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When you are selling your home, the title company may ask you to fill out a form called the “Statement of Identity.” This form asks for a tremendous amount of personal information. It will ask about your past residences, past employment, and even past marriages, children, etc. going back 5-10 years. This isn’t required on every transaction, so you may not have seen it before.


Why is the title company asking for all this personal information? This is to help the escrow close smoothly if a tax lien, child support, or other lien shows up for someone with a name like yours. The title company can use this document to show that this lien does not pertain to you and clear it from your file. If a lien does show up, and you refuse to fill out this form, the title company may decline to handle the transaction unless that lien is paid.


If you are wondering why they don’t just compare your social security number, they often don’t have that information. Many liens are recorded against a name and address only, and sometimes not even an address. For example, let’s say 5 years ago you were moving out of your old residence, and wrote a check to a carpet cleaner, who took several months to cash your check. By then you had closed out that bank account. If they don’t have your new address, they could file a small claims case against you that you would never know about.


The Statement of Identity form becomes critically important for people with common names, because there is a greater likelihood of incorrect liens showing up against your name. If you have a common name and you frequently buy and sell homes, it would be wise to fill this form out once, then keep a copy for future reference.




Water-conserving plumbing fixtures have been required in new home construction for several years. So if you bought your home recently, you can ignore this article. But if your home is built prior to 1994, there is a new requirement you need to be aware of, whether you are selling your home or not.


Effective Jan 1, 2017, owners of single-family homes in California that are built prior to 1994 will be required to install water-conserving plumbing fixtures. Please note that this is NOT a function of selling a home (what we call a “point-of-sale requirement”).


Here are the fixtures in question that will need to be replaced: Toilets that use more than 1.6 gal per flush, urinals that use more than 1 gal per flush, showerheads that have flow capacity more than 2.5 gal per minute and any interior faucet that emits more than 2.2 gal per minute. [You are not allowed to just put a brick in your toilet or otherwise adjust your existing toilet, even if the end result saves the same amount of water.]


If you are selling or buying a home, this is something to be aware of, although as I said above, it’s not technically required to be done when you sell a home. But the seller now has a duty to disclose if their plumbing fixtures comply with this law, and the buyer may very well ask the seller to correct the situation during their investigation of the property as a requirement before they will remove their contingency.


This will be very similar to the carbon monoxide detector requirement that passed a few years ago, meaning it’s required to do, but most people won’t be aware of it until they sell their home, or apply for a permit to do some work on their home.




Medium and high-end hotel management companies spend a LOT of time and effort to make their rooms look appealing as possible when you walk in the door. Especially if the rooms are on the smallish side. Here are some tips you can borrow from them if you are putting your home on the market.

Coordination is key – Did you ever notice how the décor in hotel rooms coordinate? Pillows and bedsheets match and towels match in the bathroom. Make sure the patterns complement each other and use multiple textures to create a “layered” look.

Luxury linens – Sometimes you’ll walk into an otherwise dumpy hotel room, but the linens on the bed and in the bath are very high-end, which sets the tone for the whole room.

Concentrate on lighting – Good hotels do a really good job of lighting their rooms. They often layer with overhead, ambient and desk lighting to multiple sources of light.

Accentuate the positive – If you have a view, or a pool, make sure it’s easy to get to and to see. Put colorful drapes around view windows to draw buyer’s eyes. Make sure your pool area is clean and de-cluttered so buyers can see themselves there enjoying the pool. Set out a table and chairs with some plastic glasses. If you have a home office or library, put a nice book out, open with a desk light on so buyers visualize themselves there.

Clean, clean, clean – And then of course, a good hotel company puts a great deal of effort into keeping their rooms looking and smelling fresh and clean. If your furnishings are otherwise old and dated and you can’t afford new ones, just make sure everything is as CLEAN as possible!



Recently I told you about how an appraisal is “done.” I explained that when the appraiser visits your home, that is just the inspection, not the actual appraisal itself. So does this mean that it doesn’t matter how your home looks when the appraiser comes? Not at all! Appraisers are human, just like the rest of us, and they will put a higher value on a home that shows well and is very clean.


An appraiser will make the same assumptions that a buyer will. For instance, if they see evidence of deferred maintenance like stains in your carpet and overgrown landscaping, they will assume that you’ve let other parts of your home go, too. This will impact how the appraiser will describe your home in their appraisal report. If you are already at the top of the range for sold homes with your square footage, it will be a big help if the appraiser can mark your home as being in “superior” condition when compared to the other sold properties.


I listed and sold a home recently that was the highest sale for that neighborhood over the past few years by quite a bit. The challenge I had was that the home had no real upgrades to speak of–no granite slab, no cherry cabinets, etc. What I had going for me is that the sellers had maintained the home to the point that it still looked like a brand-new home, even though it was over 10 years old. I was able to point this out to the appraiser and that became a big factor in the report to help the value to come in at the purchase price.


So, yes, that means put away your laundry and dirty dishes when the appraiser comes!

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