Living A Joyful Life

Garden

I made a deal, kind of a New Year’s Resolution, but bigger than that. I promised to live my life with joy in 2013.  Actually, my word for 2013 is JOY….it is written on a stone in my office. So, I am committed!

Now, that may seem kind of simple, but when you have a pretty busy life, you can lose those joyful moments.  I am a Realtor, have been for 20 years. It is hard work, but I love it…love selling homes, finding homes, solving the problems that invariably arise, putting a deal together, having happy clients, all of it. I even like to look at houses when I am on vacation!

Some days, I work 12+ hours. Some weeks, it’s hard to take a day off. So finding the JOY is easier some days than others. What I have discovered so far is that JOY really comes in the simple things in life. For me, I love my garden, flowers, plants, vegetables. I love the beauty of it. I love the process, from prepping, planting, growing and reaping the benefits, the smells, the tastes, all of it.

I love feeding the birds and butterflies in my yard. We have doves, hummingbirds, mockingbirds, robins, road runners, jays, Lazuli Buntings (they are so colorful), woodpeckers, owls, hawks, quail, finches, sparrows, and more. They eat a lot, but I don’t mind. I love watching them, listening to them.

Today I had an hour to kill between appointments so I ended up walking down a small town street, in and out of shops. My joy for the afternoon was an ice cream cone…all by myself…in a waffle cone, double scoop, even dripped down my chin. It was indeed a joyful moment!

So, what are the little things in life that bring you joy? I really want to know!

HOW TO PRICE YOUR HOME TO SELL: Obtaining the best price when selling your home while preparing for appraisal issues

You have decided to sell your home and have set an appointment to meet with your Realtor.  There are many things to discuss during the listing consultation, but one of the most relevant today is pricing.

You may think that is obvious.  After all, you will be looking at the comparable sales as a guide to determine the price you set for your home. But in today’s market, it’s even more important. Why? In most areas of San Diego County, we are experiencing an extremely low inventory of homes for sale – one to two months in many areas. This means that there has been a change in the market and not all appraisers are responding to that.

Appraisal issues are usually fueled by the difference between the price that buyers are willing to pay in today’s competitive market and the appraisals that are based on comparable sales that are two to three months ago. This is especially an issue for first time home buyers who are already competing with investors offering cash, over asking price, with no appraisal contingencies.

Sellers are often dealing with multiple offers in today’s market, giving them the opportunity to obtain the best price for their home, but also to negotiate the best terms. They may have the option to select between investors or first time home buyers; cash buyers, buyers obtaining conventional, FHA or VA financing.  Whether or not your Realtor thinks there may be an appraisal issue is an important discussion to have.

Your listing agent must take the lead when it is appraisal time. I recommend meeting the appraiser at the property and bringing information about the market. If there are multiple offers on the property, that is vital information to convey. The listing agent should be knowledgeable about the comparable sales – were the extenuating circumstances that brought a low price (death on the property, condition, school districts, distress sale).

Sometimes, the issue is an appraiser coming from out of the area. It’s impossible for an appraiser coming from Orange or Riverside Counties to have knowledge about the individual communities in San Diego. Yet, we still see out of area appraisers completing appraisals in San Diego. This was brought about by the initiation of appraisal management companies (AMC’s) that most lenders are now using. These AMC’s often keep half of the appraisal fee charged (the fees used to go directly to the appraisers), and many appraisers are saying they can’t afford to work for half of the fee. So, you may be getting the cheapest and fastest appraiser.  You may not be getting the best appraiser, one who knows your local market.

My advice, price your home based on the most current market data and keep in mind that there may well be appraisal issues in today’s market. Be ready for that possibility and have a plan to deal with the situation if it does happen.  An experienced listing agent can help you every step along the way.

Do You Love Where You Live?

I love where I live. 

Living “in the country” brings me a sense of peace and tranquility at the end of the day.  Today, my husband and I watched a Golden Eagle soar over our house and land on a tree overlooking our property.   What a majestic being he was. I wanted to grab my camera, but we couldn’t move without disturbing this giant bird and ruining the moment. So, we stayed put, transfixed as we watched the eagle look for his evening meal.

We all like different things – some like the country, like I do; some like living in the mountains, the beach, in the city, in the suburbs, near a school, near public transportation – we are all drawn to something.  Sometimes that changes over time. What we like when we are 25 may not be the same as when we are 35 or 60.

Sometimes, we dream of where we would really like to live, and that can lead to a goal and a plan to achieve our dream.

So, do you love where you live?  Where do you dream of living? I would love to know, so let me know what and where your dream home is!

I LIKE What I Do!

I like what I do….I mean, I really like what I do.  I have always liked looking at homes, all types of homes. The homes I dreamed of owning and living in one day.  The quirky and unique homes.  The homes that needed work….but, oh, what they could be!  The homes that were too modern for me.  The homes with too many stairs or with the yard that was too small.  Homes with the great views. Even the homes I hated!

I even like going on home inspections!  Boy, what you can learn on a home inspection!  I have almost never had a home inspector not find problems with the electrical system…home owners have this thing about “I can do it myself “when it comes to the electrical systems in their homes. Really, unless you are an electrician, not a good idea! I have learned about foundations, the good, bad and ugly. HVAC systems, how they work and why they don’t. I have learned a lot about how to maintain your home.

Of course, I love looking at the gardens, vegetable gardens, flower gardens, any kind of garden. You can tell a lot about someone by looking at their garden! I have noticed many more vegetable gardens in the last few years; people are beginning to find the joy of growing their own veggies. I love our vegetable garden and am always looking for new ideas. Of course, I love flowers. Having fresh cut flowers in my home makes me happy.

So, I guess its natural that seeing a client’s face as I hand them the keys to their home, or their settlement papers when they sell a home, is so rewarding. What a high to see a young couple walk through the door to their first home. How bittersweet it is to close the door after helping an elderly client sell their home of many years as they go on to the next phase of life. How exciting to help investors make a great investment and reap the reward, or help a family move into their long anticipated dream home.

I just love it!

Your Selling Window May Be Closing!

One thing I am sure of, there is no way to “time” the market, whether you are buying or selling.  Yes, you can make an educated guess about when we are at the bottom or top of the market, and you might be one of the lucky ones to get it pretty close. But, we never know when we have pulled out of a down market, or start the downward spiral in an up market until AFTER it happens!

All indications are that the banks will be releasing more foreclosures in 2012 than in 2011.  What does this mean to you? Well, if you are selling your home, get it sold now before more inventory hits the market.  With inventory low in most areas of San Diego, some sellers are getting multiple offers on their properties, pretty nice!  If you are a buyer, prices and interest rates are great. If you find a home you like, jump on it. Prices may decline some more, but they may not — every area is different. But if prices do decline it means you will have more competition.  Make your move now!

Home Inspections for the Home Buyer

When a buyer finds the home they love, their offer is accepted, and escrow is opened, the next step is having the home inspection.  Most home buyers have no idea how to select a home inspector, and will often make their decision on price. But, this is definitely NOT the time to shop for the least expensive inspector. You need a reputable inspector, one who is a member of the professional organizations for home inspectors in your area, one with experience, and one who has references.  In our area, an inspection of a home will run from approximately $450 to $600.

A home buyer usually pays for three items up front…the appraisal, the credit report, and the home inspection.  If the transaction does not close, they will not be reimbursed for the appraisal or home inspection (in most cases).   Home buyers need to remember that the purpose of the home inspection is to make sure the major components of the home are operating correctly….is there something that would cause you not to purchase the home if not corrected?  It is not a time to start asking for cosmetic repairs.  The inspector’s job is to find things wrong with the property, and they will!  Buyers are usually buying a previously lived in home. Some are lived in “considerately”; others are lived in a bit “rougher”.

I have rarely had an escrow fall out because of inspections.  A seller wants to sell the home and a buyer wants to purchase it, so we usually work out any issues that may arise.

Should a seller have a home inspection?

In most transactions, the buyer obtains a home inspection once a property is in escrow. This is at the buyer’s expense.  In California, our contracts state that the buyer is purchasing the home in its current and as-is condition, subject to buyer’s inspection rights.  In theory, this is great. But what often happens is that two weeks into a real estate transaction, there is a new round of negotiations.  The buyers usually ask for some repairs, even if they are minor.

For years home inspectors have encouraged sellers to obtain a home inspection prior to putting their home on the market.  Most sellers don’t and this has been the “norm” for years.

When I have clients who are selling a home they have not lived in, say for a family trust, I advise them to have a home inspection up front, at their expense. These sellers usually have very limited knowledge about the condition of the home.  We make the inspection report available to the buyer for their review, we can actually post it as an attachment in the Multiple Listing Service (and encourage them to have their own home inspection once in escrow).  The beauty of it is that the buyer can make an offer based on much more knowledge about the home.  After all, buyers don’t usually crawl up in the attic, or under the house, or get on the roof prior to writing an offer.

This helps both the seller in properly pricing a home, and a buyer in making an offer based on more information about the property.  For instance, when the seller has provided a home inspection and it indicates that the water heater is near the end of its life, the buyer can adjust the price of the price offered, or ask for the water heater to be replaced prior to close of escrow.  Alternatively, the seller can price a home at a realistic price, higher or lower, based on the condition of the home, having taken into account items discovered during the inspection.

Even for traditional sellers who live in their homes, I think it is a great idea to invest in a home inspection up front. If there are items that need attention, the seller has the opportunity to take care of them up front and make note that those items have been remedied.