Homeowner Resources
Alta Housing serves as a resource for BMR homeowners by providing information on a variety of matters including the rights and responsibilities of BMR homeowners, valuation of BMR units, mortgage refinancing, and how to maximize and protect one’s investments in a BMR home.
Valuation of Units
Resale Value

The resale price of BMR units is established in accordance with a formula that limits appreciation to a percentage of the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the San Francisco Bay Area during the period of ownership. The use of this formula means that BMR units appreciate by very modest amounts compared to market rate properties. However, the limit on appreciation enables the City of Palo to keep BMR units affordable for the next generation of BMR homebuyers.

In appropriate cases, an amount equal to the depreciated cost of significant improvements made to the unit by the BMR owner for which the owner can provide receipts and the full amount of any special assessments paid by the BMR owner to the Homeowners Association for the maintenance and repair of common areas are added to the resale price.

The sale price of comparable market rate units or even comparable BMR units has no bearing on the resale price of a particular BMR unit. The resale price of BMR units is determined solely by application of the rules set forth above.


You should notify Alta Housings’ BMR team if you intend to refinance your unit. At that time, we will inform you of the current BMR value of your unit. (Interim price calculations made for purposes other than resale do not include any adjustments for improvements or special assessments.)

You may not take out mortgage loans that exceed the current BMR value of your unit. Over-financing is a violation of the program rules, may constitute criminal fraud, and can result in the loss of your home.

Know the Current Value of Your BMR Unit

You may ask your BMR admin to calculate the current value of your BMR unit at any time, not just when you are considering refinancing. We recommend that you do so annually to ensure that the assessed value of your unit for property tax purposes that do not exceed the BMR value. If the assessed value of your unit exceeds the BMR value you are overpaying on your property taxes and should contact the Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office to request an adjustment. Valuations are sent to the county of Santa Clara Assessor’s Office at the beginning of the year.

Homeowner Maintenance & Improvements
Maintenance Responsibilities

BMR owners are responsible for maintaining their unit in good condition. Continued maintenance of and upgrades to your BMR unit can have many advantages. You will get more enjoyment out of the property while you live there. If you should decide to sell, your unit can sell faster and you will not have to pay extra repair costs at closing. Also, the resale price of your unit will be increased by the depreciated cost of significant improvements.

Preventative maintenance is the best way to keep you home in great shape. Consult the Home Maintenance Checklist below for tips on what maintenance issues you should review regularly.

The agencies listed below provide maintenance assistance to low-income homeowners.

Maintenance Check List

The following is a list of suggested preventative maintenance checks to help you keep your home in good condition. The list is intended to provide general guidelines for home maintenance. You should add to or modify the list, as necessary, to accommodate conditions present in your home.

Upon Taking Ownership:

  • Change the locks on all exterior entrances.
  • Check that all windows and doors are secure. Improve window hardware as necessary. Security rods can be added to sling windows and doors. Consider purchasing a security system
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of the home. There should be a smoke detector outside all sleeping areas. Replace batteries on any existing smoke detectors and test them. Make a note to replace batteries again in one year.
  • Create a plan of action for evacuating the house in the event of a fire. Ensure that there is an operable window or door in every room of the house. Consult with the Palo Alto Fire Department regarding safety issues and what to do in the event of a fire.
  • Examine the home for trip hazards. Loose or torn carpeting and flooring should be repaired.
  • Investigate the location of the main shut-offs for the plumbing, heating, and electrical systems.

Every Month:

  • Check that fire extinguisher(s) are fully charged. Re-charge if necessary.
  • Examine heating/cooling air filters and replace or clean as necessary.
  • Inspect and clean humidifiers and electronic air cleaners.
  • Carefully inspect the condition of shower enclosures. Repair or replace deteriorated grout and caulk. Ensure that water is not escaping the enclosure during showering. Check below all plumbing fixtures for evidence of leakage.
  • Repair or replace leaking faucets or shower heads.
  • Secure loose toilets. Repair troublesome flush mechanisms.

Spring and Fall:

  • Look in attic (if accessible) to ensure that roof vents are not obstructed. Check for evidence of leakage, condensation or vermin activity. Level out insulation if needed.
  • Survey the basement and/or crawl space walls for evidence of moisture seepage.
  • Clean windows and test their operation. Improve caulking and weather-stripping as necessary. Watch for evidence of rot in wood window frames. Paint and repair windowsills and frames as necessary.
  • Test all ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) devices.
  • Test the Temperature and Pressure Relief (TPR) Valve on water heaters.
  • Inspect for evidence of wood boring insect activity.
  • Test the overhead garage door opener to ensure that the auto-reverse mechanism is responding properly. Clean and lubricate hinges, rollers, and tracks on overhead doors.
  • Replace or clean exhaust hood filters.
  • Clean, inspect and/or service all appliances as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.


  • Replace all smoke detector batteries.
  • Have the heating, cooling, and water heater systems cleaned and serviced.
  • Have chimneys inspected and cleaned. Ensure that rain caps and vermin screens are secure.
  • Examine the electrical panels, wiring and electrical components for evidence of overheating. Ensure that all components are secure. Flip the breakers on and off to ensure that they are not sticky.
Maintenance Resources and Contacts

Avenidas Senior Home Repair Service

Low-cost maintenance assistance for persons 55 or older.

450 Bryant Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 326-5362, x26

Economic and Social Opportunities, Inc. (ESO) Housing and Energy Services

Free assistance for minor repairs.

1445 Oakland Road
San Jose, CA 95112
(408) 971-0888