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News and Information to Keep You a Step Ahead!

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If you're an ActiveKey user, don't forget to renew your key lease by September 1. You can pay online at Supra's WebPay.

If you no longer require your key, make sure you return it to either OCAR office by August 31 to cancel your contract. If you have your key on September 1 or beyond, you will be responsible for paying the lease renewal fee.

If you need assistance registering for Supra WebPay, watch our quick training video:

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Are you using a drone to snap photos of your latest listing? We’ve noticed several drone-assisted photos in the MLS, and we have some advice you, “STOP!”  Unless you or the company you’ve hired to take the pictures has a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), using a drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for commercial purposes is illegal.  

Current FAA regulations prohibit the commercial use of UAVs, except in situations where the operator has obtained a Section 333 waiver. The FAA Modernization Act of 2012 charged the agency with integrating UAVs into the National Air Space. The rulemaking for UAV integration began in February 2015 and likely won’t be completed until late 2016 or early 2017

The National Association of REALTORS® has been meeting with the FAA to develop guidelines that would allow REALTORS® to photograph properties using drones.  This regulatory process will take some time. So, unless you (or the drone operator) have the Section 333 waiver, for now, it’s best to keep that drone on the ground.

In response to member’s increasing interest in drone-assisted photography, NAR has compiled a number of resources on its website here.

 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. 

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“REALTORS® report that buyers are far more concerned about a home’s water efficiency than they once were. Many customers are asking about the water conservation upgrades or modifications that have been made to the homes they are considering for purchase.”

In this month's issue of the OC REALTOR®, OCAR Public Policy Advisor, Ron Kingston describes how the water shortage is altering both buyer expectations and property appraisals in the once-Golden State. 

Read the full article here.

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Don't spend your money on eBooks that you can check out for free, online via the National Association of REALTORS® Lending Library.  Borrow books on real estate investment, marketing techniques, management trends, and a number of real estate-related topics. 

Formats are offered for desktop computers, tablets, and mobile devices. 

This week's selected title: The Art of Selling Real Estate

REALTORS®: access this free service here.

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A key indicator of housing market strength, the REALTORS® Confidence Index, is based on a monthly survey sent to over 50,000 real estate practitioners. Practitioners are asked about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions. In addition, the "Questions of the Month," feature results of a timely aspect of the housing market. In June, REALTORS® were by and large “strongly confident” about the outlook over the next six months compared to a year ago.

Positives:

  • Strong local market conditions in June for single-family and condo properties.
  • Sustained job creation at a pace of 220 thousand jobs per month in 2015
  • Reduction in the FHA’s annual mortgage insurance premium rates (which took effect January 2015)

Concerns:

  • TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) regulations (effective October 3, 2015) may lead to delayed closings
  • Declining demand from international buyers due to a stronger U.S. dollar
  • Tight inventory and limited affordability
  • Potential for rising interest rates
  • Difficulty obtaining financing due to higher credit and down payment standards

Read the Report here 

 

Source: "June 2015 REALTORS® Confidence Index," National Association of REALTORS® (June 2015)

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Existing-home sales increased (3.2%) in June to their highest pace (5.49 million) in over eight years (5.79 million in February 2007). 

Sales have now increased year-over-year for nine consecutive months and are 9.6% above a year ago (5.01 million).  

  • June: 5.49 million (May: 5.32 million)
  • Northeast: 4.3% Mid-West: 4.7% South: 2.3%; West: 2.5% (all have also increased year-over-year for six consecutive months)
  • Single Family: 2.8% Condominium: 6.6%

Backed by June’s solid gain in closings, this year’s spring buying season has been the strongest since the downturn. 

  • 1st-time buyers were 30% in June, down from 32% in May; 28% in June 2014 
  • All-cash sales were 22% of sales in June, down from 24% in May; 32% in June 2014
  • Investors were 12% in June, down from 14% in May; 16% in June 2014 
  • 30-year fixed-rate rose to 3.98% in June (3.84% in May)

Demand is being fueled by a year-plus of steady job growth and an improving economy that’s giving more households the financial wherewithal and incentive to buy. June sales were also likely propelled by the spring’s initial phase of rising mortgage rates.

However, the cumulative effect of rising demand and limited supply has pushed the national median sales price to an all-time high (July 2006, $230,400). Limited inventory amidst strong demand continues to push home prices higher, leading to declining affordability for prospective buyers.

Home Prices
The median existing-home price in June was $236,400, which is 6.5% above June 2014. This marks the 40th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Inventory/Time on Market
Total housing inventory at the end of June inched 0.9% to 2.30 million existing homes available for sale, and is 0.4% higher than a year ago (2.29 million). Unsold inventory is at a 5.0-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 5.1 months in May. 

  • 5.0-month supply; 5.1 months in May
  • Properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days in June, down from May (40 days) and the shortest time since NAR began tracking in May 2011.
  • Forty-seven percent of homes sold in June were on the market for less than a month – the highest percentage since June 2013 (also 47%).

 

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Tell your U.S. Representative to support H.R. 9, the Innovation Act to stop patent trolls and protect the real estate industry from frivolous lawsuits.  

REALTORS® across the country receive threatening demand letters and lawsuits alleging patent infringement based on the use of common business tools such as drop down menus or search alert functions on websites and the scanner function on a copier. These patent trolls buy vague patents and use them to turn everyday business practices into potential lawsuits. 

H.R. 9 is scheduled for House floor consideration next week. Congress must pass this common-sense comprehensive patent litigation reform to protect Main Street businesses and REALTORS® from patent troll abuse.

Contact Your Representative Now!

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Real estate like-kind exchanges are an important vehicle for disposing of and acquiring properties and support the nation's financial growth, job creation and economy, according to a new report from the National Association of REALTORS®.

The Like-Kind Exchanges: Real Estate Market Perspectives 2015 survey of NAR's commercial and residential members found that real estate investors and commercial property owners place a very high priority on current like-kind exchange tax rules; 40 percent indicated that transactions would not have occurred in the absence of the tax provision, and 56 percent said even if the project would have occurred it likely would have been smaller in scale.

Survey Highlights:

  • For a significant proportion of real estate market participants, like-kind exchanges (LKE) provide an important vehicle to dispose and acquire property.
  • Like-kind exchanges are available to individuals, partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies, as well as trusts.
  • The main requirement of a like-kind exchange is that the disposition of one property and acquisition of another property must be part of an integrated transaction, rather than two individual transactions.
  • REALTORS® are active participants in like-kind exchanges as investors, brokers and agents, intermediaries and professional advisors.
  • Sixty-three percent of REALTORS® participated in a like-kind exchange transaction during 2011-14.
  • In 2014, REALTORS®’ average fair market value of all transactions was $7.0 million
  • Like-kind exchanges accounted for 39 percent of total FMV, or $2.7 million per respondent.
  • Ninety-six percent of REALTORS® indicated a decrease in real estate values in case of repeal of like-kind exchange provisions.
  • Like-kind exchanges in which REALTORS® participated created between 10 and 35 new jobs, mostly resulting from spending on building improvements following acquisition.

 

More Information:

Read the Survey Report

Read the news release about the report

Learn more about 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges.

 

Source: NAR

 

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Over the holiday weekend, the Orange County Fire Authority responded to five near-drownings. Drowning consistently remains the leading cause of death for children one to four years old both in Orange County and throughout the state. 

In the July issue of the Orange County REALTOR® magazine, OCAR writer and editor, Sherri Butterfield, wrote an excellent piece entitled, "The ABCs of Water Safety" (pages 48-49). It's followed by a one-page Swimming Pool Safety handout. These are great pieces to share with your clients or farm. 

Read the complete July issue of the OC REALTOR®.

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August 7 at 2:30 PM @ The Orange County Great Park in Irvine

OCAR members and their friends and families are welcome to play! $50 per team of four.* Proceeds to benefit OCAR Cares Foundation. 

Spaces are filling up fast. Act now to secure a spot for your team. Deadline: Wednesday, August 5. See form and rules for details: 

Any questions, please contact Aaron Rosen.  

*Each team must include at least one player of the opposite sex.

OCAR Cares is a fiscally sponsored project of OneOC. Tax ID #95-2021700. 

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If you ever thought Mello-Roos taxes made your property tax bill more confusing, you're not the only one.  Recently, a grand jury investigation found that the 119 districts within Orange County lack the oversight necessary to ensure that your tax dollars are going toward their intended purpose.  The County of Orange is the largest administrator of the Mello-Roos districts, followed by Capistrano, Tustin, and Irvine School Districts.

Read the rest of the Orange County Register article here...

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Pending home sales continued to rise in May and are now at their highest level in over nine years, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Gains in the Northeast and West were offset by small decreases in the Midwest and South.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, climbed 0.9 percent to 112.6 in May from a slight downward revision of 111.6 in April and is now 10.4 percent above May 2014 (101.9). The index has now increased year-over-year for nine consecutive months and is at its highest level since April 2006 (113.7).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says contract activity rose again in May for the fifth straight month, increasing the likelihood that home sales are off to their best year since the downturn. "The steady pace of solid job creation seen now for over a year has given the housing market a boost this spring," said Yun. "It's very encouraging to now see a broad based recovery with all four major regions showing solid gains from a year ago and new home sales also coming alive."

Watch Yun's update: 

Source: NAR

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Watch the latest OC FastStats market update. Share this information with your clients via your website or social media.

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While total unit sales from international home buyers decreased from last year, total sales dollar volume increased 13 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors® 2015 Profile of Home Buying Activity of International Clients .

For the period of April 2014 through March 2015, total international sales were estimated at $104 billion, compared to the previous year's estimate of $92.2 billion. This represents 8 percent of the total existing-home sales dollar volume.

"In 2014, sales transaction to buyers outside of the U.S. dropped 10 percent, possibly due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar in relation to international currencies and weakening foreign economies," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "However, the amount of money spent has increased; this means international purchasers in the U.S. have become an upscale group of buyers, spending more money on fewer homes."

In 2014, five countries accounted for 51 percent of all purchases by international buyers: China, Canada, Mexico, India and the United Kingdom. For the first time, buyers from China exceeded all other countries in terms of units purchased and dollar volume, purchasing an estimated $28.6 billion worth of property. Buyers from Canada followed with $11.2 billion in purchases, followed by India with $7.9 billion, Mexico with $4.9 billion and the U.K. with $3.8 billion.

 

Read the 2015 Profile of International Home Buying Activity here.

 

Source: NAR. Read the full press release.

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National Association of REALTORS® President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark., released the following statement in response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s announcement  of a proposed two-month delay for the implementation of  the new Truth in Lending Act and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act Integrated Disclosure, or TRID, regulation.

“The action announced today by the CFPB is a welcome step. NAR has long advocated the need to avoid implementing the new regulation during the peak summer selling season.

“NAR welcomes the CFPB’s proposed extension to October 1, 2015 as well as the earlier 'sensitivity' they offered to companies making a good-faith effort to comply with the new TRID regulation. 

“We will continue to work with CFPB to minimize any possible market disruptions or uncertainty that could develop following the implementation.  

“Realtors® appreciate that the CFPB has demonstrated an understanding of the need for additional time to accommodate the interests of the many consumers and providers.”

 

Source: NAR

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Xome announced that they were entering the brokerage industry through the offer of an online portal for consumers and the potential of a rebate to consumers who buy and sell through its service and the agents who are employed by Xome to handle their customers. Xome says they have the largest most accurate data base of homes for sale, some of the best search technology around and that consumers may be able to receive a discount when they purchase through the Xome network.

Most importantly Xome says that they have the first truly end-to-end online transaction process yet to be available. Not only may a consumer buy or sell a home but they can have the entire process handled online so that a consumer can more easily access the transaction as it occurs. Xome says it will have a full concierge program to be available to assist consumers as they move through the process. Should this all be the case, Xome will be the first to tie all the parts of the transaction together in one online process.

Read the full article from REAL Trends here...

 

Excerpted from Disrupter Alert: Xome | by Steve Murray, REAL Trends publisher

OCAR has partnered with REAL Trends to provide our members with insightful business tips. This article originally appeared online at REALTrends.com and is republished with the permission of REAL Trends Inc. Copyright 2015.

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VIDEO: With new CFPB rules going into effect on August 1, are you a little confused about compliance? Watch this video from NAR: 

Read the full article here...

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Lead generation is something that probably occupies your thoughts at least 50 percent of the time. Let’s face it; it’s probably more like 99 percent of the time. Without consistent lead flow, your business is dead. Everyone knows that. What most real estate professionals don’t know is where to get the best quality leads, the people who will buy or sell.

In the REAL Trends 2015 Online Performance Study, we looked at more than 100,000 online leads. Of those leads, the highest volume of leads assigned to agents came from an online live chat service. With an agent assignment rate of 49.18 percent, live chat beat out lead assignment from the broker website, Homes.com, Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com and ListHub.

Intrigued by the high agent assignment rate of online live chat leads, REAL Trends conducted a study, called “The Efficacy of Online Live Chat Services for Real Estate.” In this study, we uncovered that live chat leads had more than just great agent assignment. On average, live chat leads generated 36 percent more leads for a brokerage. Of those leads, 7.5 percent of them generated a transaction. If you are actively tracking your lead conversion rates, you know that number is phenomenal.

As with anything else, not all online live chat services are created equal. Depending on your overall goals, there are specific strategies you need to consider when launching live chat services on your website. From our 2015 Online Performance Study, live chat leads ranked fifth in the overall quantity of leads generated. However, we recommend that you pursue quality over quantity every time.

To find out more, join REAL Trends on June 17 for a live chat webinar that will cover the latest tips and strategies to use this service in real estate. Learn how to double your conversion rate.

All attendees will receive a free research study filled with the latest best practices for online chat leads. Join Travis Saxton, vice president of technology, REAL Trends; Deirdre LePera, research strategist, REAL Trends, and Justin Shum, CEO of ReadyChat, on June 17, 2015, at 2 p.m. EST/1 p.m. CT/ Noon MT.

Webinar Registration

Source: REAL Trends / Author: Deirdre Lepera

OCAR has partnered with REAL Trends to provide our members with insightful business tips. This article originally appeared online at REALTrends.com and is republished with the permission of REAL Trends Inc. Copyright 2015.

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C.A.R. is hailing the defeat of Senate Bill (SB) 364 (Leno) in the State Legislature. The bill would have eliminated property rights protections for owners of rental property and significantly discouraged efforts to create new rental housing in the city and county of San Francisco. 

“SB 364 was an unreasonable and unjustified attack on property owners that need or want to take a rental property off the market,” C.A.R. President Chris Kutzkey said. “Discouraging investment in housing is bad policy, and SB 364 would have caused harmful unintended consequences. San Francisco already has the most protective, and the most expensive eviction rules in the state.”

In 1985, C.A.R. successfully sponsored the Ellis Act, preventing local governments from restricting the ability of rental property owners to remove a rental property from the market. SB 364 would have allowed San Francisco to prevent property owners from taking rental units off the market, unless every owner of that property has owned the property for at least five consecutive years. This effectively forces property owners to remain in the rental housing business even if they are losing money or simply wish to occupy their own property.

Source: C.A.R.

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Pending home sales rose in April for the fourth straight month and reached their highest level in nine years, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Led by the Northeast and Midwest, all four major regions saw increases in April.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 3.4 percent to 112.4 in April from a slight upward revision of 108.7 in March and is now 14.0 percent above April 2014 (98.6) — the largest annual increase since September 2012 (15.1 percent). The index has now increased year-over-year for eight consecutive months and is at its highest level since May 2006 (112.5).

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