Living La Vida Local

Still love your newsletter. I print and circulate to the guys. And they read it!  And, not that it will make any difference, but it is so distressing to see so many duplexes on the chopping block, offered as tear-downs for the building of fancy condos. It's distressing in greatest part because there is no place for the displaced families to go, what with the rental market being "strong". For people who rent, people like me and other worthy individuals, the crisis is HUGE. We are forced into an expensive, exhausting, air-polluting, life-shortening commuter lifestyle, or we must abandon our jobs, our friends and our families, and move to another state.

How can this possibly be good news? Why do we just allow the middle class to disappear? Where is this dream we once called America?  Is there no one who gives a damn? Or does humanity and sense of rightness  and proportion completely die in the face desperation to be in the investor class?

Heart is breaking,
ofc mgr



What is an artesian well, and how does it differ from a regular well?  - John O.

A: A real estate dictionary defines an artesian well as "a well drilled through impermeable rocks into strata where water is under enough pressure to force it to the surface without pumping." Meaning, this fine well naturally gushes forth from the ground as a result of geological pressure. Thus, an artesian well can only be produced when the correct geological conditions are present.



Several years ago, we sold the vacant lot adjacent to our home. The buyer told us they planned to build a house. When he recently applied for a city building permit, he discovered there is a city storm sewer pipe easement beneath the property, which will bar him from building anything but a very small house. We had no idea there was such a pipe easement. However, his title insurance report clearly revealed that easement. Do we have any liability to him as he threatens to sue us for damages?
- Helene P.

A: This is one of the many situations noted Real Estate Attorney and Columnist Bob Bruss has dealt with. He says, “From your description of the situation, it appears you have no liability since you didn't know about the underground city storm sewer pipe easement and it was fully disclosed to the buyer in his owner's title insurance policy. I find it amazing how many property owners (and their real estate agents) fail to read and understand their title insurance reports.“The lot buyer has nobody to blame but himself for failure to read his owner's title insurance policy, which described that storm sewer pipe easement. If the buyer sues you, of course you should hire an attorney to answer the complaint. “Your attorney should politely remind the buyer's attorney you didn't know about the easement and the buyer had written evidence of it in his title insurance policy, which he failed to read. After you win such a "no brainer" lawsuit, you can then sue the buyer for damages, primarily your attorney fees, for malicious prosecution."



Q: I’m older, and have realized I don’t need such a large home. My two-bedroom home, built in 1938, has become a bit run-down. However, it is in a very good neighborhood where most homes have been remodeled or completely rebuilt. Should I renovate the kitchen and bathrooms before listing my house for sale. My son says I should just have the house painted inside and outside. He and his pals have offered to do the painting in a weekend or two. Should I renovate or sell as is? -Amy D.

A: Your son is smart. On the West Side, there is no need to renovate an older house just before sale. Your buyers will either like your charming older house the way it is and be thankful for a reasonable price in a desirable neighborhood, or they will want to remodel to suit their needs.

When you sell your home "as is," the seller must disclose all known defects (such as a leaking roof), but they are not required to pay for any repairs. Let your son and his pals paint your house inside and outside. Also, check the landscaping to be sure it is attractive. Perhaps plant some flowers to make the front yard especially inviting.



Q: Who takes care of property sale closing costs? Emily B.

A: Who pays for closing costs--buyer or seller--is typically dictated by local practice, not law. In the San Francisco Bay area, the buyer usually pays for title insurance. In Southern California, this is often the seller’s cost.

Closing costs most often paid by buyers include the fees associated with the buyers' financing; title insurance (depending on where you're buying); all or part of transfer fees (if there are any); homeowner's insurance; inspection fees; fees paid to attorneys, closing or escrow agents; and a buyer's brokerage fee. Buyers also reimburse the sellers at closing if the sellers have overpaid the property taxes.

Seller closing costs include: the real estate brokerage commission; fees associated with repaying the seller's mortgage and clearing liens against the property; title insurance and attorney's fees (depending on where you're selling); all or part of transfer fees, if there are any; and fees to cover local sale compliance requirements, and repair work agreed to in the purchase agreement.

For more on Southern California commercial properties there is a great information blog at