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San Diego Makes Room for Accessory Dwelling Units

May 17, 2018

Photo Courtesy: Ruland Design Group

 

(Contributing information from the Ruland Design Group)

In an effort to add much needed affordable housing to the stock, the City of San Diego (and other cities within the County) recently made changes in zoning codes and slimmed down fees making it easier and less expensive to add an additional dwelling onto your property. This has added to the growing public interest in the topic so I would like to provide some basic insight here into the benefits and process.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) are additional dwellings on a residential, single family property. Essentially they are a secondary living space that can be added to almost any residential property. The two structures are located on the same property and cannot be sold separately. There are many terms used for these additional units including a granny flat, casita, guest house, in-law suite, carriage house, garden cottage, studio apartment, tiny house, and more. These dwellings include apartments over the garage, attached to the house, or free-standing units.

The new zoning code allows these units to have a full kitchen. Since their size is only limited by the size of the primary residence, the ADU can be larger than a traditional granny flat. And with the full kitchen, you can legally rent out the second unit.

What are the benefits?

There are many benefits to adding a second unit to your property. These can include:

  • An increase in the value of your property
  • Increased income from rent
  • A  safe and affordable housing option for elderly or disabled family members or care givers

What does it take to add an ADU?

There are two phases to build an ADU, the design phase and the construction phase. In the design phase, it is critical to understand your vision, funding, and scope of your project. The planning phase kicks off the process and lasts until the permits are obtained and you are ready to break ground.

In the design phase you will want to consider:

  • Location- do you want to build a studio over your garage, or a free-standing unit in the backyard?
  • Feasibility- structure analysis, identifying the municipal codes, zoning codes and obtaining the required permits.
  • Budget- this will help identify the scope, size, and details of the project. If you don’t have the cash you will need assistance with financing options.
  • Schematics- based on your goals, design preferences, property, budget and any additional considerations that need to be taken into account.
  • Vendors- architects, general contractors, electricians, plumbers , designers and more.

What are the requirements and permits needed?

There are different requirements and permits needed based on where you live in San Diego. Here are the ADU requirements for the City of San Diego as well as the County.

Download City Requirements

Download County Requirements

 

If you are interested in finding out more about ADUs on an existing property or new property, please send me an email or call 619-888-2117 for referrals and assistance.

 

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Interest Rate Impact

May 10, 2018

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Selling, buying, upsizing, downsizing, relocating, investing, vendor referrals, shoulder to cry on during renovations and more. Just send me an email or call me at 619-888-2117.

 

 

 

NOTE:  Now may be a good time to jump off the fence and lock in a good rate.  

 

14 Predictions For The Future Of Smart Home Technology

May 3, 2018

 

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Article by: Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization comprised of leading CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Members are hand-selected by the Council’s selection committee. Find out if you qualify at forbestechcouncil.com/qualify. Questions about an article? Email feedback@forbescouncils.com.

 

A decade ago, the idea of controlling your home’s thermostat, lights and security systems remotely via smartphone would have seemed like futuristic science fiction. But 2017 proved to be the year of the smart home. Technology in this market continues to grow leaps and bounds, and Zion Market Research predicts it will reach $53.45 billion by 2022.

2018 holds even more promise for the smart home industry, as devices like Google Home, Alexa and Amazon Echo become more commonplace and artificial intelligence becomes more sophisticated. We asked 14 members of Forbes Technology Council what they think consumers can expect in the coming year.

1. The Next Security And Privacy Crisis

We have shared our digital footprint for convenience. With smart home technology, we are sharing our physical footprint. It is not a matter of if but when these systems will be compromised, and the consequences could be much more severe than lost social security numbers. Addressing security and privacy will become a fundamental concern that will shape this industry. – Dimitri StiliadisAporeto

2. Integration Of Smart Home Devices

Integration will make or break smart home technology. Navigating goofy AI misunderstandings for 12 appliances and the front door is not the way of the future. But can smart homes make sure you remembered to turn off all the lights? Lock up? De-activate alarms upon recognizing your face? I believe we will see more integration that supports homeowners in 2018. – Arnie Gordon, Arlyn Scales

3. A Greater Role For Artificial Intelligence

I’m wrapping up repairs and renovations on an investment property, and we opted to install a bunch of Nest and Ring products to better secure our investment. The video surveillance is great, but I can see AI being used to automate threat detection and maybe more proactively alert us if something goes awry. This would revolutionize the human aspect of remote video monitoring. – Tim MaliyilAlertBoot

4. A Focus On Surveillance And Appliances

Homeowners will like the idea of more cool ways to control their homes. Surveillance has become more necessary to combat crime, as more people work from home and want to protect their physical and intellectual property. Appliances also could be a focus since people would like their appliances to take on more of the workload. – Chalmers BrownDue

5. New Smart Home Use Cases

In 2017, the majority of applications revolved around security and thermostats, and the devices did not interoperate. In 2018, smart home device makers will take a platform approach, and the devices will interoperate and new use cases will emerge such as appliance diagnostics, energy conservation and the prevention of major damages during natural disasters. – Naresh SoniTsunami ARVR

6. Homeowner Data Sharing

Sharing the data of homeowners with businesses will probably be the next big thing in smart home technology. Having your fridge order the food you need or setting the lights and preferred temperature for your arrival is what is coming soon. The data that you share with the smart devices will be of great interest to the companies that build such products. – Ivailo NikolovSiteGround

7. Increased Efficiency, Control And Customization

AI is set to disrupt the home. Technology will become much more efficient, and we will be able to control everything from appliances to radio volume to security from one central place. As a matter of fact, as AI develops, we eventually won’t need to manually control anything, as these devices will automatically adjust to our preferences. – Arthur PerelessPereless Systems

8. Customer Service As A Differentiator

With more and more smart home devices entering the market, there is an opportunity for forward-thinking companies to use customer service as a differentiator. An IoT environment can present a number of challenges for consumers ranging from basic troubleshooting to privacy concerns. Companies that are innovative and knowledgeable about delivering customer service excellence will stand out. – Michael RingmanTELUS International

9. More Security Concerns

We’ll see a proliferation of integrated platform solutions from big players in tech. Amazon will offer in-home food delivery straight to your fridge, leveraging its smart home platform. However, security will be a concern; a customer’s home could be robbed by a contractor. I also see a future where passwords are leaked or homes get hacked, and that’s something the big players need to plan for. – Neha SampatBuilt.io

10. Higher Cross-Compatibility Standards

I’m hoping for some real progress on standards. The smart home market has huge potential, but it’s still too fragmented. Consumers shouldn’t have to think about whether they want to invest in Nest, Amazon’s Echo line or products that support Apple’s Homekit. In 2018, I expect to see greater cross-compatibility and less focus on platform lock-in. – Vik PatelNexcess

11. Smart Kitchen Gadgets

I think we’re going to see more and more smart kitchen gadgets come on the market, such as rice cookers that are connected to Alexa, smart crockpots and integrated apps. We’ll be able to ask Alexa how much time is left on the device or control them from our smartphones at work. – Thomas GriffinOptinMonster

12. Smart Spaces Outside Of The Home 

Naturally, smart home tech will continue to become more accessible and inexpensive to the mainstream. As consumers become accustomed to the conveniences that come with smart tech, they will begin to seek out these efficiencies outside of the home. Next year, we’re likely to see an uptick in commercial smart building tech, particularly in offices seeking to adapt to more mobile workplace trends. – Arie BarendrechtWiredScore

13. The Replacement Of ‘Test Phase’ Products With Better Alternatives

As more technology and innovations are brought to the market, automation will make the home experience simpler and more pleasant. Next year will see an increase in the gadgets released in the IoT sphere. However, as this technology is relatively new, the testing phase will see the cleaning out of multiple products that are replaced by better alternatives. – Alexandro PandoXyrupt

14. Increased Voice Control Integration

Home technologies will integrate into so much more of our daily lives. Voice control of technologies that are included in your phone, TV, home audio and even car dashboard will be commonplace by the end of 2018. Voice is going to be the breakthrough advancement that really allows these technologies to become ubiquitous. – Tyler ShieldsSignal Sciences

 

 

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Household changing? Getting married (or divorced)? Time for a change of scenery or job relocation? Want to invest? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

 

Real Estate Purchase Agreements: 7 Things Home Buyers Must Check—or Else

April 26, 2018

Natee Meepian/iStock

From: Realtor.com

Every home sale starts with a real estate purchase agreement—a legally binding contract signed by home buyers and sellers that confirms that they agree upon a certain purchase price, closing date, and other terms.

While the forms and wording vary across the country (LawDepot.com) offers free purchase agreements for each state), there are certain words common to all that you’ll want to have down, cold. Why? Because they spell out crucial info such as how much money you’re paying, when you pay it, under what conditions you can back out of the deal, and more. Here are seven terms you are likely to come across in a real estate purchase agreement, and why you need to check these provisions carefully before you sign on the dotted line.

Earnest money

What it is: Checking the home’s purchase price on your contract is par for the course, but you also have to cough up some money immediately, in the form of an earnest money deposit, or EMD. That’s the cash buyers commit to completing the sale to show sellers they’re serious. The amount of the deposit is negotiable between both parties, but is usually about 1% to 2% of the purchase price. Once an offer is accepted, the money is typically held by the seller’s broker or a title company, to be used as a credit toward the buyer’s down payment and closing costs.

Why it matters: In an aggressive seller’s market, many homes receive multiple offers. One way to make your bid stand out is to offer a slightly higher EMD (think 4% to 5%) to catch the seller’s attention, says Washington, D.C., metro real estate agent Robyn Porter. That being said, “Many buyers want to make the smallest deposit possible, to limit their risk of loss,” says Bruce Ailion of Re/Max Town and Country in Atlanta.

The caveat: If you back out of the transaction for any reason or contingency outlined in the purchase agreement, you get your earnest money back (more on contingencies next). However, if you decide not to buy the house for any what-if that is not included in the agreement, the seller can keep the earnest money.

Contingency

What it is: “A contingency in a deal means there’s something the buyer has to do for the process to go forward, like selling a property they already own,” says Jimmy Branham, a real estate agent at the Keyes Company in South Florida. Contingencies can also include a home appraisal, home inspection and mortgage approval.

Why it matters: Contingencies protect you by giving you the ability to back out of the sale if something goes wrong, typically without losing your earnest money deposit, says Kathleen Marks, a real estate agent with United Real Estate in Asheville, NC. But all contingencies have deadlines that must be met in order for the transaction to chug along.

Settlement date

What it is: The settlement date, or “closing,” is the day when all involved parties meet to make the sale official. Buyers and sellers typically negotiate a settlement date that is mutually agreeable.

Why it matters: When choosing a settlement date, make sure you’re giving yourself ample time to fulfill the home inspection, appraisal, and any other contingencies. If you don’t meet your obligations to the purchase agreement by the settlement date, you could be considered “in default” and potentially lose your deposit, says Washington, D.C.-based real estate agent Katie Wethman.

Possession date

What it is: The possession date is the day when buyers can move into their new home. Sometimes home buyers take possession of the home on the day of closing, and sometimes they agree to wait days or weeks after closing. Generally though, 30 to 45 days is the most common time frame.

Why it matters: The possession date is negotiable, and it can affect the strength of your offer. For instance, if the seller needs a few extra months to find a new place to live, offering a 60-day possession date could make your bid more attractive. Alternatively, some sellers allow the buyers to move in before settlement; this may occur if the house is already vacant.

Escrow

What it is:Escrow is a secure holding area where important items (like the earnest money check and contracts) are kept safe until the deal is closed and the house officially changes hands. Although customs vary by state, the escrow holder is usually someone from the closing company, an attorney, or a title company agent.

Why it matters: The purchase agreement states whether the buyer or seller (or both) pays escrow—with the fee for this service typically totaling about 1% to 2% of the cost of the home. If you try to back out of the deal without a legitimate reason, you will forfeit your portion of the escrow money to the seller.

Delivery

What it is: When buyers and sellers sign a purchase agreement, they must agree to an accepted form of communication during the transaction as defined by the terms under “delivery,” says Marks. In today’s day and age, email is generally an acceptable method of communication, but some people (say, older buyers or sellers) still prefer snail mail when receiving important documents, like the release of a home inspection contingency.

Why it matters: Your buyer’s agent must abide by the terms of the delivery when communicating with the listing agent or seller. If documents aren’t delivered properly, it could delay or even void the contract.

Home warranty

What it is: In a nutshell, a home warranty is a policy that covers the cost of repairing many of a home’s appliances if they break down. Basic coverage starts at about $300 and goes up to $600 for more comprehensive plans.

Why it matters: Many home sellers will offer to pay for the first year of a buyer’s home warranty to entice buyers to bite, especially if the appliances in the house are old and/or it’s a buyer’s market. However, this must be written into the purchase agreement.

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Household changing? Getting married (or divorced)? Time for a change of scenery or job relocation? Want to invest? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

 

What to Expect From a Home Inspection

April 19, 2018

 

 

Credit: Harriet Lee-Merrion

By Megan Wild, NYTimes

You’ve finally found what seems to be the perfect home. It’s got all your must-haves and some of your nice-to-haves, too. It looks like it’s in excellent condition, but merely looking like it’s in good condition is not enough when it comes to such a huge financial decision.

To make sure you’re not buying a money pit, you need a professional home inspection before you commit.

An inspection should uncover any potential issues so you have a complete picture of what you’re buying.

Finding a Home Inspector

Many first-time home buyers don’t realize that it’s their responsibility to hire a home inspector. Make sure you make your offer conditional upon inspection or get one done before you make a bid.

To find a home inspector, people often turn to recommendations from trusted friends and family members. Your broker might also have an inspector to recommend. While other people’s opinions are helpful, what’s paramount is that you hire someone who is qualified.

Some states require home inspectors to have certifications. For those that don’t, membership in organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors can give you some assurance about an inspector’s professionalism.

Interview potential inspectors before hiring one. Ask about their experience and whether they’re familiar with the type of home you’re buying. Find out what will be included in the inspection and report.

What the Inspector Should Look At

During a home inspection, the inspector should thoroughly evaluate the physical structure of the home as well as critical internal systems. You should make sure the examination includes the following:

● Electrical system

● Plumbing system

● Heating and cooling systems

● Radon detection equipment, if applicable

● Walls, ceiling and flooring

● Windows and doors

● Roofing

● Foundation

● Basement

● Attic

● Insulation

While an inspection will give you an idea of a house’s overall condition, it might not uncover hidden problems such as pests, mold or asbestos. It also won’t turn up flaws in areas that are below ground or otherwise inaccessible to the inspector, like wells and septic tanks. To identify those types of problems, you’re going to need additional inspections.

For example, a Wood Destroying Insect Inspection can identify termites, carpenter ants and other pests. “More than 30 states require a pest inspection before a home loan can close,” Leslie Wyman, the owner of Epcon Lane, a pest control company said. “But even if you live in a state where it’s optional, it’s a really important safeguard.”

What Should You Do During the Inspection?

You should make every effort to be present when the inspection is taking place. You can follow the inspector around the house and ask questions so you can learn more about your potential new home. If you can’t make it for the inspection, you should meet with the inspector to go over the report in detail.

If you have questions about potential issues or how to take care of parts of the home, feel free to ask the evaluator. Take care, however, not to get in the inspector’s way. Don’t start inspecting the home yourself, either. If you test a sink while the inspector is testing a shower, for example, you might alter the results.

It’s also important to remember that “an inspection is only a snapshot in time on the day of the inspection,” said John Bodrozic, a co-founder of HomeZada. So if you’re buying a house in the middle of summer, try to consider how the home might perform in different conditions, like the winter or fall.

A Home’s Report Card

Once the inspector completes an evaluation, you will receive a report with the inspector’s findings. Don’t be alarmed if you see a lot of deficiencies noted. Home inspections are detailed, so reports often include between 50 and 100 issues, most of which are relatively small.

The report should include information about how severe each listed problem is, plus estimates on how much it would cost to fix each problem. Ask the inspector for clarifications on this if necessary.

If the inspection finds more problems than you’re comfortable dealing with, you can choose to back out of the sale or try to negotiate to have the seller make the repairs or lower the price. If you’re satisfied with the condition of the home or the shape it will be in after the seller meets the arrangements of your negotiations, you can move into your new home with more peace of mind.

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Household changing? Getting married (or divorced)? Time for a change of scenery or job relocation? Want to invest? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

 

Surviving the Remodel

April 12, 2018

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Household changing? Getting married (or divorced)? Time for a change of scenery or job relocation? Want to invest? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

 

 

Don’t Buy That Fixer-Upper (Unless You Know These 4 Things)

April 5, 2018
By: Jamie Wiebe, ClientDirect

A few years ago, Alessandra Pollina and her husband, Ondre, were looking for a property that would need no more than some cosmetic changes and upgrades. But because the price was right, they ended up with the ultimate fixer-upper: a two unit, single-family-style home that was already gutted to the studs.They were excited about its potential, not to mention the one-half acre of land the house is sitting on.

Four years and many renovations later, Pollina estimates her home is worth (drum roll, please) an epic 56% more than it was when she bought it. Wow, talk about a return on investment.

The moral? A fixer-upper isn’t necessarily something to eschew. If the right things are wrong with a house, you could not only turn it into your dream home, but also earn serious equity (wealth building!) in the process.

Oh, and don’t assume you need to be a DIY master to make it worthwhile, either. Time and patience may be all you need.

Here’s how to tell if that fixer-upper is a keeper — or if you should keep walking.

1. Evaluate the Price

If it’s a fixer-upper, it should come at a fixer-upper price. Duh, but that’s a reminder NOT to fall in love too quickly with a home that the listing says “just needs a little TLC.” Do your homework first, and if the price is right, then fall in love.

Find out what similar homes in the neighborhood sell for and how tricked out they are (with amenities and materials). A REALTOR® can help you figure that out. And that will tell you how much money you can invest in the home before you over-improve for the neighborhood, a mistake you want to avoid if you plan to sell in the future.

Wendell De Guzman, a real estate investor who renovates at least two houses a month, recommends treating the remodel like a business, not a hobby. Determine your budget based on the market value of homes in your neighborhood, because you’re not going to sell for more.

“It doesn’t matter how much money you can put into the house,” Guzman says. “You’re limited by the market value of what nearby houses are selling for.”

2. Start Evaluating What Improvements Are Needed

The best fixer-uppers offer lots of opportunities for “instant equity,” which means if you sold the home tomorrow you’d pretty much get that money back, unlike other projects which you may never get your money back on. (Swimming pool, anyone?)

Some can be as simple as painting or landscaping, which you can accomplish with sweat equity, De Guzman says. In fact, the Pollinas started their rehab with high-value, low-effort landscaping, since it’s the first thing people see. They raked, brought the grass back to life, planted fruit trees and a veggie garden, and enjoyed the reaction: “People are so surprised and impressed,” Alessandra says.

Other tasks — the Pollinas focused on the kitchen next — may require the work of professionals and cash to pay them. It’s those projects you want to carefully evaluate against the home’s price.

Which Hire-a-Pro Projects Add Instant Equity?

Fact: While most home improvements add some equity, some are consistently at the top of the heap. Another thing those equity champions have in common: They usually require the help of a pro, but the cost can be instantly worth it.

Based on data gleaned from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ “Remodeling Impact Report” (RIR), if these three projects are on your fixer-upper’s list of must-haves, then you may have found your dream equity-builder:

  • New roof: A new roof may not be the remodeling project of your dreams — until you realize it could actually pay you. You’ll spend about $7,500 to install it (based on a national average determined by contractors responding to the RIR survey), but when you sell, it could recoup 109% of that or $8,150, according to REALTORS® surveyed.
  • Hardwood floors: It costs about $3,000 on average nationally to refinish hardwood floors. The survey indicates you could recoup 100% of that at resale. If you’re looking at a fixer-upper (at the right price) that needs the floors redone, that’s like getting the floors for free! New hardwood floors are also a good choice at a cost of about $5,500 to install, and could recoup $5,000 of that at resale.
  • Insulation: A fixer-upper offers a great opportunity to replace or add insulation. New insulation costs about $2,100 on average nationally, and can recoup $1,600 at resale — as if saving 10% to 50% on your energy bill wasn’t compelling enough.

While those three are pretty safe bets — homeowners who responded to the RIR survey gave them high happiness and satisfaction marks, too — almost any project can be worth it with a fixer-upper if the price is right. For example, a complete kitchen renovation can cost $65,000 and recover only about $40,000 when you sell. But if the fixer-upper is discounted enough, think how amazing it would be to cook in a kitchen you designed yourself.

4. Evaluate Your Ability to Deal with Disruption

Whether you’re a DIY Jedi or content to let the pros handle the remodel, if your patience is shorter than your potential home’s to-do list, a fixer-upper may not be a good choice.

Renovating a bathroom alone can take two to three weeks. Add hardwood flooring, a new kitchen, and siding, and you’re looking at a whole summer’s worth of rehab.

When considering a fixer-upper, evaluate the limits of your emotional energy as well. Inevitable project pitfalls and delays can be wearing. Only if you have the time, patience, and emotional endurance for a fixer-upper will it be a good fit for you. And only you can determine that.

But if you can budget your time and money — and employ the right fixer-upper strategies — you might find yourself with a double reward: A home that’s worth far more than you paid, and the joy of knowing you helped get it there.

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Household changing? Getting married (or divorced)? Time for a change of scenery or job relocation? Want to invest? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

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