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All Posts for April, 2020

Understanding your AC System

Don’t wait for a hot summer day to find out that your air conditioning is not working, when you may have to wait days for a service person. Here is a quick pre-season checklist, so that you can be sure that your AC is good to go. This video and article also explains in simple terms how your AC system works, and what can typically go wrong:

How your AC System works

The fundamental purpose of your AC system is to move heat from inside your house to the outside. To do this, your AC system has five essential parts:

  1. a heat exchanger outside of your house (the box on the outside of your house with the big fan in it, which is called the “condenser”);

  2. a heat exchanger inside of your house (the box inside your house with a blower which circulates the air from the inside of your house, which is called the “evaporator”);

  3. refrigerant piping (containing a special high-pressure fluid that absorbs and releases heat).

  4. ductwork which delivers cool air to your rooms, and draws warm air back.

  5. and, a thermostat that tells your system when to turn on and off.

Other components of your AC system include: the compressor (which is located in the outside unit) which circulates the refrigerant around; your air filter (which takes dust and particles out of the air which circulates through your house); and the condensate pump (which removes the water that drips from the inside unit).

A simple way to understand how your AC system works, is to think of the refrigerant in the pipes which go between your inside and outside units as a heat “conveyor belt.” Your inside heat exchanger puts heat onto the conveyor belt, and then your outside heat exchanger unit takes the heat off the conveyor belt. And this is how heat gets removed from your home. So even though you may think of your AC system as blowing “cold” air in your home, it is actually blowing air that has had its “heat removed”!

The other components of your AC system are there to make this process happen efficiently. For example, your compressor not only circulates the refrigerant around your system, but it also increases its pressure so that it can absorb and release heat more effectively. The blower circulates the air around your home. And your thermostat allows you to set your desired room temperature.

Some things that you may have noticed about your AC system is that if you are standing near your outside unit, that when it is running it will be blowing out hot air. This is the heat that is being removed from inside your house. If something obstructs the flow of air around this unit, then it can’t do its job of removing heat. So you will want to be sure that this unit is not cluttered with leaves or blocked by shrubs, etc.

And regarding your inside unit, you may have noticed a water condensation pump located next to the unit. The reason for this is that in the process of cooling the air, your air conditioner works as a dehumidifier. To understand this, imagine a cold glass of water on a hot day. In a little while, you will see water droplets forming on the outside of the glass. This is because when the warm air hits the cold glass, it causes water in the warm air to condense out. The same effect happens when the warm air in your home hits the cold refrigerant pipes in the inside unit of your air conditioner. And when the reservoir fills up with water, the condensate pump needs to kick on to pump it out of your home.


Now that we have discussed the different parts of your AC system and how they work, let’s now look at some things that typically go wrong with your AC system:


  1. Compressor: The motor in your compressor can go bad, or it can have valves that have problems. Or you can have leaks which develop around the compressor.

  2. Condenser: The fan for the condenser can develop problems, or the condenser coils can begin to leak.

  3. Refrigerant Lines: The refrigerant lines may begin to leak.

  4. Air filter: As your air filters get dirty, they reduce the energy efficiency of your AC system.

  5. Evaporator: The evaporator coils can start to leak.

  6. Condensate drain: The drain can become blocked, and if the system uses a pump, the pump can fail.

  7. Power to the system: From time to time, at peak loads, an AC system can sometimes trip its circuit breaker switch.



To prevent surprises when the temperatures start to soar, it is important to do a pre-season check of your AC system. Skipping this checklist could leave you sweltering on the first hot day of the year, when getting a service person to come out is more difficult and can be more expensive.

So here is a quick pre-season checklist for your AC system:

  1. Uncover the outside condenser unit.  (If you have covered it for the winter).

  2. Check the outside condenser unit.  Make sure that it is not obstructed by leaves, trash, etc. Also ensure that shrubs, etc are not blocking the condenser.

  3. Change your system’s air filters.

  4. Check air distribution registers in your rooms to be sure they are open (if you closed them for the winter). Also make sure that the registers are not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes.

  5. Inside unit:  Check the condensate drain pipes and drain pan. Sometimes the pan gets bumped out of place. Be sure that the pan is not cracked and the pipe is unobstructed. If you have a condensate pump, then pour some water in it to be sure the pump automatically kicks on.

  6. Switch on your AC to test it. You don’t have to run it for long, just check that it turns on and starts delivering cold air.

And if you are more ambitious and handy around the house, here are some other maintenance tasks which you should consider for your AC system:


Check condenser coils. Dirty condenser coil will cause the AC unit to be inefficient.  A dirty condenser coil will act as an insulator and prevent the rate of heat transfer.  Clean and straighten any bent fins of the unit.  And check condenser fan and oil the motor if necessary.


Clean the evaporator coils. If the coil is dirty it reduces its effectiveness for absorbing heat.  Clean the indoor blowers. In older models, the blower may have a fan belt that should be checked for tears and wear. If the blower has blades then clean the blades, as dirt on the blades can cause resistance to airflow. 


Inspect your exposed HVAC ductwork in unfinished areas to see if there are any air leaks.  Ductwork cleaning. You may be able to clean inside of your registers (both supply and delivery registers) with a vacuum attachment, however, a more thorough cleaning of your entire system will require a professional.


We hope that the article has helped you understand the parts of your central AC system, how they work, what typically may go wrong, and how to do pre-season maintenance for your system.

Weekly Real Estate Update

Selling a home will be different going forward


Buying or selling a home can be stressful even under ordinary circumstances. Unfortunately, the current state of the world is far from ordinary. The housing market is feeling the crunch, as fewer buyers want to get out and shop for a home, and fewer sellers want to take a risk with selling. This isn’t to say that nobody’s buying and selling, of course; the market is just going through some changes.

One of the biggest changes revolves around how buyers and sellers are handling social isolation and social distancing. If you’re thinking of selling, or are in the market to buy, here are a few new “rules” to keep in mind when entering the real estate fray in the era of self-isolation.

Increasing Online Presence

One of the big changes to the real estate process is an increased dependence on online resources instead of in-person shopping. This includes lots of pictures and videos of properties being posted online, but many sellers are taking things even further than this. Recorded virtual tours, online conferences to allow buyers to ask questions about the property, and even livestream walkthroughs with a seller or agent showing the property are all increasingly popular options to supplement or even replace in-person showings and conferences.

Fewer Open Houses

Open houses are a popular way to show off a property to many potential buyers, but in the current crisis these events are a big no-no. In many locales, open houses aren’t even allowed under state and federal guidance. In states where they haven’t been specifically banned, many sellers are still hesitant to hold an event that would bring multiple people into close contact with each other. Online “virtual open house” conferences are popping up as one option to adapt to this, letting multiple potential buyers come together on Zoom or a similar video conference service at the same time to get a better feel for the property that’s being sold.

More One-on-One Time

As convenient as online access and virtual tours are during the current isolation period, few if any buyers would sign on the dotted line without getting a chance to see a property in person. To accommodate this, many sellers and agents are meeting with potential buyers by appointment only. This lets a potential buyer get a good look at the property in question while also restricting the size of the meeting as much as possible. Many of these appointments are made with the understanding that if any participant feels the least bit under the weather on the day of the meet-up, then it will need to be rescheduled for another time.

Respecting Social Distancing

Even when buyers and sellers do meet up, the process is usually a little different than it used to be. Social distancing rules are usually respected, meaning that everyone involved should stay at least six feet apart at all times to prevent potential infection. Discussions about the property and general Q&As are more likely to occur outdoors in the open air, and any greetings or introductions skip out on traditional handshakes. Masks, gloves, shoe covers and hand sanitizer are commonly available on site, and many sellers go through and open all of the doors and windows to both maximize airflow and to allow interested buyers access to the entire house without having to touch doorknobs or other surfaces in order to see inside.

Closing Remotely

Remote closing negotiations are becoming much more common, taking advantage of video conferencing to bring everyone together without actually having to be in the same room. There may be some instances where people have to meet up to actually sign paperwork, but digital signing is more common because it removes that point of contact. Even when people do come together for closing and signing, it’s much more likely that everyone will utilize social distancing and that both parties will use their own pens instead of sharing.

April 22 - San Diego Real Estate Update

Zip Code Spotlight


9 tips on how to choose the RIGHT agent for First Time Home Buyers!


Finding the RIGHT agent can be challenging!

Are you a first time home buyer in San Diego?

 Choosing a real estate agent is a very important decision.

Who you choose will make a HUGE difference in experience you have.

Here are some tips on how to choose the BEST real estate agent for you:

1. Look for someone who has experience in working with first time home buyers.

 First time home buyers need an agent that loves to educate their buyer on the entire home buying and financing process. Look for an agent that loves for you to ask questions and does not put any pressure on you.  I love an agent that has a relatable home buying guide that they share with their first time home buyers. It's also important that your agent doesn't use  language you don't understand and it can't be said too many times, loves your questions.

2. Make sure your agent doesn't make you feel bad about your budget.

Your agent should be knowledgeable about entry-level price points and what neighborhoods offer the most value in your price ranges. Don't hire agents that appear to only work with higher budget buyers.  

3. Look for agents who specialize in the neighborhoods you are targeting and understand the type of home you are buying. 

You can't have all the answers, your agent should be able to introduce you to neighborhoods you were not currently aware of.  Whether it's a historic property, condo or retirement home, look for an agent that knows that type of property.

4. Just as in EVERY relationship look for an agent that is a good listener. 

You need an agent that knows the questions to ask and really listens. You also need a Realtor that understands that the process can be a long one.  Look for a Realtor that will keep you focused on your true needs and wants and not let yourself get into escrow for a home that is not right for you.  Find someone who will stick the process out with you!

5. Look for an agent that is a strong negotiator and your transaction is not their FIRST rodeo. 

The best agents work full time and have honed their negotiation and people skills and know-how to help guide you through the negotiations and stages of the transaction.  The ability to educate you on what is going on in the current market so you are in a strong position is extremely advantageous.

6. Connections to the industry.  Look for an agent who has a good relationship with other agents. 

In a competitive environment, your offer may be chosen based on a positive past experience with your agent, or an overall good reputation.  In addition, your agent should have a good network of professionals that they trust and can refer to you during the transaction such as mortgage professionals and home inspectors.  And after the sale, they should be a real estate resource for you. A person to reach out when you need an honest professional such as a plumber, contractor, electrician, cleaner roofer or more!

7. Tech Lover. Even if you're not techy, you need an agent that is. 

Look for an agent that is using: Electronic signatures, a convenience for you! Your agent needs to be extremely mobile. Able to lookup listings on their ipad or phone when you are out shopping so you don't miss any opportunity. 

8. Don't settle for a Realtor that is not RESPONSIVE and communicative. 

The best agents respond quickly and in the manner you prefer. If you like the phone, they like the phone, you like to text then your agent should text. You should feel comfortable reaching out and not feel like you are bothering them.  Your agent should be available when it's convenient for you.

9. Lastly, look for an agent that has a stellar reputation. 

Not every Agent has your best interest at heart. Check and read the reviews and see what real home buyers have said about the experience and process.  Find an agent that you enjoy spending time with and TRUST. Be wary if someone does not have any presence online.

The Home Buying Process can be EXCITING.  Find the right REALTOR to protect you and your interests. 

The SDLookup Real Estate Team can HELP!!

For more info:


Entertainment ideas while under quarantine


One of the best things that we can do right now to protect both ourselves and our friends and neighbors is to stay home. Unfortunately, there are only so many times that you can watch Tiger King or listen to your kids sing along with Elsa on Disney+. You need something new to do, and it needs to be something that the whole family can enjoy while you’re all staying safe at home.

There are some unique opportunities available right now that may never be available again once this is all over. They provide experiences that the whole family can enjoy that aren’t just the same old TV shows. Though this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are a few activities that you might consider that would give your family some new things to do.

A Virtual Reunion

With record numbers of people working and doing schoolwork at home, more people are using video conferencing services like Zoom, GoToMeeting and Microsoft Teams than ever before. These services aren’t just for work, however. You can use them to get in touch with family from around the country, and even schedule a “virtual reunion” to catch up and check in with each other. This can be a recurring event, letting you stay connected with loved ones throughout the pandemic. You may even grow closer as a family despite the distance.

Museum and Zoo Tours

Even though museums and zoos are currently closed to the public, a number of high-profile museums and zoos have started offering virtual online tours for free. You can go online and view great works of art, watch animals relaxing during their downtime, and even see unique things like puppies getting to run wild in an aquarium. On top of these custom experiences, many zoos and similar facilities have webcams focused on specific exhibits that you can check out throughout the year.

Learn Something New

To help families pass the time, many online learning platforms are offering extended free trials so that people can pick up new skills or learn interesting things while in self-isolation. On top of that, some teachers and experts are streaming free courses on Zoom and other platforms as well. There is a wide range of content available for both kids and adults, meaning that there’s something for everyone to learn and enjoy.

Start (or Join) a Book Club

Reading is a great way to pass the time, and you can share that with the family by starting a family book club. The premise is simple: Everyone picks out a book, and once a week you get together and discuss what you’re reading. Even younger children can participate; let them pick out a book that they want you to read, and at the meet-up you can let them show off the book and tell everyone about it.

If you want a bit more social interaction with your book club, you can also look into online book clubs that are a bit closer to traditional book club offerings. These can have members from across the nation or around the world. Some of them operate on dedicated websites, and others use social media groups. Either way, there should be options available for most readers.

Listen to a Story

Even if you don’t feel like doing all of that reading, there are a good number of authors and celebrities doing podcasts and videos in which they read a variety of books or stories. Quite a few of these are aimed at children, but some of them are more tailored to adults as well. Levar Burton (of Reading Rainbow fame) has even recently launched a video version of his podcast Levar Burton Reads with a wide range of content.

A Night in at the Movies

Under ordinary circumstances, you’d be able to take the family out to see some of the many movies that would be in theaters right now. But that’s not possible now that all the theaters are closed. So instead, movie theaters are adapting. Special digital rentals are now available for recent box-office hits that ordinarily wouldn’t be available for rental yet, so that a wider audience can enjoy them. And some movies that were scheduled for early summer release, such as Trolls World Tour, are also making their debut via digital rental. So pop some popcorn and enjoy these new and recent blockbusters all from the privacy and safety of your own home.

Attention Landlords! - City and County of San Diego COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium


City and County of San Diego COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium

On March 16, 2020, California Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-28-20 as updated on March 27, 2020 Executive Order N-37-20. This Order suspended any provision of state law that would preempt or otherwise restrict a local government from imposing limitations on residential and commercial evictions on the basis of non-payment of rent due to financial hardship from a substantial decrease in household or business income, or due to substantial out of pocket medical expenses caused by COVID-19 through May 31, 2020. This Executive Order effectively put the burden on individual cities to enact their own emergency ordinances to temporarily restrict evictions during the time frame of the order. This means that landlords will be required to carefully review the applicable county or city ordinance for each location in which they own property in order to determine how to proceed with regards to tenant evictions, since every county and city ordinance could be slightly different.


On March 25, 2020, the City of San Diego passed emergency Ordinance Number 21177 which implemented a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions due to non-payment of rent arising out of a substantial decrease in income or substantial out of pocket medical expenses due to the Corona Virus.  In the City of San Diego, if a tenant provides written (email, text, or letter) notice to the landlord on or after March 12, 2020 stating that they cannot pay rent due to substantial financial impacts directly related to COVID-19 (ie/ loss of job, business closure, loss of wages, loss of job, etc.), the landlord cannot evict that tenant, send 3 day pay or quit notices, or charge late fees between March 12, 2020 through May 31, 2020. Under the ordinance, the tenant is required to provide documentation to the landlord to prove they are unable to pay rent due to financial impacts of COVID -19 within one week of sending the notice that they can’t pay. Documentation the tenant can provide includes any of the following: (i) employer termination notice, (ii) payroll checks, (iii) pay stubs, (iv) bank statements, (iv) medical bills, (v) signed letters or statements from an employer or supervisor explaining tenant’s changed financial circumstances, (vi) or gross sales statements or certified profit/loss statements for commercial tenants. If the tenant fails to provide this evidence to the landlord within this 7 day period, the landlord is permitted to move forward with evicting the tenant if they do not pay rent when due. If however, a tenant timely complies with the written notice and documentation requirements of the ordinance, the tenant shall have up to 6 months from March 25, 2020 to pay back the unpaid rent to the landlord. 


On March 24, 2020, the Board of Supervisors of the County of San Diego passed a Resolution also temporarily halting all commercial and residential evictions in the unincorporated areas of the County. If the tenant provides written notice to the landlord within 15 days of the date rent is due (starting on or after March 4, 2020) or by April 8, whichever is later, that the tenant is experiencing financial hardship directly related to COVID-19 and cannot pay rent, the tenant cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent through May 31, 2020. The tenant then has 14 days from the date of the notice to provide documentation to the landlord in support of the tenant’s financial hardship situation. If the tenant fails to provide supporting documentation in this 14 day period, the landlord can proceed with eviction due to non-payment of rent. A tenant who timely provides the information above is given up to 3 months (from June 1, 2020) to repay the deferred rent. The County grants the tenant the right to submit an additional request with supporting documentation to the landlord, for a one month extension on repayment. This means the tenant would get up to 4 months from June 1, 2020 to repay the deferred rent and the landlord would be required to permit this extension. Any extension request beyond the 4 month repayment period is up to the landlord’s discretion. The landlord cannot charge late fees from March 4, 2020 through May 31, 2020.

It is important to point out that the monthly rent due by the tenant is NOT WAIVED under either ordinance, it is just deferred. This means the commercial and residential tenant is still responsible for payment of rent during this time, but the landlord is just restricted from being able to evict for such non-payment during the period of the ordinance.  It would be wise for landlords to keep open lines of communication with their tenants to discuss repayment plan options for deferred or partial rent, and to enter into written lease amendments for any agreed upon re-payment plan to contractually lay out the dates for repayment.

Other Cities in the County of San Diego that have enacted eviction moratoriums which are not addressed in this article:

City of Chula Vista – Enacted 3/17/2020

City of Oceanside – Enacted 3/26/2020

City of La Mesa – Enacted 3/17/2020

This article is specific to the laws of the State of California and is intended for informational purposes only. This articles does not constitute legal advice.  For specific questions related to this article please contact attorney Ashley M. Peterson

San Diego Real Estate Weekly Update