What You Should Know About Inspection Scheduling

When purchasing a single family home, one way to understand as much as you can about the property is to have the property physically inspected by a company or individual that specializes in inspecting properties that are being sold. Inspection scheduling in San Francisco is generally done by the buyer’s agent, unless a buyer is relying upon inspections provided by the seller or choosing to purchase the property without a physical inspection.

// This post is a part of our series: Your Guide to a San Francisco Disclosure Package. //

The Inspection Scheduling disclosure is a *general* disclosure. It does not contain information specific to the property in question.

Inspection Information and Scheduling Request - A Sample Disclosure
Inspection Information and Scheduling Request – A Sample Disclosure

The Inspection Scheduling disclosure is a form that we all have a lawsuit (or lawsuits) to thank for. And while that may sound a bit glib, here’s the essence of it all (in my humble opinion).

Real estate transactions are always time sensitive. Even in “soft” markets, sellers always prefer shorter contingencies to longer contingencies. So buyers typically rely on their agent for advice on who to use for an inspection and to get that inspection scheduled within their contingency timeframe. It raises an interesting question though: will a buyer’s agent select a reputable, honest, reliable inspector or will they toss the inspection to a “yes person” that will keep the deal together even if there are major issues with a property?

In my decade plus years of experience, I always recommend the honest, reputable and reliable inspector because while I know I have to make sure my clients perform within the agreed-upon timeframe, I always choose to take a long term view. I want a good inspection, warts and all, because I want my buyers to someday become my sellers and to recommend me to all of their friends, co-workers, and family.

But not every agent takes that view, and some buyers over the years have felt their agent picked the easy, convenient, or “soft” inspector because they were more interested in closing a deal instead of developing a lifetime relationship.

So you can expect to sign a form that will be similar – if not identical – to the above form saying that you can’t hold your agent responsible for choosing an inspector you don’t like if you’ve given them permission to schedule an inspection for you. And as long as a form was created to share that information, they decided to also mention that agents don’t set rates for contractors, and we don’t verify their insurance, if they are bonded, or any of those other details.

What’s your take away? Let your agent know up front what concerns you have about the inspection scheduling and inspection process. Communicating concerns and expectations up-front is by far the best way to avoid problems down the road.

What You Should Know About the Natural Hazards Report

The Natural Hazards/Tax Data (often called the JCP report because of a popular 3rd party provider)  is an important document to review in a disclosure package. While there are a variety of formats for a Natural Hazards report they all serve one purpose: to help the seller explain information about the land around and underneath a property.

// This post is a part of our series: Your Guide to a San Francisco Disclosure Package. //

The Natural Hazards Report is a *property specific* disclosure. While it contains a ridiculous amount of boilerplate/CYA information, it also contains important information that is specific to the property in question.

A Natural Hazards Report Summary Page from 3rd Party Provider JCP
A Natural Hazards Report Summary Page from 3rd Party Provider JCP

A natural hazards report can be completed directly by a seller, but in almost all cases sellers choose to use a report provided by a 3rd party company. PropertyID is one such company (I believe they are a captive company to Coldwell Banker, but I’m not 100% certain), and JCP-LGS is another company. In the San Francisco market you typically see a report from one of these two companies.

The natural hazard report is a statewide report which means that it covers a lot of conditions that aren’t applicable to San Francisco. The summary page (shown above) is the “cliff’s notes version” of the entire document, which is usually between 30 and 40 pages. The potential hazards disclosed in a natural hazards report include:

  • Special Flood Hazard Area
  • Area of Potential Flooding
  • Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone
  • Wildland Area with Substantial Forest Fire Risk
  • Earthquake Fault Zone
  • Seismic Hazard Zone (Landslide or Liquefaction)
  • County Level Natural Hazard Disclosure Information
  • Former Military Ordinance Disclosures
  • Proximity to Commercial or Industrial Zoning
  • Airport Influence Area Disclosure
  • Airport Noise Area Disclosure
  • Bay Conservation and Development District Disclosure
  • California Energy Commission Disclosure
  • Right to Farm Act Disclosure
  • Notice of Mining Operations Disclosure
Additional Disclosures found in a Natural Hazard Report
Additional Summary Page typically found in a Natural Hazard Report

It should be noted that there are a variety of different maps that the report provider is working with – often state, county, and city level maps. For example, in the above example while it isn’t on a state mapped earthquake fault zone, San Francisco county reports include additional detail that provides information on expected/projected ground shaking severity for an earthquake on either the Hayward or San Andreas faults.

I’ve also been told by various engineers that specialize in soils testing that the maps used in the generation of these reports are approximate. In one case, I had a client receive a natural hazards (JCP) report that said the property was in a landslide zone. We hired a soils engineer to help us better understand the risk, and using his more detailed maps he was able to show that while the property was near landslide zones, the property in question wasn’t actually in a landslide zone.

Some “bonuses” that typically come along with the natural hazard report include:

  • A property tax report that explains how property taxes are calculated, allowing you to estimate what your property taxes will be.
  • A notice of your supplemental property tax bill, which explains that most counties lag in re-assessing property values but that every county eventually catches up and when they do you will be issued a supplemental tax bill for the difference between the rate you have been charged and the rate you should have been charged.
  • Environmental Screening Report, which typically includes information about underground storage tanks that are near the property in question.

As you can see from the long list of items disclosed in a natural hazard report, it is an important document to review. It often provides information about conditions that are not readily obvious or apparent to the visible eye, so it is important to review the document and be sure that you understand the information it contains.

Inner Sunset Redevelopment at Kirkham Heights

The Kirkham project is a proposed redevelopment of existing apartments in the Inner Sunset neighborhood.

Kirkham Heights is the name of the current apartment complex located on the site that is just over 6 acres. The site is currently home to 89 apartments that were built in 1950. The homes are located near 5th Ave. and Kirkham, nestled up against the west side of Mt. Sutro below the eucalyptus trees and trails of the Mt. Sutro open space reserve.

The owner of the apartments, the Westlake group, has proposed to replace the current buildings on the site with new apartment homes that would increase the number of homes in the development to about 460, of which 86 would be subject to rent control.

The project – as of this writing (November, 2014) is just a proposal on paper, nothing more. The developer will be submitting plans for a large project authorization to the city planning department, and if the project were to go forward there would be any number of studies, forums, reports, and other documents generated and made available for review before any permits would be issued.

What are your thoughts on the Kirkham project?

Please note that we do not represent the development group interested in redeveloping the site. If you would like to sign up to learn more about the development, you can visit the developer’s website and sign up for additional updates as more information becomes available.

New Zephyr Listing at 344 Prentiss St, San Francisco, CA 94110 for $899,000

344 Prentiss St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Classic Bernal on the quaint outside, modern vibe in the bright & sunny inside! There’s not an inch of wasted space in this updated floor plan with an open living/dining area & chef’s kitchen with double wall oven, five-burner cooktop, quartz counters & lots of cabinet space. Two bedrooms in the back have cork floors & sliding doors to a deck & landscaped garden. The deep tub in the bathroom is perfect for a relaxing soak. Downstairs is an unwarranted in-law with a kitchenette. Plenty of room in the garage for one car, storage & washer/dryer. Just a few mostly flat blocks from all the fun on Cortland, this home also provides easy access to freeways and the 24 & 67 bus lines (stops at 24th St. Bart) for an easy commute north or south.

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San Francisco Leads the Region as Top City for Rental Real Estate Investment

It is undeniable that San Francisco is a great place to live. Vibrant neighborhoods, an exceptional art and cultural scene, fantastic restaurants, world-class shopping and a stunning natural landscape have all helped San Francisco secure a place among the top cities in the country. With the release of the All Property Management Q2 2014 Rental Ranking Report, the City by the Bay can also add being the No. 1 city in the region – and No. 3 in the country – for rental real estate investment to its list of accolades.

Saving money

The Q2 2014 Rental Ranking Report looks at metrics including vacancy rates, capitalization rates, home value appreciation, annual job growth, rental rate variance, and average days a property sits on market for 75 Metropolitan Statistical Areas to determine the top U.S. cities that are poised to give investors the highest return on their rental real estate investment. San Francisco took the top spot regionally, beating out cities such as San Jose, Seattle, Denver, and Los Angeles, while coming in 3rd only to Grand Rapids, MI (No. 1) and Poughkeepsie, NY (No. 2) in the country.

San Francisco Boasts High Rental Rate Variance to Secure Top Ranking 

With rising San Francisco rental rates a main topic of conversation in the community, it will come as no surprise to locals that the city does quite well in the rental variance metric. In fact, with an 8.44 percent increase in year-over-year rental rates, San Francisco takes the No. 1 spot for rental variance among the 75 cities studied, according to the report. While performing generally well in most categories, this rental rate variance certainly helped San Francisco clinch the top regional spot.

San Francisco also boasts one of the lowest vacancy rates in the report at 4.9 percent (giving it a 10th place ranking in the country) and a good home value appreciation rate of 4.95 percent year-over-year. What might surprise you, however, is the city’s relatively low capitalization rate. The “cap rate,” which compares average property value to average rental rates to determine how profitable a rental may be, is 4.07 percent in San Francisco. This is the second-smallest cap rate in the report. By comparison, Grand Rapids, the No. 1 ranked city in the U.S., offers a cap rate of 9.64 percent. The low cap rate is partially fueled by San Francisco’s high property values.

If you’ve been sitting on the fence toying with the idea of buying San Francisco rental real estate, the All Property Management Q2 2014 Rental Ranking Report suggests you should make a move. Opportunity is waiting – will you take advantage?

This is a guest post from All Property Management.

Founded in 2004, All Property Management helps property owners maximize their rental income potential by connecting them with the largest network of property management services on the Internet. As part of that work we track a number of different metrics, from rental vacancy rates and home values to regional job growth, for 75 different metro areas in 5 regions of the country. We use that data, along with input from our nationwide network of over 5,000 property managers, to produce our quarterly Rental Ranking report, which measures a city’s attractiveness for real estate investment.