New California Law Requires Additional Pool Safety Devices

Effective January 1, 2018, California law requires that when a permit is issued for the building or remodeling of a swimming pool or spa, that pool or spa must be equipped with at least two of seven specified safety devices. Moreover, home inspectors are now required to make note of the presence or absence of such devices.

Under state law, this will apply to any structure, in or above the ground, that is intended for swimming or recreational bathing and that has a water depth of at least 18 inches.

 The legislative act that brought this new law about was Senate Bill 442 (Newman). It amends section 7195 of the Business and Professions Code and sections 115922 and 115925 of the Health and Safety Code.

The Senate Bill Analysis notes that drowning is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4. Additionally, for every drowning in this age group, five or more suffer from near-drowning injuries that can cause life-long disabilities.

In 1997, California’s Swimming Pool Safety Act went into effect. That law required that any single-family home pool built thereafter had to be equipped with at least one of the five following safety devices: (1) a permanent fence, of specified dimensions, that isolates the pool or spa from the home; (2) a pool cover meeting certain safety standards, (3) exit alarms on doors leading from the home to the pool, (4) self-closing, self-latching devices on doors leading from the home to the pool; or (5) any other safety device feature providing as much protection as the specified four and as verified by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

In 2006, the act was amended to include (6) removable mesh fencing that meets ASTM standards and a gate that is self-closing, self-latching and can accommodate a key lockable device, and (7) a pool alarm that sounds when someone or something of a certain size (determined by ASTM) enters the water.

The new law requires that any pool or spa built or remodeled after January 1, 2018 must have at least two of the specified safety features. The bill does not apply to any of the estimated million-plus pools that were built before 1997, unless they are to be remodeled. It also does not apply to public swimming pools, hot tubs with ASTM-approved locking covers, nor to apartment complexes or any residential setting other than a single-family home.

The bill also requires that, if a home inspection report is issued for a single-family home that has a pool or spa, “… the report shall identify which, if any, of the seven drowning prevention safety features [as listed] the pool or spa is equipped with and shall specifically state if the pool or spa has fewer than two of the listed drowning prevention safety features.”

The new law does not specify any penalty for a home inspector’s failure to include this information in his or her report. Nor does it make installation of any safety device a requirement of property transfer.

In 2016, an identical bill was vetoed by the Governor. In his veto message he wrote, “Nothing prevents a homeowner from adding as many additional safety features as they desire to their own pool. The choice on how to protect children is best left to parents.”


Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

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Winter Is Coming… 5 Reasons to Sell Now!


People across the country are beginning to think about what their life will look like next year. It happens every fall; we ponder whether we should relocate to a different part of the country to find better year-round weather, or perhaps move across the state for better job opportunities. Homeowners in this situation must consider whether they should sell their house now or wait.

If you are one of these potential sellers, here are five important reasons to sell now instead of in the dead of winter.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Realtors’ Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now!

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

According to NAR’s latest Existing Home Sales Report, the supply of homes for sale is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market (which is 4.5-months).

This means, in most areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market soon.

Also, as builders regain confidence in the market, new construction of single-family homes is projected to continue to increase, reaching historic levels in 2017. Last month’s new home sales numbers show that many buyers who have not been able to find their dream homes within the existing inventory have turned to new construction to fulfill their needs.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Fannie Mae announced that they anticipate an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007’s pace. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing timelines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker & simpler. 

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 5.2% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

According to Freddie Mac’s latest report, you can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 3.57% right now. Interest rates are projected to increase moderately over the next 12 months. Even a small increase in rate will have a big impact on your housing cost.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.  

That is what is truly important.


Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

6 Home Improvement Flubs That Cause Inspection Headaches


Do-it-yourself household projects have become increasingly popular, but home inspectors are finding a host of safety problems caused by overconfident home owners seeking shortcuts. Home owners now see these DIY TV shows, which make these household remodeling projects look easy. They can go to a big box store and easily get the materials too. They think: ‘How hard can it be?’” But home safety is a top priority for home inspectors. They look for loose carpeting, uneven steps, and water temperature extremes, among other common risk factors. Here are additional concerns noted by home inspectors:

Wobbly decks

Look for: insecurely attached railings and wobbling or improperly sized posts.

Decks shouldn’t move. Wood decks can collapse if they’re not properly attached to the house or if they rely on the house too much for support. Fasteners can corrode, which could result in failure of the deck. Many times owners are unaware all these problems exist.

Incorrectly removed walls

Look for: sagging roofs and ceilings.

Open floor plans are appealing, but not when they overlook structural issues, which can happen when home owners fail to identify load-bearing walls. Pay attention to the age of a home. In newer construction, homes tend to have greater side support, which can accommodate open floor plans. Older homes relied more on the center for stability, which can mean trouble for amateur wall-busters.

DIY plumbing

Look for: wrong pipes used for connections.

A common error home inspectors see in plumbing jobs comes from home owners who purchase a sink and cabinet from a big-box store and handle the installation themselves. Using the wrong pipes often results in costly water damage. Home inspectors commonly see flexible, accordion-shaped pipe under the sink for the drain, even though they do not comply with residential plumbing codes. Pipes should be smooth and unridged to prevent clogs or waste buildup.

Missing garage door sensors

Look for: sensors missing or not facing one another.

Garage doors can pose a big safety threat if improperly installed. The safety sensors must be connected and aligned correctly for the garage door to go down, and if it doesn’t, the owner may just uninstall them. Additionally, a poor connection could be the culprit of the sensor malfunction. Home inspectors often see the safety cable being threaded incorrectly, which could cause it to break and send the garage door door crashing down.

Disarmed alarms

Look for: missing batteries or disconnected alarms.

Home inspectors aren’t always required to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, but many do. Municipalities often suggest installing them within 15 feet of the primary entrance to each sleeping room. Home owners often remove them if they start chirping or disconnect them to prevent false alarms as they cook. Many times home inspectors find the battery is gone. And that is a big safety concern.

Faulty electrical

Watch for: exposed wiring and overloaded circuits.

Electrical problems often emerge when an addition has been made to a home, such as a basement or attic remodel. Home owners may add two wires to one circuit breaker where there should be only one. Or some  amateurs use a wire that’s too small in the breaker, which could pose a fire hazard.


Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

9 Modest Fixes for the Problem Kitchen


Kitchen cabinetry, countertops, backsplashes, and appliances can sometimes turn off buyers at the first hello. Yet, a total redo may be too costly.

The average gut rehab on a mid-range kitchen has surpassed $56,000, and an upscale one hovers around $113,000. Many home owners simply can’t undertake a kitchen renovation after scraping together a down payment. It doesn’t fit into their new budget alongside their mortgage, real estate taxes, insurance, maintenance, and new furnishings.

Many potential buyers cross off houses with great locations, floor plans, and prices because of dark, dreary, or dated kitchens. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You should know that a handful of affordable improvements can make a huge difference and possibly result in a better return on investment than big-ticket changes.

1. Go for cabinet 2.0.

Cabinets often represent the biggest cost of a redo, typically 50 percent to 60 percent of the total budget. They also are often the biggest eyesore, particularly if the style of fronts, paint finish, or color appears dated. Many designers and real estate experts say it’s relatively easy to sand down the fronts; paint, stain, or spray cabinetry; and then install new snazzy hardware. Some design experts recommend replacing all fronts if the style doesn’t appeal, but that will cost much more—possibly triple the price. Before you pursue either strategy, remember this maxim: Don’t throw good money after bad. If the arrangement of cabinets and appliances doesn’t work for you, or if the cabinetry’s not in good shape, there’s little point in spending money on even a modest facelift.

2. Change countertops and the sink.

The black countertops in the otherwise all-white Hamptons kitchen in the movie “Something’s Gotta Give” proved a stunning—and much imitated—look. But home owners don’t have to go with expensive soapstone or the best granite to achieve it. The latest generation of affordable laminates has come a long way aesthetically and functionally, so they should be considered. In most cases, a sink will have to be replaced when a countertop is switched, but that can be done for as little as $300. Some home owners may want to splurge on newer and pricier sink models that can be accessorized with fitted cutting boards, drain holders, colanders, and prep dishes. If there’s still wiggle room in the budget, change the faucet, too. It can really complete the new look and notes home owners often enjoy the utility of the long gooseneck designs that are popular now.

3. Replace equipment.

Items that are not working obviously need to be replaced. If upgrades are under consideration, first change out the refrigerator, a noticeable improvement in an appliance that is used daily by everyone in the family. Try to match the replacement to existing equipment—whether black, stainless, or white—rather than have a mishmash of hues. If you are really unhappy with your appliances in general,  it’s often less expensive to replace the three key appliances—refrigerator, range, and dishwasher—in a package from one manufacturer.

4. Update the backsplash.

The area between the counter and cabinets or ceiling is highly visible in most kitchens. It’s even more noticeable if it has a dated tile design, such as diamonds, embedded in a rectangle or a fruit basket motif. A more updated yet classic look includes subway tiles in a row. For a twist, you can install them vertically rather than in the traditional horizontal way.

5. Improve lighting.

A dark kitchen can quickly nix a sale. But adding lighting requires minimal effort and expense. Buyers should consider recessed ceiling cans for good general lighting. The trend is for fewer and smaller cans (5 inches to 6 inches in diameter) to avoid a Swiss-cheese effect. They might also go with one attention-grabbing chandelier over a dining table and two or three large pendants above an island. All should be installed with dimmers to offer the option of different moods and LED bulbs for energy efficiency.

6. Paint the room.

Always the least expensive way to affect change, paint can be selected in a neutral shade for wide appeal. But nowadays, neutrals no longer just mean white or beige; soft greens and blues work well as universal mixers. Most design pros recommend steering clear of wallpaper, which can quickly date a room and attract grime.

7. Change the flooring.

Most kitchen floors don’t generate negative buzz unless they’re very worn or comprised of dated linoleum or vinyl. When that’s the case, an easy fix is to switch to popular real-wood planks that can be sealed well and are easy on the feet. New porcelain designs imitate real wood well and can be less costly to install and easier to maintain.

8. Add one “wow.”

Nothing impresses buyers more than one great splurge—the equivalent of a piece of statement jewelry in the hub of the home. Buyers on a budget can try a less costly solution with great personality.

9. Open up the room.

Open-plan living has been growing in popularity for years now, and many predict that trend will continue. Instead of everyone crowding into the kitchen, more home owners want this room to be part of surrounding spaces such as the living and dining room. Taking down a non-load-bearing wall makes sense. If you want a professional to do it, the cost depends on the size of the wall, but it should be something a contractor could do in a couple hours for minimal cost.

While the final effect may not rival a Hollywood-ready kitchen, these smaller changes are still apt to make the space more appealing for cooking and congregating—and may some day woo buyers in the resale process.



Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

Santa Barbara Real Estate Market Update through November 2014

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Let me help you find everything you need to know about buying or selling a home. Call or email me today!


Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717