Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hammers swinging again in Del Sur

Construction in the Del Sur community has picked up substantially in recent months.

A handful of Davidson homes represented the only new construction late last year. There is activity in every corner of the commuity now. That includes the building of two new parks, which will include pools, that are scheduled to open in March.

There are five projects in progress, which will add substantially to the community’s current 600 homes. Shea Homes San Diego is doing two projects — Madeira (single-family detached) and Mandolin (condominiums) — that range in size from less than 2,000 square feet to nearly 2,500 square feet. Standard Pacific’s Bridgewalk (single-family detached) are less than 2,000 square feet and William Lyons Homes’ Pasado (single-family detached) are just more than 2,000 square feet. Homes are priced in the $400,000-$900,000s.

It’s interesting to note that three of the projects are smaller and at a lower price point than many of the homes in the community. That should change as the market continues to recover. In fact, lots now are being prepped adjacent to Monte Alto Terrace and Kristen Glen for a project by Cal West, which is building homes in the 3,000+ square foot range. Also, Davidson has taken over The Sentinels project (left dormant with the demise of John Laing Homes) and will have 17 new homes built in the first half of 2011. These also will be in the 3,000-square foot range and be priced starting in the $800,000s. That's a substantial decrease from the original project, which had homes priced from $1.1 million to $1.3 million when the project first opened three years ago.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Economists predicting price decline over next year

Reports continue to be mixed on what home prices will do in San Diego.

Three weeks ago, the California Association of Realtors projected resale home prices to remain flat or rise slightly in 2011.

A story here today in the San Diego Union-Tribune painted a much different outlook, with an 8.5 percent dip in prices projected for next year.

State and federal buyers' credits were cited for propping up the market earlier in the year, but those credits expired on September 30, nothing was renewed and their has been no talk of another round of credits.

Interest rates will be key over the next weeks and months. If they show signs of rising, then it could prompt buyers to action in order to take advantage of rates that haven't been seen in most peoples' lifetimes.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rates rise, then fall back

Jim Kubicka, the mortgage advisor at the Coldwell Banker office in Rancho Bernardo, spoke at our weekly meeting on Wednesday and mentioned that interest rates were tracking upward, moving from 4.3 percent earlier in the week to 4.6. They would come back later in the week to 3.375, but they bear watching over the next few weeks.

Many buyers have been on fact-finding missions in recent weeks, and I've come across several who have located homes that they're very interested in. But they just can't pull the trigger on a purchase.

The sense I'm getting is that people believe prices are still going to come down — especially since we're in the slow season with the holidays on the horizon — so they're not feeling an urgency to buy. What they have to be careful of is saving an extra, say, $5,000-$10,000 on the price, but giving it all back — and perhaps more — because of a rise in interest rates.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Local prices expected to remain flat in 2011

The California Association of Realtors projects resale housing prices in San Diego to remain flat or rise slightly in 2011.

Although resale prices rose by 20 percent in San Diego County in the first half of the year, that figure slipped to 2.4 percent in August. The initial rise was not as strong as most of the state's other areas as it was in San Diego, which tends to trend upward or downward ahead of the remainder of the state.

More details from CAR, a graph tracking year-over-year prices and other information can be found in a Union-Tribune story here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Open house tour concludes

My 14 Open Houses in 14 Days tour has concluded after stops in Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Sabre Springs and 4S Ranch.

Homes ranged from a condo listed for just under $300,000 to a Poway property priced at just under $900,000.

The condo had the most traffic, drawing a line of first-time buyers looking to homeownership after years of renting. Many of them said they were eager to stop paying money to a landlord and attracted by low mortgage rates. As expected, the school district was an important consideration for many of the buyers, which is what brought them to the area that encompasses the Poway School District.

Buyers still seem scarce at the higher price levels, which makes me believe it will keep pressure on sellers to adjust prices downward until they can stir up some interest. I've seen several homes that were price in the $1.1 million to $1.3 million range cut to under $1 million in order to find a buyer.

The homes I held open in the $400,000 to $700,000 range received good interest, but buyers in this market want a deal and appear inclined to wait until they get it.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

14 Open Houses in 14 Days: Come On In, The Door's Open

My ambitious “14 Open Houses in 14 Days” promotion kicked off today with a pair of homes in Poway. The festivities didn’t include balloons and a brass band, although this morning I did see several flags fluttering in the breeze and I could hear a distant train whistle from the choo-choo at Old Poway Park.

My morning property was at 14119 Kendra Way, a two-story, 4 BR/3 BA, 1,998-square foot home (priced in a range from $457,900-$499,900) just off Community Road. It’s within walking distance of the Poway Farmer’s Market, a park that includes basketball and tennis courts and several shops along Poway Road.

Virtually all the visitors were drawn here because they like the feel of Poway, which really is “The City in the Country” as the motto says.

One newlywed couple — four months and they still seem to be on good terms — already was thinking ahead to when they have children. They want to be in a good school district now, rather than having to move to one later. “Like some of our friends are having to do,” said the new bride.

There was one voice of concern among the buyers who came through. A woman wondered about plans to turn the nearby WalMart into a SuperStore and what impact that will have on the surrounding neighborhood. “Lower prices?” I suggested. For shoppers, not homeowners.

The afternoon found me heading to the Stoneridge community and the property at 17710 Del Paso Dr., a two-story, 5 BR/5 BA, 3,400-square foot home (reduced to $898,900).

There’s a lot to like there, what with the size of the home, the master bedroom on the entry floor, an updated kitchen, sizable back yard and bubbling spa (why didn’t I bring my swim suit?). I especially enjoyed the mountain and valley view to the west that goes for miles and miles. Look north and you get a glimpse of the Maderas Golf Course. Late afternoons are greeted with a breeze that makes it really relaxing on the back balcony.

Things were a little slow at first, and I was tempted to go across the street and hit a couple of drives off the 14th tee at Stoneridge. But last night I replaced my golf clubs with Open House signs in the back of my 4Runner, so I was without implements or ammo. It was probably just as well the way I’ve been hitting the ball. I’ve been slicing more than a baker at Panera.

The price point for this home is higher than many buyers can afford, but when the right person comes along they are going to make this their home. There's too much to like about it.

Did I mention the view?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Be careful of scams out there

Bad people trying to take advantage of others is as old as time itself, but the bad guys — and gals — seem especially prevalent during difficult economic times. And real estate seems to be a favorite target because of the potential to make thousands of dollars in the scam.

I came across two rental scams last week in San Diego. In both cases, they were homes that are legitimately listed for sale — but someone not involved with the property also has listed them for rent on Craigslist.

In the first instance, a friend called to ask if I could get more details about a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in Sorrento Valley that looked too good to be true. It was. The Craigslist ad said it was being rented for $800/month. This in a neighborhood where the typical rents were around $2,500. The person representing herself as the owner told my friend that she lived outside the United States. He drove by the home while I checked the ownership records and other property information. We quickly discovered that it was a short sale and the owner actually lives in Orange County.

In the second instance, I was holding an open house Sunday in Rancho Penasquitos for one of the Coldwell Banker agents in my office. Just before closing, a man walked up with his wife and two young children and said he just saw the home listed for $1,500/month on Craigslist. He was very excited. I could see why. That price was several hundred dollars less than market rents in the neighborhood. This was all news to me. The owner wants to get this home, which is vacant, sold as quickly as possible. There is no interest in renting it. I spoke to the listing agent to confirm this, and flagged the ad on Craigslist.

In both cases, the scammers used information from the MLS (multiple listing service) in their Craigslist ads. We didn't get far enough along to see how they were going to try to get money out of the potential "renters," but be assured that's what the goal was here.

I don't know why someone would mail a check out to someone (especially out of the country) after seeing little more than an ad on Craigslist. Red flags would start popping up all over, beginning with a price that's too good to be true. It seems like the scam would become obvious fairly quickly, but, as one of the agents in my office said, "They wouldn't keep doing it if it didn't work."

Homeowners in financial trouble need to be wary of companies trying to held bail them out with a short sale or assist them with a foreclosure since these are areas that scammers also have been very active in pursuing.

If you would like more information on what to watch out for, please contact me:

Email: Phone: 619.920.2195.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Good tips for staging your home

One of my friends is getting ready to sell his home and he and his wife were wondering what they could do to make it most appealing to potential buyers. Some of my neighbors in Santaluz and Del Sur have asked about this in the past as well, so I thought this article I found would be helpful for everyone.

Woman painting wall in preparation for selling her home

7 Tips for Staging Your Home

Make your home warm and inviting to boost your home’s value and speed up the sale process. Read


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Property reassessment could save you $$$

With market values down, it's a good idea for anyone who purchased a home within the past 3-5 years to check into the possibility of having their property reassessed to see if property taxes could be lowered.

If you haven't already looked into to it — DO IT! And do it now. The deadline for filing an appeal with the Assessor's office is MAY 14 for the 2010-2011 tax year.

Here is the Web site for the County of San Diego Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk, which has all of the contact information for learning about and filing an appeal.

In fact, here is the link for the Application for Review of Assessment, which can be filled out online.

Here is a link on the Assessor's site that can help you find a property's sale information and parcel number that are needed to fill out the form. If you enter the address, then it will give you the parcel number and other sales information.

Be prepared to fill in the parcel number of your property, the value on the current assessment roll, come up with an opinion of value and support that opinion with some recent comparables. That takes a little bit of work, but filing is FREE and it could save hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in property taxes.

There are Assessor offices throughout the county — downtown, Chula Vista, El Cajon, San Marcos and Kearny Mesa — where forms are available, questions can be answered and comparable information can be obtained. The number for the assessor's office is 858.505.6262.

Feel free to e-mail me at or call me at 619.920.2195 and I will do what I can to help.


One of my reasons for pointing this out to homeowners is that last year I received something in the mail from a company called California Tax Reassessment that concerned me.

California Tax Reassessment offered to file an assessment appeal for me for a processing fee of $253 ($186 if I acted by April 27). I don't take issue with the company charging for this service, although, as stated above, a homeowner can do it for free. I do take issue with their approach, misleading information and business practices.

Let me provide some details:

The information mailed to me by California Tax Reassessment said that my current assessed value is $822,896, but they had a proposed assessed value of $576,027, a reduction that would save me $3,086 annually in property taxes.

Imagine my excitement at the savings.

There's just one problem with all this — it isn't accurate. Values may be down from their peak, but they have not dropped below what I paid in February of 2003. No home in my neighborhood has sold for less than $800,000. There's no way my value could be $576,027.

So I made a phone call to California Tax Reassessment. I spoke with Andrea. One of the first questions I asked her was what their address was so I could come down there to speak to someone in person. She said they were in Mission Valley, but she would not give out the address. RED FLAG goes here.

I proceeded to tell her that I couldn't see how my value could be $576,027 when no homes in my neighborhood had dropped anywhere near that. She said their estimate was based on my zip code — 92127 — and an average was provided for the value. She took my information and they ran another check. They found one home in my neighborhood that had sold for $1 million and two or three others a few miles away that sold for $500,000-$600,000. She said they would use the lower-priced homes in my evaluation rather than the $1 million comparable.

If the Assessor's office did any kind of check on the comparables, they would realize what I did — the other homes were not comparable to mine at all. And there would be no property tax reduction. I'm sure California Tax Reassessment would still have cashed my check, though. They make no promises that the homeowner will get tax relief — only that they will file my application for review.

Beware out there.

Contact Kirk Kenney: 619.920.2195 or

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's a Great Time for First-Time Buyers

Don't let the sun set on this opportunity.

Three or four years ago skyrocketing housing prices had turned the American Dream into a fantasy for first-time home buyers.

People saved and saved and just when they thought they had enough money for a down payment, they would look up and see that prices had jumped again. Home ownership seemed out of their grasp.

The real estate slide has changed all that. Prices are down — way down — throughout the county and the country. In addition, interest rates have tumbled to record lows.

First-time buyers should be jumping up with the chance to realize their dream.

Among the advantages to buying over renting:

— Opportunity for appreciation: When housing prices rise, you get to go along for the ride.

— Tax deductions for mortgage interest: Renters don't get this write-off.

— An $8,000 tax credit: Anyone who is under contract by April 30 and closes by June 30, receives this credit.

— Hedge against inflation: A fixed-rated mortgage keeps monthly payments the same as opposed to rent payments that typically rise over time.

— Pride of ownership: How much more enjoyable is it to sit on the porch when it's YOUR porch, or host a barbeque in YOUR backyard.

Are you ready, willing and able to buy a home.

Now's the time to find out.

Contact Kirk Kenney: 619.920.2195 or