As a professional real estate agent in Malibu, I am speaking for many of my colleagues in describing the problems that the city’s zoning code imposes on a typical home seller in this community. In attempting to comply with state residential disclosure laws, sellers and their agents are shooting at a moving target because of the complexity of the city’s current regulations and their ambiguous implementation by the Planning Department.
Although city law states that nonpermitted structures such as guest houses are grandfathered, the city has begun aggressively citing homeowners for buildings that have been here for 40-50 years without penalty. This creates unnecessary personal financial liability to all parties involved. If the current zoning policy is not amended, agents will have no alternative but to refer all buyers and sellers to an attorney. This will prevent agents from providing the services that they have traditionally offered and increase the seller’s cost significantly.
Sellers also face real economic loss as either the buyer or the seller will reduce the sale price by the significant expense of permitting pre-existing structures, including geological and environmental studies, various plans, increased covered parking requirements, etc. This trend will inevitably make it more difficult for property owners to sell their homes or to realize the equity in their properties and for buyers to get loans.
Name withheld on request