Event Round-Up: Feb. 16th

Isn’t it great to live in a place that is so packed full of events that you can’t even go to all of them if you wanted to? Sometimes we all stay firmly planted in Walnut Creek instead of exploring what’s outside our doors. Here is a collection of fun, late-winter events to take part in within Walnut Creek city limits, and in a few of our neighboring Bay Area cities!

1. 2019 Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival – Chabot Space &  Science Center (Oakland): Feb. 16-17

Sorry for the late notice on this one, everybody. The Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival is an opportunity to get your kids out for the day, taking classes on movie-making, and watching films made just for them! If you’re a Chabot member, it’s free! More details.

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2. 2019 Lunar New Year Celebration – History Park (San Jose): Feb. 17

You can probably find a lot of different Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year) celebrations happening around the very diverse Bay Area, but this is the one I’m choosing to highlight. It’s free, family-friendly, has a dragon-led parade, and will have arts and crafts available! Happy Year of the Pig! (Did you know the pig represents luck, wealth, and honesty and symbolizes a hard-working, peace-loving, generous person. Other traits include truthful, patient, reliable, trusting, sincere, giving, sociable, and a good sense of humor. If you were born in 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, or 2007, you are a Pig zodiac!)

3. Makers Market Craft Fair – Broadway Plaza (Walnut Creek): Feb. 23

Come check out an awesome craft fair right in the heart of downtown Walnut Creek! According to the event website, there will be more than 20 local artists selling jewelry, candles, organic body and home goods, clothes, and more! And, naturally, live music and food vendors will be present!

4. First Caturday – Lake Merritt (Oakland): Mar. 2

I couldn’t help myself on this one! How funny is this? On Sat., Mar. 2, you can bring your cat to Lake Merritt in Oakland and take part in “First Caturday.” It looks like it’s literally just a meet-up for cat lovers to bring their cats out on leashes, like dogs. Better not show up to the lake with a dog that day!

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5. Sunrise Tour of Muir Woods – Muir Woods (Mill Valley): Mar. 3

Okay, there is no bad time to visit Muir Woods. It’s one of the most beautiful semi-hidden gems of the Bay Area. But you can get up early and do a sunrise tour of this breathtaking park for FREE! Reservations are still required, and you might have to pay for parking, but seeing the sun shining through those old redwoods on a brisk morning will be well worth it.

Bay Area rent prices are out of control

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the top three most expensive places for renters in the entire nation are in the Bay Area. We knew it was bad, but this is a whole new level of shocking. In that article, the author writes that with San Jose’s $13.50/hour minimum wage, a person would have to have more than 3 1/2 minimum wage jobs just to afford average rent. Crazy!

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To nobody’s surprise, the San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland areas were top three in the nation, but the East Bay isn’t much better off. You’d have to earn $93,000 per year to afford average rent in the East Bay. Given the costs of pretty much everything around here rising, it’s no surprise.

In the real estate market – whether buying, selling, or renting – you have to expect to pay a premium in the Bay Area these days. That’s where people like me come in handy! We can give you expert advice and help steer you in the right direction. Remember, the most expensive direction isn’t always the correct one.

Here are a few more interesting tidbits from the article:

  • 2-bedroom apartments in the South Bay will require you to make about a $50/hour
  • In San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties, it’s closer to $60/hour
  • This is a national issue: there is no state, metro area, or county in the U.S. where workers earning minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom rental home by working 40 hours per week
  • Five years ago, about 3,000 people came to the Community Services Agency for food – it’s now over 7,000.

Top 5 Housing Predictions for 2018

As the first month of the new year closes, we are starting to see the 2018 market take shape, and getting a clear look back at the 2017 year. Last year was a strong one for sellers – interest rates remained low, but are now rising, and refinancing plummeted. So, what’s next for 2018?

Take a look at the summaries of Summit Funding’s Top 5 Housing Predictions for 2018, with commentary from yours truly:

  1. A rise in cash-out refinance

Low-interest rates have fueled buying, kept inventory low, and likely even helped speed up housing recovery in Miami and Houston after their 2017 hurricanes. Interest rates will continue to rise in 2018, but not high enough to deter interested homebuyers. We should, however, keep an eye on a potential rise in cash-out refinance, as Americans’ home equity wealth is at an all-time high. We are also seeing the rise of all-cash purchases, a high rate of home purchase co-borrowers, and increased buying assistance from family. As home prices become even higher — and overvalued, according to CoreLogic — expect to see more parents cash out their home equity to help their adult children begin building their own housing wealth.

  1. Return to services

With higher home prices come great risks and more compromises for homebuyers, who will become ever more reliant on experienced and informed housing professionals to make buying and mortgage decisions. Mortgage rates will continue to become a commodity; homebuyers have access to rates on their devices and know mortgage brokers are quoting from the same rate sheets. As homebuyers evaluate their partners, they should look for realtors and mortgage professionals who offer value that protects the clients’ bottom line. Housing professionals who deliver this will be the ones who can truly stand out and have longevity in this crowded market. A great lender and agent can make all the difference in the world. Be careful you are comparing apples to apples when getting rate quotes, as it can’t be locked in until you get an accepted offer so lenders can you give varying rates as they know they will be different the day you get an offer accepted.

  1. Advancement in housing Fintech

Expect technology to continue to make breakthroughs in housing. The proliferation of information has made everyday consumers more demanding of progress and fairness, which is a good thing. They demand more competition for their business and stronger customer empowerment. New housing financial technology will not just be about faster search results or more photos, it will be expected to serve up more home buyer protection. In 2018, homebuyers will increasingly question why they could sell a home at a loss when realtors still collect their brokerage fees. When they see a pre-closing statement listing fee paid to protect their lenders, they would demand to see the calculation of risks and returns designed to protect their purchase. Getting ahead of these questions and demands will become table stakes in the advancement of housing financial technology.  This may be a ways off.  There is a lot of buyer protection now as a result of the downturn.

  1. Millennials may continue to prolong homeownership

Americans — including millennials — want to own homes; we knew this already. However, millennials may want other things in life more than homeownership, or they don’t want to be “house poor.” Affordability is definitely the top barrier to home buying, no doubt. However, there are increasing indications that millennials are not pulling out all the stops to buy a home even if they could afford one. In ValueInsured’s latest Modern Homebuyer Survey, 36% of millennials who want to buy a home say they are delaying buying in order to keep their options open. Nearly half (47%) of millennials also say they worry their job future is uncertain and want to figure that out first. Instead of paying high home prices, millennials have proven unafraid to give up buying and go back to renting. A generation known for defying conventions and expectations may change the housing market forever in 2018 if they say “enough” to high home prices and decide to do their own thing.

  1. The next Seattle or San Jose

In the future, scorching-hot real estate markets will give rise to more calm and cool emerging markets. Places like Provo, UT, Athens, OH and Aberdeen, SD may be hot spots in 2018. More Americans will telecommute to their jobs or shop from their devices instead of at malls. This is simply a fact of life. So, as real estate prices and commercial rents increase, more Asian fusion restaurants, CrossFit studios and organic micro-breweries will open in previously ‘B’ or ‘C’ designated counties. Once upon a time, Portland, OR and Chattanooga, TN were seen as hidden real estate gems, and now they are cities millennials are leaving behind in search of more affordable homes. Millennials’ tendencies to be nomadic and to reject established institutions (or markets), and their sophistication in forming their own community, could prove to be very interesting in challenging traditional housing cycles and expectations.

Stay tuned for December to see if these things panned out or were just a pie in the sky.

All of America’s hottest real estate markets are on West Coast

We found a Realtor.com article recently that ranked the hottest real estate markets for February 2017. Nobody will be surprised to see that three of the top five (Vallejo, San Francisco and San Jose) are in the Bay Area.

According to the article, a large part of Vallejo’s rise to number one on the hottest real estate markets list is due to their drop in median days on market. It wasn’t too long ago that Vallejo went bankrupt and Mare Island redevelopment was in the crapper – that still might be an area for investment.

I also found out that Seattle is the fastest-growing market, which doesn’t surprise me at all. Seattle seems to be on the fast track to San Francisco status, with a similar culture and a bunch of new tech companies migrating their headquarters North. I currently have a client selling in Pleasant Hill and moving to Seattle and he is finding it is more expensive to purchase there.

Either way, the West Coast is HOT! If you are looking to buy or sell in the East Bay, please feel free to reach out and ask for my help!