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California Real Estate

California’s Real Estate Market Is ‘Surging’ According To Experts 

Mark McLaughlin is the president of San Francisco-based real estate company Compass California, and Selma Hepp is the Deputy Chief Economist at Corelogic, both recently spoke with the press about the current state of California’s real estate market and why it’s seeing such an unexpected curve in sales. 

According to McLaughlin, the recent “surge” in home buying that California is experiencing is due to three main variables. The delay of the traditional spring home-buying market, the Covid-19 pandemic inspiring investors to search for larger properties to quarantine in, and record low interest rates all across the country.

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The combination of these three varying factors has created a “velocity in the market we have not seen since 2006, pre-Great recession.”

According to Hepp, in August California saw a 15% increase in year-over-year sales activity, and while she believes that activity will still be down for the year overall due to the current economic crisis, it will still be a “solid year in sales and prices.” Inventory in California has been down by 50% which has an obvious impact on sales. 

The major difference that’s fueling the current demand, despite the lack of supply, is the fact that mortgage rates are so low and sellers have been spending their time in quarantine making changes to their homes that better fit the stay-at-home lifestyle we’ve all adopted throughout the past six months. 

“I would say home buyers have a unique opportunity to lock in the record lowest mortgage rates which will help offset some of the affordability challenges seen in the last few years.”

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Both experts also have mixed feelings on the November elections impact on the future of the real estate market. McLaughlin believes that another round of federally funded stimulus checks need to be distributed to Americans for the economy in general. These stimulus payments also helped individuals pay their rents and mortgages, so without them, the beginning of the 2021 market year could see a major decline in housing payments all across the country.

Hepp on the other hand isn’t as convinced the election will have an impact on the market, as in general she’s seen a slowdown in transactions before any election season. She claims that with the beginning of every year after a November election, the market sees a new surge in purchases, so she’s still projecting that will occur in California. 

“Homebuyers have a possibility to expand their search geographically and entertain areas that they haven’t thought of in the past. These are unique breaks that buyers in the past may have not had.”

When it comes to giving advice to homebuyers, both believe that prospective buyers should focus on the feeling of “home” more than anything else. Be conservative when it comes to spending, as the economy has proven to be unpredictable, however, real estate is almost always worth the investment overtime, so if you’re in a position to make the sale, go for it. 

California Wildfire

California Wildfires Update: Hospitals And Hundreds Of Homes Evacuated

Wind-driven fires that have erupted in the Napa Valley have forced hundreds of residents and all patients at St Helena Hospital to evacuate.

House Fire

How To Better Protect Your Home From Wildfires

As we’ve all seen, wildfire season has been devastating within the past year alone. The frequency and severity of these wildfires in the US have grown exponentially to a place we’ve never seen before. According to the US Forest Service’s 2019 Wildfire Risk Analysis, more than 4.5 million homes in the western US are currently at high or extreme risk of wildfire exposure. Now more than ever it’s important for all homeowners to take necessary precautions in protecting their homes as much as possible from the potential threat of wildfires, here are some measures one can take: 

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Clear Your Rook and Deck: Burning embers from smaller fires that float down from the plumes of smoke in the sky are a major threat to homes and other structures that aren’t protected. It only takes one ember to ignite a pile of dead leaves on a roof or deck that can prompt the entire house to then go up in flames. In the warmer wildfire season especially, one should be keeping their deck/porch swept of all dirt and debris as well as their rook. If you live in a wildfire prone area, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends getting asphalt shingles, clay or concrete tiles, metal, and/or slate roofing as all of those are fire resistant. 

Keep Embers Out Of Vents: Open eaves, vents, and other areas of exposure can also be extremely vulnerable to ember exposure, so make sure you have all openings from the outside of your home screened/sealed off. If your home has a pet door make sure it has a proper seal that can keep it closed during fire season/when it’s not in use. 

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Create A Plan For Emergency Responder Access: In case of emergency, you need to ensure that firefighters and other law enforcement employees are able to gain access to your home should you and your loved ones need help. Make sure your street names and numbers are clearly marked and legible from a distance. Make your specific address number prominently known on the outside of your property. If you have a driveway, try to keep it as cleared out and open as possible should a firetruck need access, as well as other areas of access into the home. 

Collaborate With Neighbors: If you’re in a wildfire prone area on the west coast of the US you should be talking to your neighbors about what the plan is should your neighborhood need to evacuate or respond to an emergency situation. There’s a multitude of online resources wildfire-prone communities can access to keep them better prepared for the future. Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is a company whose main purpose is literally creating guides for communities to keep them prepared. 

Firewise USA is a program run by the NFPA that empowers homeowners and residents all across the country to increase their ignition risks in their homes and communities. Currently the program has over 1,500 active sites in 42 states that they run out of. 

The NFPA also created a prep day to raise community awareness on wildfire risk that they call the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. This day is full of useful information, techniques, drills, supplies, etc. that can better prepare any homeowner for future wildfires. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of this day’s activities and information workshops aren’t able to occur in person, however, the NFPA created an online toolkit that anyone can access at any time to give themselves a refresher on wildfire prevention.

California Wildfires

Increase In Hospital Visits Resulting From West Coast Wildfires Has Doctors Concerned

The Northern California health system has reported a major surge in cases involving toxic smoke and its alarming health effects.

Wildfires

NASA Tracking California Wildfires From Space

California is currently enduring one of the worst wildfire seasons in its history. After the devastating fires that caused thousands to evacuate in winter 2019, NASA has decided to use some of its resources to assist the state in tracking the fires in hopes to predict how they’ll move.

The scientists helping with this mission are a part of the agency’s Applied Sciences Disaster Program in the Earth Sciences Division. The division is currently making maps and other data products that can be used by experts to track any active fires and the smoke plumes that they emit. This information is not only extremely useful in tracking current wildfires, but also for identifying areas that may be susceptible to future ones.

David Green, the manager of the Disasters Program at NASA claims that the information will also be used after the fires are put out, to watch out for any environmental hazards that may occur as a direct result of the fires; landslides, mudslides, sinkholes, etc. 

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“When disasters like this occur, we are able to swiftly respond to requests from our partners who need images and mapping data.”

The data is collected from a multitude of satellites that pass over the state. Multiple satellite instruments are used to capture and track different kinds of environments near the wildfires such as desert terrain, bodies of water, forest land, and more. This information is crucial for post-fire hazards as well as tracking how each element of the fire (smoke plumes, flames) is moving. 

The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument is able to view Earth’s surface in visible infrared and thermal-infrared wavelengths. This basically means the satellite is able to detect, capture, and track the smoke, heat, and size of the fires and thus track the way its moving. The ASTER data specifically is helping firefighters on the ground locate the source of these fires so that they can better allocate their resources. 

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Another satellite instrument being used is known as the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR), which captures images that helps scientists better understand how high and far smoke particles from the plumes travel. The data also can identify what type of particles are in the smoke specifically. This information is especially crucial as it informs experts what areas of the country are at risk of poor air quality and visibility. 

Airborne smoke particles can also be extremely harmful to our health, as inhaling massive amounts of plume smoke can increase one’s chance of cardiovascular and respiratory disease. So tracking the smoke specifically is just as important as tracking the fires themselves. NASA is currently working with the California National Guard in sharing this data so they can properly send out their resources to the places that need it most. 

In combination with other scientific instruments on the ground, these multiple satellites can help scientists predict future wildfires by characterizing the ones that have been appearing most often within the past year. By labeling each type of wildfire, scientists are able to understand their long-term effects and how they start in the first place. As of right now data collection and the wildfires are ongoing, if you live in California remain diligent, and listen to your local firefighters when it comes to future procedures.

Heat Wave Temps

Heat Waves And Thunderstorms In California Spark Multiple Wildfires

This past Sunday a rare summer thunderstorm in Los Angeles, California brought on an obscene amount of lightning that has now led to several small fires to break out in Northern California, and a huge wildfire that caused hundreds of individuals to evacuate their homes in northern Los Angeles. 

Firefighters are continuing to fight the fire in northern LA which is now burning towards the Angeles National Forest. The forest is known for being extremely dense, thick, and dry, which is the perfect condition for a wildfire to spread and expand to an unfathomable level. More than 4,500 buildings are also currently under threat of burning due to their close vicinity to the forest. 

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Reports claim firefighters are struggling to manage not only the steep, and rugged terrain of the hot forest, but also 15 mph winds and continued lightning, which is pushing the fire even further north. Fire spokesperson Jake Miller recently spoke with the press about what safety measures they currently have in place while they try to contain the fire further. 

“We set up a containment line at the top of the hills so the fire doesn’t spill over to the other side and cause it to spread, but it was obviously difficult given the erratic wind and some other conditions.” 

So far, The Lake Fire has been 12% contained as of Sunday, and has already burned through 28 square miles of dry brush and trees. 33 buildings, including at least a dozen homes, have been completely destroyed. Fire spokesman Tom Ewald claimed that temperatures reached more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit, creating an even more deadly environment for the wildfire to grow and spread. 

The thunderstorms and excessive heat wave only further fueled the now 4 square miles of fire in the foothills above LA. That particular fire was thought to be accidentally started by a homeless individual on Thursday, and is currently only 3% contained due to the environmental conditions in LA right now. 

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A majority of the state saw triple-digit temperatures this past weekend, which when combined with the heat and smoke of the fires created an atmosphere of increased ozone pollution; which has apparently now reached levels not seen in a decade for some areas. This also means that air quality may reach very unhealthy levels in many regions of Southern California specifically, where ozone pollution is already a major problem. 

The tropical storms in Northern California knocked out power for a majority of the San Francisco Bay Area with wind speeds up to 75 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. Daniel Swain, a climate scientist, claimed that the conditions have become extremely deadly in parts of California, creating an environment of complete natural destruction. 

“This is probably the most widespread and violent summer thunderstorm event in memory for the Bay Area, and it’s also one of the hottest nights in years.”

A massive fire cloud, scientifically known as a pyrocumulonimbus, formed over a fire that was started east of the town of Loyalton, near the California-Nevada border. This cloud collided with the intense winds of the storm to create a “tornado of fire,” which burned through 45 square miles of land and triggered evacuation orders all along State Route 395. 

None of the fires have been fully contained as of Monday morning, and strong winds and storm patterns continue to threaten firefighters’ efforts to stop the spread.

Buying Real Estate

Why Investors Are Continuing To Buy Real Estate During The Pandemic 

Investing in real estate property in the middle of a global pandemic and nationwide recession may seem like one of the worst financial decisions one could make, however, many are finding it to be quite the opposite. Real estate prices in major cities all across the country are dropping as many individuals have been fleeing the close, busy life of the city to return to their suburban homes while they wait out the rest of the pandemic. 

The market is extremely slow, the economy is weak, and property listings are going down, which is leading to a lot of buyers receiving amazing deals on homes and apartments they may have not been able to afford nine months ago. 

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Specifically, if we look at New York City as an example, we know that this metropolitan is one of the most expensive markets in the country. In the second quarter of 2020, real estate sales in NYC unsurprisingly plummeted by 54%, which has been the largest decline in the market in 30 years. As a result, sellers have grown more desperate, which is placing many buyers in the position of power in terms of negotiations. 

The average sales price for properties in Manhattan has dropped 18% to $1 million when compared to 2019’s sales; the biggest sales decline in the past decade for NYC. In California, a state that’s relatively equal to New York in terms of real estate market, Orange County reported a 5.2% drop in pricing, and that number is expected to increase by another percent within the next year. 

Besides the market being more in favor of the buyer, people are beginning to become a lot more appreciative of the spaces they consider home. Now that we’ve all, for the most part, been quarantining or working remotely in our homes, many are beginning to realize they want a space that truly makes them feel safe, leading to even more sales. People are being inspired to invest in their property more and push their spending to match up with what they truly want. 

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Along those same lines, for those of us working from home indefinitely, we’re beginning to realize that our homes now need to be divided to have an area dedicated to work, and the rest as our own personal work-free spaces. Separating your professional brain from your at-home brain has grown to be extremely difficult for many, which is obviously understandable considering home and work have taken over the same space. 

Working from the couch or your dining room table without an actual office space and environment can be really difficult for some, especially if you’re sharing that space with family or kids. Now, people are realizing that we really don’t know when life will return to normal, so they’re yet again choosing to invest in their property. 

Market-wise, upgrading your home for one that has even just one more bedroom has never been more feasible based on current trends. Hot tip: if you’re a buyer looking for a new space where you’ll also be working-from-home, a portion of your mortgage can be claimed on your taxes as a home-office deduction. Talk with your real estate agent about the specifics with your area and potential new mortgage as well.

Infected Covid Patient

Texas And California Among States Reporting Single-Day Record Spikes In Covid-19 Cases, Again

Six states located in the Southern and Western parts of the US have reported one-day records for coronavirus deaths and new infections this past Tuesday. This is not the first time these states have beaten their own one-day records, as for the most part these states have been the ones reopening businesses and public gatherings, leading to a direct spike in cases. 

Texas recently passed 400,000 cases while California reported that Latinx individuals who are living in lower-income areas of the state are accounting for more than half of the cases. Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and Oregon were the other four states that beat their own single-day records for new cases and deaths; again, this is not the first time any of these states have surpassed their own previous records or overall records in the US for new case numbers/death rates. 

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This past Tuesday, the US experienced 1,300 Covid-19 related deaths, which is the biggest one-day increase since May. California specifically reported that 56% of all Covid-19 infections are found in Latinx individuals; they also account for 46% of the deaths. This is mainly due to the areas of the state that these individuals are living in and a major lack in resource distribution among the country. 

Florida reported 191 deaths within 24 hours on Tuesday and Texas added more than 6,000 new cases to their official numbers this Monday. Texas’ total number of infections is now 401,477 and counting; California, Florida, and New York are the only other states that have surpassed 400,000 cases, which makes sense considering those are the four most populated states in America. 

The debate over reopening schools in the fall has been a heated topic of discussion as September gets closer and closer. President Trump and members of his administration have been pushing for schools to reopen, while a majority of teachers, local officials, students, and parents agree that until there’s a vaccine, reopening schools is a bad idea. 

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Randi Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers and recently spoke at the union’s virtual convention this past Tuesday to discuss how they’ll handle schools reopening in the fall if the administration goes through with their decision. 

“We will fight on all fronts for the safety of students and their educators. It’s the 11th hour; we need the resources now.” 

In Texas, the Texas Education Agency recently stated that they would deny funding to any school that delays in-person classes; a threat that a lot of schools around the country are experiencing. A decision that was surprising for Texans considering how badly they’re being impacted from the virus at the moment. 

Republican members of the US Senate also recently pushed back on a $1 trillion coronavirus relief proposal while Democratic members rejected a $3 trillion relief plan. Both sides claim that they didn’t want to spend trillions of dollars on a public health crisis, a decision that’s been heavily criticized considering the government just gave the Pentagon $738 billion for their 2020 budget.

While we continue to wait for updates from our government and healthcare professionals, it’s imperative that we all continue to listen to the health and safety guidelines that have been imposed within the past few months until this virus is no longer an issue.

California Positive COVID

California’s Poorest County Is The State’s New Epicenter For Covid-19

Adolphe Edward is the CEO for El Centro regional medical center, which is one of the only two hospitals in the entire county; which houses 181,000 California residents.

California Coronavirus

California Governor Prepares For Second Statewide Lockdown Amid Spikes In Covid-19 Cases

California Governor Gavin Newsom claims that the state is setting daily records this week for new cases of Covid-19.