How to Be a Smart San Diego Tourist

No one wants to be that clueless San Diego visitor who spends too much on their hotel, misses out on fun things to do, or ends up eating bad food in crowded places. These San Diego travel tips will help you be the savvy visitors instead.

To help you be a smarter San Diego tourist, enjoy your trip more and spend less of your hard-earned money doing it, these San Diego tourist tips may help you:

Sail Boats in San Diego

5 Ways to be a Smart San Diego Tourist

Know the Weather: San Diego’s climate is quite moderate, but it can rain at times, and Santa Ana winds can turn winter into summer. To be better prepared, check the weather forecast ahead of time.

Pick the Right Hotel for Your Trip: The best area for tourists to stay in San Diego depends on what they’re going to do. Most people stay downtown or in the “Hotel Circle” area, but if you pick the wrong area, you’ll end up stuck in traffic unnecessarily.

Take the Trolley: At rush hour, Interstate Highway 5 can feel more like a parking lot than a freeway. You may not want to drive to the border near Tijuana either, risking a break-in or getting on the wrong road and stuck at the border crossing. Learn how to take the trolley during your San Diego vacation, and you can relax and let someone else do the driving.

Make Reservations: The San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park offer tours that require reservations, such as their photo safari. You won’t need reservations to visit Sea World, but you will if you want to take a behind the scenes tour or dine with Shamu.

Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Food: Don’t be a typical San Diego tourist suffering through bad service, high prices, and mediocre food in Old Town or the Gaslamp Quarter. Instead, head to one of San Diego’s hip neighborhoods like Hillcrest, North Park or Kensington, where you’ll find lots of good restaurants, at much more reasonable price.



 

A Few Useful Facts About San Diego

Coronado Island and beach at sunset San Diego, California

  • San Diego is one of the largest cities in the United States, with a population density of about four people per square mile. Compared to most of Los Angeles and all of San Francisco, that makes it a much less crowded to get around.
  • San Diego is edged with seventy miles of beaches. .
  • The Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island is the largest wooden structure in the United States. And it’s a pretty place to visit, too.
  • The San Diego Zoo is home to a pair of giant pandas. When Hua Mei was born here, she was the first baby panda born in the Western Hemisphere since 1990 (she is now in China).
  • San Diego is not only California’s oldest city, but it was also the first European settlement on the West Coast.
  • The legal drinking age in San Diego is 21. Across the border in Tijuana, it’s 18.
  • San Diego Hotel tax is 10.5% (12.5% for hotels with more than 70 rooms).
  • Sales tax is slightly less than 8% (A helpful hint: To easily calculate a 15% restaurant tip, simply double the tax).

 

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Recipe: Strawberry-Basil Shortcakes

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Ingredients

Shortcakes

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend

Berries and assembly

  • 1½ pound fresh strawberries, hulled, quartered (about 3 cups), divided
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 sprigs basil
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche

Directions

Shortcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk sugar, baking powder, salt, and 2 cups flour in a large bowl. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work in butter until the texture of coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Add cream and mix until dough just comes together (it will be sticky).

  2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 12×4” rectangle about ¾” thick. Cut out rounds with a 2½” biscuit cutter, re-rolling scraps as needed to make 8 rounds. Whisk egg with 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Transfer rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush tops with egg wash. Bake until tops are golden brown and shortcakes are cooked through, 15–20 minutes.

  3. DO AHEAD: Shortcakes can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Berries and assembly

  1. Coarsely chop 2 cups strawberries (use any bruised or less perfect ones) and cook with 2 Tbsp. sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries are softened and mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Let berry compote cool.

  2. Meanwhile, toss basil, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and remaining 1 cup strawberries in a medium bowl and let sit until fruit begins to release juices, 10–15 minutes. Discard basil.

  3. Using an electric mixer, beat cream, crème fraîche, and remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar to soft peaks, about 4 minutes.

  4. Split shortcakes and fill with berry compote, whipped cream mixture, and macerated strawberries.

Nutrition Facts:

Servings Per Recipe, Calories (kcal) 4560 Fat (g) 43 Saturated Fat (g) 26 Cholesterol (mg) 175 Carbohydrates (g) 40 Dietary Fiber (g) 2 Total Sugars (g) 14 Protein (g) 6 Sodium (mg) 160

Click HERE for more information about the recipe.

3 Things Sellers will Love This Spring

For many home sellers, there’s no better time to list than the spring, and for good reason: This is peak home-buying season, folks! Buyers turn out in droves once warmer weather finally arrives, bringing people out of hibernation mode, and bidding wars abound as buyers look for ways to one-up their competition.

 

 

All the demand

While home sales decline in the winter (chalk it up to bad weather and holiday obligations), many home buyers blitz the housing market in spring, says Dossman. To meet that pent-up demand, many sellers list their homes at this time of year. It’s no surprise, then, that the lion’s share of real estate agents say March, April, and May are the best months to sell a home. With so many buyers competing for homes, sellers may be in a stronger position to spark bidding wars.

 

Selling in warmer weather

Open houses are often more successful during the spring than in the winter, says Dossman, since the nicer weather makes buyers more willing to emerge from the comfort of their homes to shop for houses. Another boon for home sellers: Daylight saving time gives buyers more time to look at houses, which means your property can potentially be seen by more people, says Dana Hill, vice president of Buyer’s Edge Realty in Bethesda, MD.

That said, “Sellers still need to do some prep work before holding an open house,” Dossman adds. To make sure your home is ready to be seen, do a thorough cleaning, remove such personal belongings as family photos and religious artwork, and trim your lawn for maximum curb appeal. Pro tip: Take a hike for a few hours during the open house. Buyers will feel more comfortable asking questions of your agent if you’re not hovering in the background.

 

The higher valuations

When your home’s value is assessed by a home buyer’s appraiser, the appraiser will look at data for comparable homes (or “comps”) that were recently sold in your neighborhood. The good news: With more homes selling in the on-season, the comparable data tend in your favor, Hill says. In other words, your house is more likely to pass the home appraisal, assuming that you’re selling it at around its fair market value.

 

 

5 Spring Home-Hunting Tips for Buyers

Spring is just around the corner and not only flowers are popping up everywhere, houses are also being prepared for the spring selling season.  Home owners typically sell during spring, and buyers are taking advantage of this huge opportunity to get the best home. There is competition among buyers who want to get the best pick.  In this adrenaline-driven situation, it pays to follow these 5 house hunting tips so you would will not be left behind.

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1. Canvass your dream house, the old-fashioned way. Close your laptop and go to open houses. Online listings are good sources of information, but nothing beats seeing the house with your own two eyes. It’s a great idea to go online, research the house you want and set up alerts so you know when a new house is being put in the market. However, if you really want to find your perfect house, you have to get up from your desk and get on your feet. The spring season means higher demands for houses, therefore buyers should always be in the position to decide quickly.

2. Research market trends. Housing trends are forever changing. What’s ok now might not be good tomorrow and what seems to worthless today could be worth a fortune in the coming years. As a buyer, you have to be informed of what’s happening in the current market as well as the past trends in the housing industry. This would give you a chance to compare and formulate marketing predictions that would help in your decision making. Take note that these trends have a huge impact on house prices so the more you know, the better chances for you to get a good price. Don’t forget to research both local and general markets.

3. Take advantage of low mortgage rates. Act now while mortgage rates are historically low. Having low interest rates allows you affordable payments for a long time. Mortgage rates are very unpredictable so you have to take action the minute it goes down.

4. Build your team. Everything is fast-paced today with the market on hype due to spring season. As a buyer, you have to make sure that everyone you are working with is ready to go so you’ll have a smooth and fast transaction. Your home buying team should include a knowledgeable real estate agent, lender, lawyer and inspector. To save time, make sure you get pre-approved first so you can quickly submit your bid once you find the right home.

5. Prepare deal-breakers. In a bidding war, you will come across other buyers who are also well prepared. In order to win, you have to sweeten your offer to entice the seller to choose you. How do you do that? You can offer a higher down payment or even forego some contingencies (consult with your team first).

However, the most important advice is BE PREPARED. When that perfect house or opportunity comes up, make sure that you are ready to grab it.

Why You Should Sell Your Home in 2019

Few people are predicting that 2019 will be a record-breaking year for home prices.

Relatively speaking, 2019 might seem to be the best time for you to put your house on the market especially if you’re on the fence about selling this year or next.

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Home price growth slowed in the second half of 2018, with fewer buyers entering the market, at least partially due to rising interest rates issued by the Federal Reserve. In 2019, consumers shouldn’t expect homebuyers to flood the market again and drive prices through the roof, but it’s also unlikely to be a crisis for home sellers.

If you’re weighing your options to sell, considering selling this year or maybe the year after, don’t play the waiting game.
Here are four reasons to sell your house in 2019:
  • New buyers are still entering the market.
  • Interest rates are still on the lower end.
  • You have high equity.
  • Selling now will be better than waiting till 2020.

New Buyers Are Still Entering the Market

With available housing inventory remaining low, even with rising interest rates, buyers who are ready to make a purchase will still shop for homes. The biggest wave of new homebuyers will be among millennials, who are mostly first-time buyers. According to Trulia, more than one-fifth of Americans between ages 18 and 34 said they plan to buy a home within the next 12 months. Already, millennials make up the largest share of homebuyers at 36 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors, which released the number in March 2018.The bottom line: While houses may sit on the market for a few more days on average compared with 2017 when the market was white-hot, buyers remain active and it’s still possible to profit from your home sale.

Interest Rates Are Still Low-ish

Mortgage interest rates have been on a bit of a bumpy road over the last few months. Interest rates for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage reached their highest level in over seven years in November 2018, when they hit 4.94 percent, according to Freddie Mac. As of the end of February 2019, however, interest rates are down slightly to 4.35 percent, which is much lower than the historic high of more than 18 percent in 1981.
It’s important to keep in mind that while mortgage rates tend to mirror the Fed’s interest rate activity, mortgage rates are based on the market in that moment, your financial status and the property you’re looking to purchase.
A sudden leap in mortgage interest rates is unlikely in 2019, though rates are predicted to continue to climb.
If you’re looking to get the lowest interest rate possible on your next house, try to make a deal sooner rather than later.

 

You Have High Equity

Homeowners who bought during the recession or shortly after benefited from historically low interest rates and, up until around 2015, lower home prices that were still in recovery mode. If you fall into that category, your home equity has risen with nearly every mortgage payment, each renovation you made to the house and all the other houses on the block that sold for a higher price.
The higher your equity in your home, the more you net from the sale, which can easily go toward the down payment on your next house. The larger your down payment, the better you look to lenders and the lower your interest rate will be, and the less likely you’ll need to increase monthly payments with private mortgage insurance.

Selling in 2019 vs. 2020

If not selling your home in 2019 means putting your house on the market in 2020, the sooner option is the best one. In a survey of 100 U.S. real estate experts and economists by real estate information company Zillow, released in May, almost half expect the next recession to occur in 2020. Another 14 percent believe the recession will hold out until 2021, while 24 percent of panelists expect the recession earlier – sometime in 2019.
Whether you believe the recession is imminent or a long way off, current real estate patterns indicate a sudden upswing in activity or prices is unlikely in the near future. Real estate markets tend to operate on a cycle of their own, the length of which varies by market but can be between 10 and 16 years total and flow from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market with a period of balance in between.

Recipe: Breakfast Porridge with Soft Egg and Pea Shoots

recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 medium shallots, peeled, halved through root
  • 1 1” piece ginger, peeled, crushed
  • ½ cup brown rice, rinsed well
  • ½ cup red quinoa, rinsed well
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 ounces young leafy pea shoots
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, fresh cilantro leaves, and sliced scallions (for serving)

Directions

  1. Bring shallots, ginger, rice, quinoa, and 8 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often after the first hour of cooking to prevent sticking, until mixture is thick like porridge and rice is very soft (should be starting to breakdown), 1 ½–2 hours. Stir in more water as needed to achieve desired consistency.
  2. Discard shallots and ginger and stir in soy sauce; season with salt and pepper. Add pea shoots and cook just until shoots are wilted and tender, about 2 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, then carefully add eggs. Boil 6 minutes (exactly), then transfer eggs to a large bowl of ice water. Let cool and peel.
  4. Serve porridge, drizzled with oil and topped with soft-boiled eggs, radishes, peanuts, cilantro, and scallions.

Nutrition Facts:

Servings Per Recipe, Calories (kcal) 300 Fat (g) 9 Saturated Fat (g) 2 Cholesterol (mg) 215 Carbohydrates (g) 41 Dietary Fiber (g)  3 Total Sugars (g) 2 Protein (g) 13 Sodium (mg) 590

Click HERE for more information about the recipe.

Tips for Finding the Right Seller

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The best seller is one who is highly motivated. A highly motivated seller is more likely to sell at a price that is less than his or her house is actually worth. And it matters that you find out why. Learning the reason why can help you get the price you want and help the seller get what they want: a timely sale.

When given the opportunity to meet with sellers, ask them why they are selling. The reason could be anything, such as a job change to a new location or financial problems. If you can solve their problem, whether it is cash related or time related, do so. For example, if the sellers are highly motivated because they need to move quickly, give them a fast sale – and a lower price. If you can make an offer, even a low one, that gives them cash in a short time, they are more likely to accept.

There are also some sellers that you should avoid. Not every seller is as genuinely motivated as they make themselves to be. Some possible hints:

Image result for motivated home seller

  • they stall on having the home appraised or inspected
  • they are unable to clear up liens against their property
  • they do not own 100% of their property
  • they push back the move-out date
  • they do not have a replacement property or back up plan
  • etc.

It is impossible to find the perfect seller. But it is possible to find out which sellers are legit and which ones aren’t.