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Common Real Estate Law Disputes Involving Neighbors

real-estate-lawWhen you decide to purchase a home, it’s likely that the neighborhood will be one of the top factors you take into consideration, with high hopes that you and your family will have a great experience there for many years to come. Unfortunately, you can’t know for sure what kind of neighbors you’re going to get in the deal, and living in such close proximity can make things very tense if you don’t see eye to eye on neighbor etiquette. Various issues may lead to minor neighbor disputes before they’re ultimately squashed between the two parties. However, there might come a time that you face a situation that can’t be resolved amicably, and thus, have to turn to real estate law to help settle the matter. Below are some of the most common topics that start unneighborly feuds every day.

Property Lines

Property line debates have been creating hostility between neighbors for decades. This generally occurs when one party mistakenly believes their property to include a certain portion of land that actually belongs to the other party. Questions may start to develop if a new fence is being built or trees begin to grow into the next yard. Boundaries can usually be easily established by looking at title documents or having a property survey performed.

Excessive Noise

Excessive noise continues to be a leading complaint among neighbors despite community ordinances and real estate laws that are designed and put into place to keep it from being a problem. Loud music, parties that go on late into the night and vehicle or burglar alarms that are neglected to be shut off are a few examples of unacceptable noises that can trigger serious annoyance in the neighborhood.

Keeping the Property in Poor Appearance

Living next door to someone who doesn’t care to keep up on the appearance of their property can be a major source of bad blood between neighbors. Who wants to come home every day to see overflowing trash cans, peeling paint, dog poop on the lawn, distasteful signs, etc., which affects the appeal and value of the entire neighborhood? There are real estate laws – such as private nuisance – that are meant to protect a homeowner who is experiencing a loss of enjoyment of their property because of a neighbor allowing their own property to deteriorate.

Bothersome Children and/or Pets

Regardless of how cute and cuddly they can be, children and pets are simply seen as a bother to some people and they don’t want to be anywhere near them. When this is the case, there isn’t much that can be done to fix it, but arguments are more frequently the result of things like children entering a neighbor’s yard without permission, dogs barking incessantly, children or animals damaging a property, etc. Parents and pet owners are responsible for watching after their children and pets and must teach them proper behavior.

The last thing you want is unnecessary drama with a neighbor to ruin your otherwise perfect living environment, but sometimes, there’s just no avoiding it. Become familiar with the real estate laws in your state so that if any of these controversies arise you can make an informed decision on how best to proceed.

10 Reasons Why Homeownership Never Goes Out of Style

Outgoing HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan created a fun BuzzFeed list “10 Reasons Why Homeownership Never Goes Out of Style”

Obama’s Housing Nominee Open to Ending Fannie and Freddie

President Obama’s nominee for Housing Secretary, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, told the Senate Banking Committee he is open to closing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “I absolutely believe that there are better alternatives than what we have in place with this duopoly and with the conservatorship,” Castro said.

Senator’s have expressed little opposition to Castro’s nomination for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a job that would provide Castro a major role in the push for reforms to the current housing system.

Housing finance reform is still on the minds of many after the 2008 economic crisis. The government took control of Fannie and Freddie in September 2008 and provided them a $187.4 billion taxpayer bailout. Fannie and Freddie have since paid the bailout money back and have again become profitable.

President Obama nominated Castro for HUD Secretary after current Secretary Shaun Donovan was nominated to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

Full story from The Hill available here.

FEMA Announces New Flood Insurance Premiums and Rate Tables

floodMore good news on the Flood Insurance front… FEMA recently announced the Flood Premiums and Rate Tables for 2015. Each October, FEMA issues the following year’s rate tables. Releasing the rate tables at this time provides insurance companies sufficient lad time to update their rate quote software. These rates will take effect this October 2014 and will be used to calculate refunds to be issued later this fall.

According to FEMA’s memo: “In every case, the attached rates are the same or lower than the October 1, 2013, premium rates”. In other words, no one will see a rate increase next year, and some could see a further rate reduction below this year’s level. This is on top of the rate reductions FEMA implemented last month when it rolled back all rates so no older (pre-FIRM) property owner could pay more than 2013 subsidized rate for the rest of the fiscal year.

How to Explain to Your Client That They Can Benefit From Both a Real Estate Agent and an Attorney

real-estate-attorneyThe homebuying process can be pretty complex and tedious at times, but it’s nothing that an experienced real estate agent isn’t qualified to handle. However, there may be some instances when a buyer will choose to seek legal counsel about a particular type of realty transaction or be required by the state to hire the assistance of an attorney. When this is the case, buyers often question whether they need both a real estate agent and an attorney.

As an agent, you should be able to explain to a client why your services will still be beneficial even if they are working with an attorney as well. It’s important for a buyer to recognize that each professional has different roles to play and things to offer the homebuying process, resulting in a more efficient transaction.

Role of a Real Estate Agent

Buyers should understand that it’s their real estate agent that will be there for them throughout each stage of the process, from beginning to end. Agents can connect prospective buyers with useful contacts like mortgage lenders and inspectors, have access to numerous listings through the MLS database, can provide extensive knowledge of the local area and neighborhoods, will manage the mounds of required paperwork, arrange property showings and skillfully negotiate a fair price with the seller. Make it clear to your client that you will likely have much more time to give them when it comes to daily tasks and help with house hunting than an attorney can be expected to have.

Role of an Attorney

In the homebuying process, it’s not uncommon for an attorney’s services to be utilized when it comes time to close the deal. Even though real estate agents are authorized to draw up the purchase contract in most states, some make it mandatory for an attorney to become involved at this point in the event that any legal questions arise that an agent isn’t qualified to answer. This can refer to topics such as zoning, contract interpretation, subleasing, a sudden dispute over the negotiated selling price, etc. Any of these issues can cause a delay in closing, but with an attorney’s counsel, there’s a chance for problems to get resolved more quickly.

Other Reasons For Employing an Attorney

There are several other real estate situations that may call for legal services as well. Foreclosure and short sale transactions often present a very good deal for a buyer but have much more red tape to cut through than a straightforward transaction has. If any title discrepancies pop up, an attorney will be able to handle the complications. When buying a condo, there can be extra paperwork that a buyer feels more comfortable having reviewed by a legal professional, and when looking for investment properties, there can be various laws that a buyer needs to be filled in on.

To put it simply, real estate agents help their clients buy real estate while attorneys give legal advice. Pointing out the distinct duties that an agent has throughout the homebuying process as opposed to an attorney should help clear up any confusion a buyer has about working with both to acquire the home of their dreams.

Implementation of Flood Insurance Rate Relief Beginning

On April 15, 2014 FEMA reported implementing the first provisions of the Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which will provide immediate rate relief to homebuyers. In this bulletin, FEMA directs insurance companies to stop charging full-risk premium rates when older properties are sold after May 1st. Instead, buyers will be allowed to assume the seller’s current rate until FEMA issues new rate tables and refunds under this new law. NAR will continue pressing FEMA to implement the rest of the rate relief provisions according to statutory deadlines.

This new legislation providing flood insurance rate relief to homebuyers was signed into law by President Obama in March. It is reforming provisions of the “Biggert Waters” bill passed in July of 2013 that created unintended unpredictable rate increases for some flood insurance consumers that were not tied to a home’s actual risk of flooding. More detailed information on the new law as well as Biggert-Waters is available here:

Potential Safety Issues, Possible Health Hazards, a Need For Pest Control – Reasons Not to Let Your Client Skip the Inspection Process

pest-controlHomebuyers will have a lot of tasks to take care of and checks to write before the deal can be finalized on their new property. No matter how prepared they may have felt entering into the buying process, it can be very overwhelming and stressful to shell out so much money. So when the time comes to schedule the inspection, it may cross their mind to just skip that part and it’s cost.

However, there are many important reasons for a real estate agent to step in and encourage their client not to go that route. Home inspections can reveal unappealing circumstances about a property (potential safety issues, possible health hazards or the need for pest control) that should be dealt with before the final contract is signed.

Real Estate Agent’s Role in the Inspection

As mentioned above, perhaps the most significant role a real estate agent plays in the inspection process is insisting that their client invests in one. Once they have agreed, an agent should provide an unbiased list of reputable licensed inspectors that can be trusted to be honest and straightforward about their findings.

After selecting one, a buyer should be able to leave it to their agent to coordinate the details of the inspection. Whether or not it’s necessary for the agent to be at the inspection is usually up to the individual client and their representative, but it can show real dedication and support by showing up and getting a feel for how the outcome could affect the deal. This should be done without actually interrupting the process or probing more than the client feels comfortable with.

Purpose of the Inspection

The overall purpose of the inspection is to help a buyer determine whether or not they should continue with the transaction. If an inspector finds a termite or rodent infestation requiring extensive pest control services, serious structural issues that are deemed unsafe, evidence of asbestos, mold, radon or carbon monoxide toxins, it gives the buyer a chance to change their mind before it’s too late and they get stuck with a property that’s falling apart.

However, if an inspection reveals that a buyer has nothing to worry about or there are just minor things to take care of, then it will offer peace of mind and a possible chance to negotiate a lower price. Homebuyers should also keep in mind that an official inspection report is often a requirement when seeking homeowner’s insurance.

Buying a home is the biggest purchase one will make in a lifetime, and a real estate agent should look to protect their client in every way possible. Home inspections give buyers a comprehensive report that clues them in to exactly what kind of situation they’re about to get themselves into, whether good or bad. An agent has a duty to help make sure a client doesn’t find themselves battling huge pest control bills, dangerous structural dilemmas or health problems later on down the road.

Carpet Cleaning and Other Simple Tasks to Complete Before Listing Your Home

carpet-cleaningThere are many things to get done when preparing to list a property. Putting in the effort to get it into tip-top shape often makes a big difference in how long it takes to sell or rent. Making sure that a home is move-in ready can go a long way in getting it off the market much more quickly. Minor improvements can make a place extra appealing to house hunters and doesn’t have to cost a great deal of money. To make your home stand out among other listings, it’s a good idea to get a professional carpet cleaning, repaint, declutter and complete a few other basic maintenance tasks in order to make a positive first impression on prospective buyers or renters.

Clean the Carpets

Stylish carpet adds to the interior design of a home and provides a means of insulation and cushioning for tired feet. Carpeting can easily become the focal point of any room and is sure to catch the eye of anyone coming to view a property. Though it’s inevitable for carpets to begin to display signs of wear and tear over time, a professional carpet cleaning can do wonders to restore its appearance and freshen up lingering odors from pets, cooking, smoking, etc. in time for you to show the house without the distraction of unappealing stains and soiled spots.


Touching up the inside, and outside if needed, with a fresh coat of paint can spruce up a home quite a bit. A paint job is cost-effective and serves to hide other imperfections like water stains or patched up nail holes. Neutral or light colors are generally most pleasing to people, can help rooms look more spacious and allow potential buyers or renters to envision how they would decorate the space according to their own taste.


Decluttering is a must before a property is put on the market. The home should look inviting and lived in without showing off all the belongings of another family. People want to imagine their own furniture and personal decor set up in a house, but that can’t be done with clutter hanging around. Packing up items that aren’t necessary to everyday living, framed photos, knick-knacks, etc., and de-personalizing will offer them the best chance to imagine building their own future there.

Take Care of the Landscaping

The exterior of a property is the first thing someone will see when they drive by scouting out possibilities or arrive for a showing. To make sure they don’t keep on driving or make up their mind right away that it isn’t the home for them, special care should be put into landscaping the yard. Simply replacing flowers, plants and shrubs that are withering away with new, flourishing ones and reviving the lawn will make a property considerably more attractive.

Get an Inspection

It’s standard for a buyer to get an inspection done before finalizing a deal, but if a seller takes the initiative to have one done beforehand, it will give them the upper hand in knowing if there are any issues that need to be addressed. This will help to avoid encountering unpleasant surprises and prevent delays when it comes to closing.

As a general rule of thumb, the longer a home stays on the market, the less desirable it becomes and tends to sell or rent for a lower price. To keep this from happening to your property, invest in a little extra maintenance in the beginning, such as getting a proper carpet cleaning and fixing up the yard.

Consider a Steel Building for Your Next Home or Business Project

steel-buildingIf you have a free standing garage, chances are that it is made out of wood and has slowly gone down in structural soundness over the years. Or perhaps you need some extra storage space in the backyard for tools and garden supplies. Whatever your reasons are for expanding on your property, whether it’s for personal or business purposes, you’ll find that a steel building may be just the right answer for your needs.

Why Steel?

Although not commonly thought of as a “green” building material, steel is 100% recyclable, and highly energy efficient. By purchasing a steel building, you are doing your part to save trees and other related natural resources.

Steel has long been used as a building material. It is the backbone and heart of skyscrapers, large buildings, and commercial structures. Its durability and strength are unrivaled and as a result, steel is a preferred choice for structures small and large.

Steel doesn’t warp, buckle, or corrode and is virtually maintenance free. It resists common building material ailments such as mold, mildew, rot, and deterioration. Once a steel structure is erected, it will be there for many years.

In comparison to standard building materials such as wood or brick, assembling a steel building offers significant cost savings of 40% to 50% because steel is less expensive and takes less time to assemble the structures.

Many Options

Steel buildings of old were windowless boxes lacking character or design elements. But today’s steel structures have many options such as windows, doors, bay doors, and other amenities.

A steel building can easily match your present living or business environments with a little planning. They come in an assortment of different colors and sizes to meet any requirements.

Ease of Installation

When you are considering DIY projects, putting up a steel building for use as a garage or tool shed is relatively easy when you compare it to similar projects using wood and nails. When putting together a steel garage or steel tool shed, you don’t have to hire a bevy of carpenters or contractors. A small steel building can be done with just a few people.

And if DIY isn’t your cup of tea, you can hire a handyman or handywoman to take on the task of assembly, while you enjoy your weekend. And even with the cost of hiring someone to assemble the structure for you, you will still come out ahead.

Pick a Size, Any Size

Whether a steel building is geared for agricultural use, business use, or residential use, there is a size that can meet any need or specification. Larger steel structures are built with solid steel frame construction elements that make them extremely sturdy and resilient.

Because they are virtually care-free, in terms of upkeep duties, this means additional cost savings to the owners by eliminating the time spent for building maintenance and materials. A steel building can do what it was meant to do without the annoyance of constant care. For your next low-rise building needs, consider what a steel building can do for you.

Test Drive Electric Vehicles and Enjoy Free Lunch at SAR!!

April’s Main Meeting will be electric! We will have 12+ new electric vehicles on site available for test drives and a free BBQ lunch for attendees.

The April 1st Main Meeting will begin at 9:00am in the SAR Auditorium as always. It will kick off with a panel discussion on electric vehicles and how they could be an asset to your business. Panel speakers include: West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, Lisa Chiladakis with the California Air Resources Board, and Bill Boyce from SMUD.

After the panel discussion attendees gather in the SAR parking lot to test drive the available vehicles and enjoy a free BBQ lunch. Vehicles that will be available include: a Tesla Model S, Cadillac ELR, Fiat 500E, Rav4, Ford Fusion, Ford CMax, Chevy Volt, GM Spark, and a Prius.

SAR worked with some great partners to help organize this exciting Main Meeting including: Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, SacEV, Sacramento Clean Cities. As well as the following car dealerships: Clipper Creek, Kuni GM, Magnussen Auburn Toyota, Niello BMW, Niello Fiat, Nissan Future Automotive Group, Sullivan Chevrolet, Tesla Motors.

Questions about this meeting, please contact Caylyn Brown at Hope to see you there, bring an SAR friend!