Timely Real Estate News………………………………………….. I5 March 2017
St. Patrick’s Day — myths and legends blend on March 17
They say everybody is Irish on March 17, St. Patric’s Day. This Irish celebration is almost, but not quite, an American holiday as the bars open early, patrons stay late, and everyone celebrates…what? St. Patrick, of course! St. Patrick’s Day is not just a fun excuse to consuming pints of beer, it is also a day of spiritual renewal and thanksgiving in honor of the death of St. Patrick.
Saint Patrick has been historically credited with formalizing the presence of Christianity in Ireland during the 5th century AD. But few know the origins of the man, the surrounding mythologies, and symbols, that collectively became St. Patrick’s Day traditions. So, for the curious, here’s a bit of Irish lore you can stump your friends with for a pint of beer:
* Patrick wasn’t even his given name – and he wasn’t Irish. Welsh born, his birth name was Maewyn, and before he eventually achieved his high rank in Irish history, he had been captured by slave traders and sold to an Irish sheep farmer! He escaped to freedom six years later and spent the next 12 years living in a British monastery, where he adopted the anglicized name of Patrick,
* Legend has it that the Irish apostle used the shamrock to explain the Christian concept of the Trinity to potential converts. The three leaves of the shamrock, which today is a popular symbol of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, were used to represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And, no, it’s not a four-leaf clover as many believe. And it never drove the snakes out of Ireland, because there were no snakes.
* The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in Boston in 1737, but the New York parade, which was first held in 1762 and officially launched in 1850, is the longest running civilian parade in the world, with 150,000 participants and nearly three million live spectators.
And finally, it’s a myth that pinching someone who isn’t wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day will bring them good luck — not so….the fun all belongs to the pincher if they catch someone who doesn’t happen to wearing “the green”. So be careful…wear green on March 17. It’s a tradition.
Sales volume jumps 17% in February….”perky” fits
“Perky” was how one real estate watcher called February sales report for much of Los Angeles County, especially the five communities I report on each month — Beverly Hills,
Beverly Hills Post Office, Bel-Air/Holmby Hills, Westwood/Century City and Brentwood. While sales were down nearly 20% for January compared to last year for these combined communities, sales rose to $455 million for the first two months of 2017 vs. $387 million a year earlier. In one of these areas there was a decrease in sales volume, BHPO by 26%, but all of the other communities were up, led by Brentwood which was up 51%. Beverly Hills sales were up 19%, Bel-Air/Holmby Hills was up 14% and Westwood/Century City was up 11%.
“It’s great to see that the market has made such a strong showing this last month,” Carole Schiffer stated. “I was concerned that with the limited inventory, volumes would not be where we would like to see them, but buyers were anxious to make purchases because of the unknowns in the market today.” It is interesting to note, too, that the Selling Price to Original Listing Price (SP/OLP) was much lower overall in these communities than before –the average was 88% of the original listing price….which means only one thing — homeowners were motivated to sell, too.
Median sales prices move up, some down. Again, we have to go back to the one measurement I value most — the median
sale prices for the year. Although the stats are only through the first two months of the year, we continue to see some serious strength in stronger MSPs. Beverly Hills was up 56% for February compared to 2016 February’s numbers….Brentwood was up just over 70% for year-to-year. Three communities saw a decrease in median sales prices — BHPO was down 17%, Bel-Air/Holmby Hills was down 13%, and Westwood/Century City was down 9%. What has happened in our market over the past four years of our recovery, is that we see median sales prices fluctuate from month to month. Remember, the median sales price is not the average — median represents the price where half of the homes sold are above that price and half below that price. Large sales do not tip the scales in median sales pricing where it does in measuring sales volume.
We did have two large transactions that closed in February — a $25 million listing in Beverly Hills and a $30 million home in Bel-Air/Holmby Hills, and in March there was a sale for $65,000,000 (this will show up in next months’ stats).
Malibu sales trending up
For a while, Malibu seemed like it was experiencing inertia — nothing moving in either direction, a market treading water. That ended in February, with sales volume leaping ahead by 58% from $53 million through the first two months of 2016 to $84 million in February 2017. Median sales prices were up 30% — from $2.675 million from $2.050 million last year at this time. February sales, compared to just February in 2016, was up 60% to $2.737 million. SP to OLP was 90%, meaning homeowners were willing to deal to move their property.
California unveils updated School Dashboard
There’s going to be a new way to look at how your child’s school is doing — a multi-colored, coded dashboard to see how your child’s school is doing and compare it with other schools. The idea behind this new website is simple: Parents need more information than they’ve been getting. Whether the dashboard provides the right information and whether it presents it clearly enough already are subjects of debate. It is called the California School Dashboard, previously tagged the Academic Performance Index. It’s gone now.
Previously each school was given a number based on test scores. Those numbers were so clear, they drove real estate decisions — where to buy to be in a school district — as well as real estate prices. But API drew fierce criticism from teachers and advocates, who felt that the complex mix of factors that go into whether a school is considered good or bad could not be boiled down that way.
Only available now in a “pilot version”, the new dashboard will give visitors the ability to search for a school and find something called an “equity report” on its page. The report includes how a school performed on standardized tests in English and math; the progress English-language learners are making toward proficiency; suspension rates; and graduation rates. Links let people find out more about each area, including how particular groups of students are doing.
Down the road, more information will be added, including measures of school climate and how prepared students are for college, and potentially scores on science tests. This is a complex program designed to un-complicate how schools and students are measured. But, according to its leadership, this will be a work in progress as it refines its dashboard reporting and getting feedback from parents and schools alike. “Schools are such an important factor in parents deciding where to buy”, said Carole Schiffer. “Many times, it has been the deciding factor between buying a less expensive home so that the children could be sent to private school rather than a public school. Hopefully this new tool will help them make the decision easier for them”. “One of the questions I am constantly asked is about the schools in the area, and if we have a good system for evaluation of the local schools, that will be an enormous help to everyone”!
Credit Reporting firms to exclude tax liens, civil debts
The nation’s three largest credit-reporting agencies will soon exclude tax liens and some civil debts from their reports. The change by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion will take effect July 1, as part of a plan to ensure that consumer identifications in the data are accurate and current, the Consumer Data Industry Association, a trade association for the companies noted last week.
In a revision that could improve consumers’ credit scores, the credit agencies will exclude the tax liens and civil debts if reports on those obligations don’t include a consumers’ names and addresses, as well as Social Security numbers and or dates of birth, the CDIA said. Many liens and most judgments don’t include all of that data, in part because Social Security numbers are often redacted for security reasons. Additionally, the records won’t be included without courthouse visits to obtain newly filed and updated public records at least every 90 days.
Although the changes could help consumers appear more credit-worthy, the updated policies potentially could make loan-screening more difficult for lenders. Nessa Feddis, senior vice president for consumer protection and payments at the American Bankers Association, said the change could mean less precise lending data for bankers, as well as potential problems for all consumers. “And this could prove bothersome for some clients applying for loans,” according to Carole Schiffer. “In the end, this could potentially be a good thing that could help clear up a lot of confusion regarding liens and civil debts that can help getting mortgage financing processed.” “As I discussed in a previous Schiffer Line (1 August 2016), lenders use different criteria from the sale credit reporting agencies that others use in judging a potential borrowers credit worthiness”.
Gen Xers helped by improving economy job growth
Generation X households, indeed, have had their challenges — buying their first home, starting a family, and then suffering in the middle part of their careers by job losses, falling home values, and overall economic uncertainty during and after the Great Recession. Hurting them most was the loss of equity (not just jobs) and it wasn’t until 2011, according the NAR” s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, that Gen X home owners (ages 34 to 54) were seeing more positive signs in home ownership. Recently, more Gen X sellers are expected this year and will definitely and hopefully ease the inventory shortages in much of the country.
The uptick in purchases from Gen X buyers this year (28%) was the highest since 2014 and up from 26% in 2016. Millennials were the largest group of recent buyers for the fourth consecutive year (34%), but their overall share was down slightly from a year ago (35%). Baby boomers were 30% of buyers, and the Silent Generation made up 8%.
Debt, particularly from student loans, appears to be a large portion of the household budget of buyers in most generations. While millennials were the most likely to have student debt (46%), their typical balance ($25,000) was lower than Gen X buyers ($30,000). A combined 16% of younger and older boomer buyers also had student debt, with a median balance of over $10,000 for each group.
Among the share of buyers who said saving for a down payment was the most difficult task, millennials were most likely to cite student loans as the debt that delayed saving (55%), followed by Gen X (29%) and younger boomers (9%).
Celebrating a birthday in Vancouver with my sister and family
Last weekend, I spent the weekend in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. It is truly a lovely part of the world. One of the fun things we did was to visit the Museum of Anthropology, which is excellent. They have several very interesting collections and exhibits. One of the exhibits they are currently showing is on fabrics from all over the world that are made — for the most part — from animal by-products. The dress in the photo is from China. It was also fun to wake up and see the snow on the patio outside my bedroom door. My sister’s house is located in West Vancouver, and every boat that goes in and out of Vancouver goes past her home.
Visiting Sycamore Valley Ranch….once known as iconic Neverland
Last week, a number of lucky Previews agents — who like myself specialize in selling high- end properties — were invited to visit Neverland Ranch (the former home of Michael Jackson) in Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley! It was a very special day. After presentations, we were given free rein to wonder the property, including the main house.
During the presentations, we sat in his movie theatre, watched a movie about him and could imagine him performing on the stage, and we also saw the room where he created a majority of his dance moves (think moon walking!), (the wood floor that had all of the dents, etc. from his having danced there was removed and given to his family). The property itself is wonderful containing 2,700 acres (in three parcels), a four-acre lake, three guest houses, barns (some of his animals are still there). It is suitable for a 50-acre vineyard. It was in very rough condition after the last time he visited there which was in 2005, but has been beautifully restored. The asking price is $67,000,000. Call me if you are interested!
So, how is business?
For the moment, I have several leases coming up. Available now, is a great 3/2.5 plus den home in Bel Air Crest with its own pool. We are asking $7,800, and it will be ready for its new occupant in about a few days.
There are also some other homes in Bel Air Crest that are coming up as well as is a lovely home on Moraga Drive that will be available sometime in May. The beautiful home on Thurston has been leased to a very lucky tenant.
I am still searching for homes in Bel Air Crest and Mountaingate for specific clients to purchase. With the inventory being as low as it is, it is very hard to find what we are looking for, so if you have any inkling of possibly moving, please do let me know.
Please visit my web site: www.caroleschiffer.com my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CaroleSchifferRealtor, my Lindekin page: www.linkedin.com/incaroleschiffer or @caroleschifferrealtor on your mobile Thanks, Carole.
COUNT ON CAROLE
I enjoy the respect of many clients, agents, and real estate professionals as the result of long-term relationships that have been forged through many transactions over some 20-plus years. Selected to be one of Coldwell Banker’s mentors, I also enjoy the respect of more than 40 agents I have trained. As a mentor, I know that the only way you gain respect is to earn it. Respect counts.
Carole Schiffer. The Westside Expert