Transferring Your Property Tax Base Under Props. 60/90

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.  


Metal Roofs Are Coming into Style

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.


How to Succeed When There Are Multiple Offers

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.

Cameras in Homes

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.

Buying Property Using Retirement Funds

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.

Should I Go or Should I Stay?

Dear Monica:

I have been a local resident for most of my life and have loved living here,  The value of my home has grown so much that I feel that it may be time to cash out and retire to less expensive home.  The problem is that I don’t know where to go.  What would you advise?  Elizabeth D.


Dear Elizabeth:  This is a dilemma for many people who have been fortunate enough to have lived here and have seen their property values increase substantially, but who want to retire and use their equity to fund their retirement.  Many also worry that they should sell now because this strong market may not be as strong in the future.


I would recommend that you not rush into a decision like this unless you have a good idea of where you want to move.  The market isn’t likely to crash, although normal fluctuations will occur.  Once you are excited about your next home, it will be much easier to make the move.  Your needs rather than market conditions should direct you.

Landscaping is Like Adding a Room

Dear Monica:  I have a received a bid to landscape my property and it’s very expensive.  I don’t know whether it is worth spending the money on this project but it will make my property more attractive and useable.  What would you advise?  Grace M.


Dear Grace:  Beautiful landscaping is not cheap, as you have found, but what a difference it can make to your home.  We are reminded during the summer months of how enjoyable it is to be outside either alone or entertaining guests.   Well-done landscaping is like adding a room to your house and one that you can use many months of the year.

If you are wondering whether you will recoup your investment if you should sell, the answer is yes if the landscaping is done well and if the market remains stable and strong.  And most importantly,  consider too the enjoyment you will get from the beautiful and useful addition to your property.


Time to Begin Winterizing your Home

Dear Monica: It’s still summer but I know that fall and then winter will be here soon. I know I need a new roof for my house. What other maintenance would you suggest I do? Peter M.

Dear Peter: The roofing companies are starting to get very busy so you are smart to get moving on this. It takes time to get bids and schedule the work. You might also improve your insulation, if you have an older house, and make a list of all of the items you know should be fixed including electrical, fencing, window replacement, fumigation for termites, among others. It may also be time for a new furnace and water heater and it would be good to get those items replaced before the weather turns. Another major maintenance item is painting. If it’s time to repaint, get it done now.

Should I Buy in a Retirement Complex?

Dear Monica:  I am considering buying a very nice three bedroom unit at a complex for adults 60 years of age and up.  It is in a prime location in a city with strong real estate values. Do you think this is a wise investment? Elizabeth D.

Dear Elizabeth:  First, an important consideration for you is whether this retirement complex will serve your physical and social needs as you advance in age.  It sounds as though it does.   If it is also in a prime location in a prime city, all the better.  If both of these factors are positive, you should have confidence that you are buying a good property.  The demographic who wants this kind of real estate is growing in number and this bodes well for your home being a stable investment.      This wasn’t the case during the downturn of 2008-2010 when older buyers were hesitant to buy anything until they knew if prices were going to rise again.  But now the combination of an aging population and a stable real estate market are good signs that your purchase in a retirement complex will not carry much, if any, risk.

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