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Pier to Pier Brokers Real Estate

The information source for local LA real estate

By Blake Roberts | Broker in Manhattan Beach, CA
  • Dear Neighbor, I hate your tree | Who's going to clean up the mess?

    Posted Under: Quality of Life, Property Q&A, Home Ownership  |  February 21, 2013 9:33 PM  |  141 views  |  No comments


    Neighbor disputes over trees and things related to trees happen every day of the week. Who's responsible for property damage caused by tree droppings, piles of leaves and other heaping deposits of nature's goodness? Luckily we live in a civilized society and we have rules to guide us through these sorts of issues. 

    We're asked at least a couple of times a month for guidance related to tree ownership responsibility. The link below is the best we've found to explain what's what. Before you set off a thermonuclear attack against your neighbor and their infringing tree, get you ducks in a row—you'd better know your facts, law and local ordinances. 

    From a 10,000 foot view, nature and her trees trump most issues. Unless a tree is causing structural damage, or is a clear danger to life-and-limb, there's not much you can do when it comes to a neighbors tree overhanging in to your yard.

    We always recommend trying to reach an amicable resolution regarding neighbor disputes, which in this case might include offering to split trimming costs once a year. Most people are reasonable and unless they are living on a fixed or low income, they will be open to doing what's best for home and community.  If you chose to press the red button and launch a war, expect your neighbor to resist every move and approach you make. As they say, you can catch a lot more flies with honey than vinegar. 

  • Square footage discrepancies

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Property Q&A  |  November 20, 2012 2:28 PM  |  144 views  |  No comments

    Square footage discrepancies between the MLS, tax records and an agent’s marketing materials—what to do? 

    If you’ve been looking into real estate for anytime, or have listed your own home recently, I’m sure you’ve noticed that many agents include “BTV” within their MLS descriptions and on their marketing materials. BTV stands for Buyer to Verify. This language is a disclaimer from the agent and seller telling the buyer that it’s their responsibility to investigate and confirm a property’s stated specifications.

    Many agents haven’t noticed that the South Bay Board’s outbound MLS emails include the following text as part of its footer:

    Information is believed to be accurate, but should not be relied upon without verification.

    Accuracy of square footage, lot size and other information is not guaranteed.

    The most common discrepancies we see are:

    • Square footage differences between the tax records, MLS, previous MLS listings and builder data
    • Bedroom count differences between the tax records, MLS, previous MLS listings and builder data
    • On a large home (over 3,000 sqft.) a few hundred square foot difference between tax records and the MLS entry probably won’t make or break your deal. However, on a small 1,000 square foot home, 300 square feet represents over 25% of the property’s living space.

    Why are there different numbers?

    For single family homes, especially an older property, the difference between public records and tax records is explained by property additions, remodels and modifications over the years. For example, the tax records may show a home is 2 bedrooms and 1,200 square feet. But, the home is listed today as a 5 bedroom with 2,800 square feet of living space. Explanation: possibly the addition of a master suite or a second floor, plus a little push here and there.

    Townhomes are a little harder to explain because they really don’t change in size over time. Typically, a discrepancy is introduced at some point during the property’s first sale. The most common discrepancy we see is that the builder and seller data is larger than the official tax records

    Within the MLS, the agent will disclose where they are getting their numbers:

    • builder data
    • seller stated
    • estimated
    • tax assessors data

    It is your job to verify and feel comfortable with this information as you move forward in the sale.

    What happens during the bank appraisal?

    The appraiser always starts with the public, tax information first and then builds an accurate square footage number from there. Most appraisers  will tape (measure) the house as part of their assignment and compare their results to the tax records. If there is a large discrepancy, the buyer will have the option to:

    • cancel their purchase
    • renegotiate the price
    • move forward with their purchase as is

    For those who use square footage numbers to calculate a home’s value, even 200 feet can translate in to huge dollars. For example, a 1,500 square foot home selling for a cool $1,000,000 would have a square footage cost of $666. Using creative math, some buyers might see a 200 square foot discrepancy as being worth over $133,000 in their favor. In other words, the homes value should be adjusted to around $870,000. 

    The preceding example clearly illustrates why square footage numbers are only a data point when determining a home’s listing price, and not the only factor considered. 

    Once the appraiser has finished their report, which includes comparing the target home to at least three other like properties in the area, they will establish one of the following:

    • the home has appraised at the selling price
    • they will give the home a dollar value appraisal, which may be higher, the same as, or lower than the selling price
    • they will establish that the home has not appraised

    What should you do?

    If a discrepancy shows up in your home purchase, don’t immediately assume that the seller is trying to cheat you. Do you research and try to understand where and when the erroneous numbers were introduced. And more importantly, decide if the difference really changes your opinion about the property.


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    © 2012 Pier to Pier Brokers® - www.piertopierbrokers.com

 
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