Your February Housing Report

Housing stats for Southwest California for January 2011. Sales volume, median price, foreclosures, trends & commentary.

2010 Recap Realtor Report

If you click on that little red Realtor Report just above the chart, you’ll get to a slightly larger version of the report which will be easier for your old eyes to read. You’re welcome.

Southwest California March Housing Update

Here’s the March housing update for Southwest California. In addition to unit sales and median price for the past 2 years, I’ve also compared our Q1 sales for 2009 with this year to see where the trendlines are. Overall, sales are up slightly constrained only by lack of inventory. Our median price is holding it’s own – up a little/down a little by city. After 3 years of dropping like a rock, holding steady looks good. There’s also a demand chart showing inventory levels at around 2 months for each of the 6 cities.

However, the chart on sales and inventory by price point illustrate that inventory of homes in the salable range under $400,000 is only about a month. The final chart shows our mix of product with REO’s now comprising less than 20% of our market, down from nearly 90% just 18 months ago. Short sales now make up over 50% of our market but have a failure rate of 70%. So backing out the 5 year inventory of $million$$ plus homes that aren’t selling and the percentage of short-sales that won’t sell – our inventory is in desperate need of an infusion. We wish the banks would either foreclose and sell, or get out of the business.

March Housing Summary – Southwest California


New Homebuyer Tax Credit in the Works for CA

Schwarzenegger expected to sign new $10,000 California homebuyer tax credit

By Jim Wasserman

Published: Wednesday, Mar. 24, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Mar. 24, 2010 – 10:48 am

Homebuyer tax credits are almost certainly returning.

Sacramento-area buyers can begin claiming $10,000 tax credits starting May 1 under a bill expected to be signed soon by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The legislation allocates $200 million for more state tax credits – twice what was offered last year to 10,659 buyers of new, unoccupied homes. The state’s newest housing stimulus will grant $100 million in tax credits to first-time buyers of existing homes and $100 million to anyone who buys a new, unoccupied home.

The state Franchise Tax Board on Tuesday estimated nearly 32,000 homeowners statewide might get the tax breaks. Buyers must close escrow or reserve a credit on or after May 1 and before or on Dec. 31 to qualify.

The bill, AB 183, passed both houses of the Legislature by near unanimous votes. But one local lawmaker, Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, voted against it.

“I think it’s a lot of money in a deficit situation that doesn’t have the desired benefit,” Niello said Tuesday, noting that housing prices are still depressed despite earlier credits designed to stimulate the market.

Niello’s view was clearly a minority one, however.

“This tax credit has a proven track record,” said Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, who authored the bill along with Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield. Caballero said California’s construction industry reported a 39 percent increase in building permits after the first round of tax credits began in March 2009 and proved more popular than expected. It ran out last July 2.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Mike Naple said Tuesday the governor supports the bill “and is expected to sign it.”

The governor signaled his intent Monday while signing two other budget bills. In a signing message, he commended the Legislature for approving the tax credit bill, saying it will stimulate “the housing industry, creating jobs for thousands of Californians.”

Schwarzenegger proposed the housing stimulus in his January State of the State Address to help revive the California economy. The new state tax credit would take effect one day after expiration of a federal $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers.

As was the case last year, buyers won’t be eligible for the full $10,000 credit if they owe the state less than that amount over a three-year period. Buyers can get up to $3,333 off their tax obligation in each of the three years after buying a house.

Buyers must be at least 18 years old and be unrelated to the seller. They must live in the home they buy. First-time buyers are defined as those who have not owned a home in the past three years.

The Franchise Tax Board estimates the tax credit will cost the state $6 million for the fiscal year ending June 30 and $69 million next year. For three years after that, it will cost the state treasury $67 million, $54 million and $4 million.

This year’s legislation is different in that it allows buyers of new homes to reserve a tax credit in advance. A buyer signing a sales contract in June can claim the credit in November when the house is completed, a capital-area building industry official said Tuesday.

“In our parlance, that allows dirt sales,” said Dennis Rogers, a vice president at the Roseville-based North State Building Industry Association. “We’ll be able to build new houses now and get jobs going.”

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more:

Southwest California Legislative Council Announces Position on Bills


The Southwest California Legislative Council, with whom SRCAR is an advocacy partner, today adopted the following positions on current/pending legislation:

Support – ACA 30 (Jeffries) To abolish the office of Lieutenant Governor.
Self explanatory – this largely ceremonial position requires salary & staff expenses and the duties could be consolidated with the Secretary of State.

Support – AB 1671 (Jeffries) To prevent the Governor from appointing vacancies on the County Board of Supervisors.
A recent example in Riverside County left us without the ability to pass certain bills at the county level while Sacramento played politics with us. Our local positions should not be state appointed.

Support – AB 1672 (Jeffries) To make the California Air Resources Board an elected rather than appointed body.
The CARB is one of the most egregious examples of the lack of accountability on state boards & commissions with the Chair stating publicly that if she had to worry about being elected she would worry about all the jobs cost by their recommendation – but she’s not so she doesn’t.

Oppose – AB 1594 (Huber) To prohibit construction of the peripheral canal.
An attempt to circumvent the wording and intent of the state water coalition recommendation and the Nov, ballot initiative.

Oppose – AB 518 (Lowenthal) Provides incentives for cities and counties to reduce or eliminate free or subsidized parking.
Would prove particularly costly to outlying areas like Southwest County where 60% of our residents commute and are forced to park either at work or when they go shopping.  Unintended consequence is a reduction in people going to the malls reducing revenue to shopowners and downstream job market.

Oppose – SB 657 (Steinberg) Require retail sellers and manufacturers to implement policies to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their supply chain.
Legislation already exists prohibiting slavery and human trafficking. To expect your local grocery store or hardware store to be able to track it’s products back to their origin and potentially take action against some foreign source is ludicrous. Besides, doesn’t Darrell Steinberg have anything better to worry about – like our state budget?

Oppose – SB 810 (Leno) Single payer health care system
We are in agreement that the state should be the appropriate body to determine this issue – rather than the federal government, but this bill is not the answer and would only increase the debt load of the state.

Founded in 2004, the Southwest California Legislative Council is a regional advocacy coalition of the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce, Murrieta Chamber of Commerce, Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Wildomar Chamber of Commerce. Its mission is to provide a basis for the four chambers of commerce to act on local, state and federal legislative issues to secure a favorable and profitable business climate for our region.

These Women Mean Business


In case you’ve been in a post-holiday siesta or simply water-logged, you’re already aware that four of our six cities in Southwest California have women Mayors this year, joining six other cities throughout the Inland Empire. Media outlets have had a field day dubbing our area ‘Estrogen Alley’ and talking about ‘Women Taking Charge’. But the fact is that in most cases our Mayors are not elected to that post, they’re simply chosen by their fellow council members, typically in a set rotation schedule. As Lake Elsinore Mayor Melissa Melendez characterized the situation, “… it’s not some staged take-over, it’s just a unique set of circumstances. It’s more indicative of the fact that women in general are getting more involved in the political process, being elected to city councils in
greater numbers and being elevated to this position with more frequency than we’ve seen in the past.”

Indeed while some, including Murrieta Mayor Kelly Bennett and Wildomar’s Bridgette Moore are serving their first term on the council, Temecula had Mayor Pat Birdsall as far back as 1992 (& 1997) and Mary Ann Edwards in 2009. Canyon Lake’s Nancy Horton follows Mary Craton into the seat and Corona Mayor Karen Spiegel served that city previously in 2006.

The Valley Business Journal recently spoke with some of these ladies about the job and what they plan to bring to the business community and economic development during their tenure. The overwhelming response was that Southwest California cities are ‘Open For Business’.

mooreMayor of one of Southwest California’s newest cities, Wildomar, Bridgette Moore said their new City Manager Frank Oviedo has been tasked with economic development and growth as a priority. According to Moore, Wildomar has more undeveloped land that many of their neighboring cities along with a real need for business growth in the area. “We recently surveyed our citizens and found that bringing restaurants to the city was first on a lot of lists. We are also encouraging other retail partners, technology firms and medical manufacturers to locate here not just for the tax revenue but to serve the needs of our residents.” …and a hotel.
Moore’s Arizona family had to stay in another city when they came over to attend her inaugural meeting. “Yes, a hotel would be very welcomed here.”

“We’ve also reduced some of our developer fees in line with WRCOG recommendation and we’re streamlining our application and permitting process so there’s no surprises and no delays. You’ll find a real ‘make it happen’ attitude in Wildomar. If it’s a good business, it’s good for Wildomar.”

melendezLake Elsinore Mayor Melissa Melendez emphasizes the unique attraction of the lake to their community. They currently have a very aggressive specific plan to develop the area around Diamond Stadium and another marina and resort plan for further up the lake. “Unfortunately those plans are on hold right now due to the economy but they’re still solidly in place.”

“We need jobs for our residents right now – that’s our priority. We love the CostCo’s and Target’s, our auto dealers have been terrific but we need an Abbott, somebody with hundreds of jobs to keep our people off the freeways to Orange County every day.” To accomplish that, the city has worked with a corporate recruiter to introduce Lake Elsinore to prospective businesses. The Mayor is also instituting monthly ‘Coffee with the Mayor’ meetings. One series will be in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce focusing on existing businesses – what they need to succeed and grow and how the city can help. Another series will join city staff and planners with developers and prospective business targets to talk about planning issue, fee structures and what the city can do to make Lake Elsinore a more attractive destination.

“I know we compete, to a degree, with the established master plan communities like Temecula, Murrieta and Corona,” says Melendez, “but we can all work together. We share more than boundaries, we share goals and we share our successes throughout the region. Lake Elsinore is a very different city than it was just 10 or 15 years ago. I would encourage businesses to take a second look at us through new eyes.”

bennettIn nearly 20 years as a city, Kelly Bennett is the first women to be elected to the Murrieta city council, thus its first Mayor as well, although she hesitates to put much significance to that. “It simply allows me the opportunity to represent my city in what for me, is extraordinarily important – the attraction and support of viable businesses in the city.”

“I have the opportunity to work very closely with several great groups that help us get the word out. City Staff, including Economic Development Director, Bruce Coleman, the Chamber of Commerce, the EDC and WRCOG. We also attend conferences like the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) and the World Trade Center, San Diego, a group that positions San Diego and regional businesses for international recognition and global market success.’ Bennett noted that Murrieta is focused on three objectives: manufacturing, including nourishing ‘green’ companies; expanding education opportunities, including establishing a local 4 year under-graduate curriculum; and health care. The new physician-owned-Loma Linda healthcare campus, under construction in North Murrieta, is an endangered species under the current federal healthcare proposal. Yet we desperately need medical services and the professional and ancillary jobs it will create. The City is also aggressive in creating outreach programs for businesses. Their Broker Work Group regularly attracts 100 or more local commercial and residential Brokers, developers and planners to its meetings. The City recently introduced the Business Roundtable, and Visionary Workshops to solicit comments on the new general plan review.

“One thing I’m particularly excited about is the potential under AB 811, the Energy Efficiency for Cities and Counties Act. We are developing a program to attract green tech  manufacturers providing energy efficient/cost effective products for our homeowners. You’ll be hearing a lot more about that this year.”

While the Mayors readily acknowledge they don’t have any ‘special powers’, they do get to conduct council meetings, sign mountains of paperwork, spend a lot more time on the job, and generally be the public face of city government at numerous events throughout the region and state. One Mayor I spoke to was picking up children from school while another was grabbing late evening dinner at a local (healthful) drive-thru. As with any Mayor, male or female, there’s a delicate balance.

Our Mayors are also united in hoping the state recovers soon, without ‘borrowing’ any more City cash. They are all facing constrained budgets while maintaining services. They are similarly committed to bringing jobs to the region, to retain and grow our existing business base and to keep more of our citizens off the freeway. And they all have a huge ‘Open House’ sign in front of their cities.

Southwest California appears to be off to a good beginning as we enter this second decade of a new century, and in capable hands.

Water & Power. California politics at its depressing best.

When you start your day attending two meetings where the speakers apologize for being depressing, the rest of your day can only improve.  That was my day today.

I started with an early morning meeting of the Southwest California Economic Development Corporation where we were treated to remarks by John Rossi, General Manager of Western Municipal Water District. Apologizing for depressing us, John presented a factual summary of where our state is waterwise and how the water districts are dealing with our current situation. Having toured the Northern end of our state water supply system last year from Oroville Dam to LA, and having written about the issue on numerous occasions, I believe that rather than being depressed we should see this as a call to action. As Rossi did when he encouraged us not only to use our resources wisely but to engage our legislators in recognizing the complexity of the issue and dealing with it comprehensively.

With over 70% of SoCal water deriving from the north, another 25% from the Colorado River and about 5% from ground water & desalinization,  it’s clear where the answer lies. Prayer. But in addition to prayer, the water department is also working legislatively through the current ‘special session’ to address both conservation and infrastructure issues. Until and if those solutions ever bear fruit, they will also continue to squeeze their customers. Oh, by the way, if those solutions do bear fruit, they will still continue to squeeze their customers. Why? Because they can. And any fix – even the inadequate Democrat proposals, will come with a big price tag that somebody has to pay for.

Here’s a fun factoid. During the past year our primary wholesale supplier of water, Metropolitan Water District, has instituted rate increases of nearly 40%. These increases were designed to encourage conservation – a very admirable goal and one that will certainly help us deal with the problem. There’s another 20% increase due in a month or two. Why? Because our conservation efforts have been so successful at reducing water consumption that Metropolitan has less revenue coming in to service their bond debt and fixed expenses. So they need to raise rates again because the first rate increases were so successful at changing our consumption habits. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Is there a win-win in here anywhere?

Think our bills will go down anytime soon? The you should have been to the EWDC luncheon featuring Senator John Benoit and Assemblymembers Brian Nestande and Kevin Jeffries. The operative words here were also ‘depressing’ and/or ‘frustrating’ by turns, for the state’s economic outlook, any chance for real reform and for the water picture.

Assemblymember Jeffries, who was appointed to the state special commission on water, remains hopeful that some compromise solution will be reached soon, possibly as early as this coming week. He bemoaned the fact that water has become so politicized that true progress remains elusive. While the party in power in Sacramento thinks the problem can be solved by merely conserving more and restoring the Delta, the minority view prefers conservation coupled with additional infrastructure to provide long-term solutions. Capturing and storing rainfall and snowpack for future use, channeling current water resources without adversely impacting the Delta Estuary, new dams, an alternative conveyance AND continued conservation are all part of a comprehensive solution.

Our current drought is caused in equal parts by nature and regulation. Our dams truly are down by 1/2 to 2/3rds as a result of rainfall & snowpack the past few years. It is regulatory by virtue of the fact that judicial decree has determined the rights of the Delta Smelt take precedence over 18 million water users, farmers and food producers throughout the central and southern parts of the state. There are also complex water rights issues with people at the watershed source and with environmental groups concerned about preservation of the Delta. It wouldn’t be an easy fix even on a level playing field – given the way our legislature operates it’s a wonder anything happens at all.

All panelists agreed that jobs are the answer for our state. “Not bigger government, not more taxes, more jobs”, according to Senator Benoit.  “Taxes up, jobs down, legislature ineffective”, according to Jeffries.’450,000 jobs lost this year at an average $68,000 per, 150,000 jobs created at an average of $52,000 per – not good’ according to Nestande.

Jeffries also pointed out that the party in power, regardless of which party, has shown they will do darn near anything to perpetuate that power. There was some disagreement as to whether term limits have been effective at making our state more governable but all agreed that term limits have resulted in shifting power from the people who should be accountable, (our legislators), to people who are not accountable, (staff and lobbyists). The people who make the decisions aren’t around long enough to have to deal with the consequences of their actions so what’s their motivation to work for the long-term good? (Please keep in mind that all legislators are not altruistic by nature. Some just love the power, some just love the perks, and some just want to have a lobbyist mistress who wears a thong).

Agreeing that reform must occur if California is to turn itself around in any meaningful and sustainable way, they admit that if the legislature is not prepared to reform itself then the public will have to do it for them. When asked about the prospect of that occurring through Constitutional Convention, Jeffries voiced some concern about what could result from opening that can of worms while Nestande opined that any result probably couldn’t be much worse than the status quo.

Depressed yet? You shouldn’t be. This is California politics at its best. The more you know, the better prepared you are to deal with it. If you’re not at the table, you’ll surely be on the menu. Sometimes you might be anyway. Of course that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

How Much Is The New State Budget Taking From YOUR City?

Nice article in the on-line Sacramento Bee. Plug in your county and city and/or agency and see how much the recently passed state budget will be costing them. Of course it’s not a tax – they are just ‘borrowing’ an extra $15.00 per resident. I’m looking forward to the day they pay that back. They’ve been borrowing from cities and other agencies for years. Anybody who runs their business in a style that actually makes money is likely to see that money stolen – um, borrowed by the state.

On the plus side they remind us that –  Some of these lost funds will be offset by A) federal stimulus money and B) the ability of local governments to borrow lost property tax revenue against the state’s promised repayment. So the state taketh and forceth us to rely on yet more Obama bail-outs for subsistence. Like the federal gov’t is flush with cash. Oh, I forgot, they own the mints – they can just make more and it’s, like, FREE that way, isn’t it?

Database: See how much your local government will lose under state budget

Government entity County Type of government Estimated amount state will borrow or take this fiscal yearDescending Amount borrowed per resident
Wildomar Riverside City Government $0 $0
Murrieta Riverside City Government $1,483,325 $15
Murrieta Redevelopment Agency Riverside Redevelopment Agency $2,548,524
Lake Elsinore Riverside City Government $684,923 $14
Lake Elsinore Redevelopment Agency Riverside Redevelopment Agency $6,970,262
Temecula Riverside City Government $1,543,055 $15
Menifee Riverside City Government $14,236 $0

All Chamber Mixer @ The Diamond

Here’s a great Networking Opportunity. And if you read down far enough, you’ll see $1.00 beer. Network – schmetwork – they’ve got $1.00 beer.

Annual All Chamber Business Networking Mixer

Hosted by The Lake Elsinore Hotel & Casino

Thursday June 25th, j oin the Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce at our Annual All Chamber Mixer from 5:30 to 7:30 PM hosted by the Lake Elsinore Hotel & Casino. Take advantage of this unique gathering of Business owners from the entire 15 corridor. Your entry includes; Vegas style gaming theme( Blackjack & Texas Hold-em games), with appetizers and sodas being served from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM in the Diamond Club, raffle and much more!! The Lake Elsinore Storm will feature their Thirst Thursday promotion, selling selected beers for $1.00 throughout the evening. The Diamond Club will be open for the entire baseball game.Location The Diamond Club 500 Diamond Drive Lake Elsinore, CA  92530 Admission: $10.00 Reservations Required For More Info: Steve Smaldone (951) 245-HITS

Open Rancho Springs Hospital Now


Open Rancho Springs


Please take 1 minute and click on the attached Action Alert. Our community is under-served by medical facilities yet there is a gorgeous state-of-the-art facility sitting fully staffed but unable to open right in the Golden Triangle. State agencies are playing politics with our health care and we need to let them know we’re tired of it.

rancho springsSend a letter to the following decision maker(s):
Director, Office of the Governor – Inland Empire Larry Grable (if you live in California)

Below is the sample letter:

Subject: Open Rancho Springs Medical Center NOW!

Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],

I am writing to bring to your attention a potentially dire medical services issue that impacts thousands of lives throughout Southwest Riverside County, an area with a population of approximately 500,000.

The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) and the California Department of Health Services (CDPH) are responsible for reviewing and approving applications to construct and license new healthcare facilities in California. Once OSHPD issues a ?Certificate of Occupancy?, it is entered into a process for an array of further reviews by CDPH. The CDPH has the authority to license the new facility for use.

In early November 2008, Rancho Springs Medical Center, located in the City of Murrieta, completed a $53,000,000 state of the art expanded hospital facility; almost five months after completion Rancho Springs still has not received final approval licensing to open the facility. The completed facility is fully, furnished and staffed with 60 medical professionals including nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians, but unable to provide much needed medical services to an already statistically proven underserved population. The opening of the facility is stalled due to CDPH’s unwillingness to approve the project, directly and negatively impacting the taxpaying citizens of the region.

We are asking for you to join with us to solve this problem. We are hoping to find a solution by curtailing the increasing difficulties with hospital construction and licensing in order to provide medical care and employment in our region.

I urge you to fix this problem here and now so we may prevent similar issues from happening throughout California.


[Your Name]

Take Action!
Click here to take action on this issue
Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this.

What’s At Stake:
This letter has also gone out from our partners at the Southwest California Legislative Council.
Campaign Expiration Date:
April 26, 2009

A Conversation with Lake Elsinore Mayor Magee

The Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce presented ‘A Conversation with Mayor Bob Magee’ on March 19 in the Diamond Club at Storm Stadium.

The Mayor detailed a positive and optimistic summary of Lake Elsinore today. He stressed the job growth and new businesses in the area, new restaurants, auto dealers and retail stores. There is fresh development in and around the city as they look to capitalize on their unique aquatic attraction. They’ve also just opened the first golf course in 80 years – The Links at Summerly. The Mayor said that while the city coffers are off by some 16% this year, the City is  financially stable – no threats there either.

Following his overview, the Mayor answered questions from the audience addressing everything from lake front development to city street paving projects. He also addressed his concerns with the threatened recall of one council member, hoping that the City would not be subject to either the cost – estimated at anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 dollars, or the time it would waste.

SCLC Chair Roger Ziemer also provided a brief overview of current negotiations to get the newly expanded Rancho Springs Medical Center open. If the state certification committee refuses to take positive action, SCLC, SRCAR and others will be launching a campaign aimed at bringing this travesty to the Governors attention. Of course he’s heard about it but he hasn’t HEARD about it from a few thousand people impacted by this in the Temecula Valley.

Mayor Magee also talked about the Thunder in the Channel this weekend when the Lake will play drag strip for the NJBA Drag Boat Racing Series. There are several tournaments coming up at The Links, The Storm host opening night on April 9th, and to find out more of the good things happening in Lake Elsinore, just tap the logo below.


Small Business Call-to-Action.

You may be aware that the Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors has been a supporting Partner of the Southwest California Legislative Council since its inception. The SCLC, a coalition of Southwest California Chambers of Commerce, Legislative Representatives and business representatives – advocate on behalf of Southwest County Businesses. Each of you, as working Realtors, is the owner of your own business. The SCLC has proven to be an effective lobbyist for local concerns and we have a great dialogue with our local Legislators.

Today the SCLC posted recommendations on the Proposition votes upcoming in May. I’ll cover that in other posts.

They also issued this Action Alert to let your Legislators know how you feel on the Employee Free Choice Act. This is Federal Legislation that has a decidedly un-business friendly twist. While the bill’s impact on Realtors would probably not be significant, I encourage you to consider the impact from a small business standpoint.

Click on the bills for more info and a chance to make your voice heard. You’ll be done in about 12 seconds. Thanks

Take Action



Get Involved


Home > Take Action


Each year, the we take positions on issues that impact Southwest California businesses. We also provide you with the tools to play a role in our efforts! Click on a issue below for a brief summary and then submit your letter of support or opposition.

Federal Proposals

Action Needed: Protect Secret Ballot Elections for Southwest California Workers

Two Federal proposals, H.R. 1409 and S. 560, would undermine long standing principles of workplace democracy and fairness and result in employees having less ability to determine if they wish to be represented by a union. It does so by allowing unions to collect employee signatures in public-or so-called “card check” and do away with the secret ballot process.

H.R. 1409 – Employee Free Choice Act

S. 560 – Employee Free Choice Act

We Mean Business

Each year, we hold our State Legislators accountable to issues that impact Southwest California businesses. Find out our Legislators rank on those issues.

Click for the 2008 Vote Record

A Coalition of the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce,

Murrieta Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce


Prop 8 Tax Relief Expanded back to 2001!

I spoke with Riverside County Assessor/Clerk/Recorder Chief Larry Ward yesterday about Prop 8 property tax reductions this year. He wanted everyone to know 2 things and communicate it to their clients.

  • EVERYBODY who had an adjustment last year will automatically be re-evaluated this year. Last year, you may recall, they re-assessed every property in the county that had been purchased since 2004. Those Buyers will get another swing at reducing their taxes – and with property values off by as much as 30% in some cases, chances are good they will save a few more greenbacks this year.
  • This year – EVERYBODY who purchased a home since 2001 will automatically be re-assessed. They figure County-wide, our prices are roughly back to 2001 levels so rather than being bombarded by individual requests, they’ll just do it by area and year and save everybody the trouble.

I know a number of people I’ve spoken with who got a re-assess last year didn’t feel it represented the current value of their home too acurately – but if you do have a problem with it you can always file an appeal at the time. They’ll notify you of your new value in July and you have until September to file.

Remember – if you do decide to file that Reduction in Value Form, don’t pay anyone up-front to provide the numbers. A reputable Realtor can help you out.

For a complete rundown please visit: The Riverside County Assessor – County Clerk – Recorders office.

Kids Eat FREE – Every Night of the Week.

Everybody enjoys an evening out, a nice dinner with the family after a hard days work, a break from the routing. But the economy has given everybody a little case of the shorts and it’s not that easy to justify a pricey meal out if it means dining out or paying the rent.

So here’s a handy little guide to Realtors and friends that will let you feed your kids for FREE every night of the week. It takes a little planning but it’s worth it. Heck I made it through 2 years of college by knowing where the best happy hours were – $1.50 for a beer and dinner was on the house.

Make it fun, make it an adventure, make it through to the other side of this downturn.

Please feel free to add your own discoveries in the comments.

Disclaimer – Deals can vary by location. Be sure to call first;

Sunday –     IHOP @ 18248 Collier, Lake Elsinore

Monday –     Original Roadhouse Grill @ 26440 Ynez, Temecula

Tuesday –    Pat & Oscars @ 29375 Rancho California, Temecula

Chick-Fil-A @ most locations

Coco’s @ Sun City & Lake Elsinore

Denny’s @ most locations

IHOP @ Temecula Parkway location

Wednesday –  Carnitas Express @ 26900 Newport, Menifee

Carrows @ most locations

Coco’s @ most locations

El Torito @ Temecula & most locations

Thursday –     Carrows @ 24640 Madison, Murrieta

IHOP @ Temecula Parkway

Friday –         IHOP @ Lake Elsinore

Saturday –     Denny’s @ 28915 Rancho California, Temecula

Please post any good deals, two-fers, freebies  – help them help us.

Record Local Home Sales in 2008 – More Boomtown News

Following last month’s article on local homes sales, I was asked by several readers if the data was available in chart format. As indicated, 4 of our 5 regional cities posted record home sales in 2008 despite the challenges of the national economy, California’s personal budget struggles and rising unemployment numbers.


That resurgence was at least partially behind a recent article entitled ‘America’s Post-Subprime Boomtowns’. ( It calls out the top ten markets in the country that, in some cases have suffered the most as a result of the sub-prime melt-down, but that are poised to come roaring back after the fall. Not surprisingly, California cities are in 7 of the top 10 spots – and right up at the top of the list are Perris at #5, Temecula at #3 and Murrieta at #1.

“Woodbridge joins Murrieta, Calif., Queen Creek, Ariz., and Port St. Lucie, Fla., on a list of towns that have been ravaged by subprime mortgages and foreclosures but where buyers are returning to the market. Using data from RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based foreclosure listing firm, we examined every U.S. town with a population under 100,000 to identify places where purchases of foreclosed properties have surged most in the last year to get a sense of the towns in which buyers are investing” according to the Forbes article.

Rounding out the top 10 for California is Brentwood at #4, Antelope at #6, Hesperia at #8 and Lincoln at #10. Only Woodbridge, VA (#2), Queen Creek, AZ (#7) and Port Saint Lucie, FL (#9) scored from outside the Golden State.

Accompanying the article is a slideshow highlighting sales figures and median price information on each of the markets citing data from RealtyTrac, the Bureau of Labor, Foreclosure Radar and others.

If there was ever a doubt in your mind about our status in a year or two, a quick read through this article will let you sleep a little easier at night. First time homebuyers and investors are taking advantage of historically low interest rates, buyer incentives (including the recent $8,000 first time homebuyer credit), and a continuing inventory of fire-sale priced homes to move-in and move-up. As that inventory starts to decrease, prices will start to increase.

In a companion article entitled ‘America’s Best Long Term Housing Bets’, California failed to score a top 10 position citing the roller-coaster nature of our market. If you can time the peaks and troughs here, you’ll do extremely well. If you can’t, well…. Perhaps that’s why we scored the top five positions in ‘America’s Luxury Foreclosure Capitols’ with Laguna Niguel, San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch, Tustin Foothills and San Jose.

We did only moderately better with ‘America’s Fastest Changing Cities’ where Los Angeles claimed the top spot as a result of its massive out-migration. Perhaps not surprisingly, we did extremely well on the list of ‘America’s 100 Most Expensive Zip Codes’ and we also scored several awards among ‘America’s Most Expensive Homes’, including the #1 home at $165 million in Bel Air as well as #2 at a paltry $125 million in Beverly Hills.

One other list where we failed to make the grade (gratifyingly) was ‘America’s Fastest Dying Cities’. #1 on that hit parade, Bensenville, IL, followed by Kokomo, IN and Austintown and Middletown OH. Most of these places are located in the rust belt and auto manufacturing and related industries factor heavily in their make-up.

After the pounding we’ve taken the past couple years, I’m still happy to be sitting here in Murrieta, CA (#1 Boomtown) on a rainy March afternoon instead of up to my cajones in snow in Hamtramck, MI (#8 Dying). No offense to Michiganders.

Senator Hollingsworth Named to Senate Leadership Post

Senator Dennie Hollingsworth

Senator Hollingsworth Issues Statement Regarding New Leadership Post

“I am humbled and honored to have been chosen by my caucus to serve as their Leader. I also want to recognize the leadership of Senator Cogdill and thank him for his dedicated service. I look forward to the work ahead, representing the views of my caucus as we address this fiscal crisis to the benefit of all Californians.”

Dennis Hollingsworth represents the 36th Senate District. The district includes Southwest Riverside County, North and East San Diego County, and portions of the City of San Diego.

About 3 o’clock this morning Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth was named as the Minority Party Leader for the California Senate. Most of you  know Dennis has been a friend to real estate and to our Association during his years in the Senate and the Assembly before that. He has authored bills for CAR and has been a firm supporter of private property rights. He recently led a delegation prompting Gov. Schwarzenegger to petition the Federal Endangered Species Commission to step in behalf of the state water users against the environ coalition for the Delta Smelt.

In spite of whatever positive things Dennis has to say about Dave Cogdill, to be replaced in the midst of these delicate and protracted budget negotiations is an unprecedented step for a political party. More than anything it reflects Dennis’ commitment to representing the constituents who elected him and to standing firm against the Democratic machine who wants to increase your taxes even more. Cogdill had come to be seen as a weak fish in the process, ready to give in to Democrat pressure. He had indicated as much in recent interviews and articles where he had taken to joining the chorus chastizing fellow Republicans for being obstructionists to the Democrats grand tax scheme.

As mentioned in a previous post, Dennis spoke on the floor of the Senate last evening and part of his remarks were carried live on NBC Nightly News. Here’s that release:

Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta) spoke on the floor of the Senate last night regarding the budget proposal.

The Democrats have proposed to raise taxes on Californians by over $14 billion. Some of the tax increases include 1 cent sales tax increase, 12 cents gas tax increase, 2.5% surcharge on personal income tax, and an increase in the vehicle license fee of roughly 50%. All of these new taxes average to an increase of over $1,200 in new taxes per year for a family of four.

Senator Hollingsworth spoke on the issue last night on the Senate Floor, saying “You’re not going to go back to the people’s pocketbooks to fuel that spending”.

To view the Senator’s Speech, click here:

Please let Senator Hollingsworth know we’re proud of the tremendous job he’s doing on our behalf in Sacramento.

Take Action for California Infrastructure

You may be aware that the Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors was one of the founding sponsors of a group called the Southwest California Legislative Council. This group is a coalition of local Chambers of Commerce and our purpose it to advocate on behalf of business interests in Southwest California.

Like SRCAR, CAR & NAR advocate on behalf of Realtors and private property rights, SCLC advocates on behalf of LOCAL business owners – And every Realtor is a business owner. As independent contractors, we are all CEO’s of our own business.

One of the features SCLC incorporated into our model early on was the ‘Action Alert’. Modeled after the CAR & NAR Red Alerts, this tool helps us reach out and touch our legislators on issues that are of importance to us and lets them know their constituency back home is watching them. I’ll let you know more about that process and the successes we’ve had in a future post but for today I encourage you all to click the link at the bottom of this page to send a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer to support investment in our state’s infrastructure.

While many of you may not be supportive of the larded up version of the ‘stimulus plan’ currently working it’s way through the Senate (I know I’m not), some form of that bill is going to pass. We need to do whatever we can to see that what emerges is actually short-term economic stimulus and not just more of the same-old – same-old pork.

Thank you for your support.

February 3, 2009
TAKE ACTION: Help Secure Needed Transportation Funding For Southwest California

The time has never been greater for putting California back on the road towards economic prosperity by investing in our state’s transportation infrastructure. Thousands are out of work and the unemployment rate continues to rise, especially in Southwest California. Investing in the state’s transportation infrastructure will put people back to work and update our outdated roadways and highways.

California faces one of the largest budget deficits in history coupled with a rapidly increasing unemployment rate. We have an opportunity to create jobs right here in our community.

We need your help in sending a letter to United States Senator Barbara Boxer urging her to support increasing the investment of federal transportation infrastructure funding from $27 billion to $50 billion.

The current versions of the federal proposals do not invest enough in transportation infrastructure to have a meaningful impact on our state and local economy.

Submit your letter of support NOW! Log on to:

Founded in 2004, the Southwest California Legislative Council is the regional business advocacy coalition of the

Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce, Murrieta Chamber of Commerce, and Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Unsubscribe? Reply to this email.

Help Flush State Septic Regulations

Time is running out for input on proposed statewide septic regulations. CAR has been represented at every regional meeting that has been held throughout the state but the deadline is approaching for final arguments. As proposed, these regulations would prove onerous to many homeowners in our area, including property owners on The Wine Country, La Cresta, Meadowview and many county areas not served by sewer systems. If you have not yet taken the time to respond to the Red Alert that was issued, please take a moment to respond NOW.

You can read a copy of the proposed ordinance by following the link below as well as the accompanying draft of the EIR. In order for your comments to be considered, you need to comment ONLY on the material in the EIR as that’s what this comment period is about. Comments on the proposed regulations themselves will be disregarded. You can take your talking points from the letter (please contact me for a full pdf copy of the CAR letter) submitted by our Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Gavric, put them on your own letter head and submit them for consideration to the state hearing board by February 9.

Thank you for your help. This could have a major impact on many homeowners in our area

The state of California has released the proposed regulations for onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) and the accompanying Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) evaluating the impacts of the implementation of the regulations on the people and environment of California. C.A.R. is concerned that, if enacted, these regulations will make it too burdensome to own a property with a septic system. There is even a new point-of-sale requirement to transfer technical documents.

These proposed regulations and draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) have been released to the public for review and can be found at:


10% Participation Won’t Cut It In 2009!

You’ve all heard my rants before about how the real estate association, YOUR association, is only powerful for one reason – YOU. We are powerful as a grassroots organization and we have a great process in place that allows us to reach out and tap our representatives whenever our voice needs to be heard.

Unfortunately too many of you don’t use these tools. Not only do you not support your Realtor Action Fund through a measly $49 annual investment, you can’t even bring yourselves to exercise your right to free speech – FREE. It’s really pretty sorry and a sad commentary on the state of real estate professionalism today. Really. I’m re-posting this well written message from the NAR website because this guy summed it up perfectly as did the comment posted in response. Too many if us have simply become ‘list & sell’ Realtors who neither know nor care about the proud traditions of our industry or the amount of effort that goes into keeping our industry viable.

The connection between activism and results just doesn’t seem to be getting through to most of you. Maybe when your livelihood is taken away, maybe when every bank and insurance company can sell real estate, maybe when your reduced commissions are mandated by law and you are taxed at the time of every transaction you will wake up. Unfortunately by then it will be too late.

And what’s even worse is that those of you reading this aren’t even the people I’m aiming for. If you read this you probably get it and are one of the ones making a difference – unlike 90% of your counterparts who bring nothing to the party but just show up to eat and drink for free. Please feel free to pass this along to them – print it out and lay it on their desk, anonymouslyif you want. Imagine what we could accomplish if even 50% of our members took a professional interest in our industry and actually participated in the process.

Remember – as Pericles said in 500 BC – ‘Just because you don’t take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.’  Smart guy that Pericles.  


Voices of Real Estate

National Association of REALTORS® 2009 Leadership Team, on what NAR is doing for you.

« 330,000 Letters to Congress, Posted by Charles | Main | One Plus One Doesn’t Equal Three, Posted by Gary »

Ten Percent Participation Won’t Cut It in 2009, Posted by Steve

Back in college, the first thing I learned in Econ 101 is that economies are built on confidence. Like many, I am hopeful that those who lead us on the federal level will really come through in the days ahead. They can both stimulate our economy as well as help us all feel better about the economy. Unfortunately, what I have come to realize in the past year is that those who govern us do not always understand the industries they seek to help, the markets they hope to improve, or the businesses they are trying to assist. Our representatives, from the president to the Congress, need to hear from us if they are going to govern effectively and improve our economy and our country.

Yet, in the midst of our biggest economic challenge in the past 80 years less than 10% of our Realtor® members in 2008 have contacted their representatives to inform, discuss, and promote legislation that would stimulate and change the market for the benefit of everyone.

Is this lack of participation the fault of NAR?

Perhaps. Just as NAR emphasizes adherence to the Code of Ethics, maybe we should be equally emphasizing continual involvement in our political process. Clearly, our high school civics classes did not instill the importance of participating in the governmental process, or more of us would be…

None of us can walk away from our responsibility as citizens. I have learned over the past year that even though I am one voice, I can make a difference. I have seen the “light bulb” go on when my Congressman finally got why a $7,500 tax credit-which really isn’t a credit but rather a zero-interest loan-is not a sufficient stimulus for someone to buy a home in today’s market. I can only imagine the light bulbs that might go on if all one million Realtors® communicated with Washington!

Real estate influences nearly 20 percent of our GNP. No industry is better prepared to present to government officials effective programs that will stimulate this sector of our national economy than us.

Come on, Realtors®! Let us help lead the way out of this economic mess and into a future that gives every American hope. Commit to getting involved. We’ll be sending out a new Call For Action next week. Either check the Realtor® Action Center or be ready to respond when it arrives in your email inbox.

It is, after all, a part of your business, not to mention part of being a good citizen. – Steve Brown, 2009 VP & Liaison to Committees

Posted on January 9, 2009 02:31 PM | Permanent Link



Boy, do I feel your frustration! Somehow the connection between activism and results doesn’t seem to be getting through. Moreover, the mentality remains…”list & sell”. As I’ve said in mosty of my Smart Growth presentations, “Most Realtors are very good at listing and selling homes…..but they haven’t a clue as to how that house got there in the first place!” Once that nexus is made, it’s amazing how participation increases. Unfortunately, too many of our members see what they do as a vocation, not a profession.

It’s also amazing how powerful participation can be. In a conversation with Barney at the MYM maybe three or four years ago, he said, “When I hear from 4 or 5 people on an issue it gets my attention. When I hear from a dozen, it’s a movement!” Somehow we need to get a cadre of people out there – RPIC – at the local association level to carry that message first to the DRs, then the membership at large.

Have a happy, healthy & prosperous New Year.

Posted by: David Wluka | January 12, 2009 11:05 AM

The opinions in this commentary are strictly Gene Wunderlich’s personal opinions. While any reasonable and/or rational indivdual should agree wholeheartedly, the opinons reflected herein may not necessarily be those of SRCAR, ActiveRain, The Valley Business Journal or any local or state government or other mental institution. 


Lake Elsinore Abandoned Property Registration Info


The City of Lake Elsinore, like other cities in our region, has enacted an ordinance to address the issue of foreclosed and abandoned properties. At this time our cities are working in concert with Realtors to help eliminate blight, maintain neighborhood appearance and help stabilize property values. With our continued cooperation we can keep this relationship from becoming adversarial as it has on some cities (not in our region). If you are currently doing REO business in Lake Elsinore, you can read the ordinance here, get additional information and obtain the necessary form to register your property.


Abandoned Residential Property Registration


The City’s Abandoned Residential Property Registration Program, outlined in this Ordinance # 1252, seeks to resolve an issue that affects all of us who deal with properties in Lake Elsinore. Houses and properties that become vacant and abandoned due to foreclosure are a detriment to people who live in close proximity. The abandoned properties degrade the neighborhoods, diminish the city’s overall image as an attractive and inviting City in which to live, own property, work and be entertained.

The program is intended to encourage owners of vacant properties to maintain or rehabilitate the properties consistent with the neighborhood standard (which is outlined in the Ordinance 1252) (PDF: Ordinance 1252.pdf). For more information, please contact Scott Burns at 951-674-3124 Ext 285.

Information Links: