Friday, June 29, 2007

The Visitors Center

I just received the Chamber of Commerce's July Newsletter. It is, as usual, packed full of good information about local business and the local community. One particularly interesting piece of information came from the article on the visitors center. They reported 20,000 visitors during the month of June. The report said "The weekends were packed with people from all over." I would reason to say that some of those folks will fall in love with our community and desire to buy some property. I would also guess they might need a Real Estate Agent to help them out. I'm not sure how I would try and take advantage of this as a real estate agent, but I would certainly try. Heck, I would probably do my best to convince my wife to work there. ;o) Check out the newsletter on the chambers site for all the details.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

4th of July Activities

With Summer now in full swing there are many ways to enjoy our beautiful town. The fourth of July is always a terrific day. The fireworks at the harbor are well done and seen from many different locations. There are also fireworks shows in Goleta and parades in Santa Barbara and Solvang. Montecito also gets in the spirit with a parade in the upper village. If fireworks and parades aren't enough for you the symphony is a very popular thing to attend. One item that is particularly close to my heart since I've been on the board for many years is the Semana Nautica summer sports festival. It is kicking off the 7oth annual festival. You can check out all the events under the Semana Nautica umbrella at their website.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Real Estate Technology

How many of you want the IPhone? I know my wife does. Technology has been changing our lives in many ways for years. Real Estate is no different. I can remember being on the Computer Committee at the Association and having discussions about if the Association should have a web site. Many thought it would be the end of real estate. Well, thank goodness it wasn't. In Santa Barbara we have the famous Gary Woods who writes his technology column for Casa Magazine. When starting my blog, I also found he had one and it was ranked very high on the search engines. Good Job Gary! I have also found a blog that specializes in technology for real estate and have found much of the information on this site useful. Check out MyTechOpinion. The most recent article gives you some good reasons to switch to Office 2007. Like being able to save your documents as pdf's, or the quality of the charting tool inside Excel. I know I am a bit of a tech person and these are exciting times to be doing business in.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Continuing Education

I have been in this business long enough to know that many real estate licensees scramble to get their continuing education credits completed in time. Agents get very busy with things like selling homes and this issue seems to become a low priority, that is until the deadline comes near. There are many ways of getting your credits these days other than having to sit in on a classroom style training. The Internet has a few solutions that appear to work pretty well. One company is 45HoursOnline. Another company we have a relationship with is OnlineEd. If you decide to use OnlineEd it allows Realtor members to receive a discount by using a code when enrolling. That code is CALAWSB100. If you have any specific questions about their program you can call Coni Meyers at 866 519-9597. Don't wait until the last minute ;o)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Paseo Chapala

I had the pleasure of being able to view the space at 721 Chapala St. The tour guide was Brad Frohling of the Radius Group. Thanks Brad! The first floor has tons of visibility and the landlord is looking for a restaurant to go in to the corner space closest to De La Guerra. It looks like a very high traffic spot that a restaurant could do well in. It will have some patio seating as well as plenty of window space. The rest of the first floor is more of the same, and I think it should be a good option for a retailer that wants to be near the mall. There is covered parking. This of course is all new construction and appears to be very well done. I did not get a chance to go through the residential units but I'm told the models look terrific. Being downtown across from the mall and of course not far from the beach I am sure is going to appeal to many people. The covered parking is also a feature I'm sure the residential units will benefit from. I'm sure Chris Agnoli would be glad to give you the details if you are interested.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Santa Barbara Loan Activity

One piece of statistical news we have been sending out monthly is a report showing the different parts of the counties and the loan activity they are experiencing. Refinancing has been a big part of the real estate business these last few years and we thought it would be a good idea to chart that information. We do a chart for the South County, Santa Maria, and Lompoc. It would appear the trend in refinancing has been fairly stable this year with the exception of a couple of months in a couple
areas. Santa Maria seems to be showing a slow decline in the number of refinances, while Lompoc is pretty consistent, and the South County has been up and down so far this year. If you want to view these charts in real size, just click on them and you should be able to view them and print them.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Business First & Heritage Oaks Merge

On May 29th Business First Bank and Heritage Oaks Bancorp. entered in to an agreement that would combine the 2 banks with Heritage Oaks paying 20.6 million in stock and cash for Business First. Heritage Oaks will pick up 2 branches in Santa Barbara that will remain Business First operating under the Heritage Oaks umbrella. Joanne Funari will remain the president of Business First. This transaction is subject to the usual approvals and due diligence and is expected to close in the 3rd quarter of 2007. Good Luck Joanne and team! Both of these organizations do real estate lending and it would make sense this would help there coverage in the county in this market.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Green Design

Santa Barbara seems to be one of those perfect communities that could really get its arms around going green. You know becoming environmentally conscience of it's building designs and energy usage. I know I have seen many more hybrid cars and scooters on the road in the last 6 months. I did a quick search and came up with a local architect that promotes himself as designing buildings using 50% of the normal fossil fuel level (1/2 the country average for that building type). He looks to be a member of an organization that promotes these standards and is trying to create some awareness for creating this type of design. It is called Architecture 2030. If you are interested in finding out more, these might be good sites to check out.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ed Hats Real Estate Map

If you haven't seen the map that is featured on Ed Hat you should check it out. It displays home sales for the past month as best I can tell. Each sale is designated by a push pin and you can run your cursor over the push pin to see the address and sales information. I think it is a pretty unique way to display this information. What do I know, I'm easily impressed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

May's Real Estate Market Trends

The sales information from CORT (Computer Oriented Real Estate Technology) has arrived and there are some items that are a bit curious. The number of sales on the South County (Goleta to Carp) has been higher than last years numbers for 3 months in a row. This brings the number of transactions year to date up 5% over last year. For the last 3 months the number of transactions is up 20% over last year. Our chart shows 2004 thru 2007 ytd. and this is the first time on that chart this has happened. Maybe we are seeing a trend in the South County. In the Santa Maria Lompoc areas there isn't anything that I would perceive as a trend. For the first time this year there were as many closings as last year for May (144). Maybe the North County is lagging a little bit behind the South County. If you would like a copy of either of the charts just click on them and a larger version will be displayed. I just love technology!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Youth Violence/Summer Jobs

I was just looking over the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce Newsletter. They were talking about one of the solutions for the gang violence that has recently surfaced. Steve Cushman mentioned that recreational programs, job programs and mentoring programs could be a big part of the solution. He recommended calling your local school, or the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse to volunteer as a mentor. One other thing you can do is call Steve at 965-3023x104 and he can find a student to fill a summer job if you need one. Being in the real estate business and someone who is concerned about our community these sound like great opportunities to help. Three cheers for Steve Cushman!!!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Local Papers

The Santa Barbara News Press has certainly had it's issues in this community lately. I know the real estate community last year boycotted advertising in it. Many of the writers and staff that were once there are no longer around and it's subscription base has suffered. The latest way to compete is online and the Newspress has launched Newspress TV. One of the periodicals that has picked up some staff from the Newspress is the Independent. Every Thursday there is still an anticipation by many to pick up a copy. You don't have to leave your computer anymore though you can visit their website. The Daily Sound would appear to be a spin off from the Newspress. It first came to my attention on the Mesa and now it appears to have a pretty good distribution. The one plug I would like to give it is they have a very cool online version of the paper you can read without a subscription. That is of course the one piece of the puzzle that intrigues me. The Daily Sound is completely free. The Daily Sound doesn't want to be outdone on the video side either, they are promoting a weekly news show on the internet. It is amazing how much news you can get online and free from these organizations. I'm sure I have missed out on some, but hopefully this gives you a good idea of what is out there.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Workforce Housing

Being able to live in Santa Barbara has always been a challenge when it comes to being able to buy a home. We have seen the traffic congestion grow during the morning commute coming from Ventura. We have heard the dialogue about how are people like firefighters, police, health care workers, and others aren't able to live here. I know that the Santa Barbara Housing Authority is working hard to mitigate those problems. Recently Jeff Bermant and BDC Development were approve to build a condominium development in Goleta that will be designated for workforce housing. There are many other projects in the works and I would like to applaud those folks that are taking on this challenging task of providing this necessary housing.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

On Line Buyers & Virtual Tours

In reviewing Leslie Appleton Youngs survey of buyers, 70% of them used the internet before contacting an agent. The survey also showed that the people using the web all had broadband connections. This would make one think that virtual tours would be a useful tool to attract visitors to your website or get the word out about a listing you are offering. Steve Gaither has been providing this service for a while now. His product many agents have been using. There is now another local company that has a virtual tour product. They both offer tours that are branded for the agent with links to company and personal websites. In looking over their websites their are a few differences and you should check them out to see which one might be right for you.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

1031 Exchanges and Vacation Homes

There has certainly been some turmoil in the 1031 exchange business in Santa Barbara, and for that matter the country. Recently a ruling from the U.S. Tax Court has made it more difficult to use a vacation home as part of an exchange. Here is what the Court said "In a memo issued Wednesday, the court said that a Georgia couple's exchange of vacation homes did not qualify for the treatment according to Section 1031(a) of the tax code finding that the holding of any residence, even if motivated in part by an expectation that the property will appreciate in value, is insufficient to justify the classification of that property as being held for investment.
“The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that petitioners' primary purpose in acquiring and holding both the properties was to enjoy the use of those properties as vacation homes; i.e., as secondary, personal residences.” With Santa Barbara being a place having many second homes this is something we should all be aware of. If you have any questions regarding 1031 exchanges I can put you in touch with our exchange company.

Mobile Real Estate

One of the hot topics these days is the mobile real estate agent. I have even heard of real estate offices that are popping up to accomodate these agents. It seems that they are armed with a tablet pc loaded with productivity solutions like winforms, efax, maybe even skype for those free internet phone calls. With a wireless internet connection it would appear these machines could do about anything. Electronic signature of documents is becoming more and more common. A paperless real estate agent is probably in an office near you. These tablet pc's are now available with customized suites of productivity tools for agents. One of the leaders in providing solutions for agents is VREO. If you are looking for some real world stories on how agents are using the tablet pc head on over to Tech Republic. Wouldn't it be great to do away with all this paper!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Real Estate Blogging

Since this is my very first post on my own blog I thought I would relay the brief homework I did before getting started with this blog. To begin with I kept hearing this strange word "Blog". I had no idea what it meant until I started asking a few questions and then doing some searching on the internet. One other thing hit,I was listening to a book on cd called "The World Is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman. He was mentioning how the way people get information these days is changing. More and more people are turning to blogs for their daily diet of information. I wondered if there were any real estate blogs. To my surprise I found quite a few. Many were real estate agents reaching out to their farms. I found a local real estate agent, Gary Woods had created one and was using it to inform his sphere of influence about the local real estate statistics. Heck I even found one done by a gentleman that calls himself "The Title and Escrow Guy". Well since we are all in the business of promoting ourselves I thought I would give it a shot and in about 15 minutes with a free google account I was up and running. Pretty Amazing! So now I'm wondering who the target market will be. Could it be the general public, or the real estate agent and loan agent community? It will probably take some time to figure that out, but for now I plan on posting information that could be useful for either. Stay Tuned!