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SF Chronicle Article on Latest Warriors Arena Plan

San Francisco unveiled details Friday of a $60 million transportation plan for the proposed Golden State Warriors arena in Mission Bay, setting the stage for an election day showdown on the $1 billion site. Coming in at 2,500 pages, the final environmental impact report, which includes hundreds of pages of comments from the opposition group Mission Bay Alliance, calls for the creation of a “transportation improvement fund” to be administered by a neighborhood advisory group. It also includes plans for a light-rail center boarding platform with “crossover tracks,” similar to the one in front of AT&T Park, that will “increase T-Third transit capacity and reduce walking distance to the arena and hospital,” according to the document. And it calls for the purchase of four new rail cars for the T-Third line and the creation of two satellite parking lots on Port of San Francisco property south of Mission Bay. All of the improvements, as well as $6 million in annual operating costs, will be funded by fees collected at the arena from special taxes on ticket sales, parking and concessions. The commission of the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, the city agency responsible for administering environmental reviews of projects in Mission Bay, will vote on whether to certify the environmental report on Nov. 3 — election day. If the 10/26/2015 $60 million for transportation in latest Warriors arena plan – San Francisco Chronicle 3/5 commission approves the project, as expected, the Mission Bay Alliance will probably appeal it to the Board of Supervisors. “Now we are in the homestretch,” said Warriors spokesman P.J. Johnston. “Even when you’re proposing a privately funded venue on private property, you have to engage the community and conduct an appropriate public planning process. That’s what we have done here.”

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Great Article: If Your Flight Is Overbooked, Don’t Volunteer to Get Bumped

“Flights are overbooked all the time. If you’re going to be bumped, don’t volunteer to take the airline’s compensation—whether they offer cash or a voucher. Instead, be one of those passengers involuntarily denied boarding and receive much more in compensation.”

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Title Insurance: A Friend in Deed

Title insurance protects mortgage lenders and borrowers in disputes over ownership of a property

There are titleholders in beauty pageants, spelling bees and boxing matches. But only one title matters when buying a home.

Before a sale is complete, both the bank and the borrower want to be sure that the title—the formal document that shows proof of ownership—is free and clear. That means there are no delinquent taxes, unpaid liens, undisclosed heirs or other disputes that must be resolved before the house can be sold.

A title search and title insurance protect both lenders and borrowers.

“Whether it’s a person buying their first house at $250,000 or someone buying a home at $10 million, you have to ask, ‘How devastating would it be to your life if you lost your entire investment?” says Rafael Castellanos, managing partner at New York-based Expert Title Insurance Agency.

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After a house goes into contract, a title company searches public records, typically going back a number of years, to look for any problems with the home’s title. More than a third of all title searches reveal a problem, according to the American Land Title Association (ALTA), the largest trade association for title-insurance providers. The title company is able to correct some of the problems, such as an outdated survey of property lines, but some issues may have to be resolved by the seller.

Most mortgage lenders require borrowers to pay for a title search and title insurance on the loan. But this insurance policy is purchased to protect the lender—not the borrower—when unforeseen problems with the title emerge. A loan policy covers the property’s loan amount and decreases over time as the mortgage is paid off. Both the title search and the lender’s title-insurance premium are one-time fees paid by the buyer at the closing.

‘Title-insurance rates typically rise with home value. Homeowners can save by shopping around for both lender and owner policies.’

For extra protection, homeowners can buy a separate owner’s policy, says Diane Evans, president of ALTA and vice president of Denver-based Land Title Guarantee Co. This form of title insurance, which insurers often discount if purchased with the loan policy at closing, covers holders for the duration of their home ownership—even after the mortgage is paid off. Borrowers may wonder why they need an owner’s policy after the closing, but issues may come up after the house has been paid off.

“For example, at the back of your yard, you planted a garden, and all of a sudden a public service company is tearing up the back fence to replace a utility line,” she explains. In such a case, title insurance may pay for repairs and legal fees to remove the utility’s easement, Ms. Evans says.

For the lender’s title insurance, the bank will typically recommend a particular title-insurance provider or list some options. Under federal law, it cannot require the borrower use that provider.

As with other types of insurance, title-insurance rates typically rise with home value, so a higher purchase price means a higher premium because it is covering more, says Daniel D. Mennenoh, president of Galena, Ill.-based H.B. Wilkinson Title Co.

In Manhattan, a lender’s policy will run about $2,607 for a $650,000 jumbo mortgage amount on a $810,000 purchase price, just above the upper threshold for government-backed loans in this high-price area (up to $417,000 in most parts of the country), Mr. Castellanos says. However, the amount could be as low as $1,825, if the property has been title-insured in the prior 10 years.

A separate owner’s policy for this property would cost $782 if bundled with a lender’s policy at closing or $3,207 if purchased on its own, he adds.

Homeowners can save by shopping around for both lender and owner policies. But since rates are regulated in all states, prices tend to be similar among reputable insurers in specific geographic areas.

While the owner’s policy isn’t mandatory, it protects the borrower’s equity interest in the property, says John Walsh, CEO of Milford, Conn.-based Total Mortgage Services. Some owner’s policies also cover appreciation if home values rise during ownership, he adds.

More considerations regarding title insurance:

  • Check for conflicts. Borrowers should ensure that a lender doesn’t own or have a financial relationship with the recommended title provider, Mr. Castellanos says. Pressure from the lender to close by a specific date could cause the title company to overlook issues that could come back and haunt the owner later, he adds.
  • Check solvency. Like other insurers, title insurers are graded by AM Best Company, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service and other rating services for their total reserves and financial record of fulfilling claims, and reputable companies typically will list these rankings on their websites, Mr. Castellanos says. “You want a rock-solid title-insurance company to issue your policy, somebody who is going to be in the business for the next 500 years.”
  • What’s included. Sometimes the title company will also provide other services, such as conducting the closing, preparing and notarizing documents, so when comparing rates among providers, borrowers should ask for a breakdown of expenses, ALTA recommends.

Condo Owners in West Get High Grades

San Francisco is first in education in a survey of luxury-condo buyers in six U.S. cities, with 60% holding graduate degrees

The penthouse of Alicia Lopez-Monteverde and her husband, Dante Monteverde, at the Martin, one of two Las Vegas buildings included in the survey. Las Vegas owners came in last for education levels, though 85% of respondents had college degrees. Photo: JPM Studios

In San Francisco, the smart money is on condos.

In a survey of about 1,215 luxury-condo owners in six cities, San Francisco had the highest-educated residents, according to the Mark Company, a San Francisco-based consultancy that managed sales and marketing for the buildings represented in the data.

The company surveyed 11 luxury-condo buildings in San Francisco, Emeryville, Calif., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle and Denver, primarily in 2014 through March 2015.

Of the owners who responded in San Francisco, 97% said they had college degrees and 60% said they had graduate degrees—the highest rates in any of the cities in the research. Las Vegas came in last—but still respectably scholarly. There, 85% of the owners have college degrees and 28% graduate degrees.

By comparison, 18% of Americans age 25 and older have bachelor’s degrees and 10.8% have graduate degrees, according to census data through 2013.

Alan Mark, founder of the Mark Company, credits the high education rates with the growth of the tech and biotech industries in Silicon Valley. “The job growth in San Francisco right now is amazing,” he said, and it is attracting a younger, more educated home buyer.

Nearly 40% of the San Francisco respondents were between 23 and 33 years old. At the Amero, a 27-unit condo building where prices range from about $1 million to $3.5 million, about 72% of respondents had graduate degrees.

“I showed a $10 million listing to a 30-year-old tech exec,” said Gregg Lynn, an agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in San Francisco who wasn’t involved with the research. Mr. Lynn said the city’s proximity to major universities like Stanford and the area’s reputation as a tech hub attract brainier buyers. International buyers and empty nesters returning to the city are another big source of clients, he added.

Tech is reshaping the Las Vegas condo market, too, said Kristen Routh-Silberman, an agent with Synergy Sotheby’s International Realty. A $1 billion-plus planned expansion to Switch, a local data-center company, is expected to draw more tech professionals, she said.

At the Martin, a 374-unit luxury condo off the Las Vegas Strip, Alicia Lopez-Monteverde and her husband, Dante Monteverde, co-founders of several technology companies, are selling their 4,300-square-foot, five-bedroom apartment for $3.988 million. Ms. Lopez-Monteverde, 67, said the two moved to Las Vegas from Illinois, where their alarm-monitoring company, Emergency24, is based. Nevada’s favorable tax rules and walkability were the biggest draws, she said. Neither she nor her husband completed college, she said, because they were starting their own business. “We continue our education through the practice,” she said.

8 ways home buyers can make their offer stand out

Home buyer Susan Giddens (right) views a home with her agent Linnette Edwards (left) which she recently bought in Oakland, California, on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Giddens toured the property two weeks ago for ten minutes before she made an offer, with this being her first visit back to the property.

Gone are the days when offering top dollar was enough to buy a house.