Q. What are the most common residential property appraisal items requiring repair?
Missing Carbon Monoxide Detectors. The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 requires that carbon monoxide detection devices must be installed in any dwelling unit which will be used for human occupation. For optimum performance, CO Detectors should be placed below knee level on every floor of the home and at least 15 feet away from any fossil burning appliances or the garage to ensure accurate CO gas reads. For more information, click here.
Roof Condition. California state roof regulations require that roofs must not leak or be cause for any moisture to enter into the dwelling. Additionally, California law allows no more than two (2) layers of composition shingles due to excess weight on the structure. Residential roofs must also be able to function properly for an additional two (2) years after the property is sold/purchased. If this is not the case, the property appraiser must indicate if the roof needs repair or replacement.
Missing Earthquake Strapping. If water heaters are not properly braced, they can topple over during an earthquake. Catastrophic damage caused by poor strapping may include broken gas lines and/or gas leaks, broken water lines and/or flooding, and fires which can cause major damage to homes and serious injuries to occupants. Therefore, water heaters in California are required to have double earthquake strapping on the upper and lower thirds of the tank in order to meet earthquake safety standards. (Tankless water heaters are excluded.) Temperature Pressure Relief Valves (TPRV’s) and overflow pipes are also required.
Frayed/Exposed Electrical Wiring. Frayed or exposed electrical wiring issues must be resolved. Most exterior outlets must be fitted with weatherproof covers, and missing light switch or outlet covers must be replaced. Uncovered junction boxes are also susceptible to damage, accidental contact, and can contain exposed, hazardous wires. Therefore, California State regulations require that energized junction boxes must be covered.
Q. What are the requirements for the presence of Kitchen Appliances?
Built-in appliances are considered real property, and are required to be present by the FHA.
Slide-in appliances such as a slide-in refrigerator or stove are considered personal property and are not generally required by the FHA.
Additionally, if a gas appliance is not present, regardless of its location in the dwelling, the gas line must be capped.
Q. What are the laws regarding lighting fixtures and window treatments?
Any items that are permanently affixed or attached to ceilings, floors or walls using nails, screws, cement, glue or bolted to walls and/or ceilings are considered fixtures, and unless excluded in the contract, should be sold as part of the home.
Ceiling fans, chandeliers, canned lights and any other lighting that is wired into the home are considered real property and should be sold as part of the home. This also includes built-in speakers These are considered permanent attachments, and a seller cannot legally remove these items unless excluded in writing.
Curtains and drapes are considered personal property and do not stay with a home. Curtain rods, blinds and shutters, however, are attached and therefore remain with the house. Window coverings are not typically listed as exclusions in the home sale as they are not considered a fixture in real estate but personal property.
Q. If I’m buying a home, should the seller’s real estate agent receive a copy of my lender’s appraisal?
Mortgage lenders order property appraisals on behalf of their borrowers, the home buyers. Home sellers and their agents do not automatically receive copies of an appraisal. However, if a seller wants a copy, he/she should consider asking for one from the buyer’s agent. A lender might require written permission from its borrower before providing the home appraisal to the seller. Keep in mind that a copy of the appraisal will come in handy if the value is unexpectedly low and price negotiation ensues.