To Repair Or Not Repair?

Home Repair

Homeowners who sell their houses “as-is” may end up costing themselves more than they would have spent to make the necessary repairs — if they are able to sell their homes at all. For one thing, most buyers these days don’t want to buy a house that needs work. Fixer-uppers are OK for flippers, who are increasingly putting their own money into the houses they buy, as opposed to just relying on appreciation to make a buck, according to real estate analytics firm CoreLogic. But for the most part, families want a move-in ready place. They don’t want to mess with replacing worn carpeting, remediating a patch of mold or painting the walls. “If you don’t want to do the work,” says Jeanne Gregory of RE/MAX Southwest in Sugarland, Texas, “what on earth makes you think your buyer does?” Equally important: Most buyers have no idea what the necessary fixes might cost. So, they tend to double or even triple what it would cost the seller to do the work, and then reduce their offer by that amount. Consequently, sellers net less — sometimes far less — than if they’d bitten the bullet in the first place. And don’t even think about offering your buyer a credit to cover the cost of repairs. That usually doesn’t work, either. Credits rely on the buyer’s imagination, say Sally and David Hanson of eXp Realty in Brookfield, Wisconsin. A credit is “an open invitation,” they added, for an uneducated guess from an uneducated buyer. All the agents hit on a common theme: The eye buys. So, do what you have to do to fix up your place, even if it’s unpleasant or time-consuming. Otherwise, be prepared to wait a while for one of the few buyers willing to take on your headaches. Prepare yourself, too, to accept less than your asking price. Source: Lew Sichelman, The Housing Scene

What is the responsibility for private businesses to provide housing?

city drawing

I came across this article and wanted to share with others as Lake Tahoe is in the midst of a housing shortage as well. Robert Stiles

Google recently announced its $1 billion+ commitment to increase housing in the Bay Area.

The promised money won’t be in the form of straight cash. Of this $1 billion promise, $750 million will come from land Google currently owns, to be repurposed for housing. Google estimates the amount of land it’s devoting to the project will house roughly 15,000 new units, to be built over the next ten years. They propose these units will be available to “all income levels” of Bay Area residents, though the final number of affordable housing units built will be up to the private developers who bid on the projects.

Google is also promising to establish a $250 million investment fund to help developers finance 5,000 affordable housing units across the region. Finally, they will give $50 million in grants to nonprofits focused on assisting the Bay Area’s homeless population.

However, rest assured that Google’s move is not quite as generous it seems, as land it gifts for the construction of housing may be used as a tax write-off. Further, the broad promises and lack of detailed plans have many questioning how Google is going to spend its money and whether it will actually make a mark on the region’s housing crisis.

Still, Google’s announcement is in sharp contrast with Amazon’s behavior over the past year, as it forced dozens of U.S. cities to compete for the location of their next headquarters. In return for the promise of more jobs, Amazon sought tax breaks and other incentives. Instead of asking for more, Google is now trying to do its part to alleviate a housing crisis it helped create.

More jobs, more housing

Since Google started in the Bay Area, it has created 45,000 jobs in the region. Not all of these jobs have gone to current residents, so where do these new workers live?

When more jobs come to a region, one can expect more people will want to move there. The Bay Area already has some of the longest commutes in the country, especially for lower-income workers like those who work in the service and retail industries, and even essential employees like first responders and teachers.

But over the past two decades, housing growth has fallen far behind the pace of job additions in the Bay Area, and pretty much everywhere else in California. For every four new residents moving to California between 2010 and 2016, just one new housing unit was constructed, according to Redfin. Worse, most of this construction is located in the mid- and high-price tiers, meaning very few units affordable to low-income households have been constructed.

As a result, home prices and rents have increased more quickly than incomes, meaning residents are forced to spend a significantly higher portion of their paycheck on housing each month. The other option — one that more households are increasingly forced to take — is to move further away from jobs, into the suburbs. For example, just 2% of San Jose homes for sale and 1% of San Francisco homes are affordable on a teacher’s salary. For comparison, 17% of homes are affordable to the average teacher’s salary statewide.

Related article:

//journal.firsttuesday.us/rent-to-income-gap-widens-for-california-renters/68044/

Why hasn’t housing been able to keep up with new jobs across California, and especially in the Bay Area?

The culprit is a lack of residential construction, due to a variety of factors, including:

  • tight zoning restrictions in job-heavy areas;
  • a lack of builder incentives to build low-tier housing; and
  • long and costly building permits and environment review processes.

This begs the question — if new residential construction is lagging behind job creation and business growth, do the private businesses involved have any obligations to get involved like Google is doing?

Housing: Public or private issue?

Some might claim that businesses are already doing their part. For example, the taxes that businesses — and their employees — pay contribute to government-funded housing efforts. But is this enough?

As traditional as the separation of church and state, housing has long been the issue of governments, while the business of businesses are profits and investors. However, as the CEO of San Francisco-based Salesforce acknowledges in a 2018 editorial, businesses like his “are part of our community and our community is in crisis.”

In this editorial, he describes how the increasing homeless crisis is scaring away tourists and other visitors. He says businesses are less likely to consider San Francisco as a home base when the crisis makes it so that there are no safe places to live. As a solution, the author encourages voters to pass Proposition C, which charges a 0.5% tax on the city’s biggest businesses (charged on any money generated over $50 million in annual revenue in the city).

In November 2018, voters did just that, and the city began collecting money from San Francisco’s largest businesses. However, due to legal challenges, the city has held off on spending the funds to help the homeless. Even when a judge dismissed a major lawsuit by the Howard Jarvis Association (the same folks who champion the controversial tax initiative, Proposition 13) in June 2019, the city is still afraid to spend the money due to threats of future legal action by the organization.

Meanwhile, the city’s homeless crisis continues to worsen, and residents’ quality of life remains in decline.

Glancing further up the income spectrum, high housing costs themselves are enough to deter businesses from investing jobs in California’s high-cost areas. They realize that in order to do business in the state, they will need to pay their employees enormous salaries so they can afford a decent standard of living. This suggests that more housing is needed not just to make this a more livable state, but to give jobs and the economy a boost.

The easiest solution that encompasses the most issues plaguing California’s housing market is to ensure more residential construction. Ideally, the government would take care of everything, including allocating funds, amending zoning regulations and encouraging building by removing barriers to construction.

But government efforts have fallen short, bullied into submission by lawsuits and vocal not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) advocates. It’s time for businesses big and small to step up, or else watch their communities continue down an unsustainable path.

Carrie B Reyes, Market Watch Editor

Purchasing Replacement Property from a Builder

asset preservation inc

When a taxpayer considers purchasing new construction from a builder as replacement property in a 1031 exchange, they should be aware of various factors in advance of the 1031 exchange transaction.

RECEIPT OF PROPERTY TO BE PRODUCED

  1. The delayed exchange rules allow taxpayers up to 180 calendar days to purchase replacement property. This time frame is statutory and only property properly identified within 45 calendar days and acquired within 180 days qualifies as like-kind replacement property in a 1031 exchange. Taxpayers should be aware there are no provisions providing for construction delays or other factors where a builder may not be able to deliver replacement property to a taxpayer within the 180-day time deadline. A reasonable approach might be for the taxpayer to negotiate for the builder to close on the sale of the replacement property a little in advance of the actual 180th day to provide margin for any potential last-minute issues that could potentially push back the actual closing date.
  2. If a builder has a lender funding their construction project, often the lender will not allow the builder to transfer a property to the 1031 exchange buyer until they have a “Certificate of Occupancy.” Taxpayers should discuss these and other issues with the builder prior to entering into a contract to make sure there will not be challenges on the builder’s side of the transaction that might negatively impact the ability of the builder to transfer the newly constructed replacement property to the taxpayer within the 180-day exchange period time deadline.
  3. To qualify for 1031 tax deferral, the taxpayer must receive like-kind real property, not services to be produced any time after the expiration of the exchange period. Any exchange proceeds that are not reflected in actual improvements to real property within the 180-day exchange period are considered boot since production services to be built in the future are not like-kind real property. The Treasury Regulations specifically states the following: “…is not within the provisions of Section 1031(a) if the relinquished property is transferred in exchange for services (including production services). Thus, any additional production occurring with respect to the replacement property after the property is received by the taxpayer will not be treated as the receipt of property of like-kind.”

IDENTIFICATION OF PROPERTY TO BE PRODUCED

  1. The Treasury Regulations also state: “Replacement property is identified only if it is unambiguously described in the written document or agreement. Real property generally is unambiguously described if it is described by a legal description, street address, or distinguishable name.” Accordingly, the taxpayer should make sure that they unambiguously describe replacement property which will normally be something like an actual street address or the specific address and property unit number. If the replacement property consists of property to be produced, in addition to meeting the foregoing requirements, the taxpayer must identify the real property and the improvements to be constructed in as much detail as is practicable at the time the identification is made.

Contributed by Asset Preservation Inc., Roseville, CA 866-515-8124

As-Is. What Does It Really Mean?

NV Assoc of Realtors

Tiffany Banks, General Counsel

Reprinted for Real Estate Lake Tahoe Stiles

What does it mean when a property is being sold as is?  Does that mean that the buyer takes the property as it is with all defects it may have?  What does that mean for the seller?  Does the seller say once the property is transferred, they are free of any risks and liabilities because I sold it this way?  We are seeing more properties being sold this way and wanted to break down these issues so you as a REALTOR® can understand what this means for your client.

How does a court interpret an as is clause?

The courts often interpret an “as is” clause in a contract to imply that a property could be defective.  This means that the seller wishes to sell the property in existing physical condition it is in and the buyer is agreeing to accept that condition when making an offer.

Is a seller still required to disclose known defects?

Yes.  Just because a property is being sold as is, a seller must still make disclosures they normally would on defects with the property that they know about it. Every sale of a residence MUST include the Seller’s Real Property Disclosure form (SRPD) in accordance with NRS 113.130. There are very few exceptions, and the inclusion of an “as is” clause is NOT an exception. A seller may not insert an as is clause into a contract and assume that they are safe from claims for property defects.  We always say, “disclose, disclose, disclose” and there is a perfect buyer for every property.  A broker should warn sellers that selling “as is” is not a shield from claims of misrepresentation, fraud or nondisclosure. 

Does a buyer still have a right to inspect the property?

Absolutely.  Just because a property us being sold as is, doesn’t mean that a buyer can’t (or shouldn’t) inspect the property.  If a buyer needs even more of a reason, this would be it.  When representing a buyer in an as is transaction be sure that they take adequate time to do due diligence and necessary inspections, so they have an idea of the actual property condition.  Unless the contract specifically says otherwise, the buyer is entitled to cancel the contract based on items discovered during the inspections.

So, what DOES “as is” mean? 

The simplest way to explain this is that by selling the property as is, the seller is saying that they won’t make any repairs.  It is that simple.  They still have to disclose all known material facts and defects relating to the property. 

Can a buyer still ask for repairs to be made that they discover during due diligence?

They can, however the seller is asserting that they want a buyer to take the property as it is and not have to make any repairs.  We would recommend advising the buyer to seek appropriate counsel regarding the risks of buying a property in “as is” condition. 

Statements made by the Nevada REALTORS® Legal Information Line attorneys on the telephone, in e-mails, or in legal e-news articles are for informational purposes only. Nevada REALTORS® staff attorneys provide general legal information, not legal representation or advice regarding your real estate related questions. No attorney-client relationship is created by your use of the Legal Information Line. You should not act upon information you receive without seeking independent legal counsel. Information given over the Legal Information Line or in these articles is for your benefit only. Do not practice law or give legal advice to your clients! Inform your clients they must seek their own legal advice.

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