California

California’s housing market set a new record for its median home price in May with $600,860, breaking an 11-year-old record peak price of $594,530, according to the California Association of Realtors (CAR)
California’s housing market set a new record for its median home price in May with $600,860, breaking an 11-year-old record peak price of $594,530, according to the California Association of Realtors (CAR).
 
May’s statewide median price was up 2.8 percent from a revised $584,460 in April and up 9.2 percent from a revised $550,230 in May 2017—the highest annualized rate of growth since May 2014. The statewide median price per square foot rose to $286 in May, the highest sum recorded since November 2007.
 
However, May’s sales total of 409,270 units was down 1.8 percent from the revised 416,750 level in April and down 4.6 percent from the May 2017 level of 428,870. May marked the first year-over-year sales decline in four months and the lowest sales level in more than a year. On a regionwide, non-seasonally adjusted basis, only the San Francisco Bay Region saw solid month-to-month and year-over-year sales gains: increases of17.3 percent monthly and 2.1 percent annually.
 
"The softening in May home sales was due in part to the spike in interest rates in mid-April, when the 30-year fixed mortgage rate jumped 20 basis points in just one week to reach the highest level since 2014," said CAR President Steve White. "Homebuyers may have postponed escrow closings to wait out the effects of the rate surge. Additionally, the specter of rate increases earlier in the year may have pulled sales forward into the first quarter, which resulted in the subpar performance in the last couple of months. Looking ahead, higher mortgage rates and elevated home prices will heighten affordability constraints that will likely temper the housing market in the coming months."

 
Facebook has waded into the acute housing affordability issue impacting Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area by warning the company could relocate elsewhere if housing costs remain too high
Facebook has waded into the acute housing affordability issue impacting Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area by warning the company could relocate elsewhere if housing costs remain too high.
Facebook has waded into the acute housing affordability issue impacting Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area by warning the company could relocate elsewhere if housing costs remain too high
According to a CNBC report, Facebook Chief Policy Officer Elliot Schrage stated the social media giant believed it could make a positive impact on the local housing problems, adding that it needed to be involved "if we're going to remain a company in Silicon Valley for the long term." While the company’s main campus is based in Menlo Park, it is planning to open new offices in San Francisco—and both markets are among the most expensive in the country.
 
"Our position is that Silicon Valley has been this extraordinary engine of economic opportunity and if we can't solve the housing and transportation issues, Silicon Valley won't be Silicon Valley," Schrage said at the company's annual shareholders meeting. "These companies like ours will expand elsewhere. So, we feel a real sense of urgency around that."
 
Schrage noted that Facebook has allocated more than $18 million dollars to affordable and mixed-use housing developments in Silicon Valley, Schrage said, and is working with private partners and local governments to do more.
 
"We are late and frankly we have been slow—we are actually a relatively newcomer as a young company at only 15," Schrage said. "But I think it is fair to say we have really made an investment and we consider this an existential issue."

 
The California State Senate voted 29-6 to approve a measure that will created a state-backed bank to handle the money generated by the newly legalized local recreational marijuana market
The California State Senate voted 29-6 to approve a measure that will created a state-backed bank to handle the money generated by the newly legalized local recreational marijuana market.
 
According to an Associated Press report, proponents of a state-backed bank argue that it is necessary because marijuana commerce is still illegal under federal law and most banks will not accept money from this industry. The bill would enable state-chartered banks and credit unions regulated by the California Department of Business Oversight to provide limited banking services to pot-related businesses, including rent payments and outlays for local and state taxes.
 
“We’re not using the federal system, we’re not using the federal wire,” said Democratic Sen. Bob Hertzberg of Van Nuys. “This is a short-term creative approach to deal with this extraordinary problem.”
The bill will now go to the State Assembly for consideration.

 
At a time when home prices appear to be on a non-stop upward flight, there are still markets where housing is becoming cheaper with each passing month
At a time when home prices appear to be on a non-stop upward flight, there are still markets where housing is becoming cheaper with each passing month. According to a new data study by Realtor.com comparing the 12-month periods of May 2016 to April 2017 with May 2017 to April 2018, California’s Santa Maria–Santa Barbara metro area saw the most dramatic price plummet, with a 17.7 percent price in a market where the median home list price is $951,600.
 
Realtor.com blamed the Santa Maria-Santa Barbara market’s woes on Mother Nature: wildfires destroyed nearly 50,000 acres and 20 homes, while mudslides were responsible for more than 20 deaths and extensive property damage. California’s state government estimated the area is burdened with more than $400 million in damages. The third ranking metro on this list also faced natural disaster-induced housing difficulties: Napa, Calif., where the median home list price of $823,900 represented a 6.7 percent drop.
 
Other metro areas tracked by Realtor.com that are experiencing home price free-falls include Pottsville, Pa., best known as the home of Yuengling brewery, the nation’s oldest. The median home list price in this market is $72,300, and prices are down 8.1 percent. Realtor.com blamed the problem on high regional unemployment and a lack of new home construction. Similar difficulties impacted the fifth ranked metro on the list: Beckley, W.V., where the median home list price of $134,000 represented a 4.2 percent price decline.
 
The fourth ranked metro on the list was the Texas capital of Austin, where overbuilding has created a rare housing surplus. As a result, the median home list price of $373,000 resulted in a 4.3 percent price decline. Complicating matters is a higher-than-normal increase in foreclosures: up 30 percent year-over-year in the first quarter. Another Texas metro, College Station, had a similar overbuilding boom that created a price bust, with a median home list price of $301,700 resulting in a 3.6 percent price drop.

 
Affordable housing in San Francisco is costing too much money to build, according to Mayor Mark Farrell in an address to a special “cost summit” designed to lower construction expenses
Affordable housing in San Francisco is costing too much money to build, according to Mayor Mark Farrell in an address to a special “cost summit” designed to lower construction expenses.
 
The San Francisco Chronicle reports the costs to build affordable projects in San Francisco are an average of $750,000 per unit, 17 percent more than the average of $627,000 two years ago. Complicating matters is last year’s federal tax cuts, which reduced the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, resulting in fewer companies looking to buy the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits which have been used for years to finance affordable-housing construction financing.
 
The summit brought together 50 non-profit developers, architects, labor leaders and contractors invited by the mayor to join one of three working groups to explore a more cost-effective approach to affordable housing construction. The working groups—which will focus on labor costs and workforce development, government regulation reforms cost-effective design and materials—are being given a two-month timeline to produce suggestions.
 
“We cannot provide affordable homes for our families if we cannot afford to build these homes to begin with,” Farrell said. “Our teachers, janitors, nurses and other working-class residents cannot wait forever for the city to find ways to build homes quicker and cheaper.”

 
Single-home sales in California totaled 416,790 units in April, according to new data from the California Association of Realtors (CAR)
Single-home sales in California totaled 416,790 units in April, according to new data from the California Association of Realtors (CAR). This represented a 1.7 percent decline from the 423,990 level in March and a 2.2 percent uptick from the revised April 2017 level of 407,960.
 
The statewide median price rose by 3.5 percent in April to reach $584,460, up from a revised $564,830 in March, and it was 8.6 percent higher than a revised $537,950 in April 2017. The California condo/townhome median price was $476,010 last month, up 2.1 percent from the revised $466,420 price in March and up 9.1 percent from $436,390 a year ago.
 
The Bay Area counties led the state in sales, with Alameda recording double-digit annual sales gain of 14.5 percent. Santa Clara, Contra Costa, and Sonoma followed in the top sales rankings with annualized gains of 8.7 percent, 7.1 percent, and 6.8 percent, respectively.
 
Statewide active listings reversed nearly three years of decreases with a 1.9 percent annualized increase in April. The statewide unsold inventory index rose in April to 3.2 months from 2.9 months in March, but it was slightly lower than the 3.3 months level set in April 2017. The median number of days it took to sell a California single-family home remained low at 15 days in April, down two days from one year earlier.
 
“After nearly three years of decline in active listings, we’re finally seeing an improvement in the availability of homes for sale, which is encouraging for prospective buyers as we enter the busy spring home-buying season,” said CAR President Steve White. “However, entry-level buyers may continue to experience the housing shortage as homes priced under $300,000 continue to bear the brunt of inventory issues.”

 
Eric Morgenson is a Business Development Manager in the Laguna Niguel, Calif. office of Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions
Eric Morgenson is a Business Development Manager in the Laguna Niguel, Calif. office of Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions. Since December 2017, he has been President of the Orange County Chapter of the California Association of Mortgage Professionals (CAMP). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with CAMP’s Orange County Chapter.
 Eric Morgenson is a Business Development Manager in the Laguna Niguel, Calif. office of Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions
Your leadership role in this CAMP Chapter is a volunteer job. Why are you taking time away from your busy schedule to work as a volunteer?
We are advocates of the mortgage industry in one of the most regulated and compliance burdened states in the nation—if not the most. If I don’t volunteer, who else is going to do it? I feel I could make a difference. This industry is getting so crushed by regulation and somebody has to be the voice of common sense.
 
Is CAMP your only experience in volunteer leadership?
Sixteen years ago, I started the Labor Day Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) where nine of us who are friends from college–self-funded, take high-risk kids from foster parents and heinous upbringing and pay for their college education.
 
What is the size of the CAMP Orange County Chapter? Why should local mortgage professionals be part of this Chapter?
The Chapter has approximately 65 paying members. The mortgage people are really busy and most don’t see membership as a benefit. One tipping point is that mortgage professionals have to be NMLS-licensed. Thus, we sponsor NMLS training certification for members. Each CAMP Chapter has a Government Affairs person and we focus on what’s important for our industry. When we meet with our elected officials, we go as a group with a less-is-more mindset: Five proposals, with one that we are against and four that we support. We don’t get a lot of time with the elected officials and often, meet with their Chief of Staff.
 
What has been on your legislative agenda lately?
We have been against more taxes in this absolutely crazy tax-burdened state. What keeps popping up is SB 993, a proposal to tax B2B services. For example, if you have an attorney and his bill is $10,000, that service could be taxed like a sales tax. One could pay the tax on the attorney’s services, and the attorney is also taxed. Now, take all of the people brought together in the mortgage process: Notary, title service, third-party processor, etc. Imagine being taxed on all of their fees. That can add $500 to $4,000 more to get a loan, which is supposed to be a non-taxable event. CAMP is monitoring and lobbying against this proposal.
 
How long have you been in the mortgage profession?
I originated my first loan in 1996. One year later, started Nationwide Lending Corp. I have been with Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions going on five years now.
 
Eric Morgenson is a Business Development Manager in the Laguna Niguel, Calif. office of Angel Oak Mortgage SolutionsThat is a lengthy career. Do you see today’s younger generation coming into mortgage careers?
I see younger people in the industry in three areas—when they have a relative in the mortgage industry, (father-son brokers) in servicing and in the call center environment. As for young people coming in as self-generating Loan Officers, no.
 
What do you think is holding them back?
The industry is not as appealing as tech. There’s no college courses to become a Mortgage Loan Officer. There is a lot of compliance and testing, and that is really not glamorous. Plus, I can go to college and get a finance, history or philosophy degree, but I cannot go to college and get a mortgage degree. California used to be one of the mortgage meccas of the nation, with well-paying and gratifying careers. We need to educate students and college counselors that these careers exist. In the end, this profession does not require a college degree.

Phil Hall is Managing Editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.

 
Jeff Burns is Managing Director of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Walker & Dunlop and President, Commercial of the California Mortgage Bankers Association
Jeff Burns is Managing Director of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Walker & Dunlop and President, Commercial of the California Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with his regarding his work with his state trade group.
 Jeff Burns is Managing Director of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Walker & Dunlop and President, Commercial of the California Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA)
How and why did you get involved with the California Mortgage Bankers Association? Can you share the track within CMBA that led to the leadership role?
Everyone in the mortgage banking business, myself included, has benefited in countless ways from the work done by our state and national trade groups. Many of us attend great conferences and events that allow us to network with colleagues and spark valuable business connections. Many of us know, in perhaps a vague or non-specific way, that our trade groups represent our interests in legislative and regulatory arenas and protect our ability to provide access to affordable credit for consumers and businesses.
 
However, many of us are not aware of all the work that goes into making this happen, both from a staff perspective and the Board of Directors of these organizations. I felt that it was my turn to give back to the industry that has given so much to me and provide my knowledge and experience to help lead my state group, the CMBA, in what has turned out to be a very interesting time. My direct involvement came in stages, as I helped plan and organize the association’s annual Western States CREF Conference for a number of years, and eventually, was asked to deepen my involvement by joining the Board of Directors, which I did in in 2009.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join your association?
Members join for a variety of reasons: Building connections (finding and developing new business opportunities), keeping teams educated and up-to-date on the latest trends, and supporting advocacy efforts. Which priority is more important varies from member to member, and it often depends more on the company’s situation than any of the activities or functions of the association.
 
For example, a new start-up tech vendor is likely joining to find potential clients among the membership and establish themselves as a reputable firm and a subject matter expert. A residential Mortgage Banker expanding their business into multiple states is likely to have serious regulatory/compliance challenges and educating their employees (through conferences or Webinars) is critical.
 
Finally, when we read about a legislative proposal that puts our ability to do business at risk, suddenly we remember that our state trade group has our back, and thanks to support through membership, the association is ready to effectively make a strong argument and head off a potentially disastrous bill by working with lawmakers to either amend or defeat such a proposal. When it comes to membership, the bottom line is this: Association staff and Directors should be well aware that there is no requirement to join the association and should therefore work hard to maximize every dollar spent on membership.
 
What role does your association play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
Here in California, our full-time legislature (one of the few in the country) proposals proposes dozens of bills each year that either directly or indirectly impact the mortgage industry. This year we’ve got several bills that are particularly important, including a few that we are strongly supporting. 
 
AB 2368 would allow for a new remote online notarization system in California, and the California MBA is proud to be a sponsor of this legislation. If you’ve purchased a home in the past few years, you’ve likely seen the wonderful transformation that is taking place in the process, thanks to innovations in technology. The front-end of transactions, and the borrower’s experience have been dramatically improved; however, the closing of a mortgage is still very much unchanged. You need to meet face-to-face with a notary (often in public places with little security) to close the loan. This bill would allow California to join with a growing number of states to allow the tech revolution to reach the final stage of the lending process and allow for borrowers to close their loans remotely and securely through an online platform. 
 
We’ve received a good reception from legislators so far and are hopeful this bill can pass this year. We’re also strongly in support of SB 1087, which would add new enforcement mechanisms and regulatory authority to hold PACE solicitors accountable and continue to better protect vulnerable consumers. Our legislature passed legislation last year to start that process, and SB 1087 is a follow-up measure that will regulators to take quick action to stop abusive solicitors who aren’t honest with consumers about the nature or cost of the program. 
 
Finally, we’re opposing SB 818, which would reinstitute several of the provisions of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights (CHBOR) that expired at the end of 2017. When the CHBOR was initially passed, we lived in a much-different regulatory environment; the CFPB didn’t even exist yet (hard to imagine!). Now, we have several concerns with the bill, including the fact that it doesn’t have a sunset date, and seems to be pushing the boundaries beyond the original CHBOR language.
 
Industry folks who aren’t lobbyists or don’t have connections to powerful lawmakers can still make a difference in their state’s advocacy efforts by attending their legislative day at their state capital. We just held ours in March, and it is always effective for industry professionals who have on-the-ground knowledge to speak to legislators about the real-world consequences of some of the legislation they are considering. I strongly encourage folks to take advantage of those opportunities, as well as attending national events, like the MBA’s National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C.
 
Jeff Burns is Managing Director of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Walker & Dunlop and President, Commercial of the California Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA)What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
As you may have guessed, advocacy and political involvement is a particular interest of mine, and so I’ve been very involved in improving the CMBA’s political activities, specifically through our Political Action Committee, CAMPAC. It is crucial for industry to support the candidates that share an appreciation and understanding for the important role that business plays in our state, including the real estate finance industry. Making our voice heard in campaigns is done by raising funds for CAMPAC, and in a state that doesn’t have the most business-friendly reputation, it makes it all the more important that we support candidates to want to see our economy and opportunities expand. I’ve played a role in building support for CAMPAC–not only with our membership, but even within the Board of Directors. As a result, we’ If we haven’t built and nurtured those relationships during the “quiet” years, it will be hard to build trust and maximize our collective strength when we really need it.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
This is a huge challenge for the mortgage banking industry! Due to the financial crisis, consolidation and a few other factors, today’s Mortgage Banker is not only much older than they were 10 years ago, they are older on average than they will be in 10 years. The Millennial generation aren’t just consumers, they are employees, and we need their voices in our industry. There are several ways that we can more quickly integrate them into the fabric of the mortgage banking community, starting with involvement in our state trade groups. 
 
For example, CMBA has a new program that allows members to send up to three employees, 35 years of age or younger, to any conference for free. This solves a huge problem for companies with tight budgets (aka every company) who want to invest in their younger, rising stars, but can’t afford to send them to expensive conferences and events. If your state trade group isn’t doing something like this, you should encourage them to–it’s a great way to incentivize companies to show their employees that they value them and want to attend to their professional development. 
 
Beyond our trade groups, I think that we need to do a better job of encouraging colleges and universities to build real estate financed-focused curriculum and programs. I’ve rarely met a colleague who went to school to be a Mortgage Banker–most of us were simply fortunate enough to stumble into the real estate finance industry. That’s why we need to begin to build enthusiasm for our industry at the collegiate level. Several universities in California do have real estate focused curricula, but we need more participation from the schools and we need our companies (and their employees, who are alumni) to push schools to develop these programs.
 
How would you define your state's housing market?
Diverse. California has more diversity of housing than any other state market in the nation. Median home prices are at or near all-time highs, having passed $507,000 in December 2017. That doesn’t tell you much, however. For example, the San Francisco Bay area is a unique housing market, with little new home supply added each year, major affordability challenges, and a very robust rental and multifamily market. 
 
On the other hand, locales in the Central Valley, Inland Empire, or Northeast have an entirely different makeup, with a much more pro-growth environment, and more opportunities for first-time homebuyers. That doesn’t even include the Los Angeles-area, Orange County, and San Diego markets, which have their own unique housing profile.
 
Overall, our biggest challenge is affordability, and it’s not one that is going to be easily solved. Instead of a silver bullet, we are likely going to see a mix of new supply, more emphasis on density, and making sure mortgage lenders are able to provide adequate financing to meet the demand.

Phil Hall is Managing Editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.

 
Guild Mortgage has announced FHA Solar, an innovative mortgage program that will allow homebuyers to include solar panels in their mortgage loan amount
Guild Mortgage has announced FHA Solar, an innovative mortgage program that will allow homebuyers to include solar panels in their mortgage loan amount.
Guild Mortgage has launched Guild 360, a sales, marketing and customer relationship management platform powered by Salesforce
Available to residents in California, Guild’s FHA Solar program provides homebuyers with the flexibility and convenience of combining the financing for their home and solar panels into one, single transaction. With the program, solar panels can be added to any home, providing buyers interested in investing in renewable energy with more options. Another benefit of the Guild program is that homebuyers can purchase panels at lower costs than alternative programs.
 
Guild’s FHA Solar program adheres to Federal Housing Administration loan requirements and offers downpayment options as low as 3.5 percent. The downpayment is based on the purchase of the home before the panels are added into the cost of the mortgage.
 
“This program will give more options to homebuyers looking for solar because it gives them the flexibility to purchase panels and add them to any home they choose,” said Mary Ann McGarry, Guild’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “FHA Solar is ideal for individuals who are looking to buy a home that they plan to live in for several years and realize the return on their investment. It will also be attractive to customers who want to lower their monthly utility bill and have a greener footprint.”
 
David Battany, Guild Mortgage’s Executive Vice President of Capital Markets, said, “Research shows an increasing number of people are looking for homes with solar installed, and we expect that trend to increase over the next five to 10 years. Few lenders currently offer programs for the purchase of solar panels with a new home. We see this as a great opportunity to serve the next generation of homebuyers.”

 
New American Funding is expanding its Southern California territory with the grand opening of a new location in Indio, Calif.
New American Funding is expanding its Southern California territory with the grand opening of a new location in Indio, Calif. The company opened the Indio branch after recognizing a need in the Coachella Valley for affordable loan programs that could accommodate a diverse range of borrowers.
 
The new location is a full-service provider that will bring the region a scope of purchase and refinance options with a focus on downpayment assistance programs and niche loans like Your Path.
 
“We’re excited to serve an underserved community. We have options as diverse as our clients,” said New American Funding Branch Manager Sandra Magana. “We have the right loan products to assist today’s homebuyer in East Coachella Valley.”
 
As a native of the Valley and fluent Spanish-speaker, Magana was identified to expand the company’s footprint due to her in-market experience and ability to effectively serve the region’s growing Hispanic population.
 
“My biggest passion is helping farm workers find affordable housing,” said Magana. “Our programs can help residents become homeowners whether they’re self-employed or a seasonal employee.”
 
Magana has more than 30 year of mortgage experience and has worked in a variety of capacities including Branch Manager and top-producing Loan Officer.
 
“Sandra is a seasoned professional who’s well respected. She’s great working with clients. She’s an excellent mentor to young talent,” said Virginia Martinez, Regional Manager for New American Funding. “She’s the perfect person to open this branch.”
New American Funding is expanding its Southern California territory with the grand opening of a new location in Indio, Calif.