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Carlsbad Relocation A to Z


An informational source for people who are relocating, with a particular focus on moving to the Carlsbad area of North County San Diego (and nearby coastal communities), with advice, guidance and true stories to help you on your way and make it a great journey, from a REALTOR� with plenty of personal (4 major moves, most recently from Boston to Carlsbad, California) and professional relocation experience. Are you running into problems selling your home? Need to find a new one quickly? Never moved before and haven't a clue? You'll find some great tips on how to solve your relocation issues here. Or ask me a question any time and I'll share some solutions or tell you where to get more information. CA BRE Lic. #01490977

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September 2006

First Time Buyers

If you are a first time buyer, owned a home in the past, or perhaps have not bought a new home for many year (things have changed!!), there is some helpful information that may be of interest on my new blog for First Time Home Buyers. There are also some related reports that are free by email on my website.

"Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.  Years may wrinkle our skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul"

Samuel Ullman

Posted: 4:20 PM, Sep. 30, 2006
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Renting before Buying

Is it better to rent first or buy in your new location?!

That's a tough one, and it depends on your personal situation, how you want to live, if you have a house full of pets, your financial concerns, children and schools, etc. I've done it both ways. We rented when we moved from Minneapolis back to Boston; we bought before we moved from Boston to California.

The advantage to renting first is that you can take the time to really get to know the area and decide where you want to look , plus you have time to look more carefully before you buy. Say, for example, renting for 6 months. On a house hunting trip you are limited in time and may have to buy quickly even if you are not ready. I think renting can work if you really don't have time to find and buy a home while you are relocating. It's best, I believe, if it's a conscious decision and not one that is forced on you.

In my opinion, there are some disadvantages - (1) you have to move twice in a short period of time,  (2) you may not have all your furniture and "stuff," (3) finding a rental that takes pets can be a challenge, (4) finding a short term rental can likewise be tough (although perhaps less in this slower market), (5) finding the right rental in the same town where you want to buy so your kids don't have to change schools twice in 1 year may be hard to do, (6) financially it may cost you more since you have to pay the rent plus 1-2 months security and maybe the last month's rent in advance, (7) psychologically and emotionally it can be hard to move to a rental in a new place (and the condition may not be what you are accustomed to).

I can't give you the answer, but am simply suggesting this may be something to ponder, and think about the pros and cons.

Posted: 2:22 PM, Sep. 29, 2006
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Boxes, Boxes, Boxes

Anyone need boxes for storage?

Are you planning to move?

I have a bunch of boxes that I used when I moved (they are different sizes and are the real moving company boxes) as well as some I have recyclced from clients. If you need some, let me know. I also have the wrapping paper for packing and lots of bubble wrap. And once you are done I will come pick the used boxes up (as long as you are within 1 hour of where I live here in Carlsbad.

Posted: 9:15 AM, Sep. 29, 2006
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Packing Yourself Part 2 - A Tip for your New Home

I mentioned in a previous post on packing that using labels on the exterior ends of the boxes can be a big time saver. Here's a related thought for moving.

When moving into your new home, especially if you cannot be there all the time when the movers are bringing your hundreds of boxes in, do what we did - we put signs on every room, even the obvious ones (living, dining, master, master closet, front closet, kids room #1, kids#2, etc). That way the movers could easily determine where to put the boxes if we were not there to point them in the right direction. This saved us a lot of time. We also set up a separate space for all those boxes we didn't know what to do with and labeled that (since we came from a house with a basement and were moving into a California home, which of course DOESN'T have a basement, this was a problem). Worked like a charm.

Note: The movers will label everything with small stickers and put all the items on a master inventory. So they an put MBR items in your new MBR without trouble. But we found that having our own labels and using the method I mentioned was more efficient since we set the system up and knew where everything was going.

Didja know?  The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.

Posted: 3:45 PM, Sep. 28, 2006
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Taxes and Your Relocation

First, let me say that I am not a tax expert and I cannot advise anyone on the tax implications of relocation, especially if you are using a relocation package from your new or current employer. I can only share what I have learned from my personal experience.

If you are receiving some sort of relocation package, my best advice is to consult your accountant so you will fully understand how your relocation package may be taxed and when. You don't want to be shocked on April 15 when you find out how much more in taxes you owe. You probably should do this before you even accept the relo package in case there are issues that you need to resolve. The money you receive, either directly in the form of a lump sum payment which some employers offer, or a reimbursement for actual expenses, may become part of your overall income and show up on your year-end W-2 in one form or another. You need to know how this money will be treated by your employer (the payroll department can probably help here) and how this may impact your tax return for the following year (chat with your accountant).

There is a good reference on the IRS website about Moving Expenses that I have used in the past, as well as the required form for 1040 filing - Form 3903 for filing expenses/deductions and associated instructions, and Publication 521 on Moving Expenses.

Keep careful records of every expense associated with your move from start to finish in a separate file for tax time, every document you sign, every expense form you complete for your employer of the relocation company (if applicable). Track your mileage carefully. The IRS has a limit on when you can deduct mileage and when not, depending on how far the move is. While there is a deduction for moving household goods (e.g., a receipt from the moving company) there may be limits depending on your situation. There are also IRS restrictions on the costs of transportation to your new home (especially food). Again, records are essential so you can correctly figure your rightful deduction but also be prepared in case of an audit.

Didja know???      Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

Posted: 10:52 AM, Sep. 28, 2006
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Job Hunting in your New Location - Before you go!

 This is not specifically about real estate, but certainly a critical part of the relocation process. If you are being transferred with your company or have found a new job, or are retired and have no intention of working, then this is not for you.

Having been in the Human Resources field for many years with employees around the country, and being involved in recruiting probably 50% of the time, I thought a few words on job hunting might be of help.

If your decision to move is going to be based on your ability to find a job, then you need to focus on this intensely so you will feel comfortable about your ability to get a job. If you can financially afford to wait for a bit to find a job but know you are moving regardless, great! But if you need to have that job before you go (and getting approved for a loan may hinge on this), or perhaps even decide if you want to relocate at all, then don't waste time getting started.  Lots of research and job hunting can be done online. A few suggestions:

1. RetirementJobs.com - a new search engine focusing on the baby boomers. They are getting lots of press and companies are signing up with lots of different jobs around the country. You can search as well as post your resume for free.

2. Monster.com - one of the original job search engines. Lot of functionality here, many companies and jobs around the country.

3. CareerBuilder.com - yet another - perhaps not as good as the others but similar in scope and functionality.

4. To find other sources simply do searches on the major engines for JOBS, JOBS IN ____, etc. (google, MSN, Yahoo, Dogpile, Go.com, Metacrawler.com, AskJeeves, Ask.com, AltaVista, etc.) and you will find other sites with jobs and company information. A University of California at Berkeley site provides a comprehensive summary of the features of the best search engines.

5. Network -talk to as many people as you possibly can, at your current job (provided they know you are leaving, of course), friends, family, neighbors, people at other companies, etc. The more people you talk you the more people you can add to the network. The goal is to find people in companies in your new location, or who may know those companies. A referral or personal introduction is usually better than a blind resume (but DON'T rule out sending resumes in to jobs that are of interest).

6. Check with the Chamber of Commerce sites for the area you will be in (see my website if you are moving to Southern California in the San Diego area). They normally will list the chamber members and you can then contact or research the companies that are in your field of interest.

7. Check the websites for the companies that interest you in your potential new home city - most will list job opportunities and how to apply.

8. Contact headhunters and executive search firms (there are lots - Korn/Ferry International, Heidrick and Struggles, etc.) that either work specifically in your field or are knowledgeable about jobs in your field of interest. Some firms are more appropriate for senior level jobs and others are more generalized (administrative, marketing, sales, IT). Again, a google search or other search engine will give you names of search firms. Many work only locally but others are national in scope. Every city will likely have multiple search firms that can help you (and generally the fee is paid by the hiring company, not you - you should never have to pay someone to help you find a job, in my opinion.

9. Execunet.com - a site that is filled with jobs not through the headhunting and search firms but as part of an executive network. Typically these are more senior jobs ($100K+) that executives and other more senior managers learn about in their networking and share.  I think there is now a charge to get more detailed information on the various jobs in your field of interest.

This is just the tip of the iceberg but I hope it is helpful especially if you have not done much job hunting.

Didja know?!  It is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

Posted: 8:12 PM, Sep. 27, 2006
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Insurance issues when moving

There are a few things to consider regarding insurance when relocating. Talk with your insurance agent if necessary.

1. The moving company will provide a certain amount of insurance as part of the move. You will have the option to purchase additional insurance if you wish (costs vary). NOTE: Generally boxes you pack yourself are NOT covered under the mover's liability insurance. Check to see if there is anything else not covered OR if other special insurance is necessary (e.g., for a car being shipped, other large equipment, boats, etc.). Do you have expensive items that need additional coverage (large clocks, paintings and other artwork)? Will your homeowner's insurance cover these items or is it better to get additional insurance through the mover? (My advice is to carry your jewelry with you in the car or on the plane - check on coverage before you leave).

2. If you are leaving your home before it is sold, make sure you maintain insurance on the property until closing has occurred (this is likely required as part of the purchase agreement you and the buyers have signed). If it will be more than 30 days until you close, check with your insurance company, as some companies will not insure a vacant home after 30 days, or for even a shorter period. You may have to change the type of insurance policy since you are not living there; this new policy may be less expensive. If you are going to be renting your home instead, you will need to make other changes in your policy before tenants move in.

3. Make sure you have insurance coverage on your new home (if already purchased and closed) as soon as closing occurs (normally the bank will require this and ask for verification from the insurance company). If you are not buying a home in your new location and will be renting, make sure you obtain renter's insurance before setting out on your trip.

4. Check if you need to make any changes in your auto coverage, either due to shipping or if traveling across the country. Make sure your car, you and your family are covered no matter when you are. If you don't have roadside assistance (e.g., AAA) you might want to invest in this - it is inexpensive and will be helpful if you should have car problems on the road. An added benefit is that AAA does a great job of planning your trip no matter where you are going, will map out routes, and provide travel books for the states you are passing through at no extra cost (this is helpful for finding tourist attractions to visit along the way, restaurants, and inexpensive hotels).

5. Make sure you have all your health insurance cards with you for all family members for the trip. Check to see how emergency will be covered on route.

6. Find out from your auto, dental and medical insurance carriers how they will handle coverage in your new state, if at all. Is there a grace period during which you can obtain new coverage? What if you have to go to a new doctor or a dentist?

Posted: 1:36 PM, Sep. 27, 2006
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Packing Yourself


Here are a few thoughts on packing stuff yourself, form someone who has done it at least 12 times!

1. One thing to keep in mind - this can save you a fair amount of money with the movers, since they will charge you for packing. So do what you can yourself. But see #2!!

2. Things that YOU pack will likely NOT be covered under the liability insurance provided by the carrier. Make sure you pack WELL, and do not pack things that are better covered under the insurance.

3. Most movers will provide the appropriate boxes and wrapping paper to you in advance (they may deliver to your door). You will be charged for these just as you are for all moving supplies the movers use in their packing. Be sure to ask for all you need and more - they will take back what is not used and you will not be charged for that. Other great sources of boxes include some liquor stores, copy paper boxes from work (great for magazines and books). NOTE - one of the relocation services I provide is to provide recycled moving boxes, bubble wrap and packing paper to my clients (I have tons from my moves and from recycling boxes from my clients who have moved) for FREE. I drop them off and pick them up so if you are in my local area here in San Diego, let me know.

4. Packing stuff early is GREAT for helping to sell your home. You have to move anyway, so why not get all the clutter out of the closets, off the shelves, out from under the beds, out of the garage, etc. The more you can pack away the better your home will look. While it is not the same as staging, if you can de-personalize your home it will show better to buyers and they will be able to think about living there themselves, as opposed to getting distracted by all your personal photos.

5. Label ALL the boxes carefully and thoroughly. We make big blank labels on the computer with information such as ROOM, FLOOR, CONTENTS, etc. Then we tape a blank form on each box and fill in the information as we go. It's amazing how you can forget what is in a particular box, and inevitably you will get to your new home and HAVE to find a particular item before all the unpacking is done, but won't know where to look.

6. Put the labels on the END of the boxes so when they are stacked you can see the labels (putting the label on top defeats the purpose). MARK FRAGILE BOXES on multiple sides using a dark magic marker or similar pen. BTW the boxes you pack will be marked by the mover as PBO (packed by owner) in their inventory.

7. Be generous in use of wrapping paper and bubble wrap. Newspaper is OK but it gets ink all over everything so I advise against it, especially on your glassware and dishes.

8. Pack your paintings or other artwork in the special boxes provided by the mover or let them pack them (again, a liability issue). When packing painting in bubble wrap, it is smart to put several sheets of packing paper (NOT NEWSPAPER) directly on the painting if not under glass before wrapping in bubble wrap - this is important especially if moving in warmer months where moisture can gather under the bubble wrap, which you DON'T want to get on the oil painting itself. Check with the mover on what expensive items should be noted (e.g., they will likely want a list on the day of packing, e.g., items valued at $1500 or more, for insurance purposes).

9. Check on what items CANNOT be packed and moved (e.g., hazardous items such as paints, gasoline, certain cleaning products). also check about plants - moving to some states will prohibit bringing in agricultural products from other states (e.g., California). other states will require the movers to check gardening equipment and outdoor furniture for Gypsy moths, larvae, etc. before packing.

10. Pack a special box for each family member that you carry yourself - toiletries, TP, tissues, bandaids, shampoo, medicines, special toys for kids - and at least one for the kitchen (coffee maker perhaps, coffee and filters, can opener, bottle opener, wine opener for the celebratory bottle when you arrive, and other things you expect you will need right away). Pack pet supplies (food, dishes, leashes) in a separate box and carry with you too. Stuff you forget you can buy when you arrive if the movers are going to be late arriving.

Posted: 12:16 PM, Sep. 26, 2006
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What I Enjoy about Relocation

As I head back to California following another visit back to our old stomping grounds in Boston, I found myself reflecting on some of the things I have enjoyed about relocating over the years, despite the challenges of moving to a new location.

We just finished our 3rd visit back to Boston since we moved 17 months ago, trips that have involved birthdays, a wedding, and many visits with old friends on Cape Cod, in Maine and all around greater Boston. The Internet has helped us to easily stay in touch with everyone we left, and vice versa, and in some ways you feel as if you are still there (in the "old" days we had to rely on snail mail and occasional phone calls, but with email and the ability to share photos the feelings of closeness seem to hang on, and distances don't seem so great). I always enjoy catching up with good friends from back East over a good meal, and it seems our trips are always filled with lots of eating, drinking, talking, laughing and plenty of driving around in our attempts to see as many people as possible during the few days we are in town. And of course there is NEVER enough time to do it all. Thus, while relocation means a move away from friends and family, the visits back are always something we look forward to. The other nice thing about going back, as opposed to traveling to a new city on a vacation, is that you know your way around and generally don't get lost. And it feels good to see the old neighborhood, and former haunts, as you drive around to visit with friends and family. And, in some ways, it is exciting to see what has changed (new buildings, homes being fixed up and painted) as well as what has not.

I have also found that while a big move can be difficult and stressful, I have enjoyed living in new areas around the country, and learning as much as possible about the new surroundings - things to do, trying out new restaurants, getting used to the new climate and weather patterns, meeting new people, etc. While it takes some time to get acclimated and to stop feeling like a stranger, and learning your way around without getting lost always takes time (thank goodness for my GPS), the excitement of all this change and realizing how adaptable we really are as humans is a terrific feeling. But it DOES take time, sometimes many months, and you have to expect this of yourself, and of your spouse/partner and children. And everyone seems to adapt in different ways and at different rates. Do I miss Boston? Absolutely...well, not the winter weather.

The other pleasure is having old friends and family come to visit - after all, you get to show off your new home and share what you have learned about where you now live. And you realize that despite the new distance, and perhaps being in a different timezone (it's been kinda weird getting used to that now, being on the west coast with everyone we know living life 3 hours later than us - we still have to consciously think about the time when we call or tell others to call us), that friends and family are the most important thing, and despite the changes some things just don't change.

Posted: 5:48 AM, Sep. 25, 2006
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More Things to do in San Diego - Part 2

Late last night I decided to write a bit more on things to do in San Diego (actually some things that are outside the county but nearby) after looking at some of the pics on my website and doing some updating. Take a look in Fans of Coastal SanDiego to learn about Mt. Palomar, the wine country in Temecula, Julian (the apple pie place), and the Anzo Borrego State Park in the desert about 2 hours inland. There is a great picture taken from atop Mt. Palomar on a cloudy day - awesome!

Posted: 8:28 AM, Sep. 20, 2006
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House Prices in San Diego

I just updated my other blog, Fans of Coastal San Diego, with some musings on the housing prices here. No kidding, they are high, but the market has seen some dramatic shifts and continues its correction. It's a good market for buyers, given the number of choices in the inventory.

Take a look, as I also reference several recent articles worth reading, to give you a broader perspective (the one on Bubble Sitting was also noted in one of my first posts on this blog). And if you would like copies of the monthly statistics I have been compiling since October 2005 for past, current and prospective clients, let me know by email.

Posted: 3:06 PM, Sep. 19, 2006
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House Hunting from a Distance

Looking for a home in your new location will be exciting, but challenging, especially if you are not nearby and need to focus only online. It can be even more stressful when you don't know the area and need to learn as much as possible quickly. The Internet is a great tool for doing this, given the amount of information that is there. And with your Realtor's help you should be able to target your search fairly quickly, once you narrow down the price range (by getting pre-approved) and the communities you are interested in. And if you know the other criteria that are critical (e.g., # of bedrooms, square footage, etc.) that will help target your searching further. (NOTE: Above is a picture, on a rather cloudy day, looking north from Mt. Soledad in La Jolla - you can really get a feel for how expansive the area is from up there - the views, especially on a nice day, are awe-inspiring, and you can see as far north as the mountains in Camp Pendleton).

1. Know your budget and price parameters. You will waste a lot of time just having fun looking if you can't narrow your search based on what you can afford. BE REALISTIC!!

2. Sign up for daily emailed listings from your Realtor so you have up to the minute listings every day to consider. This will also give you an idea of the inventory, how long homes stay on the market, and values by community. Use your Realtor's site to search for listings too, until you narrow down the communities and price range. Then you only need to consider the daily listings that are emailed since they will be homes that fit your specified criteria. If new construction is important, ask your Realtor, some but not all new construction homes/subdivisions are in the MLS; you can often find the sites for the different developers once you have the names from your Realtor.

3. Keep notes on the towns you like and general info you learn as you search. You may want to set up a file online to store listings, or use manila folders for hard copy files for each town and listings that interest you.

4. Use the maplinks on the MLS listings, Google Maps , Mapquest, or Google Earth, and a good area map to help you define the areas you would like to look in, provided you know where work will be. If you are moving to a large metropolitan area this will be important as traffic conditions, access to major roads, etc. will play an important role in how long it takes to get to work from your new home.  Your Realtor can give you some recommendations based on your general criteria but you will need to do the research yourself since YOU have to decide how far a long or short commute actually is. And check it out live when you get to town. You can also do searches online for "commute times" in different major cities and determine how long, on average, it will take to drive from one location to another on various routes, and some provide up-to the minute traffic reports - check this one out for San Diego.

5. If you don't know the area at all, do some online research on the communities that appear to be near your new job(s). Generally most towns have a community website - it may be the Chamber of Commerce site or some other. You can readily find this by doing a Google or Yahoo search (or whatever your favorite search engine is). Ask your Realtor for a list of sites too.

6. If you can manage a preliminary house hunting trip, I recommend it. You can get a good general feel for the areas you have targeted and will have a truer view of the housing once you have seen some live. Have your Realtor arrange a blitz tour of some homes and towns that interest you. You can then rule out areas and homes that you find don't appeal to you or meet your criteria, and not waste time looking at the listings online in those areas.

7. Ask your Realtor to screen in/out homes that you have seen online that appeal to you based on your criteria. For example, it may not be obvious that a home is right along the freeway. Or you can't tell that the property really is better as a tear-down. Your Realtor can also preview homes for you and provide more detailed information - if they can't or won't, perhaps you are using the wrong person!

Have specific questions about Southern California, relocating in general. Email me, call me toll free at 877-845-3178, or visit my website.

Posted: 9:11 PM, Sep. 17, 2006
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Relocation: Help Your Realtor Help You

Here are some suggestions for helping the Realtor you have chosen in your new home city effectively aid you in finding the right home, based on my personal relocation experience and from assisting multiple buyers in their moves around the country. Not only is this one of the largest purchases you will make, but you are moving to a new area you don’t know which adds to the stress. And if this is not a choice (e.g., a corporate transfer) it is probably even more difficult for you and you family. (NOTE - above is a view of downtown Del Mar, a beautiful and charming seaside town...and expensive!)


Once you have chosen the person you want to help you with the process, or the Relocation Company has identified that individual for you, you are ready to get to work.


  1. Respond quickly when you get emails or calls from your Realtor. S/he is working hard to help you, and you are probably on a tight schedule. Delays in communication will hurt you, and make it more difficult for your Realtor to assist. Your responsiveness is an indication of your interest and cooperation, and can set the tone for the relationship. When you say you want help but then do not return calls and emails, this sends a negative message (and of course this works both ways) and makes it tough for the process to move along.
  2. Make sure you are pre-approved right away so you know your budget. Your Realtor will ask, and you DON’T want to waste time, yours and your Realtor’s, looking at homes that are outside your budget.
  3. Verify the details of your relocation package, if applicable, and make sure your Realtor knows this is part of the process, and if s/he will be expected to pay a referral fee. Lots of agents refer back and forth so they are accustomed to referral fees; some relocation companies charge high fees and this must be communicated.
  4. Be a good listener. This is tough sometimes because you are feeling stressed, or perhaps frustrated. Don’t let your emotions get in your way of hearing what is being said. Be a good communicator, too – be clear, concise and decisive
  5. Provide your Realtor with the information s/he is seeking in a timely manner, and in particular when things change (e.g., your budget, dates).
  6. Be clear about what you want in your new home and community. This can be hard, and may change over time, but your Realtor will have a more difficult time if you don’t have a clue and can’t decide on what’s important to you. This is particularly tough when moving to an area that is very different (such as my move from Boston to California!!).
  7. Have your Realtor sign you up for daily emailed listings from the MLS in your new home city so you can educate yourself about the market and house values.  You need to quickly make decisions about the kinds of housing you want and where you want to live, and understand what is going on in the market. Screen in homes that are of interest and let your Realtor know so s/he understands your likes and dislikes. Your Realtor can probably preview homes for you when you can’t be there. Arrange for a house hunting trip and do a blitz in the new city, seeing as much as you can so you can decide on your new home.
  8. Obtain all the necessary contact information (emails, cell phone, office phone, home phone, pager) for your agent and provide the same to him/her. Know how to get in touch with your Realtor quickly when necessary (especially during the offer negotiations, when failing to respond can cost you the home).
  9. Be flexible and change direction quickly if you need to, and inform your Realtor of any and all changes immediately. You can expect problems to arise, discrepancies, and changes in direction, dates, and timing.
  10. Use technology to simplify and speed up communication – cell phone, fax, email.
  11. Keep careful notes and records of all conversations, decisions, resolutions to problems, etc. Use email to confirm and clarify so you have a written record. Don’t make any assumptions – confirm and re-confirm.
  12. Educate yourself on how the buying process works in the new city/state – it may be very different from what you are used to. What forms will you encounter? What is the timing? Who else is involved (e.g., escrow company, attorneys) and how do you get in touch with them when necessary? Remember, YOU have the greatest vested interest in the success of your home buying, so you need to take responsibility to keep things moving along and make timely decisions.
  13. If you are not able to be in your new town readily, get your Realtor’s help when necessary (e.g., coordinating and attending inspections, letting in tradespeople for  estimates and to perform work, checking on the home before you arrive).
  14. Do your due diligence. Use the Internet to help you research the new community and get answers to your questions. Ask for resources from your Realtor. These are your decisions NOT your Realtor’s.

Good luck. Please contact me here in Southern California if I can help you in any way, or someone you know who is moving. For more fun information about living in the San Diego area, check out Fans of Coastal San Diego.

Posted: 8:59 AM, Sep. 16, 2006
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Things to do in San Diego - Part 1

I just updated my other blog, Fans of Coastal SanDiego, with a post on stuff to do in San Diego (for now, beaches, restaurants and Quail Botanical Gardens). Since there is so much, I will be adding to this topic regularly (and as I try out things myself). Take a look!. And if you want some other resources, visit my website.

Above is a view of some popular beach restaurants in Cardiff - you can enjoy the ocean views and the surfers while you dine. The Beach House (upstairs) is a terrific place for appetizers and drinks to watch the sun set! Better views (and I think food) than downstairs and a bit more casual - first come first served, however!

Most, if not all, communities have a website of information for residents and visitors - things to do, places to visit, hotels, and more. You can see the list of sites for the primary communities I service by visiting my website (see Area Information), but here are a few that may be of interest. If you are thinking about relocating here, or going to, I would definitely check out these sites - you will learn lots about the different areas that may interest you. I can also provide further information.




Solana Beach

Del Mar

Posted: 11:37 AM, Sep. 15, 2006
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More Thoughts on Housing in San Diego - Part 2

Here are some more observations on the housing in the San Diego area, and some comaripsons to "back East."

1. Closets - People here in California don't have a clue about the luxury they have (well, most do) with their closets. I've seen bigger walk-in closets here than entire $400K condos in Boston. Yep, some "bedrooms" don't have them (so it’s a den or office) but most are pretty reasonable in size, if not spacious, and in the newer homes they are downright huge. Now, every New Englander knows that the Victorians, who built a large number of the homes before and after the turn of the century, didn't like closets, or didn't have clothes to put in them...in any case you are hard pressed to find a closet in the older homes where you can hang enough clothing on hangers to last you a week, and THAT'S in the master bedroom. A closet that is 30" wide and 12" deep is a pleasure in Boston. Guess that's why there were so many armoires made back then, or maybe everyone just threw their clothes on the floor.

And these mirrored doors on every closet, in every room (I'm exaggerating, just a bit). Yep, it gives you more light, a feeling of more space, yada yada, but back in New England it's a dead giveaway that the resident is still living in the 60s and 70s and loving it, and a definite negative for buyers.

2. Furnaces and heat - what I love about the weather here is that I only HAVE to turn on my heat a few times a year, and then only to take the chill off the air, and most people have forced hot air. No matter that the furnace is in the ceiling somewhere (I know because the HVAC guy who came to repair it said so). And gas is the typical source of fuel, although there are some unusual electric devices on walls or baseboards occasionally. And furnaces are pretty new here. In Boston, we have something called a "snowman" in many old homes and buildings. Yes, it is kinda rounded and bulgy like a snowman and rather an ugly dirty dusty gray...and it is COVERED with asbestos. Plus it is almost as old as the house. They are gradually disappearing, fortunately, due to the health hazards associated with asbestos, and it costs a boodle to have them removed, and you have to have a certified professional do it. Not everyone has a snowman, but lots of furnaces are 30 - 50 years old, or more. Some are great because, due to how they were made, they will probably never fall apart. But at least you have a furnace...and with the cold Boston winters that last for 6 months this is a priority for any condo or homeowner. And you pay dearly for the fuel (often oil, but more and more so gas). And the steam and hotwater radiators in many old homes are a sight to see - they work great, by the way, and stay warm forever once heated up, and can get hot enough to fry an egg and dry your clothes (instead of going to the basement for the dryer). And in some fun old homes people do not have a source of heat in some rooms, like the kitchen, and you have an ancient stove that also provides the heat. Haven’t run across that here in San Diego…yet.

3. Parking - I have to say that, despite the number of cars (rumor has it there are more cars than people in LA, for example) in Southern California, we are pretty car friendly overall. You can park at the beach, often for free. There is free parking everywhere (and parking meters, too). And these interesting Self-pay parking lots - these would never survive in Boston because Bostonians would simply refuse to pay the machine. They ignore pedestrians, red lights and stop signs, don’t they?! I didn't have a clue about what to do the first time I encountered a self-pay lot (what do you mean there is no nasty attendant waiting to take your car and squeeze it into a space only 1 mm larger than your car, and have the nerve to charge you $10 for the first 15 minutes for the pleasure - or worse, expect YOU to park your own car). Parking is cheap here, overall. There are some more expensive places, true, but it is typical in Boston to pay $10-$15 per hour to park, and more. But the worse thing is even finding a place to park in Boston, on the street OR in a lot. One commonality - the people who staff the meter-ticket dispensing workforce here (at least downtown) and in Boston are equally rude, abusive and have the ticket on your window only a nanosecond after the time expires. It’s like a cult.

The other nice thing about parking here is that resident parking is rather unusual. You can park in a neighborhood (well, not the gated ones) and walk to the beach, go shopping, enjoy a restaurant, or go to school, and no one knows who don't live there, and IT'S FREE...and you won't get towed. Most areas, at least in Boston proper and nearby communities, have parking by resident permit ONLY on the streets - no sticker, no parking. The other hassle is the monthly street cleaning, when you can’t park in that area at all – you WILL get fined and you WILL get towed, as it makes money for the city.


Another difference - lots more valet parking here, and it's either free (except for the tip, perhaps) or inexpensive. Boston has caught on to this finally, and some places offer valet parking (otherwise NO ONE would ever come to the restaurant because there is NO PARKING anywhere), the difference being that valet usually costs $10 - $15. Where the valets find room to park the cars, no one knows.


4. Mello-Roos – well, what the heck is that? First time I saw this in the MLS when I started my California home search back in Boston, and it said “no Mello-Roos” I wondered what was missing? Was this a good or bad? I had never seen a Mello-Roos before; was it unique to Southern California? Do they import them? Or do they grow wild?


I did some on-line research to figure it out, and learned it was a fee you sometimes had to pay in newer subdivisions (often in undeveloped areas) where a Community Facilities District has been created. The CFD allows for financing to cover the costs of certain improvements (e.g., streets, sewers and other basic infrastructure, police and fire protection, ambulance services, schools, parks, museums, etc.). The Mello-Roos, a special tax, is collected from each resident in order to pay off the financing; the tax is not based on the value of the property. And that could be in addition to a Home Owner’s Association fee. The good news is that the Mello-Roos will stop in the future once the bond (if issued) is paid off, although sometimes a reduced fee may be levied to cover the cost of maintaining the improvements. BTW the name comes from the co-authors of the Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982, Senator Henry Mello and assemblyman Mike Roos.


5. Subdivision Names and Gated Communities – Getting used to all the subdivisions and the names has taken some time. It certainly helps you to keep track of where certain people live, or to give directions, or to figure out how much money someone has or if they are worthy of being your friends, and as a Realtor you want to sell in certain subdivisions if you can. What was so different is the sheer number of them, and the manner in which the names are emblazoned on the gates on some fancy stone edifice at the entrance. And if this is a gated community, this is where they hide the electric eye that lets in residents, or the magic keypad that will allow visitors to gain entrance if you are lucky enough to have been given the secret code. Or, if you are REALLY lucky, you have a guard in a nice little gatehouse who decides if you can pass or not, depending on the kind of car you drive. Certainly there are subdivisions in the Boston area, as well as gated neighborhoods, and condo buildings have names, but New Englanders tend to be a bit more conservative, so you don’t see the advertising quite so much.

I'll add more musings as they arise.


Posted: 3:55 PM, Sep. 14, 2006
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Jeff Dowler, ABR, CRS, e-PRO, SRES (RE/MAX Associates): Real Estate Agent in Carlsbad, San Diego County, California
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