Photo credit: Tom Lemon
Safety tips from the nonprofit FLASH
March 1, 2014 (San Diego)--With much needed rain expected over the next few days, residents should take precautions to protect their home and family from the possibility of flooding. Eighteen to 24 inches of moving water can wash an SUV off of the road. In fact, according to the National Weather Service, more than half of all flood-related deaths are people driving through flooded roads. The nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) reminds residents to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” and offers the following safety tips to protect your home from costly flood damage.
February 13, 2014 (San Diego's East County) - The Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors, a trade group for San Diego-area realtors who serve East County and South County communities, will host a free class for realtors on the process of selling homes offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27, at the PSAR East County Service Center, 1150 Broadway, El Cajon.
February 5, 2014 (San Diego's East County) - The Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® (PSAR), a 2,000-member trade group for San Diego area realtors, hosted El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells at a recent PSAR brown-bag lunchtime conversation presented by PSAR’s Government Affairs Committee. Wells, a city councilman in El Cajon since 2008 and mayor pro tem since December 2012, was appointed mayor in November 2013, succeeding Mark Lewis who served for 14 years.
By E. Vernon Small
Mortgage Insurance is required on conventional and FHA loans if the loan to value of the loan amount exceeds 80% of the value of the home. It is an insurance policy that covers the lender in case of default or loss when the loan balance exceeds the property value.
Unfortunately, most homeowners will have to refinance their current loan to remove mortgage insurance. Below is a guide that simplifies the most common options.
December 23, 2013 (Santee) – As part of its commitment to the communities in which it builds, Pardee Homes announced on December 18 a $5,000 contribution to the Santee Santas Foundation to purchase food, toys and flowers for local families and seniors this holiday season. The grant, made possible through Pardee’s parent company, Weyerhaeuser, will help support the Santee Santas’ signature effort, an annual holiday children's toy and food program focused on bringing the holiday spirit to about 300 families in need.
November 27, 2013 (San Diego) – The holiday season isn't all twinkling lights and home-baked pies. Did you know that household hazards and preventable damages peak significantly in the holiday season? For example, on average, there are three times more turkey fryer claims during the holiday season than any other time of the year. The median cost for turkey fryer-related claims is almost $29,000.
Many holiday traditions — including decorating trees, stringing electric lights, lighting candles and preparing elaborate meals — can pose risks if not handled properly.
November 14, 2013 (Alpine) – For the past 8 years the Alpine Woman’s Club has sponsored “Christmas in Alpine” Home Tour. However, as of October, the group has only one house for this year’s tour.
“This fundraiser helps to provide scholarships that we give away each year. Since 1950 the Alpine Woman's Club has given away more than $95,000 to exceptional Alpine graduating seniors,” said Carlette Anderson, president of the Alpine Woman’s Club. “We are reaching out to the community and looking for Alpine residents who love to decorate for the holidays and would enjoy sharing their decorating skills with others. The event is scheduled for Saturday Dec 14th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All we ask of you is to decorate your home. We provide insurance, booties to wear over your shoes (if you want them) and docents who are present in your decorated rooms.”
November 13, 2013 (La Mesa) – La Mesa City Council Vice Mayor Kristine Alessio will meet with members of the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® (PSAR) starting at noon today at the PSAR East County Service Center, 1150 Broadway, El Cajon. Topics will include an update on new projects in La Mesa, new development opportunities in La Mesa, the city’s homebuyer assistance program and a review of the city’s boards and commissions.
Admission is free. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunch. For more information and to RSVP, call PSAR at (619) 579-0333 or visit www.psar.org. PSAR, a trade group for San Diego-area realtors, offers educational training, advocacy and other services and resources to its realtor members.
Photo by Erik Hauenstein
November 6, 2013 (San Diego) – An “Energy Demonstration House” featured on the San Diego Sustainability Tour in September has generated 49.9% in energy savings for the homeowners. This ‘Clark Kent’ of households was transformed into an energy super-hero to showcase the simply things homeowners can do to slash energy costs and live more comfortably and sustainably – and how to use it using other people’s money.
The Society will provide trolleys for transport among the houses or ticketed guests may travel to the homes on their own. (This tour is not ADA accessible).
ENVRIONMENTALISTS WEIGH CHALLENGE AFTER SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL APROVES CASTLEROCK PROJECT AND TRANSFER OF LAND TO SANTEE
By Nadin Abbott
September 17, 2013 (San Diego)—The San Diego City Council voted 7-0 to approve the controversial Castlerock housing project on the border of Santee and San Diego. The resolution proposed by Council Member Scott Sherman (District 7) and Council Member David Alvarez (District 8) reads in part, “approve the Staff’s recommendation (Annexation being the preferred scenario).”
It is clear that San Diego would prefer the project to go to Santee. One key reason is fire response, which San Diego Fire Department cannot do in a timely manner, due to the location of the nearest fire stations and how busy Santee roads can be at rush hour. With annexation, Santee will have jurisdiction to dispatch fire engines and other emergency services.
Environmental concerns, conflict of interests by Lightner raised
By Miriam Raftery
September 16, 2013 (San Diego) – San Diego’s City Council will hold a hearing today at 2 p.m. on the controversial Castlerock housing project. The project is proposed by Pardee Homes near the boundary between Santee and San Diego. The Planning Commission previously recommended annexing land for the project to Santee. Council has the option to approve, modify or disapprove the project and if approved, to determine whether or not it should be transferred to Santee’s jurisdiction.
Campaign contribution forms reveal that Council President Sherri Lightner accepted $4300 in donations from 12 Pardee Homes employees during her primary challenge. “If Pardee reimbursed its employees, the contributions would be illegal. Regardless of the contributions legality, we believe Pardree’s contributions are an inappropriate attempt to purchase your vote for a quadruple up-zone on Castlerock,” wrote Van Collingsworth, executive director of Preserve Wild Santee, in a letter to Lightner.
Comments submitted jointly by the Chaparral Institute and Preserve Wild Santee raised serious concerns over water supplies, traffic, environmental and public health impacts if the project is built near Mission Trails Regional Park.
September 15, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--The non-profit San Diego Renewable Energy Society’s 13th San Diego Sustainability Tour features free, open house tours of 10 energy-smart homes showcasing the gamut of energy efficiency and solar solutions San Diegans are employing to slash utility bills, power their electric vehicles (EVs), improve property values and reap rich tax credits and cash rebates as they hedge against September’s rising energy costs.
Residential: Homeowners and qualified contractors will be on-hand at 10 winning residential sites across the county. In a unique twist, join the East County Solar Guy for a boots-on-the-roof solar installation in progress in La Mesa on September 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., plus you can see two other solar homes in East County.
September 12, 2013 (San Diego) – Dear EarthTalk: I’m planning a major home renovation and want to include as many green-friendly features as possible. Where do I begin to look?
-- Matthew Glaser, Queens, NY
There has never been a better time to renovate green, given the abundance of Earth-friendly building material choices as well as contractors well-versed in energy- and resource-efficiency. Many homeowners don’t realize that they can save money in the long run, despite the up front costs, by choosing materials and strategies that will lower utility bills and reduce maintenance and replacement costs moving forward.
By Janis Mork
August 29, 2013 (San Diego) - At the San Diego Refugee Forum on August 20, the focus was on housing issues faced by refugees. The forum covered a variety of programs on housing and other topics, including announcements of upcoming events in San Diego and East County.
Faith Espejo, Director of Program and Operations, and Tina Parra, Resources Coordinator of San Diego HUB, from Housing Opportunities Collaborative addressed housing issues. HUB serves as an information clearinghouse by consolidating housing-related information and making it easily accessible to the public and partners, and also acts as a hub for its partners by conducting outreach events to educate and provide housing counseling services to the public.
June 25, 2013 (San Diego) -- San Diego ranks 9th on the list of most expensive cities. Kiplinger’s ranks the ten cheapest—and also the ten most expensive— US cities to live in based on the Council for Community and Economic Research’s calculations of living expenses in 307 urban areas. The Cost of Living Index measures prices for housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services and also screens out cities with populations below 50,000.
June 12, 2013 (San Diego) – Local home sales were strong in May and median prices continued to rise steadily, according to the latest housing statistics from the Greater San Diego Association of REALTORS® (SDAR).
Detached home sales increased 15 percent in May compared to April, and about 10 percent from last year. Properties also continued to be scooped up fast, with an average of only 54 days on the market. The median price of detached homes increased to $466,000 in May. That’s up 4 percent from the previous month, and 22 percent from May of 2012. The median price of attached properties was up nearly 6 percent from April, and 33 percent from a year ago. Condos and townhomes surpassed the $300,000 median price, which, according to SDAR’s statistics, hasn’t been topped since March 2008.
May 27, 2013 (Santa Ysabel) – The Hubbell/Ilan-Lael Foundation will be holding an Open House Studio and Home Tour of renowned architect, James Hubbell's home and studio on June 16 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 930 Orchard Lane, Santa Ysabel. A morning tour is offered between 11 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. The afternoon tours will be between 2 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.
By Janis Mork
May 20, 2013 (Alpine) - The 16th annual Sage and Songbirds event this year featured seven self-guided tours around a church garden, two colorful home gardens, and the Sky Hunters birds of prey facility. This event was hosted by CHIRP for Garden Wildlife Inc.
The event held May 4-6 also included a festival at Viejas Outlet Centers, where visitors could enjoy a butterfly release, caterpillar races, educational seminars, arts and craft vendors, birds of prey-hummingbirds, spiders, snakes, lizards and more.
By Miriam Raftery
April 28, 2013 (Deerhorn Valley) – The first-annual Deerhorn Valley Home and Garden Tour on April 21 provided an intriguing glimpse into the history of this fascinating area of East County, as well as tours of a spectacular and diverse array of homes and gardens.
A unique aspect of this tour, unlike others that are self-guided, was the tour bus provided along with helpful guides who gave details along the way not only of residences on the tour, but also colorful tales about the communities and rich heritage of this region.
April 25, 2013 (El Cajon) – In celebration of El Cajon’s Centennial, the El Cajon Historical Society will sponsor a tour of the Historic JPR Hall Ranch House in El Cajon on Saturday, May 4, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Lemonade and iced tea will be available in the garden. Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Reserve space by mailing checks to ECHS, P.O. Box 1973, El Cajon, CA 92022.
This home is rarely open to the public. Proceeds benefit the El Cajon Historical Society.
Below is an excerpt from Bus and Auto Tour of Historical El Cajon by the El Cajon Historical Society. The excerpt describes the Historic JPR Hall Ranch House, which was the focal point of a 60-acre ranch with wheat, hay, an orchard and a vineyard planted by the parents and siblings of W.D. Hall.
April 18, 2013 (San Diego) – Residential property values have been rising in San Diego County. Depending upon the source of the real estate information, values have risen 10 percent or more in the past year. However, if a property owner believes their property’s market value as of January 1, 2013 is below their current assessed value, they may request the Assessor’s Office to review their assessment. As an indication of the current assessed value, a property owner can look at the Net Taxable Value on their 2012-2013 tax bill. (See box 7.)
April 11, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – As homeowners in San Diego and across the nation continue to tangle with banks, Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) re-introduced legislation to give people another tool to avoid foreclosure and the subsequent damage to the their credit rating. The Short Sale Transparency Act will require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to disclose the minimum asking price they are willing to accept for a short sale if they reject the first offer.
“People deserve a real chance to avoid foreclosure. It is unfair to expect someone to complete a short sale instead of abandoning their home to foreclosure, if the banks don’t meet them half way,” said Davis. “Many homeowners are willing, even eager, to work with banks to get out from under the mortgage and protect their credit rating. But far too often, they find themselves in a guessing game as to what dollar amount will complete the sale.”
By Miriam Raftery
March 21, 2013 (Santee) – American Home Show will present the first-ever Spring Home Show at the Town Center Community Park and Santee Sport Complex in Santee on April 5, 6 and 7 from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily. Admission is free.
‘The show inspires homeowners with countless ideas on enhancing their home’s comfort and functionality, as well as being labeled “made in America,” a press release from organizers states. The event will showcase hundreds of home improvement and landscaping exhibits, with product demonstrations . Attractions will also include live entertainment, speakers, an American business mixer, barbecue competition cook-off, gunny sack race, and a kids’ village.
March 21, 2013 (San Diego)--Moving to a new town or city is always very exciting and sometimes also a little nerve racking.
When contemplating relocation, therefore, it is always a good idea to take a long hard look at all the pros and cons in order to arrive at a balanced view. Here are just some of the things to take into account of for anyone contemplating moving to San Diego.
March 20, 2013 (San Diego’s East County)--Home sales prices in the East County are roughly 13 percent higher through the first two months of 2013, compared to the same period in 2012, according to recent statistics reported by the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors (PSAR).
PSAR said the year-to-date average sales price for East County homes through February was $259,199, compared to $228,586 for the first two months of 2012. Sale prices for detached homes in this current calendar year have increased to $362,099 from $324,452 in 2012, a difference of 12 percent, as well as attached homes to $156,299 from $132,721 in 2012, a difference of 18 percent.
WELLS FARGO TO HELP SAN DIEGO CUSTOMERS FACING MORTGAGE PAYMENT CHALLENGES: MARCH 21 HOME PRESERVATION WORKSHOP
Nearly 8,000 homeowners invited to free event to receive modifications on the spot
March 19, 2013 (San Diego)— Wells Fargo & Company is hosting a free Home Preservation Workshop for Southern California Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Wells Fargo Financial, and Wells Fargo Home Equity customers – including military service members and veterans – facing financial hardships. Wells Fargo has invited nearly 8,000 mortgage customers to the free workshop which will be held on Thursday, March 21 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the San Diego Convention Center – Hall F located at 111 West Harbor Drive, San Diego. Parking at the San Diego Convention Center for the workshop is free.
By E. Vernon Small
March 12, 2013 (San Diego) – If you are a struggling homeowner, you have undoubtedly been approached by companies that claim they will reduce your mortgage payments and/or your mortgage balance by negotiating a ‘loan modification’ with your current mortgage lender. All of these companies claim to be reputable and licensed, and many even operate as attorneys. They typically charge $1500 or more to handle this process, and most offer payment plans.
February 14, 2013 (San Diego)--If you are a homeowner who is underwater and/or behind on your mortgage payment , you probably feel as though you have very few options. Believe it or not, you might just be in a better negotiating position than homeowners with equity and their home and who have made all timely mortgage payments.
By Miriam Raftery
February 14, 2013 (San Diego) – Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here’s some news homeowners will love. In California, foreclosure filings plunged 39.5% from December to January – the first time since early 2007 that California did not have the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. Nationally, foreclosures have fallen too, though far less steeply: 11% from December to January, and 28.5% from a year ago.
What’s fueling the sudden change? According to Mortgage Daily News, the state and national shifts are due to California’s new Homeowners Bill of Rights, passed by the Legislature at the request of California Attorney General Kamala Harris (in photo, left, with Governor Jerry Brown).