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 Real Estate e-Newsletter
by Cynthia S. Radom Award-winning Certified Seniors Specialist REALTOR ®
                                Specializing in Trust Sales        Since 1994
    January-March 2019   ·   ·   (310) 288-0479  CalRE #01184864

                                     ** Writer and Publisher since October 1999 **

 Do You Own A Fixer?
It's Expensive
If you haven't updated the bathrooms or the kitchen in your home five to ten years prior to selling,  you may own a fixer. Styles change...remember granite counter tops? In addition, if you haven't replaced some inside plumbing with copper; changed broken clay sewer pipes; removed the asbestos; installed a new roof or have some other costly deferred maintenance or needed repair; you may own a major fixer.
Understandably, longtime homeowners don't want to pour thousands of dollars into their older home. Fix, not replace, is the norm.  Pride of ownershi p to many means maintaining the inside of the home. And, costly items are usually left unattended, unless necessary. But then, it comes time to sell the home.

As a Seller, you disclose to a Buyer what updates and substantial changes you made to the home throughout the years. When inspections are completed and the exact condition is documented, that is the time a Buyer will consider to back out of the purchase or proceed. The decision is often based on the cost of what is needed. Sometimes updating or repairing an older home is not worth the expense. If not, the property may be sold for lot value to someone who may rebuild.

When selling a fixer, the owner has to carefully consider if a prospective Buyer has the financial means to update the home. A Buyer can obtain a mortgage, but having thousands of dollars for repairs and replacements is not always available. 

Be sure to check a Buyer's finances for proof of cash beyond the closing costs and down payment. That may give some indication if they can afford your fixer.  It is  neve r a good idea for an owner to do major work before selling. However, try to negotiate the cost of whatever is needed while in escrow. 
Top 10 Problems
The Buyer is responsible for obtaining and paying for all inspections. According to LaRocca Inspections, a well-known home inspection company, these are the top ten problems found during an inspection:
1. Moisture intrusion: Water entering from outside a home to the interior is by far the number one issue with all structures. With the mold craze in full swing, finding moisture intrusion issues has become the rage. Garden areas, where dirt abuts the home is an issue. 
2. Roof problems: Roofs wear thin from heat and ultra-violet rays of the sun, tree branches rubbing the material, piles of debris, wind. Just because scarce CA rain may not cause leaks, there are other issues with roofs.
3. Plumbing systems: Galvanized steel water pipes that are rusted and worn. Cooper pipes are used to make repairs, but mixing the two metals can accelerate the deterioration of the iron pipes.
4. Heating systems: Many older homes still use the original floor "gravity" heaters. Overall system deterioration including venting and ducting is seen.
5. Electrical systems: Increased usage demand for electric products have owners modifying the system and often it is done incorrectly.
6. Unpermitted modifications: A source of controversy and often more expensive than obtaining permits.
7. Unprofessional remodeling: Another problem area that can be unsafe if built incorrectly.
8. Poor overall maintenance: Damage to exterior windows, doors, trim, etc. often requires replacement including the surrounding area.
9. Settlement: Shifting of the home from movement or compaction of the supporting soils.
10. Poor operation: Windows painted shut or broken balance wires; out of alignment doors and other nuisances.

If you're about to sell your home, let the Buyer fix and deal with the issues.
Sitting Prey
Thirty seconds into her story I knew what was going to be said when an elderly homeowner related a recent tale of woe. Two "young" girls (strangers) knocked on her front door looking for their runaway dog. Panic-stricken, and tugging at the homeowner's heart, the story was about their pregnant dog that had supposedly jumped the fence into her backyard.

While the homeowner escorted the girls through her house to the backyard, one remained inside to search and steal. After the girls left the homeowner found her jewelry box under the dresser, a few items scattered on the floor and some missing pieces. It could have been worse.

Hearing a similar story years ago, I strongly suggested that the homeowner call the police, which she did. These are well-trained young thieves on the loose with a scam to prey on Senior homeowners. I reminded the homeowner, and to all of not let any stranger into your home!!! Even when you schedule a repair person, get their name prior to the appointment and always ask to see their ID before they enter your home. No ID, no entry. NOTE: never give any part of your Social Security or license number to anyone.

Older homeowners are sitting prey for all kinds of devious thieves. This home-owner, unfortunately, continued to worry about the pregnant dog not wanting to believe that it never existed.

Wednesday morning, April 10th
If you are a homeowner or a Successor Trustee who is responsible for selling a residential property you are invited to a must-attend seminar. Today, most home Buyers have experience in the purchase process. As a Seller, get on board with what you need to know and do to get the most money for your home. Plan to attend my free seminar, Selling Your Home 101, in a small group setting. 
A Year of Celebration 
July marks my  25th year providing  service  as a CA REALTOR ®  and  20 years ago in October when  I wrote and published my first quarterly Real Estate Newsletter  (distributed to 2,500 clients and prospects). Looking back over the past two-and-a-half decades, it's been quite a ride, so allow me to reflect. M oving to LA from Chicago, I was welcomed by the 1994 Northridge EQ ! Embarking on a new career, I used my marketing, sales and management skills to become a residential listing agent without knowing a soul, or even the local area. But, I recognized a need to fill; helping longtime homeowners who had not transacted a property deal in years or possibly ever. My services extended to helping their heirs, attorney and/or Successor Trustee. Later, when the Seniors Real Estate Council was formed I earned a certification as a Seniors Specialist. My Bev erly Hills office is where I started and remain, withstanding several Brokerage buyouts and management changes over the past 25 years.
My Greatest Accomplishments
- Helping Senior citizens...widows, widowers and longtime couples who need a trusted Adviser.
- Assisting heirs whose mother or father recently passed, and helping them through emotional turmoil.
- Aiding a son whose father was a victim of an elder abuse real estate scam through a lawsuit to a happy resolution.
- Keeping you informed  about news and issues  on the local housing market w ith my Newsletters, announcements and seminars.
- Earning a top-producer REALTOR® status among my peers.
My Greatest Challenges
- Developing a relationship with Senior homeowners over many years, with periodic phone calls and monthly mailings, only to  lose the opportunity to complete the final sale when  the children,  Successor Trustee or attorney takes over.
- Maintaining my same daily work efforts during market and economic downturns resulting from the U.S. financial crisis or recessions; and the impact of natural disasters like the EQ and El Nino...and fires.
The past 25 years have been quite a ride, a great one. Here's to more accomplishments and to fewer challenges. To all my clients and would-be clients, a hearty thank you for the opportunity to serve youClick on the link, and take a look...
Solar Energy
Effective January 1, 2020 most newly built homes will include solar energy as required by CA law. The new policy applies to single-family houses and multi-family units that are three stories or less. There are some exceptions for homes with too much shade. Installing a solar system and complying with other required energy efficient measures will add about $10,000 to the price of each new home. However, the savings in energy costs over decades will more than offset the expense.

But, is solar right for your current home?
- Installation and expense. The installer will average your electric usage from the past 12 bills to determine the number of panels needed to produce kilowatt hours per year. Panels can be purchased or leased. A monthly statement of kilowatt usage is issued by the electric company. The balance, over or under, a year after activating the system, is billed or credited annually. NOTE: The electric company can limit solar usage, and unused power is bought back at wholesale cost, a lower price than charged to the homeowner. 
Other solar considerations include:
- Condition of your home and roof. The installer will determine if the roof is adequate or a new roof is required. Solar panels can be installed on all types of roofs.
- How long are you going to live in your current home? If solar panels are not purchased, a lease agreement is usually 20 years and is transferable to a new owner when you sell the home. If the home is going to be razed, there is a contract buyout for the remaining years, but can be costly for Seller or Buyer.

Solar companies offer a free estimate, so this is the best way to begin. Remember, get three quotes and choose wisely.
Tidbits of News
- Century Plaza Hotel  and in-house luxury condos  to open in October.
- New Buyer for One Beverly Hills is neighboring owner of the B.H. Hilton.
- Top 50 highest rental prices in the U.S. listed Westwood (90024) #3; also on the list is  Playa Vista, Santa Monica, Mid-Wilshire and Marina del Rey .
- Voters overruled?  L.A. County rolls out interim rent control ordinance  to cap at 3% despite Prop 10 being rejected.
- Fed has raised interest rates eight times since Dec. 2015.
- The share of International home Buyers dropped to the lowest level in the last ten years.
- 29% of Sellers are moving out of CA.
- CA has the second lowest home ownership in the U.S., 
soon to be a  majority renter state.
- Congrats Bev Hills City Council for ending no-cause evictions for renters.
- September 2018 showed the lowest number of homes sold in SoCal in eleven years.
Great Question
A prospective home Seller asked me a great question, "If I get a wide range of suggested listing prices from agents, how can I determine who is correct?" While it is not unusual to interview three REALTORS® and get three different ideas, the Seller can do the following:
- First and foremost, compare local home sales in the MLS. All agents must supply a would-be Seller with closed comparable sales from the  Multiple Listing Service (MLS) . You cannot dispute what is in the MLS.
- Obtain off-market sales info. In addition, the agent should provide (from a title company) sale prices of homes that were not listed in the MLS, although no description is available.
- Ignore property valuations found on real estate websites, i.e. Zillow, Redfin; and These are numerical analytics and do not take into account the differences of properties; i.e. condition, location, updates, deferred maintenance, etc., which an agent can analyze.
- Hire a professional appraiser, albeit a costly service. However, all mortgages require an appraisal and there will be an issue if the lender believes the Buyer overpaid.

Ultimately, the Seller decides on the asking price for their home, and should ask for further analysis if an agent prices out of the realm. There are REALTORS ® who purposely overprice just to get a listing, which is a huge detriment for the Seller, resulting in subsequent price reductions and Buyers questioning the property's value.
2018 in a Nutshell
Some predict that 2018 was the start of a Buyer's market as homes for sale lingered on the market. While active listings rose, the number of sales dramatically declined throughout the U.S. In SoCal, home prices inched up, but the year-over-year rate of home price appreciation began to decline (mea ning the rate at which home prices are going up). In a nutshell, the supply of homes for sale is increasing as demand weakens with mortgage rate increases; listings are up, sales are falling and price reductions are at a multi-year high.  
It's all about a saleable listing price.

Help is Needed!
Injured, abandoned, frightened and no ability to yell for help are the displaced pets and animals of the LA area fires. Please help those in need to be healed and to find a home. Donate to this Thousand Oaks non-profit animal rescue and shelter or to a Malibu clinic of your choice. Click on the link to learn how you can help  Paw Works. Or, mail your donation to:
Paw Works
350 W. Hillcrest Dr.
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
Longtime Landlords
Many Seniors generate additional income by renting a home, a condo or other kinds of real estate they own including apartments, commercial or industrial properties. If you're a longtime landlord, a fresh analysis of your real estate investment is advised to ensure maximum income for personal use.

An older landlord, who does not employ a property manager, is too often satisfied with status quo. The owner stops looking at the investment property as a business in exchange for keeping a friendly, easy-going tenant at sub-market rent. Not only is the owner's income reduced, but the property value is diminished. Rent that has not kept pace limits the next owner's ability to raise with annual rent increases determined by law and leaning toward a 3% cap.

Status quo also means ignoring or overlooking needed replacements or repairs because of the expense. Again, diminishing property value.  Tenants make due with sub-par conditions for lower rent.  A longtime landlord, who relies on rental income to survive, needs to reevaluate and consider other options.

Take a look at the annual net income, the money you are actually generating after all expenses. If you sold the property, what income can you derive from investing the proceeds in a conservative, but consistent investment or from an updated  property in a  1031-exchange? Consulting with various professionals is advised to determine if you should remain status quo...or sell.

 Prop 13 Initiative
And so it begins, the first initiative to directly change Prop 13 has qualified to be on the ballot in Nov. 2020. A reform to the commercial property tax will allow voters to restore an estimated $8 Billion per year to CA schools, libraries, parks, city services etc. by closing a  corporate tax loophole of Prop 13. 

Word of the day,  demi-billionaire. A person whose net worth is in excess of $500 million. A typical demi-B drives a Mercedes, is 63-years-old on average and owns TEN homes.

WeHo Luxe Condos
The Edition West Hollywood is opening this Spring with 20 luxury condos and 190 hotel rooms and suites at the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Doheny Dr. A dedicated entrance to residents, there are a few 1-4 bedroom condos remaining with Miele appliances, expansive terraces to enjoy panoramic views, wide plank wood floors and access to all hotel amenities.
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©2019 Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.  Coldwell Banker ®  is a registered trademark licensed to Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.  An Equal Opportunity Company.  Equal Housing Opportunity.  Owned By a Subsidiary of NRT LLC.  This is not intended as a solicitation if your property is already listed.