Category Archives: Carmel Valley

Short Sales: the interminable waiting game

Rampant short sales and huge lender losses

I understand the pain lenders must feel with all the losses they are suffering right now.  So, why doesn’t someone from within, from within and above, streamline the process so they can minimize their losses and move on??  The extent of the bureaucracy is unbelievable.

The short sale process: a classic bureaucractic quagmire

A prime example of lenders cutting off their noses to spite their faces is what’s happening with my clients P and T.  They are all cash buyers, ready to act swiftly and close within a couple of weeks, but looking in areas where virtually every listing is a short sale or a foreclosure.  We restricted our search to properties whose listing agents had specifically told us they were extremely close to getting bank approval.  We wrote offers on two properties, both with reassurances that we should have an answer within a week or two at the latest.  It has been 6 weeks with the first, and almost 5 with the second.  We get no courtesy updates, no calls even inquiring whether we are still in the game or have found another property. 

The perfect property with an imperfect agent

Meanwhile, we’ve been keeping tabs on the market, checking out new listings, hoping for an REO (banked owned) property that would meet their needs – these sellers (i.e. the banks) generally respond quickly and we’d be able to close in a couple of weeks.  No such luck, but we did find The Perfect Property.  The problem is,

  1. it’s a short sale,
  2. it just came on the market, and
  3. the listing agent has done no homework. 

This particular listing agent lists homes with particularly low prices to generate lots of offers, submits them ALL to the lenders (there’s a first and a second trust deed holder), and then waits for them to make sense of them all.  While the banks are proceeding with the short sale approval process, he continues to submit offers as he receives them, bogging down the system.  Eventually, the lenders come back with a minimum approved figure, of which the listing agent then informs all buyers, giving them an opportunity to respond with their highest and best offer.  Then, buyers must wait again for the next round of bureaucrats to assess the offers and pick one. 

A very long wait

We were informed this process would take 90 days!  Here are a couple of high quality buyers, willing to pay FULL price, all cash, and the lenders are stupid enough to risk losing them.  It all could be settled within a matter of a couple of weeks.  But because the lenders haven’t taken the time to create an efficient system for dealing with offers, and because the listing agent is lazy and doesn’t want to do the extra work of finding the best offer to present to the lender, we have to sit around and wait for this inefficient process to run its course…  We may or may not stick around…

How Lucky I Am to Live Here!

The continued weather reports of the gripping cold across the Midwest and upper northeast have once again made me aware of how lucky I am to live in San Diego California.  Today is sunny, clear skies, and in the 70’s! 


I find it so easy to become complacent and just go about my life, mostly outdoors, without the thought of putting on a heavy coat, hat, gloves and warm boots.  There are no problems with skidding on ice or having my windshield wipers on extra fast to clear the pouring rain! 

Yes, I pay heavily to live here – a smaller home at a higher price – but to me it’s worth it.  While many are spending time in their homes in front of their fireplaces, I am about to take a walk on the beach! 

I live in North County Coastal San Diego, where the surf meets the turf in Del Mar, and, on a clear day like today, one can see islands 100 miles away!   Well, off to get my sunscreen and book and head to the beach!

Major activity in the low end – where the best deals are…

While those of us working in Del Mar Real Estate are having a very slow month, our colleagues to the north can barely keep their head above water. 

Hot Real Estate Deals!

The market in Oceanside, Vista, and Fallbrook is so hot for buyers, just about every listing has multiple offers!  I’ve been working with several clients looking for homes in those areas, and we’re seeing homes that sold for $450k back in 2004 selling for as low as $150-$200k today!  From townhomes to detached bungalows, there are some unbelievable deals out there right now.  No wonder this is where all the activity is!

North San Diego County Real Estate Sales

North San Diego County Real Estate Sales

San Diego’s Public Transport – or Lack Thereof

Public officials and news commentators often complain about how we Californians are too in love with our cars to use public transportation.  While I agree we are fairly addicted to our own personal set of wheels, I am certainly willing and would be happy to take a bus or train from time to time and avoid sitting in traffic.

The problem is, the schedules and routes available leave a lot to be desired, and I often have no choice but to drive myself.

Take the day before yesterday, for example.  I thought it would be a fun outing for my family (my husband, my 2 year old boy and my 4 year old girl) to head to downtown San Diego from our north county beachside community, Cardiff-by-the-Sea.  It’s only a 20 minute drive, but I thought part of the fun would be to take the commuter train “The Coaster” down there and back. 

(Buses weren’t an option unless we were willing to transfer 3 times and spend our entire day just on getting there.)  So, I went online and looked up the Coaster schedule – NOT a single train on Sundays!  I guess it’s only for commuters – well, only for M-F commuters… 

So then I checked Amtrak– I know I’ve often had to sit and wait for passing trains on a Sunday, so, I think to myself, there must be plenty of trains scheduled throughout the day.  Well, there were several options – can’t complain there.  Almost one train an hour.

The shocker was the fee – they charge $18 round trip for 1 adult!  My 4 year old could go at half fare, and the little one was free, so our total came to $45 – just to go 20 minutes down the coast.  Had the Coaster been available it would have cost us $24 total – better, but still hardly what one would expect after living in a city like New York, where a 20 minute ride costs a few bucks…  No wonder people drive themselves.

The Upside of the Downturn

Depressing Times

This has been a depressing time, particularly for those of us in the real estate industry.  Well, in fact, for everybody!  The economic crisis has spread around the world, and few are immune to its devastation.  I have watched so many lose their homes whether through foreclosure or being forced to sell short.  Lovely families with small children, elderly who had recently downsized, up and coming yuppies who had bought their first condo.  Even those San Diego homeowners whose mortgages are of the good old fashioned 30 year fixed variety are struggling because they have lost their jobs. 

Wide Range of Price Adjustments

In San Diego County, the drop in real estate values spans the gamut.  I’ve seen as low as 10%-15% adjustments in some of the coastal communities like Del Mar, Solana Beach and Carmel Valley; 50% in several areas with lots of newer track homes like Chula Vista and San Marcos; and as high as 70% drops in some areas like Vista, Fallbrook and Oceanside. 

The Silver Lining

So can there possible be a silver lining to all of this?  Well, one’s loss is another’s gain.  The fact is that the affordability index has tripled in North San Diego County Real Estate over the last year, from 10% in November 2007 to 30% in November 2008.

Affordability Index in San Diego County
Affordability Index in San Diego County

Couple that with the fact that the rates are at historic lows, this is a fantastic time to buy.  If one is well qualified, or has a significant amount of cash to put down, one can purchase a property at an incredible discount.  If you’d like help finding one of those great deals, whether Del Mar property or elsewhere in the county where the deals are even better, give me a call 760-815-1318.  Or, you’re welcome to do your own research – just visit our website whwere you can search the entire MLS by map.

Are You in Denial About the Value of Your Home?

I had yet another call today from a delusional seller who thinks her home is worth what it was in 2006! Her friend’s home, she says, sold in 3 days! Sure it did, because it was priced right. A price that was an excellent price or rather what might be considered “a bargain” for the Carmel Valley area in San Diego.

How realistic are you?

In this market, was it really a bargain or was the friend just being realistic about the market? If, as is predicted, the Carmel Valley market sees more foreclosures and the buyers still aren’t taking the leap, then the home that sold for what is perceived as a bargain price today, may just be considered a high price in 2-3 months!

Get your head out of the clouds!

Delusional Seller!

Delusional Seller!

Sellers have a hard time acknowledging their home is not immune to the shrinking prices we are seeing! Yes, even in the coastal areas of San Diego County California! Homeowners must look at the larger financial picture because keeping a home on the market at an inflated price could wind up costing more.

Feast, Fun and Fenomenal Art at Del Mar’s Art Stroll

[OKAY!  After a two week blogging freeze due to hugely frustrating technical difficulties, I am finally able to resume.  I could go on and on about the bizarre world of blogging – widgets, themes, stylesheets, tags, plugins, code – but I’ll reserve venting on that subject to another blog entry!  I apologize to all the people who’ve been waiting for this promised post.]


If only I had unlimited money and a 10,000 sq ft home with endless wall space – I’d have bought truckloads at Del Mar’s Annual Taste of Del Mar and Art Stroll a couple of weeks ago.  What an amazing collection of artists!  While the various food stations looked wonderful too, with scrumptious looking samples from some of our best restaurants, there were so many gifted artists exhibiting their work there, I got lost feasting my eyes instead.  Here are a few pictures of our fun day in Del Mar.  Click on the photos to view a larger version.   Please remember, I’m not a professional photographer, and I couldn’t come close to capturing these artists’ works.  You’ll have to visit their websites to see why I was so impressed!

Del Mar Art Stroll

Del Mar Art Stroll

One of the best places for kids to visit was Tony Melendez’ Rad Hatter station where they could make their own fun hats creations out of a wide assortment of craft materials and a paper bag!
Rat Hatter

Tony et al from

Here are some children enjoying themselves at the hat craft station.  Unfortunately, my kids had already gone home to take their nap…
And here I am with a creation by the RadHatter himself, Tony Melendez.  Thanks, Tony!
Rad Hatter and myself

Rad Hatter and myself

I really enjoyed meeting this artist – a jovial character with creative sculptures made from various metals, some free form, some inspired by nature:
Sculptor Elon Ebanks -

Sculptor Elon Ebanks -

Beautiful hand-blown glass artist Bruce Stowell was there – each piece exquisitely unique.
Bruce Stowell at

Bruce Stowell at

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and chatting with this unique artist, Jorge Fernandez, who described the creative process that leads to his evocative sculptures.  We also had a fun conversation about blogging and the way of the future… Please check out his beautiful work at
Jorge Fernandez

Jorge Fernandez

The range of artists included this talented portrait photographer out of my neighborhood, Cardiff-by-the-Sea.  This photo doesn’t do justice, so check out his portfolio at
Photographer Douglas Frierott

Photographer Douglas Frierott

I was completely charmed by Marna Schindler’s whimsical work.  As was my 4 year old daughter.  In fact, I ended up buying 4 of her pieces – one for each of my kids and two for me!  Check out her work at
Marna Schindler

Marna Schindler

More Marna Schindler

More Marna Schindler

I’ve always been particularly drawn to crystalline-glazed porcelain.  Sharon Jackman has mastered the technique and applies it beautifully to her one-of-a-kind pieces.  Nice site too at
Shaja Jackman

Sharon Jackman

Another extraordinary artist presenting her work at the fair was Nha Vuu.  She creates beautiful paintings of nature reminiscent of traditional Chinese art, but also captivating works that abstractly evoke a hillside village.  Again, it’s truly a treat to visit her website at
Nha Vuu

Nha Vuu

Nha Vuu's rhythmic abstractions

Nha Vuu

One of the more classical “fine” artists there was Toni Williams – beautiful landscapes, seascapes…  Her virtual gallery at shows her awesome collection. 
Toni Williams

Toni Williams

I was fascinated by Michael Sussna’s mathematical images – he takes fractals generated on the computer and turns them into striking “paintings” on canvas.  Each one is unique and spellbinding.
Michael Sussna

Michael Sussna

Another gifted artist at the fair with his abstract inspirational paintings was Stephen Schubert.  Check out his beautiful website at
Steve Schubert

Stephen Schubert

Here’s another traditional “fine artist”, Jamie Ennen, that was there with her beautiful and serene landscapes.  Again, my picture can’t come close to capturing her work, so be sure to visit her site at
Jamie Ennen

Jamie Ennen

After all this great art, I still have to admit – the highlight of my day was dancing to Semisi and Fulabula with my 2 and 4 year old kids. 
My kids and I dancing to Semisi and Fulabula

My kids and I dancing to Semisi and Fulabula

Taste of Del Mar and Art Stroll is Tomorrow!

This big event is happening tomorrow, here in our quaint downtown Del Mar village center.  Our whole town comes alive with food tasting stands, kid’s crafts stations, music and entertainment, and numerous arts and craft booths.  Fill your belly with scrumptious samples from our finest restaurants and get all your Christmas shopping done, all in one afternoon!  Read more about this annual event, “Taste of Del Mar and Art Stroll” here.

If you do come, do look for me, Eva, and say hello – I’ll be sampling the food heavily (!) and taking lots of photos – especially of the kids at the hands-on craft stations.  And also be sure to check back on this blog where I’ll be posting all the photos.

Powerhouse Park, Del Mar

Powerhouse Park, Del Mar, Courtesy of Will Sooter

More and More Difficult to Qualify for a Loan

The intended purpose of the proposed $700 billion bailout that failed to pass yesterday was to increase liquidity.  The feds hope was that with this increased liquidity, the banks would be able to lend out more money.  Since the bailout has not been approved, it seems lenders are even more inclined not to underwrite more loans.  Market uncertainty that spans internationally is certainly not helping matters any.  The massive withdrawals we are seeing from additional US banks is just an indicator of the state of the economy and can be a good predictor of which bank is likely to be the next to fail.

More and More Difficult to Obtain a Loan

It is getting tougher and tougher to qualify for a loan — for example, the lender will now have to qualify the borrower for both the current house payment and the new house payment if the buyer has less than 30% equity in their current home.  There are also new rules to protect banks from fraud, such as sending a 4506T form to the IRS upon submission of the loan to verify that the tax returns that were given to them are the same tax returns that the IRS received. The debt to income ratio also is strictly adhered to with no exceptions.  The buyers these days must have the ability to repay the loan by having the following:

  • a secure job
  • cash for a down payment
  • great credit scores
  • money for reserves.

I.e., back to the basics.

Stellar Credit is More Important Than Ever

Another way Fannie and Freddie are making up for lost money is by charging extra points for less than perfect credit scores.  For example, if two buyers with identical financial qualifications with the exception of their credit score apply for a loan – one has 740 FICO, the other has 680 FICO  – the one with the lower score will pay 1.75 Points more for the same rate than the buyer with the higher score.   So, FICO scores are more important now than ever—right or wrong, this is how people’s credit worthiness is judged and the basis upon which one’s rate is determined.

One thing is for sure—there is more to come and it will be a wild ride, so hang on!   For help muddling through this mess, give me a call (619-850-3600) or visit my Website.  If you do have great credit, this is an excellent time to buy!

Homeowner’s Insurance – One More Casualty of the Housing Crisis

A scary issue was just brought to my attention.  It’s something everyone needs to be aware of if they are selling or buying a home.  This is yet another aspect to the fallout from the housing crisis…

Vacant Property, courtesy of Matt McGee

Vacant Property, courtesy of Matt McGee

Vacant Properties Are an Exclusion to Standard Policy

First, I heard a rumor that the typical insurance policy carried by roughly 85% of homeowners on their home, referred to as the HO-3 policy, has a number of exclusions, including “Vandalism and malicious mischief if the building has been vacant for more than 30 days”.  I checked this out on several websites and confirmed its validity.

Insurance Companies Will Cancel the Policy on a Vacant Home

To get more information and verify specifics with someone I trust, I called one of my favorite sources for homeowners insurance in the coastal North San Diego area, Rancho Santa Fe Insurance.  Despite being located in and named after one of the wealthiest communities in the nation, RSF Insurance provides policies for all kinds of properties at very competitive rates.  I spoke with Laura who explained to me that if an insurer finds out a property is vacant, they will immediately cancel the policy.  It goes far beyond simple exclusion!  Apparently and understandably, it is considered too risky.  So many things can go wrong, from an unnoticed broken pipe, to the vandalism I spoke of above. 

Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and up S___’s Creek without a Paddle!

As if the situation isn’t dire enough when a property is in foreclosure or being sold in a short sale, it may lose its insurance and end up completely worthless!