By Caroline Abkar, REALTOR | December 12th, 2019
Are you about to begin a house project that requires digging?
Did you know that you can call 811 or go to DigAlert.org to submit your request for a free service where utility operators will be sent out to mark the locations where you have utility lines underground? It’s California State Law to call 811 so for any projects that require a permit! Even if your project doesn’t require a permit, it’s still a good idea to submit a request, for your safety and your neighbors’.
By Caroline Abkar, REALTOR | November 6th, 2019
The news of Protea turning a long-empty parking lot in Bay Park into a new mixed use development called Bayview Plaza, adjacent to the Clairemont Dr trolley station sparked a lot of conversations and questions amongst the community. The plan is not only to offer luxury apartments but also, affordable housing included on-site and a retail and community space that will be open to everyone. Naturally, when Protea announced their 4 hour open house in Bay Park, I attended so I could get some of your most pressing questions answered. I hope you enjoy the read and most importantly, that you share your thoughts and comments. In fact, Protea is very much all ears in listening to the community and will be following this blog post to make sure that your voices are heard!
One of the first things I noticed walking into the open house was the sheer number of staff members that were present to greet the community. In addition to Protea’s president being on site, his entire team was, too. Everyone I spoke to was clearly passionate about the project and they kept asking for feedback. For instance, they had posters on the wall with all of their ideas, and asked people to vote for what they wanted to see and use color coded stickers; green sticker meant high priority, blue meant medium, and yellow was low priority. But first, let’s talk about the concept.
By Caroline Abkar, REALTOR | October 8th, 2019
You may have heard the news and seen their ads everywhere. What an iBuyer is, is a company that will offer to buy your property very quickly, all cash, with an online offer, sight unseen. Think Zillow Offers, Redfin Now, Offerpad, Opendoor. These are all iBuyers.
Now why do they do this? Why do iBuyers offer to buy your home sight unseen, all cash? Well, it’s because their model is based on providing you as a seller all the convenience, compared to the traditional models. That way, you can sell very quickly and they claim that it’s almost hassle-free. There is a risk with this model that they need to bear and account for. iBuyers are volume based companies, buying a lot of homes and they’re buying them all cash, but they’re also making their profit up front. They’re not making the profit when they resell the house later on with a markup. Making a profit up-front at the time they purchase the home means that for you as a seller will be netting much less for your home compared to the traditional model. Research shows that we’re talking up to 15% less.
So if you’re a seller who desperately needs the cash, you’re moving out of state, out of country, you absolutely need to move and you cannot wait the 30-45 days or however long it may take on the open market, then you may really be considering an iBuyer’s offer. But again, you need to understand that that convenience absolutely comes at a cost. Take this example provided by Fidelity Title:
What this shows is that the net difference between using a Realtor in a traditional open market model vs an iBuyer is $93,217 for a home that it worth $680,000. That is how much less you walk away with as a seller in exchange for a quick close. Therefore, it’s very important to understand the cost of that convenience and remember as well that if what you’re looking for is a quick all cash offer, a good established Realtor will have partnerships with local investors who will offer all cash and no contingencies for your home as well to make it hassle free. So don’t forget that option, and make sure that you’re doing your homework and you’re thinking of all the possible scenarios in order to make the best decision for yourself when the time comes to sell your home.
About the author: Caroline Abkar is an established San Diego Realtor and Bay Park resident who is absolutely passionate about the community as well as representing her clients in selling and acquiring the biggest investment of their lives. She will go above and beyond for those who place their trust in her. You can contact her anytime at 619-808-4804.
By Caroline Abkar, Realtor – 9/23/2019
Buyers always ask me: when is the best time to buy a house? Turns out, realtor.com crunched numbers to figure out exactly when the best time to buy a house for 2019 is and it is… right now, right this week!
Statistics show that there will be north of 26% less competition for buyers out there with many families having already settled in time for back to school. In addition, homes that did not sell over the summer are seeing increased market days which in turn equates to motivated sellers. There is also some new fall inventory hitting the market as we speak, with sellers wanting to close their transaction before the end of 2019. Realtor.com projects a 6% increase in inventory starting this week. Throw in the low interest rates, and it’s the perfect home buying environment out there.
I am sharing my top 5 tips on to get that deal. It’s all in my quick video!
About the author: Caroline Abkar is an established Realtor and Bay Park resident who is absolutely passionate about the community as well as representing her clients in selling and acquiring the biggest investment of their lives. She will go above and beyond for those who place their trust in her. You can contact her anytime at 619-808-4804.
By Caroline Abkar, 9/12/2019
A few days ago, we released an update about the Mission Bay Visitor Center with information on the businesses that are expected to open very soon. You can read that post here.
Many of you in the community have questions and so today, I met the founder of playground agency, Kristine Schnell, to get an initial set of answers. Let me just start by saying that what strikes me the most is how much Kristine absolutely loves and cares about our community, and about the well-being of everyone who will frequent the businesses at the Mission Bay Visitor Center. She is bubbly, full of life, and obtained her WELL certification to ensure that the Mission Bay Visitor Center is built with high environmental standards. WELL is the leading tool for advancing health and well-being in buildings globally. Everything that will be offered is thought through with people’s well being in mind, as I am sure you can already tell from the description of the businesses in my first post.
Everyone knows about Zillow’s Zestimate’s and millions of users look them up, but how accurate are they and can you use them at face value?
The key items to remember after watching this video are the following:
- Zillow’s website describes Zestimates as a starting point. It should not be used a a final sales price. They also encourage discussing the home price with a professional.
- Zillow has not been inside your home and does not know the specifics such as location, lot shape, functional layout, views, upgrades, traffic patterns, and walkability.
- Zillow’s Zestimate uses data points from homes in a much larger geographical area than your neighborhood. Each neighborhood has its own characteristics and desirability though, which also need to be taken into account.
- Zillow’s Zestimate does not take into account the current market conditions i.e. the other comparable homes for sale at the same time as your home, and how your home compares in price, condition, and location. That will help you ensue you are positioned for success!
Please remember to always partner with a knowledgeable professional who will look out for your best interests, from start to finish!
Questions? Comments? I’m happy to help.
By Caroline Abkar, 9/8/2019
I’m so delighted to share this fresh update with you regarding the Mission Bay Visitor Center. You may recall the meeting I organized a couple of years ago when there were talks about turning Mission Bay Visitor Center into a restaurant, and I am so delighted to say that the project has been brought back to life after a hiatus as I am sure you may have noticed, in a different but oh so exciting form!
I am going to be meeting Kristine Schnell next week for all the details; Kristine is the founder of playground agency and project lead of this endeavor. In the meantime, I wanted to share her letter to all of you in the community. I know many of you have been asking about what is going on at the Visitor Center!
The first business to open at the site will be Virtue Coffee & Juice (clean and responsibly sourced coffee), followed by Summer Afternoons (homemade organic ice cream sandwiches), and Beach Bunny (beach gear and equipment).
You can read all the details about each business below. But first, a word from Kristine Schnell.
As always, I am here if you have any questions or comments!
A home warranty is very different than a homeowner’s insurance. While homeowner’s insurance covers damage to your home, a home warranty will cover the appliances and systems in your home, including but not limited to your refrigerator, oven, garbage disposal, microwave, dishwasher, water heater, furnace, A/C, plumbing, sewer line, pool.
There are various plans and options to choose from depending on what you are looking to get covered. Often times, the cost of replacement your appliance or system is higher than the yearly cost of maintaining a home warranty. Your decision may also depend on whether all your appliances and systems are new and still under manufacturer warranty.
There is typically a service call fee each time you submit a claim for someone to come out and look at your defective item, and it can range anywhere from $60-75/call depending again on which home warranty company you choose.
This table extracted from Home Warranty of America‘s brochure shows the cost of replacement of common items:
There are many home warranty providers to choose from, and it’s a good idea to compare your options to see what makes most sense to you.
I’m always happy to help if you have any questions or need a recommendation!
By Caroline Abkar, 3/25/2019
Caffe Vicino is a little gem of a coffee shop in Bay Park, San Diego and I had the pleasure of chatting with owner Marina Mathias!
Watch this short interview to learn about where their coffee comes from, their various menu options, and the fidelity card!
Thinking about making a real estate move in 2019 but wish you knew where the market is headed? Will prices drop? Will interest rates rise? Is it the right time to buy or sell? Is the bubble about to pop?
We all wish we had a crystal ball to see into the future. What we do have though is knowledge, and that is power. Please take a moment to read this 2019 Economic & Housing Forecast by Windermere’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner because that may just answer some of these questions you have on your mind. Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics and has more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
Before you read the forecast, remember: every situation is unique. If you are planning to remain in your new home for at least a few years, your decision will not be based on how likely you are to make a return on investment after 2 years. Or, if you’re renting and your monthly payment would be very similar as a homeowner, there are benefits you may be missing out on if you compare your net cost of renting vs owning. Depending on your age, income, debt situation, credit profile, and goals there may be programs out there for you to benefit from. Or there may not. If you’re an investor looking for that perfect rental property, then your angle will definitely be more focused on your cash on cash return. I am here to help if you have any questions and happy to put my resources to good use for you.
Enjoy the read!
2019 Economic and Housing Forecast – by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate
What a year it has been for both the U.S. economy and the national housing market. After several years of above-average economic and home price growth, 2018 marked the start of a slowdown in the residential real estate market. As the year comes to a close, it’s time for me to dust off my crystal ball to see what we can expect in 2019.
The U.S. Economy
Despite the turbulence that the ongoing trade wars with China are causing, I still expect the U.S. economy to have one more year of relatively solid growth before we likely enter a recession in 2020. Yes, it’s the dreaded “R” word, but before you panic, there are some things to bear in mind.
Firstly, any cyclical downturn will not be driven by housing. Although it is almost impossible to predict exactly what will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”, I believe it will likely be caused by one of the following three things: an ongoing trade war, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates too quickly, or excessive corporate debt levels. That said, we still have another year of solid growth ahead of us, so I think it’s more important to focus on 2019 for now.
The U.S. Housing Market
Existing Home Sales
This paper is being written well before the year-end numbers come out, but I expect 2018 home sales will be about 3.5% lower than the prior year. Sales started to slow last spring as we breached affordability limits and more homes came on the market. In 2019, I anticipate that home sales will rebound modestly and rise by 1.9% to a little over 5.4 million units.
Existing Home Prices
We will likely end 2018 with a median home price of about $260,000 – up 5.4% from 2017. In 2019 I expect prices to continue rising, but at a slower rate as we move toward a more balanced housing market. I’m forecasting the median home price to increase by 4.4% as rising mortgage rates continue to act as a headwind to home price growth.
New Home Sales
In a somewhat similar manner to existing home sales, new home sales started to slow in the spring of 2018, but the overall trend has been positive since 2011. I expect that to continue in 2019 with sales increasing by 6.9% to 695,000 units – the highest level seen since 2007.
That being said, the level of new construction remains well below the long-term average. Builders continue to struggle with land, labor, and material costs, and this is an issue that is not likely to be solved in 2019. Furthermore, these constraints are forcing developers to primarily build higher-priced homes, which does little to meet the substantial demand by first-time buyers.
In last year’s forecast, I suggested that 5% interest rates would be a 2019 story, not a 2018 story. This prediction has proven accurate with the average 30-year conforming rates measured at 4.87% in November, and highly unlikely to breach the 5% barrier before the end of the year.
In 2019, I expect interest rates to continue trending higher, but we may see periods of modest contraction or levelling. We will likely end the year with the 30-year fixed rate at around 5.7%, which means that 6% interest rates are more apt to be a 2020 story.
I also believe that non-conforming (or jumbo) rates will remain remarkably competitive. Banks appear to be comfortable with the risk and ultimately, the return, that this product offers, so expect jumbo loan yields to track conforming loans quite closely.
There are still voices out there that seem to suggest the housing market is headed for calamity and that another housing bubble is forming, or in some cases, is already deflating. In all the data that I review, I just don’t see this happening. Credit quality for new mortgage holders remains very high and the median down payment (as a percentage of home price) is at its highest level since 2004.
That is not to say that there aren’t several markets around the country that are overpriced, but just because a market is overvalued, does not mean that a bubble is in place. It simply means that forward price growth in these markets will be lower to allow income levels to rise sufficiently.
Finally, if there is a big story for 2019, I believe it will be the ongoing resurgence of first-time buyers. While these buyers face challenges regarding student debt and the ability to save for a down payment, they are definitely on the comeback and likely to purchase more homes next year than any other buyer demographic.