Tag Archives: California

2010 Census Reveals Bigger-but-Fewer Households

The Recession and the housing crisis are doing funny things to California – or so say the results of the 2010 U.S. Census.

More and more single family-owned homes are empty these days – the vacancy rate is reported at 2.1% (a .7% increase from 2000). While one might think that this would mean crowding for rentals, that hasn’t been the case. In fact, the vacancy rate for rentals has risen by an even steeper margin – from 3.7% to 6.3%.

Taken in isolation, those statistics might lead you to believe that the recession-ravaged Golden State is experiencing an exodus – but that simply isn’t true.  The median age of Californians has risen, implying that soon-to-beretirees, despite high costs of living, are not fleeing the state quite yet. And though the number of households has decreased, the size of those households has actually gone up – from 2.87 people to 2.9 people.

According to Silicon Valley-based Mercury News, there are two possible explanations. One is that “households” are actually adding members in an effort to save money. Adult children are returning to the nest, widowed or divorced parents are settling in with their kids and grandkids, siblings and their spouses are pairing up. As for the dream of the single young professional living alone in a chic apartment – well, that dream is dying quickly. Ask many, many unwed 20- or 30-somethings in San Francisco and he or she will tell you that life without a roommate is a luxury they simply can’t consider right now.

The other explanation is the growth of minority groups whose nuclear families tend to stay together for longer – the growing percentage of Asian and Hispanic families in particular may account for this trend toward larger households.

Either way, increased vacancy means lower demand for new homes and rentals – which should mean that prices will remain low. But with rising gas prices and new job growth concentrated in just a few areas in the state, things may not be quite that simple.


California Dominates April Foreclosure Stats

According to an in-depth study by Realty Trac, Inc., foreclosure across the country have dropped significantly since this time last year. This should be good news for Californians too, right?

Not exactly. California is the state with the third-highest rate of foreclosure in the U.S. That’s nothing to be proud of, but considering our size and the depth of the Recession, it isn’t the end of the world. At least we’re doing better than Nevada and Arizona, right?

Yes and no. While overall state-wide numbers place California third, the percentage of foreclosures in particular metro areas is a different story. Truth to tell, California metro areas make up 7 of the top 10 worst cities for foreclosures.

Of those 7,  homes in Modesto, Stockton, and San BernardinoRiverside were most likely to fall into foreclosure.

“Target”-ing Growth in Downtown San Francisco

San Francisco real estate and development circles are all a-buzz over the recently-revealed plan for the Metreon Center south of Market St.

Last week, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee announced the arrival of the city’s first Target store – an announcement which has divided San Franciscans from the get-go and which will probably continue to spark debate until the Target store opens in 2012.

Dedicated advocates of the mom-and-pop business model are horrified. What’s next, a WalMart? Heaven forbid.

While most San Francsicans hold a special place in their hearts for Righteous Indignation (particularly where city politics are concerned), the dissenters seem to have little sway where the Metreon is concerned. The physical and financial benefits are simply too appealing. According to popular local blog The San Francisco Sentinel, the complex is expected to generate

“600 construction and 700 permanent jobs, both with resident local hire goals of 50 percent. The Metreon project is projected to generate $15 million in tax revenue a year through sales and real estate taxes, with more than $4.4 million a year going to the City. “

Furthermore, this isn’t an empty estimate – almost all of the retail space has already been leased. Throwing a fit about that kind of growth is simply bad form.

To the Bat Cave! (Not that one. The OTHER Bat Cave)

It’s Friday, so we were hoping to find something fun to post about California real estate. And voila! CurbedLA has just posted pics of the Hollywood home of one of the silver screen’s greatest, oldest, and most inimitable stars – Bela Lugosi.

In case you’re not an ancient-movie fiend, Bela Lugosi is the Hungarian actor who made “Count Dracula” a household name and vampires an American pop-culture obsession from which, if the Twilight train wreck is any indication, we have yet to recover.

Eternally branded as “Dracula”, Lugosi slipped into obscurity and poverty in his later life and died of a heart attack in a ramshackle cottage in Los Angeles in 1956. (I’m getting this information from the excellent film Ed Wood, in case anyone’s curious.) The home recently listed on CurbedLA belonged to Lugosi during the 40s, so it isn’t his final residence.

These days the house is a bit of a fixer-upper – Curbed reports that the place hasn’t hit the market in 40 years – but overall it looks surprisingly normal, all things considered. Or does it?

Here’s the outside. A little gloomy, but okay:

And here’s the front door. Pretty cozy-looking, we must say:

Here’s one of the water-closets:

The kitchen could use a little love, but it’s  still charming in a mid-century kind of way:

Here’s a big foyer/hall/living room:

And here’s the inside of the living room. Totally normal – except for that disembodied torso stencil/decal plastered on the wall. Whatever.

Can SB 279 save California homeowners?

A recent editorial in the L.A. Times makes a simple argument for the support of SB 279, which is about to go before the California state Senate. The article, light-heartedly titled “Let’s Make a Deal on Foreclosures in California”, boils down the piece of legislation to one major point: that lenders would have to complete their assessment of a homeowner’s qualification for a loan modification before they could begin the process of repossessing the home through foreclosure.

Presumably, SB 279 would benefit California homeowners – particularly those for whom a loan modification would save their home, mortgage, and credit scores. Of course, it’s no guarantee that the number of approved loan modifications would actually increase.

The editorial caught our eye because of its pragmatic approach – rather than commending SB 279 for the good it will do for homeowners, the article argues for support of the law on the grounds that it will increase lender efficiency. Banks will be forced to do one thing at a time, and will therefore hopefully do that one thing a little bit better than they’ve been doing it.

The editorial also makes the diplomatic, if extremely cautious, move of downplaying lender culpability. It’s probably true that a great many lenders are “woefully understaffed” and that , but to refer to a robo-signing lender’s crime as merely “problematic” and “too disorganized and overwhelmed to stop itself” is quite the understatement.

Caution is probably called-for –  the bill had been dismissed by the Senate Banking Committee last month (shocker!), and is now on the table for the second time.

To read the bill itself, click here.

Solar Panels Help Homeowners Go Green and SAVE Green

Here comes the Sun – along with another great reason to go green. KQED News Climate Watch recently reported that not only is solar power a healthy alternative to conventional energy, it’s also a pretty good investment for homeowners.

Despite skepticism from many builders and owners, it seems that the presence of solar panels can actually raise a home’s selling price – as long as the panels are fairly new. Apparently, if you want to install solar power AND you want to get the best return on your investment, the magic move-out time-frame is about a 1.5 – 2.5 years.

That seems reasonable- most home improvements look pretty humdrum after a few years. But since solar panels provide more substantial economic/philosophical benefits than many of your average remodeling projects, we’d guess that you’d get your money’s worth even if your solar panels are older. Understandably, not a lot of research has been done on the investment value of older solar “systems” (ha! we had to do it). Time will tell.

Angelyne’s Hideous Hot Pink Condo Actually Sells

CurbedLA recently caught hold of a shocking listing in Malibu – the three-story, unimaginably vulgar, hot-pink decorated condo belonging to beloved Los Angeles icon Angelyne.

If you’ve never heard of her, she’s basically the patron saint of the “famous for nothing” (think Paris Hilton, Camille Grammer, etc).  She rose to “fame” in the 80s and 90s, when billboards and murals began popping up and showcasing her, um, “charms”.

Kudos to Angelyne for making a name for herself (probably not her real name, though). It’s really too bad, though, that when she made her deal with the Devil she let the Devil keep the decorating skills. Take a peek:

It’s upsetting, no?

There is, however, a silver lining (NOT a hot pink lining):

1. This place actually sold for $25K above its listing price. (Um, what? Yeah.)

2. The RealEstalker article about this place when it first went on the market back in November ’10 is ab.so.lute.ly. fab.ul.ous. We always enjoy catching up with the RealEstalker, but this article is particularly enjoyable. Behold, an excerpt:

Listing photos show that at least one of the three guest bedrooms was worked over and put through the wringer of Angelyne’s one-noted and all pink decorative sensibility and includes cotton candy colored walls, matching deep shag carpeting, and a molded plastic bed frame, end tables and dresser set in the shiniest of hot pink a person should never see. Where does a person even buy furniture like that? Seriously, folks, where? Really turning the decorative piss into vinegar is that tawdry, gauzy and two-toned wannabe baldachin that is only made more heart wrenching when seen in conjunction with the pink heart-shaped pillow and pile of discarded clothes on the floor around the bed.

If horrific decorating provides the impetus behind unparalleled pseudo-celeb real estate prose like that, we have to say that we’re fans.