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This section of our website is here to provide you with as much real estate information as you might want about Riverside and Riverside County real estate.

Informal, short, and right to the point. Opinions, vital statistics, suggestions, screw-ups, and editorial comments about the occasionally insane world of professional real estate…and we have a sense of humor as well, so enjoy.

Thank You Riverside

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…It was recently announced that for the 4th consecutive year, Westcoe Realtors, Inc. was voted the #1 independent real estate company in the Riverside area by Press Enterprise readers…and we here at Westcoe cannot thank all of our clients who made this honor possible.

Westcoe has always tried to combine the benefits of a large, highly technical office and support staff with the local feel that all of  our agents bring to their clients and families.  Our 50+ agent office has for 32 years provided the level of professionalism and success that our clients have come to expect, yet we have never forgotten our Riverside roots.  Over the years, we have steadfastly refused the offers from the large national chains to affiliate our company with their brand, preferring instead to remain true to our heritage and success as a local, Riverside company.  We have learned over the years that Riversiders simply prefer to do business with other Riversiders, and Westcoe will not abandon this concept simply to become part of a national chain…and with this latest vote by Press Enterprise readers, we see that this concept is appreciated by the people of our city.
So…while we could go on about our love of community and our city, we will simply end with a very heart-felt THANK YOU to all the people who share our commitment to Riverside, and the difference local caring Realtors can make to the sale or purchase of a home in our great city.

Thanks again…we really appreciate your support.

Can a Low Appraisal be Appealed?

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…This question raises one of the most frustrating situations a homeowner and a real estate professional has to endure.  Nothing is more frustrating than having an outside entity (the appraiser) ride in at the last moment and torpedo your transaction.  There are a lot of spokes to this wheel of appraisers, and we will try our best here to stick with the generalities that may help you if you find yourself wrestling with this issue.

Before we can give you our answer to the above question, we need to know if you are re-financing your home, or selling it…because the difference with respect to lenders and appraisers is night and day.

If you are refinancing.

If you are refinancing, then the lender has far more leeway in what they can and cannot do with regards to appraisals.  With a refinance, most of the time, the lender will not allow a homeowner to borrow more than 70-75% of the value of the property.  Therefore, since there is a 25%-30% “pad” in the equity in the home, lenders view this type of loan as far less risky than a purchase transaction.  In their minds, worst case is that if you default on the loan, they have plenty of equity to work with to protect their loan.  Mind you, this is not their plan, but a lender always has to have a “plan B” with regards to any loan in case you cannot make the payments…and in a refinance, their “plan B” is the remaining equity you have left in the home.

Given this built in “pad”, many times a lender will do a desk-top appraisal, which is a fancy way of saying that the loan department simply goes on-line, checks the local comps from whatever database they use, and renders a value based upon what they see on their computer.   No one comes to your home…they do it all at their desk…hence the name “desk-top.”  Again, the equity remaining in the home allows them some margin for error.

So…to answer the question about appealing a low appraisal in the case of a refinance loan, the answer is yes…appeals of refinance appraisals are far more successful and easier to accomplish because the lender has more control and more equity.

If you are selling your home

Now, things get a little sticky.

First, a home purchase loan can be done with 0% down for vets, 3.5% down FHA, or anywhere from 5%-20% down for conventional financing…which means seldom is there much of an equity “pad’ for the lender to use as “plan B.”  In the refinance, they had 25%-30%…here they have way, way less.

Secondly, this means that there will be no “desk-top” appraisal, but instead a licensed appraiser will be coming to your home…and when that happens, the appraiser now takes some personal liability and becomes part of the lenders “plan B.”  By this, we mean that if the loan is made, and the buyer defaults on the loan and stops making the payments, the lender will look to the appraiser to make sure that when the loan was made, the appraisal was accurate, and not over-estimated in any way.  As a result, this has led appraisers to be very conservative on their estimates of value for any appraisal they do.  This means that all the things that are subjective when valuing a home (pool values, view values, upgrade values, lot size values, to name a few) will normally be valued at the low end of the range, not the high end.

The net result here is that in many cases, the appraised value for a home will be higher for a refinance than for a sale.  Not fair, but such is the real estate world we live in.

So…how do you appeal a low appraisal in this case?

Generally, you don’t…and here is why.

First, the person who decides whether the value has been missed, and now needs to be adjusted upwards (hopefully) is the same appraiser who made the original appraisal.  In other words, by appealing the original appraisal, you are in essence telling the appraiser that he/she is an idiot, missed the original value, is unprofessional, etc…you get the idea.  In the judicial court system, how many rulings would be overturned if the person who made the original ruling was the same person who now gets to hear the appeal?  You can see the picture.

Secondly, to even begin an appraisal review, you must have data on comparable sales that are both different and unavailable to the appraiser when the original appraisal was made.  Again, the idea here is that you cannot simply tell the appraiser to raise the value of some of the subjective items noted above…you must have new information.  Without any new data, it simply looks like you are trying to “strong-arm” or bully the appraiser, which the Dodd-Frank lending changes made a huge no-no.

So, in the end, where are you?  Most of the time, the easiest way to combat the low appraisal is for the buyer and seller to work it out…buyer pays a little more in cash, and the seller lowers the sales price a little, which means no one is very happy, but the rock wall that is the appraisal world becomes the immovable object in your transaction.

Good luck, because if this all seems unfair, it is…but it’s the world in which we currently live.

Homeowners: Do you Sell First and then Buy, or Buy First and then Sell?

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…Given the very active status of our current real estate market, and the (depending on your price range) limited housing inventory available, the question posed above is one every existing homeowner wants to know.  If the goal of a seller is to simply move from their existing home into another home that is either bigger or smaller, has more or less yard, pool/no pool, closer to work, etc. then what comes first…selling, or buying?  Chicken or the egg?  Well, let us see if we can help a bit with that.

First…it’s almost impossible to buy first and then put your home on the market.  In a real estate market that is busy and active, very few sellers will even consider an offer from a buyer who has a house to sell that is not currently in escrow.  Think about it…you are asking the sellers to take their their home off the market and hope that you can sell yours.  You can’t give them a close of escrow date and what if yours doesn’t sell at all?   While waiting for you, they might miss a buyer who CAN be definite about closing and price, so almost 100% of the time, if you make an offer without first having your home in escrow, the seller will reject your offer and ask you to come back when you can be more solid with the details.

So…that leaves selling before you buy…but with protections so you are not stuck without a home.  The far better way to coordinate the sale and purchase is with the sale of your home first…but be sure that your listing agreement and purchase contract contain wording similar to the following:  “Seller accepts this offer subject to entering escrow on another home within _____ (fill in the blank) days, with both escrows to close as concurrently as possible.”

This clause lets your potential buyer know that you still need to find another home to live in, and that once you do, then both escrows must close together…and if for some reason the new purchase fails to close, then you are not obligated to close your existing home.

However, there are few other things here that can complicate matters.  First, don’t expect your buyer to give you an unlimited amount of time (the fill in the blank part) to find another home.  You can probably buy yourself 2 weeks, and if your house is really special and the buyer really wants it (multiple offers, for example), you may be able to expand that time frame to 4 weeks, but no buyer is just going to wait indefinitely for you to find another home.

Which means secondly, you (the seller) better have a pretty good idea what you want, and where you want it.  Hopefully, you have been looking around as well, getting ready for this exact moment.  If so, then you have a better chance of finding your new home in the time frame you negotiated with your buyer.

What happens if you don’t find a new home within this 2-4 week period?  Well, all bets are off on the original offer, and the buyer can either give you more time, or they bail and purchase something else, which means your home is back on the market for sale, and you start the process all over again.

Lastly, hopefully the home you find to purchase does not have as a seller someone who is doing the same thing you are.  While stacking two homes like dominoes happens all the time, coordinating 3 closings and subsequent move dates gets pretty tricky…any more than that, and real estate chaos is right around the corner!

Every situation is different, and certainly there are nuances that can affect some of the above details, but in general, this is how it’s done in our current market, where the seller holds more cards than the buyer.  As an FYI, we have seen markets where the reverse is true…the seller would gladly take a buyers offer and give them all the time they need to sell, but that’s not where we are right now.  Remember, real estate markets swing like a pendulum, and at this moment, the pendulum is more in the sellers side of the equation.

Hope this helps, and feel free to call us if you have any questions about what can be a tricky subject.

Do The Hot Summer Months Slow Real Estate Sales?

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…Ok, we get it.  When it’s 105 degrees out, no one is exactly jumping for joy…but it is Riverside, it is the summer, and we do live pretty close to the real desert in Palm Springs, so we’re used to a few hot days.

However, we had a buyer ask us this week if the hot summer weather has a negative effect on real estate sales in our area.  This is an interesting question, and upon reflection, our answer was…No more than the rain affects sales in Seattle, cold winters affect sales in Chicago, and heat and humidity affect sales in Miami.

In other words, every city in the United States has some sort of weather issue at some point in the year, and as such, the locals simply learn to adapt to whatever the norm is for that area.  Yes, it can get hot here in Riverside in the summer, but that doesn’t bring all business activity to a halt.  In fact, the summer months are some of our most active months of the year.

Which brings us to the next question…is there a slow time for real estate sales in our area?  The answer to this is a qualified yes, but it is our opinion that the slow time we have is pretty universal throughout the United States, because it has nothing to do with weather.  It’s called December, and the real estate sales simply take a back seat to most all holiday activities.

Regular life is hectic enough, but when you add the time and stresses that the holidays can bring, most of the time real estate sales simply get put on hold until after the festivities are over.  This does not mean that homes do not sell during December…not at all.  It just means that the unit numbers are far less than generally any other month.

As far as our most active months…well, pick one.  Because we live and work in Southern California, our weather is very conducive to doing most anything at any given time…which includes house hunting.  Perhaps in other parts of the country, there is more of a seasonal feel to real estate sales, but here in SoCal, every day is a good day for finding a house if you are in the market as a buyer.  Other than the holidays mentioned above, we simply don’t have a “season” for home sales…every month can be as busy as the next.  Remember, many people live in Southern California for just that reason…good weather year around.

So…if you are looking for a home in our area in the summer, we suggest you simply dress appropriately, stay hydrated, and remember that these couple of hotter months are the small price we pay for all the other fantastic months that the rest of the county wishes they had!

Take care, and as always, let us know if you have any question you would like to see us address in our blog space here.

Hero Loans…Once Again, SELLER BEWARE

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…OK…we thought we were done with the many calamities that can befall a seller when they are selling a home with a Hero loan in place, but here we go again.

To briefly refresh, Hero loans (or Pace loans…they are known by either name) are loans obtained by the seller for energy related home improvements, and then the loan balance is attached to the property tax bill to be paid off over time.  However, in the event of a foreclosure, the Hero loan is now a part of the property taxes and therefore gets paid off before the 1st trust deed, and this does not sit well with new lenders.  As a result, lenders refused to make a new loan on a property with an existing Hero loan unless said Hero loan was paid off at the time of closing.

In essence, no matter what the salesperson told the seller at the time the Hero loan was obtained, a buyer cannot assume the seller’s existing Hero loan unless the buyer is paying all cash for the home.  Otherwise, any new loan needed by the buyer will require the existing Hero loan to be paid in full.

However, recently FHA has said that they (as opposed to FNMA and FREDDIE MAC, the two largest loan purchasers) WILL allow a Hero loan to remain in place when a new loan is issued.  This would allow some sellers to better sell their home if the buyer, for whatever reason, was willing to assume the existing Hero loan payments.

BUT (and we can’t say this LOUD enough), as is usually the case with existing Hero loans, there is still a large problem with the buyer assuming the existing Hero loan.  In this case, while FHA has said that they are OK with the existing Hero staying in place, title companies, who insure the title to the home, are not allowing this new FHA loan to stay in place unless THE EXISTING HERO LENDER FORMALLY AGREES TO THE NEW 1ST LOAN BEING PAID AHEAD OF THE HERO LOAN IN THE ADVENT OF A FORECLOSURE.  This is called a “subordination agreement”, and it’s no surprise that most Hero lenders will not sign one.  Therefore, no subordination agreement, no sale, no matter what FHA says.

The bottom line here is that, as we have stated before in this blog space, Hero loans are nothing but trouble for sellers.  Most sellers are sold a “bill of goods” by the original salesperson about the buyer “just assuming the loan” when in reality, the sales person is not a Realtor, and knows nothing about the financing world that the owner will have to live in when it comes time to sell.

So…our advice, as we have stated before, don’t finance your home energy improvements with a Hero loan, and if you do, you really need to understand the ramifications you will face if you want to sell your home before the Hero loan is paid off.  We really hate to see these sort of problems crop up for a seller when they least expect it.

Good luck…hope this helps.


Why Your House Payment Changes Year-to-Year With an Impound Account

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…THIS is a good question, and one that almost every buyer who has an impound account has had to deal with over the years.  So…let’s see if we can provide the answer that will explain why your monthly house payment can vary from year to year because of your impound account.

First, we will assume that you have a fixed rate loan.  This means that your monthly house payment you make to the lender who gave you the loan is the same every month until the loan is paid, or you sell the house.

Secondly, before we can explain why your monthly payment may change from year to year, we need to first explain exactly what an impound account is.

An impound account is created so that you, the owner of a home, can make one payment every month, and that payment not only covers the loan payment referenced above, but also pays your homeowners insurance, and your annual property tax bill.  In essence, your monthly payment is actually 3 payments…loan, insurance, and property taxes.

Now…a few facts about an impound account.  An impound account is established when you get your loan to buy your house.  If your down payment is less than 20% of the sales price, then in most cases, you are required to have an impound account.  If your down payment is 20% or more, then having an impound account is voluntary.

Also, since your payment now includes the 3 items mentioned above, you need to know that your property taxes are paid twice per year (usually April and December), and your homeowners insurance is paid once per year, on the anniversary date of your purchase.

Now we can explain why your payment can change from year to year.

When the lender gets your monthly payment, the bulk of it goes towards your loan payment.  However, the part of your monthly payment that represents the insurance and property taxes gets set aside in your “impound account” to build-up until the those bills need to be paid.  For example, if your total monthly payment is $2,000, and your loan payment is $1,500, and the insurance portion is $100, and the property taxes are $400, then the “extra” $500 is set aside in your account so that when the property taxes are due (April & December), or the insurance is due, there is enough money in your account to pay these bills.

The most important thing to understand here is that your lender uses YOUR money to pay these insurance and tax bills, not THEIR money.  That means that there needs to be enough money in your “impound account” to pay these bills when they are due…with some left over as a pad for the lender in case you are late with a payment, or miss a payment.

Lastly, understand that when you first closed escrow on your home, and established your impound account, the account was “seeded” with your money to make sure there was enough available to pay your first round of taxes and insurance…and this original amount needed was estimated by the lender.

So…here is typically what happens with an impound account…and if you have ever tried to steer a boat, you will understand what we are saying next.

Since the lender estimated the original amount needed to establish your impound account, sometimes they estimate too low…or too high.  If they estimated too low, then when the time comes to make your tax and insurance payments, the lender gets scared the balance of your account is too low, so they send you a letter telling you they are raising your monthly payment to get more money in your impound account.  Remember, they pay with your money, not theirs, so they want to make sure they have plenty of your money in the account.

However, about a year later, their computer models now say you have too much money in your account, so they send you a refund of the overage, and reduce your payment, since they now have too much.  Then, about a year after that, they now think they have too little again, and they send you another letter saying there is an impound shortage, and the payment needs to go up again.  This merry-go-round can continue for the life of your loan if things get really screwed up.

Now, to be fair, your monthly payment may rise some over the years because of annual increases in both your insurance and property taxes…but most of the time, when you have an impound account, you are destined for these annual “course corrections” (like steering the boat) as your lender tries to find some sort of payment balance.

Hence, the ever-changing payment that comes with an impound account.

Not to confuse the issue, but if you are tired of all these changes, and want to eliminate your impound account and make these payments on your own, you can usually do that once the equity in your home is 20% or more…just check with your lender.

Hope this helps you understand why your “fixed” monthly house payment can change every year if you have an impound account.

Take care, and as always, thanks for reading our blog posts.


Sellers: How to Handle Multiple Offers

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…Spring is here, and with it comes a pretty active real estate market.  There are a variety of reasons why this is so, from a reduced inventory (supply), to a desire for buyers to get the low home interest rates while before the Fed raises them again (demand).  Whatever the cause, the result is that in some price ranges, sellers are experiencing multiple offers…which raises the question on how best to handle this situation.

Since we deal with this in our office on almost a daily basis, we thought a few helpful hints might make for a smooth negotiation if you ever find yourself in this enviable position.  Just remember…every situation is different, so use the following wisely depending on your price range, the number of offers, how long you have been for sale, and a host of other factors that you can discuss with your agent.

First, remember that “Pigs get fat, Hogs get slaughtered.”  This is our way of saying that as a seller, don’t get cocky, and don’t get too greedy.  The worst thing a seller can do is pit the buyers against each other to the point where things get stretched so tightly that the “rubber band” breaks.  If  you are not careful here, and come across as too greedy, the potential for the buyers to walk away, or worse yet, agree to your terms and then bail out later when they reconsider are pretty high.  So…yes, you can stretch everyone a bit, but don’t just go crazy.  Remember, you want all you can get, but you get nothing if the sale never closes.

Secondly, the highest offer is not always the best.  Most of the time it is, but make sure you consider the terms of all the offers.  If the highest price offer is a 95% loan (5% down payment) with a buyer with good but not great FICO scores (basically a credit score denoting how easy it will be for the buyer to qualify for the loan) vs. an all cash offer a few thousand dollars less, the all cash offer might have a far better chance of closing than the highest price one with the 95% loan.  There is a lot that can go wrong with a new loan, especially one with very little as a down payment, so be careful here.  Common sense goes a long way when considering which offer is best.

Thirdly, you can counter all or as many of the offers as you desire, and the counters can be different.  Again, don’t go crazy, but there is no reason you cannot counter more than one offer, and since each offer has different terms, each counter might be different as well.  Some you might counter with a higher price, and some with better terms, and some with a different close of escrow date, or all might contain the removal of some item the buyer wanted the seller to pay for (ie: home protection policy, termite report, etc.).  Just remember rule #1 above and you will be OK.

Lastly, remember that each situation is different, and all of our rules above might not apply to your transaction!  This is critically important to understand, because there are so many variables for each sale.  Price range, how long you have been on the market, work the house needs done, termite reports and potential clearances, contingencies the buyer may have….and the list goes on.  Here is where a good real estate agent can guide you on what is important, and what is mere window dressing.

In the end, all good negotiations should leave both parties feeling like they are relatively happy.  Trying to squeeze the last ounce out of a buyer usually leaves them bitter at some later point…and sometimes this bitterness just gets too much for the buyer to swallow, and they walk away from the sale.

Remember…the goal is not to just sell the house, but to CLOSE the house as well…and if you leave a little on the table for the next guy, chances are you will accomplish both.

Take care, and as always, thanks for reading.

What Riverside’s Housing Inventory Means to You

When it comes to real estate news, it’s impossible to escape the media’s fascination with the theory that there is a large problem with available housing inventory.  Whether your news source is talking about the lack of new residential home building, the lack of affordable housing, or the increase in rents as more people become renters, it all seems to blend together as real estate white noise.

So what is the actual truth about housing in our Riverside area?  Are the media reports accurate?  And what does that mean to buyers and sellers in our city?  Let’s take a look at our local picture, because as usual, the media only has part of the story correct.

YES…there is a lack of new home building in our Riverside area to meet the demand by buyers, but that has been the case for many years.  This is not new (why all the fuss now for an issue that has existed for quite a while is beyond us.)  YES…rents have gone up the past few years, but they have done so at about the same rate as homes have appreciated, which is also pretty much the norm.

So what has the media missed?  Simple…and here is your real estate snippet of information guaranteed to make you look good at your next social gathering when the conversation turns to real estate.

All real estate data regarding inventory is determined by price range…and the market and subsequent sales activity is different for each price level.  Therefore, you cannot make blanket statements about “inventory”, or “sales activity”, or “affordability”, or much of anything else without first knowing what price range you are talking about.

 As an example, in our Riverside area, there are lots of homes for sale in the $300,000-400,000 price range, but since this is the most active price range in our market, the homes sell quicker.  Therefore, if you take a static snapshot on any day of the number of homes for sale, it will show a relatively low number…but that’s because most of them are sold!  However, these sold properties are constantly replaced by other homes for sale, which means there are usually enough homes for a buyer to choose

from.  Whether the perfect home is there when a buyer wants is another story…that is always the case.  However, patience is normally rewarded, because new homes come up for sale every day.

As you climb the price range ladder, it should come as no surprise that the higher you go, the slower the market, and the more properties that may be for sale at any one time.  Again, common sense dictates that there are more people who can afford a home priced at $350,000 than at $650,000…and so on.  Last year in 2016, 43% of all Riverside closings took place in the $300-400K price range, as opposed to 17% for the 400K-500K range, and 7% in the 500K-600K range…and the numbers continue to drop as you go even higher.

So what does all this mean for sellers and buyers in the Riverside area?

 First, as we have stated in previous newsletters, Riverside will always present itself as the affordable housing alternative to our neighbors in Orange and LA Counties…and this keeps our housing market strong and active.

Secondly, beware of the national media and their interpretation of the “housing inventory crisis.”  Sure, our market could handle a few more houses for sale, especially in the $300K-$400K range, but be careful what you ask for.  A strong real estate market is all about balance, and right now we are fairly balanced, with a slight tilt towards needing more inventory.  Remember, a totally out-of-balance market is bad for either a seller or buyer (depends on which way we are tilting!).  Nobody wants a repeat of the crazy market of 2000-2007, which was followed by the housing disaster of 2007-2012.

Remember…all real estate is local…and right here in Riverside, our prices and the availability of low interest rates gives us a strong housing foundation that is good for everyone.

Take care, and as always, I am only a phone call away if needed.




Does a Real Estate Agent Have to Tape-Measure a Home to get the Accurate Square Footage?

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…One of our buyer clients asked us this question this week, and we thought other buyers may have the same concerns…hence the subject of our blog today.

To answer this question in a nutshell, NO…a real estate agent does not have to tape a home when providing the square footage of that home to a potential buyer.  In fact, all agents are discouraged from doing so since the actual taping of a home falls outside an agents area of expertise.

So…where does the square footage information come from?  Multiple sources, which are all designed to provide the buyer with the accurate information a buyer needs before making an offer.

Most Realtors obtain the information regarding the size and square footage of a home from the city/county records available on-line by said governmental departments.  We live in a digital age, where in almost all cases, this information has been made public from the building permits for any particular home.  Title companies have this information as well, but susally the title companies are only passing on the information they too have obtained from the city/county.

Can this information be incorrect?  Absolutely.  Let’s be fair here…most of the time, the information provided by the city/county is accurate, but they can make mistakes.  Common sense will prevail if the listed size of the home in the records is, for example, 3000 square feet, but it’s obvious that the actual home is only 1,000 feet!   Even a real estate novice can see that variance.  But if the home is listed at 1,600 feet, and is actually only 1,550 feet, then very few can see this difference.

So then what?

Well, the next source of the true size is an appraisal…and if the buyer is purchasing the home with a loan from any bank or mortgage company, then there will be an appraisal involved.  Appraisers are the qualified professionals who CAN  measure a home, and when they make the appraisal, they measure the home, and then provide a drawing of the home.  This drawing will show all the exterior walls, many times the interior walls, and give both the actual measurements and the total square footage of the home.  Therefore, the appraisal will hopefully verify the information that is already in the public records.

You can also use any original brochures given by the new builder of a house, assuming the seller still has them from when the home was new.  You have all seen housing brochures when touring a new housing development, and this information is taken from the actual blueprints used to build the home, and therefore are usually pretty accurate.

These are the usual sources for Realtor provided information regarding the size of a home, and they do a good job of keeping everyone on the same page.  As an FYI, most of the Realtors in this industry have seen sellers who “grew” the house after living in it for many years.  By that we mean when a seller bought the home, they knew it was actually, for example, 1,550 feet, but when asked by friends over the years, the common response is “Oh, it’s about 1,600 feet!”  After enough statements like this, then when it comes time to sell, the seller will tell the Realtor the “new” size of the home….and that’s why almost all agents will pull the existing public records to simply protect everyone one from getting the wrong information.  Saves a lot of hassles down the road.

So, in the end, public records will normally get you close, if not right on, and an appraisal will totally verify in the size of the home you are purchasing.  We hope this helps you  if you ever find yourself wondering how the size of a home is determined.

Take care, and as always, thanks for reading our blog.

Does a Seller HAVE to Replace Toilets, Faucets, etc. with Water Conserving Fixtures?

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…Given the new law that just went into effect on January 1, 2017 in California, this is a great question. Let’s explore the answer.

Effective on January 1, 2017, if a home in California was built prior to January 1, 1994, then a new California law now says that the owner must have water conserving toilets, and water conserving shower heads and fixtures.  Obviously, this is in response to the drought of the past few years, and was voted in by our State government.

In the past, whenever the State passed a law of this type, usually the trigger for getting this work done was the sale of the home.  However, not in this case.  For this new law, there is no enforcement mechanism for the home owner to have this work done.  There is no government department who is going to knock on your door to see if it is done, no “selling the home” mandate for the work to be done, and no penalty (at this time) if the work is not completed by the home owner.  In essence, the State has passed a law that relies solely on the owner of the home to comply.

Why is this important?

Because there are some plumbing companies now out in the public scaring home owners about needing to do all this work or they are in violation of the law…and getting all this work done is expensive!  We are all for water conservation, but we don’t like scare tactics being used in order to drum-up work.  Our assumption is the reason the State government had no enforcement mechanism is precisely because of the expense, and instead is leaving it up to each individual home owner.

But what happens when the home owner wants to sell the house…do the plumbing upgrades need to be done then?  Not necessarily.  At that point, the seller’s obligation is merely to disclose the the prospective buyer that the water conserving upgrades have not been done…and if this is OK with the buyer, then it’s no problem.  Some buyers may insist the upgrades be done by the seller, and some may not be to concerned about it.  Every buyer is different.  What is important here is that the seller needs to DISCLOSE to the buyer, but not necessarily UPGRADE to comply with the law.

In the end, compliance is left to each home owner, or to the buyer and seller in a sale of the property, and all home owners should be aware of this so they are not “talked into” spending a lot of money when it may not be necessary.  As a home owner, we want you to know your options.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to let us know if you have any real estate questions we can answer on our blog.