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Good examples of a growing trend in flex space, and how people are handling their live-work needs:

An excerpt:

Self-employment rates are higher for older Americans than for younger workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and new homes targeting mature buyers reflect this trend.

At Chelsea Heights, a development in Silver Spring, Md., developer EYA built townhouses with a flex space on the ground floor, which many owners use as an office.

In 2015, Michael Shulman and Jackie Judd paid $950,000—more than they planned—for a 2,600-square-foot townhouse in Chelsea Heights. It has three bedrooms, along with flex space.

“The flexibility of the floorplan was very important to us,” says Mr. Shulman, a 60-year-old investment adviser who runs an online service called “Options Income Blueprint” from his townhome’s first-floor flex space. Ms. Judd, a freelance journalist, works on the townhome’s third floor, far away from her husband’s frequent webinars.

“We don’t get into each other’s way during the day,” says Mr. Shulman. “You know that old saying: I married you for better or for worse, but not for lunch.”

Lisa Phillips Visca, a writer and script consultant in Los Angeles, works out of her three-bedroom, 2,200-square-foot condominium at Playa Vista, a planned community on the Westside of the city. At least once a day, she leaves to get air, grab coffee or lunch or shop for groceries.

With her husband, Dennis Visca, a garment-industry executive, she moved from a larger house in Pacific Palisades in January. The couple was drawn to the vibe and walkability of the neighborhood, which locals call Silicon Beach for its lively technology scene, with startups and offices of tech titans such Google and YouTube.

The Viscas, both empty nesters in their 50s, paid $2.1 million for their condo, located in a modern brick building designed by KTGY. Mr. Visca took the unit’s flex space as his home office, while his wife uses one of the bedrooms for her work, which includes directing and producing films, plays and television shows. Ms. Phillips Visca starts the day as early as 3 a.m. with coffee in her office, conveniently located on the far end of the space, away from master bedroom and living room.

“There is perfect privacy,” she says. For a creative person working from home, she says, “the floorplan was a huge bonus.”

Posted by on Apr 27, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Thinking of Buying? | 0 comments

Zillow and Sandicor Partnership

Sandicor had said that the Zillow demands were unacceptable. Who caved?  Zillow is still working out the bugs, but this should guarantee that they are as accurate as the MLS:

SEATTLE, April 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Zillow Group, which houses a portfolio of the largest and most vibrant real estate and home-related brands on mobile and Web, today announced partnerships with the following four new multiple listing services (MLSs):

  • SANDICOR, Inc., in San Diego. SANDICOR represents all of San Diego County, including East San Diego County and Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS®, the Greater San Diego Association of REALTORS®, and the North San Diego County Association of REALTORS®, with nearly 20,000 members representing more than 8,000 listings.
  • The Austin Board of REALTORS® in Austin, Texas. ABoR represents nearly 11,500 members and more than 5,000 listings in Central Texas.
  • The New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS. NOMAR is comprised of three organizations, the REALTORS® Association, which serves over 4,000 REALTORS®, the Commercial Investment Division (CID), which provides commercial brokers and agents benefits targeted to their specialized needs and Gulf South Real Estate Information Network, Inc., which provides MLS services to over 5,000 members.
  • Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors represents 2,700 members and nearly 3,000 listings.

“We are pleased to be working with these leading MLSs to ensure that the millions of home buyers and sellers using Zillow Group sites and mobile apps see the highest quality listings information,” said Errol Samuelson, Zillow Group chief industry development officer. “Now, the members of these MLSs and associations can rest assured their listings are coming to Zillow and Trulia in less than 10 minutes with the same high quality standards that MLS data ensures.”

Zillow Group now partners with more than 570 MLSs around the country, covering 95 percent of active listings in the U.S. marketplace.

Through the Zillow Partnership Platform, real estate agents are prominently displayed as the listing agent on all of their listings and can receive leads directly from Zillow and Trulia, all at no cost. Brokerages receive attribution, branding, a link back directly to their websites and daily reporting access.

Posted by on Apr 27, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Zillow | 0 comments

Trump Tax Plan and N.A.R.

The Trump tax reform plan has been under intense scrutiny, and who knows what will come of it.  But the response from our National Association of Realtors was exactly what we can expect from them for the duration. They entitled their article, “Homeownership in the Crosshairs of Latest Tax Plan”.  An excerpt:

The mortgage interest deduction and the state and local tax deduction make homeownership more affordable, while 1031 like-kind exchanges help investors keep inventory on the market and money flowing to local communities.

“Those tax incentives are at risk in the tax plan released today. Current homeowners could very well see their home’s value plummet and their equity evaporate if tax reform nullifies or eliminates the tax incentives they depend upon, while prospective homebuyers will see that dream pushed further out of reach. As it stands, homeowners already pay between 80 and 90 percent of U.S. federal income tax. Without tax incentives for homeownership, those numbers could rise even further. And while we appreciate the Administration’s stated commitment to protecting homeownership, this plan does anything but.”

“Homeowners put their hard-earned money on the line to make an investment in themselves and their communities, and it’s on them to protect that investment. Common sense says owning a home isn’t the same as renting one, and American’s tax code shouldn’t treat those activities the same either.

“Realtors® support tax reform, and it’s encouraging to see leaders in Washington doing their part to get there. We believe tax rates should come down to the degree that sound fiscal policy allows, and simplifying the tax code will help ensure fairness and transparency for individual taxpayers. It’s a goal we share with the authors of this tax plan, but getting there by eliminating the incentives for homeownership is the wrong approach. We look forward to working with leaders in Congress and the administration to reform the tax code, while preserving America’s long-held commitment to homeownership.”

This quote was from our N.A.R. president, a volunteer position that changes every year.  I don’t have high expectations of them, but can’t we do better?

To threaten that home values will “plummet” if the M.I.D. is eliminated is a gross fabrication only meant to scare people.  The average mortgage amount in America is $168,000 – any big benefit from the mortgage-interest deduction is by wealthy individuals who can qualify for larger mortgages.  With our ultra-low interest rates, any actual benefit is limited.  Values won’t ‘plummet’ if the M.I.D. goes away.

Let’s also note that if values did plummet, then wouldn’t prospective homebuyers benefit, instead of seeing their “dream pushed further out of reach”??

The real threat is that if the M.I.D. did get phased out, then the NAR lobbyists would be out of a job.

Posted by on Apr 27, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market | 10 comments

Palomar Airport

Four hundred flights per day?

McClellan Palomar Airport in Carlsbad is getting ready to relaunch commercial flights to Los Angeles. The airport has had trouble finding an airline that could offer commercial service, since United pulled its SkyWest commuter flights to Los Angeles in 2015.

An average of nearly 400 flights either land or take off from Palomar Airport every day, but they are almost all corporate or privately chartered jets.

San Diego County has invested millions in the terminal and other improvements. But the runway, which is less than 5,000 feet long, limits the aircraft that can land. A 20-year master plan could eventually extend the runway. Last year the County Board of Supervisors approved a “Preferred Alternative” which is currently being studied, and may come up for a vote next year.

Palomar Airport Manager Olivier Brackett said Great Lakes Airlines could start commercial flights to LA again as soon as June.

“Great Lakes operate aircraft that can fly in and out of the airport today,“ he said. “They don’t need a runway extension — and they’re getting the connecting agreements with the connecting airlines, which is key when you’re flying to LA.”

The president of Great Lakes Airlines, Chuck Howell, confirmed that his airline is completing negotiations with United Airlines over schedules and fares, and plans to start flying to LA sometime in June.

Howell said Great Lakes will have baggage agreements with other major airlines, so passengers flying on from LA can check in their luggage in Carlsbad and retrieve it at their destination.

Brackett said the new service may start with planes as small as a nine-seater turboprop, but Howell said he hopes to start operations right away with a larger 30-seater turboprop, equivalent in size to the aircraft previously used by SkyWest.

Residents living near Palomar Airport frequently register noise complaints. Brackett said the new commercial service will be less noisy than the corporate jets and will add just six extra landings and takeoffs every day.

“But the benefit is huge because it opens up the airport to the entire community,” Brackett said, “not just those that wish to charter a flight — so anybody could fly in or fly out to anywhere you want to go.”

Brackett said the initial service will be to connecting flights in LA, but Palomar airport hopes to offer flights from Carlsbad to wider destinations later this year.


Posted by on Apr 26, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market | 6 comments


Yesterday it was Seattle that had the highest increase in their Case-Shiller Index, rising 12.2% Y-o-Y.  You know that frenzy fever is high when the quotes barely make sense:


Andrea Conway’s home selling story has become the norm for Seattleites. She bought her Ballard home for a little under $500,000 around Easter 2014 and just sold it for more than $750,000

From the time they listed to the time they sold, the Conways, who are moving to California, had multiple offers and closed within a week. Realtors say that is very common right now for Seattle sellers. The buyers paid in all cash.

“Sellers are putting houses on the market, and it’s just normal for things to sell above list price and in some cases well above list price,” John L. Scott Realtor Carl Shaw said. “In a lot of cases, you’re seeing anywhere from four-to-eight, up to 15 or 20 offers on houses.”

The Conways say they may move back to Seattle in a few years, but right now they have decided to leave the city.

“We love it. We love the Seattle vibe, but the real estate market is so hot right now that we’re not comfortable, and we really can’t afford to put our money in this market right now,” Conway said.

She has this advice for buyers.

“Be prepared to spend considerably more than the asking price, especially if it’s in one of the hot neighborhoods like Ballard, or Fremont, or Wallingford, or West Seattle,” Conway said.

Shaw told us that buyers should be prepared to have as much cash ready as possible or have complete loan approvals.

Shaw has been doing this for 28 years and says the only other time when he saw this hot of a job and housing market was in 2006.

“In that market (2006) we had a ton of inventory, we had builders with a ton of inventory, and the difference now is that we have really strong job growth and next to no inventory,” Shaw added.

Next to no inventory is a tough reality for buyers, but for the Conways it is a blessing.

“We’re thankful, and we’ll see what the next adventure holds for us,” Conway said with a smile.

Posted by on Apr 26, 2017 in Frenzy, Jim's Take on the Market, Market Conditions | 10 comments

Kemp Struck Out

I went on the auction mobile app shortly after the auction should have started today, and there wasn’t a trace of any action.  On the MLS listing there is no mention of any auction, and it is an active listing, priced at $11,500,000 just like it has been since December 9th.

Did anyone else see or hear of anything?

The clip above from the auction-house’s website shows it being available for offers tonight, so it appears that the postponed auction was actually a dud.

Our reader elbarcosr described what might have happened after the first auction postponed on April 20th:

We all know the story. He wants 10 mil + and there aren’t any takers. If you open the bidding and there are no bids, is it really an auction?

Until we get to a point where sellers will commit to a reasonable opening bid with no reserve, auctions will remain a gimmick or a small refuge of the uber-houses. Problem is the opening bid needs to be below ‘perceived’ market value to generate the buzz and most sellers aren’t willing to do that.

But it was George T. that guessed specifically on the afternoon of April 20th that the auction would fail:

JtR: I am guessing it might not have a deal – a failed auction. George T

Pending any other evidence to the contrary, George is the winner of the Padres tickets!  Congratulations George – great guess!

This doesn’t look good for the auction house either. If they are going to be advertising no-reserve auctions – which they did in this case – then they need to let ’em fly and the sellers need to bite the bullet.

Posted by on Apr 25, 2017 in Auctions, Jim's Take on the Market | 3 comments

San Diego Case-Shiller Index, February

If we stay on the same pace we’ve had for the first two months of 2017, our local C-S index will rise about 10% this year!  Blitzy just kills it with this quote:

David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said the low stock of existing homes for sale — currently about 3.8 months worth of supply at current sales rates — is bolstering the price increases across the board.

“Housing affordability has declined since 2012 as the pressure of higher prices has been a larger factor than stable to lower mortgage rates,” Blitzer added.

The cities with the biggest annual price gains in February were Seattle, Portland, Oregon and Dallas, according to the groups’ index.

San Diego Non-Seasonally-Adjusted CSI changes:

Read More

Posted by on Apr 25, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Same-House Sales | 1 comment


Spring homebuyers are pounding the pavement at a furious pace, but the pickings are getting ever slimmer.

Even as more homes come on the market for this traditionally popular sales season, they’re flying off fast, with bidding wars par for the course. Home prices have now surpassed their last peak, and at the entry level, where demand is highest, sellers are firmly in the driver’s seat.

“I’ve been selling real estate for 25 years and this is the strongest seller’s market I have ever seen in my entire real estate career,” said David Fogg, a real estate agent with Keller Williams in Burbank, California. “A lot of our sellers are optimistically pricing their homes in today’s market, and I have to say in most cases we’re getting the home sold anyway.

Fogg listed a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,240-square-foot home in Burbank for $789,000 and had three offers before the first open house Sunday. In the Los Angeles-area market, that is considered an entry-level home. The open house drew more than 100 potential buyers, most of them already weary of the competition.

“It’s very tough. Most of the listings are intentionally listed a little low to get a lot of attention, and it’s not uncommon to get 12 to 16 offers on one property,” said Jilbert Mosessian, who has been renting in the neighborhood but wants to buy. “In three properties recently, we did our best, we went considerably over the listing price, and we were told that there were still five people above us and they were only going to deal with them.”

Mosessian said he will have to try another neighborhood and cut his expectations.

Posted by on Apr 24, 2017 in Frenzy, Jim's Take on the Market, Market Conditions | 1 comment