Gene Taylor, RIP

Gene Taylor, a renowned blues and boogie-woogie pianist in Los Angeles in the 1970s and ’80s who moved to Austin in the 1990s to play with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, died Saturday at home in North Austin. He was 68.

Taylor’s housemate, filmmaker Monty McMillan, said Sunday that he found Taylor’s body in bed on Saturday morning. The house had been without heat for five days as a result of statewide power outages related to the recent winter storm.

“I don’t really know exactly what happened.” McMillan said. “I don’t know if he had some underlying health condition, but I know the cold didn’t help.

“We both stayed in our own beds trying to stay warm. I came out of it OK, and he obviously didn’t.”

Born July 2, 1952, in Norwalk, Calif., Taylor had family ties in the Fort Worth area. Grammy-winning Los Angeles guitarist Dave Alvin, who played with Taylor in roots-rock band the Blasters for several years in the 1980s, said Sunday that he’d known Taylor since they were both teenagers.

As a teen in the 1960s, Taylor got gigs in Los Angeles with blues greats such as Big Joe Turner and T-Bone Walker. He played in bands around Downey, Calif., with Alvin’s older brother, Phil Alvin, in the early 1970s before getting hired to tour with California rock band Canned Heat. “He was the first guy to get out of Downey, so he was sort of our hero,” Dave Alvin said.

Taylor moved to Canada in the late 1970s and spent time playing with renowned musician Ronnie Hawkins, whose band the Hawks at one time included members of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group the Band. After moving back to California in the early 1980s, Taylor joined the Blasters, recording and touring with the group for several years.

Between runs with the Blasters, Taylor also toured with rock & roll pioneer Ricky Nelson, who died in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1985. “He was supposed to be on the tour when the airplane crash happened,” Alvin said, explaining that Taylor had ended up playing a couple of gigs with the Blasters that week instead.

Taylor’s initial connection to the Fabulous Thunderbirds was another fateful encounter, on a night when both Alvin and Taylor simultaneously quit the Blasters. Band members “were fighting onstage in Montreal, and I just decided this was the end for me,” Alvin said, noting that the Thunderbirds had opened the show. Taylor made the same decision. Alvin recalls that “Gene walked directly onto the Thunderbirds’ bus and said, ‘Do you guys need a piano player?’”

Taylor remained based in Canada for a few more years after that — he shared a Juno Award with Austin’s Doug Sahm and Canada’s Amos Garrett for their 1987 collaborative album “The Return of the Formerly Brothers” — before moving to Austin in 1993 to join the Thunderbirds. He recorded and toured with the group until 2006.

In addition to playing on albums by James Harman, the Red Devils, John Hammond and others, Taylor made three solo records: 1986’s “Handmade,” a 2003 self-titled album, and 2013’s “Roadhouse Memories.” He performed often at nightclubs around Austin and had a weekly residency at the Continental Club with guitarist Chris Ruest in 2017.

McMillan said Taylor, who at one point lived for several years in Belgium, had been set to perform in Sweden in early 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hit. “He was so looking forward to going back to Europe to play,” McMillan said. “They loved him over there.”

Taylor stood out as a pianist because of the “percussive intensity of his playing, which harkened back to early blues boogie players,” Alvin said. “A lot of modern-day pianists, when they play that stuff, sound like they’re coming at it from the outside. With Gene, it always sounded like it was coming straight from the inside.”

Link to Article

Gene and James doing the boogie together:

Prop 19 – It’s Time!

I’ve seen two new listings mention that their close of escrow must be after April 1st!

We are within range now, so hopefully we’ll see more Prop 19 sellers putting their home on the market in the coming weeks and months. The California Association of Realtors still says that this will benefit ‘millions of seniors’ and will open up ‘tens of thousands’ of new homebuying opportunities:

  • Removes location and price restrictions on property tax transfers for homeowners who are 55+, severely disabled, or victims of wildfire or natural disaster and allows them to transfer the property tax base of their existing home to a new home anywhere in California, regardless of price (with an adjustment upward to their tax basis if the replacement property is of greater value).
  • Creates housing opportunities to build more senior housing and retirement communities for millions of seniors and Baby Boomers to retire with Prop 19’s tax benefits.
  • Generates homebuying opportunities for tens of thousands of renters, young families, and first-time homeowners.
  • Provides new revenues annually for fire protection, emergency response, local government, and school districts.

For those who like to move, you can transfer your old tax basis up to three times (though there is conflicting commentary on whether disaster and contamination victims would get three chances or continue to be allowed just one transfer).

Other nuances:

If you buy a more-expensive home, the difference between the sales prices is added to the tax basis. Example: If you sell for $800,000 and buy at $900,000, the extra $100,000 is added to the old tax basis.

You can buy the new home first, and then sell the old one.

If the sale or purchase of a primary residence takes place before April 1, 2021, and the subsequent sale or purchase takes place within two years and on or after April 1, 2021, then you may qualify. The Association is seeking clarification – check with your attorney.

The ballot measure eliminated the parent-to-child and grandparent-to-grandchild exemption in cases where the child or grandchild does not use the inherited property as their principal residence, such as using a property as a rental house or a second home. When the inherited property is used as the recipient’s principal residence but is sold for $1 million more than the property’s taxable value, an upward adjustment in assessed value would occur.

The C.A.R. is working with the state to create a streamlined process to easily transfer the old tax basis.  There are rumblings about additional legislation being needed to clarify other points – stay tuned!


The San Diego County Taxpayer Advocate is available for questions:


NSDCC Pendings Overtake Actives

This morning we have more homes in escrow than we have for sale!

NSDCC Detached-Home Listings

Listing Status
# of Listings
Median List Price

Once upon a time I was discussing the actives/pendings relationship with local agent Peter B.  He agreed that a 2:1 ratio of actives to pendings was a sign of a healthy market.  If 2:1 was healthy, what is 1:1?

One thing that’s happening is that the action is rising into the upper price ranges. Today we have 94 homes in escrow that are priced over $3,000,000, which I doubt we’ve ever had before.

If we don’t see a surge of more listings, the pendings could extend its lead in the coming days/weeks!


San Diego Case-Shiller Index, Dec

I guessed that we might have +10% in both sales and pricing this year, but so far that is way too conservative.  It’s not just the pricing that’s on the run – the sales are cooking too:

NSDCC Closed Sales Jan 1 – Feb 15

# of Sales
Median Sales Price
% Change, YoY

The Case-Shiller Index should really take off in the coming months – maybe San Diego will get to #1 in USA!

San Diego Non-Seasonally-Adjusted CSI changes:

Observation Month
M-o-M chg
Y-o-Y chg
January ’19
Jan ’20

From cnbc:

December is usually the slowest month for the housing market, but price gains didn’t slow down one bit in 2020. In fact, they rose at the fastest pace in seven years.

Home prices nationally increased 10.4% compared with December 2019, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.  That is the strongest annual growth rate in over six years, and a significantly stronger gain than in November, when prices were up 9.5%. It also ranks as one of the largest annual gains in the more than 30-year history of the index.

The 10-city composite annual increase was 9.8%, up from 8.9% in November. The 20-city composite posted a 10.1% gain, up from 9.2% in the previous month. Detroit was excluded, due to Covid-related data collection issues.

“2020?s 10.4% gain marks the best performance of housing prices in a calendar year since 2013,” said Craig Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “From the perspective of more than 30 years of S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller data, December’s year-over-year change ranks within the top decile of all reports.”

Phoenix, Seattle, and San Diego continued to show the strongest price gains among the 19 cities surveyed. Prices in Phoenix rose 14.4% year-over-year price. In Seattle, they rose 13.6% and San Diego saw a 13.0% increase. Eighteen of the 19 cities reported higher price increases in the 12 months ending December 2020 versus the 12 months ending November 2020.

“These data are consistent with the view that Covid has encouraged potential buyers to move from urban apartments to suburban homes. This may indicate a secular shift in housing demand, or may simply represent an acceleration of moves that would have taken place over the next several years anyway,” added Lazzara.

Home prices began to see big gains last summer, as Covid-driven demand from the stay-at-home culture descended on the housing market. Record low supply combined with record low mortgage rates caused bidding wars on homes across the nation.

Mortgage rates turned sharply higher last week, which will cut into affordability going forward into the 2021 spring market. Prices generally lag sales, so if sales do suffer, it is unlikely the market will see significant cooling of prices for several months.


Zillow Offers

The talk about the cost of home-selling is reaching new heights, yet if you have a zillion-dollar marketing budget and brand recognition, you can get away with charging twice as much and get away with it.

All they have to do is feature advertisements like this one with loveable people singing their praises, and homeowners with more equity than they ever imagined will be happy just to call the dream-weavers.

There is NO mention of the cost of doing business here, but it is double what I charge – and I push the sales price to the extreme, while they convince you that their price is all you’ll ever get:

One Month Worth!

Tomorrow we will get the latest pricing data via the Case-Shiller Index.

Last month, San Diego was #3 in the nation with a 12.3% YoY increase, and we should see a similar number tomorrow – only because we may have taken a bit of a breather (see the trend above).

We could see slower appreciation just because there aren’t enough homes selling to reach max momentum:

Months’ Supply of San Diego County Houses For Sale Over 2,000sf:

In previous Januarys (the typical low point for the year) we still had around 3-months worth (or more), but now the houses for sale in the county is down to about one-months’ worth of supply!

If we had a surge of new listings that doubled the current inventory, it’s very likely that there is enough demand to soak it up – and cause prices to go up faster!

Inventory Watch

We are getting close to a remarkable event – having more pendings than actives.

Here’s the current scorecard – 359 Actives, and 338 Pendings!

NSDCC Actives and Pendings

Price Range
Active Listings
Avg $$/sf
Pending Listings
Avg $$/sf
$1.0M – $1.5M
$1.5M – $2.0M




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