Defenses Available To Commercial Tenants Facing Eviction in California

Several of the affirmative defenses available to commercial tenants served with an unlawful detainer (eviction) lawsuit in California are discussed in this article.

Many commercial tenants may be under the impression that very few defenses exist that they can utilize. That is not always the case. This article will discuss a few of the defenses that may be used in the right situations, but it does not cover every possible defense, only the most common ones.

For example, while most commercial landlords, and many commercial tenants might scoff at the notion that a breach of the implied warranty of habitability could be available to any commercial tenant, even in California, this is not always the case for small commercial operations as stated in two Court of Appeal decisions.

And commercial tenants can also assert the defense of a retaliatory eviction by the landlord. Retaliatory eviction is most often found in cases where the landlord is attempting to evict a tenant for an improper reason, raising their rent after the tenant has complained about problems with their rental, decreasing services, or other actions that are clearly meant as retaliation.

The California Supreme Court stated over 30 years ago that both residential and commercial tenants have a common-law affirmative defense for retaliatory actions by the landlord. In that same case, the California Supreme Court also stated that “The retaliatory eviction doctrine is founded on the premise that a landlord may normally evict a tenant for any reason or for no reason at all, but he may not evict for an improper reason… ”

And there is NO time limit for the common-law defense of retaliatory eviction although waiting too long to assert that defense is obviously not a good idea.

Commercial tenants in California can also assert constructive eviction as an affirmative defense.

The concept of a constructive eviction exists under the principle of a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment that is implied in every rental agreement. A tenant may assert this ground as an affirmative defense when the landlord’s actions or omissions so interfere with the tenant’s right to “peaceful and beneficial possession” of the rental unit that the unit or a portion of it becomes uninhabitable.

If the landlord has rented the premises without obtaining any Certificate of Occupancy a commercial tenant may contend that any lease agreement for the Subject Property is not enforceable, thus the landlord cannot obtain any judgment for unpaid rent, although they are entitled to a judgment for possession. Many jurisdictions in California, both City and County jurisdictions, require that a Certificate of Occupancy be obtained before any building can be occupied.

The author sincerely hopes you have enjoyed this article and found it informative.

Sincerely,

Stan Burman

DISCLAIMER:

The author of this article, Stan Burman, is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this article is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

Human Resources Issues in Construction Industry – Day Labor Traps by Authorities

When unemployment was down at 4.5% not many complained about all the illegal alien “day labor” that was standing on the corner. These workers were used by landscaping companies, car washes, and construction companies. Today, authorities that set up these day labor locations to get them off the street corners and into one place, now stand undercover waiting for unsuspecting businesses to pick them up.

Generally, here is how it works. Hundreds of illegal or should we use the more politically correct term “undocumented workers” stand in a location approved by the city. Someone who needs a worker for one day, can pick them up, make a deal and take them to work. Often home owners that need help will pick them up for the day and then drop them back off and pay them cash; this is considered no harm, no foul, even if they are illegal aliens.

Many people have no problem with this and if someone is willing to work hard, so be it, as many Americans won’t; unfortunately, in California now many cities have unemployment well over 10% and now Americans want those jobs and voters and taxpayers are angry. This has prompted authorities to stop this problem, one they actually created. Rather than picking up the illegal aliens and deporting them, instead they watch and wait for construction workers to come in their work trucks.

Why? Well, many believe it is all about money, as the authorities can fine the construction companies and collect revenue. They cannot catch everyone, but each day they nab a few in cities across California. So, if you are a human resource director for a construction company, then you need to know that this is illegal and that not only are their fines, but you could be an accessory and even go to jail. Please consider this.

Backcountry Scenic Drives- California Fire Lookouts

Wildfires have scorched acres of National Forests lands in the last several dry years. Manned fire lookouts can prevent such fires, which close OHV trails and limit forest access. The Forest Service has dismantled hundreds of lookouts despite their importance. Remaining lookout towers, intriguing structures perched in precarious and remote locations, have achieved cult status. Many have been refurbished into rustic cabins and campers rent them for overnight backcountry trips.

Plumas National Forest in northeastern California has two adjacent off-road trails with a total of 5 fire lookouts to visit. Not all the lookout towers still standing are currently in use. Advancements in fire detection systems and budgetary restrictions gradually eliminated the need to man all the towers. Plumas, like most other California National Forests, still staffs lookouts in the summer.

Thompson Peak Trail starts 9 miles south of Susanville. Grizzly Ridge Trail is located about 24 miles southwest of Susanville off Highway 89. Both trails are easy dirt roads with more difficult spur trails leading up to the towers. These are just two of the trails in the area that form a network of interesting 4-wheel drive roads for all difficulty levels.

One trail climbs to Thompson Peak and Red Rock Fire Lookouts. Both are staffed during fire season, and the watchman typically gives visitors permission to climb the towers and admire the view. Constructed in 1955, Red Rock Fire Lookout fell into disuse for a short time, but rejuvenated and reopened in 1984.

The Civilian Conservation Corps built Thompson Peak Lookout in about 1931. The square concrete building beside the lookout was added in 1950 as the seat of a three-legged iron tower. A radar dome topped the 34-foot tower and scanned the sky as part of the Early Warning Defense System, created during World War II. Throughout the war, a typical part of all lookouts’ jobs included scanning the horizon for Japanese aircraft.

Not only does the Thompson Peak site serve as a fire lookout, it is also a noted observation point for raptor migration and a popular hang-glider launch site. Falcons, bald eagles, and hang-gliders ride thermals, created by warm air rising from Honey Lake below, to gain altitude.

The other trail winds through the forest with spurt trails to Mt. Hough, Argentine Rock, and Smith Peak Fire Lookouts. It is also part of a designated Forest Service OHV trail network for ATVs and dirtbikes. Snowmobilers and cross-country skiers flock to this trail in winter. Lake Davis, at the road’s end, is stocked with trout and is popular with boaters, picnickers, and campers. Remains of the Walker Mine and mill are located at the mid-point of this drive. This extensive copper mining operation once employed 600 men and maintained a sizable town for its workers nearby. Beware; the huge tailings pond and mill remains have been declared a toxic site.

Established in about 1909, Mt. Hough (pronounced Huff) is one of the earliest lookouts erected in Plumas National Forest. Construction costs totaled only $303 at the time. Plumas replaced the original lookout tower with a new structure in 1916 and another in 1934. The forest finally built the three-story structure on the site today in 1986.

With its commercial phone line directly to “civilization,” this station acts as a hub for the forest’s other lookouts. With permission, visitors can normally climb the tower during the summer to see the expansive 360-degree views. Like the site of Thompson Peak Lookout, hang-gliders also launch from Mt. Hough. The spur to the lookout continues past the tower, descending steeply to the picturesque Crystal Lake. This rough, steep descent is difficult.

Argentine Rock Fire Lookout is 10 miles from the turn-off to Mt. Hough Lookout. The forest constructed this now-abandoned structure in 1934. Budget cutbacks and the use of fixed-wing aircraft to spot wildfires eliminated the need to staff this lookout. Vandalism and neglect have made the structure unsafe.

At Smith Peak Fire Lookout, you can look back over Grizzly Ridge and overlook Lake Davis. The Smith Peak site was initially used only as an emergency vantage point. Only the most rugged watchmen manned the rock crest before the forest constructed the current structure in 1935. Forest service staff welcomes visitors in the summer between 9:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

This information and much more is available in Adler Publishing’s Backcountry Adventures series.

Prop 60 – Great News for California Home Buyers Over 55

Are you over 55 and thinking about selling your home and moving into something smaller, but worried about the tax implications when you relocate? If so, you aren’t alone. As the baby boomers find themselves approaching retirement age and becoming empty nesters, their housing needs are changing along with their lifestyles – but inflation and taxes just seem to keep going up, up, up. Fortunately some relief, in the form of Prop 60, is available.

What is Prop 60?

Proposition 60 is a constitutional amendment, approved by California voters, that provides property tax relief under certain circumstances. Essentially, what Prop 60 does is allow qualifying property owners to replace their primary residence with a new home of equal or lesser value and maintain their same tax base. Why, you might wonder, would anyone want to do that? Wouldn’t my property taxes be less on a home of lesser value? Not necessarily. With Prop 60, what is transferred is the Proposition 13 or “base year value” of the old home, which can be substantially less than the current market value of either home.

How can I qualify for Prop 60?

– Both the original home and the new home must be located in the same county.

– Both the original and replacement properties must be your primary residence.

– Both properties must be eligible for the Homeowners’ Exemption or Disabled Veterans’ Exemption.

– The seller or spouse residing in the home must be at least 55 years old when the original property is sold.

– The replacement home must be of equal or lesser value than the current market value of the original home. There is a little wiggle room within this rule, depending on when the new property is purchased. For the purchase of a home (or completion of new construction) that occurs 1 to 2 years after the sale of the original home, the “equal or lesser” rule can change slightly. Talk to your county assessor for details on this.

– Purchase or completion of construction of the replacement property must be completed within two years of the sale of the original property.

– Application for tax relief must be filed within 3 years of the purchase (or completion of construction) of the new home.

– This is a once in a lifetime benefit. Neither spouse can file again.

How do I file for Proposition 60 tax relief?

Contact your county assessor’s office. The assessor will determine if the transaction qualifies and provide you with claim forms.

I’ve heard something about Proposition 90. What is that?

Proposition 90 is an amendment that permits the property owner to carry the benefits of Prop 60 throughout California. Each county in California has the option to accept tax base transfers from other counties, allowing qualifying homeowners more flexibility when planning a move. Counties are not required to participate, and currently there are only 7 counties in California that accept Prop 90. These counties include Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Diego, Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara. This number is subject to change, as counties have the option to repeal their participation.

Prop 60 and Prop 90 are great extensions of Proposition 13, which was the initial break offered to the taxpaying public. If you think either might be something that will work for you, please consult your tax advisor or your county assessor for details.

California Modular Home Mortgages

Modular homes in California continue to gain popularity, as more and more people recognize their advantages compared to other home building options. They combine both high-tech modern architecture and efficiency, which is why a lot of people are enticed to purchase one. But just like any other home building option, building a modular home also needs financing. So, if you are considering a modular home loan, you should start searching for a California modular home mortgage.

California modular home mortgages usually combine long term financing and a construction loan. This combination is processed at the same time and requires one closing; therefore, you are able to save money and time.

There is a wide variety of options available for modular home mortgages. All you have to do is to choose a mortgage program that best suits your specific needs. You can choose a construction loan that will fit with a conventional loan program and offer low interest rates and low down payments.

When you apply for a modular home mortgage, you need to present a purchase contract with a builder and a complete set of plans and other specifications. If you are already the owner of the land, you have to present a copy of the deed, survey and related tax bills. Aside from this, you have to provide the lender with your personal financial information and pay the necessary application fees. Your loan application will then be reviewed and hopefully approved. If it is more convenient for you, this application process can also be carried out online. At the site of the lending institution you have chosen.

A California modular home mortgage application is very easy if you just know where and how to start the process. If you are having problems, you can always ask your builder to assist you on this.

California VIN Verifications – When Are They Required?

What is a VIN Verification?

A VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) Verification in California is required to verify a number of items on the vehicle to assure the vehicle conforms to Federal safety requirements and smog emission standards.

Items inspected on a VIN Verification

VIN number – The VIN is checked to verify the VIN has not been altered and matches the titling documents.
Odometer – Verified to confirm is matches state records
Federal Safety Label -Verifying the label meets US Federal Safety Standards and that the VIN matches the VIN assigned to the vehicle.
Emissions Label – Verified to confirm the vehicle being inspected meets California emissions standards.

What transactions need a VIN Verification?

Out of State Vehicle Transfers
Vehicles without a record on the DMV database

After a certain period of time, vehicle registration records will no longer be on record with the DMV database. A a result, the vehicle will need to be verified and will have to be reentered into the DMV database. This type of transaction is known as a miscellaneous transaction.

California Titles with a discrepancy in the VIN number.

There are times when a VIN was entered incorrectly on a California title known as a clerical error.

Vehicles registered as Junked or Salvaged
Vehicles being registered as Special Construction Vehicles
Engine changes on motorcycles

Who is authorized to complete a VIN Verification?

There are three qualified entities that can conduct a VIN Verification.

A Licensed VIN Verifier
Authorized DMV Employee
A California Peace Officer or California Highway Patrol

A Licensed VIN Verifier – A VIN Verifier is licensed by the California DMV. The verifier is also bonded. A licensed verifier can verify a number of transactions.

A licensed verifier can verify the following transactions:

Out of State Vehicle Transfers-Excluding Off Highway Motorcycles from out of state
Vehicles without records -Excluding Used Motorcycles
Odometer Verifications

The advantages of a licensed verifier are many. The verifier can be mobile and respond to your residence and or business. This situation can be ideal if you have an unregistered vehicle. The verifiers hours may be convenient allowing verifications to be done at time that most convenient to you.

Police Officers -Keep in mind not all police departments do VIN Verifications. Some police departments require their officers be trained in VIN Verifications before they allow them to perform a verification. In fact, some police departments charge their citizens for the verification. I would recommend calling them first to see what their requirements are.

California DMV – The DMV does conduct most verifications – However, there are verifications that DMV will refer to the California Highway Patrol. The problem with the DMV is that you may be required to wait and if you have a vehicle that is not registered, you may have to trailer it to the DMV office.

California Highway Patrol – The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is the authority on verifications. CHP performs verifications for salvaged, junked, Special Construction Vehicles. You must make an appointment with them and or be referred to them by DMV.

Understanding what a VIN Verification is and what is required is essential to completing your DMV transactions without error or delay.

How the Recession Is Affecting the Commercial Construction Industry

The ‘Great Recession’ theoretically lasted about 18 months, from 2007 to 2009. Recovery has been agonizingly slow in many industries but we are now in 2015 and the construction industry is more rapidly shrugging off the residual effects of the recession.

How Bad Was It?

Even though construction industry is cyclical and recession typically follows a boom period, nothing could have prepared it for the harsh and widespread reach of the recession:

Residential: Homeowners defaulted on homes and others delayed buying homes, leading to a glut of residential real estate languishing in realtors’ inventory.

Commercial: Commercial construction also was hard hit, severely impacted by the federal budget sequester and eventual-but-temporary shutdown, followed by scaled back government spending, and sharply reduced lending practices.

Institutional: Institutional construction remained stagnant, affected by the same limitations and funding problems that the commercial construction sector faced.

How Were Construction Workers Affected?

Nevada, California, Florida, and Arizona are typically areas with plenty of construction work. But the recession changed that:

Nevada employed an estimated 146,000 construction workers at the peak of its construction boom. That number was reduced by 59 percent.

Arizona’s construction employment dropped 50 percent from its pre-recession industry peak.

Florida was close on the industry-related unemployment heels of Nevada and Arizona, losing 40 percent of its construction workforce.

California fared better but still recorded a 28 percent drop.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 2.3 million construction workers lost their jobs in the recession (nearly 30 percent of the total number of lost jobs).

The overall construction industry has an estimated 1.4 million fewer construction workers in 2015 than it did in 2007.

The Construction Outlook in 2015 and Beyond

Happily, the U.S. and its construction industry continue to move away from the harshest effects of the Great Recession. Industry observers expect to see these improvements:

Non-residential construction: picking up and looking more solid, especially with the expected 2.6 percent real GDP growth in 2015. This sector may rise by 8 percent with growth in office buildings, hotels, and industrial facilities.

Single family housing: expected to increase by 11 percent in the number of residential units, thanks to easier access to home mortgage loans.

Manufacturing plant construction: will probably drop about 16 percent after huge increases of 2013 and 2014.

Institutional construction: expected to continue its moderate upward trend and increase 9% over 2014 results.

Residential construction: called the potential ‘wild card’ of 2015 because of rising interest rates. Existing home sales may climb toward 10 percent.

Public construction: growth will remain low due to ongoing federal spending constraints. However, transportation spending is expected to grow by about 2.2 percent.

Ironically, construction workers may not be rushing to return to new jobs. Many left the industry altogether, retraining for other employment.

Texas and North Dakota both show significant increases in construction employment. North Dakota now needs to recruit construction workers. Texas’ construction employment is up 10 percent, nearing its pre-recession peak.

Economists don’t expect the construction industry to return to its peak level (2006) until 2022 or later. However, the BLS anticipates that the fastest-growing jobs now and 2022 will be in healthcare and construction.

So while the Great Recession did a considerable amount of damage to the overall economy, individual incomes, and morale, 2015 and beyond are looking considerably more favorable in the commercial construction industry.

Understanding the California Building Code – California Green Code (CALGreen) 2013

The Building Code for California is administered by the California Standards Commission. Each year, California makes revisions to its Building Code using Supplements and Errata (corrections to the code). Every three years, California releases major revisions to the California Building Code (CBC). The 2013 CBC goes into effect January 1, 2014 and represents a major revision.

The triennial updates for the CBC generally go into effect the year subsequent to the code year. In other words, the 2013 CBC will go into effect January 1, 2014.

The 2010 California Green Building Standards Code referred to as CALGreen, and part of the CBC, went into effect on January 1, 2011. CALGreen’s mandatory measures include requiring new buildings to reduce water consumption, employ building commissioning to increase building system efficiencies, divert construction waste from landfills, and install low pollutant emitting finish materials.

Beginning January 1, 2014, significant CALGreen effort begins to make all new construction in California be Net-Zero Energy Building’s (NZEB) by 2020. A NZEB is a building with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually.

Most zero energy buildings use the electrical grid for energy storage but some are independent of the grid. Energy is usually harvested on-site through a combination of energy producing technologies like solar and wind, while reducing the overall use of energy with highly efficient HVAC and lighting technologies. The zero-energy goal is becoming more practical as the costs of alternative energy technologies decrease and the costs of traditional fossil fuels increase.

For California, solar, LED lighting, and highly efficient Heating, Ventilation, and Cooling (HVAC) systems will be paramount in meeting CALGreen’s objectives and requirements. Expect to see these and additional requirements when building new homes and renovating/remodeling existing homes.

Key measures of CALGreen include cool roofs (reduce attic temperatures – lowering cooling bills and using less electricity), performance and prescriptive energy measures (reduce electricity use throughout the home), and increased reduction in landscape potable water irrigation (use less water for landscaping).

Cool Roofs: This includes using roofing materials that reflect the suns heat and insulating materials to reduce the transfer of heat into the home. This also includes heating and cooling duct work that keeps the air inside the duct cooler; which uses less energy.
Performance Energy Measures: This includes using high efficacy lighting such as Light Emitting Diode (LED) recessed lighting, Compact Florescent Lighting (CFL), exhaust fans using a humidistat sensor, and tankless water heaters. This also includes insulating water pipes, higher “R” value thermal insulation and where used, efficient attic ventilation, water saving toilets and facets, and more efficient furnace and air conditioning systems. Recently, residential solar systems are becoming key components in reducing energy consumption. This also includes home charging stations for clean air electric vehicles and low-emitting resilient flooring.
Landscape Irrigation: These include pavers for drives, walks, and patios, drought tolerant plants and trees, artificial lawns (fake grass), drip irrigation, mulch, decorative stones and pebbles.

One example of what is possible to significantly reduce residential energy consumption and save a large amount of money is LED recessed lighting. According to Halo®, a leading high quality manufacturer of LED recessed lighting:

LED recessed lighting at 600 Lumens is equivalent to a 65 Watt light bulb using only 13.8 Watts. These LED’s are designed and manufactured to last almost 23 years or 50,000 hours; saving over $10,900 (or almost $1,100 per year, per light) in operating and energy costs (based on 6 hours average use per day). Considering 6 LED recessed lights in a typical kitchen, that’s a savings of $6,600 per year compared to the 65 Watt incandescent light. These LED recessed lights have an operating and energy savings payback of only 4.7 – 4.8 months! This means the cost to install is essentially free in less than 5 months.

LED lighting uses very little electricity. Consider the following: On a typical dedicated 15amp circuit breaker, up to 24 standard 65 watt recessed lights can be installed. With LED lighting, up to 128 recessed lights can be installed on a typical dedicated 15amp circuit breaker. That’s 104 or 433% more recessed lights on a single dedicated 15amp circuit breaker. The savings are real and very large. I don’t know of anything else offering these huge savings so quickly.

Changes are coming beginning January 1, 2014. However, as you can see, these changes will save money – lots of it. The cost to install these new energy saving measures cost a bit more. The savings to both your wallet and the planet significantly offset any short term additional costs.

The Strange and Beautiful State of California

California may be most famous for its movie stars and bright lights, but there are many other interesting and unusual aspects of California worth checking out. Here are ten unique places worth visiting.

Where the Buffalo Roam – Catalina Island

Catalina Island is a lovely little vacation paradise that boasts a herd of over 200 buffalo. The animals range free in the middle of the island, where they can be visited by taking a tour bus into the wilderness. Interestingly, the buffalo were imported to Catalina Island in the 1920s, when they were a part of a film called “The Vanishing American”.

Digging for Gold – Kennedy Mine – Jackson, California

At 5912 feet deep, the Kennedy Mine was one of the deepest gold mines in the world. Its deposits were mined from 1860-1942 and produced over 34 million dollars worth of gold. Visitors are invited to join a 1 ½ hour tour of the surface structures of the mine.

A Child’s Toy in Magnificent Proportions – Legoland – Carlsbad,

California All of us have a little kid lurking under the adult masks that we present. Legoland is the perfect place to let that inner kid out to explore. What could be more fun than enjoying the 15,000 Lego constructs, 50 wild rides, and seeing your childhood toy in its full splendor?

The Largest Tree in the World – The General Sherman Tree – Sequoia National Park

With a diameter of 36.5′, the General Sherman Tree is the largest tree in the world (by volume). It is only one of several enormous sequoia trees found in Sequoia National Park. These huge trees are thought to be 1000-2000 years old.

A National Monument on Wheels – San Francisco’s Cable Cars

Inspired to prevent further tragedy after watching a terrible horse and cart accident on San Francisco’s steep city streets, Andrew Smith Hallidie build a series of cable cars to safely transport people and goods through the city. The three cable car routes are still in operation and visitors are welcome to learn more about them at the Cable Car Barn and Powerhouse.

Haunted Hotel – The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

This famed hotel is said to be haunted by several of Hollywood’s most interesting celebrities. Reports of bugle playing in room 928 are attributed to the musical styling of Montgomery Clift. Marilyn Monroe, who once lived at the hotel, apparently haunts a mirror in the hotel lobby and has been seen dancing in the hotel’s ballroom.

A Village made of Bottles – Simi Valley, California

Built by Grandma Prisbrey, the Bottle Village started out as a single house, designed to display her extensive pencil collection. Not having the money to buy traditional building supplies, Grandma Prisbrey went to the dump and collected the bottles that now form the walls of the structures in the village. While the village was seriously damaged by the 1994 earthquake, visitors can still make appointments to tour the village.

The World’s Largest Pez – Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia

From the original Austrian invention of peppermint flavored candy, to the popularly known fruit-flavored candy in colorful dispensers, the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia showcases the history and development of Pez candy. In addition to showcasing Pez of all shapes and sizes, the museum opened a Classic Toy Museum in 2004.

A Shoe Store in a Shoe? – Bakersfield, California

Built in 1947, a 30′ long, 20′ high shoe stands proud on Chester Avenue, where it clearly proclaims its business as a shoe repair shop. Complete with 50′ long laces, this unusual store is worth taking a moment to stop for a photo.

Salvation Mountain – Niland, California

A brilliant combination of every color and shape rises in a mountainous heap of creative folk art by Leonard Knight. Salvation Mountain started out as simple tribute to God, but has rapidly grown. Now 18 years into the making of his creation, Knight lives at the site in his small cabin, built on the back of a 1930s vintage pickup truck. Visitors are welcome to climb the staircases built into the construct to get a better look at Knight’s creation.

There are many other unique and interesting things to see in California. Be sure to utilize the many internet sites available to help you plan a trip through the state to discover the many wonders of California.

Southern California’s Hottest Trends in New Homes

Living in Southern California feels like such a blessing each and every sunny day, and those who are fortunate enough to call Southern California home certainly realize how special it is. Some of the latest trends come from this part of the USA, and home trends are no different. Whether you are shopping for a new home or just looking for creative remodeling ideas, be on the lookout for new features in home construction. After all, the purpose of the latest and greatest amenities is to increase your quality of living, as well as raise the resale value of your home.

Here are the top five amenities featured in Southern California new homes:

1. Gourmet Kitchens – No longer just a place to cook, the kitchen is the latest room in any Southern Californian home to undergo an extraordinary change. If you like to cook gourmet meals, then you know how different it is from just whipping out a frying pan and cooking some eggs. You need the proper surroundings. A gourmet kitchen requires more appliances, more utensils, more control, and above all more space. And if you don’t cook much you can still look the part and have plenty of space for entertaining. In addition, a gourmet kitchen also goes a long way in increasing the market value of your home. Gourmet kitchens today include some very luxurious amenities like: double sinks & extra prep sinks, recessed lighting, 2 double ovens, 2 dishwashers, and built in refrigerator / freezers with door panels to match cabinets.

Gourmet kitchen décor also includes decorative backsplashes made of Italian tile; and tumbled marble, tile and granite flooring and countertops.

2. Master Sitting Rooms – No Southern California newly built home is complete without a Master sitting room. From sitting, reading, watching television and writing to talking, working and listening to music, your master sitting room should have all the latest amenities and furniture. The room should be designed so that you don’t have to leave your bedroom if you don’t want to! Contemporary sitting rooms should be large, spacious and comfortable. Master sitting room amenities include broadband Internet access, a large wide screen or flat screen TV with digital cable reception, surround sound and DVD player, and maybe some ambiance with a fireplace.

3. Larger Bathrooms & Coffee/Breakfast Bars In The Master Bath – In the Southern California new home market, the demand for larger, more luxurious bathrooms have increased over the years. When it comes to modern bathroom designs, coffee or breakfast bars in the master bath are in demand. No longer do you have to visit a spa – you can have your own private space right in your bedroom! Picture a large bathroom with a big, comfortable tub and a full-length mirror with a coffee bar on one side and a mini refrigerator on the other. Luxury bathrooms also include larger cabinets, his and hers vanities and Jacuzzis.

4. Larger Family Rooms – Your family room is a reflection of your family life. When done right, it can be inviting, classy, comfortable and sophisticated. The demand for larger family rooms has also increased over the last few years and now most Southern Californian homeowners are looking for something large and spacious. By blending natural elements with modern style, you can create your own multifunctional family room. The most functional family rooms are able to accommodate a big flat screen television. For entertaining, or just for ‘family night’ at home, media rooms and home theatres are also very popular.

5. Germ-free Surfaces – Not all new home trends focus on looks – now more than ever, homeowners are looking for new fabrics and materials which can also protect the health of their families. Protection from harmful microorganisms can be added to kitchen and bathroom surfaces with antiseptic supplies and treatments. And, because of their non-porous nature, countertops that are made of engineered stone products, like Epoxy and Quartz, are also in demand.

These five home features are just a few of the latest trends in new homes of Southern California. Be sure to look out for these and more when buying a new home, or looking for an upgrade to your current home.