Sunday, December 9, 2012

Getting a Land Loan, The Positive and Negatives of a Land Contract for Buyers and Sellers

A Land Contract which is also known as “contract for deed”, or “land installment sale”. The buyer makes payments in order to pay down the purchase price. Under this type of arrangement, the seller keeps title to the property and the buyers make monthly payments. When they were able to pay off the balance owed then the seller would then give them the deed to the property, which would then be recorded in their name In can be interpreted like a rent to own agreement. In one example a seller lost out when the buyer stopped making payments and gave the property back to the seller. Properties values had dropped so the buyers decided to move on. The seller finds out later that the buyers applied for a mortgage loan to buy a home. In this case the buyer would lose out on all of their prior payments, but the seller has no recourse, since he held title and keeps the buyers payments. The seller has to find a new buyer. The seller was complaining because the property values decreased, but he would not be complaining if the property values increased. In this case the seller should have taken a mortgage An example where a buyer loses would be when they make monthly payments for years, and If they can’t make any further payments then they are essentially “out of contract” and will lose all their payments and have no claim on the property. Land contacts are similar to an owner will carry (OWC) as the seller is acting as the mortgage holder instead of a bank. The essential difference with a land contract and an owner will carry type loan is the seller keeps title in a land contract but the buyer has title in an OWC. If the buyer fails to pay on an OWC then the seller can foreclose on the buyer for lack of payments. Land Contacts “land installment sale” are not used as much these day, but can be a viable option as banks are less likely to loan for vacant land. It is also a good option in a decreasing real estate market as our example above shows. Also for home buyers who don’t have the down payment a land contract helps them buy a home over time directly from the seller avoiding banks and mortgage companies.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

AV Solar Ranch One’s Progess and Delays

In July of this year the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One was vandalized by an unknown source. The incident was reported in their monthly meetings to the local community. The damage costs are estimated to be $100,000. The vandal actually cut a transmission line and a water pipe about 2.5 miles from the solar project site. A report was filed with the local Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and a reward of $25000 has been posted by First Solar for information that leads to the prosecution of the vandal. They now have 24 hour security at the site. AV Solar Ranch One (AVSR1) is owned by embattled First Solar, whose stock was over $200 and dropped below $12 but has recovered a little. The project will move on for this 230-Megawatt photovoltaic solar power plant. There were also rumors of a verbal dispute involving the Los Angeles County Inspector and First Solar employees which led to a shutdown for two months. There are 3.7 million cadmium telluride thin film panels that First Solar was preparing to install at the Exelon facility but they are not Underwriters Laboratory-approved. State of California building and safety codes require UL approval of electrical connectors, but it is not the case in other States where First Solar Inc. operates. The issue has since been resolved. There have also been disputes with the local community over debris left by workers, 18 hour work shifts. There are also several individual communities in the area. At one of the community meetings, it was reported that Antelope Acres, some twelve miles from the Solar Ranch One location, was granted $100,000 for its town council, $10,000 for its 4H Club and $10,000 for a community center, among other considerations. First Solar also donated mitigation lands to Antelope Acres’ chosen desert conservancy, yet Fairmont Town Council whose residents live within 500 feet of the site, has been granted nothing. The company indicated that they considered Fairmount to be within the Antelope Acres Community. Well the Fairmont council members didn’t like that either. Also, many local residents complain that the solar panels are an “eye soar” to the landscape among the poppy fields and the distance mountains. The project is approved and it is moving forward despite the small issues for a project of this size. Californians say they want alternative power and jobs and progress yet they do not want them in their own back yard. If the State wants Solar and Wind projects then they have to be built somewhere, and Antelope Valley is a prime location for these projects.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Invest in California Land as a College Fund for your Child or Grandchild

College costs have been increasing dramatically over the past few years with no long term change in site. California has proposition 30 which is a tax hike for California Schools. The proposition is losing in recent polls, so if it fails then the State will have to make further cuts to the education budget. The cuts will be in the billions and will affect all levels of education. An alternative is to invest wisely in real estate like California land. The Antelope Valley is an area of an abundance of available raw land. It is approximately 60 miles or one hour from downtown Los Angeles. Land prices fluctuate over time, but they are at their lows currently. You can buy land in this area for as low as $5000 to $10,000 or more, but with an 8 to 10 year horizon land banking is a low risk investment. If you invested in a parcel of land for say $30,000 at the current low end of the market this should create a viable return in 8 to 10 years. Land and real estate fluctuates in price over a 5 to 10 years timeframe. A parcel bought wisely today should show a 25 to 100% increase in 5 to 10 years as development and the area economy grows. This is what Antelope Valley has done consistently over the past several decades. Fortunes have been made buying low and selling higher in Antelope Valley. We can help you buy an ideal parcel of land based on your budget that has a positive outlook for the future based on it’s current location to city services, such as a paved road, power and proximity to development. So a $30,000 investment with a potential 100% return will more then pay for several years of college for your child. Land is also an inflation hedge as it is increases in value with inflation. It has been recommended by hedge fund managers and the bond king Bill Gross of Pimco that real assets like real estate is a great hedge against a possible future recession or economic slow down. Land is a secure way to plan for the future either as a hedge against economic times or an ideal investment for your child’s future education. Contact us and we can show you how it is done.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lancaster is Planning Around the Metro-link Station for the Cal High Speed Rail

The City of Lancaster is currently creating a plan to revitalize of the area surrounding the Lancaster Metrolink Station. The funds were provided by a grant from the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). The target area to be revitalized is between Sierra Hwy and Division and Lancaster Blvd to Ave J. The regional planning meetings have outlined what they hope to achieve. They look to extend the success of Lancaster Boulevard (The BLVD) to the east side of the railroad tracks, transforming the STVPA into a mixed-use urban neighborhood, well connected to the Downtown area. Use the Metrolink station more as a pedestrian-oriented, multi-modal, urban transit facility at the hub of the Downtown area and the STVPA. They plan to create better pedestrian, bicycle, and bus connections to the Metrolink Station from both sides of the railroad tracks, in addition to convenient access by car. They also plan to make us of the station area for mixed-use zoning that provides transit-convenient housing, employment, and retail uses that complement those on Lancaster Blvd. Mixed Use allows multiple level building of retail at ground level and residential. They also eventually plan to accommodate the California Highs Speed Rail Alignment when and if it passes through Downtown. Does this mean planning knows the direct route of the High Speed Rail through the area? The plans that we have seen are more general and don’t show an exact route. In either case the area around the Metro should see some upgrades and revitalization.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Some of the Endangered Animals Affected By Development in Los Angeles Counties Antelope Valley

Kangaroo Rate-98% of its habitat gone, the giant kangaroo rat continues to be threatened by agricultural and urban development, and rodenticides. Kangaroo Rats are found only in the more arid regions of the western and southwestern U.S. Several species occur in all four southwestern deserts. Many of the 22 Kangaroo Rats occur only in California. The Ord's Kangaroo Rat is the most wide ranging and occurs between the Sierra Nevada and Rocky mountains from southern Canada to central Mexico. They mainly eat grass and seed and live years in the wild. Burrowing Owl-As of 2011, there remain only an estimated 10,000 breeding pairs of burrowing owls in the world. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act established provisions to protect the remaining populations in Canada, Mexico and the United States. They are active during both day and night, and nest underground in burrows rather than in trees. They mostly dwell in open grassland areas or bare desert ground like Fairmont Butte, relying upon the burrows dug by small rodents like ground squirrels for the spaces they make their homes. Land development has impacted upon burrowing owl owls and their grassland habitats when human expansion erodes their territory. Farmers near the homes of burrowing owls use pesticides to diminish the presence of crop harming pests which the owls rely on to create their habitats. With decreased presence of the rodents they depend on, the species has fewer homes to nest in. Desert Tortoise- It has a life span of 50 to 80 years and weighs 8 to 15 lbs. A desert tortoise's diet may include herbs, grasses, some shrubs and the new growth of cacti and their flowers. The desert tortoise is able to live where ground temperatures may exceed 140 degrees because of its ability to dig underground burrows to escape the heat. It spends up to 95% of its time under ground to escape the heat of the summer and the cold of winter. They live in burrows which they dig that can be 3-6 feet deep. They will spend November through February in a torpid or dormant state in their underground burrows. Ground Squirrel-The Mojave ground squirrel measures about nine inches from nose to tail and feeds on leaves and seeds from February to July. In mid summer they begin a period of estivation which is a prolonged state of inactivity of an animal during hot or dry weather adapting to the desert heat. The squirrel inhabits the western Mojave Desert in portions of Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties. It lives within Joshua tree woodlands, creosote scrub, saltbush scrub and Mojave mixed woody scrub. Typical forage plants are those that meet nutritional and water content requirements. Mohave ground squirrels emit a high-pitched "peep" as an alarm call, when startled or when young begin to emerge from their natal burrows.

Monday, October 1, 2012

There is a Proposal to Expand the Significant Ecological Areas of the Antelope Valley

Significant Ecological areas are areas where there are endangered species of plants and animals. The main endangered animals of the Antelope Valley are the ground squirrel and desert tortoise, while the Joshua Tree and Poppies are the most prominent plants that are endangered in these areas. But there are a number of lesser know endangered species like the burrowing owl, and smaller plant life. These new areas will include an enormous area on Antelope Valley’s North East side from Redman to High Vista and on the west side most of the area will be Fairmount Butte south of Hwy 138 from 140th West to 170th West and south to the mountains. The largest areas in this new proposal will be on the East side south of Edwards Airforce Base almost covering From Hwy 14 to the San Bernardino border from ave H north to the base. Most of these areas are vacant unused land or farmland with little to no development. The eco zone will also run along the wash areas. The three main wash areas where water runs from the San Gabriel Mountains will be included in this proposal. An area that is considered a significant ecological zone allows for limited development. And in some cases no development. If an area is widely used by the desert tortoise then no development will be acceptable, so only mitigation land use will be approved. Some areas near the Joshua tree forest could be developed but will scattered homes without changing the landscape. We have maps of these proposed changes so you can see if your future parcel or current land parcel is within these zones.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Larger Firms are Buying Foreclosed Homes Causing Small Businesses to be Outbid While low priced California Land is Still available.

Larger investment firms on Wall Street have branched off into buying foreclosed homes. Usually such a small investment would not be of interest to Wall Street but they are now buying these homes to rent them out and eventually sell them when the market improves. These firms are buying homes all over the country at the court house steps where most foreclosed homes are sold. We went to a few of these sales and attempted to bid on a property, but we were outbid. A home which might sell on the market for $100,000 sold for $85,000. A small operation may bid $65,000 for such a home as the cost to clean it up and make it ready for renting may cut into the resale value. Increasingly small mom and pop businesses get outbid by these new large capital investment firms. Small firms like at least at 20% yield on a home while the larger investment firm will take 10% yield. We have seen low end bidding homes slowly and then when the auctioneer says last and final the bid bidder (investment firm) bids it up and takes it. Many of these foreclosed homes have had squatters living on the premises, or broken windows, and doors. It causes security and insurance issues with the property. Many insurance companies require that you live in the state where your investment home is, or have a property manager on site. According to a recent news reports one firm bought over a 100 homes in a day totaling over $8 million. These large investment firms are raising money from investors to buy and mange these properties and they are backed with billions of dollars. Most banks currently sell foreclosed homes one at a time, and lots of them get pulled from the auction list as they work with the property owner to save the property. It takes a lot or time effort and money to buy these foreclosed homes, while very well priced ideal land parcels are available with little to no other buyers vying against you. We specialize in low price land opportunities in Lancaster and Palmdale, Ca. If we don’t have the property on our inventory then we will locate a suitable property that meets your needs. We work with solar firms, mitigation bankers, land bankers and individual investors. We can locate the best priced property for your individual portfolio. Call us at 213 500-9578

Monday, September 3, 2012

Los Angeles County Proposes Rural Land Zoning Changes in Antelope Valley which Is Unfavorable to Land Investors

Los Angeles Regional Planning has been proposing new rural agricultural land zoning from the generally current zoning of LCA (Los Angeles County Agricultural and rural zoning. The current zoning allows farming and one home per 2 acres in the majority of Antelope Valley’s east and west sides. Many of the parcels on the far east side and far west sides of the Antelope Valley are 2.5 acres to 640 acres. This zoning today is fairly favorable to land owners as it allows say two dwellings in a four acre lot. Most parcels are broken down from 2.5, 5, 10, 20, 40 acres and so on up to 640 acres. The new zoning will drastically change the land use and development of these parcels and the vast majority of parcels will fall into RL 10 or RL 20, which is Rural Land one dwelling per 10 acres or one dwelling per 20 acres. This new zoning change will impact thousands of land owners negatively. This means you will need at least 10 acres on the far east or far west in order to put one house on your property. Most Antelope Valley Country land owners will need 20 acres in order to build one dwelling. So land owners with large parcels in the 40 to 640 acres will only be able to put a minimal amount of homes on their parcels. Thusly you can only put two homes on a 40 acres parcel zoned RL-20. It means the county wants this land to have limited development or to be farmed but the cost to run power, and water to these remote areas would be cost prohibited. Also with the water rights being reduced the availability to drill a well going forward will also be more difficult as the county wants to reduce the number or wells in the valley. These zoning changes will drastically reduce the value of property owners land as developers will not develop in these proposed low density zoning areas, as the return on their investment would not justify the expense. On the flip side land within the city limits of Lancaster and Palmdale should show more value over time as they will have access to city services and far far better zoning opportunities today and going forward. It is clear that Los Angeles County doesn’t want Antelope Valley to look like San Fernando Valley. Some of the reasons the county gives for these proposed changes are that it protects environmental resources, enhances rural land character, minimizes natural hazard threats, creates an efficient use of the infrastructure and public facilities, and limits green house gases. We think it clearly reduces their tax revenue, and ends Los Angeles Counties growth curve as 49% of all the vacant undeveloped land is in Antelope Valley. The zoning changes are still within the proposal stages, but Los Angeles County has been trying to make these changes for years. Maps of the new zoning can be found via Los Angeles Regional Planning or contact us and we can show you where to get them.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bond King Says Inflation will Damage Treasuries, Need Real Assets Like Land and Gold

Investors looking to preserve their purchasing power will have to avoid Treasuries and put their money in “real assets" such as stocks and real estate, Bill Gross, Pimco co-founder, told CNBC recently. “In the Treasury market all interest rates are on a negative basis,” Gross said. “Risk averse investors looking to hide in Treasuries will see a haircut relative to future inflation. ”If you want to maintain purchasing power you have to make the leap into real asset territory to get a real return.” He bases this from the potential Federal Reserve and Global Central Banks printing money to re-inflate their economies. This inflation will cause investors to move primarily to gold and silver. But also real estate maintains its value in inflationary economies. Real Estate should maintain its value and increase during inflation. Land maybe a better hedge against inflation as there isn’t any maintenance, and other losses like fire, or hazards. Land is a good asset to hold and wait for the economy to change in a more positive direction with jobs, and growing GDP(Gross Domestic Production).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Seller Financing “Owner will Carry” for California Land Loans and Buying a Home

Owner will carry for land is becoming more and more prevalent between buyers and sellers these days as banks are more reluctant to lend for land purchases. It is even more common today for home buyers. The owner will carry(seller financing) option was the norm decades ago when homes were much much less in capital cost, so buyers would pay for a home over time. It is very common today where land sellers will even offer the opportunity to buyers via MLS listings with their land listing brokers. It essentially works where an agreed price is made between a buyer and seller with an agreed interest rate. The buyer pays usually a higher deposit of say 10% and the interest rate is similar to the current rates of the day, but slightly higher than what you would get from a bank. Today’s rate would range from 5% to 7%. Some sellers want more, but unless you have the land parcel we suggest you pay a lower interest rate and not get gouged. The terms will be 3 to 7 years but could be longer. Most sellers we have found want 7 years or less. This is typically done via an escrow company once the terms are agreed upon. After escrow closes payments are then made directly to the seller or seller’s representative monthly until all payments are made in full. The buyer will receive title with a deed of trust attached. If the buyer fails to pay their monthly payment three months in a row then the seller can and typically will foreclose on the deed of trust. All buyers’ payments will be in favor of the sellers, so there will be no refund to the buyer. It is not any different than what a bank will do if a mortgage is not paid. Foreclosures happen all the time especially these days when many homes are under water. It is a very simple and easy process for a buyer to own land without a larger capital payment. It is essential when the buyers final payment is made to have a deed of reconveyance signed by the seller and recorded. If a deed of reconveyance is not recorded after the final payment then there will be a cloud on title. This will make it difficult for the buyer to sell the property later as title companies will not clear the title without a deed of reconveyance.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

California high-speed rail gets green light Madera to Bakersfield

California lawmakers gave the green light to start building the nation’s first dedicated high-speed rail line, a multibillion dollar project that will eventually link Los Angeles and San Francisco. This first link is proposed to be from Madera to Bakersfield, Ca. Madera is just north of Fresno, Ca. Madera has a population of 60 thousand, Fresno with 500,000 and Bakersfield a population of 350,000 according to 2010 census. This is certainly not a lot of traffic for an $8 billion project that will run along Hwy 99. The overall project once San Francisco and Los Angeles are connected will be $68 billion, a massive amount for a state that is operating in the red. The vote was along party lines with approval from labor and Governor Brown, yet no Republican voted for approval as they site the massive costs. The Los Angeles Times reported at the same time a French firm SNCF which operates high speed rail in France offered to assist in the construction, but organizers and lawmakers declined the offer as self serving. Governor Brown has pushed for the massive infrastructure project to accommodate expected growth in the nation's most populous state, which now has 37 million people. State and federal officials also said high-speed rail would create jobs. The bill authorizes the state to sell nearly half of a $10 billion high-speed rail bond that voters approved four years ago under Proposition 1A. In addition to financing the first segment of high-speed rail, it allocates a total of $1.9 billion in bonds for regional rail improvements in (Caltrain) Northern and the Metrolink in Southern California. A number of Democrats were not in favor of this project as there are no guarantees for future funding from Federal or private sources. All this aside what does it mean for the land investor? Well initially if you own land between Madera and Bakersfield then you have a potential buyer in your home or land. It also become a target for land and real estate speculators who will target to buy land along potential or proposed routes in the Central Valley and in the Antelope Valley. There are freight rail lines along this route which is more or less along Hwy 99. Most of this land now is less expensive land then land within the San Francisco Bay Area , or Greater Los Angeles. If you wanted a green light to speculate on land in the Central Valley then you have got a track to follow.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

LA County Approves First Solar to Continue Installation at AV Solar Ranch One Project in Antelope Valley’s West Side

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) have reached an agreement on the installation of solar modules at the Solar Ranch One photovoltaic (PV) power plant currently under construction in the Antelope Valley. Construction of the AV Solar Ranch One plant had been suspended during a permitting dispute with county officials over building codes. Installation of the modules had been delayed while First Solar and Public Works worked to achieve agreement related to the module code certifications. The project is partially funded by a $646-million U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee and is expected to be completed next year. First Solar has sold the 230-megawatt Antelope Valley plant in September to Exelon Corp for $75 million according to company filings. Excelon has indicated that they will invest $700 million into the project. Although it is sold to Excelon, First Solar will operate it and maintain it. The agreement with Los Angeles County will enable First Solar to continue construction activities of the 230-megawatt power plant that, which is scheduled for completion in 2013. It will generate enough electricity to power 75,000 homes. The $1.4 billion project is one of the largest in LA County. The 2,100-acre property is located in the northern part of the county and situated on land previously used for agriculture and without threatened or endangered species, according to First Solar

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cowboys and Aliens in Antelope Valley’s Elizabeth Lake

A recent episode of Ancient Aliens on the History Channel 2 detailed the story of Lake Elizabeth being a Alien site. Indians called it Devils Lake, and they spoke about a Thunder Bird or “rocket plane”? Ancient Alien hosts described it as potential plane, since Indian legend describe it as a bird with fire (ThunderBird). Many ranchers in the past have complained about missing and mutilated cattle over the years. The first sighting of this monster is said to have been by a rancher named Francisco “Chico” Lopez who raised cattle and sheep around Elizabeth Lake in the 1860s. The stories say the monster ate Lopez’ cattle, so he sold out in 1883 to another rancher Leonis, who tolerated the beast no more than he tolerated squatters. In a book by S.E. Schlosser’s 2005 retelling of the legend in “Spooky California,” Leonis later sold the ranch himself because the monster had been raiding his cattle and scaring off his workers. When Leonis’ ranch hands reported the monster was stealing cattle, he camped beside the lake and waited for it to emerge from the water. The rancher attacked the monster and the monster then retreated to allegedly Tombstone, Arizona where according to an April 1890 article in the Tombstone Epitaph two cowboys shot to death a creature like a giant crocodile with wings that stretched 160 feet. Was it the Lake Elizabeth Monster? If the Thunder Bird of Devils Lake is real or not there isn’t any concrete evidence, but it makes for an interesting story. We bring this up because areas need places of interest to get tourism, and people to visit. Antelope Valley currently lacks that attraction which can help bring alternative commerce to an area. Presently Antelope Valley has technology in the Stealth Bomber, Wind and Solar, spring poppy reserve and lower priced homes and land, but there isn’t anything like an out of this world experience to attract people traffic.Antelope Valley needs a legend, a phenomenal occurrence, hiking trail or something exquisite to attract visitors. Mybe there is hope that SpaceX or private space exploration craft will launch from Edwards in the future. To read more about the legend of Lake Elizabeth you can read 1930 book, “On the Old West Coast,” by Horace Bell, or S.E. Schlosser’s “Spooky California,”

Friday, June 1, 2012

Desert Tortoise Bighorn Sheep and Environmentalists get bypassed by California Legislators Bill SB 226 in favor of Calico Solar Project

The Los Angeles Times reports that under this bill SB 226, which was approved by the Senate in March and passed 56 to 10 in the Assembly, Calico Solar may now go directly to the California Energy Commission with its application for approval. The bill is expected to be approved by Governor Brown as the administration lobbied for the bill. K Road acquired the project from Tessera. It was planned to be an over 8000 acre 850 megawatt project but has since been reduced to 4600 acre 663 megawatt project 37 miles east of Barstow, Ca. It is just north of Hwy 40. The project needs quick action as it faces a June 30 deadline for approval from the Energy Commission. Funny enough according to the LA Times Calico Solar doesn’t have a power purchase agreement with an energy company, nor financing and it doesn’t even have a construction date. The Times reports that with the California government approval, the project will be an acquisition target for a solar firm. Today, Calico Solar has no power purchase agreement with a utility, no financing and no construction start date, and it faces a lawsuit by environmentalists. But with the Energy Commission's approval, the project could become an attractive acquisition for a big solar developer. Environmentalists have since filed a suit over the project. It is perplexing how this project has moved along so fast, since at the same time the Dept. of Fish and Game instituted mitigation cuts. The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) announced in March that budget cuts had temporarily stopped the agency’s ability to review and approve new mitigation banking proposals statewide. The State budget cuts have created a backlog and the Department has slowed the process. The Desert Tortoise, Nelson Bighorn Sheep, and ground squirrel are all endangered species and live in San Bernardino County and on the Calico Project. The tortoise was removed before from Bright Source Ivanpah, Ca. Project already. This is strange timing with the reduction in mitigation approvals and this solar projects bill passing. California is clearly a Blue State and they have pushed for alternative energy for years. But this also pushes out endangered species and environmentalists which have been a political talking point on California Democratic Campaigns. It goes against the Democrats policies, and they have full control California State Government. We have been helping a number of firms in acquiring mitigation land in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. This would have clearly been a mitigation land site. There is vast available land in Northern Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County where solar projects can thrive along with the tortoise. We can help pinpoint locations where mitigation and solar can co-exist.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lancaster and Palmdale and Victor Valley Projected Population Growth

The population in the Antelope Valley is now about 440,000 and about 360,000 in Victor Valley. The projected population for the Antelope Valley (including Southern Kern County) is to increase in 2030 to 880,000 while the population at Victor Valley during this period is to grow to 700,000 as both areas rank among the fastest growing in Southern California. The plan for the High Desert Corridor through mid 2013 is to continue the meetings and then to begin the engineering which is projected to begin construction in 2016 and then to complete the roadway in 2020. The tremendous growth in these areas will make this roadway an absolute necessity based on the projected population projections. The City of Lancaster 2000 population was an estimated 118,718 persons, representing a 22 percent increase over the 1990 population of 97,291 persons. As of January 1, 2007, the City’s population was an estimated of 143,818 persons. Population growth is expected to continue in Lancaster, with SCAG estimating that its population will reach 168,032 persons by 2010, 191,912 persons by 2015, 215,468 persons by 2020 and 259,696 persons by 2030.3 This projection would represent a population growth of approximately 80.6 percent between 2007 and 2030. Similar estimates are targeted for Palmdale, Ca also reaching 270,000 by 2030. LA Counties population is projected to increase to 10,718,007 persons by 2010 and 11,501,884 persons by 2020. The sources on population growth are SCAG’s, GAVEA, and Antelope Valley 2030 General Plan. The largest area for Los Angeles County to grow is the Antelope Valley as it hold 49% of the available vacant land in the county. An estimated 1 million population expansion in the next ten years can only take place in Lancaster and Palmdale with any significance. The Population growth alone will increase the demand for housing and land resources. If the Vacant land investor is looking for a 20 year buy and hold then with this growth and inflation then buying land now at current low rates is a great strategy for long term gains. Contact us today for low priced land via our site 213 500-9578 and view our current inventory.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

CalHighSpeedRail Says Train Will Cost Under $100Billion and Launch Sooner With Revisions

HighSpeedRail recent New Conference: Promising "improvements" to the state's controversial bullet train plan, the new head of the project told a Senate hearing in Silicon Valley on Tuesday he now believes building high-speed rail would cost less than the alarming estimate of nearly $100 billion. "I believe the number's coming down," Dan Richard told a packed auditorium Tuesday night. "Obviously the $98 billion was sticker shock for a lot of people." Using existing tracks like Caltrain and speeding up the construction schedule would bring down the costs of the project, Richard said in defending the much-criticized plan that Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed him to revive. He also promised quicker upgrades to Bay Area and Los Angeles commuter lines that would share the track and upgrading the initial leg of track in the Central Valley. Richard said the project's first segment in the Central Valley -- dismissed by some as a $6 billion "train to nowhere" will be tweaked to offer more "immediate benefits," but he offered no specifics. He also vowed to spend some $750 million in state funds in the next few years to help electrify the Caltrain line (SFBay Area commuter train) and $1 billion for similar commuter rail upgrades in Southern California, laying the foundation for bullet trains in those regions. The state's new plan will call for launching train service sooner by breaking the 520-mile line into "bite-sized" segments that can be built quicker. Previous estimates had delayed full service between Richard did not shed light on the fact that California does not have about 85 percent of the funding needed to build the train. "I don't think we'll be able to look (the Legislature) or the public in the eye and tell them that we have any greater clarity about the funding today," Richard said. He did, however, defend estimates that enough passengers will ride the train to turn a profit. Richard testified before key Senate Democrats and a packed house at the 600-seat Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts during a rare Silicon Valley hearing on the project. The California High-Speed Rail Authority in the next two weeks will release a final business plan that will give a more detailed look at everything from costs to funding to rider estimates. Major changes are expected after the preliminary plan included huge cost increases and steep drops in expected rider counts. That led to a slew of criticism from nonpartisan analysts and a drop in support in polls among a majority of likely voters. The Legislature will debate the plan over the following two months before voting in June on whether to spend $2.7 billion to match $3.3 billion in federal funds to start building in the Central Valley early next year. Lawmakers would have to approve spending on the upgrades in the Bay Area and Southern California in future years. Democratic Sens. Joe Simitian of Palo Alto, Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach, and Mark DeSaulnier of Walnut Creek, asked pointed questions but could not get Richard or fellow project board member Jim Hartnett of Redwood City to offer specifics on the forthcoming plan. The Legislative Analyst's Office said Tuesday that it is still concerned about the lack of funding, the need for upgrades in major metro areas and that officials haven't accurately compared the huge cost of the bullet train to alternative investments. Will Kempton, who leads the project's independent peer review group, said the state should start building in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, not the Central Valley. That way, if California receives no more funding, it could at least upgrade popular commuter lines. "Those investments will not be lost," Kempton said. But Richard disputed that. "The words 'train to nowhere' may have escaped my lips before I" came on the board, Richard said. "But I believe today that it's the right place to start." Dozens or potentially hundreds of people were expected to speak late Tuesday into Wednesday morning to slam or tout the project. Construction workers held signs touting the project and were opposed by naysayers armed with "kill high-speed rail" fliers.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mitigation Banking Has Been on the Rise in the Antelope Valley Just as California Department of Fish and Game Temporarily Halts Mitigation Program

As of March 14, 2012, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) announced that budget cuts have temporarily stopped the agency’s ability to review and approve new mitigation banking proposals statewide. The State budget cuts have created a backlog and the Department has slowed the process. DFG did acknowledge in their press release and website that mitigation banking is an important environmental tool and hopes the pause in mitigation land banking activities is short-lived. They will sign and complete bank agreements that are close to being completed, yet they didn’t indicate what it considers “close.” DFG will not, however, be approving new banking programs and stated it may not have the capacity to process major amendments to existing agreements.

This creates a great problem for smaller and new mitigation banking firms, which lack the capital to process and buy longer term. Some of the smaller mitigation bankers may have spent larger sums of capital on areas where the environmental benefits are not in delicate ecosystems for endangered plants and animals. These land bankers were buying larger parcels of land in the hopes that developers will buy the land to fulfill the environmentalist concerns. These smaller bankers will have to sell some of their land now to more deep pocket competitors or investors to stay afloat.

The mitigation business is similar to land banking business, where you buy vacant land and hold the land for buyers who need the land for later development. In mitigation banking the future buyers are developers who develop near cities growing areas and must buy “credits” to satisfy environmentalist and the state in order to develop their land today. An example would be a Mall developer, a solar or wind farm will have to buy large swaths of land and donate it to the state to preserve the land forever. Most of these parcels are in endangered animal and plant habitats like that of the desert tortoise, ground squirrel, and Joshua tree woodlands in Southern California.

We at have been working with several mitigation bankers who are buying land for current developers, or buying land now to mitigate bank it for future developer plans. We have hundreds of land owners on our list of potential sellers who can benefit from this mitigation wave. Contact us and we can help introduce your land to the larger mitigation bankers. Lancaster and Palmdale areas of Antelope Valley, and San Bernardino County are large target areas for land banking and mitigation banking needs. Some of the larger mitigation bankers can wait until the DFG completes its backlog or hires more employees to handle the traffic.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Wind Energy Projects have been a Challenge for Developers in Antelope Valley, Ca.

Many Antelope Valley residents are not excited over green energy projects underway for both Wind and Solar Energy. Many residents indicate that Wind Turbines would ruin the area's ambiance and harm the environment and the landscape will be changed forever.

The Antelope Valley energy companies want abundant lower priced land and lots of sun and wind. The sun scorches this landscape for at least nine out of 12 months and the wind gusts are reliable and steady.

Two solar projects have already been approved for unincorporated Los Angeles County. Eight other renewable energy projects have been proposed. The Wind Energy players NextEra Energy Resources and Element Power US want to build utility-scale wind turbine facilities that would tower hundreds of feet high.

According to the Los Angeles Times in a recent article the project manager for Element Power's proposed Wildflower Green Energy Farm. "Between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. the winds reach their highest peak, and it falls in line when the electrical grid has highest demand."

Element wants to use 4,000 acres of private land next to the poppy reserve for some 50 wind turbines almost 500 feet high. Each turbine would produce enough electricity to power up to 2,000 homes.

NextEra is proposing 90 turbines on about 7,000 acres in the northwestern Antelope Valley. This area has been identified by the California Energy Commission as suitable for large-scale wind and solar power developments. This is over an above Alta Wind Energies mega project of up to 1000 turbines in Tehachapi, Ca.

Resident fears once one large turbine project is approved then many more will be proposed. Solar panels are four to six feet above ground while the turbines will be hundreds of feet high. Home owners in Antelope Acres and Kings Canyon area argue that erecting wind turbines near homes would spoil views. They are also noisy and can devalue home prices. There are issues with large blades sparking fires, killing of birds and damaging wildlife habitat.

Element power has indicated that they have done habitat studies and they feel wildlife will not be adversely affected. They will also dedicate 320 acres for permanent conservation. Next Era also feels the turbines will have a minimal effect on wildlife.

We have helped introduce a number of property owners to solar and wind developers and consultants. Contact if you have property that maybe of interest to alternative energy developers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

California Assembly Bill 2474 Targets Rural Property Owners Disproportionately

Governor Brown this year has waged a campaign to charge rural residents for the costs of fire protection since an increasing number have moved into wildland areas. And state fire officials say the greater the number of homes in rural areas, the higher the cost of fighting fires.

Assembly Bill 2474 (Chesbro) was introduced in the California Legislature on February 24, 2012 to address some of the concerns facing Californians who own real property in the state fire responsibility areas (SRA), and who will start seeing bills (in the amount of $150 per habitable structure for fire prevention fees) show up in their mailboxes this June.
AB 2474 will require the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to take into consideration: (1) any amounts that an owner of a structure in a SRA already pays for local fire prevention services, and (2) the severity of the fire zone where the structure is located. If this bill is signed into law it should comfort homeowners who already actively engage in fire prevention measures on their own, and those who own property in SRA zones where the fire severity rating is lower.

The current existing law requires the Board to adopt emergency regulations to establish a fire prevention fee in an amount not to exceed $150 to be charged on each structure on a parcel that is within a SRA. The Board is required to adjust the fee annually using prescribed methods. The fees (tax) will provide $85 million to State coffers. This is another way to slowly increase the cost of living to homeowners and land owners. Rural property owners have less support and clout than urban property owners, and they call it a fee instead of a tax to reduce its attention. Nevada County Supervisor Hank Weston was quoted as calling the $150 charge "a farce to fill a budget gap created by the state."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Alta Wind Energy Center in Tehachapi Kern County is Moving Along

There are a number of wind farms operating or under development in Kern County near Tehachapi, Ca. The largest one under development is the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC) which is located in the Tehachapi-Mojave Wind Resource Area.
Terra-Gen Power is the developer AWEC, and it will be California's largest wind energy project. They have a 20 year power purchasing agreement with SoCal Edison to sell 1550 megawatts of energy produced by these towers. These towers are 400 to 500 feet, which is about the distance the Golden Gate Bridge is from the Bay. It was partially approved based on tax incentives to the community, its environment reduction of energy, and low use of water compared to some solar projects. $55 million was invested by Google, and Terr-Gen’s raised $1.2 billion from Barclays Capital, Citibank and Credit Suisse.

It also has been a bit of a boondoggle for residents and land owners. Landowners get a royalty for wind towers to operate on their property. If you think about it this land is primarily rolling hills at a distance from development without city services. The main use for this land has been cattle grassing or nothing until AWEC stepped in. The royalty rights are targeted to be $20 million to the land owners. There has been $2 billion invested in this area the last two years. Perhaps one of the drawbacks is the limited employment as only 50 jobs have been created with several hundred temporary construction jobs. Residents have complained at least those who have not personally benefitted as these large towers dominate the landscape. It certainly changes the views in the horizon. According to the American Wind Energy Association the two initial projects were completed in fall 2010. There are other projects were targeted to be completed in early 2011. They are projected to produce 4550 megawatts of energy once all projects are complete. There have been proposals to triple the wind energy in this area to eventually encompass 50 square miles. This is part of SoCal Edison’s transmission line expansion.
According to reports Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) is the initial phase at a cost of almost $2 billion. The plan is to send 4500 megawatts to Los Angeles about 80 miles from Tehachapi, Ca.

There is certainly Wind Gold in them thar hills as there are also a number of other wind farms in the area such as NextEra, Cal Wind Resources, Coram, Oak Creek Energy Systems, GE Energy, AES, Mogul Energy Windland, and enXco. The vacant land investor can now say buy slopping windy land and wait as it too has paid off.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Adverse Possession of Lancaster, Palmdale California Land

We ran across this issue as we were trying to sell a property where the owner lived overseas outside the Antelope Valley area. We were attempting to drive by the property and we found an illegal dwelling and a man with a gun defending the property. Now this doesn’t occur everyday, but in parts of the Antelope Valley surrounding the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale, Ca. there is a lot of vacant land with little access or only a dirt road. Now the squatter was on the property but had taken physical possession. He appeared to have been living on the property for some time and making a home of his own, but didn’t complete all the factors of adversely possessing the property. You can acquire a property by adverse possession including a house or vacant land in California, but the action will take at least five years.

The process to make a claim of adverse possession in California by a claimant (the party seeking to gain title to the property) they must successfully demonstrate the following. 1. Possession under a claim of right or color of title, which means ownership of property by a person in possession, without being regular( so not the documented registered owner), Color of title is where the claimed owner has some piece of paper claiming to transfer title to him or herself. This can be done writing a document saying you are the owner. 2. Actual, open, notorious occupation (protected by a substantial enclosure such as a fence, barrier or wall and usually cultivated or improved. 3. Claimant is adverse and in hostile possession. 4. Continuous possession for a period of five years. 5. Payment of all taxes assessed against the property during the five-year period. Most people think you just have to pay the taxes, but in order to fully take the property and defend it in court then you need to have all of the above.

It could be easier to acquire this type of property at a tax sale then doing all of the above unless it is a house where the time and value is more in your favor. Adverse possession of tens or hundreds of acres of land could be more difficult to fence if you are challenged in court. You may have to do more research to find out what is open and notorious in adverse possession of vacant land. We have ran across potential properties that can be taken by adverse possession as the property owner has given up and no longer intends to pay the property taxes, so the other parts of adverse possession can be undertaken.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Illegal Dwellings and Debris Removal has been Stepped Up for Land Owners in Antelope Valley

The mayor of Los Angeles County Michael Antonovich has been on the LA County board of Supervisors for thirty one years. He has organized a Nuisance Abatement Team (NATS) since 2006. The team under city permit and building codes has removed a number of illegal dwellings and the biggest target area has been in Antelope Valley. The NATS group has forced homeowners of makeshift homes to dismantle them, face fines or go to jail. One notorious illegal dwelling was “Phonehenge” (a take off of Stonehenge). It was not sufficiently dismantled by the property owner who was then prosecuted and sent to jail after a dozen other prior misdemeanor convictions.

The Dept of Public Works handles smaller issues from potholes, downed trees, and uncollected trash, bulky item pick up and graffiti issues. Recently, the department has been reduced by approximately a half a million dollars so many areas have are now overlooked.

Illegal dwelling will not fall under Public Works issues as that is now a NATS target. They also enforce dumping on property. Lots of debris is dumped on vacant land parcels in the valley. Instead of residents going to the dump and paying to have the county recycle and bury their unwanted goods, they unload it on vacant unused land parcels. Often several to hundreds of tires have been found on unsuspecting land owners. It costs nine to fifteen dollars or more to recycle a tire. Some unscrupulous tire installers don’t like to transport and pay that fee even though they charge the customer. So when they get a sufficient load they hall it and dump it out of site behind a hill in the valley.
Code Enforcement
Each city (Lancaster, Palmdale, Ca.) and the LA County have several ordinances that are designed to maintain a healthy, safe and clean environment. They carry out land use policy and preserve the quality of life standards for residents and businesses.

The Uniform Building Codes, Housing maintenance codes, various health and safety codes are the codes that target illegal dwellings and dumping. Part of the illegal dwelling issues and weed abatement is the prevention of fires. Every summer fires seriously impact Los Angles County costing local government and businesses, insurance companies and home owners millions annually.
If a City or County staff member observes that code violation exists then typically a general notice of violation is issued to the owner/tenant to correct the code violation in a timely manner. The City may also issue citations or take court action if the situation poses a significant risk to the community or if the individual has ignored the notice of violation.
In most cases, the individual responsible for the code violation is given the opportunity to voluntarily correct the situation and comply with current codes without a penalty. If the correction is not made, then the individual may be subject to fines and civil injunctions or other penalties. In many cases the code violator is not the property owner so the property owner initially gets a notice in the mail. If the violation is not taken care of in a timely manner then the city or county will remove the debris. In such a case a lien will be recorded for the expense to remove the debris. If LA County clears the debris then it will likely cost much much more then if you do it. It is the land owner’s responsibility to ensure their property meets the codes set out by the city and county. We recommend you take any notice seriously.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Is First Solar Inc., the Parent of Antelope Valley’s Solar projects: Willow Springs, AVSolar Rancho One and EdisonMission Energy in financial trouble?

According to Investing Daily and other news sources First Solar lowered its sales forecast. First Solar said it now expects sales of $2.8 billion to $2.9 billion on the year, down from its previous estimate of $3.0 billion to $3.3 billion. The company also said it will lay off about 100 workers, or roughly 1.5% of its workforce.
There stock was at a high in 2008 at 300 a share to now under $40 a share. Other stock watchers have indicated that the Chinese are making less expensive solar panel chips, so First Solar intends to get out of the roof panel business part of solar. The Chinese production is highly automated and the factories are subsidized.
Other solar companies have gone bankrupt such as Fremont, Ca. Solyndra and Massachusetts based Evergreen Solar.
First Solar’s press release, Mike Ahearn, the company’s chairman and interim CEO, alluded to subsidy cuts when he said the company was recalibrating its business “to focus on building and serving sustainable markets rather than pursuing subsidized markets.”
First Solar is not in the same situation as Solyndra as Solyndra was backed by US Government loans. Evergreen Solar situation is also different. Evergreen was selling primarily solar panels. Solar panel prices dropped worldwide and Evergreen was losing money on every panel it made. That is a reason why First Solar is getting out of the panel business.
We will be keeping tabs on First Solar’s progress and it has become a pivotal part of the landscape in Antelope Valley.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Train, the train is Coming to the Central Valley by Fall 2013

The state has secured $3.9 billion in federal money, and California taxpayers have approved bonds for the rest. Construction is actually set to start by late next year on the first leg between Bakersfield and Fresno at an estimated cost of $5.8 billion. If construction begins then the project will likely be the largest in the Union with California and the Federal government on the hook for billions of dollars in future costs.

It is not likely to go smoothly though. The estimated costs have essentially doubled with right of way issues as the train will move into urban areas. Also the state and federal governments are currently running deficits and the private sector is not all in, so finding future funds could get murky. It also looks like California voters are a little flakey. Recent polls showing voters would not have voted for the train if the vote was today.

Democrats have indicated that clogged highways are smog choking their districts, so a train system is necessary. Republicans indicate that Amtrak is not in full use, so a high priced fast train is not a solution. A big problem maybe in Palo Alto, Ca. where democrats have riled against new rail lines passing through neighborhoods.

There is indication that at least another $20 billion will be needed, so the alternative to the lack of funds will be that if the speed train fails then Amtrak will run along the new tracks. The initial stage is the Fresno to Bakersfield route and the next stage would link the San Joaquin Valley to San Jose or Bakersfield to San Fernando (Los Angeles County

The State will need funds past the Fresno to Bakersfield plan though, but despite the backlash the Cal-High-Speed Rail Authority is moving forward. They have the initial money and they plan on laying the tracks. The current administration is behind the effort, and the Rail Authority feels private money will be invested once the project has started. If you own land at or near the Fresno to Bakersfield route then you stand to profit. Buy land and wait, and buy land in the path of development still holds true.