Top 25 Places to Enjoy Retirement

Forbes screened more than 800 locales in the U.S. for everything from climate change risk to crime to availability of doctors. We then compared those that made the cut for what they offered in leisure pursuits—from the arts, fine dining and learning to hiking, skiing, watersports and golf.

Here are the top 25:

NSDCC in 4Q2023

The local real estate market between La Jolla and Carlsbad has been fairly healthy lately, and feels in better shape than it did last year at this time when we were still getting over the initial shock or higher rates.

How will the rest of this year turn out?

The recent burst that pushed up mortgage rates – now near 8% – will cause most people to sit out the rest of the year. Heck, it’s the holidays! Sales in the fourth quarter of 2023 will plunge and probably set the all-time low. I’m hoping we have 300 sales!

Want to know the history?

In 2007, we had 460 closings in the fourth quarter, and in 2008 we had 461 closings. By 2009 the market was already on the upswing, and there were 671 4Q houses sold between La Jolla and Carlsbad.

Last year, we saw some successful fourth-quarter lowballing where sellers dumped 10% or more on price to get out, and we’ll see more this year! But only for those buyers and agents who cause it to happen.

Stay in the game and Get Good Help!

Insurance Standoff To Ease

Currently buyers are having to pay 2x or 3x the previous bill for homeowners insurance, due to the lack of options because the big insurance companies have stopped writing policies in California. Some are blaming climate change, and guys like Carl Demaio are blaming Biden, but with a little digging it looks like the insurance-companies requests to raise premiums have been stalled for years. California’s average home insurance rate is $1,225 per year for $250,000 in dwelling coverage is about 14% lower than the US average, according to Bankrate. The thought of insurance premiums being 30% higher sure sounds better than 2x or 3x!

Full story from the LAT:

After a summer that saw many of California’s top home insurers pull back from the state market, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara announced Thursday that he struck a deal with the insurance industry to encourage new coverage in the state.

Insurers, Lara said, agreed to return to the high-risk fire zones in the state in exchange for a number of concessions that will make it easier, in theory, for them to get higher rate increases through the state regulator more quickly. The announcement comes the week after negotiations in Sacramento over a legislative response to the home insurance market fell apart.

Gov. Gavin Newsom also issued an executive order on Thursday afternoon commanding the insurance commissioner to “take prompt regulatory action to strengthen and stabilize California’s marketplace” and consider whether emergency action could be necessary.

The changes are slated to go into effect by the end of 2024, but the hope is that insurers will return to writing new homeowners policies in California sooner. Leading insurers such as State Farm, USAA and Allstate all have requests for rate increases pending with the state insurance department, and are requesting hikes of 28.1 percent, 30.6 percent and 39.6 percent, respectively.

If approved, each company would be allowed to raise its total premiums in the state by that amount, but the rate increase can be distributed differently among homeowners: a cabin in the woods might see a 200 percent jump while a home in San Francisco could see little to no change.


Attention Downsizers!

1610 Hermosita Dr., San Marcos

3 br/2 ba, 1,906sf

YB: 1991

4,597sf lot

LP = $1,100,000

Check out our new listing of a roomy 1,906sf one-story home right on the Lake San Marcos Executive Golf Course – now called the Exec at Lakehouse! Hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings with several skylights, refreshed white kitchen with quartz counters & eat-in breakfast nook, fantastic great room, extra-large primary suite with ample walk-in closet, and a courtyard that some homeowners have converted into additional living area. The location might be the best on the street, for two reasons: the longer driveway is one of the few where you can park cars on it, and the property is around the bend and rarely gets hit by golf balls – wow!

Open house 12-3pm Sat&Sun!

Dogs Are People Too

When selling, it’s smart to make your home appear to be pet-friendly!

Proximity to good schools has long been a deciding factor for home buyers. An increasing number of house shoppers, however, are looking for schools that specialize in fetching rather than phonics.

Pets, according to real estate agents and industry officials, cannot be ignored when their owners shop for a home. “We sell houses, you make them homes,” said Creig Northrop, of Northrop Realty in Clarksville, Md. “Pets are part of a family.”

As the number of households with children decline and those with pets rise, pet-friendly homes and neighborhoods are in demand. Households with children younger than 18 dropped from 48 percent of the market in 2002 to 40 percent in 2022, according to Jessica Lautz, deputy chief economist and vice president of research at the National Association of Realtors. Families with pets have increased from 56 percent in 1988 to 70 percent in 2022, according to NAR research.

Research by real estate giant Zillow confirmed the effect of the pandemic on pet ownership. It found nearly three-fourths of home buyers and 57 percent of renters in 2021 reported owning one pet, said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow’s home trends expert, up from 64 percent of buyers and 51 percent of renters a year earlier.

“One of those things moving up in importance is walkability, having a place that someone can easily pop outside and walk a dog, important proximity to the vet and dog parks [are] also important because you want to easily be able to take care of anything that your pet may need,” Lautz said. “And those things do come up, and you may not want to put your large dog into the car.”

The American Kennel Club advises house hunters looking for a dog-friendly neighborhood to visit the area early in the morning, while dogs are out with owners for pre-work walks. “Take a look at the breeds, along with their overall well-being,’’ it suggests. “A neighborhood with a variety of breeds speaks to a general dog-savvy population.” Another key, the AKC said, is looking for neighborhood businesses that offer water bowls or a bowl of treats.

Americans are spending more on their pets than ever: $136.8 billion on their companions in 2022, up from $90.5 billion in 2018, according to the APPA.

SoCal Report

I’m on track this year to beat my production volume of 2022! From TRD:

During the pandemic, home sales boomed on a foundation of low-lying interest rates. Now real estate professionals are seeing the slowest market in 35 years.

With mortgage rates higher than 7 percent, Southern California home sales have fallen by almost half over the past two years.

Even with home prices inching back up as sales plummet because of the few number of homes for sale, real estate agents, home inspectors, escrow officers and mortgage brokers starve for business.

The average real estate agent earned 19 to 29 percent less business in the latest year measured, according to Real Data Strategies. At least 5,100 agents who made money in the prior year ended the most recent 12-month period without a single sale.


San Diego Case-Shiller Index, July

The local index is about where it was last month AND last year at this time.

It is 3% below the peak of last May, and +9.6% year-to-date.

It wouldn’t surprise me if it slides downward ~3% the rest of 2023, then up ~3% in the first half of 2024, then down ~3% in the second half of 2024….recession or not.

Because rates won’t be going down until 2025 (at least), pricing should stay rangebound. Without wild swings in pricing, the buyers can focus on finding the perfect home without compromise.

When there are bidding wars and rapidly-rising prices, buyers are prone to just grabbing something and paying whatever it takes. Without those, sellers and agents have to be really good at selling homes – which hasn’t been required over the last several years.

Inventory Watch

Most people – especially agents – are experiencing a tough year for real estate sales.

How tough is it? Here is how the numbers looked a year ago – they are about the same:

It means that the current market conditions will probably extend well into next year, or longer!


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