Category Archives: Real Estate News

Rent Control In California

Governor Gavin Newsom signed bill AB 1482 into law Tuesday, which establishes statewide rent control in California along with Just Cause Eviction for tenants.

Newsom boasts that AB 1482 has “the NATIONS strongest statewide renter protections.”

The new law will take affect January 1, 2020 and will expire in 2030. It applies to all areas of the state that do not currently have a rent control policy in place. If the city where the property lies is currently governed by rent control, the city rent control policy will prevail.

What Are The Caps On Rent Increases?

Under the new rent control law in California, annual rent increases will be limited to 5%, plus local inflation and is capped at 10%. The rate of inflation will be tied to the Consumer Price Index in each area.

There is further protection for tenants which includes a retroactive increase date of March 15, 2019. This keeps landlords from being able to raise rent on tenants before the law goes into effect. Whatever rent a tenant was paying on that date is the amount that the increase is based upon.

What Properties Are Subject To Rent Control In California?

Rent control applies to properties that are more than 15 years old with more than 2 units. The 15 year rule is a rolling date, meaning that in 2020 it will apply to all units built before 2005 and in 2025 would apply to all units built before 2010, etc.

The majority of properties effected will be multi- family dwellings. Single family homes (with some exceptions) and condos are exempt unless they are owned by a corporation or REIT. The exceptions to the single family rule would apply to properties that have two or more units rented out. For example, a single family home with an ADU, studio or granny unit. Duplexes are exempt only if the owner lives in one of the two units.

Just Cause For Eviction In Addition To Rent Control

There is a second part to this law which includes a provision for Just Cause Eviction. This section is more problematic for landlords and means that a landlord cannot evict a tenant that has lived on the property for more than one year for any reason other than:

  • criminal activity on the property
  • failure to pay rent or other substantial violation of the lease
  • performing a “substantial” remodel on the property
  • landlord or family member of the landlord plans to move in to the property

In other words, if you have a tenant that has lived on the property for more than a year and is not taking care of the property or you don’t get along with them, you cannot ask them to leave when their lease comes due for any reason other than those mentioned above. Before removing a tenant for criminal activity or failure to pay rent, the landlord must first give them the opportunity to “cure” the violation. If a landlord is relocating a tenant for any other reason, they must pay a relocation fee to the tenant equal to one months rent.

If the tenant has lived on the property for less than a year just cause eviction does not apply.

What is My Obligation As A Landlord?

If you are a landlord in California you will be required to give notice of the new law to your tenants by January 1, 2020- even if your property is exempt. The notice will inform the tenants of the new law and explain whether or not the property is exempt.

Potential Pitfalls

Though the government has moved forward with this legislation on the premise that it will protect renters from exorbitant rent hikes, history has proven otherwise in other areas of the country. Many experts have cautioned that implementing rent control in California encourages property owners to rebuild older buildings which can then be rented for higher amounts or converted into condominium units thereby removing them from the rental market entirely. I strongly believe that this will be the case here.

We are in a housing crisis in California with very low affordability and inventory in the rental and homeowner segments of the market. Our government is working on measures to encourage developers to build more housing which is really what we need in order to solve this housing crisis, not rent control. I’m hoping the decisions made moving forward encompass more of the big picture, protecting both property owners and tenants in the process.


To read the full legislative text of AB 1482, click here

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Santa Cruz County Sewer Lateral Inspection Program

Santa Cruz County Sewer Lateral Inspection

HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE NEW SEWER LATERAL INSPECTION ORDINANCE PROGRAMS IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY?

There are two:

The first new sewer lateral inspection program applies to properties located within unincorporated Santa Cruz County and connected to a public sewer main. Interestingly enough, this is actually not a “new” inspection ordinance but one that was lost in the county code until recently discovered and implemented.

The second sewer lateral program is for properties located within the City of Santa Cruz and will not be implemented until July of this year (more information on this one coming soon, so stay tuned on my blog).

The sewer inspection program we are talking about today applies to properties located within the “unincorporated county” of Santa Cruz. The ordinance requires  (among other things) that any property owner selling a home that is connected to a public sanitary sewer main, perform a sewer lateral inspection and any necessary repairs at point of sale. 

Does The Sewer Inspection Ordinance Apply To Me?

To see if this ordinance applies to your property, click here to enter your address on the Public Works interactive sanitation map. If your property is affected, read on.

What Is A Sewer Lateral?

First lets start by answering the question, what is a sewer lateral?   A sewer lateral is the sewer pipeline that runs from your house to the connection at the main sewer line in the street. This line is owned by you, the property owner, and any repairs and upkeep are your responsibility.

Santa Cruz County Sewer Lateral Inspection

What Am I Required To Do?

The county ordinance requires homeowners to have a licensed plumber perform a video inspection of the entire sewer lateral line (house to main street connection) prior to selling the home. You may have any California licensed plumber perform the inspection.

The homeowner is also required to repair any defects found in the sewer line prior to close of escrow.  Unlike some of our other county ordinances, this responsibility cannot be transferred to a buyer at this time. 

What Can I Expect During the Process?

After the video inspection has been performed,  your plumber will complete and submit this form to the County Public Works Department. Your plumber will also submit the video inspection and any repair recommendations. The county inspector will review the plumber’s recommendations and the video footage and will make the final decision on what repairs (if any) are necessary.
This review can take up to 10 days.

What If Repairs Are Needed?

If there are defects found in your sewer lateral either during the plumber’s inspection or by the county inspector, you will be required to repair these defects prior to close of escrow.

What Are Defects In The Sewer Lateral?

Defects can be things like tree root intrusion, cracks, separations at joints, non-standard components, standard components improperly installed, deteriorated lines, material routinely prone to failure, sags in the line, separation at the sewer main connection, etc.  Sometimes these defects can be remedied with spot repairs and other times replacing the entire line may be required.

Santa Cruz County Sewer Lateral Inspection

If the entire line needs replacing due to any defects, there are various options available. The entire line can be exposed and replaced or there are less invasive options available like pipe bursting or pipe liner methods.  

If repairs are needed, a permit will need to be obtained from Public Works by your plumber. Your plumber will complete the repairs and schedule a final, in person inspection with Public Works.  All repairs and the final county inspection must be completed before you can close escrow.

The good news is that there are no fees associated with the inspection review or obtaining the permit and the inspector typically only needs a day or two to schedule the final inspection.

Who Can I Hire To Perform Repairs?

If repair work on your property is needed from the house to the public right-of-way (see diagram above),  it can be done by any California licensed plumber.

However,  if your repair work goes beyond this point and into the street, you will need to use one of the county approved plumbing contractors. Click here to see the list of approved contractors from the county website.

Other Ordinance Requirements:

Even if there are no defects found in your line,  there are still a couple of potential repairs that may be required in order for you to be in compliance with the new ordinance:

  • You must have an accessible sewer clean out on the property at least every 50 feet.  A clean out is a pipe with a cap that allows access to clear blockages in the line.  If no clean out is present, you will be required to install one or more.
  • If the lowest floor of your home is not more than 12″ above the nearest manhole, then you will likely be required to install a backflow prevention device at the clean out. This will ensure that water cannot backup into the home in the case of a blockage or intrusion from heavy rains.

How Do I Prove That I Am In Compliance With The Ordinance?

If no defects were found in your line during the inspection and you were not required to complete any repairs to your sewer lateral- you can simply request a copy of the report reviewed by Public Works stating that no work is required to give to the buyer prior to closing escrow.

If you are required to complete repairs to your sewer lateral- once the work is complete and the inspection finalized, Public Works will provide a letter stating that you are clear to close escrow.

Are There Any Exemptions?

Yes. There is a basic exemption is for homes (and sewer laterals) that are less than 20 years old or sewer laterals that were replaced less than 20 years ago with a permit and meeting current requirements. If your property meets either of these criteria, you do not need to perform an inspection. For a full list of exemptions, click here.

What Is The Purpose Of This?

The Purpose Of This Ordinance Is To:

  • Improve private sewer infrastructure
  • Protect the environment and local waterways from the leakage of raw sewage into the groundwater and soil
  • Minimize the infiltration and inflow of water into the sewer system 
  • Minimize the creation of sinkholes in streets and ground
  • Minimize future costs to property owners for sewer lateral  repairs by catching issues early on

What Now?

If you are planning to sell your property, you will want to get this process started as early on as possible to avoid any potential delays in selling your home.


Wow- This All Sounds A Little Overwhelming!

Don’t worry- that’s what Realtors  are here for!!! If you are thinking of selling and not already working with a Realtor®,  please contact meI would love to help you through the process or answer any questions that you may have!

Want to stay up to date on local information and events?  *Subscribe to my blog on the top left hand side of this post

 


For more information, including frequently asked questions and a video slideshow and more,  visit the Public Works Website.

Not sure if you are in the unincorporated county?  Click here to search your property address.

*** Since this ordinance has been newly adopted, please be aware that the rules and procedures may change as the county works through implementing their new system. Always double check with a licensed plumber, or the Public Works Department to ensure that you are using the correct forms and procedures.

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What’s Ahead for Real Estate in 2019?

january-2019-mvp-instagram-image

As we begin another year, everyone wants to know: “Where is the housing market headed in 2019?”

It’s not only buyers, sellers, and homeowners who are impacted. The real estate market plays an integral role in the overall U.S. economy.  Fortunately, key indicators point toward a stable housing market in 2019 with signs of modest growth. However, shifting conditions could impact you if you plan to buy, sell, or refinance this year.

HOME VALUES WILL INCREASE

The value of real estate will continue to rise. Freddie Mac predicts housing prices will increase by 4.3 percent in 2019.While the rapid price appreciation we witnessed earlier in the decade has slowed, the combination of a strong economy, low unemployment, and a lack of inventory in many market segments continues to push prices higher.

“Ninety percent of markets are experiencing price gains while very few are experiencing consistent price declines,” according to National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.2

Yun predicts that the national median existing-home price will increase to around $266,800 in 2019 and $274,000 in 2020. “Home price appreciation will slow down—the days of easy price gains are coming to an end—but prices will continue to rise.”

What does it mean for you? If you’re in the market to buy a home, act fast. Prices will continue to go up, so you’ll pay more the longer you wait. If you’re a current homeowner, real estate has proven once again to be a solid investment over the long term. In fact, the equity level of American homeowners reached an all-time high in 2018, topping $6 trillion.3

SALES LEVELS WILL STABILIZE

In 2018, we saw a decline in sales, primarily driven by rising mortgage rates and a lack of affordable inventory. However, Yun isn’t alarmed. “2017 was the best year for home sales in ten years, and 2018 is only down 1.5 percent year to date. Statistically, it is a mild twinge in the data and a very mild adjustment compared to the long-term growth we’ve been experiencing over the past few years.”2

Yun and other economists expect home sales to remain relatively flat over the next couple of years. Freddie Mac forecasts homes sales will increase 1 percent to 6.08 million in 2019 and 2 percent to 6.20 million in 2020.1

“The medium and long-term prospects for housing are good because demographics are going to continue to support demand,” explains Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist for LendingTree. “With a slower price appreciation, incomes have an opportunity to catch up. With slower sales, inventory has an opportunity to normalize. A slowdown in 2019 creates a healthier housing market going forward.”4

What does it mean for you? If you’ve been scared off by reports of a market slowdown, it’s important to keep things in perspective. A cooldown can prevent a hot market from becoming overheated. A gradual and sustainable pace of growth is preferable for long-term economic stability.

MORTGAGE RATES WILL RISE

The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates three times this year, resulting in a rise in mortgage rates.5 While no one can predict future mortgage rates with certainty, Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale estimates that the rate for a 30-year mortgage will reach 5.5 percent by the end of 2019, up from around 4.62 percent at the end of 2018.6

While mortgage rates above 5 percent may seem high to today’s buyers, it’s not out of line with historical standards. According to Hale, “The average mortgage rate in the 1990s was 8.1 percent, and rates didn’t fall below 5 percent until 2009. So for buyers who can make the math work, buying a home is likely still an investment worth making.”7

What does it mean for you? If you’re in the market to buy a house or refinance an existing mortgage, you may want to act quickly before mortgage rates rise. To qualify for the lowest rate available, take steps to improve your credit score, pay down existing debt, and save up for a larger down payment.

AFFORDABILITY ISSUES WILL PERSIST

Although the desire to own a home remains strong, the combination of higher home prices and rising mortgage rates will make it increasingly difficult for many first-time buyers to afford one.

“Buyers who are able to stay in the market will find less competition as more buyers are priced out but feel an increased sense of urgency to close before it gets even more expensive,” according to Hale. “Although the number of homes for sale is increasing, which is an improvement for buyers, the majority of new inventory is focused in the mid-to-higher-end price tier, not entry-level.”6

What does it mean for you? Unfortunately, market factors make it difficult for many first-time buyers to afford a home. However, as move-up buyers take advantage of new high-end inventory, we could see an increase in starter homes hitting the market.

MILLENNIALS WILL MAKE UP LARGEST SEGMENT OF BUYERS

“The housing market in 2019 will be characterized by continued rising mortgage rates and surging millennial demand,” according to Odeta Kushi, senior economist for First American. “Rising rates, by making housing less affordable, will likely deter certain potential homebuyers from the market. On the other hand, the largest cohort of millennials will be turning 29 next year, entering peak household formation and home-buying age, and contributing to the increase in first-time buyer demand.”4

Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com, predicts the trend will continue. “Millennials are also likely to make up the largest share of home buyers for the next decade as their housing needs adjust over time.”6

What does it mean for you? If you’re in the market for a starter home, prepare to compete for the best listings. And if you plan to sell a home in 2019, be sure to work with an agent who knows how to reach millennial buyers by utilizing the latest online marketing techniques.

 I’m HERE TO GUIDE YOU

While national real estate numbers and predictions can provide a “big picture” outlook for the year, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the local issues that are likely to drive home values in your particular neighborhood.

If you would like to subscribe to my specialized local monthly market update visit: http://ambergrewer.rereport.com/market_reportshttp://ambergrewer.rereport.com/market_reports

*Click “Subscribe to Report” in the upper right hand corner

 If you’re considering buying or selling a home in 2019, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. We’ll work with you to develop an action plan to meet your real estate goals this year.

START PREPARING TODAY
If you plan to BUY this year:

  1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you plan to finance part of your home purchase, getting pre-approved for a mortgage will give you a jump-start on the paperwork and provide an advantage over other buyers in a competitive market. The added bonus: you will find out how much you can afford to borrow and budget accordingly.
  2. Create your wish list. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? How far are you willing to commute to work? What’s most important to you in a home? We can set up a customized search that meets your criteria to help you find the perfect home for you.
  3. Come to our office. The buying process can be tricky. We’d love to guide you through it. We can help you find a home that fits your needs and budget, all at no cost to you. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today!

If you plan to SELL this year:

 Call us for a FREE Comparative Market Analysis. A CMA not only gives you the current market value of your home, it will also show how your home compares to others in the area. This will help us determine which repairs and upgrades may be required to get top dollar for your property, and it will help us price your home correctly once you’re ready to list.

  1. Prep your home for the market. Most buyers want a home they can move into right away, without having to make extensive repairs and upgrades. We can help you determine which ones are worth the time and expense to deliver maximum results.
  2. Start decluttering. Help your buyers see themselves in your home by packing up personal items and things you don’t use regularly and storing them in an attic or storage locker. This will make your home appear larger, make it easier to stage … and get you one step closer to moving when the time comes!

Sources:

  1. Freddie Mac Economic & Housing Research Forecast –
    http://www.freddiemac.com/research/pdf/201811-Forecast-04.pdf
  2. National Association of Realtors 2019 Forecast –
    https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/2019-forecast-existing-home-sales-to-stabilize-and-price-growth-to-continue
  3. Bankrate 2018 Year in Review –
    https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/year-in-review-for-housing-market/
  4. Forbes 2019 Real Estate Forecast –
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/alyyale/2018/12/06/2019-real-estate-forecast-what-home-buyers-sellers-and-investors-can-expect/#a98b80a70d9a
  5. Mortgage Bankers Association Forecast –
    https://www.mba.org/2018-press-releases/october/mba-forecast-purchase-originations-to-increase-to-12-trillion-in-2019
  6. com 2019 National Housing Forecast –
    https://www.realtor.com/research/2019-national-housing-forecast/
  7. FOX Business –
    https://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/where-mortgage-rates-are-headed-in-2019

 

 

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