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September 10, 2014 / patrickbelhon

San Diego Earns Top-10 Ranking as an Upwardly Mobile City

San Diego is considered by many to be one of the best places to call home in the entire United States. Best known for its beautiful beaches and its mild Mediterranean climate, the more than 1.3 million residents of the nation’s 8th largest city can tell you dozens of other reasons why San Diego is a great place to live.

San Diego view from the pier
Report on Upward Mobility

In a 2014 report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, San Diego was listed as one of the Top-10 cities for upward mobility. Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the US, showed that your chances of achieving greater financial success than your parents, and moving up the socio-economic ladder, improved if you are luck enough to grow up in one of the 10-listed cities. 

The study compared the income of individuals born between 1980-1982 (people roughly 30 years old) to the income of their parents. It also studied the relationship a parent’s income had on the chance of their child getting a college education. To create their Top-10 ratings, the National Bureau of Economic Research measured the percentage of individuals who were able to move from the lower 20 percent to the upper 20 percent in terms of weekly salary.

San Jose, CA made the top of the chart with a 12.9 percent probability of an individual going from the bottom-fifth of the wage scale to the top-fifth of the wage scale. Other cities that also did well included San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Boston. San Diego did very well, with a 10.4 percent chance of individuals reaching upward mobility. 

Geography is just one possible reason why one person is more likely to achieve social and economic mobility. Numerous studies have linked earning power to educational achievement. Those who earn Masters degrees earn more than those who earn Bachelors degrees. Four-year college graduates earn more than those with Associate degrees and people with a high school degree, or less, are the lowest income earners. 

2 people at the beach
Growing up in a family where your parents were deeply involved in your education and encouraged you to always do your best, plus personal ambition, can play a role in achieving upward mobility. Choosing the right career field and even a little luck can also make a difference in how well you are able to climb the ladder of success. 

Notable Rankings for San Diego

San Diego is ranked high in many different lifestyle categories and that helps to make it one of the most desirable cities in which to live. San Diego beaches, like La Jolla and Mission Beach, are always highly rated. In 2012, Coronado Beach, was ranked as the number one beach in the nation. The sparkling white sands that are just steps from the iconic Hotel Del Coronado, hit the top of the annual Top-10 list of Dr. Beach’s highly publicized ratings. Dr. Beach, a.k.a. Professor Stephen P. Letterman, is a Florida International University professor and director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research.

• San Diego was ranked among the Top-10 most popular destinations for summer travel in TripAdvisor’s 2014 Annual Summer Travel Survey.

• In 2014, Tripadvisor ranked San Diego’s Balboa Park the seventh most popular park in the United States

• In 2014, the Radius Group’s, Lisa Fugere, did a comprehensive study of America’s big cities and came to the conclusion that San Diego was the best place to start a new small business.

While San Diego may not be perfect, it is in many ways one of the best places you could choose to live. Come for a visit and you may just decide to stay for a lifetime.

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August 9, 2014 / patrickbelhon

California Housing Market gets a Big Boost from Chinese Home Buyers

International investment in U.S. real estate is nothing new. Many South American businessmen and wealthy families own beachfront condos in Miami. Europeans from countries like France, Germany and Italy often choose to relocate to the United States. What is really making realtors in the United States stand-up and take notice is the rapidly growing interest in U.S. properties by Chinese investors.

Buyer from China in San Diego
According to the National Association of Realtors, in the one year period from March 2013-March 2014, Chinese real estate investors and home buyers spent $22 billion dollars on real estate purchases in the United States. The data also shows that California was, by far, the favorite state for Chinese real estate purchases. Of the $22 billion spent between the first quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, 35 percent of that money was spent purchasing California real estate. Rounding out the top-5 market shares were Washington (9 percent), New York (7 percent), Pennsylvania (6 percent) and Texas (6 percent).

Money to Spend

As the standard of living has risen in China in recent years, Chinese visitation to the U.S. has increased dramatically. This year, it is expected that more than 2,000,000 Chinese tourists, students, and businessmen will pay a visit to the United States. While you do not actually have to visit the United States to invest in real estate in this country, most Chinese people who do decide to purchase a home in the U.S., have visited the States one or more times. While not everyone who visits America from China is wealthy, most who purchase homes pay cash as opposed to taking out mortgages.

California is a Big Draw

Yes, California is a beautiful state, but why does it attract nearly four-times more Chinese real estate dollars than Washington state? Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego are among the most desirable cities for Chinese real estate investors. One thing that makes them particularly attractive is the presence of large Chinese communities. Many of the people who live in China have family or friends living in Southern California or the Bay Area. All of the above-mentioned cities depend heavily on tourism to help drive their local economies. Hotels, restaurants, and other members of the business community all make a concerted effort to please international travelers. Chinese people feel welcome in San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

In addition, California, as opposed to a states on the East coast, is much closer to home. It is easier to get a direct flight from Shanghai to Los Angeles. California also offers excellent colleges and universities such as Stanford, UCLA, and San Diego State. Chinese parents will often purchase a condo for their son or daughter who is attending one of the state’s universities. Finally, being the home of Silicon Valley is particularly attractive for technology-minded buyers who may be looking for careers in the United States.

Seattle, New York, and Detroit are also Attracting Chinese Real Estate Dollars

For many of the same reasons as California, Seattle, and the state of Washington attract home buyers from China. A good location, access to the latest technology, a major port, and a welcoming community are all incentives for moving to the Great Northwest.

New York is the world’s financial capital, has more museums and fine restaurant, and is home to some of the most desirable real estate in the world. Wealthy Chinese investors and businessmen want and need a place that is close to the action.

Detroit is unexpectedly attracting a certain breed of Chinese real estate investors. Some savvy Chinese investors are scooping up distressed properties at bargain prices, fixing them up, and renting them out. While there is definitely some speculation involved, investors are betting that the auto industry and the City of Detroit will someday return to its former glory days.

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July 17, 2014 / patrickbelhon

Your Dream Home on a Budget by Patrick Belhon

Beautiful blue light - interior home
Everyone wants a dream home. Too many people, however, settle for what they can get. While most homeowners have very real limitations with time and money, there are still ways to pursue your home decorating plans. Some home decorating projects are so broad that they are impossible for the average homeowner to pursue. However, by planning small, calculated upgrades, it is easy to create an interior design that will make your home a dream come true.

1. Let the light shine.

Every room, from the smallest bathroom to the most open living room, relies on lighting to be an effective interior space. In a home, natural lighting is already an established part of the interior design plan. However, an effective remodel should address artificial lighting with some awareness. Overhead fixtures are useful in providing bright light, but too many homeowners do not spend enough time considering the size and brightness of these fixtures. Track lighting or recessed lighting can be a great way to keep a room well lit from one end to the other. In addition to overhead lighting, be sure to remember lower level supplements like table lamps and sconces. While these may not provide enough light for the entire room, they are wonderful accent pieces that can create more warmth in any space.

2. Finishing touches.

There are many elements of a home most homeowners cannot afford to change. Scraped wood floors can be expensive to refinish. Windows with a poor view must simply be accepted. However, these design limitations can be dealt with by adding creative finishing touches. An area rug can be a great way to provide a facelift to a worn floor. Window treatments are excellent for minimizing less than appealing views. This kind of fix not only addresses a problematic design element but it can also create a new focal point to redefine the entire space with minimal effort and cost.

3. Think big, decorate small.

For many homeowners, kitchens and bathrooms are the critical places for a remodel. Yet, because these areas are often costly to redo, homeowners may put off such renovations indefinitely. While a complete overhaul will be expensive, there are ways to achieve a new look at a fraction of the cost. Instead of replacing cabinetry, work with what is already there. Stain or paint the cabinets, and add new hardware. Tile back splashes are relatively low cost and can be installed by most homeowners without expert help. They can also have a dramatic impact on the appearance of the room. Moulding along the soffit of a kitchen can create a high end appearance. Try framing your bathroom mirror, or remove the front of a few kitchen cabinets for a more customized look. These fixes may be small, but they can have a big impact on these important spaces.

4. The colors of the rainbow.

A simple can of paint is one of the easiest and most effective ways to change the appearance of a room. Color has a huge impact on the feeling of a room, so changing the paint color can provide a quick facelift without much effort or cost. To take things to another level, consider a more refined paint job, perhaps by using special finishing techniques or having an accent wall. Pick colors that play off natural elements in the room, using cool tones to draw out the warmth of wood or bright hues to play off dark moulding.

It is always great to dream about the perfect home. It is even better to make it a reality. Consider these tips, and get started today.

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July 10, 2014 / patrickbelhon

Four Tips to Prevent a Home Invasion

Home burglar opening house doorNo one wants to think about their home being burglarized, but countless homes are broken into each year. This can lead to damage to the home, a loss of property and lingering feelings of violation. To keep your home safe, consider the five following security suggestions.

1. Secure entrance points.

Every home invasion starts somewhere. The burglar has to enter the home through a door or window. In most cases, a burglar will look for the most vulnerable such point and exploit it. One easy way to deter an invasion is to make your home hard to enter. By using high quality locks on your doors and windows, burglars are more likely to give up before even getting inside. For doors, deadbolts and other high quality locks are recommended. Also consider the material of the door or window and its surrounding frame. If a door can be kicked in or if the glass can be broken, then burglars have an easier time getting inside. This can be especially problematic for doors with large glass panels or windows that are placed next to doors.

2. Good visibility.

Most burglars will pick entry points that are not only vulnerable but well covered. Many modern homeowners value their privacy, which is why large trees and privacy fences are so popular. However, because these things provide such good coverage for a home, they are also favorites among burglars. After all, home invaders do not want to be seen. If given the choice between a well-lit front porch and a secluded back door, they are going to pick the back door every time. Therefore, consider the visibility of your main entry points. Are there large shrubs around your front door? Is your backyard hard to see in? Do you have motion activated lights? Addressing these issues can make your home less of a target.

3. Keep up appearances.

Sometimes the best ways to keep home invaders out are also the easiest. Many homes are robbed while the owners are away. Burglars can easily pick up on this by how the home appears. If there are packages on the front stoop and mail collecting in the mailbox, it is a sign that no one is home. It is also worth considering interior lights with timers, which can ensure that there is always a light on inside during the evening whether you are home or not. Moreover, even if you are in town, you should make sure your house appears secure. Do not leave your garage door open, and always lock your windows and doors. A surprising number of home invasions require no breaking and entering at all because at least one entry point is left unsecured.

4. Security systems.

While all these other measures are worthwhile, the most effective way to prevent home invasions is a security system. These systems have evolved a lot in recent years, combining high end technology with strategic implementation. These days, home security is often more than a simple alarm, which can be triggered by unapproved door or window access. Now home security can include video monitors, pressure sensors and a 24-hour monitoring system. The scope of security systems can vary, so homeowners can pick and choose an option that fits their needs and their budget. Many of these systems also include fire detection, carbon monoxide monitoring and medical alerts. According to some estimates, homes with security systems are four times less likely to be burglarized.

It is impossible to protect your home at all times, but with these four ideas, it is easy to start making your home more secure.

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June 9, 2014 / patrickbelhon

DIY Decorating: Four Tips to Keep Your Project Under Control

Home decorating is a very personal pursuit. While experts will have skills to get the job done, many people want to take control of their decorating project. This do-it-yourself approach is very feasible, but it is not as easy as some people might believe. Such projects can quickly spiral out of control, leading to blown budgets and shattered timelines. If you want to try home decorating by yourself, be sure to remember the four following tips to keep your project on track.

Home decor
1. Define the goal. A decorating project is a little like shooting an arrow at a target. Before you can shoot the arrow, you have to find the target first. Without a target, you will be shooting at nothing. For decorating, you should define your target in terms of exactly what design changes will be made. The goals should include the scope of the project while specifically defining the funds and time available. These goals should be made by all relevant parties. If more than one person lives in the home and contributes funds toward its maintenance, these goals should be made collectively. This big picture planning is essential in order to keep the project on track in terms of design, money and time.

2. Be practical. When planning a project, it is easy to dream big. What is harder, however, is creating a design that will actually work in daily life. Therefore, designs should be attractive and functional. Every choice should be made for practicality. Avoid fabrics that are easily ripped or snagged. Pick upholstery that will endure normal wear and tear, especially if there are children or pets in the equation. Furniture should not only be stylistically pleasing but sturdy enough to last for years. Also consider how the room will be used. If your family likes to watch television in the living room, do not create a new space that hinders that possibility. You want your project to look good, but you always want it to feel good for the years to come.

3. Make a budget. Your budget should not just be a broad statement of total funds. The budget must be very specific, including an item by item price check. You should know how much is available for every given purchase. This needs to include hidden costs for necessary tools. For example, if you are repainting, be sure to include funds for rollers and brushes in addition to the paint itself. Everything costs money, and if you ignore the smaller purchases in the budget, they will quickly add up and derail the big picture. The budget should be realistic, so be sure to shop around in advance to gauge the range of prices before setting your item by item price points.

4. Create a timeline. When doing these projects on your own, it is easy to lose control of the timeline. After all, most people take on do-it-yourself projects in their spare time. Therefore, the timeline should be a realistic reflection of the available time. Be sure to break it down into measurable goals in order to create checkpoints along the way. When creating the timeline, plan it out to account for the natural ebbs and flows of a design project. Plan on doing small, tedious jobs while waiting for big ticket orders to come in. This way, it is possible to stay consistently busy and maximize your time in order to complete the overhaul on time.

Managing a home decorating project is an ambitious task. With these four tips, however, it is possible to finish the job on time and under budget in San Diego.

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June 7, 2014 / patrickbelhon

A Beautiful Home for Summer in La Jolla for Sale

If you are looking for a home in San Diego this summer, I know the perfect property. Located in La Jolla, this home has enough space for the entire family and enough flair to appeal to any style. The perfect answer to your summer living situation is 5380 Moonlight Lane.

Summer Home for Sell in La Jolla
The dreamy address does not do the property justice. With almost 5,600 square feet, 5380 Moonlight Lane has five spacious bedrooms and 5.5 luxurious bathrooms. The property has a three car attached garage and two fireplaces. The home was built in 1994 and has been thoroughly maintained and impeccably updated. With central air and heat, the home has everything one might expect from a high end property in the greater San Diego area.

The Kitchen
From the street, 5380 Moonlight Lane has clean lines to create a modern silhouette. The lush palm trees soften the image, and the well chosen landscaping has a classic feel for Southern California. As an added touch, there is ample exterior lighting, which means the house is plainly visible at day or at night.

Living Room
Inside, the home has a layout that flows easily from one room to the next, especially in the main living space. The house relies on unexpected architectural touches with uniquely angled walls and full floor to ceiling windows. This gives the house added depth, inviting the outside in while also capitalizing on the unparalleled ocean views. The home has wood floors throughout most of the main floor, seamlessly connecting the main living spaces.

Second Living Room
The kitchen is especially dramatic with top end stainless steel appliances and sleek white cabinets. Even expert cooks will be satisfied with the touches, which were chosen with no expenses spared. There is an exquisite modern backsplash and a perfect center island, complete with seating on one side. With all this, the kitchen is ideal for cooking, but it is also a fantastic gathering space, allowing for family life or upscale entertaining.

Master Bed Room
From here, the dining room is large, allowing for dinner parties of all sizes. All of the main spaces have spectacular light fixtures, utilizing chandeliers to make the ultimate statement. When paired with the ample natural light, these rooms are airy and inviting. There is also a unique home theater inside the property, complete with tiered seating and a projector.

Outside Patio

The home also features five bedrooms, starting with the decadent master suite. This grandiose space has views of the water and its own private fireplace. The attached bathroom is equally impressive with European style tile work. The double vanities flank the soaker tub, and the shower is a showcase all on its own. Its walk-in style is completely refined with intricate tile work and luxurious spray capabilities. The other four bedrooms and bathrooms are all fully updated with modern touches that will appeal to the whole family.

The Ocean View By Night
These selling features are noteworthy, but they pale in comparison to the outdoor living space. Positioned off the back of the house, the patio sits on the hills of La Jolla, offering unimpeded views of the water and the San Diego skyline. The tile work is exquisite, and the massive area makes use of both water and fire elements. The outdoor fireplace is extra large, and the pool is decadent with curved edges and an attached spa. There is a lavish outdoor kitchen, making this property perfect for summer living.

This amazing La Jolla home is listed with the Tash Team in La Jolla. It is currently available for purchase or for rent. If you are thinking about a move this summer, contact me today to see this incredible property.



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June 7, 2014 / patrickbelhon

Successful Home Remodeling Projects Start with a Plan

Get it All Together before You Tear it All Apart

It is always a good idea to put some thought into any changes you want to make to your home. The time you spend planning is usually proportionate to the size and cost of the project. If you are contemplating a small do-it-yourself project like painting your bedroom walls or installing a new kitchen faucet, you don’t have to think about it too long. All you need to do is pick out some paint, or choose a plumbing fixture. After that, it is just a matter of using a few hours of your spare time to complete the job. Deciding to do a major home remodeling project is a lot different than painting walls or installing a new faucet.

robot decorating with wallpaper
Suppose you decide that you no longer want to live with your small, outdated kitchen. In order to give yourself the space you need, you’ll have to knock-out a wall and reroute the plumbing. Such a job is beyond the scope of most homeowner’s skills and capabilities. If you are planning to tear up the floors, tear down the cabinets, and build a new wall, you should also plan to hire professionals who will do the job properly. Don’t try to save some money by asking your willing, but inexperienced friends to help you do the project. Trying to do a complicated on the cheap often winds up costing you more.

Remodeling Costs Around San Diego

The price of doing a remodeling project can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Labor, materials and building permits are just some of the variables that determine cost. The 2014 Hanley-Wood Cost vs. Value Report shows national and regional averages for different types of remodeling projects. The Report shows both the cost to do the job and the resale value added to your home. Take a look at the national average for some mid-range home remodeling project.

• A major kitchen remodel will cost you $54,909 and you are likely to recoup 74.2% of the cost when you sell.
• Adding a family room will set you back $80,765 and you are likely to recoup 68.8% of the cost when you sell.
• A bathroom remodel will average $16,128 and you are likely to recoup about 72.5% of the cost when you sell.

The best way to avoid frustration, disappointment, and results that don’t live up to expectations, is to take a methodical step-by-step approach to your major home remodeling project.

Hire Experts to Help you Create a Solid Plan in La Jolla

An interior designer or architect can help turn those ideas swirling around your head into a concrete plan that will work. Before you start knocking down any walls or go out and buy new flooring, hire an experienced professional. An architect or structural engineer should be consulted if you are going to build an addition or knock down any walls. If your project is not going to involve the existing structure, a good interior designer can help you create the new look that you want. Sometimes it is necessary to hire both an architect and a designer.

If you are only making minor changes to the interior of your home, you probably will not need to go through the permitting process or have an official inspection. If you are building an addition to your house or making substantial changes to the structure, you will need to get permits and have the work inspected.

Thanks to the fabulous software programs that are available today, an interior designer can show you exactly how your newly designed bathroom or other home improvement project will look when it is completed. They can show you different options so you can decide on the best way to make use of the available space.

Putting the Plan Together

Once you have consulted with your designer or architect, they will take the next step and put together a plan for how the work will be done and when it is expected to be completed. There are always a number of steps to follow and each step takes time. It takes time to prepare the area where the work will be done. You may have to tear up an old floor, remove an old tub or sand the walls. Depending on the project, you may have to apply for permits before work can get started. It may take several weeks, or even longer to get the necessary permits to do the job legally.

A good plan will have a timetable where you can track the progress of the job. If, for instance, the job is expected to take a month, you should know what needs to be done in the first week to stay on schedule. In the real world, there are always a few unexpected issues that come up. If the cabinets don’t arrive on the day they were supposed to arrive, that can delay the progress of the work being done in the kitchen. Your contractor could get into a car accident and not be able to come back to work for three days. Even with the most professional design team and contractors, you should always anticipate the job taking a little longer than planned.

Hiring Contractors in La Jolla

It is important to hire reliable contractors that have experience in the type of work you need done. A carpenter does not do electrical work and an electrician does not lay tile floors. Interview several candidates before you make a hiring decision. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and an estimate of the cost to complete the job.

Stay Out of the Way While the Job is Being Done

You should never be breathing down the neck of your contractors. Allow them to do the work they are being paid to do. It is okay to periodically check on the progress, but don’t make suggestions on the way they are applying grout or hammering a nail. If you stay out of the way, the job will go much faster and the job will be completed in a more timely manner.

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