Friday, October 15, 2010

California real estate market: the good and the bad

California real estate market: the good and the bad

The state of the California housing market is a mixed bag - no surprise here - and recently released data is continuing to offer conflicting views.

One article, found on, is saying California is displaying signs of stability while the rest of the nation is still mired in unknown territory, most of it negative. Pointing to price data, the article notes that prices all across the golden state have been on the rise for the last nine months. For Bay Area homeowners, the news is even more welcoming to hear. San Francisco topped the list in terms of price gains compared to all other U.S. metro areas.
Home prices are rising in virtually every corner of the state. They've climbed for nine consecutive months, and in July posted a 10.4% gain year-over-year. That puts the state's median price at $315,000 -- nearly twice the national median of $183,000...San Francisco posted the biggest gain of any U.S. metro over the past year, rising 14.3%. The median price there is now more than $607,000.Read more:

The rise in prices was attributed to the falling inventory in distressed properties, increase in the number of short sales and an economy that is on the mend.

Most of the subprime-related distressed properties have been flushed from the system. And when a foreclosure does hit the market, it's snapped up. The median days it took to sell a home in July was just 44 --lightening fast.

"It's the dearth of supply for distressed properties that has put pressure on home prices," said Appleton-Young, [California Association of Realtors' chief economist]. "More than half the homes on the market last year drew multiple offers."

So, while prices have gone up with our very own San Francisco metro area leading the charge, there's still bad news. As reported on SFGate, the volume of sales in Northern California dropped by 11% in the month of August. Same time last year, 7500 homes exchanged hands compared to 6700 homes last month - the lowest number of sales for the month of August, which is traditionally a popular summer homebuying time, in 18 years.

So how should one digest the mixed data and messages? Does the rise in the median price mean that the bottom has come and gone? Or is the low number of sales just a foreshadowing of more gloom to come to the golden state?Read more:

Posted By: Jenny Pisillo (Email) September 17 2010 at 10:10 AM
Listed Under: Bay Area, Real estate data, Sales, San Francisco Read more:

Mother, daughter plead no contest to felonies in real estate scam

Mother, daughter plead no contest to felonies in real estate scam

BY STEVE E. SWENSON, Californian staff writer Friday, Sep 24 2010 05:08 PM Last Updated Friday, Sep 24 2010 05:08 PM

A mother and daughter will go to prison for their part in a real estate scam that cheated dozens of people out of 24 homes, a prosecutor said Friday.

Alice Kantin, also known as Meyer, 69, and her 38-year-old daughter, Dawn Kantin, pleaded no contest Friday to felony charges that will put the mother in prison for two years and the daughter in prison for five years, Deputy District Attorney Gordon Isen said.

The two will be sentenced Oct. 25, but in the plea bargain approved Friday, the prison terms were agreed upon by the attorneys involved, he said.

The Kantins will also be ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined, but it is unknown if they have any money to pay the victims, Isen said. The loss is a few million dollars, he said.

The mother and daughter have been in jail in lieu of posting $2 million bail each since their May arrests. Their pleas came as the case was set for a pre-preliminary hearing.
Both pleaded no contest to one count of conspiracy to defraud clients and the daughter pleaded no contest to falsely acting as a notary.

The daughter's application to become a notary was denied by the Secretary of State's office due to a "substantial and material misstatement or omission in the application," according to a prosecution declaration in the case.

Each were charged with 44 felonies of conspiracy, embezzlement, theft, notary fraud and forgery stemming from transactions between 2007 and 2009.

Both women reportedly agreed to take over payments for distressed homeowners by using rents from people who had an option to buy the homes, investigation reports say.
But in most cases, the homes went into foreclosure during a time the senior Kantin poured at least $290,000 into her bank account, the reports say.

Both the homeowners and renters lost everything, the reports say.

Several victims, who could not be reached for comment Friday, have said in prior interviews with news reporters that they were so upset they still cry at the mention of the Kantin name.
Alice Kantin operated from a firm called Desert Air Real Estate Investments Inc. in Bakersfield, according to court reports. The Secretary of State's office has no record of the corporation.
Attempts to reach the mother's attorney, Brian McNamara, and the daughter's attorney, Leticia Perez, were unsuccessful Friday.

State disciplines appraiser with Kern ties

State disciplines appraiser with Kern ties

BY COURTENAY EDELHART, Californian staff writer Wednesday, Oct 06 2010 05:07 PM Last Updated Thursday, Oct 07 2010 10:05 AM

The state has disciplined a Ventura County real estate appraiser with ties to Bakersfield, saying she filed multiple "misleading and inaccurate" appraisal reports.
Janet Vasquez of VIP Appraisals in Santa Paula previously worked for Dwight Reynolds of Bakersfield, who surrendered his license last year after the state took issue with a report Vasquez prepared that he signed off on.

The California Office of Real Estate Appraisers, which licenses and regulates appraisers in the state, issued a stipulated settlement and disciplinary order on Sept. 29 that suspends Vasquez's license for 60 days and places her on probation for three years, during which her work will be subject to review by the state.

She also was ordered to pay $2,500 to reimburse the state for its investigation and prosecution costs, and must undergo at least 45 hours of additional training.

Vasquez was found to have violated the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, a set of mandatory rules that govern the appraisal industry.

Violations included filing "multiple misleading and inaccurate appraisal reports; failure to analyze the prior sale of the subject properties, failure to analyze the listing history of the subject property, failure to accurately report and analyze the pertinent physical characteristics of the comparable sales; failure to analyze more relevant comparable sales; significant overvaluation" and "failing to disclose that significant portions of the appraisal report were taken from an appraisal prepared by another appraiser."

Vasquez did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

The complaint against Reynolds said that in December 2007, he co-signed as supervising appraiser for a report on a 22,476-square-foot, three-story, 49-room Bakersfield hotel that was riddled with "errors and omissions" in violation of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.

Reynolds denied any wrongdoing at the time, saying he had planned to retire anyway and allowing his license to expire was cheaper than fighting the charges. He hinted that another appraiser was responsible for the problems with the report. Those problems included conflicting information on the cost of renovating the hotel and its revenue potential, according to state documents.

Vasquez was the report's co-signer.

The state also said problems were found with Vasquez's appraisal of a single-family home at 12713 Crown Crest Drive in Bakersfield and a property at 818 E. 88th St. in Los Angeles. Vasquez described the Los Angeles property as a single-family residence with a two-car garage, when in fact, it was two attached rental units with a four-car carport.

She valued the Bakersfield house at $925,000, but a review appraiser's value of the same home as of the same date was $750,000.

The Bakersfield house has ties to Crisp, Cole and Associates, a now defunct real estate company whose principals, David Crisp and Carl Cole, are under federal investigation for alleged mortgage fraud.

Vasquez appraised the house for Lime Financial Services Ltd., in support of a mortgage loan to Staci Martinez.

Martinez bought the house in May 2006 with a $925,000 loan that later defaulted, sending the house to foreclosure. In March 2006, just two months prior to Martinez' purchase, the home had been sold for $774,950 to Yennhi Nguyen.

Nguyen is related to Robinson Nguyen, a former agent with Crisp and Cole.