U.S. Home Sales to See Modest Growth in 2016, Forecast Says

A strong job market helped propel the U.S. housing market to its best year since the recession, and activity is expected to further increase in 2016, although rising mortgage rates and tight supply conditions could affect the pace of sales.monopoly_houses_113015

At last month’s 2015 Realtors Conference & Expo in San Diego, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun projected that U.S. existing-home sales will total 5.3 million by the end of this year and will increase by 3 percent to 5.45 million in 2016. According to Yun, the modest uptick in sales will be due to more move-up buyers entering the picture.

“Sales activity in 2016 will once again be primarily driven by the ongoing release of more pent-up sellers finally realizing their equity gains and using it towards the down payment on their next home,” he said.

NAR also points to heightened consumer confidence and job growth — particularly in Western states — as additional drivers of 2016 home sales activity, but it cautioned that more inventory is needed to meet demand and keep prices from rising too high. Although Yun expects housing starts to increase from 1.1 million this year to 1.3 million in 2016, he says that 1.5 million new homes are necessary to meet current demand. Supply conditions have been a particular problem in the Bay Area as the economy has exploded; in October, six local counties had the smallest months’ supply of inventory in California.

Cris deRitis, senior director of credit analytics at Moody’s Analytics and one of Yun’s co-presenters, said that a spike in new-home construction could help attract more first-time buyers to the market, a demographic that is at its lowest level in nearly three decades. Besides a lack of affordable inventory, first-time buyers face competition from investors and are burdened by student loan debt. NAR says that 41 percent of successful first-time buyers are carrying an average debt of $25,000, which hampers efforts to save for a down payment.

A final factor that will impact next year’s sales volume is the interest-rate hike that was projected for 2015 but never happened. NAR expects that the Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates as early as this month and that they will reach 4.5 percent by the end of next year. For the week ended Nov. 25, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.95 percent according to Freddie Mac.

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Nearly Half of California’s Job Growth Happening in the Bay Area

google overhead shotAlthough unemployment rates rose across the Bay Area from September to October, our region remains California’s job-growth leader and was responsible for nearly half of the state’s gains last month.

In its latest monthly jobs report, the California Employment Development Department says that the Golden State added 41,200 nonfarm jobs in October, a year-over-year gain of 2.9 percent. Commenting on the data in a separate report, Stephen Levy, director and senior economist of the Center For Continuing Study of the California Economy, estimated that 19,600 of the jobs added in October were based in the Bay Area.

Since the recession ended, California’s economy has created more than 2.1 million new jobs, a growth rate of 14.5 percent, compared with the 10 percent gains recorded nationwide. CCSCE says that all major regions of the state have recovered all of the jobs lost during the downturn except for Sacramento, which should fully recover soon. Bay Area jobs levels are currently 11.2 percent above their prerecession highs, by far the most of any major region in the state.

California’s unemployment rate declined month over month, falling to 5.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis in October. Nationwide, jobless claims also declined, to 5.0 percent, fueling speculation that the Federal Reserve could move to boost interest rates next month.

Countering state and national patterns, unemployment rates increased from September to October in all nine Bay Area counties on a nonseasonally adjusted basis, according to the EDD. Despite the increases, six Bay Area counties have the lowest unemployment rates in the state: San Mateo (3.2 percent), Marin (3.3 percent), San Francisco (3.4 percent), Santa Clara (3.9 percent), and Napa and Sonoma (both 4.2 percent).

As Pacific Union noted in last week’s real estate forecast through 2018, the Bay Area’s economy is currently expanding significantly faster than are households. John Burns Research Consulting, our partner for the forecast, says that employment growth is outstripping household growth by more than 5 to 1 in the San Jose metro area and more than 4 to 1 in the San Francisco metro area (including Marin and San Mateo counties).

Still, panelists at the forecast cautioned that some of the Bay Area’s well known “unicorns” — startup companies valued in excess of $1 billion — may not live up to those big numbers. As an example of normalizing economic conditions, Pacific Union CEO Mark A. McLaughlin pointed to San Francisco-based Square, which went public on Nov. 19. Last December, the payment-processing company was valued at $6 billion. At the close of trading on Nov. 23 it was trading at $12.12 per share, giving it a market capitalization of $3.91 billion.

(Photo: Flickr/Joey Rozier)

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Webcast Link! Pacific Union Real Estate Economic Forecast SF Bay Area


On Wednesday evening, Pacific Union and the Wall Street Journal teamed up with John Burns Real Estate Consulting firm for an insightful presentation of the Bay Area economic and housing market forecast. For those of you who missed it, a video webcast is available by visiting the link below. Thank you to Mark A. McLaughlin for hosting such an inspiring and exciting event!

Please follow the link for the webcast of the event: http://www.pacificunion.com/jazz

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The Big Eat Wine Country: 50 Things to Devour in Napa and Sonoma Counties Before You Die

The BH beer can chicken at the Napa restaurant Bounty Hunter is loaded with personality and flavor.

San Francisco gastronomes are well versed in our annual Big Eat SF—for more than a decade, you’ve been checking dishes off our list of the city’s must-eats. Last year, we invited Oaklanders to the party with our Big Eat Oakland. And now, drumroll please, we’re bringing the Big Eat to Wine Country tables.

From paella in Occidental to tuna pizza in Napa to beignets in St. Helena, here are 50 things you need to taste in Napa and Sonoma counties before you die.

1. The BH beer can chicken:Bounty Hunter // 975 1st St (Napa), bountyhunterwinebar.com

2. Oakville signature crabsandwich: Oakville Grocery Co. // 7856 St Helena Hwy (Oakville),oakvillegrocery.com

3. Green chile cheeseburger with garlic fries:Gott’s Roadside // Oxbow Public Market, 644 First St. (Napa), gotts.com

4. Paella Valenciana: Gerard’s Paella (catering only) // gerardspaella.com 

5. Chocolate-chip cookie with walnuts:Model Bakery // 1357 Main St(St. Helena), themodelbakery.com

6. Fig pizza: Bistro Don Giovanni // 4100 Howard Lane(Napa), bistrodongiovanni.com

7. Croque Madame:Bouchon // 6534 Washington St(Yountville), thomaskeller.com

8. Beignets:Farmstead // 738 Main St(St. Helena), longmeadowranch.com

9. Polenta Under Glass:Bottega // 6525 Washington St (Yountville), botteganapavalley.com

10. Flying tuna platter: Rutherford Grill // 1180 Rutherford Rd (Rutherford), rutherfordgrill.com

11. Seared foie gras: Goose & Gander // 1245 Spring St.(St. Helena),goosegander.com

12. Heritage porchetta:Torc // 1140 Main St(Napa), torcnapa.com

13. Vegetable tandoori:Himalayan Sherpa Kitchen // 1148 Main St (St. Helena), himalayansherpakitchen.com

14. Pitmaster’s chili:The Fremont Diner // 2698 Fremont Dr (Sonoma), thefremontdiner.com

15. Pan roasted shrimp & grits:Harvest Table // 1 Main St(St. Helena), harvesttablenapa.com

16. Summer corn and ricotta ravioli:El Dorado Kitchen // 405 First St West(Sonoma), eldoradosonoma.com

17. Make your own picnic:Dean & Deluca // 607 S. St. Helena Hwy(St. Helena),deandeluca.com

18. Mushroom mille feuille:Auberge du Soleil // 180 Rutherford Hill Rd(Rutherford),aubergedusoleil.com

19. FamousMac n’ Cheese: Market // 1347 Main Street(St. Helena), marketsthelena.com

20. Wood fired chicken wings:Kitchen Door // Oxbow Market, 610 1st St #24(Napa), kitchendoornapa.com

21. Mozzarella cheese “al minuto”: Tra Vigne // 1050 Charter Oak Ave(St. Helena), travignerestaurant.com

22. Nachos Not:C Casa // Oxbow Public Market, 610 1st St #B(Napa), myccasa.com

23. Smoked duck wings:The Farmer & The Fox // 3111 St. Helena Hwy N.(St. Helena), cairdeanestate.com

24. Bignè: Ca’ Momi Pasticceria // 610 1st Street #9 (Napa) camomieosteria.com

25. Tuna tartare: R+D Kitchen // 6795 Washington St (Yountville), rd-kitchen.com

26. Warm smoked trout salad:JoLe // 1457 Lincoln Ave (Calistoga), jolerestaurant.com

27. Pig and the Fig flatbread:Carpe Diem // 1001 2nd St(Napa) carpediemwinebar.com

28. Crême de Tomate en Croute: Bistro Jeanty // 6510 Washington St (Yountville), bistrojeanty.com

29. Open-faced Reuben:Archetype // 1429 Main St (St. Helena), archetypenapa.com

30. Lamb meatballs:Napa Valley Bistro // 975 Clinton St (Napa), napavalleybistro.net

31. Grilled octopus:Sam’s Social Club // 1712 Lincoln Ave(Calistoga), samssocialclub.com

32. Glazed pork belly:Redd // 6480 Washington St(Yountville), reddnapavalley.com

33. Truffled egg salad with salmon and disco fries:Norman Rose // 1401 1st St (Napa), normanrosenapa.com

34. Lucky Pig:Solbar // 755 Silverado Trail (Calistoga), solagecalistoga.com

35. Sauteed Pacific Blue Nose bass:Harvest Moon Cafe// 487 First St. West (Sonoma), harvestmooncafesonoma.com

36. The Miller Cupcake (Meyer lemon, olive oil, lemon curd): Moustache Bakery // 381 Healdsburg Ave (Healdsburg), moustachebakedgoods.com

37. 1313 Burger + aBloody Mary:1313 Main // 1313 Main St (Napa), 1313main.com

38. Dictator pizza (marinated rib-eye, mozzarella, serrano chiles, kimchi, and shichimi):Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria // 21021 Geyserville Ave (Geyersville), diavolapizzeria.com

39. Brussels sprouts with brown sugar bacon marmalade: Glen Ellen Star // 13648 Arnold Dr (Glen Ellen), glenellenstar.com

40. Crispy braised pork shoulder:Evangeline // 1226 Washington St (Calistoga), evangelinenapa.com

41. Tuna pizza with anchovy aioli:Morimoto // 610 Main St (Napa), morimotonapa.com

42. Deviled eggs with crab:Oso Sonoma // 9 East Napa St. (Sonoma), ososonoma.com

43. Housemade wild mushroom and pumpkin angnolotti:Angèle // 540 Main Street (Napa), angelerestaurant.com

44. Popcorn al tartufo (black truffle organic popcorn):Aventine // 14301 Arnold Dr (Glen Ellen), aventinehospitality.com

45. Monterey calamari salad a la plancha:Willi’s Wine Bar // 4404 Old Redwood Hwy (Santa Rosa), starkrestaurants.com

46. Chef’s crispy fried farm egg with bacon jam:Atlas Social // 1124 1st St (Napa), atlassocialnapa.com

47. Chocolate and salted fig caramel trifle:The Girl & The Fig // 110 West Spain St (Sonoma), thegirlandthefig.com

48. Chicken liver toast:Redd Wood // 6755 Washington St (Yountville), redd-wood.com

49. Japanese purple jam ice cream: Noble Folk Ice Cream & Pie Parlour // 116 Matheson St (Healdsburg), thenoblefolk.com 

50. Chef’s Tasting Menu: The French Laundry// 6640 Washington St (Yountville),thomaskeller.com

Source: http://www.7×7.com/eat-drink/big-eat-wine-country-50-things-devour-napa-and-sonoma-counties-you-die#bmb=1

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Take an Amazing Escape to Napa Valley

napa winery photo

Terra Velo Tours has a new four day Napa Valley Weekend Escape. Private chef, sunrise yoga, hiking and wine. Sounds like an amazing idea for a long weekend!

Source: http://www.terravelotours.com/napa-weekend-escape/

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Forum set for $13 million plan to ease traffic on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard

traffic sfd 

Traffic clogs Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in both the eastbound and westbound lanes at Larkspur Landing in 2009. (IJ archive/Jeff Vendsel)

Fuming in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard between the freeway and Ross is a daily bummer for many, and although proposals for elaborate freeway interchange improvements have been shifted to the back seat, an emerging plan for the corridor may provide congestion relief.

The 2.5-mile stretch of the boulevard is in line for a $13.2 million makeover over the next three years, and a number of design concepts, proposals and priorities are in the mix.

No widening of the boulevard is planned, but the entire stretch is in line for a facelift as well as interchange overhauls including paving, sidewalk repair, new lighting, stoplight timing adjustments, pedestrian and bike lane improvements and related work in the existing right of way. The project will be financed by the 2004 Measure A sales tax.

The county Department of Public Works will hold a forum Nov. 18 at College of Marin to outline various improvement alternatives as a follow up to a session last spring. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in Fusselman Hall. Free parking is available in Lot 9 off Kent Avenue.

Supervisor Katie Rice said it is important that residents speak out on what should be done.

“This is a huge opportunity to improve the way that corridor operates,” she said.

“It’s not just a facelift,” she added. “It’s all about improvements to the intersections and signal light timing, crosswalk safety.”

“Even though the road cannot be widened, there is room in the footprint to widen a lane or add a turn lane” in some locations, she said. “This should improve things for motorists, pedestrians and, to a degree, bicyclists.”

Larkspur Councilman Larry Chu noted that the project will not increase road capacity, but it will make improvements including easing traffic flow to Bon Air Center. In addition, other features include making sure “all signalized intersections … have the capability to not only sense demand, but also adjust to the demand conditions at different times of the day,” he said.

Bob Goralka, a county principal civil engineer, said the Nov. 18 session will provide an overview of the project, a summary of comments and concerns provided at the earlier session and a “range of design concepts and the tradeoffs of each.”

Officials will seek guidance on design alternatives for the boulevard’s four segments. They will be presented at a third forum early next year.

The design concepts incorporate various versions of improved pedestrian crossings, modifying left and right turn lanes and movements, adding lanes, revising signal phasing and coordination, adding bicycle lanes and pathways, and improving transit access and bus stops, Goralka said.

Source: http://www.marinij.com/general-news/20151109/forum-set-for-13-million-plan-to-ease-traffic-on-sir-francis-drake-boulevard

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San Francisco Dethroned as Nation’s Hottest Real Estate Market

After four consecutive months as the country’s hottest real estate market, San Francisco lost the top slot in October, although it still ranks high on the list, along with two other Bay Area cities.nob_hill_sm

In an ongoing monthly report, Realtor.com ranks the hottest real estate markets in the U.S. based on fewest days on market and buyer demand — cities where listings on its website receive roughly two to four times the amount of views as the national average. Since June, San Francisco has held the list’s No. 1 position, but in October’s report Denver claimed the top spot, while the City by the Bay dropped to No. 3. San Jose ranked No. 2, up three spots from the previous month, while Vallejo dropped one position to No. 5.

In total, one dozen of the nation’s hottest real estate markets are in California, many of them from the northern part of the state. San Diego ranked sixth, followed by Sacramento (No. 7), Santa Rosa (No. 8), Yuba City (No. 9), Los Angeles (No. 10), Stockton (No. 11), Santa Cruz (No. 12), Oxnard (No. 15), and Modesto (No. 19.).

Nationwide, buyers have more homes to choose from this fall and are also benefiting from a slightly slowing pace of sales. Homes sold in a median 81 days in October, one day longer than in September.

Northern California homes sold more than twice as fast as the national rate in October, with homes in San Jose leaving the market in a median 32 days, the quickest pace in any of the 20 hottest markets. San Francisco tied Modesto for second fewest days on market — 33 — followed by Stockton (35) and Sacramento (37).

Home price growth was flat month over month, with the $232,000 national median list price almost identical to September’s number. No California markets included in the report had a lower list price than the U.S. average, and Bay Area residents can expect to pay three to four times that figure.

As in September, San Jose was the most expensive of the 20 metro areas, with a median list price of $888,000, followed by Santa Cruz ($858,000), and San Francisco ($770,000). Prices in all three of those markets rose month over month when compared with Realtor.com’s September hottest-markets report.


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Sushi Ran To Open First-Ever Expansion Project in the Castro

sushi ran


I am very happy for my friend Yoshi Tome! My favorite sushi restaurant is expanding to San Francisco!

It’s a more casual concept from the Sushi Ran team.

Back when the news broke that Pesce was closing in the Castro, there was also the tidbit that the space had already been sold to new, mysterious owners. Well, they’re mysterious no longer: as rumored, the venerable Sushi Ran is taking over the space in a deal brokered by CGI Retail. It won’t be the same restaurant; rather, the team is switching things up a bit with this one, which should open early spring 2016. “The concept is fun, sophisticated, casual Japanese, with a full bar,” Sushi Ran vice president Suzie Buchholz told Eater. Despite the fact that chef/owner Yoshi Tome’s proteges populate some of the city’s best sushi experiences, this is Sushi Ran’s first expansion since opening its flagship location in Sausalito nearly 30 years ago. You can bet all eyes will be on this one once it opens. Stay tuned for more details as we get them.

Source: Stephanie Tuder. http://sf.eater.com/2015/10/29/9638312/sushi-ran-new-restaurant-castro

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Bay Area Annual Home-Price Gains Double California Rate

Although home prices eased a touch across the Bay Area from August to September, they still grew at more than twice the statewide rate on a year-over-year basis.Money_Suburb

In its September home sales and price report, the California Association of Realtors says that the median sales price for a single-family home across the nine-county Bay Area was $796,470 last month, a decline of 1.0 percent from August. Across the Golden State, single-family home prices fell by 2.3 percent from the preceding month to $482,150.

On an annual basis, Bay Area home prices were up 10.7 percent, more than double the 4.3 percent price growth recorded in California. Eight of nine counties saw year-over-year price gains, ranging from 13.3 percent inAlameda to 4.0 percent in Napa. In Marin County, home prices fell by 9.4 percent from September 2014.

In a statement accompanying the report, CAR Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young said that home prices across the state are moderating due to more buyers seeking out lower-priced areas. She noted that home sales in the Central Valley represented 26.4 percent of California transactions in September, up from 25.5 percent one year ago. During that same time period, the share of Bay Area homes sold declined from 18.8 percent in 2014 to 17.2 percent this year.

An uptick in sales in California’s Central Valley could likely be due to the rise of so-called “mega-commuters,” San Francisco and Silicon Valley workers who are willing to travel hundreds of miles from far-flung places where homes are much more affordable. The San Jose Mercury News recently reported on this trend, documenting back-breaking commutes such as the trek between the San Joaquin County city of Manteca and downtown San Francisco — a 150-mile round trip that can take up to three hours each way.

Bay Area workers hoping to buy a home closer to the office had a bit more properties to choose from as fall officially began, with the months’ supply of inventory (MSI) across the nine-county region rising from 2.3 in August to 2.5 in September. Napa and Solano were the only local counties where inventory dropped on a month-over-month basis.

Bay Area homes continued to sell at a quick clip in December, with the properties finding a buyer in an average of 22.3 days, unchanged from the previous month. Alameda County had California’s fastest past of sales, at 18.0 days, followed by San Mateo (18.7 days), Santa Clara (19.1 days), Contra Costa (20.3 days), and San Francisco (21.5 days) counties.

Source: (http://blog.pacificunion.com/bay-area-annual-home-price-gains-double-california-rate/)

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Happy Back to the Future Day!

‘Back to the Future’ Day: Time is in flux, and the ‘Future’ is today

back to the future


(CNN)“Back to the Future” Day has finally arrived.

In “Back to the Future Part II,” Marty McFly travels to October 21, 2015, to save his children, yet to be born in “Back to the Future’s” 1985.

What did ‘Back to the Future II’ get right?

The plot gets tangled — by fixing one thing, McFly and Doc Brown (and the villainous Biff Tannen) create a number of new messes — but what remains is the film’s vision of a year that was still more than a quarter-century away when the movie was shot and released in 1989. The entire trilogy is even being rereleased Wednesday, so you can see for yourself.

The film’s record isn’t bad, given that director Robert Zemeckis wasn’t pleased with setting part of “Back to the Future II” in 2015.

“I always hated — and I still don’t like — movies about the future,” he says in a new book, “Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History.” “I just think they’re impossible, and somebody’s always keeping score.”

In the Internet age, Zemeckis has grounds for concern. Over the past few years, Photoshopped images of “Future’s” DeLorean time machine have popped up on the Web, insisting that TODAY is “Back to the Future Day.” And now that the day has actually arrived, there have been countless articles (like, frankly, this one) and videos about what the film and its screenwriter, Bob Gale, got right about 2015.

As with other movies dealing with the future, such as “2001: A Space Odyssey” (set in the early 2000s) or “Blade Runner” (set in 2019, which will be here before you know it), the predictions of “Back to the Future II” are hit or miss: big-screen TVs, yes, Mr. Fusion, no; virtual-reality goggles, yes, “Jaws 19,” no.

The story behind the car that made time travel stylish

Coincidentally, perhaps the most important invention in the film is one behind the scenes: the VistaGlide motion-control system, a computer-operated camera operation that enabled Michael J. Fox to seamlessly share all those scenes with himself. The software was written by an Industrial Light & Magic developer, Bill Tondreau, specifically for the movie and was a milestone in moviemaking technology.

Still, it says something about the popularity of the trilogy that here we are, 26 years after the release of “Back to the Future II” (and 30 years after “Back to the Future”), and we care enough to “keep score.” Even “Back to the Future” stars Fox and Christopher Lloyd discuss the topic in a new Toyota ad.

Elijah Wood, who made his film debut in “Back to the Future Part II,” is also fascinated by the movie’s predictions and discussed them on a recent “Conan.” ‘Back to the Future II’ was this star’s first movie
'Back to the Future II' was this star's first movie

Wood and host Conan O’Brien did single out an item the film got wrong — the colander-like hat Wood’s character wears in the film. They never became fashionable.

Christopher Lloyd on the timeless charm of ‘Back to the Future’

There’s one prediction that could be aced in the next couple weeks. According to the film, the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in 2015 (over Miami, a city that didn’t have a baseball team in 1989).

As of “Back to the Future” Day, those Cubs are in the National League Championship Series, one step short of the big prize.

If they do go all the way, perhaps the Chicago-born Zemeckis won’t mind a little score-settling.

Source: CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/20/entertainment/back-to-the-future-day-feat/)

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