Saturday, December 18, 2010

Yorba Linda Strip Mall Sells for High Value

A small Yorba Linda shopping center has sold for $720 per square foot — the high price by this measure in Southern California this year.

Town Center Plaza, a 5,789-square-foot shopping center at 18503 Yorba Linda Boulevard, was sold by Festival Companies to Tony Nam for $4.17 million. The center, full leased, has tenants including Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, GameStop, Panda Express and AT&T.

Jeremy McChesney at Hanley Investment Group that represented the seller said: “Due to the property’s excellent location, tenancy, and surrounding demographics, we received a great deal of interest and multiple all-cash offers. The sale of this property at $720 per square foot in today’s market is a testimony to the fact that well-situated strip shopping centers in Orange County are in high demand.”

Information Provided By The Orange County Register


Thursday, December 9, 2010

'Smart Money' Betting on Gold and Housing

After hitting a record $1416 per ounce on Monday, gold has taken a bit of a drubbing. On Wednesday, gold traded as low as $1372 before settling down nearly $26 to $1383.

Still, gold has been a great bet for the past 1-, 3-, 5- and 10-year periods...and almost everything in between. Gold's stellar performance has attracted interest from some of the most successful hedge fund managers, including John Paulson, whose firm counts AngloGold, Kinross Gold and the SPDR Gold ETF (GLD) among its top 15 equity holdings.

"A lot of people who bet against housing and did very well have shifted over to gold," says Wall Street Journal staff reporter Greg Zuckerman, who chronicled Paulson's bet against the housing market in The Greatest Trade Ever.

In addition to Paulson, whose gold fund was up 33.6% this year as of November 30, according to Reuters, Greenlight's David Einhorn and Passport Capital's John Burbank are also notable gold bulls.

As was the case with housing, none of these hedge fund managers have traditionally been gold investors, but they've quickly educated themselves. And Zuckerman notes Einhorn and Burbank are holding and storing the metal itself vs. betting on gold equities or ETFs.

"They don't actually think gold is going through the roof because inflation is right around the bend next week...but they're worried down the road," Zuckerman says. "We've flooded the system with money...and the only way to protect yourself is through gold."

Among the recent crop of hedge fund stars, Pershing Square Capital's Bill Ackman is notably absent from the parade of gold bulls. But he and Paulson do share a bullishness on another asset class: Housing.

Paulson, who recently bought a two-bedroom condo in NYC for a reported $2.85 million, has been quoted saying: "If you don't own a home buy one. If you own one home, buy another one, and if you own two homes buy a third."

Ackman, meanwhile, recently gave a presentation entitled "How to Make a Fortune," which lays out his bullish case on housing, as shown here.

Betting on gold and housing in tandem makes sense if you think the dollar is going lower and inflation is going to rise, as "hard assets" do well in that environment. Of course, if the dollar collapses, as many gold bugs like Peter Schiff predict, that won't be good for the economy or the housing market.

Notably, Ackman's bet on housing is predicated at least in part on his generally bullish outlook for the economy and America, which may explain why he's not jumping on the gold bandwagon.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Easy Holiday Decorating Tips

Some of us love the holidays so much, we get a little too excited about them. We sprinkle our homes with so many red, green, blue and white trinkets that it can eventually become a mish-mash of holiday kitsch. Not to worry, there are classy, yet festive decoration tips you can employ without making it look like the holiday season hit your home like a glittery, tacky tornado. I’ll even throw in a quick gift idea and tricks to decorate your small space, too.

Don’t over-decorate your tree. Before you use EVERY ornament you own to dress your tree, remember how much stuff is really going up there. Sometimes, less is more and this theory also applies to Christmas trees. Once you have lights and garland in place, the tree already has a lot going on. Try to give your eyes a break, too many competing colors and textures can be visually overpowering. Here’s the trick: step back every so often as you dress the tree to get a good feel of how the ornaments are balanced. If you’re thinking you’ve decorated enough, you probably have! Step away from the tree.

Are you tired of the traditional poinsettias – or other red flower – used to ring in the holidays? Fresh poinsettias are also poisonous, so it could be a bad idea for pet owners. As lovely as they are, fresh flowers also don’t last very long.
You can still class up your home with red décor, but this time, replace a vase of flowers with cranberry or pomegranate branches (or just red berry stems). They give the room a punch of color and cheer, but in a refreshing way. These can be found at Pier 1 Imports, Michaels, or Target. Just drop a bunch-full of stems into an empty vase, and you’re ready for the season – and they’ll last that long, too.

If you live close to the coast here in Orange County, don’t think it’s cliché to use some beach-themed holiday décor – just make sure you do it right. There’s a way to slip some coastal culture into your holiday themes without making it tacky. After all, we live pretty darn close to the ocean, so why shouldn’t we?
Star fish can blend exceptionally well with red holiday décor – use a few to accent a table setting or opt for ornaments. There are plenty of seashell ornaments out there, the more natural in color and appearance, the classier. Adding little hints of the beach into your holiday motif can personalize your home. Tuvalu in Laguna Beach, a coastal home furnishings and accessories store, has oodles of beautiful shell and beach themed ornaments.

Please don’t forfeit decorating for the holidays because your place “is just too small.” That’s a bad excuse.
When it comes to your Christmas tree, opt for a tall, slender one. You’ll still get the most out of the tree with space to decorate its branches if you select a tall tree, as opposed to a small, squatty tree. Make space by moving an end table or floor lamp elsewhere. You can deal with an ill-placed piece of furniture long enough to enjoy some holiday spirit.
If you live in a small apartment, simply switch out some of your current décor with holiday colors. Use the berries- in-a-vase style idea mentioned earlier, throw some red and gold accented pillows on your couch and place some colored glass ornaments in a bowl on your coffee table.

Do you have a couple holiday parties to attend? Sometimes it is hard to pick something nice, yet affordable to present the host with. Wine carafes or decanters can be lovely and relatively inexpensive if you look in the right places (yes, Target and Pier 1 Imports). It’s not only a nice gift for the host or a friend, but chances are you’ll be drinking wine this season and your gift is the perfect device to open up that red varietal.

Information Provided By The Orange County Register


Friday, December 3, 2010

Have Mortgage Rates Hit Bottom?

Home loan interest rates inched back upwards, rising from record lows across the board for the first time in eight months, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey.

The average interest rate for fixed-rate loans and for the five-year adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) have risen for a third straight week, the government-sponsored mortgage agency reported. The one-year ARM also was up from its historic low hit last week.

So have mortgage rates bottomed out? And more to the point, have you missed your shot a getting a historically low rate if you haven’t already refinanced your mortgage?

“Not necessarily,” said Larry Barrick, sales manager for imortgage in Anaheim. “They have not necessarily bottomed out.”

According to the survey, average rates this week were:

* Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgage: 4.46% with 0.8 of a point (equivalent to 0.8% of the loan amount) paid at the start of the loan. That’s up for a third straight week, but still 0.75% below this year’s high in April. For someone borrowing $200,000 at this week’s rates, monthly payments are nearly $91 below the 2010 high. But the all-time low in records dating back to 1971 was 4.17%, so today’s borrower will pay $34 a month more than someone who closed a $200,000 loan a month ago.
* Fifteen-year fixed rate mortgage: 3.81% with 0.7 of a point paid up front. That’s up from the all-time low of 3.57% hit on Nov. 11 in records dating back to 1991. For someone borrowing $200,000 at this rate, monthly payments are up $24 from the record low, but down $72 from April’s high.
* Five-year ARM: 3.49% with 0.6 of a point paid up, front. That’s up from the all-time low of 3.25% set three weeks ago in records dating back to 2005.
* One-year ARM: 3.25% with 0.6 of a point paid up front. That’s up from the all-time low of 3.23% set last week in records dating back to 1984.

Interest charged for the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate loan began a six-month slide starting in June, hitting record lows 13 times before turning around last month. Mortgage rates began to fall as investors sought the security of U.S. Treasury bonds, which influence mortgage rates.

Barrick said it’s not too late for homeowners to refinance their loans, but warned that they shouldn’t wait to long to get the process started.

“Mortgage rates are quick to go up, but very slow to come back down,” he said.

Information Provided By The Orange County Register