Articles Posted in Buying and Selling Real Estate

commercial propertyAuthor: Staff

Investing in California commercial real estate requires extensive planning and research. A prospective buyer must consider potential legal, financial, structural, and environmental issues. This process of research and review is commonly known as “due diligence.” Since every real estate investment is unique, the precise due diligence process will be different each time. The following is a very general checklist, which may apply to a wide range of properties.

1. Investigate both the property and the seller

Due diligence for a commercial real estate investment is about more than the property itself. An investor should also look into the seller’s reputation and their track record for similar transactions. Even if the property is spotless, an investment might not be worth the risk of an unscrupulous seller.

2. Title and Survey

Inaccurate identification of a property is a common complication. An investor should obtain the full legal description of the property, to compare to official real estate records.
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Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Buying real estate is a risky venture for investors, with buyers betting on the property increasing in value or producing a revenue stream through rental. Buyers also take various chances regarding unknown defects in the property’s title, or defects in the property itself. Researching potential defects is a critical part of any California real estate investment. California law requires sellers of certain types of real estate to make a variety of disclosures to buyers, in the interest of giving prospective buyers as much relevant information as possible. Most of these disclosure rules apply to residential real property. Some investment properties, such as rental houses, are subject to residential real estate disclosure requirements. The sale of an apartment building with more than four dwelling units, however, is not necessarily subject to those rules. It is, however, subject to other disclosure requirements, including known defects or hazards, particularly environmental hazards. California also requires disclosure of certain earthquake risks.

Residential vs. Commercial Property

Residential properties, defined as properties with one to four dwelling units, are subject to a substantial number of disclosure requirements in California. Residential rental properties can appear to fall into both categories, since they are residential for tenants, but commercial for owners. Rental houses, duplexes, and other small structures generally fall under the “residential” category. Sellers must follow the residential disclosure guidelines, even if the buyer is another investor. Larger apartment buildings, on the other hand, are not necessarily subject to those requirements.

Common Law Disclosure Requirements

A 1963 decision by a California appellate court, Lingsch v. Savage, establishes that sellers of commercial property have a duty to disclose any facts known to them that “materially affect[] the value or desirability of the property.” Failure to do so with the intention of inducing someone to purchase a property can result in civil liability for fraud.
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Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Ownership of real property in California includes various rights, along with a wide range of restrictions. The specific restrictions will vary from one location to another. Property owners may restrict the use of a piece of property by subsequent owners through restrictive covenants, which are included with the documents transferring title. Some restrictive covenants “run with the land,” meaning that they are binding on subsequent owners of the property. In planned residential developments, the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) enforced by a homeowners’ association (HOA) include restrictive covenants affecting the use of individual properties. In relatively rare cases, the grantor of a property may set restrictions on the use of the property, resulting in loss of title by the grantee if they violate those restrictions. California real estate investors should carefully examine any possible restrictive covenants affecting property.

Public versus Private Restrictions

Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Ownership of real property includes certain exclusive rights. The owner of real property has the right to improve the land, such as by building a house or other structure. They also have the right to exclude other people from the property without permission. But these and other rights are subject to limitations. A property owner can make improvements to the property, provided the improvements do not violate local zoning ordinances. The right to exclude others from one’s property might be limited by easements attached to the property.

What is an Easement?

An easement is a nonpossessory interest in real property. That means that the owner of an easement does not have the right to actual possession of the property. California real estate investors should check the title history of a property carefully to look for easements.

Positive vs. Negative Easements

An easement can either give others the right to access portions of the property for limited purposes, known as a “positive easement;” or restrict certain uses of the property by the owner, known as a “negative easement.”

A positive easement is one that allows the easement owner to use some part of the property for a specific purpose. California law identifies various purposes for which property owners may grant easements, including:
– Passage over their land, known as a right-of-way;
– Hunting, fishing, or other recreation; and
– Obtaining “water, wood, minerals, and other things.”
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Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Purchasing real estate in California requires a careful review of the property’s title history to avoid a variety of potential problems. Mortgage lenders usually require title insurance to finance a purchase. Title insurance companies will conduct their own review of the title history, but they do so to protect their own interests, rather than the buyer’s. The title insurer will notify the lender and purchaser of known or potential title defects that they will not cover, meaning that the purchaser could still be liable for some problems. It is in the best interest of every California real estate investor to research and investigate the property’s history. The following is a list of a few issues that might appear in a property’s title history.

Errors and Omissions

Clerical and filing errors can have serious repercussions for real property. A deed that incorrectly identifies the boundaries of a property, such as by leaving some portion of the property out of the legal description, can result in the loss of ownership of that part of the property. Other common errors include misspelled names of grantors or grantees, omission of legally required language in a deed, and misfiling of records.

Unknown or Missing Heirs

The general rule in the U.S., based on English common law, is that a grant of land is intended to be in perpetuity unless a deed specifies otherwise. The language used often states that the property is granted to the grantee “and their heirs.” If a previous owner of real property died, and the executor of their estate failed to locate or notify all of the owner’s heirs, those heirs could have a valid claim to some or all of the property, even years later.
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Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Purchasing real property is a major investment, not only of money but also of risk. Even if a California real estate investor has enough cash on hand to pay the full price without a mortgage loan, they are still bound by property taxes, land use restrictions, and market forces. Most purchasers of real estate already know about these risks, though. A lesser-known risk involves defects, omissions, or fraud in the property’s title. This can lead to problems that are difficult to foresee, such as claims to the property by a former owner’s previously unknown heir, or difficulty in establishing ownership because of a defective deed. Title insurance covers many of these potential issues. Lenders often require borrowers to obtain title insurance policies in order to protect their investments. California’s laws and practices regarding title insurance can be rather difficult to understand at first.

What Is Title Insurance?


Author: Seth Murphy

Seth Murphy first got into doing DIY projects to save money, but over time he has developed a real passion for this hands-on, intensive work. He created to share his ongoing projects and to motivate himself to do more.

As a new home buyer, purchasing a fixer-upper may seem like a lot of work, but it definitely has its advantages. For starters, a house that needs some love generally has a much lower price tag. Imagine how much you can save by buying a place that’s not turnkey! Secondly, fixer-uppers are an opportunity to create your dream home. (Yes, it may take a little bit of elbow grease, but rest assured, it can be worth it in the end.).

Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

House flipping,” which is the process of purchasing a residential property, making improvements to it, and selling it, has been particularly popular in recent years among real estate investors in California and around the country. It often involves purchasing distressed properties, such as those that are already in, or at imminent risk of, foreclosure. Investors can therefore purchase a property well below its market value, and with a bit of work—new coats of paint, new appliances, and such—sell it for a considerably greater amount. House flipping can be subject to legal restrictions, however, including local land use ordinances and lending regulations. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), among other functions, insures many home mortgage loans. It also sets restrictions on residential properties when its mortgages are involved. These restrictions can affect house flippers who intend to sell to a buyer who needs an FHA-insured loan.

What Is the FHA?

kitchenAuthor: Staff

House flipping, which involves purchasing a residential property and refurbishing it for resale, has been a popular activity in the U.S. for some time. Numerous television programs depict various aspects of the house flipping process, often focusing on repairs and improvements to distressed properties. Real estate investors in San Diego and other parts of California may find house flipping to be a lucrative investment activity, but it requires careful research and planning. On top of that, successful house flipping requires commitment to the process—it is very often much more of an “active” investment than a “passive” one. Prospective house flippers in California need to be aware of the legal risks and pitfalls they could face.

Business Issues



Author: Seth Murphy

Seth Murphy first got into doing DIY projects to save money, but over time he has developed a real passion for this hands-on, intensive work. He created to share his ongoing projects and to motivate himself to do more.

Do open houses still work? You’d be forgiven for thinking they were a thing of the past—an outdated, analog player in today’s digital game. But the trick is to combine the old with the new by holding an open house immediately after the home is listed for sale online.  According to CNBC, sellers that used this strategy got higher prices and quicker sales than those who didn’t. However, this means you need to get your house in order before listing day. Here’s what you need to do.

Step 1: Review, Analyze, and Plan

If any parts of your house—interior or exterior—are damaged, worn, or outdated, you can expect offers below your asking price. Walk around your house and make a list of everything that could be improved. If anything is broken (e.g., a leaking roof, garage door that won’t open, cracked tiles, blocked gutters), put these on top of the list. According to HGTV, remodels of the bathroom and kitchen are the best investments in terms of increasing your home value and getting you a quicker sale. Once you’ve made your list, choose which improvements you want to make based on the time you have and the money you’re willing to invest.

Step 2: Repair, Replace, and Remodel

Remodelling can bring your home up to date and make it more valuable to buyers, but make sure you leave enough time for any extensive remodels. The biggest job will probably be the kitchen. A remodel here takes four to six weeks or more depending on the size of the room and the extent of the changes. The bathroom comes in a close second at around four and a half weeks. If you have more than one big remodel planned, you may want to complete them one at a time. This will minimize the disruption to your life while the work is being done, but of course, it will take longer to finish the projects.

Step 3: Stage, Update, and Redecorate

Once the major remodeling work is done, you can move on to staging. Go through each room one by one and replace tired or outdated furniture, blinds, curtains, and carpets. A good trick to make your home more in-line with current interior design trends is to replace your lighting fixtures because these are some of the first things in the house to start looking dated. If necessary, give each room a fresh coat of paint or put new wallpaper up. Make sure to go for neutral pastel colors that have a more universal appeal. If you haven’t had a professional landscaper in, cut the lawn, weed, and trim any overgrown hedges, particularly at the front of the house to increase your curb appeal.

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