February 2018 Newsblog

In this newsletter I cover the following topics:

  1. What do I do if one of the property owners passes away?
  2. What tax bracket is your home in?
  3. Millennial Home Buying
  4. Blockchain and Me
  5. Amazon HQ2
  6. IRS News
  7. How did they come up with this name?
  8. It’s happy Chinese New Year
  9. Things to remember

1. What do I do if one of the property owners passes away?

Someone asked this question on our website:

My mother, father, and brother own our home in LA County all as joint tenants. However, my father just passed away a few months ago, so we were wondering: Is it okay to simply keep my father’s name on title of our home? At least for now? My family isn’t planning to sell our home any time soon, so that’s not an issue. Also, we live here, so our home doesn’t generate any rental income.

In other words, are there any consequences of keeping my father’s name on title? On the other hand, if we clear my father’s name from title, will that cause the property tax to be reassessed?

Our response:

It is okay to keep your father’s name on the title for now; it won’t affect the ownership of the property as you held it under “joint tenants”. Before you sell the property though you must do an “Affidavit of Death of Joint Tenant” document which puts his death on record. At that time you will fill out a Change of Ownership form for the County Assessor which states that the property will be exempt from re-assessment as it a transfer due to a death of a joint tenant.

However, you need to be aware that regulations state that the Assessor’s Office has to be notified within 150 days from the date of death or there could be a penalty. To learn more visit this page on the County Assessor’s website.

If you should own the property as “tenants in common”, however, the the death of one owner may leave the ownership in a position in which Probate Action by the courts may be required.

2. What Tax Bracket is Your Home In?

Your home is priced over a million bucks? Wow! Sounds good, especially when talking to others in less appreciated markets.

Unfortunately, it is all Relative!

A million dollar home in certain areas is no longer considered a high priced investment. If you are looking for the luxury home market be ready to absorb a much higher base figure.

According to Trulia’s research  the base figure to be considered a “Luxury” home is now a cool $5 million. Stats and a chart in the article tell you where you need to hang out.

For some of us, it’s great that our house has appreciated through the years to be worth the 1 million bucks, but the real question is, if I sell it, can I afford to buy another comparable in the same area?

So for homeowners, remember, the value of your home is relative.

3. Millennial Home Buying – Let Your Fingers Do the Walking

If you are in the market to buy, and you are a Millennial, you may be interested in letting your fingers do the actual walking. Zillow is launching an app in the Phoenix area to a 3D video tour of listings. If it works and the app spreads to other big cities, think how much time and effort will be saved for both Buyer and their agent. Instead of driving around scouting the listings, going from Open House to Open House, just click on your phone and immerse yourself in a 3D tour.

By the way, you know that an app for the virtual interior decorating of these homes will not be far behind. Then you can place pictures of your furniture in the house you are contemplating to see if it will work!

Toa all real estate agents, loan agents, lenders, escrow and title professionals: Millennials rely on technology heavily and if you are technological innovative, then you can keep pace with your customers and develop your market share.

4. Blockchains and Me

I don’t profess to understand blockchains at all, but this noun seems to be coming up more and more, not only in dealing with bitcoins, but also in lending, mortgages, and real estate. This article in National Mortgage News points out that soon we may be transacting real estate transactions and recording the transfer of ownership through Blockchains and that, my friends, worries me. It behooves us to learn more about it.

The concept behind blockchains is that documents and transactions set in a blockchain format are immutable. Exact time, person submitting, documents submitted will be set forever once it enters the chain and can never be changed. For those who really want to get into the nitty gritty of the description, go to this (long) article, which sets it out pretty well. “Distributed Ledger” technology , as they are calling it. Also see this article  ) creates this blockchain database and could be cutting out the middle men.

But not having us middle people involved- the real estate agent to negotiate, the title company to insure, the ESCROW to prepare documents, handle the funds in and out, and the County Recorder to record the document so that it’s easily accessible to the public at any time – is a concept that deserves serious thought.

In order for blockchains or this “distributed ledger” to work all these industries have to understand it, accept and find ways to absorb this new technology, work with it, in it and be a part of it. Sadly, some of us will be out of a job, but others, especially those in the tech industry, I can just see the job opportunities.

5. Amazon HQ2 – What’s the Big Deal?

Where Amazon will establish their second headquarters is a Very Big Deal to many areas in the country because this one decision, once made, will come with an increase of 50,000 jobs. The domino effect into the surrounding areas in housing, goods consumption, services and everything else will be incredible.

Just think of schools! I’m thinking they will need to expand schools (high school and below), increase or add new courses in colleges and tech schools in the area, etc. Everything will be impacted for the benefit of the area residents and economy. Here are several articles, mostly concerned with the housing impact:

Who is in the running?

Who lost out?

What is the housing impact?

Who is the frontrunner?

It’s like a national Powerball with much more to offer to more people. Stay tuned! BTW, much as I hate to say it, I have to agree with the frontrunner choice in the last article link.

6. More IRS News You Can Use:

Perhaps the IRS is trying to soften their image and show how consumer friendly they are, something along the lines of, “Never fear, the IRS is here!” Right. I can’t argue that it is a benefit to the public to make them seem more approachable.

Every day I get notices and tips that I like to share. Here is one: Ten Tips for choosing a tax preparer.

Or how about a mobile app (IRS2Go) to pick up these tips, find out about your refund, or even make payments? Or you can check out their Youtube channel. The IRS is creeping into the 21st century.

However, you still can’t get the right person in the right department to answer your call.

7. How Did They Come Up With This Name?

Want to know how Bluetooth, eBay, Google, Apple, etc got their names? Heads up, here is a longish but fun article. Gee, I hope this isn’t fake news..

8. It’s Happy Chinese New Year!

And I am now “One Year Older”.

According to the Chinese culture, I will have to add One More Year to my many years in a few short weeks. Starting February 16th, we will be going into Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dog, a month-long celebration in the home countries when Chinese people eat, drink, pass out money, and don’t work.

For those of you who are interested in viewing the background behind an auspicious Chinese New Year, click here to check out all sorts of interesting information – what to eat, what NOT to eat, what to wear.

One (surprising) piece of “fact” is that if the Dog happens to be your zodiac sign, this is not going to be a lucky year for you and you must be careful in all that you do.

Check out the Dog under the Zodiac section and read what the astrologers say about you and who you are compatible with.

9. Things to remember:

Someday is not a day of the week.
It’s never too late to be what you might have been.
Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.

Questions or Comment?

We love answering Escrow related questions and we’d like to hear your comments. Use the form below to ask questions or leave comments.