Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Avoid the Disaster of a Home Water Leak

One of my clients recently went on a business trip for a couple of days. Naturally, he did all the normal things you would do when leaving a home unattended for a period of time. He made sure that all the doors were locked, that the TV, computer, and other electrical items were turned off, and that the mail would be picked up.

He told me that whenever he'd have to leave his home unattended that he would normally turn off the water main. For some reason he did not turn the water main off this time around. Would you?

Several days later he got back home from his trip and saw a puddle of water by the front door. At first he thought the sprinkler system must be leaking but you can imagine the thoughts running through his head as he slowly opened the front door....

As soon as he walked into the house his worst nightmare came to life. His entire lower floor was covered by an inch of standing water. The carpeting, the padding, the baseboards, the wallboards, the kitchen cabinets, his furniture, and anything else he happened to have on the floor all ruined to the tune of some $30,000 in damages. Apparently, a water pipe came loose at the joint and flooded his house for days while he was away.

Was there something he could have done to prevent this from happening? Yes, and there are things you can do too.

You shouldn't have to turn off your water main everytime you leave your home unattended. Opening and closing a water main may actually wear it out over time. Yet, its cheaper to replace it than coming home to a flooded home.

One thing you may want to do immediately is to check the water pressure coming into your home. So many times I'll encounter a home with very high water pressure. High water pressure could stress the water pipes throughout your home and cause them to burst over time. Your appliances like the dishwasher, clothes washer, water heater, and water softener are all affected by this and any one of them could cause trouble. High water pressure can be caused by a bad water regulator-- that funny cone shaped device next to your main water shutoff. You can easily check the water pressure with an inexpensive pressure meter that you can buy at any hardware store. Normally the water pressure should not exceed 80psi but check with your local codes. If you discover that the water pressure is off, you may be able to adjust the water regulator--- it has a small pressure adjustment screw or knob. But many times it turns out that the regulator needs to be replaced. That will cost you about 30 bucks for parts and maybe another $100 dollars for labor.

For the ultimate peace of mind, you may want to do what I did in my own home. I installed an automatic water shutoff system. Whenever water is detected on the floor throughout my home, a radio signal is sent to a receiver in my garage. The receiver will shut off the main water supply as soon as trouble is detected. The way this works is very simple. A sensor and transmitter is placed in strategic locations throughout the home. Places like the bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room, and anywhere really. The sensor constantly scans for water. So if the sink overflows and water reaches the sensor, a wireless signal is sent to the receiver. The receiver tells an electric valve to shut off the main water to the house. The system is easily reset for example when you accidently spill a bucket of water on the bathroom floor. But it works 7/24 and I don't have to worry about coming home to a flood.

Various manufacturers make these water sensor systems and some only sound an alarm when water is detected but don't turn the water main off. You can search the internet for the various manufacturers of water and flood sensors. If you're curious about what I have, its called the WaterCop. It cost me under $700 bucks complete and I was able to install the whole thing myself. You'll have to cut into the water main so if you don't know how to solder copper pipe you'll need to hire a plumber for that part of the installation. The individual water sensors located throughout the home are very easy to install.

Bursting water pipes and the resulting water damage doesn't happen very often. When it does, it can be very very expensive. If thats not the worst of it, your insurance company will probably raise your insurance rates and red flag the property. If you intend to sell the home, you'll have to disclose the flood and any resulting mold damage. This may cause potential buyers to avoid your home altogether.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Today's Interest Rates

Coming down ever so slightly!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Opt Out of Unsolicited Financial Offers

Have you recently applied for a loan? Have you noticed a big increase of unsolicited sales calls from other lenders soon after applying for your loan? It wouldn't make sense that your lender would take your loan application and immediately sell your contact information to a competing lender--- and indeed thats not happening here.

The culprits are the three big credit reporting agencies. They are actually taking your lender's FICO score inquiry and turning it into a sales lead. Amazingly, they sell your personal financial information to financial institutions who wind up contacting you. All this happens when your local mortgage company/lender checks your credit to provide you a rate quote.

How do you protect yourself? You can tell the credit reporting agencies that you want to opt-out and not have your name sold. Learn more by going to the website https://www.optoutprescreen.com.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Know Your Credit Scores!

Do you know your credit scores? Most people don't realize how important credit scores have become in today's homebuying process. Your credit scores literally control how much home you can afford if you need any type of financing to make the purchase. If you take two identical people with identical jobs and incomes who both buy the very same homes on the same street for the same price, but one person has a credit score of 720 while the other has a credit score of 620, guess what happens to the payments... they would be very different. The person with the higher credit score would likely have a smaller mortgage payment than the person with the lower credit score. In fact, the payment could be hundreds of dollars less!

In general people would bad credit scores end up paying a lot more for their loans including the interest charges and closing costs. This means they get a lot less house for their money and in many cases they may not even qualify to buy a home.

How does one get a credit score and keep it high? There are companies out there that look at your payment records on credit cards, car loans, and home loans among other things. You may have heard of companies such as Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. These are the big three but there are others. The point is, your past credit history is open for these companies to see. They'll use various techniques to come up with a number known as a credit score. Sometimes you may hear it referred to as a FICO score. FICO is an acronym for the Fair Isaac Company who developed the most popular statistical method for coming up with a credit score.

In any case, The first thing you should do is find out what your credit score is. Go on the web and search for companies that give you access to your own credit scores. Companies such as myfico.com and privacyguard.com are only two of the many that are out there. They usually charge a small fee but its worth it.

To keep your credit score high, you must always pay your credit cards and loans on time. A good lender can help you figure out ways to help you increase your credit score. As a realtor, I've had my homebuyer clients do specific things over the course of a few months to see their credit scores rise by the time they had a new house all picked out. For example, if you have credit cards that are maxed out, this will cause your credit score to fall. Either pay it down or transfer part of the balance to another underutilized credit card so that they both are below 50% of being maxed out. So lets say you got one credit card with a $5000 limit and you're at a $4000 balance. You also have another credit card with a $6000 limit but it has nothing charged to it. If you transfer half of the $4000 on your first credit card to your unused credit card, you'll end up have $2000 across 2 credit cards. Since they are now both below 50% of being maxed out to their limits, you should see an improvement in your credit scores. The 50% rule is not etched in stone, but its a good percentage to strive for since we've seen it have a big affect in the FICO scores.

There are many other fairly simple things you can do. My advice is to do whatever you can to pump up your score as it has a direct affect on your loan costs. If you can get your score into the 700's say at least 720, then congratulations! You'll have an easy time getting a great loan with the best interest rate.

Friday, September 15, 2006

2 Bedroom Detached for $450,000 in Rancho Bernardo!

Imagine coming home to an affordable 2 bedroom home in the prestigious Rancho Bernardo community of Bernardo Heights! This lovely home is situated on a gentle slope with no homes directly in front or rear. This single-story model is rarely available and sought after for its soaring vaulted ceilings, roomy eat-in kitchen, open floorplan, fireplace, attached 2-car garage, tile roof, and double sliding doors to the backyard. Enjoy a private BBQ on the covered wood deck or relax on the lush lawn. Or, escape to the Bernardo Heights Recreation and Community Center with swimming pools, tennis courts, exercise and meeting rooms. Not far is the acclaimed Poway Unified School District schools including Rancho Bernardo High School and Bernardo Heights Middle School. Located near a hi-tech area with major local companies such as Sony, HP, Northrup Grumman, Unisys, BAE, plus major shopping! Asking price is $450,000. To hear more information, call my 24 HR recorded info line at 1-800-530-1481 extension 9764. I'm the listing agent for this home, so don't hesitate to call, 858-213-6058, or e-mail me directly to go see it!.

Click Photo to View Virtual Tour

You can also find out more about this home by entering the search code PRU5N5W6 in any Yahoo! search window.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS)

Do you want to know who are the 10 most wanted criminals in San Diego County? How about whether an offender is living in the neighborhood? Perhaps you are interested in San Diego County's crime statistics?

With ARJIS, you can get answers to many of your criminal justice related questions!

The Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS) is a complex criminal justice enterprise network utilized by 50 local, state and federal agencies in the San Diego region.

Click here to see it for yourself!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The $427 million i15 "middle segment" expansion project is well underway and targeted for completion in late 2008. Find out more by clicking on the map below:

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mortgage Banker vs. Mortgage Broker

During the course of buying a home, I'm frequently asked by home buyers about lenders. One question that comes up is the difference between a mortgage banker and broker:

A Mortgage Banker:
Is a direct lender that originates and funds its own loans which are then sold on the secondary market. The advantages are:
1) Greater control over the loan process
2) Increased flexibility
3) Quicker response times
4) Faster and more efficient closings

A Mortgage Banker:
Represents many lenders and acts as an intermediary between the borrower and lender. The advantages are:
1) Access to a wider variety of loan programs
2) Increased loan options
3) Greater qualifying ability
4) Ability to taylor a loan to meet your needs

Friday, September 01, 2006

DO NOT CALL Registration

Five days from today, all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls. YOU CAN ALSO BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS.... To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone:


It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. If you would rather register online, go to the website:


I registered some of my phone numbers using their toll-free number and the rest using the website. Both work fine and I recommend using the toll-free number since the process is faster.