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California residents might have to save longer to buy homes

California residents who are considering buying a home may need to save for some time to gather enough cash. Nationally, an average person who currently rents will need around 6.5 years to save enough to make a 20 percent down payment on a home, according to an analysis by rental listing company HotPads. In expensive areas like Los Angeles, on the other hand, it can take as many as 20 or 30 years. In less expensive parts of the country, it might take only four years. People in some areas are able to save faster because they spend less money on rent.

Many new home buyers turn to options that don't require 20 percent down. First-time buyers may be able to borrow from the Federal Housing Administration, for example. FHA loans have minimum down payments as low as 3.5 percent. The homeowner must carry mortgage insurance, increasing the monthly payments. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae offer mortgage programs with as little as 3 percent down; these programs also require the homeowner to carry mortgage insurance. For veterans of the armed services and their families, the FHA has some loans available with no required down payment.

What if a patron brings in a service animal into your business?

California business owners understand there are various regulations they must follow regarding compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The intent of the ADA is to protect the rights of disabled individuals who need certain accommodations while in public. One of these accommodations may include the use of a service dog. 

Some individuals have disabilities that may require additional support, and you may have a patron who needs to use a service dog for various reasons. You may not want an animal in your place of business or understand your role in ensuring reasonable accommodations, but you may find it beneficial to seek help regarding this matter. Business owners do not have to navigate complex ADA-related issues alone.

Selling a home during the summer

The summer months are a popular time to sell a home. However, there are some issues home sellers in California have to address in order ensure that they are able to attract the buyers they want.

During the summer, individuals may take advantage of the weekend to take mini-vacations away from town, which can make the turnout for open houses held on Saturdays and Sunday unsuccessful. Homeowners may want to consider having opens houses at other more convenient times, such as during rush hour traffic during the week when prospective buyers are already out and about town.

Pending home sales drop amid supply concerns

Pending sales dropped by .5 percent in May compared to April 2018 according to the National Association of Realtors. Pending home sales were also 2.2 percent lower than the same month in 2017. Part of the reason for the drop was the competitive market and high home prices in California and throughout the country. While there is a lot of interest in available homes, the supply of homes isn't necessarily enough to meet that demand.

While the number of homes available was up in May compared to April, it was down 6.1 percent from this time last year. Based on May pending sales numbers, there is a 4.1 month supply of homes, and a six-month supply is considered a balanced market. As supply is limited, home prices have increased while increased mortgage rates have also been a factor in determining how much home a person can afford.

How tax law changes could affect benefits of home ownership

There are many reasons to buy a home in California, but it may not be so wise to do so with the anticipation of benefiting from potential tax deductions due to tax law changes. While a home can still be a wise investment, certain tax breaks no longer exist, and others are not as significant. For instance, standard deductions for individuals, heads of household and people married but filing jointly have increased. This reduces possible savings from itemizing when going over the standard deduction by buying a home since this amount is now higher.

Recent buyers of any residential property may find it more difficult to sell if their home is near the new home mortgage interest deduction cap of $750,000, which is down from the previous limit of $1 million plus $100,000 for equity debt. Re-financing deductions not related to home improvements have also been eliminated, making it less advantageous for homeowners to borrow against their home.

DOJ Stops Adoption of Website Standards

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has for now stopped its efforts to make rules setting up standards for Website Accessibility. This would include not, at least for now, adopting the international website standards organization - the World Wide Web Consortium ("W3C"), standards, including Version 2.0 of the Web Contact Accessibility Guidelines ("WCAG", WCAG 2.0 guidelines 3.1.1 and 2.4.4 and 3.1.2

Here's the relevant part of the notice from the DOJ:

Notice of withdrawal.

SUMMARY:

The Department of Justice is announcing the withdrawal of four previously announced Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRMs), pertaining to title II and title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), for further review.

Mortgage Bankers Association predicts reduced CRE returns in 2018

Commercial real estate investors in California and around the country should not expect returns in 2018 to be as robust as they have been in recent years according to a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association released on June 12. The trade group believes that the combined effects of a multi-year building boom, slowing economic growth and rising interest rates will likely impact returns for the next five years. The MBA says that commercial property returns in recent years were boosted by supply shortages that have now been addressed.

However, the MBA report did contain some positive news for commercial real estate investors and developers. The organization says that many investors will enjoy significantly higher after-tax yields under the provisions of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The report also suggests that commercial property market fundamentals such as vacancy rates and rent growth will remain strong in the years ahead despite more sluggish economic growth.

Important guidelines for buying a home

Rising home prices and rising interest rates may have some Californians convinced that they should buy sooner rather than later. However, the cost of a home itself isn't the only factor one should consider when deciding whether to buy or rent. As a general rule, buying is right for those who have a stable job and are confident that they will have a reliable income for several years to come.

They should also be confident that they have enough money to handle costs such as paying a Realtor or other closing fees. As these expenses can be relatively high, those who want to buy a home should commit to living there for at least five years. Generally speaking, it's wise to keep expenses such as student loan debt or auto loan payments to less than 30 percent of one's income.

Making your rest rooms ADA compliant

Unless you spend your days in a wheelchair, it may not occur to you that there are many things you take for granted. Just trying to get into a room can be a challenge, and many who use wheelchairs must make special accommodations to their homes to allow them to move about freely and complete their daily tasks.

If you are a business owner in California, you must be particularly aware of how you can provide accessibility for all your patrons. Not only is this an ethical decision, but the law requires it under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Whether you are constructing a new building for your business or are remodeling an older structure to comply with ADA rules, your bathrooms may need special consideration.

Buying a home without US citizenship

Those who are not citizens of the United States may be eligible to buy a home or other real property in California. However, the process of doing so depends on a person's status within the country. As a general rule, a permanent resident goes through the same process of getting a home loan as a citizen. The permanent resident is also likely to qualify for FHA or other government loans.

To qualify for a home loan, a permanent resident would need to show proof of income and payment of United States taxes. Generally, he or she would need at least two years of tax returns as well a credit history of at least two years. Those who live in another country qualify for foreign national loans as opposed to conventional or government-backed mortgages. Furthermore, these loans are only available for investment purposes and require down payments of 25 percent.

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L. Scott Karlin

L. Scott Karlin

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David E. Karlin

David E. Karlin

David E. Karlin is a California attorney with a primary focus on business and real estate, including law and legal issues...

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Michael J. Karlin

Michael J. Karlin

Michael J. Karlin is a Southern California based attorney whose practice primarily focuses on Entertainment Law. Michael began...

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