January 2020 Newsblog

January 2020 NewsBlog

HAPPY 2020!

And how is your vision doing?

Is this the year? Is this the year in which the dream of homeownership becomes a reality? My gut view, plus the following article on CNN says “maybe”, and only if you are in the right place. You know what they say about real estate – its all about location, location, location. Yes, there is excitement for the industry that median prices are going up as featured in the Los Angeles Times but unfortunately, that does not translate into affordability. It is two different sides of the coin.  

AND HOW ARE LA COUNTY PROPERTIES DOING?

According to the LA County Assessor, Jeffrey Prang, L.A. county properties are doing very well. The Assessor’s Office latest annual report gives you an overview of how that tax assessment office operates, a breakdown of their services and the ranking of 88 cities. I was appointed to serve on the Assessor’s Advisory Council and here are some facts that were given to us: 

  • It is the most populous county in the U.S. with 10.3 million residents, 88 incorporated cities, 120 unincorporated communities and 80 school districts.   
  • It contains the largest local assessment roll in the U.S. with $1.604 trillion in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 2.38 million real estate parcels and 208,000 business personal property assessments
  • Their biggest upcoming challenge will come if the Split Roll initiative placed on the 2020 ballot passes. This initiative will remove commercial properties from Prop 13 guidelines and will require commercial properties to be immediately re-assessed to current value and then assessed again every few years. In order to effectuate this the Assessor’s office will require a $130 million budget increase just for year one and an additional $80 million ongoing thereafter. They would need 500+ staff and 300-400 appraisers added on. Commercial appraisers will require 5 more years of additional training, and they foresee an explosion of assessment appeals. 

By the way, the Assessor’s office is taking job applications for appraisal positions! Click here

BLOCKCHAIN – THE INDUSTRY BZZZ WORD FOR 2020

Like a chainsaw, will blockchain be the means by which our industry is cut into a “before” and an “after”? Will it be the start of the end of certain long defined jobs? We know that as technology advances, many of our jobs in the real estate industry will be phased out slowly. Blockchain, the next hyped technology will slowly become an important player in phasing us out. Blockchain gave rise to the bitcoin, but this technology can set in place many processes that are now manual and possibly subject to unwanted or unregulated changes. The importance of the blockchain is its “immutability” – keeping the integrity of the paperwork received and date stamped. It is being used in manufacturing, health care, payment collection, and soon, to streamline many parts of the mortgage and real estate process. Here is an article which shows how this technology can benefit consumers by reducing costs and open up bottlenecks. 

SILVER TSUNAMI

What a great way of looking at housing as a half empty or half full scenario. Zillow has put forth that there will be a wave of housing availability as baby boomers like me die, go to retirement homes, relinquish their hold on their present home or all of the above. They are calling us the Silver Tsunami in this article. But is that really what is going to happen? Or will more of us choose to age in place and pass on the home to our children, who were not able to purchase their own housing?  

AARP GETS INTO THE REAL ESTATE GAME

Us baby boomer seniors should never fear that we will be forgotten. We are such a huge part of the population that more than any other generation, there will be more and more products and services offered to us for our golden years. For instance, a member of the AARP can now take advantage of cash back rewards as AARP partners up with the Realogy family of real estate brokerage companies.  

I’m sure that it will be no surprise if the AARP gets involved in the mortgage business sometime soon like everyone else. Or are they already? I need to check my AARP monthly news…..

YES, THE DMV DOES MAKE MONEY BECAUSE…

The DMV, for all their long lines and incredibly slow processing, has their own way to make ends meet. I always wondered how come so much of our information is out there for some companies like Lexis Nexis and the credit bureaus to access. Well, it turns out the DMV sells our personal information and they make over $50 million each year! What will happen now that the California Consumer Privacy Act legislation has started? Will we be able to tell the DMV not to release? Of course not; they are a government agency and not subject to the Act. However, all the companies that they sell the information to will fall under the CCPA and that’s where the consumer who worries about their information should be checking in with. 

CHINA IS GAROTTING THE OUTFLOW OF MONEY

See, I knew it wasn’t just my gut feelings. China is, once again, cracking down on the outflow of money, hence leading to escrow transactions in which Buyers and Sellers are seeking a way to avoid the transfer of funds outside of China but still be able to purchase real estate overseas. You have questions on this subject topic? We have some answers we can share!

YOUR 2020 GOAL(S) (TIPS FROM THE FTC)

The topic subject line is: “Would you rather save $5,000 or lose 5 pounds?” And that caught my interest as it may catch yours. I, personally, would rather that both happened, but I and the FTC know that it takes determination, willpower and certain outside help. The FTC can’t help you with losing weight, but they can give their tips to save $5,000. It’s a New Year, let’s start it right. My best wishes to you – may your New Year’s Resolutions last through February! 

VEGAN SNEAKERS:

I don’t make up this kind of stuff. What is this world coming to? Vegan sneakers? Check out the article. Lovely to know my shoes will be made from eucalyptus. Reminds me of hemp clothing which Woody Harrelson was promoting years ago. Clothes made of hemp is also vegan, right? Because hemp is made from the cannabis plant, which is also famous for its other product – “weed”?

IT IS TIME FOR MY FUNNY FOR THIS MONTH

…which really isn’t a “funny”, but more like a “What Were They Thinking?” category. Again, I don’t have the brain cells to make up this kind of stuff.

I subscribe to news releases from FinCEN – the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is part of the Department of Treasury-  and here is what popped up in my Inbox:

Treasury News Release: Treasury Sanctions Evil Corp, the Russia-Based Cybercriminal Group Behind Dridex Malware

WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action against Evil Corp, the Russia-based cybercriminal organization responsible for the development and distribution of the Dridex malware. Evil Corp has used the Dridex malware to infect computers and harvest login credentials from hundreds of banks and financial institutions in over 40 countries, causing more than $100 million in theft.

Read Treasury’s entire news release here: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm845

This, my friends, is what happens when you read too many comic books. Looks like this dastardly Evil Corp was picked right out of the Marvel Universe.  Where is Ethan Hunt? We have an impossible mission for you.

Lots of best wishes to all for a prosperous 2020 year. No ifs, ands or buts, let’s make it a good one!

Juliana Tu, CSEO, CEO, CBSS, CEI, SASIP
“Escrow is my FOREMOST language!”

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely the author’s.

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