2023 – A Year in Review

2023 – A Year in Review
By: D. Keith Dunnagan, Esq.
December 21, 2023

As I look back on 2023 – I do so with mixed emotions. 2023 was a year of both tremendous difficulty and incredible highs. Many of you know that for me personally, 2023 started off with the passing of my father on January 4, 2023. What appeared to be a cancer recovery story quickly turned to another reminder of how harsh that disease can be. To my team and BPE and all of you, I want to say “Thank you”. I know these words are not enough, but I want to say Thank you for being patient with me, Thank you for giving me the space I needed to process, but most of all Thank you for sticking with me and BPE as I navigated (and continue to navigate) through this journey in life.

2023 also presented unique market challenges. 2022 saw the housing market cooling under pressure from rate hikes and inflation and those trends continued into 2023 as the Fed continued to increase rates to curb inflation. The good news is that it seems as though inflation and rate hikes have slowed. The bad news is that the market is still recovering, inventory is low and by all accounts in the Sacramento market housing transactions are down around 50% last I saw. However, the good news appears to be that interest rates appear to be softening. Recent data shows that rates have dropped about a full percentage point over the last several weeks (the Fed has indicated that there could be up to 3 rate decreases next year) and while interest rates in the sixes are higher than we are used to over the last few years, rates in the sixes are below the historical averages over the last 40 years and we should hopefully begin to see the market begin to move up in 2024.

The California legislature continued to put pressure on landlords and the rental market. Through the laws passed, they lowered the maximum rent rate increase in Sacramento from 10% to 9.2%, they passed a law lowering the maximum security deposit allowed to be collected by landlords, dropping the maximum from two month’s rent to one month’s rent. The legislature also tightened the Tenant Protection Act by changing the rules related to no-fault just cause terminations of tenancies based on substantial remodel or intent to move in a family member. As California tightens its rules on landlords, more and more, investors are continuing to move their investment dollars to other states.

2024 will prove to be an interesting year. Even with the laws aimed at reducing costs in the rental market, don’t expect big changes in cost. There is still a bit of inflation, but the bigger problem is the supply of available housing. If the supply remains below the housing need demand will likely keep prices very high and as interest rates begin to go down a bit, market activity will increase. Even with the tightening market last year because of higher rates, you still saw modest increases in home prices over 2022 pricing, evidencing that supply is not sufficient to meet demand, which has long been a theme in California.

But 2023 was amazing for the BPE team. I am honored and privileged to be able to lead such a great team and they had some amazing successes. One of our lawyers successfully navigated complex guardianship laws crossing state lines and was able to get a child off the streets and into a safe and healthy environment. It is a fantastic result and one that you know will result in a better life for a child. Another lawyer received a full defense ruling in favor of a real estate client and was awarded six figures in attorneys fees for the effort. Real estate law is full of nuances and it is BPE’s understanding of these nuances that allows our attorneys to obtain great results for our clients. Another attorney took a case that should have been settled and over the course of a multiday trial, secured a verdict in favor of our client and is now pursuing an award of attorney’s fees. These are just a few of the highlights this year.

This year saw multiple attorneys being recognized for their accomplishments in the profession. Some were recognized as Rising Stars, while others were recognized as a best lawyer in Sacramento. All of these awards are well deserved.

For BPE, we continued to grow our Washington office and we are providing valuable services to the people of Central Washington to complement our legal service offerings in California and Nevada. We added team members to increase our ability to serve and in 2024 we look forward to growing our firm as we look forward to launching our Wyoming office. Most importantly, at our 2023 holiday party, BPE announced the promotion of a litigation attorney to Partner. We are thrilled to have Laura continue to lead and grow our litigation team. We are truly grateful for the trust all of you have put in our company and we are honored that you trust us with your legal needs.

Have a Happy Holiday Season and a Prosperous New Year!

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