United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

Tree Falls Over Property Line: Who Pays? Who Picks Up the Pieces?


Tree Falls Over Property Line: Who Pays? Who Picks Up the Pieces?

By: Ann Cochran

Published: March 23, 2011

If a neighbor’s tree falls over your property line, file an insurance claim for repairs and cleanup. No house damage? Check if chopping and hauling debris is covered.

When a neighbor’s tree falls over your property line, yell TIMBER, then call your insurance company. Home owners policies cover tree damage caused by perils like wind and winter storms. Most policies cover hauling away tree debris if the mess is associated with house damage; some will cover cleanup even if no structures were harmed.

When a Tree Falls

Your neighbor is responsible when a tree falls over your shared property line only if you can prove he was aware that his tree was a hazard and refused to remedy the problem. Regardless, your insurance company restores your property first, and later decides whether or not to pursue reimbursement from the neighbor or his insurer if the neighbor was negligent in maintaining the tree.

Before a Tree Falls

Write a letter to your neighbor before his dead, diseased or listing tree falls through your roof or over your property line.

The letter should include:

  • Description of the problem
  • Photographs
  • Request for action
  • Attorney letterhead--not necessary but indicates you mean business.

Trim Their Trees

If the limbs of a tree hang over your property line, you may trim the branches up to the property line, but not cut down the entire tree. If a tree dies after your little pruning, the neighbor can pursue a claim against you in civil or small claims court. Depending on the laws of your state, your neighbor may have to prove the damage was deliberate or caused by negligence, but may also be able to recover up to three times the value of the tree.

Before you cut, tell your neighbors what you intend to do to protect your property. They may offer to trim the whole tree instead of risking your half-oaked job.

Your Tree Falls

It’s always a good idea to take care of your big and beautiful trees, and keep receipts for trimmings and other care.

But if your tree falls over a neighbor’s property line, do nothing until their insurance company contacts you. You may not be liable unless you knew or should have known the tree was in a dangerous condition.  If you pruned a tree or shored up trunks to prevent problems, gather your receipts to prove your diligence.

Lots of Los Angeles Real Estate Agents want to be stars as big as the celebrities they cater to. Me? I just want to help people find the homes that make them happy and help them to create a sanctuary for future dreams and lasting memories. Contact me today!


Report: Default Rate on HAMP Mods High

Are you in trouble? Are you facing foreclosure? Call me, let's have a free consultation along with coffee! Laura Key 310.866.8422

sinking house

The high re-default rate on mortgages modified through the government's Home Affordable Modification Program is mostly because of borrowers who received the smallest reduction in payments through the program, are still underwater on their loans, or have subprime credit scores, according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Of the nearly 1.2 million mortgages modified through HAMP in the last four years, 306,000 borrowers have re-defaulted on their loans, the report said. More than 88,000 more borrowers are at risk of re-defaulting, too.

The report also found that the longer a home owner stays in the HAMP modification program, the more likely they are to default. Borrowers who have been part of the program since 2009 have a re-defaulting rate of 46 percent.

HAMP helps borrowers by reducing the interest rate on at-risk mortgages, extending loan terms, or reducing mortgage principal. 

"Treasury needs to research why so many borrowers are dropping out of the program," says Christy Romero, the head of SIGTARP.

Source: “Borrowers in Obama housing program re-defaulting, watchdog says,” CNNMoney (July 24, 2013)

Higher Home Prices Cool Buying Frenzy

Is all this frenzy creating a mini-housing bubble? What are your thoughts on this housing market?  Laura Key 310.866.8422

Home Not for Sale

The recent rise in home prices has more investors concerned that it will be increasingly difficult to turn a profit from their rental investments. Nearly half of U.S. real estate investors say they expect to purchase fewer rental homes in the next year, according to a recent survey conducted by polling firm ORC International.

Just 10 months ago, the percentage of investors who said they intend to buy fewer homes stood at 30 percent—compared to 48 percent today. Only about 20 percent of the investors surveyed say they plan to buy more homes in the next year—a drop from the 39 percent who reported they intend to buy more homes last August.

More than half of the investors surveyed who own rental properties say they plan to hold them for at least five years or more, and 33 percent plan to hold them for 10 years or more. 

“Higher prices are reducing returns on investment and investors are responding by cutting back on their purchasing plans until conditions sort out,” says Chris Clothier, a partner in MemphisInvest.com and Premier Property Management Group. “Fewer foreclosures, rising property values, and competition from hedge funds are making it tough to find good ideals on distressed sales. On the other hand, investors are planning to hold onto their rental properties for at least eight to 10 years and realize the benefits of rising rents and low vacancy rates. Cash flow is much more important than appreciation.”

Source: ORC International

Laura Key, CBS News, Buyer's Agent, Selling Agent, 

Thinking of Selling? I have buyers who are pre-approved and ready!  They are looking in several areas of Los Angeles county!


Bank Faces Lawsuit Over Excessive Fees

Are you facing or someone you know facing foreclosure? There are sources out there to help you! Call me for a list of free resources!  Laura Key 310.866.8422

money lock

JPMorgan Chase faces a lawsuit that alleges the bank imposed overly high or unnecessary fees on delinquent borrowers. The banking giant tried to get the case dismissed, arguing to the courts that the claims were unjust, but a federal judge ruled the lawsuit should proceed. 

Borrowers are accusing the bank of “imposing excessive or unnecessary fees to inflate profit, including on services performed by third party vendors, cheating thousands of already-strained borrowers out of millions of dollars,” Reuters reports. 

Among the fees in question range from $95 to $125 for “broker’s price opinions.” The plaintiffs, who reside in Tennessee, California, and Oregon, claim that the BPOs cost $30 to produce and that according to Fannie Mae guidelines they should not cost more than $80.  

Similar lawsuits over mortgage fees charged to delinquent borrowers are pending against Wells Fargo and Citigroup. 

Source: “JPMorgan must face lawsuit challenging mortgage fees,” Reuters (June 14, 2013)

Where Asking Prices Are Rising the Most

California is rising fast, yet it's not at the highest it's ever been. Interested in buying or selling!  Let me assist you in reaching your real estate goals! Laura Key 310.866.8422

House in Hand

Median list prices in May edged up 2.10 percent month-over-month, as housing inventories also were on the rise, creating a greater balance between supply and demand, according to realtor.com’s latest Real Estate Health Report. 

The nationwide median list price was $199,000 for May, and up 4.79 percent year-over-year. 

"We are seeing large regional markets across the country leading the way to national recovery. These regions are acting as a microcosm for what's slowly happening in the larger real estate market," says Steve Berkowitz, chief executive officer of Move. "Overall, we're seeing seller confidence beginning to respond to consumer demand. Nationally, there are more homes going on the market for a shorter amount of time.  And this is happening in our hot markets on a much larger scale."

California housing markets are seeing some of the highest median price gains. The following 10 markets have seen the highest year-over-year list price gains: 

1. Sacramento, Calif.: up 42.45%

  • Median list price: $284,900

2. Oakland, Calif.: up 38.27%

  • Median list price: $495,000

3. Detroit, Mich.: up 31.73%

  • Median list price: $125,000

4. San Jose, Calif.: up 30.58%

  • Median list price: $679,000

5. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.: up 27.80%

  • Median list price: $428,000

6. Fresno, Calif.: up 27.48%

  • Median list price: $219,900

7. Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.: up 27.03%

  • Median list price: $235,000

8. Stockton-Lodi, Calif.: up 25.63%

  • Median list price: $199,750

9. Reno, Nev.: up 24.23%

  • Median list price: $235,900

10. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc, Calif.: up 24%

  • Median list price: $775,000

Source: realtor.com®

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Laura Key

Realty Goddess

Laura Key on CBS News

Do you work from home? Buy your next home with your office in mind!


If you work from home, and it is time to move to your next home, there are some factors you should consider carefully before making your decision.


The flexibility afforded by a “zero-commute” combined with the skyrocketing price of gasoline has strengthened the case for full time teleworking and telecommuting. According to an Environmental Protection Agency (2004) study:

“Americans spend an average of 46 hours per year stuck in traffic. Gridlock produces more than $63 billion in congestion costs per year”

The artist community has been well acquainted with the use of work/living spaces for years, but improvements in technology have made the benefits of teleworking and occasional telecommuting more attractive to general consumers. According to the key findings form the International Telework Association & Council (ITAC) Telework America (2000) study:

“Home-based teleworkers also have larger homes, on average, than non-teleworkers; the difference amounting to about 500 square feet. The most popular place for an office in these larger homes is a spare bedroom, with the living room a distant second. The primary home telework activity is computer work (55% of total activities), followed by telephoning, reading, and—averaging 7% of the time—face to face meetings.”

As you purchase your next home, there are certain factors to consider if you need to set up a new home office:

Make sure that your high-tech needs can be met. Have a qualified electrician inspect the wiring of the house to see if the system can handle the extra power load that your home office requires. Older homes may need significant upgrades to handle the extra power, while newer homes are built with more energy-efficient systems to handle the additional power along with heating/air conditioning requirements. If you use cable, DSL or satellite internet access, check with your local service provider to see if access is available in your new neighborhood. Shop around for your telephone provider—in some cases, business service bundles may be more cost effective than regular residential service.

Designate where your office space will be. Determine the amount of space you will need to accommodate your work style and space. In many cases a spare bedroom or living room space can be used, if a formal den option is not available. If your work requires heavy telephone usage or just heads-down concentration, you may want to consider utilizing a room with a door. Doors can be closed to reduce interruptions from other family and household noises.

Plan your office blueprint to include all required furniture, bookcases, computers, fax, and printers. Make sure to allow for filing and storage space for files and extra office supplies. Lighting is critical for computer or assembly work, so make sure to allow for direct sunlight along with any specific task lighting that may be necessary. Select flooring options that will allow you to work comfortably—you may wish to go with hardwood or laminate flooring to allow for your chair to move smoothly across the floor. Install enough phone lines to cover your home, business and fax machines needs.

Is the office easily accessible? If you will expect regular package deliveries, make sure that your designated office is easily accessible to the front door of the home. This is also necessary if you will need to meet clients or visitors in your office and would like to ensure a professional appearance for your business.

Find out about local business requirements. Some cities have zoning restrictions and guidelines for work/living spaces along with tax implications. Make sure to check with your local government to determine if special restrictions exist.

Are you ready to find a home that could allow you to work from home? Or...do you need more room in the current home you own? Give me a call - lets get you started!


Rare Opportunity to Buy by the Beach!

What a wonderful opportunity to live your dream of living by the beach! Redondo Beach to be exact! Call me for a scheduled showing! Laura Key 310.866.8422

630 The Village Unit 110 Redondo Beach, CA


1 Bed 1 Bath 621 SqFt - HUD

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Redondo Beach

Call me today! Laura Key 310.866.8422!

Experienced HUD Selling Agent!


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Great Burbank HUD Home! 2 Bed 2 Bath

HUD Homes are a wonderful way to purchase your first home! Most are FHA approved and don't need much work at all.  Make sure you use a HUD experienced agent as myself! I have helped many families obtain their Home Dreams with HUD!  Call me today for more info! Laura Key 310.866.8422

2359 N. Reese Place

Burbank CA 91504

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Home is Where the Heart Is? Are You Ready?


Home is where you create wonderful memories!  One of my favorite things is when my family comes for the holidays and we all gather in the kitchen and work on dinner.  We have so much fun laughing and preparing dishes that have been handed down through the generations.  Then after dinner we gather around piano and sing, sing, sing!  Home.....are you ready?

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What To Ask When Looking At Potential Homes

Buying a house can be an intimidating and overwhelming experience. Here are some key questions to ask yourself and sellers before plopping down a down payment. Let me help you with my FREE homebuyer's class! Call me today! Laura Key 310.866.8422

New House
New House

Buying a house can be an intimidating and overwhelming experience. Here are some key questions to ask yourself and sellers before plopping down a down payment.

What To Ask When Looking At Potential Homes

Following is a list of general questions you should always ask when considering making a real estate purchase. Keep in mind, however, you are unique.

You have particular dislikes and likes as well as factors in your life that are different than other people. The point I am trying to make is that you shouldn’t stick to just these questions. You are making an important choice, so give some thought to your situation.

1. Don’t rush into things. The first question to ask should be directed at yourself. What type of home do you want? How big should it be? What amenities do you want? Are you planning for a family in the next three to five years and will the home be able to accommodate a new bundle of joy? Make a definitive list and stick to it. If you stray from it, you could end up with a house that doesn’t really fit you and suffer buyer’s remorse.

2. The next question is what area do you want to live in? Pick a few. You may find the prices to be excessive or the selection not so hot, but make sure you exhaust those areas before moving on. Again, you want to avoid buyer’s remorse.

3. Once you start looking at homes, a key question to ask is how long the house has been on the market. The amount of time will give you an idea of how flexible the owner is on price. If the house has been on the market for a month, the owner isn’t going to be very flexible. If it has been on the market for six months, flexibility will definitely exist.

4. Has the house previously been in escrow, but fell out? If so, find out why? Was it a problem with the buyer getting financing or did the buyer find out there was something wrong with the home?

5. What kind of condition is the house in and how old is it? Remember that a seller has typically done everything reasonably possible to spruce up the home. If you can see wear and tear on the house, it may be a red flag. In such a situation, you need to get a home inspection to make sure there aren’t problems in areas you can’t see such as mold, rust and water leaks.

6. If you have children or are planning on it, you must investigate the school district. Are the schools good? Are there gangs or crime in the area?

7. In addition to the home price, you should ask whether there are any additional fees such association fees.

8. What are the property taxes and what will they be when you buy? Many people are shocked to find out how much they have to kick out in property taxes. Don’t get surprised.

9. Zoning and easement issues are often overlooked when buying a home. If you are buying in a neighborhood with many homes, zoning is undoubtedly going to be for residential living. Easements, however, can be nasty surprises. Find out if there are any easements on the property. An easement gives a third party the right to use of part of the property. This can include giving the neighbor the right to do something or a utility company to place structures on your prospective property.

10. Noise is another big issue to consider. If you are serious about the property, make sure to drive buy on weekdays and weekends. If the property shares a wall with another residence, such as a duplex or condo, make sure you view it while the neighbors are home to get an idea of how loud it is.

11. In the euphoria of buying a property, practical issues can be missed. A big one is traffic. Specifically, what is the commute like between the house and your place of work? You don’t want to buy the house only to find out it takes three hours to get to and from work each day.

Obviously, you should be asking many additional questions before making a purchase. These 11 questions, however, will help you get started. Call me to schedule a time to discuss the homebuying process in more detail. Don’t forget to look into fun things to do in the area to make sure it’s where you want to live!I care about my clients and educating them is a priority! Laura Key 310.866.8422 or email me at Laura.A.Key@gmail.com