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June 3rd, 2017 By Carol J. Wilson
REPAIR PROCEDURE
During the course of most home purchase processes, the buyer has the right to place demand on the seller of the property to make repairs. 
 
This happens after most inspections are completed and during a specific time period as stated in the purchase contract.  Typically, a little less than half way through the entire process.
 
After examination of the inspection reports, it is customary for the buyer to ask his agent to fill out the proper form indentifying the issues the buyer wants addressed and to give the seller a copy of the home inspection report or any other reports pertinent to the repair request.
 
The seller generally responds in writing again on the correct form.   
 
Remember that the seller has no obligation to make any repairs or to even respond to the request; but the buyer does not have to purchase the property if seller refuses to respond or make the repairs. 
 
The purchase contract (in all of its forms) is quite explicit about how verification repairs are to be handled. 
 
The paragraph is entitled “Repairs:” (obvious to all) and can be number 16, 17 or 18 depending on the version of the contract being used.
 
Whether the seller chooses to make repairs when requested or does them voluntarily, the procedure is the same.
 
Receipts from the seller indicating cost of materials and labor, if performed by a third party person, are to be provided to the buyer prior to final verification of condition which is usually about five days from close of escrow.
 
In addition, the seller is to provide a written statement itemizing the repairs made and the date of such repairs.  Since most people have cell phones, photos would be nice too, but are not required.
 
Photos would be very helpful as written explanations are not always as precise. 
 
These two seller requirements are mandated by the purchase agreement.  They are not options or negotiable.
 
Should the seller decline to provide the statements and or receipts, he could be in breach of the contract resulting in cancellation of the purchase contract and return of the earnest money deposit to the buyer depending on how important proper procedure is to the buyer.
 
I would advise buyers to insist on proper procedure.  Otherwise, you really don’t know how repairs were made. 
 
As President Reagan always said, “Trust but verify.”  Still good advice.
 
Carol Wilson is Broker-Owner of
WILSON & ASSOCIATES REAL ESTATE SERVICES
She can be reached at carolj@wilsel.com or
760-446-5959

 
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March 1st, 2017 By Carol J. Wilson
MAINTENANCE IS IMPORTANT!
 
What’s happened to maintenance?  Why don’t people take care of their possessions anymore? 
 
Here’s Google’s definition of maintenance:  “The process or maintaining or preserving someone or something, or the state of being maintained.”  Synonyms:  Preservation, conservation, keeping, etc.
 
Merriam Webster includes “the upkeep of property or equipment” as part of its explanation. 
 
When I was growing up, I was taught to take care of whatever my Creator and my parents blessed me with – my clothing, my teeth, my kitties.  Everything was important and costly and it was to last a long time so it must be maintained.  Preserved.  Taken care of.
 
Maybe it’s because possessions are easier to come by now than they used to be.  You know throwaway society.  Easy come, easy go.  Not me.
 
Whatever the reason, it’s really not a good idea.
 
Here’s why:
 
Proper maintenance preserves the value of your home.  Or anything else you’ve invested in.
 
It’s much easier and less expensive to take care of offensive issues in and out of your house as soon as you are aware of them.  You might even become proactive and look for maintenance issues. 
 
Don’t wait until a small leak under the kitchen sink causes the garbage disposal and the sink to rust and all the pipes to crack and break flooding the kitchen floor, damaging the cabinets and spilling onto the dining room carpet.  What?!!
 
Fix it right away.  If you or your husband is not handy, call a handy person to assist.  A small leak is simple and inexpensive to repair.  Do it now to save time, money and hassle.
 
Check out that roof, too.  A few missing shingles take less time and money to replace than the entire roof.
 
This rule applies or should apply to streets, parks, pools, dams, spillways and personal issues as well.
 
Maybe the City of Ridgecrest could get a grant for road maintenance now that a lot of our streets have been replaced through grants.  Or anything else that needs attention. 
 
The fact that the spillway at the Oroville Dam has been ignored for years and is now causing major problems is, in my opinion, malfeasance on the part of the State of California.  Surely the state realized it would rain some day and still they did nothing. 
 
So, get out and take care of any honey dos while the sun shines before the next rain storm comes and preserve your investments!!
 
Carol Wilson is Owner-Broker of
WILSON & ASSOCIATES REAL ESTATE SERVICES
She can be reached @ carolj@wilsel.com or
760-446-5959
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
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October 1st, 2016 By Carol J. Wilson
What does half the closing costs mean?
Do you know what your closing costs are and how much they are?
 
A lot of people think that closing costs are automatically split equally between buyer and seller.  In reality, each side pays their own.  Basically, the buyer pays for his loan costs and the seller pays the brokerage.  Unless the buyer asks the seller to pay part or all of his side of the closing costs.
 
Closing costs are incurred when you purchase a house and they consist of two types.  Recurring and non-recurring.
 
Recurring costs include property taxes, home owners’ insurance (fire insurance) and interest on your purchase money loan.  They are called recurring because they are due every month.
 
The non-recurring costs are charged just one time by the lender, escrow company, inspection companies,etc. 
 
These costs total more than the recurring ones and the amount depends on how you structure your loan  and what kind of inspections you have. 
 
As an example, if you buy down your interest rate, you may have to pay a fee for that.  That would be included in your closing costs.
 
Since these costs are paid when the escrow closes, it is good to plan how to pay them. 
 
First, you should be thorough in researching with your lender to determine how much these costs are going to be and why they are charged.  You might want to compare costs with another lender before you make a final decision.  They do vary from lender to lender and are determined on the amount of your loan.
 
After you determine the amount of the closing costs, then you can decide if you want to ask the seller to pay some or all of them.
 
Let’s say you’ve added everything up including all the inspections you want to have (except the termite and roof because the seller typically pays for these) and the total comes to $8000.00. 
 
Okay, so now you want to ask the seller to pay one half of your costs.  The seller has no obligation to do so however.
 
Now don’t get confused about this.  People talk about the cost of escrow and title being split equally between buyer and seller.  This is not the same as asking the seller to pay half on your closing costs.
 
When you go to make your offer, take the cost estimate from your lender with you.  Show it to your agent and tell him what you want to do.  Be sure your request is properly stated in the contract before your sign it. 
 
Be prepared, diligent and prudent.

Carol J. Wilson
Wilson & Associates Real Estate Services
Broker/Owner
760-446-5959
carolj@wilsel.com

 
 
 
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August 4th, 2016 By Carol Wilson
FUNDING FOR GROUNDWATER AUTHORITY!
 
So, now it starts  -  Funding for the GSA (Groundwater Sustainability Agency), known locally as the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority. 
 
Wow, this is going to take a whole lot of money!  According to the Daily Independent, Kern County has estimated the cost of operation to be (I hope you’re sitting down) $2,210,000.00 through 2020.  Wow! That’s  $736,666.67 per year for the next three years.  And this amount is projected not actual and does not include cost over rides.  
 
I wonder how much of this is designated for fancy offices and high paid research people.
 
So guess what?  No funds from any sources have been identified to operate this project beyond the end of this year.  Another spend first, pay later scheme.
 
Speculation about grants, assessments and the collection of more money from the five members (Kern , San Bernardino and Inyo Counties, the City of Ridgecrest and the Indian Wells Valley Water District) of the IWV Groundwater Authority created by the JPA (Joint Powers Agreement) have been aired. 
 
Kern County has already received a $250,000.00 grant from the State of California for operational costs. This coupled with the mandatory contribution of $15,000.00 from each of the five members of the IWVGWA will support the project to the end of this year.
 
So, can another grant be obtained?  Will the members of IWVGWA be asked to pay more?  Where will that money come from?   Who knows!
 
What about these assessments?  The IWVGWA, which will be the most powerful agency in the Valley,  will have the authority to charge a fee for its operation on water usage to all customers and to charge fees for private well drilling also.  This without a public hearing.   This “authority” can even use eminent domain. 
 
Actually, the GSA can deny water drilling permits.  And the private pumpers (that’s you if you purchase a piece of property in the country and want to drill a water well before you build a home) don’t even have representation in the organization.    
 
Now don’t think we in the IWV Water Districts service area won’t have to pay.  Oh, yes!  If the entire $736,666.67 annual cost of GSA operation were shared equally with all IWV customers, each of us would pay $62.94 per year.  That doesn’t sound too bad; but you know how these things go.  It will be twice that amount in 2021.  
 
Spending all of this money does nothing toward the physical solution.  This is all administrative.
 
 And for what exactly?  More water rationing?  Coin operated showers?  While Jerry Brown continues to water the roses in Sacramento.  And the smelt lives on!!
 
Here’s another issue:  The county is out of money as evidenced by recent budget cut back proposal.  We want to be sure these funds will be used for GSA purposes.  Surely funds wouldn’t slip into the depleted general fund somehow.  (!!)
 
I understand everyone is busy with life.  However, our lives will be dramatically changed if this process
isn’t handled correctly.   Actually it may already be too late.
 
I encouraged everyone to get involved in these meetings!  Stress that this expense be controlled!
 
 
Carol Wilson is
Owner-Broker of
WILSON & ASSOCIATES REAL ESTATE SERVICES
She can be reached at 760-446-5959 or
carolj@wilsel.com
www.wilsel.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
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July 4th, 2016 By Carol Wilson
RENTERS INSURANCE OR NOT!
                                      
 
My landlord is telling me I need to get renters insurance.  Do I really need this expense?
 
Well, only if you want to be responsible for replacing your personal belongings or pay your friend’s hospital bill if she hurts herself while visiting you or if your lease requires it.
 
Your landlord’s fire insurance policy only covers damage to the house or apartment you are renting.  It does not cover any of your things or damage caused to the dwelling by you or your friends.  
 
Only you can protect your goods and friends.
 
Because renter’s policies do not cover the dwelling, they are very reasonably priced.   
 
It is becoming customary for owners to ask that tenants include them and the property manager as an additional insured’s on the policy. 
 
This protects the owner and manager from personal injury claims by your visiting friends which may result hospital visits or extended medical care.
 
There is no additional charge for adding insured’s and it does not give those mentioned any right to make a claim against you as the tenant.
 
Another benefit of renters insurance is that it covers stolen items whether they are missing from your home or your suitcase while you are on vacation.  Really, no matter where they are.
 
You should probably make an inventory list complete with photos of all your things in case of a loss.
 
This is very helpful to the insurance company which will reduce the time it takes to reimburse you in the event of a loss.
 
Check with your carrier (start with your automobile insurance company) about their specific monetary limits for personal property. 
 
The company may have a limit of $100.00 for a camera.  So if yours is worth $500.00, you should ask your agent to increase the limit.  Be sure to inquiry if the price goes up.
 
So make an inventory of your possessions and keep the name of your insurance agent on the front page.
 
Being responsible in this manner demonstrates to a landlord and property manager that you are prepared to take care of yourself and your friends in case of a loss. 
 
This makes you a good risk and potential tenant.
 
Carol Wilson is Broker-Owner of
WILSON & ASSOCIATES REAL ESTATE SERVICES
She can be reached at 760-446-5959 or
carolj@wilsel.com

 
 

 
 
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March 7th, 2016 By Carol J. Wilson
FHA Still the Best!
Still the most popular method of financing in our area, FHA has some even better benefits to offer.
 
Recent changes have resulted in even easier qualifying guidelines.
 
Buyers now are able to obtain government guaranteed home loans even if their monthly indebtedness is higher than previously allowed.
 
Call ratios, the relationship between the house payment and monthly income can now be as high at 46.99%.  This is called the front end ratio. 
 
The back end ratio, the relationship between total monthly indebtness(car payments, credit card obligations) and monthly income has gone up to as much as 56.99%.
 
Because FHA, the Federal Housing Administration, founded in 1934 as part of the National Housing Act in order to make housing and home mortgages more affordable, the credit score guidelines are the lowest of any other loan program.  At a minimum of 580, the lesser credit score requirement means more people are able to enjoy the benefits of home ownership.
 
Buyers seeking to purchase a home using FHA financing are able to use a co-signer as well.  Lenders will combine income and blend credit scores to reach the maximum.
 
Although the down payment requirement of 3.5% is one half a point higher than it used to be, it is still the lowest in the industry in combination with the lower credit scores.
 
While it is true that FHA charges MIP (mutual insurance premium) both upfront as part of the buyer’s closing costs and on a monthly basis as part of the monthly payment,  the advantages of easy qualifying more than make up for that.  People can purchase a home now instead of waiting until their credit scores improve to apply for a conventional loan.
 
Plus, FHA allows others to help a buyer with the closing costs up to 6% of the purchase price allowing buyers to reduce their upfront costs.
 
Conventional financing generally allows only 3% assistance with buyers’ closing costs.
 
Another benefit of a FHA home loan is that they are fully assumable to a qualified buyer.  This may create an advantage when time to sell because the purchaser might get a better interest rate than is available at the time they qualify.
 
With interest rates still being quite low, more buyers will be able to enjoy home ownership with a FHA loan!
 
Carol Wilson is Broker-Owner of
WILSON & ASSOCIATES REAL ESTATE SERVICES
She can be reached at carolj@wilsel.com or
760-446-5959

 
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February 8th, 2016 By Carol Wilson
Damages to Rentals!
One of the biggest concerns for home owners when renting their home is the condition in which it will be left when the tenant vacates. 
 
This is the point of getting a security deposit before giving out the keys.  Typically, this deposit is in the same amount as the monthly rent.  The landlord holds the deposit in a non-interest bearing account until such time as the tenant vacates the dwelling.
 
Security deposits can be tapped by the landlord for specific uses only.  Back rent, repair of damages to the premises, house cleaning and, if included in the lease, damage to personal property belonging to the owner and used by the tenant during the term of the lease.
 
 So, say the tenant damaged the carpet.  Really trashed.
 
 A deposit in the amount of the monthly rent would never be enough to cover the cost of replacing the carpet.  Exactly. 
 
It’s not supposed to.  Here’s what may surprise you regarding carpet replacement.
 
Deductions from security deposits for carpet replacement is determined on a prorata basis of the cost and life of the carpet in question.  A landlord is not allowed to charge the tenant the entire amount of new carpet. 
 
So, landlord, keep your receipts when updating with new carpet.  Or any other improvements you make to the property.  This is a business.
 
If you didn’t keep your receipt or can’t find it, here’s what you have to do to determine a basis for the deduction.
 
Get an estimate to replace the current carpet.  Be sure to ask the estimator for a “like for like” quality carpet and pad.  Don’t use “high end” carpet to replace “contractor” grade.  That’s not fair.
 
Then consider whether prices have come down or gone up since the current carpet was new. 
 
If the carpet has/had a life of 10 years, consider how old the carpet was when the tenant moved in, the remaining life of the carpet and the amount of damage done.    After determining the percentage of remaining life, figure the corresponding dollar amount of the new carpet cost and deduct that amount for the security deposit.  Don’t forget to consider the amount of damage - if it’s just one room or the whole house.
 
Remember you have 21 days from the date of vacancy to give the tenant a written disposition of the security deposit and return any balance thereof to the tenants’ forwarding address.
 
Understanding the rules coupled with good management can make owning a rental a viable investment.
 
Carol Wilson is Owner-Broker of
WILSON & ASSOCIATES REAL ESTATE SERVICES
She can be reached at carolj@wilsel.com or
760-446-5959
 
 
 
 
 

 
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December 4th, 2015 By Carol J. Wilson
Speaking of Thankfulness
After a wonderful Thanksgiving retreat, thankfulness has filled my heart and mind and I would like to reflect on some of my thoughts with you.
 
What a wonderful announcement that our hard working friends and neighbors in civil service will no longer be under paid come January!  Finally our dedicated work force will be recognized for their efforts here is Ridgecrest with an increase in locality pay.   Recruitment efforts should be more productive giving us a better chance of bringing in fresh minds and ideas.
 
And new streets!  Wow.  China Lake Blvd, Ridgecrest Blvd and Norma. 
 
 Thank you Cal Trans for spending some tax money on Highway 178.  China Lake Boulevard is super even if it did take a little getting used to.  Those U turns are exciting!   The coming median art will make it even more attractive.
 
 Ridgecrest Boulevard is charming and gives our City a home town appearance.  Looks like most people are managing the changes well. 
 
 Norma’s resurfacing is still bumpy; but better than before. 
 
Don’t forget that some Measure L money is being set aside to maintain the streets too.  Even though that initiative is soon to expire, there is some money left.  Hopefully the measure will get voted in again so all the good street work won’t go to waste without maintenance.  I’m for it!
 
What about Marshall’s?!  I still say Mervyn’s sometimes; but I’m getting better.  What a great addition to our community!  A pretty store with nice merchandise, employees and amazing prices.  Better get there quickly before the best stuff is gone!
 
The formerly “pink” shopping center has filled up nicely and offers a variety of shopping benefits and experiences.
 
The Petroglyph Festival turned out great again.  Better than the first I understand due to the fact that there were guided bus tours.  Balsam Street was filled with tons of great vendors.
 
And the new park.  Thank you Bakersfield for bringing some of our tax money back to Ridgecrest by improving your property with such a nice recreational area.  Paved walkways, covered picnic areas.  Gee, looks like a real city park.  According to the City Parks and Recreation Department, all maintenance costs are paid by the county.   We are thankful for that!
 
And thank you Ridge Project for all the community wide clean ups.  Remember, this all volunteer group is responsible for adding improvements to the median on Drummond Avenue.  Plans are in the works for even more improvements. 
 
My thankfulness would not be complete if I didn’t mention our good health, loving relationships with friends and family and Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  He didn’t have to die for us; but He did!  That calls for another “Wow!”
 
 
Carol Wilson is
Owner/Broker of
WILSON & ASSOCIATES REAL ESTATE SERVICES
She can be reached at
760-446-5959 or
carolj@wilsel.com

 
 
 
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October 31st, 2015 By Carol J. Wilson
So whats all the buzz about Zillow?
Zillow is a web based real estate information company.  Founded in 2006, Zillow states its purpose is to supply information to home buyers, sellers and others so they are able to make informed decisions regarding purchasing, selling, renting, etc. 
 
Not only does it supply information about houses for sale; but some data regarding all properties in the area.  But how accurate is this information?
 
While some home owners find the “zestimate” provided by Zillow helpful in pricing their home for sale, the research done, at least locally, to provide that estimate is almost always inconclusive. 
 
The report on your home provided by Zillow can come from public data through mortgage companies, property tax assessments, sales transactions and the county recorder.
 
Often times these sources can be out of date and just plain old.  Like if you purchased your house 20 years ago and the “zestimate” was based on the original mortgage amount. 
 
Because Zillow never goes into your home, it cannot be aware of any improvements made to your home.  Conversely, they can’t see the lack of improvements. Improvements which can have a profound effect on its value one way or the other. 
 
On an appraisal, that value is determined by a condition adjustment.  As an example, your house is in better condition that the one without the new kitchen.  The exact amount is decided by the difference between your house and the one without the new kitchen.  It is not determined by adding a predetermined amount.
 
In addition, some of the basic data regarding your home may not be accurate.  Like 2 bedrooms instead of the actual 3.  Or 2 full baths instead of the real 1 and ¾. 
 
 Zillow cannot give you a property specific accurate estimate on your house because it cannot see it.
Aerial pictures of the exterior; but nothing of the interior. 
 
Another issue when selling your house through Zillow is that you have no presentation.  You are completely on your own to set the price, advertise, make showing appointments, show the house, negotiate, determine your proceeds, be sure the buyer is preapproved for the loan, open the escrow, interface with the buyer’s lender during the closing process to verify his qualifications, that the appraisal has been ordered, be sure the buyer’s earnest money and closing funds are in escrow, that the loan documents are ready in a timely manner and that buyer has made an appointment to sign them, order and distribute the termite report, roof inspection and home warranty, arrange for the home inspection, negotiate repairs, make the repairs or find someone to do them for you, bear the responsibility of the liability for your mistakes and make all the proper disclosures to the buyer. 
 
Zillow does none of this work for you. 
 
Speaking of disclosures, sellers are mandated by statute to make certain disclosures to buyers.  If you don’t, you may be subject to civil action by the buyer.
While I understand saving money, in today’s litigious real estate marketplace where disclosure, disclosure, disclosure reigns, you might want to reconsider how you save money and get the straight scoop from a licensed real estate professional.
 
Carol Wilson is the
Broker-Owner of
WILSON & ASSOCIATES REAL ESTATE SERVICES
She can be reached at carolj@wilsel.com or
760-446-5959
 
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September 30th, 2015 By Carol J. Wilson
Back-Up Offer May Get the House You Want!
                            
Disappointed that you are being told the house you wanted is in escrow already?  Oh, no, not again!
 
Well, in this hot market, you might want to consider placing a back-up offer on the property.
 
It works just like a regular offer with the same paperwork except your agent needs to prepare the form entitled “Back-up Offer Addendum.”  (BUO)
 
This form explains that seller acceptance of your offer is only possible if any and all existing offers are cancelled in writing by a certain time date.  The back-up offer must be signed by all parties to be placed in line for acceptance.
 
Cancellation of the first offer may occur because the buyer was not happy with the results of the inspections on the house.  Typically these inspections include termite, roof and whole house.
 
It could be that the agreed upon purchase price on the contract might not be supported by the appraisal. 
 
The first offer may have been contingent on the successful close of escrow on the buyers’ previous house and for some reason that transaction failed to close.
 
The seller may be willing to accept your back-up offer if the inspections and appraisal have not been completed because doing so would save him marketing time should the first offer cancel.
 
You, as the prospective buyer, are free to cancel at any time before the seller delivers evidence of cancellation of the first offer.  So you can still look for houses while you wait on this one.  Kinda like putting it lay away; but without any up-front payment.  Or guarantee.
 
You don’t have to make an earnest money deposit to write a back-up offer.  The form stipulates that a deposit is not required until three business days after you receive written notice of cancellation of the first offer.
 
Should your offer move up to first place, you wouldn’t have to pay for any inspections either.  This is because the first buyers’ inspections stay with the property becoming a matter of disclosure to any other interested buyers. 
 
So, if you feel you simply have to have a particular house, consider the possibilities on a back-up offer.  It just may get you the house of your dreams!!
 
 
Carol Wilson is Broker-Owner of
WILSON & ASSOICATES REAL ESTATE SERVICES
She can be reached at 760-446-5959 or
carolj@wilsel.com
www.wilsel.com
 
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