Top Scams of 2012 from the Better Business Bureau

Well, you've heard about scams and may have even gotten a few in your email about some poor guy who can't get his trillions of dollars out of his country and wants you to help him.  You know the one where if you just send him your checking account information or better yet your savings account info, the trillions of dollars will be sent to you for safekeeping or that you will get a huge fee of $$$$ millions of dollars for your assistance. You've heard it before "If it is too good to be true, it usually is".  So, here is the link from John Barrett, Jr.'s YOU Magazine that was reprinted from the Kiplinger.com site.  

Brief Real Estate Provisions for 2013

Here is information I received today from the National Association of Realtors. Real Estate Provisions in “Fiscal Cliff” Bill On January 1 both the Senate and House passed H.R. 8, legislation to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The bill will be signed shortly by President Barack Obama. Below are a summary of real estate related provisions in the bill. Real Estate Tax Extenders
  1. Mortgage Cancellation Relief is extended for one year to January 1, 2014
  2. Deduction for Mortgage Insurance Premiums for filers making below $110,000 is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012
  3. Leasehold Improvements: 15 year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements on commercial properties is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.
  4. Energy Efficiency Tax Credit: The 10% tax credit (up to $500) for homeowners for energy improvements to existing homes is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.
  5. Permanent Repeal of Pease Limitations for 99% of Taxpayers
Under the agreement so called “Pease Limitations” that reduce the value of itemized deductions are permanently repealed for most taxpayers but will be reinstituted for high income filers. These limitations will only apply to individuals earning more than $250,000 and joint filers earning above $300,000. These thresholds have been increased and are indexed for inflation and will rise over time. Under the formula, the amount of adjusted gross income above the threshold is multiplied by 3%. That amount is then used to reduce the total value of the filer’s itemized deductions. The total amount of reduction cannot exceed 80% of the filer’s itemized deductions. These limits were first enacted in 1990 (named for the Ohio Congressman Don Pease who came up with the idea) and continued throughout the Clinton years. They were gradually phased out as a result of the 2001 tax cuts and were completely eliminated in 2010-2012. Had we gone over the fiscal cliff, Pease limitations would have been reinstituted on all filers starting at $174,450 of adjusted gross income. Capital Gains Capital Gains rate stays at 15% for those the top rate of $400,000 individual and $450,000 joint return. After that, any gains above those amounts will be taxed at 20%. The 250/500k exclusion for sale of principle residence remains in place. Estate Tax The first $5 million dollars in individual estates and $10 million for family estates are now exempted from the estate tax. After that the rate will be 40 percent, up from 35 percent. The exemption amounts are indexed for inflation. So, what do you think about these changes?

New City Council Member

I received the folloiwng information from the City Clerk's Office regarding the appointment of Dr. Pradeep Gupta. "Dr. Pradeep Gupta appointed to fill City Council seat vacated by Hon. Kevin Mullin through November 5, 2013; Special Election to be held The South San Francisco City Council took action at its December 31, 2012 Special Meeting to appoint resident Dr. Pradeep Gupta to the position of City Councilmember through certification of the results of a Special Election to be held on November 5, 2013. The Special Election will be consolidated with the regularly scheduled November 5, 2013 Municipal Election. " Congratulations Dr. Gupta.   

Meeting to Discuss Problems with SSF Sewer Lateral Ordinance

Yesterday,  some  members of SAMCAR (San Mateo County Association of Realtors) met with Public Works Director Terry White, and Inspector Barry Mammini to discuss the problems with having a City Inspector come out to the property to do these inspections.  Annie Oliva, current President of SAMCAR, told of the inconvenience of having to schedule a meeting with an inspector and the plumber only to find out at the last minute that it was canceled.  But the biggest issue was the fact that South San Francisco is the only city on the Peninsula that requires a City Inspector to be present. Annie wanted them to know that it was placing a burden on the agents to allow City officials onto and sometimes into the property to complete these inspections.  She asked why it was necessary to have an inspector at the property if there was a qualified plumber to run the tests as other cities have done.  She also stressed that it is understood that there is an ordinance for these inspections, unlike the Smoke Detector and Health and Safety Inspections that have bee "required" by the SSF Fire Department for so many years.  It was also stated that we were told it was a law for many years and it has caused many problems for agents and especially for sellers. The issue with this new Sewer Lateral Ordinance was not the fact that the sellers had to comply, as agents understand and relay this information to their sellers, just the problems  of having the City there.  It was stated that we don't need the City telling us how to do our job, that the City wants too much control and that this is more like Big Brother watching over the sales process. I brought up the situation on one of my listings that is probably very famous by now where the inspector came out and discovered something he thought to be illegal - and part of it was and could easily be rectified while doing the sewer lateral work.  But by just asking a question of the Building Department, turned it into a huge financial burden on the seller.  It ended up costing the seller over $8,000 to update a structure that was built with a permit back in the 50's but the owner didn't have the permit.  The City found it later just before the seller would have had to get a demolition permit to tear down the structure at a cost of over $18,000.  Barry said he had no idea his one phone  to the Building Department would have triggered this whole fiasco with the SSF Fire Department. This is why we don't want City officials on the property.  The City does not keep good permit records so how can they say it was not done with permits!! One of the agents said he knows quite a few people who want to sell but won't due to the problems with the City. Terry White seemed genuinely interested in working with us.  It was also stated that by being at the property, the inspector could ask the plumber to move the video back and forth, stop at certain places, or water may need to be flushed so the video was clearer.  However it was also stated that he could view it better on his office.  So, it seems to me that he may not even need to be there at all.  He said in the past, bogus videos were given to the city to show they did not need repair.  However, I thought that was odd because why would a plumber send in a video where no work was needed.  Seems the plumber would want to make money, not pass up an opportunity to turn down work.  Maybe I 'm missing something. A few suggestions were brought up as to how to accommodate both sides.  Terry White said he did not make the final decision but thought the ideas may just work.  Maybe we could try it for six months and see if the solutions satisfy both sides. Some of the ideas that came up were: 1. Plumber had to use a color video 2. The address had to be on the video - possibly throughout the video 3. City could put out a list of accepted plumbers. When the meeting was over, I felt very good about what had transpired and felt hopeful that we will be able to work together to satisfy both sides. Any thoughts on this?  

Homes Are Selling Like Hotcakes!

The Average Days on the Market for South San Francisco in September 2011 was 51 days.  In 2012, it was just 26 days on the market. The Average Sales Price in September 2011 was $497,106 to September 2012, it was $556,750.  A nice rise in price, wouldn't you say?  Here's how some cities in California did. One Cool thing hotcakes

FHA Waiver For Property Flipping

Good News!!  FHA just announced that if a buyer finds a single family property that an investor has recently purchased, and done some fixups, they are waiving the 90-day  "flip" rule until December 31, 2014.  Before this waiver came into place, if a buyer wanted to purchase a home using FHA financing, it could not be a "flip" house.  In other words, the FHA buyer could not buy a home that had been resold within 90 days.  This waiver has now been extended until December 31, 2014. This is good news for both the investor and the FHA buyer.  Many times FHA buyers are limited on the type of home they can purchase.  FHA does not like their borrower to buy homes that need repair becasue the borrower is only putting down 3.5-5% down payment.  So there is not much equity in the property and they don't want the new buyer to have to worry about repairing anything.  However, lately, FHA has made the purchase easier and quicker,  that is if sellers will accept their offer. Some sellers are hesitant to accept FHA offers mainly because of the low down payment.  If the appraisal does not match the sales price, there is no way to negotiate with the borrower due to the low down payment.  However, lately, I have noticed that when an FHA offer is accepted, the process goes very smoothly and in some cases do not take any longer than a regular, larger down payment purchase.  It really is a  nice feeling to help someone get a home who doesn't have much money for a down payment buy they first home. Here is the full report from FHA: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/11/29/2012-28918/federal-housing-administration-fha-temporary-waiver-of-fhas-regulation-on-property-flipping

Second Meeting with Fire Chief on Point of Sale Inspections

Our SAMCAR Committee met Fire Chief Phil White and Luis del Salva today to see if we could agree on their proposed ordinance to do Point of Sale Inspections.  While it was a very cordial meeting with both sides trying to get the other side to understand their point of view, there was no agreement.  SAMCAR does not want any Point of Sale Inspections as we represent both buyers and sellers and do not want any government agency inserted into the contract.  Why should a seller who has owned a home for 20, 30 or more years, have an inspection that may or may not have needed a permit when the home was upgraded, now be scrutinized by City officials in the name of safety. As I have said all along and the Realtors all agree that safety is very important, but  you can't fix everything.  Many examples were brought up that could be dangerous that existed when the home is for sale that the Fire Department wants fixed.   But how does one know when a new buyer comes along that they won't make improvements without permits or without a knowledge of safety?  Just because the Fire Department fixes a problem today, does not mean it will be fixed forever. The State of California allows for the seller to certify certain things be done, such as installation of smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and correctly strapped water heaters as an example. The Chief wants to be certain that they are done.  This is the reason for the inspection.  When he stated that he wanted someone other than the seller or the Realtors, to be responsible, even another third party, I showed him in the proposed ordinance that the City will not have any  liability even if this ordinance was passed the way it was written.  .  It is stated in this proposed ordinance that "NEITHER THE ENACTMENT OF THIS CHAPTER.......SHALL IMPOSE ANY MANDATORY DUTY UPON THE CITY TO COMPLETELY AND ACCURATELY INSPECT THE SUBJECT PROPERTY,  REPORT INFORMATION FROM ITS RECORDS OR IMPOSE ANY LIABILITY UPON THE CITY FOR ANY ERROS OR OMMISSIONS ..." So why have an inspection at all if no one is responsible from the City?  Why have an inspection if the City does not have a duty to completely and accurately inspect the property, or even report permit information and not be liable? When we again brought up the 4th Amendment, he stated that safety was the issue and that he had every right to inspect the property as it was differently that the California Penal Code. The Chief left saying that he would send a letter to us if he thought of anything differently, as he will be "thinking outside the box". Do you want to have the City come into your home to inspect for what they believe to be safety problems, which could cost you thousands of dollars?  Please share your thoughts.  

Your Chance to Get on South San Francisco City Council

Tonight is the night they will appoint the new mayor at 7 pm at 33 Arroyo Drive in South San Francisco.  Kevin Mullin will be moving on to State Assembly so there will be a new seat opening up for City Council. Have you ever thought of running for a public office?  Would you like to make a change in City government?  Would you like to know more about your City and how it works?  Well, now is the time to come forward and get involved by getting on South San Francisco's City Council.