Buying / Selling Real Estate

Coast Commissions

In 1972 The California Coastal Commission was created in an effort to preserve the coastline and provide public access.  Property located within a specified distance of the coastline is subject to regulation by the commission.  As such, buyers of property near the coastline should understand the guidelines they are subject to regarding improvements, additions, new construction, and any modification of their property.  Sellers should be aware of any changes to coastal commission regulations in terms of how these changes will impact the value and/or the ability to sell their property.  

Closing Costs

Closing costs generally include the following and for the most the buyer and seller negotiate "who pays what":

  • Title Insurance Premiums
  • Government Recording Fees
  • Real Estate Agent Commissions
  • Transfer Taxes
  • Stamp Fees or Stamp Tax
  • Inspection Costs
  • Loan Fees and Points
  • Escrow Agent Fees
  • Homeowners Insurance and Property Taxes (typically pre-paid by the buyer but a "closing" cost nonetheless)

Closing

The process of closing on a property involves an escrow agent obtaining the appropriate documents and instructions from the buyer, seller, and mortgage lender.  Assuming there are no problems with the documents and instructions, the seller signs the deed to the property, the buyer signs the mortgage and delivers the down payment, and the escrow agent sends the signed papers to the new lender. The lender approves the loan (they are often pre-approved so this may be a formality) and sends back the completed mortgage documents to the escrow agent and delivers the money for the property to the escrow account. The escrow agent then disperses the money to the seller, the sellers lender (if applicable), the real estate agents, the title companies, and any other parties due payment from the sale proceeds.  The escrow agent officially records the event, delivers the documents to the appropriate government agencies and property owners (lender and buyer), and the process is complete.      

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act may be applicable to property owners if part of a residence is used for business purposes. The Act covers almost all commercial buildings. The ACT covers a number of things but from a real estate perspective is chiefly concerned with building accessibility for the disabled.  Live/work buildings have different requirements regarding new construction, alterations and modifications, and barriers to entry/exit.  Buildings that are in violation may be subject to monetary or injunctive remedies.               

3R Reports: Reports of Residential Building Record

“3R Reports” are the reports of the residential building record.  The seller must provide these to the buyer prior to transfer of ownership. These reports detail the authorized occupancy of a property as well as the permits used in construction. It only states that the permits where issues and does not verify that the work was done to “code”.  Plumbing and electrical permits are excluded.  “3R Reports” may or may not be accurate and buyers are urged to verify information contained within with the Department of Building Inspection (415-558-6081) and have qualified inspectors verify any information that hints at being incomplete, inaccurate, or cause for concern.