Friday, December 2, 2016

City Profile: West Sacramento on the rise!

One of the hottest communities in all of the Sacramento region right now isn’t in Sacramento at all, but in fact, the independent city of West Sacramento. Lining the “other side” of the Sacramento River, West Sac combines a rich local tradition with new development, modern housing, a business-friendly atmosphere, one of the most significant ports in the world, and exciting new places to eat, drink and listen to music. Here are some facts about West Sacramento, often affectionately called “West Sac.”

West Sacramento demographics:
West Sacramento is really creating a buzz these days as a terrific up-and-coming community in which to live, work and play. In fact, The United States Conference of Mayors named West Sacramento as the Most Livable City in America in 2014 among cities with fewer than 100,000 people.

It’s also growing fast, from 31,615 residents at the 2000 census to 48,744 at the 2010 census and now an estimated 52,721 residents. West Sac’s population density is 2,133.5 people per square mile and the median age is 33.6 years.

West Sacramento located a city in Yolo County, California. It is contiguous with the City of Sacramento, yet divided by the Sacramento River, which is also the county line.

The United States Census Bureau documents the city of West Sacramento as spanning a total area of 22.8 square miles. Of that area, 21.4 square miles are land and 1.4 square miles (6.22%) are made up of water.

Housing in West Sacramento:
As per the last census, there were approximately 18,681 housing units in West Sac with an average density of 817.7 per square mile per housing unit 59% of all housing units in Wes Sac are owner-occupied, with 41.3% inhabited by renters. Homeowner vacancy rates are low, with a 3% average vacancy, but rental vacancies stand at 7%.

West Sacramento was first incorporated in 1987, but previously consisted of three separate towns: Broderick, Bryte, and West Sacramento, which was just the area north of the port canal and south of the railroads), as well as the Southport community area.

In fact, Southport, which now makes up about half of West Sacramento’s land area, was originally just rural homesteads and small, scattered neighborhoods. But these days, Southport is one of the major new communities in West Sacramento, with new subdivisions like Bridgeway, Gateway, River Ranch, and Newport springing up during the housing boom.

Real estate and home values in West Sacramento:
The average home value in West Sacramento is now approximately $327,500, which reflects a 10.9% increase since one year ago. The median listing price is $349,450,

Many national home selling sites forecast that home values in West Sacramento will “only” increase by 5.2% over the next year, but that doesn’t take in account the prolific growth expected in West Sac, revitalization with plenty of new home projects, and boost of value because of its proximity to downtown and the new Golden One Arena.

The median price per square foot in West Sacramento is now $202, which is lower than the Sacramento average of $212.

How do individual home values in West Sacramento breakdown? In June of 2016, there were 157 home sales in West Sacramento. That follows a consistent trend over the last 5 years, with typical summer months showing 150-210 home sales, while winter months dropping to 120-170 home sales.

Between August 24 and November 23 of 2016, all residential properties in West Sacramento increased 5.7% in value, an increase of 5.7% from the previous year.

However, thanks to the boom of new home building with studios, condos and townhouses, two-bedroom and one-bedroom units grew in value 29.1% and 52.2%, respectively.

Education in West Sacramento:
West Sacramento encompasses the Washington Unified School District (referring to its original name). It has seven elementary schools but only one public high school, River City High School. However, the school system does include five alternative program schools, four charter schools including West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter, Heritage Peak Charter School, Sacramento Valley Charter School, Lighthouse Charter School, Our Lady of Grace religious-based school, and a West Sac branch of Sacramento City College.

The educational offerings in West Sac includes the Sacramento Child Signature Program, or UP4WS, a partnership with the goal of offering high quality, accessible childcare and preschool to all children 0-5 in West Sacramento, including children from poor families and those who are learning English as a second language.

Notable in the West Sacramento community:
West Sacramento is home to the Sacramento River Cats, a minor-league baseball team. The River Cats are the AA affiliate of the San Francisco Giants and play their home games in West Sac’s Raley Field, which has been named the best minor league ballpark in America. Raley Field is also home to other sporting events, concerts and gatherings.

The California Highway Patrol Academy is based in West Sacramento, as well as the CHP Museum.

When it comes to media, West Sacramento is well represented by CBS affiliate television stations KOVR and KMAX-TV. Local newspapers include The News-Ledger and the West Sacramento Sun.

The Port of West Sacramento is one of the largest on the west coast and facilitates moving agriculture out of the fertile Sacramento region, such as significant crops of rice. The port first opened in 1963 but today, about $145 million worth of cargo moves through it every year.

Business and employment in West Sacramento:
The Swedish furniture store chain IKEA opened a store near Reed Avenue in West Sacramento in March of 2006, which was followed in that Riverpoint Shopping Center by Home Depot in 2007, and then Target, Nugget Market, and Lowe's Home Improvement Center.

The corporate headquarters of popular NorCal and Central California grocery chain Raley's is located in West Sacramento, as are the offices of the California pension fund, CalSTRS.

Here are some notable and top employers in West Sacramento:

United States Postal Service
1,605 employees

State of California
1,960 employees

California State Teachers' Retirement System
1,215 employees

United Parcel Service (UPS)
1,182 employees

Xerox Healthcare
900 employees

Washington Unified School District
750 employees

Raley's/Bel Air
634 employees

Tony's Fine Foods/United Natural Foods
500 employees

391 employees

City of West Sacramento
362 employees

256 employees

Farmers' Rice Cooperative
250 employees

Famous West Sacramento residents and native sons:
Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento since 1998
Malcolm Floyd, NFL Wide Receiver
Willie JorrĂ­n, former World Boxing Council super bantamweight champion
Burney Lamar, NASCAR driver
Oleg Maskaev, former World Boxing Council heavyweight champion
Steve Sax, former LA Dodgers 2nd baseman

Look for part two of this blog coming soon with the fascinating and entertaining history of West Sac, and contact us if you're interested in real estate prices and buying in West Sacramento!

The valuable tax credits that 94% of business owners don’t know about.

Are you a small business owner? Do you have employees and pay taxes every year? If you fit that broad description then you might be missing out on some tax credits that could potentially save you thousands of dollars every year. However, a recent survey of small business owners in California revealed that 94% of them were still not familiar with these legitimate tax programs, like the Research & Development Credits (R&D), the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), and the California Competes credit and New Employment Credit (NEC) in California.

In fact, utilizing these legal and ethical write-offs and tax programs when eligible can make the difference between a healthy, consistently profitable business – or a money pit.

You’re probably thinking that you use a good CPA already. I’m sure they’re doing a fantastic job and you should keep using their services. But the fact is that this year’s tax codes span 74,608 pages – and that’s just the federal tax codes, which is 187 times longer than they were a century ago. In addition, there are new amendments, supplements and other changes ever year.

But the good news is that within that massive volume of tax codes lays some hidden gems that can save significant money for most business owners with employees.

According to Noah Carrazco of Innovative Tax Solutions in Sacramento, California, “Just about anyone with employees can see the benefits from these hiring incentives and credits, whether big or small. But for a large portion of our business owner clients, we’ve been able to generate a significant amount of tax credits, saving them money and really helping their bottom line.”

There are scores of business & individual tax credits and hiring incentives available like the Research & Development Credits (R&D), but today we’ll introduce you to one of the most prominent ones that help chiropractors, a Federal Hiring Credit called the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).

(You can see the IRS page on the WOTC here.)

The WOTC was first enacted with the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 in an effort to promote hiring among certain target demographics. The WOTC is now administered directly by the Federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Department, which maintains several WOTC Centers throughout the U.S.

The benefit? The WOTC issues a tax credit that can be used to offset an entity’s (or individual’s) Federal income tax liability, offering a dollar for dollar reduction in your tax liability with up to $9,600 of qualified credits for each employee that meets the criteria. The WOTC can be carried forward for up to 20 years and carried back for 1 year.

Let me reiterate that fact: you can still file for the WOTC on a prior year return, so it’s possible that you haven’t missed the boat if you’ve already filed your 2015 taxes (we certainly hope you have!).

There are also plenty of tax incentive programs on the state level, like the California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC), a state tax incentive available to businesses that locate, expand or remain in California. If you’re business is creating jobs, you may qualify for a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your state tax liability, which can be carried forward up to five years.

Additionally, businesses should explore the New Employment Credit (NEC) in California, which generates a 35% employment credit on qualified wages over a 5-year period for certain employees from target demographics.

There are also similar tax savings programs and credits in each state. What does it all add up to for the 6% of business owners that are taking advantage of these existing credits?

“We see a significant reduction in tax liability for our clients,” adds Carrazco, who’s firm is one of the industry leaders in tax credits, working for a spectrum of clients from Fortune 500 companies to mom-and-pop small businesses. “I don’t know why more business owners don’t take advantage of these available credits.”

That leads to a great question: why don’t more people know about these tax credits and take advantage of them?

Of course, the IRS isn’t going to spend time and money publicizing these credits themselves, effectively taking revenue out of their own pockets. Additionally, with the complexity of just the basic tax codes, it’s nearly impossible for the average CPA or tax preparer to handle compliance (tax preparation) work AND specialize in niche tax credits, like the WOTC, R&D & many others. That would be like being a family physician and a neurosurgeon at the same time. In fact, many well-established and larger tax firms do offer tax credit work, but they often outsource it to firms like Innovative Tax Solutions, working in tandem as a team to leave no stone unturned when it comes to saving their clients money.

So to be very clear, we encourage you to KEEP your current CPA or tax preparer, but use a reputable firm (you want to be careful to avoid the tax credit “consultant” firms in the industry that only pick the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to these credits, but charge more) to piggyback on their compliance work, finding and utilizing these highly specialized credits.

A good firm will work on a contingency basis, which means you only pay IF and WHEN they find you tax credits that you’re eligible for. Basically, you only pay a percentage of the dollar amount you save or get back – a no-risk proposition. If you don’t save money, you pay nothing.

But just like with any financial advice, don’t take our word for it (we’re certainly not tax experts!). Instead, do your own research and ask plenty of questions. Feel free to broach this subject with your current CPA but remember that many of them aren’t up to date on the intricacies of the federal and state hiring incentives and credits – or may not even be aware of them at all.

Just remember your good friends at The Alfano Group Real Estate Agency when you keep more of your hard-earned money at tax time – and invest in real estate!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Lake: Your 2017 Lake Tahoe Real Estate Report

How is the real estate market in Lake Tahoe? That question defies a simple answer probably more than any area of the country, thanks to many contributing factors such as South Shore or North Shore, California or Nevada, condo or single family home, lakeshore or non-lakeshore, etc.

Luckily, we have plenty of data about the various micro-markets in Lake Tahoe, from which we can extrapolate an accurate picture of home sales in one of the nicest places on earth.  

What stands out? Which homes are selling fastest? Should you buy a condo or a home? What’s the real value to buying lakefront? Is the luxury market softening in and around Lake Tahoe? In what areas have prices dropped so we’re seeing great investment opportunities?

You’ll find all of the answers here, but you can contact us if you’d like a summary or our interpretation.

This data is based on the most recent findings of Sotheby’s International real estate report and encapsulates 2016 through Q3, as well as comparisons to the same conditions one year ago.

If you have any questions about buying or selling in Lake Tahoe – or would like to see more data on other micro-markets like Reno, Incline Village, Tahoe Keys, etc., please contact us anytime.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Kanye West walks out on Sacramento, but let's go backstage with the big-earning concert industry.

Last Saturday marked iconic and controversial rapper Kanye West’s first performance at the new Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. So how did it go? 

You've probably heard by now that he came out an hour and a half late, played three songs, brought out Kid Cudi, went on a nearly-nonsensical rant that has Snoop Dog even scratching his head, and then left the stage. 

When the lights came on, leaving thousands of concertgoers angry and bewildered, it ignited a firestorm of backlash against West, who also canceled a subsequent show in Inglewood and then the rest of his tour.

But it also raises the question: just how much do top music artists like West earn for one show?

Here are some estimates from 2015’s top-grossing live rap acts:

Kendrick Lamar: $125k+
50 Cent: $150k+
Nicki Minaj: $250k+
Lil Wayne: $300k+
Drake: $350k-$600k
Macklemore: $350k-$700k
Kanye West: $500k+
Jay Z: $1,000,000+

But those artists’ paychecks are dwarfed by BeyoncĂ©, who reportedly earned up to $4 million per performance for her On the Run tour.

These numbers are based on 2015’s concert stats, so a lot can change in one year as some artists become more popular and command even larger fees, while others drop out of favor.

Just how much did Kanye West get paid?

While it hasn’t been publicized how much Kanye received for his performance at Sacramento’s Golden One Center, if we assume he earned at least his standard $500,000 per show fee, that means:

3 songs/$500,000 = $166,667 per song

Or 30 minutes (of singing and ranting)/$500,000 = $16,667 per minute

The good news is that for the 15,000 Sacramento fans that had their time wasted by Kanye, StubHub is reportedly going to refund the cost of tickets.

But Kanye’s now famous lack-of-performance at the Golden One Center highlights the financial aspect of concerts and live music. So just how much money are we talking about?

Backstage with the financial details of the concert industry:

The live music and entertainment industry reportedly generates $25 billion a year in ticket sales.

2016 has been a banner year for live music and concerts, with 5.1% annual growth compared to the same time in 2015. That comes at a time when record sales have dipped significantly (in large part due to the digitalization of music and availability online).

The top 100 tours from the North American concert business alone raked in $3.12 billion in 2015, which is a major 14% increase from 2014.

That means we bought 42.08 million tickets to the top 100 live shows and concerts in North America that year, up 10% from the previous year and setting a new record.

The global concert business was also booming in 2015, with the top 100 tours grossing $4.71 billion, up 11% from 2014.

Global ticket sales for the top 100 tours were up 16% in 2015, with 59.78 million ticket sales The total tickets sold worldwide by the Top 100 was up that same 16% to 59.78 million sales.

Those numbers may be huge but they’re still shy of the record $5 billion profit and 63.34 million tickets sold in 2013.

The Concert and Event Promotion industry includes concerts but also dance performances, circuses, talent acts like the Blue Man Group, and even sporting events. But live music in concert still accounts for 58.55% of total industry revenue.

Kanye West not withstanding, every year, live music and concerts employ an estimated 221,795 workers and staff.

The most comprehensive data on the live music industry comes from Pollstar, which issued its annual state of the live music industry report in mid-2016.

According to that Pollstar report, the top 50 tours in the world had already earned just under $2 billion mid-2016, with six months to go.

That’s up 14% from the top 50 tour earnings at the same mid-point in 2015.

In that same six-month period to start 2016, those 50 world tours sold 22.6 million tickets sold, a 13.5% increase from 2015.

When we look at just North America’s concert earning figures, the top 100 tours generated $1.48 billion in the first part of 2016, up 3% from the same period in 2015.

The average concert now generates $32,000, which is a 5.4% increase from 2015. That number seems notably low, but remember that there are thousands of music artists and bands playing live shows and touring, and not everyone earns top dollar like Kanye West.

Ticket prices

Adjusted to real dollars, the average concert ticket price between 2011 and 2013 was $78. But that jumped to $82.07 in 2014. (If that sounds like an insignificant increase, multiply that by millions of ticket sales!)

However, following a well-planned trend in the live music industry, ticket prices are actually on the decline again in 2016. In fact, the average ticket price dropped by declined by 4% to $78.77.

The top grossing music acts:

Between 2000 and 2015, the top grossing music act was the Irish rock band US. They went on world tours in 2001, 2009, and 2011, and their 2011 tour was the highest grossing North American tour ever, generating $156 million.

Taylor Swift was a huge hit in 2015 with her massive world tour, bringing in more than $250 million in ticket sales and playing in front of 2.3 million fans.

$199.4 million of that was from concerts in North America alone, eclipsing the previous record of $162 set by the Rolling Stones on their epic 2005 tour.

But the band One Direction was the top global attraction last year, selling an industry-leading 2,364,390 tickets, but grossing “only” $210.2 million (just shy of Swift’s purse.)

In 2015, AC/DC’s word tour brought in $180 million, the biggest payday that band has ever seen.

Other top ticket sellers included:

Ed Sheehan 1.578 million tickets
Foo Fighters 1.365 million tickets
Kenny Chesney 1.363 million tickets
Luke Bryan 1.23 million tickets
Maroon Five  875,000 tickets
Ariana Grande  790,000 tickets
Dave Matthews Band 760,000 tickets


Look for part two of this blog where we cover more of the secret finacial reality of the worlds top music artists!