Benefits of Your Home Energy Audit

green house electricityBenefits of Your Home Energy Audit

Before you improve your home for possible energy savings, get a legitimate home energy audit by a qualified professional who will tell you how your home is performing based on current building codes and science.

You won’t need an auditor to tell you to turn off the lights, lower the thermostat, and put on a sweater in the winter to save on your energy bill.

Energy auditors will measure the level of a homes’ performance and provide that to you as owners.  This will help you make good decisions about how to spend money to improve your home performance, save energy and lower utility costs.

Auditors can also help you learn to make your home more comfortable and improve indoor air quality.

Two types of certified professionals conduct reliable energy audits:

  1. Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Rater – certified by the CA Energy Commission – provide audits for negotiated fee but will not likely be persons doing any retrofit or improvement because most are not licensed contracts.

HERS auditors will provide information about home performance from an energy efficiency standpoint, detail energy consumption, offer improvement advice, provide energy score that tell you how your home compares with a new home built to comply with current CA energy efficiency standards.

  1. Building Performance Institute (BPI) Contractors are perhaps the most respected in the U.S.  These people are auditors and licensed contractors and outline cost-effective scope of work that will help you achieve your home performance or energy efficiency goals.  They will also do the contract work if you choose.

BPI contractors will provide your energy audit report and also point out other areas of possible concern, such as moisture-related issues, indoor air quality, and comfort.

BPI contractors are participating in the CA Energy Upgrade program and can give you information about rebate and financing programs.  They will present you with a scope of work proposal (a contractor bid) for cost of your proposed repairs.

You won’t need an auditor to tell you that common improvements such as insulation, sealing to make your home less leaky, and energy efficient windows will usually reduce your energy bills and increase comfort.

However, the certified auditor can go further and advise you about how to achieve your best goals for energy and money savings.

Auditors should be qualified to advise you about project funding and rebates available through government or utility and financing programs, such as Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEMs) or new CA Energy Upgrade program.

If you get your energy audit at the start of planning, that will help you make best decisions about possible use of solar panels, programs and saving of money.

A home’s comfort, air quality, energy efficiency, and performance work as a system, and sometimes one component is affected by another.

Check out web sites for information, such as Build it Green, CalCerts, California Air Resources Board, CA Energy commission, and others.

You can achieve best results and goals by working with either an HERS energy auditor, or a BPI contractor, to work within your budget for home improvements.

The Orange County Association of REALTORs® did a great job of putting together its March 2015 magazine – “THE GREEN ISSUE” – on theme of “HOW TO SAVE ENERGY, WATER & MONEY”.

By Harrison K. Long – Source of information is OC REALTOR® magazine article “Before You Improve, Have a Home Energy Audit”, March 2015.  Graphic is by iStockphoto.com – “Benefits of Your Home Energy Audit”

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Earn Money by Saving Water Through Incentives and Rebates

06_green_waterHow to Earn Money by Saving Water: Incentives and Rebates

Orange County CA residents and homeowners are concerned about water conservation and saving money on their utility bills.

The Municipal Water District of Orange County CA (MWDOC) serves a 600 square-mile area that includes many Orange County cities, including Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, San Clemente, and others.  MWDOC also includes the unincorporated areas of El Toro, Emerald Bay, Irvine Ranch, Laguna Beach county, Mesa Consolidated, and others.

The MWDOC offers incentives and rebates to commercial and residential customers in these cities and areas that are posted at its web site for those areas that implement water-saving technology.  Such offerings depend upon what funding is available and is subject to change.

MWDOC incentives and rebates for residential property:

Outdoor

Indoor

Water savings programs

  • Water smart home program – free home survey
  • Sprinkler adjustment notifications – free

The Irvine Ranch Water District also has incentives for devices and water savings programs.

The Mesa Water District also has incentives and rebates for water savings programs.

So homeowners and residents at Orange County CA should contact MWDOC and/or Irvine Ranch Water District and Mesa Water District to find out about incentives and rebates for water conservation at your home.  

The Orange County Association of REALTORs® did a great job of putting together its March 2015 magazine – “THE GREEN ISSUE” – with theme of “HOW TO SAVE ENERGY, WATER & MONEY”.

By Harrison K. Long – Source of information is OC REALTOR® magazine article “How to Earn Money by Saving Water: Incentives and Rebates”, March 2015 – and the Municipal Water District of Orange County.  Graphic is by iStockphoto.com.

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Landlord Liability for a Tenant’s Pets in California

California Law re Landlord Liability for a Tenant’s Pets

Can the landlord be liable if the tenant’s dog bites or otherwise harms someone?

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Protect Your Home’s Property Tax Basis and Transfer to a Replacement

Your property taxesProperty taxes are very important for home owners at Orange County CA.

This is true because property taxes are based upon assessed values at Orange County, and those have values have increased significantly since 2009.

Property tax protectionsPeople who have owned a home at Orange County for a number of years often ask about protecting their property tax basis when they buy and move to another home.

Ad valorem property taxes in California are primarily guided by California Proposition 13, a constitutional amendment enacted by voters during 1978. CA proposition 13

Annual property taxes according to Proposition 13 to be paid by owners are generally equal to one percent of assessed value of the home each year. (This assessed value can be increased by as much as two percent per year by the county assessor.)

Example: If you buy a home at Orange County CA at price of $700,000, the property value determined by county assessor/tax collector will be $700,000. So your annual ad valorem property tax during first year would be one percent of that – or the amount of $7,000.

If you want to sell your home and buy a replacement home in Orange County, and if you follow California law guidelines, you can sell first and then buy a different home – or you can buy a home in Orange County first and later sell the prior house – while taking advantage of transfer of Proposition 13 property tax basis.

To protect and transfer your home’s property tax basis to another home, you must follow all conditions for qualification and property tax relief as set forth by the Office of Orange County Assessor.

Proposition 60 was a constitutional amendment approved by the voters of California in 1986 – codified in Section 69.5 of the California Revenue & Taxation Code – and allows the transfer of an existing Proposition 13 base year value from a former home to a replacement home, if certain conditions are met.

PEOPLE 55 YEARS OF AGE OR MOREThis protection benefit is open to homeowners once in a lifetime who are at least 55 years old and are able to meet all qualifying conditions.

The following conditions must all be met for qualification and property tax relief to be granted under California Proposition 60:

a) Both the original property (former residence) and its replacement must be located in the same county. If the replacement property is located in a different county from the original, see possible transfer basis rules set for at California Proposition 90.

b) As of the date of transfer of the original property, the seller or a spouse living with the seller must be at least 55 years old.

c) The original property must have been eligible for the Homeowners’ Exemption or entitled to the Disabled Veterans’ Exemption.

d) The replacement dwelling must be of equal or lesser value than the original property.

e) The replacement dwelling must have been purchased or newly constructed on or after 11/06/86.

f) Without exception, the replacement dwelling must be purchased or newly constructed within two years (before or after) of the sale of the original property.

g) The original property must be subject to reappraisal at its current fair market value as the result of its transfer, in accordance with Sections 110.1 or 5803 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.

h) Without exception, a claim for relief must be filed within three years of the date a replacement dwelling is purchased or new construction of a replacement dwelling is completed.

For more information about Orange County CA home selling and possible protection and transfer of property tax basis – see the web site at Office of Orange County CA Assessor.

Possible transferring your property tax basis from a home at Orange County CA while buying a replacement home at another county is a different subject – and covered by California Proposition 90. Orange and Riverside and two of the nine counties in California that are participating with the Prop 90 transfers between counties.

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By Harrison K. Long.  This is for information only about California law and is not the providing of legal or tax services. For questions about your own situation, you should consult with an experienced real estate attorney and/or with the office of Orange County Assessor where your home is located.

Providing professional REALTOR® agent representation and help for property owners, home sellers, private trust estate representatives, estate administrators, executors and heirs, probate and trust attorneys, estate planners, income tax professionals, public guardians, fiduciaries, investor group managers, bankers, and individuals, with listing and sale of properties at Orange County, CA. Contact us with your questions about home prices and values at Irvine, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, and other Orange County CA cities and areas.

“How to Protect Your Home’s Property Tax Basis at Orange County CA and Transfer to a Replacement”

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Home Buying Demand Blasted Off at Orange County

The Orange County CA housing market has shifted with sudden jump in buyer demand.

IMAG0223 (Large)_optDuring the past month from January 15 to February 15, 2015, buyer demand has increased by 64%.

After the first month of 2015, it looked like this year would be similar to 2014.  However, the market shifted with greater buyer demand during the past month.

Orange County Property NewsHome buyer demand increased by 566 pending sales in the past two weeks and now totals 2,619.   This two week surge was the largest increase since February 2012.  Last year at this time demand was at 2,381 pending sales, 9% fewer than today.  As a result of the rapid increase in demand, the expected market time dropped to 62 days from 78 just two weeks ago, pushing housing deeper into a seller’s market.

Something changed, and the big difference is cheaper money in the form of low interest rates.  Low interest rates are fueling housing demand and, as a direct result, the Orange County housing market has blasted off.

Today’s rates are a half a point cheaper than a year ago.  For a jumbo conforming loan, loans between $417,001 and 625,500, rates are at 4% versus 4.5% a year ago. For the median priced home in December 2014, $591,000, and a 20% down payment, a buyer is looking at a monthly mortgage of $2,257 at today’s rate, versus $2,396 at 4.5%.  That’s a savings of $139 per month, nearly $1,700 per year, or $50,000 over the 30-year term.

Buyers are making wise choices to pull the trigger now – to buy now because rates are cheap and are down to historical lows.

Current home loan interest rates are low, because they have been artificially pushed down by the Federal Reserve for years.  The Federal Fund rate has been kept at nearly zero since December 2008.  They have hinted at raising these rates.  When short term rate increases, long term rates, home mortgages, will soon follow.

Prior to the recession of 2007 to 2009, mortgage rates were about 6.5%.  For the December median sales price home, that’s an extra $731 per month every single month.  In 2000, rates were at 8%, or an extra $1,212 per month.  In 1990, rates were at 10%, and in 1981 they reached 18%.

Today’s rates are unbelievably low – and smart buyers will take advantage of this gift compliments of the U.S. government.

It’s likely that the FED will keep rates in the low to mid-five-percent range within the next couple of years.  That difference in monthly payments will put a dent in buyers’ pocketbooks and their monthly budgets.  Cashing in on low rates today means more disposable income.

Many Orange County CA buyers will continue to look to pay the Fair Market Value for a home this year.   From the official start of spring at the end of March, through the start of summer at the end of June, more homes will come on the market than any other season.  Home selling success will be determined by value and correct seller pricing.

 

By Harrison K. Long, professional real estate representative, Realtor, real estate broker, and professional real estate representative at Orange County CA.  Source of some information is ReportsOnHousing.com and CRMLS multiple listing service. 

Coldwell Banker residential brokerage

Professional real estate agent and broker representation – with help for property owners, home sellers, private trust estate representatives, estate administrators, executors and heirs, probate and trust attorneys, estate planners, income tax professionals, public guardians, fiduciaries, investor group managers, bankers, and individuals, with listing and sale of properties at Orange County, CA. Contact us at 949-854-7747 with your questions about home prices and values at Orange County CA cities and areas with Home Selling and Real Estate market updates.

“Orange County CA Housing Demand blasts off.”

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Millennials in California Value Home Ownership

Millennials in California value home ownership.

A new survey by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® was designed to evaluate the millennial generation’s attitude toward home ownership.

MillennialsLookingTowardHomeownership, 11-19-2014Respondents were asked questions about different things from effect of the recession on their attitude toward home buying to what they look for in a home, and their biggest concerns about home buying.  This online survey polled 1,000 CA residents aged 18 to 34, and here are some of the findings:

  • Though nearly two in 5 millennials (49%) live with parents, 93% plan to buy a home.
  • More than half gave home ownership an importance rating of of 8 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10 – with 1 being not at all important and 10 being extremely important.
  • Millennials don’t tie home ownership to a life event, but instead to years; they plan to buy in 5 yeas rather than when they marry or have children.
  • More than half (59%) said the housing crisis didn’t affect their attitude toward home ownership being a good investment.
  • Majority of those surveyed were uncertain or doubtful they could obtain a mortgage now; 45 percent said they were not sure, while 33 percent said they would not be able to do so.
  • 67 percent rent because they cannot afford to buy a home.
  • 45 percent cited high home prices and affordability as their main concerns about home ownership.
  • Millennial’s top reasons for home buying are freedom to do what they want with their property, privacy, and satisfaction of ownership.
  • 57 percent think that location in home buying is most important, above the neighborhood, home features, and walkability, among other things.
  • 67 percent plan to purchase a single-family detached home.
  • 42 percent want a lot of land, and 41 percent want to live in the suburbs.
  • The young group aged 18 to 26 find privacy important, while older millennials aged 27 to 34 find equity important and see home ownership as an investment.
  • Of those currently renting, 36 percent would be motivated by affordable home prices to buy now.
  • 16 percent said they would be motivated to buy by having the down payment necessary to purchase.

Millennials want home ownership

By Harrison K. Long, real estate broker, Realtor, professional real estate representative and attorney at Orange County CA.  Source of information is the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® magazine, February 2015. 

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We provide professional real estate agent and broker representation – help for property owners, home sellers, private trust estate representatives, estate administrators, executors and heirs, probate and trust attorneys, estate planners, income tax professionals, public guardians, fiduciaries, investor group managers, bankers, and individuals, with listing and sale of properties at Orange County, CA.  Contact us at 949-854-7747 with your questions about home prices and the home selling and/or buying process at Orange County CA cities and areas.  ~  “Millennials in California value home ownership”.

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Ladera Ranch CA Home Selling Market Update

Ladera Ranch is an exciting area for residential living and investment – located in the foothills of South Orange County CA near Saddleback.

Ladera Ranch was developed with most homes built between 1995 and 2005.

It’s divided into nine residential “villages” –  Oak Knoll Village, Bridgepark, Flintridge Village, Township, Wycliffe Village, Echo Ridge Village, Avendale Village, Terramor Village, and Covenant Hills Village.

Buyers were busy at Ladera Ranch last year 2014 when 532 homes were sold – with average sold price of $727,341.  This includes range of homes from comfortable one bedroom condos to expansive estate homes in Covenant Hills.

2015 started well for Ladera Ranch home sellers who priced according to value  and compared to what other homes in the area have sold for.  Average selling price of all Ladera Ranch homes continues to be about $720,000.

Source of information is CRMLS multiple listing service and is for homes sold by all brokers and agents.

By Harrison K. Long, real estate broker, Realtor, professional real estate representative and attorney at Orange County CA.

Coldwell Banker residential brokerage

 

 

We provide professional real estate agent and broker representation – help for property owners, home sellers, private trust estate representatives, estate administrators, executors and heirs, probate and trust attorneys, estate planners, income tax professionals, public guardians, fiduciaries, investor group managers, bankers, and individuals, with listing and sale of properties at Orange County, CA.  

Contact us at 949-854-7747 with your questions about home prices and values at Orange County CA cities and areas with Home Selling and Real Estate market updates – Ladera Ranch CA Home Selling Market Update.

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2015 Orange County CA Home Selling Market Forecast

2015 Home selling market forecast

Orange County CA Home Selling Market Forecast for 2015

IMAG0223 (Large)_opt

  • 2015 will present good opportunities for serious home sellers and buyers.
  • Some overzealous sellers who list high will be challenged by buyers who are only willing to pay perceived fair market value.
  • As more overzealous, optimistic homeowners get overpriced homes on the market, some of them returning after unsuccessful selling in 2014, the inventory of homes for sale will rise to about 9,000 and peak by the end of August.
  • Buyer demand will remain subdued, similar to 2014, since buyers will continue to patiently wait to pay only Fair Market Value for a home.  Some buyers will sit on the fence and wait until the market turns more to their favor.
  • For the first half of the year, expect mild price appreciation from 1 to 3%. By year’s end, that appreciation will be all but wiped away, and year over year appreciation by the end of December will be close to zero.
  • The housing market will follow a normal cycle.  The strongest buyer demand coupled with a new inventory of homes for sale will occur during the Spring, followed by slightly less demand and a continued fresh supply of homes in the Summer, then another drop in supply and fewer new listings in the Autumn Market.  Finally, the distractions of the Holiday market 2015 will present lowest demand of the year and few homeowners opting to sell.
  • The number of successful, closed sales will be similar to that from last year 2014 levels.  There will be an increase in the number of “move-up” sellers during 2015.
  • The distressed homes inventory will remain low with a similar level of successful short sales and foreclosures, representing just a few percent of all sales by year’s end.
  • There will be improved mortgage market competition from direct lenders who are not as regulated by the government.
  • Even though mortgage rates have remained low for several years, that was the FED’s manipulation of the monetary system.  If the FED starts increasing the Federal Fund Rate, that will result in higher mortgage rates perhaps toward range of 5%.
  • 2015 will be a good year at Orange County CA for home selling and buying.

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By Harrison K. Long, Realtor, real estate broker, and professional real estate representative at Orange County CA.   Source of some information is ReportsOnHousing.com and Steven Thomas housing forecast for 2015. 

Professional REALTOR® agent representation and help for property owners, home sellers, private trust estate representatives, estate administrators, executors and heirs, probate and trust attorneys, estate planners, income tax professionals, public guardians, fiduciaries, investor group managers, bankers, and individuals, with listing and sale of properties at Orange County, CA.  Contact us at 949-854-7747 with your questions about home prices and values at Orange County CA cities and areas with Home Selling and Real Estate market updates.

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Mortgage Rates Staying Down is Fantastic News For Home Buyers at Orange County CA

Purchase money lendingFantastic news for homebuyers is that home loan mortgage rates at Orange County CA went down big-time during 2014 and have stayed down.

4.5% was the average rate on a 30-year fixed loan offered by lenders one year ago today –  see article from that time – Mortgage rate watch report for December 28, 2013.

Average payment on a $417k conforming loan one year ago was $2,113 per month.

3.75% is the average rate offered by lenders on a 30-year fixed loan at Orange County today on December 29, 2014 (for those who qualify) –  see article – Mortgage rate watch report for December 28, 2014.

Average payment on that same $417k conforming 30-year fixed rate loan is now $1,930 per month (for those who qualify).

So a monthly payment on that $417k loan now will save a homebuyer $183 per month on payment as compared with same loan and time last year.

What this means is that prospective homebuyers should get organized, qualified or pre-approved with a lender, and move forward with decisions to buy now!

Coldwell Banker residential brokerage

 

 

By Harrison K. Long, Realtor, real estate broker, and professional real estate representative at Orange County CA.    

Professional REALTOR® agent representation and help for property owners, home sellers, private trust estate representatives, estate administrators, executors and heirs, probate and trust attorneys, estate planners, income tax professionals, public guardians, fiduciaries, investor group managers, bankers, and individuals, with listing and sale of properties at Orange County, CA.  Contact us at 949-854-7747 with your questions about home prices and values at Orange County CA cities and areas with Home Selling and Real Estate market updates.

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5 Top Reasons Orange County CA Homebuyers are Buying Now December 2014

5 Top Reasons Orange County CA Homebuyers are Buying Now in December 2014.

Orange County home buying-b-

1.  Astonishingly low mortgage interest rates give buyers more buying power – the ability to buy more home for the money!  Today’s average 30-year fixed rates are under 4%, which is historically low.  These low rates give buyers a window of opportunity.  The Federal Reserve said it is planning to increase the federal funds rate next year, and that is when interest rates will increase.  

2.  Average time to sell a home at Orange County has increased, which allows buyers the opportunity to be patient and negotiate.

3.  Buyers have a bigger selection of homes now to choose from.  Inventory of homes for sale in Orange County is higher than same time last year.  

4.  Buyers have less competition from other buyers during December and winter months.  Homeowners who place their homes on the market during the holidays and winter months tend to be more serious about selling.    

5.   Increased buyer incentives for Chinese business travelers and tourists – The U.S./ China visa agreement took effect last month and will allow multiple entry visas spanning 10 years for business travelers and tourists and five years for students.  This new visa policy is expected to encourage overseas buyers to invest in real estate at Orange County.

It’s not surprising that buyer demand for Orange County homes has increased 16%  as of December 1, 2014, as compared to same time last year during 2013.

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By Harrison K. Long.  Source of some information is CRMLS multiple listing service ReportsOnHousing.com. 

Professional REALTOR® agent representation and help for property owners, home sellers, private trust estate representatives, estate administrators, executors and heirs, probate and trust attorneys, estate planners, income tax professionals, public guardians, fiduciaries, investor group managers, bankers, and individuals, with listing and sale of properties at Orange County, CA.  Contact us at 949-854-7747 with your questions about home prices and values at Orange County CA cities and areas with Home Selling and Real Estate market updates.

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