"Come for a day and stay for a lifetime…"(R)


by Carla Griffin on May 26, 2018



When purchasing property that is under the jurisdiction of a homeowners’ association (HOA), buyers should be aware of the following five things.
1. The HOA’s Rules
The covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) is one of the most important disclosure documents for a buyer. CC&Rs contain the rules that govern the HOA and restrict its owners. These restrictions include matters of architecture, paint color, decor, and other conditions of the interior and exterior of the property as well as the common areas of the development. In many ways, these rules are tantamount to another set of regulations aside from those of the city or county. If potential buyers plan to undertake remodeling or improvement on a property with a HOA, the CC&Rs are critical to understand beforehand. HOA’s can fine buyers for violations of CC&Rs and in certain cases can put liens against the property and take it from the owner.
2. The HOA Fees and Finance

A buyer should know the HOA fees they will be required to pay and how much and how often the HOA fees may be increased. They should also inquire as to how much reserve the HOA has at the time of purchase.
The buyer should find out if the HOA has sufficient income in the reserve to cover unexpected damages or events not covered by insurance. Further, the method of the HOA in collecting and managing funds in the reserve is important. HOAs should properly maintain financial documents that include budgets, association reserves, outstanding loans and insurance policies.
3. Property Insurance
Insurance is particularly important if the property is in an area that is prone to natural disasters like floods, earthquakes or hurricanes. Buyers should review the catastrophic insurance policies of the HOA before purchasing.
4. Past HOA Meeting Minutes

HOAs that are well managed will have regular board meetings. The meeting minutes should include the discussions of the board. The minutes can reveal potential risks, past or current policy conflicts, owner complaints, potential special assessments and proposed changes to the CC&Rs.
5. Miscellaneous
Some for-sale properties might have existing CC&R violations. Potential purchasers need to be aware of who is responsible for bringing the property in compliance.
Further, some HOAs might be party to lawsuits with third parties or might be poorly managed. It is always worthwhile to investigate these matters prior to purchase.

Some more helpful information can be learned by reviewing Civil Code Sections 1365-1368.


Do you have a Will and/or Living Trust?

by Carla Griffin on February 3, 2018

Are you aware that if you do not have a Will and/or Living Trust and you pass away, your property will need to be probated.
In June 2016, a new type of deed took effect in California: The Revocable Transfer on Death Deed (TODD) also called a beneficiary deed.    This is an alternative to a Will and/or Living Trust if your primary asset is your residence.   Transfer on Death Deed 
Important points to remember about the TOD deed:
     1.  All owners must fill out their own TOD deed.   This means that a married couple must fill out and record two separate TOD deeds.
     2.  Each form MUST be Notarized.
     3.  The TOD form must be recorded within 60 days of being signed and notarized.
     4.  The property description and your name must match the title documents EXACTLY.
     5.  You must list the beneficiaries by name and their relationship to you (spouse, son, daughter, friend, etc.)   A beneficiary does not have to be a relative.
     6.  The page of instructions is page 2 of the 3-page form and MUST stay with the form to be considered a complete document.
     7.  Take the completed form to the Santa Clara County Recorder’s office at 70 W. Hedding Street, First Floor in the East Wing.   There will be a recording fee so plan to take your check book.
You should speak to a professional advisor and/or attorney to determine if this is the best form for your individual situation.


Energy Efficient Tips to Beat the Heat

by Carla Griffin on August 16, 2017


As we enter into the lazy hazy days of summer, most of us are seeking refuge in our air conditioned homes with our sprinkler systems running on all four cylinders. Unfortunately, as temperatures skyrocket rise so do our energy bills, and if you live on acreage, or have a large home, you might be spending a small fortune to pay the piper. The good news is even though you may not be ready to downsize your home, there are a few energy saving tips to help downsize your wallet.

Xeriscaping is the principal of creating a garden scape that relies on minimal watering, ideally surviving on natural rainfall. Using native plants, and hardy drought tolerant varieties, creating lush, water saving curb appeal is more than just rock, and a few cacti. Amend your existing soil with rich organic materials, install an efficient drip system, and watch your garden flourish with little fuss. If you’re wondering what to plant, your local nursery can help you choose flowers, and shrubs indigenous to your region.

Dine Alfresco. When the thought of turning on the oven, or slaving over a hot stove has you running for the nearest Dairy Queen, utilizing a gas or charcoal grill can keep you cooking at home without your AC having to compensate for it. Beyond burgers, and hot dogs, you can whip up everything from eggs, to apple pie using far less energy than the hours you’d spend firing up kitchen appliances.

Improve Circulation by installing a ceiling fan. According to Energy.gov, these fans save energy by allowing you to turn up the air conditioner temperature without losing your cool, and cost a thrifty penny per hour to run versus almost forty cents for central air. Take advantage of cooler evenings by opening up windows, and place a fan in front of them to improve air flow. Trilogy’s SheaXero homes feature programmable thermostats that automatically adjust the temperature to prevent any wasted energy, and substantially lower monthly cooling costs.

Go Unplugged. Gadgets like chargers, lamps, and whatever else spends all day connected to an outlet continue to drain energy even when not in use. Thankfully long summer days allow for more natural light instead of relying on electric sources but take inventory of the items in your home that can be powered down, and use a surge protector for multiple items, switching it off to cut the power for good until you need it.

What will you do with your energy savings? A summer vacation may be calling your name because the only thing you should be spending more of is time doing what you love.


Four Benefits that Reverse Mortgages can Offer Seniors

by Carla Griffin on August 11, 2017

Baby boomers: the ideal reverse mortgage candidate?

According to newly-released government data, 32% of Americans aged 65 to 69 are employed—the highest percentage in 55 years.

In addition, 19% of Americans aged 70 to 74 are still working, up from 11% in 1994.

Economists expect even higher rates of working seniors in the coming decades, for reasons that include longer lifespans, rising healthcare costs, and challenges building retirement savings.

Baby boomers and seniors can supplement living costs using a reverse mortgage
For those who don’t want to continue working during their retirement years, the reverse mortgage is a remarkable tool. It  can provide additional income which may allow some seniors to retire.

Also known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), a reverse mortgage converts part of your home equity (wealth) into a lump sum of cash, a monthly check, or a line of credit. 

The reverse mortgage doesn’t need to be paid back as long as you live in the home, and you retain the title (ownership) of the home. This means you’re responsible for paying property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and other expenses.

With Americans 62-and-older having a staggering $6.3 trillion worth of home equity as of June 2017, the reverse mortgage has become a potent tool for certain baby boomers and seniors.

Reverse mortgage eligibility
To be eligible for a reverse mortgage, the following requirements must be met:

  • At least one borrower must be 62 or older (In Texas all borrowers must be 62 or older)
  • Have approximately 50% or greater equity in your home
  • Be able to pay for ongoing property charges including property taxes, homeowners insurance, and HOA fees
  • Be able to maintain your home
  • Live in the home – if you’re absent from the home for more than 12 months, the reverse mortgage must be paid off
  • Receive reverse mortgage counseling from a third party counselor prior to obtaining the loan

Reverse mortgages can benefit baby boomers and seniors in a range of situations
While reverse mortgages aren’t meant for everyone, here are some situations they can be ideal.

  • You have extensive home repairs, such as a failing air conditioner or leaking roof
  • You need a “rainy day fund”  to prepare for unexpected emergencies, medical bills, and investments declining in value
  • You enjoy living in your home and don’t want to move
  • You want to buy a new home and not have a mortgage payment
  • You want to live a more active lifestyle


Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for Home Purchase

July 15, 2017

A Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Home Purchase can be life changing for many Senior Borrowers!  People decide to move for multiple reasons.  Maybe their current home is too big or too small. Perhaps they would like to be closer … Continue reading

Read the full article →

Spring into this new season!

March 12, 2017

Spring into the new season with potted vignettes that exclaim “out with winter” and “in with buds and blooms.” Here is a container combination — with pastel-petaled tulips, sunny daffodils, bright green foliage and sweet strawberries — that capture spring … Continue reading

Read the full article →

Set your clocks forward 1 hour on Sunday, March 12!

March 9, 2017
Read the full article →

Temporary Property Tax Relief available for victims of California’s winter storms

March 3, 2017

  Thus far this season, California has been hit hard by the elements, as many of you are likely too well aware, as torrential precipitation has dumped an overwhelming amount of water on both the northern and southern portions of … Continue reading

Read the full article →

3 Ways to Make Your Kitchen Feel Bigger

February 7, 2017

If you’re remodeling a kitchen and looking to create more space without having to add on or move walls, your design choices may make a big impact. First, start by selecting lighter colors, such as grays and whites. Then consider … Continue reading

Read the full article →

Destination Living: Resort communities deliver the luxury life

January 31, 2017

  One’s home can be a respite, a place to relax, unwind and recover from the exigencies of the day. It can also be a place to rejuvenate the body, renew the spirit and revive the soul. Bay Area resort … Continue reading

Read the full article →