Category

California Association of Realtors

Blaine Morris – 2016 Marin Association of Realtors – Realtor of the Year

By | California Association of Realtors, Marin Association of Realtors

Realtor of the Year, Blaine Morris

I am truly humbled and extremely proud to have been named the 2016 REALTOR of the Year by the Marin Association of REALTORS! Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me, what a whirlwind! A special thank you to David Smadbeckand Mary Kay Yamamoto for recruiting me into MAR leadership. And a very special thank you to my mentors Katie Beacock and Kay Moore for you guidance with the local, state and national associations. Finally, a special thank you to my managers Brent Thomson, Kate Supple Hamilton, and Cyd Gardner for your encouragement and support while I’ve been out of the office tending to my volunteer responsibilities. These past six years have been among the most rewarding of my professional career, and I am so thankful and blessed for the opportunity!

October CAR Conference AND Expo Wrap-Up

By | California Association of Realtors, Legislation, Marin Association of Realtors

Good day MAR Members!

Let’s Go Giants! Let’s Go Giants!

It’s hard to believe that this will all be over soon…hopefully with a big parade on Market Street. The Giants’ amazing run continues, and as far as I can tell many of you MAR Members have been at the World Series games…at least that’s what Facebook is telling me. MAR Member Robert Bradley was even mis-identified as the “Marlin Guy” on TV…nice suit, Rob!

Also this weekend, I’ve got to give another shout out to the Utah Utes football team, with a rousing come-from-behind win over USC with 6 seconds remaining. My USC Trojan wife Heather was not as amused, but the four member MAR/Utah cheering section is very pleased this week. All four of us.

OCTOBER CAR CONFERENCE AND EXPO WRAP-UP

This week it’s a short recap on the last of the CAR stuff. First of all, after all of my reporting the past couple of weeks about the Millennials and their delayed home buying patterns, CAR issued a press release and published a Webinar about this generation and their attitudes about homeownership. The highlight seems to be that this generation still believes in homeownership, with 54% rating homeownership as an “8” or higher on a 1-10 scale about the importance of homeownership.

But enough with the Millennials, already!

As always, one of the highlights of the conference is CAR Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young’s forecast for the coming year. I shared a couple of the most important highlights a couple of weeks ago, which is that CAR expects total home sales to increase by 5.8% in 2015, and also that the median price is projected to increase by 5.2 % in 2015.

The whole presentation is finally available online here, and it’s worth a quick review…well, as quick as you can review a 128 slide PowerPoint presentation. All of your economic questions should be answered here!

Since we are at the end of a 2-year legislative cycle, the most recent round of advocacy for our members has concluded in Sacramento. Much of what we worked on were a list of priorities for 2015 and beyond. Here are some of the highlights:

-The CAR Board of Directors voted to adopt a “FOR” position on California Proposition 1 on the November ballot, which is the Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2014. All other state ballot initiatives were deemed “Not Real Estate Related”.

-The “Split Roll” Task force released its report and recommendations. “Split Roll” refers to Proposition 13, and the question of whether residential and commercial property tax rules be “split” and taxed with different policies. The Task Force recommended the following:

1. That CAR continue to oppose measures that would impose a split roll property tax system. To that end, a “tool box” should be established on CAR’s website with information with which to combat attempts at the local level to establish a statewide split roll.

2. That CAR support measures that provide that when there is a substantial change in ownership interests if (a) real property or (b) a company owning real property that the property be reassessed.

The CAR Board of Directors voted to adopt these two policies.

-The Taxation and Government Finance Committee had the following action item:

That CAR “SPONSOR” legislation requiring that all property owners be notified when a proposed parcel tax is going to be voted on.

The genesis of this position is based upon the fact that if you’re an out-of-town owner and thus don’t vote in a particular area, currently you often do not know if a parcel tax is on the ballot. You deserve to know. The CAR Board of Directors voted to adopt this position.

We voted on lots of other things like starting working groups about various issues, plus a number of broker compliance items, but I’ll categorize those as “inside baseball” with real action items to come in the future.

Other odds and ends from CAR:

-In an economic session I attended, Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics was asked if the current real estate “run” was over? His answer, notwithstanding that sales were down in 2014, was that he sees a “whole new wave” of buyers and sales. Mortgage financing is expected to be made more available and accessible to potential buyers in the coming years, and those people will buy homes. The iron fist of mortgage lending is expected to loosen up.

-In this same session, both Thornberg and Richard Green, Professor and Director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, agreed that our much-loved Proposition 13 both keeps home prices higher and also makes it harder to move. People with a low property tax base are reluctant to move and give that up. I can relate to that, having bought my house in 1996…moving to a house that is the same price today would result in a 150% increase in my property taxes. I’m hardly alone, and people like me who don’t want to move constrain the supply of homes on the market. When you combine this with the fact that most everyone has refinanced into a super-low-rate 30-year mortgage, it’s understandable why we have constrained supply.

-Baby boomers are also delaying retirement, partially because their interest rates are so low why would they sell and downsize into something with a higher rate?

-Everyone throughout the week expected the current low interest rates to be around for a while to come. They may go up a bit, but no quantum leaps are expected.

-Thornberg also expects more and more banks to hold mortgages rather than sell to Fannie and Freddie: “Where there is a profit there is a way.”

-No one sees a return to sub-prime lending practices like we saw in the middle of the last decade. Green had previously been in favor of those policies to increase accessibility of loans, but everyone got bitten last time and thus there is no will for that type of financing…regardless of how much money there might be.

-Finally, in a breath of fresh air that hopefully our legislators in Sacramento will adopt (not likely): The CAR Affordable Housing Task Force determined that any policy on this subject is “not a project that can be implemented at a state level.” Affordable housing challenges and policies are different throughout the state, and need to be addressed at a local level. So chalk one up for CAR supporting local control. Hopefully we can get that message across in Sacramento that one-size-fits-all housing policy is simply not practical in California.

I think that’s enough for this week, and with that I’ll close the book on the 2014 Fall C.A.R. Business meetings. Next week, back to local stuff!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine Morris

2014 President

Get to Know the Millennial Buyers and the CAR Panel Discussion on the Portal Wars

By | California Association of Realtors, Marin Association of Realtors

Good day MAR members!

Let’s Go Giants! Let’s Go Giants! Giants fever is so all-encompassing that when Heather and I attended a concert in the City on Friday night, midway through the concert during some banter by the band the whole Masonic Auditorium joined in a “Let’s Go Giants!” chat for about 30 seconds. It’s another amazing time to be a Giants fan!

Between biking, hiking, kids’ games and the ever-present backdrop of “Let’s Go Giants!”, we’re all enjoying another beautiful Indian Summer here in Marin. Looking at people bundled up in other parts of the country, I’m reminded how blessed we are to live and work here in Marin. Keep your Orange and Black Giants gear handy, and let’s settle into another terrific week of beautiful warm days and evenings of World Series baseball. Come to think of it, I’ll try to get some Kansas City BBQ on the grill this week too.

MORE FROM C.A.R. AND THE MILLENNIALS

Thank you for all your positive comments on last week’s Monday Memo. Lots of you were very happy to hear how much your Millennial children love their parents! I’ll touch on a few more random items on our new first-time-homebuyer generation:

-This is the first generation that you will have to “adapt” to. Otherwise you’ll be out of business down the road.

-We probably all know this, but they make decisions based upon recommendations from friends, and nothing remains “cutting edge” for long.

-From East Bay Gen-Y Sothebys broker Andrew Greenwell, who is a Millennial himself, 5 Rules for Communicating with Gen-Y:

Tell them to read the whole email…otherwise they just read the subject line

“The Pointier the Bullet the Better”…meaning, net out your bullet points for an easily distracted generation.

NEVER put critical instructions at the end of the email…Millennials won’t read it.

Group communication is important…why have a meeting or phone call when you can solve the world’s problems with a group email or text?

MOST IMPORTANT: Millennials don’t like phone calls. He seriously said that people of his generation find a phone call to be an invasion of privacy. Seriously.

Andrew also said that Millennials don’t have a “personal life” and a “work life”…just “one life”. He encouraged us to be transparent, because Millennials can sniff through a lack of transparency, it’s in their DNA. Also, because they love their parents so much, it’s very important to engage and appeal to “Mom and Dad” with a Millennial client…Mom and Dad will be involved every day.

Finally…Andrew suggested that we “Focus on their future, not your past…make me understand why this is important to me right now.” And: “Millennials wonder where YOU will fit into their life story.”

I couldn’t get over the feeling of a self-indulgent generation, but we need to get over that as they are the most important generation for our industry right now. C.A.R. is correctly dead-set on understanding and accommodating this important group of young buyers.

THE PORTAL WARS

At C.A.R., we collectively spent a LOT of time talking about Zillow/Trulia “Zulia” and Move/Realtor.com. The Strategic Planning Forum on Friday was a packed panel discussion with Zillow, Trulia, Move/Realtor.com…and one old-school broker for levity sake.

Prior to the panel discussion, at Wednesday’s Member/Director Forum, C.A.R. CEO Joel Singer had some comments about Zillow in general as a primer for Friday’s panel discussion:

-Zillow is now the market “opinion leader”

-Zillow claims 80 million unique users, if you can believe that.

-Zillow’s market cap is $4.3B. While staggering, this number is way down from the $7B they had right after the Trulia acquisition, and their market cap has been steadily dropping since the acquisition.

-Zillow needs to “get some profits” to justify this huge market cap.

-News Corp just acquired Move.com/Realtor.com. Joel compared Zillow’s $4.3B market cap with News Corp’s $73B market cap, and rhetorically asked which one has the bigger war chest going forward.

-The consumer has better info than we do. He showed some slides of Zillow/RedFin/Truila listing pages, and compared that data with what we see in our MLS. It was pretty comical.

But the Friday panel was the most illuminating. Zillow sent Curt Beardsley, their VP of Industry Development. Trulia sent Alon Chaver, its VP of Insustry Services. Realtor.com sent Russ Cofano, SVP of Industry Relations. And the old-school broker I mentioned was Tom Kuntz, VP of North America of brokerage Engel and Volkers.

I had heard the three portal guys several times earlier this year at various panel discussions at CAR, NAR and the Inman conference. My main takeaway was the same as it was earlier: they don’t want to share much. Yet, we keep packing these forums, looking for magic nuggets of info to glean.

Beardsley of Zillow said that Zillow’s focus has always been and will be on the consumer. He said they are an advertising-based media company. And he said that 50% of the interaction with Zillow is now via mobile.

Cofano of Realtor.com described its philosophy and mission as being “aligned with Realtors”. He identified that “there are a lot more online leads than buyers.” So true. Realtor.com does not believe in putting up valuations, and they also don’t believe in putting FSBO listings right next to your listings.

Chaver described Trulia as “being similar to Realtor.com”. No valuations (at least not anymore…probably thanks to Zillow buying them); No FSBOs. He claimed a Realtor-friendly approach, and proclaimed “we’ve transformed the customer experience and expectations over the past 8 years.”

Kuntz the broker was resigned to the changing environment of customer access to data. He correctly talked of the disconnect that “our industry has not yet delved into Big Data” like the Big 3 portals have. They know an awful lot about our customers. He also worries that “Realtor value is being replaced by Big Data.”

Then the banter began.

Beardsley said that Zillow is “central to the consumer” by adding in Big Data. Consumers typically search online for 12 weeks before they reach out to a real estate professional. We as an industry are not engaged yet at that time and the Big 3 are. People want a “general idea of values” during those 12 weeks, they don’t want to talk to a Realtor yet, and Zillow is addressing those needs with listings and Zestimates.

Cofano of Realtor.com then produced the zinger of the forum: Over the past 5-6 years, the number of licensed agents nationwide has stayed relatively static at 1M agents. Nationwide sales have stayed relatively static at 5M sales. But the number of online leads has zoomed up like a hockey stick. Monumental growth of online leads. Why so many more leads if the sales are remaining the same? What is the definition of an “online lead?” He said all that those leads are doing is creating more work for everyone.

And on it went, with everyone’s opinion about the general state of “online leads”. Joel Singer of CAR, who was moderating, asked the panel “Are leads becoming more valuable?” Beardsley of Zillow acknowledged the “huge growth of online leads”, but stuck with his contention that Zillow is a media company: “We don’t sell leads, we sell opportunities for you to be in front of your customers.”

Cofano of Realtor.com came back again with “leads are becoming less valuable”, and “leads cost the same whether they’re really good or crap”. He directly asked Beardsly of Zillow whether “online leads are becoming less valuable?” Beardsly stammered for a minute or two and didn’t answer the question. Cofano asked him again, and Beardsly finally relented that “yes, online leads are becoming less valuable” and that they need to fix that problem.

At that point, MAR President-Elect Matt Hughes, who was sitting across the room, summed it up best for me via a text he sent: “They are not creating leads. They are creating contact info of window shoppers.”

Amen to that.

The wise sage of the meeting, broker Tom Kuntz, told us that someone with way more money than Zillow is going to come in and change the playing field again in a way that we don’t know about yet. He talked about Napster and online music being a cute little unprofitable business until Apple and iTunes stepped in and effectively monetized it. Someone big, who we haven’t even thought of yet, will come in and make Zillow obsolete.

I’m not sure about that yet, but this sure is a fascinating conversation.

That’s it for now, next week I’ll share some of the action items we voted on at the CAR Board of Directors meetings.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine Morris

2014 President

Get to Know the Millennial Buyers and the CAR Panel Discussion on the Portal Wars

By | California Association of Realtors, Marin Association of Realtors

Good day MAR members!

Let’s Go Giants! Let’s Go Giants! Giants fever is so all-encompassing that when Heather and I attended a concert in the City on Friday night, midway through the concert during some banter by the band the whole Masonic Auditorium joined in a “Let’s Go Giants!” chat for about 30 seconds. It’s another amazing time to be a Giants fan!

Between biking, hiking, kids’ games and the ever-present backdrop of “Let’s Go Giants!”, we’re all enjoying another beautiful Indian Summer here in Marin. Looking at people bundled up in other parts of the country, I’m reminded how blessed we are to live and work here in Marin. Keep your Orange and Black Giants gear handy, and let’s settle into another terrific week of beautiful warm days and evenings of World Series baseball. Come to think of it, I’ll try to get some Kansas City BBQ on the grill this week too.

MORE FROM C.A.R. AND THE MILLENNIALS

Thank you for all your positive comments on last week’s Monday Memo. Lots of you were very happy to hear how much your Millennial children love their parents! I’ll touch on a few more random items on our new first-time-homebuyer generation:

-This is the first generation that you will have to “adapt” to. Otherwise you’ll be out of business down the road.

-We probably all know this, but they make decisions based upon recommendations from friends, and nothing remains “cutting edge” for long.

-From East Bay Gen-Y Sothebys broker Andrew Greenwell, who is a Millennial himself, 5 Rules for Communicating with Gen-Y:

Tell them to read the whole email…otherwise they just read the subject line

“The Pointier the Bullet the Better”…meaning, net out your bullet points for an easily distracted generation.

NEVER put critical instructions at the end of the email…Millennials won’t read it.

Group communication is important…why have a meeting or phone call when you can solve the world’s problems with a group email or text?

MOST IMPORTANT: Millennials don’t like phone calls. He seriously said that people of his generation find a phone call to be an invasion of privacy. Seriously.

Andrew also said that Millennials don’t have a “personal life” and a “work life”…just “one life”. He encouraged us to be transparent, because Millennials can sniff through a lack of transparency, it’s in their DNA. Also, because they love their parents so much, it’s very important to engage and appeal to “Mom and Dad” with a Millennial client…Mom and Dad will be involved every day.

Finally…Andrew suggested that we “Focus on their future, not your past…make me understand why this is important to me right now.” And: “Millennials wonder where YOU will fit into their life story.”

I couldn’t get over the feeling of a self-indulgent generation, but we need to get over that as they are the most important generation for our industry right now. C.A.R. is correctly dead-set on understanding and accommodating this important group of young buyers.

THE PORTAL WARS

At C.A.R., we collectively spent a LOT of time talking about Zillow/Trulia “Zulia” and Move/Realtor.com. The Strategic Planning Forum on Friday was a packed panel discussion with Zillow, Trulia, Move/Realtor.com…and one old-school broker for levity sake.

Prior to the panel discussion, at Wednesday’s Member/Director Forum, C.A.R. CEO Joel Singer had some comments about Zillow in general as a primer for Friday’s panel discussion:

-Zillow is now the market “opinion leader”

-Zillow claims 80 million unique users, if you can believe that.

-Zillow’s market cap is $4.3B. While staggering, this number is way down from the $7B they had right after the Trulia acquisition, and their market cap has been steadily dropping since the acquisition.

-Zillow needs to “get some profits” to justify this huge market cap.

-News Corp just acquired Move.com/Realtor.com. Joel compared Zillow’s $4.3B market cap with News Corp’s $73B market cap, and rhetorically asked which one has the bigger war chest going forward.

-The consumer has better info than we do. He showed some slides of Zillow/RedFin/Truila listing pages, and compared that data with what we see in our MLS. It was pretty comical.

But the Friday panel was the most illuminating. Zillow sent Curt Beardsley, their VP of Industry Development. Trulia sent Alon Chaver, its VP of Insustry Services. Realtor.com sent Russ Cofano, SVP of Industry Relations. And the old-school broker I mentioned was Tom Kuntz, VP of North America of brokerage Engel and Volkers.

I had heard the three portal guys several times earlier this year at various panel discussions at CAR, NAR and the Inman conference. My main takeaway was the same as it was earlier: they don’t want to share much. Yet, we keep packing these forums, looking for magic nuggets of info to glean.

Beardsley of Zillow said that Zillow’s focus has always been and will be on the consumer. He said they are an advertising-based media company. And he said that 50% of the interaction with Zillow is now via mobile.

Cofano of Realtor.com described its philosophy and mission as being “aligned with Realtors”. He identified that “there are a lot more online leads than buyers.” So true. Realtor.com does not believe in putting up valuations, and they also don’t believe in putting FSBO listings right next to your listings.

Chaver described Trulia as “being similar to Realtor.com”. No valuations (at least not anymore…probably thanks to Zillow buying them); No FSBOs. He claimed a Realtor-friendly approach, and proclaimed “we’ve transformed the customer experience and expectations over the past 8 years.”

Kuntz the broker was resigned to the changing environment of customer access to data. He correctly talked of the disconnect that “our industry has not yet delved into Big Data” like the Big 3 portals have. They know an awful lot about our customers. He also worries that “Realtor value is being replaced by Big Data.”

Then the banter began.

Beardsley said that Zillow is “central to the consumer” by adding in Big Data. Consumers typically search online for 12 weeks before they reach out to a real estate professional. We as an industry are not engaged yet at that time and the Big 3 are. People want a “general idea of values” during those 12 weeks, they don’t want to talk to a Realtor yet, and Zillow is addressing those needs with listings and Zestimates.

Cofano of Realtor.com then produced the zinger of the forum: Over the past 5-6 years, the number of licensed agents nationwide has stayed relatively static at 1M agents. Nationwide sales have stayed relatively static at 5M sales. But the number of online leads has zoomed up like a hockey stick. Monumental growth of online leads. Why so many more leads if the sales are remaining the same? What is the definition of an “online lead?” He said all that those leads are doing is creating more work for everyone.

And on it went, with everyone’s opinion about the general state of “online leads”. Joel Singer of CAR, who was moderating, asked the panel “Are leads becoming more valuable?” Beardsley of Zillow acknowledged the “huge growth of online leads”, but stuck with his contention that Zillow is a media company: “We don’t sell leads, we sell opportunities for you to be in front of your customers.”

Cofano of Realtor.com came back again with “leads are becoming less valuable”, and “leads cost the same whether they’re really good or crap”. He directly asked Beardsly of Zillow whether “online leads are becoming less valuable?” Beardsly stammered for a minute or two and didn’t answer the question. Cofano asked him again, and Beardsly finally relented that “yes, online leads are becoming less valuable” and that they need to fix that problem.

At that point, MAR President-Elect Matt Hughes, who was sitting across the room, summed it up best for me via a text he sent: “They are not creating leads. They are creating contact info of window shoppers.”

Amen to that.

The wise sage of the meeting, broker Tom Kuntz, told us that someone with way more money than Zillow is going to come in and change the playing field again in a way that we don’t know about yet. He talked about Napster and online music being a cute little unprofitable business until Apple and iTunes stepped in and effectively monetized it. Someone big, who we haven’t even thought of yet, will come in and make Zillow obsolete.

I’m not sure about that yet, but this sure is a fascinating conversation.

That’s it for now, next week I’ll share some of the action items we voted on at the CAR Board of Directors meetings.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine Morris

2014 President

CAR Update: Economic Forecast and the Impact of the Millennials

By | California Association of Realtors, Marin Association of Realtors, Marin Real Estate News

Good day MAR members!

It’s great to be back in Marin after a week across the street from the Happiest Place on Earth.  We could see Disneyland from our C.A.R. hotel and the Anaheim Convention Center, but things were so busy that looking from a distance was all we could do.  Perhaps that’s not so bad, after seeing all the bleary-eyed parents looking like the walking wounded returning from the park with their kids.

And:  LET’S GO GIANTS!!  Pretty huge cheers went up whenever one of the speakers said that at the meetings…which is surprising because there are way more people in SoCal…and our SoCal friends were licking their wounds after the Dodgers and Angels were dispatched from the playoffs last week.  There sure was a lot of Angels gear for sale in the gift shop of our hotel, but after observing for five days I didn’t see a single item leave the store.

SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY

By now, many of you probably saw the “Alert – Marin Agent Safety” we sent out last Saturday.  If you didn’t see it, you can check it out HERE.  The net is that there is allegedly a person posing as a REALTOR® going around to open houses looking for prescription drugs.  Police have advised members that unless he is actually caught stealing something there is nothing they can do.

One thing you can do is get a “Pill Pod” from the MAR store.  The Pill Pod is essentially a $20 plastic “safe” to store medication.  It’s not an indestructible device, but it is big enough that medication can’t be put in a pocket and walked out with.  It’s an inexpensive, effective deterrent.  For more info, you can just drop by the MAR store and check it out.

In the wake of the Beverly Carter murder in Arkansas, we need to keep a very watchful eye out for “copycat” assaults on agents.  This past Saturday, a 55-year-old female agent in Orange County was punched in the face at one of her listings: ARTICLE

This Wednesday morning at the Novato Tour Meeting, Officers Conrad and Doyle from the Novato Police Department will be attending to discuss agent safety and how the police can be of help.  They would also like feedback from the agent community.  The safety meeting starts at 9:00 and is held at the Novato Youth Center at 680 Wilson in Novato.

Be careful out there!

CAR FALL BUSINESS MEETINGS

As I mentioned, MAR’s CAR Director delegation spent last week in Anaheim at the Expo and Fall Business Meetings.  I’ll do my best to distill the most important info out of my 23 pages of notes I took…it will likely take me a couple of weeks to get through all of it.

Let me first get to the two numbers you need to know for your clients and prospects:  at the 2015 Economic Forecast by CAR Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young, she reported that CAR expects that California unit sales will go up by 5.8% in 2015, and that the median price will increase by 5.2%.  Keep those two numbers in mind, and you will be armed with the freshest data next time someone asks you about the market outlook.

Ahhh, but digging into those numbers is what will make you sound even smarter.  The most startling overall sentiment in Anaheim is how there is a perception of a market slowdown throughout California.  CAR was way off on its 2014 market projections.  Earlier this year, I reported that CAR was expecting total unit sales to INCREASE by 6%.  CAR now expects unit sales to DECREASE by 8.2% in 2014.  That’s quite a miss.  Also, they expected the median price to also go up by 6%, and they now expect that number to increase by 11.8%.

What’s also startling about this is that the 2014 unit and price projections were calculated with an expectation that interest rates would have materially risen with the end of QE, and they expected the rates to be well over 5% by now.  As we know the interest rates have been pretty flat for most of the year.

THE MILLENNIALS, OUR SLOWLY-EMERGING FIRST-TIME-BUYER GENERATION

This disconnect came up at a number of meetings I attended.  The finger kept getting pointed to our new first-time-buyers…the “Millennials”…or “Generation Y”.  More commonly known as “your kids”, and also identified as the largest generation in American history.  With the oldest of them in their early 30s, they’re not buying houses as quickly as previous generations.

Over the past year, starting at last October’s CAR meetings in Long Beach, much of the collective efforts  of CAR can be described as a psychology and sociology study of this generation.  Here are some interesting tidbits, in no particular order.

-Millennials are delaying getting married.  Marriage rates are plummeting.  Less marriages = less homes purchased.

-They’re still living at home.  And I kept hearing that they like their parents much more than we did.  That’s slowing these young adults from “growing up”.  I kept hearing that “90% of Gen Ys have a good relationship with their parents.”  And sit down for this one:  2/3 of adult children living with their parents are “satisfied with the arrangement.”  And you thought it was just you…  They didn’t share whether the parents felt the same way about this arrangement.

-People are simply moving less.  Why?  Kids like their parents better.

-Regarding the plummeting marriage rate, one interesting anecdote was shared by Richard Thornberg, one of CAR’s top economists:  In previous generations, more men went to college, and more men had degrees than women.  Today it’s just the opposite:  More women are going to college than men, and more women have degrees than men.  So what?  Mr. Thornberg offered the following demographic comment:  Better educated men are ok being in a relationship with less educated women, but better educated women are NOT ok being in a relationship with less educated men.  This is a demographic conundrum that won’t go away soon.

-Or, more simply put, Mr. Thornburg asked for the single women in the audience to raise their hands if they’re ok going on a date with an adult man living with his parents.  Not many hands went up.

-Our population in California is becoming more Latino and more Asian.  Latinos and Asians historically live with their parents longer.

-Given our recent housing debate in Marin, how about this:  78% of Millennials would prefer to not own a car and rather would like to walk to everything.

-Millennials want walkability.  Millennials actually ARE buying in downtown LA and downtown Oakland.  Walkability, nightlife and activity in general were cited as the reasons for this.  They don’t care about quality of schools, because none of them are having kids yet.

-As for the decrease in units, investors are not in the market as heavily, and “investors need to be replaced by first-time-buyers” and it’s not happening.

THE PUBLIC POLICY DEBATE ON HOUSING

On several occasions, CAR CEO Joel Singer described housing as “the Achilles Heel of California.”  We’re just not building enough new housing, as he said.  California has 13% of the population in the US, and only generates 8% of the building permits.  The population is still growing, but nothing is being built for them.  The need for reform of CEQA came up over and over again.  CEQA is the California Environment Quality Act, and it makes building difficult.

Plus, it seems that everywhere other than Marin, density is preferred and increasing.  That’s where the Millennials want to live.  So Sacramento is focusing on affordable rentals, not affordable housing for purchase.  Joel Singer said that in a recent conversation with the Speaker of the California Assembly Toni Atkins (who hails from Coastal San Diego County), when asked about housing affordability, she started talking about rental affordability.  She told Joel, “just wait until we’re a 50% renter society.”

So that’s where the public policy debate in Sacramento is focused:  rental affordability.

As for the affordability of housing for purchase, it’s become increasingly unaffordable in California.  At the height of the recession, Joel Singer described it as a “once in a generation buying opportunity”.  Those days are long gone.  The ability to purchase a median-priced home in California has fallen to 36% this year, compared to 60% for the US.  Joel called this “self-inflicted pain” because we’re not building.

I’ll leave it there for now.  There is so much more to report, I’ll pick it up next week.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine Morris

2014 MAR President

Upcoming Residential Purchase Agreement and New Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Rules for Condos in Flood Zones

By | California Association of Realtors, Marin Association of Realtors, Marin Real Estate News

Good day MAR members!

Another week of summer gently slides by, and just like that some of the kids are starting school this week! I was starting to get used to the lack of traffic, so I’m trying to brace myself for the crush of the next few weeks. Hopefully they will get all the road construction finished in time for school starting…otherwise we might be faced with a double whammy. So, please be patient and take your time out there MAR members…you’ll get to your meeting, it just might take you a little longer than it has been taking.

Another shorter summer-version memo this week, for quick reading as you scramble to finish up vacations and get the kids set for school…

Once again, we are reminded at the fragility of our time on this planet. In the years to come, many of us will remember where we were when we heard the news of Robin Williams’ passing. I know I will. We all considered Robin a fellow Marinite…a kindred spirit. He was young enough when he moved to Marin that it was not his choice to move here…but he DID make the choice to stay here, and moved back in recent years to his home county. Woodacre, Redwood High, College of Marin, Tiburon…Marin IS home.

Seeing Robin around town was not a celebrity sighting, Hollywood-style. It was simply seeing a familiar face. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Robin several years ago, as both of us were attending a local comedy show that was being presented by a mutual friend. We didn’t speak beyond pleasantries…but it was great to see him out enjoying and supporting other kindred spirits working their craft. Just a normal Marin guy.

As the emotion and stories have flooded all of us this week, one of the things that I’ve noticed is how he generously supported others in his artistic and comedy community. He gave service to his community. Let’s remember that folks. People are talking about his enormous talent, obviously. But after we all agreed on the huge artistic contributions, the story continues to come back to generosity and service. Our mutual friend even wrote about it, how Robin generously helped him get his business off the ground years ago. When all is said and done, the world will remember his talent and body of work. His family, friends and our community will remember the man, how he gave back, and how he made those around him feel.

It’s also good that as a community we are discussing mental health. I am hopeful that there is some good that can come out of this tragedy. We need to prop up those around us that need it, even if they don’t tell us so. Lend a helping hand, offer some encouragement, encourage people to get help when it’s needed. And always let those around you know how much you love them.

RIP Robin Williams.

NEXT MAR GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING

It’s been a while since our last meeting, and in the spirit of our New Fall Season, let’s kick it off together on Tuesday, September 9th at Noon [check-in and networking begins at 11:30am]. Our featured speaker is Professor Robert Eyler, one of the leading economic minds in the North Bay, and the head of the Marin Economic Forum. His updates are always useful, and you will get local and up-to-date economic data that you can put to work with your clients immediately!

This meeting will also serve as the election for MAR’s 2015 leadership and Board of Directors.

You can click here to register on line, or click here for a flyer registration form. Our General Membership Meetings continue to sell out, so please make your reservation today so you won’t miss out. Hope to see you there!

THE NEW RESIDENTIAL PURCHASE AGREEMENT

Since early February, I’ve written several times about the new, improved and vastly re-written standard Residential Purchase Agreement from CAR. Lots and lots of changes. Folks, it’s just about here. It’s set to be rolled out in November.

CAR is sponsoring classes to educate the membership on the new RPA, and we’ve sold out the one we’ve scheduled at MAR. We are working to get back on the calendar. Many of you at the larger brokerages will be having training within your company. I’m pressing to get more classes on the calendar here at MAR to support our member community. Stay tuned.

NEW FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC RULES FOR CONDOS IN FLOOD ZONES

One last thing I want to share this week is a new-this-year Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rule as it relates to condos in flood zones. I learned it the hard way. In the past, it’s not been unusual for condo complexes, where there are some units in flood zones, to have the individual units in the flood zone pay for their own flood insurance. You can still do that, but this year it’s become very difficult to obtain conventional financing that will be guaranteed by Freddie and Fannie unless the whole complex has a master flood policy. Like almost impossible. There are some portfolio lenders who will make an exception, but for the vast majority of loan products out there this new requirement has made conventional financing very difficult until the HOA gets a master flood policy for the entire complex.

It’s another way that Superstorm Sandy keeps on giving. If you’re listing a condo in a flood zone…or if you’re writing on a condo in a flood zone…make sure the association has a master flood policy. If they don’t have one, talk early to your lender to secure financing that will accommodate for the lack of the Fannie/Freddie requirement.

The flood zone and insurance requirements are changing all the time. Monthly. Weekly. Daily. These changes are very frustrating, and every week I hear from another member who is having difficulty with flood insurance. With this in mind, late next month MAR will be sponsoring a “flood summit” meeting (better title to come, I promise), with lenders, insurers, and hopefully FEMA itself in attendance. Date, time, and agenda are still coming together, but I am keen to educate the membership on this frustrating and constantly-changing corner of our industry.

That’s it for now!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine

Blaine Morris

2014 MAR President

Zillow Buys Trulia, But What Does that Mean for Realtors? MAR Monday Memo 08/04/14

By | California Association of Realtors, Marin Association of Realtors, Marin Real Estate News

Good morning MAR members!

Another quick memo for this week, the dog days of summer give us the quiet season for real estate…and news in general.

I’m back from vacation, re-entry was painful, but I survived. I love the summer here in Marin, as many folks are also out on vacation and thus it’s easy to get around, easy to get a reservation for dinner, easy to find parking. Well, easy to get around as long as you don’t get caught in one of our endless road construction projects around the county…everywhere you look, some road is dug up with a flagman…I guess I can stop calling it the quiet season and call it the road construction season!

ZULIA
While I was away, the big news was Zillow buying Trulia for $3.5 BILLION. Say that again…$3.5 BILLION. For a website.

The whole thing has created an immense amount of chatter in our industry. When I was at the Inman SF Connect conference several weeks ago, everywhere I turned the term “Big 3” came up as it related to consumer-facing real estate websites. Conventional wisdom was the “Big 3” dominated and everyone else in the far distance as far as relevance (Big 3=Zillow, Trula and Move/Realtor.com). For a while, it was the possibility of Trulia buying Move. I guess that’s not happening…so now it’s the BIG 1 (Zulia?), the smaller 2 (Move/Realtor.com), and everyone else.

I find myself remarkably nonplussed by this development.

Yes, there are a lot of competing views on the acquisition. Given that it’s summer vacation, people need to talk about something. The best summation of the news, for me, came from Cameron Platt. Cameron is a recent past-president of the Oakland Association of REALTORS® and was last year’s CAR Chairman of the statewide YPN (Young Professionals Network). This year, he sits on the CAR Executive Committee. Last week Cameron posted on Facebook what he described as the best summation he’d heard about the Zillow/Trulia deal: “Let me get this straight, one website just acquired another website, and that means that I can’t sell real estate anymore?”

EXACTLY.

Yes, there is much industry chatter out there. Brad Inman, Publisher of Inman News, described the move as “checkmate” in his article about the merger. Click here to read. Brad Inman proclaimed that Zillow was going to become the next Amazon, with everyone else as a rounding error. There are lots of competing views on Inman’s website, summarized here.

Some think this is huge news, others think it’s not news at all. Steve Tobak of Valleybeat, who writes on technology business, was decidedly uninspired by the deal. Click here to read.

I think our very own MAR member Mark McLaughlin summed it up best in his piece on the acquisition. Click here.

His analysis of the comparisons of Zillow to Amazon clarify one thing: Zillow isn’t becoming Amazon anytime soon, and to do so they would need to take over all the revenue of the entire real estate industry. Not likely.

Now, I agree that Zillow and Trulia are incredibly attractive websites that our customers visit with great regularity. But when you look at the numbers…$3.5 billion!…for a one-third of a combined company with $340M in annual sales…and neither of which currently makes any money yet…you wonder how the numbers will add up. Is it really a $10B company?

At the Inman SF Connect conference a few weeks ago, I heard Trulia CEO Pete Flint tell the audience that they were going to do for agents what they had done for consumers…he was going to provide us with the same fantastic level of tools and features that consumers enjoy. Really? It seems to me that to find a return on that $3.5 billion investment, Zulia is going to need to find new and creative ways to squeeze more money out of the agent community. Don’t forget, we are the largest source of revenue for these companies…for their increasingly marginal-quality leads. Those marginal-quality leads are about to get more expensive, most likely. Zulia’s shareholders will demand it.

OK, enough on that. Let’s focus on selling some houses.

Zillow Buys Trulia, But What Does that Mean for Realtors? MAR Monday Memo 08/04/14

By | California Association of Realtors, Marin Association of Realtors, Marin Real Estate News

Good morning MAR members!

Another quick memo for this week, the dog days of summer give us the quiet season for real estate…and news in general.

I’m back from vacation, re-entry was painful, but I survived. I love the summer here in Marin, as many folks are also out on vacation and thus it’s easy to get around, easy to get a reservation for dinner, easy to find parking. Well, easy to get around as long as you don’t get caught in one of our endless road construction projects around the county…everywhere you look, some road is dug up with a flagman…I guess I can stop calling it the quiet season and call it the road construction season!

ZULIA
While I was away, the big news was Zillow buying Trulia for $3.5 BILLION. Say that again…$3.5 BILLION. For a website.

The whole thing has created an immense amount of chatter in our industry. When I was at the Inman SF Connect conference several weeks ago, everywhere I turned the term “Big 3” came up as it related to consumer-facing real estate websites. Conventional wisdom was the “Big 3” dominated and everyone else in the far distance as far as relevance (Big 3=Zillow, Trula and Move/Realtor.com). For a while, it was the possibility of Trulia buying Move. I guess that’s not happening…so now it’s the BIG 1 (Zulia?), the smaller 2 (Move/Realtor.com), and everyone else.

I find myself remarkably nonplussed by this development.

Yes, there are a lot of competing views on the acquisition. Given that it’s summer vacation, people need to talk about something. The best summation of the news, for me, came from Cameron Platt. Cameron is a recent past-president of the Oakland Association of REALTORS® and was last year’s CAR Chairman of the statewide YPN (Young Professionals Network). This year, he sits on the CAR Executive Committee. Last week Cameron posted on Facebook what he described as the best summation he’d heard about the Zillow/Trulia deal: “Let me get this straight, one website just acquired another website, and that means that I can’t sell real estate anymore?”

EXACTLY.

Yes, there is much industry chatter out there. Brad Inman, Publisher of Inman News, described the move as “checkmate” in his article about the merger. Click here to read. Brad Inman proclaimed that Zillow was going to become the next Amazon, with everyone else as a rounding error. There are lots of competing views on Inman’s website, summarized here.

Some think this is huge news, others think it’s not news at all. Steve Tobak of Valleybeat, who writes on technology business, was decidedly uninspired by the deal. Click here to read.

I think our very own MAR member Mark McLaughlin summed it up best in his piece on the acquisition. Click here.

His analysis of the comparisons of Zillow to Amazon clarify one thing: Zillow isn’t becoming Amazon anytime soon, and to do so they would need to take over all the revenue of the entire real estate industry. Not likely.

Now, I agree that Zillow and Trulia are incredibly attractive websites that our customers visit with great regularity. But when you look at the numbers…$3.5 billion!…for a one-third of a combined company with $340M in annual sales…and neither of which currently makes any money yet…you wonder how the numbers will add up. Is it really a $10B company?

At the Inman SF Connect conference a few weeks ago, I heard Trulia CEO Pete Flint tell the audience that they were going to do for agents what they had done for consumers…he was going to provide us with the same fantastic level of tools and features that consumers enjoy. Really? It seems to me that to find a return on that $3.5 billion investment, Zulia is going to need to find new and creative ways to squeeze more money out of the agent community. Don’t forget, we are the largest source of revenue for these companies…for their increasingly marginal-quality leads. Those marginal-quality leads are about to get more expensive, most likely. Zulia’s shareholders will demand it.

OK, enough on that. Let’s focus on selling some houses.

Should You Include a Picture of the Buyer in a Offer Packet? MAR Monday Memo 05/27/14

By | California Association of Realtors, Marin Association of Realtors, Marin Real Estate News

Good morning MAR members!

Safely back in Marin this week after spending two of the prior three weeks on the road…it’s good to be back home.  I was looking forward to a nice quiet three day weekend, but many of you responded with new listings this week!  Alas, our customers don’t care about three day weekends…other than the fact that they have an extra day to look at homes.  So back to showing and listing properties.

I’m going to find a quiet moment this weekend to honor those who have served our country…Happy Memorial Day everyone!  Coming from a certain generation, most everyone in my family from the generation before me served in the military.  My father Warren served in the Marine Corps in the Korean War, and both uncles on his side of the family served, Uncle Ray in Korea and Uncle Blaine in World War II.  My Grandfather Blaine served in Europe in World War I, nearly 100 years ago.  Plus my longtime stepfather Allen Coates was a full-bird Colonel in the Army, and he served in an artillery brigade in Korea.

I say all of this because it’s easy to forget the sacrifices made by those who came before us.  Take a little time this weekend to honor those who served our country.  And wish for a safe return home to those currently serving.  As President Lyndon Johnson said on this day in 1966 (my first Memorial Day as a 3 1/2-month-old!):  “On this Memorial Day, it is right for us to remember the living and the dead for whom the call of their country has meant much pain and sacrifice.”

Thank you to MAR member Chelsea Ialeggio for her feedback on pictures of buyers in offer packets.  One of her clients wanted to include a nine-page letter filled with pictures of the family with an offer.  These buyers shared that all their friends looking for homes were sharing similar letters and pictures.  Chelsea shared that she had been advised throughout her career to not include pictures, as it creates opportunities for possible discrimination concerns.

Letters are fine, but regarding pictures my response to Chelsea was that to my knowledge there was no part of the REALTOR Code of Ethics preventing this practice, and that it is more of a broker risk management issue.  I still feel that way.  Last Thursday, however, I asked MAR CEO Andy Fegley to find out CAR’s position on the matter.  Andy called June Barlow, CAR’s Chief Legal Counsel.  June just happened to have a conference call set up that afternoon with the entire CAR legal staff and agreed to pose the question.

After that call, here is what June came back with:  “I spoke with the hotline attorneys during their meeting and they confirmed that it is problematic from a fair housing perspective for real estate agents to participate in activities, such as including photos, that may put the seller in a position to discriminate or facilitate discrimination based on familial status or marital status or even race or other protected class.   Universally  we advise against it.  However, none of us knew of a specific bulletin or advisory that speaks to the issue about photos in particular, though that doesn’t mean one does not exist.  Regulation 2780 does list many variations of fair housing  violations that could cause one to lose a real estate license.   There are quite a few in there that may cover this activity.”

So, to repeat, as far as I know, it’s not against any specific REALTOR policy that we’ve been able to find, but my advice is to tread very carefully with this issue and speak to your broker about your company’s policy.  I know during my time in the business it has been against the policy of my brokers.

In the category of “odds and ends”,  I thought it would be useful to share some info from a presentation given a couple of weeks ago by CAR CEO Joel Singer in Sacramento during the mid-year meetings.

  • Joel compared the housing downturn we’re just emerging from as “just as bad as the Great Depression.”
  • The early years of the recovery were the strongest, and the current number of sales he is seeing is not performing as he would expect.
  • Appreciation is moderating.  There is a current “pause” in appreciation is due to the recent rise in interest rates, general economic components, and the fact that affordability has decreased statewide.
  • Inventory has improved but remains tight.  Inventory is essentially all existing homes; there are almost no new homes.
  • During the downturn, in California we lost a million households that “should exist”.  During the housing boom of the mid-2000s, “new household creation” peaked at 300,000 new households created annually.  During the downturn, “new household creation” bottomed out at 30,000 new households created annually.
  • California needs to “replace lost housing that should have been created over the past 5-6 years, but we are not doing so.”
  • The market is over-relying on investment sales.  Currently, statewide, 25% of sales are “investment sales”.  Normally, that figure is 6-10% of sales.  First-time buyers should be able to buy, but they can’t compete.  Demand is not a problem, but the share of first time buyers is alarming.  Pent-up demand is not resulting in sales.  There is nothing to sell them, and when there is, these first-time buyers are competing with investors with cash.
  • Along that line, the share of first-time-buyers should be higher than it is right now.  He would like to see it over 40%…even 50%.  At the current rate, which is around 38%, we are not seeing a healthy, “ladder-like” market
  • With all of that said, first-time-buyers remain our hope once again.  Millennials view homeownership as a positive thing at essentially the same rate as the Gen-X and Baby Boomer generations before them.  The level of student debt, however, is staggering, and is holding back Millennials from being able to buy.
  • The homeownership rate is dropping statewide.  In the US, the homeownership rate is 65.4%.  It’s in the mid-50%s right now in California.  He bemoaned the fact that in California we are nearly 50% renters.
  • There is political fallout as we become a renter society.  Low homeownership rates in San Francisco have a profound effect on public policy in SF, with homeowners being a small minority of the population.
  • And rents are continuing to go up because new homes are not being constructed…and the future demand for housing is not going to lessen.
  • The good news is that the attitudes of homeownership remain positive…but people continue to leave California over the cost of housing.  Young families, the Millennials, want to buy houses and participate in the California dream.  We need more supply.  In California, we need 165,000 new units of housing annually, which will create a balance of supply and demand.  We are currently only building 65,000 units, which is leaving us a staggering 100,000 units short.

So let’s all go find some more listings and do our part to improve these numbers!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine

 

 

 

 

CAR Highlights, MAR General Membership Meeting Tuesday, May 13th – MAR Monday Memo 05/12/14

By | California Association of Realtors, Legislation, Marin Association of Realtors

Good morning MAR members!

So many buyers, so many listings, so many offers!  Everyone I know is running around at a frenzied pace, but it does seem that more properties are coming on the market.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at the MAR General Membership meeting tomorrow, Tuesday May 13 at 9:30 AM, at Embassy Suites in San Rafael.  The featured speaker is Sarah Sutachan, who is the Manager of Broker and Real Estate Finance Outreach for CAR.   This is the “economic update” traditionally provided by Leslie Appleton-Young.  MAR member Steve Dickason will be giving his always-informative and valuable Marin Market Update.

This week, after Tuesday’s MAR General Membership meeting, MAR CEO Andy Fegley, Federal congressional key contact Kay Moore and I are off to Washington DC for the National Association of REALTORS mid-year meetings.  We will be meeting with Congressman Jared Huffman’s staff and briefing them on all of NAR’s matters before congress.  I will be reporting back on the results of those meetings next week.

Andy Fegley and I also visited with the City of San Rafael again last week in our ongoing effort to eliminate the increased “double jeopardy” we are seeing in their resale inspection practices.  I feel like we are making some real progress and we certainly have their attention at the highest level of city staff.  City staff had a department-wide meeting to work to improve the process, and they shared a list of their initial thoughts to improve.

MAR’s main concern is the specific instance where non-compliant items that were missed in prior resale inspections…years ago..are being forced into compliance today…years later…after being missed previously by San Rafael.  Buyers thus made purchase decisions based upon incorrect reports generated by San Rafael.  Buyers and sellers have a reasonable expectation that these mandatory inspections they are paying for are correct.  They finally seem to be listening to us, and I believe there will be some meaningful reforms in the near future.  Thomas Ehrens, chief building inspector, did ask me to relay two things to MAR membership:  (1) they don’t enjoy the process of forcing compliance…he said that there is no pleasure in the “gotcha” moment; and (2) they absolutely are not in the resale inspection business for the money generated by their compliance efforts.  In fact, they likely lose money in that part of their business.

First off, I need to get something off my chest.  What’s up with everyone “pre-opening” escrows?  It really does seem like everyone.  I get it if you’ve got a squirrely property that needs research, or a short sale, but why does every squeaky clean home with no mortgage and no easements have an opened escrow too?  I just don’t get it.  Yes, as a listing agent I like to control who is doing the escrow, and yes I like to send business to my friends.  But the buyer is paying for title insurance and the escrow fee in Marin.  Let the buyers use who they want.  Just my opinion, I felt like sharing.

Thank you for all your feedback on the auction report I shared last week.  Based upon the feedback, I gather we’re all learning and picking our way through the…dynamic…business practices of our friends in the auction business and the bankers that use them.  If anyone knows anything important that I didn’t share…please share!  Like all of us, I’m trying to understand this new emerging business model.

As promised, here are some of the highlights of the CAR meetings in Sacramento earlier this month:

Governor Jerry Brown kicked the whole thing off with an early appearance at about 9:15 on Wednesday’s legislative day.  Always entertaining, he seems to be picking up on a current issue here in Marin and likely elsewhere in the state:  local control.  The Governor advocated for more local control, “Let decisions get made locally.  People in Modoc do things differently that people in Berkeley.  Let them make their own decisions.”  I think we can all get behind that as far as housing density here in Marin.  Unfortunately, the Governor and the Legislature don’t always see things the same way…

On legislative day, the Marin contingent joined many of our colleagues from the North Bay Association of Realtors (NorBAR) to meet with Assemblyman Marc Levine’s staff to promote CAR’s position on a number of bills before the legislature:

  • AB 2416, which allows employees with a wage dispute to record a lien against an employer’s property, even though no connection with the property itself is required, no notice is required, and thus no due process.  It’s like a mechanic’s lien with abbreviated notice, and it allows this wage lien to be a “super lien” ahead of other liens.  This will cloud title, obviously.  Other legal remedies already exist, and CAR opposes AB 2416.
  • AB 2039 relates to last week’s discussion about indemnity clauses that lenders and auction companies are forcing on sellers and listing brokers.  Again, this is where an online auction is used to “validate” the sales price in a short sale.  In essence, the lender forces the seller and listing agent to turn over the listing for an online auction, and also forces those parties to indemnify the auction company against any wrongdoing during the rest of the transaction.  AB 2039 prohibits this indemnification language, and CAR strongly supports this bill.
  • SB 391 has been around for a while, the better part of two years, and CAR has been fighting against it much of the time.  This is the bill that adds a document recording fee to most real estate-related documents that do not relate to a sales transaction.  Think refinancing.  Or changing title status after the death of a family member.  These fees will go toward funding affordable housing.  In the “death of a spouse” example, these new fees could add up to an additional $440 bourdon on the surviving spouse.  CAR supports affordable housing, but feels that it’s a society-wide issue and the bourdon should be shared across all segments of society, not just property owners.  Further, they’re calling it a “fee” (to cover costs directly related to the transaction), but it’s really a “tax” (because they’re moving the money to pay for something else).  All part of a scheme to only need a simple majority to pass rather than a super majority for a tax.  CAR continues to strongly oppose SB 391.
  • Finally, AB 2169 seeks to validate existing legislation that REALTORS and licensees are “independent contractors” and not “employees”.  There are existing regulations that go back decades that state just that, but in a recent lawsuit a judge ignored those precedents and unilaterally decided that because brokers supervise their agents, then those agents must be employees.  AB 2169 seeks to clarify that supervision does not necessarily equal employment.  Most all of us are indeed independent contractors, and AB 2169 seeks to clarify existing law.  CAR strongly supports AB 2169.

CAR CEO Joel Singer had a great presentation on the current state of the Real Estate economy in California, and I’ll share some of the highlights of that presentation in the coming weeks.

That’s it for now, I’ll let you know how things go at NAR in Washington, DC.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week!

Blaine