History of Interest Rates

Thought you'd enjoy this history of interest rates over the years. I remember when the rates were 18%. I was an assistant in a real estate office in the early 80's. Since the rates were so high, home sellers, in many cases, carried the loan. They acted as the bank. It was called "Creative Financing." I could not imagine that rates would ever go this low. Great time to buy or refinance. interestrates[carrie.edits]10.9.12

Hot Topic at City Council Special Study Meeting for Home Inspections

If you missed the City Council Study Session for the proposed ordinance for Point of Sale Inspections, here is a bit of what happened.   The place was packed and it was standing room only.  Guess this is hot topic.   Fire Chief, Phil White presented why they should continue the current inspection program as they have been doing it for the past 30 years when Jack Drago begin the program.   It was presented that this program saves lives.   The next person to speak was Russ Lee, a former Fire Chief.  He referred to me by name and said he did not like the language of my postcard that I had sent out informing the citizens of the current program.  He said it was disrespectful.   Now don’t get me wrong, I think the fire department is a great organization overall, however, the inspection program is outrageous.  To you, Russ, I say, whoever is orchestrating this outlandish program is disrespectful to the homeowners of South San Francisco.  This is not the same program that it was in your day.   A couple of residents got up to speak on just that topic.  Bishop Gary Smith of the First Baptist Church complained that the attitude of the inspectors has changed and their inspections are subjective.  They come in looking to find something wrong.  He is angry and wants it to stop.   As a retired Sargent and narcotics officer, he knows exactly how to inspect a property and he said a warrant was necessary to conduct those searches.  That's what I've been saying all along.  Thank you Bishop.  Wish more owners would call or let me know about these situations as you did.   While there were a couple of other residents who came forward to say they wanted the program and to pass this ordinance, many of the residents were upset for one reason or another.   One homeowner said she wanted these ordinances to be put before a vote of the people.  She referenced to the newly adopted Sewer Lateral ordinance that was passed this year without a vote and was not widely publicized.   A rationalization made by the FD that there could be 8 families living in a triplex or that they needed to check the smoke detectors to be sure they are woking. When SAMCAR told them that there is a state law that states owners can self-certify, the FD didn’t trust that it would happen.   There are a few checks and  balances for the smoke and carbon detectors as well as the water heaters.  
  1.  The seller must sign a document that these items are in compliance at close of escrow.
  2. The listing agent’s job is to confirm that the seller complies
  3. The buyer’s agent  checks these items at any time during the sale
  4. Either the buyer or the seller usually has a home inspection and this neutral 3rd party can check these items.
Also, the disclosure paperwork is quite extensive.  There is the Transfer disclosure statement, a 9-page Seller's Supplement Checklist that is quite comprehensive, and then there is the Agent's Visual Inspection.  Some of the real estate companies have extra disclosures.  But, the seller must disclose to the buyer unpermitted rooms, whether or not they have permits, whether or not any work was done without a permit or anything undesirable about the property.  If the seller fails to disclose these items and more, the buyer's recourse is to go to mediation, arbitration, small claims court or a court trial. Who wants to go to court? How difficult is it to push the test button.  One Realtor also said that some warranties on the smoke detectors can be voided if they are tested the way the FD does, by spraying a substance at the detector.  The smoke detector batteries last 6-12 months. Are they going to come back to each and every house every year?   If the FD is worried that too many people are living in an unpermitted rooms and want to be sure all code violations are removed, what’s to stop a new buyer from adding unpermitted rooms after the purchase?  It is important that buildings be safe but are the citizens supposed to give up their rights to an illegal search.  Remember, they are not just checking to see if the smoke detectors are working and the water heaters are strapped correctly, they are going way beyond.  They are at times cutting into a senior citizen's only source of retirement funds to possibly live in an assisted living environment which is in itself very costly. Why not start a program, such as Christmas in July to help seniors who can't afford to fix their roof, paint their home, etc. instead of making life more difficult for sellers.  This is usually their only assest and the FD wants a piece of the pie in terms of expensive permit fees and penalities.  It is not unusual to have penalities of $1,000 a day for every day the work is not completed.   A man’s home is his castle and has an expectancy of privacy.  According to our SAMCAR attorney, these inspections are unconstitutional and an infringement of home seller’s rights.   The most upsetting resident, was a new buyer, who purchased a home and went to the City for permits.  He said what was to be a few thousand dollars has turned into tens of thousands of dollars.  Apparently, they started asking him to paint because the paint was peeling, then he said that they wanted him to open walls.  He was upset because he is still going through this and he sees no end to their requests.  After the meeting I asked Fire Marshall Luis DeSilva to help this poor guy because it just wasn’t right.   Realtors from the San Mateo County Association of Realtors presented cases where there were thousands of dollars in fines and penalties in what was supposed to be a Smoke Detector Inspection or a Home and Safety Inspection.   While the City states there was only $5,000 in fines, SAMCAR has documented information for over $250,000.  This documentation was given to the council with their  presentation.   A reporter, Tay Wiles had contacted me the day before the meeting due to reading this blog.  She wanted more information and then chose to come by the meeting.  If you want to read her story, go to http://southsanfrancisco.patch.com/articles/controversial-home-inspection-ordinance-proposed-to-city-council?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001 for more information.   Another presentation was given by the SAMCAR attorney, Michele Zaccone. She stated that this program is unconstitutional. The reporter didn’t stay until the end so I will fill you in. Mayor Rich Gararino, wanted some clarifications as much paperwork was given to City council from SAMCAR. After some of the council read what they could and asked questions, Garbarino wanted to find a balance between what the Realtors want and what the fire department wants. The fire chief thinks POS inspections is when people are motivated as there is money in the sale(equity from the seller).  This is not always the case . The fire chief, says if there is no equity then the buyer can take on the responsibility. Well, let’s see, the buyer has to have money for a down payment, closing costs which can amount to a  few thousand dollars, money for home inspections, and appraisal.  if the seller can’t pay for the sewer lateral work, which can also be anywhere from $3,000-$10,000, is it right to ask that the buyer come up with even more money for unreasonable work to be done to satisfy the fire department so-called violations? Also, the buyer must up $7,500 to the City until the sewer work has been signed off.  In many cases, this is the buyer’s first home and has just enough money to purchase.  Who has an extra $15,000-$20,000 laying around when purchasing a home? A comment was made that we as Realtors want it to stop because it can be about our commission.  We don’t pay these outrageous fees and penalties, our clients do and it is totally unfair. The mayor asked what other cities do.  The response was that the FC has more passion(than the other Fire Chiefs?) and that is the reason he wants this program continued. It was also stated that the other cities are understaffed and overwhelmed. Someone got up later and made a comment that he thought the other FC would probably not be thrilled to hear they don’t have the passion that Chief White has.  I agree. The funniest comment of the night was when John Gieseker of Prudential, said the inspection found a toilet in the garage that was probably there when the home was built as the toilet was stamped with 1949, the same  date the home was built.  It was on the cement floor, looking undisturbed since the home was built.  The city wanted it taken out because it didn’t show up in county records.  His comment” How many fires have been started with a toilet?” When the mayor asked the realtors if we could live with the ordinance as written.  We responded that it we could not.  He asked about the ten items in the list of items that were to be inspected.   It was quite frustrating because we don’t want the ordinance at all.  John Penna, a former City Council member and Realtor,  said it the best.  He stated “The real issue is illegal entry!  It is unconstitutional!  It is not the job of the City to police someone’s home.  This is not a Health and Safety issue.” That says it all. City council would not make a decision and said they needed more time.  They suggested that we meet with the Fire department and come up with some type of agreement. After the meeting I had the pleasure of meeting Luis Del Salvo the Fire Marshall.  I explained my problem with the situation and the lies that from the city stating that there is an ordinance in the past.  Luis said the realtors are calling them for the inspections.  I told him that’s because their brochure states it is required.  Until recently, the SAMCAR website stated that this was required becasue they were told by the City that it was.  That has since changed.  I told him the FD needs to let the homeowners know that they do not have to allow entry which they are not doing. I must say, that Arthur Mosqueda the  Batallion Chief, was a big help to the sellers of a particular listing I had recently. Upon having the sewer lateral inspection, Barry Mamini, the public works inspector, found a second wye in the lateral that should not have been there.  He discovered an out building attached to the detached garage. He immediately called the City Planning Department to find out if there was a permit for this building.  They couldn’t find one.  The owner, having lived there since 1979, also did not have  permit documentation.   Next thing I know, there is a violation sent to the seller. With limited time, we were told it needed to be demolished or brought up to code.  Arthur, working also as the seller’s contractor, pushed the city to be reasonable that the building looked too good to not have a permit as it had the same exterior as the original building.  We also brought up the fact that when the house had been remodeled and enlarged 20 years ago with a permit,  no one from the city had a problem with this building.  It was a good thing that the seller still had the plans that showed this building showing that the City knew it was there.  With Arthur’s help, the city found an old paper file that showed it was built in 1952 with a permit. So instead of an $18,000 demolition repair bill, it was an $8,000 repair to bring it up to code.  The sellers think of Arthur as their “savior”.  Thank you Arthur, it could have gotten much uglier if not for your help.   But, why wasn’t the permit found originally?  For the FD to be so aggressive, they need to be absolutely sure their information is correct.  I have heard other similar stories.  Oh, the fee to obtain a permit for an $8,000 repair was $700!!  That's outrageous.   I bet if you went into any of the FD employees’ homes, including the City council and FC White, you will find code violations.  Codes change everyday.   Oh, and one more thing – the City is exempt from this ordinance if they are party to a transfer of title.  How convenient.  That’s like the politicians who are exempt from insider trading.  But don’t get me started.   I believe these inspections are a revenue generating program at the expense of unsuspecting homeowners.  Has this happened to you or a neighbor of yours?  Please give me some feedback.  These illegal entries have to stop and with your help they can. Feel free to contact me for the full staff report and proposed ordinance or contact the City.  


IMPORTANT MEETING!!! < Are you a homeowner in South San Francisco?  Then you will be very interested in the very important Special Study Session Meeting that will be taking place this Wednesday, October 17 at 6:30 pm at:   Municipal Services Building Council Chambers 33 Arroyo Drive South San Francisco, CA 94080   Over many, many years, South San Francisco has led the residential sellers and their agents to believe that it is required to have a Home and Safety Inspection as well as a Smoke Detector Inspection(at a cost of $125).  The City has said it is mandatory but it is only a ruse to get into homes and find code violations such as unpermitted work or alterations.  It doesn’t matter if the work was completed by a previous owner, or if the repairs, additions, were done 50+ years ago when a permit was not even needed.   Once found, then the seller’s ability to close escrow depends upon repairing those violations along with penalties and fees, especially if they are not completed in a timely fashion.   Did you have your countertops changed and didn’t get a permit? Or what was code back in 1970, or 1960, or 1950 is no longer code today could be called as a violation and the work has to be upgraded or you could face sometimes unreasonable fees.   Look around your home and think about any upgrades you have done or even a previous may have done that you think are minor.  Not to South San Francisco.   Because the San Mateo County Association of Realtors are trying to put a stop to it, South San Francisco now wants to make it an law so that they can come into your home when you sell.  It will be the “Point of Sale Inspection”.   Please come to the meeting and show your support by just being at this Wednesday, October 17 at 6:30 pm Meeting when we present the scary and expensive stories that many sellers have had to endure when all they wanted to do was to sell their home.   Learn about your rights.  You could be selling your home soon or know someone who is considering it.  Or down the road you may and then it will be too late if this law is passed.  Let them know and please pass on this email.  

Whom Do You Know Has Been Abused By Bogus And Illegal SSF Inspections?

As you know, the sellers in South San Francisco have been repeatedly abused over the years by these unreasonable and unwarranted inspections.   I am  not talking about a few hundred dollars in penalities or fees, I am talking about thousands and thousands of dollars in penalities and fees, not to mention the cost of the repairs.  I am on a subcommittee of our Board of Realtors so I have heard some hair-raising stories.  One agent told us just recently of a $37,000 penalty that was levied against a seller.  Yes, you heard it right - $37,000 and that did not include the repairs.  The city just penalizes the seller to the tune of $1,000 a day to get work completed!  Now that is what I call cruel and unusual punishment. Many of these so called violations were improvements made by a previous owner. So if a previous owner changed their kitchen countertops and even though no structural work was completed, the City decides that since it was not done with a permit, there is a penalty that has to be paid.  Of course, then a permit is needed.  Ridiculous, right?  Well it has happened and continues to happen. DO YOU KNOW OF ANY ABUSE BY SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO THAT HAS EITHER HAPPENED TO YOU OR A NEIGHBOR?  THIS HAS TO STOP AND WITH YOUR HELP IT CAN!!! Please contact me as soon as possible so these true accounts can be presented to the City. I do not have any stories from my clients, because I became aware that they were not legal(by more than one attorney's profession opinion) a few years ago.  Here's what happened.  When the buyer's agent asked for the inspections and I told him the seller would not allow the City into the property, his broker called the City to find out if it was required.  The City said it was and that if the seller did not allow the inspections, the City would "slap a lien on the property and there would be penalities" for the buyer once they took possession.  My response has always been "show me the ordinance and my seller will comply".  We did close escrow on that property.  To this day, no lien has been filed against that property and no penalities were paid.  Do you know why?  Because they have no right to do so and they know it.  But it did not keep them from bullying the agents and sellers.     Each and every time I listed a property, I had to educate the other agent and get into long discussions with them or their broker.  While I felt it was such a waste of time,  I also realizede that I was educating them one office at a time. So, if you were subjected to these unwarranted and financially destructive inspections, please let me know ASAP.

Is It Only SSF That You Need A Warrant Or Does Everyone Have That Right?”

  Great Question!!! I had a couple of people contact me regarding my postcard on the Warrantless and Illegal searches in South San Francisco. In response to your question: .  “ Is it only SSF that you need a Warrant or does everyone have that right?”   Here’s the short answer: Accordingly to the 4th Amendment of our Constitution, everyone has that right.   Here’s the long answer:   Below are comments from me but, most importantly, these excerpts  in black came from our Board of Realtor attorney.   The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and persons or things to be seized. ***** Article 1, Section 13 of the California Constitution: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, may not be violated; and a warrant may not issue except on probable cause, supported by oath or affirmative, particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons and things to be seized. ***** Chapter 1.12 Right of Entry for Inspection, South San Francisco Municipal Code 1.12.010 Authorized—Notice—Warrant. Whenever necessary to make an inspection to enforce any ordinance or resolution, or whenever there is reasonable cause to believe there exists an ordinance or resolution violation in any building or upon any premises within the jurisdiction of the city, any authorized official of the city may, upon presentation of proper credentials, enter such building or premises at all reasonable times to inspect the same or to perform any duty imposed upon him by ordinance; provided, that except in emergency situations or when consent of the owner and/or occupant to the inspection has been otherwise obtained, he shall give the owner and/or occupant, if they can be located after reasonable effort, twenty-four hours’ written notice of the authorized official’s intention to inspect. The notice transmitted to the owner and/or occupant shall state that the property owner has the right to refuse entry and that in the event such entry is refused, inspection may be made only upon issuance of a search warrant by a duly authorized magistrate. In the event the owner and/or occupant refuses entry after such request has been made, the official is empowered to seek assistance from any court of competent jurisdiction in obtaining such entry. (Ord. 643 § 1, 1972) Now here are comments from me: However, if there is reasonable cause, such as smoke and flames coming out of a home, that could be considered “reasonable cause”.  But what SSF has been doing is making it mandatory to check to see that your smoke detectors are working, something that any homeowner can do, or even the buyer or buyer’s agent can do. No City inspector is needed.  Also, the City is charging $125 to the homeowner to come into your home to do this inspection. While they are there, they start looking for problems that they can penalize the homeowner for which can get quite costly and it holds up the sale. SSF also says they require a Home and Safety Inspection, which is also another way of getting into your home.  Once you let them in for these inspections, then it can get very expensive.  SSF has no law or ordinance for either of these inspections.  They just lead you to believe they do.  However, there is a State Law that says smoke detectors must be installed and working at close of escrow.  There is no mention of inspections. I am on a subcommittee of our Board of Realtors to deal with this problem.  If you know of anyone who has had a problem in selling their home with regards to this, please let me know or have them contact me. However, I instruct my clients on the pros and cons of letting in the City for these inspections, and I have not had one client tell me they are okay allowing these inspectors inside their home. So, I do not have any stories to tell.  But with the new Sewer Lateral Ordinance that became effective this year, I have already had a situation that turned ugly for the seller to the tune of $7,000 in repairs and fees. I could go on but I think you get the idea.  Of course, it is always wise to get legal advice for a particular situation. Again, if you know of anyone who has had a problem, please do let me know.   Be sure to inform your neighbors.

Stop Warrantless And I’m Told Illegal Searches of Your Home

 Watch out! The City may


Want to sell your home in

South San Francisco?

Under the guise of a ‘safety inspection’ they say is required when you sell your home, the city (with the Fire Department acting as code enforcement officials) says it can enter your home WITHOUT A WARRANT to inspect for certain conditions including an unnecessary smoke detector inspection for which they charge $125! If found, these conditions have to be taken care of, often as the cost of thousands of dollars to you before you can close escrow even if a previous owner made the improvements.

Protect Your Property Values & Constitutional Rights

From Warrantless Searches of Your Home

 South San Francisco is the ONLY CITY in San Mateo County that has this requirement when you sell your home. The City Council and the Fire Department both claim this is a CITYWIDE PROBLEM… but they're putting the burden ONLY on you, THE HOME OWNER.  Let The City Council Know Your Concerns.Contact the City Council at (650) 829-6601 or send an email and tell them you object to having the sale of your residence stopped (whenever that may be) and that these warrantless inspections must be eliminated. You could be next:
Mayor Richard Garbarino – richgarbarino@ssf.net
Vice Mayor Pedro Gonzalez – pedrogonzales@ssf.net
Councilmember Mark Addiego – markaddiego@ssf.net
Councilmember Kevin Mullin – kevinmullin@ssf.net
Councilmember Karyl Matsumoto – karylmatsumoto@ssf.net

 Working for and representing buyers and sellers in South San Francisco since 1986: Carole Fogelstrom (650) 878-8813


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