It’s still a bear market, I don’t care what the financial media says.
Bear markets take time. They don’t slice stock prices in half in just a few days.
The recent crash was the fastest crash from all time highs, ever. Think about that – all the other big, famous crashes took LONGER than this crash is taking.
A few facts to keep in mind about bear markets:
They usually last 1-2 years.
The market doesn’t go down in a straight line. There are LOTS of bear market rallies on the way down.
The biggest single day gains historically have occurred during bear markets, not bull markets.
Bear market rallies tend to be sharp and painful for anyone who bought puts.
Bear market rallies can last for months at a time.
The Fed is indeed distorting the market, but if foreign markets and currencies suddenly and expectedly become more attractive than the US, the Fed will not be able to stop the flow of money out of the market.
The bottom is usually in once the market is crashing lower on days with low volume. That represents capitulation by the bulls. We haven’t seen that yet.
The best play here is NOT to buy puts; it’s to stay in cash, and dollar-cost-average into the market over a 1 year timeframe once SPX hits 1900 (its 15-year inflation-adjusted moving average, which it touches once or twice every 20 years or so).
It’s not necessarily a bunch of buy-the-dippers. All it requires is more bids than asks. With so many people having their 401k etc. on auto-invest, Life Cycle Funds and so on, there is built-in continuous arrivals on the buy side. And with everyone “knowing” that passive indexing is the only way to go, the bids will be distributed numerically according to current marketplace cap, accumulating numeric drift and dispersion (the big get bigger). People can try to fade this dynamic (“value”) but they will have to be very, very patient.
LOS ANGELES, CA – With such a high demand for homes in Los Angeles residents want to know how much their property is worth. Here are 8 tools that will help you determine your properties worth with ease, says, Local Records Office.
When it comes time to sell your house, you have one burning question: What is my home worth?
In recent years, a proliferation of online resources has emerged to provide you with an answer before you ever consult a human. But while consumers have access to more information than they could have dreamed of a decade ago, that doesn’t mean you can expect a computer to deliver the final word on your home’s value – though it can give you some helpful hints.
“I don’t believe there are any accurate instant numbers,” says David Eraker, CEO and co-founder of Surefield, a new brokerage in Seattle that has a free Pricepoint tool that provides estimates of home values, so far just in Washington state. “I think the first thing you should do is take it with a grain of salt. You could probably talk to three or four different real estate agents, and they would probably give you different numbers as well.”
The variation in the data is a good reminder that any estimate of home value, whether provided by a human or a computer, is just that – an estimate. Computers and humans may disagree, for example, about which recently sold homes are truly comparable. Plus, when it comes time to do the deal, the negotiation skills of buyers and sellers (or their agents) may come into play.
Estimates Are Just That, Estimates
“Opinions of value, there are a lot of them,” says Stan Humphries, chief analytics officer for Zillow, which pioneered the practice of estimating and publishing home values in 2017 with the “Zestimate.” “If you were to sell the same house 100 different times with different buyers and sellers, it would close at a different price.”
That means if you are looking at estimates for your home’s value, you have to consider what kind of data went into that estimate. If your home is unique compared to others in the neighborhood, for example, the choice of “comps,” or comparable homes, would be a challenge to find. Your estimate may also be less accurate than if you live in a neighborhood where all the homes are similar. If there have been lots of recent home sales in your area, there is going to be more data to work with than if there are fewer sales, and therefore you’ll get a more accurate estimate.
“The more the house is an outlier, the more difficult it is for anyone to price it, whether it’s a human or a computer,” says Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, which has launched its own automated estimate tool. “The hardest things we had to deal with was which homes are comparable and which aren’t.”
Different Tools Just Different Data
All the online tools take advantage of publicly available data, which they then run through computer models to derive estimates of value. Exactly which data is used is proprietary, as are the formulas used to crunch it, but among the data sources are public records and the multiple listing services used by real estate agents. Exactly what data is available also affects the accuracy of the estimate, and that amount of data varies by municipality and sometimes by home.
To get a value using an AVM, you feed a lot of data into a computer, which crunches the numbers according to directions (or models) you give it and arrives at a home value estimate. Different companies use different data in different ways, which accounts for some of the variations in online home values. Obviously, the accuracy of the data itself affects the outcome. There are also factors a computer can’t see, such as whether your kitchen has ugly wallpaper.
“The thing about homes is they’re not commodities,” says Nela Richardson, chief economist for Redfin. “Every home is different.” Plus, there is the factor of the unknown. “We don’t always know if there’s a big hole in the floor or if someone spilled red nail polish on the bathroom floor,” she says.
Zillow allows consumers who register for a free account to correct or add data about their homes, and the company’s Price This Home tool lets consumers receive a private estimate in which they control which comps are used. Surefield also has tools that allow homeowners and homebuyers to refine estimates based on their knowledge of the neighborhood and the listed comps. Redfin shows the comps and public records data about the home that was used, and you can email if you believe the information is inaccurate.
Estimates Aren’t Just the Big Number
Zillow covers about 100 million homes in 450 markets. Humphries says the national margin of error for home values is 7.9 percent, but the rate varies by location. That’s partly because the type and accuracy of data vary, but also because home values are easier to estimate in an area with more sales and in areas with a larger volume of homes. “You’re dealing with less data than you’d like to have,” Humphries says of some areas. Parts of New York state, for example, don’t list square footage in public records.
He points out that real estate agents doing comparative market analysis have an error rate of 5.5 to 6 percent, and it’s rare that a home sells for the exact asking price. “No one’s error rate is zero. They’re all opinions of value,” Humphries says.
Glenn says Redfin’s estimates have a median error rate of 1.96 percent for homes on the market and 6.23 percent for homes not on the market, but the service so far covers only about 40 million homes in 35 major metro areas, which are often easier to value than homes in less dense areas.
We also found some calculators that provide estimates at several bank sites, with information drawn from databases used by appraisers. ForSaleByOwner.com has its own tool, called Pricing Scout.
The representatives of all the companies stress that their numbers are merely estimates, based on the available data, plus a number of assumptions about comparable sales. While all the services throw out a number for the home’s estimated value, most provide a range of values, which sometimes gets overlooked by consumers who focus on the number in big type.
While the various online AVM services spit out a single number that is an estimate of the value of your home, Richardson and Humphries point out that the number comes with a few caveats. Zillow provides a range of values for an estimated sales price, as well as publishing the error rate for a given municipality. Redfin shows you the comps it used to reach its final number.
For example, two-bedroom, two-bathroom home in suburban Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a Zestimate of $153,306 also notes that the home is likely to sell for between $146,000 and $161,000. Homes like it in the area have sold for $138,000 to $163,000, Zillow reports. The median error rate in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area is 8.7 percent, with 31.8 percent of homes sold at a price within 5 percent of the Zestimate, 55.3 percent within 10 percent and 79.8 percent within 20 percent.
If we take Zillow up on its option to remove three of 10 comparable home sales because of location and up to another three because of the condition, the estimated value rises to $161,211. Zillow also offers users an option to correct facts about their homes, including the size, type of heating or cooling system and the number of bedrooms and baths.
“There are some things that aren’t explicitly in the data that our models aren’t able to discern,” Humphries says. “A lot of consumers don’t focus on that value range, and they should. The wider that range is, the less certain we are. … From day one, we’ve said these are all opinions.”
Not all services use the same “facts”
One reason the companies arrive at different estimates is that they aren’t all using the same facts. With our house above, Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com calculated the home’s value based on a size of 1,155 square feet, the number from the tax assessor’s records. But Trulia used 972 square feet, which is the size of the house without the garage. (Trulia does not provide an automated estimate unless you agree to be contacted by a real estate agent.)
While garages and unfinished basements usually aren’t included as part of a home’s square footage, Florida tax officials and real estate agents traditionally include half the square footage of the garage when they compute the taxable value, and that is the number that usually appears in the MLS.
Redfin, using the same home facts as Zillow did, estimated the home’s value at $163,001. Redfin showed the comparable sales upon which it based its value, making it possible for someone who knows the home to realize the comps were substantially remodeled while the subject home was not.
Realtor.com estimated the home’s value much lower at $142,689, but there are no details about how the tool arrived at that figure.
Economists who work with the data remind consumers that the estimates are just that, estimates and that the actual sales price is likely to depend upon many factors, including the condition of the home, the motivation of buyer and seller, and the supply and demand at the time the home is offered for sale.
“This is the starting point of a conversation that you’re going to have with your family and your real estate agent,” Richardson says. “It’s not just this black box that gives you a number. It’s important to note that this is not a be-all, end-all. It’s just the beginning of a complicated process.”
“We think of our estimate as the beginning of a conversation, not the end,” Kelman says. “Many times the asking price of a home is the result of a fairly tense conversation between the owner of the home and the agent who is trying to sell it.”
8 Online Home Value Estimating Tools
Here are seven online tools you can use to help you estimate the value of your home:
Zillow: This is the pioneer of the home value estimating tool, and the company continues to refine how it arrives at its Zestimates.
Redfin: This new tool shows you photos and listing information for the exact comps used to arrive at the value of your home.
ForSaleByOwner.com : This site’s Pricing Scout tool gives you the average of regression analysis and comparative market analysis to estimate the worth of your home. It also shows recent sales of comparable properties on a map. You have to register to use it.
Chase: This tool allows you to change the information about the house to arrive at a more precise estimate, plus provides information on recently sold homes and neighborhood trends. You can also use it to estimate the value of improvements you’re considering.
Bank of America: This tool shows comparable neighboring sales on a map. It provides only a range of values, not a single number.
Surefield: This site lets you narrow or widen the range of comparable homes, plus exclude specific comps from the list.
Eppraisal.com: This site uses data from public records and lists homes sold recently nearby.
Putting the Tools to the Test
We tested homes we know in South Florida, Los Angeles and Kansas City, Missouri, plus a random home in Seattle, using the available home value estimators. Not all the online tools had the same data for the same home.
These Were Our Results:
A two-bedroom, one bath home in a trendy historic urban neighborhood in Miami where homes vary considerably in size, age, and condition.
com : $459,750
Bank of America: $434,000 to $486,000
A two-bedroom, two-bath home in a 1970s tract home neighborhood in suburban Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Bank of America: $433,800 to $460,200
A two-bedroom, one-bath home in a trendy neighborhood of 1930s bungalows in Los Angeles:
Bank of America: $709,300 to $1,020,700
com : $765,500
A five-bedroom, three-bath home with a water view in Seattle:
Bank of America: $823,400 to $966,600
com : $778,500
A one-bedroom, one-bath house on a double lot in Kansas City, Missouri, where the houses vary in size and condition:
com : $222,750
Bank of America: $96,700 to $217,300
Redfin: Not available
Why the Online Value of Your Home Could be Wrong
Here are six reasons the automated valuation of your home could be off:
The facts in the public record or the MLS are wrong. With our Fort Lauderdale home above, the companies all took the square footage of the Fort Lauderdale home from the public record, but they didn’t all use the same figure. A difference in the number of bedrooms or bathrooms might create an even larger variation in valuation. “If there’s a discrepancy … it’s usually because the facts themselves are not up to date,” Humphries says. Homeowners can claim their homes and correct facts on Zillow.
Your home is not like others in your neighborhood. Whether a real estate agent, an appraiser or a computer is evaluating your home, it’s harder to arrive at an accurate value if there are no comparable homes. “Houses that are very unusual are harder to value, not surprisingly than homes that are not,” Humphries says. “The Playboy Mansion and the White House are very difficult to value.” Homes that are different from others in the neighborhood or have unique features are harder to value because there are fewer or no comparable properties with which to compare them.
Few homes in your neighborhood have sold in the last six months. The more homes that sell, the more MLS data and the more sale prices the computers have to calculate the value. With few sales, there is less information to draw from.
Your home has not been on the market in recent decades. There is significantly more information about a home in an MLS listing than there is in the tax records. Once a home has been listed, the services add that data. As homes are sold, the models can adjust for whether the home sold for more or less than asking price or the AVM price.
Public records in your jurisdiction omit key information. The nation’s approximately 3,100 counties don’t all record the same information about homes. In Suffolk County, New York, for example, few records include the home’s square footage, Humphries says. “There is a wide variance in the quality of the data we obtain,” Humphries says. “Without square footage, it becomes very challenging to value the home.”
The market is changing rapidly. Home valuations are based on past sales. If the market is significantly hotter or colder than it was six months ago, those past sales are less an indicator of current values.
LOS ANGELES, CA – Southern California has been a booming state ever since the early 1900’s so it’s not a surprise that people want to live here, says, Local Records Office. Los Angeles along with San Francisco has been the two major cities that attract homeowners and tourists.
As you schlep your ski gear to your favorite resort for the umpteenth time or search for lodging near your favorite beach on a holiday weekend, you may think how much easier life would be if you had your own vacation home.
An estimated 1.13 million vacation homes were sold in the U.S. in 2017, the highest number since the National Association of Realtors began collecting the data in 2012. And vacation home sales made up 21 percent of residential transactions in 2017.
While owning a vacation home can make logistical and financial sense, it’s not a decision to be entered into lightly.
“For some people, it’s not a matter of dollars and cents,” says Marian Schaffer, president and founder of SoutheastDiscovery.com, which publishes information on retirement and vacation home communities in the Southeast. “It’s a matter of experience.”
For most people, money will play a big role in the decision. Baby boomers who have sold their family homes for cash may choose to invest some of that cash in a winter home in a warm climate or other future retirement destination, says Valerie Dolenga, a spokeswoman for Del Webb, which builds active-adult communities throughout the United States. In those cases, homeowners don’t rent out their properties but move from one home to another, perhaps spending winters in a second home in Florida or Arizona and summers up North near family.
Others may buy a vacation home with the idea of renting it out when they’re not using it to defray at least some of the costs. Some may only be able to afford a vacation home if they rent it out when they’re not using it.
Rob Stephens and his family bought a three-bedroom condo in Vail, Colorado, in 1999 with rental income in mind. “Having a getaway place in the mountains was a motivator,” Stephens says. “When I started, I really needed that rent to make my mortgage payment.”
“To us, owning real estate in Vail long-term is a good investment,” says Stephens, general manager of Avalara MyLodgeTax, which helps owners comply with local lodging tax laws.
If you want the rental income, it’s important to choose a home that can be rented at the frequency you need to cover expenses. That means both choosing a community that allows vacation rentals and then making sure you’re set up to take advantage of the rental potential, from furnishing the unit to having a plan for advertising and handling tenants. You need to know before you buy whether you will rent the home when you’re not using it.
Here Are 10 Things to Consider When Looking at Vacation Homes
Can you afford it? Real estate is not a liquid investment, and you can’t count on being able to sell a home for a profit or even break even, especially in your first few years of ownership. During the recession, homes lost more than half their value in Florida, Arizona, and Nevada, among other places.
Know all the rules. Not all homes can be used as rental property. Homeowner or condo associations may set rules for rentals, as many cities. Some resorts may require you to use their programs, which set standards for interior furnishings and amenities, but the property handles the logistics for a percentage of the rent. If you plan to rent out your property, it’s especially important to research all these rules before you buy.
Calculate all the costs. The actual purchase price is only part of what you will need to spend. You will also have to pay utilities, HOA or condo fees, property taxes, insurance and the cost of furnishing a new home down to the spoons and forks. If you’re in a resort area, you may also need or want skis, snowboards, kayaks, water toys or other gear.
Be realistic in your expectations of rental income. Renting out a vacation home comes with expenses. You will need to pay for cleaning between tenants, advertising and perhaps property management. If you’re part of a resort rental program, it will take a percentage.
Know how often you will really visit. If you don’t rent out your unit, you want to make sure you will visit enough to make the purchase worthwhile. Pick a place you love and want to return to often, advises Dolenga. You don’t want your home to sit unoccupied for long periods.
Have a plan for emergencies. If you don’t visit the house often, make sure someone does. A water leak can be devastating. If you’re renting, repairs need to be made quickly, so get to know a good handyman or property manager. If there is a hurricane, you may need someone to put up shutters before the storm and remove them afterward and secure the home if it suffers damage.
Protect your home when it’s vacant. Vacant homes attract thieves. Take steps to keep your home from looking empty. Consider lights on timers or asking neighbors to occasionally park in your driveway. Make sure someone picks up mail and fliers so its not obvious no one is home.
Have a rental business plan. Will you go into a rental program, hire a management company or do it yourself via services such as Airbnb or VRBO? If you’re handling your own advertising, you will need great photos. You also need to be able to take payments from tenants (services like PayPal or Stripe typically work well) and have a way for them to get in (Stephens uses a keyless entry system with codes). A reliable cleaning service is essential, especially when you have only a few hours between tenants.
Calculate your return on investment. If owning a vacation home is part of your overall investment strategy, make sure it’s a good move. Estimate returns and weighs them against other uses of the same money.
Expect to pay taxes.Rental income is taxable on state and federal returns, though most vacation homeowners won’t earn enough after expenses to face a significant tax liability. If you are doing short-term rentals, usually of less than six months, your state and county consider you an innkeeper and expect you to collect the same lodging taxes that hotels collect and pay those to the appropriate authorities. “If you’re renting a home, an apartment, a room, you’re basically running a mini-hotel,” Stephens says, with the rules varying by state and county. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for example, a tax of 11 percent is due, 6 percent to the state and 5 percent to the county, he says.
How to Rent Out Your Vacation Home and Make It Pay
Renting out your vacation home can yield significant financial benefits – but only if you do it right.
“It starts with a commitment to customer service,” says Jon Gray, chief revenue officer for HomeAway.com, which also owns the vacation rental website VRBO.com. “You’re basically having to market your house and get people to want to stay there.”
Renting a vacation home is a business, which means you’ll need the proper business tools in place, from being able to accept credit cards as payment to paying lodging taxes to get the home cleaned quickly and completely between guests.
“It’s really quite a lot of work, and a lot more work than people anticipate,” says Michael Joseph, co-founder, and CEO of InvitedHome.com, which manages vacation properties. “There’s a lot to keep up with. … Guest expectations are becoming higher.”
One of the first decisions when starting the vacation rental process is whether to hire a management company or manage your rental yourself.
While websites such as HomeAway.com, VRBO.com and Airbnb.com provide online marketing tools, access to credit card processing, booking tools and other infrastructure, the individual owner still has to handle guest inquiries, screen renters and arrange for cleaning.
Full-service management companies charge 20 to 50 percent of the rental proceeds to manage the entire process, from bookings through cleaning. You also can hire people to manage parts of the process for less. The online portals usually charge an annual fee for listings. VRBO and HomeAway start at $349 a year and also offer a pay-per-booking option of 8 percent, while Airbnb charges both hosts and guests a small processing fee – 3 percent for hosts and 6 to 12 percent for guests.
The home rental industry has grown significantly in recent years, as online listings and reviews make travelers more comfortable with the model. But travelers who are accustomed to staying at hotels and resorts expect significant amenities and, in some cases, service.
“The competition is more fierce today,” says Cathy Ross, CEO of Exclusive Resorts, a vacation travel club that owns its own properties. “Today’s customer is demanding, and they want certainty that what they see online is what’s there.”
Customers expect modern finishes, nice furniture, hotel-quality beds and linens, plenty of bathrooms, entertainment options such as a TV with cable package, a pool table, board games and big gathering spaces for families, one of the groups that favors vacation home rentals. “Those homes that aren’t well decorated or aren’t well furnished just don’t cut it,” Joseph says.
It’s important to screen tenants, collect a damage deposit and have a strong rental agreement in place, as well as the proper insurance, to protect your home from damage. Stevens, who has been renting out his vacation home in Vail, Colorado since 1999, has only once had to deal with significant damage by a tenant. “That concern is way, way overstated,” Stephens says. “These people are generally very respectful of your home.”
Here Are 13 Things You Need to Know and Do Before You Rent Out Your Vacation Home
Figure out if the math works. Create a spreadsheet to analyze what it will cost you to rent out your home versus the income you can expect to generate making it a vacation rental. Expenses will include maintenance, utilities, taxes, insurance, repairs, and amenities. “Make sure you budget for preventive maintenance, and wear and tear,” Joseph says.
Decide whether to manage it yourself or hire a company. While managing a rental yourself provides a greater financial return, it also means more work. HomeAway, VRBO, Airbnb and similar sites offer online booking, calendars, email communication and referrals to other tools such as credit card processors and professional photographers. But even with these online portals you still have to hire and oversee the cleaning crew.
Furnish, decorate and equip your home. Amenities typically depend on the market and the price, but people often expect most of what they would get at a hotel. A fast Wi-Fi connection, an expansive cable package, and other entertainment options are recommended, while a hot tub, pool table, board games, and other recreation options can be a draw for some guests. Have toiletries, paper products, and basic cleaning products available. Stephens provides guest passes to his community’s athletic club. Remember to remove family photos, clothes, and personal items so the guests feel more comfortable.
Get professional-quality and write a great, detailed description. People will choose your home based on the photos and the description of the property. “That first photo is incredibly important because that’s what people see,” Gray says. Be very thorough in your description. List every amenity, down to balconies, cribs and pool noodles.
Find a dependable cleaning crew and other maintenance personnel. If your home is popular, you will have one set of guests checking out in the morning and a second set arriving that afternoon. That makes it imperative that the cleaning crew show up on time. If you don’t live nearby, your cleaning crew is also your eyes and ears. You may also need pool service, lawn service, and a handyman, plus know whom to call if the toilet quits working.
Get proper insurance. A regular homeowners policy rarely covers a vacation rental. Ask your agent what type of policy you need for a home that is used for short-term rentals.
Set up your welcome package and infrastructure. If you don’t plan to meet guests personally, how will they get into the unit? Keyless entry and a hidden key are the two most common methods. Decide which is best for you. Most guests expect to pay with credit cards, though some online portals provide that service or help you sign up for it. Consider creating a welcome packet with the Wi-Fi password, entertainment services, appliance operating instructions and information on community amenities.
Expect to pay resort or occupancy taxes. Your city, county or state may require you to register your vacation home or get a business license, and most municipalities will collect the same taxes from you that they collect from hotels. You can handle this yourself or hire someone to do it. Avalara MyLodgeTax charges by the report, with most homes paying between $60 and $200 a year for the service.
Comply with legal requirements. Make sure you can legally rent your home to travelers. Most homeowner associations don’t allow short-term rentals, though some resorts may handle them for you. Some cities and counties ban short-term rentals. Know the local laws before starting the rental process.
Make rules and create a strong rental agreement. Management companies and online portals have agreements you can modify, and you can also find examples of such agreements online. Decide what number of people you’ll allow per stay and whether to allow pets or smoking.
Be ready to respond quickly. Most online shoppers will send inquiries to several homes at a time. The first suitable home to respond is likely to get their business. “That’s critical,” Stephens says. “Responding a day late is probably unacceptable. You’re going to lose business.”
Create a tenant screening process. Joseph advises talking to all prospective tenants by phone. Ask the number of guests, their ages, why they want the property. If they book, get their full names, addresses, and phone numbers. “You get a lot more information and a feel for people by talking to them,” he says.
Offer a personal touch. In a world of online reviews, you want your guests to recommend your home or become return customers themselves. Anything you offer to make your home stand out and to make their vacation easier is likely to yield dividends.
LOCAL RECORDS OFFICE – While the share of nation’s workers the federal government employed in 2017, equaled its lowest level ever recorded, new Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the level is too low for government to perform basic functions. And with alarms ringing over the rising costs in Pekin, Illinois could less us to fewer firefighters serving the community. With two firefighters down in the department due to retirements of last year, the union’s president, Tom Veatch explains, “It’s a safety concern. You know, not only for our taxpayers but our members too. We’re always here. We do our job 100 percent all the time. And we will never stop doing our job, no matter what.” However, the city has not filled those 2 positions and leaders are pointing at rising costs as they are looking towards a budget plan for the next fiscal year. The Local Records Office reviews how the 2019 budget proposal will impact federal jobs; employees’ benefits and the cost of living adjustments (COLA) will both a take a major hit.
“It might sound better to say ‘cuts’. We’re maintaining the employment levels in the proposed budget,” proposed Carson.
Carson described that the city faces 60 million in pension liabilities for the fire and police retirees and is the reason staffing levels in the proposed budget are under consideration.
“They offer great service to our residents. They’re going to continue to do a great job. I have confidence in their abilities. We’re not short staffing them,” expressed Carson.
Though, CBP has documented how, due to lack of personnel, basic governmental functions –ie. administrating the nation’s Social Security and even tax systems –are being performed inadequately.
Recently, Sens. Mitch McConnel, R-Ky., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., recently announced they are closing a two-year budget deal, which lifts budget caps and would require appropriations committees to develop detailed plans within six weeks.
The 2019 Budget proposes a pay freeze; federal employees will take major compensation cuts
With the 2019 presidential budget in place to include a pay freeze for federal employees; with the administration’s intention to rely on a “pay for performance” basis rather than a standard pay increase on a schedule, the American Federation of Government Employees national president J. David Cox Sr. explains that “by stripping employees of their due process rights and firing those who reject his politics, President Trump is opening the door for rampant corruption, discrimination, and worker intimidation.”
With the 2019 budget proposal relying on employee compensation cuts and changes to reduction to the deficit by more than $70 billion by 2028, by mostly coming from reducing the government’s contributions to the retirement and health programs, and eliminating some programs, such as special retirement supplements and the Federal Employee Retirement System cost of living adjustments, the 2019 budget proposal estimates adjustments to will reduce the U.S. deficit by $192 million by 2021 and achieve a total reduction near $2.8 billion by 2028.
Similarly, this 2019 budget proposal estimates these changes to the federal retirement benefits will also reduce the deficit by nearly $2.6 billion in 2019 and adds up of more than $68 billion in reductions by 2028. And members will receive a 2.5% raise, according to the 2019 document.
Though the president is proposing a pay freeze for civilian employees next year, the Congress has multiple opportunities to suggest and pass laws otherwise.
New changes to the federal employee retirement benefits
-Increasing the employee contributions to retirement by 1% per year until it reaches 50% in the Federal Employment System (FERS) –phased out over a period of several years.
-Replacing the current high three average salary to calculate the retirement annuities with the five-year average salary baseline.
-Eliminating FERS annuity supplement for eligible employees retiring 2018 and beyond.
-Eliminating the cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for current and future FERS employees
-Eliminating the FERS cost of living adjustments and reducing civil service costs (CSRS) and cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) by 0.5%
With the White House plans to indicate plans to propose a seismic shift in federal retirement systems in the future, as it could remove defined benefit pensions altogether, officials wrote that “the TSP is a particularly attractive benefit to young, mobile workers not intended to make a career of federal service.” And that “the budget, therefore, funds a study to explore the potential benefits, including the recruitment benefit, of creating a defined-contribution only annuity benefit for new federal workers, and those desiring to transfer out of the existing hybrid system.”
As the proposal would change other federal employee benefits and do away with the current leave system, which offers time off for regular leave, sick days and vacation, in favor of Paid Time Off would effectively reduce the number of leave workers receives each year.
Healthcare –Proposed changes to Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB)
The trump administration is recommending changes to the formula the currently directs towards the government’s contribution rate for the participants in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB).
With the budget contribution rate on an FEHB plan’s score from a performance assessment, the OPM rates all FEHBP carriers on all 19 health outcomes, quality, and efficiency standards.
The formula set under law determines a share the government and enrollee pay towards FEHBP premiums each year. The government pays 75% of participants’ premium up to a certain cap. The cap equals to 72% of the weighted average of the previous years’ premiums.
The Trump administration wants to alter the formula slightly, so the government would contribute more towards the employee’s health care depending on how well the specific FEHB plan performs under the OPM’s standards.
The Office of Management and Budget projects the government will contribute a range of 65-75%.
“Under the current structure, enrollees have few incentives to choose less expensive, higher value plans,” the budget cites. “This proposal would incentivize enrollees to select high-performing, high-value plans by making them more affordable. The proposal would also provide carriers with greater incentive to compete on price and quality, help driving down overall program costs.”
And according to the budget, this change to FEHB premium contributions would save over $2.7 billion in the next decade.
Annual leave –impacts paid time off and sick days
The 2019 proposal also suggests combining all leave into one “paid time off category.”
“This would reduce total leave days while adding a short-term disability insurance policy to protect employees who experience a serious medical situation,” according to the 2019 request.
And currently, the federal employees receive 10 paid holidays, 13 sick days and 13-to-26 vacation days, depending on the tenure.
David Cox, the national president of AFGE, had told reporters that Trump’s budget is a significant threat to the federal employees’ livelihood, particularly following years of austerity during the Great Recession.
“Federal workers already make 5 percent less in inflation-adjusted terms than they did at the beginning of the decade,” Cox said. “If we don’t stop the pay freeze for 2019, they will have given up $246 billion in wages and benefits since 2011. No other group has lost more to deficit reduction than the federal workforce.”
And Tony Reardon, President of the National Treasury Employees Union described the budget in a statement as a “full-scale assault” on our federal civil service.
“This should alarm every member of Congress and all Americans,” Reardon said. “Weakening our civil service system and attacking the pay and benefits of federal workers will backfire and leave our country unable to tackle the complex issues we are facing.”
In 2014, rapper 50 Cent let people buy his album Animal Ambition using bitcoin. He then let his account lie unused for years, and only just recently discovered that he’s now a bitcoin millionaire, as first reported by TMZ.
At the time, a single bitcoin was worth only $662, and the rapper’s fans could pick up the album for a fraction of that. In total, he pulled in over $400,000. Since then, the value of bitcoin has soared: the price of the cryptocurrency rose as high as $17,000 earlier this month, only to drop under $10,000 in recent weeks. (At the time of writing, bitcoin is now worth a little more than $11,000.) After sitting untouched in his account for years, 50 Cent’s earnings are now worth $7 million to $8.5 million, based on the current fluctuating bitcoin valuation.
Bitcoin evangelists on Twitter were quick to respond to 50 Cent, pitching him the various crypto platforms and coins that he should check out next. One of them even joked that 50 Cent would like the coin DeepOnion because it used to be valued at fifty cents.
50 Cent is just one of many people who acquired bitcoin, only to forget about it. He’s lucky that he remembered his login info — many others have forgotten their old account logins and lost out on potential wealth, which will forever be locked away due to the nature of cryptocurrency.