Free Seismic Upgrades for Oakland Real Estate

By: Hamid Grinage

If you're from Oakland or anywhere in the the East Bay Area, then when the ground starts moving you don't get "too" surprised because it happens so often! We're pretty safe from floods, hurricanes and snow, but we are known for earthquakes and this means extra measures need to be taken in most cases to help a home stay in one piece and on its foundation in the even of a large quake.

Seismic retrofitting is the process of reinforcing your home against the forces of earthquakes. In general, it includes 'sheer walling' your foundation walls to help prevent them from twisting during an earthquake, and bolting your home to it's foundation to help prevent it from sliding off the foundation during a seismic event. There also metal braces that are used in certain types of foundations that are used. Depending on the type of construction it is, there may be other things that can be done as well.

To help homeowners in Oakland get their homes upgraded, the City of Oakland is now offering a partial rebate of the city transfer tax on your real estate transaction to be used to pay for seismic retrofitting. The program works like this: Within 60 days of closing escrow on your new home, you must complete and submit your application to the city. Once your application is accepted, you have one year to complete the seismic retrofit work. The incentive is that you can get a rebate for a portion of the city transfer tax that you paid when you bought your home. The rebate can be up to half of one percent of the purchase price of the home. So on a $400,000 home, you could receive $2000 back towards the cost of the retrofit work. This work isn't usually too expensive, so $2000 can go a long way to help protect your home. Unfortunately, this program only applies to purchasers of Oakland real estate, so if you are currently a homeowner already then you would not be able to take advantage of it.

Most homes in Oakland do not have seismic reinforcement, and considering the age of most of the homes in Oakland, it's great that the city of Oakland has created a way to get some (or all) of this work done at no cost to a buyer. We in the Bay Area do live in an active seismic zone, and this type of work has been proven to help protect homes from damage during an earthquake.

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