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Inventory Watch

2016-08-20 15.43.32

There has been more hubbub about the market changing, but around San Diego, the stats look solid and remarkably similar to previous years.  Our NSDCC new pendings are staying in a tight range – in the 60s for the last six weeks straight, and generally the inventory is in check – no explosions.

Rich’s additional qualifier of dividing the inventory by the number of sales to determine the “months’ of resale inventory” here helps to show how sales are holding up too:


Click on the ‘Read More’ link below for the NSDCC active-inventory data:

Read More

Posted by on Aug 22, 2016 in Inventory, Jim's Take on the Market | 0 comments

Real Estate Investing

investing more

If you’re closing in on retirement, trying to put your money to work in a zero interest rate world is not an easy job. Financial writers and gurus are obsessed with the stock and bond markets. But despite the lack of attention, many Americans have fallen in love with real estate as an investment option.

  • 28 million Americans are real estate investors (according to data shared by in 2013)
  • 35% of Americans now believe real estate is the best long-term investment (Gallup), compared to 32% who favor stocks
  • Stock ownership is at a low point: Just over 50% of Americans have money invested in the stock market (Gallup)

Americans may believe in real estate, but they don’t necessarily do anything about it when it comes to retirement. Real estate plays only a minor role in most people’s retirement portfolios, according to USA Today, and there are three good reasons.

  1. Liquidity. Stocks and bonds are much easier to buy and sell.
  2. Fear of bubbles. Many investors (and homeowners too) were traumatized by the credit crisis of 2008 and 2009 when the U.S. housing bubble burst.
  3. Too complicated. Investing in real estate can seem very complex because there are multiple ways to own real estate.

Most financial advisors lean heavily on the stock market for retirement for these reasons. Then there’s the not unimportant fact that stock investors have seen massive gains over the past five years.

The issue is what will happen in the next five years and beyond. There are now big questions about how long the bull market will last, and fixed-income investments are paying less and less. All are good reasons to consider what role real estate could play in your retirement portfolio.

Read full article here:

Posted by on Aug 21, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Real Estate Investing | 4 comments

Pop-Up Staging


This might work at the entry level, but higher-priced homes deserve the full treatment:

Pop-up staging, a new, inexpensive method that can eliminate the cost of not only hiring a stager, but also renting, transporting and storing décor and furniture. Flat-pack pieces made of lightweight materials like cardboard and corrugated plastic “pop up” in each room, effectively setting the scene as real housewares (and stage productions!) would.

One pop-up sets provider, Dandy Pack, purveys slip-covered cardboard furniture sturdy enough to withstand 1,000-plus pounds without collapsing. The company’s starter kit, which includes a full/queen bed, a sofa, an oversized chair and an ottoman, costs $1,031. The pieces, which ship in as few as two business days, can be assembled by the listing agent or the seller, further controlling costs.

Posted by on Aug 20, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Staging | 2 comments

Pot in Real Estate Listings

pot plants

How much longer before we see cannabis in our listings?

A horse in a kitchen. A dog posing in the bathtub. A blowup doll in clothes sprawled out on the floor. A basement S&M dungeon. Nude photographs decorating walls, and stripper poles. Estately has seen a lot in the listings on its real estate website.

Yet, the index for homes from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) found a recent house listing in Portland, with its visible marijuana plants, especially “hilarious.” It’s right in the middle of the City of Portland.

“At first I thought, ‘Oh, no! Oh, my goodness please don’t let that be the wacky tobacky that I was warned about,” Ryan Nickum, Estately marketing manager, said. “‘Please don’t allow this to be the evil marijuana lurking in this wholesome family home?’”

But, then, he remembered that it’s the year 2016 and it’s actually quite legal for Oregon homeowners to possess a handful of pot plants. “So it’s really not unlike coming across someone’s home brew operation,” he noted.

Estately has seen marijuana related items in its listings before. “We’ve seen bongs on shelves or tables occasionally in photos of homes for sale, and we’ve definitely seen some sizable greenhouses that hinted at marijuana production, but only recently have we seen actual plants appearing in listings,” Mr. Nickum said.

Not much has changed for Estately since recreational marijuana became legal in the states of Washington and Oregon – except the website did add a ‘Weed Score’ feature to its real estate search options, which would allow home buyers to see how close homes for sale are from dispensaries and other businesses that would be of use to cannabis enthusiasts.

Estately operates in numerous states, including Washington, Oregon, where medical or recreational marijuana is legal. Mr. Nickum thinks the marijuana plants in the photos could even be a selling point of the properties.

“The fact that the real estate agent didn’t remove the plants and even prominently photographed them would lead one to believe that some sizable pot plants in the yard are a selling point for the house,”  Mr. Nickum said. “And that’s really no surprise because we’re talking about Oregon here, a state where real estate agents frequently price houses at $420,000.”

Mr. Nickum’s only concern is neighbors climbing the fence to help themselves to the plants. “And I’m sure potential buyers will want to know whether the plants will still be there when they buy the house. It could turn into a negotiating tool. ‘We’d be willing to waive the home inspection in exchange for leaving the landscaping in the backyard.’”


Posted by on Aug 19, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, The Future | 2 comments

California Mortgage-Debt Tax Relief


California used to lead the nation in exempting mortgage-debt relief from taxation.  But the latest extension of that law was defeated, leaving short-sellers and those being foreclosed in a prickly position – do they hang in there now?

The reason the bill died is because Jerry Brown and other state politicians want to reap the additional tax – but these beleaguered folks can’t or won’t pay it and will have to hang on to their over-encumbered properties.

Senate Bill 907, which had won unanimous approval of the state Senate, died in just a few seconds last week, and that angers Peggy Spatz.

She and her husband, George, took out a $150,000 second mortgage on their modest suburban Sacramento home 11 years ago, only to see home values and their retirement investments crash in the Great Recession that struck shortly thereafter.

They, like millions of other Californians with underwater homes, eventually negotiated a settlement with their lender to write down the loan, only to learn that the canceled debt was what’s called “a taxable event.”

Congress had declared that loan write-downs, short sales and other forms of mortgage relief would be free of federal income taxes. The California Legislature and then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger followed suit for several years, extending relief through 2013.

However, when Jerry Brown returned to the governorship, facing an immense budget deficit, he refused to continue the tax exemption for any relief actions since 2013, last year vetoing a bill that would have added two years to the window. It created, a Senate staff analysis said, “a fine mess.”

Brown said the state budget “has remained precariously balanced (and) I cannot support providing additional credits that will make balancing the state’s budget even more difficult.”

SB 907, carried by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Manteca, would have extended the tax break through 2016. She represents a region hardest hit by the housing meltdown and during one hearing cited her own underwater mortgage.

“Many years later, it still isn’t worth what I paid for it,” said Galgiani, adding that many Californians are in the same situation and “for us to hit them a second time is unconscionable.”

The Spatzes hoped that with the Senate’s passage and a heavyweight list of supporters, including Attorney General Kamala Harris and real estate and banking lobbies, it would at least get to Brown’s desk.

In anticipation, they wrote a letter to Brown, laying out their experience and concluding, “This letter is written by two people, but there are hundreds of thousands of us. Please don’t turn your back on us.”

SB 907 never made it to Brown. Although it also won unanimous support in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee, it was placed on the Assembly Appropriation Committee’s “suspense file” because of its cost – an estimated $95 million in lost revenue during its first year and $57 million in the next two years.

Last week, the appropriations chairwoman, Lorena Gonzalez, announced the fate of dozens of Senate bills, spending just a few seconds on each. SB 907, she said, would not be sent to the Assembly floor.

As is the custom, no reason for its demise was offered. But it probably had something to do with its heavy cost, more than 10 percent of the total for bills on the suspense file, and the strong likelihood that Brown would have vetoed it, as he had done in 2015.

“The thing that breaks my heart is that people aren’t marching in the street,” Peggy Spatz said after learning of Gonzalez’s decree. “I’m a bitter person at this point.”

Posted by on Aug 18, 2016 in Foreclosures, Jim's Take on the Market, Short Sales, Short Selling | 4 comments