Sunday, January 12, 2020

A unexpectedly amazing start to 2020 - honored by the Sacramento Association of Realtors as the "Realtor of the Year"

I was really excited for the 2020 Sacramento Association of Realtors Officers and Directors Installation event this year, because after serving 8 years on the Board of Directors, this year I stepped up to serve the association at a higher level as Secretary/Treasurer of the Board. What I was not expecting was to be the recipient of the 2019 "REALTOR of the Year" award.

This is the highest honor given by the association. An Awards Committee selects the recipient and the criteria is quite rigorous -- things like sustained participation as an association volunteer, effective leadership and an ability to generate participation by others in association activities, charitable and public service outside the association, etc. The association gives this to one person each year. As of December, the Sacramento Association of Realtors had over 7,500 members. And this year I was given the award.

I was shocked and humbled to say the very least. And so thankful that my brother and his soon-to-be wife were in attendance at the installation event.

It feels a little strange to get an award for efforts I find so personally gratifying in so many ways. I initially got involved with the association in 2008, a few years after getting my real estate license in 2005. Since then, I have done a long list of things such as serve on or chaired committees, forums, task forces, was President of the Masters Club, and helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the community. I truly love our great organization and my fellow association members who all advocate for the same causes and volunteer to make our Sacramento community a better place. Walking into any committee meeting, event, or forum, I’m surrounded by friends and I’m forever grateful for that.

On a personal level, my 2019 was a pretty emotionally trying year with the loss of my mom to lung cancer in the spring. For 2020 I had been hoping to be able to have an emotional reset of sorts, and to kick things off in this way was an unexpectedly amazing start to the year.

Friday, January 3, 2020

As of January 1, 2020: SB 329 prohibits discrimination based on a tenant's source of income - which now includes Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers

A new law took just effect on January 1st, 2020 that has not received as much publicity as other new laws aimed at tenant protection -- and that is SB 329 (Mitchell). This new law prohibits a landlord from rejecting potential tenants based on their use of a Housing Choice Voucher (often referred to as Section 8).

Up until now, landlords could choose not to work with Section 8, which is a federal housing subsidy program for low-income people. Landlords could advertise rental property declaring up front that they would not accept Housing Choice Vouchers. But no more.

Discrimination based on a tenant's "source of income" has already been a violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, however housing vouchers were previously not considered to be part of a tenant's source of income since the subsidy is paid from an agency to the landlord directly. SB 329 changes the definition of source of income to include Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV).

So landlords -- you MUST NOT advertise that you will not accept Housing Choice Vouchers. This is now illegal. You may still have other application standards, such as a minimum credit score requirement, a requirement for no prior court evictions, etc. but you must be sure that you uniformly apply these standards with all prospective applicant tenants. Many properties will have a higher market rent than the maximum allowable rent for the property type and zip code. So while in some cases it is likely the property will not be a viable candidate for a voucher recipient, you still may not advertise blanket rejection of HCVs.

For full disclosure, I myself am a landlord and one of our tenants is a HCV recipient. This tenant has now rented from us for about 3.5 years and has been a great tenant. Jumping through the initial hoops of the HCV program was a real pain. It can take several weeks or months prior to the tenant's occupancy of a property to get through all the layers of paperwork, inspections, and repairs to make a property eligible for occupancy. There are also subsequent property inspections and interim paperwork requirements as well. But, the HCV rent payment magically appears in our bank account at the beginning of each month, and our tenant has never been late paying her small part of the rent that is proportional to her monthly income.

Overall for myself I'd characterize it as a positive experience, and I personally am so glad that we can offer some housing stability to a family who needs it...although I am personally generally not a fan of the government forcing mandatory compliance with its onerous programs. But I do urge landlords to keep an open mind with the HCV programs and just be prepared for a lot of up-front flexibility. I do believe the agencies who administer the HCV programs have done what they can to streamline the processes. In Sacramento County the program is administered by the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA).

I can only hope there are not obvious unintended consequences of this legislation, such as application requirements for rented properties getting much more stringent -- like minimum credit scores increasing for everyone, for example. That overall will make it more difficult for renters to secure housing.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Quoted in a Sacramento Bee article about the 2020 Sacramento Real Estate Market Forecast...

It's always an honor to be thought of as "an expert" and quoted in articles about our local Sacramento real estate market. This weekend my quotes were featured in an article about next year's 2020 market forecast. It's always interesting to see what others who were asked the same questions say in response and based on quotes from fellow interviewees in the article, it sounds like we are all mostly observing the same things and are on the same page.

While I do not profess to have a crystal ball, as a top producing Realtor and policy geek, I have my finger on the pulse of what is going on and offered a few key points when interviewed.

(1) When asked if the Sacramento real estate market will crash in 2020: NO. I do not believe the Sacramento real estate market will crash in 2020. The end of 2019 has been super busy and spring buying frenzy seems to have arrived early. Sellers - take note. You may want to list your homes a little ahead of schedule. There is not much on the market right now and A LOT of buyers out there home shopping. I think there were many factors that coincided with the market slow down at the end of 2018 that were not present during 2019 - interest rates increased in 2018, ambient smoke and the poor air quality kept many would-be buyers inside, and there was a rhetoric-filled election. In 2019, interest rates significantly declined making mortgages a little more affordable, there was less chaos during fire season, and it has been a non-election cycle. Home price increases in 2019 slightly outpaced inflation and were up a bit, but not drastically so, and overall there seemed to be a more workable balance between buyers and sellers in the market.

(2) When asked if buyers will "show up" in 2020: YES. The buyers are out there and they are motivated. Interest rates remain low, and many predict continued downward pressure on interest rates in 2020 as the global economy sorts out trade wars and reconciles other geopolitical tensions. With rates likely to remain low, I think home buyers will continue to be extremely motivated to buy. I do think home prices will rise in 2020 slightly, probably on a similar trajectory as what we have experienced in 2019. In Sacramento I do see a good amount of new housing inventory coming to market, though unfortunately not enough of it will be at price points targeted at entry-level buyers. There are not enough new homes at the more affordable end of the price spectrum to satisfy that demand. Every little bit of construction helps though. Move-up buyers of new construction homes should still free-up inventory when selling their a smaller homes that entry-level buyers can purchase.

(3) When asked if there will be a recession in 2020: DOUBTFUL. At least not one of much magnitude, if at all. It seems like for probably the last 4-5 years people have expressed concern about a looming recession, as if the decade long economic expansion is destined for a catastrophic end. Our national, state and local economies seem to be humming along right now. And if we were to experience an economic slow-down, I doubt it would be caused by fraudulent lending practices and collapse of our financial system as in 2007. Previous recessions did not have a devastating impact on home values and I doubt values would suffer a collapse of a similar magnitude as we saw in the Great Recession.

(5) When asked about my most "out there" forecast or trend: ADU's! I am optimistic that 2020 becomes the year of the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). Recent legislation has mandated city/county application streamlining and the "by-right" ability of residential property owners to add ADUs to their properties. I hope that MANY homeowners look to construct them. We absolutely need more affordable places for people to live. There are many parcels in greater Sacramento that could easily accommodate ADUs, whether that means converting existing space like a garage or basement to an ADU, or constructing a freestanding ADU Casita in the backyard. We could have thousands of mini-infill projects all over our region adding more housing with affordable rents.

(6) When asked how can more people afford to buy Sacramento homes: IT'S COMPLICATED. In part because a lot of people who want to buy homes can afford to buy homes, but they do not know they can afford it. They do not know enough about the purchase process to know they can qualify for a mortgage. I speak to people all the time who think they must have a 20% downpayment to purchase a home, when in reality there are many downpayment assistance programs available to people with stable employment and decent credit. There are also many low-downpayment programs that require only 3-5% down. In October, the Sacramento Association of REALTORS sponsored an extremely well-attended educational workshop in Oak Park for this purpose. There are other local organizations that promote similar workshops as well.

(7) When asked if Millennials are buying homes: YES. About a third of my transactions this year in 2019 involved a Millennial purchaser, and in my transactions that age bracket seems to represent an increasing number of home buyers. I expect that will continue to trend upward in 2020.

(8) And lastly, when asked about if I see Baby Boomers downsizing: KINDA. I have seen in my own transactions that the Boomers who are selling are relocating out of the area to be closer to family. The boomers who I am working with seem to be making more lateral moves -- with playrooms and bedrooms for the grandkids when they come over. I talk to many other Boomers who would love to downsize and move closer to family, but since they have owned their homes for decades, they face a steep increase in property taxes if they sell their homes and move into another county. Generally those Boomers decide not to sell. If there are reforms in 2020 that allow more Boomers to transfer their property tax base I would expect a significant increase in the number of Boomers who sell and downsize. The California Association of Realtors is currently signature gathering for another ballot initiative that, among other things, would allow for property tax basis transfers for seniors anywhere in the state.

So with all that...I look forward to a great 2020. 2018 lead to an extremely productive and busy 2019, and I believe all that will continue into the new year. Cheers!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Had fun doing the CIM Relay this year!

This year my husband and I changed things up a bit and did the California International Marathon 2-person relay as team "Mr & Mrs Wilson". Greg ran the first half and I did the second half.

He and I have both finished the full CIM several times in the past, though this year we missed the registration cut-off for 26.2 miles but were still in time to register for the relay.

I have to say -- while I have run NUMEROUS half marathons (way too many to count at this point) -- doing the just the 2nd half of the CIM race course was really nice. Typically once I get to the half-way point of a full marathon, I start hitting the wall and am really fatigued. It was so nice not to be completely tired running the second half of the course! And beer and my smiling hubby at the end? What could be better?

And best of all? Aside from a munched toe, I don't hurt today and had no problem showing property earlier. LOL

Friday, November 29, 2019

Pro Tip: use inexpensive lights and light timers to keep a vacant property secure

Occasionally I will list a vacant property, and my sellers will be jittery about the home's security during the time it is on the market. One quick and easy way to make a vacant home seem occupied is to install lights and on timers so that lights go on and off all night long. This gives the appearance that there is activity inside the house, and can be a strong deterrent for would-be troublemakers. These lights in the photos were about $7 and the timer devices were about $5 at a hardware store. A good investment!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

New Listing - 8500 Kenneth Ridge Court, Fair Oaks, CA 95628

This 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 3232sf Fair Oaks home on over a third of an acre is the perfect blank canvas for your renovation and personal touches! You will love the spacious and open layout with an abundance of natural light. Kitchen features granite counters, island, built in refrigerator, and large pantry closet. Separate living and family room areas, formal dining area great for large gatherings. Dual master suites! Primary master suite has a cozy fireplace, ensuite bathroom with tub with separate shower, and a big walk-in closet. Upstairs discover a large secluded bedroom and a fireman's pole connecting the first and second levels - how fun! Backyard is an outdoor oasis with a built-in pool and spa, expansive covered patio with ceiling fans and lighting. RV access and basketball court area. 3-car attached garage. Newer composition roof. Enviable cul-de-sac location near parks, schools, shopping, restaurants, and more! Don't wait! Offered at $569,900, subject to lender approval of short sale. For more photos and information please visit 8500 Kenneth Ridge Court, Fair Oaks, CA 95628.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

New Listing - 9117 Bramwell Way, Sacramento, CA 95829

Adorable and affordable 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1137sf home in Elk Grove Unified School District! You will love the laminate flooring throughout the living space, spacious open layout flows with abundant natural light. Efficient use of space offers a roomy living area, large functional kitchen with lots of counter space and ample storage. Sizable master suite with walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom. Great space in the backyard for outdoor entertaining with built-in bbq and patio cover! Newer water heater. Central heat and air, dual pane windows, attached 2-car garage. Prime location, close proximity to shopping, parks, schools, minutes for prestigious Wild Hawk Golf Club, dining and more! Don't wait! Offered at $309,900. For more photos and information please visit 9117 Bramwell Way, Sacramento, CA 95829.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Check Before You Burn in Sacramento -- from November to February!

Check Before You Burn: it's that time of year again...my husband and I love to have fires in our backyard fire pit this time of year. And as per usual between November and February, in Sacramento, I had to check the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District website - luckily it was ok to burn the evening we wanted to roast marshmallows.

Sacramento County residents and businesses are restricted -- or potentially prohibited -- from using indoor or outdoor fireplaces, wood stoves, firepits and chimineas that burn wood, pellets, manufactured logs or any other solid fuel, when the "fine particle pollution" is forecast to be elevated. And if you burn on a "no burn day" there are penalties. If you see someone burning a fire on a day where burning is restricted, you can file a complaint here. First time violators face a $50 fine or an option to complete and pass a wood smoke awareness course. Fines for subsequent violations are higher. Or if a fireplace is your home's only heat source, you can apply for a waiver. That waiver document is here.

Call 1-877-NOBURN-5 (1-877-662-8765) to get the daily burn status, check online, or you can subscribe to a daily "Air Alert" as I have, where the air forecast is emailed to you.