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New California Laws for 2013 Affecting REALTORS® October 18, 2012

The ink may not yet be dry on some of the legislative bills that Governor Brown signed into law yesterday, as the 2011-12 legislative session drew to an end. A summary of over 60 new laws that may be of interest to REALTORS® is available to our members in the 2013 Laws section on the legal page of our website. The full text of each legislative bill is available at www.leginfo.ca.gov.

Many of the significant upcoming laws are in the landlord-tenant arena, but other new laws involve foreclosures, HOAs, settlement agreements, smoke alarms, mobilehome parks, and much more. Some of the highlights of the new laws that may affect REALTORS® are as follows:

Landlord Must Disclose Notice of Default to Prospective Tenants: Starting January 1, 2013, every landlord who offers for rent a residential property containing one-to-four units must disclose in writing to any prospective tenant the receipt of a notice of default that has not been rescinded. This disclosure must be made before executing a lease agreement. If a landlord violates this law, the tenant can elect to void the lease and recover one month’s rent or twice the amount of actual damages, whichever is greater, plus all prepaid rent. If the lease is not voided and the foreclosure sale has not occurred, the tenant may deduct one month’s rent from future amounts owed. The written disclosure notice as provided by statute must be in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean. A property manager will not be held liable for failing to provide the written disclosure notice unless the landlord has given the property manager written instructions to deliver the written disclosure to the tenant. This law will expire on January 1, 2018. Senate Bill 1191.

Restrictions Against Cancellation Fees for HOA Documents: Beginning January 1, 2013, an HOA cannot collect a cancellation fee for HOA sales disclosure documents in either of two situations: (1) a request is cancelled in writing by the party who placed the order and work had not yet been performed on the order; or (2) a request is cancelled in writing and the HOA had been compensated for any work performed. Moreover, an HOA must refund all fees collected for HOA documents if a request is cancelled in writing and work had not yet been performed on the order. Additionally under this new law, the HOA cover sheet itemizing the HOA sales disclosures must be in at least 10-point type. Our C.A.R. standard form Homeowner Association Information Request (Form HOA) complies with this requirement. Assembly Bill 1838.

Landlord May Dispose Abandoned Personal Property Less Than $700: Commencing January 1, 2013, the total resale value of personal property left behind by a tenant after termination of a tenancy that the landlord must sell at a public auction (rather than dispose of or retain for his or her own use), has been increased from $300 to $700, if certain procedures are followed. This law, however, also prohibits a landlord from assessing any storage cost if the tenant reclaims personal property within 2 days of vacating the premises. The statutory notices of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Property have been revised to reflect these changes. Furthermore, a landlord’s notices of termination of tenancy and pre-move out inspection must contain specified language that former tenants may reclaim abandoned personal property left on the premises, subject to certain conditions. Assembly Bill 2303.

Tenant Entitled to a 90-Day Notice to Terminate After Foreclosure: Effective January 1, 2013, a month-to-month tenant in possession of a rental housing unit at the time the property is foreclosed must be given a 90-day written notice to terminate under California law. For a fixed-term residential lease, the tenant can generally remain until the end of the lease term, and all rights and obligations under the lease shall survive foreclosure, including the tenant’s obligation to pay rent. However, the landlord can give a 90-day written notice to terminate a fixed-term lease after foreclosure under any of the following four circumstances: (1) the purchaser or successor-in-interest will occupy the property as a primary residence; (2) the tenant is the borrower or the borrower’s child, spouse, or parent; (3) the lease was not the result of an arms’ length transaction; or (4) the lease requires rent that is substantially below fair market rent (except if under rent control or government subsidy). The purchaser or successor-in-interest bears the burden of proving that one of the four exceptions has been met. This law does not apply if a borrower stays in the property as a tenant, subtenant, or occupant, or if the property is subject to just cause rent control. This law will expire on December 31, 2019. This new California law is similar, but not identical, to the 90-day termination notice requirement under the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (12 U.S.C. § 5201, et seq.) (as extended by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act), which is set to expire on December 31, 2014. Assembly Bill 2610.

Smoke Alarm Requirements for Home Improvers and Landlords: Starting not next year but January 1, 2014, for all dwelling units intended for human occupancy for which a building permit is issued for alterations, repairs, or additions for more than $1,000, the issuer of the building permit will not sign off on the completion of work unless the owner demonstrates that all smoke alarms (previously “smoke detectors”) required for the dwelling unit are devices approved by the State Fire Marshal. Also starting January 1, 2014, to be approved and listed by the State Fire Marshal, a smoke alarm must display the date of manufacture, allow a place for the date of installation to be written, incorporate a hush feature, incorporate an end-of-life warning, and, for battery-operated devices, contain a non-removable 10-year battery. These rules may be superseded by a local rule or ordinance that is more stringent than state law. For properties rented or leased, an owner is generally responsible for testing and maintaining smoke alarms in an apartment complex or other building starting January 1, 2013 and in a single-family residence starting January 1, 2014, and also responsible for installing additional smoke alarms as needed to comply with building standards starting January 1, 2016. Senate Bill 1394.

Lender Must Provide Summary for Foreclosure Notices: A lender must provide a borrower with a specified summary of information attached to a copy of a notice of default and notice of sale for any property containing one-to-four residential units. The summary must be in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean. The beginning of the notice of default and notice of sale must also state in these 6 languages that the summary is attached. The attached summary does not need to be recorded or published. The Department of Corporation (DOC) must provide a standard translation of the statement free-of-charge on its website atwww.corp.ca.gov. This requirement takes effect on April 1, 2013 or 90 days after the DOC issues the summary translations, whichever is later. Under existing foreclosure procedures, notices of default and notices of sale must be mailed to borrowers by registered or certified mail as specified. Assembly Bill 1599.

Anti-Discrimination Protections For Religious Grooming and Breastfeeding: Commencing January 1, 2013, the protection against religious discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) has been expressly expanded to require an employer or other covered entity to make reasonable accommodations for an individual’s religious grooming or dress practice. Religious grooming or dress is to be broadly construed, and includes head, facial, and body hair, head or face coverings, religious clothing, jewelry, artifacts, or other items that are part of the observance of a religious creed. Segregating an individual is not a reasonable accommodation of someone’s religious grooming or dress practice. No accommodation for religious grooming or dress is required if it violates another law that protects civil rights. Additionally, the FEHA protection against sex discrimination has been expanded by way of a declaration, not a change in existing law, that requires an employer or other covered entity to make reasonable accommodations for breastfeeding or medical conditions related to breastfeeding. Senate Bill 1964 and Assembly Bill 2386.

Courtesy of Realegal® which is published by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, a trade association representing more than 160,000 REALTORS® statewide. Edited by: Stella Ling, stellal@car.org

 

Don’t Call it a Comeback: Job Growth Weakest in a Year; Unemployment Rate Up June 1, 2012

I read a lot every morning (thank you, twitter) about housing, economics and legislation surrounding housing. It feeds my little soul. Sound weird to you? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. But we each have that thing that challenges us every morning to make the world better than we left it and my belief of education of consumers, elected officials and REALTORS on housing related issues fuels me.

So, this morning, I saw this headline come through from DS News (Job Growth Weakest in a Year; Unemployment Rate Up) and immediately the lyrics from LL Cool J‘s Mama Said Knock You Out popped into my head: Don’t Call it a Comeback.

We added 69,000 jobs in May… far below our goal of 150,000 and our unemployment is at 8.2%. In California, those numbers aren’t much prettier – as of March, we’ve gotten our unemployment down to 11.2% from it’s 2010 high of 12.4% and our jobs aren’t being added as quickly and plentifully as we’d like. What I also harp on is underemployment. There are so many Californians that are working fewer hours with less benefits than a couple of years ago.

I know jobs exist in our Country and you might be feeling it differently where you live. In Austin, where I was two weeks ago, the paper the day I flew out was toting a 6.5% unemployment rate. I thought to myself “show offs”… I was envious of my home state’s good fortune in this economy.

2012 is the year to make your voice heard and I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on (I’m fiscally conservative and socially open-minded), you need to vote in YOUR best interest, in our Country’s best interest.

 

I was on the radio… Again! :) July 5, 2011

I love doing these radio shows for the Real Cents Radio Network on KTIE 590 in San Bernardino County! It’s so awesome to send out so much good information! We talked about “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” in today’s real estate market. I just wanted to jot down a few of my thoughts should you have missed the show:

The Good? Affordability is at an all-time high. Home prices have declined month over month since July ’06 and rents have increased month over month since then. Also, interest rates are super low (even though they’ve started a small creep that will turn into a steady walk by the fall). And, with 35% of Buyers being 1st-timers, it’s good to know you’re not the minority!

The Bad? Last year’s appreciation is gone. Real prices are still high in some areas and condo sales decreased 8% last month but I know we’ll post a bigger decrease  due to the expiration of FHA Approval on a lot of complexes. We’re at 2000 prices per Case-Shiller and the higher end could still see a hit as we roll into the 2nd half of the year.

The Ugly? The percentage of homeowners that are underwater has stayed the same since the 1st quarter of ’09. What’s that mean? Even with all of the REO and Short Sale homes that have been bought up, we’re still seeing a steady stream feeding the market i.e. we’re not done yet. (Personal opinion: We won’t be for another 3 years.) Experts think it could take us 5-6 years to fully pull out of this. Inflation will then happen at a slow 2% and unemployment will remain high (which is why our recovery will be so slow).

What can you do to help me help you? Click this link and take a few seconds to fill this in and fight for your right to Affordable Mortgages. The government is considering making the minimum down payment 20% which would cripple our already fragile housing market (especially in areas like SoCal). They’re also talking about pulling out of the mortgage market. Privatization wouldn’t be good for anyone involved.

Should you have any questions about anything you’ve read here or if you’re interested in any city in Southern California (particularly the San Gabriel Valley or Inland Empire), please feel free to call your favorite REALTOR Smile

And, I can always send you a FREE Market Analysis on your home, just ask.

 

Wait. Every Californian needs a Carbon Monoxide Detector? June 27, 2011

That’s right. Every home. This is not a dreaded POS (point of sale) law. (Ask me another time why I dislike POS so greatly.) This is for any and every CA house (yep, that means rentals, too). A little Q&A:

When does it need to be in? July 1st on single family homes up to 4 units and January 1, 2013 for everyone else.

How many need to be in? And where? This is the best question. Best answer? Call your city. Why? Because if city law is more stringent than state law then the city law overrides the state law. Most early guesses from months ago said you’d only need one. Now, we’re thinking you should treat them like smoke detectors (one per bedroom). Some interpretations say you can have a combined one in each room and some say outside of each room. Why do I “think” rather than “know”? Because the lovely law isn’t specific enough. So, best advice is to call your city and ask them. If they don’t know, treat them like smoke detectors or get the combined one and install that where all your smoke detectors once were.

Seriously, who’s going to know? Good question. I don’t know but if they find you don’t have one, you’ll be given a written 30-day notice to comply and then will be fined up to $200 per infraction.

Can I, as a Buyer, back out if they don’t have them? Not quite. But you can sue for $100 (yep, that’s all) and court costs. Easier choice? You should probably just shell out for them and call it a day. Want to be real sneaky and get them to pay for it? I might have an idea but it’s only given on a need-to-know basis.

Will my Landlord have to install these? What if they stop working? They have to put them in but guess who has to keep them up? Yep, you. If you don’t notify your Landlord that they go out, you can’t come after them for not working. Makes you want to put “Check detectors” as a monthly reminder, huh?

This is not sufficient. I have more questions. Where do I get it? Just let me know. This is not all the information I have about this. And, I’d be happy to help you navigate with your specific city.

Should you have any questions about anything you’ve read here or if you’re interested in any city in Southern California (particularly the San Gabriel Valley or Inland Empire), please feel free to call your favorite REALTOR Smile

And, I can always send you a FREE Market Analysis on your home, just ask.

 

What Should You Know That You Don’t? June 25, 2011

Who first said that you don’t know what you don’t know? Whoever it was, they were right! I’ve run into a few people over the last week in major positions at major companies (all real estate related) that didn’t know what was going on legislatively. Listening to some dodge bullets and be vague, some just flat-out admit that they don’t know what I’m talking about and some skirting the issue by changing the subject, was quite interesting. You can’t seek out the information you don’t know you need, right? So, how can I get upset with these power-people for not knowing what they should know (or at least, I feel they should know)? I can’t, really.

See, I’m abnormally in love with real estate legislation. If it weren’t such a public love, I’d be 2 steps away from cat-lady crazy. It’s exciting to me to get involved with what could change our industry (both for the worse and the better). I love when good bills go through and work pretty defiantly to stop bad bills. I even write to my mom’s representative in Texas and state my position as an out-of-stater but former resident… yes, I know… cat-lady crazy!

My biggest concern is that when money gets tight, the government can start getting pretty tricky and I don’t want them taking away anything that my clients deserve. I like to think of myself as a Legislative Liaison for anyone that wants my information. When I get calls asking my advice or what’s going on, I get so pumped! Why? Because knowledge is spreading. So, if you know that I’m talking about you in this post, utilize me. I’ll help you help those around you, whether it’s other agents, your clients or your representatives.

Also, I just read this NY Times article that was pretty interesting about the Tiger 21 group.

And, I try to watch the Think Big Work Small guys every day. They’re super entertaining, albeit a bit edgy. They’re mostly geared for Lenders but are trying to make themselves more REALTOR friendly. Side note, they’ll be at CVAR for a video marketing workshop on July 11th. I’d love to see you there!

Should you have any questions about anything you’ve read here or if you’re interested in any city in Southern California (particularly the San Gabriel Valley or Inland Empire), please feel free to call your favorite REALTOR Smile

And, I can always send you a FREE Market Analysis on your home, just ask.

 

Rent to Own? Why, may I ask? June 7, 2011

I have gotten an abnormal amount of calls over the last couple of months asking if leases are available for “rent-to-own” and I still haven’t figured out the mystique.

Every time I explain my POV (point of view), this wonderful person on the other end of my BlackBerry (yes, I’m with AT&T and, no, I don’t want an iPhone), nods through the phone and picks up the logic I’m putting down.

Here are my thoughts: You’re renting, right? You want to eventually own a place, right? Those are both awesome and okay! How do we get you from one to the next? Probably not with a rent-to-own. Why?

First off, there just aren’t that many out there. In this market, most investors have already seen the tide and they’re staying on their surfboard/in their boat/whatever. They’re going to keep owning their rental so they can keep making money… High fives, them!

Second, the biggest piece of a rental is that it’s not permanent and that once you’re ready for some much-needed stability, you can find it in buying a home of your own. Why take away the flexibility of a rental and commit yourself to this home? What if you have a(nother) kid? What if you change jobs? What if you don’t like that eclectic bongo player next door anymore because you grew out of that phase?

And, lastly, where did you get this idea anyway? Are you secretly reading blogs or articles that I’m missing? I seriously read WAY too much about all things real estate (technology, politics, trends, etc.) DAILY! How’re you reading about the fabulosity of the rent-to-own yet I still want to talk you out of it? Just curious.

End of story? Just rent/lease or just own. Let’s not muddy the waters in between anymore than your Lender would want you to…

Should you have any questions about anything you’ve read here or if you’re interested in another city in Southern California (particularly the San Gabriel Valley or Inland Empire), please feel free to call your favorite REALTOR Smile

And, I can always send you a FREE Market Analysis on your home, just ask.

 

How’s the Market? April 27, 2011

In Glendora, La Verne, San Dimas and Covina?

We have 45 new homes on the market which scared 47 to reduce their price. 52 went into Escrow with 39 Closing Escrow. What do these numbers mean? That we’re basically servicing the listings we have with the Buyers on the market. But basically we’re not Closing as many as we could to level it out.

If you’re a Buyer, get more aggressive with your Offers. Don’t know how to do that? Give me a call.

If you’re a Seller, get more aggressive with your Marketing (or be one of the 47 that reduced their price). Not sure what you could do? Let’s chat.

Should you have any questions about anything you’ve read here, would like more details about a certain area of these cities or if you’re interested in another city in the San Gabriel Valley or Inland Empire, please feel free to call your favorite REALTOR :)

And, I can always send you a FREE Market Analysis on your home, just ask.