COVID-19 and Real Estate

The Anderson Files
The Anderson Files
COVID-19 and Real Estate

Mike chats with mortgage broker and real estate expert, Jeff Barton, on The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Real Estate buying, selling, prices and lending. Learn what is happening now.

Jeff is the host of “The Mortgage Voice”. Each week on this program, Jeff and his guests share their expertise.

Serving as the show’s host, Jeff Barton has over 18+ years under his belt, and by his side, Arbi Abramian (The Mortgage Doctor) brings over 15+ years of real estate and mortgage experience in the lending industry. This powerhouse team combines their expertise to provide the listening public with personal anecdotes and up-to-date breaking news that keeps you in the loop of what is current by providing you with mortgage information on keeping your dream home or in obtaining it!

Contact Jeff at (310)849-5309 or

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This is The Anderson Files on PodClips.
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The Anderson Files is a look at commerce, investment, economics and retirement issues that affect each and every one of you.
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Your host is Mike Anderson, Executive Vice president, retirement services, and partner of Finestone Partners.
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Finestone Partners is an independent firm with securities offered through Four Point Capital.
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And now your host Mike Anderson. The COVID-19 Pandemic and Real Estate.
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How is buying, selling, prices, lending being affected? My guest today, Jeff Barton, broker with Malibu Funding.
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He has been in real estate since 1995 and in mortgage lending since 2002.
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He covers California, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Washington.
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Jeff also hosts a weekly radio show discussing topics related to mortgages, real estate and trends in the industry.
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Good morning.
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Hi, Mike.
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How are you? Great.
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We’re three months into, three months plus into the pandemic. Real estate prices –
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How are they being affected in Southern California? OK.
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So, in Southern California, the problem here has always been a lack of products.
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So, because of the COVID-19, they stopped building, so the prices really have remained very steady.
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We haven’t seen a dip maybe in certain areas, maybe in certain demographic locations.
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But overall, the prices have remained very, very steady.
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Now, how does that affect what’s happening, going forward? We’re not sure because we know that the people who have been into forbearance and forbearance as you know, are people that just decided that I don’t want to pay my mortgage anymore. Whether you qualify, because there is no qualification standard,
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what happens then is that they decide they don’t want to pay.
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But if some of those people really have lost their jobs and cannot pay their mortgage, what happens? 6, 8, 9, 10 months, a year down the road when those properties begin to go into foreclosure, we’re just not sure of the numbers.
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There’s nationally 4.5 million people in forbearance,
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but that effect on local, Southern California stuff is not really gonna be felt for a while.
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So I think prices for now are steady, and they may even see a rise, because, as the economy opens up, we’re gonna see a lot more people who want to buy, they want a lot more people who are out there trying to get in on whatever real estate they can. With those that have chosen forbearance, any feel for those that really needed to do it or the percentage that did it just as a precaution, just in a what if scenario? You know, it’s a tough one.
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I know, it’s just, I wish we had the answer because I think if you’re told in any regard that you don’t have to pay your bill and there’s no recourse.
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Why would you pay the bill? I mean, I do because that’s just me.
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But there are a lot of people who just, why should I, especially now that we have rates in the lending world at 2.5%.
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So if you’re a person who got a mortgage at four and a quarter percent a year and a half ago, and you’re saying, look, I don’t have to pay my mortgage for a while.
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Now, you’ve seen the rates go down at 2.5%.
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Why not just refi and not have to pay that money.
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You have to pay it on the back end when you pay off the note.
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But at the same time, it’s a win-win.
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So there’s no real penalty for lying, I guess it is what it is.
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And we have no real idea what the numbers are. When they came out with the program,
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they had no fix for, what was to be, I guess the criteria, to qualify, there is no qualification.
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You just, if you say you can’t pay, you don’t pay. And there’s no effect on credit as well by choosing forbearance.
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That’s interesting.
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All right.
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So we’ve had, probably since the program started, issues with credit.
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What happens.
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Now, we’ve been told by Fannie and Freddie, the first guidelines that came out, the guidance was, OK, you cannot report, the servicers cannot report these as being delinquent.
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However, on the credit reports, it was showing that there were payment issues.
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So the score didn’t reflect the nonpayment, but the underlying explanations did.
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Well, last week, what happened is the CFPB came out with further guidance that said, no, you can’t even go deep into the credit report and find it.
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So what happens? And this is one of the problems with, if we get into foreclosures a year from now, we will have no preemptive way to understand what happens along the way.
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If someone’s lost their job and they’ve gone into forbearance, it doesn’t affect their credit score.
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So ostensibly, those people can continue to I guess not be affected by the fact that they’re not paying their mortgage, they can get a credit card, they can buy a car even though they don’t have a job.
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However, we are not quite sure whether this is the end of, I guess the guidance from CFPB, they’re working it out as they’re going along and it’s really by the seat of your pants.
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That’s the way I see it at this point.
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Yeah. During this period, has lending changed.
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Could you describe that? Of course, of course.
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So there was a sector called non-QM.
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You know what that is.
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But for people that don’t know what that is, that if you are a W-2 employee and somebody wants to go out and get a loan and you’ve been working at a job over two years and you’ve got good credit, and good credit before the pandemic was anything over 700, 680-700.
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You could even get a loan if you had a 580 credit score.
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But let’s say that you had a 680 above credit score, you have a W-2 job.
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You could get a standard loan bought in the secondary market by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
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However, if you didn’t fit in that world net box, you were a self-employed person, you owned your own business, you had a lot of equity in your home, but you didn’t necessarily have a lot of income.
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There were loan products for you and they were called non-QM. QM stands for qualified mortgages.
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So in that world of non-qualified mortgages, 30% of the mortgages done prior to COVID were non-QM.
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But when COVID hit, non-QM got knocked out of the box because nobody was buying those loans once they were made, right? That was a problem.
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So what happened to those 30% of the mortgages? And we’re talking a trillion and a half dollar mortgage business every year.
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So $500 billion got, you know, there were, there were no market for those people.
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So, yes, it did get affected.
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We have seen since that time,
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some of the non QM business come back, some of the business bank statement loans, some of the equity based loans.
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But they’ve all been adjusted ie higher credit score, higher costs.
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Of course, anything that causes risk is gonna cost you more money,
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but that’s pretty much what I see.
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Your standard W-2 employ employed person,
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they’re not affected at all. For refis,
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are you seeing an uptick in refis from a standpoint of lower rates, even though the economy has slowed down? So, what type of activity do you see there? Yeah.
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Well, it’s the, since the last downturn in 2008, the mortgage crisis at that time, we have not seen business this robust since that time.
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Now we’ve had a 12-year run of mortgage business that has been spectacular.
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And for anybody out there who is not sure what that means,
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we, because of the rates, because the way the rates have trended, and that’s downward on a trajectory from 2008 to today where, as I said, you can go out and get an FHA mortgage today at 2.5%.
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You can get a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for 3 or just under 3%.
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You can get a Jumbo product under 4%.
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Now, Jumbo, of course, is depending on the county you live in.
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These are amazing times we’re living in.
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And so as a result, we are seeing last month, for instance, we had more mortgage applications for purchases, not just refis, but purchases, than we’ve had in 11 years now.
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That says something because people are out of work.
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We were thinking, oh you know, we’re not gonna have a purchase market.
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Well, just the opposite because of lack of housing as we talked about because demand is still strong, and of the 40 million people, let’s say 40 million people are out of work.
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How many of those people were actually qualified to purchase? How many of those were low end economic jobs, meaning that they were making less than $30,000 a year.
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And in our market, unless you’re living in rural Indiana or someplace down in, you know, Florida, you can’t afford a house at $30 grand a year.
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You know, you not in Southern California anyway.
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No way you have to have 19 people with $30 grand a year,
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in order to afford a house. To team up and pull those dollars.
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In this period, would you say it’s better to be a buyer or a seller? Well, it’s a good, good point.
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I mean, we always say because if you find something, you like, you buy it, but it is still a seller’s market.
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I live in Malibu California and I have a client that I’m pricing a medium priced condominium out here.
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And that medium price in Malibu is $950,000.
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And as a result of lack of product out here, the last product that sold was about $930,000.
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There aren’t many units available under a million dollars.
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So, you know, that’s, that’s a pretty good deal for a condo
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he bought four or five years ago for $150,000 less.
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So I would say it’s probably a seller’s market. Overall.
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How are you seeing areas like Silicon Beach down in the Santa Monica area? How would, how would you characterize that market? Well, anything on the beach is always gonna have demand, right? I mean, obviously we had beach erosion all along Southern California for the probably the last 20 years, we’ve seen an erosion in the beaches.
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But if you are in a building with units, you’re probably going to retain your equity, as well as obviously see a rise in equity.
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We’ve been seeing rise in anyway.
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It’s 6, 6.5% a year.
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Even this year, we’re going to see a rise in equity on a lot of property as an average of the 3 to 5%.
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But beachfront, I mean, I love that down there in Santa Monica, all the way down through Venice, even past the airport into the South Bay.
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It’s, it’s really beachfront property.
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It, there’s only so much of it and I think it retains and even grows equity this year.
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You’re listening to The Anderson Files.
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I’m Mike Anderson, my guest, Jeff Barton. For the work that you do in different states between California, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Washington.
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How would you compare the markets, those other markets, to California? Are they much different? Are they more robust? Are they flat? How would you characterize the metropolitan areas in these other states? Well, because of what, what’s going on, it depends on the area, right? If you’re talking in Miami or you’re talking in Chicago, some of the areas we do business around the DC area, all of these metropolitan areas are currently involved with either rioting, civil disobedience, unrest, not to mention the COVID issues.
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So all of this is affecting what’s happening in the real estate markets.
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I mean, if somebody is looking to buy or sell in those areas, they’re gonna be a little nervous right now.
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Same with Los Angeles or San Francisco.
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As you know, we, we also are up in Seattle. My son lives up in Seattle, went through the area the other day in a pouring rainstorm and he, you know, all of these areas are still in demand.
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It’s, it’s like COVID itself for, we’re looking for a down and up really quick, what they call the V shape recovery. I think in real estate, prices have remained steady and people are waiting, holding their breath.
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But in terms of the, you know, overall, every market’s a little bit different and the prices are certainly different, but the demand is still there because nationally we are short of housing.
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That’s one of the issues that hasn’t been addressed because you can’t address housing nationally.
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You have to address it city by city location by location.
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And because there’s no will to build low income housing in places like Iowa, Malibu, or in some of these other places, what you get is a concentration of an economic group that is unable to sustain or to be able to, I guess, increase the amount of housing in their own area because they’re struggling, they’re trying to pay their mortgages.
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But, you know, in terms of prices overall, nationally, I think they’re gonna hold, I think they’re going to increase.
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And I do not think there’s much of a difference in terms of demand and supply in most areas. For southern California to get behind building more, a mandate to build more.
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Is this really out of the city council? The mayor’s office? Is that where it starts or is it more at the state level and focusing on LA? You know, I think, look, Garcetti.
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Yeah, two years ago came up with, OK we have 50,000 people who don’t have a house or a home.
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We need to set up a fund.
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So there was a bond measure passed, I think it, it created $2 billion in order to do that.
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Well, that money is still sitting there.
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There are no housing.
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This is an issue, that is, a local issue, in smaller cities to be able,
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and we’re not talking about a huge number of units, that need to be built.
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But we, we need a huge number of municipalities, cities, towns to be able to locally get the will to build one too.
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And if you did that across the spectrum of the United States or even locally here in southern California, you would begin to see an effect on the homeless population.
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But this, this is a group that needs so much more than just housing, right? They need mental health care, they need pharmacological help, they need all kinds of support in order to, you know, and there’s never been will to do that.
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People want to throw money at it, but it’s not a solution that’s gonna really help.
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I don’t know the answer.
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I just know that in the housing area, if we did it, you know, if we don’t build the big units and shove everybody in there like a Nicholson Gardens or some other places down in South Central, which turned out to be a disaster.
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Yeah, that’s my opinion.
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I don’t know.
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I’m sure there’s plenty of opinions out there and with building, if it does happen where there’s more and a mandate for more, what areas in, from your perspective would be a conducive area?
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Is it, in L A county? Is it out in San Bernardino, Ventura? If there was some mandate, where do you think it would happen? You know, I I couldn’t tell you because, and it’s funny you say that because I had been thinking about looking at maps of places.
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I still think it’s an infill situation.
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Infill builder term, meaning that if you go to any city, any town, any, any place, you will see housing and then you will see a lot that’s open and then you’ll go another 20-30 houses and you’ll see another lot that’s open.
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So builders come in and they buy all these open areas and they’re called infill deals.
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I think that’s the way it could happen.
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I think also if they allowed for smaller units rather than the building codes that are currently in place.
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There’s always the fear that any change in the building code is going to affect prices of the neighborhood and nobody wants that, heaven forbid that, you know, you accepted something in your neighborhood that drove the price of your house down.
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And, as a, and I’m only being facetious because in Malibu where I live, I mean, I bought my house back in, when was it? ’94, maybe ’95? And it was a foreclosure at that time after the recession of ’91.
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And I think we paid $500,000 we had $100,000 we got a $400,000 mortgage.
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Well, it quintupled, that’s how much the prices have risen.
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And I, you know, we didn’t do anything other than own the property.
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So, you know, when I hear people say about property values and how they’re going to be devalued because I’m like, well, if you’re like me, this is unearned incremental rise in the worth of my house where, you know, maybe if we had some other solution to bring smaller units instead of a 5 or 10 or 20,000 square foot lot that’s required in a neighborhood, you bring it down because I’m a big fan of the tiny house.
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I think that that could solve a lot of the problems and they’re relatively cheap to build.
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So I think if cities were to do that on infill lots, they could get, you know, two or three of these smaller units, and not inundate a neighborhood, but be able to supply somebody – a couple, a single person, which most of these people who need housing are – into properties that they could not only afford, but they could probably be able to maintain.
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And I think that is a solution.
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It’s not the solution, but it’s a part of the solution of what’s going on in the housing crisis in LA county last year.
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They allowed what they call the granny unit, or the she-shed, or whatever it is.
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But allowed you, as a property owner, to build a guest house,
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and it had to be within certain guidelines, but because, you know, they needed more housing, they allowed that, and I think some people have taken advantage of it. Jeff with the initiative, or some future initiative to build more,
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do you see it more as traditional housing as opposed to, possibly, prefabbed homes, and where they’re just easier to put up, build and get in place as opposed to traditional apartment units, townhouse units or individual homes? Well, I happen to like the prefab model, especially if you’re talking about cost for cities, counties, and towns you can, in looking the other day, I saw that you can get housing for as little between $30 and $50,000 a unit built.
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Now, the question of resale and who owns it and how all that would work? It would have to be worked out, because obviously low income housing has to remain low income housing.
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So, however, that is papered or restrictions on deeds, however that’s done.
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But if, if you look at that number that Garcetti said he wanted in his bond measure, $2 billion.
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And I think that’s a big number.
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If you broke it down and you were able to provide housing at say $30,000 a unit, you could house a lot of people.
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And I don’t know if that stops people from coming to Los Angeles for cheap housing.
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Probably not, but it does get people into homes and that’s really the key to getting the streets cleaner, being able to solve some of the local, petty crime issues.
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And, yeah, I think, I think that’s part of the solution. As of now, what would you say are the biggest risks for real estate at this point? We just don’t know what’s happening with COVID, and we don’t know how many of these people in forbearance are gonna be foreclosed on.
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I mean, if we have 4.5, 4.66 million is the count two days ago, people in forbearance, let’s say you get half of those amount of people who get foreclosed upon.
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Well, if it’s in a given geographical area, that there’s a good percentage of them, it’s gonna devastate that economy.
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So anybody that wants to lend in that area is gonna be loathe to do so because, and you know, like it was back in ’08 in Florida, in Vegas, in Arizona.
00:22:17.18 – 00:22:30.68
And a lot of these, Utah and a lot of these places that really overbuilt, they were at the end plowing in its under because it was destroying people that actually could pay their bills if they had seven or eight houses around them
00:22:30.689 – 00:22:31.27
that couldn’t.
00:22:31.53 – 00:22:34.969
So people are nervous in the lending world.
00:22:34.979 – 00:22:43.229
They are, they are very nervous and, and if the government, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginny Mae aren’t buying those notes, you wouldn’t have any lending.
00:22:44.03 – 00:22:48.319
And so yeah, right now, it’s a little bit of a nervous time.
00:22:49.75 – 00:22:54.77
Jeff, as we wrap up any closing thoughts? I haven’t solved anything.
00:22:54.819 – 00:23:10.39
I don’t, I get frustrated because I’ve been at this a long time and recognizing what happens out there in the marketplace, real world, to people who are just trying to, you know, get a foot in the door, own a home,
00:23:10.4 – 00:23:15.449
and try to build upon what the society is offering.
00:23:15.77 – 00:23:32.0
And I think a lot of the solutions have to do with the fact that ownership in America has been restricted and continues to be so because of the supply of housing and the price of housing, and if we can help in those areas in whatever way we can,
00:23:32.17 – 00:23:38.229
yeah, I think that would be a a great and so that’s, yeah, that’s all I have to say
00:23:38.239 – 00:23:46.099
about that. Jeff, thanks for being with us today and for listeners to learn more and to contact you.
00:23:46.109 – 00:23:51.52
What’s the best way to reach you? You can always call me on my cell phone.
00:23:51.53 – 00:23:55.439
It’s area code 310-849-5309.
00:23:56.03 – 00:24:09.689
We are in, as you said, 10 states and we have an office over in Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley and I have, about 70 or 80 different agents, all over the country.
00:24:09.699 – 00:24:11.329
So we can certainly help you.
00:24:11.339 – 00:24:15.689
If not with the exact solution, we can point you in the right direction.
00:24:16.349 – 00:24:22.239
Jeff hope to have you back in the future and I hope you have a great rest of the year.
00:24:22.969 – 00:24:23.68
You too, Mike.
00:24:23.689 – 00:24:25.359
And thank you very much for having me on the show.
00:24:25.369 – 00:24:26.189
I do appreciate it.
00:24:26.43 – 00:24:27.53
00:24:27.54 – 00:24:33.599
Our guest today, Jeff Barton, broker with Malibu Funding, hope to have him back.
00:24:33.64 – 00:24:37.28
Wanna thank Darrell Wayne at the controls for this session.
00:24:37.619 – 00:24:39.17
Producer Mark Alyn.
00:24:39.18 – 00:24:40.619
I’m Mike Anderson.
00:24:40.63 – 00:24:43.5
And you’re listening to The Anderson Files.
00:24:43.829 – 00:24:45.959
Keep calm and keep listening.
00:24:46.839 – 00:24:50.89
You’ve been listening to The Anderson Files with Mike Anderson.
00:24:50.9 – 00:25:00.43
Visit us at and check on the Financial box for more information on The Anderson Files.