Archive for the ‘Real Estate Legal’ Category

Keep your property tax rate when you move

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Propositions 60 and 90 were passed by California voters and lets you transfer your current property tax rate to your new home sell and purchase your primary residence. These propositions apply if you or your spouse are 55 or older. In some situations the rules also apply to permanently disabled individuals (prop 110).

This is not intended as tax advice, I am not qualified to offer that so please check with your accountant, attorney and the county assessor to verify you qualify.

The basic rules are:

  1. The home must be your primary residence.
  2. You or your spouse must be 55 or older when you sold your primary residence.
  3. The replacement property must be purchased two years before or after you sell your primary residence.
  4. This exclusion may only be used once in a lifetime.
  5. The replacement property must be of equal or lesser market value.
    1. 100% if purchased before the sale of your home
    2. 105% if purchased up to one year after the sale
    3. 110% if purchased in the second year.
  6. Prop 60 only applies if you new home is in the same county as the one you sold.
  7. Prop 90 allows transfer to a different county if the new county allows. Most counties do not follow prop 90 so check with the assessor before you count on this. Counties change their rules so check again even if you have previously done so.

The counties take the rules very seriously so don’t think or try to “beat the system” because it will come back to bite you. Also, the rule refers to market value and in some cases counties are looking at REO (Bank Owned Homes) as not selling at market value. For more information look at the Board of Equalization web site.

Warren Carreiro, Broker.

Do not refinance your home!

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

 If you are up-side-down on your home (owe more than it is worth) and are considering foreclosure or a short sale you need to know the ramification each option has.

If you purchased your California home in the past couple of years with 100% financing and the home is worth less than your purchase price foreclosure may be your best option.  This may also only be true if you have NOT refinanced your home.  You see, in California, in a foreclosure the bank has no recourse on your assets beyond your home (original purchase money only- does not apply to refinanced property).  So if you want to walk from the house -give it back to the bank, the hit you take is on your credit rating for seven years.

Option 2 might be to sell your property and ask the bank to forgive the difference between your loan and sells price.  Even if the bank will not forgive you the difference this is called a short sale.  In a short sale your credit is not hit as bad as a foreclosure.  However, the bank will likely come after your other assets AND (this is a big one) the IRS will tax you on any amount forgiven by your lender.  Don’t forget when the IRS wants your money they get it.

If you want to refinance your property to keep the payments low that will be hard to do at 100% financing and it may take away the best foreclosure on original purchase money has to offer.

Because this subject has such legal and financial ramifications if this article applies to your situation get professional legal (attorney) and financial (CPA) advice.
Warren Carreiro

How to lower your property taxes

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

If you purchased your home in the past few years you may be eligible to temporally lower your property taxes.  You must act by November 30th,   so call the Marin County Assessor (415) 499-7215 to verify details.

With all the newspaper headlines you might be tempted to think anyone that owns a home would qualify but it does not work that way.  For the current tax year vales are based on what your home was worth January 1, 2007.  The assessor’s office only looks at closed sales, not how much they are asking for the home next door.  The comparable sales should be plus or minus three months from January 1.

All of this is based on the difference between the current tax value (assessment) and the value of January 1.  If you have owned your home for several years in your assessed value is LOWER (this is true for most homeowners) than the January 2007 value don’t do anything.  Even if you bought your home two years ago you likely will not qualify for a reduction, it really depends on your home, neighborhood, and city.  Novato, and in particular Hamilton have seen reduced values.  From San Rafael south values are similar to two years ago, some more, some less. 

The tax reduction is temporary, only lasting until values go up again.  You can file for a permeate reduction if you have special circumstances.  For example, you bought your home thinking it was in great condition only to find out it needed a new foundation, plumbing and electrical.  Really what that means is you overpaid for your home and it basically did not have anything to do with then current market conditions.  Call the Marin County Assessor for details.

If after reading all this and you think you have a case get the form and visit the Marin County Assessor.  By the way, this applies to all of California. For more information Google “California Prop. 8”.

Have a great Thanksgiving, and let me know if you have any questions on this.  Remember, if you ever need a contractor or service for your home, I keep a list of the good ones.

Warren Carreiro

New San Rafael Fire Vegetation Ordinance

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

San Rafael has created a fire ordinance that may cost taxpayers and homeowners well over $25,000,000.  We did not vote on this and good chance you didn’t see it coming but the law is here now.This ordinance bothers me on several levels. Yes, we have recently seen Southern California burn and it could happen here; however, San Rafael is the only city in Marin to enact such a plan.  Aren’t Mill Valley, Ross, Kentfield, and Fairfax more vulnerable?  How much is this going to cost homeowner and taxpayers?  Yes, taxpayers are responsible for clearing that portion of city owned property that goes beyond the owner’s property line to within 100 feet of the structure.  This means a larger budget for the city; more employees and we all know that means more power. Cities like that.

I certainly don’t remember the Marin Indecent Journal or the City of San Rafael going out of there way to inform the public the were enacting a law which would affect over ten thousand homes.  The cost to San Rafael homeowner could exceed $25,000,000.  There is no provision for people on fixed incomes.  I have no doubt that in the future we will be reading a story in the IJ about some old couple that have lived in the same home for 50 years and is forced to sell because they cannot afford to comply with the fire ordinance.  Funny thing is this is not a “tax” does not require voter approval, what will they think of next.

This is a short summary of how the plan will affect you:



1. Trim the limbs of trees up 10 feet from the ground. 

 a. Only trim limbs 3 inches or less in diameter.

2. Cut grasses to 3 inches in height above the ground. 

3. Remove or cut all combustible vegetation such as, and not limited to, broom, gorse and other highly non-native plants (see attached list of required removals)

 a. In areas on a slope, check with an arborist or nursery about the replacement of vegetation that is fire resistant and produces roots to prevent erosion if they are removed. 

4. Trim tree limbs to a minimum of 10 feet away from the outlet of chimneys for 360 degrees. 

5. Remove dead trees. 

6. Remove all dead vegetation. 

7. Trim all vegetation so each plant has separation of twice the height of the tallest of the adjacent plant. 

8. Remove or chip all cut vegetation. 

9. Maintain roof and deck areas free of combustible vegetation. 


1. Remove combustible vegetation from under structural overhangs, including decks. 

2. Remove all “gasoline plants” (Junipers and Bamboo) within 15 feet of your structure. 

a. Replace with fire resistant plants to achieve the desired ornamental planting should you desire. 

3. Remove all “gasoline plants” (Junipers and Bamboo) from between 15 feet and 100 feet from your structure by 2011. 

a. Replace with fire resistive plants to achieve the desired ornamental planting should you desire. 

4. Distance woodpiles a minimum of 2 times the height of the woodpile away from any component of the structure on the property.  


1. Trim and maintain vegetation to within 10 feet of roadways as required for defensible space. 

2. Trim trees so they do not hang lower than 13’6″ above the roadway

City of San Rafael details are here and a short overview of the program is here.

This link shows the addresses of homes within the city defined high fire zone so click here to find out if this affects you.

Let’s take a look at the cost of this ordnance to homeowners and/or lessors’.  The number of structures affected is over ten thousand and the cost to each over varies significantly, so let’s look at a few sample estimates:

Average Cost  #Structures     Total Cost

$1,000             10,000             $10,000,000

$2,500             10,000             $25,000,000

$5,000             10,000             $50,000,000

$10,000           10,000             $100,000,000

It would not surprise me to see $2,500 or higher as the average cost, after all how many homes have trees that will need to be trimmed or Junipers that need to be removed and replaced with something new?  Also, that cost does not include annual maintenance.

What are your thoughts is the city okay enacting this without a vote (I don’t mean legally but ethically)?  Does the decrease in fire danger justify spending any amount of money?  If other cities get to vote on a flood tax why can’t we vote on a “fire” tax?  The City of San Rafael seems pretty fast to put there hands in our pocket.  We are one of the few cities that have a transfer tax on real estate sales and we just had a whopping increase in our sales tax.  Don’t get me going on the sales tax, it is automatically adjusted upward just based on inflation without any extra percent added on.

Warren Carreiro

The Marin Realtor

Friday, September 7th, 2007

 You may have noticed that I have changed my URL from to

I am a REALTOR® and the National Association of REALTORS® kindly pointed out that descriptive words should not be used in front of the word REALTOR®  because it is not in compliance with the trademark rules. If you search the Web you will notice that many REALTORS® still are not in full compliance, but not me, any longer. 

I kind of like Realty of Marin anyway, how about you?

Warren Carreiro, nee The Marin Realtor


Different ways to take title to Calif Residential Real Estate

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006






Two or more persons’ (may be
spouses or domestic partners`).

Two or more persons’ (may be
spouses or domestic partners’).

Husband and wife or
domestic partners.

Husband and wife or
domestic partners.


Ownership can be divided into
any number of interests, equal
or unequal.

Ownership interests
must be equal.

Ownership interests must
be equal.

Ownership interests must
be equal.


One or more conveyances
(Law presumes interests are
equal if not otherwise specified).

Single conveyance (creating
identical interests). Vesting must
specify joint tenancy.

Single conveyance or presumption from marriage or domestic

Single conveyance and spouses or
domestic partners must indicate
consent which can be on deed.

and Control






Each co-owner may transfer
or mortgage their
interest separately.’

Each co-owner may transfer
his/her interest separately but
tenancy in common results;

Both spouses or domestic
partners must consent to transfer
or mortgage.

Both spouses or domestic
partners must consent to transfer
or mortgage.

Liens Against One Owner

Unless married or domestic partners, co-owner’s interest not subject to liens of other debtor/ owner but forced sale can occur.’

Co-owner’s interest not subject to liens of other debtor/owner but forced sale can occur if prior to co-owner’s/debtor’s debt

Entire property subject to forced sale to satisfy debt of either spouse or domestic partner.

Entire property subject to forced sale to satisfy debt of either spouse or domestic partner.


Death of Co-Owner

Decedent’s interest passes to his/her heirs by will or intestacy.

Decedent’s interest automatically passes to surviving joint tenant (Right of Survivorship).

Deceased’s 1/2 interest passes to surviving spouse or domestic partner unless otherwise devised by will.

Deceased’s 1/2 interest auto- matically passes to surviving spouse or domestic partner due to Right of Survivorship.

Possible Advantages/ Disadvantages

Co-owner interests may be separately transferable.

Right of Survivorship (avoids probate). May have tax disadvantages for spouses

Qualified survivorship rights. Mutual consent required for transfer. Surviving spouse or domestic partner’ may have tax advantage.

Right of Survivorship. Mutual consent required for transfer. Surviving spouse or domestic partner may have tax advantage.

Information from First American Title Company. Provided for information only, you should consult with an attorney and Certified Public Accountant prior to taking or changing title on real property.

New ethical duty to disclose non-confidentiality of offers

Monday, January 30th, 2006

Beginning January 1, 2006, REALTORS representing buyers have an ethical duty to advise their clients that sellers may not treat offers as confidential. More specifically, when entering into a buyer agreement, REALTORS must advise potential clients of “the possibility that sellers or sellers’ representatives may not treat the existence, terms, or conditions of offers as confidential unless confidentiality is required by law, regulation, or by any confidentiality agreement between the parties.”

As a point of clarification, California law generally does not require the existence, terms, or conditions of offers to be kept confidential by either a seller or a listing agent representing the seller exclusively. However, parties may voluntarily enter into a confidentiality agreement.