By SARAH WARD
You probably saw the wildfire images over the last few weeks form Northern California. It’s heartbreaking for both homeowners and displaced animals. I have a close Realtor friend in South Lake Tahoe and quite a few structures there burned.
Last month I represented a buyer on a gorgeous home purchase in El Cajon. The property was in an established neighborhood south of Granite Hills near the Singing Hills Golf community yet my buyer, after calling many insurance companies, couldn’t place fire insurance on the property and had to use the California State FAIR Plan (last resort fire insurance) to get coverage and at a very high policy rate.
These events got me thinking about our own local communities here in the College Area, Del Cerro, San Carlos and Allied Gardens. Obviously, when you look around, there is quite a bit of brush and canyons nearby. What I am suggesting in this month’s article is to take a good look at your property from a fireman’s perspective.
Take a walk around you property from all four sides considering fire safety. Do you have trees and heavy brush touching the side of your home? What is the condition of your roof? Sometimes trees become overgrown and push up against the side of a property. One issue with this is that rats and other critters can then easily get up to your roof and into your attic. But even more pressing is that heavy brush and trees create an increased fire hazard to your property and probably need to be safely cut and cleared back.
There are still quite a few wood shingle roofs around San Diego that I see on open houses and when showing property to buyers. These roofs are incredibly dangerous. A fire over a mile away can have burning embers travel through the air and land on a roof. Maybe it’s the time to upgrade your roof or start thinking of a plan.
Another thing to think about is changing your landscaping to desert scape. I grew up with grassy lawns, and ordinarily prefer that look, but experiencing a drought currently and with wildfire danger increased, maybe it’s time to think about a gravel front lawn with decorative boulders and desert plants.
California now requires when a property transfers ownership that a seller provide documentation that a property is in compliance with local laws pertaining to defensible spaces. I discuss these issues with my buyers and sellers regularly. Vegetation and vulnerability disclosure is now an active issue that sellers must manage when selling a property.
So, in summary, I was hoping to get everyone thinking about improving protection to your structures this month. Start just by doing an assessment from all sides and by clearing some branches and brush back from against the house. Also, look online for some easy tips and suggestions for improving fire safety at your property. CalFire and other agencies have excellent information for your review.
92115 College Area: Median home price for August hit $800,000 with a slight increase in new listings to 51 and 39 closed sales.
92119 San Carlos: Median price for August was $905,000 with 23 new listings and 30 closed sales.
92120 Allied Gardens and Del Cerro: Median price was $918,000 (up 20% from last August) with 23 new listing and 20 closed sales.
So prices are holding steady and even slightly moving higher. Inventory is still unusually low with properties selling quickly. Call me for a no-obligation meet-up to discuss your options! 858-431-6043.
—Sarah Ward is a realtor with Fine & Coastal Real Estate.