What’s going on in that backyard?

Does code enforcement use Google Earth? It’s pretty obvious if they did, they might find a “recycling” operation going on at this home in Sacramento County. I came across this one the other day while talking to an investor on the phone. It’s hard to say what has been happening for sure at this property, but it smells like a chop shop at first glance. What does it look like to you?

Debris in Back Yard

There are definitely areas where most backyards and front yards tend to be filled with debris, but that’s not the case in this neighborhood. As you can see from an expanded aerial view, most houses are not hosts to yard junk.

Debris in Back Yard Image 2

Clutter and property value: On a serious note, cluttered houses tend to drive down property value around them. I’m not being judgemental or targeting certain people at all. This is simply true. After all, nobody wants to live next to a perpetually unkempt property because it’s a hotbed for all sorts of issues. It’s true that theoretically a house can only contain clutter in the rear yard and have no evidence of an issue from the front. However, if there’s an issue with hoarding or something illegal going on (not just a lack of ability to care for a house), it’s not uncommon to see evidence from the front yard too. I guess it’s a bit like life. We can put our best foot forward and hide our issues, but eventually they’ll come out.

Hoarder House Video Tour: Here is a video tour of a hoarder house I inspected a while back. It’s amazing to see how much clutter can fill one house (and sad at the same time). Watch the video below or here. Yes, I had permission from my client to shoot this video.

Isn’t it amazing what we can find out about activity in houses while online? Have you seen something similar before? How have you seen unkempt front or rear yards impact a neighborhood or street?

If you have any questions or Sacramento area real estate appraisal or property tax appeal needs, contact me by phone 916-595-3735, email, Facebook, Twitter or subscribe to posts by email.

When should you order a “date of death” appraisal?

When an estate has a transfer of ownership due to death or inheritance, a home owner will need to eventually hire a real estate appraiser in order to show the IRS what the reasonable worth of the estate is. So the owner or heir will obtain a “Date of Death” appraisal, which is an appraised value as of the date of the death of the deceased owner.  These appraisals are very commonly ordered within several months of the death of a loved one, but there are three things to consider before ordering the appraisal:

Date of Death Appraisal1) Timeline: If your loved one passed away recently and you need to file your taxes very soon, it makes good sense to obtain an appraisal in a timely manner so you can communicate well with the IRS. In other words, if your loved one passed away within six months before you file your taxes, it would likely be prudent to order the “Date of Death” (DOD) appraisal within that timeframe. This is the most common scenario I encounter for the bulk of my estate appraisal workload.

2) Alternative Valuation Date: I mentioned the Date of Death (DOD) appraisal already, but the IRS has also made allowances for a home owner to obtain an Alternative Valuation Date (AVD) six months after the date of death of the owner. Basically, if the market has declined in value after six months since the date of death, you can use the appraised value six months later to show your estate has decreased in value over time due to market circumstances. In this option you would need two appraisals, both a DOD and AVD. If the market has been hit hard, this could be a huge advantage for you for tax purposes. Granted, you would pay for two appraisals (use the same appaiser), but the savings in light of a large decline should far outweigh the cost of the appraisals.

3) CPA / Attorney Advice: Make sure to carefully weigh your options and the implications of using a DOD or AVD appraisal. You should definitely consult with your CPA and/or attorney to talk through which options would be most beneficial for you depending on your plans for the property and the implications for taxation based on using a DOD or AVD.

I am familiar with the estate planning appraisal process, IRS guidelines for appraisals, and I also run an estate appraisal website. Please contact me with any questions. I am always very glad to help answer questions and meet a need for property owners in what is often a difficult time of life.

If you have any questions or Sacramento area real estate appraisal or property tax appeal needs, contact me by phone 916-595-3735, email, Facebook, Twitter or subscribe to posts by email.

Does chipping paint have to be cured for FHA to guarentee a loan?

I get questions all the time from Realtors, loan officers, and prospective home owners about chipping paint. Does a defective paint surface need to be cured for FHA to guarentee a loan? Does FHA have different standards for properties built before and after 1978 (when lead-base paint was discontinued for residential use)? Watch the video below to find out. 

I hope this video was helpful and served to begin to shed some light on HUD’s standard for a defective paint surface. Keep me posted if you have any questions. Feel free to email, call 916.595.3735 or comment below.

The skinny on Streng houses in Sacramento

There are about 3,000 Streng homes in the Sacramento area, and I just finished appraising one recently. I have valued quite a few Streng homes through the years since they show up in many local communities.

You may be wondering what in the world a “Streng” home is, so let me break it down in a nutshell. A Streng home is a mid-century modern (MCM) home built by the Streng Brothers and designed by Carter Sparks. Strengs have a modern feel to them, lower pitched roofs, high windows, few windows in front, skylights in many cases, and they often have terrariums too. Strengs were influenced by Bay Area builder Joe Eichler.

Here is a photo of a Streng home in Elk Grove:

An article from “The Beam Guy’s” website helps give insight into Steng homes.

The Streng Brothers seemed to have had an almost intuitive grasp of where the valley was headed, and what was needed. The enclaves are not sprawling, endlessly repeating, cookie-cutter tracts – they’re neighborhoods. Some (River City & Evergreen Commons) even include private parks that foster a safe and family friendly place to create that all-important sense of community. These homes were affordable, and the Streng Brothers fought for and received FHA approval — a legacy that is still profoundly shaping these lovely neighborhoods. Many are still filled with teachers, professors, and a variety of other professionals. Several have neighborhood associations with an online presence — filled with photos, upcoming events, residents’ stories, and even favorite recipes (see the links on the far left).

 Although categorized as mid-century modern (a.k.a. MCM, Postwar Modern, or California Modern), deserving of historic note and preservation, these homes truly were forward looking. They fit today’s “modern” lifestyle seamlessly. The Streng Bros. worked with Carter Sparks to create a home, uniquely suited to the hot Sacramento valley: interior atriums domed with tinted acrylic to block heat, exposed aggregate flooring enhances cooling, open living areas allow free flowing AC, and lots of natural sunlight without the “hotbox” effect.  Moreover, these homes provide a private retreat from the hectic 21st century world, with front exteriors that are setback and substantially closed-off from the road, and back exteriors with lots of windows and sliders that tend to open into beautifully landscaped backyards and patios.

Here are some relevant links in case you’re interested in Streng properties.

Blog cataloging restoration of an Eichler home in Land Park
Eichler Network
Floor Plans for Streng Homes
Modern Valley Blog
Pictures of Streng Houses on Flickr
Sacramento Bee Article
Sacramento Mid-Century Modern Tour
Streng Brothers Homes

If you live in or have lived in a Streng home (or would like to), I’m curious to hear your thoughts about Strengs. What attracts you to the design? What do you like most? Anything you don’t like? Or if you’re in real estate, have you sold many Strengs? In your mind, what is the perception among buyers for Streng homes?