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Feb. 18, 2022

Short supply squeezes new home purchase activity in January

MBA estimates that there were 66,000 new home sales in January 2022

Mortgage applications for new homes stalled in January, dipping by 12.5% year-over-year, according to a Mortgage Bankers Association’s survey published this week.

The trade group noted that the survey results showed the slowest annual pace since July 2021.

However, from December 2021 to January, purchase applications grew, with a 10% month-over-month gain recorded by MBA’s survey. On an unadjusted basis, the MBA estimates there were 66,000 new home sales in January 2022, an increase from 60,000 new home sales recorded in December. 

Joel Kan, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting at the MBA, said in a statement that building delays continue to impact the emergence of additional housing supply.

“While homebuyer demand remains strong, purchase activity is being constrained by higher prices and building delays due to supply-chain pressures and building materials shortages,” Kan said.

He also noted that purchase activity for new homes continues to be concentrated in the higher end of the market and that sales prices are continuing to grow with the average loan size coming in at $427,000 in January, another record.  

The average loan size for new homes in December was $423,102, the trade group noted.

Throughout 2021, there were an estimated 1,595,100 housing starts, a 15.6% increase from 2020, a report released last month by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau said.

Per the MBA report, new single-family home sales slumped in January, with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 821,000 units, a 7.4% decrease from the month prior. In December, home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 887,000 units, the report said.

By loan type, conventional loans made up 77% of loan application volume, while FHA loans composed 13% of the applications. VA loans made up 9.5% of applications and USDA loans made up 0.5%.


Posted in Real Estate
Feb. 18, 2022

Renting a home is even harder than buying one in hot U.S. market

For Atlanta real estate agent Jamie Douglas, a dearth of inventory has made it almost impossible to take on new clients hunting for affordable rental homes.

Now, she works with people who have at least $5,000 a month to spend on rent, double her usual base of around $2,500 because there’s just nothing available at lower price points. One house will get 15 to 20 applications and be rented within a day, she said.

“I literally have people begging me to get them a rental,” Douglas said in an interview. “It’s just so crazy down here.”

It’s the latest turn in the unrelentingly hot U.S. housing market, where remote workers and young families fleeing coastal cities for the Sun Belt during the pandemic spurred double-digit increases in housing costs and squeezed supply. And at a time when stocks are slumping, cryptocurrencies are crashing and interest rates are set to rise, real estate seems to be the only area of the market impervious to a slow down.

Rental prices for single-family homes grew an average of 7.8% in 2021, an all-time high, according to the most recent data available from CoreLogic Inc. In December, U.S. home rents jumped 12% year over year for the month, with Miami leading the way with a 35.7% increase.

Home values have been increasing in lockstep, with the median home price jumping 14% year over year in January to $354,750, according to Redfin Corp. Active listings fell 29% to an all-time low of 438,000 due to tight supply. Mortgage payments have continued to climb, reaching an all-time high of $1,877 due to higher borrowing costs and asking prices, the firm said.

Shift to rentals

The appeal of rentals has grown in recent years as people have been priced out of the housing market or are unwilling to take on the financial burden of a mortgage. Institutional investors have added further pressure to home prices by snapping up existing single-family homes to rent out — so much so that they’re starting to build new ones. Landlords, builders and institutional backers have committed $85 billion to that effort, according to Alan Ratner, an analyst at housing research firm Zelman & Associates.

Invitation Homes Inc., the largest single-family landlord in the country, said in a statement that it intends to keep building homes to meet surging demand. Right now, its holdings represent less than 1% of the rental market.

Housing economist Jay Parsons said pressure on the rental market is unlikely to let up any time soon because of an overall shift in the desirability of renting.

“By far, the fastest growing demographics for housing is coming from upper-income groups,” he said. There has been a significant increase in household formation since summer 2020 as high-income Americans have continued to see their wealth increase, said Parsons, head of economics and industry principals for RealPage Inc., a real estate technology firm.

Rents in coastal cities hard-hit by the pandemic, like New York City, have started to recover while rents have remained high in Sun Belt cities, suggesting that pandemic migration trends aren’t reversing, Parsons said.

“There’s a contingent of upper-income households that don’t want to be pinned down,” he said.

Cash cow

Real estate investor Eric Martel made a big business and lifestyle change in 2018, when he sold his house in the San Francisco area and moved into a luxury apartment rental in downtown Los Angeles.

He used proceeds from the sale to help fund his single-family rental homes venture, MartelTurnkey, which buys, renovates and sells single-family homes to investors. The company, which Martel runs with his wife and two adult sons, started out in 2016 by acquiring single-family rental homes and leasing them directly. Now, the firm has pivoted to selling homes as investment properties, and helps new landlords get financing and find a tenant, Martel said. It also connects investors to property-management services for the homes that they buy.

“It’s more profitable right now for us to be flipping the houses, selling these rental properties to investors, than for us to keep the single-family rentals ourselves,” he said. The company currently has about 140 deals in progress and expects to sell 180 properties this year, compared to 120 last year, Martel said.

It may get marginally more expensive for individual buyers to acquire houses, as the Federal Reserve is expected to start raising interest rates to cool off the economy, which would translate into higher mortgage rates. Meanwhile, institutional investors looking to expand their stable of rental housing can pay cash.

Still, RealPage’s Parsons isn’t sure that they’re going to change the face of the market any time soon. For one, it’s much easier to buy and build 300 apartment units than 300 single-family houses, he said.

The institutional segment of the rental housing market is still small; 77% of rental homes are owned by individuals while institutional investors have 1.8% of the market, according to the National Rental Home Council.

“You can’t achieve scale as quickly,” he said. “I don’t think you’re ever going to see institutions represent a majority of the market.”

Meanwhile, renters will have to continue lining up to find their next home.

MartelTurnkey owns an apartment building in the fashionable Overton Square area in Memphis, as well as single-family homes in the city. A home they listed for rent had 50 viewings, whereas the apartment building got two to three viewings for a unit, Martel said.

In Atlanta, Douglas expects that the buying market frenzy will slow down slightly as interest rates and borrowing costs rise, but isn’t expecting the same cooling off for rentals. She heard of a house listed for $5,000 a month that ended up leasing for $6,000 due to overwhelming demand. Owners who sold their homes before finding a new one to purchase are also putting pressure on the rental market, she said.

“I actually think it’s harder to find a house to rent right now than to buy,” she said.

BY: National Mortgage News

Posted in Market Trends
Sept. 14, 2020

Analyst: Housing Market Can’t Sustain ‘Frenzied Demand’

Nationwide Medium Listing Price

The housing market showed no signs of slowing in August, with homes getting more expensive and selling faster. The national median listing price increased 10% to a new record high of $350,000 last month, and homes are selling at their fastest pace in 15 months, according to a new report from®. Meanwhile, the number of homes on the market sank to a record low as housing shortages persist.

“It’s difficult to imagine that the housing market will be able to sustain the frenzied demand we are currently experiencing, but we have yet to see any signs of slowing,” says Danielle Hale,®’s chief economist. “Buyer traffic on® is outpacing the record levels we saw earlier this year, suggesting that demand will continue to exceed the number of available homes for sale.”

Housing demand is more intense than it normally is this late into a buying season, Hale says. “Given the strong demand, sellers will return in the driver’s seat for the foreseeable future.”

Inventory dropped 36% in August compared to the year prior. The largest drop in housing inventories in August occurred in Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind. (down 55.9%); Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (down 55.5%); and Providence-Warwick, R.I.-Mass. (down 51.7%).

The lack of homes for sale continues to press on home prices. The Northeast led in listing price gains annually, up nearly 19% in Philadelphia, 14.7% in Boston, and 12.2% in Providence-Warwick, R.I. On average, homes nationwide are selling in 56 days—five days faster than a year ago, according to®.


Posted in Market Trends
Sept. 14, 2020

Freddie Mac: Mortgages Hit Another All-Time Low

Low Home Loan Rates

Freddie Mac recently released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey®, which showed that the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is averaging 2.86 percent—the lowest in survey history, which goes back to 1971.

Here’s the breakdown:

30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage

Averaged 2.86 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending Sept. 10—down from last week’s 2.93 percent. A year ago, the 30-Year averaged 3.56 percent.

15-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage

Averaged 2.37 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from last week’s 2.42 percent. Last year, the 15-Year averaged 3.09 percent.

5-Year Treasury-Indexed Hybrid Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

Averaged 3.11 percent with an average 0.2 point—an increase from last week’s 2.93 percent. Last year, the 5-Year averaged 3.36 percent.

“Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to a late summer slowdown in the economic recovery,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “These low rates have ignited robust purchase demand activity, which is up 25 percent from a year ago and has been growing at double digit rates for four consecutive months. However, heading into the fall it will be difficult to sustain the growth momentum in purchases because the lack of supply is already exhibiting a constraint on sales activity.”

How are the other factors surrounding the mortgage industry being affected by the coronavirus? According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), mortgage credit availability decreased in August, with Ellie Mae’s AllRegs® Market Clarity® tool showing a 4.7 percent decline to 120.9, indicating standards are tightening.

According to MBA, the index was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012. The Conventional MCAI decreased 8.7 percent, while the Government MCAI decreased by 1.4 percent.

“Mortgage credit supply fell to its lowest level since March 2014, driven by a reduction in supply from both conventional and government segments of the market,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Additionally, both conforming and jumbo sub-indexes fell by almost 9 percent each, with the conforming index declining to the lowest reading since MBA’s series began in 2011. Credit continues to tighten because of uncertainty still looming around the health of the job market, even as other data on loan applications and home sales show a sharp rebound. A further reduction in loan programs with low credit scores, high LTVs, and reduced documentation requirements also continued to drive the overall decline in credit availability.”

Added Kan, “Jumbo credit availability has fallen around 59 percent since the pre-pandemic months, and data from MBA’s Weekly Applications Survey showed that jumbo mortgage rates stayed over 30 basis points higher than conforming rates in August, which is another indication of the reduced investor appetite for those loans.”

Despite these challenges, however, mortgage applications are up and forbearance rates are down. According to the MBA’s Forbearance and Call Volume Survey, the total number of loans in forbearance decreased by four basis points from 7.20 percent to 7.16 percent as of Aug. 30. That means about 3.6 million homeowners are currently in forbearance plans, according to the MBA.

In some segments, however, the road to recovery is slower.

“The share of Ginnie Mae loans in forbearance increased again this week, as the current economic crisis continues to disproportionately impact borrowers with FHA and VA loans. As a result, IMB servicers, which have roughly one-third of their portfolio with Ginnie Mae, had a forbearance share that was unchanged, while depositories, which have a larger share of GSE and portfolio loans, saw a decrease,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s senior vice president and chief economist. “The labor market continued to heal in August, with strong job growth and a large decline in the unemployment rate. However, the economy still faces an uphill climb and remains far away from full employment. High unemployment, and jobless claims consistently around 1 million a week, continue to cause financial strain for some borrowers—and especially for those who work in industries hardest hit by the pandemic.”

In terms of mortgage applications, they’ve increased 2.9 percent from the previous week for the week ending Sept. 4. On an unadjusted basis, the Market Composite Index increased 2 percent compared to the previous week, and the Refinance Index increased 3 percent—60 percent higher than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 3 percent from the previous week and, unadjusted, it increased 0.2 percent—40 percent higher YoY.

“The drop in rates led to a rebound in refinancing activity, driven mainly by borrowers applying for conventional loans,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Purchase applications were 40 percent higher than the same week last year, but the increase is skewed higher by being compared to Labor Day 2019. Nevertheless, there continues to be resiliency in the purchase market. Applications were up almost 3 percent on a weekly basis and the average loan size continued to increase, hitting a survey high at $368,600.”


Posted in Mortgage
Sept. 11, 2020

Should You Refinance While Interest Rates Are Low?

Mortgage Savings By Refinancing

It's common knowledge that the interest rates on real estate loans have plummeted.

3 Reasons to Refinance

I can’t understand why lenders aren’t doubling their workforces. Why isn’t almost everybody refinancing these days? Sure, there are legit reasons not to refinance. In fact, I’ve advised many of my clients to stand pat. But the typical homeowner and investor should right now be crunching the numbers to learn if they’re missing the boat.

Of course, this assumes you can qualify for the loan to refinance. Besides the obvious perk of a lower payment, why should you take this seriously? Allow me to provide some reasons.

1. Lower Payments

This is obvious, but needs to be stated: Your payments are lower. Lower payments can help families budget at the best level. Furthermore, the net check from escrow in 5-10 years will be higher—often a lot higher. Increasing your net check upon sale while lowering your payment? Sign me up!

2. Potential Savings

Many who’ve bought their home or invested into residential income real estate, especially the one to four unit variety, are amazed at the results of their potential refinance. They’re saving more than just a payment.

3. Extra Cash

These days it’s amazing how often a homeowner or investor can both lower their monthly payment while also taking cash out for themselves. Did I mention the cash taken in such a loan is tax free nearly every single time? Yep, it is.

Consider the Type of Loan

You have a loan that isn’t a 30-year, no call with fixed-rate interest. It could be the dreaded 15-year loan. More likely though it’s a 30 due in 5, 7, 10, or 15 years. Lately, it’s been making you more than a little nervous, what with all that’s going on.

I know all the reasons these loans sounded good to you. I realize you thought long and hard before deciding. Here’s the hard truth about those loans: They’re poisonous to the vast majority of borrowers. Period.

Sure, a 15-year loan will halve the time it takes to get free and clear. It’s far and away better to pay a little more interest, but pay the loan down as if it’s a 15-year loan.

Tell me what you’d have done around 2007 when the bubble burst and your house is now either underwater—or close enough. Or those poor borrowers whose loan came due between  2007 and 2011, and they simply had three hard choices: Pay the loan off, sell the property, or lose it.

Here’s a lesson I learned over 40 years ago. With a few exceptions, never take the options off your side of the table. When you gamble that nothing can happen to your family’s income, then it does? Uh oh.

Then there is that enticing equity loan you put on the family castle a few years ago. The vast majority of these loans, maybe up to 80 percent of them, have a 10-year life. You think, but the interest rate was so low, relatively speaking, at the time. Good luck explaining to your family when it’s due and you have no way on earth to refinance it. I think the technical term used these days is screwed.In Conclusion…

I have several clients who’ve not only begun refinancing their loans on investment properties and/or homes, but know in advance that their net tax free cash out will be in six figures. Oh, did I fail to mention their payments went down too? Not. Kidding.

There’s gotta be a saying better than, having your cake and eating it too, right?

Remember what happens when the monthly payment on your investment loan(s) goes down? Bingo! Your cash flow goes up. Who knew?

What’s your take on refinancing in today’s low-rate climate?

BY: Jeff Brown VIA Bigger Pockets

Posted in Mortgage
Sept. 9, 2020

Newport Beach Restaurants Will Not Face Fines Further Enforcing Masks And Distancing


Newport Beach will not be upping enforcement of social distancing and employee mask wearing at local restaurants through citations.

Restaurants in Orange County were given the go ahead to resume some limited indoor operations on Tuesday after the county was moved to the second tier on the state’s coronavirus reopening plans. Epidemiologists have pointed to indoor dining as a key driver of a spike in coronavirus outbreaks that led to another shutdown in Orange County in July.

The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to table indefinitely an emergency ordinance increasing enforcement of distancing of tables, mask wearing for employees and restrictions on walk-up bars at local dining establishments. Violations would have resulted in citations of up to $500 depending on the number of breaches that occurred.

Councilwoman Joy Brenner had asked for the ordinance to be considered after receiving a letter from former city council members and mayors in August requesting the measures.

“Now that we’ve moved into a different tier, things have changed a lot and so it’s kind of hard to look at what they were asking in terms of where we are today,” Brenner said.

Seimone Jurjis, the city’s community development director, said the Orange County Public Health Department and the state are already doing inspections of restaurants and that the city itself warns establishments not following the orders.

“When we get complaints, we follow up. We give warnings. We talk to the establishment and with our emergency use permit program we have conditions that we enforce. We’ve actually stated conditions that you shall abide by the state guidelines,” Jurjis said.

Since June county health inspectors have visited about 2,000 locations – out of 10,000 restaurants with health permits as reported by the Voice of OC back in August. About 40% of those sites checked were not in covid compliance, according to the County of Orange. The county has been short on health inspectors for the last five years.

Newport Beach has had over 1,000 cumulative cases of the coronavirus since March 27. Daily case counts have remained under 10 since the end of August, according to the city.

Mayor Will O’Neill said that a business had its outdoor permit revoked this past weekend for not following the orders but did not name the establishment.

“At a minimum we should be able to expect our establishments, especially the ones that we’ve been helping dramatically to bridge forward on these outdoor permits, to take the responsibility of making sure that they’re not putting people into (high risk) situations,” O’Neill said. “We have the enforcement. We’ve started the enforcement.”

BY Hosam Elattar VIA V


Posted in Life Style
Sept. 8, 2020

U.S. mortgage rates hover near historic lows


U.S. mortgage rates were essentially unchanged this week remaining near historic lows, according to Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 2.93 percent for the week ending Sept. 3 — up slightly from a rate of 2.91 percent last week. A year ago, mortgage rates stood at 3.49 percent.

Low mortgage rates help propel U.S. home sales and the refinance market.

“Mortgage rates have remained effectively flat or at near record lows for the last month,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “However, there are some interesting compositional shifts as the 10-year Treasury rate has increased modestly over the past month while mortgage spreads have declined. Spreads may decline even further but the rise in Treasury rates will make it difficult for mortgage rates to fall much more over the next few weeks.”

Favorable rates have been helping Dayton-area home sales, especially home prices.

After a dip in May, Dayton home sales are continuing to rebound through the Covid-19 pandemic. Sales of single-family and condominium units saw more gains in sales prices in July, according to new data from Dayton Realtors. 

Click HERE for more.




Posted in Mortgage
Sept. 4, 2020

What's Open This Weekend and Labor Day

With Labor Day nearing and Gov. Gavin Newsom easing pandemic restrictions in some counties, Californians face a dizzying mix of openings and closures in coming days.

Still coping with fires in many areas and coronavirus just about everywhere, local and state authorities are limiting access to many indoor and outdoor recreation options. Still, most parks, beaches and trails are open, and enterprises including the L.A. Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego and Mammoth Mountain have found ways to at least partially reopen or extend their summer seasons.

Before you make plans, choose a strategy for avoiding crowds, which may be heavy from Friday, Sept. 4, through Monday, Sept. 7.

Here's a snapshot of what's up:

• On Friday, Newsom unveiled a new set of rules for reopening the state. Because of their relatively low COVID-19 numbers, San Diego and San Francisco are among the counties that will be permitted to open restaurants for indoor dining at up to 25% capacity starting as soon as Monday. No other Southern California county has met that standard yet. Other details are explained here.

• The grounds of SeaWorld San Diego reopened Friday, with reduced capacity, an altered identity and Friday-through-Sunday hours. Billing itself as SeaWorld San Diego Zoo Days: Bayside BBQ & Brews, the marine-themed park at Mission Bay is opening a 40-acre outdoor area with many of its animal presentations and exhibits.

To enter, visitors need to book date-specific online reservations in advance. The admission fee ($74.99 per nonmember adult) includes six items from the park’s new food and drink menu. Through at least Sept. 27, the park will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, plus Labor Day (Sept. 7).

None of the park’s roller coasters, rides or arcade games are open. In their release announcing the reopening, SeaWorld officials said the program reflects their efforts to meet requirements of the state, which has permitted many zoos to reopen but has not issued theme park reopening guidelines. (SeaWorld is accredited as a zoo. Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and Legoland California theme parks remain closed, though some adjacent shops and hotels are open.)

• The L.A. Zoo in Griffith Park reopened Wednesday for the first time since mid-March. Advance, timed-entry reservations are required and social distancing rules are in place. Other zoos and similar facilities that are open include the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the Living Desert in Palm Desert and the Santa Barbara Zoo.

• More than 20 wildfires were burning in California on Friday, forcing the closure of about 30 state parks (mostly in Northern California). Southern California blazes include the Lake fire (in Angeles National Forest near Lake Hughes; 31,089 acres; 70% contained), and Ranch2 fire (in Angeles National Forest's San Gabriel Canyon north of Azusa; 4,237 acres and 96% contained). The Times is tracking fires on this statewide map.

• Mammoth Mountain has extended its bike park season to Sept. 20. The season was to have ended Sept. 6. Besides keeping mountain-bike trails open, the decision means the scenic gondola and Via Ferrata will stay open an added two weeks. Mammoth's Camp High Sierra has extended its season through Sept. 27.

• In San Bernardino National Forest, the San Gorgonio Wilderness will reopen to public access Sept. 1 after being threatened by the Apple fire (now 95% contained). But forest officials, wary of too much traffic on trails, are putting in place a day-use permit system, beginning Sept. 1, for that area and the San Jacinto and Cucamonga wilderness areas.

• National forest officials say Chantry Flat and Millard Trail Camp, in the Angeles National Forest, probably will be closed on weekends because of fire risk. The same goes for the forest's Chaney Gate, near Altadena.

Throughout Angeles National Forest, campfires at developed campsites are now prohibited. Authorities have also forbidden use of camping stoves, lanterns and similar devices that use propane, white gas or similar fuels.

At L.A. County beaches, visitors can bring umbrellas and coolers and relax, and all county-operated beach parking lots are again open. (If you go, bring a bag for trash — officials say overflowing bins and worsening litter have been problems in recent weeks.)

Though many counties and cities closed beaches over the July 4 weekend to avert crowding, that seems unlikely for Labor Day.

“We’re proceeding as if the beaches will be open for Labor Day weekend. We at this point have no plans to close them,” said L.A. County Beaches and Harbors Department spokeswoman Nicole Mooradian on Tuesday.

Face coverings are required when you are not in the water and when you are around other people. Gatherings, volleyball and other group sports are still banned. Some parking lots and restrooms are still closed.

County-operated basketball courts and sports fields also remain closed. County officials say they've set protocols for the gradual reopening of outdoor youth sports leagues.

The beachside bike path that runs 22 miles from Torrance to Pacific Palisades is open. The route, officially known as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, is part of a countywide bikeway network. (The Venice Boardwalk and Ocean Front Walk remain closed to most visitors, but the gently curving bike path runs along the sand, separate from the boardwalk and straight-ahead Ocean Front Walk, and remains in use.)

Since July 13, when Newsom announced a new round of restrictions, indoor dining is again banned at restaurants. Bars and breweries are restricted to outdoor sit-down service with food. Throughout California, dozens of museums are closed. So are bowling alleys, miniature golf courses, batting cages and arcades.

The governor's order also forced more than two dozen counties, including Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange and Riverside, to shutter gyms, houses of worship, hair salons, malls and other businesses. The order remains in effect indefinitely in counties on the state's list of highest infection rates.

Details on coronavirus cases county by county are available on the Los Angeles Times' California coronavirus tracker. The Times also is tracking openings, closures and restrictions at beaches statewide.

And The Times is tracking evolving rules county by county as California's regions regulate restaurants, bars, retailers, hotels and other businesses while the state fights the coronavirus outbreak. (Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego and Santa Barbara were among the California counties to close their bars in the last days of June after reopenings were followed by a jump in COVID-19 cases.)

Around Los Angeles County

• Golf courses are open (no more than four players per tee time).

• The county trails network is open, with at least six feet of distance required; gatherings banned; and face coverings required in parking lots, at trailheads "and on any trails where there are other groups of people nearby."

• County tennis and pickleball courts are open (singles play only).

• Equestrian centers are open (with various restrictions) and BMX bike areas are open (no rentals).

• Archery and shooting ranges, model airplane areas, community gardens, county campgrounds, RV areas, lake swim beaches and day camps are all open, with restrictions.

In the Greater San Gabriel Valley, three popular garden sites are open but nonmembers must make reservations. The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge and the L.A. County Arboretum in Arcadia all moved to the reservations-required policy to maintain distancing among visitors.

In other areas, Monrovia Canyon Park is open to visitors who get tickets in advance from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The park is closed Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, and access to the Waterfall Trail remains closed. "This trail is narrow and incredibly popular, making it incredibly difficult to ensure safe social distancing," the website says.

Catalina Island businesses are open and the Catalina Express is running boats between Long Beach (or Dana Point) and Avalon, the island Chamber of Commerce said.

Most Los Angeles County trails will remain open, but Eaton Canyon Natural Area in Pasadena requires reservations because of overcrowding. County health officials urge hikers to stay home if they feel ill, to wear a mask and pass other hikers with care, to avoid gathering in groups, and to leave no trace. More details and advice are offered on the county trails website.

L.A. County on July 17 opened 14 splash pads (play areas with water) that will be open through Sept. 30, Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The openings come with physical distancing requirements, group gatherings forbidden, "face covering required except in the water."

The sites are Allen Martin Park, Carolyn Rosas Park, City Terrace Park, Calton Park, Los Robles Park, Mayberry Park, Pathfinder Park, Pearblossom Park, Rimgrove Park, San Angelo Park, Stephen Sorenson Park, Sunshine Park, Valleydale Park and Washington Park.

In addition, the county Friday opened swim beaches Frank B. Bonelli Regional Park in San Dimas and Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area in Baldwin Park. They are to be open through Sept. 9, Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (The Lake Fire forced Friday closure of the swim beach at Castaic Lake.)

Pasadena's Rose Bowl Aquatic Center is operating at reduced capacity; lockers closed and water fountains are disabled.

Long Beach's Belmont Pool reopened June 29 for lap swimming and water exercise, reservations required, showers closed.

Los Angeles city parks and streets

In heavily trafficked Griffith Park, where the Griffith Observatory and many other attractions remain closed, rangers have also closed Wisdom Tree Trail and Burbank Peak Trail.

Though city golf courses and tennis courts have reopened and parks are open, city recreation centers, aquatic facilities, skate parks, playgrounds, baseball fields, soccer fields and basketball courts remain closed.

At popular Runyon Canyon Park, the city website reported that the park was open dawn to dusk with "limited trail access."

In Los Angeles neighborhoods from West L.A. to Eagle Rock, scores of streets have been barricaded to reduce auto traffic as part of the city's growing "Slow Streets" program. The idea, city officials have written, is for local residents (not visitors from across town) "to gain access to more space for recreation activities in their neighborhoods, while protecting Angelenos from overcrowding on sidewalks and promoting social distancing." Residents can apply for "slow street" status and see a map on a city Transportation Department website.

Piers at Venice and Cabrillo beaches are closed, even for fishing. The Venice Boardwalk is open to people who grab a bite to eat or shop at a store but not to recreational walkers, cyclists or runners. Also, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro remains closed, as are the Sherman Oaks Castle and the Expo Center in Exposition Park.

Inland Empire

San Bernardino County has reopened its county parks, lakes, rivers and recreation areas.

Riverside County leaders have allowed golf courses to reopen, with restrictions. Hiking, biking and horseback riding on trails and in parks also are permitted under the county's health order.

California state parks

State officials continue to urge Californians to stay close to home, but the 280-unit parks system has been gradually reopening.

Until the most recent spate of wildfires broke out, just 16 state park sites remained closed — including Los Encinos, Pio Pico and Watts Towers state historic parks in L.A. County and Hearst Castle in San Luis Obispo County. On Monday, they remained closed.

Santa Monica Mountains

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which straddles Los Angeles and Ventura counties, has reopened most of its trails, parking lots, overlooks and restrooms. Its two visitor centers remain closed, however. Like other agencies, the National Park Service urges hikers to wear face coverings and keep their distance from others.

Also, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority has reopened most of its parks, trails, parking lots and restrooms. The authority manages more than 75,000 acres of open space, much of it owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

National forests in Southern California

Most trails and natural areas are open in Southern California's national forests. Some areas are closed because of overcrowding during the pandemic.

In the Angeles National Forest north of L.A., besides current firefighting efforts, officials have taken several steps:

• They have closed an area that includes its Cottonwood, Spunky Canyon and Sawmill-Liebre campgrounds, along with a section of the Pacific Crest Trail. (That closure is through December.)

• In connection with the Ranch2 fire, Northbound Highway 39 (San Gabriel Canyon Road) has been closed at Sierra Madre Avenue. Southbound Highway 39 is closed at East Fork Road. Glendora Mountain Road is closed from Big Dalton to East Fork. Glendora Ridge Road is closed from Glendora Mountain Road to Mt. Baldy Road. Santa Anita Canyon Road is closed from Arno Drive to Chantry Flats Road. (Coldbrook Campground, along Highway 39, is closed.)

• Three first-come, first-served campgrounds, opened in late July, remain open with about 100 campsites combined. They are the popular Buckhorn Campground (38 campsites; a forest spokesman advises campers to "get there as early as they can"); the Manzanita Loop of the Chilao Campground (41 sites; bring your own water); and Horse Flats Campground (26 sites, bring your own water).

• The forest's Henninger Flats Trail (via Pinecrest Gate) is open and accessible through the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. (Reservations are required to visit the adjacent Eaton Canyon Natural Area.)

• The forest's Roberts Camp above Sierra Madre remains closed on weekends. Picnic areas are open. So are the popular first-come, first-served campgrounds at Sycamore, South Fork and Big Rock. Many other campgrounds and visitor centers are still closed.

In the San Bernardino National Forest, most trails, trailheads, picnic areas and campgrounds are open. But the Apple fire has blackened a substantial area of the forest near San Gorgonio Pass.

In the Los Padres National Forest, trails and campgrounds are open, except for what's called the Punchbowl Area in Santa Paula Canyon, which will remain closed until Sept. 30. Hordes of visitors and excessive litter (toilet paper and human feces) prompted officials to shut the narrow Last Chance Trail in the Ojai District as well as Big Cone, Cross and Jackson Hole campgrounds. For information on different areas, go to the forest's website for updates about the Monterey, Santa Lucia, Santa Barbara, Ojai and Mt. Pinos areas.

In the Cleveland National Forest, trails are open but check the website for the status of campgrounds.

National parks in California

All of California’s 11 national parks and recreation areas are now open, though many of their campgrounds and other features are closed.

After a pandemic-related closure of about five months, outdoor portions of San Francisco's Alcatraz Island have reopened. (The island is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.)

See a park-by-park list of closures.

BY: Christopher Reynolds, Mary Forgione  VIA Yahoo / L.A. Times 
PHOTO:  Niaz Uddin

Posted in Life Style
July 28, 2020

Home Sales Hit a Record-Setting Rebound

Home Sales Hit a Record-Setting Rebound

Home Sales Hit a Record-Setting Rebound | MyKCM

With a worldwide health crisis that drove a pause in the economy this year, the housing market was greatly impacted. Many have been eagerly awaiting some bright signs of a recovery. Based on the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), June hit a much-anticipated record-setting rebound to ignite that spark.

According to NARhome sales jumped 20.7% from May to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million in June: 

“Existing-home sales rebounded at a record pace in June, showing strong signs of a market turnaround after three straight months of sales declines caused by the ongoing pandemic…Each of the four major regions achieved month-over-month growth.”

Home Sales Hit a Record-Setting Rebound | MyKCMThis significant rebound is a major boost for the housing market and the U.S. economy. According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, the momentum has the potential to continue on, too:

“The sales recovery is strong, as buyers were eager to purchase homes and properties that they had been eyeing during the shutdown…This revitalization looks to be sustainable for many months ahead as long as mortgage rates remain low and job gains continue.”

With mortgage rates hitting an all-time low, dropping below 3% for the first time last week, potential homebuyers are poised to continue taking advantage of this historic opportunity to buy. This fierce competition among buyers is contributing to home price increases as well, as more buyers are finding themselves in bidding wars in this environment. The report also notes:

“The median existing-home price for all housing types in June was $295,300, up 3.5% from June 2019 ($285,400), as prices rose in every region. June’s national price increase marks 100 straight months of year-over-year gains.”

The graph below shows home price increases by region, powered by low interest rates, pent-up demand, and a decline in inventory on the market:Home Sales Hit a Record-Setting Rebound | MyKCMYun also indicates:

“Home prices rose during the lockdown and could rise even further due to heavy buyer competition and a significant shortage of supply.”

Bottom Line

Buyers returning to the market is a great sign for the economy, as housing is still leading the way toward a recovery. If you’re ready to buy a home this year, let’s connect to make sure you have the best possible guide with you each step of the way.

Posted in Market Analysis
July 22, 2020

A Remarkable Recovery for the Housing Market

A Remarkable Recovery for the Housing Market

A Remarkable Recovery for the Housing Market | MyKCM

For months now the vast majority of Americans have been asking the same question: When will the economy turn around? Many experts have been saying the housing market will lead the way to a recovery, and today we’re seeing signs of that coming to light. With record-low mortgage rates driving high demand from potential buyers, homes are being purchased at an accelerating pace, and it’s keeping the housing market and the economy moving.

Here’s a look at what a few of the experts have to say about today’s astonishing recovery. In more than one instance, it’s being noted as truly remarkable.

Ali Wolf, Chief Economist, Meyers Research

"The housing recovery has been nothing short of remarkable...The expectation was that housing would be crushed. It was—for about two months—and then it came roaring back.”

Fannie Mae

“Recent home purchase measures have continued to show remarkable strength, leading us to revise upward our home sales forecast, particularly over the third quarter. Similarly, we bumped up our expectations for home price growth and purchase mortgage originations.”

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for

"All-time low mortgage rates and easing job losses have boosted buyer confidence back to pre-pandemic levels."

James Knightley, Chief International Economist, ING

"At face value this is remarkable given the scale of joblessness in the economy and the ongoing uncertainty relating to the path of Covid-19…The outlook for housing transactions, construction activity and employment in the sector is looking much better than what looked possible just a couple of months ago."

Bottom Line 

The strength of the housing market is a bright spark in the economy and leading the way to what is truly being called a remarkable recovery throughout this country. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, maybe this is your year to make a move after all.

Posted in Market Analysis