$ Money Matters $

The Federal Reserve Bank (the Fed) moved to lower the federal funds rate by a half-point to a range of 1% to 1.25% March 3 in response to the “evolving risks” of the COVID-19 corona virus outbreak. The Fed doesn’t directly impact housing loans, but they generally move in tandem.

Mortgage rates in the U.S. roughly track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note which has been dropping as the corona virus epidemic expanded. As the yield on the 10-year note drops, there is typically a drop in mortgage interest rates.

Yesterday, purchasers and refinance borrowers were looking at rates of about 3.7%. Today that’s about 3.5%. Some lenders are forecasting that rates could drop as low as 3% before COVID-19 is controlled.

Some analysts report that the stock market anticipates a least a quarter-point rate cut at the Fed’s meeting in April.

Around the world some other central banks have dropped rates as well. Since consumer spending is a large measure of our economys, there is reason to press for more cuts.

In the words of the President, @realDonaldTrump, “The Federal Reserve is cutting but … more easing and cutting!”

Photo by Vladimir Solomyani on Unsplash

Salad as the Main Course

My favorite meal is a fresh salad, transformed to a main course with the addition of a grilled, or roasted, or sauteed piece of meat or seafood. This recipe is a more sophisticated version, with colorful and tasty endive taking the place of standard greens.

Salmon is a great go-to for this dish. If you’re not fond of the taste, or it isn’t readily available, there are several delicious options. Mahi-mahi or rockfish work well, as will chicken breast, or even scallops. The goal is the freshness of the salad combined with the hearty flavor of your meat, poultry or seafood.

Ingredients

3 heads red Belgian endive
3 heads Belgian endive
2 crisp and juicy apples
Juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
2 cups (2-3 oz.) of frisée and/or arugula greens, torn to bite-size
1/2 cup walnut halves or pieces, toasted
6 tbsp. white vinaigrette dressing (recipe below)
1 tsp. finely cut chives
4 fillets of a firm fish, e.g., salmon, mahi mahi, or rockfish

White vinaigrette dressing
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 shallot, peeled and minced
2 tsp. honey (optional)
1 pinch finely chopped garlic
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Salad
Wash and dry endive and apples. Cut endives lengthwise into julienne strips. Slice apples and cut into julienne strips. (If made in advance, you can preserve the color of the apple with a spritz of lemon juice.) Tear the frisée and/or arugula greens into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

White balsamic vinaigrette dressing
In a bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

Salmon: Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Score skin and season fish with salt and pepper. Place skin-side down in hot oil. Cook until skin is crispy, shaking pan to prevent fish from sticking. Turn fish over and continue cooking until medium rare. Remove and keep warm. (Alternatively, salmon may be grilled or baked.)

In a large bowl, combine endives, apples, greens, walnuts and vinaigrette, tossing gently. Season to taste and center on plate. Top the salad serving with one fillet each and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Pundit Quotes on the 2020 Real Estate Market

Usually this time of year I stick my neck out and make some forecasts about the local market in the coming year. What I’ve discovered is my quotes are boring by comparison to those made by the pundits. So, this year I decided to publish some of the more exciting projections by people who claim to know what’s going on.

Let’s set the stage by noting that the real estate market has been notoriously stable for the past few years. Stable, and on a very slight decline. The charts have shown volume and prices all within the normal range, with tiny losses increasing as time goes on. Several pundits have pointed to these stats and projected a recession on the horizon.

At the same time, as I point out in another article, this is a presidential election year. Can anyone remember an election year when the economy failed? It doesn’t happen very often. Let’s look at some quotes.


“Were we to have a recession, I’d argue housing would provide a cushion because the shortage of supply at the entry-level suggests builders could actually continue to build.”

Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist

Well now, I know quite a few builders and developers. But, I don’t know any who will start a project when prices start dropping. As a theory it sounds great, but I think it needs further study.


“While the housing crisis is still fresh on the minds of many, and was the catalyst of the Great Recession, the U.S. housing market has weathered all other recessions since 1980.”

Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist at First American

Kushi says, “…since 1980.” So he had to look back 40 years to find good news?!?!


“Housing people are the most optimistic people, but it takes a lot of optimism to buy a house and tie up your income for 30 years.”

Nela Richardson, investment strategist at Edward Jones.

He’s right, at least as far as purchasers would go. Most tenants wouldn’t be very optimistic after renting for 30 years.


“The vast majority of housing economists project that mortgage rates will remain below 4% in 2020.”

Jacob Passy, personal-finance reporter for MarketWatch

Ha! Like we’re going to see the Fed argue with President Trump! He tweeted and they gave. It’s an election year!


“In the Los Angeles metropolitan area (which includes Orange County), the share of homes that sold for more than the listed price dropped from nearly 35 percent in 2018 to 28 percent in 2019.”

Elijah Chiland, reporter for Curbed, Los Angeles

There is a large difference between our little corner of the world here in 90277 and Los Angeles County in general, and it extends to the LA Metro and to California and to the nation as a whole. In 2019 only 17% of homes sold in 90277 sold for over asking. It is different here. Many brokers/agents have found that the statistics generated by state and national pundits are simply not applicable in the Beach Cities.


Here’s CAR betting on a positive market for the year! It’s an election year, and I can see this happening!

2019 vs 2020 in 90277

Last year saw property prices in 90277 drift down a little. Looking at a five year picture of shifting prices we see that from 2014 to 2018 there was a clear upward trajectory. By the end of 2019 the average price had dropped and the median price followed.

The final numbers for 2019 show the decline continuing and even growing. The median was only down .4%, but the average was down 7.1%, an even larger drop than projected for the fourth quarter of the year.

On a more positive note, 2019 showed a 16% increase in sales volume for 90277.

The downward shift in prices and upward trend in volume of sales are consistent with the overall greater South Bay area. The upper end of the local market is showing signs of having reached an apex in prices, which has stimulated more listings and more sales.

At the same time, the moderate and lower priced neighborhoods have maintained price increases. Prices of lower priced homes are still climbing, but at a slower rate. Sales on the other hand, declined from 2018, or were unchanged.

So what’s the outlook for 2020? To get an early look, we compared January 2019 to January 2020. The statistics show both prices and sales climbing. Sales for the month were 22% greater than January last year. Average prices increased by 14.7%, while median prices were up 5.9%.

All right, so things are looking pretty good, at least in the Beach Cities/South Bay area. But, let’s face it. This is an election year. The status of everything is subject to change in mere seconds, based on the latest poll/post/tweet hitting the internet. There’s not much we can do about the politics, but if you’re looking for a quick update on the real estate market, give us a call. Better yet, take out a free subscription to BeachChatter and we’ll send you a note to keep you abreast of the latest news. There should be a subscription form in the side column. And, we don’t sell your data!