DMV to Close Santa Maria Office

The TV news ran a story that the DMV office in Santa Maria is going to close. I think they said an average of 470 people a day go there. Now they’ll need to go to either Lompoc or San Luis Obispo.

I went into the SLO DMV last week to ask a question. The chairs for people waiting were pretty full (as they usually are). Luckily, I had my question answered by a woman at the check in table so I didn’t have to wait hours. What I found frustrating is that I could find no way to ask a question without going into a DMV office. A lot of tech companies do support by online chat. They can be helping multiple people at one time. The question I don’t know the answer to is what percentage of people could be serviced faster in the DMV office if they were better prepared when they came in. If more prepared customers meant a faster service time at the office, it may be well worth the DMV to look at implementing an online chat service. Seems like focusing on efficiency should be the priority so you don’t have to reduce the service, which is what the closure of the Santa Maria office is going to do for all of us in the area.



The building of new seawalls are no longer permitted. They would require a permit from the Coastal Commission as well as city and county approval.   Part of the Coastal Commission’s role is to protect the public’s access to the ocean. The building of new seawalls is viewed as limiting that access.  Existing sea walls are most common in Cayucos, Cambria, and Shell Beach where the shoreline is narrower and the coast is rocky.

For construction of new oceanfront homes, the county approved set back from mean high tide is now at the 100- year bluff erosion rate mark. 


Like seawalls-these are more common in Cayucos, Cambria and Shell Beach where the beachfront homes are located atop sandy & rocky bluffs.  Buying a beachfront property with existing private stairs has additional value, not only because of the ready access—but because construction of new private stairways is no longer permitted. You can upgrade and repair your existing stairs- however- you can not tear down and completely rebuilt or built ones where none currently exist.


San Luis Obispo on Wall Street’s Journal’s Best Places to Retire List

San Luis Obispo has topped yet another list of “Best Places”. The latest nod came from the Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine which ranked the city among the nine best in America to retire. The article points out the city’s “distinct civic personality” telling readers how San Luis Obispo was the first town to ban smoking and that we prohibit drive-through restaurants within city limits. The weather, presence of Cal Poly and the nearby wine regions helped tip the scales and put SLO on the list. Here is the link to the article:

Our First Interactive Dashboard is Here!

We are pleased to announce that our Real Estate Market Statistics Interactive Dashboard is ready! With the dashboard you can view market statistics for SLO County, every city in SLO County, Santa Maria, and Santa Ynez Valley. The data goes back to the year 2000 (2003 for Santa Ynez Valley).

It will take a few seconds to load the dashboard (if you’re on DSL or a cable model). If you don’t have Flash installed, a message will display with a link so you can download Flash.

Once the dashboard loads, do the following:

1) Choose a City (it defaults to SLO County)
2) Choose a Property Type (it defaults to Condo)
3) Choose to view Yearly or Year-To-Date (YTD) statistics (it defaults to Yearly)
4) Choose different graphs (default is Foreclosure Mix)

If you have any suggestions or would like to let me know how you like it, drop us a note here.

Access the Dashboard Here

Fun for Foodies in Templeton

Promising myself that I would experiment with cooking more fresh and interesting foods, I headed into Nature’s Touch Market in Templeton.  It all started with a glass of wine at 15Degrees Wine Bar (near Trader Joe’s) and a yummy tapa of blistered shishitos sweet peppers – tasty, simple and good for you!  To my delight, Natures Touch now has added Windrose Farms produce inside this foodies’ paradise.  Not only can you find fun things to cook but help with your experiments in the way of cook books, suggestions and – my favorite – Chaparral Gardens tasty (guiltless) vinegars.  The most helpful Gail H suggested a couple of recipes and I spotted a couple she had posted for some of their less common produce and I couldn’t help but try them all.  My version of the shishitos peppers was a big hit at a friends house for dinner later in the week.  Make a trip to this wonderful food emporium…….you will not be dissappointed!

Rate Update

30 Year Fixed 3.750% (3.916% APR) 15 Year Fixed 3.250% (3.380% APR) 5 Year ARM 2.750% (2.625% APR) 30 Year Jumbo 4.000% (4.168% APR).  In spite of the lowest interest rates in history, we are still able to close a straight forward refinance or a purchase loan in 30 days.  These short escrow periods require prompt responses and complete loan packages.  Did you know that the length of your lock is a determining factor in your interest rate?  Shorter lock periods are rewarded with discounted pricing because the bank has more confidence in the immediate future, one month, versus the the two month period.  I also encourage you to be forthcoming with information that might impact the loan process.  If you know that you are going to change employers, borrow money for the down payment, or buy a new car, let us know so we can make sure the loan goes smoothly.  These pitfalls can’t always be avoided, but they can be well planned and minimized.

Something that goes on all the time (sigh)

This is a post from an East Coast Realtor to a Realtor message board. This scenario happens all the time. People have an expectation that Realtors that will show whatever home they want to see. This is a waste of a Realtors time but what is really bad is that the Seller may have to vacate their home for the shownig for unqualified clients plus have to get the home ready for a showing. Unfortunately, with 87% of Realtors on the Central Coast having 3 or fewer Buyer transactions last year, there are a lot of desperate Realtors out there that have the time to go show homes to unqualified clients. Most won’t even ask questions to the client before getting them in their car.

What this conversation also brings up is that Open Houses have become the time for people that have no interest in buying a home to get entry into it. The real estate industry has changed a lot in the last 10 years. With the Internet, you can get a good idea about a home with all the photos and details that are easily accessible. Something that didn’t exist 10 years ago.


Caller: Hi, this is Jane Doe (not her real name), I called you last week, remember me?

Realtor: Yes, how are you doing?

Caller: Fine, I’d like to see the listing we talked about.

Realtor: Okay, can you tell me a little bit about yourself? Are you preapproved for a mortgage? Do you need to sell a home to buy one?

Caller: I just want to see the house, can’t you just let me in to see it?

Realtor: No, I can’t just let you in to see it without finding out some key information. I can’t run a business that way and my client wants to know that the buyers looking at her home are capable of purchasing her home.

Caller: Okay, I live with my parents in a three-family home and this will be my first purchase. I’m not pre-approved for a mortgage. I just want to see the home. How much is it?

Realtor: The home is $1.8 million. (I told her the price last week.)

Caller: Oh, I didn’t realize it was that much! I still don’t see why you can’t just show me the home. My mom’s friend is a REALTOR and she shows my mom homes all the time. My mom isn’t interested in buying a home either.

Realtor: Showings take a lot of time for both the REALTOR and the seller, who has to get the home in show condition prior to the appointment. If you want to just look at homes, then you need to go to Open Houses.

Caller: Oh, okay, when is the Open House on this home?

Realtor: Luxury homes in this price range don’t usually have Open Houses and none are planned for this home. Are you seriously interested in buying a home in this price range?

Caller: No, I just wanted to see it.

Open Studios Encore Weekend

San Luis County is known for it’s beauty and certainly the wine.  But music and art are produced in abundance here, making this a truly special place to live and visit.  Every year local artists combine resources and hold an open house weekend.  This event is so popular that this year they are holding an Encore Weekend of this event.  SLO Arts Council now makes the gorgeous brochure more available (free) throughout the county and online as well.  But if you are out enjoying the scenery, don’t hesitate to stop at any one of the artists residences that open their doors to visitors.   I love to search out my favorite artforms from the brochure but I have had some wonderful surprises at these spur-of-the-moment stops. For more information go to A very special experience!