That place where marijuana & real estate meet

Marijuana is on my mind. In recent weeks Californians voted to make recreational marijuana legal, and I can’t help but consider the impact it might have on real estate. Here are a few things I’ve been mulling over. Anything you’d add?

44200664 - cannabis leaves on old wooden background

1) Land Value: All of a sudden land that is ripe for marijuana growing is looking pretty attractive. I’m not talking about tiny postage stamp lots in subdivisions, but rather larger-sized parcels in outlying areas. The truth is many savvy land buyers have already been making their move on large parcels in surrounding areas to Sacramento, but there are going to be more opportunities out there. I saw one listing recently where an agent said, “Good for ‘income-producing crops'” (code for pot). For further reference, here is an article discussing a “green rush” in Yolo County (people setting up marijuana businesses). 

2) Home Experimentation: I expect to see more owners and renters trying to grow their own weed at home. Some will grow a few plants, but others will aim to start a business to make some money in an economy that still isn’t all that vibrant.

3) Commercial Vacancies & Rents: If California ends up being anything like Denver, which has nearly 4 million square feet of commercial space used for cannabis production, I’m guessing we’ll see more interest in industrial properties and higher rents in certain areas. Goodbye commercial vacancies. Here is an image from The Sacramento Bee to show all the locations where pot can be grown in Sacramento. Image created by Nathaniel Levine.

pot-cultivation-map-from-sacramento-bee-in-january-2016-story

4) Disclosures: Talking about marijuana in contracts, listings, and appraisals isn’t anything new in real estate, but my sense is if it becomes more common to see pot growing in homes, we’ll need to hone our skills and consider what disclosure needs to look like. By the way, could the smell of a nearby pot farm need to be disclosed? As an appraiser I’m concerned with the condition of the house. There is obviously a huge difference between a massive grow operation with hundreds or thousands of plants and a home owner with a few plants. What I’m going to be looking for is anything that might make an impact on value or a health and safety issue – exposed wiring, over loaded plug-ins, poor ventilation, mold, etc… I’m not there to nark or judge by any stretch, but only figure out the value (and discuss and photograph anything that impacts value).

weed-sign-in-portland-sacramento-appraisal-blog

5) Advertising: I took my family to Portland last week to enjoy Thanksgiving, and it was amazing to see how much advertising there was for pot (because it’s legal there). Everywhere I turned Downtown there was another weed billboard, A-frame sign, or a green cross (the symbol of a dispensary). Please don’t think I’m dissing Portland because I love the city and can’t wait to go back. I’m just saying we might expect to see the same thing in California when it comes to advertising. Can signs impact the feel of a city or neighborhood? Will there be more signs in certain areas than others? Time will tell.

6) Marijuana Branding: I’m waiting for more in the real estate community to go public with their MJ branding. Last month a Sacramento law firm announced its marijuana practice. Ironically one of the partners has the last name Kronick, which is oh so close to Chronic. Anyway, there is still available shelf space for weed branding such as “Marijuana Realtor”, “Cheebah Appraiser”, and “Mary Jane Lender.” I’m kidding. Sort of.

7) Loans on “Grow” Properties: Some lenders don’t want to lend on properties that are being used for marijuana growth (keep in mind this likely doesn’t mean just a few plants). Here is some direction from a certain bank I sometimes work for when it comes to this issue. This unnamed bank sent out a message to its appraisers regarding grow houses:

####### Bank is currently unable to lend on any property with marijuana grow operations. The marijuana industry is state regulated and ####### Bank is federally regulated. Therefore, we are not in a position to lend to borrowers with income from that source nor can we lend on properties with active marijuana grow rooms or facilities. 

If you encounter a property with an active marijuana grow operation, please take at least one descriptive photo, complete your inspection of the property then cease work on the file and immediately contact your ####### Bank Appraisal Coordinator. Please do not attempt to quote ####### Bank lending policy. We will take care of that and you will, of course, be compensated for the time you’ve already invested in the appraisal.

I hope that was interesting or helpful.

Questions: Anything to add? Did I miss something? What impact do you think the legalization of marijuana might have on real estate? If you are located in a state where marijuana has been legal, what advice do you have for Sacramento? I’d love to hear your take.

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Predictions, Trump’s impact on real estate, and a Sacramento market update

I reached the point of political exhaustion last week in a big way. This doesn’t mean I’m tuned out, but right now I find myself glossing over Facebook rants or skimming certain conversations because they’re only going lead to arguments. Yet still I hoped we could chat briefly about politics and real estate – without unfriending each other. Then let’s take a deep look at the Sacramento market. Any thoughts?

18345737 - the white house, view from the south, home of the president of the united states of america in washington dc usa

Huge Data Fail & Predicting Real Estate: The media laid an egg when it came to predicting the presidency. In fact, it seemed like many political pundits were shell-shocked when election results were coming in contrary to their predictions that Hillary would win. I don’t mention this so we can argue, but only to remind us of the danger of predicting, being wrong, and then having pie on your face (losing credibility). If some of the best political minds in America couldn’t predict the outcome of the presidential race, can we really predict the future of the real estate market with certainty?

Trump Presidency and Newlyweds: I’ve been asked a couple of times this week how a Trump presidency has impacted real estate so far. My answer is simple. Imagine asking a newlywed couple after one week of marriage to tell us how their marriage is going. It’s only been a week though. We probably need more time to really know how married life is going to unfold. The same holds true with Trump’s impact on real estate. We haven’t had enough time to see waves in the market yet, and nobody really knows how his policies will affect housing. There are many predictions right now, especially about repealing Dodd-Frank, but those are only guesses (see paragraph above).

Any thoughts?

—-—–—– And here’s my big monthly market update  ———–—–

big-monthly-market-update-post-sacramento-appraisal-blog-image-purchased-from-123rfTwo ways to read the BIG POST:

  1. Scan the talking points and graphs quickly.
  2. Grab a cup of coffee and spend time digesting what is here.

DOWNLOAD 71 graphs HERE: Please download all graphs in this post (and more) here as a zip file. Use them for study, for your newsletter, or some on your blog. See my sharing policy for 5 ways to share (please don’t copy verbatim). Thanks.

NEW: I created a one-page market sheet to print and keep handy when talking about real estate. I figured it might be helpful to use while talking on the phone. I’m not sold on the look, but is this a step in the right direction? Download here.

Quick Market Summary: A brutal election season has ended (thank God), and many Americans feel worn out, but the market doesn’t feel that tired. The truth is when we look at the stats we are seeing about what we’d expect at this time of year. Ultimately prices are down 1-3% from the height of summer, it took two days longer to sell a house last month, and inventory is down 14% in the region from last year. It’s easy to see softer stats and assume the market is beginning to crash, but the market softens like this almost every single year (besides 2012 when Blackstone and friends gutted the market and we didn’t have a normal fall season). I’m not saying values are not inflated, affordability isn’t becoming more of a factor, or even the market won’t turn at some point, but only that things feel fairly normal right now for the season. Sales volume has been strong this year in Sacramento and is up slightly from last year despite cash and FHA volume both dropping by 7-8%. Inventory is anemic and there really isn’t a quick solution to deal with that problem, but buyers are still finicky about price despite very few homes being listed on the market. Sellers don’t get this, so they try to command whatever price they want, but that rarely works in this market. Keep in mind buyers are scouring Zillow and Redfin every single day, they are visiting properties with their agent, they are getting beat out on other homes, and they are often looking for MANY months before getting a contract accepted. Sellers frankly are not doing anywhere near this level of research, which is one reason sellers are less in tune with proper pricing. Check out specific stats and graphs below for Sacramento County, the Sacramento Region, & Placer County.

Sacramento County:

  1. The median price is $320,000 and is down a few percent from the height of summer, but it’s 10% higher than last year.
  2. The average price per sq ft was $202 last month (down 1% from a few months ago, but 8.5% higher than last year).
  3. There were only 38 short sales and 31 REOs in the county last month.
  4. Sales volume was 5% higher this October compared to October 2015.
  5. It took 3 days longer to sell a house last month compared to the previous month (one year ago it was taking 5 days longer to sell).
  6. Sales volume is up slightly this year compared to last year (1% or so).
  7. FHA sales volume is down 7% this year compared to 2015 (25% of all sales were FHA last month).
  8. Cash sales are down 8.5% this year (they were 12% of all sales last month).
  9. Housing inventory is 12% lower than the same time last year.
  10. The average sales price at $353,000 is down about 1% from the height of summer (but is 9% higher than last year).

Some of my Favorite Graphs this Month:

median-price-since-2013-in-sacramento-county

inventory-in-sacramento-county-since-2013-part-2-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

inventory-september-2016-by-home-appraiser-blog

cdom-in-sacramento-county-by-sacramento-regional-appraisal-blog

price-metrics-since-2015-in-sacramento-county-look-at-all

sales-volume-in-sacramento-county-since-2012

seasonal-market-in-sacramento-county-sales-volume-6

seasonal-market-in-sacramento-county-inventory-4

seasonal-market-in-sacramento-county-4

SACRAMENTO REGIONAL MARKET:

  1. The median price was $357,000 in October. It went up slightly from September but is down 3% from the height of summer (up 9% from last year).
  2. The average price per sq ft was $208 last month. That’s down about 1% from the height of summer and 7% higher than last year.
  3. It took 2 days longer to sell compared to the previous month (but 5 less days compared to October 2015).
  4. Sales volume was 4% higher this October compared to October 2015.
  5. FHA sales volume is down 8% this year compared to last year.
  6. Cash sales were 13.5% of all sales last month (FHA sales were 21%).
  7. Cash sales are down 7% this year compared to last year.
  8. Housing inventory is 14% lower than the same time last year.
  9. REOs were 1.8% and short sales were 2% of all sales last month.
  10. The average sales price was $393,000 in October. It’s down about 3% from the height of summer but 8% higher than last year.

Some of my Favorite Regional Graphs:

median-price-sacramento-placer-yolo-el-dorado-county

sacramento-region-volume-fha-and-conventional-by-appraiser-blog

inventory-in-sacramento-regional-market

regional-inventory-by-sacramento-regional-appraisal-blog

days-on-market-in-placer-sac-el-dorado-yolo-county-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

regional-market-median-price-by-home-appraiser-blog

PLACER COUNTY:

  1. The median price was $438,000 last month (highest point of year, but take that with a grain of salt).
  2. The average price per sq ft was $213 last month (down very slightly from the height of summer and up 6% higher than last year).
  3. It took 41 days to sell last month (same as previous month but 6 days less than one year ago).
  4. Sales volume was about 3% lower this October compared to October 2015.
  5. FHA sales volume is down 16% this year compared to last year.
  6. Cash sales were 17% of all sales last month (FHA sales were 13%).
  7. Cash sales are down 3.6% this year compared to last year.
  8. Housing inventory is 13% lower than the same time last year.
  9. Both REOs and short sales were each 1% of sales last month.
  10. The average sales price was $481,000 and is 8.5% higher than last year.

Some of my Favorite Placer County Graphs:

placer-county-sales-volume-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

inventory-in-sacramento-regional-market

days-on-market-in-placer-county-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

months-of-housing-inventory-in-placer-county-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

number-of-listings-in-placer-county-2016

interest-rates-inventory-median-price-in-placer-county-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

placer-county-price-and-inventory-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

DOWNLOAD 71 graphs HERE: Please download all graphs in this post (and more) here as a zip file. Use them for study, for your newsletter, or some on your blog. See my sharing policy for 5 ways to share (please don’t copy verbatim). Thanks.

Questions: Did I miss anything? What impact do you think Trump will have for the real estate market (if any)? What are you seeing out there? I’d love to hear your take.

If you liked this post, subscribe by email (or RSS). Thanks for being here.

Are we really back to “bubble” prices?

We’re back at the peak of the market. Well, that’s what some of the national indexes are saying. So imagine yourself in line at Starbucks and someone remarks, “I heard on CNN we are back to bubble prices.” What would you say? Let’s look at some of the “national” trends below and then kick around a few thoughts. I’d love to hear your take in the comments.

bubble-prices-image-purchased-from-123rf-sacramento-appraisal-blog

Case-Shiller National Index: This index shows the “national” market is about where it was during the peak of the index in 2006 (source).

case-shiller-national-index-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

Freddie Mac National Price Index: This index shows the “national” market is about where it was during the peak of the index in 2007 (source). 

freddie-mac-price-index-united-states-sacramento-appraisal-blog

Freddie Mac California Price Index: The “national” index in gray shows we are back to the peak of the market, but the state index in black shows California is still about 5% below the peak (source).  

freddie-mac-price-index-california-sacramento-appraisal-blog

Freddie Mac Sacramento Price Index: The national index in gray shows we are back to the peak, but the local Sacramento index in black shows we are still a ways off (source).

freddie-mac-price-index-sacramento-sacramento-appraisal-blog

Some quick thoughts:

1) I want to buy in the national market: There is no such thing as a national market, which makes “national” indexes only so valuable (or sometimes totally useless). As Jonathan Miller says, real estate is local and we have thousands of local markets instead of one national market. Therefore we ought to be naturally cautious about national metrics (see Barry Ritholtz rip NAR’s affordability index). In short, I watch “national” indexes, but I look to the local market for the real trend.

2) Different Peak: The “national” market peaked around 2007 depending on which index you’re looking at, but Sacramento peaked in 2005. Media outlets often talk about the housing “bubble” bursting in 2007 when in fact that wasn’t true for many markets (including Sac).

3) Current Values: Many Sacramento neighborhoods are still a good 10-15%+ below the peak of the market, though some classic areas are getting very close (while other depressed areas have much further to go). I included some neighborhood graphs below for reference.

4) Condos & Land: Let’s remember not all property types trend the same way. For instance, the condo market has struggled since the housing “bubble” burst. Owner occupancy rates being too low have stalled many complexes from obtaining financing, which has stalled value increases too. Vacant land is also far below where it was at the peak because there is less new construction today and we don’t have land speculators like we did 10+ years ago. 

Specific Neighborhoods (Are we there yet?):

college-glen-7

east-sac

4-plex-carro

del-paso-manor

curtis-park

I hope this was helpful.

Questions: Are there any national metrics you pay attention to? Any you’d recommend avoiding? Did I miss something? I’d love to hear your take.

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Excess and surplus land (and why the difference matters)

Is it excess or surplus land? And why does it even matter? Let’s talk about that today while looking at a real life example of a lot that is currently being divided.

Excess Land: This is when the lot is larger in size and the extra land (or excess) can be sold separately from the existing lot. In other words, a portion of the lot can be broken off from the rest, sold separately, and have a different highest and best use from the rest of the lot.

excess-land-sacramento-appraisal-blog

Surplus Land: This is when the lot is larger in size and the extra land (or surplus) cannot be sold off separately. This means the “surplus” doesn’t have a separate highest and best use. The larger size is simply extra land that still might have some value, but it can’t be used for a separate purpose from the rest of the lot.

surplus-land-sacramento-appraisal-blog

Why does this matter?

1) Real Estate Jeopardy: Next time you’re on Jeopardy you’re going to sound like an expert when the category is land.

2) Assuming Value: It’s easy to assume a larger lot is always more valuable, but we have to ask if we’re dealing with surplus or excess land because it could make a difference in the value. At times we see a large lot size and get distracted like we’ve seen a bright shiny object. But can the land be divided? What can it be used for? Does the parcel shape help the lot be useful for buyers? And what have comps with larger lot sizes actually sold for too? 

3) The Bottom Line: Here’s the big deal. A larger lot that can be divided might be worth far more than a larger lot that cannot be divided (thanks Captain Obvious). For instance, the lot in the example above is located in the Curtis Park neighborhood and the extra space in the backyard is considered excess land because it CAN be divided and have a separate highest and best use. This backyard is currently being split by Keith Klassen in order to build two new homes. Anyway, this reminds us how important it is to talk with the local planning department to see what possibilities exist for extra space on a lot. We might see something big and assume it can be divided, but can it really? What does zoning allow? Moreover, is it realistic for the property to be divided right now? Remember, just because a lot can be divided doesn’t necessarily mean its going to happen in the current market. For instance, imagine values are tanking and new construction has stopped in the area. In a market like that any excess land might not command much of a value premium. But in a market where values are up and construction is happening, there is a higher probability of the lot being worth far more because it might be split.

keith-klassen-new-construction-in-curtis-park-sacramento

I hope this was helpful. There are many other things we could discuss here, so let’s kick around some ideas in the comments.

Questions: Anything else to add? Any stories to share? Did I miss something? I’d love to hear your take.

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