Shift in California Home Sales

Investors are playing a smaller role in the California housing market as the number of distressed properties shrink, according to new data from the California Association of Realtors.

Distressed property sales dropped to 17.1 percent of sales in July, compared to 20.1 percent in June and 40.8 percent in July 2012, the association reported.
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“The increase in the share of equity sales reflects a market that is fully transitioning from investor purchases of distressed homes to primary home purchases by households,” C.A.R. chief economist Leslie Appleton-Young said in the report. “The market continues to improve as more previously underwater homes gain equity due to recent upward movement in prices.”

Equity sales – or non-distressed property sales – accounted for 82.9 percent of sales, the highest share since December 2007. The share of equity sales has risen on a month-to- month basis for 17 of the last 18 months, CAR reports.

The number of short sales fell to the lowest point since April 2009 at 11.6 percent, down from 12.9 percent in June and 22.7 percent of all sales a year earlier.

“The continuing decline in short sales indicates more previously underwater homes are moving into positive equity as home prices remain on an upward trend,” the report says.

The median price of a single family home in California is up more than 30 percent in the last year, in part due to a tight supply of homes for sale. Inventory is still “tight” the association reports, with the “Unsold Inventory Index” essentially unchanged in the last month.

Pending home sales were also flat in July, with CAR’s Pending Home Sales Index dropping 0.2 percent in July to 114, down from 114.3 in June, based on signed contracts. Pending sales were down 1.5 percent from the 115.8 index recorded in July 2012. – See more at:

Southern California Home Sales Hit 7-year High

rising home pricesBuyers poured a record $4.65 billion in cash into Southern California’s housing market during May, driving the biggest price gain in nine years and putting sales at a seven-year high, a research firm said Tuesday. 

Last month, cash down payments and home purchases jumped 19.5 percent from $3.89 billion the year before and increased 1.8 percent from $4.57 million in April, the prior record, said La Jolla-based DataQuick.

The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos in the six-county region increased 24.7 percent in May to $368,000 from $295,000 a year earlier and it was up 3.1 percent from $357,000 in April. 

Last month’s median was the highest for any month since May 2008, when it was $370,000, and the year-over-year increase was the largest since a 24.8 percent gain in October 2004. 

“We’re deep into uncharted territory: Amazingly low mortgage rates, a razor-thin inventory of homes for sale, and the release of years’ worth of pent-up demand. Plus there’s a seemingly endless stream of investors and non-investors who pay cash and thereby avoid the loan-qualification process. How this all plays out is educated guesswork at this point,” John Walsh, DataQuick president, said in a statement. 

“Understandably, speculation continues over whether another housing bubble is forming.” 

Price gains in the six county region ranged from 30.2 percent in Los Angeles County to 18.1 percent in Ventura County, DataQuick said. 

The median price has now increased on a year-over-year basis for 14 consecutive months, with those annual gains ranging between 10.8 percent and 24.7 percent over the past 10 months. But May’s median remained 27.1 percent below the record $505,000 median for the region in spring and summer of 2007. 

rising home prices2Michael Carney, executive director of the Real Estate Research Council at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, believes that prices will eventually level out with the peak of the last boom remaining a distant target. 

“Those kind of increases can’t be sustained, 20 to 30 percent are enormous increases,” Carney said. “We’re not going back to the earlier (record price) levels. Not in my lifetime.” 

Prices are heating up now because of near record low inventory and because housing again is an attractive investment

“This has been going on for some time and it’s largely people chasing yield,” Carney said of the cash-flush market. “At this point, it’s looking pretty profitable to invest in housing.” 

Most of last month’s year-over-year gain in the median reflects rising home prices, while about a quarter of it reflects a change in market mix. Sales are increasing in more expensive markets and falling in low-cost areas, DataQuick said. 

Lack of inventory continued to pinch sales in May. 

Last month, sales across Southern California increased 3.8 percent to 23,034 properties from 22,192 a year earlier, DataQuick said. Last month’s sales total was the highest for the month of May since 30,303 sold in May 2006.

The spiking prices will likely shake loose some inventory, said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage. 

“As prices continue to rise at this rate it’s almost a given. You will see what economists call a supply response and an increase in inventory,” he said. 

In addition, the housing market continues to wean itself of distressed properties. 

During May, foreclosure sales — homes foreclosed in the prior 12 months — accounted for 10.8 percent market share. That was down from 12.4 percent in April before and down from 26.9 percent a year earlier. Last month’s foreclosure resale rate was the lowest since it hit 0 percent in August 2007. In the current cycle, foreclosure resales hit a high of 56.7 percent in February 2009. 

Short sales — transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property — had 17.7 percent share last month, unchanged from April but down from 24.3 percent a year earlier. 

Absentee buyers — mostly investors and some second-home purchasers “” bought 29.5 percent of the homes sold last month. That was down from 30.6 percent in April and up from 27.5 percent a year earlier. 

The record was 32.4 percent in January this year. 

The number of cases of flipping properties for a quick profit remained low last month. 

During May, 5.9 percent of the homes sold had previously changed owners in the prior six months, down from 6 percent in April and up from 4.3 percent a year ago. 

Kimberly Ritter-Martinez, an economist at the Kyser Center for Economic Research in Los Angeles who has been tracking the market since its collapse in the Great Recession, said the housing market is finally healing. 

“It’s safe to say we are in recovery. It’s here and gaining momentum,” she said. “But my forecast for home prices is a lot of uncertainty.”

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Success requires a singular focus

singular focus

Gary Keller’s new book, “The One Thing,” begins with this advice: “If you chase two rabbits you will not catch either one.”

This simple Russian proverb is at the heart of what it takes to have a meaningful life and a highly successful real estate business.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had numerous conversations about what various industry leaders are doing to improve their businesses for 2013. Everyone seems to be narrowing their focus as opposed to expanding it.

For example, Marc Davison, co-founder of 1000 Watt, ended his Agent Reboot keynote by imploring the audience to find “the one thing that you will do and that will help you grow your business.”

Janet Choynowski of told me she has only one goal in mind for her business: the globalization of real estate.

Fafie Moore, president of Realty Executives of Nevada and the former chairman of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, told me she had narrowed her goals for 2013 down to a single item.

Each of these industry leaders came to these conclusions separately. Keller’s “The One Thing” seems perfectly timed to capture this mindset by rescuing you from the onslaught of “could and should-do’s.” The book guides you to a place where you will have the greatest probability of achieving the singular goal that will make doing “everything else easier or unnecessary.”

The six lies that mislead and derail us

“The One Thing” begins by tackling the six lies that mislead and derail us. One of the biggest lies is that people can multitask. Motivational speaker and creative problem solver Steve Uzzell once said, “Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.” Research has consistently shown that we can concentrate on only one thing at a time. According to David Meyer, a nationally recognized expert on multitasking, task switching increases the time it takes you to complete a task 25 to 100 percent.

To see how costly the three “D’s” are (distraction, disturbance and disruption), Keller cites the research that shows that we are interrupted every 11 minutes on average and that we spend almost a third of the day recovering from these distractions.

Consequently, a simple way to gain back a third of your day is to focus on doing one thing at a time. Put your phone on airplane mode and check it when you have completed the task at hand. Avoid trying to do two things at once. You will do both tasks more poorly, and it will take you significantly longer as well.

Other big lies include that “everything matters equally,” “will power is always on will call,” that a balanced life is achievable, and that “big is bad.”

The simple path to productivity

Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”

Keller argues that the first step in this process is to ask a “focusing question.” Research shows that asking questions improves learning and performance by as much as 150 percent. The focusing question that he recommends is: “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

The power of this question is that it not only helps you to identify the “big-picture questions” such as “Where am I going?” or “What target should I aim for?” but it also helps you answer the “small-focus” questions such as “What must I do right now to be on the path to getting the big picture?”

The big-picture question is about finding the right direction in life, and the small-focus question is about finding the right action to take.

The four P’s of extraordinary results

According to Keller: “Your big one thing is your purpose, and your small one thing is the priority you take action on to achieve it. Purpose is the guiding force in determining the priority that drives their actions.”

Keller also believes that the more productive people are, the more purpose and priority are pushing and driving them. “Personal productivity is the building block of all business profit. The two are inseparable … this is the straightest path to extraordinary results.”

The three commitments to your ‘one thing’

The first of the three commitments is mastery. Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson discovered what he called the “10,000-hour rule.” It takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an elite performer. Keller suggests that in terms of how this relates to you and your work, you’ll need to average four hours per day, five days a week, for a full year to master your “one thing.”

The second commitment is moving from “E” (entrepreneurial) to “P” (purposeful). The cycles for these two types of behavior are quite different. When the entrepreneurial person hits her ceiling of achievement, she experiences disappointment first, resignation second, and then she searches for greener pastures where the cycle will repeat itself.

When the purposeful person hits his ceiling of achievement, the person strengthens his focus. The person is committed to growth, and seeks new models or systems to continue that growth. It’s these new models and/or systems that allow the person to achieve breakthroughs.

The third commitment is accountability. Rather than allowing life’s events to victimize you, the purposeful person owns the situation and searches for solutions. This allows him or her to stay in action and to continue the breakthrough process.

If you’re ready to achieve extraordinary results in your business and your personal life, “The One Thing” is the one thing you must read this year.

Contact Roy at

9 Easy Do-It-Yourself Weekend Decorating Projects

weekend decorating tips
As you look around your home, you’re probably wishing you had some extra time on your hands to make a few renovations or to handle a few extra redecorating projects. But, you already have the time – it’s called the weekend! In that short 48-hour time span, there’s a lot of work you can get done. Even if you pick one task per weekend, that’s four decorating projects completed a month!

Don’t think it can be done? Well just check out these nine simple weekend decorating projects that can each be started Friday evening and wrapped up before you go to bed Sunday night.

1. Organize and Beautify Your Bookcases

If you have a lot of books, videos and collectibles clambering for space on your bookcases, taking a Saturday afternoon to remove, sort and organize everything will instantly make the room look cleaner and tidier. Sometimes successful redecorating isn’t about changing the way things are but more about cleaning up and organizing what you already have.

This is also a good time to de-clutter your bookcase. Tossing out old magazines or storing books you no longer want in the garage can go a long way towards making the most of your bookcase’s capacity.

2. Tile the Kitchen’s Backsplash

If you really want to give your kitchen an updated look but you can’t afford a complete renovation, install ceramic tile to the backsplash for an instant update. It may take some time to get up and running, but once you find your swing, you’ll discover this job moves along at a smooth pace. Both weekend days will be required for this job, and you might have to extend the finishing touches over to next weekend, but you’ll be able to get the bulk of the heavy lifting done in one weekend.

3. Transform the Fireplace

The fireplace is the focus of the room during the cold, winter months but what do you do with it for the other eight months out of the year? Once winter’s chill has left, clean out the fireplace and decorate the hearth with a variety of low-maintenance plants and add a touch of vibrancy to the room. Succulents work nicely because they don’t require a lot of watering or sunlight. Use tiered plant pot holders for a truly beautiful look that will also cover up the unsightly cinder stains on the inside of the fireplace. Or, for a complete re-do, you can even consider painting the fireplace!

4. Install Some Molding

Crown molding makes a room feel and look larger than it really is, and it’s not really that difficult to install, especially when you use specially-made corner pieces that eliminate the need for cutting perfect mitered edges. In fact, once you get the hang of it, you might be able to install it in all of your rooms before the weekend is over.

While you’re at it, you can also install chair railing or update your baseboards with a newer, more modern style.

5. Unify Your Picture Frames

Odds are the picture frames that adorn your walls have been purchased over a long period of time, so no two probably look alike. But, if you take them all down and paint the frames all the same color, they will suddenly look as if they all belong together. In addition, this will help give your room the color accent it’s been missing.

6. Update the Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

Forget about the old brushed nickel cabinet knobs. Today, hardware stores have a ton of different varieties to choose from. Pick a style that best reflects your home and replace the knobs in your kitchen for a quick and easy kitchen makeover.

7. Makeover Your Lamp Shades

Adding some fabric, beads or ribbons to your lamp shades will turn them from drab to fab. Choose a color scheme that compliments the room and your friends won’t stop asking you, “Where did you purchase those beautiful lamp shades and how much did they cost?”

8. Redecorate the Bedroom

All you need to redecorate your bedroom is some fresh paint, some new curtains and a new comforter and voila – you have a freshly redecorated bedroom. The bulk of your time will be spent re-painting the bedroom and that won’t take that long at all, so go ahead and start planning your bedroom’s new look.

9. Add Some Fresh Flooring

If you have hard surface floors, add some color and style to the room by incorporating a few area rugs and/or carpet runners. This is an especially good idea come winter time as the carpet will help keep your feet off the cold floor and help insulate the room.

Contact Roy at

Helping Sellers MOVE in a Low Inventory Market

With inventory levels at record lows, more homeowners are reluctant to List their home because they don’t want to get into escrow and be unable to find their replacement property in time.   It’s almost impossible to get a contingent offer accepted and even if you do, the Seller only has 45 days to find the right home in a market that does not provide much of a selection.  It can take 6 months or more to find the right home when selection is so low.  How do you advise Homeowners dealing with this challenge?  Is now really a good time to Buy if you have to Sell?   Here are some options.

1.  Rent Backs give the Seller a 45 day escrow plus another 30 days to find their new home.  This may be a solution for some, but still leaves some uncertainty and a narrow window to find the right home.

2.  Know why it’s important to move now.  The risk is worth the reward.  The reason to move now is because interest rates make your next home affordable.   As the interest rate rises, that dream home will become unfordable, not because of the price, but because of the payment.

3.  Pick your neighborhood.   If your Client can identify a specific neighborhood they want to live in,  you can mail or door knock that are and find a Homeowner who also needs time and arrange a Single Party Show.

4.  Show your client homes.  It’s hard to overcome the potential challenges of a move if the Seller has not yet fallen in love with other possible homes.   Eliminate as much uncertainty as possible by showing homes they could see themselves living in.  Nobody really wants to Sell their home, they want to move!  Focus on the need to move and and the joy a new home will bring.

4.  Make a double move.  A homeowner will be in the strongest position in a low inventory market if they stop fighting the idea of a double move, sell their home, and move into a rental.  This gives the Homeowner time to wait for the right home to come on the market and buy non-contingent.   The hassle is worth the reward.    Relocation clients frequently move this way because it actually allows them to make a more careful decision about where they want to live.

Contact Roy at

6 Ways Your Home Can Help You Retire

Once upon a time (i.e., 2006) in a magical place called the Bay Area, the real estate market got so heated that it became commonplace to hear coffee shop patrons trading stories about their little old million-dollar houses. It became equally commonplace for this excess of home equity to create a false sense of financial security, causing many a homeowner to save less for the future than they might have otherwise. This practice was just as inadvisable as it was common, as evidenced by a retirement planner’s primely located billboard at the time, which read:

“My house is worth a million dollars” is NOT a retirement plan.

But many people treated it like it was, to their detriment.

Relying upon your home equity for retirement requires that you sell the place at some point, cashing out and moving to someplace cheaper (and potentially less desirable) to live, when you stop working.  That said, there are a number of other, less risky ways you can use your home 5, 10, even 20 years in advance of your planned retirement date to:

  • save cash now, so you can add it to your investments

  • increase your income now, also adding it to your retirement nest egg, and/or

  • reduce your expenses later, which might allow you to retire sooner (at a time when retiring at all is a true feat).

Here are six sets of strategies for using your home to help you retire – without having to  sell the place and retire in Timbuktu:

1.  Put your spare space to work.

Depending on where you live and whether you have room, you may be able to rent your home out, a little bit at a time. On sites like VRBO and Airbnb you can rent out as little as one room, your mother-in-law unit or your whole house for one night, one week or one month (or any combination of these). Also, savvy homeowners are increasingly renting out spare rooms or floors for the long-term.  I know a number of people who are now renting out their own homes while they travel on their own vacations, and still others who rent out their extra rooms while they’re at home, enjoying the side benefit of meeting new people.

If you do put your extra rooms to work, you can use the extra income to pay down your debt or to pile onto your retirement fund – just be careful of your local rent control laws, especially if you’re doing anything longer than a vacation rental.

2.  Hack your utilities.  

If you do the whole weather-stripping-and-dual-pane-windowing drill, you definitely stand to save some cash on your monthly utility bills. But in some areas, homeowners might also be able to save, big-time, with little or no cash out of pocket by opting out of their regular utility service and into something called solar power service. These companies sell solar power as a service, on a long-term contract, so home owners don’t have to pay for panels, then charge a lower power rate than the traditional utilities.

What you save over these years you can redirect to your retirement.  And to boot, some of these companies also allow you to fix your utility rate for a 20-year period so that in your retirement years, you will not be exposed to the unpredictability of energy rate increases.

3.  Pay your mortgage off early.

There are two levers you can pull to supercharge your retirement plan: (1) you can boost the income you’ll have to save and live on or (2) you can slash your future living expenses. The largest of these living expenses is, of course, your mortgage. For my grandmother’s generation, the norm was to pay off your 30-year mortgage right about the same time you were winding down a 30-year career. But today, it’s much more common for people to retire with 5, 10, 15 years or more still left on their mortgages.

One way to get to retirement sooner? Pay your mortgage off early. Enter three different time frames in which you’d like to pay your home loan off (i.e., in 7, 9 and 11 years from now) and enter that time period and the current balance you still owe on your mortgage (loan amount) into our mortgage terms calculator to figure out how much you’d have to pay every month to meet any of these targets.

If you can’t swing making a higher payment for one of your ideal payoff time frames, try this: simply round your monthly payment up to the nearest hundred or thousand dollars every month, if you can afford it. You’d be surprised at how even small, extra payments can snowball into an early mortgage payoff.

Here’s another option: pay 1/2 of your monthly every two weeks – because there are 52 weeks in the year, paying on that schedule results in making 26 half, and 13 full payments each year. The extra payment can pay off a 30 year loan as much as 4 or 5 years early! (Note: you can get the same result by simply paying an extra 1/12th of your mortgage payment every month.)  However you do it, make sure you tell your mortgage servicer to dedicate any overage you pay toward your principal balance.

4.  Tune up your mortgage.

If you’ve been in your home a few years, it can be easy to tune out of the whole mortgage scene – especially after five years of mostly bad news. But the news now might be better than you think, as home values are starting to steady and even edge up, and rates are still uber-low. If you have a 6 percent home loan you got 6 years ago, you stand to save thousands and thousands of dollars by refinancing into a 3.6 percent loan (the going rate this week). And that’s thousands and thousands you can put into your retirement fund. (Of course, the precise amount that you personally will save from refinancing depends on your current interest rate, your loan amount and the costs you incur refinancing.)

So, reconnect with your mortgage broker and pay attention to interest rates – especially if you’re paying more than 5 percent. And just generally click out of mortgage autopilot, watching your statements and asking questions about things you don’t understand. For example, you might still be paying a Private Mortgage Insurance premium that you can get removed upon request, assuming you’ve been in the loan long enough and your home has enough value beyond the loan amount (the precise standards vary from loan to loan, but check in with your mortgage broker and your lender to see if you can ditch your PMI payments anytime soon and put that money toward your retirement savings).

5.  Start a side business from home.

Put your home to work! Whether you use your space to dog-sit, baby-sit, bake or make preserves to sell at the farmer’s market, using your home to start a side business or to work a side job can pull the “extra income” lever of the retirement cushion-fluffing equation. It might also enable you to claim a home office deduction from your income taxes, depending on whether you’re able to dedicate the space completely to your business endeavor.

Read The $100 Startup to make sure you don’t spend more in startup expenses than you make. Also, consult with a tax expert to be sure that you dot your i’s and cross your t’s; depending on how you structure your business, you may end up increasing your tax burden, an unpleasant result a real pro can help you avoid.

6.  Trim your taxes. Follow these steps:

  • Type your address into the search box at
  • Compare the Trulia Estimate against the tax assessment (you can find your assessed value on the same page under Property Taxes, or on your tax bill).
  • If your Trulia Estimate – or the prices you know nearby homes have recently sold for – is at or below the assessed value, you may want to apply to have your home’s value reassessed.

On your county tax assessor’s website, you’ll find the instructions and paperwork for submitting this request. (If you don’t, give them a ring!) They generally will ask you to tell them what you think your home is actually worth, and to provide some recent, comparable sales to back that dollar amount up (scroll all the way down on your home’s Trulia page, to the Sold Properties section for recently sold homes that might work).

The theme?  If you can save on taxes, utilities or mortgage interest, we’re talking about the potential to save tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years between now and retirement – much more than cutting back on coffee or the occasional meal out. Same goes with using your home to bring in some extra income or paying off your mortgage early – the potential retirement-boosting results are unparalleled.

Where Have All the Foreclosures Gone?

The inventory of foreclosed homes for sale has been dwindling for almost six months. Everyone is wondering if the worst of our challenges with distressed properties are behind us. We are sorry to report that isn’t the case. We must realize that the problems banks have experienced with their paperwork on these properties has done nothing but delay them from coming onto the market.

The robo-signing blunders and then the MERS mess have caused the banks to slow down the foreclosure process dramatically.  Just last week, the Office of Thrift Supervision released their Mortgage Metrics Report covering the 4th Quarter of 2010. In that report, they showed how foreclosure completions fell sharply because of these paperwork complications. Here are the numbers:


Foreclosures are not disappearing. They are just being delayed.

Bottom Line

If you think that waiting to sell your home makes sense, you may not be correct. Check with a local real estate professional to see how this will impact your market.

Brea vs. Foothill 9/30/10

Brea vs. Diamond Bar 9/23/10

Hello freshmen football parents,

This week all videos are combined in one embedded YouTube box. I was running short on time and this was a quick fix. However, all football highlights from last week’s game are included in the video mix. If you didn’t find a particular play/highlight, please send me a comment below and I’ll try to include it.

Also, your comments and thoughts are welcomed. So we may get some conversations going amongst the parents, I encourage all to leave at least one comment below. Thanks for your support.

Roy Hernandez

Brea vs. Sonora 9/16/2010

Run Ritchie, Run! Brea up 7-0!

Fumble recovery by Ammon Hernandez

Big run around the corner by Ritchie Main!

Nice catch by Cameron Bishop!

Touchdown from Ritchie Main to Diego Chavarria. Brea up 13-0!

Strong Brea Defense!

QB sneak for BIG yards!

Good O-Line blocking results in a TOUCHDOWN! Brea up 19-0!

Brea fumble recovery by Zach Owens.

Nice tackle in the backfield by Cameron Graciarena!

Great blocking O-line! Michaelangelo Talag breaks free…

Colin Williams gashes the Sonora D!

Hernandez block springs Michaelangelo for a big run!

Fantastic run by Tyler Inman.

Tyler Inman takes it in for a TD! Brea up 27-0!

Ritchie and Diego hook up for their 2nd TD! Brea up 34-0!

Zach Owens tackles Sonora for a loss!

Colin Williams makes a spectacular interception!