Category Archives: Dana Point

Spotlight on: Olamendi’s Mexican Restaurant

 

Olamendi’s opened in San Clemente in 1973 and featured some of the dishes the owner’s mother and grandmother had cooked for him when he was growing up. At the time, authentic Mexican fare wasn’t common in Southern California. While the restaurant got off to a slow start, within a couple of years, Olamendi’s had became so popular that it had to move to a bigger space, its current location on Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point. Olamendi’s is now a popular eatery for surfers, who frequently come in after catching waves across the street.

When you enter Olemendi’s, you’ll think you’ve entered a Dia De Los Muertos festival instead of a restaurant, but don’t let the décor distract you. The food is good. Tacos cost around $5; burritos, $10; tostadas, $12; enchiladas, $6; and fajitas, $20. The extensive menu also includes a vegan section, which Olamendi said was inspired by his vegan son. Make sure to try my personal favorites–enchiladas suizas, the California burrito, or the Milaneza.

Listing of the week: 34731 Calle Loma

My pick this week is this remodeled tri-level in Capistrano Beach.

34731 Calle Loma
4 bed, 3 bath
3,100 square feet
$1,350,000

Here’s why I think this is a great buy:

  • So many great features–picturesque ocean views from multiple floors, enormous great room, fireplace, gourmet kitchen, well-manicured backyard
  • Great square footage (3,100!)
  • More than $200k in improvements
  • Great in-law or guest suite downstairs (includes kitchenette and separate entry)
  • Close to the beach and Pines Park

Want to check it out? Contact me today.

Understanding building codes and zoning laws

Home for sale in Dana Point. Click photo for details.

Source

When buying (or selling) a home, it’s important to be cognizant of a property’s local zoning and code violations. If you’re thinking about adding onto a property, doing a remodel, maybe subdividing to generate some supplemental income, knowing where your property stands in terms of its code compliance as well as its zoning restrictions can yield lots of crucial information on your house hunt.

What Are Code Violations?

If your home falls short of a county or municipal building code, it has a code violation. Many homes have some form of code violation. This is because building codes change all the time, and a house that was code-compliant when you bought it may now lag behind current standards. These innocent violations are “grandfathered” in, which means they are not regarded as violations if the home was up to code when it was built.

How do you know when a property was built, when any upgrades were completed and whether it’s in violation of codes or zoning ordinances?

See what the OC Property Assessor shows. Call your City’s Building and Code Enforcement Department and ask them for any permits pulled on the property. Ask them about any non-conforming use.  Ask when and how a non-conforming use has to become conforming. Ask if the property is a “legal non-conforming use.” Further, your Realtor should have access to tools that shed a lot more light on the current status of your prospective home from a code and zoning perspective.

Most serious code violations happen because the homeowner adds more living space without the proper permission. Other examples include water heaters or electrical points installed without a permit, failure to use non-flame retardant roofing material and the absence of smoke detectors: the list is endless.

Why are Zoning Laws Important?

Is my home legal? Can I get a loan on my home? Can I rebuild my home if destroyed? These questions can be answered if you know whether your property is in compliance with local zoning codes or not. A property’s zoning status is classified as legal, legal nonconforming (“grandfathered”) or illegal.  Legal compliance means that a property conforms to current code and can be rebuilt if destroyed, and qualifies for a FNMA loan.  Legal non-conforming means that at one time the property complied with zoning code but does not currently comply, but the nonconforming use may continue; generally these homes can be rebuilt and qualify for a FNMA loan.   Illegal indicates that the property does not conform to the zoning code and must be restored or removed, and cannot be rebuilt if destroyed and do not qualify for a FNMA loan.

What about remodeling and illegal uses?  Adding an addition to a home without permits does not automatically make the property illegal; being non-permitted is not the same as being an illegal use in the zoning.  If the addition would normally be allowed by zoning, the issue of non-permitted areas can often be resolved by working with your building department and obtaining letter of compliance or a permit as long as the addition meets code.  However, if the building addition would not be allowed by zoning, the addition will most often need to be removed or significantly modified so that the addition complies with current zoning.

 

Finding a good home inspector

Is Your Home Inspector Legit? Why Buyers Should Inspect Their Inspectors

Of the roughly 30,000 U.S. home inspectors nationally, those in about 15 states don’t need to be licensed, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors. Among the non-licensure states—you guessed it includes California.

How to inspect the home inspectors—and find a winner

Good sources to finding a Home Inspector are professional trade associations. There are two quality associations available in California: the California Real Estate Inspection Association, CREIA and the American Society of Home Inspectors, ASHI. Both organizations require their members to pass an exam showing competence in the home inspection profession along with requiring that each member maintains continuing educational credits each year, CREIA requiring 30 hours per year and ASHI requiring 20 hours per year.

The client should interview all potential Inspectors they are considering and ask the following:

  • Is the inspector a member of CREIA and/or ASHI?
  • What does the inspection cover? Make sure the inspection and the inspection report meet all applicable requirements and comply with the CREIA and/or ASHI Standards of Practice. Both Standards of Practice are recognized by the California Legislature
  • How long has the inspector been practicing and how many inspections have they completed?
  • Does the inspector’s company offer to do repairs or improvements based on the inspection? This is against the CREIA and ASHI Code of Ethics as it is a defined conflict of interest
  • How long will the inspection take? The average for a single inspection is 2 to 3 hours for a typical single-family house; anything less may not be enough time to do a thorough inspection. Some inspection firms send a team of inspectors and the time frame may be shorter
  • Does the inspector prepare a written report? Ask to see samples and determine whether or not you can understand the inspector’s reporting style
  • Does the inspector encourage the client to attend the inspection? This is a valuable educational opportunity, and an inspector’s refusal to allow this should raise a red flag
  • Does the inspector participate in continuing education programs to keep his or her expertise up to date? One can never know it all, and the inspector’s commitment to continuing education is a good measure of his professionalism and service to the consumer

As for what to do if problems crop up that the inspector should have found, the first course of action should be to contact the inspector directly to discuss the issue. No corrective work should be undertaken before the inspector has an opportunity to review the report and be given the chance to revisit the property. Good inspectors will make good on their services if they missed something that should have been discovered during the course of the inspection. Keep in mind that the inspector is operating per an accepted Standards of Practice which states what is required to be inspected and what is not. Also many Inspectors carry professional liability, errors and omission insurance (although it is not required).

 

Dana Point harbor revitalization


Here’s an update on the Dana Point Harbor Revitalization Project :

We’re already seeing some improvements being made to our beloved Dana Point Harbor.
Check out this 3-minute video on the proposed future state of Dana Point Harbor.

According to an article published in the Orange County Register, 3 firms are being interviewed, design proposals have been submitted, and final design plans will be reviewed this month. Under the proposed public-private partnership, a developer would design, fund and build the proposed improvements, then operate those portions of the harbor over a 50-year lease, before returning the improved property back to the county.

County officials say reconstruction of the area’s main retail center will be completed first, and the harbor should be fully restored within a decade. In the meantime, the county has begun work along Dana Point Harbor Drive, which encircles most of the harbor’s land side, adding light signals and extra lanes in preparation for the larger project.

In January, OC Public Works will start putting new facades on buildings on the wharf to keep them solid until the actual project begins. For more information on the revitalization project, visit www.ocdph.com/revitalization.

Also, check out the most recent concepts around the Doheny Village Renovations here.

Finding a property’s square footage

Home for sale in Dana Point. Click photo for details.

Who is right? The appraiser measures your house, but tax records show something different. Or, maybe you’re walking a couple of different townhomes that appear to have identical floor plans but one listing has a higher square footage estimate than the other. Why is there sometimes a disparity between the all of these square footage figures?

At times, an area such as an enclosed patio, basement, detached studio, porch, or garage is included in the square footage when it really shouldn’t be included. Remember too that an area must have direct access to the main house to even begin to be considered as living area. If you have to exit the home to enter another area, that other area is not considered square footage (it might still have value, but it’s not counted in the total square footage by the appraiser). There is square footage and livable square footage.

What do appraisers INCLUDE in the square footage of a house?

  • Interior spaces that are conditioned spaces (heated, and cooled, if necessary) such as bedrooms, bathroom and living rooms
  • Enclosed patios that are heated and (if the rest of the house is) air-conditioned and are similar in workmanship (quality) as the rest of the home
  • Finished attic space as long as it also conforms to the original structure (can’t just add carpet and call it a bedroom)

What do appraisers EXCLUDE in the square footage of a house?

Some common spaces are not considered to be living space and are therefore not included when calculating the square footage of a house:

  • Screened patios (and open ones as well)
  • Garages, unless they have been converted to living space
  • Unfinished areas, regardless of the level in the home
  • 2nd floor airspace (for example: open space, above an entry, or a vaulted room)
  • The open area above a stairway on the second floor
  • Detached living space such as an office in a extra building on the property – these spaces are measured separately
  • Spaces that are accessed only by traversing non-living space, like an enclosed storage area of a garage

These spaces may be determined to add value to the property upon analysis of the comparable properties in an area, but they are not included in the square footage.

Why this matters: This conversation underscores the importance of marketing your home accurately. After all, it can make a price and value difference whether a property is actually 1500 or 1700 square feet, right? Case-in-point: I recently measured a home for an investor that ended up being the 3400 sq ft model instead of the 3000 sq ft model as tax records incorrectly stated. My advice? If you doubt the accuracy of your square footage, hire an appraiser or someone else who knows how to measure a house accurately. It’s better to be informed up front than leave money on the table unnecessarily.

 

Beginner’s guide to loans

Home for sale in Dana Point. Click photo for details.

How much home can you afford? There are several loan programs available, and depending on your credit history, there is bound to be one that is perfect for you. Here are a few examples of the most popular programs offered today:

Fixed-Rate Loans

The fixed-rate mortgage is the most popular mortgage program in use today. Fixed-rate loans offer the borrow a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan, typically 15 to 30 years. Borrowers have peace of mind knowing that their monthly payment will not change over time. Conventional fixed-rate mortgages have underwriting requirements established by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and require certain down-payment and debt-to-equity ratios to qualify. Fixed-rate loans are especially attractive to buyers who plan to stay in their home for more than a few years.

Adjustable Rate Loans

With an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), the interest rate changes periodically, and payments go up or down accordingly. Rates are tied to an index that reflects the cost of money at any given point in time. Generally speaking, lenders charge a lower initial interest rate for the ARM than for the fixed rate mortgage. If you are expecting interest rates to decrease in the future, or if you are trying to maximize your purchase power today knowing your income will rise in the future, then this loan may be right for you. Adjustable rate loans are attractive for buyers who expect to be in the home for a short period of time.

FHA and VA Loans

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), offers loans for low-to-moderate-income home buyers. FHA loans have lower down payments, and have relatively easier requirements than conventional fixed-rate mortgages. FHA mortgages have no income restrictions and even those with lower credit scores may be considered. Past bankruptcy does not necessarily disqualify borrowers from using this program.

In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a zero-down mortgage program. To take advantage of this program, borrowers need to be among those listed as veterans and service personnel in the U.S. military. One of the biggest benefits of this program is that it eliminates the need for private mortgage insurance.

>> Review common mortgage terms