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.