Trying to buy a home in San Diego? Experts say to do these things first

County home prices have increased 10.2 percent since the pandemic began. That makes the process of purchasing a house stressful for even the most hardcore money savers. While interest rates are at historic lows — an average 2.89 percent in September — it is hard to find many scenarios where it is cheaper to buy than it was a year ago.

Get Pre-approved for a mortgage

Having financing in order before the price war begins is key because it helps potential buyers act quickly on a house where there are multiple offers.

The basic reason is sellers often have a fear that a sale will fall through because of financing, so if a buyer has that ahead of time, it will make it a more attractive bid if there are multiple offers.

Get a head start on competition

A lot of listings nowadays have virtual and 3D tours that can help potential buyers learn about a place before they can actually see it.

Under California COVID-19 restrictions, real estate agents cannot hold open houses, and agents are limited to one showing at a time. Requirements include wearing masks and signed waivers. Buyers can get a head start by viewing 3D tours common on sites like Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com and Trulia. It isn’t that different from photos — but it does allow for potential buyers to experience what it is like to walk throughout the property.

read more at: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/story/2020-11-06/trying-to-buy-a-home-in-san-diego-experts-say-to-do-these-things-first

Climate Proofing your home: Upgrades to protect against wildfires

The future of fire-resistant construction can be seen in the new homes rising from the ashes of the wildfires that have devastated California over the past four years. The materials and techniques that make them more impervious to fire can also be used to retrofit existing houses.

One-stop shop for wildfire Victims: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-10-06/is-rebuilding-in-fire-prone-areas-worth-it-homebound-thinks-so

Finding the weakest spots

To start, says LeCron, “you want to harden the house from the exterior and look for weak links.” Begin at the top with the roof. Roofs made of wood or other combustible materials should be replaced with metal, clay tiles, or non-flammable composite shingles. The same goes for decks and balconies. Attic and foundation vents can suck in burning embers and burn the house down from the inside. Attach fine mesh screens to the vents or swap them for screens coated in materials that expand and seal the vent when exposed to high temperatures. Gutters and roofs should be kept clear of debris and vegetation pruned back at least five feet from the house.

LeCron and partner Karen Arri-LeCron say windows are often overlooked as a significant vulnerability to fire. Building codes may require double or triple-paned tempered glass to withstand fires but don’t specify the material to frame the windows. Commonly used vinyl frames will melt when exposed to high temperatures, causing the window to fall out and exposing a house’s interior to flames. Homeowners should make sure frames are fire-resistant. One option is installing shutters that automatically close when exposed to fire.

Garage doors are another weak link. “They are usually cheap and not fire resistant,” says LeCron. “That’s a big entry point for fires.”

Exterior walls can be retrofitted with fire-resistant stucco or synthetic siding, such as environmentally friendly poly-ash, which is made of polymers and a byproduct from coal burning called fly-ash. “It won’t rot, it won’t burn, and you can work it and nail it like wood,” says Kelly.

read more at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-15/how-to-make-your-home-more-fire-resistant?srnd=premium

San Diego further loosens granny flat rules as part of housing reform

On granny flats, which the city and state call “accessory dwelling units,” parking spaces will no longer be required.

San Diego has been requiring one parking space per new granny flat unless the unit is less than 500 square feet, in a historical area, within a residential parking district, or the granny flat is near a transit line or ride-sharing station.

On the bonus granny flats, property owners are eligible if they agree to make one of the granny flats they build rent-restricted for low-income residents for at least 15 years.

For granny flats within a half-mile of an existing or planned transit line, the number of bonus units is unlimited. For granny flats not near transit lines, a maximum of one bonus unit is allowed.

The rule change for micro housing units builds on 2018 city legislation that allowed developers to double the number of units in a project if they made the units smaller than usual – 400 square feet maximum.

The change approved Tuesday will create additional incentives based on height of the building and distance from the property line. City officials said the change would allow more projects to take advantage of the city’s micro unit incentives.

read more at: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/story/2020-10-13/san-diego-further-loosens-granny-flat-rules-as-part-of-housing-reform-package