Soft Story Seismic Retrofitting

Soft Story Seismic Retrofitting in Los Angeles & Surrounds

Authors: 04/08/2018, Gordon Myers and Nikhil Choudhary

From past earthquakes, multi-story buildings with weak and/or open front wall lines creating a “soft-story” performed poorly and collapsed. The goal of the mandatory retrofit program, under Ordinance 183893 and Ordinance 184081, is to reduce structural deficiencies by the most economical and feasible method.

Buildings that are most vulnerable have been identified with the following criteria:

Consist of 2 or more stories wood frame construction
Built under building code standards enacted before January 1, 1978 Contains ground floor parking or another similar open floor space

The program does not apply to residential buildings with 3 or less units. Each property owner of these buildings will be sent an order to comply.

Before you think about what to do, consider creating the best possible experience by knowing which questions to ask under any circumstances. One new fact learnt can change the whole outcome.

The objective is to avoid a potential waste of time and money by sound preparation and surrounding oneself with “the right people at the right time!”

How do I know if I have a soft story?

Letters were mailed by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (see chart below) to owners considered to be a “soft story” buildings.     Click here to read the full report.


Posted on May 2, 2018 at 1:23 am
Gordon Myers | Posted in CA EARTHQUAKES |

New Way to Shop for A Home

BRIEF HISTORY 

In 1937 under one of many initiatives set forth by the Roosevelt administration, The Housing Act of 1937 unwittingly created the most robust housing system in the world. Even withstanding the Great Economic Recession of 2007 (albeit publicly funded). This Act is the Great Grandfather of our lending environment today. Why the history? Simple; if you understand (as a consumer) the nature of the loan process you can educate yourself to use the loan process and its features to make stronger offers without offering more money. The most significant tool you that have as a buyer is to show a seller you can close fast and reliably, regardless of the loan.

LOCK and SHOP

For example, at Skyline Home Loans (a federally regulated Mortgage Bank (NMLS# 12072), you can have your loan approved before you make an offer. You can come in with a NO Loan Contingency Offer.

The spirit of LOCK and SHOP is to help you as a buyer compete with All- Cash Buyers and to eliminate similarly priced offers that have a loan contingency. By getting your loan approved ahead of time you eliminate the stress and disappointment that comes with losing the house you really want. You also save money by closing faster and locking in your rate for up to 60 days, ensuring that you avoid any rate hikes.


Posted on March 22, 2018 at 4:45 pm
Gordon Myers | Posted in Uncategorized |

Banking bill clears Senate, could make mortgages easier to get at local banks

The Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that aims to ease banking regulations, potentially making it easier for consumers to get a mortgage from a community bank or credit union.

With some bipartisan support, lawmakers’ approval of S. 2155 was expected. The bill rolls back various banking regulations put in place via the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 following the mortgage crisis that roiled the U.S. economy a decade ago.

In simple terms, one of the Senate bill’s provisions would let smaller institutions — those with up to $10 billion in assets — offer mortgages that are not subject to some of the strictest federal underwriting requirements, as long as they meet certain other conditions.

“Where it likely will make a bigger difference is in rural areas, where big lenders don’t necessarily operate,” said Richard Andreano, a partner with law firm Ballard Spahr in Washington and head of its mortgage banking group. “It can be harder to get a mortgage in those places.”

“This opens up a window for the return of some of the reckless financial practices that caused the crisis,” said Yana Miles, senior legislative counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending.

Part of the problem with the mortgage crisis, however, was that some lenders sold mortgages with little or no effort to ensure the borrower could actually afford the loan. And once that loan was resold on the secondary market to investors, the originator no longer retained the risk.

To banking industry insiders, the bill’s requirement for the bank to hold onto the loan will help prevent the type of abuse that consumer advocates fear.

“If they hold on to … the credit risk, they probably underwrote the loan very carefully.”-Joe Pigg, Senior vice president of mortgage finance, the American Bankers Association

“The bank will have done its due diligence. They are the one holding the loan and it will directly impact their bottom line,” said Joe Pigg, senior vice president of mortgage finance for the American Bankers Association. “If they hold on to … the credit risk, they probably underwrote the loan very carefully.”


Posted on March 19, 2018 at 5:04 pm
Gordon Myers | Posted in Uncategorized |

Read about President Trump’s Boldest Move Yet: Implementing Tariffs on Steel Aluminum (25%) & Steel (10%)

Source: Census Bureau | By The New York Times

Trump to Impose Sweeping Steel and Aluminum Tariffs By 

In a hastily arranged meeting with industry executives that stunned many inside the West Wing, Mr. Trump said he would formally sign the trade measures next week and promised they would be in effect “for a long period of time.” The action, which came against the wishes of Mr. Trump’s pro-trade advisers, would impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, effectively placing a tax on every foreign shipment of those metals into the United States.

Stocks fell in response to the potential tariffs, with declines in the industrial sector outpacing the overall market. The Standard & Poor’s 500 industrial sector was down 1.9 percent, compared with a decline of about 1.3 percent in the overall benchmark index. Shares of American automakers, all large consumers of steel and aluminum, declined, as did shares of Boeing, a large exporter that could be hurt if other nations retaliate against United States tariffs.

mposing tough sanctions would fulfill the president’s promises but could tip off trade wars around the world as other countries seek to retaliate against the United States. Foreign governments, multinational companies and the Pentagon have continued to push against broad tariffs, arguing that the measures could disrupt economic and security ties.

Brazil, Canada, Germany, Mexico and South Korea were the largest suppliers of steel to the United States in 2017, while Canada, Russia and the United Arab Emirates shipped the largest share of aluminum imports in 2016.


Posted on March 12, 2018 at 3:41 pm
Gordon Myers | Posted in Uncategorized |

Mortgage applications stall, along with interest rates

Mortgage applications stall, along with interest rates

  • Total mortgage application volume was essentially flat last week, up just 0.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
  • Volume was 5 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

The start of the spring housing market has yet to energize the mortgage market, the latest numbers from the Mortgage Bankers Association show.

Total mortgage application volume was essentially flat last week, up just 0.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the MBA. Volume was 5 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

Mortgage applications to purchase a home also did not increase as much as one might expect, given that President’s Day weekend was the unofficial start of the usually busy spring market. Volume fell 1 percent for the week and was just 1 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

“The average loan amount on purchase applications, at $320,100, was the highest since November 2017, as supply constraints likely continued to weigh down lower dollar purchase transactions,” MBA economist Joel Kan said.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($453,100 or less) increased slightly, but hit its highest level since January 2014 — 4.65 percent, from 4.64 percent. Points decreased to 0.58 from 0.63 — including the origination fee — for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans.

“Rates inched higher overall last week driven by market concerns over potential U.S. trade tariffs, and Fed Chairman [Jerome] Powell’s testimony outlining stronger economic growth and higher expected inflation in the near future,” Kan said.

But without a major move in rates, applications to refinance a home loan, which are most rate-sensitive, didn’t move either. They were unchanged from the previous week and down 13 percent from a year ago, when rates were lower.

Homebuyers today are less worried about mortgage rates than they are about the supply crisis, especially for entry-level, less expensive homes. Low inventory across the nation continues to push home prices higher at a fast clip. Property values were 6.6 percent higher in January from a year ago, according to property data firm CoreLogic.

“Entry-level homes have been in particularly short supply, leading to more rapid home-price growth compared with more expensive homes,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic.

Homes with purchase prices that are less than 75 percent of the local area median had price growth of 9 percent during 2017, he said.


Posted on March 7, 2018 at 8:13 pm
Gordon Myers | Posted in Uncategorized |

Why You Are Losing 10 IQ Points Every Time This Happens

Amantha Imber – CEO of Inventium
Despite the willpower you demonstrated in not giving in to the temptation of constant notifications, you would have done as good a job on the report if you had missed a night’s sleep. And you would have done marginally better on the report than if you had been smoking marijuana at your desk while writing.
Research from the University of London has shown that when we are bombarded with distractions and notifications, such as incoming emails and calls, we lose on average 10 IQ points. And this is if we don’t give in to them and keep on working.
If you would like to maintain your current IQ score while working, and not be a victim to it dropping, follow these three strategies.

1. Switch your phone to airplane mode (even when you are not on a plane).

The easiest way to avoid distractions is to remove them altogether. By putting your phone in airplane mode, you eliminate any vibrating, beeping or lighting up that may occur. Yes, you may miss a hilariously entertaining cat video, but you’ll do a better job on whatever task you are currently trying to focus on.

2. Turn off notifications on all devices.

Once you have switched your phone to airplane mode, turn off notifications on all other devices. This includes your computer, laptop, tablet and smart watch. It’s important to not forget any single device, as this could be your downfall.

3. Turn your phone to gray.

You might have noticed how bright and exciting apps and notifications look on a smart phone. They use bright colors to get our attention — not dissimilar to slot machines in Las Vegas. To reduce distractions, switch your phone to grayscale. You can check out this amusing video from The Atlantic about why you need to do this and how to make it happen. As senior editor James Hamblin says, “Instagram, when everything is in grayscale, looks pretty awful


Posted on March 7, 2018 at 6:44 pm
Gordon Myers | Posted in Uncategorized |

Interest on Home Equity Loans Often Still Deductible Under New Law

IR-2018-32, Feb. 21, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today advised taxpayers that in many cases they can continue to deduct interest paid on home equity loans.

Responding to many questions received from taxpayers and tax professionals, the IRS said that despite newly-enacted restrictions on home mortgages, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC) or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labelled. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, enacted Dec. 22, suspends from 2018 until 2026 the deduction for interest paid on home equity loans and lines of credit, unless they are used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan.

Under the new law, for example, interest on a home equity loan used to build an addition to an existing home is typically deductible, while interest on the same loan used to pay personal living expenses, such as credit card debts, is not. As under prior law, the loan must be secured by the taxpayer’s main home or second home (known as a qualified residence), not exceed the cost of the home and meet other requirements.

New dollar limit on total qualified residence loan balance

For anyone considering taking out a mortgage, the new law imposes a lower dollar limit on mortgages qualifying for the home mortgage interest deduction. Beginning in 2018, taxpayers may only deduct interest on $750,000 of qualified residence loans. The limit is $375,000 for a married taxpayer filing a separate return. These are down from the prior limits of $1 million, or $500,000 for a married taxpayer filing a separate return.  The limits apply to the combined amount of loans used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s main home and second home.

The following examples illustrate these points.

Example 1: In January 2018, a taxpayer takes out a $500,000 mortgage to purchase a main home with a fair market value of $800,000.  In February 2018, the taxpayer takes out a $250,000 home equity loan to put an addition on the main home. Both loans are secured by the main home and the total does not exceed the cost of the home. Because the total amount of both loans does not exceed $750,000, all of the interest paid on the loans is deductible. However, if the taxpayer used the home equity loan proceeds for personal expenses, such as paying off student loans and credit cards, then the interest on the home equity loan would not be deductible.

Example 2: In January 2018, a taxpayer takes out a $500,000 mortgage to purchase a main home.  The loan is secured by the main home. In February 2018, the taxpayer takes out a $250,000 loan to purchase a vacation home. The loan is secured by the vacation home.  Because the total amount of both mortgages does not exceed $750,000, all of the interest paid on both mortgages is deductible. However, if the taxpayer took out a $250,000 home equity loan on the main home to purchase the vacation home, then the interest on the home equity loan would not be deductible.

Example 3: In January 2018, a taxpayer takes out a $500,000 mortgage to purchase a main home.  The loan is secured by the main home. In February 2018, the taxpayer takes out a $500,000 loan to purchase a vacation home. The loan is secured by the vacation home.  Because the total amount of both mortgages exceeds $750,000, not all of the interest paid on the mortgages is deductible. A percentage of the total interest paid is deductible (see Publication 936).

For more information about the new tax law, visit the Tax Reform page on IRS.gov.


Posted on February 23, 2018 at 10:19 pm
Gordon Myers | Posted in Uncategorized |

Are You Really Ready for the Next Big California Earthquake?

No one can predict when or where it will happen. Video of Napa’s 6.1 quake from 2014 reminds all of us to make preparations now.

Falling debris, power outages, ruptured pipes, and fires are just a few of the catastrophic things that can happen following a large earthquake. How prepared is your family?

Temblors occur on a daily basis in this state. They are a sobering reminder to Californians that large earthquakes could happen at any moment, and we need to be ready to take care of ourselves for several days following a disaster.

October 17, 2014 marked 25 years since the Loma Prieta earthquake struck Northern California. Bay Area residents will never forget the harrowing 6.9 magnitude quake that claimed 63 lives. Those not living in the area witnessed the event on television when the 15-second quake struck at 5:04 p.m. during the airing of the 1989 World Series.

Northern California residents were recently reminded of Loma Prieta when a 6.1 magnitude quake struck American Canyon in the North Bay Area during the early morning hours on Aug. 24, 2014. The devastating quake caused severe damage to buildings, homes, and infrastructure.

Or view more here: Stay Safe: Everything You Need To Know In An Emergency Is Now A Tap Away regarding an awesome app from the Red Cross.

What about your pets? Pets need disaster kits equipped with food, water, and medication.


Posted on February 16, 2018 at 5:58 pm
Gordon Myers | Posted in CA EARTHQUAKES | Tagged

California in Seismic Drought But Big Earthquake Coming, Professor Says

California is long overdue for an earthquake with a magnitude larger than 7 but one will come soon, says a university professor.

CALIFORNIA — California is long overdue for an earthquake with a magnitude larger than 7 but one will come soon, said a Colorado State University professor. Richard Aster, a professor of geophysics, wrote this week that the state has been in an “earthquake drought” for years with the last earthquake greater than a magnitude of 7.0 happening in 1906 in San Francisco.

The so-called drought is more serious than most people realize, Aster wrote for TheConversation.com.

“The earthquake situation in California is actually more dire than people who aren’t seismologists like myself may realize,” Aster wrote. “Multiple segments of the expansive San Andreas Fault system are now sufficiently stressed to produce large and damaging events.”

Aster explained that the San Francisco earthquake, which killed roughly 3,000 people, was the last shake that was more than 7 in magnitude. The result is that “strands of the fault system accumulate stresses that correspond to a seismic slip of millimeters to centimeters.”

“Eventually, these stresses will be released suddenly in earthquakes,” Aster wrote. “Reflecting this deficit, the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast estimates that there is a 93 percent probability of a 7.0 or larger earthquake occurring in the Golden State region by 2045, with the highest probabilities occurring along the San Andreas Fault system.”

Thankfully, California’s government has made headway in improving infrastructure and planning. Those efforts will be tested when the big one hits, Aster wrote.

“As California prepares for large earthquakes after a hiatus of more than a century, the clock is ticking,” Aster wrote.

Here are earthquake preparedness tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Become aware of fire evacuation and earthquake safety plans for all of the buildings you occupy regularly.
  • Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
  • Practice “drop, cover and hold on” in each safe place. If you do not have sturdy furniture to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  • Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed in case the earthquake strikes in the middle of the night.
  • Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation.
  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
  • Bolt bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs.
  • Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures.
  • Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
  • Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin new construction. Keep and maintain an emergency supplies kit in an easy-to-access location.

Posted on February 5, 2018 at 7:57 pm
Gordon Myers | Posted in CA EARTHQUAKES |

Very helpful article to read so you won’t get scammed

FBI and NAR offer 10 ways to guard against real estate cyber scams

Most breaches are due to human error, not inadequate security systems, experts say

Posted on January 30, 2018 at 10:07 pm
Gordon Myers | Posted in Uncategorized |