Posts Tagged ‘California’

CA Supreme Court to Review Legality of Dual Agency

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

The California Supreme Court will soon have a chance to review the practice of dual agency, where a broker (either through one agent or two agents who work for the same broker) represents both the buyer and seller in the sale of real property. California is a state that allows this practice, although the California Association of Realtors has penned rules that require full disclosure of such situations to all parties. Nevertheless, when one agent/broker represents both sides of a sale transaction there is a big conflict of interest, and the possibility of misrepresentation and breach of agency duties is highly possible. I have always been against dual agency, but I have represented both buyer and seller in transactions – there are rare situations where the scenario can work effectively. I think it would be better for all sellers and buyers if it were not allowed. images

Here is an example of a typical dual agency dilemma for an agent: If a seller tells his agent something in confidence, say what is his bottom line for an acceptable sales price, and that agent then represents the buyer – who asks what price they should offer on the home – the agent is placed in a very precarious situation. The agent in this example owes a duty to both sides, but how can she answer  her buyer’s question without betraying the seller’s confidence? She knows what the seller will take, but it is her duty to get the seller the best offer possible. Similarly, it is her duty to do her best on behalf of her buyer now, so it puts her in a hard place.

The case at hand stems from a sale of a luxury home in Malibu, in which the buyer (represented by a Coldwell Banker agent) claimed the listing agent (a different Coldwell Banker agent) failed to disclose to him that his home was much smaller in square footage than advertised – this claiming that the price was inflated for the size of the home.

I believe that dual agency should never be allowed unless the broker is also an attorney, and even then I have doubts. After all, it is not allowed with attorneys – could you imagine hiring counsel for the opposing side in a court battle! This is a very sensitive area and many agents do not understand the legalities involved. It will be interesting to see what the court decides.


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Everything You Need to Know About California Property Taxes

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

With the deadline for payment of the second installment of property taxes already here, here is some helpful information for all property tax payers: taxman

Annual property tax bills are sent out once a year, on October 1, and are payable in two installments. The first installment is due November 1 and is delinquent if not received by 5:00 PM on or postmarked by December 10. The second installment is due February 1 and is delinquent if not receive by 5:00 on or postmarked by April 10. A 10% penalty fee is assessed for delinquency on the first payment, plus a $10 fee is assessed for a delinquent payment on the second payment.

Home buyers: If you close escrow on a house after the tax bills have been issued to the seller in the Fall, you will not receive an additional copy or second reminder before the second installment is due, but you are still liable. Futhermore, the bill(s) you may have from the previous owners may not have your name on them, but you are still liable. If you do not have the bills or have any questions, please see below to contact your county tax assessor.


Installment          Due Date          Delinquency Date       Penalty (if delinquent)

1st: November     December 1      December 10               10% of amount due

2nd: February      April 1               April 10                        10% of amount due + $10


1st installment: Covers taxes from  July 1- December 31

2nd installment: Covers taxes from January 1- June 30

Changes: Keep in mind that most counties have a cutoff time in which to make changes, which is around March in the year the bills are sent. If you have any questions please contact your local tax assessor’s office.

Tax Assessor Offices from Los Angeles to San Diego Counties:

San Diego County Tax Assessor

Los Angeles County Tax Assessor

Orange County Tax Assessor

San Bernardino County Tax Assessor

Riverside County Tax Assessor

Supplemental Tax Bills: You may receive a supplemental tax bill during your first year of ownership of a home. The supplemental bill covers additional taxes owed based on the purchase price of the home (as property taxes are calculated on sales price in California). Please note that supplemental tax bills are not paid out of the lender impound account, and it is the responsibility of the new owner to pay them upon request.

Thank you to Chandra Self of Eaton Escrow for contributing the above information!

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Homeowners: New CA Law to Protect Your Property From Probate

Monday, December 14th, 2015

California Assembly Bill AB-139 will take effect January 1, 2016. It will allow homeowners to avoid probate and designate one or more beneficiaries to inherit their properties upon their death, without the creation of a trust. Upon the death of the homeowner, ownership would pass immediately to the beneficiary, without having to go through probate proceedings. dreamstime_5338072

Designation of a beneficiary in the deed does not take away any rights of the property owner during her/his lifetime. She/he retains 100% control over the property during lifetime, and can still sell, place liens on the property, or borrow against the property with no need to inform the beneficiary named in the deed. The homeowner is also free to revoke the designation at any time during his or her life.

This low cost alternative is a great way to protect your property from probate. If you would like to discuss taking advantage of this new law, contact my highly recommended colleagues at In a Pinch Business Services at 760-536-3637, or visit The fee for creation of this document is $95. You can also contact your attorney.

For more information on the new bill please Click here



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California Real Estate is Heating Up

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015


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Your HOA Dues May Soon Get a LOT More Expensive

Friday, August 1st, 2014

If you live in an HOA community in California, you’d better start collecting your change. California Assembly Bill 698 could take responsibility for exclusive use common areas away from home owner associations, and place it in the laps of homeowners. It is imperative to understand the proposed changes, as it looks like they may soon take effect.images

The bill rewrites  Civil Code section 4775, which specifies who pays to maintain, repair and replace identified areas of residential developments governed by homeowner associations called exclusive use common areas. Under the new rules HOAs will be able to redefine the maintenance requirements for these areas, and homeowners will have to comply - the HOA will be able to bring action against the homeowner for failure to do so. This will give much power to HOA boards and could lead to abuse.

Here is how certain areas are defined under current rules (check your HOA documents to see if you have exclusive use common areas):

Common areas – the associations are liable for maintaining these areas, which typically include areas that server the entire development such as pools, grassy areas,  play areas or parks, and roofs if the development is a condo or townhome.

Separate interest areas – these areas are usually the responsibility of the homeowner, and include the interior of townhomes or condominiums.

Exclusive use common areas – such areas are considered “appurtenant to” to the property (meaning they are attached or considered to go along with the property), and these areas tend to be maintained by the HOAs currently. They usually include areas that are useable by some owners, but not all, such as a deck or patio.

Homeowners who do not comply under the new rules will be subject to assessments or fines by the HOAs. They may also be able to place liens on the properties and force sales where there is no compliance with maintenance requirements. If homeowners are unable to pay, this could lead to foreclosure (worse case scenario).

How to prevent new changes in your HOA policy: The only way you can prevent such changes from occurring in your HOA community is to get involved and vote against any changes that will give broad power to your HOA. You need to be very aware and very involved – you cannot rely on others to deal with this problem because you will need a majority vote and there is strength in numbers.

You also should learn as much as you can about common area and exclusive use common areas boundaries defined in property surveys of your home and development, including any government definitions. The more you know, the better empowered you will be to make a difference in your community and your wallet. To see the bill, click here.


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New CA Policy Could Get Realtors Into Trouble Faster

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Kudos to the California Bureau of Real Estate for a smart new rule that could get unethical agents into trouble more quickly. One of the biggest problems in the real estate industry in California is that agents who are accused of committing unethical acts, or those who break laws or rules, were subject to a lengthy process of administrative hearings. The agent or broker could continue to work in the industry for a long time until it was found they actually did something wrong (and many claims are not even investigated because there is not enough people-power to do so – but that is a story for another blog). images

Here are the highlights of the new rule, which was announced this month:

1. Citations issued more quickly. The new rule, referred to as “cite and fine,” will give the BRE the authority to issue citations and assess fines prior to hearings. The rules apply to both real estate professionals and those who practice real estate without licenses (those without licenses will likely be subject to higher fines).  Fines will go up to $2500.

Here is how the new rule will work. Once a complaint is filed, the administrators will conduct an investigation, audit or examination of records. Action will be taken depending on the type and degree of the violation. Most minor offenses (such as failure to include the agent’s BRE license number on first point of contact marketing materials) will be subject to fines.

2. Offender names will be available via public record. Names of those who are cited and/or fined will not appear on the BRE website or under the licensee’s record, it will appear in the public records for anyone who chooses to submit a request through the Public Records Act.

3.  Money collected from fines will go to a good cause. All the money collected by the BRE from offending licensees and non-licensees will go into a fund that helps victims of real estate fraud. Again – kudos to the BRE.

This new citation and fine system is a step in the right direction toward the prevention of rules and ethics violations in the real estate industry. Hopefully the BRE will continue to refine policies AND licensing and training requirements. I will keep my hopes up that this is the first in a succession of positive moves to make the real estate industry more professional and respected.

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An Historic Day For California Public Education

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Today is the day that will finally change public education here in California for the better. A landmark case was decided that, if upheld, will send the tenure system as we know it to death row, and allow for firing of ineffective

A California judge ruled that tenure violates a student’s basic rights to public education, especially minority children. Personally, I have seen many ineffective teachers in our own local public school system, and I participated in a successful effort to remove an ineffective Principal a few years ago – not an easy battle (and I had to resort to writing a legal memorandum pointing out all the reasons the district could possibly be sued in the future for letting the Principal stay in the position in order to get noticed).

The great thing about this ruling is that it benefits everyone in the education system. It obviously benefits students by eliminating ineffective teachers from classrooms, making way for caring, positive and instrumental teachers who truly want to teach to have the opportunity to educate our children. Also, the firing process will no longer be so difficult (one statistic I heard on a news report was that to fire a teacher in California it takes up to 10 years and half a million dollars…and we wonder why we don’t have more money to spend in our schools!) Just think – schools can bring back programs like music and art, instead of wasting money trying to fire tenured teachers – double whammy!

Teachers will benefit immensely from this new ruling because those teachers who really want to teach, want to make a difference, and are excited to do so – those teachers will have a better chance of actually teaching. If seniority is not longer a priority then the newer, enthusiastic teachers can replace those who no longer enjoy it and are just hanging on to collect a paycheck (and believe me, there are MANY of them, at least here in our district!).

My niece is a teacher in a tough neighborhood school in Los Angeles. A magna cum laude Stanford credentialed graduate, she has been teaching for only  two years and her students love her – she has challenged them to want to work hard, and they do it…scores have risen and she is an enthusiastic and exciting, positive teacher. With her credentials she could have worked anywhere, but chose that school. She is making a difference. These are the types of teachers we need!

This ruling also benefits school administrators because it obviously makes their jobs easier if they have strong groups of teachers at their schools; which in turn makes communities happier and stronger. Maybe violence in schools would decrease if students had strong teachers and role models (I know – a stretch, yet if you think about it, it’s not so far-fetched).

Of course, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. The teachers union is of course very unhappy with the ruling. They say their job is to protect the teachers, but the problem is that the tenure system protects the teachers from being fired at the expense of students, schools and communities. Like many parents, I have lots of bad teacher stories from my childrens’ schools (in fact, I just met with the Principal this week to report more incidents, and suggested that an educational psychologist come in and train teachers how to speak to and respect students – you’d think most would know but not in our experience). It is time for the unions to realize that we are never going to better public education until they just give up archaic systems.

This ruling today is positive and true. I hope that it means we are finally on the right path to improving public education in this state, and even more so in this nation. Maybe in the near future America’s public students will finally be able to compete with those educated in other countries – I think now that such a goal is a light at the end of the tunnel, instead of just a dream.

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California’s Water Crisis

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

The following infographic contains interesting information about the water shortage in California, and how it will effect residents moving forward.


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Home Financing Trends in California

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014


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California Median Home Prices

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014


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