With the last few weeks being significantly impacted by the holidays and New Year’s Eve/Day coming up in a few days, I just wanted to take a few seconds to wish everyone a happy 2016 and a wonderful end to 2015. Huzzah! So with that, HAPPY NEW YEAR! See y’all in 2016!
I got lucky and was able to purchase a house that was literally a 5-minute drive from my existing project – the one at 2221 Sherman. That made things considerably easier as I managed the two projects since there was about a 6-week overlap where I had crews working on both houses at the same time. I bought this house from the Son of the owner as he was being moved into assisted living. The house itself had really good bones, but it was quite dated. As you can see from the pictures below we made a lot of changes including bringing the majority of the house down to the studs to reconfigure the layout. There was also an un-permitted addition to the house that we removed which you can see in the before pictures of the backyard. Probably the biggest transformation of the house was opening up the walls to create a large open-concept kitchen/dining/living room. We then created a master suite on the back-half of the house, complete with a 3-piece bathroom, separate bathroom door for the toilet , a huge walk-in closet and added some french doors so you could access the backyard directly from the master. Instead of breaking up the pictures between before and after, I’m going to lump them together by area of the house to give you a better idea of the transformation that happened.
Front of the House
Living Room + Kitchen
I’m a little late on posting this one as it was sold in late summer. Our project here was relatively straight-forward after we replaced the foundation. That’s right. We ended up lifting the entire house up in the air a foot or so while we jack-hammered out the existing, horribly cracked foundation. While we were doing that we replaced all the doors, plumbing and electrical throughout the house. Finally, we spruced up the landscaping by making the large front yard completely drought tolerant while adding a bit of fresh, green grass for Fido and Joey so they could play outside. All-in-all this house turned out great and I hope the new owners love it for many years to come! Here are some of the before and after photos from the project:
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how people inherit properties. If you missed that post, get caught up by clicking here. After the inheritance is finalized there are many factors to consider, one of them being: should I sell the house or keep it? Much like any other piece of real estate, people sell for all types of reasons. However, when it comes to inheriting properties there are specific reasons why the new owners would rather sell the house than own it. When people inherit a property they do not want to sell they usually move into the house themselves or set it up as a rental. Here are some of the more common reasons why folks will sell their inherited house:
- Can’t Afford the House – This can take a couple of different forms. Sometimes there is a mortgage still on the property that costs thousands of dollars per month. Other times, the property can be saddled with high property taxes. Either way, lots of people sell an inherited property for this reason.
- Need the Money – You have bills to pay or want to pay off your own place. Or maybe you want to save for a down payment for your first house. Either way, needing the money doesn’t mean you’re broke. Instead, it means that the money from selling the house could change your life for the better.
- Out of the Area – I moved far away from home when I went to college and have stayed out here on the West Coast since then. If I inherited a property in Missouri, I would not be able to manage the property 2,000 miles away. Location can be a large driver for selling decisions when it comes to inherited homes.
- Not Equipped to Handle Tenants – If there are currently tenants in the property, this can pose a challenge for some. If there is no property management set up, you are now the responsible for fixing leaking toilets, collecting rent and all the other tasks associated with owning a rental. If you aren’t ready and willing to accept this challenge, selling could be a great option for you.
- Emotional Connection – A lot of memories and connections can be formed with a house over the years. This could be fond memories of the actual property or the previous owner. Either way, for some it’s just too much emotion for them. In these cases the best scenario could be to sell the house in order to help with closure.
- Required Repairs – Many properties that are inherited were owned by parents or older relatives who may not have kept up with routine/required maintenance. Or they could be dated houses with lots of wood paneling, popcorn ceilings and shag carpet. Regardless, if there is a lot of work to be done to the place, it can make a lot of sense to sell it versus spending the money to fix it up.
While this is not a comprehensive list, it represents the most common reasons I’ve heard for people selling an inherited property. You could be facing similar circumstances or ones entirely different. It’s important to ensure you are approaching this rationally as real estate is the largest asset for many families. As always, if you need help exploring your options I’m available by phone or email 7 days a week. Finally, be sure to stay tuned for my next post on some of the common costs associated with selling a house.
If you have inherited a house, there can be many unknowns. Especially if you haven’t been in the house for years or you live out of the area. In some cases your judgement gets clouded due to emotional connections you have with either the house or the loved one. I’m going to try and help you piece together the puzzle and make sure you are asking yourself the right questions. I definitely understand that this can bring up painful memories or maybe the wounds are still fresh. Either way, the first step is putting as much emotion aside as possible and thinking logically about the house, your situation and your options. This post is going to center on the ways that you can inherit a house to serve as the foundation about what you need to know about owning an inherited property.
There are two main ways people inherit properties. They are either willed the property or ownership is transferred via a living trust. While I’m most definitely not an attorney, there are a few things you should know about each method of inheritance.
Wills & Probate
A common method for inheriting a property is via a will. This means a loved one leaves a provision in their will for the property to transfer into your name upon their passing. Usually the person who is inheriting the property will also be put in charge of administering the estate. This administrator (called an executor) is responsible for filing all the necessary paperwork and working through the probate process. This is usually done through the county courthouse’s probate court. The process can get a bit convoluted, but the biggest thing to know is that the probate court will verify the validity of the will, notify any creditors who are owed money by the deceased and go through an accounting of assets owned. The role of an executor of an estate is an important one that has multiple responsibilities. Once the probate process is complete, you will then assume full ownership of the property.
Another common method for inheriting real property is through a living trust. While trusts take a bit of money, time and attorneys to set up, it makes the process of transferring the assets much easier and less time consuming than the probate process. After the owner of the trust has passed away, the instructions left within the trust documents are followed to disburse any and all assets of the trust, with no court confirmation. Technically speaking, the original owner, the one who created the trust is called a “trustee” while the person who will inherit the assets is called a “beneficiary”. In many cases it can take as little as three weeks for the beneficiaries to become legally recognized owners of the trustee’s real property.
Those are the main ways people inherit property here in California and the US. It is vital to understand that while you may have been named as a beneficiary in a trust or been willed property, there is nothing you can do with the house until you are the full, legal owner. For trusts, it means waiting until the ownership change has been recorded with the county. For wills, it means that you need to complete the probate process within your county. Until that time happens, you must realize that you are technically not the owner of the property yet and you will not be able to sell it, make improvements, remove tenants, etc.
In future installments of this series, I’ll take a deeper look into why people sell inherited properties, provide a checklist of things you need to do when inheriting a property and give some helpful resources. Stay tuned!
After a lot of construction and updating every single facet of this house, I’m proud to say my latest project is now on the market for sale. I bought this house after the original owner’s children had inherited the place. I was able to work with them to quickly give them cash for the house and the entire transaction/escrow process went relatively smooth. The original house was a 3-bed, 1-bathroom house that was built in 1929. Due to it’s age, a lot of updating needed to be done. From updating all the electrical and plumbing to creating a new master suite, the entire house was transformed into a sparkling gem that will delight the new owners for years.
If you want to check out the rest of the listing photos and get the full rundown on the house, please visit www.3321kansas.com. If you are looking to sell your house for cash, click that link or give me a call at (510)343-9199. All the after photos were taken by the fine folks at Open Homes Photography.
Curb Appeal is a hot topic for buyers, sellers, Realtors and everyone else involved in housing. Like a lot of terms, not everyone knows exactly what goes into “curb appeal” or how to improve it. Well, my goal today is to shed some light on curb appeal, why it’s critical in any real estate market and to give you some examples of good and bad curb appeal.
First things first, let’s define curb appeal. At it’s most basic, curb appeal is what you see the first time you lay eyes on a property. This means the landscaping, paint job, roof, driveway, garage door and everything else. Furthermore, curb appeal can extend a bit more to include things just beyond your property. Things like how your neighbors house looks to power lines overhead can be included. Basically, anything you notice from the street looking at a house is considered curb appeal. Hopefully, I’m not telling you anything new here, but curb appeal is absolutely critical when it comes time to buy or sell a house. Houses with amazing curb appeal can fly off the market and sometimes for over the asking price! However, a house with an overgrown lawn, trees blocking windows and peeling paint will typically sit and sit…and sit on the market. This is what makes nailing curb appeal so important. Heck, it’s so important HGTV has a show dedicated to this one aspect of houses appropriately titled “Curb Appeal“.
Examples of Bad Curb Appeal
This house had numerous curb appeal issues. You can see the chain link fencing that went across most of the property. In addition, there are two different sets of windows – some vinyl, some aluminum. The plants hadn’t been trimmed in quite some time and were growing a bit haphazard. The lack of grass and a cheaper screen door didn’t help matters either.
This duplex was in need of a lot of work. As you can see, the yard was used as a driveway so most of the grass had been killed. It also very much needed a paint job and new garage doors. With some new grass, new garage doors and a fresh coat of paint the house would’ve seen a drastic improvement.
This house has nice siding, a new garage door and driveway, but as you can tell, the trees are dominating the view of the house. There was also no landscaping which would’ve gone a long way to improving the curb appeal of this house.
Examples of Great Curb Appeal
This is the same picture up top after Shapero Homes and I completed the renovations. As you can see there was a drastic improvement by replacing the chain link fencing with wood fences. The addition of a nicely landscaped yard with appropriate plants goes a long way as well. All the windows are now the same style and the sliding door leading out to the backyard has been moved to produce a cleaner, more modern look.
This is a well done house with a great, inviting walkway that leads up to the front door. The immaculately landscaped yard and clean looks is sure to please any buyer and make the sales process that much easier.
Another gorgeous home that looks amazing from the curb. Everything works so well here together.
If your house is lacking in the curb appeal department, it can make a lot of sense to get that fixed up before selling. However, if you don’t have the time, energy or money to devote to fixing up the exterior you should consider giving me a call to see how I can help you out.
The foundation is a critical component of your house as it supports the entire structure from the roof down. If there is something off or wrong with the foundation, you will see issues spring up everywhere else. From doors and windows that won’t close/open to uneven floors and cracks in the walls and ceilings. Once things start going wrong, foundation problems can get expensive to fix and they certainly scare away a lot of potential buyers due to so many unknowns. I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars fixing sinking or cracked foundations and have seen quotes up to $100,000 to remedy larger problems in hilly areas. So, suffice to say, the condition of your foundation goes a long way in determining the value of your house. Before we go too much further, let’s take a look at the two main types of foundations you will see in the Bay.
Types of Foundations
The two main types of foundations that you will see in the Bay Area are pier and beam systems or a slab foundation.
Slab foundations are the simplest foundation you will find and it’s exactly what it sounds like. A concrete slab is poured covering the footprint of the house and then the framing goes directly on top of that. In this scenario, there is no space between the structure and the ground. The benefits of a slab foundation are that it is relatively cheap and sturdy while also less vulnerable to termites which are quite prevalent here in the Bay. The biggest drawback to slab foundations are that plumbing and other mechanical elements of the house are encased in concrete making repairs or future upgrades prohibitive and expensive.
Foundations that use a pier and beam system provide a crawlspace underneath the house where HVAC, plumbing, electrical and other systems for the house can be accessed easily. As the name suggest, the house sits on top of long, horizontal beams. These beams are then placed on top of concrete piers (aka columns) that extend below the soil grade. Most homeowners prefer this foundation over a slab for the reasons stated above; however, this isn’t to say that there aren’t downsides to this type of foundation. The biggest problem stems from inadequate ventilation which allows moisture to stick around long enough to cause mold, mildew and/or other issues.
How to Tell Which Foundation You Have
The easiest way to tell what kind of foundation you have is to go outside your house. For houses built on slabs, 99.9% of the time, there will be no steps up to the front door – it will be only a few inches off the ground. If you walk up one, two or many steps there is a good chance you have a house with a pier and beam system. Any sort of screens near the ground around the perimeter of your house will also clue you in that you have a pier and beam system (these screens allow for ventilation of the crawl space).
How Foundations Affect Property Value
By this point you know how important foundations are to a house. Without them a house would have no platform on which to be built! As I mentioned before, foundation repairs can be costly for a variety of reasons. Anytime there is a foundation issue you will need to hire an engineer to assess the issue and provide architectural/technical drawings to solve the issue. Then you’ll want to hire a reputable contractor to handle any foundation repairs and pull permits. Finally, most foundation work is done in the dark, small crawlspace under your house so the amount of man hours required for the job can be enormous. All these factors add up to an expensive repair bill.
Many homeowners and prospective homeowners have been scared away from foundation issues due to horror stories they’ve heard in the news or from friends and family. For the most part, anytime there is a foundation issue, John and Sally Homebuyer will choose not to deal with that headache and buy a house with a solid foundation. You’ll find that unless you can find some brave home buyers, you will be better served selling your house to an investor with the knowledge and experience of fixing foundation issues. Maybe somebody like me! Either way, be prepared for some sticker shock when looking at bids for foundation repairs.
Hopefully this short explanation of foundations gave you some insight on the types of foundations, their cost and why home buyers are leery of buying houses with foundation problems. As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns about foundations, don’t hesitate to reach out.