Renewing Your CA Drivers License? — Take your Passport!

The next time you renew your driver’s license or state ID, you may want to consider replacing it with a new type of card called a REAL ID card. After October 1, 2020, driver’s licenses and state IDs will no longer serve as valid identification for domestic flights or for entering secure federal facilities, but a REAL ID will. This new card can also function as a driver’s license, so you won’t need two cards.

For those who don’t often fly domestic and don’t need to enter any secure facilities, a REAL ID is not necessary and the old options are still available. A standard driver’s license or ID card will still serve all its original functions, except for valid identification for domestic flights and secure facilities. REAL ID will not be the only form of identification accepted for domestic flights or entering secure facilities; a valid U.S. passport, U.S. passport card, military ID, or other federally approved identification will also serve this purpose. Children under 18 do not need to provide identification for domestic flights when travelling with someone with a federally approved form of ID.

In order to apply for a REAL ID, you will need 1) proof of identity (original or certified), 2) proof of Social Security Number, and  3) a document proving California residency. You may need to provide a name change document if your name differs from the one used on your identification documents.

More information, including a full list of federally approved forms of ID, can be found at

55+ Options: Palos Verdes

The four cities of the Palos Verdes Peninsula have two unique senior condominium communities.  Rolling Hills Villas, built circa 2008, has occasional resales.  The newest project on the hill, Sol y Mar in Rancho Palos Verdes, has sold out the first phase and is working on phase 2. If you’ve been considering a move to a 55+ community, give us a call.  We’d love to sit down with you and discuss the pros and cons of down-sizing, and buying versus leasing.  In either case, we show you what’s available to fit your needs in the south bay.

Rolling Hills Villas
901 Deep Valley Dr
Rolling Hills Estates, California 90274

Close to the “top of the hill,” Rolling Hills Villas has 40 condominium units for active seniors, 55 and older.  The association maintains a secure building, with subterranean parking, a rooftop patio lounge and bbq facilities.   Nearby are pharmacies, medical, the Post Office, library, restaurants, cafes, grocery shopping, Norris Theatre, banks & more.

Sales during the past six months totaled two units, ranging in price from $679,000 to $875,000.  At publication time, there were none available, however, that can change at any time.  If we know you’re looking, we can keep you updated on new and future listings.

Sol y Mar
5601 Crestridge Rd.
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275

In phase two of construction now, Sol y Mar, a 55+ luxury community of ultimately 60 new homes in Rancho Palos Verdes is perched atop the Palos Verdes hill. Spectacular coastal views, great weather throughout the year, an engaging lifestyle, and beautiful homes designed for quality and comfort make Sol y Mar an incomparable place to call home.  Amenities (complete or planned) include: Clubhouse, Fitness Center, Conference Room, Meeting Room, Catering Kitchen, Jacuzzi, Outdoor Patio, Fire Pit, Bocce Ball Courts, and a Dog Park.

Every two-story residence features an elevator; a one-story floor plan is also available.  Plans range from 1,550 to 2,352 square feet.  Each residence includes two bedrooms, up to three baths, a study or flex room and a two-car garage.  Prices vary considerably, based on size, floor plan, selected options, and the view.

MLS sales during the past six months totaled four units, ranging in price from $840,000 to $1,146,000.  At publication time, two units were in escrow in the $825,000-$850,000 price range.  Three units are currently available in the range between $975,000 and $1,700,000.

Mortgage Quick Facts – Federal Reserve Bank

Let’s start by clearing up a common mis-perception. The Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) doesn’t set mortgage rates. Mortgage rates are set on Wall Street. So. how does the Fed impact mortgage rates?

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is a rotating, 12 person sub-committee within the Fed. The FOMC meets eight times annually, plus as needed for emergencies. The Fed Funds Rate is set at these meetings.

The Fed Funds Rate is a primary driver for the Prime Rate, which is used to establish mortgage interest rates, among others.  What the Fed says after the FOMC meetings is often more important than the rate they set.

Investment bankers, who ‘bundle’ mortgage loans into investment-sized packages, parse these Fed statements, looking for indications of how economic inflation is viewed.  If the Fed says inflation is a concern, bankers increase interest rates to guarantee the desired return for those who purchase the bundled loans.  If the Fed says inflation is under control, bankers leave rates flat, or decrease rates, in an effort to increase business.

The last FOMC meeting was December 12-13, 2017.  At that meeting the Fed Funds Rate was increased by .25%.  Mortgage loans had already been boosted by bankers in anticipation, however, the Fed statement called for modest, if any, inflation.  As a result we saw most rates drop back down by about .125%.  The next FOMC meeting is scheduled for January 30-31.  The results of that meeting, combined with public reaction to the new tax laws should make February an exciting month for real estate.

Monthly Market Direction – December 2017

To give you the most current information, we personally chart sales activity in the LA South Bay.  This hyper-local information often involves very small numbers of sales to work with on a monthly basis.

This December 2017 chart shows the daily changes in the number of homes available in blue, and the trend line in red. The red line shows the overall direction, taking time and daily volume changes into consideration.

Given that Christmas and New Year activities take up huge amounts of time, it’s not surprising to see real estate activity decline.  Only the most serious buyers and sellers are on the market this time of year.  The final quarter of 2017 showed a typical movement in favor sellers, simply as a result of fewer homes being available for buyer competition.

We’ll be watching January closely, looking for changes resulting from the new tax laws.

Starting this year, monthly charts will be available on our blog:  Look for “Market Direction.”

Tourtiere – French Canadian Meat Pie

Serves 6 to 8 as a main course.  In some circles there is considerable dispute over whether this dish is a Tourtiere, or a pâté à la viande. Regardless of how many or what kinds of meat are used, or whether they are ground or shredded, this is a delicious choice for a winter evening.


  1. Crust:
    • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups (4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
    • 1 teaspoon salt
  2. Filling:
    • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground (or shredded) pork
    • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground (or shredded) beef
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed thyme
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed sage
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 8 medium button mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1 1/2 cups grated, peeled russet potato
    • 1 large egg yolk, beaten


  1. For crust:
    1. Cut flour, butter, and salt together until pea-size pieces of butter form.  Add 1/4 cup ice water and stir just until shaggy clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
    2. Roll out 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface into a 12″ round. Transfer to pie dish, leaving overhang. Fill with cooled meat mixture. Roll out remaining dough disk into a 10″ round. Place dough over meat filling. Fold overhang over top crust and crimp edges. Brush crust with egg yolk. Cut three 2″ slits in top crust. Chill for 1 hour.
  2. For filling:
    1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pork, beef, onion, garlic, wine, spices and herbs.  Cook, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until meat is cooked, and liquid is almost evaporated, about 5 minutes.
    2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake tourtière for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F; bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 40-50 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Swedish Meatballs

The cold weather is here and it’s time for comfort food. Whether you’re cooking a cozy dinner for two, or preparing for a neighborhood pot luck, these Swedish Meatballs will make you a star!


  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, peeled, grated or finely diced
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 4-5 slices of bread, torn or cut into pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons salt, more or less to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper


  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sour cream
  • Salt
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp of Lingonberry, red currant, raspberry or cranberry jelly, (option: serve at the side)


  1. Sauté grated onion
  2. Soak bread in milk
  3. Mix bread, onions, eggs, meat, & spices
  4. Shape meatballs
  5. Brown meatballs on all sides
  6. Stir flour into melted butter to make roux
  7. Add stock to thin roux for sauce
  8. Add meatballs to sauce
  9. Stir in sour cream and jelly