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San Diego Real Estate Blog

David Crowell


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 39

Add More Space In Your Closet

by David Crowell

Add More Space In Your Closet

 Is your clothes closet (or your teenager’s closet) a “hot mess”?  (See definition in left column.)  Try these ideas to make it more functional.

• First things first:  Empty out your closet and donate or consign everything you haven’t worn in the last two years. 
• Install closet organizing products available at stores such as Lowe’s and the Container Store.  Sales people can help you choose the right pieces.  Save time by inviting a friend to help!
• Neatly stack folded clothes on shelves using inexpensive shelf dividers (see stores above).  Stack no higher than 10 inches. 
• Hang scarves/belts/purses on shower curtain rings attached to a wooden hanger.
• Get piles of shoes off the floor.  Try an under-the-bed container.
• For a quick fix, buy a small dresser or a bookcase from a garage sale or thrift shop and put it inside your closet.

How To Make Your Neighborhood A Safer Place

by David Crowell

How To Make Your Neighborhood A Safer Place

 Whether you’ve just moved in or you’ve been living in your home for years, you want your neighborhood to be safe from crime for you and your family.  Take these actions to make it even safer.

 1) Safety is a team effort, so get to know your neighbors.  Who works during the day?  Who has kids?  Who is retired?  Maintain a list of home/cell/work numbers so you can call each other if you see something suspicious.  For example, some thieves pose as movers.  If you see someone at your neighbor’s house putting flat screen TVs and computers in a truck, don’t assume it’s a legitimate activity.  Call your neighbors to check, especially if they aren’t home.

 2) Work with your police or sheriff’s office to launch a Neighborhood Watch Program.  It unites law enforcement and citizens to reduce residential crime.  To find an existing program or learn how to start one of your own, go to

 3) Improve your neighborhood lighting.  If you don’t have adequate street lighting, join with your neighbors in turning on your outside lights every night.  An effective and inexpensive idea is to place sensor-activated lighting around the outside of your home, especially entry doors and garages ($20 – $80 at Home Depot or Amazon).  

 4) Talk to your neighbors about home security systems.  Visit a site such as for information on a variety of systems.     You can get basic ADT monitoring, for example, for $37 a month plus $99 for installation.  Some insurance providers offer a discount if you purchase a complete security system.  The site also offers an excellent Home Security Checklist (click on Learn and Home Security Resources).

What do I need to know about negotiating when I sell my home?

by David Crowell

Q.  What do I need to know about negotiating when I sell my home?

A.   Revealing too much information to buyers when you’re negotiating the sale is a common, costly mistake.  To get the most for your home:

• Work with a professional REALTOR®  who knows questions to ask potential buyers that determine their motivation for buying and what price they can afford. 
• Don’t mention the “appraisal” value of your home at a showing to try to persuade a buyer to pay more for it.  An appraisal may not be accurate and is not the best indicator of the value of a home.
• Don’t tell a buyer why you’re selling (especially if you need to sell it quickly).  Just say your housing needs have changed.

You can learn about six more costly mistakes in my Free Consumer Report called “How To Avoid 7 Costly Mistakes When Selling Your Home.”  Call me and I’ll send a copy right over to you.

What homework should I do before I get a loan to buy a home?

by David Crowell

Q.  What homework should I do before I get a loan to buy a home?

A.  3 big things many people don’t consider when buying a home:

• Understand how much home you can afford.  Calculate the two numbers bankers and mortgage lenders use to determine how much they will loan to you:  payment-to-income ratio and debt-to-income ratio (visit and click “Calculators” for examples).
• Understand the basics of home financing.  Your ability to afford a home will be related to its price, your down payment (and the amount you’ll finance), the interest rate and points of your loan, the term and the type of your loan.   Study these items and the relationship between them.
• Save thousands by making your own mortgage acceleration payment schedule.  Take your current monthly mortgage payment of principal and interest and multiply that number by 13.  Divide that total by 12 to get your new “accelerated” monthly payment.

Want to learn more ways to save money?  Ask for my Free Consumer Report called “7 Secrets For Saving Thousands When Financing Your Home.” 

4 Dangerous Chemicals You May Have In Your Home

by David Crowell

4 Dangerous Chemicals You May Have In Your Home

 You’d like to think that the cleaning products you use are making your house cleaner, and therefore safer – but many common cleaning supplies can be dangerous to your health. 

According to the Environmental Working Group, one of the world’s leading toxic research organizations, here are four you should replace now, along with safer alternatives:

• Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner.  This cleaner is one of the worst because the manufacturer advertises it as “non-toxic.”  Some of its ingredients are banned in Europe!  A solvent it contains can also damage your blood cells.  Try: Make a solution of one part white distilled vinegar/nine parts water for a cheap and safe cleaner.

• Scrubbing Bubbles (Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner and Extend-a-Clean Mega Shower Foamer).  Both of these products contain another substance banned at high concentrations in Europe: the solvent DEGBE, which can irritate your lungs.  Try: Baking soda works amazingly well when scrubbing the bathroom, tub, and shower. It also won’t inflame your lungs. Try mixing it with a little salt and water to make a paste.

• Mop and Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner.  This also contains the chemical DEGBE at a concentration (15%) far beyond what’s allowed in Europe (3%).  Try: Make your own floor cleaner with a mixture of 50/50 vinegar and water, or 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 tsp. vegetable oil for wood floors.  Also try Branch Basics at or Mrs. Meyers Clean Day products at

• Drano Professional Strength Kitchen Crystals Clog Remover.  This product can cause blindness or even death if ingested.  It can stay in the drain after use, and become even more hazardous when mixed with other chemicals.  Try: Use a toilet plunger or drain snake when faced with clogs and skip the chemicals.

You can check other products you have in your home at:

What are some mistakes I should avoid when I invest in real estate?

by David Crowell

Q.  What are some mistakes I should avoid when I invest in real estate?

A.  Even smart investors make mistakes.   Here are three common mistakes and what you should do instead:

• Not doing your homework.  Evaluate your financial situation and understand the right numbers to calculate.  Learn the basics about cash flow, appreciation, and loan amortization. 
• Not finding the right property.  Do a thorough search, including “off MLS” deals and best buys, to find the right property for you.  Work with a REALTOR® who is an Investor Specialist.  He or she can help find a  good investment property.  
• Failing to get a professional inspection.  You need to know if there have been problems with the property and that they’ve been properly addressed.

To learn more about owning investment property, call and ask for my Free Consumer Report called “How To Avoid 8 Dumb Mistakes Even Smart Investors Make.”  I’ll be glad to send a copy right to you.

Top Decorating Do’s & Don’ts

by David Crowell

Top Decorating Do’s & Don’ts

Here are a few common do’s and don’ts from decorating experts that are guaranteed to improve the look of your rooms.

Don’t:  Put too much furniture in a room and line most of it up against the walls.
Do:  Bring the furniture in to create a conversation area.  Define the space with a sizeable area rug and anchor the furniture on the rug.    

Don’t:  Rely too much on overhead lighting.
Do:  Use a combination of the three types of lighting:  general (ceiling and wall fixtures, table lamps); task (pendant lighting or desk lamps that help you read or do homework); and accent (fixtures that spotlight things such as architectural features, paintings or plants).

Don’t:  Hang artwork too high.
Do:  Place it so the middle of the picture is at eye level of an average sized person.  If the art is placed above a sofa, make sure the bottom edge is six inches above the top of the sofa.

Don’t:  Ignore window treatments.
Do:  Add appropriate curtains that lighten up the room, not darken it.  Hang them two inches above the frame of the window or all the way to the ceiling to make a room with a low ceiling seem bigger.

Don’t:  Be afraid of color on the walls.
Do:  Neutrals are fine but try adding an accent wall.  Test color samples at different times of the day before you paint all the walls.

Don’t:  Load the room with too many family pictures and knickknacks.
Do:  Be selective.  Group a few items together and change the groupings periodically.

Q.  What experts should I talk to if my home is about to go into foreclosure?

A.   Avoid scammers, and talk to one or more of these professionals:


• Your REALTOR® will help you review your options.

• A Foreclosure Counselor will help you evaluate your current financial situation and serve as an advocate with your bank, free of charge.

• A Tax Expert will advise you if you do a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure since forgiveness of debt may be considered taxable income.

• A Credit Counselor can help you develop a plan to avoid future financial difficulty as well as help you repair your credit score.   

• An Attorney can help you if your lender has filed a foreclosure lawsuit.


For more information on avoiding foreclosure, call and ask for my Free Consumer Report called “Options To Avoid Foreclosure.”  I’ll be glad to send a copy right over to you.

Natural Pest-Control Remedies

by David Crowell

Natural Pest-Control Remedies

Instead of paying a pest-control service, get rid of these critters in your home and garden by trying the following natural solutions: 

Ants:  Spread recycled coffee grounds where they are coming into your home.  You also can use a solution of 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup warm water and 2 tablespoons Borax to stop them in their tracks.

Spiders:  Who knew they’re scared of citrus?  Mix water with lemon or lime juice in a spray bottle and squirt on doorways and windowsills.  Also, spread the peels in your garden.

Flies:  They don’t like the smell of basil!  Plant some in pots and put by your doorways and on the kitchen counter.

Wasps:  They won’t build a nest within 20 yards of another one.  Buy a fake nest at a garden center and hang it on your patio. 

Mosquitos:  Grow catnip in your garden or put catnip oil on your skin for up to two hours of protection.

What do buyers really want when looking for a house?

by David Crowell

Q.  What do buyers really want when looking for a house?

A.   Here are ways to tap into what every buyer wants:

• Every buyer wants a place to call “home.”  The decision to buy is emotional, not logical.  Buyers look at a “house,” but they’re really evaluating it for its potential to become their home.  Properly staging your house allows buyers to have an emotional experience – seeing their family living there.

• Every buyer wants a bargain.  Subtly influence buyers by using such phrases as “priced to sell” or “a unique bargain at this price.” 

• Every buyer wants to claim special discounts.  You can motivate a sale by creating a sense of urgency.  Consider using special terms that expire on a fixed date.

Want to learn more secrets about how to sell your home fast and for the most money?  Call and ask for my Free Consumer Report called “6 Steps For Selling Your Home For TOP DOLLAR.”  I’ll send a copy right over to you.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 39