Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Need a Middleman for your Parent-to-Child Home Loan?

Longtime readers of this blog will remember Circle Lending, which took care of the paperwork for private loans, and Virgin Lending, which bought Circle Lending just before the crisis, and then folded shortly thereafter.

Looks like National Family Mortgage has gotten organized to fill the void, per Kathleen Pender's Chron story this am.  They charge $725 to originate the loan (set up, record and handle 1099 forms at the end of the year), and then there's a separate $15/mo servicing charge (to cover sending out monthly mortgage payment bills, letting you know if a payment issue comes up), which can be paid by the lender or borrower, at your direction.

Note that if you were to "gift" funds to a relative, you are liable for gift taxes.  The IRS has a "Applicable Federal Rate" which is a safe-harbor rate that avoids any liability.  It's currently just over 3% for a long-term loan.  So while market rates are closer to 4.375% for a 30 year loan, you could lend a relative at 3.06% and not worry about whether a portion of the arrangement would be considered a gift by the IRS.  The program allows you to set the rate at whatever you agree on.

See their site at nationalfamilymortgage.com, and/or check out a guide to borrowing at this site.

Friday, July 11, 2014

If You're Under 50, You Still Hafta Read This---

You might have noticed my reference last week to "AARP-certified"--a young buyer
 came into a recent level listing and said "my mom said this home was AARP-certified."
 What a great concept.  For the last few months, coincidentally, I've been making
my way through The Accessible Home by Deborah Pierce (feel free to contact me [mailto:Kennedy@MaureenKennedy.Net]
to borrow it).  Pierce creates a roadmap for owners looking to accommodate:

*  regular visitors with accessibility challenges (I regularly hear "this house 
won't work for us--my mother can't handle all those stairs when she comes for dinner"),
* themselves at all ages,
* a disabled child, or
* a disabled partner.
 Her mantra is "Universal Design Equals Intelligent Design," and she's so smart! 
 Think about how much easier it was/is to use strollers on corners with curb cuts
ostensibly for wheelchairs, or to change diapers in the disabled bath stall.  And
think about how many of us are likely to be inviting our parents into our lives 
and households in the coming years.
 Much of her thinking looks at changes you can make (or plan in a renovation) that
are great now, but lifesavers later (and think about the costs if you had to move
because a home no longer met your needs).  Asking the right questions is as important
as the anticipated needs you plan for.
 Key insights for all of us include:
 --Closet planning can increase efficiency by 60%.
--Knobs are a problem; cabinet pulls and door lever handles are not.
--Pocket doors (and "barn" doors) can be really useful in avoiding do-si-do routines.
--Low maintenance layouts and surfaces are good for everyone.
--Can everyone get out safely in an emergency?
--Changes in stone or pavement color (slate to concrete) can signal surface or slope
shifts, particularly for the visually impaired.
--Drawers for the fridge, for pots, for files are easier for everyone to access,
 as are side-swinging oven doors (Gaggenau has had them for years).
--Think about easy and rain-protected ways to get folks out into fresh air--level-out
decks, etc.
--BathSimple.com turned me onto the notion of placing shower controls in  a location
that doesn't involve your getting wet every time you prep  for a shower (try doing
that in a wheelchair!)
--Bay windows are another way to create "elbow room" in tight spaces.
--Think about dual purpose grab bars/towel racks.
--Planning in laundry rooms and mud rooms is key.  There's a lot of maneuvering 
that goes on in each, and a washer and dryer in the basement is a pain for everyone,
including kids who can otherwise help out.
--In-bath storage.  Use for linens now, and various medical supplies later.
--And what about a bidet after all, for keeping things clean?  Those Japanese toilet
retrofits (Google "Toto Washlet") work really well.
--Don't forget the needs of a caregiver (my new listing at 100Echo.com [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=tzq75drab.0.0.emq8hsqab.0&id=preview&r=3&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.100Echo.com]
provides a great private housing arrangement.....)
 Lofts can often be just the ticket--they typically involve elevators, low-maintenance
concrete floors, wide spaces and modular functionality.
 Note that the City of Piedmont, when recently overhauling its zoning code, added
 a "reasonable accommodation" reg.  Historically it was very difficult to get a 
permit for otherwise-prohibited renovations needed for various disabilities--say
 to convert an existing half bath to a full bath in order to allow an owner to live
comfortably on one floor, or to expand an entry porch roof into a setback to provide
a sheltered area for someone to get keys to open a door.  And frequently these adjustments
had to come out when the owner sold the home, even though that meant the home again
became less-accessible--a particular problem in Piedmont given that our housing 
stock is so old, on average.  Now, the City "may" require that the space be returned
to its original status, or it "may" leave that more accessible home as-is for future
owners.  See Chapter17.22.a [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=tzq75drab.0.0.emq8hsqab.0&id=preview&r=3&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ci.piedmont.ca.us%2Fhtml%2Fcity_code%2Fpdf%2Fchapter17.pdf]
of the City code for more.
 And finally, I've mentioned it before at Margie Bowman's suggestion, but take a 
peek at North Oakland Village [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=tzq75drab.0.0.emq8hsqab.0&id=preview&r=3&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.northoaklandvillage.org%2F]
for thoughts and resources on how to stay in your home longer--assuming that's your
preference.  If you're happy to move, just call me and we can make that happen too!

The Piedmont Update

Well, the strong market continued apace this quarter--in contrast
to reports elsewhere, we had 63 sales this quarter, compared to 42 for 2Q13.  Average
sales price was $1.903 million (usually I stick with median, but this quarter's 
number is skewed up by a few large sales.  Even so, the median was $1.743 million).
 The average price per square foot was $661/sf (appropriately excluding several 
sales which show as $0 for privacy reasons....).  This compares with $600/sf for
 us at the top of the market, and about $635-$650/sf over the course of the past
 year.  So we seem to be at a new plateau about 10% above the previous market highs
(though note that's 10% appreciation over 8 years.......).The average days on market
was 16 (12 was the median).  For hotly contested properties, we're typically seeing
sales on the Friday of the first week, unless the seller commits to a second open
house weekend.Anticipate that the market will remain active as buyers try to get
 into the market before the beginning of school. 
Sales tend to drop like a rock
 through August, however, and then pick up again for about 6-10 weeks after Labor
Day, before the holiday lull sets in.  Yesterday's strong economic data may suggest
that this unexpected window of unusually low interest rates is about to end--as 
rates climb, homes become marginally less affordable--the same buyer can no longer
afford your home as their payment rises. 
Be sure to contact me (Kennedy@MaureenKennedy.Net)
for any additional insights on the Piedmont market, or if your friends, family, 
or colleagues want to buy or sell in the East Bay market.  I've closed nearly $25
million in real estate in the past year, ranging from the most expensive sale in
 Piedmont that was on the MLS to the least expensive home closed in Piedmont this
year.Enjoy the long weekend!

I Know It's Not My Listing, But......

I Know It's Not My Listing, But--

Let me mention one of my favorite homes in Inverness, coming on the market this 
weekend, and owned by Piedmonters and Kensingtonians.

125 Vision Rd. Is just a short distance from the tennis court, Inverness Yacht Club
(shallow draft so we're talking kayaks and small boats here....), and downtown Inverness,
including the very well reviewed Saltwater Oyster Depot [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=vokdpbrab.0.0.emq8hsqab.0&id=preview&r=3&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.saltwateroysterdepot.com].
 Newly high-end grocer Perry's Deli [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=vokdpbrab.0.0.emq8hsqab.0&id=preview&r=3&p=http%3A%2F%2Fperrysinvernessparkgrocery.com]
is a couple miles towards Olema (location of the Manka's team's new Sir and Star
and Pt. Reyes Station (think Osteria Stellina [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=vokdpbrab.0.0.emq8hsqab.0&id=preview&r=3&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.osteriastellina.com],
the Dance Palace [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=vokdpbrab.0.0.emq8hsqab.0&id=preview&r=3&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dancepalace.org],
Pt. Reyes Books [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=vokdpbrab.0.0.emq8hsqab.0&id=preview&r=3&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.Ptreyesbooks.com],
and Cowgirl Creamery [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=vokdpbrab.0.0.emq8hsqab.0&id=preview&r=3&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cowgirlcreamery.com]).
  And Kehoe Beach in Pt. Reyes National Seashore, the best dog-walking beach on 
the Pacific Coast, is about 12 minutes away by car-I just got back from my hourlong
Sunday constitutional there as I write this.

See here for the view. [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=vokdpbrab.0.0.emq8hsqab.0&id=preview&r=3&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bolinasroad.com%2Fimages%2Flola_beadh_0025.JPG]

Formerly owned by the Cheda Garage family, the house was the new new thing in 1957--it's
one of only a few--I can't think of another--mid-century modern homes in town with
a classic south-facing horseshoe shape.  The large living room is bracketed by a
 classic fireplace, and the interior courtyard which draws plenty of light into 
the home.  Totalling 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths, with a large garage with interior
 access, it's set on a half-acre lot with heirloom apple orchard already in place--I've
made "Apple Trees at Olema" apple jelly for the garden club's scholarship fundraiser
with permission of the owners and poet-laureate Robert Hass.

And did I mention the steel-reinforced foundation that would have been de rigeur
 in 1957?  And the new roof?  And the dog- and toddler-friendly privacy fence? And
AARP-certified level-living? And 1 hour 10 minutes from Piedmont?

Get into town before the Inverness Fair in early August!  Open this weekend by appointment
and next.  See 125Vision.com for more.

1119 Warfield Ave. Open just after the Parade--
 If friends or colleagues are looking to simplify life, consider 1119 Warfield Avenue,
 Architectural Details Abound
 At the top of a knoll with a flat front yard, the home affords long views facing
 towards the south.  Enjoy the barrel ceiling in the living room and other architectural
details of this Mediterranean-style home-from coved ceilings, to crown molding, 
to ornate fireplace surround, to banks of windows that let in the East Bay's famous
 When you're ready to entertain, the formal dining room beckons, but start with cocktails
on the private front patio.  The split-level layout works very well:  a master suite
and two bedrooms sharing a bath are a few steps up from the public rooms, while 
the rare family room and guest suite (plus interior access from the garage) are 
a few steps down.  A total of four bedrooms and three baths!
 The Perfect Location
A better more walkable Piedmont location would be hard to find.  Just a block and
a half from Wildwood Elementary,* with the middle school, high school and dog-friendly
Piedmont Park on the other side of the football field, students can head out to 
school 10 minutes before classes start.  Or walk with them and stop at Mulberry 
Market for a latte, on your way to the casual carpool or Wi-Fi-equipped express 
bus to San Francisco's Financial District. 
Wildwood Elementary has recently completed a seismic update, and ranks 10 out of
10 on the state's API scores.  The elementary school offers before- and after-school
care run by the Recreation Department on-site-and summer camps are well-organized
and easy to coordinate as well.  Piedmont High School is rated #200 in the country
in US News and World Report's 2014 survey of public schools last year (and by far
the smallest of the very few Bay Area schools receiving the Gold ranking), and is
just a few blocks from the home. 
This summer, enjoy Piedmont Community Pool for long afternoons or swimming lessons. 
 The current owners have made a number of improvements over the years, including 
the installation of Andersen dual-paned windows, seismic retrofit, sewer lateral
 replacement, Kohler low-flow toilet replacements, recent roof tune-up, and paint
inside and out.  Not one but two 40-gallon hot water heaters help ensure that showers
never run cold (the plumbing lines are copper).
 *Check PUSD for availability in the fall.
 --4 bedrooms and 3 baths in 2148 sf (per assessor)
--4452 sf lot (per assessor)
--1-car garage (check for size)
--Seismic Retrofit
--200-amp electrical service
--copper plumbing
Open Friday 12-1:30pm, Saturday & Sunday 2-4:30 pm
Broker's Tour (public welcome) Thursday AND Monday 10-1 pm
Offered at $1.195 million.

Renting--or Lending--Out your Home

My daily indulgence is Remodelista, and this week they're focusing on summer rentals, Air BnB, VRBO, and visits to friends--cool ones locally, dramatic ones the world over, hostess gifts, and so on.  Today however, they have a killer list of things to include in your "How the House Works" memo to guests.

You may know that we don't rent out the Inverness house, but do donate it annually to a range of local charities (Tri-School Fundraiser, Camp Augusta, Family Law Violence Center, Berkeley City Club's foundation, Rubicon to name a few). 

Between those folks, and family friends whom we invite to use it when we know we'll be away, there are lots of people who need to know not to even think about putting linens in the washer (because of the high likelihood they will not get in the dryer and thus will be a smelly mess when we arrive a week later.....), and absolutely need to know the WiFi password, how to rarely use the garbage disposal, and where to put compost.   And we've always had a 7-page memo that covers all this and more (kudos to the contractors; best local restaurants).

Our memo performs well when compared to the pro's!

Here's the link:  Remodelista Renter Info Checklist.