Archive for December, 2011

The powerful economic machine that is UC Davis has generated over $6.9 billion in annual economic activity and accounts for 69,000 jobs. For every two jobs at UCD, an additional 1.2 jobs were created in other sectors of the region’s economy. For every dollar of goods and services the university generated, Northern California benefited from an additional $1.10 to $1.40 in secondary economic activity. The two campuses in Davis and Sacramento, constitute the second-largest employer in the Sacramento region, behind only the state of California.

Chancellor Linda Katehi said “UC Davis is a signficant catalyst for economic activity throughout our region and across the state”. “It is gratifying to see that the investments made at the university will pay off not only in the long-term, with a highly educated workforce and the discoveries and innovations that will help us to address the globe’s most pressing problems”.

The Sacramento-based Center for Strategic Economic Research conducted its analysis in two parts. The first part assessed the impacts of the Sacramento UCD Health System and the second part focused on the impact of UCD campus in Davis. The report also assessed the economic impact of UCD satellite locations throughout Northern California.

The Davis campus and its affiliated centers generated more than 48,000 jobs and 3.5 billion in goods and services, while the Sacramento campus generated more than 20,000 jobs and 3.4 billion in goods and services. Northern California was defined as the area between the Oregon border and the southern borders of Monterey, Kings, Tulare and Inyo counties. The UCD Health System students and visitors contributed $368.9 million in spending to the Northern California economy. Any thoughts on the direction of UCD, in terms of growth, student body, job creation and economic structure? Please visit my website www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com for helpful tips on buying or selling a home, scan my other informative blogs or view local area homes for sale in Davis,California or the surrounding communities.


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Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nations compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another. When kids volunteer it tells others that they don’t have to be perfect or famous or even grown up to make a difference. These are just a couple of quotes that spell out what the Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter stands for. This program is a community based effort enabling member congregations to provide cold-weather shelter and hospitality on a rotating basis to persons who are homeless in the Davis community.

This years shelter started on the 27th of November and will run through 10 March 2012. There are seven congregations that participate with each church taking turns providing shelter during the coldest months of the year. The Davis Enterprise stopped by St. James Catholic Church on the week they were the host site and high schoolers were taking their turn running the shelter. They were a part of the Davis Community Church’s Youth Leadership Institute program. The goal of the program is to create awareness for students about poverty and homelessness through hands-on experience and education.

To prepare them for running the shelter, students received intensive training and education about homelessness during November classes with shelter staff. Youth Leadership Institute interns began working in the shelter while shadowing UC Davis interns from Nov. 27 to Dec. 11. UCD interns taught the high schoolers how to handle scenarios with guest, shelter schedule and managing paperwork. Cindy Chang, a shelter board member who supervises the interns, said youth are the answer to reshaping the community’s outlook on homelessness. “Youths are the people who are going to be the ones to lead the future and fight back against stereo-types.

The interns began running the shelter without The UCD staff Dec 12th and will continue until the university students return from their winter break. The high schoolers manage the shelter but are always accompanied by an adult volunteer for safety purposes. Rev. Bill Habicht associate pastor at Davis Community Church said “They’re beginning to realize that there is a difference between charity and justice”. This is a perfect example of adults learning from our youth. For more information about volunteering at the Interfaith Winter Shelter, visit www.interfaith-shelter.org

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As we head into the new year and the uncertainty with the economy and housing sector, we will experience a little bit of the past and a possible light at the end of the tunnel scenario. After a number of years of scrooge-like underwriting, banks and lenders will make mortgage loans less stringent. This in turn will give the market more of what we need, qualified buyers. This is good news for those homeowners contemplating selling their home in 2012.

Homebuyers will still control the housing market heading into the new year. Most buyers today are patient and have accumulated the knowledge this patience provides them. They are very much aware of the housing activity in the neighborhood they have chosen to live in.  From the sellers perspective, if your neighbor’s home is a bank owned property, but all of the other homes for sale in your neighborhood are not, you don’t have a problem. However, if most of the properties are bank-owned or short sales, this is more problematic, because of the fierce competition these distressed homes cause on the market.

Prior to the housing bubble, appraisers would often ignore these distressed homes. These same appraisers now pay close attention to the foreclosures and short sales that have recently sold and are currently on the market. Sellers have to step into the buyers shoes and ask themselves “Why would a buyer pay more for your home than they might for a bank owned or short sale”? Sellers have to scrutinize all aspects of  the home selling process.

Examine similar homes that have sold in your particular neighborhood over the last four months. Preferably, the list should consist of homes with in a quarter to half mile radius. Sellers should realize that identical homes can vary by as much as $25,000, depending on physical barriers. One home might back up to a quiet park, while the other might back to a busy street. Value’s between the two will differ. Compare apples to apples.

The bottom line, price your home correctly. No factor is more important than price. Here’s a common example that happens often, the average price for your neighborhood is $400,000, but you consider your home the best on the block and want to be compensated for all of the hard work and price it at $425,000. The exact house around the corner needs carpet, new appliances, paint and a new lawn is priced at $375,000. How many upgrades can a buyer purchase for the $50,000 difference in asking price. This market is non-forgiving, listen to your real estate advisor and price your home correctly. Please visit my website www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com for helpful tips on buying or selling a home, scan my other informative blogs and easy access to view local area homes for sale in Davis, California and the surrounding communities.

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Are you tired of renting? Want to enjoy pride of ownership that comes with having a place you can call your own? The road toward home ownership for first-time homebuyers or repeat buyers can be a pleasant journey filled with excitement and anticipation. On the other hand, it can be a frustrating trip down a bumpy road, filled with detours. The difference on how you get there is planning, and you’ll need lots of it. Becoming a homeowner means doing your homework weeks, if not months in advance. From getting your finances in line and building good credit to saving for a down payment and getting pre approved for a loan, knowing the steps you must take today will help you become a homeowner tomorrow.

Organize Your Financial Standing: The first step toward becoming a homeowner is to take a hard look at your financial house, so you can see where your money goes. Track your spending by receipts, checkbook or computer software. Once you’ve identified your spending habits, you’ll know where and what you can cut back or do without. Apply those savings to your down payment and an emergency fund. To keep your debt under control, charge only what you can payoff in a month or two. Also, focus on paying down your credit cards or other unsecured debt, starting with the highest interest rate first.

Improve Your Credit Worthiness: Once you’ve got a handle on your budget, take a look at your credit. The first thing lenders check is your credit worthiness. They do this by looking at four categories of your credit: capacity, character, capital and collateral. I suggest checking your credit report and credit score before applying for a home loan, so you’ll get an idea what lenders will see. Remember, positive information stays on your credit report forever, while negative information, including bankruptcies, will remain for up to 10 years. You can improve your credit score by paying bills on time, reducing credit card balances and keeping your balances below 50% of the available balance. You can obtain a FREE credit report each year from the three major credit reporting companies at www.annualcreditreport.com

Buying Power And Pre Approval: Once you have your finances and credit in order, you’ll need to consider how much home you can comfortably afford. Knowing your buying power depends on how much money you can provide for a down payment, as well as your total income and other financial obligations. This is your income-to-debt ratio. Obviously, the more money you put down up front, the lower your monthly mortgage will be. I strongly encourage all of my clients to converse with at least three to four lenders. Let them know your comparison shopping for a loan and intend to speak to a number of lenders or banks. Request a “Good Faith Estimate” from each lender, this is a cost breakdown in writing of all fees that lender charges. Follow this step and you’ll end up saving yourself thousands of dollars in the long run. Lenders want your business and some of the fees they charge will magically disappear when there’s competition involved. The eventual lender that you have chosen can provide a pre approval letter. Each of these steps are vital before starting your home search. Please visit my website at www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com for helpful tips on buying or selling a home, scan my other informative blogs and easy access to view local area homes for sale in Davis, California and the surrounding communities.

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The average rate on 30 year fixed-mortgages fell to a record 3.91%, the third time this year that rates hit new lows. Rates have been below 5% for all but two weeks in 2011. The current 3.91% rate is the lowest average for long-term fixed mortgages in six decades. What determines the trajectory of interest rates? A number of factors establish the direction of interest rates. Actions by the Federal Reserve, the health of the economy and the rate at which people are saving money.

The housing industry is strongly affected by changes in interest rates. The higher the rate, the more a borrower must pay in the form of interest on the loan. The United States Federal Reserve will set a rate at which it lends money to banks and lending institutions. This in turn, affects the rates individuals will pay obtaining mortgages. With the lower interest rate, consumers are more likely to borrow money. The opposite happens as rates increase, borrowing becomes more expensive and less appealing.

Buyers who choose to wait until home prices come down more, are gambling that interest rates hold steady. Home prices are now at 2003 levels and interest rates are the lowest since the 1950’s. As I converse with buyers at open houses and other day-to-day activities, one topic comes up often, “What’s the future of home values”? “I would be more concerned with interest rates rather than a slight movement of home prices”. “You only pay that price once, but you’ll pay the higher rate every month for as long as you own the home”, is my response.

 Low interest rates are one of the keys to the housing recovery. A 10% drop in home prices is nullified by a 1% increase in interest rates. Mortgage rates have been a shining light in an otherwise gloomy real estate market. Prospective home buyers need to understand the financial impact, low-interest rates have on the cost of home ownership and the thousands of dollars that can be saved over the life of a typical mortgage.

For those that can afford to buy, trade up, or invest, today’s housing market presents a lifetime opportunity that could vanish, depending on the direction of mortgage rates. How will rates react to an improving economy? How will higher inflation effect interest rates? Will the presidential election have any bearing? Please visit my website www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com for helpful tips on buying or selling a home, scan my other informative blogs and easy access to view local area homes for sale in Davis, California and the surrounding communities.

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Occasionally our elected officials will do the right thing as the Davis City Council is set to repeal the water rate increase they originally adopted on September 6th. The council initially had increased the water rates to help finance an ill-advised surface water project that would siphon water from the Sacramento River, treat it and pipe it into Davis, eliminating the city’s reliance on ground water. The cost to the cities of Davis and Woodland would have been a whopping $325 million.

Bob Dunning, a local columnist compared the repeal to an early Christmas gift. The council will re-enact the water rates it first approved in August 2010. Those utility rates will generate approximately $10 million annually, where as the higher water rates approved by the council in September would have increased that amount to $12 million. As for new water rates, the council will proceed with ideas on a new Proposition 218 regarding water rates as the city still needs additional revenue for ongoing operational and maintenance needs. Instead of considering major cutbacks in spending, as a normal citizens would do during trying times, the council is attempting to generate funds through their increased fees.

Dennis Diemer, general manager of the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency outlined several potential consequences in delaying the project. One scenario had the total cost of the project rising to $131 million more than the original estimate of $325 million. Council members are considering placing the entire surface water project on the June 2012 ballot as opposed to just the water rates. The City Council will hear options from City Attorney Harriet Steiner at the January 24th meeting about its ballot options, as well as receive a recommendation from staff to approve a professional service contract for a multi-year water rate study. The citizens have the right to determine any project that would cost this exorbitant amount. Any one feel this project is justified?

The City Council is also discussing adding alternate members to the Water advisory Committee that was formed last month to aid the council in its decisions on rates, the project and related issues. How are these committee members being supplemented and who might be footing the bill? There are so many questions involved with this project that need to be analyzed and voted on by the citizens of Davis. Please visit my website at www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com for helpful tips on buying or selling a home, scan my other informative blogs and to view local area homes for sale.

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Every homeowner has surfed the web to get a sense of housing values in the neighborhood. The plunging home prices continue to put a drain on the economy. The lowest mortgage rates in history have not been a big enough bonanza for many prospective home buyers to take advantage of the unparalleled combination of historical rates and attractive home prices. How much does real estate contribute to the economy is open for debate. Some pundits say as little as 10% and other economist estimate as much as 20% of the economy is real estate related. Housing has a domino effect on the economy. A decline in real estate sales will eventually lead to a decline in home prices. This then reduces the amount of home equity loans the homeowner can get, which in turn, reduces consumer spending.

Nearly 70% of the United States economy is based on personal consumption. The reduction in consumer spending contributes to a downward spiral in the overall economy. Going back recently to 2002-2004, homeowners who refinanced their mortgages took out an astronomical $400 billion in cash, most of which was pumped back into the economy. That’s no longer a source for most home owners and has put a crimp in additional spending. The only good news with the lower home prices is it lessens the chances of higher inflation.

It has been taken for granted that turning around housing is key to turning around the economy. It’s no coincidence that as home sales and prices tumbled, so followed the economy. How big of a drag has housing been on the economic recovery? The answer is that housing has been a huge contributor to the slower recovery. Turning the housing market around would add a significant boost to the economy with  lower unemployment rates and the jobs created through more construction.

During the housing bubble of the mid 2000’s, home builders spent over $600 billion a year on land, materials and employee salaries. There are many other ways that the housing market boosted the economy in the past decade. The wealth effect comes to mind, when housing prices are rising, people just feel richer. Four years after the recession officially began in December 2007, economists, businesses and consumers alike have expressed a growing optimism about the recovery in recent weeks.

The housing market is slowly ticking up mostly due to young adults who have been living with their parents that are moving into their own homes amid stronger job growth. The inventory of new homes has reached a record low, at some point we need to ramp up home building in a big way. After adding nothing to the economic growth over the last six years, the expectations are housing will finally be a meaningful contributor to the overall economy in 2012. Please visit my website at www.JohnnyBrooksHomes.com for helpful tips on buying or selling a home, scan my other informative blogs and easy access to view local area homes for sale in Davis, California and the surrounding communities.

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