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SnakeBite Dos

Snakebit DosWhen ’scouting vacant land’ and you are bitten by a rattler, the key is to act fast in order to provide the best treatment and reduce the risk of venom reaching other parts of your body.

Call for help: Quickly make a 9-1-1 call or arrange for someone to take you to the emergency room.

Keep calm: While it is important for the person helping you remain calm, it’s even more important than you avoid getting frantic and panicky. If your heart starts to beat faster, this could increase the rate at which the venom will spread through your body.

Wash the bite: Use soap and water to throughly clean the site of the snakebite. This will wash away any venom left on your skin and reduce the risk of infection. If you have a snakebite kit with you, now is the time to get it out and follow the instructions provided.

Remove clothes and jewelry: It’s important to remove any tight fitting clothing or jewelry around the snakebite. This could restrict blood flow to certain body parts if swelling should develop around the bitten area. Items like rings and watches, which are usually fitted snugly to the skin, must be removed as soon as possible.

Immobilize the area: Keep the area as still as possible. If you can, make sure that the bitten area is kept at level that is lower than your heart. This restricts blood flow and keeps the venom from spreading quickly.

Apply a bandage: Wrap the area that is a few inches above the snakebite and not the bitten area itself. This will also help slow down the venom. Be sure the bandage is not too tight – you should be able to slip your finger under it.

Monitor vital signs: Watch for significant changes in your pulse rate and or breathing patterns, and be sure to report these symptoms to medical help.

I have been a realtor and a real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for more than 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers, brokering vacant land through the Great Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales@westsideland (dot) com and information from westsideland.com.

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Land Insurance for Vacant Lots

Are you covered risk insurance warning signYou may be leaving your vacant lot undeveloped for a number of reasons. No matter what your vacant land is used for, you might want to consider insuring it against certain risks. If you need land insurance and are not sure where to start, contact your your own insurance agent. Your agent can help you compare quotes from multiple insurance companies and gather the information you need to make an informed decision about land insurance.

The Basics of Vacant Land Insurance

If you own your property outright, you are not required by law to buy land insurance; however, in the event of a lawsuit this coverage will be essential.

If your property is financed, your lender may require land insurance.

Vacant land cannot have any existing structures.

Land Insurance is important if your land is used for sport.

What is Land Insurance?

Land insurance is a form of property coverage that will cover a claim of bodily injury or property damage if someone has an accident on your property and you are found to be at fault. If someone files a lawsuit against you, it will also help to cover your legal fees. While it cannot cover any damage that happens to your land, it will protect you financially if others are ever on your property. To decide whether this type of insurance is important to you, consider your risks and talk with a knowledgeable insurance agent.

The easiest way to add land insurance is through your homeowner’s policy. If you own a home, you can typically extend your liability coverage to include your vacant land. If you have an umbrella liability policy, be sure to add your vacant land to that policy as well, and update your liability if needed. If you do not have a homeowner’s policy, you can purchase a separate vacant land insurance policy through and independent insurer. There is typically no deductible on these policies and the premiums are affordable. Plus, you will have peace of mind that no matter what happens on your land, your assets are covered.

What Vacant Land Insurance Does Not Cover

If you have any kind of structure on your land, even if it is temporary, your land is no longer considered “vacant” and will not be covered by vacant land insurance. If you decide to start constructing a building on your formerly vacant land, the land insurance will be void for that structure. You will need to purchase additional property insurance to cover any outbuildings or dwellings. Even if you have an old dilapidated structure on your property that has been empty for many years, your land is not considered vacant property. And if someone is injured inside an abandoned building on your property, your land insurance will not cover it. Ask your insurance agent how to protect yourself against claims that are related to abandoned buildings.

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for more than 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers, brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales@westsideland (dot) com and information from westsideland.com

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How to Avoid Under-Budgeting New Construction or a Remodel

How to Avoid Under-Budgeting New Construction or a RemodelGiven that there are always unforeseen costs associated with building a new home and or remodeling an existing home, it is often difficult to determine exactly how much the project will actually cost. Here are my thoughts on how to avoid the trap of under-budgeting your project:
 
 

Create a Detailed List:

You should create a list outlining all the items you would like to incorporate into the proposed construction. Make sure that the Architect/Engineer includes all the items you want in your plans. Note: Be realistic about whether your budget will allow all your items and prioritize what is most important to you,

Have a detailed Architectural Plan:

The more details and specifications your plans have from the beginning, the less likely you will face surprise expenses during construction. Note: Finishes, materials, brands, colors – in selecting all these elements before construction will help you estimate the actual cost of your project.

Choose the Right Contractor:

You should get at least 3 contractor references because It is very important to find a contractor with a good reputation. Note: Always make sure to see the contractor’s work and to check their references.

Get Itemized Bids:

Give your plans to each contractor along with the project description and specific product lists. Request an itemized bid, then compare the bids to see which one is the most comprehensive, honest and competitive. Note: Be careful of the lowest bids as low bidders might not have included all of your specifications and may come back with expensive change orders during the construction process.

Contingency and Value Engineering:

Make sure to incorporate at least 10% – 20% contingency to the bid. If the total cost is still in your budget, then you are on the right track. If not, you may want to review the proposed scope of work and trim back where needed to a price that you are comfortable with. Note: You can substitute expensive finishes for others with the same look which are more cost-effective to lower the total budget cost.

I have been a realtor and a real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for more than 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers, brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (@) westsideland (dot) com and information from westsideland.com

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HOW TO FIRE-HARDEN YOUR HOME

Fire Harden Your Home

Did you know embers are the most dangerous part of a wildfire? Carried by wind, they can land directly on your house and ignite it, even when the full blaze seems to be a safe distance away. That means when it comes to fire safety, you have to consider every inch of your house as a potential vulnerability. But there are steps you can take to protect your home to be sure each and every part of the home is “hardened” in preparation.

First, Address These Vulnerabilities:

  1. Consider re-roofing a roof built with shingles or wood. Use materials with a Class A fire rating, like composition shingles, tile, steel or tin.
  2. Inspect for and cover up gaps in the roof to prevent falling embers from entering the house. Houses can burn from the inside out.
  3. Cover up any open vents, including chimneys, with 1/8” mesh to keep out falling embers. Move any combustible items away from the vents, both inside and out.

Stay On Top Of Ongoing Maintenance:

  1. Regularly clean out rain gutters.
  2. Remove dead plants or dry leaves from the property and regularly trim trees that come close to the house.
  3. Clean outdoor decks to remove leaves that get trapped between deck boards.
  4. Check fire extinguishers annually to be sure they have not expired.
  5. Non-residential buildings and temporary structures are not eligible for home sharing: that includes vehicles parked on the property as well as storage
    sheds, trailers, yurts, and tents.

I have been a realtor and a real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for more than 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers, brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (@) westsideland (dot) com and information from westsideland.com

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Los Angeles New AirBnb Rules

“rules defend from chaos and whim”

New home-sharing regulations are in place for the City of Los Angeles today, changing the ways hosts from AirBnb and other rental platforms can book vacation stays and short term rentals. Starting today, hosts must register and pay a $89 fee to the city. Hosts can only register one property with the city at a time and the property must be their primary residence (where they live at least six months out of the year) Rentals are limited to a 120-day annual cap, and rent-stabilized units are no longer allowed to be used for home sharing-even if the host owns the unit. Enforcement of the regulations begin on November 1st, 2019.

Here is what hosts need to know:

  • Hosts must register with the city planning department and pay a $89 fee. According to the city planning department, enforcement will begin November
    1st, 2019.
  • Only the host’s primary residence can be rented out, defined as the place where a host lives for at least six months per year.
  • Renters cannot home-share without prior written approval of their landlord.
  • Stabilized (aka “rent-controlled”) units are not eligible for home-sharing, even if you own, your own RSO unit.
  • Hosts may not register for or operate more than one home-sharing rental unit at a time in the city.
  • Hosts cannot home-share for more than 120 days in a calendar year, unless they have registered with the city for “extended home-sharing”
  • The “extended home-sharing” option allows hosts to rent out residences for an unlimited number of days. To get approval for the city, hosts have to pay a
    $850 fee. To qualify, they need to be registered with the city for at least six months or hosted for at least 60 days. Hosts who have received a citation in
    the past 3 years will be disqualified, unless they pay a $5,660 fee to have their case reviewed.
  • Non-residential buildings and temporary structures are not eligible for home sharing: that includes vehicles parked on the property as well as storage
    sheds, trailers, yurts, and tents.
  • Hosts are responsible for providing Code of Conduct to all guests with rules about amplified sounds and “evening outdoor congregations”

For additional information, you can contact: Home-Sharing Unit, Department of City Planning – Development Services Center 201 N. Figueroa Street, 5th Floor Los Angeles CA 90012. Tel # 213-202-5464.

I have been a realtor and a real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for more than 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers, brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (@)westsideland (dot) com and information from westsideland (dot) com.

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Vacant Land Loans

US Bank finances vacant lot purchasesUS Bank offers a unique 30 year loan program for financing vacant lot loan purchases for buyers to as much as $5 million. Buying vacant land does not necessarily require a highly affluent profile, we can offer vacant lot financing currently to $750,000. While our pricing is comparable for any buyers, we now include a 30 year adjustable mortgage program with 3 years of fixed payments. There are no prepayment penalties currently required.

It can be helpful to note when buying a vacant lot to work with a knowledgeable real estate professional, who will know questions to ask in advance and address specifics whether an available lot has concerns including access to utilities and sewer services. For example: some lots may require a ‘Perc test’ to accurately determine if they can handle a septic system? This information is useful to get established clearly with your agent’s help prior of going into escrow. As a lender, it is a requirement also for closing a new lot loan request.

Buying vacant lots today may offer an excellent value and includes many advantages in building exactly what is desired for an owners’ lifestyle. Buying a ‘clean slate’ lot can save numerous issues dealing with costly retrofits and serial remodels to adjust for limited trade-offs in purchasing a mostly depreciated or ‘fixer’ home.

Please feel free to email me with any questions at rod.kuhns@usbank (dot) com.

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New Residential Ordinance 2017

“less is more”

land-in-losangeles-residential-ordinance-2017In 2014 the Los Angeles City Council instructed the Los Angeles Department of City Planning to prepare and present an Ordinance to amend the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (2008) and the Baseline Hillside Ordinance (2011) in order to “stabilize the conflict” of out-of-scale homes that continued to grow rapidly in Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Effective March 17, 2017 pursuant to a new Ordinance Number: 184,802 the provisions governing development of single-family (RA,RE,RS R11) residential zoned properties citywide, are now modified to establish new regulations regarding the size and bulk of new and or enlarged homes, and to further regulate grading and earth import/export in designated Hillside areas.

Although more restrictive than the ordinances passed in 2008 and 2011respectively, Buyers of Residential Properties in the City of Los Angeles whether it be vacant land or a house, need no longer be concerned as to what they can or cannot build on their property as the New Ordinance (#184, 802) is now settled law.

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for more than 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers, brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (@) westsideland (dot) com and information from www.westsideland.com.

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What Is Your Vacant Lot Really Worth?

a reality check list”

Welcome To Reality - What Is Your Vacant Lot Really Worth?

Land owners are not altogether surprised at the general price range their land might sell at. However some hope or expect to hear a higher value than what an objective analysis concludes.

 

The market value of your land is not:

  • What you have in it
  • What you need out of it
  • What other properties are listed at
  • What the tax assessor says it is worth
  • Or the highest list price suggested by one of the agents that you are interviewing

The true market value of your land is what a Buyer is willing to pay:

  • Based on location
  • Based on today’s market
  • Based on today’s financing
  • Based on today’s competition
  • Based on today’s economic conditions
  • Based on how long it has been active on the market

Land that will sell are those that:

  • Have easy access
  • Are well and thoroughly marketed
  • Are perceived as a good investment
  • Have Soils Reports, Topography and Surveys – this is a plus.
  • Are value priced and properly prepared at the start of marketing

As a final reminder to the Seller:

  • You cannot control value
  • You can control the price you ask
  • You can control access to the property
  • You can control the condition of the property
  • You cannot control the motivation of your competition
  • You cannot control market conditions, including Buyer financing, appraisals, et.al.

Note* Land owners can have the will to sell (but that is not always enough), Land owners have to be prepared to sell.

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for more than 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers, brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales(@ )westsideland (dot) com and information from www.westsideland.com

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Know Your Dirt

Site Consultation for Developing Raw Land: Before purchasing land it is always smart to find out what you are getting yourself into. Would you buy a car you have never heard of without doing some research first? Probably not. With that in mind, it is usually a good idea to ‘kick the tires’ so-to-speak, when considering a vacant land purchase. But, unlike buying a car, where you can read consumer reviews and such online, information on a given piece of land may not be readily available. Additionally there are other factors to consider when doing your research. You may ask yourself: What are my goals? What do I want from this investment? Can this particular piece of vacant land be used to obtain my goals?

Many of the answers you may be able to find yourself, by simply having a defined sense of purpose. But the big answers will likely be elusive, like whether or not you can build what you want within the constraints of the property. Professional consultants are extremely helpful in this area.

A professional consultant can help you to make an educated decision when purchasing vacant land. Professional consultation is not free. But considering what it can save you in the long run, it is always a wise investment. Many people often brush aside consultation until it is required for the design and building process. You may spend plenty of money on design, not to mention the land itself, only to find out later that you have soil conditions on site that will prevent you from building what you actually want. The money lost at that stage can be tenfold the cost of an initial site consultation. Soils Engineers and Geologist are consultants who are very helpful when considering the purchase of vacant land.

Let’s start by understanding a few key definitions. Given the nature of the planet upon which which we live, our structures are placed upon foundations, which are supported by the earth. The earth, simplified, can be considered as soil or rock and or a combination of the two.

The application of the knowledge obtained from the study of soil and rock, along with the application of engineering principles in solving problems dealing with soil, is generally known as ‘Soil Engineering’. The term ‘Soil Engineering’ will often be used synonymously with the term ‘Geotechnical Engineering’ or ‘Soil Mechanics’. A Soil Engineer is a licensed engineer tasked with the evaluation of soil, rock, or other earth materials for the purpose of determining design parameters for a structure. A Soil Engineer is the individual who prepares a Soil Report, also commonly referred to as a Geotechnical Report. A Soil Report can be simply a basic background and preliminary report on a property, such as whether or not the site is buildable considering the condition of the earth materials present. It can also be a complete and inclusive design report providing all of the recommendations for a given project.

Often working together with the Soil Engineer will be a Geologist. Geology is the study of the physical material of the earth. A Geologist provides important information, and plays a definitive role in predicting and understanding natural hazards that may exist on, or beneath a plot of land. A Geologist typically develops a report separate, or in conjunction with the Soil Engineer, commonly referred to as a Geology Report. The information provided within the report plays an essential role in the formulation of design recommendations by the Soil Engineer. For example, a Geology Report may identify a potential landslide on a property based on certain historic data and current soil and rock conditions. The Soil Engineer can then apply that knowledge to develop design recommendations to repair the landslide, or avoid it altogether.

Now back to the goal. Most individuals who purchase vacant land want to build something on it, for example a house. With that in mind, now comes the difficult part. Finding vacant land that fits the Buyer’s needs. The real estate agent will handle that. Afterwards, the process should progress as follows:

Selection
The Buyer has found the perfect piece of land. But is it? He/she has an idea of what they want to build, a house. Let’s say it should be 5,000 square foot modern design. Prior to retaining the services of an architect, find out if the land is buildable. At this stage the Buyer would want to consult with the Soil Engineer and Geologist. The information and recommendation from the Soil Engineer and Geologist can help the Buyer determine if the land is buildable, safe, what should be avoided, and why. If it looks bad, or there is uncertainty, resume your vacant land search. Keep in mind though, that this is a general case, and that even a clean bill of health from the consultants does not mean anything will work on the site. A long way is still to go.

During escrow, and after one has an idea of the soil conditions on site, one may want to consider preliminary design. Now would be a good time to retain an architect for preliminary concepts. The architect can work with the consultant’s recommendations to put together ideas that meet what the Buyer wants. Additionally, the architect can put together some rough concepts to present to the local design review board, or homeowner’s association (if there is one), to get an idea of the feasibility of the project. if what is desired does not work on the selected property, one can still resume the land search.

Purchase
Now that the land has been purchased, the real work begins. At this stage one should have a more confident approach for achieving one’s design goals.

Design
Design will likely involve different professionals: the architect, structural engineer, Soil Engineer and Geologist. The design will have to be approved by outside entities, both government and citizen. Government entities would consist of the local Building and Safety officials, planning officials, utility providers, and in some cases, environmental health. Citizen entities would be the design review board or association in the respective neighborhood where the land is located. The design may have to be modified to comply with the requirements of such entities.

Additional input, in the form of calculations and design recommendations specific to architect’s plans, should be expected from the Soil Engineer and Geologist. The additional input is required because during the preliminary land selection process, the consultants only had a general idea of what was proposed. Now that the architect has a more exact design, Building and Safety requires consulting engineers to provide design recommendations specific to the architect’s plans.

The design stage can consume a lot of time and resources. It should be planned for accordingly. In some localities, the design process can proceed quite quickly. In others, it can be drawn out due to the various government agencies that have to grant approval.

This is the stage where the initial site consultation pays off. Can you imagine if this stage was reached, an considerable time and money were expended, only to discover that there are poor soil conditions on site, or, worse, a landslide that makes the site unbuildable?

Build
Once the design is completed, and the appropriate building permits and approvals have been obtained, one can commence building. During the building process, the Architect, Structural Engineer, and Soil Engineer will be involved to monitor progress, and to ensure compliance with the approved design recommendations.

Enjoy
Once the building is complete, the Buyer can move into the home and enjoy, or sell it and reap the well deserved benefits. So as can be seen, the process involves more than just buying vacant land because it has great curb appeal and a view. Just because it has a view, great curb appeal, or is in a great location, does not mean that something can be built on it. When a Buyer finds a piece of suitable vacant land, consider the above, and by all means, consult a Soil Engineer and Geologist.

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for the past 15 years, creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers by brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (at) westsideland (dot) com and information can be obtained from www.westsideland.com

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Buy it – Build it – Live it

What is so exciting about buying land and building one’s own house, is that the Buyer of the land gets to build and live in their dream house and not somebody else’s house that forces the Buyer to compromise his or her dream.

But in pursuing this dream, Buyers must understand that all land is not created equal. In terms of geology, history, views, curb appeal, location and current and potential value, even similar pieces of land can look very, very different on paper. Whether the Buyer is shopping for a piece of land for a house, a ranch, a multi-unit complex or a new housing development, it is critical to understand that a piece of land is not just a piece of land. Equally, marketing vacant land is not the same as marketing homes for sale. The audience is different, the media is different, and the approach is different.

If the Buyer is not paying all cash, then financial pre-approval can make the difference between getting the land the Buyer wants and losing it to another Buyer. Pre-approval gives the Buyer a very clear picture of their financial readiness; it allows them to preview land in a realistic price range and make an offer confidently when they find a desirable and vacant lot. It will also allow the real estate agent to negotiate on their behalf from a position of strength.

Real Estate law is extensive and complex. The Land Purchase Contract is a legal and binding document. An improperly written Land Purchase Contract, may cause the sale to fall through, cost the Buyer dollars, time, unnecessary headaches and in a worst case scenario, a lawsuit. It is important that the Buyer and their real estate agent fully understand the Land Purchase Contract and the process that they are agreeing to and signing off on, so as to conclude the land sale transaction in a smooth and timely fashion.

Buying land is an educational process and the Buyer must participate fully in this process. The main roles of the real estate agent are to co-ordinate with and provide access to the land, for both Buyer and the Buyer’s hired professionals, i.e. geologist, soils engineer, civil engineer, surveyor, architect and general contractor, amongst others, so as to complete their due diligence and provide written reports for the Buyer so that a informed and educated decision can be made by the Buyer before deciding to purchase the vacant lot.

This is a rare time in our Real Estate history where vacant land is so well priced, thereby creating incredible opportunities for people who wish to buy a vacant lot, build a home that they desire or simply ‘cure’ the lot and hold on to it for a future sale. Buying land and building a new home, like anything else, is a process or better still a road map – to when the Buyer first walks onto that vacant lot until they turn the key in the front door of their brand new dream home. The land buying process seems daunting at first but supported by the ‘right team’ so-to-speak, will bring rich rewards at the end of this process.

With so many fabulous new and interesting building concepts nowadays, on how to be creative, build smart and efficiently and with state of the art technology, now is the time to buy land and Just Build it!

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for the past 15 years, creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers by brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (at) westsideland (dot) com and information can be obtained from www.westsideland.com

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