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 Real Estate e-Newsletter
Coldwell Banker  Residential Brokerage
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
by Cynthia S. Radom Award-winning Certified Seniors Specialist REALTOR
                                                          Since 1994
              NEWS & ISSUES for BABY BOOMERS to GOLDEN-AGERS
      July-September 2015     Cynthia@RealtorRadom.com     (310) 288-0479  CalBRE #01184864

                                     ** Writer and Publisher since October 1999 **

Smart Home Technology
Get Smart

One of the largest groups of home Buyers today are Gen X'ers (born 1965 to 1980) and according to a recent survey they are looking for a "smart" home.  Gen X Buyers want the ability to control home technology, appliances and other features with their smart phones or tablet (i.e. iPads), wherever they are, inside or outside the home.

 

Smart appliances and technology are becoming mainstream in homes throughout the country.  Products and features once reserved for only the highest priced properties are now found in homes at every price point.   

 

Every home appliance and feature using technology is now produced with smart capabilities, and some older items can be converted with external devices.  Once installed, consumers download a specialized computer software application (a.k.a. an app) on their smart device, which can control a product to:
- turn on or off
- turn up or down
- open or close
- record...and more 

 

Gen X Buyers are most interested in home technology for the following categories:

-  Security: activate or deactivate alarm and break-in notification 

-  Internal environment control: monitor air quality, temperature and humidity

-  Safety: smoke and carbon monoxide detection telling the user if there is immediate danger

- Lighting: controls lights and battery-powered shades

-  Entertainment: record tv programs at home or stream live on smart device

-  Appliances: kitchen and laundry product remote control 

 

A consumer can access and activate home features from anywhere in the home or from anywhere in the world.  Click here for a list of 25 smart home products and systems.

 

Information from Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage survey.

"Birthing" Houses
Birthing houses, or maternity hotels, are big business in SoCal and could be located where you live.  According to a news story on March 3, 2015, the Feds issued search warrants to the largest birthing house operation known, where wealthy foreign nationals plan to obtain immediate citizenship when their babies are born in America.  Price of automatic
citizenship for newborns may cost $80,000 for mothers to give birth in the U.S. - legally.  Included in the package is in-state tuition to U.S. universities and permanent U.S residency for the parents.

An estimated 40,000 babies are born to couples posing as tourists each year.  The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world that automatically grants citizenship to any child born here, regardless of the parents' nationality.  While tourism is not against the law, lying to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. under false pretense is illegal.  Companies offering to help foreign nationals give birth in the U.S. operate openly on the Internet, promising a U.S. passport, birth certificate and Social Security number for their newborn.  Prices range from $8,000 to $80,000, depending on the services.  Wealthy couples from China, the Middle East, Africa and South Korea dominate the trade.

The March raid was in an Orange County apartment building where several apartments were rented to one woman.  But, birthing houses are known to be everywhere in SoCal.  Birth tourism is big business and houses are sometimes located in upscale neighborhoods where pregnant girls come and go during the night to avoid neighbors' inquiries.  The pregnant foreign nationals tell hospital admission officials they are indigent, sticking U.S. taxpayers with the cost of their baby's delivery (often exceeding $25,000 per birth).

Do you really know your neighbor?

      Donate: Pool Table
Looking for a pool table in great condition for a good cause, call Realtor Radom (310) 288-0479.
New Water Laws
That is not a leaky faucet in your kitchen, that's what the upcoming water pressure mandate allows for new equipment.  Effective January 1, 2016, new bathroom faucets will be limited to water flows of 1.2 gallons per minute and kitchen faucets will be allowed up to 1.8 gallons per minute.  Currently, the standard for both is 2.2 gallons of water per minute. 

Water use in urinals will fall from a half-gallon per flush to 0.125 of a gallon (no mention of bidet usage).  The new rules do not change standards for toilets.  As of January 2014, new toilets were required to use no more than 1.28 gallons per flush.

About 33% of kitchen faucets on the market in California meet the new standards, and about 13% of lavatory faucets and 17% of urinals meet the standards.  (Good for the manufacturers, but not so good for stores that carry inventory.)

The new regulations are expected to save more than 10 billion gallons of water in the first year.  Although that represents a 2.2% reduction in the 443 billion gallons of water that Californians currently flush down the toilet or wash down the drain, the savings is expected to grow substantially over the next 25 years as existing appliances are replaced with newer, more efficient ones.  By 2039, the savings will be over 105.6 billion gallons, or one out of four gallons.  Click here for 25 Ways to Save Water.

Rebate programs are being developed to encourage residents to replace old water appliances.  So, prior to buying a new clothes or dish washer, check for offered rebates.  Click for LADWP Rebate Programs.

Note: The newly approved Beverly Hills water conservation measure requires homeowners to cut back consumption by 30%; 36% by heavy water users.  Also, a new pool cannot be filled with water, as of now!! 
Seniors are Sitting Ducks
During my last "Moving Made Easy" seminar, an attendee asked if holding an estate sale is a good idea to generate money for their unused items.  Two thoughts were offered and discussed:
1. hold an estate sale only after you move, or
2. donate items to charity


The second option is my preference because:
- Anything of value will not be included in an estate sale.  Antiques, heirlooms, precious mementos should be given to family or to an auction house, leaving old or unwanted items to be sold for pennies on the dollar (30% going to the estate sale company).
- Donate leftover items to your favorite charity and take a tax deduction or simply feel good about being generous.  The charity will make a list of donated items or offer an all-encompassing receipt for boxes.  Some charities will even pack your donated items.
- Hundreds of strangers will be traipsing in and out of your just sold home for days during an estate sale.  The purchase contract requires that you transfer the property in the same condition as when it was sold.
- Most important, Senior citizens (unfortunately) are sitting ducks for would-be scams and thieves.  If you are going forward with an estate sale, do it only after you move.  Estate sales are very disruptive while you're trying to move.

I still opt for donating unused and unwanted items.
Residence Corner
Q. I am moving to a retirement community out of my area.  Should I sell the family home now and pay capital gains tax, or rent the house so my children can sell with the tax savings benefit?

A. The question needs to be answered by only you.  Here are some things to consider:
- Do you want to become a landlord?  The house will still be your responsibility even though it will not be your primary home.  Who is going to manage the home and oversee the tenant (issues)?
- Do you want to sell now while the market is high, or take the chance of a future down market or natural disaster?  A natural disaster can take the equity out of your home quicker than an earthquake shakes.
- Do you know how many more years you will be alive?  Silly question, but you can only rent your home for a few years before it turns into an income-producing property and the taxes your beneficiaries pay may be higher when they sell; ask your CPA.
- Do you need the equity to maintain your lifestyle?  Make sure that you continue to live the life you deserve and that you have the financial means for unforeseen medical emergencies.

Whatever your children inherit will be more money than they had...and, they will be grateful for the gift.  By moving to a Seniors' community you are simplifying your life.  Why complicate it as a landlord?  When you move from the family home, consider closing the door for good.

         Tidbits of News
- Legacy Beverly Hills: Ten new luxury rentals at 313 S. Reeves will lease for about $3.30 per sq. ft.; smallest $4,300 and largest $7,725 per month.
- Reverse mortgages: As of April, tougher credit standards made these mortgages harder to get...similar to a regular loan.
- Low income "guest houses": Malibu was counting a GH in its gov't mandated requirement for 188 low and very low income properties!!  Some were not even rented.
- Vineyard included:
The top of Tower Grove Dr. 90210 will be home to six mega-estates; each at 40K sq. ft. and including a 10K sq. ft. master suite, subterranean theater and a pinot vineyard (60 cases per year).  Selling price is $100 Million per mansion.
- Trousdale: Two celebrity "fixer" homes sold over $1 million the asking price.  
- New Westwood Apartments: 
Corner of Gayley & Lindbrook, 34 apts., monthly rent is $4K-$10K. 
- Downtown LA: Mixed-use housing development is booming.  In the next decade, LA urban locales will be the place to live.  One Santa Fe, a four-acre mixed-use development (now open) will be joined by another future 14.6-acre development of retail and luxury apartments. Click here to read "Development Watch".
- B.H. High School area oil well: Max 15 years left before no more oil is available. 
- Nordstrom's is relocating: The anchor store at Westside Pavilion is moving to Century City, Fall '17.
- Santa Monica rules: No more short-term (30-days or less) vacation rentals unless the property owner stays on-site, plus pays 14% to the City and obtains a business license.
- Fountainview update: Sold out!  The six-story luxury Seniors' residence in Playa Vista is fully reserved, and expected to open in late 2016.  Let's talk about selling your home if you are lucky enough to have a reservation for a residence.


       Question for You

If you live in or over an area where the proposed Metro subway will be tunneled, is that a consideration for you to move?  Please reply, Yes or No to:

Cynthia@RealtorRadom.com   

No More McMansions
The City of LA is responding to anti-mansionization outcries with revised laws limiting the size of new and renovated homes based on lot size.  Coined McMansions, the derogatory term is for a type of large, new luxury house which is judged to be oversized for its land parcel, or incongruous and out of place for its neighborhood as well as appearing at odds with the traditional local architecture.  Fifteen areas will be affected where investors and new owners have been building homes many find unfit for the area.  All over LA people have been fighting against McMansions (which include size increase "bonuses" of 20-30%).

While anti-mansion laws were passed years ago, locals have been begging the City to tighten loopholes and pass stricter rules against overbuilding.  The City Council approved temporary size restrictions and this law will be in effect for two years while permanent laws are revised.  The new regulations will affect 38,707 single-family houses contained in the 15 areas, while allowing wildly different activity from 'hood to 'hood.

Revision examples: In Bel Air, dirt hauling for new construction will only be allowed to import or export 6,000 cubic yards of soil; in Kentwood and Mar Vista/East Venice, new houses can no longer be built bigger in exchange for building greener; in Beverlywood and Fairfax, floor-area bonuses for green features will be limited to 15%.  In Los Feliz's The Oaks, a celeb-studded enclave, the limits will affect basements, which will count toward the total residential floor area.  

Which is it...humps or bumps?

               Hot Pockets

When you, a family member or a friend can't find the property that you want to buy, call me!  Pocket listings are hidden gems!    

 

As a REALTOR I am aware of all types of properties for sale that are not listed in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).   Call Realtor Radom (310) 288-0479.

 

    BREAKING NEWS 

 

The Wanda Group, Chinese owners of the eight-acre site now called One Beverly Hills (formerly Robinson May), are hoping to get approval and to start building by early 2017.  A revised plan now calls for fewer condos (193 total) plus adding a 134-room luxury hotel.  If all goes well the earliest move-in will be 2019 as a two-year construction schedule is required.

 

Wanda Group is partnering with the Athens Group, which developed the Montage B.H. hotel and condos.  By eliminating 42 residences they have increased tax revenue $1.7M to the City, totaling $6.9M annually- a great incentive for approving the hotel.  Next to the site is the Waldorf Astoria, now under construction, and the B.H. Hilton hotels.

 

Wanda Group bought this site for $420M in 2014, expecting to aid China's entry into Hollywood's film industry.  The company is building the world's largest film and television studio in China, set for completion in 2017.


          One Beverly Hills site, today
Trusts and Title
Real property owners put their assets into a Living Trust to avoid probate and to take advantage of tax benefits.  Yet, when making a property transfer to a Trust, the owner's title insurance coverage may be discontinued.  As a result of transferring to a "new entity" this requires an endorsement to continue coverage (available for a modest cost).

Since 2000, the CA Purchase Agreement requires the Seller to provide the Buyer with a CLTA/ALTA "Homeowners Policy of Title Insurance".  This policy offers continued coverage when transferring title into a Living Trust for estate planning purposes.

       Deciding to Move

Living in your home for decades means comfort.  You know every nook and cranny and living there feels like a warm blanket.  But, a blanket wears out and a replacement can offer benefits.

 

Staying in the family home does not always mean security: financial, physical or emotional well-being.  Many longtime homeowners, especially couples, too often stay in their home for one main reason...they don't want to pay capital gains tax.  Giving Uncle Sam a chunk of the equity keeps homeowners "stuck"!   

 

Moving is about motivation

When there is a reason to move, paying taxes is not an issue.  Most older CA Seniors have enough equity, after taxes, to live in a safer, more conducive home for the remainder of their life.  Until you have a reason to move I say, stay in your home for now... but move while you are still mentally, physically and emotionally well to reduce the stress.    


   Generation Age Guide
Here is a reference guide
- Golden-agers: Retiree, age 70+ 
- Baby Boomers:
    Older        age 60-69
    Younger    age 51-59
- Gen X:       age 35-50
- Gen Y/
Millennials*: age 16-35
*National Assoc. of REALTORS survey indicates that Millennials lead the largest share of today's home Buyers.

      Except California
According to a national survey, sales for vacation homes were up 57% in 2014 from 2013.  This property category represented a record high of 21% of total property sales.  However, CA  and its sky-high housing prices did not experience this trend with the percentage of vacation home sales falling to just five percent in 2014 from six percent in 2013. 

      Lionsgate is Sold
The renowned architect, Paul Williams, would be proud that his masterpiece Lionsgate estate sold for a whopping $46.25M.  Located at 616 Nimes Road in Bel Air, the 11 bedroom and 17 bathroom mega-mansion is just under 24,000 sq. ft. sprawling over a 70,887 sq. ft. parcel.
Click here to see Lionsgate pix.

P.S. This is a "vacation" home for the owner who lives in Bradbury.

      Vertical Housing
CA coastal areas need 100,000 new single-family homes built annually to keep up with demand.  Lack of open land space for planned communities will require dense areas of vertical housing (townhomes) to be built.

   $500,000,000 Estate
Click here to read about the Bel Air estate. The project, which will take at least 20 more months to complete, will exceed 100,000 square feet, including a 5,000-square-foot master bedroom, a 30-car garage and a casino... Monaco-style.

Let's name it - what would you call this monster?  E-mail your suggestion to:
If you prefer the "Real Estate Newsletter" mailed to you, please e-mail: Cynthia@RealtorRadom.com
Respecting your privacy and confidentiality, names and e-mails will only be used for providing pertinent material by Cynthia S. Radom and will not be shared with any other organization.

2015 Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.  Coldwell Banker is a registered trademark licensed to Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.  An Equal Opportunity Company.  Equal Housing Opportunity.  Owned By a Subsidiary of NRT LLC.  This is not intended as a solicitation if your property is already listed.