AFL-CIO Partners with Chris Gardner Foundation

The Chris Gardner Foundation is focused on helping disadvantaged youths jumpstart their careers, through their Permission to Dream program. AFL-CIO has now announced a partnership with them specifically directed at building and construction jobs. The program will help high school students, particularly students of color, to first complete their education and then secure a union apprenticeship.

If a student is selected for the program, they will first be given resources to help them in their studies as well as an instructional course in apprenticeships. Once they graduate, if they’ve maintained a certain GPA, they will be introduced to an affiliated union in the field of building and construction. The student will be placed into a paid and registered apprenticeship program. Tools and equipment are covered by a stipend, and transportation assistance is provided.

Photo by Vance Osterhout on Unsplash

More: https://aflcio.org/permissiontodream

Home Prices About to Enter Downward Cycle

Home prices fluctuate constantly, but have certainly been on an upward trend the past few years. In fact, it may not be quite as noticeable, but they’ve been trending upwards for about a decade. The difference is that the upward trend has occurred at an anomalous rate since 2019. But now, we’re starting to see hints that this isn’t going to continue. Currently, home prices are still high; however, sales volume has been dropping for the past four months, which will naturally lead to price drops.

On its own, rising home prices isn’t the problem; the issue is that they have been rising far quicker than wages. Even a period of flat home prices at their current high level would provide some slight respite to homebuyers, though of course they would benefit more from declining prices. Sellers aren’t going to be as happy in the next few years, especially if they bought recently. If they bought before 2019, they may still be able to sell at a profit, but not as much of one as if they had already sold by now. Without knowing how much prices are going to drop, there’s a risk of negative equity for homes purchased within the past three years, with the risk increasing the more recently it was purchased. If the downward cycle is particularly long or the decrease particularly steep, this could even extend to homes purchased much earlier.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/what-a-cooling-market-means-for-both-sides-of-real-estate-transactions/86063/

A New Way to Measure Inequality

Traditionally, income inequality has been measured by something called the Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient is measured on a scale from 0 to 1, with 0 meaning no inequality and 1 meaning a small number of people control the entirety of the wealth. While the Gini coefficient is an excellent indicator of whether or not there is inequality, it does nothing to tell us where it came from except in the case of extreme values. A new measure, the Ortega parameters, seeks to correct that.

It’s commonly thought that the wealth gap is primarily between high-income earners and low-income earners, and that the middle class is effectively nonexistent. That isn’t always the case, and the Ortega parameters can determine where this analysis is accurate and where it is not. There are two separate measures that make up the Ortega parameters: inequality between low-income and middle-to-high-income earners, and inequality between very high income earners and the rest of the population. If a population has low inequality on the first scale and high inequality on the second scale, it simply means that a small number of extremely wealthy individuals live there, but the overall inequality is actually fairly low. The Gini coefficient would not notice this nuance and just rate it as highly unequal. Determining the cause of inequality can also help to devise countermeasures: in areas with high inequality between the lower income earners and middle income earners, the solution is a higher minimum wage; in areas with a few very wealthy individuals, that is better fixed with taxes on high income earners.

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

More: https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/income-inequality-is-rising-are-we-even-measuring-it-correctly

New Real Estate Legislation This Past August

Last month saw four new legislative changes in the field of real estate. Two bills were enrolled, AB 1738 and AB 2817. AB 1738 goes into effect in 2025, and will require builders to install electric vehicle chargers in some types of buildings. This includes multi-family dwellings, hotels and motels, and some nonresidential parking facilities. AB 2817 establishes a rental aid grant program that will provide grants directly to homeless people as well as participating landlords. SB 1126 was passed in the Senate, requiring employers to set up a retirement program or CalSavers payroll deposit savings program by the end of 2025. There was an amendment to SB 897, which increases the maximum height of an ADU from 16 feet to 25 feet.

In addition, three bills were just enrolled first day of September, AB 2221, AB 2053, and SB 869. AB 2221 includes various changes to make ADUs easier to get approved. AB 2053 requires annual regional housing reports indicating progress on meeting housing needs. SB 869 requires at least 18 hours of training for managers and assistant managers of mobile home parks.

Photo by Connor Betts on Unsplash

More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/legislative-gossip-page/

Affordability A Slow Process For Smart Windows

One smart home feature you may not have heard of is smart windows. There are a couple reasons for that. First, they’re rather expensive and therefore not widely available except for industrial applications. Second, they’re actually a much older concept than what in modern days is called a smart feature. Smart windows originated in the 1980s and are a type of window that can be darkened or lightened by application of either electricity or heat, depending on the type of window, termed electrochromic or thermochromic.

Electrochromic windows are actually already in use, though generally not in houses — they are used on privacy screens, display panels, and vehicle windows or sunroofs. Thermochromic windows, while equally old in concept, haven’t been seriously produced until recently, with advances in two-way thermochromic glass. Old generations of thermochromic windows used a substance called vanadium dioxide, and a newer model uses a combination of water and hydrogel. Both are viable and have their own pros and cons. Cheaper models may be commercially available in about ten years, though they will still be more expensive than standard windows.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

More: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/what-will-it-take-for-smart-windows-to-go-mainstream-180980226/

Recession FAQs: Is Another on the Horizon?

It is currently believed by experts that the US is heading towards another recession. It’s not a guarantee, and it won’t be for around six months if it does happen. So what exactly is a recession, and why is another being predicted? Many people are only aware of a recession as being a period of economic struggle. But it has a technical definition, which is two consecutive quarters of shrinking GDP. GDP is definitely not the entirety of the economic picture, but the conditions for a recession almost certainly indicate job loss and lower wages. What’s being predicted is simply a prolonged reduction in overall consumption, and this is mostly because interest rates are going up.

The Fed is purposefully raising interest rates in an attempt to reduce inflation. But a reduction in inflation doesn’t necessarily translate to no recession. If interest rates rise too quickly, it could actually cause a recession during a period of high inflation, which is called stagflation. This is what happened in 1981. Currently, experts believe the Fed is increasing interest rates too quickly. And it’s possible that they shouldn’t increase the rates at all; the prospect of increasing rates to reduce inflation is based on the outdated concept that high inflation is triggered by high wages. It’s true that businesses often like to take advantage of increased wages by raising prices without a significant decrease in demand, but this is calculated corporate greed, not an economic law. Perpetuating this idea only further lines the pockets of the already wealthy.

Photo by Marc Schaefer on Unsplash

More: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jun/16/is-the-us-heading-for-a-recession-heres-what-you-need-to-know

LA South Bay Real Estate: May 2022

Number of Homes Sold

The number of homes sold in the South Bay has declined from last month, and has declined from last year. The quantities are actually rather dramatic given that May is typically a time of increasing sales. The drops range from -7% to -17% lower than April sales of this year, and from -17% to -25% below May of last year.

With over half the year remaining, mortgage interest rates have doubled, currently sitting around 6%. The hike in interest rates has so far reduced the average buying power by about -25%. Coupled with home price increases estimated to have risen 38% since the start of the pandemic, the immediate future of real estate looks dismal.

202205_sales_vol_chart

Inflated consumer prices are also blocking potential home buyers as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) climbs toward a 10% annual hike. There’s little chance of saving for a down payment when the price of everything on the shopping list is going up..

Retirement accounts are often a source of down payment funds. As of this writing the major stock market indices are all down: Dow Jones Industrial Average, -16%; S&P 500, -22%; Nasdaq Composite, -31%. Forecasts are growing for a Fed-induced recession that may begin as soon as this fall. Some potential buyers may see borrowing from their retirement fund to purchase a property as a means to preserve the capital during a recession. Others may not be in a position to do that.

Median Price Sold

May prices delivered a mixed message. The Palos Verdes Peninsula, which had seen two months of decline from a temporarily high median price, headed back up again. The Beach cities continued a steady climb, and the Inland area showed a modest price increase after having dropped 1% in April.

However, the Harbor area, which is as large as the other three areas combined, took a -6% hit to prices. We anticipate the Harbor and Inland areas, which comprise the bulk of the traditional middle class family homes in South Bay, to be the first to react to the economic stress.

Typically, the recession cycle starts with a slowing of sales. As properties languish on the market, sellers begin to reduce prices. One after another, median sales prices will drop until the price reduction offsets the impact to buyers. At that point, buyers will begin to support the reduced purchase prices and we can see growth in the market.

Experts differ in their estimates of how long this cycle will take, and when we can expect the market bottom. There are some predicting a rapid fall based on the speed with which the Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) is reacting. The June meeting of the Fed ended with a .75% hike in the prime rate, and a promise to raise it at least another .75% before the end of the year. While that could slow the economy as early as the beginning of 2023, more conservative minds suggest the end of 2023 for a turn-around.

Area Sales Dollars

The total sales dollars tell the truest story. While sales are slowing and median prices are beginning to slow, the combination shows up here.

Everywhere except the Beach is showing reductions in total sales on a month to month basis, and on a year over year basis. The declines are small to date, with year over year ranging from -1% to -10% in May. Month to month changes ranged from +2% at the Beach to -19% in the Harbor area.

202205_monthly_sales_$_chart

These early numbers follow the general pattern we’ve seen in recent recessions, whereby entry level homes are the first impacted and the last to recover. We anticipate the Harbor area to lead the charge down, followed by the Inland area. Recent years have shown the Beach to be the strongest growth area, so we expect the recession to hit there last, following declines on the Hill.

The nature of the impending recession is still uncertain. Some pundits are saying that at least initially we should expect “stagflation,” that odd environment we first encountered back in the 1990s when prices of everything continued to climb, along with job layoffs and massive unemployment. Other forecasters suggest that because the international economy is roiling with continuing high tariffs (courtesy of the last administration) and new monetary sanctions daily (courtesy of the current administration), this particular recession may last much longer than normal.

In Summary

As the table below shows, the majority of the negative impact for May happened in the quantity of housing units sold. With one exception, prices continued to escalate. We believe this is temporary and likely to change before the end of the year. The -6% drop in median price at the Harbor presages the direction of home pricing as inventory grows and listings stagnate.

Approximately 3 out of 4 listings coming across our desk recently have been either Price Reduction or Back On Market. That means property is staying on the market longer. The Average Days On Market (DOM) for May ranged from 10 days on the PV Hill to 14 days in the Harbor area. As recently as this winter we were still seeing multiple offers on the first day the property was available.

Another measure of the market condition is how far the average sales price declines in the first 30 days on market. We did a quick look for May and came up with these statistics. Thirty days after the original listing, the price had dropped from the original: at the Beach, -9%; the Harbor -6%; PV Hill -18%; Inland -5%. As of May, we’re also seeing property that has been on the market for several months, with several price reductions.

Notable Properties

The high and low sales for May were not terribly dramatic. A Manhattan Hill section home and a downtown Long Beach condominium. Thay are simply very big, and very small.

High Sale

Located at 812 5th St, this Manhattan Beach hill section home was originally listed at $10.5M and sold for $8,980,000 after 34 days active on the market. The home offers six bedrooms and seven full bathrooms in 5576 sq ft. Amenities included ocean view, pool, spa, custom waterfall & fire features, a full basement with recreation/media room, home theater, storage, a temperature-controlled wine cellar, and private guest quarters.

Low Sale

Measuring barely 381 sq ft, the studio condo at 819 E 4th St #25 sold for $215,000 in one day. Located in the vibrant East Village of Downtown Long Beach this tiny home offers a remodelled kitchen and bathroom. The unit sits on the second floor, overlooking the intersection of 4th and Alimitos and within walking distance of many downtown shops, clubs and eateries.

Main photo by Kostiantyn Li on Unsplash

UC Alters Financial Aid to Help Reduce Student Debt

Student debt is becoming a huge problem, for both those affected by it and the economy as a whole. Wages are stagnant and tuition is increasing. The UC system has also increased its tuition, but recognizes that it’s simply not sustainable with their current financial aid program, as students aren’t able to afford to attend.

As such, the UC has made a couple of changes, with the end goal of a debt-free education by 2030. First, some of that tuition increase is actually going toward student aid. Currently, 33% of the UC system’s revenue is allotted for student aid. The Board of Regents voted to increase this to 45%. Second, they’ve changed their prioritization order for student aid. Student loans are above student employment in the ranking right now. The new priorities shift part-time student work above student loans, and in fact, all students will be expected to have at least 15 hours per week of work. The eventual goal is also going to be dependent on the state’s debt-free grant that has, so far, only been partially funded.

Photo by Dom Fou on Unsplash

More: https://calmatters.org/education/higher-education/2022/05/student-loans-uc/

LA South Bay Real Estate: The Recession Has Arrived

In a normal year one would expect April to be the turning point for the LA real estate market. March is still cold and the children are still in school for another 10 weeks. April’s the month when the weather turns warm, the flower buds poke up, and the buyers come out to start the spring buying season. It hasn’t happened that way this year.

Prices had gone through the ceiling by the end of 2021, much of the activity stimulated by fear of escalating mortgage interest rates. Usher in 2022–January and February were typically slow and in March home sales bounced up like an indicator of business as usual. But, interest rates continued to climb and April ended with the total number of home sales down instead of up. Likewise, total sales dollars were down across the South Bay.

Number of Homes Sold

Judging from the charts, entry level homes in the Harbor area were clearly the center of activity for South Bay real estate. As interest rates pushed against the 5% mark, panic set in among first time buyers who had been outbid multiple times. Prices went up as high as buyers could afford, a number that shrinks amazingly fast with each tenth of a percent increase in the interest rate.

Across the South Bay, the number of homes sold in April dropped by -4% from March, which had been an increase of 59% over the prior month. As we see from the chart below, sales were uneven between the various areas.

On the entry level front, at the same time Harbor area home sales were dropping off, Inland homes gained sales. On the high end, sales on the Palos Verdes peninsula were also facing declining numbers, while Beach area sales increased.

So far declining sales counts have been modest, but a decline overall, coupled with a decline in half of the individual areas covered indicates that buyers are pulling back. Part of the resistance is a matter of simply being priced out of the market. Another important piece is the anticipation of price corrections in the near future. We have heard multiple buyers say they are watching and waiting for lower prices later this year.

At this point we’re well into the second quarter of the year and it looks as though those folks may be on track for some savings. even some of our most gung-ho pundits are beginning to see a market downturn on the horizon.

Median Price Sold

Interestingly, Harbor area prices went up at the same time the number of sales went down.The March to April price increase was a modest +6% compared to a +21% increase over April of last year. Similarly, the Beach cities had a month over month increase of +4%, while showing +19% year over year. While sales prices are still rising in those areas, the increase is a fraction of what it was last year.

Sold prices on the Hill continued to slide downwards. Because the February increase in the median price was created by the sale of new construction, and that building phase is now sold out, a downward turn in median price is expected. We anticipate that leveling off soon.

In the Inland area the median price for homes sold during April of 2022, was +12% greater than sales in April of 2021. By comparison, the median price of those sold in March of 2022 versus April of 2022 decreased by -1%. It’s a modest decrease that points to the direction of the South Bay real estate market for the balance of the year.

Area Sales Dollars

The total dollar value of home sales in the South Bay usually tracks right along with the number of units sold. The few times it differs are important times like these when the number of homes sold is dropping, and/or the sales prices are dropping. Today, of the four areas we track, PV Hill has a declining number of sales, both in comparison to last year and in comparison to last month. As we noted above, the area also is declining in total dollars compared to last year and last month.

As we discussed in last month’s issue, some of the reason for the drop is found in new construction homes that sold at a much higher price than the typical Palos Verdes resale home. The rest of it can be found in longer days on market waiting for a buyer, and in price reductions.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Beach cities showed gains last month for both number of units sold and for the total sales value of those homes. The only decline this month for the Beach was in number sold compared to April of last year. Sales this April were off by -21%.

The Harbor area still trended upward in dollar value, both month over month and year over year. But, the number of units sold was down for both time measurements. The price competition was very stiff in what is generally an entry level market. During the past couple years, bidding wars and over-asking sales prices have kept the dollars high. The April numbers show that changing rapidly.

Total dollar sales for the Inland community increased 15% month over month. That was the highest growth of all four areas. Scanning those individual transactions showed an odd pattern. Sales in the price range from about $325K up to about $750K were a familiar mix of some under asking price, some at asking and some above asking. The degree of variance was about what one would expect. Unexpectedly, for sales over $750K, nearly every property sold above asking price, and in many cases well above asking.

We found no clear explanation for why this phenomena occurred. There is a suspicion that buyers who were priced out of Beach properties may have shifted their bidding wars into the increasingly popular parts of west Torrance. This theory is supported by the distribution of sales among the various neighborhoods.

In Summary

In the table below are the core statistics comparing April to March of this year, and comparing April of this year to April of 2021. The prevalence of negative numbers is convincing evidence that high prices and high interest rates are pushing the South Bay real estate market into a recession.

Notable Properties

One of the more interesting properties sold in April is a four bedroom, five bathroom home located in west Torrance. The home was purchased by the seller as their family home in 1990 for just above $360K. The children grew up and the parents remodeled in 2022 and sold the house.

As would be expected in a good neighborhood with a contemporary remodel, the home sold for over the asking price of $2.7M. The final selling price was slightly over $3M. and just happened to be almost exactly $360K over the asking price.

In the 32 years that family owned the home it appreciated at an average rate in excess of $84K per year. It’s the classic “American Dream.”

Main photo by Amy Vosters on Unsplash

Fannie Mae Fair Housing Lawsuit Reaches Settlement

Fannie Mae was sued back in 2016 under allegations of fair housing violations, and the organization decided to settle in February of this year. The settlement amount was $53 million. Fannie Mae had acquired a large number of properties in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis, and thus became responsible for their maintenance until they were sold. But fair housing organizations started to notice a trend: only the ones in predominantly white neighborhoods were being adequately maintained.

The settlement agreement was the first to determine that foreclosed properties, like the ones Fannie Mae holds, are also subject to fair housing laws. This was not officially determined prior. Also, it’s possible that they were in worse conditions to begin with, but that doesn’t absolve Fannie Mae of their responsibilities. Their argument was that their intentions were not discriminatory. Perhaps they simply were not able to maintain the homes as well since they were in worse shape. But they were unable to reject the claim that regardless of their intentions, the impact was obvious. This is what led to Fannie Mae needing to settle.

Photo by matthew Feeney on Unsplash

More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/fannie-mae-settles-fair-housing-lawsuit-for-50-million/83351/

Six California Cities Fail to Meet RHNA Submission Requirements

Under California’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) laws, each local government is required to work with the state government to establish what is called a housing element. The housing element identifies sites that can be redeveloped to meet regional housing needs, within an eight year timeframe. If the city can’t find a usable site under their current zoning laws, the zoning laws need to be modified. In Southern California, the housing element deadline was October 15, 2021. The deadline for Northern California is later this year.

Five cities — Bradbury, La Habra Heights, Laguna Hills, South Pasadena, and Vernon — failed to submit a housing element altogether prior to the deadline, and a sixth, Manhattan Beach, submitted a plan that indicated a site that could not be redeveloped in a reasonable timeframe. The site indicated was the Manhattan Country Club, which was purchased in 2017 and the City of Manhattan Beach cannot guarantee its availability by 2029. Without the 149 units provided by this redevelopment, Manhattan Beach fails to meet its regional housing needs. In response, the nonprofit organization Californians for Homeownership has sued all six of these cities.

Photo by Romson Preechawit on Unsplash

More: https://www.car.org/aboutus/mediacenter/newsreleases/2022releases/ca4housingelements

Cities Attempting to Bypass Duplex Allowance with Local Ordinances

A California law allowing duplexes to be built on lots zoned for single-family residences, SB 9, passed in 2021. However, the law doesn’t have much in the way of enforcement. Cities are finding it relatively easy to avoid this with local ordinances that make it effectively impossible, since they can’t legally ban it. The same sort of thing happened with the struggles with building ADUs, which actually became legal nationwide in 1982, but weren’t feasible in most states prior to 2016.

One example is the town of Woodside claiming that the entire town is a mountain lion habitat, and is therefore excluded from the requirement because it’s a habitat for a protected species. Once this reached the news, Attorney General Rob Bonta got on their case and forced them to reverse the decision. All the AG’s office needs is proof that municipalities are attempting to skirt the requirement, and then they can take action. Without an enforcement agency, though, they’re reliant on the spread of information through media, including social media.

Photo by Taneli Lahtinen on Unsplash

More: https://calmatters.org/housing/2022/04/california-duplex-housing/

Eviction Protections Extended for ERA Applicants

Many people are still delinquent on rent payments as a result of the recent recession. Some relief came in the form of emergency rental assistance (ERA), which also required landlords take additional steps before being able to evict for nonpayment. The additional protections were set to expire on March 31st, but there was a last minute change to the law.

Under the new regulations, while the protection will still only apply to delinquencies on rent payments owed before March 31st, it will now continue to apply to those delinquencies through July 30th if the ERA application is still being processed. Tenants will still owe rent for April and subsequent months, even if their ERA application for earlier payments is still being processed.

Photo by Sheldon Kennedy on Unsplash

More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/covid-19-eviction-noticing-rules-extended-for-era-applicants/82649/

March Real Estate Market Trends

Prices are still going up, as are interest rates. Despite this, the market is currently going strong. It’s unclear whether this is temporary or seasonal, or part of a larger trend, but the near future of real estate is looking fairly good.

The reason for the rate increase is a recent increase to the federal funds rate of 25 basis points. The initial announcement didn’t have an immediate effect, but later caused an increase in interest rates. This, in addition to rising prices, has contributed to a decrease in home sales. However, it’s still above pre-pandemic levels, and supply is improving, which should help keep prices in line.

Part of the reason for supply increases is increased construction. Though construction actually decreased in the Western US, it has increased elsewhere and is at its strongest since 2006. Builders remain confident despite a slight drop in confidence, from 81 to 79, due to increased costs.

Photo by Parker Coffman on Unsplash

Project Homekey to Expand Homeless Housing Conversions

In response to the pandemic, California launched a program to help a segment of the homeless population acquire temporary housing via hotel conversions. This initial project, called Project Roomkey, applied only to those 65 or older or who had underlying conditions, and would only be active during the pandemic. Seeing its success, California has launched a new, more expansive project, which they’ve called Project Homekey.

Project Homekey seeks to expand conversions to include several different types of properties, not just hotels. In addition, the project is designed to create both temporary and permanent homeless housing. This is made possible by the recent changes to zoning and land use laws, and currently has an $846 million acquisition budget. Unfortunately, managing such large projects requires specialized knowledge that isn’t in large supply. In addition, there has been pushback from local opposition that doesn’t want to see low-density housing converted into high-density homeless housing.

Photo by the blowup on Unsplash

More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/californias-homelessness-crisis-vacant-hotels-can-house-the-unhoused/81717/

Newsom Focusing on Urban Areas for Construction Goals

California Governor Gavin Newsom has shifted his priorities for affordable housing development. Previously, Newsom was looking at open rural areas as the setting for new projects. The logic is obvious — rural areas boast a large quantity of land to build on, so you won’t run out of space. Unfortunately, there are other problems. Rural areas are more prone to wildfires and have weak infrastructure, and building there negatively affects the ecosystem.

In light of this, Newsom now plans to focus his efforts and budget on urban projects. The downtown areas already have infrastructure in place, and the land is already in use so the ecosystem won’t be affected as much. Of course, there are also cons to the shift. Urban areas are already high density, and increased affordable housing will only increase the density. Newsom hopes that getting more people into urban areas will reduce vehicle traffic, but in order for that to happen, California would need significant improvements to its public transportation system, which is relatively lacking. In addition, California’s urban areas already have a high vacancy rate. We’re not actually lacking housing; people just can’t afford it.

Photo by Andrea Cau on Unsplash

More: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-01-13/newsoms-latest-housing-fix-more-californians-living-downtown

Market Stability Anticipated In 2024

With government support having ended, this may prompt people to think the economy has stabilized and recovery is imminent. But this is just the precursor to a stable market. The market needs time to adapt under normal conditions, and probably won’t become stable again until 2024. The main factor in overall recovery is the job market, which has yet to fully recover, and a stable real estate market requires construction to catch up to demand.

Some policies remain from government actions during the recession, though. Three laws — SB 10, AB 345, and AB 571 — will help out in construction efforts. SB 10 allows more areas to be zoned for up to 10 units, AB 345 allows ADUs to be sold separately from the primary residence, and AB 571 prohibits impact fees on affordable housing. Two more laws, SB 263 and AB 948, reformed bias training for real estate professionals. This legislation should have lasting impact in making the recovery more comfortable.

Photo by Logan Cameron on Unsplash

More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/2021-in-review-and-a-forecast-for-2022-and-beyond/81281/

Fed Intends to Speed Up Interest Rate Growth

Interest rates are by no means high right now, but they’ve been steadily rising and can no longer be considered low. Prices have also been high, but they’re predicted to drop dramatically, for a couple of reasons. First, inventory is opening up as foreclosure moratoriums and forbearance programs are ending. The other reason is that the Fed has been reducing their mortgage-backed bond (MBB) purchases. Tapering back MBB purchases will both lower prices and increase interest rates.

The Fed had previously announced plans to keep the Federal Funds Rate at its current value of zero through 2023. However, they’ve now decided that 2022 the year to begin returning to normalcy. With scaled back MBB purchases, the zero benchmark rate is the only remaining factor in economic stability that isn’t transitory. Increasing the benchmark rate will further increase interest rates, though, so 2022 is going to be a year of higher interest rates, but lower home prices.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/fed-announces-a-quicker-increase-to-interest-rates/81216/

Zillow Offers Program is No More

Zillow launched its Zillow Offers program back in 2018, in which Zillow would purchase homes directly to update and relist. This process is called flipping, and is a fairly common strategy. Within California, Zillow Offers was available in LA, Riverside, Sacramento, and San Diego. Unfortunately for Zillow, they weren’t actually very good at it. Their investment efforts turned out to be losses, and as a result, they are now eliminating the program.

That may not even be the end of the problems for Zillow. The reason they struggled to flip homes? Their home value estimates, called Zestimates, are not very accurate, something which real estate professionals — but not the general populace — already knew. Zestimates are a major offering of Zillow, and if they wanted anyone to trust them, they’d have to use their Zestimate as a baseline for home values. But that led to losses, as Zillow ended up purchasing homes for more than they sold them for. Their gamble didn’t pay off, and now their poor estimating algorithm has been exposed anyway.

Photo by Manik Roy on Unsplash

More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/zillow-exits-home-flipping-after-getting-burned-in-hot-market/80928/

Cryptocurrency Has Reached the Real Estate Market

Cryptocurrency has been around for a bit now and is in widespread use, with its major appeal being how difficult it is to counterfeit or manipulate. It’s usually used to make smaller payments, such as purchasing software or electronics. But as with physical money, cryptocurrency can be used for payments of any magnitude. That includes thinks like home purchases or mortgage payments.

If you’re unfamiliar with cryptocurrency, you may think that because it’s generally used for smaller payments, it must take a lot to be able to afford a house. That’s not exactly true. One popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, is actually worth $43,000 per coin currently — most payments are made in mere fractions of coins. The value of cryptocurrency does fluctuate wildly, but the trend has been generally upwards in the past few years, albeit at a declining rate of increase.

Photo by Executium on Unsplash

More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/the-future-of-cryptocurrency-in-real-estate-transactions/80084/