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Man Ordered to Rebuild Home

By Debbie Patella at

Man Ordered to Rebuild Home

A man who illegally demolished a San Francisco house designed by modernist architect Richard Neutra was ordered this week to rebuild it exactly as it was.

The city Planning Commission also ordered Ross Johnston to add a sidewalk plaque telling the entire saga of the house's origins in the 1930s, its demolition and replication.

At first glance, this might be perceived as a local planning commission going too far with telling a homeowner what to do with their property...but in this case, the owner tried to pull a fast one.

Johnston purchased the 1936 residence, known as the Largent House, in 2017 for $1.7 million.

Johnston had planned to remodel the 1,300-square-foot home in the Twin Peaks neighborhood and submitted his plans for the two-story house to the city, which mostly kept the first floor intact. His permit was approved.  But that is not what he did.  

Instead, he just simply demolished his home with the goal of rebuilding on the lot with a 4,000 square foot, $5 million dollar home (which the city would have never approved).  After being "caught" by his neighbors that were shocked to see the landmark house demolished, he applied for a retroactive demolition permit which was denied and instead was ordered to rebuild the house, just as it was!

What Happened to Rates Last Week?

Mortgage backed securities (FNMA 4.50 MBS) gained +19 basis points (BPS) from last Friday's close which caused fixed mortgage rates to move slightly lower compared to the previous week.

Overview:  It was a whirlwind of a week with our own Fed raising rates and the never ending speculation on what the dot-plot signals really mean, as well as the a partial government shutdown and another round of economci seemlingliless long bond market was light on volatility as it was on "pause" ahead of the Federal Reserve meeting on December 19th as there is less certainty/consensus over what the Fed will do at that meeting.  Overall, our economic data was once again solid but concern over Brexit, France and Trade Wars kept money seeking safe-harbor in U.S. based bonds.

Inflation Nation: The Fed's main inflation gauge Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) for November YOY matched expectations with a 1.8% reading which is back below the 2.0% pace in October. The Core (ex food and energy) YOY matched expectations with a 1.9% rate but that was an increase over October's pace of 1.8%. Spending was way up. Personal Spending MOM hit 0.4% vs est of 0.3%, however October was revised upward significantly from 0.6% to 0.8%. Personal Income looked flat but did see a small 0.1% gain.

Central Bank Palooza: Russia raised their rates 1/4 point, the U.S. raised their rates 1/4 point. Japan (number 3 economy), kept their main interest rate at -0.1% and Great Brittan (number 5 economy), kept their main interest rate at 0.75%.

The Talking Fed: The Federal Reserve raised their Fed Fund rate 1/4 point to the 2.25 to 2.50% range.
Here are some key highlights:
• They added the word 'some' to the `further gradual increases' clause that has been a staple in the last several statements.
• The "dot plot" chart shows 2 rate hikes next year instead of 3 the last time that they were published.
• Household Spending has continued to grow strongly
• Inflation is expected to remain near their target rate of 2.00%
• 2018 median 2.375% (range 2.125% to 2.375%); prior 2.375%
• 2019 median 2.875% (range 2.375% to 3.125%); prior 3.125%
• 2020 median 3.125% (range 2.375% to 3.625%); prior 3.375%
• 2021 median 3.125% (range 2.375% to 3.625%); prior 3.375%
• Longer run Fed funds median at 2.8% compares to previous forecast of 3.0%
• Fed sees 2019 GDP growth 2.3% vs 2.5% in prior est.
• Fed sees unemployment rate 3.5% end-2019, unch vs prior est.
• The NAIRU - the lowest level the unemployment rate can drop without sparking inflation - was cut again, from 4.5% to 4.4%. (note currently we are at 3.7%).

Government Shutdown: The House passed a Bill that included border security but that Bill did not have enough support in the Senate so we have a "partial" government shutdown as a result.

What to Watch Out For This Week:


The above are the major economic reports that will hit the market this week. They each have the ability to affect the pricing of Mortgage Backed Securities and therefore, interest rates for Government and Conventional mortgages. I will be watching these reports closely for you and let you know if there are any big surprises.

It is virtually impossible for you to keep track of what is going on with the economy and other events that can impact the housing and mortgage markets.  Just leave it to me, I monitor the live trading of Mortgage Backed Securities which are the only thing government and conventional mortgage rates are based upon.

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