Also: $310 million in 'stimulus' available for affordable housingConstruction of Sonoma State University's newest campus housing facility, Tuscany Village, continues on schedule with a planned August opening date.

Tuscany Village consists of eight, two-story townhome clusters with a community building in the center of the 12-acre site on the southeast corner of the campus. Each of the 1,500-square-foot townhomes has four bedrooms (two singles and two doubles), four baths, a kitchen with breakfast bar, dining and living rooms. The townhomes are furnished and have radiant floor heating, wireless and direct wire Internet connections, cable television and local phone service.

With the addition of Tuscany's 700 beds, the university will be able to accommodate 3,200 students living on the campus, nearly 40 percent of the student population.

The $46 million project was funded by the sale of California State University Systemwide Revenue Bonds with the rental income paid by students paying for the mortgage and operating costs.

Wright Contracting of Santa Rosa is the general contractor.


California Treasurer Bill Lockyer announced that more than $310 million in federal stimulus money is available to revive 31 "shovel-ready" affordable housing projects throughout the state. It is hoped that this will create more than 5,000 jobs and 2,015 rental units for low-income families and individuals.

"Getting these funds out the door is vital to repairing California's economy," said Mr. Lockyer. "By reviving these projects, we'll create needed affordable housing for working Californians and their families, and we'll help put people back to work."

The California Tax Credit Allocation Committee approved the cash awards in exchange for previously awarded and unused tax-credits. Tax credits can be used for construction or rehabilitation of low-income housing. Developers use the credits to attract investment capital to help finance their projects.


The hotly debated Home Value Code of Conduct, which went into effect May 1 as an attempt by the government to avoid collusion, has left appraisers with fewer jobs and half the pay.

The code says any land appraiser must be licensed in the state in which the property is being appraised. While nobody has a problem with this part of the code, it goes on to say, "No employee, director, officer or agent of the lender, or any other third party acting as joint venture partner, independent contractor, appraisal company, appraisal management company or partner on behalf of the lender, shall influence or attempt to influence the development, reporting, result or review of an appraisal through coercion, extortion, collusion, compensation, inducement, intimidation, bribery or in any other manner."

The law limits the ability for a loan agent to request an appraisal. It requires that the lender be the one to get the appraisal and to dissuade a loan agent from requesting a specific amount come out of the appraisal.

It also requires appraisers to be contracted through appraiser pools, large groups of appraisers who are randomly chosen for jobs through management companies.

This means when an appraiser is hired for a job, he or she may or may not have any previous knowledge of the area, making comps difficult.

"It is just as bad as I thought it was going to be," said Wendy Lanoil, an independent appraiser in Santa Rosa.

Ms. Lanoil joined several management companies and got a few calls here and there, but where she once was doing 15 appraisals in a two-week period, she now feels lucky if she has four.

And, she said, "The fees are cut in half."

The 15-year industry veteran has been forced to look for other work.

A bill, HR 3044, has been introduced  requesting an 18-month moratorium on the Home Valuation Code of Conduct so appraisers can work while the wrinkles are ironed out in the code.


Frank Howard Allen Realtors, The Wine Country Group and Professional Rental Organization Inc. have announced the formation of a strategic business alliance agreement as of July 1.

The new alliance will refer property management and rental business to PRO, and PRO will refer clients seeking to sell or acquire real property to Frank Howard Allen.

Frank Howard Allen, The Wine Country Group, has six offices located throughout Wine Country.  The firm has more than 110 active agents and averages more than 700 transaction sides per year.

Frank Howard Allen Realtors is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding next year.  PRO has a similar geographic range as Frank Howard Allen with clients extending throughout Napa and Sonoma counties.  PRO currently manages more than 300 properties for 125 different clients and has been established since 1984.

Gerrett Snedaker, CEO and broker of Frank Howard Allen Realtors, The Wine Country Group, said:  "PRO is one of the most experienced and respected property management firms in the area.  We are pleased to have a strong mutual working relationship established with them.  They have a great reputation for providing excellent management services.  We expect both firms to benefit from this alliance."


In the California Association of Realtors "2009 Survey of California Home Buyers," 68 percent of buyers said price decreases motivated them to buy a home, while 39 percent reported low interest rates helped them move to a better location. Twenty-three percent claimed the likelihood that rates will move up as the motivating factor.

"After back-to-back years of sharp declines, home sales in California rebounded in 2008 and early 2009," said C.A.R. President James Liptak. "The increase reflected the combination of favorable prices, low mortgage rates and home buyer tax credits, fueled primarily by sales of distressed properties that accounted for more than half of the state's transactions."

First-time buyers rose to 38 percent in 2009, compared with 19 percent in 2008.

Forty-nine percent of all buyers purchased a home through a traditional market sale.

Eighty-eight percent of traditional market sales were financed through fixed-rate mortgages.

Submit items for this column to Jenna V. Loceff at jloceff@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4259 or fax 707-521-5292.