Thursday, June 30, 2011

Right Action for Women

This is an organization I love! Right Action for Women, founded by Christina Applegate, promotes awareness, screening and treatment for women who have a high risk of breast cancer due to heredity. One of the key functions of Right Action for Women is making sure that all women have access to the cancer screenings they need, regardless of income.  To find out more about how you can help or to purchase hair care products and jewelry with the proceeds going to Right Action for Women, go here:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

After School All Stars

More than 15 million children come home to unsupervised households after school in America. To combat this problem, After School All Stars provides weekday after school activities from 3-6pm throughout the United States, encouraging sports and discouraging drugs and alcohol. Interested in getting your child in the program? Find your nearest location here:  

Monday, June 27, 2011

SD Foundation for Change

Do you live in San Diego? The San Diego Foundation improves the quality of live for citizens by encouraging philanthropy in many of San Diego's communities. To view what the charitiable foundations are doing in Chula Vista, Carlsbad, Rancho Bernardo, Ramona and Oceanside...go to

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pit Bull Rescue of San Diego

Pitbull Rescue of San Diego is a wonderful organization which helps rescue and rehabilitate pit bulls and then places them in loving homes. Thinking about buying a pit bull? Instead of contributing to the overpopulation and homelessness of dogs, think about adopting one. Here is their current list of adoptable pit bulls:

Friday, June 24, 2011

San Diego Junior Theatre - summer camps

The San Diego Junior Theatre holds educational acting programs for children in San Diego. Now that summer is here, they are putting on their creative play summer camp.  Looking for a camp for your kids? The calendar for the SD Junior Theatre is available here

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why investing in rentals could be a good move

As a Realtor in San Diego, I've noticed a significant increase in the number of buyers that I'm working with who are looking for income properties. I think it's a great time to invest in real estate, and I wanted to reprint an excellent article from Market Watch to illustrate. Please feel free to leave comments or questions!

Why investing in rentals could be a good move

By Amy Hoak, MarketWatch

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — As home prices fall and rents rise, some investors are plunking their money into real estate, chasing the cash flow that comes along with becoming a landlord.
“For the first time in a long time, you can buy that home and can get a cash-on-cash return immediately,” said William King, director of valuation services for Veros Real Estate Solutions, a supplier of housing data to the country’s largest banks, as well as government organizations. “There are a lot of places in the country where an investor can buy a single-family home, rent it, and get a positive cash flow.”

In fact, investors bought 20% of all the homes sold in April, according to the National Association of Realtors. Some of them are buying with cash.

But even if they do finance part of the purchase, they’re able to turn around a profit much quicker than they would have been able to in the past, King said. And the return on rentals can be much better than returns on other investments these days, he added.

In the past, investors would subsidize their monthly payments on a property with the rent they were able to collect, and the big payoff was the price appreciation he or she would accumulate, he said. Now, investors can come in with a 25% or 30% down payment, finance the rest, and the rent they collect often can cover the mortgage payment, taxes and insurance — with additional cash left over, he said.
“Investors are looking at these properties on a monthly income generating basis,” said Alex Villacorta, director of research & analytics at Clear Capital, a firm that provides data for real-estate asset valuation and risk assessment to financial services companies. “They can start to realize instant profit margins, even as the market goes down more.”

“There’s a turning point where the cost of owning a home is less than the cost of renting,” he said. “When that disparity grows … we will see a push from investors to pick up investment properties.”
In general, that investors are beginning to snap up rental properties is a good thing for the stabilization of housing markets, King said. It’s also one of the ways that a floor on real-estate prices can be established; as more investors spot opportunities in residential markets, prices could bottom.
“Once investors come into a community, you’re seeing the beginning of the end of the decline,” King said.

What to look for

Before investing in a rental, make sure you’ve considered the harsh realities of becoming a landlord, said Mike Litzner, broker and owner of Century 21 American Homes, which has locations in Long Island, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties. He’s also a landlord.

“There are some people who think it’s glamorous, but when you get the wrong tenants, it can be a nightmare,” he said. That said, when you get the right tenants and the properties perform as expected, it can be a “tremendous” way to make a buck — and he believes the “smart money” is now working its way into the marketplace.

Before considering any purchase, decide if you have it in you to be a landlord. You have to be willing to set expectations and consequences to ensure rents are paid on time, and you have to ready for the possibility of evicting non-paying tenants, he said. Plus, you’re responsible for the upkeep of the property, no matter how your tenants treat it.

From there, it’s a numbers game. Get a sense of what rents are in the area you’re considering, the vacancy rate, and consider your costs of financing, Villacorta said. Don’t forget the other costs of owning a property, including taxes and upkeep. Some investors may want to enlist the help of a real-estate agent to assist with analyzing the market.

Remember, often the best investment is a home you wouldn’t necessarily buy to live in yourself, Litzner said. These days, foreclosures can be snapped up at bargain prices, and as long as you have the means to make required repairs, they can represent good opportunities

“Don’t buy the most expensive house in the neighborhood,” King said, “and look at the broader community. Where are the renters going to come from, and what do they do?” Areas near colleges and military installations can be good places to invest; and think about what renters typically look for, including access to public transportation, he said.

Some of the houses bought in the worst conditions ended up being the best investments for Litzner, who was able to put some sweat equity into the homes before renting them out. It’s also important that investors have multiyear plans for the properties they buy, planning the financials at least 5 years into the future, he said.

Best markets

Many investors sink their money into properties not far from where they live. Those are likely the communities they’re most familiar with, and from a management perspective, you’re never far from the tenants you’re dealing with.

But some markets are better than others to invest in right now.
A recent report from Inman News, an online real-estate industry publication, named the 10 best markets for home investors. These are markets with traits including high affordability, low prices, high share of foreclosure sales, high population growth, improving unemployment rate, and high return on investment in the next 10 years.
The following are their top 10 markets:
  • Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.

  • Winchester, Va.-W.Va.

  • Gainesville, Fla.

  • Tucson, Ariz.

  • Tallahassee, Fla.

  • Hagerstown-Martinsburg, Md.-W.Va.

  • Salt Lake City

  • Richmond, Va.

  • Gainesville, Ga.

  • Winston-Salem, N.C.

  • Amy Hoak is a MarketWatch reporter based in Chicago.

    To read the rest of the article go here:

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Dallas Pughs Foundation - help prevent suicide

    16 years ago, a loved son and brother named Dallas Pugh was lost to suicide. Today, the Dallas Pugh Foundation is an organization, associated with the San Diego Easy County YMCA, which is literally saving lives. The Foundation helps youth embrace positive thinking and gives them a place to speak openly about their feelings and see that they are loved! For more information on this wonderful organization, go to

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Big Brothers and Big Sisters

                    Big Brothers and Big Sisters is a great place to volunteer! 81% of former "Littles" agreed that their "Big" changed their perspective in a positive way. If you are 18 or older with a valid social security number and can volunteer for at least one year with a child, you may be eligible to be a "Big"! For all the details, go to

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Our Place Center of Self-Esteem

    Our Place Center of Self-Esteem, in San Diego, provides a self-esteem building skills for growing children so that they can better cope with feelings such as envy, rage and resentment. If you're interested in helping to boost your child's esteem, check out

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Mercy Corps - breastfeeding classes for impoverished mothers

    Breastfeeding is a natural way for mothers to boost their baby's immune system. In Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, breastfeeding rates are low despite extreme poverty and the inability of many women to afford formula. Mercy Corps has a solution: breastfeeding classes, support groups and awareness events for women Jakarta. To find out how you can make this tax-dectible gift, go to  

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    One Hot Dress!

    Need a new evening dress? $1.00 from every purchase at One Hot Dress gets donated to Generation Rescue, a non-profit organization which seeks to defeat autism through research and education. To check out the dresses, go to

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    June 15: Denny's Benefit Night tomorrow!!

    From 4-10pm on Wednesday, June 15, stop in to your local Dennys in San Diego. Dennys will be giving 15% of their proceeds from the food sold to the Veterans Village of San Diego, which helps support veterans in need.

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Operation Sweet Dreams

    Operation Sweet Dreams provides free pajamas, toothbrushes and books to needy children in low income areas of Corona, CA. Donating just $10 provides a pair of comfy PJs to a child in need. Check out Operation Sweet Dreams' awesome blog for more information:

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Donate to skin cancer research with just one click!

    All this month, Cover FX is donating 25 cents to skin cancer research for every person that "like"s their facebook page:
    It's easy! Click like, and check out some good for you skin care products :)

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Sierra Club Book Store

    Summer is here and it's time to catch up on your reading. Check out the Sierra Club book store: 8304 Clairemont Mesa Blvd Ste 101, San Diego, CA 92111. Proceeds go to the Sierra Club, an environmental welfare organization.

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Win a SodaStream!

    Put a Little Umbrella in Your Drink, a blog with some great deals, freebies and giveaways, is having a SodaStream giveaway!

    SodeaStream is a small countertop device that allows you to make your own soda using tap water. It's easy to use, environmentally friendly and saves money! You can buy it at retailers like Bed, Bath and Beyond, online or you can win one-

    To enter the giveaway - go here:

    SAY San Diego

    SAY (Social Advocates for Youth) of San Diego supports the development of young people and their families with programs like after school care, health promotion, child abuse prevention, mental health counseling and school readiness and support. Free programs are available for both students and parents so check it out!

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Boys and Girl's Club of Vista - free programs

    The Boys & Girls Club of Vista offers a variety of programs such as reading power-hour, project LEARN and nutrition education. Membership is only $50/year and financial assistance is available for those in need:

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    • A Hospice "Paw Pal" Pet Volunteer -VITAS Innovative Hospice Care-San Diego

    VITAS Innovative Hospice Care uses volunteers to bring animals into hospices in San Diego. If you have a heart for people and love dogs and cats, check out

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    Rancho damacitas children's home

    Located on 12.5 acres of the Temecula Valley, the Rancho Damacitas Campus are six cottages that cater to the needs of 36 children who have been in and out of the foster system and need extra care. To check out a list of their current needs, go here:

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    LoveBride Ministry

    While doing his time at the Orange County Regional Jail, former drug dealer William Washington found God's forgiveness and grace to start a new life. Years later, he and his wife Joyce started a ministry called the Love Bridge Ministry, which helps people overcome addiction. The program hosts in-jail bible studies as well as life-skills classes. For more information, go to

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Citi IMPACT Ministries

    Citi IMPACT Ministries provides Disaster Relief and other important services to people who have experienced disasters in their lives, in San Diego and all over the world. You can donate materials or even buy fair trade coffee to help support Citi Impact, on their website, at 

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Sports for Exceptional Athletes

    SPORTS for Exceptional Athletes is a San Diego-based sports program that serves athletes with developmental disabilities from the ages 5 and up, through adulthood. They host a variety of sports camps and help teach athletes about teamwork and confidence. To view all the ways that you can donate or volunteer, go to