Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Buying a Sacramento home? Use this tool to calculate your Supplemental Tax Bill...

Last week I attended a presentation by Kathleen Kelleher, Sacramento County's Tax Assessor. I've met her several times and seen several presentations regarding Sacramento County tax assessment and collection, but this time she introduced a new tool available for use to calculate the "Supplemental Tax Assessment." You can find the Supplemental Tax Calculator here.

What is a Supplemental Tax Assessment bill? In a nutshell, its a bill to collect the difference between the previous owner's tax assessment, and the new owner's tax assessment. Clear as mud, right? If you buy a house, you will receive MULTIPLE disclosures regarding the fact you may have to pay an additional tax bill at some point in time after closing.

Here is an example from a real life scenario. Let's say you are buying a home in East Sacramento that has been owned by the same family for many years. They purchased the property in 1968, and their current assessed value is $98,156. Their annual tax bill is $1,214 including the 1% base assessment, and all the "direct levies." You are purchasing the home for $400,000. Your new tax assessed value will be based on your acquisition cost, and adjusted annually for inflation. Obviously there is a significant difference in the previous owners tax assessment, vs your new tax assessment - $301,844.

Under these circumstances, you should budget for a relatively large "Supplemental Tax Assessment" bill. In this instance, using the calculator online and assuming you close on March 31, you will receive a "Partial Supplemental Tax Bill" for $754 within a few months of closing, and then another one a few months after that for $3,018. That's something you will want to budget for! The amount owed can change based on when during the state's fiscal year you close your transaction, so keep that in mind and use the online tool for help.

Obviously not everyone buys a home where there is such a gap between the previous owner's assessment and the new owner's assessment. In fact, in the days of short sales and foreclosures, often times the new owner's tax assessment was way less than that of the previous owner. But it is something to be aware of and this calculator can help you budget for that...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New Listing - 2628 Ball Way, Sacramento, CA 95821

Adorable 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 1,202sf Arden home on .16ac lot! You will love the remodeled kitchen with granite counters, cherry cabinets, and newer stainless appliances, wood floors, updated bathroom, separate living room and large family room addition adds great extra living space! Freshly painted exterior, dual pane windows, new fencing, covered patio and separate deck area. Don't wait! Offered at $199,900. For more photos and detail visit 2628 Ball Way, Sacramento, CA 95821.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sacramento Real Estate Statistics - February 2015

After a slower January for sales volume and price (which is pretty typical if you look at trends over the last decade -- just look at this graph for last January 2014 or look at my post from a year ago), Sacramento's median home price for February 2015 bounced back up to $282,000. This does not surprise me at all, and February was a brisk month for my business. March is going to be even busier for me, and I have noticed A LOT of pending sales...I'm not anticipating a huge upswing in price for next month, and expect things to continue with some modest price appreciation this year. Our current median home price is still FAR below the median from the peak of Sacramento's real estate market in the summer of 2005 (which was just a touch under $400,000). But it's nice to say that it's also FAR above the median home price at the bottom of the Sacramento market in winter 2011 (about $160,000).

A trend that I am continuing to notice for the last several months is folks who purchased a home at the bottom of the market in 2009-2011 are calling wanting to sell their home and purchase a larger one (or smaller one, relocate to a different neighborhood, etc). If you purchased a Sacramento home during that timeframe, there's a good chance your home has increased in value in the range of 25%+ depending on when you bought and where your home is located...so it's a great time to do sell and purchase another home. Of course if you would like me to provide you an estimate of your home's value, I'm happy to do that. Just email me. Another thing I am noticing is that I have several clients who are planning to list their homes, but want to find their replacement property first. "Contingent offers" (offers that are contingent on the sale of another home) are definitely making a huge comeback.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Back to reality, but spring training in AZ sure was fun!

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you may already know that this week my family and I went to Arizona for Spring Training! My mom, my brother's girlfriend and I are quite the "Gamer Babes." So much fun, and what is even more exciting is that this year the Sacramento Rivercats will be the AAA SF Giants affiliate right here in town!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Selling a Sacramento investment property is a lot different than selling your own home. Part II; Disclosure...

A few weeks ago I wrote about how selling an investment property is a lot different than selling your own home. An investment property is any rental property - for example, a duplex, triplex or fourplex, or a single family home or condo. There are many of key differences and things to consider when selling these properties. Last week, I wrote mainly about how to work with your tenants so they help rather than hinder the investment property listing and selling process.

Today I would like to follow up on all that by talking about another one of the things that the sellers of investment property need to consider: the fact that you don't live in the property, and you may not know much about the property to disclose to a buyer.

I always give my sellers a full packet of disclosure documents to fill out before the property goes on the market. First, you should note that there is a check-box on the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement where you can note if you are, or are not, occupying the property. You would check the "not" box. Second, I will tell you that it is a good idea to overtly state in your disclosures that you have never lived in the property as your primary residence, or that you have not lived in the property in ____ years. A good place to do this is the Seller Property Questionnaire. On the 4th page there is an "Other" Section where this statement can go.

Hopefully as a landlord, you have been keeping accurate maintenance records for the property. The big-ticket things you probably know and can disclose -- for example, you probably know approximately when you replaced the roof, or that you replaced the dishwasher before the current tenant moved in, that you have a company spray for bugs every other month, etc. And you should note those dates and details in your disclosures. If you have contractor receipts, it is best to include copies of them with your disclosures as well.

But what about the non-big-ticket things? This information can be of equal importance to a buyer, but as the seller you may not be aware of the property's certain idiosyncrasies that only someone who lives in the house will. Like the fact there are 4 constantly barking dogs next door, there is street sweeper that makes lots of noise every Tuesday morning at 4am, that vagrants rummage through the trash cans at night, that the bathtub has a slow drain, that airplanes fly overhead sometimes, that the neighbor grows marijuana in the backyard, or that the downstairs tenant can hear the footsteps of the upstairs tenant...or that the tenant you think is low maintenance and never complains just didn't choose to tell you that the water heater is leaking, that the bathroom exhaust fan stopped working, etc.

Remember my last post about communication with your tenants when it comes time to sell? This is the perfect time to schedule a walk-through of the unit -- not only to talk about showings and introduce your Realtor, but also to ask your tenant if there are any little things like this you may want to disclose. If during your walk-through, you discover the water heater is leaking, that is a good opportunity to get it repaired before the property goes on the market, and then be sure to disclose that the repair was made. Ask your tenants about potential nuisances and disclose them. Something like "Per tenant, neighboring dogs bark at night" should be adequate.

One thing I also highly recommend is augmenting your disclosures with some professional inspections. For example, it is a really good idea to get a termite inspection before the property goes on the market, and either make the recommended repairs for a clearance, or just use the written report itself as a disclosure.

It's definitely in the seller's best interest to make disclosures as transparent and accurate as possible. Inadequate disclosures can lead to buyer frustration and potential issues with the new owner down the line...

Read my previous post on this topic: How to work with tenants when selling an investment property.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Look up potential "Natural and Environmental Hazards" in your neighborhood before you buy or sell a home...

Law in the State of California requires that home sellers disclose to home buyers the potential environmental hazards that may affect the property for sale. I find that most home buyers are just excited at the thought of home ownership, and aren't necessarily thinking about this stuff. But it is definitely an important element for buyers to consider when making a decision where to purchase a home.

A resource that buyers can use in advance of starting a home search to locate potential environmental risks is the State of California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA)'s Hazard Mitigation Portal. At this portal, you can enter an address and use a mapping tool to figure out if the house of your dreams is in or near a flood zone, for example. Or you can enter a zip code and determine what potential hazards an entire neighborhood may face. For example, if you enter my office address (4215 Freeport Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95822), you can see that FEMA maps indicate a potential flood hazard. You can also see that it is not in an Earthquake Fault Zone, not in a Tsunami Hazard Zone, etc. So if a buyer wants to do some research in advance, this is a great tool.

The paragraph (10B) in the current version of the California Residential Purchase Agreement that deals with Natural and Environmental Hazard Disclosures reads, "Within the time specified in paragraph 14A, Seller shall, if required by Law: (i) Deliver to buyer earthquake guide(s) (and questionnaire), environmental hazards booklet, and home energy rating pamphlet; (ii) disclose if the property is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area; Potential Flooding (Inundation) Area; Very High Fire Hazard Zone; State Fire Responsibility Area; Earthquake Fault Zone; and Seismic Hazard Zone; and (iii) disclose any other zone as required by Law and provide any other information required for those zones."

Most sellers will opt to provide a Natural Hazard Disclosure Report -- something Realtors tend to refer to "the NHD." There are a few third party companies that provide them for usually around $75 - $100. Those reports are extremely comprehensive and go well beyond items (i) and (ii) above. There are MANY types of "hazard" zones that are added in that cover item (iii) above as well. Another benefit of obtaining a third party report is most of the companies offer an insurance policy in the event they omit, or misreport a hazard zone. So the seller can shift liability to a third party in many cases...and the buyer has the benefit of a more comprehensive disclosure, as well as the insurance in the event of an omission. So that's generally a win-win.

What are the "other" types of zones? NHD reports cover things like Protected Species and Habitat Zones, Radon Gas Zones, Airport Influence Zones, Naturally Occurring Asbestos Areas, Abandoned Mining Operation Zones, Military Facilities Zones....I could go on and on.

Ultimately, it is important to know what you are buying so you can plan accordingly. It's nearly impossible to find a neighborhood that is free from any and all environmental hazards (this is California, after all!), but you can make an informed decision as to where you purchase your home, and take appropriate steps to protect yourself with additional insurance policies, preventative maintenance to the home, etc.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

New Listing - 5420 D Street, (East) Sacramento, CA 95819

Adorable light and bright 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom 1,153sf East Sac home! You will love the updated kitchen with tile counters, dishwasher, and stainless appliances, wood floors, gas fireplace insert, updated bathroom with tub/shower combo, whole house fan, dual pane windows, central heat and air, and recently painted interior and exterior. Backyard offers a lovely brick patio, large yard, and shed. 216sf professionally installed sunroom offers so many possibilities! Short distance to restaurants, shopping, CSUS, K-8 schools, public transportation, the river, and downtown. Don't wait! Offered at $389,500. For more photos and additional information, please visit 5420 D Street, Sacramento, CA 95819.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Selling a Sacramento investment property is a lot different than selling your own home. Part I; Working with your tenants...

Recently I have received a lot of inquiries to list and sell small "investment properties." What's an investment property? An investment property is any rental property - for example, a duplex, triplex or fourplex, or a single family home or condo.

Since property values in Sacramento have increased in the last few years since the bottom of the real estate market, it seems that folks are looking to cash in their chips. The element that is most interesting to me is that most (not all) of the investment property sellers I am speaking with are looking to sell because they don't like being landlords, and rather than roll their equity or sales proceeds into a bigger better investment property via a tax deferred 1031 Exchange, they are just looking to cash out.

Selling an investment property is a lot different than selling your own home. First and foremost, somebody else, a tenant, is likely living in the property. Second, since you don't live there, you may not know much about the property. Third, there are things like deposits, maintenance expenses, utilities, repairs, and rental income to factor into the equation. And fourth, often times the monthly rental income the property produces is an important element in determining value -- not just the property as compared to the sales prices of other recent sales of comparable properties.

Over the next few weeks I will write about the different considerations investment property owners face when selling...

Let's talk about tenants first. A tenant can really make or break your property's sale. An uncooperative tenant can cost a seller thousands of dollars in a sale. For example, are they tidy or messy? Some tenants treat rental property like their own home, are clean and take pride in its appearance, maybe do minor maintenance themselves, and let their landlords know if something is broken and needs fixing. On the other side, I've seen some tenants who are borderline hoarders, their units smell bad, there are dirty clothes and moldy food everywhere, and they haven't cleaned the bathroom in a few years. A new buyer looks at those issues and immediately thinks in terms of potential cleaning and repair costs, and may pass on the property all together or hit you up for a lower price or concessions for repairs. Another thing to consider when selling a property with a tenant: are they going to be cooperative with allowing showings, or not? Some tenants are very understanding, want to make a good impression on their possible future landlord and accommodate showings and access to the property for inspections. Other tenants will feel threatened by the possibility of a new landlord, feel afraid they will be kicked out of their home, and not make the effort to make the unit available on their own accord. Some tenants will insist to be present for showings and sabotage the potential buyer’s impression of the property.

So what do you do when you have a tenant who falls into the problem category? I find the best approach with tenants is complete and total transparency -- do not hide the fact you are planning to sell. Nothing creates more tenant hostility than a landlord who lists a property and the first notice a tenant gets is a seeing a “for sale” sign in the front yard. Communicate with them. Let them know that you want/need to sell and that you want to make the process as easy as possible. Ask to make an appointment with them and meet at their unit - this allows you the chance to talk, and allows you to see the unit. If the unit is messy, offer to have it professionally cleaned for them. Most tenants will jump at the chance to have their unit cleaned for free. If you can afford it, you might offer to incentivise the tenant by offering a temporary reduction in rent in exchange for cooperation with showings while the property is for sale. If you do that, be sure to do it in writing with very clear parameters. Be sure to introduce your Realtor to the tenants and make sure they know how to contact each other. Set clear parameters for arranging showings and access -- like “by appointment with 24 hours notice.” If you need to arrange extended access to a buyer for inspections, maybe offer them some movie tickets in exchange for being away 3-4 hours.

Most tenants do want to help you succeed in your sale and make a smooth transition to the new owner...next week I will talk about disclosures for a rental property since you don’t have first hand knowledge of the potential idiosyncrasies about the property...