Veterans Day

Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors military veterans, that is, persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. It coincides with other holidays, including  Armistice Day and  Remembrance Day, celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of  World War I; major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The United States previously observed Armistice Day. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who  died while in military service.

Homeowners Insurance Help FAQ

Q: State Farm and Allstate have announced they will no longer sell new home insurance policies in California because of wildfire risks and an increase in construction costs. What does this mean for prospective homebuyers?

A: In certain high-risk areas of the state, there are very few insurance companies willing to write new policies. In some, State Farm was the last private insurance company writing policies. In those areas, the generally more-costly California FAIR plan may end up being the only property insurance available.

Q: How does this decision impact existing State Farm and Allstate policyholders?

A: State Farm and Allstate will continue to service and renew policies of existing clients in the state and offer new auto insurance policies. However, they will not be issuing any new property insurance policies for the time being in California.

Q: What will happen if more companies follow State Farm’s and Allstate’s moves?

A: There are still a wide range of companies writing policies in California. However, those willing to write new policies in higher risk areas are declining, and as stated above, with the departure of State Farm and Allstate, those in more high-risk areas may have no other option than the FAIR plan.

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Pricing Your Home for Sale

Because pricing your house correctly is so important, I promised to tell you all about what to avoid and how to get it right.

First- what to avoid:

  • Advice from friends
  • Advice from real estate agents working in a different community
  • Zestimates

And… please do ignore everything you hear about what your neighbor got for / paid for a house in your neighborhood last year – or even 3 months ago. Markets can and do change rapidly, so those prices have nothing to do with today’s prices.

Your friends probably mean well, but unless they’re agents working in your neighborhood, the information they have will not be accurate. The same is true for real estate agents in other communities.

National news reports national trends, but real estate is always local. Prices are affected by everything from neighboring business, to the jobs market, to the school district, to nearby zoning, to the price of utilities, to views, to access to transportation, and more.

Two neighborhoods less than a mile apart can have very different values.

What about Zestimates? Aren’t they accurate?

No. They have the same problem. The computer program that generates those estimates can compare many things, but has no way to calculate the wide variety of details that affect price. Agents across the country have found that Zestimates can be as much as 30% off the mark – either way.

How can you get it right?

By hiring a real estate agent who is familiar with your neighborhood, and who will prepare a true market analysis, taking all factors into consideration. It’s much the same as a fee appraisal, because it is based on comparison to homes as much like yours as possible. It also takes current market conditions into account.

If you’d like to know the current value of your home, get in touch. I’ll be happy to prepare a market analysis, so you know just where you stand.

What is my Home Worth

Lack of home listings is taking a toll on mortgage demand

Mortgage rates fell last week, but demand for home loans didn’t move higher as a result. Other aspects of today’s housing market are outweighing the benefit of lower mortgage rates right now, namely a lack of supply.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($726,200 or less) decreased to 6.40% from 6.45%, with points falling to 0.59 from 0.62 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. It had been over 7% just a month ago.

Mortgage applications to purchase a home, however, dropped 4% last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index. Demand was 35% lower than the same week one year ago.

“Spring has arrived, but the housing market is missing the customary burst in listings and purchase activity that typically mark the season. After four weeks of increasing purchase application activity, volume declined a bit this week even with another small drop in mortgage rates,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist.

New listings were down 20% year over year in March, according to, and total inventory was about half of what it was in March 2019, pre-Covid pandemic.

“Although the mortgage rate for conforming balance loans declined by five basis points over the week to 6.40%, the mortgage rate for jumbo loans increased by nine basis points to 6.36%,” added Fratantoni. “While we have seen relative weakness at the high end of the housing market in recent months, the divergence in rates suggests that banks may be tightening credit in response to recent challenges, preserving balance sheet capacity as deposit balances have declined.”

Original Article

Rooftop solar: How homeowners should do the math on the investment

  • Residential solar power can lower a homeowner’s carbon footprint, but crucially, also save money in the long-term.
  • But a major decision by California’s utility regulator to cut back on net metering, which will reduce the total savings homeowners can make by selling energy to the grid by as much as 60%, changes the economic equation and could have national ramifications.
  • Storing electricity in a solar-powered battery, as energy storage costs come down, can make up for net metering reductions, but have a decade-long payback period.
  • Local and state tax credits and the Inflation Reduction Act are shortening the payback period for solar installation costs.

California had among the most generous rules of all until this week. But state utility regulators agreed to let utilities pay much less for excess power they are required to buy, after power companies argued that the rates were too high, and raised power prices for other customers.

Wood Mackenzie said the details of California’s decision made it look less onerous than the firm had expected. EnergySage says the payback period for California systems without a battery will be 10 years instead of six after the new rules take effect in April. Savings in the years afterward will be about 60 percent less, the company estimates. Systems with a battery, which pay for themselves after 10 years, will be little affected because their owners keep most of their excess power instead of selling it to the utility, according to EnergySage. 

“The new [California rules] certainly elongate current payback periods for solar and solar-plus-storage, but not by as much as the previous proposal,” Wood Mackenzie said in the Dec. 16 report. “By 2024, the real impacts of the IRA will begin to come to fruition.”

The more expensive power is from a local utility, the more sense home solar will make. And some contractors will back claims about power savings with agreements to pay part of your utility bill if the systems don’t produce as much energy as promised. 

“You have to do your homework before you sign,” Hurwitz said. “But energy costs always go up. That’s another hidden incentive.”

Original Article

California slashes incentives for new rooftop solar

California Public Utilities Commission subsidy cuts for new Net Energy Metering customers don’t go as far as utilities wanted, but too far for solar industry.

The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday overhauled its rules for rooftop solar power, slashing subsidies for new solar installations while providing incentives for customers to add battery storage to their systems.

Commissioners approved a complicated new 260-page framework on a 5-0 vote, saying the changes will shift costs from non-solar users and promote grid reliability.

At issue is NEM, or Net Energy Metering — the rules that determine the size of the credits customers receive on their utility bills when their rooftop solar systems generate more energy than they consume. Roughly 1.5 million customers in the state have installed rooftop solar on their homes and businesses.

California’s NEM rules had not been updated since 2016. Solar advocates said the state needs to continue offering strong subsidies to encourage the transition to clean energy. Critics said the existing rules unfairly burdens non-solar customers — especially lower-income residents — with the rising costs of maintaining the power grid.

“This decision is about encouraging solar and storage but also, fundamentally, about the right way to charge NEM customers for use of the grid,” said Alice Busching Reynolds, president of the utilities commission, known as the CPUC for short.

The new rules — known as NEM 3.0 — include $900 million in upfront incentives for customers to pair solar with battery storage systems, with $630 million set aside for low-income customers. The CPUC estimates the new rules will save average residential customers with solar-plus-storage at least $136 a month on their utility bills.

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Oceanside rezones land along North River Road for future homes

Nearly 26 acres of land along North River Road has been converted to residential zoning to make way for up to 400 future homes in a yet-to-be-determined housing development.

The Oceanside Planning Commission unanimously approved the general plan and zoning amendments to change the usage of two adjacent parcels of land at 4617 and 4665 North River Road from light industrial to medium-density residential and to establish a Planned Block Development (PBD) Overlay District, which is “intended to permit flexibility in land-use regulations and site development standards” for future developments.

The project, referred to as Tierra Norte, is located on the south side of North River Road between Avenida Descanso and Calle Montecito in the North Valley Neighborhood Planning Area.

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