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Family-Friendly Holiday Events In San Diego

Posted By Mclain

San Diego winters are full of fun family activities that everyone can enjoy. There are plenty of things to do this holiday season. From getting pictures with Santa to watching holiday-inspired performances, you and your family are guaranteed to have fun. Here are some great family events you can attend:

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La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival

When: Dec. 8th

The La Jolla Christmas parade begins with a march down Girard Avenue over to Prospect Street, ending at the La Jolla Recreation Center. This year, the theme is Christmas on the Moon (in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1969 moon landing). Right before the parade, your children can take photos with Santa. The Astronaut and International Space Station Commander R. Shane Kimbrough will ride in the parade as the Space Marshal, and there will be plenty of marching bands and fun floats to follow along to. There will even be a camel appearance!

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Balboa Park December Nights

When: December 6th-7th

This weekend, enjoy a family fun celebration with plenty of food and entertainment. The annual Balboa Park December Nights event is free for everyone, and there’s plenty to see and do. Expect traditional feature light displays, bands and dancers, and amazing attractions. For those who want to get a little shopping done, you’ll also find dozens of holiday vendors selling everything from handmade crafts to baked goods. Don’t miss the musical and dance presentations by the San Diego Junior Theatre and Del Cerro Baptist’s Christmas Story Tree. During this time, museums and institutions are open for free.

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Coronado Holiday Parade & Open House

When: Dec. 6th

This festive parade begins at the Coronado Ferry Landing, where visitors can see Santa arrive by ferry. At 6pm, Orange Avenue shuts down and turns into a Christmas Wonderland. From here, follow Santa and his crew of carolers as he lights the Christmas Tree in Rotary Plaza at 7pm. At the Hotel del Coronado, enjoy a unique ice skating experience on the beach.

Teddy Bear Tea Party

When: November 30 & December 1, 6, 7, 8. Daily from the 13-22

The Teddy Bear Tea Party is a whimsical tradition for children that takes place at the Westgate Hotel. The event includes premiums tea, fresh pastries, desserts, and other beverages. Although children are welcome to bring their own teddy bears, they’ll receive a keepsake teddy bear at the end, which culminates with a visit from Santa. They also enjoy entertainment in the Grand Lobby from Santa’s Magician and Elf.

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Winter Wonderland Festival

When: Nov. 30th – Jan 1st

During a visit to Winter Wonderland, you’ll find special character appearances, an ice skating rink, Ferris wheel and carousel rides, and even a champagne garden for adults. Hosted by the California Center for the Arts, this Winter Wonderland is just that: your kids will even be able to play around in real snow.

Expect winter-themed arts and crafts events, holiday-themed hula hooping, stilt walkers, and plenty more entertainment. Take photos with Santa and his reindeer, and have fun with free children’s workshops where you’ll do everything from origami making to meet-and-greet with princesses and train rides.

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Little Italy’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

When: Dec. 7th

For an especially unique Christmas tree lighting ceremony, look no further than Little Italy’s Christmas Tree Light Ceremony, where you’ll find a 25-foot towering pine tree, decked out with 1,100 gorgeous Poinsettias. The area is decked out in plenty of festive decorations, and the ceremony continues with live entertainment. Expect horse carriage rides, kid’s craft activities, and much more. Discover 10-feet tall nutcrackers on street corners and seasonal neighborhood surprises. To avoid traffic, opt for a trolley ride.

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North Park Toyland Parade

When: Dec. 8th

At the North Park Toyland Parade, entertainment runs the gamut: from special appearances by beauty queens to a dazzling display of vintage cars to snazzy dance groups and marching bands. Santa will also arrive in a red fire truck for greeting. This is one of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods, and that authenticity is reflected in the cuisine and wide range of activities. After the event, you can check out the North Park Christmas Tree Lot at The Observatory.

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San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

When: Dec. 8th to 15th

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is an event that brings together 80 brightly-lit and beautifully decorated boats. The parade of boats starts at Shelter Island, and ends at the Coronado Ferry Landing (the sail takes about 1.5 hours). From the Coronado Ferry Landing, you’ll get great views of this spectacle, and there are plenty of galleries, gift shops, and restaurants in the area.

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Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

When: Dec. 14th

Like the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, the Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights gathers everything from kayaks to sailboats and yachts for a decorative waterside celebration. On the boats, you’ll find plenty of people dressed in Santa gear and waving to the crowd. A concrete walkway lines the perimeter of most of the harbor, offering plenty of great viewing spots.

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The Vet + Pet West Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

When: Dec. 15th

If your kids love animals, the Vet + Pet West Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade is a great option for you. Dress up your furry friends and head over to the Gaslamp Quarter to mingle with other pets and pet owners. Dogs, cats, birds, and fish are welcome, and there are plenty of costume categories for you to participate in. Some of those categories include “Best Ugly Sweater” and “Best Pet Costume.” Guests will also get a goodie bag of toys, gifts, and fun samples.

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Poway’s Christmas in the Park

When: Dec. 14th

Poway’s Christmas in the Park has got it all. This lighting ceremony features live music, train rides, theater performances, a petting zoo, craft stations, and much more. There are also free shuttle buses from Poway City Hall and the Poway Adult School. The Christmas Tree lighting begins at 5:15pm, and Santa arrives at 5:30pm. This is the perfect place to watch Christmas come to life.

Why San Diego Is a Great Place to Move After College

Posted By Mclain

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There are countless amazing things to do and see in San Diego. With nearly perfect weather year-round and a thriving diverse culture, it’s no wonder that so many people have flocked to this California city, landscaped by beautiful nature. Consistently referred to as the most beautiful city in the United States, there are plenty of reasons why it’s a great place to settle after college. Here’s what you need to know:

Ideal Buyer’s Market

San Diego is currently an ideal buyers market, making it perfect for recent grads looking for a solid starting ground. A report from CoreLogic demonstrates that there’s a higher volume of homes to choose from, and sellers are considering lower offers than they may have previously. Southern California as a whole has seen a bigger price dip than the previous three years. Furthermore, in one survey conducted by a group of over 200 economists, it is likely we will experience another recession in 2020 or 2021. Recent should view this as an opportunity to leverage the real estate market.

Startup Culture

The startup culture in the United States is thriving. And while San Francisco has long been the startup capital of the world, San Diego is building its own startup scene, too—and for many, it’s better than California’s oversaturated headrunner. Because startups are becoming increasingly easier to launch, the entrepreneurial spirit in America is seeing a major boost. In 2015 alone, startups added 2 million jobs to the United States economy. In 2018, that number ballooned to 30.2 million. So what makes San Diego a great place to grow a startup?

For starters, there’s less competition than in crowded areas like San Francisco and New York. Investor dollars are tough, and winning a deal and/or building relationships with angel investors and VCs becomes a more attainable goal when those investors aren’t getting dozens of pitches per day. Additionally, you’re no longer competing with big-name startups like Facebook and Uber for company talent.

San Diego also offers the perfect balance between work and play. It’s no secret that startup founders have a lot on their plates, but with plenty of nature and open space around you, it creates a healthy working environment. And as studies have shown, the happier you are, the more productive you’ll be.

The year-to-year growth of startups in San Diego is also on the rise. There’s been a steady increase in the amount of incubators, co-working spaces, startup events happening in the city. No matter what industry your business, there’s a program for you. And with the startup community growing ever stronger, there are plenty of resources at your disposal.

Easy Mini Vacations

Experts have found that short vacations throughout the year are better for your mental health than one longer vacation. And because of this, weekend trips are becoming increasingly popular; a survey from Enterprise found that 85% of Americans above the age of 25 were planning to take at least one weekend trip that year. Short vacations are less stressful to plan, take away less from your time off, and offer a much-needed reprieve from your day-to-day post grad work life.

San Diego is close to the border of Mexico, which creates a unique blended culture in the city itself. It also makes for quick and easy mini excursions. Opt for a gastronomic experience in Tijuana, just a 30 minute drive outside of San Diego. Relax on the beach or visit the reefs in Rosarito. A little further away, Los Cabos, La Paz, and Loreto are all stunning mini vacation options.

Outside of Mexico, there are plenty of other choices, too. Palm Springs, Sequoia National Park, and Joshua Tree National Monument are all just a few hours drive from outside the city. Here, you’ll find beautiful nature and plenty to see and do on an excursion.

Great Neighborhoods

As a whole, San Diego is a great place to live. But there are also plenty of great options when it comes to choosing specific neighborhoods in this city. The Gaslamp Quarter is the hip and young heart of San Diego; Pacific Beach is a laidback community known for attracting local and visiting surfers; Hillcrest is a proud LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood chock full of pedestrian-friendly streets; and North Park has reasonable rent and plenty of craft breweries.

Plenty of Nature

There are countless studies that demonstrate the positive effect that nature has on the mind. And fortunately, San Diego doesn’t disappoint on the nature front. Whether you prefer the beaches, the mountains, or the woods, this is a city framed by nature—and it delivers. At the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, sandstone formation and Pacific Ocean views come together to form a beautiful scene. The La Jolla Underwater Park is the first underwater preserve on the West Coast, and it’s chock full of sea caves and beautiful coral. Let’s not forget about Potato Chip Rock, Annie’s Canyon Trail, and much more San Diego nature spots.

Growing Craft Beer Scene

It’s no secret that college students love a good beer. But this admiration for ale doesn’t have to end with college. In fact, San Diego is one of the best places to be for beer enthusiasts. With an amazing craft beer scene (considered the best in the country by some), there’s little left to be desired. There are over 150 diverse breweries in the city, each with their own zest and flavor. Enjoy the tasting room over at Societe Brewing Company or sample rare and seasonal beers over at Green Flash Brewing Co. No matter what your palate craves, there’s a beer and brewery for you.

Five Must-Know Relocation Tips

Posted By Mclain

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Relocating can be a stressful time if you aren’t thoroughly prepared. Moving into a new home in general can be tough, but when you relocate to a new city, town, or state, you take on a whole new set of challenges that can feel taxing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the top five reasons why Americans move are to have a better home, start a family, move to a better neighborhood, establish their own household, or transfer to a job.

Regardless of what your personal reasons are for starting a journey, when you follow the right steps, your journey can be much easier and more seamless than you’d originally anticipated. To make your transition as smooth as possible, here are a few tips you should follow:

Price the Move

Of course, relocating to a new area will be more costly than simply moving from neighborhood to neighborhood. And before you start packing box, it’s best to get an accurate pricing. If you’re doing the move yourself, check different rental truck companies for quotes, and calculate the distance to determine an average cost for gas. Don’t forget to consider insurance along with your final costs.

If you plan to use a moving company, speak to multiple moving services. Be sure to get referrals or read reviews, and watch out for red flags. Reputable companies don’t ask you to fork over a cash deposit in advance,  avoid answering questions, or show up late. Pay attention to the company’s level of professionalism, which shows long before they come to pick up your belongings.

Search for Cost-saving Opportunities

According to a study conducted by the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), the average interstate move is around 1,225 miles and costs roughly $4,300. With these numbers in mind, it’s important that you identify ways to cut costs along with the way without sacrificing the integrity of services rendered. For starters, as previously mentioned, always speak to multiple movers to get an idea for the best quote. If you’re on an especially tight budget, consider hiring a mover or two on a freelancer’s app like TaskRabbit—just be sure to check out the reviews.

Another way to save is by eliminating and decluttering as you go. Studies have shown that too much clutter has a negative impact on stress levels, and by getting rid of unused and unnecessary items, you’ll both save money and save a bit of sanity. Use apps like LetGo and join various Facebook communities to make money from unwanted items. Ultimately, this will free up space and time, and lower your moving costs.

Make a Moving List

Moving lists are a great way to streamline relocation process. There are plenty of mobile moving apps, but of course, some are better than others, and it’s best to test out different apps to determine what works best for you. For instance, Sortly is considered one of the best when it comes to home inventory management. With this app, you can create folders for each room and itemize everything you own. It’s even possible to add printable QR codes to your boxes, which makes unpacking a synch.

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For example, you might use a QR code to label a box that contains your pots and pans. With your smartphone, you can scan the box to load details about what’s inside any closed box. Additionally, listing out what items belong to which rooms in your new home helps your prioritize what’s important. It may not seem like much, but once you list it out, you’ll see exactly how much it is.

Integrate Yourself Into the Community

“Starting over” is rarely a walk in the park. Part of what makes relocation tough is integrating into a new community. When you arrive in a new place, chances are you’re surrounded by strangers, don’t know the neighborhood well, and may not feel confident building a new base. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to make the community transition a bit easier.

Start by connecting with your family, friends, and colleagues, and asking if they know anyone in your new town. You’d be surprised at the amount of connections people know, even if it’s merely friends of friends. Visit local restaurants in a main area of town, where you can get out and wander the streets. Don’t be afraid to talk to business owners and people shopping at the same stores.

In some towns, local coffee shops are a great way to learn about community events. Many neighborhoods also have Facebook groups, and you can also check out Meetup.com to see what meetups are happening in your area—which is a great way to meet like minded people. And lastly, volunteering allows you to meet new people while participating in a good cause.

Align Your Appointments

You’d be surprised at the amount of appointments you’ll have to make when you relocate—especially when children are involved. Many moving-related tasks mean you’ll be handling random duties during the first week or so. This might include taking a visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles, setting up your cable and home phone service, last minute home deliveries to finalize your house, finding and meeting with a new doctor, and more. Do your best to combine each of these tasks so you don’t find yourself spread too thin over the next few weeks handling one or two scattered appointments each week.

Buying a House? Here’s How Modern Technology Can Help

Posted By Mclain

Buying a house is an intricate process, and there are many moving parts. If you’re purchasing a home for the first time, it’s easy to get lost amidst the many steps involved. Even if you’ve purchased a home before, going through all the motions can easily become frustrating. While technology doesn’t replace the benefits of having a real estate agent, it can certainly make your part in the process that much more bearable. Here are a few ways modern technology can make the home buying stage a little easier:

The Home Search

It’s no secret that the majority of home searches start on the Internet. While a real estate agent can certainly get you connected to properties that aren’t listed, searching online for properties gives you a rough idea of the current market, and how features and criteria align with your budget. It also helps your agent better understand the type of homes you’re looking for.

With that in mind, there are several intuitive mobile apps that will help you locate dream homes in your desired area. These include Trulia and Zillow. Trulia is a well-rounded app that not only offers comprehensive details about a property, but also includes financial details that are helpful to use as a starting guide. For example it offers an affordability cost breakdown tool and mortgage calculator.

Zillow is one of the highest-rated home search apps and uses its proprietary Zestimate tool to assess accurate home values (though it isn’t always accurate, so be sure to double check with your agent before clinging to a Zestimate).

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Home Decorating & Buying

If you’re looking for a new home, you might be on the prowl for some new furniture. If this is the case, Wayfair is one of the most comprehensive and largest marketplaces out there. With the Wayfair app, not only can you browse millions of pieces of furniture and decor, but you can see how those items will look in your house.

For example, you might take several photos of a prospective property, and then upload a chair into the image to see how the resulting design would look. Even if you aren’t necessarily on the market for new furniture or decor, you can use the app to place similar furniture in images to gain a better grasp on your interior design plans. This level of augmented reality takes visualization to new levels.

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Similarly to Wayfair, Houzz offers virtual room staging. But one way that it differentiates from Wayfair is that it makes it easy to connect with professionals when you need home improvements and other services. This is one of the reasons why CNN referred to this app as the “Wikipedia of interior and exterior design.” You can also create a profile and share your designs with the Houzz community, getting feedback on different layouts, budgets, renovation plans, and decor ideas.

Everything You Need to Know About Selling Your Home for the First Time

Posted By Mclain

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Selling your home for the first time can overwhelm you with a variety of emotions. After all, there’s plenty running through your mind as you work towards letting go of your current home and moving towards a new one.

With a robust local economy and coastal views to boot, San Diego is an especially lucrative area for turning a profit on real estate investments. In a previous post, we talked about getting your home off the market fast. In this post, we’d like to discuss the actual process of selling your home. If you’re selling your property for the first time, you’ll likely be curious about what to expect. The more you understand about the steps involved, the better prepared you’ll be. With that in mind, here’s what you can expect from the home selling process:

Step 1: Choose Your Agent

Choosing your agent is always the first step of the buying and selling process. Agents help steer you throughout the process, price your home at the best value and negotiate on your behalf, and save you plenty of time and stress. Your agent will advocate for you throughout your selling journey, and ease your transition as you plan to move from one place to the next.

Step 2: Create a Plan

Planning the next few steps is crucial to selling a home. Your agent will sit down with you to discuss the timeline you’re looking to sell, necessary inspections that need to take place, the paperwork you should be expecting to handle, potential home marketing tactics, and much more.

This is where the agent will also price your home at a fair value. Pricing your home the right way is critical; many home sellers who choose to forego having an agent on board (or don’t have a knowledgeable agent on their side) make the critical mistake of pricing their home too high or too low. The right home price is a highly strategic decision based on market research, data, and an accurate home value assessments.

Step 3: Prep Your Home & List Your Property

Once you’ve created a custom home selling plan with your agent, you’ll get your home market-ready and officially list your home for sale on listing services. To get your home market ready, there are several steps you should take. Sometimes, this involves making a few tweaks and renovations. If you have a budget in place for renovations, you should focus on value-boosting renovation projects that have strong return on investments. Your agent will help you determine which areas of the home you should focus on, and where you can get the most for your money.

Any marketing that will help boost the appeal of your listing will also come into play here. For instance, professional home staging and photography will go a long way towards boosting the attractiveness of your listing. The goal is to make your home attractive to a versatile set of potential buyers, and there are several tips and tricks that can be leveraged to make this possible. Rearranging furniture will maximize space perception, while simple landscaping adjustments will improve curb appeal and value perception.

Lastly, marketing your home involves much more than putting up a “For Sale” sign. Depending on your agent, there are several ways you can advertise your property and widen your reach to get as many interested buyers as possible.

Step 4: Host Open Houses

Open houses are an integral part of the selling process. Your agent is responsible for setting up, promoting, and running your open houses. As you may already understand from your own home purchase, open houses allow potential buyers to tour the home. From the seller’s side, there’s a bit more work involved. For starters, you’ll need to set your home up to appeal to visiting buyers. You’ll choose a time and date that works best to maximize foot traffic in your home, and your agent will develop brochures and circulate your open house event information as needed.

Creating an ideal open house environment is also a process in itself. Potential buyers should be able to walk into a property and have all fives senses fully immersed. They can also offer valuable feedback that your agent can use to improve future open houses. But most importantly, your agent is able to capture each visitor as a lead, and gain a thorough understanding of where each buyer is in the home search process, reaching out when necessary.

Step 5: Discuss Offers

Once you start getting offers on your home, you have to entertain each of them and make smart decisions. The goal is to get you the best terms with the shortest turnaround time. Depending on the pricing strategy you choose, you’ll sit down and look at them during certain dates, or discuss offers with your agent as they come. Either way, your agent will do their best to create a favorable situation that makes you happy!

Step 6: Enter Escrow & Due Diligence

Once you’ve accepted the right offer, the deal goes into escrow, where the buyer’s funds are held securely by a third party. Typically, within three days of entering escrow, the buyer will submit their deposit (usually around 3% of the purchase price). You’ll be given the preliminary title report on the home.

The due diligence portion of the process allows the buyer to further investigate your home and ensure there are no undisclosed issues. During this time, both you and the buyer are working towards getting your contingencies removed, and the seller’s disclosures are prepared for buyers to review. They’ll receive any necessary documentation as the lender works on the loan and orders an appraisal of your home.

Step 7: Closing

Finally, the documents are finalized and you’ve officially sold your home. By now, you should have moved the rest of your belongings out of the property and into your new home!

How to Increase Your Home Value Before Selling

Posted By Mclain

Selling your home is a big step. Naturally, you want to ensure the best home value possible and sell your property for as much as you can on the market. But this is easier said than done. Ideally, you would have been considering future home value from the moment you purchased a property. After all, the average length of time a family lives in a home is around seven years; one survey found that 65% of homeowners in the United States believe that the value of their home will continue to increase over the next ten years.

But there are many market factors that are out of your control. If you remain passive and hope that your home value has gone up without additional effort on your part, you could wind up being surprised by what you find when it’s time to sell your house. Making smart improvements and renovations will help eliminate some of the guesswork when it comes to values and estimates. There are plenty of ways—at different price points—that you can increase your home value before selling.


Improve Your Curb Appeal

Your home’s curb appeal creates a make-or-break first impression. This is the first thing potential home buyers notice about a property. Your home exterior should make prospective families excited to walk through the front door. There are simple, cost-efficient ways to do this. For starters, your landscaping should be well-maintained. Consider planting some flowers, adding some walkway lighting, and sprucing up your porch.

Work On Your Kitchen

Your kitchen is one of the most important areas of the home. According to NerdWallet, even a minor kitchen remodeling project will allow you to recoup 81% of your costs. By comparison, an upscale kitchen remodeling project will get you back 53% of your costs.

It’s not uncommon for sellers to overdo the kitchen renovations, going above and beyond; fancy granite, marble countertops, and stainless steel appliances sounds great in theory, but might not be the best financial or strategic move to make when you’re leaving your home. And in some cases, it can actually have an adverse effect; potential buyers might think the home is out of their price range and won’t have room for negotiation.

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Paint Your Walls

Dirty and chipped walls can have a negative impact on the overall appeal of the home. But it’s important to be careful with your choices. Neutral colors are a safe bet, as bolder colors easily become another to-do item on a buyer’s list. If you want to infuse a bit of character into your home, opt for a “feature” or “accent” wall that’s colored differently than the rest of the home.

Feature walls help create character and personality in your home, but you should finish the wall off with some decor, like mirrors, plants, and artwork. You can also use wallpaper for the accent wall if you want to incorporate fashionable prints for a low cost.


Incorporate Some Luxury Into Your Bathroom

A midrange remodel on a bathroom will yield, on average, a 70% return on your investment. But first thing’s first: make sure your bathroom is in working order. The majority of potential buyers will ensure the entire home is good working order before any official purchases are made, and any issues with plumbing could turn them away.

Once you’ve ensured your space is in great condition, you can start focusing on making your bathroom visually and functionally appealing. And believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to create the “spa” aesthetic without going overboard of luxury finishes.

For instance, replace your showerhead with a modern option, get new hardware for an updated appearance, or reline your shower or bathtub. And of course, adding decor goes a long way. Take a look at stylish bathrooms on Pinterest to give you an idea of how you can jazz up your bathroom space. If you’ve got a theme going on, stick to it to create a cohesive balance from room to room.

Fix Your Flooring

Your flooring is an integral part of the home sale. Many people expect their floors to be clean, contemporary, and updated. Carpet isn’t as stylish as it used to be, and many people expect new homes to have wood flooring. If you do opt for carpet, you should refrain from putting it throughout the house; instead, choose comfort areas like a family room or bedroom, and use a high-quality carpet that infuses comfort.

Make it Energy Efficient

An energy-efficient, eco-friendly home will prove very attractive to many buyers, and particularly those that are interested in protecting the environment. Energy homes are not only better for the environment, but they can also help homeowners save money, too. Furthermore, an energy-efficient mortgage allows borrowers to take on additional debt, which can cover the purchase of the home and allow them to make further energy-efficient upgrades—ultimately further contributing to the value of the home. And lastly, homes with energy-efficient mortgages can benefit from lower mortgage rates.

To improve the eco-friendly appeal of your home, consider adding LED lighting, improving your attic insulation, and incorporating efficient appliances. If you’ve recently purchased your home and want to simultaneously save money on your bills as well as improve your home value, you should also look into installing solar planning. Because they’re a structural and financial commitment, they wouldn’t make sense for a quick value boost, but can make all the difference if you want long-term value you can make the most of.

Knock Down a Wall

Open floor plans are all the rage in real estate. Open floorplans make it easier for natural light to be dispersed in a home and creates the illusion of more square footage. Buyers who enjoy entertaining or have children they want to keep a better eye on will be particularly attracted to the open floorplan option. Depending on the type of home you have, you can have a wall knocked down for a much lower cost than you might imagine.

However, before you go knocking down a wall, talk to your real estate agent to discuss trends in your local area. A real estate agent will also be able to tell you what the chances are of you recouping your cost, and how it will impact your home value.

How to Create a Unique Vacation Rental Experience

Posted By Mclain

Having a vacation rental property means you have to work twice as hard to satisfy your temporary tenants—especially if you want to score great reviews and continue attracting people to your property. Whether you invested in vacation property or simply use your primary home as a vacation property on Airbnb, there are many ways you can create unique vacation rental experiences. And before you read on, take a look at this list of mistakes you should never make with your rental property.

Make Your Listing Stand Out

According to a joint study conducted by the University of Texas and HomeAway, guests were 73% more likely to remember their experience if they were able to get excited about the property before they even arrived. This means that your listing content and photos need to be as descriptive as possible. Always use high-quality, professional images. While some modern smartphones have great cameras, you’ll still notice the difference between professional photography and amateur photography. Hiring a photographer will pay for itself in the long run, and Airbnb offers free photography services in some locations.

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Work With Local Businesses

Working with local businesses is a great way to help your guests truly feel immersed in your neighborhood. After all, one of the biggest perks of choosing a rental property over a hotel is the ability to integrate yourself into a local community. Partnering with a local business creates a win-win situation for you and the business you choose to work with, in addition to creating a unique experience for your guest(s).

For example, you might want to partner with a local diner or restaurant to offer free breakfast to your guests. You’ll find that smaller businesses (as opposed to chain restaurants) are very flexible with their options. Walk in and ask to speak to the manager or owner. Be sure to present key benefits for them. For example, you might offer to pay for ten breakfast vouchers in advance, in exchange for a discounted price on the bulk deal. Then, you’d provide those vouchers to your guests.

Of course, there are also many types of businesses you can partner with—from bakeries to ice parlors to coffee shops, your options are limitless. You can also work with companies that offer experiences; instead of exclusive items like breakfast vouchers, you might provide discounts instead.

Stage Your Home

According to the Real Estate Staging Association, homes that are staged sell 73% faster than those that aren’t. Although you’re renting your home and not selling it, the same concept still applies. The decor and ambiance that your home evokes is crucial to the overall user experience. If you take a look at some of the best vacation rental properties across different platforms, you’ll notice that many of them follow a theme that makes their home stand out.

For example, a vacation rental property near the beach might have a nautical theme. But this doesn’t mean you have to always acclimate your decor to your surroundings; any cohesive theme will do. For example, you might have an artsy, modern theme, with gallery walls filled with abstract art and books. With this in mind, it’s also important that your property evokes personality without feeling too personal. This means eliminating family photos and personal belongings.

Pay Extra Attention to Your Amenities

When you arrive at a hotel, one of the most important aspects of your stay are the amenities you provide. Of course, you’re able to provide the basics—but when you take your amenities to the next level, you’re much more likely to score a fantastic review. Buying some of the better amenities in bulk will allow you to save in the long-run. But you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on amenities for your guests to be happy. Plush bathrobes, slippers, and ample toiletries. Other items, like board games, universal chargers, and a Keurig machine with plenty of coffee options, are also great add-ons.

Offer Freebies

If you visit some of the most highly rated Airbnbs around the world, you’ll find that many “Superhosts” offer their guests “freebies” that truly make guests feel appreciated. Often, these freebies might be synonymous with the location. For example, in Lisbon a host might offer a popular local dessert, pastel de nata. In the Loire Valley of France, a host might offer a free bottle of local wine. In Taiwan, curated teas would be favorable.

Make It Easy

Navigating your property might feel intuitive to you, but that doesn’t mean it’s intuitive to your guests. There are many areas of your space that could take some adjustments. For this reason, it’s best to create a manual for them. Think of your manual as an FAQ for your property. Think of all the questions a visitor could possibly ask, such as where to take out the garbage, where to locate extra linens and towels, or how to work the laundry machine—and build a how-to around those answers. A thoughtfully curated and printed table guide is a nice way to add a useful touch that your guests will appreciate.

You also want to make it easy for them to navigate the local area—especially in bigger cities. For instance, you might want to highlight some of your favorite local restaurants and shops nearby. Where applicable, provide transit maps (which are usually free of charge at stations).

10 Labor Day Events in San Diego You Don’t Want to Miss

Posted By Mclain

San Diego has no shortage of options for fun in the sun. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly outing or an adventure with your friends, this is a city that has you covered. From nature walks to surf-perfect waves, and breweries to theme parks, San Diego always delivers. Labor Day is the final holiday of the summer season, and you should do your research to figure out how you’ll make it a great time. Many of these events have been ongoing since June, and culminate with final events on Labor Day. This Labor Day, enjoy your time off with one of these awesome events in San Diego:

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U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge & Dimensional Art Exposition

When: August 31 – September 2, 2019

Where: Broadway Pier

Cost: $12 (children under 2 free)


This is an event that has no age boundaries: no matter what you like, these impressively intricate sand sculptures will wow you. This annual event brings together thousands of people from around the world each year, and world-class sculptors (from Russia to Netherlands to Latvia) create three-dimensional pieces of art using just sand.


During this event, a beach is essentially built high above the water, as 300 tons of sand are brought into the Broadway Pier. Some of the sculptures weigh up to 10 tons each. In addition to checking out the sand creations, there’s also plenty of other fun things to do. There’s a sandbox and rides for children, live entertainment, and gourmet food trucks.

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Night Swim at Hard Rock Hotel

When: Saturday, August 31st

Where: Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Cost: Free – $20


This Labor Day weekend, enjoy the Night Swim event at FLOAT, a rooftop pool lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel. This massive event brings together over 1,000 people and some of the best DJs. This year, DJ Oren closes the show. And in addition to the four different DJ acts, the atmosphere is half the fun. The Hard Rock Hotel is surrounded by beautiful, panoramic views, and the poolhouse oasis creates a sophisticated vibe—complete with firepits and private poolside cabanas.

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Labor Day Stickball Tournament

When: Aug 31st – Sept. 1st.

Where: Outside of the San Diego Firehouse Museum

Cost: Free to watch


The Annual Labor Day Stickball Tournament is a two-day event that takes place on the weekend of Labor Day. During this time, anywhere between 8-12 teams compete for the Jillie Trophy. If you’re looking for a fun, nostalgic time, this is the place to be. Relive some childhood memories as you watch on cheering for different teams. This year, the West Coast Invitational brings in teams from Puerto Rico and New York. This long-standing tradition will leave you in good spirits!

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Labor Day Harley-Davidson Demo Truck Weekend

When: August 31st, 10am – 4pm

Where: San Diego Harley Davidson
Cost: Free

Every year, the official Harley-Davidson Demo Truck takes place in San Diego. At this event, you’ll find the newest 2020 Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. You’ll even be able to demo ride some of the motorcycles. Not only will you be able to rest ride some of the bikes, but you can also enjoy music, food, and raffles at this event.

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Nighttime Zoo at the San Diego Zoo

When: June 16-27 open until 8:00 PM. June 28 -Sept 2 open until 9:00 PM

Where: San Diego Zoo

Cost: Included with regular admission to San Diego Zoo


The Nighttime Zoo is the perfect place to celebrate the end of the summer. Though this after-hours celebration happens throughout the summer, it culminates with Labor Day. Right before the sun goes down, an amazing trampoline act begins, followed by African-themed entertainment and special live performances. In addition to an exclusive menu over at Albert’s you’ll find savory food stands throughout the zoo. From interactive exhibits for children to live musical entertainment, this special, educational event series is a fun-filled adventure everyone will love.

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Open Cockpit Day

When: Select weekends until Labor Day; check website for dat4es

Where: Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum

Cost: Free


If you’re looking for a fun adventure, the Open CockPit Days at the Flying Leatherneck Museum is the perfect fix. Enjoy a unique experience where you and your family can sit back in comfy cockpit seats and enjoy the vantage point of a real Marine. You can strap into the ejection seat, talk to pilot, and try it on a helmet. From here, imagine yourself flying high over the ocean and city. At the museum, you’ll also be able to see and explore 31 historical aircrafts. There are also hundreds of aviation artifacts you can learn about.

The Art of Summer

When: Throughout the summer

Where: Various San Diego locations

Cost: Ticket prices vary depending on event

The Art of Summer in Balboa Park has a little something for everyone. Of course, this isn’t just a single event. Instead, it’s a combination of fun events that take place throughout the city from the beginning of the summer until just after Labor Day, Sept 2nd. On Friday nights, head over to Balboa Park for food trucks galore. On this night, many museums, including the San Diego Natural History Museum and the San Diego Museum of Art—all of which offer live entertainment and fun game nights. On Saturday, August 31st, enjoy the Finale of the Summer Organ Festival—the festival’s most popular concert series.

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Big SoCal Euro

When: September 1st 2019

Where: SDCCU Stadium

Cost: Free


The Big SoCal Euro is one of the longest-running car events in history; this all-European car event has been around since 2001. Bring your friends and family to gawk at the 3,000+ cars from the region. You can also expect a swap meet, amazing food vendors, automotive vendors, raffles, and even drag racing. With raffle tickets, you’ll get the chance HRE wheels, custom European plates, K1 Speed racing certificates, and much more.

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Del Mar Racing Season

When: Select Summer days; check website for schedule

Where: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Cost: $6 – $10


The Del Mar Racetrack is known as the place where the “surf meets turf.” Every summer during racing season, fans flock here to watch their favorite horses hit the track. This horse racing tradition dates back as far as 1937, when the renowned horse named Seabiscuit won by just a hair. This summer season, which ends after Labor Day weekend, brings together some of the most popular horses from across the nation. At the Seaside Stage, with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, enjoy the Summer Concert Series, which are included with admission to the track. During Saturdays, bring your children along for free rides, games, and other activities.

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The Oceanside Pier Swim

When: September 2nd, 7am-11:30am

Where: Oceanside Pier

Cost: $52.50 for participation; free to watch


If you love the water, this is an event for you. The annual Oceanside Labor Day Swim started way back in 1929 and has been kicking ever since. During this challenging event, swimmers run into the water towards the surf, circle the pier for a mile, and dash across the sand towards the finish line. All proceeds from the event will go to the City of Oceanside, and the event is the main fundraiser for the Oceanside Swim Club, a non-profit swim team for kids.

Tips for buying a rental property in San Diego

Posted By Mclain

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There’s no denying that San Diego is one of the most beautiful destinations to live. With near perfect weather year-round, great schools, an amazing culture, and picture-perfect beaches, there’s nothing not to love. And although the city has been historically known for sky-high prices, the current market has reached something of a homeostasis state, ideal for buyers and sellers and offering pros for both. Buyers are in a particularly good position. Simply put, this is a great time for investors to focus their efforts on this sun-soaked city.


And why’s that? For starters, people are migrating to the city in droves—particularly millenials looking for a place to settle down and achieve the ideal work-life balance. Since 2010, San Diego’s population rate has grown by 7.5%, proving that the city is ripe with people looking to move here. Additionally, 160,000 jobs have been added since the same year.


And it’s not just about the wealth of people turning to San Diego for a myriad of reasons. Though real estate prices will rise slightly, this will happen at a much slower rate than it has in the past. According to current data, home prices are expected to continue to fall slightly until around 2021. And yet, the annual home appreciation rate in San Diego is 4.5%—one of the strongest in the country, offering yet another reason to feel confident you’ve made a good investment.


And lastly, the short term rental market is ripe with opportunity: from 2016 to 2017, the short term rental industry saw growth of 15.9%. With so much to do and see in San Diego, it’s became one of the top vacation destinations. Simply put, San Diego is the best place to invest in California.


If you’re convinced, we’d like to offer you some tips that can help guide you through the buying process.


Always Do Your Due Diligence

Regardless of the investment type, it’s always important to do your due diligence. Early research will help you make smart decisions about your investment. For instance, you’ll want to analyze each San Diego neighborhood to see where your investment most makes sense. Just because a particular neighborhood is popular doesn’t mean you should jump on it: every neighborhood offers something different at different price points. You also want to look at the neighborhood stats to see what areas are seeing growth, and examine data to look for future trends. And lastly, you should have a thorough understanding of how San Diego mortgage rates will affect your budget.


Know Your Goals

As you well know, there are different types of investments you can make into properties. If your goal to be a landlord for a single family, manage vacation rentals, or manage multiple units? Understanding your goals can help you better focus your research efforts. For example, if your goal is to spearhead a collection of vacation rental properties, than you should know which neighborhoods are most popular on short term rental sites like Airbnb. Pacific Beach has an average cash on cash return on Airbnb of 3.33%, compared to Hillcrest’s 2.5%.


Set the Price Right

Choosing the right price for your property could make or break your ability to rent it, regardless of what type of investment property you have. Contrary to what you might think, it’s very possible to price your home too high or too low. High prices alienate potential willing customers looking for an affordable vacation, and prices that are too low can easily start to feel “too good to be true,” potentially infusing the idea that something must be wrong. Short term rental sites help you determine a price based on your location and what similar properties in the area are going for. Ideally, you’ll set your price slightly lower the competition to generate more bookings and potential renters.


Choose a Strategy

Part of understanding your goals means choosing a strategy that aligns with them. For instance, one strategy might be flipping a house. If you have the expertise and funds to do so, you could purchase a much cheaper property and flip it into something rentable. Although this a more difficult route, you could make a decent profit selling or renting. With a “buy and hold” strategy, you’re investing in the short or long term vacation rental space.


In this case, you have to consider how you’ll want to manage those properties. You could do it yourself, which requires plenty of hands-on work, or hire a property management company who will find and manage tenants for a percentage of the rental income. Each of these are viable options. Ideally, no matter what you choose, you should be making a 5% annual return on your investment at the very least. And in the long term, your property value should increase.


Think About Your Expenses

Understanding and being realistic is key to making efficient moves. When you invest in a rental property, chances are you aren’t going to turn a profit right away, and this is something you’ll need to consider as you go through the motions of making a final investment decision. If you don’t plan on managing the property yourself, you’ll have to consider management fees on top of everything else. Homeowners insurance, maintenance, and landlord insurance are other expenses to keep in mind. And if you intend to use the home yourself for a portion of the year, you should also consider how that will affect your returns.


Part of being smart about your financial situation means knowing when to make an investment move, too. If you have slews of personal debt, you might want to pay a chunk of that debt down before you jump into another serious financial commitment. You’ll also have to consider that investment properties require a larger down payment than traditional family homes. Expect to put down around 20% of the property value.


Consider Worse Case Scenarios

No matter what type of investment you make, it’s important to consider worse case scenarios. For example, at some point in San Diego, a legislation was passed to forbid homeowners from renting out their properties as vacation rentals. Though the legislation has since been revoked, it’s something to consider—having a backup plan and understanding local laws and loopholes will put you in a much better position.


Another worse case scenario is low vacancy. Low vacancies are a nightmare for any investor, as this really affects your bottom line. Lowering the rent is one way to combat this, but marketing your property the right way is another solution. For instance, you might offer extra incentives to make your property appear even more appealing—like free parking, utilities, or transportation passes. If you have a multi-unit rental, you’ll benefit from having other renters while you look to fill a vacancy.

Why San Diego is the best place in California to invest

Posted By Mclain

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If you’re considering investing in San Diego, chances are you understand the lifestyle benefits that this beautiful city offers. Year-round, the weather is nearly perfect. Some of the best and most innovative craft breweries can be found here. Great schools are plentiful. And from sprawling green vineyards to golden beaches, there’s picturesque nature at every turn.

But there’s much more to San Diego than this. For investors looking for the next best place to generate revenue, look no further than San Diego. Although San Diego often takes a backseat to more mainstream California cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, this is even more of a reason to strike before competition gets fierce. Here’s why San Diego is a great place to invest right now:

More People Are Migrating to San Diego

The San Diego economy is growing, and more people are headed towards these sunny shores. As a whole, the population in San Diego grew by 7.5% since 2010. One study found that millennials in particular are flocking to the city in droves. Currently, an entire third of San Diego’s population consists of millenials, making it the second most millennial-populated city in the country. The majority of these people are at the crux of starting spearheading their careers and are attracted to what the city has to offer.

According to another study conducted by Bank of America, the majority of millenials that migrate do so because of the wealth of job opportunities. Between 2010 and 2017, 160,000 new jobs were added. Engineering, defense, and biotech and are among the top industries attracting new employees. Housing costs are also less than comparable cities. And furthermore, population numbers will only continue to rise moving forward. By 2050, trends suggest that there will be an additional 500,000 more people in the area.

Appreciation is Falling, Rental Rates Are Strong

According to NeighborhoodScout, San Diego falls in the top 10% nationally in terms of real estate appreciation. Over the past decade, San Diego real estate has appreciated by 55.37%. This puts the annual home appreciation average at around 4.5%. Even when the housing market was in the midst of experiencing a national crisis, San Diego remained incredibly strong, and that’s reflected in the speed with which home values have increased.

Yet, the buyer’s market is also still strong. Throughout the remainder of 2019, you can expect real estate prices in San Diego to rise slightly. However, this will happen at a slower than the previous year, according to data. Beginning in 2017, rising interest rates and slowing sales have resulted in lower home prices. Over the past couple of years, the annual pace of increase has been around 10%—currently, it’s around 4% in the low tier and 2% in the high. Home prices are expected to fall until 2021. Rental rates are also pretty strong. The median rental rate is $2,700, and you could certainly charge higher rent for a single family home. Without rent control, it’s also a fairly landlord-friendly city.

The Startup Scene is Growing

When you think of startups, Silicon Valley is likely the first city to pop into your mind. But the fact is, the Silicon Valley startup scene is highly saturated, and more entrepreneurs are turning to other cities for an ideal startup ecosystem. That’s what San Diego startup culture provides. For starters, there’s less competition for investment opportunities. This gives startup founders a viable chance for much-needed early cash. With its prime coastal location, it’s also an attractive option for people looking for a strong work-life balance.

“After years of stagnation, San Diego is seeing a barrage of startup activity in the tech scene,” Brittany Meiling said in the San Diego Tribune. “In recent months, two tech startups earned billion-dollar valuations, making them the first software ‘unicorns’ spotted locally in decades. The news caps months of unusually high venture capital deals in local tech, with at least $320 million funneling into tech startups in less than three months. For context, tech companies only brought in $164 million combined for the first nine months of 2018.”

There’s also a growing number of incubators sprouting throughout the city—these programs are designed to help startups grow quickly, and they achieve this through mentorships, classes, and networking opportunities. Astra, Wireless Health Hub, and BlueTech are all diverse programs in San Diego that cater to a variety of niche startups.

To answer the rise in tech companies choosing San Diego as their home base, there’s also a growing number of coworking spaces. This is also a great opportunity for investors interested in commercial spaces. With more people flocking to the city, you can expect a series of businesses designed to cater to them to also grow. And lastly, the startup community here has expanded, with events like Startup Week San Diego and San Diego Startup Weekend attracting attracting organizations, businesses, and startups on a local and national scale.

Ideal Climate for Short Term Rentals

With a plethora of tourist attractions and beaches, San Diego is an ideal place for short term vacation rentals. From SeaWorld to the San Diego Zoo, tourists around the world flock here for a taste of what the city has to offer. San Diego properties in close proximity to the beach or major attractions command premium prices on sites like VRBO and Airbnb. And during major events like Comic Con, demand for these rental spaces soar, and prices skyrocket.

Currently, short term rentals in San Diego are nearly evenly split between single-family homes and multi-family properties. According to a Market Overview published by Host Compliance, the sizes of rental units vary and 7% are listed as studios, 28% as 1BR, 32% as 2BR and 19% as 3BR. Only 13% of properties are listed as having 4+ BR. From 2016 to 2017 allow, the short term rental market grew by 15.9%.