Articles Posted in Buying and Selling Real Estate

Real-Estate-Closing-300x200

Author: Staff

Buying and selling real estate in California is a complicated machine with many moving parts. Everything must be in working order before the deal can close. Most problems that arise in the days or weeks leading up to a closing might cause the machine to sputter, but the parties involved in the transaction can set everything back in order. Some issues, though, can cause big enough problems that they delay the closing date—or derail it altogether. This could be a major problem that changes the nature of the deal for the buyer or seller, or it could be a small problem that simply goes unnoticed for too long. For California real estate investors, knowing how to adapt to unforeseen problems is just as important a skill as knowing how to identify and avoid problems in the first place.

Title Problems

In almost any real estate transaction that includes mortgage financing, the lender will require title insurance. The title company will conduct a search of the property’s title history to look for anything that might affect the buyer’s—and therefore the lender’s—interest in the property.

Any defect in title raises the possibility of some third party asserting their own interest in the property. Liens, which give creditors a non-possessory interest in real property, are a common type of title defect. Before a closing may proceed, all title defects must be resolved to the satisfaction of the title insurance company.

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Author: Staff

Most real estate purchases require some form of financing. Banks that issue loans for the purchase of real estate protect their investments in several important ways. The most well-known is the deed of trust, by which the borrower conveys a security interest in the property to the lender. If the borrower defaults on loan payments, the deed of trust gives the lender the right to foreclose on the property. Most deeds of trust contain a “due on sale” clause, which is another way banks protect their interests. This clause limits a property owner’s ability to transfer title to their property. It is worth noting that enforcement of due-on-sale clauses is fairly rare, but it is still an important issue for California real estate investors to understand.property management

Due-on-Sale Clauses

Trustee-Duties-Sell-Real-Estate-300x200

Author: Staff

Creating a “living trust,” as opposed to a will, allows an individual to take a more active role in the preparation of their estate. In a will, the testator designates someone to act as executor, but that person is not authorized to act until after the testator’s death. The executor must submit the will to a probate court, which can take time. A living will allows the process of distributing assets to begin while the testator—known as the “grantor” of the trust—is still alive. The trustee can bypass the probate process when the time comes. California real estate investors may benefit from living trusts. They should understand the various legal pitfalls that they can produce.

Fiduciary Duties of a Trustee

When the grantor of a living trust is still alive, they often serve as the trustee. The trust instrument should designate a successor trustee to take over upon the grantor’s death. The trustee owes fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries, and could be held liable for breaching those duties. Beneficiaries are only entitled to equitable remedies under California law, such as compelling certain actions or removing the trustee.

If the trust is a “revocable living trust,” the grantor may change the terms of the trust, or revoke it entirely. The successor trustee likely will not have that authority. The legal pitfalls for a trustee of a living trust derive from their fiduciary and statutory duties to the beneficiaries.
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Trustee-that-needs-to-sell-house-300x225

Author: Staff

Creating an estate plan allows a person to direct the distribution of their assets after their death. A will is perhaps the fundamental estate planning document, but it is far from the only way to distribute one’s assets. Creating a “living trust” allows a person to begin the distribution process while they are still alive. The person designated to administer the trust is known as the “trustee.” Living trusts might not be right for everyone’s estate plan, but California real estate investors should carefully consider them. They should also consider who can meet the legal standards for a trustee with regard to selling real property assets.

What Is a Trust?

The term “trust” can refer to a legal document and the entity created by that document. A trust document bears some similarities to a will. When a person dies, their assets become part of a legal entity known as their “estate.” A trust instrument also creates a legal entity, known as a trust.

A trust designates beneficiaries who are entitled to receive something from the assets held by the trust. This could be ongoing income from interest or rent, or proceeds from the sale of trust assets. The person who creates a trust, known as the “trustor” or “settlor,” must designate a trustee in the trust document. In a living trust, the trustor may designate themselves as trustee, but they must also designate a “successor trustee” to take over after the trustor’s death.
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California-Wildfires-and-Real-Estate-300x200

Author: Staff

Wildfires are a major concern throughout California. In 2018, multiple major fires burned nearly two million acres of land, taking more than one hundred lives and causing billions of dollars in damage. The risk to life and property from wildfires is something that no California real estate investor can ignore. Because wildfires are, by definition, large and out-of-control, real estate investors cannot mitigate this risk on an individual basis. Investors can, however, make use of resources from the state and federal government when researching and planning an investment.

What Is a “Wildfire”?

The term “wildfire” generally refers to any fire that quickly spreads from its point of origin to cover a much larger area. California’s drought conditions have made enormous areas of land highly flammable, and wind can spread fires faster than people can run—or drive—away from them.

The California Public Resource Code defines an “uncontrolled fire” as one that meets one or more of three criteria:
– It “is unattended by any person”;
– The people attending it are not able to prevent it from spreading; or
– It “is burning with such velocity or intensity” that “private persons at the fire scene” would not be able to control it without the assistance of trained firefighters.
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Commercial-Property-300x200

Author: Staff

When it comes to choosing an investment property in California, real estate investors have a vast array of options. They can purchase a single-family dwelling and rent it to a tenant, or renovate it and flip it. They can purchase a multi-family dwelling or an apartment building for rental purposes. Commercial real estate offers even more possibilities, such as buying an existing office or retail building, renovating a commercial building, or purchasing raw land to develop from the ground up. Commercial investments often carry greater possibilities for revenue and profit, but they also often involve more risk, and more up-front work. The following is a general overview of the steps in a commercial real estate transaction. This hypothetical transaction involves the purchase of a property with the intention of renovating or developing it for commercial use.

Step 1: Find a Property and Build Your Team

Before you look at a single property, you should identify your goals and make a plan. Do you want to purchase a property that you can sell at a short-term profit, or do you intend to derive income from the property through rent payments? How much risk can you take on? How much time, effort, and capital are you willing and/or able to invest? Do you have investment partners? Are you putting together a real-estate syndicate? Do you need investment partners to contribute money or expertise? And so forth.

Next, you should visit many properties. Whether a property is “right” for you depends on your investment goals and your budget for both purchasing and maintaining a commercial property, among many other factors. Consider the current uses of these properties, and whether they fit your intended use or could be adapted to that use. Determine whether there are any uses that are prohibited for a property because of zoning or deed restrictions. Find out what permits you will need from multiple levels of government. Investigate each property’s potential for rent income, and the economic conditions of the surrounding areas. Above all else, find out why the owner is selling.
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Real-Estate-Investors-Buying-Foreclosures-231x300

Author: Staff

The possibility of foreclosure has been a persistent reality for real estate owners for some time. Foreclosures often occur when property owners default on their mortgages. County or state authorities may also foreclose on a property after the owner fails to pay property taxes. In some situations, a homeowner’s association may foreclose for failure to pay fees or assessments, or for other breaches of the applicable covenants, conditions, and restrictions. For California real estate investors, foreclosure auctions could present an opportunity to acquire property below market price. Investors should be aware of the significant risks that often come with properties sold at a foreclosure auction, and they should carefully research any property before the auction date.

Judicial vs. Nonjudicial Foreclosure

California allows two types of foreclosure: judicial and nonjudicial. In a judicial foreclosure, the creditor or its agent must file a lawsuit and obtain a court order before they may conduct an auction. Nonjudicial foreclosure, which does not require a court order, is possible when the deed of trust signed by the mortgage borrower includes a “power of sale” clause. This clause authorizes a designated trustee to conduct a foreclosure, and essentially waives the borrower’s right to a court proceeding. Creditors must still meet numerous requirements regarding notice and opportunity for the borrower to cure a default.

Right of Redemption

From a real estate investor’s point of view, the most important distinction between judicial and nonjudicial foreclosure involves the borrower’s right of redemption:
– In a judicial foreclosure, the defaulting borrower can get the property back by paying the full amount owed to the lender, plus additional costs. The deadline to exercise this right is either three months or one year after the auction date.
– In a nonjudicial foreclosure, the borrower has no right of redemption. All sales are final, so to speak.
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Author: 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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Author: 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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Author: 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