A two-year-old, Culver City, California-based startup calledUnited Dwellingaims to tackle the affordable housing problem using data, creativity, and underutilized garages and backyards.
United Dwelling plans to eventually build thousands of Accessory Dwelling Units, which are basically 369-square-foot studio homes. The company said its units benefit homeowners who are looking for ways to supplement their income as well as tenants looking for low-cost housing options.
United Dwelling uses data to identify potential lots that would be suitable for its units. It targets mostly low-and middle-income neighborhoods, with some exceptions for workforce housing. The company at first was going to just remodel garages but discovered quickly it’s much easier to tear down old ones and start fresh. So that’s what it does. It replaces those garages with small, affordable and zero net carbon homes in low-density neighborhoods with no out-of-pocket costs to property owners.
It then sets a rental price for the newly built unit and manages the property on the homeowner’s behalf, keeping a share of the rental income. Upon completion of construction, United Dwelling gives the homeowner the option to buy the unit back from the company for just under $88,000. To keep the costs of construction down, United Dwelling aims to build at least five units within a two-mile radius in the same time frame. Its initial focus is on the Los Angeles region with plans to eventually expand to the Bay Area and other locations once its solidifies its process, according to Dietz.
Specifically, the company plans to build over 150 of its detached studio homes in Southern California in 2020 and over 1,500 in 2021 (assuming construction can continue moving forward as an essential function per Los Angeles COVID-19 policy).
“Affordable housing is one of the most daunting challenges facing California and other parts of the county that is both entirely man-made and completely solvable,” Dietz said. “Here, we can do something that’s incredibly relevant. The opportunity is truly immense. Affordable housing is pretty easy. All you need is inexpensive land and construction, and capital.”
Matthew does a statistical comparison of today vs. 2008 in this video below. Important to note how his stats show how comfortable sellers are today, and I’ll add that even if homeowners lose their job and stop making payments, it would take a year or two before you’d see foreclosures:
Could the coronnavirus get so bad that it triggers the boomer liquidations? Maybe, and if so, the boomer sales would still be spread out over time because homeowners – especially the long-timers – will resist leaving the comforts of home for as long as possible, and they will hope that waiting out the virus will lead to a better market.
There is no reason to transfer your house to your kids – use a family trust instead. If you need dough, then get a reverse mortgage. Hat tip to just some guy!
Adding an adult child to your house deed, or giving them the home outright, might seem like a smart thing to do. It usually isn’t.
Transferring your house to your kids while you’re alive may avoid probate, the court process that otherwise follows death. But gifting a home also can result in a big, unnecessary tax bill and put your house at risk if your kids get sued or file for bankruptcy. You also could be making a big mistake if you hope it will help keep the house from being consumed by nursing home bills.
There are better ways to transfer a house to your kids, as well as a little-known potential fix that may help even if the giver has since died.
WHY YOU SHOULDN’T GIFT A HOUSE
If you bequeath a house to your kids — which means they get it after your death — they also get what’s known as a “step-up in tax basis.” All the appreciation that happened while you owned the house is never taxed.
Certified financial planner Kenneth Robinson of Rocky River, Ohio, says last year he advised a client not to let his mom give him her house. The mother paid $16,000 for her home in 1976, while the current market value is close to $200,000. None of that gain would be taxable if the son inherited the house, Robinson told his client.
The mother signed a quit claim to give her son the house anyway and died shortly afterward. That potentially meant a tax bill of about $32,000 for Robinson’s client.
Families who realize the mistake in time can undo the damage by gifting the house back to the parent, says Jennifer Sawday, a partner at TLD Law in Long Beach, California.
“We do last-minute deeds to get that house back in place when we know someone is dying,” Sawday says.
OTHER REASONS NOT TO GIFT A HOUSE
Sometimes people transfer a home to try to qualify for Medicaid, the government program that pays health care and nursing home bills for the indigent. But gifts or transfers made within five years of applying for Medicaid can lead to a penalty period, when seniors are disqualified from receiving benefits.
Transferring your home to someone else also can expose you to their financial problems. Their creditors could file liens on your home and, depending on state law, get some or most of its value. In a divorce, the house could become an asset that must be divided.
A POTENTIAL ‘HAIL MARY’ FIX
Robinson consulted a certified public accountant and an estate planning attorney. Both said what Robinson feared was true: The client was stuck paying taxes on the $184,000 gain in value since his mother bought the property.
“They were as discouraged as I was,” Robinson says.
But then Robinson hired a tax research firm and learned of a workaround. Section 2036 of the Internal Revenue Code says that if the mother retained a “life interest” in the property, which includes the right to continue living there, the home would remain in her estate rather than be considered a completed gift.
“Many people do not know about this and are therefore losing out on the step-up and the lower taxes they would be entitled to,” says Michael Eisenberg, CPA financial planner with the American Institute of CPAs’ Financial Literacy Commission.
There are specific rules for what constitutes a life interest, including the power to determine what happens to the property and liability for its bills. To ensure that outcome, the son, as executor of his mother’s estate, filed a gift tax return on her behalf to show that he was given a “remainder interest,” or the right to inherit when his mother’s life interest expired at her death, Robinson says.
THERE ARE BETTER WAYS TO TRANSFER A HOUSE
There are other ways around probate. Many states and the District of Columbia allow “transfer on death” deeds that allow people to leave their beneficiaries their houses without having to go through probate. Another option is a living trust, which typically costs $1,500 to $3,000 to set up but can ensure all a person’s assets avoid probate.
And probate in many states is nothing to fear. Most states have simplified probate procedures for smaller estates. Only in a few, such as California and Florida, is probate so expensive and time-consuming that most people should try to avoid it.
“We see avoidance of probate as a big issue in people’s minds, sometimes bigger than it has to be,” Robinson says.
When it comes to the most sought-after aging-in-place projects, bathrooms dominate the top spot.
In a recent NAHB survey of remodelers, more than eight out of 10 reported that installing grab bars (89%), higher toilets (85%) and curbless showers (82%) were the most common aging-in-place projects.
Widening doorways, the next most-common project on the list, came in at a distance 59%.
Even though the underlying motivation seems similar in both cases, walk-in bathtubs have not become nearly as common as curbless showers. Only 12% of remodelers reported installing walk-in tubs.
When NAHB began asking aging-in-place remodeling questions in 2004, curbless showers were about as common as wider doorways. But over the years, the share of NAHB remodelers installing curbless showers has grown from 54% to 82%.
Who is selling? I haven’t checked in a while! This chart tracks when the home was purchased by the sellers. Today’s numbers are from those sold between Jan 22 and Feb 14 of this year:
0 – 2003
2004 – 2008
2009 – 2011
2012 – 2019
The long-time owners aren’t moving as much as they used to! Those who have purchased since 2012 have no problem selling for a decent-to-huge gain, and more of them have been taking their profits – and hopefully buying another.
There were four flippers in today’s 2012-2019 group.
Ever since the SALT cap went into effect in 2018, the hunt has been on for signs that it has prompted more wealthy residents to move from high-tax to low-tax states.
“Despite some recent claims that it has,” Lucy Dadayan of the Tax Policy Center wrote on Feb. 10, “the data available support the view that ‘We don’t have any idea.’”
News articles crop up from time to time about things like surging purchaser interest in Florida condos from residents from New York or California. But they’re anecdotal, not data-driven. It’s hard to say whether the interest doesn’t reflect the pretax bill trend or bargains left over from a lengthy Florida real estate slump.
“Migration has been a problem for a number of years,” Dadayan told me. “SALT cap or not, New York has to be concerned about losing people.” Internal Revenue Service statistics show that New York lost more than 76,000 taxpayers from 2017 to 2018, nearly 1% of its taxpayers and the largest outflow among high-population states.
But as Dadayan observes, attributing that migration to concerns about high taxes in general or the SALT cap specifically is another matter. The top destination for fleeing New Yorkers in recent years has been California, which has a higher top income tax rate. “Migration is not necessarily determined by taxes,” she says.
The SALT cap raised hackles in high-tax states. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pronounced it “an economic civil war that helps red states at the expense of blue states.”
Pinpointing the relationship between the SALT cap and interstate migration is difficult for several reasons. One is that it’s too early to tell. The Internal Revenue Service has released taxpayer data only through the 2017 tax year; statistics for 2018 tax payments won’t be available until December.
Our median home price – fueled by low rates and the Bank of Mom&Dad – more than doubled the percentage increase in the median household income!
Our net migration was fine really – we must have a steady influx of affluent folks:
Here’s an interesting graph on those renters over 60 years old. San Diego was 20th by percentage, but we were fifth in the total number of additional seniors who rent (could be renters who just reached 60?):
Hat tip to AL for sending in the link – with loads of other data:
As a top Hollywood talent agent for over 40 years, Deborah Miller Lakoff represented big names like William Devane, Ned Beatty, Bob Uecker and Julio Iglesias. For proof, one could just look in her garage.
“There was a massive collection of stuff” stored there, says Fred Meyer, who is Ms. Miller Lakoff’s nephew. In addition to autographed memorabilia and keepsakes, there was furniture, books, records, clothes, family heirlooms, photos and formal dinnerware.
Last year, Ms. Miller Lakoff decided to move from her 2,300-square-foot home in Marina del Rey, Calif., to the 4,000-square-foot house in San Diego where her husband, Sanford Lakoff, lives. (Theirs had been a long-distance marriage for 10 years.) In the next few months, the couple plans to downsize again and move into a roughly 2,000-square-foot apartment in a retirement community. But before any of that could happen Ms. Miller Lakoff had to get rid of a lifetime of accumulated things and sell the house where she had lived for 35 years.
The first hurdle was to decide what items would make the trip to San Diego. Ms. Miller Lakoff and Mr. Meyer, her nephew, worked on that task together. “You need someone who can persuade you to get rid of a lot of stuff. Fred was that person,” Ms. Miller Lakoff says. She resold some of her clothes, record albums and books to second-hand shops, and donated much of her furniture to two young families that had just bought a home. Mr. Meyer digitized photographs and distributed many of his aunt’s heirlooms and keepsakes among family members. “Everybody was thrilled to see this stuff,” he says.
The second—and bigger—challenge was deciding what to do with everything else. For this, she called in reinforcements, hiring Greg Gunderson, president and owner of Gentle Transitions, a Manhattan Beach, Calif., company that specializes in helping people downsize and move.
Mr. Gunderson called in a number of dealers and collectors who purchased some of the high-value items, with all of the proceeds going to Ms. Miller Lakoff. Finally, Mr. Gunderson’s team also packed up everything and did a final “clean out” of the house so it would be ready for the next owner. The whole process took between 2½ and three months and cost $2,300, says Mr. Gunderson. He charges $75 an hour, adding that a typical move to a one- or two-bedroom apartment in a retirement community ranges from $3,000 to $6,000.
The daunting task of downsizing has led to an array of companies and services that promise to make the process easier. Much of the focus is on getting rid of things and coordinating the move. But the real service is persuading people to “let go” of items they’ve held on to for decades.
“There are ways to honor the memory of something without having the physical piece in front of you,” says Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers, a trade organization with about 1,000 member companies.
When helping their 89-year-old mother downsize in Greenwich, Conn., David Borie and his sister, Mary Zara, turned to a Darien company called The Settler. Their mother, a retired artist and interior designer, had chosen the move-management company to help her deal with the contents of her 6,000-square-foot house and coordinate her relocation into a 2,000-square-foot apartment in a Stamford, Conn., retirement community. The company put color-coded stickers on items to designate their status—if they were going to be moved to the new apartment, given to a family member, sold, donated or thrown away.
Before any artwork was removed, Mr. Borie made giclée reproductions (high-quality prints made with an ink jet printer) of some of the pieces their mother had painted, along with a lesser-known portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart. (Washington is a Borie family ancestor, a seventh great uncle.) He and his other three siblings each received the reproductions and also had the option to get a giclée print of a painting by another ancestor, Adolphe Borie.
The four siblings supported The Settler’s objectives, but to minimize any quibbles, the company listed all of their mother’s possessions on a spreadsheet and let the children rank them from 1 to 75. The Settler’s staffers used a draft system to ensure that items were distributed fairly.
“Nobody got everything they wanted, but we each got some things. And nobody felt someone else got the advantage,” Mr. Borie says. He declined to divulge what the The Settler was paid, but owner Pinny Randall says her company’s services typically range from $10,000 to $15,000.
There were some emotional moments throughout the process. Mr. Borie and his sister worked hard to ensure that their mother was comfortable with downsizing.
His recommendation: Start the process early, when things are less likely to get muddled. And children should be sensitive to psychological struggles when a parent is asked to let go of a lifetime of memories and leave a home they may have occupied for up to 50 years.
Still, once the job is done, many downsizers say they feel a sense of liberation and relief. “Cleaning your shelves and getting rid of things is just a wonderful thing to do,” says Sheri Koones, author of the recently published “Downsize: Living Large in a Small House.” Three years ago, Ms. Koones downsized from a 6,800-square-foot home in Greenwich, Conn., to a 1,700-square-foot home there and got rid of 90% of what she owned.
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