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Short Sales Diminishing

Thursday, March 16, 2017

By Glenda Brass, MBA


A just-released report reveals underwater properties are steadily declining, with more than one million shifting status in 2016—a possible turning point in the ongoing inventory crisis.


According to ATTOM Data Solutions’ Year-End 2016 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, the amount of “seriously” underwater properties in the U.S. decreased by over one million last year, while the amount of “equity rich” properties increased by 1.3 million. Seriously underwater is defined as a property with a loan-to-value ratio of 25 percent or more of its fair market value; equity rich is defined as a property with an LTV ratio 50 percent or less.


The opposing gap between the two is a signal of the overall health of the housing market, as well as the potential for short supply to improve – even if marginally.


“Since home prices bottomed out nationwide in the first quarter of 2012, the number of seriously underwater U.S. homeowners has decreased by about 7.1 million, an average decrease of about 1.4 million each year,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions. “Meanwhile, the number of equity rich homeowners has increased by nearly 4.8 million over the past three years, a rate of about 1.6 million each year.


“Despite this upward trend over the past five years, the massive loss of home equity during the housing crisis forced many homeowners to stay in their homes longer before selling, effectively disrupting the historical domino effect of move-up buyers that feeds both demand for new homes and supply of inventory for first-time homebuyers,” Blomquist says.


Approximately 10 percent—5.4 million—of all properties with a mortgage are still seriously underwater, according to the report, marking the lowest level since 2012.


The top five states with the most seriously underwater properties in 2016 were Nevada (19.5 percent share), Illinois (16.6 percent), Ohio (16.3 percent), Missouri (14.6. percent) and Louisiana (14.5 percent). The majority of the top five metropolitan areas with the most seriously underwater properties were located in Ohio: Cleveland (21.5 percent), Akron (20.1 percent), Dayton (20.0 percent) and Toledo (19.9 percent).


The top five states with the most equity rich properties in 2016, by comparison, were Hawaii (37.8 percent), Vermont (36.9 percent), California (36.0 percent), New York (34.9 percent) and Oregon (32.0 percent). The majority of the top five metropolitan areas with the most equity rich properties were located in California: San Jose (51.6 percent), San Francisco (47.7 percent) and Los Angeles (39.2 percent).


With this substantial reversal of trend, how long will the inventory shortage last? The drop-off dynamic of shrinking underwater properties and expanding equity could indicate the answer is sooner than expected. So, buyers hang in there. It’s just a matter of time before the market shifts. Sellers if you’re looking to sell soon, you may want to take advantage of the current ‘sellers’ advantage.


Glenda Brass is a successful real estate consultant who has been in the real estate industry for almost 20 years. She is CEO/Managing Partner of Brass & Brass Enterprises, LLC, located at 2639 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood. For a free consultation on anything real estate… selling, buying, renovating, leasing, or to learn about our consumer education offerings, call Glenda at 310-345-9707 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


On Wednesday, jurors convicted fallen Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca of obstructing a federal investigation into abuses in county jails and lying to cover it up.


According to prosecutors, Baca became furious after learning about the FBIs covert scheme to investigate allegations of inmate and visitor abuse.  Jurors convicted Baca of three felonies: obstruction of justice, conspiracy and making false statements to federal investigators.


A national law enforcement figure, Baca led the sheriff’s department for 15 years until the scandal broke in 2014.


A mistrial was declared late last year when the jury deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of acquitting Baca.  At that time, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office opted to retry the case.


Ten people in all have been convicted or pleaded guilty to various charges, including obstruction of a federal investigation, civil rights violations for beating inmates and visitors in the jails, and intimating an FBI official.  


Offenders ranged from Baca’s undersheriff Paul Tanaka—now serving 5 years in prison—to lower-level deputies.  Baca maintained that he knew nothing about the conspiracy and pinned it on Tanaka.


Prosecutors say Baca saw the FBI probe as an incursion into his territory.  This is when he hatched a scheme to keep the feds from contacting potential witnesses.  When Baca learned inmate and informant Anthony Brown had a phone smuggled into the jail, Brown’s name was erased from the computer systems and he was relocated multiple times to various facilities to keep the FBI from finding him. 


Although Baca had no direct dealing in the obstruction and cover up, Tanaka and deputies involved testified their boss gave them orders and was aware of what was going on.  Email and phone records confirm a link between them and Baca.


Prosecutors tried to strike a deal with Baca last year that called for him to plead guilty to a single count of making false statements to federal investigators and spend no more than six months in prison.


But U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson said that deal was too lenient and indicated he would give Baca a harsher sentence.  That’s when Baca decided to withdraw his plea and go to trial.


Now 74, and showing early signs of Alzheimers Disease, Baca is facing time in federal prison. 



President Donald Trump’s allegations that he was wiretapped by President Barack Obama during the 2016 presidential campaign has, so far, proven false.  Since Trump tweeted this as a fact on March 4, the FBI and top Congressional officials have been scrambling to uncover evidence.


Whether real or imagined, Trump’s accusation has alarmed intelligence leaders on both sides.  However, the bipartisan consensus is that “there is no basis for that claim whatsoever.”


“We don’t have any evidence that that took place," Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said at a press conference with Rep. Adam Schiff, (D-Burbank) , the top Democrat on the panel.


Schiff, however, said the committee still wants the Justice Department to respond to their requests for information.   “We have given them until March 20. We will be asking the director if he sees any evidence that has confirmed the president’s claim.”  He added that the committee is willing to use compulsory process, but doesn’t think that will be necessary.


“President Obama wouldn’t physically go over and wire tap Trump, so you have to decide, are you going to take those tweets literally.  Looking at him and his associates…You have to ask if something was done either appropriately or inappropriately.  We want to find that out,” Nunes said.


Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham said FBI director James Comey should share what he knows with the public.  He has threatened to subpoena Comey for information about whether the agency received a federal warrant to conduct surveillance on Trump, his campaign or Trump Towers


James Comey will testify before the committee at a public hearing Monday and will be questioned about Trump's claim.


Democrats say there is nothing to share. “I don’t think there is anything behind it the except for something he (Trump) saw on TV,” one lawmaker said. Actually, the unfounded claim was first made by right-wing radio host Mark Levin shortly before Trump sent his tweet.


The Intelligence panel is conducting an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, including whether the FBI and intelligence agencies collected information into contacts between Trump associates and Russian government officials.


Lawmakers on Senate Intelligence Committees say they’re happy with the amount of information they’re getting.  


Trump refused to back down on his claims, saying “a wire tap covers a lot of different things.” 

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump was “extremely confident of his claim.” 



‘People, Not Police’

Thursday, March 16, 2017

By Veronica Mackey


A controversial decision to purchase an armored vehicle for the Inglewood Police Department and pressure to release information about a year-old police shooting, which ended in the deaths of a young couple, drew harsh reactions from residents at Tuesday’s council meeting.  


The public session ended with Mayor James Butts and council members walking out.


People packed the council chamber to express their discontent over the armored car purchase.


 “We’re not one of those cities that is overflowing in crime,” Aldene Sligh said.  “I haven’t seen anything that is happening in Inglewood that would require militarized vehicles. There’s so many other things that that money could have been used for.”


“What message does this send to the citizens?  Not of safety but a war zone,” another woman said.  “Have you gone to the public and asked if they want armored vehicles on the streets, pursuing our citizens?  Do you want the police to come across as an occupying army?  Shame on you!”


The armored car purchase led to cries for the City to release information about what happened to Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin on Feb. 21, 2016.  The couple were killed by police as they sat in a car.  They were reportedly unconscious at one point, and police say Michael had a gun in her lap.  


For the past 4 weeks, family and friends of the couple have made their presence known inside and outside Inglewood City Hall.  Black Lives Matter and Holy Faith Episcopal Church are among the organizations calling for details of the incident which involve 5 Inglewood police officers.


Investigations are currently being conducted by the Inglewood Police Department and L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.  Mayor Butts said the police investigation should be finished in about one or two weeks.  There is no timetable with regard to the District Attorney’s investigation.


Kisha Michael’s sister said her family is still waiting for answers. “I’m going to be here every Tuesday, to let you know,” she told the mayor.


“The last time I spoke, I asked for a use of force policy,” a member of Holy Faith Episcopal Church said, holding a copy in her hand.  “The policy looks like it was revised in September.  I will be reviewing both policies to see if there’s been a change.”


“This report needs to go to the public.  There are people in your community who are concerned about actions of the police.  There are people in this community who want to know.  You are required to make this information public because you were hired to serve them,” another woman said.


At times during the meeting, members of the audience shouted out while others directed their anger toward the council.  One man was heckled and called an “Uncle Tom” when he said police are the ones people call when they are in trouble.  


A member of Black Lives Matter- LA said.  “Crime has steadily gone down for the last 40 years.  It’s not because of more law enforcement; it’s been because of birth control.  There are fewer people to commit crimes.”  She called for the City to invest more money in residents and less in law enforcement.   “We need elder care and we need to do something with our children,” she said.  


The woman began chanting, “People, not police,” which the audience echoed.  Emotions ran high and the tone of the meeting turned into a rally.  At this point, Mayor Butts and council members left the council chambers without a word.  The Seargeant at Arms told everyone the meeting was adjourned.


Earlier, council members took action to approve a contract for Rosa Lowinger and Associates in the amount of $229,600, to be used for the Monumental Art Restoration of Skedans by Tony DeLap. 


Approval was also given to amend the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 budget, authorizing the use of General Fund Reserves in the amount of $50,000 for improvement of medians along Manchester Boulevard.


A $115,050 payment from the Residential Sound Insulation Department for Karabuild Development, Inc. will be reversed and charged to the General Fund as a non-departmental expense.


A public hearing was set for April 18, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. to receive input on the availability of nonprofit transportation service providers to provide paratransit services for eligible residents.  



It’s no secret that black men are skilled athletes.  While some may call it a stereotype, it is no less true.  Significant achievements of black men in sports conform to the notion that they are naturally bigger, tougher and stronger.  


But the same thing that may give black men respect on the football field is met with fear on the street.  Unfortunately, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the world views black men as physically taller, heavier and stronger (and therefore more threatening) than white men even when the facts prove otherwise.


These exaggerated perceptions lead to the conclusion that black men are generally more menacing and, therefore, more potentially harmful than other men.


Lead author John Paul Wilson, a social psychologist at Montclair State University in New Jersey, gave examples from the study, which compared black men to white men.  


In one experiment, based on headshots of college football players, participants rated black players as taller and heavier than the white ones, even though the opposite was true.  In another study where a black man and white man were of equal height and weight, respondents predicted the black man would be more harmful if they got into a fight.


By far, the most damaging data came from an experiment where participants were asked to judge whether use of force by police would be more appropriate against a black man if he acted aggressively, but was unarmed.  As suspected, force was deemed more appropriate against the black man.


This finding feeds into the mindset which justifies police shootings of unarmed black men, Wilson said.  And it provides more insight into how racist views are formed.  Racial bias against black people as physically superhuman and animalistic sets up the narrative that white people are physically inferior, therefore victims who must be protected.  


The race-based size and threat bias is deeply rooted in the psyche of most White Americans—even those who do not consider themselves to have racist views, Wilson said.


Wilson wants to bring his research to the public and form partnerships to educate and train police, which is an idea I fully support. Until a person is aware of false perceptions toward others, negative attitudes and behaviors cannot be changed.


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