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California and 12 Southern California governments have begun disbursing federal rental assistance, with much more aid on the way.

Have you been able to get rental assistance or do you expect to qualify? Or have you been left out of the programs so far?

Is your landlord cooperating by agreeing to waive 20% of your debt?

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A reporter from the Southern California News Group may contact you later to learn more about your circumstances.

 

 

 

Real estate news: Affordable senior apartments debut in Santa Ana

Metro East Senior Park Apartments, a new senior affordable complex in Santa Ana, is accepting new tenants after design and construction have wrapped up.

Orange-based AO was the architect on the project, which was designed for developers AMG, The Pacific Cos. and Jamboree Housing Corp.

The complex at 2222 E. First St. has 419 units with a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments with floor plans ranging from 402 to 821 square feet. Rents for residents age 62 and older range from $999 for a studio to $1,484 for a two-bedroom unit.

Amenities include a fitness center, recreation lounge, outdoor dining and barbecues, lawn games and a community garden.

“Nearly 125,000 low-income renter households in Orange County do not have access to an affordable home …,” said Alexis Gevorgian, partner at AMG. “We’re proud to bring a much-needed asset to Santa Ana that meets pent-up demand and promotes an active and social lifestyle for Orange County seniors.”

Partners on the project include Sinanian Construction, Thomas H. Phelps Landscape Architecture and civil engineer C&V Consulting.

Mechanics Bank leased 51,000 square feet at Irvine Towers and Market Place Center. (Courtesy of Irvine Company and Eric Figge Photos)

Irvine Co. leases continue amid pandemic

Irvine Co. leased nearly 7 million square feet of office space in California and Chicago during the pandemic, company execs said last week.

From April 2020 to March 2021, the company said some 200 companies either expanded, renewed or signed new leases totaling more than 6.7 million square feet. As vaccines accelerated, the company leases some 2 million square feet in February and March 2021.

The company did not provide monetary values of the leases.

Some of the local deals included:

  • CoStar Realty Information leased 115,000 square feet at Spectrum Terrace;
  • Mechanics Bank leased 51,000 square feet at Irvine Towers and Market Place Center;
  • Clean Energy Fuels Corpl leased 49,000 square feet at MacArthur Court;
  • RSM US leased 29,600 square feet at Spectrum Terrace

To prepare tenants for a return to offices, Irvine Co. said it replaced and upgraded more than 50,000 air filters, installed more than 1,500 sanitizing stations and added 3,000 touchless bathroom fixtures in California and Chicago.

A 2,082-square-foot office building in a converted bungalow on 488 S. Glassell in Orange has sold for $1,315,000, according to Lee & Associates in Orange. Allen Buchanan and Joshua Harper represented the buyer, Burris Law. (Courtesy of Lee & Associates, Orange)

Office in historic Orange sells for $1.3M

A 2,082-square-foot office building in a converted bungalow on 488 S. Glassell in Orange has sold for $1,315,000, according to Lee & Associates in Orange.

Allen Buchanan and Joshua Harper represented the buyer, Burris Law.

Austin Blodgett. left, and Patrick Higgins.

Expansions

RealSource Group, a commercial real estate brokerage in Newport Beach, has launched an investment sales division.

Austin Blodgett, as vice president, of investment sales, will lead the division. In his role, Blodgett will focus on advising clients on buying and selling retail properties nationwide from single-tenant to multi-tenant facilities.

RealSource Group specializes in tenant representation, investment sales and sale-leasebacks on a national platform.

Industry people on the move

Patrick Higgins is the new vice president or sales and marketing for the Southern California division of Newport Beach-based Landsea Homes Corp. He has more than 25 years of experience in the homebuilding industry. Previously, he was director of sales for Lennar, where he oversaw sales operations for all residential projects. He also he spent time at Taylor Morrison Homes and Meritage Homes.

Real estate transactions, leases and new projects, industry hires, new ventures and upcoming events are compiled from press releases by contributing writer Karen Levin. Submit items and high-resolution photos via email to Business Editor Samantha Gowen at sgowen@scng.com. Please allow at least a week for publication. All items are subject to editing for clarity and length.

Bubble Watch: How home prices have jumped 8.8% to 30.4%

Bubble Watch” digs into trends that may indicate economic and/or housing market troubles ahead.

Buzz: Southern California home-price appreciation, on a county level, ran between 8.8% and 30.4% in this wild pandemic year.

Sources:  Too many, perhaps. See below.

The Trend

Generally speaking, local home prices are fairly crazy. If you want a more definitive answer, you have to sort through a collection of price indexes tracking appreciation rates using varying mathematics to follow assorted slices of the market for different geographies. Got it?

The dissection

My colleague Jeff Collins and I wish there was a “perfect” home-price index. Since there isn’t, we’re stuck painting market pictures with a collection of statistical brushes.

Let’s start off honestly: There’s plenty of artful interpretations within the science of tracking home prices.

The backbone of these indexes is sales data gleaned from closed transactions that are among the public record. But it takes a keen eye, or a smart computer program, to separate arms-length transactions from non-sales — property movement among family, friends or curious legal entities.

Once the art is done, the statistical fun begins.

DQNews/CoreLogic: The region’s venerable data tracker curates monthly median sales prices dating back to 1988.

This median is the mid-point value of all closed transactions for virtually all residences — existing and new homes, single-family, townhomes and condos. CoreLogic’s report is the widest accounting of home pricing.

For March, it showed annual appreciation rates ranging from 18.3% in San Bernardino County to 17.9% in Riverside County, 17.2% in LA County and 10.6% in Orange County.

California Association of Realtors: The association produces another median sales price that’s a good measure of the “resale” market for older or “existing” homes that are roughly 90% of the market.

Note that this index tracks only sales prices of closed deals for single-family homes that are sold by CAR members through multiple-listing services. It covers most, but not all, transactions.

Realtor stats found March’s appreciation running from 30.4% in San Bernardino to 23% in Riverside, 17.7% in Los Angeles and 16.2% in Orange County.

The problem with any median as a price tracking tool is that it can be swayed by changes in what’s selling. For example, the lack of smaller, more affordable homes for sale in the pandemic era may have caused measures like the median — or, especially, average prices — to skew appreciation upward.

One bit of statistical work tries to minimize that distortion. “Repeat sales” indexes look at gains or losses on the same property. But that means transactions without a sales history, notably new homes, are left out.

Case-Shiller: The best-known repeat-sales metric is named after two pioneering real estate professors who popularized this quirky calculation. Appreciation follows these sales tallies for 20 U.S. metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles and Orange counties.

One drawback is that this reporting is relatively slow. The last L.A.-O.C. appreciation rate — for February — was 11.9%.

CoreLogic: A quicker version of the “repeat sales” measurement is done by CoreLogic, which also happens to own the Case-Shiller math. This metric also includes sales of some townhomes in its tracking of single-family homes.

For March, this home-price index showed appreciation running at 15.6% in the Inland Empire, 10.2% in Orange County and 8.8% in Los Angeles County.

Freddie Mac: Yet another repeat-sales price index from the giant mortgage buyer looks at sales data plus valuations taken from refinancing loan approvals.

However, Freddie Mac studies only deals financed with the more “affordable” mortgages it buys with its sister agency, Fannie Mae. So the indexes don’t include much of the luxury market.

As of March, this math put appreciation at 18.6% in the Inland Empire and 12% in L.A.-O.C.

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Another view

Think of the stock market. Which index tells its pandemic story best?

The old-school Dow Jones 30-stock index (up 48% in the year ending in March); the broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index (up 51%); or the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (up 70%)?

How bubbly?

On a scale of zero bubbles (no bubble here) to five bubbles (five-alarm warning) … FOUR BUBBLES!

These five indexes show a common theme: Southern California home appreciation is large — and even bigger as you move farther from the coast. My trusty spreadsheet says the average gains run 21% in the inland counties and 14% by the Pacific Ocean.

That does not mean that every house is worth that much more. You know, real estate is local.

So, a SoCal house hunter must look at any measure of appreciation — highest in many cases since the Great Recession ended — and wonder: Is this sustainable?

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at jlansner@scng.com

Bubble Watch: Are Zillow home searches better than sex?

Bubble Watch” digs into trends that may indicate economic and/or real estate market troubles ahead.

Buzz: A Saturday Night Live skit and a poll suggest many Americans would rather browse homes on Zillow than have sex.

Source: The nation’s comedy show from Feb. 6 and a survey of 1,000-plus Americans by a construction bond provider, Surety First, released last month.

The Trend

How “hot” is housing coming out of the pandemic era? Well, the SNL comedians and a poll strongly suggest there’s a growing — and perhaps troublesome — love for virtual house hunting. Zillow’s search tool, by one count, gets 30% of all online requests for housing information.

The Dissection

Perhaps folks who choose real estate searches over sex are in a really bad relationship and need a new place to call home.

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Or maybe the pandemic changed life’s priorities and/or passions. Fear of catching coronavirus altered how many folks live. That made finding a new residence a major priority.

But did you notice a few friends becoming extra neurotic about housing in the past year? And I mean normal folks, not real estate agents.

In February, one SNL bit was styled as a fake, sultry advertisement — the type often seen in the wee hours. It was a pitch for a new source of erotic pleasure — yup, Zillow. 

“The pleasure you once got from sex now comes from looking at other people’s houses,” was perhaps the most telling line.

Then there’s the poll that found 49% of those surveyed prefer a Zillow home search to sex.

That’s not the only twisted thinking — 60% of those surveyed say they spent one hour or more a day browsing homes. And 56% canceled plans with friends to search Zillow. And 41% have had problems with their work or in their personal life due to home browsing.

To be fair, for a second, some of this property eyeballing is could be part-hobby.

I’ll note the poll found 27% of people browse homes to relax. This group must be homeowners tracking the paper profits the housing boom created.

Meanwhile, 30% browse homes they can’t afford. Could they be folks simply dreaming of fantasy living? Or depressed renters priced out of the market?

Quotable

“Sex isn’t doing it for you anymore. You need something new. Something exciting,” goes the SNL skit.

“Zillow offers an escape from the monotony of too much time spent at home, and more and more site visitors may just be there to dream a little,” Surety First stated. “But just like any escape, too much of a good thing can have its downsides.”

How bubbly?

On a scale of zero bubbles (no bubble here) to five bubbles (five-alarm warning) … SIX BUBBLES!

You don’t need a trusty spreadsheet to know that it’s very unnerving when the nation’s top comedy show and poll results suggest the house-hunting obsession provides odd benefits — a new sensual pleasure. Talk about “irrational exuberance!”

This is another signal the pandemic’s homebuying binge is suffering at an unknown level from “FOMO” — that’s the “fear of missing out” on a sizzling trend.

Is this surprising surge for ownership based on sustainable economic fundamentals that include an odd gift — overly cheap mortgage rates created by the Federal Reserve?

Or is this feeding frenzy for homes more about people desperately wanting a piece of the real estate excitement?

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at jlansner@scng.com

Fueled by pandemic, Fender expands instrument making in Corona

Fueled by increased product demand, Fender Musical Instruments Corp. is expanding its operations in Corona with a new facility that will add another 100,000 square feet of space.

The storied company is retrofitting an existing building at 345 Cessna Circle, which it is leasing. Fender plans to hire hundreds of additional workers for the new operation. It will complement the company’s adjacent 200,000-square-foot facility at 311 Cessna Circle, which has nearly 1,000 employees.

Openings are available for a variety of jobs, ranging from engineers and supervisors to hourly employees, including mill/machinists and others who handle sanding, painting, buffing and final assembly.

Pandemic-fueled growth

Openings are available for a variety of jobs, ranging from engineers and supervisors to hourly employees, such as mill/machinists and others who handle sanding, painting, buffing and final assembly. (Photo courtesy of Fender)

Ed Magee, Fender’s executive vice president of operations, said the additional space is sorely needed.

“The pandemic catalyzed incredible interest in learning guitar all around the world,” Magee said via email. “With that spike in interest comes growing demand for instruments to play.”

When COVID-19 lockdowns began, the company offered a free, three-month subscription to Fender Play, a learning app for guitar, bass and ukulele. Since then, an estimated 1 million users have accessed the app, Magee said.

The new facility is expected to be up and running by October. It will support Fender’s Custom Shop and “Made in the USA” production lines across the Fender, Gretsch, Jackson, Charvel and EVH brands.

A community college partnership

Fender’s Corona-based factory also has forged a Master Builder Apprentices partnership with Norco Community College that allows the company to recruit, train and hire new employees.

Marco Garcia, a Centennial High School graduate, joined Fender’s executive team as director of operations. Fender’s expansion is part of the company’s mission to create a “Fender Campus” in Corona, grow its manufacturing footprint and continue investing in the community.

“We have established strong connections to this community, and it certainly influences who we are and how we operate,” Magee said. “We are committed to Corona, our growth, and are very excited about the future.”

Fender plans to hire hundreds of additional workers for the new operation. (Photo courtesy of Fender)

Jessica Gonzales, the city’s economic development director, said Corona is eager to provide the resources needed for local businesses to thrive.

“Fender’s expansion and growth illustrate that Corona truly is at the core of economic prosperity,” she said. “Fender’s balance of craftsmanship, commitment to workforce development and innovation highlight the quality of manufacturers that Corona attracts.”

Used by top players

The name Fender is synonymous with some of the best musicians in rock, country and blues. Over the years, top players like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley have wielded Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters as their primary axes, and the company’s amplifiers, effects pedals and accessories are seen on stages throughout the world.

Fender also maintains a custom shop, known as the “Dream Factory.” It has grown to become a preeminent maker of highly collectible, custom instruments used by both working professionals and guitar enthusiasts.

As a founding member of the Fender Custom Shop, Redlands resident Alan Hamel designed the sonically expanded Twisted Tele neck pickup and also worked on the Western Boots Telecaster models and Vintage Hot Rod Stratocaster guitars.