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  • 12265 Scripps Poway Parkway, Suite 115
  • Poway, CA 92064
  • P: 858.530.2374
  • F: 858.876.1701
  • E: info (at) sandiegocastles.com
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American Home Buying Day revisited

Steve penned this little gem about five years ago, shortly after Jim Cramer called the bottom of the housing market. 2007, 2012. Tomato, tomahto. Close enough, if you ask me.

The point is that, lately, we have been feeling like American Home Buying Day is finally here. Now all we need are some homes to show the buyers.

nhbd.jpg

The Declaration of Independence 

If we had a dollar for every time… How many times have we said that? At the risk of compromising our street cred, this latest one is for real. Well, actually, it's not the latest, as we have been hearing it for about twelve months running. We hear it when we are holding an open house, at the grocery store, at a school function and even at the gas station. We hear it from the prospective buyers. After asking us, "How long has it been on the market?", "Why are they moving?", and "Is there going to be a price reduction soon?", we inevitably hear the next declaration.

"I think I'll just wait SIX MONTHS."

A thoughtful explanation invariably ensues. "My (dentist, Uncle Phil, barber, therapist, insurance guy, mailman) says that in SIX MONTHS it will be the right time to buy." Of course, these experts have it all over Jim Cramer from CNBC who, as our alert reader "Rido" pointed out, identified next March as the bottom of the market and, therefore, "the time" to buy homes again. The Federal Reserve Board, most economists, and even the National Association of Realtors have yet different opinions, but what do they know? Naturally, the smart money is on Uncle Phil.

Six months, six months, six months… There are so many people waiting to make a home purchase, and all of these people seem to be zeroing in on a single day 182 1/2 days from now. You heard it here first: All hell is going to break loose.

The one thing we most need in this current market is certainty. Thankfully, we seem to have a quorum and a consensus. All seem to agree that the optimum buying time-frame is six months. The only remaining question is, "Six months from when?"  

We the People

Somebody has to take a leadership role. So, we are here to bring sanity to the table. A moving target causes angst, it causes frustration and it results in undue stress and premature graying. Wishy-washy targets benefit no one. We need to establish the exact day on when it will be okay for the ever-growing gridlock of buyers to safely venture from the sidelines.

Therefore, let it be known that, in order to create a more perfect union, the time begins now. Six months from today is May 15, 2008. If the barber, the dentist, Uncle Phil, and other studied pundits in our collective spheres of influence are all correct, do you have any idea what will happen on this date? It will be chaos.

Society Without Government

The latent demand is just too enormous, and anarchy can get ugly. Remember the debut season of Tickle Me Elmo? Imagine, then, a day when throngs of home-seeking buyers take to the streets finally ready to call dibs on their favorite home (you know the one – "model-perfect", "priced to sell" , "bring all offers", "koi pond conveys"). And, then, they will proceed to beat the crap out of each other with their respective Zestimates. In order to avoid this impending doomsday scenario, we need to bring not just certaintly but order to the process.

Hail to the Chief

That's why we propose May 15 as our newest National Holiday, "American Home Buying Day". This way, we can all count on it and plan accordingly. Government agencies can coordinate traffic control and emergency personnel. Costs to the taxpayers can be offset by selling strategic advertising, such as "593 Shady Sunset Happy Place Lane brought to you by Jim's Discount Tire and Mortgage." Real estate agents will have lotteries to determine in which order their clients will get to see each home. "Number three-zero-six: Please report to "Lovingly Maintained 4BR Plus Bonus Room, Owner May Carry." Thinking about it, this is so much better than the arbitrary way we do business now, just showing multiple and random homes, willy-nilly, over the course of months and months. Now, the conversation will be much different. Buyer: "Can we see the home this weekend?" Agent: "No, you'll have to wait until American Home Buying Day. Take a number."

America was made great by increasing efficiency which led to enhanced productivity. Eliminating all but one day a year to buy a home will do the same thing. It's the six-month solution. We will fly our flag proudly, in the colors of Sienna Sand and Arizona White.

What a great country!

Today’s Big Idea – There is nothing boring about a short sale.

(Before we commence with our regularly scheduled programming, a big link-back token of my appreciation to Kyle Lammers at Lender 411 for his uber-nice write up of our little blog. As my daughter, the sixth year Spanish student, might say, Mucho Thank You!)

If you don’t have a blog, then you probably think that all of this magic just happens by, well, magic! It’s easy, you think, to spin a brand new entertaining yarn every lunar cycle or so about Giant Tree Roots of Death, Milton’s Deli or, on that rare occasion, even real estate.

Blasphemy! Au contraire, even. I am here to tell you that this blogging stuff is hard work. I’ve been dangling my participles here since April 1996. And during that time, I have learned that one must constantly strive to improve ones craft if one is to have a fighting chance of holding the attention of at least one of their three readers.

Enter Copyblogger.

Yesterday I was reading an article from Copyblogger titled “11 Ways to Bore the Boots Off Your Readers.” And, no, they didn’t mention me by name but if you play it backwards, I’m pretty sure you can make it out.

The truth is that I have been violating the laws of copywriting for far too long. My posts are criminally long; my rambling diatribes are both feloniously off-topic and far too infrequent. 

I may be older than color TV, but it’s not too late for me. So allow me to take my new skills out for a whirl. Number One on Copyblogger’s how-to hit list is that “each article should have one big idea.” Here goes.

  1. BIG IDEA: PROCESSING A SHORT SALE IS AS MUCH FUN AS REMOVING YOUR OWN APPENDIX WITH A BUTTER KNIFE WHILE BEING FORCED TO WATCH THE ENTIRE THIRD SEASON OF “JERSEY SHORES” AS YOU DINE ON YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW’S TURKEY MEATLOAF.

But there’s more.

2. Keep sentences short and lively. Use periods. Often.

Incorrect: It defies logic that a certain lender, one we shall just call WtF, sent my client (and I am not making this up) TWENTY-ONE identical Notices of Default on a single day, ELEVEN of which were delivered by regular mail and the remainder by certified mail, the latter requiring my client to make a trip to the post office, yet WtF can’t seem to find time to process our five-month-old short sale request.

Correct: Lenders. Are. Stupid.

3. Don’t bore your readers with difficult words.

Incorrect: While customers are anathema to bank short sale departments who have a plethora of noxious files with which they must dispense, said customers and files perceived as impediments to the plethora of more essential duties (such as licking Notice of Default envelopes), it would really be nice if they considered reprioritizing their competing professional responsibilities in order to facilitate the customer’s transaction. The fact that you get eighteen weeks of vacation a year as evidenced by your email auto-responder does not ameliorate my clients present hardship.

Oh, and antidisestablishmentarianism.

Correct: Hey, bank! Over here! I’ve got a homeowner who could use a little help before we all die of natural causes!

4. Don’t be so snooty and formal.

According to the experts, to engage with your reader you need to be charming. “Show your readers the ways in which you’re like them… Use metaphors… Occasional profanity is fine.”

Incorrect: When an occasion arises whereby a lender approves a short sale, one is inclined to assume that the transaction shall progress in a meaningful and efficient manner. It is reasonable to assume that approval will not be followed by rejection, then approval, and then another rejection without some semblance of constructive notice and a subsequent opportunity for dialogue that might lead to discovery of actual relevant, compelling facts and a mutually beneficial resolution.

Correct: I like it when people return my phone calls. I bet you do too! We sure can go faster and farther when we are all rowing our boats in the same direction, dang it! And, by the way, as my grand-pappy used to say, the online “Equator” processing system bites the big one.

More Correct: If I ran my business like the banks run their short sale departments, I would be living out of a refrigerator carton in the brush under the southbound connector ramp to I-15. And banks are full of horse doodie.

5. Use a readable font and don’t let your readers drown in dreary blocks of text. Be generous with white space. And always use compelling images.

Incorrect:  It can be exceedingly frustrating when you are asked to perform the same task multiple times, as this repetition is both unnecessary and counter productive. Such repetition causes pointless delay that, in turn, reduces the bottom line to the very lender who is trying to recover as much of the unpaid mortgage debt as possible.

Correct: Are you kidding me?

 

 

You just asked me to resubmit my client’s tax returns (and I am not making this up, either) for the fifth time?

 

I have faxed them to you, emailed them to you, and uploaded them in your Equator system.

 

 

At one point, they were delivered directly to your office by sled dog while we all yelled “mush” in unison. 

 

 

6. Be unpredictable. “Shakespeare misused words. He used nouns as verbs: he godded me. And adjectives as verbs:thick my blood. This technique surprises and “wakes up” the brain. (Note: Shakespeare wasn’t under pressure to post to his bloggeth on a regular basis, but I digress.)

Incorrect: Despite numerous and repeated attempts by the government and, presumably, the lenders to streamline, automate, systemize, accelerate and generally facilitate the short sale process, the process remains laughably inefficient and fraught with bureaucratic procedures and check-list requirements that ultimately harm the borrower, the lien holder and market recovery in general.

Correct: The short sale process annoy my head and, yea, the lenders doth, more oft than nay, sucketh.

Today, I only worked on 5 of the 11 big bloggy no-no’s. But, as Shakespeare well knoweth, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Plus, I have just been informed that my client’s short sale – the one that was approved last week – is on hold again. They need to order a new appraisal. And they want to see the tax returns – this time fully illustrated and presented as a pop-up book. 

Taking precautions when showing your home (and I know)

safety first
Creative Commons License photo credit: jontintinjordan

In a post long ago (Stardate September 23, 2006), I shared a few of the low-lights from my week that was.  This recent post by “Jim the Realtor” Klinge sent me on a trip down memory lane.

Anecdote Number 1 is a reminder of the potential implications of opening your home to total strangers and the need to take proper security precautions. Anecdote Number 2 is a bonus account of how one real estate agent (me) might have been somebody’s girlfriend or worse – a statistic – had she not been really cautious and even more lucky.

(Note: This blast from the past has been slightly edited to reflect modern-day grammar usage and to make sure that all the words are spelled right and stuff. My finely-honed attention to detail didn’t fully develop until sometime in 2009.)

Bottoms up! During a broker open house, listing agent meets a nice man who is thinking of moving into the area. They are having a nice chat in the living room when a group of agents wanders in, at which point he immediately breaks away and makes a beeline upstairs. Listing agent, being of the crime-fighting ilk, removes her stylish pumps, tip-toes to the master bathroom in stealth-sneak-up-on-you mode, and finds the nice man drinking the codeine cough syrup from the seller’s medicine cabinet. Nice man, now very startled, runs down the stairs while chased by a quite shoeless listing agent. Unable to get a license number, listing agent calls the police. The police refuse to take a report, because an open house is considered an “invitation” to visitors.

Lesson learned: Sellers, when your home is on the market, always remove your valuables and your prescription medications (the latter being considered quite valuable by drug addicts). And, kids (and listing agents), don’t try this on your own. Steve will yell at you.

Blind Date. Agent takes a call from a man very interested in seeing a listing. “No problem,” she chirps. “It is vacant and easy to show!” Very interested man already knew this, of course, because he had seen the pictures. Agent meets very interested man at the property, and man remarks that her picture in the ad is “really cute.” As they make their way into the home, very interested man becomes a whole lot less interested when he sees that the vacant home is not so vacant today; the carpet cleaners are in full swing. Man breaks the land speed record as he flies out the door and into his car. Guess he didn’t like the sense of entry.

Steve yells at me again.

Lesson learned:  Sellers, when your home is on the market, NEVER allow people unaccompanied by card-carrying agents into your home.  Even if these people are with someone who looks a lot like an agent, even someone you might recognize from the bus bench or the back of the shopping cart, make the agent open the lockbox so that your own agent has a record of the showing.

And to agents, always assume a defensive position when showing homes alone. Always be the one closest to the door, always have your cell phone poised in readiness, and always make sure that you have told someone where your are going and when you expect to return. While you really want to sell that house, you really don’t want to be dead – or worse. You definitely don’t want Steve yelling at you.

 

A Blogging Vacation and Back to My Roots

 

Good:

Fairchild Tropical Garden
Creative Commons License photo credit: bunnygoth

Bad:

Rain Forest Jungle Tree with massive exposed support roots near Catarata del Toro
Creative Commons License photo credit: mikebaird

 

At least if you live in a Scripps Ranch subdivision.

But first, a lot of things happened on May 7, 2011 – newsworthy things, I dare say. I really don’t remember what those things were, though, mostly because so much has happened since. One thing I do recall is  that on that monumental day of yore, I wrote a blog post.

Yep. It’s been over three weeks. I was reminded of this yesterday when a gentleman called me wanting our help with a home purchase in San Diego. “I enjoy your blog,” he said.

“Blog?” I thought. “Oh, yeah. I have one of those.”

Having taken a nearly one-month sabbatical (a record even for Miss Lazy Britches) and now finding myself dangerously close to being mocked on social media sites everywhere for my blogging loser-dom, I have a lot catching up to do.  Rather than milk three weeks’ worth of material for the next 21 days, I’ll opt for the lighting round approach.

1. Getting Back to My Roots

Sure, I finally had that overdue cut-and-color in May, but that’s not what I mean. The roots I am talking about here aren’t really “my” roots, but more roots that are owned in common with an undivided interest.

My home, like the homes of two of our three readers, I suspect, is governed by an active Homeowners’ Association (HOA). And by “active,” I mean they actively bill me every month. They also actively send nasty-grams to people in the neighborhood who erect scale replicas of the zoo's flamingo exhibit on their front lawns, who paint their homes lime green, or who can’t provide documented evidence that they own the requisite golden retriever and mini-van. But that’s not the point.

The HOA also actively maintains the common areas – the parkway strips and open space pockets. And by “actively maintain,” I mean they pay both the water bill and the men who actively park their trucks on the sidewalks every couple of weeks and actively pull weeds when I am trying to somewhat-actively jog.

Earlier this week, we came to learn that the lovely parkway strip abutting my little corner lot is harboring evil invaders intent on destroying western civilization as we know it.

Numerous pine trees and one rogue pepper tree who shall remain nameless (Bob) have apparently decided that they can dispatch their malicious little tentacles wherever they feel like it. And where they feel like it is apparently in my backyard. Our first clue that something was amiss was when we began needing a boost to traverse the expansion joint in our side yard concrete walkway. An afternoon of destructive testing by our landscape crew confirmed that roots will go wherever they want; these roots, it seems, wanted to go to my back door en route to the refrigerator for a cold one.

In our active HOA’s defense, they dispatched an active arborist (he was walking briskly) who, after two trips to the “job site” and because he is a trained professional, determined the following: There are some really big tree roots in my back yard, the one that used to have grass and bushes and stuff.

The good news is that there is a solution, a solution involving a trench and a root barrier, we are told, but only after about 16 HOA meetings have convened, times and dates to be determined. The bad news is that because of the destructive testing I alluded to in paragraph nine, my planter beds now look like I am dabbling in commercial agriculture – only, without the actual agriculture.

There’s more good news; every problem is an opportunity, and this was an opportunity to spend two days and a large chunk of my retirement account at the local garden center. Alas, there is also more bad news. It now looks like Walter Anderson Nursery threw up a large chunk of their random annuals inventory in my back yard after pulling an all-nighter. (Note: Strictly speaking, salvias are perennial in Zone 10). But, I can’t penetrate my dirt (something about roots), so my new backyard consists of exploding color all residing in their native plastic containers with price tags still afixed ($24.95. Everything at the nursery, I learned, is $24.95).

All this stuff will eventually get planted. That's assuming I can locate my active landscapers, the ones who didn't show up this past Saturday like they have every other Saturday for the past 20 years, and who I must, therefore, assume were actively enjoying the three-day weekend with their families instead of mowing my brand new lawn. Either that, or they don't want to be anywhere near my roots or my little side job. Probably the latter.

Real estate message: Trees are evil. If you happen to live in a residential dwelling like I do, do not, for the sake of fluffy kittens and your foundation, surround it with trees known for invasive root systems. Such trees might include pine trees (which are pretty stupid to plant in Zone 10), those big deciduous trees with the prickly balls, and Bob.  Now, I know there are some palm tree haters among you, but there is a reason we all plant them in San Diego. They have compact root balls and shallow root systems. (I read that somewhere; I am not, technically speaking, an active arborist despite my growing knowledge of horticulture and how to properly recoil the garden hose after watering my container collection.)

2. All the Other Stuff I was Going to Write About but Now I've Forgotten

So much for the lightening round concept. Those same snooty blogging purists who insist that you are supposed to post more often than once each senatorial term also insist that posts should be short and snappy, not of the “wall of words” variety. And since I think this safely qualifies as a wall of words, my other twenty days of material will have to wait. But be sure to check back every few weeks, as I will be covering more pressing topics such as our low housing inventory,  our current difficulties with appraisals, the latest from Case-Shiller (San Diego is up zero-point-four percent month over month; take that!), and how my daughter just had her wisdom teeth taken out (all four of them, which cost me only slightly less than a trip to the nursery). 

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Office Location

  • San Diego Castles Realty
  • 12265 Scripps Poway Parkway, Suite 115
  • Poway, CA 92064
  • P: 858.530.2374
  • F: 858.876.1701
  • E: info (at) sandiegocastles.com
  • CA BRE# 01853496

Broker Information

  • Kris Berg, Broker
  • CA BRE #01241572