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

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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 papadiy.com 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 You’d be forgiven for thinking they were a thing of the past—an outdated, analog player in today’s digital game.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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Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Investing in San Diego real estate offers many great opportunities for returns, but it also poses many potential risks for losses and liabilities. Planning an investment requires researching and investigating risks associated with a particular property. This includes the property’s zoning designation and associated land use restrictions. The Land Development Code (LDC), located in Chapters 11 through 14 of the San Diego Municipal Code, sets forth the zoning regulations and procedures for properties located within the city. Zoning regulations allow certain types of construction and prohibit other types, but it is sometimes possible to get approval from the city to make an exception to the regulations, known as a variance. As a general rule, a variance cannot grant approval to a land use that has already been found to be in violation of the city code. This is why careful research on existing permits affecting a property is so important.

Zones and Regulations in San Diego

Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Zoning is an important part of land use planning in nearly every major city in the United States. Local governments usually have jurisdiction over land use issues. Both the City of San Diego and San Diego County have zoning ordinances and procedures for permitting construction and development in different zones. California real estate investors need to be familiar with local zoning ordinances, as well as the restrictions of land use that go along with them, before committing to an investment. While investors should always keep in mind the adage that “you can’t fight City Hall,” it is possible to challenge or change a zoning designation. In San Diego, this can happen in several ways involving the Planning Commission or the City Council. Litigation may also be a means of modifying zoning designations, although it is rarely a first resort.

The Zoning and Rezoning Processes

Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Investing in California real estate is, ultimately, a gamble. Even the most experienced and savvy investor cannot know what will happen to the property years, months, weeks, or even moments from now. Risk management is therefore one of the most important parts of California real estate investment. This may include measures intended to protect the property, such as security and fire suppression systems. It should also involve insurance coverage for various potential risks or losses.

Risk Management and Insurance

San Diego BayAuthor: Staff

San Diego real estate investors need to be aware of land use restrictions, such as restrictive covenants included in a deed, or zoning and other restrictions under city or county laws. Both the City of San Diego and San Diego County have zoning laws that restrict the use of land within their jurisdiction. We will focus on zoning within the City of San Diego.

What Is Zoning?

apartment buildingAuthor: Staff

Apartment buildings can be an excellent investment for California real estate investors. Factors like the size and style of the building, the type of units available, and of course, the location are all important. An apartment building owner can manage the property directly or delegate this role to a manager, but liability for breaches of a lease agreement, or for violations of California landlord-tenant law, will ultimately fall on the owner rather than the manager. California apartment building owners’ legal obligations include making accommodations for accessibility and, under a new law that applies to new construction, providing individual water meters or submetering for each unit. Real estate investors looking into apartment buildings should be aware of the financial risks and legal obligations.

What Is an “Apartment Building” Under California Law?

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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 papadiy.com to share his ongoing projects and to motivate himself to do more.

When you bought your large family home, you likely had children (both current and future) to consider. You diligently looked for a property with enough bedrooms to house your expanding family and any guests you would have had over the years. Your neighborhood amenities probably mattered, too, and it’s likely that you bought in a development with a playground, sidewalks, and plenty of other families.

Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Investors in California real estate hope for returns on their investments, but they must also understand the inevitable risks. A real estate investment, whether it involves participating in a real estate syndicate, buying shares in a real estate investment trust or buying land for development, is a business venture. All business ventures involve risk, starting with the loss of the investment principal and continuing to the limits of the imagination. Investors should carefully consider their potential liabilities and plan a business entity accordingly. Proceeding without any formal legal structure creates a sole proprietorship or general partnership, which offers no protection from liability. California law allows real estate investors to form various business entities that can shield them from liability for business obligations, including a limited liability company (LLC).

Liability Protection