CMAR Raises Funds During Installation of New Board

The Coastal Mendocino Association of REALTORS® (CMAR) held their Installation dinner and fundraiser on Friday, November 10, 2017. REALTORS® joined together to support their industry while raising funds for two local charities, the Fort Bragg Food Bank and the Mendocino Coast Children’s Fund. Generous donations from REALTORS®, CMAR Business Affiliates and our local community enabled $8095 to be raised from a raffle, as well as both a silent and live auction. Past President, Meghan Durbin, of Coast Real Estate was sworn in again as the 2018 CMAR President, taking the gavel from 2017 CMAR President, Carol Ann Walton, of Gale Beauchamp Realty.

The annual event provides a time for REALTORS® honor the service of their volunteers, including members of the board and members of numerous committees, whose contributions to CMAR benefit the association, as well as the community as a whole.

Outgoing CMAR President Carol Ann Walton received the Distinguished Professional Service Award, the Rookie of the Year was awarded to Josie Swenson of RE/MAX First Equity, and the Humanitarian / Community Service Award was posthumously awarded to Frank Maurice formerly of Century 21 Fort Bragg Realty.

Meghan Durbin (Coast Real Estate) is being sworn in as the 2018 CMAR President by California Association of REALTORS® Region IV Chair, Sally Crain.

The 2017 Board of Directors was thanked for their service. Pictured are Turan Kilki (Century 21 Fort Bragg Realty), Kara Zilboorg (Sea Cottage Real Estate), Phil Jago (RE/MAX First Equity), Carol Ann Walton (Gale Beauchamp Realty), Tom Hawkins (Century 21 Fort Bragg Realty), Agnes Li (Century 21 Fort Bragg Realty), A.B. Priceman (Garden Ranch Real Estate) and Meghan Durbin (Coast Real Estate). Not pictured are Paul Clark (Century 21 Fort Bragg Real Estate) and Sheri Molina (Century 21 Seascape Realty.

Photos by Deirdre Lamb

Tax Reform

There’s a reason homeownership is still considered the “American Dream.” A home is a place to create memories, a means for building wealth, and a pathway to strength and stability in the communities we all call home.

Here along the Mendocino Coast, things are no different, and that’s something for lawmakers to remember as Congress embarks on an effort for comprehensive tax reform.

Middle-class families have built wealth for centuries through homeownership and real estate investment. Homeownership allows families to protect themselves against rising rents and inflation, while offering an opportunity to build equity over time.

Let’s face it: most families can’t get a loan to purchase stocks or invest in a mutual fund, but they can get a safe mortgage product at competitive rates to invest in a home. It’s a tremendous mechanism for building wealth that shouldn’t be taken away.

Best of all, homeowners aren’t the only ones who benefit. For every two homes sold, a job is created. In all, home sales support an average of more than 2.5 million private-sector jobs every year. At almost $3 trillion, real estate accounts for more than 16 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). At the state level it accounts for more than 20 percent of the GDP.

That’s a big part of why, for over a century, the American tax code has incentivized homeowners. The country’s leaders acknowledge that a strong, stable housing market is good for everyone, which is why it deserves support.

Important tax incentives such as the mortgage interest deduction and the state and local tax deduction are a part of the tax code to ensure all creditworthy families have a fighting chance at the American Dream.

If those incentives went away, homebuyers would see their dream pushed further out of reach, while current homeowners would have the welcome mat pulled right out from under them.

Comprehensive tax reform is a worthy goal, and lawmakers should be applauded for their ambitious approach.

As Congress continues working through this process, however, the incentives that put homeownership within reach for millions of Americans deserve full support from both sides of the aisle.

CMAR Participates in Coastal Cleanup

The 2017 Coastal Cleanup was a success at Caspar Beach! Working together we were able to collect several pounds of trash and recyclables. The beach was significantly cleaner this year, although we did haul out a tire and a couple of boards. Thank you to CMAR President Carol Ann Walton (Gale Beauchamp Realty), her daughter Cindy, Treasurer Tom Hawkins (Century 21 Fort Bragg Realty), MLS Committee Chair Scott Vorhees (Big River Real Realty) and CMAR Director Agnes Li (Century 21 Fort Bragg Realty).

REALTORS® HOST SCHOOL SUPPLY DRIVE

During the month of July, the Coastal Mendocino Association of REALTORS® (CMAR) hosted a school supply drive to benefit the Mendocino Coast Children’s Fund (MCCF).  School supplies were collected at REALTOR® offices and at the CMAR office.  Several boxes of school supplies were dropped off and distributed to local students at the MCCF’s annual K-12 Clothes Swap in Fort Bragg.  In addition, financial contributions of $325 were provided to MCCF.

The Mendocino Coast Children’s Fund is a grassroots, nonprofit advocate for low income children on the Mendocino Coast. Their vision is to support a community in which all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential in life. Their mission is to provide funding for the unmet needs of infants and children on Mendocino’s north coast.

They are a safety net, providing assistance to children through the age of 18, who might otherwise fall through the cracks of society’s inequities. They provide children with essentials and necessities, hopes and dreams, opportunities and activities.  With 100 percent of donations going directly to assist local kids, the MCCF is a valuable resource for the families and children in our community.

Majority of Americans See Homeownership as Good Investment; Affordability Woes Remain

Eighty-four percent of Americans believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision, the highest number in 10 years. Yet six in 10 said that they are concerned about affordability and the rising cost of buying a home or renting in their area. This is according to NAR’s 2017 National Housing Pulse Survey, which measures consumers’ attitudes and concerns about housing issues in the nation’s 25 largest metropolitan statistical areas.

“This survey makes it clear that most American’s still believe in homeownership and aspire to own a home of their own. Building equity, wanting a stable and safe environment, and having the freedom to choose their neighborhood remain the top reasons to own a home. Yet, Americans consider the lack of affordability as a big obstacle to ownership,” said Carol Ann Walton, 2017 President of the Coastal Mendocino Association of REALTORS®.

Concerns over housing affordability show clear demographic divides, especially among unmarried and non-white Americans. More than 50 percent of unmarried and non-white Americans view the lack of available affordable housing as a big problem, compared to only four in ten of married and white Americans.

Nationally, 44 percent of respondents categorized the lack of available affordable housing as a very big or big problem. In the top 25 densest markets, more than half see the lack of affordable housing as a big problem, an increase of 11 percentage points since 2015. Coastal Mendocino Association of REALTORS® states that lower income Americans, renters and young women most acutely feel the housing pinch. There is also greater concern about affordable housing among the working class (65 percent) than for public servants such as teachers, firefighters or police (55 percent).

The survey found that over half of respondents strongly agree that homeownership helps build safe and secure neighborhoods and provides a stable and safe environment for children and family members.

“There are many benefits of homeownership, and they resonate more strongly as age increases. Over half of Americans between the age of 50 and 64 believe that home ownership is associated with a stable home environment, which also leads to greater educational success for children,” said Carol Ann Walton. “It’s important that younger Americans also have access to affordable and sustainable homeownership.”

HOLDING ONTO HOME

During the month of June, the Coastal Mendocino Association of REALTORS® (CMAR) raised funds to benefit the Safe Passage Family Resource Center’s special fund designed for rental assistance, to help families facing eviction. The money raised enables Safe Passage to provide assistance to Mendocino County families who are in danger of becoming homeless. From July 2016 through June 2017 the Rental Assistance Program was able to assist 45 local families.

Laura Welter, Director of Safe Passage responded to the donation stating, “When parents find their way to Safe Passage, we will now be able to give them a bit of breathing room as they work to stabilize their living situation. Their children will have a place to eat their meals, do their homework and go to sleep.”

Safe Passage began providing services to families in 1996. They work closely with other local organizations to provide a variety of programs to assist families with many different issues and problems. Their ultimate goal is a community filled with safe nurturing families who have both children and parents who are happy and successful. Services offered through Safe Passage include information and referral about community resources, enrollment assistance for health insurance and other programs, transition assistance for Spanish speaking parents, parenting sessions, support and advocacy for parents of children with special needs and grandparents raising their grandchildren, support and information for pregnant women and new parents, monthly clothing giveaways, and much more!

Laura Erskine, the Case Manager who administers the Rental Assistance Program said, “These funds will enable us to prevent at least one family from being evicted and becoming homeless. Thank you for this very real and meaningful help that you have chosen to provide for them.”

Photo: Safe Passage Director Laura Welter, Safe Passage Case Manager Laura Erskine and CMAR President Carol Ann Walton.

Legislative Day 2017

CMAR President Carol Ann Walton, Past President Meghan Durbin and AE Lesli Langslet joined 2500 Realtors at Legislative Day 2017. The morning session featured dynamic speakers, including Governor Brown. Senator Mike McGuire was the keynote speaker during the Region 4 luncheon. Afterwards, we were able to speak to Assemblyman Jim Wood in his office and Senator McGuire inside the Senate Chamber. The full schedule had us “Come Together” again for a Member and Director Forum. After a long day of making our voices heard to our state officials, we participated in the Capitol Reception which was also attended by 52 legislators. The heart of the message was that California needs to increase the number of housing units available in order to address our affordable housing crisis.

Existing-Home Sales March-On at Highest Pace in 10-Plus Years

Existing-home sales leaped to their highest pace in 10-plus years in March, reaching a robust level of activity not seen since February 2007, reports the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Existing-home sales totaled 5.71 million last month, a 4.4 percent increase from February and 5.9 percent increase from one year prior. Inventory increased, as well, by 5.8 percent to 1.83 million—though still 6.6 percent below one year prior.

“The early returns so far, for this spring buying season, look very promising as a rising number of households dipped their toes into the market and were successfully able to close on a home last month,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “Although finding available properties to buy continues to be a strenuous task for many buyers, there was enough of a monthly increase in listings in March, for sales to muster a strong gain. Sales will go up as long as inventory does.”

Some real estate market analysts expect home prices to continue to rise, as much as 5%, over the next 12-months.

The Coastal Mendocino Association of Realtors reports:
Our local housing market confirms the high-paced leap Realtors are seeing nationwide.Homes sold in the Fort Bragg area, during the first quarter of 2017, saw a price increase of 24%, from the same period in 2016. An average price increase of $81,860.83, per home sold.

26 homes were sold in Fort Bragg in the first quarter of 2016, with an average price of $340,104.38. 23. In 2017, 23 homes sold, but the average price per home increased to $421,965.21.

The Mendocino market also saw an uptick in pricing, 10%, from first quarter 2016, to 1st quarter 2017.

16 homes were sold in the Mendocino area between January 1st to March 31st, 2016, with an average price of $666,468.75. For the same period in 2017, 15 homes were sold, with an average price increase of $63,347.91, bringing the median home price in Mendocino to, $729,816.66.

MARCH MONTHLY GIVING PROJECT BENEFITS FOOD BANK

During the month of March, the Coastal Mendocino Association of REALTORS® (CMAR) collected canned goods to benefit the Fort Bragg Food Bank. For the drive, CMAR REALTORS® concentrated their efforts on protein rich food, such as tuna, peanut butter, canned chicken, chili or stew. The total donation was 90 pounds, which represented almost 25 pounds of beans and chili, more than 14 pounds of canned tuna and 11 pounds of canned chicken.

Nancy Severy, the Executive Director of the Fort Bragg Food Bank responded to the donation stating, “Every donations helps. The CMAR REALTORS have been generous to us and we are thankful for their support.”

The Fort Bragg Food Bank was founded in 1979, with the objective to distribute emergency food to and improve the nutrition of needy residents of Mendocino County. The Food Bank relies heavily on the generosity of individuals and businesses in the local community, whose food and cash donations represent a large portion of their cash budget and food they distribute. Due to the generosity of the coastal community, the Fort Bragg Food Bank is able to serve approximately 870 client households each month, which represents 1,600 household members. Their efficient food distribution system enables them to distribute over $6 worth of food for every dollar they spend.  They welcome donations healthy foods, especially protein-rich foods, fresh garden produce and grocery bags.  They also welcome donations of time, as volunteers represent over half of the person-hours needed to run the Food Bank. Volunteers are utilized to pack food bags, serve clients, sort and repack foods, assist in the kitchen, help keep the Food Bank clean and provide office assistance.

Photo: Fort Bragg Food Bank Executive Director, Nancy Severy and CMAR President, Carol Ann Walton

Fed Raises Rate for Second Time in Three Months

The Federal Reserve today announced the first interest rate hike of 2017, and the second rate hike in three months.

The Federal Open Market Committee concluded its meeting with the announcement that the Fed will raise interest rates by 25 basis points to 1 percent.

The last rate hike occurred in December, when the Fed moved to raise rates from .5 percent to .75 percent.

The Mendocino area realty market has seen an uptick in prices and more activity as the market is moving from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market.

Current “active” listings 244; “pending in escrow” listings 52; and listings “sold” this past year to date until 3-15-17; 290