Monthly Archives: February 2015

Brea, La Habra homes taking about 2 months to sell

The following update on local real estate information is based on Multiple Listing Service data as of Feb. 19.

BREA

Properties available: 80

Condominiums: 5

Houses: 75

Average condo price: $550,960

Average house price: $855,800

Average time on the market: 68 days for condos; 66 days for houses

Short sales and REOs: 1

Available properties by price range:

Under $399,999: 3

$400,000 – $699,999: 36

$700,000 – $999,999: 25

$1,000,000-$1,999,999: 16

Properties available by ZIP Code:

92821 – 69

92823 – 11

Escrows opened that week: 11

Least expensive houses: One of the least expensive homes going into escrow features 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, 1,101 square feet on a 9,148-square-foot lot with 1-car garage. This home is listed for $505,000. The actual sale price is not disclosed by the MLS until after the property closes escrow.

Least expensive condos: One of the least expensive condos going into escrow features 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 1,501 square feet and 2-car detached garage. This home is listed for $320,000. The actual sale price is not disclosed by the MLS until after the property closes escrow.

Most expensive properties: One of the most expensive homes going into escrow features 4 bedrooms, 6 baths, 4,723 square feet on an 11,436-square-foot lot with pool, view and 3-car attached garage. This home is listed for $1,975,000. The actual sale price is not disclosed by the MLS until after the property closes escrow.

Closed escrows: 5 with an average sale price of $712,580 and an average time on the market of 31 days.

Properties available: 92

Condominiums: 24

Houses: 67

Average condo price: $279,595

Average house price: $616,961

Average time on the market: 51 days for condos; 69 days for houses

Short sales and REOs: 6

Available properties by price range:

Under $199,999: 2

$200,000 – $399,999: 30

$400,000 – $699,999: 43

$700,000 – $999,999: 12

$1,000,000 and up: 5

Escrows opened that week: 8

Least expensive houses: One of the least expensive homes going into escrow features 2 bedrooms, 1 bath with 986 square feet on a 6,098-square-foot lot with 2-car garage. This home is listed for $350,000. The actual sale price is not disclosed by the MLS until after the property closes escrow.

Least expensive condos: One of the least expensive condos going into escrow features 2 bedrooms, 1 bath with 940 square feet and 1-car garage. This home is listed for $249,900. The actual sale price is not disclosed by the MLS until after the property closes escrow.

Most expensive properties: One of the most expensive homes going into escrow features 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2,395 square feet on a 9,529-square-foot lot with a view and 2-car attached garage. This home is listed for $629,000. The actual sale price is not disclosed by the MLS until after the property closes escrow.

Closed escrows: 6 with an average sale price of $477,000 and an average time on the market of 80 days.

 

Kevin Allen

First Team Real Estate – Broker Associate
CHRISTIES Luxury Real Estate
Direct Cell 714.366.5338
Email: kdarealestate@gmail.com
BRE#01953939

Sleepy La Habra Heights jolted into lively public debate over oil by Measure A

La Habra Heights, a small city on the southeastern edge of Los Angeles County, is set to become the latest battle ground in the debate over how much authority localities have to regulate the oil industry, as voters head to the polls to consider Measure A, an initiative that would ban new drilling.

“We’re all just so damn lucky to be here,” says Jane Williams, sitting in the garden of a house she has occupied since the city’s incorporation.

Everybody in La Habra Heights sings from the same hymnal about its beauty. They praise avocado trees, no sidewalks, and the minimum one-acre zoning that begets low-density this low-density living.

“When we moved here people had herds of goats, and pygmy goats. Herds of sheep! Every other house had a horse,” Williams says.

Oil has been here too, right from the beginning, and then some – and oil is now sowing the biggest public disagreement in the city’s 36-year history.

Five-year resident Jesse Loverne, too, praises the La Habra Heights way of life. But he says he’s worried about the ongoing reach of oil into the ground under houses in the heights, and in nearby Whittier.

As a member of Heights Oil Watch, he backs Measure A, which aims to ban future drilling, limit redrilling of existing wells, and prohibit any so-called high intensity oil techniques such as hydraulic fracturing within city limits.

These controls go further than new statewide fracking rules taking effect in July, which only mandate monitoring and reporting for that activity.

Loverne says that’s the point. “I’m not convinced the state is doing enough to regulate it,” he says. He wants La Habra Heights to ban fracking because of environment and health risks. “Until the state and federal governments put forth a meaningful regulation I think it needs to be in the hands of the city for each little unique situation every city has,” he says.

La Habra Heights’ measure resembles ones passed last November in San Benito and Mendocino counties; so, too, does the oil lobby’s reaction bear a resemblance to those earlier fights.

Californians for Energy Independence, a pro-oil political coalition, has poured in $400,000 so far to defeat Measure A, much of that on lawyers’ fees for a dispute over ballot language. (Measure A supporters have spent just over $26,000, including lawyers’ fees donated in-kind for that same skirmish.)

And local independent oil companies with interests in town are carefully negotiating the political fight, offering information about their operations and opinions about regulation.

 

Matrix Oil has applied to develop wells; the company has paused an environmental impact report midway through, awaiting the vote’s outcome. Vice President Joe Paquette says he’d rather the environmental impact report, and the county’s usual process, played out. “This initiative, what it does. It’s attempting to bypass all of the regulators. Let’s throw the regulation into the laps of the city council. Why would you want that? It’s just the wrong way to govern. And it’s the wrong way to regulate.”

California Resources Corporation, a corporate descendant of Occidental Petroleum, also opposes the measure. CRC has been operating its 141 wells in the Heights for decades, and while Measure A backers insist CRC’s current activities aren’t targeted by the initiative, the company’s lawyers aren’t so sure.

“There’s potential for litigation if this thing happens,” said CRC’s Steve Gregg.

That’s not an empty threat. When Mendocino and San Benito approved bans, oil company lawsuits quickly followed.

Four of La Habra Heights’ five city councilmembers oppose the measure; they take that threat seriously That includes Jane Williams, who nods at her neighbors’ Yes on A signs.

“I understand their fear. I don’t feel it,” she says.

Williams is up for re-election Tuesday. She’s the only opponent to Measure A among three candidates vying for two seats.

She points out that oil royalties make up a significant amount of the small city’s revenue. “How the books balance makes a great deal of difference to me. They’re putting in jeopardy 13 percent of our budget. And we don’t have 13 percent to cut.”

While La Habra Heights held no official debates, public comment at a recent city council meeting became a politely contentious arena for airing views – both on the political question, and on which side has the better claim to being more local.

“I put more faith and trust in our neighbors…than I do in some radical environmental law firm from San Francisco who’s got another agenda altogether,” said Measure A opponent Dave Frankenbach. A few minutes later, referencing an oil company’s offices in Santa Barbara, another resident, Mike Hughes said, “I drove a mile and a half to get here. I resent the implication that Measure A was brought by out of town people. I am one of the drafters of Measure A.”

La Habra Heights is the first California city where voters will consider a ban with this kind of reach. Still, urban planning expert Bill Fulton points out that the idea’s not brand new: coastal cities began limiting onshore oil operations in the 1980s.

“That’s a pretty well established practice all up and down California,” Fulton says. “The question is whether you can use that kind of process in this kind of situation.

This situation – whether cities can limit high intensity techniques including fracking for the otherwise approved land use of oil drilling – is pretty new for California law; legal and planning experts say legal questions here are murky at best.

Even backers acknowledge courts would have some role interpreting it. But La Habra Heights resident Sayre Weaver says it’s worth risking lawsuits to pass Measure A.

“Local governments who are much closer to the people have an opportunity to say, we don’t want to live this way. And that can trickle up and change the state legislature’s mind over time,” says Measure A supporter Sayre Weaver. “Maybe it will.”

La Habra Heights won’t be the last word on local control in California, no matter the outcome. Another, similar measure over oil will hit the ballot in the far-northern county of Butte next year.

 

Source: SCPR.Org

Measure A – A Solution In Search For a Problem

By: Kyle Miller (La Habra Heights Resident and City Council Member)

Friends and Neighbors, below is a guest commentary piece I wrote regarding Measure A that will be published today in the La Habra Journal & LaHabraHeights.com If you haven’t yet voted, please read and consider this prior to casting your vote on this very important issue. In addition, please consider sharing the below text or the Jpg attachment with other voters in LHH that are undecided.

I know this is an off year election but please come out to vote on March 3rd.
Thank You.

Measure A
A Solution In Search Of A Problem

Guest Commentary by Kyle Miller

On March 3rd La Habra Heights voters will be asked to consider Measure A, an initiative to end all future oil production in the city through the banning of nearly all forms of oil extraction along with the prohibition on new wells and restarting wells.

While I support the initiative process, in this case, Measure A and it’s advertising misleads voters and creates a false sense of urgency in an attempt to scare us into voting “yes” to stop practices that don’t exist in our city while creating new regulations that conflict with thoughtfully crafted existing city and state laws that already protect residents.

For example, compare some Measure A myths with the facts:

Myth: Ads for Measure A say a “yes” vote will stop “fracking” in the Heights.
Fact: There is no current or proposed “fracking” occurring in the Heights, or LA county for that matter.The City already has existing laws at the State and local level to address “fracking” should it ever be proposed in the future.

Myth: “Measure A does not stop any existing oil operations, period.”
Fact: Measure A would expressly prohibit “High Intensity Petroleum Operations” What exactly does that mean? Nobody knows because because it’s a term created by the people who wrote Measure A, so legally it throws all current oil operations into question, opening the city up to countless legal challenges it would be forced to defend.

Myth: ” Vote for Measure A to stop 18 wheeler trucking on our City streets”
Fact: Measure A does not address trucking at all. While the city’s existing transparent review process, interrupted by this initiative, is fully capable of examining trucking or any other safety concerns of a proposed project application.

Four out of five City Council members oppose this measure not because they’re in the pocket of big oil, as the authors of Measure A are trying to get all of us to believe, but because it is not needed! We have our existing laws, new state laws, the CUP process, and CEQA with the protections provided by the EIR process. In summary we have all the tools we need to protect us from the negative effects of additional oil production. We do not need this initiative which prevents the residents from hearing the facts of the proposed project and making their own decisions. Moreover the vague and ambiguous language in Measure A will trigger many extremely expensive lawsuits that our small city will not have the resources to defend and will be unlikely to recover from.

For all of these reasons I ask you to to join me, and hundreds of our neighbors, in voting NO on measure A.

Kyle Miller is a 17 year resident of La Habra Heights as well as a member of the La Habra Heights City Council for the last 2 years.

Measure A Passed in La Habra Heights: Endorsement

La Habra Heights Matrix OilLa Habra Heights gets over $300,000 in oil-drilling revenues a year for the semi-rural city’s small budget, and the affluent place relies on that Texas tea. But the city also relies on its bucolic charms and property taxes, and residents are properly worried enough about the dangers to both from hydraulic fracturing — fracking — that they have placed Measure A on the March 3 ballot to ban “high-intensity petroleum operations” in the hilltop city.

City Council members imply the measure would ban all current drilling; it wouldn’t. Oil companies say they don’t frack anyway, but are spending big to oppose the measure. We think A is a reasonable measure to keep current drilling but not allow new wells or possibly dangerous — seismically, and to our water table — fracking in the city of just 5,000 residents. We recommend a Yes vote.

The Homebuyer’s Cost of Waiting

costofwaiting-590x400When it comes time to look for a new home the first thing you do is figure out a budget so you know what price range to search in. However, it’s important that you not only look at a home’s price but also consider the long-term cost of the house.

That’s right, there can be a significant difference between the price of a home the cost of it after all is said and done.

The Difference Between Cost and Price

The price of a home is what the home is listed for. There are a lot more factors that go into the ‘cost’ of that home however. Most importantly the interest rate you secure on your mortgage loan and the home’s appreciation over time. The rate at which these two factors change over time is commonly referred to as “The Cost of Waiting”.

The longer you wait to buy, the more likely you are to pay more in interest rates and appreciation costs. Plus the sooner your buy that home the sooner the appreciation starts to stack up in your favor…

2015 Market Outlook

Freddie Mac recently released its U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for January. According to the report home price appreciation is expected to increase to a 3.5% rate annualized for 2015, a 0.5 percentage point increase over last month. These are not the large price jumps and gains of the past, simply the normal (and inevitable) appreciation of real estate over time.

According to the same report, rates are expected to rise and be at 4.8% by next year. Currently mortgage rates are at 3.76% according to our mortgage watch and the experts predict the rise in rates will come in July or September. Our agents agree and expect to see mortgage rates rise this year among other 2015 prediction and trends.

Let’s look at the comparison

Here’s a simple cost comparison of the impact of these projected changes. This is based off of a 30-year mortgage loan today vs. in the projected market in November, 2015.

Date
Mortgage
Interest Rate
Monthly Payment
Today $300,000 3.76% $1,391.05
2015 4Q $310,000 4.5% $1,570.72
Difference in Payment: $179.67

Over the entire life of your loan that’s a difference of $64,681.20. So, what are you waiting for?

Kevin Allen
First Team Estates
CHRISTIES Luxury Real Estate
714.696.8508
KevinAllen@FirstTeam.com
BRE#01953939

Black Bean, Corn & Avocado Salsa

Black Bean, Corn & Avocado Salsa

Black Bean, Corn & Avocado Salsa

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. In large bowl, whisk together salad dressing, scallions, cilantro and lime peel.
  2. Stir in beans, corn and red pepper.
  3. Add Avocado; toss gently.
  4. Season with salt, if desired.

Marquette Volleyball Adds Outside Hitter Joy Miley from Whittier Christian HS

The 6-foot-2 Miley is an impressive vertical athlete (photo: Erin Juley).

The 6-foot-2 Miley is an impressive vertical athlete (photo: Erin Juley).

MILWAUKEE – The Marquette University women’s volleyball team has addedtransfer Joy Miley from Long Beach State, the team announced Tuesday.

The 6-foot-2 outside hitter, who is able to touch as high as 10 feet, 9 inches, will arrive on campus this summer and have two years of eligibility remaining, beginning with the 2015 campaign.

“Joy brings a level of athleticism that is extremely fun to watch and she should be able to score a lot of points for us,” Marquette head coach Ryan Theis said. “We look forward to her arrival this summer and are excited about what she can bring to our team.”

As a freshman at Long Beach State in 2013, Miley played in 58 sets and registered 70 total kills (1.21 per set) for the 49ers, hitting .212 (70-34-170). In her collegiate debut, Miley racked up 12 kills and led the squad with a .348 hitting percentage against San Francisco.

Her sophomore campaign was cut short due to injury, but she helped Long Beach State to a 9-3 record to begin the season and started 11 of 12 matches. In those contests, Miley played 39 sets and tallied 84 kills (2.15 per set). The best performance of her career came against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, as Miley hit .353 with a career-best 15 kills.

Ranked No. 24 by PrepVolleyball.com during her senior year in 2012, Miley is highest-rated recruit by the website to come to Marquette since Elizabeth Koberstein, who was ranked No. 16 in 2010. She was also ranked as the sixth-best outside hitter in her class.

Miley was a first-team All-CIF selection during each of her last two seasons at Downey High School, where she led her team to consecutive league titles. The Downey, California, native started her high school career at Whittier Christian High School, where she helped her squad win two straight conference championships.

Miley joins a Golden Eagle team that finished 24-9 in 2014 and qualified for its fourth consecutive NCAA Championship.

 

Source: GoMarquette.com

La Habra Heights voters to decide on anti-oil ballot measure Tuesday

By Mike Sprague, Whittier Daily News

LA HABRA HEIGHTS >> The city Tuesday will take center stage in what has become a national battle over fracking and other oil-drilling techniques.

Voters will decide the fate of Measure A, an initiative that would ban the drilling of any new oil and gas wells, halt the reactivation of old wells and bar certain treatments to enhance oil or gas drilling, including fracking.

The measure is similar to initiatives approved in November 2014 in Mendocino and San Benito counties and rejected in Santa Barbara County.

And just like last year, the oil companies are spending lots of money — nearly $400,000 so far by their political action committee, Californians For Energy Independence, according to campaign finance reports filed with the city.

Heights Oil Watch, which gathered the signatures to place Measure A on the ballot, has spent about $28,000.

Mike Hughes, president of Heights Oil Watch, said the measure will not affect existing oil drilling in the community.

It will only ban what the initiative calls “high-intensity petroleum operations,” such as fracking, acidization and steam injection, all methods Hughes said are not being used now.

“(Measure A) will stop (oil companies) from increasing their operations,” he said. “We are stopping them from being aggressive.”

But opponents, including four of five La Habra Heights city council members, say Measure A is overly broad and could result in the city getting sued for millions of dollars.

“High-intensity oil drilling operations is a term defined in the (initiative),” said Sabrina Lockhart, spokeswoman for Californians for Energy Independence. “It’s not a term defined by state or federal regulators. The definition is so vague that it could affect existing operations.”

La Habra Heights Mayor Brian Bergman said he fears the city will get sued by oil companies for an unconstitutional taking of their property.

“It would put us in litigation with the oil companies,” said Bergman. “San Benito got sued for $1.2 billion,” Bergman said. “That’s what might be coming here.”

Hughes disagrees.

“It will not restrict in any way existing oil operations,” Hughes said. “They can continue drilling in any way they have in the past.”

As a result, Hughes said the measure won’t take away existing oil taxes — nearly $200,000 according to the 2014-15 city budget.

Both sides agree the measure will not allow Matrix Oil Co. to drill for oil on Southern California Gas Co. property.

The Matrix proposal was the impetus for the initiative, Hughes said.

“When a company comes in and wants to reactivate a well site that’s been inactive for over a decade and bring hundreds of trucks, that opened our eyes,” he said.

“This would turn us into an industrial city no different than Signal Hill,” Hughes said. “The noise I want to hear when I wake up is bird chirping, a donkey hee-hawing or horses whineying. I don’t want to hear diesel trucks driving up and down the street.”

Mike McCaskey, vice president for Matrix, said there will be only three trucks a day used to transport the oil and that the environmental impact report will propose a plan to resolve the truck traffic issue.

Bergman said the council will make a decision on Matrix based on the facts.

“It’s absolutely not a done deal,” he said. “The EIR hasn’t even been finished or gone through public hearings.”

But if the measure passes, he predicted that Matrix will sue.

“It totally eliminates anything (Matrix) can do,” Bergman said. “They can’t drill any new wells. There’s nothing wrong with it, if you’re willing to pay for (the property) but it’s a clear taking.”

Measure A proponents say oil companies also can’t sue because the city’s general plan already calls for the discontinuation of oil drilling.

“The general plan anticipated that the end of current life of (oil drilling) would be between 2015 and 2020,” said La Habra Heights resident Sayre Weaver at the last City council meeting.

Bergman said the general plan actually just provides options for when oil drilling is no longer economically feasible.

“We can’t determine when the oil is gone,” he said. “The general plan can’t determine the economic life of an oil field. The market determines the economic life.”

 

Source: Whiitier Daily News

Getting A Grip on Tax Deductions | 8 Tips for New Homeowners

Getting A Grip on Tax Deductions | 8 Tips for New Homeowners  Read more: http://www.firstteam.com/blog/getting-a-grip-on-tax-deductions-8-tips-for-new-homeowners/#ixzz3Si2PROYW

Getting A Grip on Tax Deductions | 8 Tips for New Homeowners

Taxes change drastically when you become a homeowner. Most importantly, there are a plethora of tax deductions that open up to you. In most cases, you need to itemize your taxes in order to take advantage of all the homeowner tax breaks.

This can seem overwhelming but once you get the hang of it – and your sizable tax return – it will all be worth it. If you bought a home this year or just want to learn more about what real estate costs you can deduct from your taxes, then take a look at where you can get some money back this year.

House Payment

If you took out a mortgage to finance your home, you make monthly payments. You can’t deduct all of your costs, however there are several components of your house payment that you can deduct.

  1. Property Taxes – Taxes paid to the taxing authority are deductible. Usually these are paid monthly as a part of your mortgage payments so you can find the info you need on the annual statement from your lender. Although they may not be deductible by the state, these real estate taxes can be deducted on federal returns.
  1. Home mortgage interest – This is the biggest and most common deduction that homeowners claim on their taxes. Most homeowners can deduct all of their home mortgage interest. How much you can deduct depends on when you took out your mortgage, the amount and how you use mortgage proceeds.
  1. Mortgage insurance premiums – The ability to deduct private mortgage insurance (PMI) for mortgages taken out on primary residences in 2007 or later was extended one more year for homeowners who meet income limits. Not to be mistaken with homeowners insurance, which protects you from fire and other loss, PMI is what homeowners pay monthly on mortgage loans that are high risk (think low down payment).
  1. Taxes paid at closing – If you bought a home in 2014, then all those taxes you paid at closing can be deducted from your taxes. Your share of these taxes is fully deductible if you itemize your deductions. Taxes are generally divided between the buyer and seller at closing as part of the property tax year. Your share of these taxes is fully deductible if you itemize your deductions.

Points

If you paid points to get a better mortgage rate on your home loan in 2014, there’s a tax break you can claim.

The IRS lets you deduct points in the year you paid them if the loan is to purchase or build your primary residence, paying points is an established local business practice and the points were within the common range. Also, if you refinance your home, these points are still deductible but it must be done over the life of the mortgage.

Energy-savings

If you made any eligible improvements in 2014, such as installing energy-efficient windows and doors, you may be able to take a 10% tax credit (up to $500; with some systems your cap may be lower).

However, keep in mind this is a lifetime credit. If you claim up to the $500 cap this year you won’t be able to deduct other energy efficient installations in the future.

Home office deduction

Announced last year, there is actually a “safe harbor” rule that allows taxpayers the option of taking a deduction of $5 per square foot for the part of the home dedicated to home office or business use. Taxpayers can apply this simplified method for up to 300 square feet of home office and storage space devoted to business use – which adds up to a deduction of up to $1,500 per year.

Home improvements

If you made home improvements and renovations for medical reasons, they may be tax deductible. For example if you remodeled to make your home more accommodating for a chronically ill or disabled person, and the renovations don’t add to the value of your home, the project costs are usually 100% tax deductible.

If you have more questions about available tax deductions as a homeowner or need help itemizing your taxes, don’t hesitate to contact a licensed accountant.

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