SRCAR Publishes 11/2/10 Voter Guide

Make an Informed Choice at the Ballot Box. Your Association has chosen to support the following candidates for election on November 2 based on their past record and/or statements of support for Realtor®/ & property rights issues.

Your Vote Is Important!

Local, State and Federal Candidates
Candidate Office
City of Temecula

  • Maryann Edwards
  • Jeff Commerchero
  • Ron Roberts
City Council
City of Murrieta

  • Rick Gibbs
  • Kelly Bennett
  • Alan Long
City Council
City of Wildomar

  • Marsha Swanson, REALTOR®

  • Ben Benoit

City Council
City of Lake Elsinore

  • Thomas Buckley
  • Steve Manos, REALTOR®
City Council
City of Menifee

  • John Denver, REALTOR®
  • Scott Mann

City Council
  • Kim Cousins
Lake Elsinore Unified School District

  • Kevin Jeffries
66th State Assembly District
  • Brian Nestande
64th State Assembly District
  • Joel Anderson

36th State Senate District
  • Mary Bono Mack
  • Darrell Issa
45th Congressional District

49th Congressional District

CAR has chosen to take either neutral or not real estate related positions on statewide ballot propositions. The Southwest California Legislative Council, your local business advocacy partner, has also reviewed the ballot measures and makes the following recommendations:
State and Local Ballot Measures
Proposition SCLC  Position Recommendation
Proposition 19
  • NO
Regulation/Control of Cannabis
Proposition 20
  • YES
Congressional Districts by citizens
Proposition 21
  • NO
Vehicle license tax for parks
Proposition 22
  • YES
Public Safety & Transportation
Proposition 23
  • YES
Temporarily suspend air pollution laws
Proposition 24
  • NO
Repeal business tax breaks
Proposition 25
  • NO
Budget Voting Requirements
Proposition 26
  • YES
Voting Requirements for Tax Issues
Proposition 27
  • NO
Eliminate citizens redistricting commission

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John Tuccillo – The economy’s there & I don’t care.

As you may be aware, NAR holds a GAD Institute each year attended by Government Affairs Directors from around the country. The purpose is to bring together GAD’s to focus on common problems and challenges, learn about new resources that are available to deal with these issues and to get updated on a variety of legislative and economic issues that are confronting our industry.

One of the more interesting segments of our recent GAD Institute was an update by former NAR Chief Economist John Tuccillo. Tuccillo, who last served NAR in 1997, is one of those rare birds – an economist with a natural sense of humor. He quickly retitled his discussion with us from ‘Economies of the Housing Market’ to ‘The Economies There & I Don’t Care’. Much better.

He quickly put to rest any idea of a double dip. There won’t be one according to Tuccillo. But we are in for a long, slow recovery. A very long, slow recovery. He believes that foreclosures and distressed properties will be around for a long, long time – will actually be a factor for most real estate practitioners for the rest of their careers – not so much for financial or economic reasons but for strategic reasons. Default has entered the lexicon as a perceived financial strategy and, as such, will remain part of the real estate landscape even after foreclosures return to their customary 1% share of a ‘normal’ market.

He pointed out three major potholes in the road to recovery:

  1. Employment – there is no engine of growth on the national scene. During past downturns there has been an angel in the wings ready to propel the economy forward. Housing built us out of the tech bust, tech pulled us out of the aerospace bust, aerospace flew us out of the S & L bust, etc. This time there is no apparent growth engine yet. The public sector is the only area of growth but the private sector, that creator of jobs and stability, is lacking. Not only that we may have ‘technologized’ our way out of jobs. We are finding ways to produce more with less which means many of today’s jobs will never return.  What’s the answer? Green? Maybe but unlikely. More tech? Not this time. Housing? Not in time.
  2. Real estate – remains a pothole due to uncertainty. The ‘what-if’ factor is hurting us. People don’t know if they’ll have a job, don’t know if we’ve reached the bottom of the market, don’t know if more bank failures are imminent, don’t know if housing is the answer at all. There is a high level debate in our nations capitol regarding the inherent value of home ownership right now that has people concerned long-term.
  3. The financial sector – people believe the financial sector is broken. The financial reform bill has been passed but the perception is that while the barn door may have been securely locked, the horses are romping merrily about the fields. The financial sector is no longer unhealthy but merely disfunctional. There is a surplus of money and profits but no lending.

Tuccillo doesn’t pretend to have answers for all these questions but he does suggest some alternatives:

  1. Focus on local jobs. He encouraged us all to get more involved in the local economic development process. An economic angel may appear but the most likely source of immediate new jobs is with local new or expanding businesses developing niche products or services based on current economic realities. Things nobody yet has thought of in an evolutionary process to replace outdated or irrelevant products and services. Insofar as possible, effect the creation of jobs at a state and local level and don’t look to the federal government for all the solutions.
  2. Focus on the ‘complete environment’ that will make our members most successful. Learn to play by the new rules of financial regulation, understand new technology – beyond websites and email, develop effective social media channels to supplant or replace older media channels, understand the post-boomer market. The greatest economic engine of a generation is exiting stage left (not always gracefully) creating marketing opportunities as it goes as well as creating a vacuum for new opportunities yet to be explored.
  3. Understand that Wall Street ALWAYS trumps Washington. They an hire smarter people, pay way more and offer entrepreneurial opportunity Washington can’t begin to match. Whatever solutions or impediments Washington puts in place, Wall Street will find a way around, over or through within a brief window of opportunity. As long as you understand that you will never be disappointed.

His prognostication for 2010-2011:

  • Growth – 2% – 2.5%
  • Inflation – 2% – 2.5%
  • 1 million + new jobs added (we need 150,000 new jobs/month just to break even with population growth so 1 million this year is almost break even – not real progress).
  • Home sales – 10% – 15% increase
  • Home prices – flat
  • Shift our perception of median price. Median price only measures the composite of what has sold – not the true measure of market value. It can be very deceptive and unduly negative. Tuccillo argues that unit sales are the only true measure of a market’s strength. Price is secondary to whether homes are actually selling. If homes aren’t selling but median prices remain high, is that really a stronger market than one where the median has fallen but homes are selling like hotcakes? Which market would you rather be part of?

If you have an opportunity to hear John Tuccillo speak, I encourage you to take it. He understands our business but he has enough separation that you don’t get that rosy glow that sometimes accompanies current NAR economists. The presentation at NAR two years ago featuring Tuccillo and Stefan Swanepoel was one of the best I’ve ever seen. The more you know, the better prepared you are to grow your own business.

EVERY Realtor becomes an advocacy investor.

I’ve been at our mid-year CAR meetings in Sacramento this week so will have lots to post in the coming days. But I did want to share some phenomenal news with you that at this afternoons Board of Directors session we passed the motion which will have EVERY Realtor becoming an investor in our advocacy effort. The past few years that burden has increasingly been borne by about 20% of us while CAR’s lobbying stature has fallen from top 5 in the state to #33. This at a time when there are almost daily efforts to expand taxes on Realtors and homeowners, reduce mortgage interest deductions, encroach on the private property rights of our clients and worse.

Effective in 2011 the $49 basic cost of staying alive will now be shared by ALL Realtors in the state of California. If you are philosophically or religiously opposed to making political contributions, your investment will be channeled into a general CAR fund used for issues campaigns rather than direct candidate or party expenditures but if you’re a Realtor in California there’s no more free ride while others carry your political water. Welcome to the club!

Southwest California 2009 Housing Recap

Welcome to the Realtor Report for January 2010. The attached charts summarize Southwest California housing activity for the year just past and provide some perspective on where we’ve been and where we are today. It’s going to take somebody far sharper than me to figure out where we’re going.

The first chart is always interesting in that it gives us a six year window on the market. One of the first thing you’ll notice is that sales were off 2008 levels – about 20% in Temecula, Murrieta and Lake Elsinore, 40% in Wildomar and Menifee and just 7% in Canyon Lake. However, when you drop down to the Demand Chart you’ll note that we’re still selling 70% of the properties that come on the market and our inventory is still minimal.

What that suggests to me is that even though sales were off, it was primarily a factor of product availability, not a decline in demand. 2008 was a record sales year in most of our cities and that absorbed much of the available housing stock dropping inventory levels from 20-22 months in December 2007 to 2 months or less in December 2009.  A ‘healthy’ market inventory is considered to be 5 – 6 months.

After bottoming out in Oct-Nov 2007, sales have generally posted a gradual increase proscribing a shallow ‘smiley face’ trend line – again with sales volume only constrained by available product. (6 Year Sales Graph)

Another thing to note in our sales  – you’ve all heard recent reports trumpeting housing sales off by 40% or more nationwide in December, the biggest monthly drop since Lincoln was a lad. But not in Southwest County. Our unit sales were actually UP December over November by an average of 25%. 12% in Temecula, 17% in Murrieta, 36% to 40% in Wildomar, Lake Elsinore & Canyon Lake and 5% in Menifee. (24 Month Sales Graph)

The Median Price of homes in the region continued to decline year-over-year in 2009 – down 15%, on average, from 2008. That ranged from dips of 22% and 24% in Menifee and Wildomar, to 14% in Temecula, 11% in Murrieta and just 2% in Lake Elsinore. That brought our peak-to-trough median price down 66% in Lake Elsinore, 58% in Canyon Lake, 52% in Menifee & Wildomar, 49% in Murrieta and 45% in Temecula.  (24 Month Median Price Graph)

Ready for some good news? I mentioned peak-to-trough pricing in that previous paragraph because it appears – appears – that our prices may have bottomed out, or be very close to it. Looking at quarter-to-quarter run rates, we have showed 1st to 4th quarter declines every year since 2006. In 2009, 1st to 4th quarter showed nearly a 5% increase in Temecula, 4% in Murrieta, 24% in Canyon Lake and drops of just 1% in Lake Elsinore & Wildomar and 6% in Menifee for a region-wide median price increase of 4%. If we can just keep that up for the next 10 years we’ll be back to where we started.

The last maps show the current status of pre-foreclosure and bank-owned properties in the region. These numbers could change, perhaps dramatically, during the next 60 days. Banks typically hold off foreclosure activities during the holiday season plus some moratoria and loan-mod efforts are scheduled to expire in the first quarter, so the number of notices of default (pre-foreclosure) could increase significantly.

Similarly, there has been a lag between NOD’s filed and actual trustee sales to the banks. As banks get more aggressive about clearing their books of non-performing assets, we may see the banks taking more properties back followed by an increase in releases to the re-sale market – as has long been rumored. Given our current lack of inventory, the extension of the First Time Homebuyer credit, continuing strong demand and historically low interest rates, this could only be good news for our Valley. Of course that’s just my opinion – I could be wrong. (ForeclosureRadar Maps).

Get Into Politics or Get Out of the Business

I just read an excellent post from Nestor & Katerina on ActiveRain (do they write any other kind) entitled: Active Rain Should NOT Ban Political Posts – Real Estate Is Political.

In my travels I’m always amazed by Realtors® who are unaware of the political nature of our business. Even worse are those who proudly proclaim they ‘are above that’ or ‘we have no interest in that’. To them I say – Good Luck Making a Living, Schmuck. You can work 20 hours a day to make a living but if somebody in Sacramento or Washington DC decides to reach into your pocket, you’re now going to be working 22 hours a day to make that same living. UNLESS your state and national association is there to prevent it.

politicsOur state association has understood the nature of, and the need for, our political involvement for years. Our Chief Lobbyist, Alex Creel, has been fighting the good fight for over 20 years on our behalf in Sacramento, and his staff and support organization is awesome. I first got a copy of this button over a decade ago and it wasn’t new then. We still hand them out today.

Realtors® need to understand that we are a special interest group. That’s not a dirty word. As NAR members we are part of the largest grassroots political action group in this country. That’s something to be proud of.

And we not only fight for Realtor® issues but we are the last bastion of defense between government intervention and the private property rights of our clients. That is a point we should always convey to our customers – and another differentiation between a Realtor® and a real estate agent.

You may not always agree with either your state position on an issue or with NAR’s position. But anybody who has ever met NAR’s Chief Lobbyist Jerry Giovaniello cannot fail but be impressed by his knowledge and track record on Realtor® issues. He and his staff fight the good fight for us daily. If not for their efforts our business would be substantially different and even more difficult than it is today.

Nationwide more and more of our local associations are hiring GAD’s, or Government Affairs Directors. As we see more local efforts by municipalities to raise revenue on the backs of Realtors® and property owners, more point-of-sale mandates, more transfer taxes and business license fees, the need for local political advocacy has become critical, as has the need to financially support city council and water board and county supervisor candidates. These are the people who not only make those local decision but will eventually migrate to state and federal legislative offices. As former NAR President Dick Gaylord is fond of saying – ‘We must make our friends before we need them.’ You can’t just waltz into these people’s offices when you need something – you’ve got to be there when they need you as well.

I understand that many of you are working twice as hard to make half as much right now. You may not have either the time or the inclination to become involved in the day-to-day of the political process. That’s far different that proclaiming you are above it or choose not to be involved. You simply have too much on your plate, a family to feed, house payments to make and that’s understandable.

But if you are in that position, I encourage you at the very least to make an investment in your state’s political action fund. In California that’s $49 a year. Unbelievable that we only get about 20% participation at that minimal level. The equivalent of one dinner out to support legislative efforts and help elect legislators who understand real estate reality. The remaining 80% just enjoy the free ride and reap the benefits. That’s got to change.

As you formulate your business plan for 2010, please include a small expense item for your political future and business success. It’s less than a single ad in the local paper and the return on that investment is priceless. To quote Nestor & Katerina,:

A Realtor® who does not get involved with the political process does not understand real estate.

I hope you understand.

Canyon Lake to local businesses – Tax You!

Irony abounds. On the same day Los Angeles appointed a blue ribbon panel to study ways to reduce taxes and encourage business, the Canyon Lake City Council decided it was time to raise taxes, errr, FEES and singled out ‘Professional Employees and Professional Licensees’ for an additional tax, errr, FEE. (They went to great pains to point out in their ordinance that this is a FEE and shall not  be construed as a TAX.) Whatever – the net result is if you’re a professional licensee it’ll now cost you more for the privilege of doing business in Canyon Lake.

Exactly why they singled out ‘Professional Licensees’ to hit up for more taxes, sorry – FEES, is anybodies guess. Maybe the city leaders just figured that’s where the money’s at since it apparently isn’t in the city coffers and they need more. So they determined that in addition to the customary ‘Business License Tax’ that owners of every business pay every year, they were going to break that down even further to “protect the public health, safety and welfare as well as provide for efficient administration of the program”. That’s clever – invent an unnecessary program and then tax people to run it. These people may have bright futures in state politics.

Ryan Smith, IVAR GAD, board Counsel John Giardinelli and I have been working with the City to address the madness of this ordinance since July. We have held numerous meetings with city staff and counsel and, as of a month ago, had actually reached what we felt was an equitable compromise. Unfortunately the CL Mayor visited her hairdresser a few days before the most recent council meeting and the current Ordinance 121 revision was the result of that high level conference. (No, I am not lying).

From here on out, any ‘Professional Associate or licensee’ including, but not limited to, realtors, attorneys,beauticians, barbers, manicurists, dentists, dental hygienists, veterinarians, doctors, podiatrists and chiropractors get to pay extra to operate in Canyon Lake. It applies to ‘businesses which have a fixed location within the city as well as those which do not‘.

So if you’re a Broker, attorney, doctor, etc. with an office in Canyon Lake, you will owe this extra fee for every licensee under you. If you are a Realtor from elsewhere and you list a property in Canyon Lake, they will send you a bill. They are unclear on whether they can bill your Broker for every agent in your office whether or not they do business in Canyon Lake but for sure you’ll get a bill because of your sign. If you represent a buyer on a property in CL, they have no way of figuring that out so you can either just pony up the tax, errrr FEE because you are a fool, or you get a free pass.

I’m sure all the agents from San Diego and Los Angeles (& Murrieta and Riverside) listing bank-owned homes in Canyon Lake will just be falling over themselves to send in that extra payment.Their code enforcement person is going to have a full time job tracking down these signs, sending bills, stopping by offices to count noses and ensure compliance etc.

What? You say they don’t have and can’t afford to devote a full time code enforcement officer to this effort? Jeez, maybe it’s gonna be a challenge collecting those payments from Ventura and the OC then. If they’re lucky a few businesses in Canyon Lake might comply – everybody else will just give this program the respect it so richly deserves – doo-dah.

The City claims this is necessary for ‘disaster preparedness and in the event of an emergency’. So by their logic, if your building is on fire, instead of calling the owner of record they could just call some random Realtor or hairdresser. If your business is being burgled, don’t call themanager, just call somebody that does nails in the back stall or a random podiatrist. Yeah, that makes sense.

In summary, under Ordinance 121, the City of Canyon Lake has singled out ‘licensed professionals’ working in or thinking about working in the City for an additional tax, errr, FEE. They claim they need to do this for ‘disaster preparedness and emergency contact’, and they’re counting, in large degree, on voluntary compliance because they don’t have the manpower necessary to enforce it. They have invented an unnecessary program and want to charge you an additional fee to implement it.

At this point you may be wondering what the additional tax, errrr FEE is? $20. That’s right, $20. One lonely Andrew Jackson. As a representative from their Chamber asked, why is the City willing to piss off some 300+ business’ still hanging on in Canyon Lake over $20?If they’re lucky, they might generate a few grand. Probably not. He told them straight out “You aren’t listening!”. He was right.

If there’s any good news to be gleaned from this ludicrosity, they started out demanding $90 a head, they ended up at $20. Of course since the amount of annual increase is unspecified, they could decide to jack it to $90 next year now that it’s in place.

Anyway, if you’re thinking about dong business in Canyon Lake, you might want to check out the City’s record on business friendly ordinances before you jump. Menifee, Lake Elsinore and Wildomar are right next door and they would love to have your business. And it won’t cost you an extra $20 a head to do it.

You can read the full text of this ordinance if they every figure out how to post it to their website.

NAR President McMillan Clarifies ‘Energy Star’ Bill to GAD’s

Today at the GAD (Government Affairs Directors) Institute in Charleston SC, we had the opportunity to speak with NAR President Charles McMillan both during a luncheon meeting and later at an intimate reception hosted by President McMillan at Charleston’s historic Riviera Ballroom. Personable and unassuming as always, McMillan was quick to praise the efforts of GAD’s and the successful lobbying efforts we have conducted at a local, state and national level. The practice of real estate would be a far more difficult challenge for practitioners if not for the  lobbying efforts of NAR’s Jerry Giovaniello, state lobbyists like California’s Alex Creel & Stan Weig, and the determined efforts of local GAD’s with the support of our you, our members.


One of McMillan’s messages today was to clarify NAR’s position on the Waxman-Markey Cap & Trade Bill, which was recently passed out of the house and currently awaits debate in the Senate. McMillan said he and NAR staff have come under attack for their ‘support’ of this onerous bill but that nothing could be further from the truth and he hoped we could speak directly to you, the membership, to help carry this message.

In fact, neither NAR nor McMillan support the passage of this bill BUT he took great pains to illustrate why the bill in it’s current form represents a significant victory for Realtors over it’s original form. Readers may recall my rant during our DC visits in May about one section of this horrendous and over-reaching piece of crap that would have had extremely deleterious consequences for Realtors and on the housing market in general. This was the so-called ‘energy-star’ labeling proposal which would have required a Point-of-Sale energy audit of every home and commercial structure sold in the US to assess it’s energy efficiency and to mandate unspecified and potentially costly modification be made to bring the structure to some ill-defined standard which would subsequently save the planet.

Cost and efficacy be damned, Homely Henry Waxman is determined that this bill will mark his ascension to the ranks of ‘saviour of the world’ as he knows it regardless of the impact to any of the elements contained in the bill. In fact when we originally argued against this bill in May prior to it’s passage out of committee, the bill was only about 685 pages. Because nobody took the time to read it, the bill expanded to more than 1,000 pages before it passed out of the House. No less a luminary than Time Magazine columnist and Obama sycophant Joe Klein pointed out in a recent article that ‘this bill is an excellent candidate for euthanasia. It is a demonstration of all that’s wrong with the legislative process in latter day America.’

But McMillan pointed to 8 specific areas that he termed significant victories for the Realtor cause. First among these was the deletion of the section mandating energy audits. Whether this bill passes or not, at a minimum, there will be no mandates for costly and time consuming energy audits, no retrofits, and no point-of-sale requirements for either residential or commercial properties. While the bill will drive up energy costs nationwide with no provable positive impact on the environment or anything else, at least it will not add specifically to the cost of housing at a time when housing can least afford these frivolities.

So if you’ve heard that NAR has supported this bill, or that Charles McMillan is a fan of Henry Waxman, I have it from the source that this is definitely not the case. NAR & McMillan are pleased that the efforts of Realtors resulted in the removal of sections of the bill most onerous to the housing element, but that doesn’t mean they are supportive of the remaining 1,000+ pages. As the housing element has been removed, in keeping with our charter, NAR is monitoring the bill to insure that no language is re-inserted that would impact housing but at this time neither supports nor opposes the bill as it has become technically a non-housing related issue.

Thanks to President McMillan for clarifying this matter and to our 1.2 million members and lobbyists for yet another Realtor win on behalf of our clients, the homeowners of America.

Government Affairs Update

Government Affairs Directors usually have 2 or 3 times a year we do a ‘fly-up’ to Sacramento. The morning is spent  with our lobbyists and policy staff, the afternoon with our legislators, schedules permitting. This year, budgets being what they are, we are eliminating at least some of the fly-ups in favor of  webinars.

This morning we had an opportunity to get an update from and hold a Q & A with Alex Creel & Stan Weig. For those of you who don’t know these two, Alex is our chief state lobbyist and Stan is deputy chief. Alex has been with CAR for something like 22 years now and as a team they know more about what happens in Sacramento than most of our legislators do. (Ooooh, like that’s a challenge.)

In response to a question, Alex said that if history is any indicator, CAR will not be taking a position on Propositions 1A – 1F as they are ‘not real estate related’. The last time we stepped outside our box was to endorse the 1980 Jarvis-Ganz tax bill known as Prop 13. (You can read a summary & recommendations from our partners at the Southwest California Legislative Council here)

He also noted that CAR would not be sponsoring any bills this session. Citing a difficult political and economic climate, any bills that involve spending are DOA but ‘revenue enhancement‘ bills and anything ‘green‘ are on the fast track. Of course by ‘revenue enhancement’ bills, we’re talking taxes. With the state facing an immediate deficit of $8 billion (just announced by LAO), or the $14 Billion projection if 1A doesn’t pass, taxes and fees are back on the table. He said it could go from not pretty to pretty ugly real fast.

Between the tax & fee bills and a number of point-of-sale bills, Alex feels this will be a strategically defensive year both at the state and local level. The more spending is curtailed at the state level, the more burdens fall to our local governments to off-set losses. That leaves us liable to tax attacks.

In other updates we learned that the Septic Regulations we have been arguing against are going back for another revision. I’ve lost track of how many this makes and if history is any indicator, the new regs will just find new ways to be bad. Or maybe they finally heard the people and will realize new regs aren’t necessary, or they can draft some regs to reinforce the regs that already exist. Naw – they’ve been justifying their existence for 9 years now. No use jumping off this milk train too soon. How would you like to have spent YOUR last 8 years studying sewage, wastewater and septic systems? And still not learned anything? Talk about your life being in the crapper.

Anyway, look for new regs maybe by late summer with another brief round of public hearings in the fall.

We have lobbied hard to expand the $10,000 statewide new homebuyers credit to include the purchase of any home – unfortunately with the state on track to log 600,000+ home sales this year, that’s a $6 billion plus pricetag nobody’s willing to pick up.

Finally, what we’re seeing locally is being repeated in numerous markets around the state. Sales are on the rise while prices continue to decline. As this was a legislative update rather than a financial one, no prognosis was rendered on how and when we would be through this.

From an advocacy standpoint, sometimes a good defense is the best offense. Your legislative team will be doing our best to keep you at the table.

Menifee Five Year Housing Summary: # Sales / Median $

Five year summary of Menifee home sales, median price and averag price/SqFt.

A copy of this report was recently provided to our local officials for the City of Menifee. We hope this information may prove helpful in determining city budget forecasts for the coming year as they evaluate the impact the downturn in our housing market has had on their revenue stream.

Of course property tax revenue is just one source of income for the city but a major one. As the state continues to wrestle with a budget that may or may not include some trade-off between property taxes and vehicle license fees, a city like Menifee, California‘s newest city, needs to know where current property values are.

As you look at the attached charts, you will notice that the number of sales has decreased steadily through 2007 even while median values continued to increase through 2006. Total home sales value peaked in 2005 at more than $278 million dollars with 763 homes sold, a number that fell to just $134 million in 2007 with just 498 homes changing hands.

Spurred by declining values, a surplus of inventory to choose from and attractive interest rates, sales rebounded in 2008 to post a higher sales volume than ANY year during the previous five years. Even considering the impact of 35% decrease in median price since the 2006 peak, the city will still end this year with total sales revenue very near to, if not exceeding, it’s 2005 volume of $278 million. That this volume of sales continue is vitally important to this new city as is addresses the impact of Prop. 8 on future property tax revenues.

By tracking these numbers an investor or prospective homebuyer can determine where they think the market is. As I pointed our last August, one month of sales increase doesn’t mark a trend. But as sales volumes continue to grow that will lead to the continued absorption of our excess inventory, the return to a more stable market and the end of the rampant price declines – 30% in just the past year. I am expecting to start seeing that stability develop by late 2nd to early 3rd quarter this year in our local market, possibly sooner depending on mortgage interest rates and federal stimulus incentives.

Please feel free to add your own comments and outlook to this post.


If you’re not at the table, you’ll probably be on the menu

‘ Five Year Housing Chart for Menifee California’

The opinions ikn this commentary are strictly Gene Wunderlich’s personal opinions and while any reasonable and/or rational person should agree, these views may not reflect those of SRCAR, ActiveRain or any local or state government or other mental institution..

What’s a GAD? Why now?

What is a GAD and why has our Association chosen to hire one now?

Now that your Association has hired one, many of you are probably wondering – what the heck is a GAD and why do we need one?

Well, the first part is easy. A GAD is your Government Affairs Director. Simply put, a GAD is like a local lobbyist for the Association who works with city, county and state legislators to make sure LOCAL Realtors interests are represented. A GAD tries to make sure local private property rights are not trampled through a citys use of eminent domain, for example, or that punitive business license fees are not placed on Realtors or that sign ordinances are fair and provide our clients with the opportunity to have their homes marketed effectively.

And if that’s all a GAD did it would still be important to have one. In my case, I will be going beyond the simple definition of a GAD, as many GAD’s throughout the state do, to provide outreach to our members as well as members of the community. I’ll be providing updates to our Board of Directors on a regular basis, updating members at our Tuesday morning marketing meeting, keeping our Brokers apprised of new issues that could impact them and attending office meetings to answer questions when invited. I’ll also be doing more community outreach by writing pieces for local newspapers about LOCAL market conditions, LOCAL opportunities, LOCAL news & views, not that canned national A/P crap that bums everybody out. If you’re interested in more detail I’ve got a nifty PowerPoint presentation I’ll be happy to forward to you summarizing an array of services that will be provided.

The next part of the question is – why do we need one or why do we need one now? With our housing market in the tank and many local businesses tightening their belts or going under, why has the Association chosen to expand their presence now? Precisely because now is the time we need it most. We’ve actually budgeted for this position in each of the past two years but never got around to hiring one. We decided the timing was critical this year. 

The coverage region of our Association has grown to include 5 cities. Of those, two of our cities are approaching build-out. That means they will be doing final tweaks to zoning and land-use regulation that will have lasting impact on the remaining property. They will be deciding on in-fill projects, making ‘smart-growth’ decisions and other density and mixed-use rulings. Because our cities are also facing significant revenue impacts from the downturn in taxable revenue from housing, they will be looking at ways to improve their revenue flow. In spite of our current depressed status, the housing market and Realtors in particular remain an easy target for these schemes.

Our region is also home to the two newest cities in California. They will be looking at putting General Plans in place that address land use and zoning, they will be evaluating point-of-sale mandates, green building codes and transfer taxes. They will also be looking at ways to increase their coffers at a time when the existing residential and commercial markets are not providing the revenue the city may have planned for during their incorporation. New revenue sources will be identified and it’s important again that private property, housing and Realtor interests are represented in those discussions. 

If those brief explanations answered your what and why questions, you may still be asking who? Why Gene Wunderlich? If you’ve been active in real estate in the Valley for any length of time you already know my passion for politics. You may have heard me speak during your Realtor orientation, as I have done for more than a decade. You may have read my rants in the Realtor Report Newspaper or one of the other local papers over the years. You may have caught my act before one or another of the local city councils or known that I have the majority of local legislators phone numbers in my speed dial. As a long-time state and national director of your Association, I have also been very involved in committees for Local Government Awareness, Legislation and Land Use, Property Rights and Environment. And I’m not just involved in those things – I’m passionate about them.

So when you hear me say, as I frequently do, that as a Realtor if you’re not involved in politics you may as well get out of the business – I mean it. When I claim that if we’re not at the table when these decisions are made, we’ll be on the menu – I believe that with all my heart. I will do my best to represent the interests of our Association and our Members throughout Southwest Riverside County and as you have questions or concerns, my mailbox is always open.   

Just because you don’t take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you. (Pericles  500 B.C.)


Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors hires Government Affairs Director

Gene Wunderlich

The Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors is pleased to announce they have retained Gene Wunderlich as Government Affairs Director. “Our Region now encompasses 5 cities in Southwest California with over 3,000 Realtor members,” according to SRCAR CEO Connie Lynch. “Our need to be represented at all levels of city, county, state and federal decision making has grown increasingly critical, especially given the challenges our housing market has faced during the past 18 months. Having Gene in this position will ensure that our Realtor members have a voice in the communities they serve.”

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