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Inventory Watch

How do the first three quarters of 2020 compare to last year’s stats? In spite of 8% fewer listings and the pandemic, we’ve sold more SFRs this year between La Jolla and Carlsbad!

NSDCC Listings and Sales, Jan 1 – Sept. 30

Year
# of Listings
# of Sales
2019
4,070
2,237
2020
3,733
2,265

The graph above plots the weekly activity, and probably shows the guardrails for next year too. If inventory stays tight, we’ll probably see a real scramble for the quality buys like we’ve had this year. If the inventory surges, it will look more like 2019 – which is fine too.

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C.A.R. 2021 Forecast

The California Association of Realtors kicks off the 2021 forecast season! To show how far removed they are from reality, check their foreclosure forecast. Homeowners are flush with equity, and if they get in trouble, they will sell before they getting foreclosed because realtors will be soliciting them the minute their notice of default is recorded. Plus the banking laws were changed/ignored last time and lenders have figured it out – don’t foreclose on anyone unless there is ample equity so the bank doesn’t lose money.

Yet the association thinks that foreclosures will make up 5% to 30% of the market, and be discounted up to 40%??

My prediction? Foreclosures will make up less than 1% of the market next year, and no discounts.

Excerpts:

The number of homes on the market — down 50% in 2020 — are expected to stay low in the coming year, creating more upward pressure on prices.  Southern California likely will see a similar pattern to the statewide trend, Appleton-Young said.

This year’s median house price — or price at the midpoint of all sales — is projected to rise 8.1% from 2019, due in part to strong sales of higher-priced homes, pulling up the overall averages.

While home values rose in all price segments this year, the biggest price growth was in the top 20% of the market, Appleton-Young said. That’s because professionals and other high-income earners weren’t hit as hard by the pandemic as were renters and people working in the restaurant, hotel and hospitality sectors.

Foreclosures also are projected to rise next year, although not nearly to the degree they did during the Great Recession.

For example, CAR economists projected bank-owned homes will make up between 5% of next year’s listings in a best-case scenario to 30% in a worst-case scenario. By comparison, 60% of homes selling at the start of 2009 were bank-owned, with price discounts in the 60% range. A worst-case scenario for next year foresees discounts of 40% for foreclosed homes.

Ultimately, the housing market is ending 2020 in much better shape than anyone expected, Appleton-Young said. For example, house sales shifted from a 41% drop in May to a 15% gain in August, CAR figures show.

“The recovery coming back has been absolutely stunning,” Appleton-Young said. “There’s just a lot of uncertainty, so we tend to be conservative looking at next year.”

Link to Full Article Link to CAR Forecast

New ADU Incentives in San Diego

There should be some scrambling to purchase properties in the two highlighted areas below, but the cost for Mom & Pop to add an ADU is still a hurdle ($50,000 to $100,000 min).

San Diego further loosened rules for granny flat construction Tuesday, eliminating all parking requirements and allowing property owners to construct extra granny flats if they agree to rent restrictions on at least one of them.

Tuesday’s loosening of granny flat rules builds on recent state and city efforts to encourage construction of the homes, which city officials call the cheapest and fastest way to help solve the local housing affordability crisis.

The City Council unanimously approved the regulations as part of a package of reforms aimed at boosting housing construction.

Other updates encourage construction of more “micro” housing units, allow buildings to be three stories taller if all their units are rent-subsidized, and let housing intended for students to have more units than previously allowed.

“This isn’t the sexy, make-the-news kind of story, but at the end of the day it’s helping create more housing,” Councilman Scott Sherman said. “Hopefully we can start bringing down the cost of housing for residents.”

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who has spearheaded dozens of housing revamps in recent years, said the new moves will make a difference.

“The changes we’re making now are going to speed up the development process, cut burdensome regulations, and make it easier to build units that San Diegans can actually afford,” he said.

On granny flats, which the city and state call “accessory dwelling units,” parking spaces will no longer be required.  San Diego has been requiring one parking space per new granny flat unless the unit is less than 500 square feet, in a historical area, within a residential parking district, or the granny flat is near a transit line or ride-sharing station.

On the bonus granny flats, property owners are eligible if they agree to make one of the granny flats they build rent-restricted for low-income residents for at least 15 years.

For granny flats within a half-mile of an existing or planned transit line, the number of bonus units is unlimited. For granny flats not near transit lines, a maximum of one bonus unit is allowed.

The rule change for micro housing units builds on 2018 city legislation that allowed developers to double the number of units in a project if they made the units smaller than usual – 400 square feet maximum.

The change approved Tuesday will create additional incentives based on height of the building and distance from the property line. City officials said the change would allow more projects to take advantage of the city’s micro unit incentives.

The new density bonus for projects with 100 percent rent-subsidized units builds on recent state legislation, AB 1763. That law allows a developer to double the size of a project if half the units are rent-subsidized.

San Diego will go beyond that. If all the units are rent-subsidized, the city will allow an unlimited number of units, and allow the height of the building to increase by three stories above what is allowed under current zoning. But the city’s change only applies in areas within a half-mile of an existing or planned transit line. In addition, 80 percent of the units must be for low-income or very-low-income residents, meaning a maximum 20 percent of the units can be for moderate-income residents.

On student housing, a new state law, SB 1227, allows developers to build 35 percent more units if their housing project is geared for students. The city has added two local incentives on top of that.

San Diego also increased the number of zones in the city where emergency shelters for homeless people can be located, a change required by recent state legislation.

The city will now allow shelters in all “community commercial” zones, which are essentially low-intensity commercial areas. Shelters were previously allowed only in mostly industrial areas, such as the Midway District near the sports arena.

Leaders of local development praised San Diego for being on the cutting edge of housing reforms.

“The city of San Diego continues to be the leader in our region to jumpstart affordable housing through incentivizing affordable housing at all levels,” Jeanette Temple of the Atlantis Group told the council.

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/story/2020-10-13/san-diego-further-loosens-granny-flat-rules-as-part-of-housing-reform-package

Underprivileged Get Foreclosure Privilege

Another story demonstrating how free enterprise is being squeezed:

California is taking steps to avoid a repeat of the conversion of thousands of single-family homes from ownership to rental properties as occurred during the Great Recession. In late September, the state’s governor Gavin Newson signed a bill that will give tenants, affordable housing groups and local governments the first crack at buying foreclosed homes.

As homes were foreclosed by the millions following the housing crisis, Wall Street stepped in and investors, according to Zillow, gobbled up over 5 million homes, turning them into rental properties. They were bought as individual homes, via bulk sales of lender real estate owned (REO), or as distressed loans upon which the investors later foreclosed.

It was expected that these houses would return to owner-occupied status once home prices recovered and the investors, largely big hedge funds, could realize a profit. Instead they have found ways to manage the geographically dispersed properties and continue to hold hundreds of thousands of them.

This has been problematic. While the investor purchases helped put a floor under home prices at a time when there was little appetite for buying distressed properties, it has continued to reduce the inventory of available homes for sale. There have also been many complaints of tenant abuses and deferred maintenance. Many of these were spotlighted last March in a New York Times Magazine article, “A $60 Billion Housing Grab by Wall Street” by Francesco Mari. We summarized her work here.

The California legislation, SB1079, was the brainchild of an activist Oakland group, Moms 4 Housing. It bars sellers of foreclosed homes from bundling them at auction for sale to a single buyer. In addition, it will allow tenants, families, local governments, affordable housing nonprofits and community land trusts 45 days to beat the best auction bid to buy the property. It also creates fines of as much as $2,000 per day for failure to properly maintain properties.

So far, the COVID-19 pandemic has not resulted in massive foreclosures due both to mortgage forbearance programs and a foreclosure moratorium put in place by the U.S. Congress’s Cares Act. Still mortgage delinquencies are rising, and weekly first-time unemployment claims have remained above 800,000 since March. Most forbearance plans are due to expire by next March lacking further government action.

SB1079 goes into effect on January 1, 2021.

http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/10132020_wall_street_landlords.asp

Fight Against Eviction Ban

More excitement to stir up next year’s selling season!

Most landlords can survive a while, but faced with no rental income for months, won’t a few long-time landlords say, “Screw it, I’m cashing out and I don’t care about paying the taxes!” Evicting the non-payers doesn’t mean they will have the same rent coming in again immediately either.

Landlords, apartment owners and housing industry groups have unleashed a barrage of legal challenges against the Trump administration’s order protecting renters from eviction, leaving millions of families once again facing the risk of homelessness in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

Over the past month, an array of lawyers and lobbyists have inundated federal, state and local courts. They have sought to stop renters from invoking the federal ban, and in some cases, they’ve tried to quash the policy altogether, arguing that the government did not have the authority to issue it in the first place.

One federal lawsuit brought by a Virginia landlord, for example, argues that the Trump administration wrongly halted evictions based on a “flimsy premise” that doing so might prevent displaced Americans from contracting the coronavirus. The case is supported by an anti-regulatory conservative group with documented past financial ties to a foundation backed by Charles Koch, a Republican megadonor. The lawsuit has also picked up key legal help from a major lobbying organization representing apartment owners.

“There’s a reason eviction is a remedy in the law,” said Caleb Kruckenberg, a lawyer at the Koch-funded New Civil Liberties Alliance, who stressed that landlords are experiencing significant financial disruption, too.

The flurry of lawsuits has created a wave of legal uncertainty, exposing millions of Americans once again to the sort of hardships the Trump administration initially sought to prevent. Federal officials tried to clarify some of the ambiguity in policy guidance issued late Friday night. But the update instead appeared to give landlords a clearer green light to start eviction proceedings against some cash-strapped renters, even though a moratorium remains in place until the end of the year.

The Trump administration’s latest move perplexed Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, who said she remains fearful about a wave of evictions on the horizon.

“To understand, ask yourself the question: Why would a landlord want to start eviction proceedings in October for an eviction that can’t happen until January? The answer: to pressure, scare and intimidate renters into leaving sooner,” she said.

White House spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said in a statement that the administration “has actively engaged with stakeholders across the country to ensure both renters and landlords have the necessary resources to make timely rent and debt payments.”

The legal plight facing millions of cash-strapped renters highlights the nature of the nation’s unequal recovery, as Americans who struggled most at the outset of the pandemic continue to face severe hardship — even as the economy begins to improve.

About 1 in 3 adults say it is somewhat or very likely that they could face the threat of eviction or foreclosure over the next two months, according to survey data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau, underscoring how sustained unemployment and dwindling federal aid may be creating the conditions for a housing crisis.

Link to Full Article

Accelerating the Trend

Hat tip to just some guy for sending in this article:

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, more deep-seated, tectonic-sized questions beyond markets and interest rates are being asked this time around that no one really has the answers to yet—like will people feel safer living in the south and southwest where they can spend all year social distancing outside? What if companies let workers work remotely for the rest of their lives? Why go back to retail shopping when I’m already ordering everything online? What’s the point of living “downtown” if half of the restaurants, bars, and museums never open back up?

How these questions get answered will fundamentally re-order how Americans live in the “new” pandemic normal, and as a result will play a huge X-factor in which cities and states will experience growth, demand, and price appreciation over the next 3-5 years, and which ones will stagnate and lose out. More broadly for large metropolises like Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia, the answers risk slowing or even reversing a wave of gentrification and wildly profitable downtown revitalization that’s been accelerating since before the Great Recession.

Against this backdrop, real estate’s new normal is also creating huge swathes of opportunity. Dozens of cities and counties that were once considered too small, too southern, too hot, too flat, or lacking in amenities, culture, or sophistication are now finding themselves being swooned to the top of the real estate desirability lists as Americans seek warmer, healthier, less dense, better educated, and more mobile places to live that offer closer access to the outdoors, better hospitals, and more open space with no clear end to the pandemic in sight.

To get a better view on what’s really happening to real estate in America right now I decided that it was time to do a deep dive into the actual data from the experts—including CoStar, Zillow, and Realtor—on how COVID-19’s great migration is actually shaking out and where the money and bodies are moving.

Here’s what I found out.

No matter who I spoke with, a few words kept resurfacing as we lurch into the post-pandemic future: warmer, safer, smaller, stabler, lower taxes, less regulation, and fewer lockdowns.

Regardless of where people come from or where they’re going, these things aren’t new on the list of what most Americans generally expect from the places they live, especially as they get older. (Northeasterners have been moving south and west for generations). The more interesting pandemic sub-text is the acceleration factor—and how the places where Americans are moving in the midst of COVID-19 may finally be expressing a more fundamental preference for how they really want to live instead of where they have to stay because of their job location or where their kids go to school. It also says a lot about where many American’s heads are right now, and more importantly, the specific criteria with which they’re considering making one of the most important next decisions of their lives in an era of unprecedented uncertainty.

Read the full article here:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/petertaylor/2020/10/11/covid-19-has-changed-the-housing-market-forever-heres-where-americans-are-moving-and-why/amp/

Rancho Mold REO

This house has a history – it was once the family compound for Alaska Airlines! It was foreclosed in 1994 when the lender received no bids and took it back for the balance owed of $6,372,931 – and they sold it for $3,350,000 six months later. It was then resold for $4,000,000 in 2001.

At the height of the market in 2007, the former owners of this property took out a mortgage for $8,500,000, but the lender foreclosed in 2014. They finally sold it for $2,437,500 a year ago, and those new owners just flipped it for $2,995,000 or $3,750,000 depending on the data source. This time it was marketed and sold as a vacant lot with approved plans.

This is what it looked like in 2017:

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