Monday, December 5, 2016

How to Donate Land to a Charity for a Deduction

A person can donate land for a charity to build on, or for the charity to sell and create revenue. Providing tax-exempt organization with a sale-able asset and staying within the Internal Revenue Service's rules and limitations, then donating can be a good alternative if you can’t sell the parcel, or an investor is just looking for the deduction The donation has to be to a real IRS charity. One that has filed the proper forms and is in good standing. Also your deduction can capped at either 50 or 30 percent of your adjusted gross income per year. If you’re over the cap then the deduction may flow over to the following year. If your income exceeds $250-$300k then itemized deductions can be reduced 80%. If may also depend if you file married or single. The issue with donating land and real estate is that the charity will then own it and have to pay state property taxes. If the land is not widely sought after then it may be difficult even for the charity to sell it and fund there goals. Other charities are real estate specific. Housing, conservation and environmental organizations are the big three. They may wish to conserve the land for endangered species, or they will later use it and never to develop land. Firms often buy land to donate to environmental groups in exchange for developing another area. A seller who wishes to donate land will still likely have to go through escrow, since the charity will wish to have clear title on the parcel without debts, and encumbrances. If there is a mortgage then that will need to be paid off and a re-conveyance filed and recorded. After you have picked the charity and made the donation then you or your accountant will need to mark it on Schedule A of at 1040 tax return. There is a form 8283, which is where the IRS has you detail your non-cash contributions. This option is a great way to get the deduction on land that you invested in some time ago, but are not reaping any rewards.

Medical Hubs to Spur Valley's Growth

Courtesy: Jim Skeen AVPress Nov 10 2016 LANCASTER - A plan to turn the area around Antelope Valley Hospital into a "Medical Main Street" will help keep talent from leaving the region and will spur economic development, city officials said Wednesday. The city wants to create a medical and healthy lifestyle hub on roughly 360 acres around the hospital. The area includes about 100 vacant acres, of which roughly 40% are owned by the hospital, which is partnering with the city on the effort. During a presentation before the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce, Councilman Raj Mahli talked about how area students leave the valley to attend college and do not return. As an example, Mahli said two of his high school friends left the valley and became doctors and never returned. Medical Main Street will create a desirable area that will give students a reason to return after college, he said. "My high school buddies aren't coming here," Mahli said. "What I really hope is when my son and his friends graduate from high school and go away that they will come back and work in this community." The area the city is looking at stretches from 20th Street West to east of 12th Street West at Avenue J, and from north of Avenue J to the shopping center on 15th Street West north of Avenue K that contains offices of High Desert Medical Group. "Today the hospital is very isolated," said Chenin Dow, a management analyst with the city. "We would like to bring dining opportunities, shopping opportunities and also housing opportunities for the doctors and nurses." The city has approximately $13 million in grant funding secured for the initial improvements to the area. Sargent Town Planning, a Los Angeles-based firm that specializes in urban planning and designs that emphasize pedestrian- and transit-oriented neighborhoods, has been hired to prepare a master plan and environmental impact report for the project. The planning work is about 40% complete and will take about a year to 18 months to finish, said Vern Lawson Jr., Lancaster's economic development director. Sargent will also prepare an economic analysis for the project. The hospital already employs about 2,500 workers, Lawson said. "I would expect to double that," Lawson said. "We certainly have room to grow. We've always been the center of medical in the Antelope Valley and we want to make sure we continue that and that we shift with the times. I think this plan does that."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Central Valley’s Water Problem is not a Drought but Politically Created Disaster

A number of California's largest reservoirs are full, but this allows water agencies to release the overflow into the ocean. This could easily be avoiding if it was not for Environmental politics. The I-5 San Joaquin Valley corridor is marked with signs begging Nancy Pelosi to turn the water back on. But instead of flowing it to farmers they send it down the drain. The Environmentalists say that pumping water via the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Delta to farmers is damaging to salmon and Delta smelt. It is estimated that 2/3rds of the state’s population and farmland relies on this water. California is essentially dumping a trillion gallons of fresh water in the ocean every year. Liberals say it is a drought, while farmers and Republican politicians claim the shortage is all about saving a non-endangered bait fish (a minnow). The San Joaquin Valley is being transformed into a dust bowl because of the politics of water. Hundreds of thousands of acres are fallow, because water is restricted. This affects many many farmers and even more so the farm workers. It appears environmental and endangered species laws are being used to force a political agenda, and in the process, doing severe damage to our country. California’s Central Valley from Sacramento to Kern County is having an Erin Brockovich moment. There is a film/video about the subject. Here is a link to Facebook or you can type No water, no farmer, no food into Youtube, Bing, or Google search. President elect Trump indicated while campaigning that he will do something about it. Let us see

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Title Insurance and Why a Property Needs it When Buying Land or Real Estate

Title insurance is indemnity insurance. It essentially is a backup plan in the event there is an issue the ownership of the real property you are buying. It protects the buyer against financial loss from defects in title to real property and from the invalidity or unenforceable mortgage liens. Most home purchases have had debts on them. A buyer needs to ensure those debts to a bank or mortgage lien holder has been released. It is also meant to protect the current property owner's and or the lenders on the property their financial interest in the real property. This protects both the buyer, seller and lender against loss due to title defects, liens or other matters. Notwithstanding it will also defend against a lawsuit. Virtually everyone gets title insurance on a home when the sale is between strangers. Not everyone gets title insurance when the quit claim on real property between family members, joint tenants, and married couples. What we have found is many land parcels transactions and even home sales is where one spouse quit claims on a property to the other spouse. Years in the future that spouse retaining title sells the property. The title shows that a prior spouse quit claimed on the property without title insurance. In many cases there is an unrecorded quit claim deed. This recorded or unrecorded quit claim will create a cloud on title. A new title insurance company will require that the prior spouse sign a new quit claim deed. In many cases that prior spouse can’t be found is deceased, or is out of the country. The seller may have great difficulty in selling the home. Another major issue are deeds of trust. This is where one party buys land with a debt on the property. The buyer paid off the debt, but there was not a re-conveyance deed recorded showing the debt was cured. We have seen this a lot in many cases where the deed was paid off even decades ago. In this case the seller of the property must find the prior owner and get them to sign a re-conveyance, or if a seller is lucky the new title company will approve the sale, but will be held harmless if the old property owner shows up asking for the old debt to be paid off if it hasn’t. This clearly demonstrates that selling property with past debt can tangle up the sale of that property in the future. Occasionally, a seller may have to bond around an old deed of trust. This is where a seller pays a bonding company to protect the new buyer against an old debtor coming forward and requesting the old debt to be paid. This bonding process protects the title insurance company against such an occurrence, and places the responsibility on the seller with that prior debt to pay off that debt. The bonding process will not work for a foreign seller though. If a foreign seller has a deed of trust (debt) on a parcel that doesn’t show a re-conveyance then a bonding company will not allow a bond unless the foreign seller has other US real estate that the bonding company can attach the bond to. The bonding company needs some protection in the event the debtor wants a debt paid, but the prior seller is foreign. In such a case a foreign seller can’t sell the real estate until they can show a re-conveyance or demonstrate to a title insurance company that the debt was fully paid. In 98% of cases the title company will want the re-conveyance recorded. Buyer and seller beware of deeds of trust and quit claims.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

LA County San Andreas Fault Earthquake Imminent?

200 small earthquakes hit Bombay Bay in the Salton Sea this week. This area is at the southern tip of the San Andreas Fault. There has not been a large earthquake here since 1680, or 330 years ago according to scientists who spoke to the LA Times. According to the LA Times and U.S. Geological Survey, as of Tuesday, the chances of a magnitude 7 or greater earthquake being triggered on the southern San Andreas Fault over the next seven days were as high as 1 in 100 and as low as 1 in 3,000. Without the swarm, the average chance for such an earthquake striking on any given week is 1 in 6,000. The earthquakes hit in a sparsely populated area, less than four miles from Bombay Beach in the Sonoran Desert. Historically just 12 hours after a 6.3 earthquake hit south of the Salton Sea in 1987, an even larger temblor, a 6.6, ruptured six miles away. Seismologists say the could be the first domino off on the San Andreas fault, unzipping the fault from Imperial County through Los Angeles County, spreading devastating shaking waves throughout the southern half of California in a monster 7.8 earthquake. Their ShakeOut simulation says it’s possible that hundreds of brick and concrete buildings could fall, and even a few fairly new high-rise steel buildings. The death toll could climb to 1,800 people, and such an earthquake could cause 50,000 injuries and $200 billion in damage. Let’s hope this doesn’t occur, but the next several days will tell the tale or no tale at all.

Monday, October 3, 2016

AV Sees Double-digit Home Price Gains

This is a reprint of an AV Press Article By: Jim Skeen AV Press PALMDALE - Lancaster and Palmdale neighborhoods saw double-digit home price gains in August, according to a report from CoreLogic. Lancaster's 93534 ZIP code had a median home price of $185,000 in August (57 sales), up 13.3% over the year. Lancaster's 93535 ZIP code had a median home price of $200,000 (98 sales), up 17.6%. Lancaster's 93536 ZIP code had a median price of $300,000 (122 sales), up 10.5%. Palmdale's 93550 ZIP code had a median home price of $220,000 (75 sales) in August, up 13.4% over the year. Palmdale's 93551 ZIP code had a median price of $336,000 (111 sales), up 10.2%. Palmdale's 93552 ZIP code had a median price of $259,000 (65 sales), up 19.4% over the year. Earlier this month, the Greater Antelope Valley Association of Realtors reported there were 517 homes sold in August in the region, a 4% increase over August 2015. Through August, 3,523 homes were sold in the Antelope Valley, down slightly from the 3,535 recorded at this point in 2015. The average selling price of an Antelope Valley home in August was $263,505, up 15% over August 2015. The average selling price of an Antelope Valley home so far this year is $244,038, up 10% from this point in 2015. Of the August transactions, 3% were foreclosures and 2% were short sales. In a separate report, CoreLogic reported there were 23,278 new and existing homes sold in Southern California in August, the highest tally for that month in a decade. The region's sales were up 9.5% over the year. In Los Angeles County, 7,725 new and existing homes were sold, a 5.4% year-over-year increase. The median price of a Southern California home was $465,000 in August, a 6.2% increase over the year. In the county, the median price was $530,000, a 6% increase. "Job growth, low interest rates, household formation and other factors helped drive up activity," said Andrew LePage, an analyst with CoreLogic. "The big picture is that the housing market continues to edge back toward normalcy in the wake of the worst housing bust in modern history." Existing homes in California sold at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 420,360 units in August, down 2.2% from a year earlier, according to a report from the California Association of Realtors. August was the sixth straight month of year-over-year sales declines. The median price of an existing, single-family California home in August was $526,580, up 5.8% from August 2015. The association's Unsold Inventory Index, which indicates the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate dipped from 3.6 months in both July and August 2015 to 3.4 months this August. Nationally, existing homes sold at an annualized pace of 5.33 million in August, down 0.9% from July, but up 0.8% from August 2015, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors. "Healthy labor markets in most the country should be creating a sustained demand for home purchases," said Lawrence Yun, the national association's chief economist. "However, there's no question that after peaking in June, sales in a majority of the country have inched backwards because inventory isn't picking up to tame price growth and replace what's being quickly sold." Nationally, the unsold inventory is at a 4.6-month supply. A six- to seven-month supply is considered normal. The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $240,200, up 5.1% from August 2015 ($228,500). August's price increase marks the 54th consecutive month of year-over-year gains, the association reported. Distressed sales - foreclosures and short sales - accounted for 5% of August transactions, the lowest percentage since the association began tracking that data in October 2008.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Several New Applicant Proposals were recently submitted for Single Family Homes in Lancaster Recently Reviewed.

A Tentative Tract Map has been proposed on 73 acres at the southwest corner of 52nd Street West and Avenue K-8 Request: It is a proposed subdivision of 238 single family lots on R-7000 zoned land. There will be 128 lots within the R-7,000 Zone, 89 lots within the R-10,000 Zone, and 21 lots within the R-15,000 Zone. There is another Tentative Parcel Map for a property west of 55th Street West. The property owners are requesting the subdivision for the property east of 55th Street West into two parcels. The parcel owners wish to create a tract map and then sell the parcels to a developer. Further there is a proposal for 30 gross acres located on the northeast corner of Lancaster Blvd and 37th Street East. The request is for a subdivision of 129 single-family lots in the R-7,000 and R-10,000 Zones Also another 15 acres located on the southeast corner of Avenue K and future 57th Street West by the same firm. The request is for a subdivision of 58 single-family lots in the R-7,000 Zone. Additionally, another 28 acres located on the northwest corner of future 35th Street East and Avenue J into a subdivision of 114 single-family lots of R-7,000 Zoned lots.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

BYD’s Electric Bus Expansion in Lancaster and Globally

BYD the electric bus manufacturing company in Lancaster will soon have on the road 60 foot long buses that can travel up to 300 miles on a single charge. This doubles the distance from the prior bus. BYD “Build Your Dreams” has launched into Chicago and New York, as well as, Los Angeles. They have been operating in Lancaster since 2013, and they are on track to deliver 300 news buses this year. Their first year they only produced 50 buses. They will build and deliver a variety of all-electric bus models, including 14 60-foot-long articulated buses that can carry 120 people with a range of up to 200 miles on one charge, 30 commuter coaches and 41 40-foot standard buses. The 40-foot buses cost $660,000, compared with $500,000 for a diesel hybrid according to reports. The company employs about 300 workers currently and may increase to 1000 by 2018. The company has expanded beyond is Long Beach initial bus footprint to Gardena, Greater LA, Denver, Canada, Chicago and New York. Additionally, Silicon Valley has requested commuter buses with coffee bars, video games and more luxury interiors. This is one of a number of areas in Antelope Valley where job growth in growing and showing a long term future foot print.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Land Conservation and Federal Tax Credits for Donating Land for the Benefit of the Community.

If you own land or look to buy certain land than a land conservation land trust maybe a great option. The type of land that may fit this scenario is land for open space, or historically important property. Ideally land in the Antelope Valley in a wildlife habitat area or a water critical area. There are many areas in Antelope Valley where endangered plant and animal species live. If a person owns land that fits these scenarios than a land conservation easement could be done. A land conservation easement is a permanent, legally enforceable agreement between a property owner and a land trust or government entity. The agreement is recorded with the county, so it will ensure the parcel can further serve its conservation purposes in the future. The way it works is that is a person or entity owns conservation land then they contract with one of a thousand local land trusts. If the land trust deems your parcel fits the conservation need and IRS guidelines than the property maybe eligible for future tax breaks. It can also be a portion of your land that fits the conservation such as a river or creek that runs through the parcel. So for example, say you own farmland with an income is $200,000. Part of your land has a river or some conservation value to it. So you donate that easement worth $500,000 (If that is what the appraiser indicates. Then you the farmer, rancher or forester can now deduct the full $200,000 in the year they donated the easement, and their full income in each subsequent year, until the entire $500,000 deduction is reached. Or you can deduct a portion of it over sixteen years until the $500k amount is reached. There also maybe property taxes deducted. But once you donate this land or easement then it is permanent. You can’t undo the land trust and conservation of the land. It is also possible that if your land parcel has endangered species on it like the burrowing owl, kangaroo squirrel, desert tortoise, California poppy’s or other endangered species than a conservation group may wish to buy you land parcel. In many cases developers are forced to buy conservation land in exchange for developing somewhere else. So it you sell or donate your appraised land then you get the tax deduction of the donation value. It is not a bad deal for land owners who find out that their land is only worth the value of the preservation of the land and plant and animal itself. In some cases a tax break is better than selling the land itself.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

New Developments and Future Planning in Palmdale

The 47th Pavilion (Avenue R and 47th Street East) Super Target Center America’s Tire is under construction north of the Bank of America. The store will be approximately 7,300 square feet in size. Plaza Vallarta (Avenue R and 47th Street East) O’Reilly Auto Parts is constructing a 7,200 square foot store north of Chase Bank Rancho Vista Boulevard and Town Center Drive WalMart will be constructing a 40,000 square foot market on the north side of Ranch Vista Boulevard, west of Town Center Drive. The market is not a supercenter but it will include grocery. As of April there was a Tentative Tract Map 73143 requesting approval to subdivide a 40 acre parcel into two parcels, a ten acre commercial parcel and a 30 acre residential parcel. Tentative Tract Map 73158 is a request to subdivide a 30 acre parcel into 102 residential lots, including two detention basin lots. The project site is located between Avenue Q and Palmdale Boulevard, east of 42nd Street East

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Several Tentative Tract Maps were Approved or Extended for Multi-Family Residential in Lancaster

42nd Street and Ave H was approved on 20 acres to build 115 single family homes. The zoning is MDR (Moderate Density Residential) which allows 1-30 units per acre such as apartments or condos. This plan is for a Residential Planned Community of 115 single-family lots with one common lot for open space and recreation facilities in the MDR and R-7,000 Zones Recommendation a time extension was given to move the tentative tract map along. Two other approvals were granted on 15.1± gross acres located on the northwest corner of future 55th Street West and future Avenue K-14 Request: This is for a subdivision of 58 single-family lots in the R-7,000 Zone Recommendation. There was a one year extension granted. The same applicant requested and extension on 12.66 acres of R-7000 zoned land for 41 single family united. At 35th Street West at J. Two smaller developments were moved forward on 1.71 acres at 52nd West at J-8. This is for 8 single family units. A follow up meeting is set for July. Another 5 acres at 32nd West at M-4 was granted a one year extension for 9 single family lots on SRR zoned land. SRR is semi-rural residential 1-2 units per 1 acre. There is some housing planned for Lancaster. Not huge 40 or 160 acre parcels but things are progressing in the growth phase.

Friday, July 1, 2016

City Of Lancaster Approved CUP (Conditional Use Permit) for Solar Power Site

This is likely not a surprise for many but recently Lancaster Planning Commission approved 89± gross acres generally bounded by Avenue I-4, Avenue J, 102nd Street West, and 105th Street West to construct a 10-megawatt photovoltaic solar generating facility on the RR-2.5 (Rural Residential 2.5) Zoned land. The subject location is designated NU (Non-Urban Residential) by the General Plan, zoned RR-2.5 (Rural Residential, minimum lot size 2.5 acres). The City of Lancaster has determined that the development and use of alternative energy is beneficial to the community, and this determination is evident in the decisions made by the City Council. This is one of many alternative energy sites the City Council has implemented. There are several solar and wind energy programs installed on City facilities, and has become a provider of solar generated electricity to local school districts and other entities. Additionally, the City’s General Plan has several objectives and policies pertaining to alternative energy. These objectives address the need to develop new sources of energy, as well as reduce energy consumption. The proposed project is consistent with the City’s goals as addressed in Policy 3.6.6, which is to Consider and promote the use of alternative energy, such as this one. The solar company is Sustainable power sPower LLC

Friday, June 10, 2016

California is Building a High Speed Rail for Florida

Brightline, being developed by All Aboard Florida. It will connect riders in Miami to Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando via railway. This is much the same as the Calhigh Speed Rail is attempting in California, but the Cal High Speed Rail is a Government project. The Brightline Miami to Orlando project is completely privately funded. They anticipate a plan to get people out of their cars by featuring food, drinks, affordable rates and comfortable seats. They are attempting to make a train more convenient than driving a car. They will also build travel hubs with retail space, residential homes and commercial properties. These trains are being built by Siemens in Sacramento. It seems like Florida has created a more cost effective solution to high speed rail travel with private funding and control, while California very expensive system is government run and currently underfunded. Maybe California will get a clue that privately funded Brightline and the Hyperloop is a more economical solution. The bottom line though is high speed transport is the future. If you look at self driving cars, Uber and Lyft private car solutions then a personal car is not like it used to be. Additionally, the potential growth of electric buses like BVD, and electric cars like Tesla also project a more economical environmentally friendly outlook in the plans.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Selling Homes Has been Tough for the Builder, But they have a New Buyers from Abroad

CNBC reported "This is a tough market condition. We have seen the market recover since the downturn, but the recovery has been slow, steady and in a pretty tight band," said Stuart Miller, CEO of Miami-based Lennar. He said land costs and entitlement costs are getting too high. Although, the demand for an entry level home is at the highest. This area is mortgage constrained, since first time buyers can’t get a mortgage easily. The builders like Lennar are now building multiple housing development apartments and renting them. They are also building rental communities. They build the home and rent out each home in the entire community. DR Horton makes a starter home brand called “Express Homes”, which are tailored for the first time home buyer. There is a new buyer in the US and it is the Chinese. They are the primary factor driving up investments in the US. According to a CNBC report from Rosen Consulting Group the Chinese direct investment in the US commercial real estate sector and residential sales could hit $218 Billion in the next four years. Chinese foreign direct investment into the U.S. totaled about $22.3 billion in 2015, an increase from roughly $18.1 billion in the prior year, according to the report. The increase is an average of 54 Billion a year. According the CNBC reporting Chinese owners acquired at least $8.5 billion in commercial property and at least $28.6 billion in residential property in 2015. Looking to 2025, the report projected that commercial acquisitions could hit $20 billion by then and residential buying could reach $50 billion. The reason for all this new investment increase is that larger firms in China including insurance firms have not invested in the US. This large Chinese investment is based upon the Chinese government currency value, and economic uncertainty in China. The Chinese government is imposing controls on how much money can leave China, but the Chinese are still getting their money out into US Real Estate Investment. The currency devaluation issue and the rules on long term real estate investment in a communist country has been the impetus for capital to flee. In China a person only has a lease-hold on property for say 70 to 100 years, so you can not pass on real estate to heirs. This is not an issue in the US. Expect greater Chinese investment in real estate, and home builders to build apartments instead of entry level homes.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hyperloop Firms are Both Progressing in the High Speed Transport Systems

Hyperloop is a propsed system to transport cargo and passengers in a elevated system via vacuum tubes. The system which also uses magnets to propel the tube 760 miles per hour , which would carry people or cargo from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies also known as (HTT), recently unveiled magnetic technology that will allow the pods to levitate and move. The system was developed by Lawrence Livermore Labs with HTT. HTT has exclusively licensed the system for their Hyperloop project. The way the system works is that pods will be propelled by an electric motor and the magnetic field created by permanent magnets will help the capsules levitate. Also, when the pods decelerate, the energy created will be used to recharge the batteries of the motor. There are no designed plans to make have this system in California or anywhere in the US, but it is clear that it can be a rival system to the CalHighSpeed Rail system. It will also be less expensive to construct and to use. Additionally, it will cost much much less to construct. The Hyperloop system will utilize passive levitation system which will eliminate the need for power stations along the Hyperloop track. This further cuts down on construction and further makes the system less expensive and energy efficient. This past January, HTT filed for construction permits of the first full-scale five-mile hyperloop track in Quay Valley, California, which is in central California. The company is also crowd sourcing its funding and they have over 10,000 people self funding the project. This Hyperloop system is quickly and quietly becoming a real system. Although many say it will be best used in cargo transport, which will cut down on long haul truckers. Increasingly, technology is eliminating jobs near and long term.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Clean Energy Firm SunEdison files for Bankruptcy

SunEdison is a solar and wind company that was worth almost $10 billion less than a year ago. It has a mountain of debt to deal with. It has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in the hopes to keep it afloat. It has $300 million in new financing to continue current projects, pay wages and keep things afloat. Recently its stock SUNE was at $33 a share but it has dropped under 30 cents a share. The company had made some solar plans in the Antelope Valley, but they have done more solar and wind in South Korea and Germany. They also have two subsidiaries TerraForm Power and Terra Global with inroads in Brazil, India and China. The bankruptcy doesn’t involve these two spinoffs. There have been other solar energy bankruptcies and one a few years ago in the Antelope Valley on the far-east side in High Vista Area. First Solar operates several solar farms in Antelope Valley and it is publically traded, but a number of other solar firms are private enterprises.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Builders Index Or Housing Starts was down 1.09M in March vs. 1.17M expected

U.S. housing starts fell more than expected in March. The housing permits applications are also at a year low. This is a US number and not an Antelope Valley number, but is shows a slowing in housing being built. This may be different in the Antelope Valley for the future due to the new Stealth Bomber building plans at Northrop Grumman’s Plant 42. This does show a slow done in the first quarter housing starts for the first half of 2016 nationwide. The overall groundbreaking decreased 8.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.09 million units. This is the lowest level since October according to the Commerce Department. Although, last months housing starts were revised up, but only slightly from 1.19 million from 1.18 million. The largest segment of the housing market is the single family and that dropped almost 10 percent or 9.2 percent. This is the lowest national number since last fall. Again this is a national number and maybe different in Los Angeles County, but it is a reflection of the new housing market for 2016

Monday, April 4, 2016

Notice of Violation and What it Means to Vacant Land Parcels

Many property owners over the years and especially in the 80’s received a Notice of Violation. This is a notice from LA County Regional Planning that a parcel was subdivided improperly. Typically properties that have a dotted or dashed line around them have a notice of will get one. According to LA Regional Planning FAQ: If my parcel is represented by a dashed line on an Assessor’s Map Book Page, does that mean that my parcel does not have a certificate of compliance? Such a dashed line only indicates that the parcel was not created by parcel map, tract map or parcel map. It may have been created by parcel map waiver or by deed, and it may have already received a certificate of compliance. The only way to be sure whether or not a certificate of compliance has already been issued for such a parcel, is to do a preliminary title search-i.e. ask a title company to determine that for you. Alternatively, you could apply for a certificate of compliance and the Department will do such a search for you; however, if a previous C of C is uncovered, the Department will keep $453.00 of your filing fee, with return of the balance of your application to you. If you have dashed lines on your parcel plat map, but your parcel has not received a notice of violation then when you sell the parcel your parcel then you will not have to do anything. Most buyers will require a property owner to get a COC to satisfy a Notice of Violation, but if non Notice was ever filed then a property owner will not need to get a a COC. A Certificate of Compliance (COC) costs $1755 plus $171 Fire Referral. Most COC’s are not charged the additional $483 fee. If a property owner wishes to develop a parcel and it has dashed lines, but no Notice of Violation. Then LA Regional Planning will likely require the property owner to get a COC before they develop the property. WHY IS THE COUNTY SO CONCERNED ABOUT MY “ILLEGAL” PARCEL? State law requires that Los Angeles County, along with other counties and cities, regulate and control the subdivision of land. In this way streets, drainage, sewage disposal, fire access and other factors associated with good subdivision planning can be provided fo HOW DO I APPLY FOR A CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE? Forms and instructions are at our Los Angeles office and in our field offices. They may also be downloaded from the Planning Department website: http// Applications submitted through the mail cannot be accepted. All applications must be submitted at our Los Angeles office or one of our field offices. There is a fee. For additional information or questions, please contact them directly. You can also see

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Hyperloop is Coming and Maybe to a Town Near You

A half billionaire and venture capitalist who has funded Uber, Airbnb, Munchery among other ventures is backing Hyperloop Technologies. He is Shervin Pishevar and not long ago he made a pitch to Senator Harry Reid. Granted Senator Reid will soon be out of office, but this science fiction project is gathering attention. The billionaire Elon Musk is also pushing the program and both parties are conducting test programs in Texas and Las Vegas. The Hyperlook may not supersede the CalhighSpeedRail, but it will give many to pause. If cargo can be transported from Los Angeles to Denver or beyond via a Hyperloop then that changes transport costs. I will really change the way transport is done. It should clearly be a threat to the HighSpeed Trains, and the Airline industry. It this takes off like these innovators see it then it can eliminate the commute. A loop could run above a freeway and zip people for under ten dollars from downtown to LAX, or from San Francisco to San Jose and then maybe you can hope into a driver-less car to take you to the office. It is not that far off to being a reality.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Antelope Valley is the Silicon Sky

This is a reprint of an article from the AVPress by Jim Keen After suffering more than its fair share of down time, the Antelope Valley is on the upswing and the outlook for its leading industry, aerospace, is bright. In an essay titled "The Unfolding of Silicon Sky," economist Christopher Thornberg notes the Antelope Valley suffered through hard times in the 1990s from defense cutbacks and was hit hard than most areas in the housing market bust of the Great Recession. "The good news is that the Antelope Valley is on an upward swing and clearly recovering from the recession," Thornberg wrote in the essay, which appears in the 2016 Economic Roundtable Report produced by the Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance, or GAVEA. Thornberg is the founder of Beacon Economics and has been a frequent visitor to the Antelope Valley. Thornberg says signs of that upswing include home prices that are increasing at a 9% pace, falling unemployment, taxable sales growing at a healthy 5% rate, population growth holding steady at just under 1%, and overall job growth being at just above 2%. "While new construction remains subdued locally, growing unaffordability in the core areas of Los Angeles will undoubtedly create a new surge in local demand over the next few years," Thornberg wrote. The biggest bright spot is aerospace. "This isn't your father's aerospace industry, back when gutsy test pilots and bigger jet engines defined the industry," Thornberg wrote. "Today, it is all about material sciences and advanced computer technology." Thornberg notes some of the industry's recent milestones, including billionaire Paul Allen opting to build a giant airplane in Mojave to launch satellites into space, Northrop Grumman winning the contract to develop America's next bomber, and activity by the Air Force and the Navy in redesigning major weapon systems in the region. "All of these efforts require massive R&D activity and extensive high-tech supply chains - bringing in a new wave of suppliers and sub-contractors. These will be high-tech firms with highly skilled employees and represent an opportunity for the area to become a high-tech hub," Thornberg wrote. The key for the region is to make it as easy as possible for these companies and workers to come to the Antelope Valley, Thornberg said. The region will also need to make sure the area is a place where tech workers would want to live by improving education, expanding entertainment and retail options, and making space for high-end housing, Thornberg said.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Several Multiple Housing Tract Maps recently approved and extended in Lancaster

A recent planning commission meeting extended tentative tract map approval for a couple of investment firms. 64 acres at 80th West and Ave L was approved for a 60 day extension. The subdivion is for 204 homes zoned R-10,000. There was another 42 acre plot approved for a 60 day extension 40th Street West at H-8. This is approving 156 homes of R-7000 zoning. Another firm was approved for 66 home on R-10,000 zoning at 35th Street West at K-4. The same firm is getting another 39 home approved near this parcel. Another 40 acre parcel at 15th East at H-8 was approved for a 60 day extension on 151 homes also zoned R-7000. These extensions are currently only approving the tract map, so building doesn’t appear to be around the corner, but it looks positive that these firms are moving their plans forward for future housing development. It these all move forward then that is at least 550 new homes on the horizon. This will certainly put a dent in housing inventory. Stay tuned for future updates on these new developments.

Monday, February 1, 2016

SpaceX has Awarded MIT Team The design Contest for the Hyperloop

The Hyperloop is progressing. In this case it is Elon Musk's SpaceX financed Loop.The MIT grad students won out against a 100 other teams. This design will go into a proto-type in Hawthorne California. The proposed system would use pods traveling in tubes in a vacuum at 750 MPH from Houston to Dallas, or San Francisco to LA. The design is an elevated design above the ground and MIT design has been reported as using magnets. There are now several plans in place and all designed in the US. We will see which one or many work out. This certainly competes with a high speed rail in California which will cost billions. We are still unsure if the Hyperloop is really feasible as it will take a person at 750MPH. Some design include carrying vehicles. Hyperloop people say a person will not realize they are going 750 MPH, but how can it turn? Critics say a person can handle a change even gradual turns or rising and falling without getting sick. If that is the case then a Hyperloop would have to be at the same level from San Francisco to LA. It just seems impossible to be at say 50 feet up all the way since California is not flat. We will see where this goes.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Hyperloop is coming to Las Vegas

Elon Musk’s radical transport system will be tested in Nevada in 2016. It has been recently reported that the Hyperloop is coming to Nevada for testing. Hyperloop Technologies and the Nevada Governor’s office selected 50 acres in North Las Vegas at Apex Industrial park to test out the prototype system. This proposed system will reach speeds to 700 plus MPH or San Francisco to LA in 30 minutes. This system will be tested by in Las Vegas. A rival test will be done by a separate company Hyperloop Transportation Technology north of Los Angeles. The Hyperloop plan will be elevated above ground and it will carry tubes powered mainly by solar energy. There may be some hic-ups in the engineering, but Elon Muck Hyperloop Technologies and the rival LA group Hyperloop Transportation Technology are both pushing this technology forward. There always seems to be a reference of the SF to LA, but this could work Dallas to Houston, or maybe NY to Washington. It is a rival to the California High Speed Rail and the Xpress West High Speed train from Los Angeles (Victorville to Las Vegas). The Cal High Speed Rail has broken ground in the Central Valley, but there are not enough funds currently to move it along to Palmdale. The Hyperloop has estimated that the cost per passenger from SF to LA maybe under $30, while the high speed rail will need $billions to complete will cost more per passenger. Let’s let this play out and see whose technology and if the State and Federal Government will approve a Hyperloop since they have already spent money and have voter approval on the Rail line.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Positive Jobs News on the Antelope Valley Horizon

Northrop Grumman was awarded the “B3” new stealth bomber contract, but it is under appeal by Lockheed and Boeing. Lockheed also has a presence in Palmdale, if there is any change maybe Lockheed will get some input. The entire bidding process takes time, so it looks like Northrup will get the bid unless there was any illegal backdoor deals. But there is no evidence of that. Additionally, BYD is building electric buses and expanding their footprint in other cities and States. Also Kinkishiryo which is also in Palmdale has been building some rail cars for the Metro Rapid Transit system. They were going to pull out of Palmdale at one point, but tempers and accusations cooled. There are several solar power facilities taking place on the west side. These projects are being built and jobs are operating. Once the conduction faze is complete then many of those construction jobs will be gone. But it seems as soon as a project is completed then another one gets started. The sun keeps shining on solar in Lancaster and LA County land. More engineering jobs like these especially the new stealth bomber and the bus and train construction and manufacturing creates a need for housing in ownership and rentals. This all increases the value of land over time. This is all positive news for real estate and land investment.