Tax Reform Heads to the President



Lawmakers in the House and Senate passed tax reformlegislation today, paving the way for the bill to go to President Donald Trump for his signature. The President has said he intends to sign the bill by Christmas.

NAR worked with members of the House-Senate conference committee to help educate them on how to improve the final bill. After the vote, President Elizabeth Mendenhall issued the following statement:

“The results are mixed. We saved the exclusion for capital gains on the sale of a home and protected the mortgage interest deduction for second homes. Many agents and brokers who earn income from personal services will also see some significant new benefits in their business.

Despite these successes, we still have some hard work ahead of us. Significant legislative initiatives often require fixes to address unintended consequences, and this bill is no exception. The new tax regime will fundamentally alter the benefits of homeownership by nullifying incentives for individuals and families while keeping those incentives in place for large institutional investors.

That should concern any middle-class family looking to claim their piece of the American Dream.”

Although the final tax reform bill is far from perfect, it is significantly better for homeowners than previous versions. That’s thanks to the efforts you made. REALTORS® generated over 300,000 emails and telephone calls to members of Congress over two Calls for Action and held countless in-person meetings with legislators, all of which helped shape the final product.

Last-minute changes to the bill include the following improvements:

• Capital gains exclusion. In a huge win for current and prospective homeowners, current law is left in place on the capital gains exclusion of $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for married couples on the sale of a home. Both the House and the Senate had sought to make it much harder to qualify for the exclusion.

• Mortgage interest deduction. The maximum mortgage amount for households deducting their mortgage interest has been decreased to $750,000 from the current $1 million limit. The House bill sought a reduction to $500,000.

• State and local tax deductions. Both property taxes and state and local income taxes remain deductible, although with a combined limit of $10,000. Both the House and Senate bills sought to eliminate the state and local income taxdeduction altogether.

• Pass-through entities. The bill significantly reduces the effective rate of tax on business income earned by independent contractors and income received from pass-through entities. This change will lower the taxes of many real estate professionals.

Next steps

Enactment of the bill does not end NAR’s effort to reduce the negative impact on homeowners. “REALTORS®’ work on tax issues will continue,” says Mendenhall, “and we look forward to joining members of Congress from both sides of the rotunda on that endeavor.”

Access details of the bill.

Cast your vote!

Kristen needs your help! It’s been a long time since she has done an image re-branding.  Cast your vote for your favorite photo! It could be awhile, since it is updated again.

An updated image, but same great real estate service.  Looking forward to serving your home buying and selling needs in the Bay Area.

Contact me at (831) 801-8206 or (650) 503-4110

Moving Checklist: RealtorKJ

The whirlwind of moving can quickly take on the effects of a hurricane when you add in kids, pets, or special circumstances. As is the case with most things in life, planning is key!

Whether you have six months, or six days to get it all done, just take a deep breath, prepare and let’s get planning!

Once you have decided to move, and established a loose timeline, its time to prep, prioritize and pack. Knowing what you touch and use daily as opposed to items in closets, storage and in the very back of cupboards makes it easier to start packing early on. If you are able to spread the work out, you, your family, and your pets will all feel at ease.

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New Years Resolutions for Your Home -PART TWO

If you missed the first post, check it out here.

Kids are back in school, work has resumed, and life is in full swing. 2017 can be just like every other year where you resolve to make changes and then lose steam a few weeks or months in, OR you can take the necessary steps to set yourself up for success. Having a plan, set goals and defined timeframes is a surefire way to stick with these resolutions. The benefits of a healthy, efficient home far outweigh the initial time investment it takes to implement them. Read below to find five more resolutions as they pertain to your home:


Eat Healthier

You are what you eat! In your diet and in your home. Think of gas or electric as the food you eat. It gives you energy to do the things you need, and want, to do. Energy consumption in the home is something we can control through some simple efforts.

  • Fan/space heater in one room instead of heating/cooling entire home
  • Make sure your home doesn’t allow heat to escape
  • Adjust thermostat seasonally
  • Plug entertainment devices into a power-strip and turn it on and off
  • Investigate if gas or electric is most cost-effective for you

The debate of gas versus electric is as long lasting as it is long winded. In order to know which option is best for you, take note of the rates for each in your area. This information should be easily accessible on your bill, or on the provider’s website. Once you have all the information you can re-evaluate your appliances and heating


Drink Less. 

Laying off the libations is great for your waistline and your wallet! In your home, especially in California, consuming less water is a necessity. We all know the typical tricks, like reducing shower time, turning off the tap while you brush your teeth and lather your hands, but what can you do to reduce water use in your home?

  • Check for leaks, and fix them promptly
  • Switch to timed watering systems in your yard
  • Reduce lawn space, or better yet, switch to dryscapes
  • Update fixtures. Switching to low-flow toilets or aerated faucets can potentially off rebates as well!


Exercise More

Do you have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to “Someday I’ll do This….” but you haven’t done any of it? Exercise your DIY muscle! Why not tackle one of those projects? Repurpose that old outdated furniture. Move it into a new space. Transition your backyard from pile of stuff to haven of rest. You live in California, take advantage of it! There are so many resources, YouTube tutorials, How-To books, and guides to give you step-by-step of any project! is a great place to gain inspiration on larger projects, while Pinterest can give you thousands of ideas from quick and inexpensive to huge and costly. You get to take on whatever you want AND you get to benefit from your handiwork! Hop to it!


Family Time

Time is our most precious resource and the only thing can never get more of. Setting a space within your home for family time can be as simple as designating a movie night where family members rotate picking the film, or setting a game closet that kiddos can easily access. Other fun ways to enjoy your home with those you love are:

  • Plant an Herb garden
  • Invite the kids (or significant other) to help you cook
  • Tackle a house project together
  • Makeover the kids bedroom as a family, rework the furniture and it can feel like a new space!
  • Plant a family tree!
  • Install a swing
  • Build a sandbox


Reduce Stress

In our homes, just as in our personal lives, many things contribute to added stress. Your heater and air conditioner may have it’s work cut out for it if you’re not taking care to insulate your home properly. Checking window and door seals can be a quick and inexpensive way to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. If you have the ability to update old windows, or take on larger, more expensive projects– think about spraying insulation into existing walls. Not only will it help the comfort of the space, but it serves as a noise barrier as well. Local energy companies will often do free in home analysis’ providing you with suggestions on how to cut costs, usage, and how to maximize heating and cooling efforts.

Other items in your home that may not be standing up to the stress of regular wear and tear are flooring, fixtures, appliances and lighting. Changing out one of all of these can provide you an updated look, energy-efficiency and potential cost savings in the long run.


Understanding your home is the first step in knowing which areas need a little extra love. Implementing these resolutions could allow you to be prepared if you take the leap of listing your home, if it sells faster than you anticipate, or if you decide to purchase. Having your life organized, being educated and prepared will make the moving process far easier to handle. I am always available as a resource and am happy to answer any questions, refer you to resources, or help to navigate your next step toward homeownership. I look forward to finding your first home, an additional income property, or your forever home. Give me a call (831) 801-8206 or shoot me an email at and let’s resolve to make a move in 2017!


Cheers to the New Year!

How Green Was My Valley?

by Alain Pinel
General Manager of Intero Prestigio international

Did you see the movie? A big hit from 1941, signed John Ford. Beautiful drama. Another drama, unfolding now in sunny California, could use the same title. The green valleys and lush lawns from years past are not so green anymore. They are turning yellow, if not brown. The sun has a lot to do with this. The lack of water even more.

Every year is somewhat of a gamble around here. Will it rain enough to fill the reservoirs and produce lots of snow in the Sierra? If yes, we’ve got another year to turn the faucets and the sprinklers as we wish to enjoy grass, plants & flowers. If not, well, we’ve got to deal with the drought, somehow.

We had one of those years in 2014, and so far, this year, the picture is pretty bleak. How bleak? Well, California is about to begin its 4th consecutive summer of drought. Winter 2015 turned out to be the driest on record, ever. Many areas have not seen any rainfall to speak of in months and the snowpack water content, measured on April 1st, was at only 5% of average: 1.4 inches instead of 28. That’s how bleak it is.

State, counties and towns are on alert. Tough mandatory restrictions on water use and voluntary cutback programs are being implemented. In some communities, the hunt for violators has begun. In some others, Local or State officials are leaving it up to water companies to play cops and require at least 25% conservation measures in potable urban water. Significant rate hikes are spreading (but don’t represent much of a deterrent in the multi-million dollar price range).

Californians are taking the instructions and the orders seriously…. Well, more or less. Depends who; depends where. You can drive one block and see nothing but brown front yards, and a block further you see healthy green grass. Some people did not get the memo. My own backyard lawn looks badly neglected, and most of the flowers are gone. Redwood bark and synthetic turf have never been more popular, in residential as well as commercial properties. We may have to get used to this new picture.

The question now trotting fast in people’s mind is: what effect will this have on property values? In the land of plenty, in Northern California and Southern California, the question has not been answered yet. The concern is especially vibrant in the priciest zip codes where luxury estates stretching on one acre or more and looking gorgeous thanks in part to beautiful lawns and flowerbeds, will likely look a lot less colorful the balance of the year.

Frankly, I do not believe that, in the short term, the effects of the drought on the usually manicured landscaping of high-end properties will have a measurable impact on home prices or, for that matter, on the number of sales. It is not as if some regions or towns were spared from this calamity; the whole State is concerned. All properties are affected the same way. So, unless some out-of-State buyers decide to skip California for the sake of playing in grass, it will take a lot more than that to stop or even slow the real estate activity.

Long term, say 2 years from now and moving forward, it’s a different story. People in Sacramento better understand the meaning of urgency. Lots of talks about alternative solutions, but not much to show for it. Seems to me that it’s about time, among several options, that we get serious about using sea water in a big way.  Some say that it would be too expensive. No kidding. The cost is always a concern but it is not the main problem here, the main problem is…. Water!

Meanwhile, what can and probably will change, is the way homeowners landscape their properties going forward. No choice in the matter. I can see a lot more “desert landscaping” in the California future. Why not? It can be beautiful actually. If you like Arizona, you will love California. No more thirsty plants. No more expansive lawns. Elegant frugality may become the new normal in the backyard.

There are many other ways to decorate a yard and leverage space without sacrificing beauty or even functionality. I bet a lot of homeowners are going to build bigger but shallow swimming pools to bring color and use up a good fraction of the rear property. Others may decide to put a tennis court. Bocce ball or petanque pads are pretty popular too these days. Your call, depending on your taste, your needs & your means. Think about it quickly though, the “rainy season” is still more than six months away, and, if the past 4 years are any indication, it is not very dependable.

Highlights: New Laws in 2014


  1. imagesAdjoining landowners, with properties contiguous or in contact with each another, must share equally the responsibility for maintaining boundaries and monuments between them. Adjoining landowners are presumed to share an equal benefit from any fence dividing their properties, and unless otherwise agreed in writing, are presumed to be equally responsible for the reasonable costs of construction, maintenance, or necessary replacement of the fence. Assembly Bill 1404 (codified as Cal. Civil Code § 841) (effective January 1, 2014). More on

Criminal Grand Theft of Livestock Broadened


Under existing law, grand theft is committed if someone takes certain animals, namely a horse, mare, gelding, bovine animal, caprine animal, mule, jack, jenny, sheep, lamb, hog, sow, boar, gilt, barrow, or pig (including certain carcasses). The new law expands the crime of grand theft to include anyone who feloniously steals, takes, carries, leads, or drives away any of these animals belonging to another, fraudulently appropriates the animal entrusted to him or her, or fraudulently obtains possession of the animal. Grand theft of such animal is a misdemeanor or a felony punishable by one year imprisonment, plus a fine of $5,000. The proceeds of such fine will be allocated to the Bureau of Livestock Identification for the investigation of cases involving the grand theft of animals as specified. Assembly Bill 924 (codified as Cal. Penal Code §§ 487a and 489) (effective January 1, 2014).


Public Dog Parks Not Liable for Injury Caused by Dogs

A city, county, or other public entity that owns or operates a dog park is not liable for injury to, or death of, a person or pet resulting solely from the actions of a dog in a dog park. As background, existing law provides that the owner of any dog is liable for damages suffered by any person bitten by a dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place (Cal. Civil Code § 3342)Assembly Bill 265 (codified as Cal. Gov’t Code § 831.7.5) (effective January 1, 2014).


Minimum Wage Increased to $10 Per Hour


Minimum wage in California has been increased from $8 per hour to $10 per hour. A one-dollar increment from $8 per hour to $9 per hour will come into effect on July 1, 2014, and another one-dollar increment from $9 per hour to $10 per hour will come into effect on January 1, 2016. The minimum wage has been $8 per hour since January 1, 2008. Assembly Bill 10 (codified as Cal. Labor Code § 1182.12 ) (law itself came into effect on September 25, 2013).


Protection Against Lender Collecting or Claiming Deficiency is Owed

California’s anti-deficiency laws that generally prohibit a foreclosing lender from obtaining a deficiency against a borrower have been expanded to also prohibit the lender from claiming that a deficiency is owed, such as on a credit report, or collecting on a deficiency. Existing law already generally prohibits a short sale lender from claiming a deficiency is owed or from collecting a deficiency. The new law applies to loans foreclosed upon by a trustee’s sale, as well as loans secured by purchase-money, owner-occupied, one-to-four residential unit properties (including refinances with no cash out). A lender, however, can pursue a deficiency against a guarantor or other surety (such as a mortgage insurer), or pursue other security for a cross-collateralized loan.
Senate Bill 426 (codified as Cal. Code of Civil Procedure § 580b) (effective January 1, 2014).


Consumer Right to Free Credit Report From Creditor Who Declines

A consumer credit reporting agency cannot prohibit in any manner, or dissuade or attempt to dissuade, a user of a consumer credit report furnished by that credit reporting agency from providing a copy of the same credit report to the consumer upon the consumer’s request, if the user has taken adverse action against the consumer, based on information in the credit report. The term, “prohibit in any manner” includes, but is not limited to, having a contractual provision to that effect. A district attorney or other enforcement agency can bring a civil lawsuit to recover $5,000 in civil penalties against a credit reporting agency who violates this law. As background, existing law requires anyone (such as a lender and landlord) who takes adverse action against a consumer based on credit report information to provide written notice of the adverse action, including, among other things, the consumer’s right to obtain a free credit report from the credit reporting agency that furnished the credit report (Cal. Civil Code § 1785.20).
Assembly Bill 1220 (codified as Cal. Civil Code § 1785.10.1) (effective January 1, 2014).


Smoke Detectors Specifications Changed

Starting July 1, 2014, the State Fire Marshall will not approve a battery-operated smoke alarm unless it contains a non-replaceable, non-removable battery capable of powering the smoke alarm for at least 10 years. This rule was originally slated to take effect on January 1, 2014. Until July 1, 2015, an exception to this rule applies to smoke alarms ordered by, or in the inventory of, an owner, managing agent, contractor, wholesaler, or retailer on or before July 1, 2014. Furthermore, starting January 1, 2015, the State Fire Marshal will not approve a smoke alarm unless it does all of the following: (1) displays the date of manufacture on the device; (2) provides a place on the device to insert the date of installation; and (3) incorporate a hush feature. A previous requirement for the smoke alarm to incorporate an end-of-life feature that provides notice that the device needs to be replaced has been eliminated. The requirements taking effect on January 1, 2015 was originally slated to take effect on January 1, 2014. The State Fire Marshal has the authority to create exceptions to these requirements.
Senate Bill 745 (codified as Cal. Health & Safety Code § 13114) (effective January 1, 2014).


Revised Billing Statement for HOA Documents and Other Changes

Existing law requiring a homeowners’ association (HOA) to use a statutory form for billing charges for HOA sales disclosures has been revised to require the form to be in at least 10-point type and include an itemization for “Rental Restrictions, if any” (Cal. Civil Code § 4528).  Existing law prohibiting an HOA from charging a cancellation fee for HOA documents as specified has been moved from section 1368 to section 4530 of the California Civil Code. Furthermore, existing law stating that, when an inconsistency exists, governing documents prevail over articles of incorporation, which in turn prevail over bylaws, and in turn prevail over operating rules, has been revised to apply when a conflict, not inconsistency, exists (Cal. Civil Code §§ 4205 and 4350). Additionally, existing law requiring delivery of documents to an HOA by email, fax, other electronic means, or personal delivery if the HOA consents to any of those methods, has been extended to allow delivery by first-class mail, postage prepaid, registered or certified mail, express mail, or overnight delivery by an express service center, regardless of HOA consent (Cal. Civil Code § 4035(3)). Also, existing law requiring certain actions that must be approved by a majority of a quorum of the members to be approved at a “duly-held meeting” at which a quorum is present has been revised to require approval in a “duly-held election” at which a quorum is represented (Cal. Civil Code § 4070). This law also repeals several laws (Cal. Civil Code §§ 1363.05, 1368, and 1368.2) that have been superseded by the restructuring of the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act that takes effect on January 1, 2014.
Senate Bill 745 (codified as Cal. Civil Code §§ 4528, 4205, 4350, 4035, and 4070) (effective January 1, 2014).




Dianne Feinstein’s Response to Flood Insurance

Some homeowners will be greatly affected by flood insurance next year, as the National Flood Insurance Program will no longer be able to support the current subsides to new homeowners in flood areas.  If you are planning on moving into or out of a flood area, you will need to disclose or investigate your coverage.  See below on the Senator’s response to my request to continue to assistance in flood insurance.  


Dear Kristen:


Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns regarding rate increases for flood insurance coverage.  I appreciate the time you took to write, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.


The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), begun in 1968, currently provides 5.6 million American homeowners with flood insurance.  However, after Hurricane Katrina and several other major hurricanes, the NFIP was $18 billion in debt.  In an effort to strengthen the long-term financial stability of the NFIP and to reduce its reliance on emergency funding after major floods, especially given current fiscal challenges, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-141) required significant reforms of the program in order to ensure that flood insurance rates more accurately reflect the real risk of flooding.


As you may know, 20 percent of NFIP policyholders currently pay subsidized rates that do not reflect the expected average claims payment that would be incurred by NFIP after a flood.  Under P.L. 112-141, many of these subsidies will be phased out for a range of policies, including those on non-primary residences and on properties that have previously experienced severe or repeated flooding.  As a result, premiums on these policies will increase by 25 percent annually until they reflect the true risk of the policy.


However, subsidies are not being phased out for owners of primary residences in designated Special Flood Hazard Areas unless or until the property is sold; the current policy lapses; the property suffers severe repeated flood losses; or a new policy is purchased.  Should any of these situations occur, premiums will immediately rise to the full risk rates.


Beginning in late-2014, grandfathered rates will be phased out as communities adopt new Flood Insurance Rate Maps that delineate Special Flood Hazard Areas, Base Flood Elevations, and applicable risk premium zones.  For these policies, premiums will rise 20 percent annually until they reflect the true risk of the policy.


I understand that you have concerns regarding the rate increases mandated by P.L. 112-141.  In order to lower your individual premiums, I recommend that you discuss options with your insurance agent.  Moreover, community-wide mitigation projects will help lower premiums for all residents in your community.


Please be assured that I have carefully noted your concerns regarding P.L. 112-141, and I will keep your thoughts in mind should the Senate discuss any changes to the law or debate any relevant legislation.


Once again, thank you for writing, and I hope that you will continue to keep me informed about issues of importance to you. Should you have any further comments or questions, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841, or visit my website at Best regards.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator