Dear Monica: As I watch the news of recent hurricanes and the aftermath in the southeast U.S., I am shocked to hear that few residents who were flooded had flood insurance. In California we have floods and earthquakes. Do you recommend homeowners get flood and EQ insurance here? Barbara T.
Dear Monica: My husband and I are ready to cash out of the home we have owned for many years and move to a less expensive one either in the county in which we live, or to another county. We want to keep our property taxes the same as they are now. What are the rules on this? Frances G.
Dear Frances: You are referring to Propositions 60 and 90. If you are 55 years of age or older you may transfer the base year value of your principal residence to a newly purchased or constructed replacement residence within the same county (Prop. 60). Prop 90 allows you to transfer the base year value under the same rules to one of 11 other counties: Alameda, El Dorado, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Tuolomne and Ventura. It is a huge advantage for seniors to be able to do this, especially as many have reduced incomes due to retirement.
Out of the 58 total counties in California, only these 11 allow Prop 90 transfers. All counties allow Prop. 60 transfers, that is, transfers within the same county. On the State of California’s website, and on each county website, there is an explanation of the guidelines for these transfers.
Dear Monica: I see several new homes being built in my community and many have metal roofs. What are the pros and cons of using this type of roofing material? Richard H.
Dear Richard: Metal roofs are coming into style and have many advantages over shake and composite roofs. They last much longer than other roofs, are non-combustible, and because they reflect sun and heat, they can keep your home cooler. The best roofs are aluminum or copper, the latter being the most expensive. Metal roofs don’t crack, warp, leak or wear out, although they can be dented by hail stones or by walking on them. Metal is a first rate roofing material and can even be recycled at the end of its life.
The most common reason many homeowners have for not installing a metal roof is the cost. Metal roofs are much more expensive than other types and make economic sense if one is going to live in a house for a long time. However buyers like the fact that they don’t have to reroof so there is value added even if you sell the house. If installation costs come down you will likely see metal roofs on many more homes.
Dear Monica: We recently made an offer, our first one in this market, and we lost. We thought we would have a chance to revise our bid but our agent didn’t get a call from the listing agent until it was too late to do anything about it, and we would have bid higher. What could we have done to succeed? Sara B.
Dear Sara: The first rule when there are multiple offers is to put forward your best bid and never expect a second chance because you probably won’t get one. If you do this then even if you lose you know that you did your best.
It is important as well to know how many other offers there are so you can act accordingly. If there is only one other offer, you may not bid as high as you would if there are several offers. Most listing agents share this information but some can’t answer this question because they don’t track it. You end up more or less “shooting in dark” with your offer.
If you have good financing and a very good agent to advise you, your chance of success, while not guaranteed, is much greater.
Dear Monica: My agent was showing me property recently and I saw that some of the houses had cameras installed and knew that owners were probably watching us view their house. It made me uncomfortable and mindful of not making any negative comments about the property while in the house. Are cameras now a fact of modern life? Bonnie C.
Dear Bonnie: Cameras are indeed a fact of modern life and you should expect to see them in many properties on and off the market. Generally property owners with hidden cameras inside their homes do not have to give any notice that a visitor is being recorded on video. The cameras should not be in bathrooms and bedrooms where there is an expectation of privacy. Audio recordings, however, whether taken by video cameras or audio recorders, do require the consent of all parties in California, unless the event is public.
If you are installing a video camera in your own home, you should research the laws in your state to be sure you comply. And if you are touring homes for sale, be aware that you may be on camera.
Dear Monica: I would like to use some of my retirement funds to invest in real estate and don’t know how to do this. Can you give me some recommendations? Sandy D.
Dear Sandy: You can use your Individual Retirement Account funds to invest in assets other than stocks. This is called a self-directed IRA and there are several asset classes that you may invest in, as well as some you may not, such as property for your personal use and life insurance. You will need to choose a custodian to help you understand what you can and cannot do.
There are many companies that do this and you should look for one that is reputable, accredited, and experienced in the kind of investing you want to do. The custodian will handle the paperwork required to comply with IRS rules and generally guide you in the process. Consult with a custodian company and decide if you are comfortable with a self-directed IRA.