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Letter from C.A.R. President, Geoff McIntosh & CEO, Joel Singer
Happy New Year!

2016 was a year of challenges and opportunities for California REALTORS® and the real estate industry. The housing market maintained a strong sales pace for much of the year, but a continued shortage of homes for sale and rising prices are likely to hamper the market this year. We’ve seen interest rates on the uptick in recent weeks, which may further temper sales.

The pace of change will continue to accelerate in the industry, but C.A.R.’s leadership team will tackle the crucial issues – from educating members on new technologies to working with policymakers to effect positive change in the real estate industry. Specifically, we’ll look to increase the housing shortage that has plagued California and address the state’s housing affordability crisis. We are also running key initiatives like our Team Services initiative, our continued outreach to serve diverse subsets of our membership as well as deepening our relationships with the market share leading firms in the state. We will keep you apprised of all that C.A.R. is doing to help you stay relevant as you run your companies in 2017.

We thank you for your membership with C.A.R., and we hope you’ll turn to us as a resource to empower you, strengthen your capabilities as a leader in the industry, and help you promote your professionalism.

Sincerely,
Geoff McIntosh       Joel Singer
Geoff McIntosh        Joel Singer
C.A.R. President       CEO


What We're Reading
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

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Current News & Events
Joel Singer Discusses Housing Affordability Crisis on KNBC TV
As part of C.A.R.’s Thought Leadership program’s initiative to address California’s housing affordability crisis, C.A.R. CEO Joel Singer recently sat down with Conan Nolan on KNBC4’s News Conference program to discuss the causes and solutions. Singer talked about how rising interest rates will further exacerbate housing affordability, and what will happen when Californians can’t afford to buy homes. Watch the interview in its entirety.

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New Year, New car.org

It’s here, REALTORS®! The new car.org was designed with you in mind.  Get in and out quickly and efficiently.  Search made easy.  A contemporary design.  We’ve got it covered.  Using your input and feedback, we have redesigned the C.A.R. website so you can navigate with ease, save articles, and more.  Plus, access it anywhere, whether on your phone, in a client meeting on your tablet, or at your desk. 

Ready to dig in?  Well the wait is over.  The new car.org is now available as a public beta test at
new.car.org .  During the beta launch, the current car.org will still be available, but we hope you’ll try the new car.org.  Take a look, scroll, search, and explore.  The redesigned car.org will officially launch Feb. 6, 2017, with navigation tutorials and other help features to make the transition even easier.

Car.org. The tools you need.  Support you want.


2017 The Thousand
Now more than ever it is time to recognize those outstanding sales professionals who through determination and hard work achieved incredible results in 2016.  You are invited to enter the 2017 The Thousand as advertised in The Wall Street Journal and 2017 Amer-ica’s Best Real Estate Agents (Ranked by State and Metropolitan Statistical Area). Don’t delay. Last year’s award recipients are still receiving valuable press coverage for their incredible performance.  Read more for application instructions.   Deadline is March 31, 2017.

FREE 45-Hour License Renewal Online Course Packages!
C.A.R. is providing all Brokers and Agents with a 45 hour online course package in 2017 to use toward your license renewal requirement. Each package contains online courses approved by the CalBRE and C.A.R. Education which includes all of the mandatory subjects so you don't need to worry about whether you've met the requirements!
 
Choose from 1 of 4 course packages to fit your license renewal needs.
Claim your package here.

Latest Market Statistics

Existing Single-Family Home Sales
increased 17.7 percent year-to-year in November to a seasonally adjusted rate of 442,320 on an annualized basis.

Median Price of an existing single-family home increased 4.9 percent in November 2016 to $501,710 compared with November 2015 and a -2.3 percent increase from October 2016.

Unsold Inventory Index
in November was 3.1 months, down 25.1 percent from a year ago and well below the long-run average of about 7 months.

Click here to view the slides for these stats


Mortgage Trends Update

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Source: Fannie Mae


Latest Releases
November 2016 Monthly Sales & Price Report
3rd Quarter 2016 Housing Affordability Index 

Legal Update  
Wave of Short Sale Earnest Money Deposit Scams Hit the Los Angeles Area
While we all are concerned about cybercrime and identity theft, it appears taking someone’s money the old-fashioned way has reappeared in a short sale scam in Southern California. The alleged scam appears to follow the same basic format.  A short sale agreement was entered into four to six months ago.  The buyer made an initial deposit in the $5,000 to $15,000 range into the listing broker’s non-independent broker escrow.  As with most short sales, the process takes several months and the selling agent is assured that the listing agent is working towards lender approval – it is just taking more time.  Then the communication slows down, the selling agent begins to get concerned and calls the listing broker’s escrow.  There is no answer, no return call, no other number to contact, and the earnest money deposit is gone.

A case has been opened with the Long Beach Police Department, Financial Crimes Division.  The officer in charge is Detective Robert Ryan (562) 570-7391.  As of late December, there were approximately 20 victims.  However, the C.A.R. Hotline has received more than 10 calls since the first of the year which have been referred to the Long Beach Police.  The California Bureau of Real Estate is also aware of this case.

Additionally, the Los Angeles County Sheriff has made an arrest in what appears to be an identical scam involving at least 32 victims with a total loss of $498,000. To contact the LA Sheriff’s office call Detective Keith Clark at (562) 946-7217 or tips can be made anonymously at Crime Stoppers, (800) 222-TIPS (8477).

If you believe you or you buyer has fallen victim to this alleged scam, you should contact the police and the Bureau of Real Estate.
To protect short sale buyers going forward, remember to include a Short Sale Addendum (C.A.R. Form SSA) in the offer.  The default agreement in the SSA is that the buyer is not required to submit any earnest money deposit to escrow until three days after receiving all short sale lenders’ written approval.

Making Home Affordable, HAFA and HAMP Programs Sunset in 2016. HARP Extended until September 30, 2017.
The Making Home Affordable program which includes both HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives) and the complimentary HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) programs sunset at the end of 2016. The application deadline for both HAMP and the HAFA programs was December 30, 2016.

The HAFA program was part of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 which along with the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan had several housing stimulus provisions. In 2016, it offered junior lien holders a minimum of $12,000 in exchange for a lien release and full release of borrower liability. The borrower would also be eligible for relocation assistance up to $10,000.

The Home Affordable Modification Program HAMP was designed to facilitate private loan modifications. It required on the part of the borrower a documented financial hardship an ability to make their monthly mortgage payments after a modification and worked by encouraging participating mortgage servicer to modify mortgages so struggling homeowners could lower their monthly payments.
Even though these programs will no longer accept new applications, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA, VA and the USDA will continue to offer similar albeit less generous programs for homeowners with mortgages they own, insure, or guarantee.
See Fannie Mae’s “Know Your Options” page for more information about short sales.  

Additionally, Fannie Mae has announced a new modification program called Flex Modification which leverages components of Fannie Mae’s HAMP and the Fannie Mae Standard and Streamlined Modifications. 
See this fact sheet.

The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) will sunset on September 30, 2017. HARP was originally introduced in 2009 but it was only ever available to mortgages guaranteed or owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. HARP enables borrowers with little or no equity to refinance into more affordable mortgages without new or additional mortgage insurance. HARP targets borrowers with loan-to-value (LTV) ratios equal to or greater than 80 percent and who have limited delinquencies over the 12 months prior to refinancing.

Significant changes have been made to HARP since 2009. For example, in 2011 the LTV ceiling was removed, property appraisal requirements were waived in certain circumstances, certain risk fees for borrowers selecting shorter amortization terms were eliminated, and certain representations and warranties were waived. In 2013, the eligibility date was changed from the date the loan was acquired by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to the date on the note, increasing the pool of eligible borrowers.

3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit was Fatally Defective Where Property Lacked Building Permit and Certificate of Occupancy
In the case of
North 7th Street Associates v Constante (2017) a landlord served a three-day notice to pay rent or quit. However, evidence at trial indicated that the property was constructed without a building permit, that it was not authorized to be used as a dwelling, and that no certificate of occupancy was ever issued. Due to the unlawful status of the premises, the rental agreement was void, and the landlord was barred from collecting rent. Therefore, no rent was actually due, and the notice was termed “fatally defective,” precluding the court from awarding possession.

This case stands in contrast to existing case law (involving property lacking a certificate of occupancy), which typically grants the landlord possession of the premises but denies a judgment for past due rent. 


Legislative Update  
AB 71 (Chiu), a mortgage interest deduction elimination bill opposed by C.A.R., was introduced in the Legislature.
This bill would, among other things, eliminate the state tax deduction for mortgage interest on second homes and direct these new tax revenues to an existing program that finances low-income housing construction through tax credits. C.A.R. will oppose AB 71 until it is amended to remove the provision that would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction for second homes.

SB 2 (Atkins), a recording tax bill supported by C.A.R., was introduced in the Legislature. Affordable housing advocates have been seeking a permanent source of funding for affordable housing for over a decade. AB 1335 (Atkins) was introduced in the 2015-16 session to fund affordable housing and would have imposed a flat $75 per document recording tax (on top of current recording fees) on every real estate instrument not part of a sales transaction. The tax was capped at $225 per transaction and would have been coordinated with other revenue sources. C.A.R. supported AB 1335 after obtaining amendments. Those amendments established a governing board with real estate industry representation along with review and approval authority over Housing Trust Fund distributions, and required that 20 percent of the trust fund be committed to affordable owner-occupied workforce housing. C.A.R. supports SB 2, which is a reintroduction of AB 1335.

Fire, Flood and Earthquake Insurance: Availability, Accessibility and Affordability
Join the Public Policy Forum on Wednesday, January 25 at 3:45 p.m. for a panel discussion on the state of fire, flood and earthquake insurance in California. This panel of experts will explore the availability, accessibility and affordability of these insurance products, and discuss what actions are being taken at the state and federal levels to assist homebuyers with finding and obtaining these insurance products in the marketplace. For more information, contact Karim Drissi at (916) 492-5200 or
karimd@car.org .

Product Spotlight
Facilitate Repeat Business and Referrals Easily

According to NAR, over 70% of REALTOR® clients say they’ll use the same agent again, yet less than 25% do. What can you do to make sure your clients return again and again? Give your clients a branded version of the coolest App to hit real estate in 2017 - Centriq!

What is Centriq?
Centriq is the free award-winning, personalized digital owner’s manual for the home. Make every home more attractive by capturing and sharing everything known about the home all-in-one app – just download the app, take a photo of the nameplate of anything with an “on” switch and Centriq does the rest. As a sponsor you pay one low annual fee and then you give the free branded version of Centriq to an unlimited number of clients. Your clients remain top-of-mind long after the deal closes each time they use Centriq. Special Broker pricing is available, please email sales@centriqhome.com for more information. Learn more

For more information regarding Industry & Broker Relations, please contact Sara Sutachan at
(213) 739-8224 or saras@car.org

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