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2020 may be a good time to build a granny flat – Orange County Register

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What’s up with mortgage rates? Jeff Lazerson of gives us his take.

Rate news summary

From Freddie Mac’s weekly survey: The 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.68%, unchanged from last week. The 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.14%, down 1 basis point from last week.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported a 9.2% decrease in loan application volume from the previous week.

Bottom line: Assuming a borrower gets the average 30-year fixed rate on a 2020 conforming $510,400 loan, last year’s payment was $319 higher than this week’s payment of $2,662.

What I see: Locally, well-qualified borrowers can get the following fixed-rate mortgages with 1 point: A 30-year FHA (up to $431,250 in the Inland Empire, up to $484,350 in Los Angeles and Orange counties) at 2.75%, a 15-year conventional at 2.875%, a 30-year conventional at 3.375%, a 15-year conventional high-balance ($510,401 to $765,600) at 3.125%, a 30-year conventional high-balance at 3.625%, a 15-year jumbo (over $765,600) at 3.875% and a 30-year jumbo at 4%.

What I think: Within the next few years, Californians will realize a gargantuan increase to its housing stock coupled with lower average market rent charges in many parts of the state. That’s because the backyard granny flat (accessory dwelling unit) construction-crush go-go days start Jan. 1.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

For way too long California’s compounding housing headaches have been a dearth of housing units and obscenely high rent prices for the minuscule number of available living quarters.

Throughout California, too much red tape, eye-popping government fees and painfully slow response times to building permit requests further increased project completion costs.

This piled on to the final property prices which already suffered from high land and building costs.

Compounding this shortage further was the failure of housing completions to keep up with California’s growing population demands.

This perfect storm prompted the California Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom to do something. Starting in August, the governor signed six accessory dwelling unit or ADU-related bills (three of the six were updates and changes) that will become law on Jan. 1.

There is not much red tape, said Greg Nickless, housing policy analyst at the California Housing and Community Development Department.

Local governments won’t have discretionary review powers, he said. Ordinances can’t conflict with state code. ADU’s only can be denied if water or sewer utilities are inadequate or for traffic and public safety concerns.

How about some new law fun facts?

  1. No minimum lot size.
  2. Owner won’t have to live on site.
  3. Minimum required ADU size is 150 square feet.
  4. Owners can build a third ADU measuring up to 500 square feet within the primary residence.
  5. Garages can be converted into ADU’s.
  6. Local government must review a completed application within 60 days (previously 120 days).

Does an investment in an ADU make sense?

A 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom ADU would cost around $250,000 –30% less for a manufactured or modular ADU, according to developers I interviewed. If you were to rent it for $3,185 per month (the average two-bedroom rent in Los Angeles, according to Rent Jungle), it would take about 6.5 years to recoup your cost. Not bad!

If you are going to finance the ADU, it will take longer to recoup the cost of your investment. Given current costs, assume you’d pay $1,486 a month in mortgage, property tax and insurance payments.

If you were to rent it for $2,385 per month (the average two-bedroom rent in Orange County, according to Rent Jungle), you are ahead by $899 per month.

Please consult with your financial advisors for the more granular details.

Jeff Lazerson is a mortgage broker and adjunct professor at Saddleback College. He can be reached at 949-334-2424 or


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Jeff Stearman

Jeff has experienced much success in his many years as a Realtor, consistently ranking in the Top 1% of Realtors nationally as well as the Top Agent locally. Jeff also has an MBA and Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) designation and is Certified Short Sale Specialist and Distressed Property Negotiator and Expert. Jeff has a firm grasp on today’s real estate market and is an expert in all areas of residential real estate, including: traditional sales, residential income properties, vacation properties, luxury homes, as well as distressed properties. Additionally, with his background in mortgage & financial consulting, Jeff can help you understand the numbers side of real estate and offer valuable advice on the different types of home loans and financing options that you could take advantage of. His clients say: "If you want something done, ask a busy Realtor.” The Stearman Group has successfully sold over 3,000 homes because they carefully work with their clients to create successful solutions. They strive to solve your individual housing needs-one client at a time. His team gives only the Best Personalized Service to each of their clients every single time.

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