Saturday, February 20, 2010

Are there more desirable areas of the Victor Valley?

I answered this question on late December of 2009:

This is a fairly complicated question. I have a client from out of the area who is looking to invest and he's asked me a similar question. While the Victor Valley has been occupied for 100 years, most of the growth has been in the last ten. Many larger cities have found it economically feasible to house parolees in the area, including some of the nicer areas. Many investors bought homes in nice areas in order to house Section 8 rentals. This has made even nice areas a mixed bag. There are nice neighborhoods scattered throughout the valley, but there are a complicated set of factors that will help you decide what is most appropriate for you.

Some of the factors you should consider: Who is the occupant (you or someone else)? What is the health of the occupant? Does the occupant commute? Will there be children in the house (which public school will they be in, or are you willing to pay for private school, or home school)? How much privacy does the occupancy like? Do you need park an RV at home?

This really depends on what you want to do and where you will be spending your time. If you're a commuter, and don't want to spend an extra 30 minutes on the road every day, you should consider Oak Hills or Summit Valley. They are rural, yet close to the freeway, and don't have the congestion problems that exist along Main St., Bear Valley Rd., and Hwy 18.

You will have further drives then if you lived in town, but time-wise, they won't end up much longer because you're not spending as much time in slow moving traffic. This is also less time breathing exhaust fumes, so if you have respiratory problems this is also a concern. Health concerns might also lead you to want to be closer to the hospitals in town.

One of the nicer areas with newer homes and a great view is the Quail Ridge community in Apple Valley. There are also gated communities built by Pulte Homes behind Jess Ranch. There are also many nice homes by the Apple Valley Country Club golf course. These areas are close to shopping at Bear Valley Rd and Apple Valley Rd while offering newer more energy efficient houses than some older neighborhoods which will save you fuel in your car and money on your energy bills.

Something to keep in mind about the Victor Valley: It has been an inexpensive place to live for years, and as such, the quality of neighborhoods is less fixed than other areas. Areas that used to be exclusive no longer are or certainly not to the extant that they once were.

This is my recent follow-up(February 20, 2010):

I'm not saying not to buy, but I am saying that you should do some "due diligence". Some web sites offer stats by zip code, but the Victor Valley doesn't have a lot of density, so our zip codes are not an efficient way to look for crime online.

Also, fences make good neighbors. I would look for a property with block walls and wrought iron fencing if I were in the city, and taller chain link fencing (above 5') in the more rural areas.

Also, don't let a nice neighborhood lure you into a sense of complacency. Nice neighborhoods become targets for thieves. My uncle in Simi Valley recently told me of a band of thieves who would drive a moving truck into cul-de-sacs of the nicer neighborhoods and break in and load up. Unless you and your neighbors are friendly, they might not even realize that the persons moving your stuff, aren't movers. Thieves target good neighborhoods (and the increasing political rhetoric seems to be stoking the flames of class envy) so these neighborhoods may put you directly in the crosshairs of criminals your were hoping to avoid. This is especially true if there are parolees or people on probation that are now acting as scouts in nice neighborhoods (and having California tax payers paying for their housing, too). So the criminals might 'commute' to your nice area.

There are some very nice houses outside of the city limits. Some builders and others built very nice houses in rural areas with plenty of land (to park vehicles) and then let the house go back to the bank. Many of these houses can be bought for the price of construction.

Also, in this economy, verify whatever any agent tells you with disinterested third parties. We are commissioned salespeople and things are slow, so it may be in an agent's best interest to NOT know and therefore NOT be liable to disclose information. I recommend talking to the neighbors in the surrounding housing and looking up local news by address number, and go to the local police station. Or pay someone to do these things and write up a report for you detailing what they did.

My last recommendation: Pick up the book "The Zombie Survival Guide". As strange as it sounds, it has a lot of really good information on making you and your home, more secure.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Citigroup to trade deeds for 6 month stay in homes

According to the Associated Press, Citigroup will be trading a 6 month stay in your home for the deed. The article is here. The former owners will be required to keep the utilities on.

This is obviously cheaper for Citigroup than a full foreclosure with an eviction. It may also mean cleaner and more well kept houses for resale, as the former owners may come to see the bank as a partner in the move rather than a cold and heartless bank who wants to throw them on the street. To further that image, Citi is offering moving counseling.

Fannie Mae has a similar program, but rents the house back to the people at "market rates". I would be curious to see what Fannie considers market rates. Here in the High Desert, rents have been falling from $1.00+/sf to $0.50/sf is some cases. There are lots of move in specials, too.

I was unable to get a loan modification, and the bank has offered a $2000.00 cash-for-keys. My significant other and I are going to accept, and move into one of the vacant rentals, rather than fight the bank for 6 months and then get an eviction in addition to the foreclosure. Luckily her credit is good, and her name is not on the deed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

San Bernardino County Addressing Problem Redux

So, per my January 29th article, I had some issues getting the addresses straightened out. I thought they got fixed. I passed the gas-air test. I have Southwest Gas coming to put a meter in tomorrow. Then I got the letters from SB county code enforcement.

Seems that the computers and/or staff are still not capable of handling the job. Now my units do not have separate addresses OR A & B designations. So I called back to Code Enforcement for the Addressing division using the telephone # on the paper they sent me. I was told that there was another number, and when I called that number, I was told that Building and Safety was now in charge of Addressing.

I called the B&S # twice and it was busy. So now I'm just venting a little on my blog.

Is it any wonder businesses aren't hiring when government entities can't do the simplest of things well and now we have the largest expansion of government since the New Deal? Seriously, how am I to believe the bureaucrats are going to take care of my health decisions when they make up an addressing problem that didn't exist, and then complicate it further by giving me an addressing problem?