Category Archives: Capistrano Beach

Understanding building codes and zoning laws

Home for sale in Dana Point. Click photo for details.

Source

When buying (or selling) a home, it’s important to be cognizant of a property’s local zoning and code violations. If you’re thinking about adding onto a property, doing a remodel, maybe subdividing to generate some supplemental income, knowing where your property stands in terms of its code compliance as well as its zoning restrictions can yield lots of crucial information on your house hunt.

What Are Code Violations?

If your home falls short of a county or municipal building code, it has a code violation. Many homes have some form of code violation. This is because building codes change all the time, and a house that was code-compliant when you bought it may now lag behind current standards. These innocent violations are “grandfathered” in, which means they are not regarded as violations if the home was up to code when it was built.

How do you know when a property was built, when any upgrades were completed and whether it’s in violation of codes or zoning ordinances?

See what the OC Property Assessor shows. Call your City’s Building and Code Enforcement Department and ask them for any permits pulled on the property. Ask them about any non-conforming use.  Ask when and how a non-conforming use has to become conforming. Ask if the property is a “legal non-conforming use.” Further, your Realtor should have access to tools that shed a lot more light on the current status of your prospective home from a code and zoning perspective.

Most serious code violations happen because the homeowner adds more living space without the proper permission. Other examples include water heaters or electrical points installed without a permit, failure to use non-flame retardant roofing material and the absence of smoke detectors: the list is endless.

Why are Zoning Laws Important?

Is my home legal? Can I get a loan on my home? Can I rebuild my home if destroyed? These questions can be answered if you know whether your property is in compliance with local zoning codes or not. A property’s zoning status is classified as legal, legal nonconforming (“grandfathered”) or illegal.  Legal compliance means that a property conforms to current code and can be rebuilt if destroyed, and qualifies for a FNMA loan.  Legal non-conforming means that at one time the property complied with zoning code but does not currently comply, but the nonconforming use may continue; generally these homes can be rebuilt and qualify for a FNMA loan.   Illegal indicates that the property does not conform to the zoning code and must be restored or removed, and cannot be rebuilt if destroyed and do not qualify for a FNMA loan.

What about remodeling and illegal uses?  Adding an addition to a home without permits does not automatically make the property illegal; being non-permitted is not the same as being an illegal use in the zoning.  If the addition would normally be allowed by zoning, the issue of non-permitted areas can often be resolved by working with your building department and obtaining letter of compliance or a permit as long as the addition meets code.  However, if the building addition would not be allowed by zoning, the addition will most often need to be removed or significantly modified so that the addition complies with current zoning.

 

Finding a good home inspector

Is Your Home Inspector Legit? Why Buyers Should Inspect Their Inspectors

Of the roughly 30,000 U.S. home inspectors nationally, those in about 15 states don’t need to be licensed, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors. Among the non-licensure states—you guessed it includes California.

How to inspect the home inspectors—and find a winner

Good sources to finding a Home Inspector are professional trade associations. There are two quality associations available in California: the California Real Estate Inspection Association, CREIA and the American Society of Home Inspectors, ASHI. Both organizations require their members to pass an exam showing competence in the home inspection profession along with requiring that each member maintains continuing educational credits each year, CREIA requiring 30 hours per year and ASHI requiring 20 hours per year.

The client should interview all potential Inspectors they are considering and ask the following:

  • Is the inspector a member of CREIA and/or ASHI?
  • What does the inspection cover? Make sure the inspection and the inspection report meet all applicable requirements and comply with the CREIA and/or ASHI Standards of Practice. Both Standards of Practice are recognized by the California Legislature
  • How long has the inspector been practicing and how many inspections have they completed?
  • Does the inspector’s company offer to do repairs or improvements based on the inspection? This is against the CREIA and ASHI Code of Ethics as it is a defined conflict of interest
  • How long will the inspection take? The average for a single inspection is 2 to 3 hours for a typical single-family house; anything less may not be enough time to do a thorough inspection. Some inspection firms send a team of inspectors and the time frame may be shorter
  • Does the inspector prepare a written report? Ask to see samples and determine whether or not you can understand the inspector’s reporting style
  • Does the inspector encourage the client to attend the inspection? This is a valuable educational opportunity, and an inspector’s refusal to allow this should raise a red flag
  • Does the inspector participate in continuing education programs to keep his or her expertise up to date? One can never know it all, and the inspector’s commitment to continuing education is a good measure of his professionalism and service to the consumer

As for what to do if problems crop up that the inspector should have found, the first course of action should be to contact the inspector directly to discuss the issue. No corrective work should be undertaken before the inspector has an opportunity to review the report and be given the chance to revisit the property. Good inspectors will make good on their services if they missed something that should have been discovered during the course of the inspection. Keep in mind that the inspector is operating per an accepted Standards of Practice which states what is required to be inspected and what is not. Also many Inspectors carry professional liability, errors and omission insurance (although it is not required).

 

Mortgage rate projections for 2017

According to the Orange County Register,  median home prices eclipsed $935,000 at the end of 2016, which begs the question, “Is now a good time to buy?”

Home for sale in Dana Point. Click photo for details.

Of course, there are so many factors that will ultimately have an impact on the decision to buy now or hold out for better market conditions.  I would suggest that mortgage interest rates play an important factor in that decision.

In late 2016, mortgage interest rates on a 30-year fixed loan bottomed out at 3.46% according to Bankrate.com.  A home with a purchase price of $500,000 @ 3.46% would equate to a $1,787.26 monthly mortgage payment.  Today, that same $500,000 house equates to a $1,991.25 monthly payment at 4.35%, which represents a 12% increase in your monthly mortgage expenses.

The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will rise gradually over 2017, averaging 4.7% in the fourth quarter. The National Association of Realtors expects the 30-year fixed to be around 4.6 percent at the end of this year. This means that the same $500,000 home purchased at the end of this year may cost around $2,074.55 a month.

Look at it a different way: A buyer that pulled the trigger on a home purchase in late 2016 could have afforded a home valued at $580,000 ($2,073.22/mo @ 3.46%) versus only a $500,000 home if that buyer had waited until the end of 2017 ($2,074.55/mo @ 4.7%).  That $80,000 of buying power lost could represent an extra bedroom, that 3-car garage you always wanted, or a variety of other things.

If Orange County real estate prices rise 1% in 2017, a home you’re interested in now that has a sell price of $500,000 might be $505,000 at the end of the year.  That change in value is negligible compared to the forecasted rise in interest rates, at least as far as your monthly payment is concerned. As mentioned above, there are so many things to consider when purchasing a home and I would never tell anyone to run out and buy a house just because mortgage rates are still pretty low. However, it might be something to consider!

Listing of the week: 34346 Calle Naranja

This week’s property is a great remodeled home in Capistrano Beach.

34346 Calle Naranja
4 bed, 2.5 bath
2,352 square feet total
$875,000

Here’s why I think this is a great buy:

  • Great curb appeal and right across the street from a beautiful park
  • Quiet neighborhood, close to the beach
  • Great space for a family–4 large bedrooms, large family room, large dining room (could be converted into a 5th bedroom, office, or den)
  • New roof, fresh paint, 80% new plumbing, large garage and loft (for storage or workspace)
  • Located on a 1-way street with plenty of parking
  • Local schools are rated 8 or 9
  • No HOA or Mella Roos fees

Want to check it out? Contact me today.

Preparing for an earthquake

Are you prepared for an Earthquake?  If you’re not sure, there’s a TON of good information online and I’ve selected my favorites below.

To start, this is the most comprehensive earthquake guide that I could find.  It contains lots of interesting info on Southern California’s history of earthquakes, what kinds of damage future earthquakes might do, and how you might be able to minimize the impact for your family.

Before an Earthquake

  1. Assemble an emergency preparedness kit .
  2. Create a household evacuation plan that includes your pets.
  3. Stay informed about your community’s risk and response plans.

Here is a concise, 1-page checklist for what to do before, during, and after an earthquake.

Here is a more thorough guide.

Protecting your home
Here is a great document on the various ways you can inspect your home and identify and fix potential problems before they happen.

Communicating with loved ones
Communication may be tough after an earthquake. Internet and cellular services may be unavailable, so it’s always a good idea to diversify and have a backup plan.  In the event that cell phones work, there are some really good apps for emergency preparedness.

I also thought this Google PersonFinder app was a really useful tool to use and get familiar with if you’re ever in a situation where you’re searching for a friend or family member.

 

26151 Via California

This week’s listing is a great income property in Capistrano Beach. You have to come in with a substantial down payment in order to make a profit each month, BUT the appreciation potential in this area is huge.

26151 Via California
Unit 1: 3 bed, 2.5 bath
Unit 2: 2 bed, 2.5 bath
3,600 square feet total
$1,299,000

house-1 house-2
Unit 1:

house-3 house-4

Unit 2:
house-5 house-6

Here’s why I think this is a great buy:

  • Like I said, the appreciation potential is huge. With the revival of the nearby Dana Point Harbor and Lantern District, along with planned upgrades to Capo Beach, property values should rise in the future
  • Both units are spacious and clean. There is an opportunity for some nice renovations, but the properties could rent as is for now
  • Highly-rated schools: Palisades Elementary is an 8, Shorecliffs Middle School is an 8, and San Juan Hills High is a 9

Want to check it out? Contact me today.

34932 Camino Capistrano

This house is right across the street from Pines Park in Capistrano Beach. Houses on this street don’t come up for sale very often!

34932 Camino Capistrano
4 bed, 2 bath
1,500 square feet
$1,300,000

home 1

Here’s why I think this is a great buy:

  • You can see the ocean through the trees of Pines Park–need I say more?
  • The house actually includes a 3-bedroom, 1-bath home plus a guest studio with a kitchen and bath–perfect as an in-law suite, or if you have a frequent guest or renter
  • There’s opportunity to build up (or out) on the property and make it the beach house you want
  • Close to both downtown San Clemente and the Dana Point Harbor
  • You’re a 10-minute walk from Doheny beach
  • Highly-rated schools: Palisades Elementary is an 8, Shorecliffs Middle School is an 8, and San Juan Hills High is a 9

Want to check it out? Contact me today.