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Inclusionary Zoning Decision Likely To Have Major Consequences

by Chris Plastiras

Last month's California Supreme Court decision (California Building Industry Association (CBIA) v. City of San Jose, June 15, 2015) will make it easier for California cities and counties to pass inclusionary zoning ordinances. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), inclusionary zoning or housing programs "require or encourage developers to set aside a certain percentage of housing units in new or rehabilitated projects for low-and moderate-income residents. This integration of affordable units into market-rate projects creates opportunities for households with diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to live in the same developments and have access to [the] same types of community services and amenities…"

California counties and cities have long had an obligation to develop a general plan "…including a mandatory housing element consisting of standards and plans for housing sites in the municipality that ‘shall endeavor to make adequate provision for the housing needs of all economic segments of the community."

In the case at hand the city of San Jose had adopted an ordinance that would apply to all residential developments in the city that would create 20 or more new, additional, or modified dwelling units. The inclusionary housing requirement specified that "15 percent of the proposed on-site for-sale units in the development shall be made available at an ‘affordable housing cost'" (as defined in the Health and Safety Code). If the developer chose an available alternative option, such as constructing affordable housing elsewhere or paying an in lieu fee, the requirement increases to no less than twenty percent of the total units.

The CBIA challenged the ordinance on the grounds that there was no evidence that new developments of twenty units or more would have such negative public impacts as to justify the requirements of the new ordinance. If it couldn't be shown that the development itself would cause a lack of affordable housing, then, according to the CBIA, it couldn't be justified to make the developer sell units at below market rates. To do that, they argued, would amount to an unconstitutional taking of the developer's property.

The Superior Court agreed with the CBIA's contentions and ruled that the ordinance was constitutionally invalid. On appeal, however, the Appellate Court ruled that the city did not have to show a causal relationship (a nexus) between the potential harm caused by the development and the benefit brought about by the ordinance's requirements. Rather, the Appellate Court held, the ordinance only needed to be evaluated under the standards for general land use regulations: namely, did the requirements "bear a real and substantial relation to the public welfare…"?

The Supreme Court agreed with the Appellate Court and upheld its ruling. It noted that, "As a general matter, so long as a land use regulation does not constitute a physical taking or deprive a property owner of all viable economic use of the property, such a restriction does not violate the takings clause…"

In the case of the San Jose ordinance, no transfer of any real estate interest to the city was required; nor was any parcel of property taken. Moreover, it certainly was not the case that the property owner would be deprived of any economic benefit. Indeed, it was noted that "the San Jose ordinance makes available a number of economically beneficial incentives -- including a density bonus, a reduction in parking requirements, and potential financial subsidies …" such that "it is not the case that the San Jose ordinance will necessarily reduce a developer's revenue or profit…"

The Supreme Court acknowledged that "A municipality's authority to impose price controls on developers is, of course, unquestionably subject to constitutional limits." If they were deemed to be confiscatory – if they denied a property owner a fair and reasonable return on its property -- they would be deemed to be unconstitutional. But no evidence had been introduced to suggest that the effects of the San Jose ordinance would be so extreme.

The court wrote, "Most land use regulations or restrictions reduce the value of property; in this regard the affordable housing requirement at issue here is no different from limitations on density, unit size, number of bedrooms required set-backs, or building heights." [my emphasis] But such reductions in value do not in themselves constitute an unconstitutional taking. Hence, "the validity of the ordinance does not depend upon a showing that the restrictions are reasonably related to the impact of a particular development to which the ordinance applies. Rather, the restrictions must be reasonably related to the broad general welfare purposes for which the ordinance was created."

Currently, 170 California jurisdictions have some sort of inclusionary zoning ordinance. This ruling will make it easier for such ordinances to withstand court challenges. (Particular cases could still be found invalid if they were too extreme.) The burden of proof shifts from the city or county to the owner/developer. Unless this case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court and is overturned there, it can be expected that there will be more inclusionary zoning ordinances in California.

House Flipping 101: Safety Tips For Newbies

by Marius Poltan

A Queen-Anne-style fixer-upper sounds like a dream: original woodwork, period details, hand-carved mantles or molding. But a dream can quickly dissolve into a nightmare when you step on a rusty nail, put your hand through a window or fall off a roof. It's better to be well-prepared and informed before starting a project than to face an injury during it. Here you’ll find safety advice and quick tips for new house-flippers, including proper gear, procedures and legal documents for Lake Tahoe or Incline Village real estate owners.
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1. Lead Paint Procedures

According to the EPA, houses built before 1978 are much more likely (than those built after) to have lead paint, which can cause serious health problems. Before renovating, take steps to protect yourself from hazardous lead-contaminated dust. Seal off contaminated areas with plastic sheeting and tape, including air vents, windows and doorways. Turn off forced air systems before beginning, and spray water on lead-painted surfaces to keep dust from spreading.

2. Dust Mask

Wearing a dust mask, or “Particulate Respirator,” will protect home renovators from potentially dangerous dust entering their respiratory tract. These disposable masks can be bought in bulk packs from Home Depot, and should be used while grinding, sanding, sweeping or bagging.

3. Tablet with Wi-Fi or 3G

This seems like a funny thing to include within home improvement stuff, but a tablet will be a lifesaver. Load up your iPad Air 2 with apps like a level and tape measure. Upload your tunes or stream from Pandora to keep you entertained, and download YouTube for when you need a visual tutorial to DIY fix that faucet. Use the camera app to take pictures and share your house progress on social media. Once the house is ready to put on the market again, use the ZipRealty or Trulia apps to view comps in the area so you know what price to set yours. If you don't have Wi-Fi installed at the house, a subscription for 3G service will help you remain connected the whole time.

4. Protective Gear

Knee pads, goggles and gloves will also be indispensable while flipping a house. Knee pads protect knees from injury or discomfort while working long hours on all fours to refinish wood floors. Goggles protect eyes and face from flying sparks and dust while grinding or sanding. And heavy-duty gloves protect hands from cuts, scrapes and splinters that result from rusty nails or rough wood.

Boots will never run out of uses on a work site. Rubber rain boots protect feet and lower legs from water as well as from loose nails, screws, splinters, or other debris left around the house. Boots with sawtooth rubber soles are best for construction as they increase traction during the wettest conditions.

5. Voltage Tester

The number of tools to buy before flipping a house may seem overwhelming at first, but there are a few essential tools that keep workers safe for a very affordable price. A non-contact voltage tester comes in handy when pulling out or rewiring electrical outlets or switches. With this tool, renovators test for live electrical currents without touching any wires or plugging in anything. Alternatively, renovators could plug a hair dryer or blender into an electrical outlet and turn it on before shutting off circuit breakers to test which breaker operates the outlet. When the noise stops, you’ll know the outlet is dead.

6. Stud Finder

Another small tool, a stud finder, is also useful to home renovators to safely hang shelves or cupboards. Stud finders can be found at hardware stores, like Lowe's for example. They indicate where a wall stud is located behind drywall so that heavy material can be screwed into solid wood instead of into only drywall, which could potentially crumble and come crashing down.

7. Legal Documents

Do yourself a favor now by creating an organizational system for all documents related to your house. An accordion binder or scanner and electronic file system will work great. This is useful to keep bids from contractors, receipts, warranty information, purchase agreements, loan documents, and inspection results. Keep all of these documents from the time of buying the flip to at least one year after selling it. You’ll need them at some point for the bank, the realtors, your buyers and their realtors, everyone’s inspectors, possibly lawyers, and of course the IRS.

Don’t Forget…

…to keep a first aid kit, a phone, and a friend nearby. You never know when you might need to clean a cut finger or need help lifting a chunk of drywall.

Selling Your Home? Make It A Summer Dream Home For Buyers

by Chris Plastiras

Selling your home in the summertime can be a great opportunity to attract buyers. Having your home "summer-ready" can increase the chances of it selling faster.

Searching for homes often increases just as schools let out and families have some extra time to begin the hunt prior to the next school year beginning.

As a seller, there are a few things you can do to create a summer-ready home that influences your buyers to step inside and stay a bit. The longer they stay when previewing your home, the greater likelihood that they're considering making an offer.

Make sure your winter decorations are put away and stored. I know this sounds basic and maybe even amusing but there have been instances when lingering holiday decor still adorns some areas of the home. This may be charming to the homeowners but rest assured it's not to prospective buyers. It'll simply look like clutter.

Pull the heavy-duty winter rugs up. If you have beautiful flooring like hardwood, go bare for the summer months. Revealing well-kept floors can be a big plus. Rugs that lined the floors in the winter months can be packed up when you're listing your home for sale in the summer months.

Make the home look like the season and match the neighborhood. If it's bright and cheerful outside, invite that into your home by opening up the windows and letting natural light flow through. If there is one, let a cool breeze blow in or keep the air conditioner on so that it's a comfortable temperature to tour your home. Nothing is worse than entering a home to preview and finding that you can hardly stay inside because it's stuffy and blazing hot.

Tidy up the backyard. Sometimes a lot of attention is given to the interior of the home and the outside area gets overlooked. Remember, in the summertime especially, homeowners will be sure to check out your yard. Make sure that it hasn't become a dumping ground or storage for all the stuff you're trying to get rid of before you move. Instead, create a pleasant vision for your prospective buyers by setting up the backyard with cute outdoor furniture. If you have gardens, make sure that you keep tending them. Don't let them get overgrown. The charm of a lovely outdoor space, large or even petite, will be appealing to most buyers, especially if they're starting with one that's already designed and maintained.

Clean your fans and vents and change the heating/air conditioning filters. If you're not using or living in the home, the fans and filters can collect a lot of dust. Be sure not to overlook cleaning these things as a dirty ceiling fan can whirl off a lot of dust and debris when it's turned on. It's not a good way to start a showing by flipping a switch and having handfuls of dust flutter about the room. Cleaning and changing air conditioning filters takes only a few minutes, but the return is huge.

A few simple things can help you "summer-ize" your home so that the prospective buyers can't wait to move into the home and enjoy the rest of the summer.

Updating The Bath: Standalone Tubs

by Chris Plastiras

One of the hottest interior design trends today is the standalone tub. From classic clawfoot models to more modern shapes, the tub is having a renaissance.

"A renewed interest in the freestanding tub has seen design firms rolling out an array of amazing bathtubs that are aesthetic and economically viable," said Decoist. "Bringing along with it an aura of luxury, elegance and affluence, the standalone bathtub is all about revving up the style quotient of your bathroom while you enjoy a refreshing soak! "

These tubs provide function for those who like to luxuriate in their spa retreat, but it is the style of the tub that often provides the draw.

"These tubs are favored by those who want a true focal point in their bathroom, a beautiful fixture that functions as a piece of furniture," said HGTV. "These statement pieces typically need a larger bathroom space for full effect, but with some careful planning, they can work in smaller spaces as well."

Kitchen Bath Trends adds that freestanding tubs give those who formerly had built-in shower/tub combos an opportunity to refresh, renew, and rejuvenate.

"Homeowners are starting to see that the shower/tub combo is great for efficiency, but not so much for relaxation and comfort. They relate freestanding bathtubs to a sense of self-indulgence and downtime because these tubs are much deeper and more spacious than a traditional bathtub."

Choosing a style and material is a matter of taste (and budget!), and with all the options available, it can be a challenge.

"There are acrylic, cast iron, resin, stone, stainless steel, copper bathroom tubs which vary in price," said Lushome. "Acrylic bathtubs are more affordable, and copper tubs or stone tubs are for those who are willing to spend a lot more money for creating amazing, timelessly elegant, rich and expensive bathroom design that make a statement."

Check out a few of our favorites below and get some inspiration for your bath.

A copper tub is an incredible choice in any setting. Add an indoor-outdoor element, and you have a space you may never want to leave.


Decoist

Who says your tub needs to be white? A black tub provides an injection of cool.


Furniture Fashion

How about a tub for two?


News Notepad

Refinishing an old clawfoot tub allows you to bring in a bit of the old and some of the new.


Prestige Bathtub Refinishing

New shapes bring in a modern touch.


Alocrest

A metallic tub ties into another modern trend while turning a just-OK bathroom space into a showstopper.


Decoholic

A freestanding tub can stand up to any décor style. Even a brick wall makes a great backdrop.


Signature Bath

A wood bath? Why not?!


Decoholic

See more examples here.

North Lake Tahoe June 2015 Real Estate Sales Comparison

by Marius Poltan
  • North Lake Tahoe June 2015 Real Estate Sales Comparison

The charts bellow reflect Incline Village real estate sales for the month of June in the past 5 years. These reports we're created individually for Residential Home sales and Condominium Sales.

  • Residential Home Sales Report

Click here for larger image

- Please note that the report above was created using data extracted from the MLXChange System and reflects Residential Home sales.

  • Condominium Sales Report

Click here for larger image

- Please note that the report above was created using data extracted from the MLXChange System and reflects Condominium sales.

To access all the Incline Village and Lakeshore Realty listings please click here. You can also contact us by email or call us at 775-831-7000. If you are in Incline Village, please visit us at 954 Lakeshore Blvd. Incline Village, NV 89451.

Upgrade Your Garage With These Gear Essentials

by Marius Poltan

It is easy to clutter your garage with miscellaneous items, but if you streamline the space by getting rid of what you don't need and investing in some helpful gear, your garage can become an organized and practical space that makes your household more efficient. Deck out your garage with this essential gear and add some functionality to your home:

Purchase a Workbench

A garage is incomplete without a proper workbench. A sturdy workbench will not only store tools, but also creates space to complete those do-it-yourself projects. Most come with built-in-drawers and are equipped with a light to tackle projects after the kids have gone to bed. There are many options available, ranging from the sophisticated to simple.

Install Lighting

To take full advantage of your space, your garage must come equipped with plenty of lighting in order to allow you to work at convenient times in your busy schedule. Poor lighting hurts the quality of the work you are trying to accomplish and if a project requires small parts you don't want to spend your time searching for tiny items on your hands and knees. If you prefer not to install a mounted light on your ceiling, invest in a portable light, a less-expensive option to create the lighting you need.

Buy a Tool Chest

A garage with tools on the floor and scattered across different surfaces isn't the best for productivity. This haphazard approach leads to buying multiples of the same tool because you keep losing them in the clutter. A tool chest will keep items organized and save time whether you are working on a small repair or a long-term DIY project.

Purchase Spare Tires

How many times have you realized you have a flat tire and need an immediate replacement? For convenience, always keep a set of spare tires in your garage. Order a reliable tire brand from Tire Buyer to ensure your backup set of tires is of the highest quality. With a little preparation, a flat tire will no longer have to be a major setback in your day.

Add Garage Storage

Is your rake and broom in one corner and your bike on the ground? A functional garage needs proper storage options, like a peg board affixed to the wall. This storage option will accommodate your small tools, larger items and any miscellaneous tools unable to fit in drawers. If you prefer not to splurge on this expense, at least add sturdy hooks on the wall to store a garden hose, lawn equipment or other tools. With items hung up out of the way, your garage will appear clean and neat.

Invest in Proper Safety Gear

If you like home improvement projects, keep appropriate safety gear in your garage. Invest in protective goggles, gloves and masks to protect your face. Keep a small first aid kit handy for minor emergencies.

Upgrade Your Flooring

To give your garage a polished looked, consider adding an upgraded finish to your floors. Coat the cement with epoxy or tile - this will give your garage an instant face-lift and make it look more appealing.

Home Improvements Projects That May Be Financed

by Chris Plastiras

‚ÄčIf you think your home needs an update, you're in good company. The U.S. Census Bureau recently produced an info graphic that puts home improvements costs into perspective. Some of the highlighted static include: Americans spent $359 billion on home improvements in a span of just three years—which breaks down to an individual median spending of $3,200. Well over half of homeowners who live in their homes made renovations, and one in four of those made energy-efficient updates. Kitchen remodel costs averaged $5,000 for individuals, while bathroom updates came in around $2,432.

Costs can quickly add up, but savvy homeowners know that many necessary improvements can be financed through their bank or their home equity line of credit.

Here is a sampling of the types of projects that may be easily financed:

Invest in a New Roof

Damage from weather, natural disasters, and wear and tear can put stress on your roof and compromise the overall structure and safety of your home. You know a new roof is a sound decision, but it doesn’t come cheap. According to Homewyse, a shingle roof replacement could cost as high as $11,000.

Homeowners with a good credit situation, however, may be able to finance a new, higher-quality roof with reasonable monthly terms. See if you qualify for financing, and invest in a quality roof with lifetime shingles for the added protection and peace of mind.

Empower Your Home

Give your home a green energy boost with solar panels. Many companies, like SolarCity, will install solar power systems at no cost, however, you pay them for the power it generates. This typically costs less that most homeowners' traditional electricity, and a solar lease package also offers system monitoring, repair, and insurance coverage at a reasonable monthly price. Solar panels can be installed on your roof, in your yard, or on an outbuilding such as a detached home office, garage, or other structure.

Make it a Smart home

Transforming your home into a smart home can be as complex as installing appliances that think for themselves and tell you when you're out of milk. It could also mean a self-monitoring thermostat like Nest, which can monitor pipes for leaks.

Fortunately, the price of many home automation systems is within a few hundred dollars to start. Many smart improvements can be purchased at major retailers like Home Depot with credit card that has project loan financing available.

Get a Lift Garage

Not every home has the space and requirement for a large garage, however, parking in your driveway can increase the wear and tear on your vehicle as it is exposed to inclement weather. Keep your driveway clear and maximize space at the same time with a lift garage, which stores your car below your driveway and out of sight. Some garage lift companies offer financing, or you can approach your bank about a loan or line of credit. With a lift garage, you’ll get a new space for your car without the upkeep of a garage.

Drought got your garden feeling lonely? You don't have to go naked this summer. Xeriscaping with drought-tolerant plants can bring in color and texture without sucking down that precious water.

Xeriscaping has been practiced in the southwest for years, but with several states now facing drought conditions and mandatory water restrictions—in addition to a growing desire to conserve natural resources—the practice has grown.

If you're looking for ways to pack some drought-friendly punch into your garden this year, here are a few places to start.

Portulaca

"This easy-care, drought-tolerant annual is a sure source of perky color," said Birds and Blooms. "Portulaca grows in low clusters, bloom in a rainbow of hues and thrive in the hot, sunny spots where other flowers might wither."

Blanket Flower

Better Homes and Gardens calls blanket flower "a tough prairie plant" and also "flamboyant," which is great for someone who likes lots of color. Better yet, this perennial "blooms all summer and into fall."


Prescott Valley Growers

Lavender

This favorite scent is also a hearty plant that can add color and fragrance to your garden with minimal upkeep.


BestGarden.net

California Poppy

Plant it in full sun even in soil that's not the best quality, and watch this sunshiny flower grow.


LoveToKnow

Licorice Plant

If you're a fan of the way vines look trailing around fences are among other plants, this "fuzzy, silvery foliage (that) thrives in partial shade to full sun and spreads out to 6 feet," said Birds and Blooms, is a unique option.


Wilson Bros Nursery

Coneflower

Looking for something that requires little effort and can grow without perfect soil and with minimal water? Try coneflower. A bonus: It is also "often self-sowing," said Birds and Blooms.


Gardening Know How

Angelina

This succulent brings in chartreuse leaves and "spreads freely, making it a fluffy groundcover or filler between other plants," said Sunset magazine.


Sarilia Country Estates

Voodoo

One of our favorite succulents is also one called out by Sunset. "Small, rounded burgundy leaves cover this low-growing, quick-spreading succulent from the Caucasus," they said. "Tiny reddish flowers bloom in summer."


Sunnyside Gardens

Succulents are a favorite choice today for those who are looking to be water wise while still creating a standout garden, said Monrovia. "Easy care and attractive, these succulents provide high style when potted in containers in urban settings and in rock gardens, paths and challenging dry spots in the garden."

Yarrow

"Not only does yarrow tolerate heat and drought like a champion, but this easy-growing perennial is also a great cut flower—and it comes in a number of varieties with blooms in shades of yellow, orange, red, pink, and white," said Better Homes and Gardens.

Yarrow is also a great choice in areas where wildlife is known to feast. "Deer, rabbits, and most other pests won't touch it."


Gardenality

If you're creating a drought-tolerant garden from scratch, click here for some great tips.

North Lake Tahoe May 2015 Real Estate Sales Comparison

by Marius Poltan
  • North Lake Tahoe May 2015 Real Estate Sales Comparison

The charts bellow reflect Incline Village real estate sales for the month of April in the past 5 years. These reports we're created individually for Residential Home sales and Condominium Sales.

  • Residential Home Sales Report


Click here for larger image

- Please note that the report above was created using data extracted from the MLXChange System and reflects Residential Home sales.

  • Condominium Sales Report

Click here for larger image

- Please note that the report above was created using data extracted from the MLXChange System and reflects Condominium sales.

To access all the Incline Village and Lakeshore Realty listings please click here. You can also contact us by email or call us at 775-831-7000. If you are in Incline Village, please visit us at 954 Lakeshore Blvd. Incline Village, NV 89451.

Identity Protection Tips for New Home Buyers

by Chris Plastiras


There's nothing quite like getting your hands on your brand new house keys after months of researching neighborhoods, scouring online listings, and visiting properties with your real estate agent. When caught up in all the excitement, it can be very easy to lose track of the stacks upon stacks of paperwork involved in the process — some of which may contain sensitive information relating to your identity or finances.

Be vigilant about protecting yourself with these precautionary measures:

 

 

Freeze Your Credit Report

Freeze your credit report directly through the three major credit reporting bureaus, or through an identity protection service. Freezing your credit report means that no one will be able to access your credit report without your approval. Consequently, no one will be able to open new credit accounts under your name, or even check your credit report unless you give them direct and explicit permission to do so.

It is advised to freeze your credit report before purchasing a home. Even if you aren't concerned about identity theft, this also protects your credit report from any dramatic changes that could potentially lower your credit score and cause your loan qualification to fall through.

Work Directly with Reputable Companies

It's a great idea to shop around for a mortgage to find the best service and the best rates. But shopping around can also be dangerous if you aren't working directly with reputable mortgage lenders. Many third-party companies submit your application to several, if not dozens, of mortgage companies in an attempt to find the best rate. While some of these third-party companies may be reputable, if one of them experiences a data breach, your data may become compromised without you even realizing it.

Avoid Shared Computers or Mobile Devices

Throughout the process of purchasing a home, you'll undoubtedly end up verifying your banking information, applying for loans, and checking your credit report multiple times. When you do this, make sure you are not using a shared computer or mobile device. In addition, protect your computer and smartphone with a password. According to CNBC, 34 percent of smartphone owners don't apply a password to their device. If you're among this crowd, your personal information may be vulnerable if your device winds up in the wrong hands.

Additionally, avoid accessing your personal information online when using a public Wi-Fi network. If you must work from an untrusted public network, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which will encrypt your actions and communication, and keep it safe from prying eyes.

If you do find that you have become a victim of identity theft, all is not lost. If you have an identity protection service, your issue could be resolved quickly. If you don't, it may be time to invest in one.

Remember: Any time you complete a major financial transaction, you increase your exposure to potential fraud. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself and all of your sensitive data so that you can move into your new home, relax, and rest assured that your identity is secure.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 17

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