By Sherri Butterfield
WRITER AND EDITOR
Membership in Orange County REALTORS® has increased, and the Association is fiscally sound. The housing market will have a good year, but we need to force our distracted elected representatives to ask the right questions and seek workable solutions for real problems.
Speakers at the Orange County REALTORS® 2018 Housing Market Forecast, Annual Membership Meeting, and Partner Expo included 2018 OC REALTORS® President Tammy Newland-Shishido, 2018 OC REALTORS® Treasurer Adam Rodell, 2018 California Association of REALTORS® President Steve White, OC REALTORS® Past President Rita Tayenaka, and Economic Forecaster Chris Thornberg. Their remarks are summarized below.
Orange County REALTORS® Update
We are now officially Orange County REALTORS®! We changed our name to leverage the REALTOR® brand, which is estimated to be worth $6 billion. More than half of all transactions in Orange County were handled by our REALTOR® members. Our members sell in every city in the county and throughout the Southland, which has helped us become the largest local Association in California and the ninth largest in the nation. We offer more classes, more services, and more products than any other Board in the state. And when times are tough, we offer tangible help through our member relief fund, OCAR Cares.
OC REALTORS® Treasurer’s Report
During 2017, our REALTOR® membership grew by 6.4 percent, bringing the total number of REALTORS® we served at year end to more than 14,000. Last year was the third consecutive profitable year after a cycle of three years of operating at an intended deficit. The Association has rebuilt a healthy level of reserves and is confident of its ability to continue increasing the quality of its services and improving its facilities. When the 2016 Financials were audited, the Association received a clean report. The 2017 Financials will be reviewed as part of our threeyear cycle of audit followed by two reviews.
Housing. The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) needs to position itself as the authority on housing in California because there is no authority on housing in this state. The biggest problem in housing is not affordability but availability. To keep up with demand, we need to add 350,000 housing units a year, but we build only about 150,000 units.
Legislation. This year, C.A.R. successfully sponsored SB 173 (Dodd), which restored the CalBRE to “Department” status; AB 690 (Quirk- Silva), which requires HOAs to disclose fees that may be charged for documents necessary to facilitate a real estate transaction; and AB 448 (Daly), which requires that nonresident property owners be notified of a proposed tax or bond on their property.
The requirement for Code-of-Ethics training, which was every four years, is now every two years, and the clock started on January 1, 2017. Also, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is supporting changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act that would give property owners an opportunity to make repairs before a lawsuit could be filed for a minor violation.
The Economy. Last year was a solid year for growth, and 2018 is likely to be even better. Income is not stagnant, and California’s share of national personal income has never been higher. Far from being a drag on the U.S. economy, California is pushing the nation’s economy forward.
Labor Participation. The unemployment rate is low. We are worried about the number of jobs, but we should be worried about the number of workers. The idea that immigrants are stealing American jobs is preposterous. The truth is that we are running out of available workers.
Housing Market. It’s going to be a good year for housing, especially from a price perspective. You can expect modest acceleration in terms of both sales activity and price increases. We would expect a bubble only if we were overbuilding and overborrowing; and right now, we are not doing either one of those things.
The Threat. The big threat we face today is weapons of mass distraction. We are so busy talking about the Administration that we have forgotten about the country the Administration is supposed to be administering. We need to force our political leaders to start asking the right questions about the real problems they need to consider and solve.