossing the streets everywhere can be a challenge.  Be alert, a little planning and knowledge on how to handle this unpredictable night can help you avoid a potential disaster.

Here are a few  steps you can take to keep yourself and pedestrians safe:

  • Drive Slowly

  • Be patient and take your time

  • Stay alert

  • Beware of cars transporting trick-or-treaters

  • Don’t stay our late

 Also see  Halloween Safety Tips – San Diego North County.

For things to do see Halloween Activities in San Diego 2011

Halloween Trivia

Halloween is one of the oldest holidays celebrated in the world.

It dates back more than 2000 years ago.

The largest pumpkin on record weighed over 1,500 pounds.

Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.

Orange and Black are the traditional colors of Halloween.

Halloween History

On Halloween, Irish peasants would beg the rich for food. For those that refused, they would play a practical joke. Thus “trick or treat.” To avoid being tricked, the rich would hand out fruit, candy, and cookies. This practice morphed into todays Halloween tradition. With such a large number taking part in Halloween festivities every year, it is important to remember some safety tips.

For planned things to do this Halloween, see my blog: “Halloween Activities in San Diego 2011.”

Need to be safe doing a San Diego North County real estate transaction, contact Gary Harmon  for experienced real estate solutions.

When Daylight Savings time Ends 2011

Just a friendly reminder to set your clocks back one hour,  Sunday morning at 2:00 am,  November 6, 2011.  That means we fall back and gain an extra hour of sleep.  This is the end of daylight savings time for us here in San Diego North County.  Back to standard time.  If you would like to know a little history (or a lot of history) about the time change, read on below the slide show. 

See Current Real Estate Listings of San Diego Homes for Sale.

More than you ever wanted to know

Airzona and Hawaii do not observe daylight savings time.

Although not punctual in the modern sense, ancient civilizations adjusted daily schedules to the sun more flexibly than modern DST does, often dividing daylight into twelve hours regardless of day length, so that each daylight hour was longer during summer.[12] For example, Roman water clocks had different scales for different months of the year: at Rome’s latitude the third hour from sunrise, hora tertia, started by modern standards at 09:02 solar time and lasted 44 minutes at the winter solstice, but at the summer solstice it started at 06:58 and lasted 75 minutes.[13] After ancient times, equal-length civil hours eventually supplanted unequal, so civil time no longer varies by season. Unequal hours are still used in a few traditional settings, such as some Mount Athos monasteries[14] and all Jewish ceremonies.[15]

Benjamin Franklin satirically suggested firing cannons at sunrise to wake ParisiansDuring his time as an American envoy to France, Benjamin Franklin, author of the proverb, “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”, anonymously published a letter suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight.[16] This 1784 satire proposed taxing shutters, rationing candles, and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise.[17] Franklin did not propose DST; like ancient Rome, 18th-century Europe did not keep precise schedules. However, this soon changed as rail and communication networks came to require a standardization of time unknown in Franklin’s day.[18]

G.V. Hudson invented modern DST, proposing it first in 1895.Modern DST was first proposed by the New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson, whose shift-work job gave him leisure time to collect insects, and made him aware of the value of after-hours daylight.[2] In 1895 he presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society proposing a two-hour daylight-saving shift,[19] and after considerable interest was expressed in Christchurch, New Zealand he followed up in an 1898 paper.[20] Many publications incorrectly credit DST’s invention to the prominent English builder and outdoorsman William Willett,[21] who independently conceived DST in 1905 during a pre-breakfast ride, when he observed with dismay how many Londoners slept through a large part of a summer day.[22] An avid golfer, he also disliked cutting short his round at dusk.[23] His solution was to advance the clock during the summer months, a proposal he published two years later.[24] The proposal was taken up by the Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) Robert Pearce, who introduced the first Daylight Saving Bill to the House of Commons on 12 February 1908.[25] A select committee was set up to examine the issue, but Pearce’s bill did not become law, and several other bills failed in the following years. Willett lobbied for the proposal in the UK until his death in 1915.

Starting on 30 April 1916, Germany and its World War I allies were the first to use DST (ger.: Sommerzeit) as a way to conserve coal during wartime. Britain, most of its allies, and many European neutrals soon followed suit. Russia and a few other countries waited until the next year and the United States adopted it in 1918. Since then, the world has seen many enactments, adjustments, and repeals.

Now is a good time to buy San Diego Real Estate

Anytime is a good time to buy San Diego North County homes. Contact Gary Harmon, your top North County Realtor, to see homes today. Gary services all of the San Diego North County real estate areas including Carlsbad homes, Oceanside homes for sale, Encinitas homes, Vista, San Marcos, and Escondido real estate.

Single Story Homes

Finding Single Story Homes in San Diego North County

With the population base getting older and baby-boomers reaching retirement age, the quest for single story, one level homes increases.  So you would think builders would have realized the trend and would have built a lot of single story homes in San Diego North County.  No, the opposite is true.  In the last 15 years, almost everything North County home builders have produced has been large two story homes.  They try to get the most bang for the buck without actually trying to meet the needs of the San Diego North County home buyers.

Don’t give up hope, contact Gary Harmon, your Real Living Lifestyles real estate agent.   As your Realtor, I would suggest the following choices.  If you like senior communities like the beautiful Ocean Hills Country Club Resort, there are a lot of one story homes in the $300,000 to $475,000 price range.  Many of them are twin homes.  If you want detached, one level homes, Lake San Marcos also offers a large mix of single story homes.  One such community is Varadero homes.  It is the community that I personally picked for my home.  Varadero has 105 homes with 4 floor plans and is a newer gated development.  See Varadero Homes Floor plans.  See Varadero current listings.  Below is also current listings of Lake San Marcos homes.  Call Gary  Harmon, your senior specialist, with any questions.