The Dangers Of Non-Disclosure

If you’re trying to sell your house, you probably already know that you must, by law, disclose any problems associated with the property.  However, some sellers have a tendency to think that not pointing out the flaws in their home will bring them more money on the sale of their home.  And that may be true; however, there are many problems that could arise later on down the line due to non-disclosure of your homes past and present issues.

Non-disclosure lawsuits are on the rise.   Once upon a time it was a “buyer beware” market but not anymore.  Ask any realtor and they will tell you that non-disclosure ranks as one of their three biggest problems during the sale and after the sale.

Especially if the seller has made concentrated efforts to cover up the problematic issues.   Another thing to make note of is that after you have completed a repair, it must be documented.  If you complete a repair and it’s not documented, and issues arise down the road, you could still be held liable.

A seller must disclose anything that could affect the property’s value.  Things such as foundation problems, etc. and in some states you must also disclose any risk of natural disasters such as the home being in a flood plain or if there is a high risk of earthquakes.   Additionally, some states also require that you disclose neighborhood nuisances like a barking dog or any other type of noise nuisance.   The non-disclosure rule applies to everyone.  Even if you sell your house “as is” you still have to abide by the non-disclosure laws of your state.   Below are a list of items that should be included in your property disclosure report.  Some of these may vary from state to state.

• Completed repairs or repairs you were made aware of by the previous owners

• Past or present termite issues

• Any past or present water damage or moisture issues

• Mold

• Lead

• Natural hazards such as the risk of flooding, earthquakes and wildfires

• Past history that includes a notorious haunting or horrific events such as a murder, etc.

• A historical designation that limits remodeling

• Special zoning

• Environmental issues

When in doubt you should disclose.  However, just because you disclosed an issue, doesn’t necessarily mean you are obligated to fix the issue.  You can negotiate the repairs with the buyer as terms of the contract.  Or you could just include an “as is” clause in the contract for the repairs in question.

Talk to your realtor about everything in your home that needs to be disclosed.  Don’t ever keep information from your realtor.  He is there to help you.  Not disclosing important issues is serious business and could land you in a lawsuit later.  You will then have to pay for the repairs anyway.  So do yourself a favor and save everyone the time and trouble and be diligent about what your buyer needs to know.

California pending home sales drop in August

By Andrew Khouri


Buyers signed fewer contracts for homes in California last month, as higher mortgage rates hampered demand, according to a new report.

Pending home sales fell 5% in August from July, the California Assn. of Realtors said Monday. The group’s pending-sales index dropped 9% from last year. The index represents contracts signed but not yet closed — a sign of future market activity.

“Rising interest rates over the past several months at the specter of a tapering of the Fed’s stimulus program sent buyers to the sidelines in August,” the association’s chief economist, Leslie Appleton-Young, said in a statement.

IN DEPTH: Five key takeaways on America’s housing market 

Still, Appleton-Young said the Federal Reserve’s decision last week to maintain its massive bond-buying program should send mortgage rates lower, helping out prospective buyers.

Freddie Mac’s survey of lenders — taken before the Fed’s announcement — showed the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage dropped to 4.5% last week, from 4.57% a week earlier.

Though mortgage rates may take a breather for the moment, economists predict that the Fed’s announcement will only delay an eventually rise to 5% or higher.

The Realtors group also said inventory expanded slightly in August, although it remains extremely tight. The supply of non-distressed homes for sale inched up to 3.1 months in August, from three months in July.

A supply of six months is considered normal.

Apartment building boom spreads to South Bay

By Nick Green, Daily Breeze

Alta South Bay, seen in a rendering, will occupy a 4-acre site at Vermont Avenue and 223rd Street, with the six-story building wrapping around a five-story parking garage. 


Prompted by an “underserved” market for upscale rental housing in the area, a developer has broken ground on a $55 million, 246-unit luxury apartment complex close to County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance.

Alta South Bay, as the complex will be known, will occupy a 4-acre site at Vermont Avenue and 223rd Street, with the six-story building wrapping around a five-story parking garage.

“With this building we’re providing a higher standard of living than currently exists in the older apartment communities in the area,” said Brian Hansen, Southern California regional director for Wood Partners in its Newport Beach office. “There are several hundred thousand jobs within a five-mile radius and we’re providing an affordable living option, but with a luxury experience and high-quality finishes in an undersupplied market.”

The 300,000-square-foot building at 22425 S. Vermont Ave. will house 143 one-bedroom units, 96 two-bedroom and seven three-bedroom. Amenities include a high-end “resort-style” pool deck, business center and Internet cafe.

Leasing is expected to begin in summer 2015. Rental amounts were not available.

It’s the fourth large apartment project in the county for Wood Partners, which was the nation’s No. 2 ranked multifamily housing developer last year based on its starts of more than 5,000 units.

This month the company opens a $75 million, 298-unit luxury apartment complex near Warner Park in Woodland Hills.

Next summer, a 290-unit apartment project in downtown Los Angeles is slated for completion.

In 2010, Wood Partners built a 218-unit Hollywood apartment complex it later sold.

Still, the company’s move into the South Bay is relatively unusual, said real estate investment company Marcus & Millichap in its third quarter report for the county.

“In the South Bay, where lower rents rarely support construction, apartment operations are holding up nicely,” the company said. “Vacancy continues to track lower in the area as household formation gains momentum, giving managers impetus to raise rents.”

Still, the apartment construction industry, which has benefited from low single-family home sales in the wake of the recession, is also showing signs it has peaked, Marcus & Millichap said.

Builders will complete 6,000 rentals this year, double last year’s figure, in what constitutes two consecutive years of above-average apartment development in the city of Los Angeles. That is expected to push vacancy rates up to 4.1 percent by the end of the year.

Analysts have noted that demographic change is driving the market, including young buyers who are rejecting homes in far-off suburbs in favor of rental units closer to jobs.

Alta South Bay is close to the expanding medical office market in Torrance, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and several major corporate headquarters.

Indeed, its pending development has already prompted, in part, the construction of a retail plaza a few blocks away at the northwest corner of Sepulveda Boulevard and Normandie Avenue, just outside the Torrance city limits.

The 4.2-acre Harbor Gateway site was formerly the location of Ricky and Ronnie’s Drive-In.

The 50,000-square-foot Storm Plaza will have a 14,500-square-foot CVS pharmacy as its largest tenant.



“With the improving economy, demand for quality retail space has intensified,” said Jay Ahluwalia, president of Torrance-based Storm Properties, the project’s developer. “Since we started building, phone inquiries to our broker, and leasing activity, have increased dramatically.”

The area has more than 193,000 daytime employees, the company said.

The project will be built in three phases, in part because the site straddles the border of Los Angeles and the unincorporated county.

A second phase is projected to start this fall with all construction completed in 2014.

Big Crowd Expected for San Pedro Meeting on Waterfront Progress

By Donna Littlejohn, The Daily Breeze

From the arrival of the USS Iowa battleship to the push to finish work on an inlet and plaza, progress on San Pedro’s waterfront has been noteworthy over the past year.

But there are miles left to go.

At 6 tonight, Port of Los Angeles officials will talk about where the project has been and where it’s going at an annual public meeting held to update the community on waterfront progress. The meeting will be at the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Harbor Hotel in San Pedro.

“It’s always one of our most fun meetings, we get a big crowd,” said port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz.

Among the key topics tonight will be the redevelopment of Ports O’ Call Village, for years a mainstay along San Pedro’s waterfront that fell on hard times decades ago. The L.A. Waterfront Alliance, the development team now in exclusive negotiations with the port for the project, will unveil some of its preliminary ideas at a public meeting set for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Warner Grand Theatre.

There are about 20 days left on the original 240-day exclusive negotiation time period between the developers — The Ratkovich Co. and Jerico Development — and the port, which will likely ask for a 120-day extension.

“Meetings with them have been very good,” Knatz said.

But Knatz also will touch on the waterfront’s overall progress in 2012, a banner year for the project. Among the biggest hits: the World War II battleship that home berthed in San Pedro after years of discussion and an initial rejection by the port, which said there would be no room.

“They’ve actually exceeded their numbers that we’d forecast for the first year,” Knatz said of how the ship has done since arriving in July 2012. “We had forecast 220,000 (visitors) for the first year and they actually had about 330,000.”

Also opening in the summer of 2012 was Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles, where first-year attendance was about 86,000, far below the ambitious 200,000 visitors initially projected.

The venue, Knatz said, will be diversifying by bringing in possibly a restaurant and/or brewery. A women’s roller derby team recently relocated to the remodeled warehouse.

“Part of building a critical mass is staging big events here,” Knatz said.

A visit in October by the famed Cirque du Soleil troupe at San Pedro’s outer harbor is expected to bring 46,000 visitors, Knatz said, and discussions are ongoing with other promoters to bring events “on the scale” of Cirque to the area.

One of the most visible projects through 2012 has been the ongoing construction on creating a new inlet — or water cut — and town plaza just north of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum at Sixth Street and Harbor Boulevard.

Work on the water cut is finished and the land-side improvements — the plaza will be able to hold 10,000 people for outdoor events and performances — will be done by next summer in time for a tall ships festival coming to the port in August 2014.

In Wilmington, work is underway on the Wilmington Marina Parkway, with a youth sailing facility and the Avalon Triangle Park set for the future. A Red Car museum also is planned in the old Bekins building, but rehabilitation has taken longer than anticipated on that structure, Knatz said.

It was 10 years ago in October that the port hired a New York-based architectural firm to come up with initial plans for a waterfront makeover.

Plans for a “bridge-to-breakwater” promenade with attractions were redone over the years. Work has been done in fits and starts, but progress has been back on track in recent years.

A remade Ports O’ Call, seen as a cornerstone of San Pedro’s waterfront, undoubtedly will be the focus of the next several years. Developers are expected to announce an anchor tenant in coming months as discussion continues on a possibe new name for the 30-acre site.

Six Questions You Must Ask Your Real Estate Agent

Finding the right real estate agent can mean the difference between a quick sale or not making a sale at all.  Therefore, it’s imperative that you ask your potential real estate agent some qualifying questions before you make any type of commitment.   Below are a few questions you must ask if you want to find a reputable, qualified realtor to sell your home quickly and effectively.

1.  Do you have any references?  Always check the references of the person you’re thinking about hiring.  If they aren’t good, find another realtor.  Don’t just settle for the first realtor that comes along, unless your research proves they are in fact the most qualified.

2.  What issues do you see with my home?  A seasoned realtor will be able to quickly spot the potential drawbacks of your home.  And an honest realtor will be willing to be upfront with you and discuss the drawbacks and how they would overcome them.  If a realtor doesn’t point out any flaws, it could be they’re inexperienced or they ‘re just trying to get the contract to sell your home.  You need to find a realtor who will be upfront and honest with you and one who can communicate effectively with you at all times.

3.  How many clients do you have currently?  If you find a realtor that currently has 50 listings, his time may be spread too thin and he may not have enough time to spend marketing your home.  Additionally, if you find a realtor that has too few clients, it could be that he doesn’t have many referrals.  Or it could be that he is new and inexperienced.  In either case, you will have to weigh the facts in order to decide if that person is right for you.

4.  Will you provide me with a CMA (comparative market analysis?)  An experienced realtor will come to your first appointment with a CMA already pre-prepared for you.

5.  Is the area growing or declining?   A good realtor should be familiar with the area and its current trends.  In addition, a seasoned realtor should be able to spot the signs of a neighborhood that is in decline and offer some recommendations to you.

6.  How will you market my home?  Your realtor should perform all the marketing tasks that it takes to sell your home quickly.  That includes listing your home on MLS and as other many internet sites as possible.  They should also have quality pictures and virtual tours taken.  And have printed color flyers and brochures available.  Additionally, they should perform as many open houses as necessary.  If your realtor tells you they don’t do open houses, consider finding another realtor.

Finding the right realtor to sell your home is one of the most important decisions you will need to make.  Hiring the wrong realtor could cost you thousands of dollars and the loss of potential buyers.   Therefore, you should take all the time you need to make an educated decision about who you want representing you and your home.


Home Loans Rates May get a Breather

Fed’s decision on its stimulus is expected to hold down mortgage rates, but not for long.

Daily Breeze– By E. Scott Reckard & Andrew Khouri

The Federal reserves decision to stay the course on its stimulus program should provide mortgage borrowers relief from the tend of higher rates– but not for long. Economists say the announcement only delays the inevitable: a return to 30-year mortgage rates at 5% or higher. Fannie Mae, the largest mortgage finance company, expects the 30 year rate will be at 5.25% by the fourth quarter of 2014, and Moody’s is projecting it will hit 5.5% by that time.

We’re expecting the economy to return to more normal activity said Celia Chen, a senior director of Moody’s economic research staff, specializing in housing economics. Fixed mortgage rates were lower this week even before the Fed announced its surprise decision. The average for a 30-year loan fell to 4.5% from 4.57% last week according to Freddie Mac’s survey of lenders, conducted through early Wednesday. The 15-year loan declined to 3.54% from 3.59%

Then Wednesday afternoon, Fed chairman Ben S. Bernanke stunned Wall Street by saying the economy is still too sluggish to start tapering off on the stimulus, as many economists had expected the Fed would do. For now, Bernanke said, the central bank will continue buying $85 billion a month in Treasury and mortgage-backed securities, pumping money into the economy and pushing down interest rates. The terms that lenders were offering on 30-year loans eased immediately after Bernanke’s announcement, said Jeff Lazerson at loan brokerage Mortgage Grader in Laguna Niguel.

The rate for a 30-year loan with no discount points dropped to 4.375% from 4.5% , Lazerson said. To obtain a 30-year fixed mortgage at 4.125% borrowers were paying on point down from two points Wednesday morning. It remains to be seen whether the threat of higher rates will put a damper on the housing recovery. The median home price has flattened over the last two months in Southern California after a remarkable run of big price increases over the last year. That softening could be related to mortgage rates, which have risen more than 1 percentage point since May.

But home sales remain strong, according to a report Thursday from the National Assn. of Realtors. Sales of previously owned homes reached their highest level in six years. August’s annualized rate of 5.48 million  units is 13.2% ahead of the same month last year.

Prices are up nationally as well, the Realtors group reported. The median sale price for resale homes in August rose 14.7% from a year earlier to $212,100, the biggest year-over-year increase since the height of the housing bubble in 2005. In the short term, rising rates are driving more buyers to close on homes, fearing rates will rise even more, said the groups chief economist, Lawrence Yun. But further rate increases may take buyers out of the market.

“Tight inventory is limiting choices in many areas,” Yun said in a statement “Higher mortgage interest rates mean affordability inst as favorable as it was, and restrictive mortgage lending standards are keeping some otherwise qualified buyers from completing a purchase”. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday clearly expressed reservations about the strength of the broader economic recovery.

Retail sales and industrial production are growing more slowly than economists had expected, and consumer sentiment fell for the second straight month in September to the lowest  level since April, noted Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft.

This is part was why the Fed chose to keep up its massive bond buying program, Nothaft said.

It also cited the tightening of financial conditions observed in recent months, which in the case of the housing market means the rise in mortgage rates since May.

But Nothaft also said the longer-term trend is for 30-year home loans which in may dropped to as low as 3.35%    on average, to rise back toward more normal levels, meaning mortgages starting with a 5. Freddie Mac projects that the rate will average about 4.5% or less for the rest of this year, “and stimulate further improvement in home sales and home-price appreciation,” Nothaft said in an email.

However, he said we are still projecting the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to be at or above 5% by the end of 2014.

How The Top Realtors Sell So Many Homes

Have you ever wondered how the top selling realtors sell so many homes?  It’s because they know the tricks of the trade that will sell your home quickly and the things that will get you the highest possible offers.   Let’s talk about some of those little tricks realtors use to help sell your home at lightning speed.

1.  Don’t give in to the temptation to overprice your home.  You should find out exactly what your home is worth, then take 15 to 20 percent off of that.  This creates a buying frenzy.  You will begin to receive multiple offers and once a buyer wants a home, they don’t want anyone else to steal it out from under them.  That means you could quite possibly start receiving offers that are actually over your asking price.  This is the number one strategy used by top selling realtors to sell your home quickly and for top dollar.

2.  You must keep your house in pristine condition at all times.   You never know when someone might want to tour your home.  Most people are busy and won’t want to wait until you are available.  They will go on to the next listing if yours is not available when they are ready to view it.   Therefore,  try to avoid adding a by appointment only clause to your listing whenever possible.

3.  You only have one chance to make a good first impression.  Your curb appeal must be clean, crisp and inviting.  It  won’t matter how great the interior of your home looks if you can’t get the buyer through the front door.  Talk to your realtor about how to enhance your curb appeal and how to keep those good impressions going throughout your house.

4.  De-personalize your home.  Remove all personal decor and family photos from your home.  It’s extremely important that your buyer can easily picture himself living there.  He won’t be able to do that if he sees your wedding pictures and pictures of your dog around every turn.

5.  Remove anything you are not using from your home.  Pack all your clothes  except for the small amount you will need over the next few months.  Pack up as much furniture and decor as you can.  The goal is to make your home appear bigger.  A half empty closet makes your home seem like it has plenty of closet space versus an overstuffed closet that your buyer will perceive as too small.  The same goes for your furniture, etc.

6.  Brighten your home as much as possible.  Open all your window coverings and if you have dark areas in your home, you should consider adding some additional lighting.  A light, bright space will make your home more appealing and make it feel more warm and inviting.  Many buyers won’t even consider buying a home that appears dark and cave like.

Top selling realtors have many tips and tricks they use to sell homes,  these are just a few.  Talk to your realtor about the different ways they can recommend that would help sell your home more quickly.  A top producing realtor can make the difference between a quick sale and no sale.  He can also make the difference between a mediocre offer and multiple top dollar offers.  That’s why it’s in your best interest to do a little research and not hire the first person who comes along to sell your home.