Patti Phillips
Prudential California Realty
6119 La Granada
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
Direct toll free: 800-680-9133
Cell: 619-507-2100 Office: 858-481-2020

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Suggestions for Leaving a Vacant Home Ready for Sale

Suggestions and Requests for Leaving Your Home Vacant
While Listed for Sale

Once you move out of your home there are a few requests and suggestions that I have for you to keep your home in great condition for showing, so that it will sell as quickly as possible.

1. Please keep all of the utilities on!

It is important that agents can put on lights to best show the features of your home. Often, agents show vacant homes after dark, especially during shortened winter daylight hours. (I have had to show homes by the light of my cell phone! Doesn’t help a home to make a buyer fall in love with your home!)

It is important that the water be kept on. Often buyers will need to use the restroom after hours of house hunting. There is nothing more unappealing than an unflushed toilet, in a closed up home! YUCK! Talk about first impressions!

2. Please keep a few basics in the home. That way if something needs a little clean up to stay fresh and clean, it can be done by your listing agent!

Items to leave in the home:

Window cleaner
All purpose cleaner
1 or 2 rolls of paper towels
Toilet paper in each bathroom
A toilet bowl brush
A bucket or large plastic bowl
Spray air fresheners

Optional, but helpful items:

Tidy Bowl or other “bluing” agent inside each toilet bowl.
Broom & dustpan
Footmat outside and/or inside the front door.
Room air fresheners or potpourri

None of these items need to be expensive. The 99 cent store carries all of these items, and they are perfectly fine for the few times they will be used after you move.

There are open houses where things can get tracked in. Sitting toilets often form a “ring” which looks unappealing. If items are left to give the toilets a little quick clean up it keeps the home looking fresh. A bit of toilet bowl cleaner helps.

Solid air fresheners keep the home from smelling “stale”. Window cleaner can remove fingerprints on mirrors, doors, etc.

3. Please keep maintenance on your yard and pool active

Remember, you only have 1 chance to make a first impression. Weeds in the yard, straggly grass, dead plants, green scum on your pool all make the WRONG first impression. You want your home to sell for the best possible price. Don’t make it look like a distress sale by saving a few dollars on it’s upkeep!


4. Hang a neutral, new looking set of towels in each bathroom

A nice looking set of towels makes each bathroom look more elegant, finished and homey.

Other suggestions

Talk to me about staging ideas that we could do to make your home look more appealing, homey and like a model home.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bush Signs Mortgage Forgiveness Into Law!

Mortgage Forgiveness Act Signed into Law

Yesterday, President Bush signed H.R. 3648, The Mortgage Forgiveness Act of 2007, into law, sparing homeowners the tax burden associated with canceled mortgage debt.

Prior to this action, forgiven mortgage debt due to foreclosure, short sale, or deed in lieu of foreclosure, was considered taxable income. The new law, however, temporarily waives these taxes for debts forgiven (as high as 35%) from the beginning of 2007 to the end of 2009. The bill also extends the tax deduction for mortgage insurance premiums through 2014.

"This is going to make a happy holiday for many homeowners," President Bush said yesterday before signing the bill in to law. During the press conference he added the following:
"When you're worried about making your payments, higher taxes are the last thing you need to worry about. So this bill will create a three-year window for homeowners to refinance their mortgage and pay no taxes on any debt forgiveness that they receive. And it's a really good piece of legislation. The provision will increase the incentive for borrowers and lenders to work together to refinance loans – and it will allow American families to secure lower mortgage payments without facing higher taxes."

"There's more work to be done," Bush added, saying that Congress needs to pass legislation to strengthen Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, to modernize FHA, and to allow the government to issue tax-exempt bonds for refinancing existing home loans.
H.R. 3648 Summary

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Our Perspective on the Negative Real Estate Headlines

If you read the same newspapers that I do, all you see is "doom and gloom". Our own San Diego Union Tribune is the biggest proponent of the doom and gloom- on a daily basis. Often the headlines tout "the sky is falling, the sky is falling....", but when you read the article underneath, there really is very little to be negative about!

To share some perspective with you, I thought you might enjoy reading the following article by Prudential California Realty's President and CEO, Steve Rodgers. I think that he puts things very well concerning our real estate market.

"To be newsworthy, a story must be immediate. That’s why the current real estate market is such a hot media topic — and why the long view doesn’t get much ink or airtime. That’s too bad, because that’s where you’ll find the most compelling real estate story of all.

1969: “The goal of owning a home seems to be getting beyond the reach of more and moreAmericans. The typical new house today costs about $28,000.”– Business Week

1977: “The median price of a home today is approaching $50,000. Housing experts predictprice rises in the future won’t be that great.”– National Business1985: (Median home price $152,720.) “The golden-age of risk free run-ups in home prices is gone.”– Money Magazine

1996: (Median home price $194,382. Defense cuts had triggered steep home price declines.)“A home is where the bad investment is.”– San Francisco Examiner

In the three years following that last statement, California home prices rose 19.7%, wiping out the losses of the early ‘90s and ending the decade with a net gain of 9.35%. By 2000, the median home price had hit $273,713.In 2005, it reached $603,927.

The media continues to play up bad economic news, including real problems in the lending marketplace. The truth is, a home remains the most enduring investment most of us will ever make.

That’s because the return goes so very far beyond financial rewards. To own a home is to make a priceless investment in our lives — and a confident affirmation about our future.

We’ve noticed that real estate professionals at the top of their game are actually energized by challenging market cycles.It’s an exciting opportunity to show their clients just what they can do.

Teaming up with an agent like that is no challenge at all.Just look for the Prudential Rock."

I think that Steve says it well!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Seniors- Taking your tax base with you....

When many seniors think about selling their home and "scaling down" or moving to a single story home they are concerned that they will be paying higher taxes, due to our "Prop 13" tax laws in California.

Are you aware of Prop 60/90? It is the tax provision that allows you to keep your tax base- on a one time basis- within California. Basically, this is how it works. Seniors need to buy a home that costs the same or less than the home they sold/ are selling. It works within the same county in most cases- some counties (few) have a reciprocal agreement that allows you to move within different counties and have the same privilege. (Note: San Diego County is the most lenient county in the state, allowing you to move here from ANY county and bring your tax base with you!)

Keep in mind that this is, for the most part, and with only a few exceptions, a one time allowance. You have a time period- I think up to two years to file for the transfer of the tax base. I suggest that my clients wait a while after moving before filing for the allowance. Why? because I have seen clients move from a detached home into a condo- only to find that they HATE condo living after 3 or 4 months. If they have already taken their one time allowance- and they decide to sell and move- they have lost it forever!

As a Senior Real Estate Specialist helping my clients negotiate through situations like this is one of my services.

If you have any further questions, take a look at the link below- or give me a call! I'm happy to help!

Friday, December 7, 2007

ARM Adjustment Relief is on the Horizon!

Adjustable interest loans, foreclosures, short sales, defaults....... What are homeowners to do? Relief may be on the way!

As you may have heard, President Bush announced a plan yesterday to help relieve homeowners who are facing adjustments to their ARM loan rates... The plan intends to reduce the number of future foreclosures and mortgage defaults and improve our housing market. Some critics feel it is too lenient. Others feel it is "too little, too late." In any case, help is much needed, and the bleeding needs to stop!

Following is an excerpt from today's San Diego Union Tribune.
"Who qualifies: People with subprime mortgages who live in the residence covered by the mortgage.... Homeowners who appear unable to refinance their loans would be eligible for the fast track to freeze their interest rates for five years. To qualify, they must have a credit rating below 660, must occupy their home and the reset must increase what they owe by at least 10 percent. Those above 660 could still qualify but must prove that don't make enough money to absorb a mortgage rate increase.

Under the plan, borrowers at risk of losing their homes must discuss their options with their mortgage servicers. These firms include giants that manage about 80 percent of affected mortgages, such as Wells Fargo and Countrywide Financial.

The servicers will attempt to determine which people who have kept up with their payments are likely to be able to refinance their mortgage, perhaps into federally insured FHA loans. That will include those with at least 3 percent equity in their homes.

Time frame: Loans must have been taken out between Jan. 1, 2005, and July 31, 2007, and have interest rates that will reset between Jan. 1, 2008, and July 31, 2010.

The problem: Subprime mortgages, many taken out with rates of 7 percent to 8 percent, are scheduled to reset at rates of up to 11 percent. That increase could add $350 to the typical monthly payment of $1,200.

The freeze: Rates will remain at the lower introductory rate for a period of five years."
If you would like more information, give me a call!
You can also access the entire Union Tribune article here:

I hope this plan is able to provide relief for many of those who so need it!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Beware of new "IRS Scam"

There has been a recent scam that the IRS has sent out a warning about. Beware if you receive an e-mail that tells you that you will receive $80.00 if you take part in a customer satisfaction survey! It appears to come from the IRS, and says that you have been randomly selected to participate in the survey. In return, the IRS will credit $80.00 to the taxpayer's account. IRS is referenced in both the "from" and "subject" lines of the e-mail you receive. The link to the supposed survey, also reverences the IRS, along with the official IRS Logo.

This is not legitimate! It is a scam!

The IRS NEVER sends unsolicited e-mail, or asks you for pin numbers, credit ard numbers, passwords, bank or other financial accounts!

If you should receive one of these e-mails please forward it to

Be careful, we all pay enough to the IRS in txes- don't lose more due to a scam perpetrated in their name!

Always remember, I'm here to be your resource in many more ways than just buying or selling real estate! Think of me as your personal concierge! If you have a question and I don't know the answer, I'll find it out for you.... that's what I do!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Protect Yourself, Protect Your Credit

We all need to be concerned about identity theft in today’s day and age. No one is immune from it. I’ve had it happen two times in my past, and let me tell you, it’s no walk in the park.

Hours are spent proving to creditors that you aren’t the one who made charges, applied for accounts or cashed checks. Every company seems to have a different policy on what you must do to “redeem” yourself. Obtaining credit in the future can be much more difficult. Believe me- this is not an easy process.

What can you do? One step you may want to try is to “freeze” your credit report. Freezing your credit report stops anyone else from signing up for new credit, such as credit cards, bank accounts, home loans, etc. Once the freeze is put in place, no one can obtain your credit report without special permission from you.

Freezing your credit can be a bit difficult. Typically you have to write a letter to each of the reporting agencies, and may need to pay a fee of about $10.00 to each agency. The agencies also charge to “lift” the freeze when you choose to apply for credit. Once you freeze your file, the bureaus assign you a PIN number, which you will need to remove the freeze from your file. When you want to lift the freeze, you notify the bureaus, specify the amount of time you want the freeze lifted. There will be a fee to lift the freeze. This can get pretty expensive for a family! It could cost as much as $120.00 for a couple- to first freeze their accounts at all 3 agencies, then to lift them if credit needs to be run! It may take up to 3 business days to lift your credit freeze.

Even if you don’t think you would need to “lift” a freeze, there are activities which would generate a need that you might not even think about: changing cell phone companies, obtaining insurance policies, applying for a new apartment, gas, electric or phone utilities. Most of us do some of these activities a number of times a year. Credit freezes are best for those who have little need to apply for new credit- such as under age children, the elderly, etc.

Some states are setting boundaries on the credit reporting agencies, both for how much they can charge, and how quickly they must lift the freeze. Some states are not allowing any charge, while others are limiting the amount that can be charged.

Credit freezes won’t lower your credit score, and you can still order your own credit report as a consumer.

For more information on freezing your credit, and to check your state’s laws check the articles below:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fire Disaster Relief Resources

I hope that this blog finds you well. Unfortunately we all know people who have been affected by the tragedy of the San Diego fires. In light of that, I want to reach out and be a resource to those in need. If you know anyone in need of help, the following information may be of assistance:

Federal Help From FEMA
FEMA stands for Federal Emergency Management Agency. They can help with grants for temporary housing, grants for home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, other programs to help those recovering from the disaster & counseling for your family.
Their contact information is , Telephone: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362); 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. (From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

For direct “face to face assistance” here are the locations of the local assistance centers that are open as of 10/25/07. FEMA representatives are on hand to answer questions and provide assistance:

Rancho Bernardo-Glassman Recreation Center 18448 W. Bernardo DriveSan Diego, CA 92127Ramona Community School1710 Montecito RoadRamona, CA 92065Fallbrook Community Center341 Heald LaneFallbrook, CA 92028Rancho San Diego-Cajamarca College900 Rancho San Diego ParkwayEl Cajon, CA 92109

State of California Department of Insurance
If you know someone who feels they are getting inadequate service/assistance from their home insurance carrier, aid may be available through the State of California, Department of Insurance.
The necessary forms needed are available through the following link:

211 San Diego
Local information about the wildfire disaster and all the available links for road closures, school closures, fire maps, shelters, donations, medical assistance, etc.

Optum Health is a confidential resource for mental health & life changes, such as stress, anxiety, etc. The toll free Help Line is available 24 hours a day to anyone needing assistance. The number is (866) 342-6892 and the service is free of charge.
In addition the OptumHealth (UBH) EAP website
is a rich resource and offers information on local resources, a state wild fire map and creating a disaster plan.

Safe Cleanup of Fire Ash and Debris
The local fires have resulted in large volumes of fire ash and debris throughout San Diego County. When mandatory evacuations are lifted, residents who return to their effected homes and neighborhood should use caution when they come in contact with these materials.
Here is the link for the full article that provides very safe and useful information on dealing with post fire debris:

Rental Properties

PrudentialCalifornia Realty is working on a website to help people out with available rentals for temporary housing. Contact me for more information. In addition, a good source of temporary residence information is either the Union Tribune Website/classified ads at
Or Craig’s list at: This is a great website with tons of homes/apartments/condos/rooms for rent in San Diego and the surrounding areas.

Meanwhile, I wish those of you who have personally experienced loss the very best in resstoring and rebuilding your lives and your homes.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

San Diego Fires & The Impact on Real Estate

Here in the San Diego area we are all starting to breath a little easier and get back to life. What a strange few days it has been. One minute, you think you are going to get up, go to work and start another typically hectic work-week. Next thing, you are throwing your most prized possessions in your car and taking off for safety.

Lucky for my family, after 2 days away, we returned home to an undamaged house and neighborhood. We feel blessed by that.

How will the recent fires affect our San Diego Real Estate market? I believe there will be both negative and positive repercussions from the fires. Obviously, there will be many families needing homes immediately. Some will rent, while waiting to rebuild. Others will buy, scared to remain in the same location that proved so dangerous to their families. In any case, there will be some activity created by the loss of homes

Some who were considering buying in San Diego may be frightened by the fires, and change their buying plans. Others will look at how the disaster was handled, the sense of calm, caring and community that took place, and decide that they want to live amongst people of such character and kindness.

In any case, the displaced families will need to be helped and cared for by professionals who can help them find a new place to call home. I hope they are all able to quickly settle in and move on with their lives, rebuild and create new memories to replace those that were swept away by the fires.

If you are one of those impacted by the fire, and need a list of contractors and service providers that you can trust, please contact me. I have a list of professionals in every type of industry that I know can be trusted. They have come to me highly recommended. You will have one less thing to worry about by having recommendations of reputable service providers at hand.