Rick Griffin

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Why Robots Will Never Replace REALTORS®

Posted by Rick Griffin on Aug 9, 2019 5:03:46 PM

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Here is the latest in a series of occasional articles on “Best Practices” for PSAR members from 2019 PSAR President Robert Calloway.

By Robert Calloway

      You might have seen news stories that said, in the future, one of the next jobs to be performed by robots instead of humans will be the role of a REALTOR®. These news reports say that artificial intelligence (AI) may one day equip robots to do some of the same jobs as REALTORS®.  For example creating three-dimensional virtual property videos of properties, assisting with office interactions, or communicating various home features in different languages. A 2013 study by Oxford University estimated AI has a 98 percent chance of replacing real estate agents. Some of us may even express concerns over potential layoffs or job loss when automation advocates predict robots will start encroaching on a particular industry.

     Well, it’s true that a wide variety businesses have turned to robots to improve their operations, processes and bottom lines. However, for a number of reasons, it’s my belief that robots will never replace REALTORS®.

      So, don’t be afraid or fearful.  Let not your heart be troubled. Don’t worry about robots showing properties anytime soon. The role of a REALTOR® requires human intuition, reasoning, emotion and empathy -- traits that machines will never be able to duplicate. Human real estate agents are not on the way out. Here are a few of my reasons why.

-- For most people, home buying and selling is the biggest financial transaction they’ll make in their lifetimes. It’s an emotional experience, sometimes gut-wrenching and scary. And, it’s comforting to have a real person guide us through the process and all the paperwork. It comes down to trust. People want to look another human in the eye and judge whether they trust that person to help them make such a big decision.

Robots and Realtors

-- Matching the heart and mind is something that only humans can do. Yes, a robot might be able to match a prospect’s wish list with available inventory.  I think we would all agree that home purchases are driven by human intuition and emotion.  An experienced REALTOR® can notice subtle signs, read body language and facial expressions, realize when it’s not going well and how things can be changed. We all know that no two buyers are alike, just as no two properties are identical. Last time I checked, a robot cannot think outside the box with a gut-check.

- Everything in life is negotiations and robots don’t negotiate. Machines can’t decipher the gray shades in life. They operate best when the outcome is predictable. Machines can collect data, but humans are better at communicating effectively. Negotiating is everywhere, as are give-and-take reasoning and overcoming the obstacles that are in the way. Humans are best at building trust and rapport with empathy and by showing the other party that you actually understand from where they’re coming. There’s no computer code for determining when a client needs to be guided to accept or decline an offer.

     While robots will never replace real estate agents, it’s conceivable that robots may be involved in our future deals. For example, robots may improve the accuracy and quality of information, such as providing precise interior and exterior mapping, home inspection and other functions that would contribute to greater efficiency. AI may help us, with Big Brother-like analytics, to find prospective buyers.

     At a recent open house in Southern California, guests were able to get answers from a robot that had been programmed with detailed answers to over 75 frequently-asked questions about the home. The robot also recorded the answers and fed that information into a potential buyer’s profile. In San Francisco, if you’re looking for a place to rent, you can now get a home tour from a tablet-carrying robot. The robot is controlled remotely by a real estate agent whose beaming face appears on the tablet.

It's a novel use of a robot, but there’s one major hitch: stairs. Robots have a hard time climbing large staircases.

Topics: Marketing

San Diego Turns to PSAR for Rules Regarding Companion Units

Posted by Rick Griffin on Aug 2, 2019 4:22:33 PM

Companion Unit Handbook

Here’s news about another recent PSAR success: Once again, PSAR leadership has made a significant contribution that will result in additional housing availability and improved affordability for the San Diego real estate market.

Over the past two years, PSAR has been working closely with the City of San Diego on rules and regulations relating to what’s called “Companion Units.” While other governmental agencies call them “granny flats” or “accessory dwelling units” (ADUs), the City of San Diego calls them companion units.

Companion units, typically smaller than standard homes, are second units built on the same lot as an existing single-family home. Often, these secondary units are constructed in backyards or above garages of single-family residences. They can be used by family members or rented to seniors, students or others and can provide a source of income for homeowners. PSAR is in support of property owners expanding the use of their property as a way to address the region’s housing supply and affordability crisis.

PSAR’s participation with the City of San Diego recently culminated with the city's publication of the “Companion Unit Handbook,” a 38-page booklet that serves as a helpful guide to homeowners seeking to construct a companion unit on their property.  The handbook can be accessed here, CLICK HERE.Companion Unit Handbook with PSAR help

The handbook includes information on zoning, including setbacks and parking, companion unit design and construction, permitting requirements, funding options and additional resources. The handbook answers many popular questions relating to companion units, including: what is a companion unit and where is it allowed; what are the best sources for design of a companion unit; how does one make sure they’re well prepared; ideas and inspiration for the design of a companion unit; the construction and budgeting process; costs, timing and financial sources; impact on your property taxes; what is needed for permitting and occupancy.  

“It hasn’t been easy to make progress over the past two years, but it’s been very rewarding,” said Rafael Perez, PSAR REALTOR® member who has been leading the PSAR efforts with the City of San Diego.

“From the beginning, we brought a REALTORS® perspective to the table,” Perez said. “At first, some of the people at the city had not considered how companion units could change how homebuyers view their future purchase or how existing homeowners could increase their equity. So, we were able to help shape the regulations to benefit the city and homeowners and buyers.”

PSAR’s name appears on the cover of the city’s “Companion Unit Handbook” as a contributor to the publication, along with the San Diego Housing Federation and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). PSAR’s name also is appearing in a press release announcing the availability of the handbook that is being distributed by San Diego City Council member Scott Sherman.

“Personally speaking, I have been very grateful to receive input from PSAR,” said Sherman. “PSAR members have direct experience at helping their clients with companion units. So, it made sense to follow their advice in the writing of the handbook as we continue to seek workable, common sense solutions to fixing the housing crisis.”

Sherman agreed the handbook will serve as a helpful guide to help homeowners better navigate the process of construction a companion unit on their property.

“The design and construction of a companion unit is a step-by-step process. And, success often depends on preparation and a solid understanding of the process,” said Sherman. “For anyone who is considering building or adding a companion unit on a property, this handbook will be very helpful.”

Sherman added, “In a region where average rent is nearly $1,800 a month and the median price of a home is over $500,000, renters are actively seeking alternative options for affordable rent. In addition, homeowners are seeking alternative options in order to offset the cost of a home mortgage. Companion units can provide an immediate solution to the region’s housing supply crisis.”

Perez said, “Unfortunately, limited housing supply paired with limited construction of affordable for-sale housing units has put a severe strain on lower and middle class families. The ‘missing-middle’ forces families seeking the American Dream to make tough decisions to live on tight budgets or move out of the region. Making it easier to build companion units will help create options for more affordable homeownership as well as increase the supply of affordable housing units in our region.”

Granny flats, or companion units, represent perhaps the easiest and quickest way to provide additional affordable housing options to local residents. When it comes to housing that will help all of San Diego, PSAR is in favor of making the rules more streamlined and cutting through the thick red tape of processing the construction of new smaller rental units.

Companion HouseCurrent state regulations allow granny flats up to 1,200 square feet in size. They can be attached to, or built separate from, full-sized homes on the same parcel, and include kitchens, bathrooms, living areas and private entrances. They cannot be sold as individual homes, but they can be rented out by homeowners or used to provide additional living space for family members, friends, students, the elderly, the disabled, or in-home health care providers. Properties must meet all zoning requirements, such as setbacks that meet fire safety and building codes.

PSAR previously assisted the County of San Diego and the cities of Chula Vista and La Mesa with the creation and formation of ADU regulations.

PSAR members worked closely with the City of Chula Vista to reduce ADU fees and streamline their regulations. In the East County, following input from PSAR, La Mesa’s set of regulations for granny flats will, in some cases, enable the city to provide more options than do state requirements.

Meanwhile, at a County Board of Supervisors meeting held earlier this year, the Supervisors were considering a modification to their ADU code to require owner occupancy for an additional building on a lot, which PSAR recommended against. Fortunately, the Supervisors decided to remove the owner-occupancy requirement following PSAR testimony from Tracy Morgan Hollingworth, PSAR’s Government Affairs Director.

“I don’t know of any other local real estate organization that has given their support to these local jurisdictions like PSAR has,” said Robert Calloway, 2019 PSAR President. ”I’m very proud that these government bodies have turned to PSAR for assistance and agreed with our recommendations.”

Topics: Market Information, Marketing, Industry

The June Report - Less than 2 weeks to sell a home in San Diego

Posted by Rick Griffin on Jul 26, 2019 4:09:28 PM

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San Diego County’s housing market in June, 2019 saw a 10.2 percent drop in sales but a 2.3 percent increase in prices, according to the latest housing market report from the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.).

Sales of existing, single-family homes in San Diego was 10.2 percent lower in June in a month-over-month comparison with May 2019, as well as 12.5 percent lower in a year-over-year comparison with June 2018.

Meanwhile, San Diego County’s median, single-family home price of $665,000 in June 2019 was 2.3 percent higher compared to the figures from both May 2019 and June 2018, when the sales price was $650,000 for both prior months.

Statewide, California’s existing home sales fell below the benchmark 400,000 level in June 2019 after rebounding in May.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 389,690 units in, June, according to information collected from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. The statewide annualized sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2019 if sales maintained the June pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

June’s sales figure was down 4.2 percent from the 406,960 level in May and down 5.1 percent from home sales in June, 2018 of 410,800. Sales fell below the 400,000 benchmark again after rebounding in May. Sales have been under the benchmark for 10 of the past 11 months.

Home sales in Southern California were down 9.1 percent in June with every county outside of Ventura (up 0.6 percent) posting declines. Los Angeles (minus-12.6 percent), San Diego, Orange (minus-7.6 percent), San Bernardino (minus-7.2 percent), and Riverside (minus-4.0 percent) experienced the biggest declines.

The statewide home price set another record in June 2019. June’s median price was $611,420, essentially unchanged from $611,190 in May 2019 and up 1.4 percent from $602,770 for June 2018.

California Association of Realtors June Sales Numbers

Regarding regional level, median home prices in Southern California, only Ventura County experienced a year-over-year price decline. Other counties in the region recorded annual price growth ranging from 0.8 percent in Orange County to 5.7 percent in San Bernardino.

“With softer price growth and interest rates at the lowest levels in nearly three years, monthly mortgage payments on a median-priced home have fallen for four straight months,” said C.A.R. President Jared Martin. “This allows homebuyers to save hundreds of dollars a month on the same home or to potentially consider a slightly more expensive home for the same monthly cost. Combined with the long-term benefits of homeownership on personal wealth and quality of life, 2019 is a good time to purchase a home for the long haul.”

C.A.R. Senior VP and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young agreed.

“With low rates supporting sales and elevating home prices in the last few months, the market outlook has shown some improvement since the first quarter,” she said. “As such, we have revised our 2019 forecast upward for (California) home sales to reach 385,460 and for the median price to hit $593,000, from the previous forecast of 375,100 and $568,800, respectively.”

Other key points from the June 2019 resale housing report included:

-- Active listings, which have been decelerating since December 2018, grew 2.4 percent from a year ago, the smallest increase since April 2018.

-- The number of homes available for sale has moderated significantly, suggesting that the market is getting back toward being more balanced between supply and demand, but inventory remains relatively tight from a historical perspective. The Unsold Inventory Index (UII), which is a ratio of inventory over sales, was 3.4 months in June, up from 3.2 months in May and up from 3.0 months in June, 2018. The index measures the number of months it would take to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.  

-- The median number of days it took to sell a California single-family home increased in June. Time on the market inched up from 18 days in May to 19 days in June. In June 2018, it took a median number of 15 days to sell a home in the state.

California Association of Realtors June Sales Numbers

-- In San Diego County, it took less than two weeks to sell an existing single-family home in June 2019. The median number of days a home remained unsold on the market stood at 13 days in June, compared to 14 days in May, 17 days in April, 19 days in March, 22 days in February and 13 days in June, 2018.

-- The statewide sales-price-to-list-price ratio was 99.2 percent in June, 2019, compared to 100 percent in June, 2018. The figures for the previous month were 99.3 percent in May, 2019 and 100 percent in May, 2018. Sales-to-list-price ratio is an indicator that reflects the negotiation power of home buyers and home sellers under current market conditions. The ratio is calculated by dividing the final sales price of a property by its last list price and is expressed as a percentage. A sales-to-list ratio with 100 percent or above suggests that the property sold for more than the list price, and a ratio below 100 percent indicates that the property sold below the asking price.

-- The statewide price-per-square-foot average for an existing, single-family home statewide reached $292 in June, 2019, compared to $290 in June, 2018. The figures for the previous month were $292 in May, 2019, up from $286 in May, 2018. The May, 2019 figure was the highest level since late 2007.

-- The 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaged 3.8 percent in June, down from 4.57 percent in June, 2018, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable mortgage interest rate averaged 3.48 percent, compared to 3.82 percent in June, 2018.

In other recent real estate and economic news, according to news reports:

-- San Diego County businesses are maintaining a relative upbeat outlook this summer, according to a recent survey by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. The survey, which was fielded in late June, shows continued optimism among local businesspeople regarding hiring, hours offered and revenue in the coming months.

-- The San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos market had the sixth-highest average mortgage debt in the country among major metro areas in the year’s first quarter, according to Experian. The San Diego region ranked sixth with an average of $386,530 owed per homeowner. That average is a 2 percent increase over the San Diego metro area’s debt last year, which averaged $378,975 per homeowner in 2018’s first quarter. San Diego was one of seven of the top 10 metro areas with the highest debt to show an increase over their 2018 first quarter averages.

-- San Diego rents increased 0.1 percent in June, and have increased marginally by 0.8 percent in comparison to the same time last year, according to the most recent report by Apartment List. Currently, median rents in San Diego stand at $1,570 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,030 for a two-bedroom. San Diego’s year-over-year rent growth lags the state average of 1.2 percent, as well as the national average of 1.6 percent.

-- San Diego is the fourth-best large city in the country in which to live, according to WalletHub, a personal finance website. WalletHub ranked cities with a population above 300,000 by evaluating their affordability, economic strength, education and health quality, quality of life and safety. A total of 62 cities were sampled for the list, with Virginia Beach, Vir., taking the top spot. San Diego ranked 51st in affordability but ranked among the top-10 cities in education and health, quality of life and safety, and 12th in economic strength. Joining San Diego and Virginia Beach among the top five were Austin, Seattle and Las Vegas in second, third and fifth, respectively.

-- WalletHub also reports that San Diego is among the top 20 best places to raise a family. WalletHub compared the family-friendliness of more than 180 cities across the country based on 47 key metrics. The data set ranged from the cost of housing to the quality of schools. San Diego ranked 18th, as well as fourth for family fun, 18th for education and child care, 21st for health and safety, 59th for socio-economics, and 96th for affordability.
Chula Vista also landed on the list in the 60th spot. The South Bay city ranked eighth for health and safety, 30th for socio-economics, 31st for education and child care, 97th for family fun, and 142nd for affordability.

-- San Diego has the second fastest rate of growth for tech talent in the nation, according to a new report by CBRE Group, Inc. The commercial real estate firm’s tech talent scorecard ranks 50 U.S. and Canadian markets according to their ability to attract and grow tech talent. While the San Diego metro was ranked 18th overall for tech talent, its year-over-year growth rate of 10.2 percent outpaced tech growth in both Los Angeles and Orange County. CBRE also found: San Diego ranks 14th in population growth of people in their 20s (5.6 percent); San Diego is 7th in tech labor market competitiveness; With 73,170 total tech jobs, San Diego has the 20th largest tech talent labor pool; San Diego ranks 7th in highest tech wages with an average salary of $106,047, 10 percent above the national average.

-- The unemployment rate in San Diego County ticked up from 2.7 percent in May to 3.3 percent in June, but year-to-year job growth remained strong, according to the California Employment Development Dept. The rate in San Diego remained well lower than the rate for California and the United States as a whole, which were 4.1 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively.

Topics: Marketing

Volunteer at PSAR and Become a Bridge Builder

Posted by Rick Griffin on Jul 19, 2019 3:27:52 PM

I am honored to share with you the reasons why I’m involved as an active volunteer with PSAR, and why you should not wait another day to join me in showing a greater level of support for our Association.

Jason Lopez PSAR Board of Director

It’s fair to say that our industry is under attack. Our profession is being threatened in a number of ways, including questions about the value that seasoned, experienced and knowledgeable agents can offer to clients. It seems the only constant in real estate is change.

When discussing how the changes the real estate industry is facing certain changes, you may have heard the word “disruptors,” which could refer to a variety of factors: ranging from new franchisers; tech-centric start-up brokerages;the iBuyer model; MLS data aggregators; reduced commission structures and the intersection between technology and real estate.

As a result of the changes in our industry, the role our Association plays becomes even more critical in empowering our REALTOR® members and protecting personal property rights.  Actually these industry changes provide an outstanding opportunity for REALTOR® Associations like PSAR to stay ahead of the curve and to step forward in support of its members. So, I want to be part of this. I want to be involved in something that is part of the bigger picture and better for all of us.

My own career in real estate has encompassed a variety of business models, ranging from traditional to start-up to hybrid. I believe there’s enough room for everyone to stay connected and to succeed.

There’s another reason why I’m eager to volunteer with PSAR.

I have found that my involvement benefits the bottom line of my own business because of the opportunities to become acquainted with my fellow REALTORS® and brokers. At the end of the day, real estate is a relationship business. Yes, we may all be competitors, but we can also work together on deals. And I would prefer to undertake transactions with colleagues whom I know and trust. We all know the hard sell no longer works. People do not respond to a guy yelling at them about an amazing deal that they can’t live without. Instead, we choose to do business with someone we like and can communicate with. Good relationships don’t happen by accident. They take cultivation, time and effort. 

In fact, being involved in PSAR helps me discover ways to bring people together. It’s true that there’s a lot of conflict in our world. It’s a world filled with wars, division, arguments, prejudice and partisanship. But, PSAR provides a platform that allows our members to become bridge builders, not wall builders. PSAR is here to encourage members. You will need others in rough times, and we can encourage each other in the process.

Consider the universal principle of “use it or lose it.” For example, if you don’t exercise, your muscles get smaller. If you don’t use your mind, it will become duller as you grow older.  It’s the same with PSAR. If you have a talent and refuse to share it, then you’ll lose that talent. The opposite is, of course, true. If you use your muscles, they get bigger. And if you use your talent to help others at PSAR, then you’ll develop even more skills and abilities that will help you throughout your life.

Let me recommend that you decide today to become more involved with PSAR. PSAR is your hometown REALTOR® Association. As you know, home field advantage can mean everything in sports. Teams who play at “home” win more often than when playing on the road. And, when a team has their hometown fans cheering them on, they can often exceed their ability. All of us at PSAR are here to cheer for you. It all starts with you giving back by joining a committee, volunteering at an event and looking for opportunities to serve at a higher level. Thanks in advance for your greater involvement and membership participation.

* * *

Jason Lopez, who has worked in real estate for the past 25 years, became involved in PSAR leadership in 2016 while serving on a District Council. In 2018, he was elected to a two-year term on the PSAR board of directors. He was recently elected for a second term through 2021. He also will be serving as a C.A.R. Director in 2020. Currently, he is also serving as a facilitator of the weekly City Pitch Marketing Session at the PSAR Central San Diego Service Center in Clairemont.

Topics: Announcements, Government Affairs

Recently Elected 2020 PSAR Board Looking Forward to Service

Posted by Rick Griffin on Jul 12, 2019 4:39:41 PM

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The recent election results for the 2020 PSAR board of directors is destined to provide the Association with forward-thinking leadership and a strong future of growth and benefits for members.

In the recent election, Ditas Yamane was elected to serve as the 2020 President-Elect. Sam Calvano will continue his role as Secretary-Treasurer in 2020.

Also recently elected to serve as Directors in 2020 on the PSAR board: Jason Lopez, Laurie MacDonald, Yvonne Cromer, Peter Mendiola and Mike White.

Continuing to serve in 2020 on the PSAR Board include Robert Cromer as president, Robert Calloway as immediate past president and directors Mike Anderson, Carey Guthrie, Sean Hillier, Robert Kilbourne and Norma Scantlin, and with Tony Santiago as affiliate director.

We’re grateful for the following board members whose terms will end Dec. 31, 2019: Shonee Henry and Dennis Ryan, along with Jan Farley as immediate past president.

Ditas has been involved with PSAR since 2002. She joined the Government Affairs Committee and became chairperson three years ago. Born and raised in the Philippines and immigrated into the U.S. in 1988. She worked for a leading commercial airline as an International Flight Attendant flying international routes for 22 years. In 2002, she earned her real estate sales license. Two years later, she became a broker. Her family has operated a business in the South Bay since 1991.

Ditas has been involved in the community serving as President of the National City Chamber of Commerce and President of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of San Diego County. She currently serves as a Planning Commissioner for the City of National City, overseeing land use, permitting and zoning changes. She is also President and CEO of the Mabuhay Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes a better quality of life. 

“I would like to thank the PSAR Membership for their trust and confidence in voting me in as their 2020 President-Elect,” said Ditas. “As the PSAR President- Elect, I will work side by side with our incoming President Robert Cromer in continuing to grow PSAR and continue to serve our members to thrive in our industry. I will again encourage our members to participate and support our mission to empower all of us. We are PSAR!”

Sam has served as a PSAR Board Director for the three years and as secretary-treasurer for the past six years. Sam began his real estate career as a sales agent in 1976 and then switched to real estate lending in 1983. As Treasurer Sam has been led the Board’s efforts to shore up the association's reserve fund while keeping dues low.  PSAR’s annual dues are fifty dollars less than they were ten years ago. Sam led efforts to build solar, renovate our buildings and parking lots and ensure the long term sustainability of PSAR. Sam represented PSAR as a CAR Director in 2019.

Jason has worked in real estate for the past 25 years. He became involved with PSAR leadership while serving on a District Council. He loves to ride skateboards and has an extensive collection of vinyl records of “British Invasion” music bands from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Jason is currently a facilitator of the City Pitch Marketing session in Clairmont.  He will also be serving as a CAR Director in 2020.

Laurie became involved with PSAR leadership as a member of the East County Government Affairs Committee. She served as PSAR YPN chair in 2017 and 2018. She also currently serves as chair of the PSAR 2019 Charity Committee. She has traveled to Sacramento in the past for C.A.R.’s “Legislative Day” events. She also traveled to 28 countries before turning 30 years of age. She is a fourth generation San Diegan. Her great-great-grandparents arrived in San Diego from Halifax, Nova Scotia sometime in the 1890s and her great-grandmother was born here in 1909.

Yvonne has previously served on the PSAR Charity Committee, organizers of the PSAR REALTOR® Games. She joined the PSAR board of directors in 2018. The Chula Vista native was a synchronized swimmer and a member of the Chula Vista's Dolphinettes, a competitive swim club that no longer operates. After graduating from Hilltop High School in Chula Vista (class of 1991), Yvonne attended the University of Utah. During Christmas break, she met her future husband Robert at a Christmas party.

Peter, a past PSAR president (2012), and Served as a CAR Director in 2011 and 2012. Peter was a driving force behind the efforts to merge the East San Diego County Association of REALTORS and the PSAR.  Peter grew up in National City, attending Las Palmas Elementary School, Granger Middle School and Sweetwater High School (class of 1996). He started his company in February 2007 as a Realty World office. It became a Coldwell Banker operation on Dec. 11, 2011.

Mike became involved in PSAR leadership in 2011 as the founding member of the PSAR Tech Committee. He has been selling real estate since 1980 and is currently serving as an assistant manager at his brokerage. He also has served on the Sandicor Technical Users Group and the C.A.R. ZipForm Committee. He got his first computer at age 18, a Commodore 16 with only 16 kilobytes of RAM. He graduated from Patrick Henry High School (class of 1979), and then attended the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) where he played trumpet in the marching band. At UCLA, Mike was among the final group of students required to learn the Fortran computer language using punch cards. And, he was also one among the first students at UCLA at the time to type homework assignments and term papers on a computer.

The PSAR Board wishes to thank everyone who ran for a Board position. All the candidates were committed and involved members of the Association. They volunteer their time to the industry to improve it and to the community to build home ownership opportunities, defend private property rights and support those in need.  

Topics: Announcements, Events, Government Affairs

PSAR Honored by California Board of Equalization for Assisting Military Veterans

Posted by Rick Griffin on Jul 3, 2019 4:45:56 PM

(From left to right)_ Jordan Marks, San Diego County Assessor’s Office; BOE Board Member Mike Schaefer; BOE Board Chair Malia Cohen; Ernie Dronenburg, San Diego County Assessor; Robert Calloway, 2019 PSAR President

PSAR’s success at helping San Diegans with the American dream of home ownership is becoming known statewide.

The California Board of Equalization (BOE), a state agency, has recognized PSAR for its leadership role in a housing affordability program that is continuing to assist disabled military veterans in San Diego achieve homeownership, stay in their homes and save money on their property taxes.

The BOE recently presented a resolution to PSAR President Robert Calloway in recognition of the association's success with the Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption Program. The resolution recognized PSAR and the program’s leaders, including the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP), for exemplary leadership and their innovative approach to reaching and serving California’s disabled veteran population.

Presenting the official state resolution to PSAR was Mike Schaefer, BOE board member for District 4, which encompasses all of San Diego, Imperial, Riverside and Orange counties and a small portion of San Bernardino County. BOE is a state agency that oversees county property tax assessors. Schaefer also presented resolutions to Ernie Dronenburg, San Diego County Assessor, and Ricardo Pacheco, state director, VAREP. The San Diego County Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk’s (ARCC) Office manages the Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption Program.

The program, promoted by both PSAR and VAREP, connects disabled veterans and their spouses with the Assessor’s Office so they can qualify for a reduction of their property taxes. In 2018, the program, initiated by Jordan Marks, Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate with the Assessor’s Office, resulted in assisting more than 8,000 local disabled veterans with the little-used property tax exemption provided for in the California Constitution. The number of local disabled veterans helped was more than 1,400 vets served the previous year, a 28 percent increase for 2018. As a result of the program, enacted without any additional government funding, 100 percent veteran homeowners benefitted from a collective $1.9 million in property tax savings.

The little-known property tax exemption, found in the California Constitution and Revenue and Taxation Code Section 205.5, provides a property tax exemption on the home of some disabled veterans or an unmarried spouse of a deceased disabled veteran. The exemption is available to a 100 percent disabled veteran who, because of an injury incurred in military service, is blind in both eyes, or has lost the use of two or more limbs, or is totally disabled as determined by the VA or by the military service from which the veteran was discharged.

The Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption Program in San Diego County provides veterans with a reduction in property taxes in two ways:

-- A “Basic Exemption” is available for all veterans with a 100 percent disability rating or their unmarried surviving spouse. The Basic Exemption provides a savings of more than $1,000 per year.

-- A “Low-income Exemption” is available for veterans in households earning less than $60,000 annually. The amounts and income limits are adjusted annually for inflation.

Here’s how PSAR members can share with veterans the information on how to apply: Applicants should have their DD214 discharge with any rating other than dishonorable and their letter from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs detailing their disability rating. New homebuyers should file by the end of the year of purchase. The exemption will renew automatically after that.

Online applications are available at www.sdarcc.com. In-person assistance is available at the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Coast Highway, Room #103, San Diego. For assistance or appointments, call (619) 531-5773, or send an e-mail at ARCCdvets@sdcounty.ca.gov. Jordan Marks also is available for questions at Jordan.Marks@sdcounty.ca.gov.

“At PSAR, we use all tools available to us to achieve homeownership for everyone,” said Calloway. “Through member education, veterans and homebuyers know when they have a PSAR agent they are getting the best customer service, along with education and experience. That is how we have helped over 1,400 veterans save $1.9 million and find a home in San Diego.”

At the resolution ceremony, BOE Board Member Schaefer remarked, “Our Assessor Ernie Dronenburg, the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors and the Veteran Association of Real Estate Professionals have gone above and beyond the call of duty by taking the initiative to reach out to disabled veterans. They exemplify the command, `lead, don’t follow.’ I applaud their outstanding efforts to bring the disabled veterans property tax exemption to an additional 1,400 disabled veterans in San Diego County. I have utmost respect for our veterans, especially those who are disabled as a consequence of their service to our country. I have a long-standing commitment to helping these courageous men and women who have sacrificed so much.”

Assessor Dronenburg added, “My San Diego County Assessor’s office is proud of our innovative partnership with the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors and the Veteran Realtors. Together we were able to show that without spending any additional taxpayer dollars, we could better serve our disabled veterans and their spouses. Our efforts helped 1,400 more disabled veterans save over $1.9 million in property taxes annually. We are honored to receive this recognition from Board of Equalization member Schafer and the State of California for being an exceptional model for serving our veterans, which can be implemented statewide.”

Dronenburg’s Assessor’s office affects nearly every San Diego county resident who owns property or rents. His office oversees assessing the value of real estate and personal property, as well as qualifying taxpayers for property tax savings which include disabled veterans, homeowners, affordable housing units, and organizations operating for the welfare of the community. The office has a $71 million budget with 415 employees and five offices throughout San Diego County.

The BOE, which is comprised of five constitutional officers, including California’s Comptroller, oversees county property tax assessors and sets other taxes, including the alcoholic beverage tax, railroad car tax and taxes for public utilities and insurers.

Topics: Announcements, Government Affairs

It took 2 weeks to sell a home in May

Posted by Rick Griffin on Jun 28, 2019 3:55:59 PM

It took two weeks to sell a home in May

San Diego County’s housing prices in May were relatively flat in a year-over-year comparison, as were home sales and prices, according to the latest housing market report from the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R).

The median price of an existing single-family home in San Diego was $650,000 in May 2019, compared with $649,000 in April 2019, a difference of only 0.2 percent, and higher by 1.6 percent in a year-over-year comparison with the $640,000 figure from May 2018.

The San Diego County home sales total in May 2019 was 7.9 percent higher from April 2019, but only 0.2 percent higher than May 2018.

Statewide in May 2019, California’s median home price edged higher to another peak for the second straight month as lower interest rates helped bolster home sales. The statewide median home price reached another all-time high in May, hitting $611,190. It was a 1.4 percent increase from the $602,920 median price registered in April 2019, and a 1.7 percent rise from the $600,860 price in May 2018.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 406,960 units in May 2019, according to information collected from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. The statewide annualized sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2019 if sales maintained the May pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

May’s statewide sales figure of 406,960 represented a 2.6 percent increase from the 396,780 level in April 2019 and a 0.6 percent decrease from home sales in May 2018 of 409,270. Sales rose above the 400,000 benchmark for the first time since July 2018 and reached the highest level in 11 months, while the year-to-year sales dip was the smallest in 13 months.

“The lowest interest rates in nearly a year and a half, no doubt, have elevated housing demand as monthly mortgage payments have become more manageable to home buyers in general,” said C.A.R. President Jared Martin. “The state’s housing market remains soft, however, as home sales continue to lag behind last year’s level for more than a year now.” 

“While lower interest rates have spurred buyer demand in recent months, they also have played a role in ongoing price hikes,” said C.A.R. Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “Buyers could offer higher prices without hurting their bottom lines and maintain the same level of affordability, as rates remain on a downward trend. With mortgage rates expected to stay low in the upcoming months, home prices may inch up further for another month or two before cooling off.” 

Other key points from the May 2019 resale housing report included:

-- Home prices increased in all counties in Southern California, except for Ventura, which dipped 1.6 percent.

-- Active listings in May 2019, which have been decelerating since December 2018, continued to climb from the prior year, increasing 7.4 percent from a year ago. It was the 14th consecutive year-over-year increase but also the first single-digit gain since last June.

-- The Unsold Inventory Index (UII), which is a ratio of inventory over sales, was lower in May than April’s level, suggesting that the typical seasonal pattern of rising home sales are beginning to play out this year. The UII was 3.2 months in May 2019, down from 3.4 months in April 2019 but up from 3.0 months in May 2018. The index measures the number of months it would take to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate. The jump in the UII from a year ago can be attributed to the mild sales decline and the sharp increase in active listings.

-- The median number of days it took to sell a California single-family home is increasing. Time on market fell from 21 days in April 2019 to 18 days in May 2019 as the homebuying season got underway. It took a median number of 15 days to sell a home in May 2018. Meanwhile, in San Diego County, it took only two weeks to sell an existing single-family home in May 2019. The median number of days a home remaining unsold on the market stood at 14 days in May, compared with 17 days in April, 19 days in March, 22 days in February and 13 days in May 2018.

-- The statewide sales-price-to-list-price ratio was 99.3 percent in May 2019, compared to 100 percent in May 2018. Sales-to-list-price ratio is an indicator that reflects the negotiation power of home buyers and home sellers under current market conditions. The ratio is calculated by dividing the final sales price of a property by its last list price and is expressed as a percentage. A sales-to-list ratio with 100 percent or above suggests that the property sold for more than the list price, and a ratio below 100 percent indicates that the price sold below the asking price.

-- The statewide price-per-square-foot average for an existing, single-family home statewide reached $292 in May 2019, up from $286 in May 2018. The May 2019 figure was the highest level since late 2007.

-- The 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaged 4.07 percent in May, down from 4.59 percent in May 2018, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable mortgage interest rate increased in May to an average of 3.65 percent from 3.79 in May 2018.

In other recent real estate and economic news, according to news reports:

-- According to real estate tracker CoreLogic, the San Diego County median home price stayed at $570,000 in May, the same as it was last May. Home prices reached a peak in August 2018 of $584,750, but prices have mostly leveled off as sales have started to decline.

-- According to the most recent S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, home prices in San Diego County rose 0.5 percent in April, after a 1.1 percent increase in March and 1.0 percent rise in February. Prior to February, local home prices had declined for six straight months. It was the first time since 2012 for annual home price gains in San Diego to be below 1 percent. Because of the six-month downward trend, San Diego home prices are up only 0.8 percent over the past year, compared to the national average of 3.5 percent. The nationwide 20-city composite posted a 2.5 percent year-over-year gain in April.

-- According to Redfin, San Diego County had the third lowest homeownership rate for single mothers in the U.S. in 2017. In the latest figures available, only 22.4 percent of single mothers owned a home in San Diego County in 2017, according to the report. This is compared to an overall San Diego homeownership rate of 53 percent.

-- According to ClosingCorp., a San Diego-based provider of residential real estate closing cost data, the average closing costs on a home purchase in California last year was $6,765, nearly $1,000 more than the national average. The report assumed an average single-family home sales price between $600,000 and $700,000 and included taxes. The average closing cost without taxes was $5,284. The national average home closing cost in 2018 was $5,779 including taxes, and $3,344 excluding taxes. The average closing costs with taxes works out to slightly more than 1 percent of the sales price.

-- According to the 2019 Home Affordability Report, on a nationwide basis, it takes 14 years to save for a 20 percent down payment on a median price home for those earning the median income. In San Diego, it takes 31 years. The least affordable cities with rankings of 30 years or longer include Boston (30 years), San Jose and San Diego (31 years), Miami and Manhattan (36 years), Honolulu and San Francisco (40 years) and Los Angeles (43 years).

-- According to Zumper, an online rental company, San Diego was the 11th most expensive U.S. city for renters in June, with a typical one-bedroom apartment going for $1,710 per month. The monthly payment figure for June was actually 7.7 percent lower than the same month a year ago.

-- According to Qualify of Life Dashboard, a research company, the quality of life in San Diego is improving in six areas, but declining in four. The six areas of improvement include air quality, electricity use, electric vehicles, employment, entrepreneurship and renewable energy. The four areas of decline include housing, traffic congestion, waste and water use.

-- First American Financial Corp.’s national mortgage loan application defect index declined for the first time in eight months in April. The report still found the defect index was up by 11 percent year-over-year, however, indicating there is plenty of room for improvement. In contrast to the national statistics, San Diego saw its mortgage defects decline by 4.3 percent in a year-over-year comparison.

-- San Diego County’s unemployment rate fell to 2.8 percent in May, matching the county’s lowest unemployment rate for any month since at least June 2017, according to the California Employment Development Dept. The county’s unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percent month-over-month, from a seasonally adjusted 3 percent in April to 2.8 percent last month. At this time last year, the county’s unemployment rate also fell to 2.8 percent before spiking above 3.5 percent in June.

Topics: Market Information, Industry

Get ready for 2019 REALTOR® Games on Friday, June 21st

Posted by Rick Griffin on Jun 14, 2019 4:58:26 PM

PSARRealtorGames#97SackRace

Get ready, loosen up and make plans now to participate in this year’s PSAR 2019 REALTOR® Games. PSAR’s third annual PSAR REALTOR® Games will be held from 1 to 4 p.m., Friday, June 21, at Scobee Park, 2390 Boswell Road in Chula Vista’s EastLake community. Registration begins at noon, as well as the appreciation of sponsors. The games start at 1 p.m. sharp. Spectators are welcomed to attend and cheer for their favorite team. Food trucks will be on site.

The REALTOR® Games will feature teams competing in mental and physical challenges. The competitions will include agility activities, such as sack race, free-throw contest, balloon catch and cornhole, as well as mental challenges, including spelling bee, board puzzle and “REALTOR® Feud,” a game resembling TV’s “Family Feud.” Another competition will consist of “Jenga,” a game of skill featuring players taking turns removing one wooden block at a time from a tower constructed of several dozen blocks (the name Jenga is derived from a Swahili word meaning “build”).

This year’s proceeds will benefit three nonprofits, including South Bay Community Services and Unity 4 Orphan and Meals on Wheels San Diego County. In 2018, approximately 250 attendees helped generate $8,600 in donations to charities.

Once again, members of PSAR’s Charity Committee are organizing this year’s REALTOR® Games, including Robert Cromer, Laurie MacDonald, Angie West and Rhonda Bethard, to name a few.

“There is a lot of time, creativity and attention to detail that is given to this event,” said Cromer. “We encourage everyone to take the time and join us. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we are going to raise a substantial amount of money for three extraordinary charities and touch the lives of their recipients through our donations.”

Sponsors of this year’s REALTOR® Games include The Village of Escaya, Homebridge Financial, Team Limon at Wallick & Volk, Guild Mortgage, Coldwell Banker West, Johnson Storage and Moving/United Van Lines, First American Home Warranty, Cardinal Financial Company, California Preferred Escrow, Liberty Mutual Insurance, New Venture Escrow, First American Title Co., Point Mortgage Corp., Ticor Title, Sketch Lab Co., Caliber Home Loans, In-Depth Real Estate Services Co., Staged Today-Sold Tomorrow, Corinthian Title & Escrow, Secure Funding Group, Lilly Molina of Coldwell Banker West and Marina Vista Escrow, along with Frida’s Cocina Food Truck, Buffao Wild Wings, Doggos Gus, La Cochinita.

Product, service and equipment sponsors include Preferred Home Inspections, Caffe Tazza, Fine Wood Finishing, Pacific Drain & Plumbing, Minuteman Press, Award Sign Company, William Fagan DJ and Elsa Flores Photography.

Entry fee is $250 per team for a team of five. Contestants will receive a 2019 REALTOR® Games event t-shirt featuring sponsor names and a free food truck lunch ticket. Spectator admission is free. For more information, visit https://blog.psar.org/realtorgames190621, or call PSAR at (619) 421-7811.

The PSAR Charity Committee consists of a wonderful group of caring PSAR members who are willing to share PSAR resources and talent within the community through outreach and service. Their goal is to provide the necessary support to make a positive charitable impact within the communities served by PSAR members. The volunteers serving on the PSAR Charity Committee evaluate and review requests from nonprofits in the community. Then, they select worthy charitable causes to support.

Scobee Park is named in honor of Francis R. “Dick” Scobee (1939-1986), who was a Challenger Spacecraft Commander aboard the ill-fated Space Shuttle Challenger, which suffered catastrophic booster failure at 73 seconds after the launch on Jan. 28, 1986.

Topics: Events

REALTORS® Empowered by PSAR, Making a Difference in D.C.

Posted by Rick Griffin on Jun 7, 2019 4:18:29 PM
o-CAPITOL-DOME-FLAG-facebookLegislative advocacy remains a top priority at PSAR. Association leaders are active in empowering REALTORS® to make a difference by advocating with legislators and government officials in support of private property rights, economic prosperity, property investment and homeownership.

When REALTORS® and affiliates speak in solidarity with one voice and work together with elected officials, then powerful alliances and strong communities can be formed resulting in a vibrant business environment and success in a free enterprise system.

Recently, several PSAR members went to Washington, D.C. to join thousands of other real estate professionals for the National Association of REALTORS® Mid-Year Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo. In his opening address, NAR President John Smaby told attendees that thousands of REALTORS® showing up at the nation’s capital sends a powerful message to politicians. “We mean business,” Smaby said. “Our business is not Republican. It’s not Democrat. My friends, we are the REALTOR® Party,” referring to NAR’s lobbying arm. Attendees cheered and applauded.

NAR is the single largest real estate trade group in the U.S., with nearly 1.3 million members, and widely considered one of the most effective advocacy organizations in the country. It is the second largest organization in terms of lobbying spending, behind the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. During the recent 2018 midterm elections, NAR poured $14.4 million into supporting 10 candidates, including six Republicans and four Democrats.

NARTripMay2019CongressmanDuncanDHunterFotoAmong PSAR members who made the trip: Robert Calloway, 2019 President; Robert Cromer, 2019 president-elect; Bob Olivieri past president and Federal Political Coordinator and Nikki Coppa, past president; and, Richard D’Ascoli, CEO. Nikki also serves as a NAR Director appointed by PSAR, as well as 2019 Vice Chair of the NAR Risk Management Issues Committee.

Activities on the trip included meeting with San Diego members of Congress, including Duncan D. Hunter (R-50th,) Juan Vargas (D-51st), Susan Davis (D-53rd), Scott Peters (D-52nd) and Mike Levin (D-49th), as well as listening to President Trump, who became the first sitting U.S. President to speak live at the NAR event since George W. Bush in 2005.

“The congressmen were very open and receptive to the issues we brought to them,” said Robert Calloway. “They were knowledgeable about the things we were talking about. It was good to have a dialogue with them.”

Robert and Nikki also heard Mr. Trump’s speech. “The President is a real estate guy who understands our business,” said Robert. “He knows about over-burdensome regulations that can hinder land development and the bureaucracy that prohibits us from moving forward with addressing the housing shortage.”

“It was incredible to see the change and preparation necessary to have a live event featuring the President of the United States,” said Nikki. “One thing that really stuck with me was his comment about how special REALTORS® are.” Nikki said she was impressed with the President’s comments about the trustworthiness of REALTORS®.

NARTrumpSpeechFotoFromInmanAccording to a White House transcript of the speech, Mr. Trump said, “In what business do you have where you’re selling your home, and you leave the key under the mat so the broker can take anybody they want, even though you’re going to be away for three weeks, right? How many people trust people? You would only trust a great realtor to do that, right?”

During the roughly one-hour speech, Mr. Trump announced the end of steel and aluminum tariffs imposed on Mexico and Canada and discussed a wide range of issues including tax reform, regulation cuts, opportunity zones and unemployment.

Mr. Trump also said, “I’m honored to be here with the hardworking men and women who help millions of families live the American dream. You have some tremendously talented people in this room. I know this business well. I love this business. It’s in your blood. And, you have people who can do a job that very few people can do.

“When a young family needs to grow, when a new job sparks a new adventure in a brand, new beautiful city, when parents want to find the right neighborhood and schools for their children, Americans put our trust in you, our great REALTORS®. And that’s true.

“Home is where our hearts are. And all of you, as Americans, you find a home for the ones that you love the most. So, today, I want to thank all of you. This is a time of extraordinary opportunity for our country, And, as I said, I think our country is doing better now than we’ve ever done before, as an economy. And I think it’s going to get even better.”

NAR's invitation to speak, did not mean the real estate trade group would be endorsing Trump’s re-election. NAR said it does not endorse presidential candidates or donate to presidential campaigns through its Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC). NAR said it has had a longstanding practice of inviting sitting presidents to speak at its annual conferences and 10 have taken the trade group up on its offer.

NARTripMay2019CongressmanMikeLevinFotoBob Olivieri said he was pleased that Congress extended the Federal Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until Sept. 30 while he was there in Washington, D.C. While NFIP isn’t a household name, it’s often the only flood insurance available in a given market. That’s important, because if a property is in a 100-year floodplain, lenders will typically require flood insurance as part of the mortgage approval process. This isn’t just an issue for waterfront homes or homes in the direct path of hurricanes. Many homeowners in San Diego County who live near large storm drains or drainage channels are required to have flood insurance. More than 5 million homeowners in 22,000 communities nationwide rely on the NFIP to provide flood insurance.

“The one issue at the top of our list, the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT), is supported by most of the U.S. representatives who we talked to,” said Bob. “The ideas being tossed around are doubling the present $10,000 deduction limit for married couples, raising it to $15,000, and doubling it for married couples or eliminating it all together, which is not probable. Also, we would like to see the SALT limit and deductible mortgage interest cap indexed to inflation. This has a lot of support and puts those limits in line with other limits in the tax code.”

Also, during the PSAR trip to Washington, D.C., the House passed by a vote of 236-173 the Equality Act, which would broaden the definition of protected classes to include sex, sexual orientation and gender identity to characteristics protected by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. NAR was a strong advocate for this bill which strengthens fair housing.

Topics: Industry

Home Prices Higher in April 2019, median price is $649k

Posted by Rick Griffin on May 31, 2019 3:55:27 PM

Home Prices Higher in April 2019, median price is $649k

Sales of existing homes remained muted statewide in April with the start of the spring homebuying season, according to the latest housing market report for home sales and prices from the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R).

Existing home sales in California in April 2019 was 4.8 percent lower than in April 2018. By contrast, in San Diego County, our year-over-year existing home sales for April 2019 climbed by 2.4 percent since last year.

April’s statewide seasonally adjusted sales figure of 396,760 units was down 0.1 percent from the 397,210 level in March and down 4.8 percent from home sales in April 2018 of 416,750. Sales remained below the 400,000 level for the ninth consecutive month and have fallen on a year-over-year basis for a full year. The statewide annualized sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2109 if sales maintained the April pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

“Weak buyer demand, largely prompted by elevated home prices, is playing a role in the softening housing market,” said C.A.R. President Jared Martin. “However, with low interest rates, cooling competition and an increase in homes to choose from, buyers can take advantage of a more balanced housing market.”  

Even as demand weakened and home sales stumbled, the statewide median home price set another record high in April, hitting $602,920 and surpassing the previous high of $602,760 set last summer. April’s price was up 6.5 percent from $565,880 in March and up 3.2 percent from a revised $584,460 in April 2018. The year-over-year price growth rate was the strongest since October 2018.

In San Diego County in April 2019, the median single-family home sales price of $649,000 was 4 percent higher than the $623,800 sales price compared to March 2019 and 2.2 percent higher than the $635,000 figure in April 2018.

“While we started off the spring homebuying season on a down note, home sales in the upcoming months may fare better than the top-level numbers suggest,” said C.A.R. Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “The year-over-year sales decrease was the smallest in nine months, and pending home sales increased for the second straight month after declining for more than two years. While we don’t expect a sharp sales rebound, we also don’t expect an acceleration in declines.”

Other key points from the April 2019 resale housing report included:

-- The median number of days it took to sell a California single-family home is increasing. Time on market fell from 25 days in March to 21 days in April as the homebuying season got underway. However, it took a median number of 15 days to sell a home in April 2018. Meanwhile, in San Diego County, the median number of days a home remained unsold on the market stood at 17 days in April 2019, compared to 19 days in March 2019, 22 days in February 2019 and 11 days in April 2018.

-- The median home price increased from a year ago in all regions statewide except the San Francisco Bay Area. Of the entire, nine-county Northern California region, only Napa County posted an increase in April of 3.3 percent, while San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma recorded the largest price declines of 9.5 percent, 7.7 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively.

-- Conversely, home prices rose on a year-to-year basis across Southern California, with the exception of Ventura County, which was down 2.3 percent. Price growth remains strongest in the Inland Empire, where homes are most affordable, with prices in both Riverside and San Bernardino counties increasing more than 5 percent.

-- Encouragingly, the growth in active listings from the year prior decelerated for the fourth straight month. The number of homes available for sale increased only 10.8 percent from last April, but still enough to provide a much-needed supply of homes for sale. The growth in active listings has fallen from more than 30 percent at the end of 2018 suggesting that the market is becoming more balanced, rather than experiencing a full-scale exodus of sellers in California.

-- The Unsold Inventory Index (UII), which is a ratio of inventory over sales, dipped on a month-to-month basis but edged up on a year-over-year basis. The Unsold Inventory Index was 3.4 months in April, down from 3.6 months in March but up from 3.2 months in April 2018. The index measures the number of months it would take to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate. The jump in the UII from a year ago can be attributed to the moderate sales decline and the sharp increase in active listings.

-- The 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaged 4.14 percent in April, down from 4.47 percent in April 2018, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable mortgage interest rate increased in April to an average of 3.75 percent from 3.66 in April 2018.

In other recent real estate and economic news, according to news reports:

-- According to CoreLogic real estate information service, the median price of a San Diego County home held steady in April, compared to the same month a year ago. The median price of a San Diego County home was $570,000 in April, the same as April 2018. In the past 12 months, the median hit a peak of $584,750 in August and a low of $532,000 in January. A total of 3,593 homes were sold in the county, down 3.4 percent from 3,718 during the same month a year ago. Still, that’s up from the past 11 months, which have seen an average drop of 12 percent.

-- A total of 20,074 new and resale houses and condos changed hands in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month, said CoreLogic. That was up 11.6 percent from 17,985 in March, and down 3.3 percent from 20,766 in April 2018.

-- According to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller report, existing home price increases continue to slow both nationally and in San Diego County. The 20-city composite index checked in with a year-over-year gain of 2.7 percent in March, down from a year-over-year gain of 3 percent in February. San Diego County’s price increase only climbed 1.3 percent year-over-year in March. San Diego metro prices gains were the lowest in the nation for fourth month in a row on the 20-city index.

-- Nearly half of San Diego County’s largest working group are considering leaving in the next two years. Forty-four percent of the region’s working millennials said they are considering leaving, with the primary reason being housing costs, said a recent survey from the San Diego Regional Chamber Foundation. In partnership with the City of San Diego, Sempra Energy and others, the researchers interviewed 397 San Diego County working millennials for the report. The purpose of the study was to identify millennial working habits, and how employers could make their experience more satisfying. But, the chamber acknowledged the answers about leaving were among the most dramatic findings. Millennials, roughly ages 23 to 38, make up 39.7 percent of San Diego County’s workforce. It is followed by Generation X, 39 to 54 years old, at 31.6 percent, and baby boomers, 55 to 73 years old, at 22.1 percent.

-- San Diego posted the eighth largest population increase between July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2018, among cities with populations of 50,000 or more, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. During the 12-month period, the population of “America’s Finest City” grew by 11,549 people, a near 1 percent increase from the previous year. Phoenix saw the largest population increase in the country during the period, adding 25,288 people. San Diego was the only city in California to make the top 10 for largest population gains in the latest report, while Texas had four cities make the top 10. San Antonio and Fort Worth ranked second and third in population growth, rising by 20,824 and 19,552, respectively.

-- The personal income of residents in the San Diego metropolitan area grew by 2.3 percent, below the national average, from 2016 to 2017, said the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That was below the nationwide increase of 2.6 percent. Real personal income is a catch-all way of looking at how much money Americans earn in a year. Among the largest metro areas with a population of more than 2 million, New York-Newark residents had the biggest increase at 4.3 percent, and Los Angeles-Anaheim had the least at 1.6 percent.

-- San DiegoCounty's unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to an even three percent in April 2019, with both farm and nonfarm industries showing job gains, according to the California Employment Development Department (EDD). The April rate, down from a revised 3.6 percent in March and a tick below the April 2018 rate of 3.1 percent, is at its lowest point since May 2018. The educational and health services industry added 7,600 jobs from April 2018 to last month, the highest year-over-year gain of any industry. Government and manufacturing jobs each increased by more than 3,000 jobs. The trade, transportation and utilities industry showed the largest year-over-year job decrease, losing 2,800 jobs. The information and financial activities industries also lost 500 and 100 jobs, respectively.

Topics: Industry