Sacramento’s best neighborhoods for trick-or-treating, according to Zillow

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Sacramento is among the nation’s 10 best cities for trick-or-treaters, according to a new study. 

Sacramento is among the nation’s 10 best cities for trick-or-treating, according to rankings released Thursday by real estate website Zillow.

Sacramento ranks No. 7 on the list, which is designed to determine “where trick-or-treaters can get the best candy in the least amount of time.”

To create the list, Zillow evaluated home values, the share of the population under 10 years old and single-family home density. Sacramento returns to Zillow’s 20-city list, after not appearing in 2016.

Zillow also listed Sacramento’s top neighborhoods for trick-or-treaters. Those neighborhoods are:

Sacramento gets high marks for Halloween in a separate study, also released Thursday. RewardExpert, an online travel service that focuses on reward programs, ranks Sacramento as the No. 3 vacation destination in the West for Halloween. The full study is available online.

Article and image provided by: Sacramento business journal


Mortgage Mon.. Tuesday: Mortgage Rates Little-Changed Near 4%


Mortgage rates were marginally lower today compared to last week, but only when factoring in upfront finance charges.  Actual quoted interest rates have been unchanged for more than a week with the average lender quoting conventional 30yr fixed rates of 4.0% on top tier scenarios.

For the bond markets that underlie mortgage rates, it was a three-day weekend, and it showed.  There were no relevant economic reports and very little by way of market-moving news or events.  That will change later this week when we’ll receive several important reports, including a key inflation reading on Friday.

In general, rates have been in a holding pattern at the highest levels in more than 2 months.  The next move is important, because it will either keep 2017’s narrow pattern intact or suggest a shift back toward higher rates for the first time since the beginning of the year.

Loan Originator Perspective

Bond markets posted small gains today following their Columbus Day hiatus. We’ll take any progress we can get these days, but this certainly isn’t a rally. The rest of the week brings treasury auctions and some inflation data that’s sure to interest traders. I’m still in “lock early” mode until I see more than a pause in rates’ upward trend.  –Ted Rood, Senior Originator
Today’s Most Prevalent Rates

  • 30YR FIXED – 3.875-4.0%
  • FHA/VA – 3.5%
  • 15 YEAR FIXED – 3.25%
  • 5 YEAR ARMS –  2.75 – 3.25% depending on the lender

Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations

  • 2017 has proven to be a relatively good year for mortgage rates despite widespread expectations for a stronger push higher after the presidential election in late 2016.  Most of the rate spike was done by the end of 2016 and we’ve generally moved sideways to lower since then
  •  The biggest question is whether or not this counter-intuitive trend has an expiration date.  Rates haven’t been immune from brief corrections back toward higher levels, and each correction causes concern that the good times are over.
  • Despite those concerns, we’ve seen rates make new lows in April, June, and September.  Although rates have been rising since early September, they’d have to move even higher before we’d consider a change in the bigger picture theme.
  • All of the above having been said, past precedent suggests we’re due for a much bigger dose of volatility some time soon.
  • Rates discussed refer to the most frequently-quoted, conforming, conventional 30yr fixed rate for top tier borrowers among average to well-priced lenders.  The rates generally assume little-to-no origination or discount except as noted when applicable.  Rates appearing on this page are “effective rates” that take day-to-day changes in upfront costs into consideration.
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Times Are Changing: Smoking In Your Condo


Smokers, beware! “The times, they are a-changing.” And with more and more marijuana use, this is now a hot-button topic.

If your next door neighbor in your condominium association cooks his native food which creates an objectionable odor, will your condo board of directors be required to take any action against that neighbor? Probably not. Perhaps the board (or the property manager) will discuss the situation with the neighbor, with a view toward trying to reach a happy solution, but generally this would be a matter to be decided exclusively between the two owners.

But what if your neighbor is a smoker and her smoke filters its way into your apartment. Is the association under any obligation to do anything about this?

A case was brought by an owner claiming that Greenbelt Homes — a Prince George’s Maryland Cooperative Association — had a duty to enforce the “nuisance clause” in the Cooperative Legal documents. The Circuit Court judge did not agree that the second hand smoke was a “nuisance”. According to the Judge, “it is a decision, in my view, that’s going to have to be made by the legislature.”

And anti-smoking legislation has been enacted all over the country which prohibits smoking in public areas, such as restaurants, public buildings or sports arenas. In fact, the Montgomery County Council — sitting as the Board of Health — adopted Regulation 17-210 which prohibits smoking in common areas of multi-family residential dwellings, including condominiums. “No Smoking” signs must be posted in such areas a lobbies, halls, laundry rooms and even playgrounds.

However, the law does not apply to smoking in individual units.

Can a condominium association prohibit smoking in the units? Is the unit your castle? Not really. A classic case from a 1999 California Supreme Court held that “anyone who buys a unit in a common interest development with knowledge of its owners association’s discretionary power accepts the risk that the power may be used in a way that benefits the commonality but harms the individual.” This approach is universally adopted in courts throughout this country.

Simply stated, every condominium unit owner is legally bound by the existing legal documents as they exist when the unit was initially purchased and as they may be legally adopted from time to time.

What are these legal documents? In condominium law, there is a hierarchy that must be followed by the board of directors and — if there is litigation — by a Judge. The highest priority is the condominium act of the state. These condominium laws are designed to provide some flexibility for associations to adopt their own rules to adapt to their particular situations. As time moves on, the associations need the right to periodically change their rules and procedures.

Next, there is the “Declaration”, which is a document recorded among the land records in the county (or city) where the property is located. That document tells the world that the property is “declared” to be a condominium, and spells out some basic issues– such as what constitutes a common element versus a unit and a limited common element.

Next in line are the Bylaws — oversimplified the bible of the association. And finally, there are rules and regulations adopted by the board of directors. The board has great latitude to enact reasonable rules and regs, but their authority to do so must come from the hierarchy above.

For example, if the Bylaws state “no pets”, the board cannot change that. However, if the Bylaws allow pets, the board can enact rules such as requiring vaccination, or keeping dogs on a leash while on common property.

To my knowledge, smoking (pro or con) is not mentioned in any of the condo documents that were enacted in the 1980’s, 90s, or even in those enacted in the early 2000s. I suspect, however, that with the heavy emphasis on “going green”, more and more new or converted condominiums will be – or are now — smoke free.

What can the Board do? A condominium consists of three parts: common elements — such as the roof or the elevators; limited common elements — such as a balcony that cannot be used by everyone, and units. Clearly, it can prohibit smoking in both common and limited common elements. Boards have fairly broad authority to manage and operate the building. But what about banning smoking in individual units.

The board has no authority merely to enact just a rule. A 2007 opinion from the Hawaii Attorney General summarized the law: “a condominium association may regulate smoking in an individual unit…if the association amended its declaration or bylaws to include a smoke-free policy, or if the association found that smoking in an individual unit… unreasonably interfered with the use and enjoyment of other units or the common elements by other unit owners.”

The key is to amend the Bylaws or the Declaration; that always requires a super majority vote of either two thirds or even three fourths of the owners. Since the Declaration has a higher level of priority, my preference is also to amend that legal document.

Every condominium document spells out the amendment procedure. The Board on its own initiative — or by a petition from owners representing a percentage spelled out in the document — can put a proposal to the membership. Every owner must be provided the language of the proposal, and a specific date on which the vote will take place. Owners may vote in person or by proxy.

Amending condo documents is not easy. The legislators who enacted the condo laws wanted to make sure that a small minority (or even a slim majority) could not change certain basic issues — issues that impact directly on all owners.

Proponents and opponents of the proposed smoking ban will mount a campaign — very similar to Presidential political campaigns. One method many associations use to convince reluctant owners to vote in favor of a proposal (such as limitations on the number of investor owners) is to “grandfather” current owners. In other words, current owners may smoke in their units but when they sell, the unit must be smoke free forever.

To my knowledge, only one court case has addressed the issue where a small condominium association amended its declaration to ban smoking in the entire building, including the units. A Colorado court in 2006 upheld the validity of the amendment, primarily because “it was reasonably investigated, drafted and passed by three out of four owners after years of trying to address the problem by other means”.

The US Supreme Court weighed in on the smoking debate when it held, in 1973, that the act of smoking is not a fundamental right.

We are now seeing more and more smoking bans being enacted in condominium associations.

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The New Definition Of The Community Park


It boosts property values, helps the environment, improves public health and brings together people of all ages and cultures. It’s free to visit anytime.

It’s your local neighbourhood park and it’s starting to get more attention from urban planners across the country.

“Parks are more than just parks today. Green, open space has to do double, triple and even quadruple duty. They have to be ‘the traditional park’, but they’re also cultural institutions, botanical gardens and providers of social services. It’s a new definition of parks,” says Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line in New York. Hammond recently took part in the TD Common Ground Project, which polled Canadians’ attitudes about parks.

The survey says 95 per cent of Canadians agree that access to community green space will be important to their quality of life in the future. Six out of 10 people say they visit their local parks at least once a week.

“The old thinking was that we went to green spaces to connect with nature or take your dog for a walk,” says Andrea Barrack, a vice president at TD Bank Group. “Today parks are really punching above their weight in terms of the goals they’re able to achieve, like improving community safety, enhancing a sense of belonging and reducing isolation. People are now seeing these benefits coming from parks.”

Ninety-seven per cent of respondents say that public picnic and eating areas are important for their parks, but the survey found that the top three reasons why Canadians use parks is to get away from it all.

“Relaxing on my own” was the No. 1 reason, cited by 43 per cent of users. “Relaxing with friends and family” was second, and “Connecting with nature” the third most popular answer at 42 per cent. Only 13 per cent said they mostly use parks to spend time with their pets.

Having playgrounds in parks is important to Canadians, according to the survey. Fifty-nine per cent of respondents say their kids spend less time outdoors than they did at their age.

“We tend to think of parks as playgrounds with artificial play structures but we should think more of the…enjoyment for children in having more natural elements: climbing trees; picking up logs looking for insects; wading through brush,” says Marc Cadotte, professor of Urban Forest Conservation and Biology at the University of Toronto.

Adam Bienenstock, founder and principal designer with Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds in Dundas, Ont., says, “Living in urban centres, it’s a question of what’s missing — and right now, what’s missing is a full sensory experience. What’s missing from many people’s health and immune systems is all of those positive microbes, all of those bacteria, all those microbiota that make up their immune system. And you don’t get that unless you touch a biodiverse environment before you’re eight-years-old. We’re missing that in our cities. We forgot that and didn’t design for it.”

Close proximity to community green space is the third-most important factor when people select a neighbourhood in which to live, says the survey. “Proximity to good schools” at 23 per cent and “easy access to public transit” at 19 per cent ranked just above access to a park at 18 per cent. It was ranked as more important than “walkable neighbourhood” at 15 per cent, “nearby amenities” at 14 per cent and “safety/low crime” at 11 per cent.

Bringing technology to green space, such as Wi-Fi and electronic device charging stations, wasn’t a priority for most people surveyed. The most popular suggested enhancements were more public picnic areas, natural playgrounds and solar lighting. Most respondents say that parks must be inclusive and include benefits for families with young children, seniors and people with disabilities.

The respondents were asked what land uses they would be willing to sacrifice, if necessary, to preserve more green space. Forty per cent said commercial development, 24 per cent residential development and just 20 per cent said parking.

Eighty per cent said that government should take a leading role in funding green spaces, while 36 per cent said private enterprise could also get involved.

“We’re really asking a lot from our parks. There’s a great opportunity for corporations to participate in building the social and programming elements around parks,” says Dave Harvey, executive director of Park People, an independent charity. “As we’ve seen an evolution in the ways parks are used, we’re seeing some evolution from parks departments on being open to working with corporations in different ways.”

Park People’s Sparking Change report identified many benefits of local parks, including:

Environmental: They help clean the air, keep cities cool in summer, preserve natural ecosystems and absorb storm water runoff.

Public Health: Having access to green spaces is associated with higher levels of physical activity and encourages people of all ages to have a healthier lifestyle.

Economic: “Parks make neighbourhoods desirable places to live, work and visit. They draw in residents, businesses, investors and tourists alike, giving an economic boost to the community,” says Park People. Parks also boost property values by five to 20 per cent, says the organization.

Social Value: “Parks are social spaces where we can get to know our neighbours, build a sense of belonging and learn to understand each other better,” says Park People. “Since they are free, open and accessible, parks offer potential as community hubs where people of different ages, backgrounds and abilities can come together.”

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Best Real Estate Projects 2017: Eviva Midtown

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Over the next few days, we’re profiling our Best Real Estate Projects for 2017. Here’s an honoree for innovative construction.

People love watching construction cranes in action. They were treated to an especially intriguing sight several years ago in midtown Sacramento when cranes were swinging whole apartments into the air and then stacking them, one by one like Lego blocks, to create a six-story building.

The Eviva Midtown at 16th and N streets is Sacramento’s first modular residential project. The building has five stories of rental units atop 5,000 square feet of ground-level retail space and one level of subterranean parking. The building’s first retail tenant, sandwich shop Jimmy John’s, plans to open shortly.

Eviva’s 118 modular apartments were prefabricated off-site in Boise, Idaho. Each module weighed about 35,000 pounds and contained two apartments. The modules were shipped to Sacramento and placed in a staging area before being stacked. It took just seven weeks for general contractor Tricorp Construction to stack all the modules, which were about 95 percent complete. Workers then completed the interiors, hooked up utilities and built a “skin” to cover the exterior of the building.

“This is one of four major modular residential developments in California,” said Matt Samuelson, chief operating officer of The Integral Group, the Atlanta-based developer of Eviva. “We have done other preconstructed components, but this was our first fully modular development.”

Integral, which partnered with local developer LDK Ventures LLC, was deeded the lot at 16th and N streets by the Capitol Area Development Authority.

Eviva is the name for Integral’s urban, high-density brand of residential rental units – it comes from the middle letters in the word “revival.” Sacramento is the latest of six such projects nationwide. After building Eviva-branded mixed-use buildings in Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, the company felt the time was ripe to build such a project in Sacramento.

“We felt a project here had all the fundamentals to be a success,” Samuelson said. “There’s the quality of life, a government center in the central business district, an urban renewal and renaissance of urban space – it’s the target market for the urban lifestyle our Eviva brand represents.”

Samuelson said modular construction is gaining traction because it reduces construction risks and time spent on the job site. Prefabrication also means a standard level of quality control and construction consistency for every unit. “For example, there’s greater sound separation between each unit because of better insulation, and thicker separation between floors and ceilings,” he said.

But because it’s new and different from on-site building, it can create headaches with design deadlines, construction planning and responsibilities, and cost estimates. For Eviva Midtown, the challenges started in the initial design process, which took eight months.

“In the standard construction procedure, architects continue to perfect the design as the project gets ramped up in early phases. But for prefab, all the decision-making for the design gets pulled to the front of the project and has to be completed before it begins. So having the right team at the table for the intensive initial design is essential,” Samuelson said.

The biggest problem with the project was when the local company initially hired to build the modules went out of business. Zeta Communities, then based at McClellan Business Park, ran into financial trouble in the summer of 2014 and abruptly shut down, defaulting on its contract. Tricorp then turned to Guerdon Modular Builders in Boise to build the modular units.

Denton Kelly, managing principal of LDK Ventures, shrugged off the snafu, saying it’s part of the construction process. “It was what it was with Zeta. We quickly pivoted and moved to Guerdon. At the end of the day, the job went over budget and took longer to complete. But Guerdon did an exceptional job,” he said.


Nonetheless, the changeover and ensuing delay increased project costs from an estimated $33 million to $41.6 million. That prompted Integral to put the completed Eviva on the market earlier this year. The building, which is more than 90 percent occupied, is set to be sold shortly to an arm of Sequoia Equities for $53 million.

As for modular construction, Kelly said LDK Ventures will consider various types of prefabrication for future projects, such as in The Railyards. “To me, it signifies the first attempt in how we innovate our way through the housing crisis to a new approach, because the current paradigm isn’t sustainable,” he said. “I don’t personally think the modular approach of building a building from the inside out is the best solution to keeping construction costs grounded. But there are startup companies looking at more nuanced options, like performing a lot of construction off-site and less in the field.”

Samuelson is a bit more enthusiastic about modular construction. “It is still early in its evolution, and with this project, we learned about the innovation necessary to make it a more durable means of delivery,” he said. “As the market matures, we know that it will be a means of creating more affordable housing solutions.”



Location: 1531 N St., Sacramento

Completed: Fall 2016

Developer: The Integral Group

Investor Partner: LDK Ventures LLC

General contractor: Tricorp Construction

Architect: Modular architect, Lowney Architecture; site-build architect, LDA Architects

Modular manufacturer: Guerdon Modular Builders

Article and image provided by: Sacramento Business Journal

Los Angeles prepares to reopen Section 8 housing list after 13 years

City expects up to 600,000 applicants


The city of Los Angeles will soon open its Section 8 housing list for the first time in 13 years, and analysts expect applications to come pouring in, according to an article by Doug Smith for the Los Angeles Times.

The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher waiting list will open October 16, 2017 at 6 a.m., and will close again on October 29, 2017 at 5 p.m.

But even as the city comes close to opening the list once again, some residents who applied in 2004, the last time the list was open, are still waiting in line, according to the article.

From the article:

Because every Section 8 voucher is already taken, and federal budgets haven’t kept up with poverty, the only way to move up in line is for someone who has a voucher to relinquish it.

Turnover, due mainly to rising income or death, is rare. Today, with about 57,000 vouchers in use, only about 2,400 become available each year.

Now, the 300,000 applicants who applied in 2004 are nearly all through the line, meaning the city’s housing authority will soon open the waiting list once again. But this time, analysts expect the number of applications to double to up to 600,000 during the two week registration period in October.

From the article:

After an initial screening to drop those who neither live nor work in the city, and are therefore ineligible, 20,000 will be selected by lottery to make up the new Section 8 waiting list. The other 580,000 will be out of luck, though they are still able to sign on to the list of 35,000 waiting for public housing.

But even those chosen to be placed on the list could be waiting another ten years for their turn to receive their Section 8 voucher.

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CoreLogic: Tight inventory stabilized home price growth

Nearly half of largest 50 markets overvalued


Home prices increased across the U.S. once again, and will only continue to climb, though at a much slower pace, according to the latest Home Price Index and HPI Forecast by CoreLogic, a global information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider.

Home prices showed strong growth in August with an increase of 6.9% from the year before and 0.9% from July, according to the index.

In some areas this price growth was much higher, most notably in Las Vegas, where home prices increased 8.4% from last year.

But while this growth is expected to continue, CoreLogic predicts the increase rate will waiver. Home prices are forecasted to increase by just 0.1% from August to September, and 4.7% by August 2018, according to the HPI Forecast.

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

“While growth in home sales has stalled due to a lack of inventory during the last few months, the tight inventory has actually helped stabilize price growth,” CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said. “Over the last three years, price growth in the CoreLogic national index has been between 5% and 7% per year, and CoreLogic expects home prices to increase about 5% by this time next year.”

The chart below shows home price growth has remained at or near 5% since the middle of 2014.

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However, while price growth may be stabilized, it still continues to price first-time homebuyers out of the market as they struggle to save up enough. A recent study from First American Financial Corp. shows affordability continues to decrease.

Similar to the previous month, CoreLogic found 34% of the country’s largest 100 metropolitan areas are overvalued as of August, according to its Market Conditions Indicators data. The data also showed 27% of the markets were undervalued and 39% were at value.

The MCI analysis categorizes home prices in individual markets as undervalued, at value or overvalued by comparing home prices to their long-run, sustainable levels, which are supported by local market fundamentals such as disposable income.

“Nearly half of the nation’s largest 50 markets are overvalued,” CoreLogic President and CEO Frank Martell said. “The lack of real estate affordability has spread beyond the typically expensive coasts into the interior of the nation, hitting cities such as Denver, Nashville, Austin and Dallas.”

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