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Esquire Real Estate Blog

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Bryan Zuetel, Esq. in recent Realtor.com Article

Bryan Zuetel

California Real Estate Law doesn’t demand that buyers and sellers of real estate have a legal professional, namely a real estate attorney overseeing the mounds of legal documentation. Unlike California, many conservative states do require a real estate attorney to oversee the contractual agreements. Imagine how many law suits could be avoided if a licensed real estate attorney oversaw the whole legal transaction.

At Esquire Real Estate, this is what we do. Our standard of ethics and client protection goes above and beyond to our clients’ best interest. When our clients succeed in their real estate matters, so do we.

Considering a real estate sale or purchase? Give us a call.

2018 CA Real Estate Voting Guide

Bryan Zuetel

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On Tuesday, November 6, 2018, Californians have the opportunity to vote on two real estate related propositions.  Proposition 5 allows seniors, disabled persons, and victims of natural disasters to transfer some of their property tax basis to the purchase of a new home.  Proposition 10 would repeal the current law, which limits local governments’ ability to pass rent control ordinances.

Proposition 5: Currently, many seniors live in homes that are too large or too far from families and want to downsize or move closer to families.  However, seniors are often restricted from doing so by the threat of doubling or tripling their property taxes upon the purchase of a new home.  Seniors can currently transfer their property tax base within and to a small number of California’s 58 counties. Subject to certain adjustments, Proposition 5 would allow seniors to transfer their current property tax base to the purchase of another home in any of California’s 58 counties.  This proposition will provide benefits to seniors, the disabled, and disaster victims by allowing them the flexibility to move to a more suitable home without facing a massive property tax bill. This proposition will also help to boost the housing inventory in neighborhoods when older homeowners move from their single family homes that no longer meet their needs.  I encourage you to vote YES on Proposition 5.

Proposition 10: Currently, the long standing Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act restricts local governments from imposing most forms of rent control.  Proposition 10 would repeal this Act and would thus allow local governments to impose most forms of rent control. Multiple studies have shown that rent control drives up rents, discourages new construction, reduces the availability of affordable and middle-class housing, and results in existing rental units being taken off the market reducing the availability of rental housing.  The repeal of Costa-Hawkins could even allow local governments to dictate rental rates and terms for privately owned single-family homes and when a private owner may take a home off the rental market. I encourage you to vote NO on Proposition 10.

In short, I urge you to vote YES on Proposition 5 and NO on Proposition 10.

Roll up your sleeves or hire... Home maintenance

Bryan Zuetel

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From summer vacations to winter holidays, it seems each season offers the perfect excuse to put off our to-do list. But be careful, homeowners: neglecting your home’s maintenance could put your personal safety—and one of your largest financial investments—at serious risk. 

In no time at all, small problems can lead to extensive and expensive repairs. 

Properties that are not well maintained can lose 10 percent (or more) of their appraised value.1

You have two options, do it yourself or hire a trusted professional. We have provided a list of seasonal home maintenance. We are happy to refer you to a trusted home repair or maintenance company. 

The good news is, by dedicating a few hours each season to properly maintaining your home, you can ensure a safe living environment for you and your family ... and actually increase the value of your home by one percent annually!1 You just need to know where and how to spend your time. Use the following checklist as a guide to maintaining your home and lawn throughout the year. It's applicable for all climates, so please share it with friends and family members who you think could benefit, no matter where their home is located.

 

 Spring

After winter, many of us look forward to a fresh start in the spring. Open the windows, and prepare your home for warmer weather and backyard barbecues.

Inside

❏      Conduct Annual Spring Cleaning
Be sure to tackle those areas that may have gone neglected—such as your blinds, baseboards and fan blades—as well as appliances, including your refrigerator, dishwasher, oven and range hood. Clear out clutter and clothes you no longer wear, and toss old and expired food and medications.

❏      Tune Up A/C
If your home has central air conditioning, schedule an annual tune-up with your HVAC technician. If you have a portable or window unit, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper maintenance.2

❏      Check Plumbing
It’s a good idea to periodically check your plumbing to spot any leaks or maintenance issues. Look for evidence of leaks—such as water stains on the ceiling—and check for dripping faucets or running toilets that need to be addressed. Inspect your hot water heater for sediment build up.3

❏      Inspect Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so change them now and again in the fall. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer’s recommendation.4

Outside

❏      Inspect Perimeter of Home
Walk around your house and look for any signs of damage or wear and tear that should be addressed. Are there cracks in the foundation? Peeling paint? Loose or missing roof shingles? Make a plan to make needed repairs yourself or hire a contractor.

❏      Clean Home’s Exterior
Wash windows and clean screens. Use the gentlest method that is effective. A simple garden hose will work in some cases.5

❏      Clean Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned at least twice a year. Neglected gutters can cause water damage to a home, so make sure yours are clean and free of debris. If your gutters have screens, you may be able to decrease the frequency of cleanings, but they should still be checked periodically.6

❏      Rake Leaves
Gently rake your lawn to remove leaves and debris.7 However, take care because overly vigorous raking can damage new grass shoots.

❏      Seed or Sod Lawn
If you have bare spots, spring is a good time to seed or lay new sod so you can enjoy a beautiful lawn throughout the remainder of the year. The peak summer heat can be too harsh for a new lawn. If you miss this window, early fall is another good time to plant.8

❏      Plant Flowers
After a long winter, planting annuals and spring perennials is a great way to brighten up your garden. It’s also a good time to prune existing flowers and shrubs and remove and compost any dead plants.

❏      Mulch Beds
A layer of fresh mulch helps to suppress weeds, retain moisture and moderate soil temperature. However, be sure to strip away old mulch at least every three years to prevent excessive buildup.9

❏      Fertilize Lawn
Depending on your grass type, an application of fertilizer in the spring may help promote new leaf and root growth, keep your lawn healthy, and reduce weeds.10

❏      Inspect Sprinkler System
If you have a sprinkler system, check that it’s working properly and make repairs as needed.

❏      Check the Deck
If you have a deck or patio, inspect it for signs of damage or deterioration that may have occurred over the winter. Then clean it thoroughly and apply a fresh coat of stain if needed.

❏      Prepare Pool
If you own a pool, warmer weather signals the start of pool season. Be sure to follow best practices for your particular pool to ensure proper maintenance and safety.

 

Summer

Summer is generally the time to relax and enjoy your home, but a little time devoted to maintenance will help ensure it looks great and runs efficiently throughout the season.

Inside

❏      Adjust Ceiling Fans
Make sure they are set to run counter-clockwise in the summer to push air down and create a cooling breeze. Utilizing fans instead of your air conditioner, when possible, will help minimize your utility bills.

❏      Clean A/C Filters
Be sure to clean or replace your filters monthly, particularly if you’re running your air conditioner often.

❏      Clear Dryer Vent
Help cut down on summer utility bills by cleaning your laundry dryer vent at least once a year. Not only will it help cut down on drying times, a neglected dryer poses a serious fire hazard.

❏      Check Weather Stripping
If you’re running your air conditioner in the summer, you’ll want to keep the cold air inside and hot air outside. Check weather stripping around doors and windows to ensure a good seal.

Outside

❏      Water Early in the Morning
Ensure your lawn and garden get plenty of water during the hot summer months. Experts generally recommend watering in the early morning to minimize evaporation, but be mindful of any watering restrictions in your area, which may limit the time and/or days you are allowed to water.

❏      Weed Weekly
To prevent weeds from taking over your garden and ruining your home’s valuable curb appeal, make a habit of pulling weeds at least once per week.

❏      Exterminate Pests
Remove any standing water and piles of leaves and debris. Inspect your lawn and perimeter of your home for signs of an invasion. If necessary, call a professional exterminator for assistance.

 

Fall

Fall ushers in another busy season of home maintenance as you prepare your home for the winter weather ahead.

Inside

❏      Have Heater Serviced
To ensure safety and efficiency, it’s a good idea to have your heating system serviced and inspected before you run it for the first time.

❏      Seal Windows and Doors
Check windows and doors for drafts and caulk or add weatherstripping where necessary.

❏      Check Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
If you checked your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the spring, they are due for another inspection. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so it’s time to replace them again. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer’s recommendation.3

Outside

❏      Plant Fall Flowers, Grass and Shrubs
Fall is a great time to plant perennials, trees, shrubs, cool-season vegetables and bulbs that will bloom in the spring.12 It’s also a good time to reseed or sod your lawn.

❏      Apply Fall Fertilizer
If you choose not to use a mulching mower, a fall fertilizer is usually recommended. For best results, aerate your lawn before applying the fertilizer.13

❏      Inspect Gutters and Roof
Inspect your gutters and downspouts and make needed repairs. Check the roof for any broken or loose tiles. Remove fallen leaves and debris.

 

While this checklist should not be considered a complete list of your home’s maintenance needs, it can serve as a general seasonal guide. Systems, structures and fixtures will need to be repaired and replaced from time-to-time, as well. The good news is, the investment you make in maintaining your home now will pay off dividends over time.

Keep a record of all your maintenance, repairs and upgrades for future reference, along with receipts. Not only will it help jog your memory, it can make a big impact on buyers when it comes time to sell your home … and potentially result in a higher selling price.

 

Are you looking for help with home maintenance or repairs? We have an extensive network of trusted contractors and service providers and are happy to provide referrals! Call or email us, and we can connect you with one of our preferred vendors.

 

 

Sources:

1.     HouseLogic.com –
https://www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/home-maintenance-tips/value-home-maintenance/

2.     Home Advisor –
https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/servicing-your-air-conditioner/

3.     Keyes & Sons Plumbing and Heating –
http://keyes-plumbing.com/things-to-check-in-spring/

4.     Allstate Insurance Blog –
https://blog.allstate.com/test-smoke-detectors/

5.     Houzz –
https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/17268616/list/how-to-wash-your-house

6.     Angie’s List –
https://www.angieslist.com/articles/why-gutter-cleaning-so-important.htm

7.     Angie’s List –
https://www.angieslist.com/articles/what-thatch-and-how-does-it-impact-my-lawn.htm

8.     HGTV –
http://www.hgtv.com/design/outdoor-design/landscaping-and-hardscaping/lawns/top-spring-lawn-care-tips-pictures

9.     This Old House –
https://www.thisoldhouse.com/more/may-mulching

10.   Lowes –
https://www.lowes.com/projects/lawn-and-garden/fertilize-your-lawn/project

11.   The New York Times –
https://www.nytimes.com/guides/realestate/home-maintenance-checklist

12.   Better Homes and Gardens Magazine –
https://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/garden-care/what-to-plant-in-the-fall/

13.   The Spruce –
https://www.thespruce.com/late-fall-fertilizing-2152976

Three Most Important California Real Estate Laws for 2018

Bryan Zuetel

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Although the California Legislature passed at least 50 new laws in 2017 that will affect California real estate in 2018, three new laws stand out as the most important for California real estate owners and landlords.

Drowning prevention safety features for new pools: All new pools at private single-family homes must be constructed with at least two of seven drowning prevention safety devices.  Previously, only one such feature was required.  Home inspectors are now required to inspect and include within their inspection report which of the seven drowning prevention safety features the pool or spa has.  Generally, the seven drowning prevention safety devices are an (1) enclosure, (2) removable mesh fencing, (3) safety pool cover, (4) exit alarms on doors, (5) self-closing and self-latching gate, (6) alarm that sounds upon unauthorized entrance into the pool, and (7) miscellaneous other “means of protection.”

Housing recording tax: A new fee/tax of $75 per document will be imposed at the time of recording of a real estate document.  The fee is not imposed on any document recorded for a primary residence or when a property is sold for valuable consideration.  The most common circumstances where this fee will be imposed are refinances and reconveyances (after payoff of a loan) of an investment property.

Landlord/tenant immigration status: This law makes it illegal to disclose information related to the immigration status of tenants in the context of residential housing.  This law also prohibits any threat to disclose information relating to immigration status with the intent of harassing, intimidating, or retaliating, or influencing a tenant to vacate, unless it is required to comply with federal law.  A landlord can be liable for hefty damages for violation of this law.  Further, in an unlawful detainer (eviction) action, the tenant can assert an affirmative defense if the landlord acted to evict and recover possession because of immigration status.  However, a landlord can still make a standard practice of verifying financial qualifications and identity of a prospective tenant.  This law has many nuances, which will probably be resolved in state and federal courts.

If you have any questions regarding these new California real estate laws or any real estate laws, contact Esquire Real Estate, combining the services of a real estate attorney and real estate broker in one.

Sold, West Sacramento Home

Bryan Zuetel

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We are pleased to announce the successful sale of this West Sacramento home. Here's the story about the sale in our clients' own words:

Esquire Real Estate helped us find the perfect starter home. I knew we wanted to use Esquire Real Estate even though we live in Northern California, and Bryan was happy to help. In a long and stressful process, Bryan helped everything run smoothly and on schedule.  Buying a bank owned property was daunting, but Bryan eased our fears by combining his knowledge of real estate and real estate law to make sure we were getting the best house possible. We could not be more pleased with our experience! Thank you, Esquire Real Estate!

Robert & Lauren