Monday, April 18, 2016

Southern California home sales jump sharply month-to-month

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Home prices are still going up! In LA county the median prices increased 6% when compared to a year ago. The spring buying season is off to a great start!

Southern California home sales jump sharply month-to-month

Southern California home sales followed their usual pattern in March, which means big increases over the previous month and mostly slight increases over the same month last year. (File photo by Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News) 

Southern California home sales followed their usual pattern in March, which means big increases over the previous month and mostly slight increases over the same month last year. (File photo by Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News) 

Posted: |
Southern California’s spring home buying season got off to a typically strong start across the six-county region in March, with sales surging from the previous month, a market tracker said Monday

Prices also increased from the year-ago level, according to Irvine-based CoreLogic.

Last month, sales on new and previously owned houses and condominiums in the region rose 34.5 percent from February to 20,370 transactions, the company said.

That is close to the average monthly increase of 35 percent between February and March, dating back to 1988, when record keeping began.

“Last month, the housing market experienced a normal, seasonal spike from February in the number of recorded transactions, which reflects more buyers and sellers entering the market as the holidays and winter faded,” said CoreLogic research analyst Andrew LePage.

During March, the region’s median price rose 6 percent from a year ago to $449,000. That price also marks a 4 percent increase from February.

The report also said that:
• In Los Angeles County, sales fell 1 percent from a year ago to 6,610 but increased 33 percent from February. The median price rose 6 percent from a year ago to $506,000, which is also up 4 percent from February.

• In Orange County, sales rose 0.8 percent from a year ago to 3,181, and they soared 37 percent from February. The median price increased 7 percent from a year earlier to $625,000 and gained 2.5 percent from February.

• Orange County’s median price is now just 3 percent under the record high of $645,000 in June of 2007, CoreLogic said. It is the closest of any of the counties to a pre-recession price level.

• In Riverside County, sales increased 5 percent from a year earlier to 3,583 and increased 32 percent from February. The county’s median price rose 8 percent from a year ago to $330,000, up 5 percent from February.

• San Bernardino County’s sales increased 8 percent from a year ago to 2,528 and were up 33.5 percent from February. The median price rose 5 percent from a year earlier to $272,000 and fell 1.1 percent from February.

But LePage warned that scant inventory and decreasing affordability might hold back sales in the coming months.

“Prices have come a long way in the last three years, and credit is still moderately tight,” he said.
The median sales price has risen year-over-year for 48 consecutive months, and the increases have been in the single digits for the last 22 consecutive months, CoreLogic said.


Cash buyers accounted for 23 percent of March sales, down from 25 percent in February and also down from 25 percent a year ago. The cash sales share peaked in February 2013 at 37.5 percent.
“Over the next few months, we’ll find out whether or not several years of rising home prices will trigger a more significant run-up in inventory than we’ve seen during the spring-summer season over the past couple of years,” LePage said. “In recent months, the new-home market has registered a stronger heartbeat, contributing more to the overall inventory.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Potential ballot measure: what you need to know about the Airport Metro Connector

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The people mover is finally coming to LAX. Yay!

An LAX rendering that shows the three people mover stations that will access airport terminals.

Potential ballot measure: what you need to know about the Airport Metro Connector

One in a series of posts that will look at projects and programs that would receive funding from the potential sales tax ballot measure that Metro is considering. 

What is it? A new station at Aviation Boulevard and 96th Street to be served by both the future Crenshaw/LAX Line and an extension of the existing Metro Green Line. This new station will also provide transit passengers with a direct connection to the LAX airport people mover which will take passengers to the airport terminals. The Airport Metro Connector won’t be a traditional at-grade train station. Rather, the multimodal transportation hub is envisioned to include a number of amenities, including larger rail platforms to accommodate passengers with luggage, a bus plaza, pick-up and drop-off area for private vehicles, real time transit information, retail, wi-fi service, public art, a bike hub and a pedestrian plaza.

When can I use the station? Metro has a target completion date of 2024. The Crenshaw/LAX Line has a 2019 target opening date.

What about the people mover? Los Angeles World Airports is planning on building and operating the people mover, which will include three stations near airport terminals, two stations at new ground transportation centers, including the Airport Metro Connector station, and a sixth station at a new planned consolidated rental car center near the 405 freeway. Environmental studies are underway for the people mover and airport officials have said they would like to begin construction in late 2017. The people mover and Airport Metro Connector are viewed as key projects if Los Angeles wins the right to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.

How does the potential ballot measure figure into this project? The Airport Metro Connector already has some funding and the potential ballot measure would add $337 million, allowing for a more robust facility to be built. Also, the funding would allow the project to be accelerated from its original 2028 completion date under Metro’s existing long-range plan.

Will this project make it easier to get to the airport? Yes. The Airport Metro Connection Station will be directly reachable from trains on the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Green Line. The Crenshaw/LAX Line can also be reached via transfer from the Expo Line and the Green Line via transfer from the Blue Line and Silver Line. Looking into the future, the potential ballot measure also includes funding for a northern extension of the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the Purple Line subway and beyond to West Hollywood and Hollywood.

Metro’s potential ballot measure calls for a half-cent sales tax increase for 40 years and an 18-year extension of the existing Measure R sales tax, with both running through 2057. Metro staff have also proposed 45- and 50-year alternative plans to include more projects and funding for programs. Here’s a previous post about (and including) the draft spending plan for the ballot measure. Community meetings are underway: here’s the list. Please visit for more info and please use the hashtag #metroplan when discussing on social media. 

The Metro Board of Directors are scheduled to consider the spending plan and whether to put the ballot measure before voters at their June 23 meeting. 


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Millennial homebuyers: Go big, or go home

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The millennial home buyers have very discriminating taste. They would rather wait and buy their dream home rather than settle for a starter home like previous generations. It's been more of an emotional decision rather than a life priority decision. They are willing to pay more and do whatever it takes to truly afford the home they want. Smart generation but with historically low rates and lack of inventory in the lower price range of homes available they may need to compromise a bit in order to buy today.

Millennial homebuyers: Go big, or go home 

It could also be they just want more than their parents did. Three-quarters of first-time homebuyers say they are looking for a home that will serve them long term, perhaps accommodating a family. They claim they don't want a starter home. That's according to a new national survey by Bank of America of more than 1,000 adults age 18 and over who want to buy a home in the future.

The share of first-time buyers fell to just 30 percent in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. Historically, it should be at least 40 percent. The common explanation for this has been that there are too few low-priced homes for sale, and that tight credit standards and high student loan debt take homeownership off the table for young buyers. Those are still valid reasons, but playing into that could also be this young generation's need for something bigger and better.

Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed said they were willing to wait until they could afford that longer-term home, rather than pony up the cash now to buy a starter home. More than half said they didn't think they could afford the type of home they'd want. Just about one-third cited high debt as a reason for putting off buying. In fact, when looking by generation, more Gen Xers than millennials have deferred purchasing their first home because of debt.

"What the report brings out is the shift in how millennials are thinking about homeownership. A home is much more of an emotional decision and a life priority decision. Is this a place where I may ultimately want to retire?" said D. Steve Boland, consumer lending executive for Bank of America.

Not only are they willing to pay more, but they're willing to do what it takes to afford more. More than half say they would make sacrifices when it comes to their spending on a car, travel, clothing and even their social lives, in order to afford the home they truly want.

Part of the shift may also be due to the fact that millennials are starting to age into their prime homebuying years, and they've already waited longer than their parents to buy. The recession hit millennials hardest, in employment and wage growth. Millennials, defined as those ages 18 to 34, have waited longer to marry and have children than previous generations.

"I do agree there are some well-heeled educated millennials who are very specific about their wants and demands," said Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin, a real estate brokerage.
Richardson, however, does not believe that is the primary reason the young are opting out of starter homes. It's far more simple than that.

"There are not a lot of starter homes around. All the inventory increases we've seen have been at the high end of the market. For any affordable home that hits the market, there are not only tons of first-time buyers, but investors looking to flip it or rent it out," she said.