Real Estate Roundup: California Housing Markets Posted the Nation’s Biggest Equity Gains in 2017

April 9, 2018 by  • Posted in 

Here’s a look at recent news of interest to homebuyers, home sellers, and the home-curious.

San Francisco Row houses

TAPPABLE HOME EQUITY CLIMBS TO ALL-TIME HIGH                                                                                                                                                                       

The U.S. housing market saw tappable equity increase by the largest dollar amount on record last year, with San Francisco and Los Angeles leading the country for gains.

That’s according to Black Knight’s latest Mortgage Monitor, which says that the U.S. housing market gained $735 billion in tappable equity in 2017. Nationwide tappable home equity now stands at $5.4 trillion, a new all-time high and 10 percent above the former peak recorded in 2005.

“As home prices continued their upward trajectory at the national level, the amount of tappable equity available to homeowners with mortgages continued to rise as well,” Black Knight Data & Analytics Executive Vice President Ben Graboske said. “Still, Americans seem more reserved in tapping their equity than in years past.”

California holds nearly 40 percent of the nation’s tappable equity, about seven times as much as the next closest state. In 2017, San Francisco and Los Angeles each saw tappable equity increase by $80 billion, respective gains of 20 percent and 12 percent and the most in the U.S.

America’s housing market is more competitive than ever this spring, with prices again reaching a new high and no end in sight to tight supply conditions.

As reports, the median list price for a U.S. home was $280,000 in March, up 8 percent year over year and surpassing the previous high observed in July 2017. Company Director of Economic Research Javier Vivas predicts that if appreciation continues at its current pace, half of the homes on the market will be priced at more than $300,000 by this summer.

Conditions remain particularly difficult for first-time buyers, as homes priced at less than $200,000 are rare. If listing-price trends persists, one in 12 homes on the market this summer will be priced above $1 million.

The aforementioned consistent home price appreciation and shortage of homes for sale dictate that a significant number of buyers realize that they may need to exceed their initial budgets to close a purchase.

A study by found that one-third of Americans said that they would bust their budgets to purchase a home, by an average of $16,510. Millennials were the most willing to exceed their homebuying budgets (40 percent) by the largest amount of money ($24,545), followed by 34 percent of Gen Xers, who said they would overspend by $13,996.

The report also highlights the importance of retaining the services of a knowledgable real estate professional in such a competitive market. More than 80 percent of recent homebuyers worked with a real estate professional, with millennials being more likely that other generations to need advice and guidance about the homebuying process.

While mortgage rates remain low by historical standards, most economists predict that they will steadily climb this year, and millennials are particularly aware of the impact.

The latest numbers from Freddie Mac put the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 4.40 percent for the week ended April 5, down from the previous week but up from one year earlier. Fifteen-year, fixed-rate mortgages mirrored that trend, ending the week at 3.87 percent.

It’s clear that Americans realize how higher mortgage rates will affect their abilities to purchase a home. Citing survey results from Toluna Research, reportsthat 79 percent of active homebuyers say that rising interest rates will impact their search. For millennials, that number is even higher: 92 percent.

(Photo: iStock/LUNAMARINA)

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Written by Pacific Union


Most Homeowners Are Planning a Remodeling Project in 2018

April 4, 2018 by  • Posted in 

  • Fifty-eight percent of homeowners will funnel money into a home-improvement project this year, according to a recent poll.
  • For the fifth straight year, outdoor renovations are the most popular with homeowners in 2018.
  • Twice as many homeowners are improving their properties so that they can age in place than those who are renovating in advance of a sale.

Man remodeling a home with his dogNearly six in 10 U.S. homeowners are planning to spend money improving their properties this year, and an even larger amount will do at least some of the work themselves.

LightStream’s 2018 Home Improvement Survey found that 58 percent of homeowners will spend some amount of money to better their properties this year. Almost half are expecting to spend $5,000 or more on renovations, an all-time survey high, while the number of owners who will shell out $35,000 or more doubled from last year.

For the first time ever, LightStream asked respondents about “sweat equity,” meaning adding value to one’s home by making improvements via personal physical work. Nearly two-thirds of owners planning a renovation will do some of the work themselves, and 35 percent will complete the entire job without professional assistance.

LightStream says that outdoor renovation projects — such as decks, patios, and landscaping — are the most popular for the fifth straight year, cited by 43 percent of homeowners. A bathroom remodel was the second most common renovation (31 percent), followed by general repairs (28 percent) and kitchen overhauls (26 percent).

Here in the Bay Area, homeowners thinking of remodeling their kitchens or bathrooms should be prepared to dig deep. Two separate Houzz studies published within the past six months found that San Francisco homeowners can expect to incur the largest bills in the nation to complete bathroom and kitchen remodels.

Speaking of funding home-renovation projects, LightStream found that 62 percent of respondents plan to use their savings accounts to improve their homes. Thirty percent will use credit cards, 13 percent will tap into their home’s equity, and 10 percent will take out a loan.

One final finding from the survey: The desire to remodel a home is not necessarily driven by plans to put it on the market. Just 7 percent of those polled are renovating because of an upcoming sale, while twice that amount — across all age groups — are bettering their home so that they can age in place.

(Photo: iStock/Kerkez)

Categorized in: 
Written by Pacific Union

Pacific Union Again Moves Up the Rankings of the Largest U.S. Real Estate Brokerages in 2018

March 29, 2018 by  • Posted in 

Pacific Union is excited to share the news that our firm has once again advanced on the list of the largest residential real estate brokerages in America, a testament to the hard work and expertise of our elite team of professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County.

The latest rankings from noted industry publications REAL Trends and RISMedia place Pacific Union as the No. 5 largest brokerage in the country in 2018, with more than $14.1 billion in sales in 2017, up from No. 8 in 2016. The brokerage grew total sales by 39.3 percent in the past year, while increasing average sales price by 11.4 percent. We are now the largest independent residential real estate brokerage in California, as well as in the Bay Area and Los Angeles County.

Pacific Union has consistently ascended the rankings of the two noted industry publications for the past six years: No. 18 in 2012; No. 14 in 2013; No. 13 in 2014; No. 9 in 2015 and 2016; and No. 8 in 2017. Company CEO Mark A. McLaughlin, who purchased the brokerage in 2009, attributes the company’s success to maintaining a focus on culture and recruiting California’s best and brightest real estate professionals.

“Nearly nine years ago, we had a vision of returning Pacific Union home, back to the roots of its founders: entrepreneurs; risk takers, and a people-first, results-based culture,” he says. “The talented people we have attracted to our organization are reflective of this vision, and each one of us feels a passion for our cause and take pride in our collective accomplishments.”

Pacific Union has fueled its significant sales volume growth and expanded its California footprint over the past 15 months through strategic mergers with top Los Angeles brokerages John Aaroe Group, Partners Trust, and Gibson International. The brokerage now has more than 1,700 of California’s top real estate professionals in more than 50 offices throughout the state, including a newly opened location in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park neighborhood.

The industry has also recognized Pacific Union for its global efforts, with International Property Awards naming it World’s Best Real Estate Agency With More Than 20 Offices for the year 2017-2018. Pacific Union has gained significant international traction via its China Concierge program, started in 2013, as well as through a global digital marketing campaign that delivered more than 100,000 overseas impressions to its website.


Real Estate Roundup:

Real Estate Roundup: San Francisco Begins 2018 as the Hottest U.S. Housing Market

January 29, 2018 by  • Posted in 

Here’s a look at recent news of interest to homebuyers, home sellers, and the home-curious.

Demand for Bay Area real estate remains intense as 2018 begins, with three local markets once again ranked as the country’s hottest.

That’s according to’s latest monthly list of the 20 hottest U.S. real estate markets as gauged by listing views on its website and the fastest pace of sales. San Francisco has unseated San Jose as the nation’s hottest market in January, returning to a spot it held for multiple months in 2016 and 2017. San Jose fell to the No. 2 position, while Vallejo held steady at No. 3. All three Bay Area cities had stints at the top of the hot-markets list last year.

As has become typical, California markets took most of the spots on’s January list, with a total of 13 representatives. The other Golden State cities to make the cut: San Diego (No. 6), Santa Rosa (No. 7), Sacramento (No. 8), Stockton (No. 10), Modesto (No. 11), Fresno (No. 13), Los Angeles (No. 14), Chico (No. 16), Oxnard (No. 17), and Santa Cruz (No. 18). The latter three cities returned to the hot list after dropping off in December.

While many millennials are priced out of the Bay Area’s most expensive real estate markets, Santa Rosa has seen a notable influx of younger homebuyers over the past decade.

An analysis by SmartAsset ranks the 25 most popular U.S. housing markets for millennials on a scale of 100 based on homeownership rate in 2016 and change in the number of younger owners since 2007. Based on those criteria, Santa Rosa ranks. No. 7 for millennial homebuyers, tying three other cities with a score of 88.68.

As of 2016, 31.19 percent of Santa Rosa residents under the age of 35 owned a home, which is still lower than the national millennial homeownership rate of 34.7 percent. However, between 2009 and 2016, the Sonoma County city saw its millennial homeownership rate increase by 11 percent, the highest of any market included in the study.

While it can be difficult to discern where exactly you picked up that nasty cold or flu bug, one builder is trying to make sure that sickness does not come from a doorknob in your home.

KB Home has announced that it has partnered with door hardware manufacture Kwikset to introduce a new line of products designed to fight household germs. The health-conscious hardware will incorporate Microban protection, a coating designed to repel bacteria on doorknobs, locks, and latches. KB Home says that the protection will last for the products’ lifetimes.

The new door components are part of KB Home’s Healthy Homes program, which has previously introduced products such as environmentally friendly paint and high-efficiency home-ventilation systems.

Mortgage rates rose to the highest level in 10 months last week, though they are still lower than they were at the same time last year.

The latest Freddie Mac data says that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.15 percent for the week ended Jan. 25, up from 4.04 percent the previous week and down from 4.19 percent on an annual basis. Fifteen-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose to 3.62 percent, up both week over week and year over year.

“The 10-year Treasury yield reached its highest point since 2014 reflecting expectations of broad-based economic growth,” Freddie Mac Deputy Chief Economist Len Kiefer said. “Mortgage rates, in turn, followed the surge in Treasury yields.”

(Photo: iStock/chameleonseye)

10 Habits Of Incredibly Happy People

happy people 4

We’re always chasing something—be it a promotion, a new car, or a significant other. This leads to the belief that, “When (blank) happens, I’ll finally be happy.”

While these major events do make us happy at first, research shows this happiness doesn’t last. A study from Northwestern University measured the happiness levels of regular people against those who had won large lottery prizes the year prior. The researchers were surprised to discover that the happiness ratings of both groups were practically identical.

The mistaken notion that major life events dictate your happiness and sadness is so prevalent that psychologists have a name for it: impact bias. The reality is, event-based happiness is fleeting.

Happiness is synthetic—you either create it, or you don’t. Happiness that lasts is earned through your habits. Supremely happy people have honed habits that maintain their happiness day in, day out. Try out their habits, and see what they do for you!

10. They have a growth mindset.

People’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged, because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. This makes them happier because they are better at handling difficulties. They also outperform those with a fixed mindset because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.

9. They make an effort to be happy.

No one wakes up feeling happy every day and supremely happy people are no exception. They just work at it harder than everyone else. They know how easy it is to get sucked into a routine where you don’t monitor your emotions or actively try to be happy and positive. Happy people constantly evaluate their moods and make decisions with their happiness in mind.

8. They help others.

Taking the time to help people not only makes them happy, but it also makes you happy. Helping other people gives you a surge of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which create good feelings. In a Harvard study, employees who helped others were 10 times more likely to be focused at work and 40% more likely to get a promotion. The same study showed that people who consistently provided social support were the most likely to be happy during times of high stress. As long as you make certain that you aren’t overcommitting yourself, helping others is sure to have a positive influence on your mood.

8. They help others.

Taking the time to help people not only makes them happy, but it also makes you happy. Helping other people gives you a surge of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which create good feelings. In a Harvard study, employees who helped others were 10 times more likely to be focused at work and 40% more likely to get a promotion. The same study showed that people who consistently provided social support were the most likely to be happy during times of high stress. As long as you make certain that you aren’t overcommitting yourself, helping others is sure to have a positive influence on your mood.

6. They get enough sleep.

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to improving your mood, focus, and self-control. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, removing toxic proteins that accumulate during the day as byproducts of normal neuronal activity. This ensures that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your energy, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough quality sleep. Sleep deprivation also raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Happy people make sleep a priority, because it makes them feel great and they know how lousy they feel when they’re sleep deprived.

5. They stay positive.

Bad things happen to everyone, including happy people. Instead of complaining about how things could have been or should have been, happy people reflect on everything they’re grateful for. Then they find the best solution available to the problem, tackle it, and move on. Nothing fuels unhappiness quite like pessimism. The problem with a pessimistic attitude, apart from the damage it does to your mood, is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you expect bad things, you’re more likely to experience negative events. Pessimistic thoughts are hard to shake off until you recognize how illogical they are. Force yourself to look at the facts, and you’ll see that things are not nearly as bad as they seem.

4. They surround themselves with the right people.

Happiness spreads through people. Surrounding yourself with happy people builds confidence, stimulates creativity, and it’s flat-out fun. Hanging around negative people has the opposite effect. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. Think of it this way: If a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with negative people.

3. They spend money on other people.

Research shows that spending money on other people makes you much happier than spending it on yourself. This is especially true of small things that demonstrate effort, such as going out of your way to buy your friend a book that you know they will like.

2. They exercise.

Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. Happy people schedule regular exercise and follow through on it because they know it pays huge dividends for their mood.

1. They slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures.

By nature, we fall into routines. In some ways, this is a good thing. It saves precious brainpower and creates comfort. However, sometimes you get so caught up in your routine that you fail to appreciate the little things in life. Happy people know how important it is to savor the taste of their meal, revel in the amazing conversation they just had, or even just step outside to take a deep breath of fresh air.

Source: Forbes Leadership

Craig Curreri

707.477.5120   License #: 01408111

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