A booming 2018: That’s the trajectory for Santa Clarita as it continues growth in all sectors. About 500 real estate industry folks attended Tournament Players Club in Valencia Mar. 8, when Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp., led by Holly Schroeder, hosted its annual Economic Outlook forum. Speakers Wells Fargo Senior Economist Mark Vitner, “NCIS” Executive Producer Scott Williams, College of the Canyons Chancellor Dianne Van Hook, and California Economic Forecast Director Mark Schniepp delivered sanguine reports. “We’re pretty optimistic about 2018,” said Vitner, noting that a 2.6 percent GDP growth and federal tax reform will positively impact Santa Clarita’s region. “California unemployment was at an all-time low by the end of 2017. Inflation is not going to become a problem for us in 2018 through 2020.” After making broader talking points (the inevitable automated vehicles; unpredictable millennials in the workforce) recently shared at CBRE’s economic forecast in Westlake Village, Schniepp deep-dived into Santa Clarita’s economy, deeming 2018 “an extension of 2017” with housing and industrial expansion along with increasing labor costs, interest rates, and housing prices and rents. “(Santa Clarita jobs) in the professional, scientific and health care fields are soaring,” the economist said. New hospital projects and industrial sites plus Needham Ranch office park will stimulate the local economy. Tourism and hotel occupancy are also strong, borne by the now-open-daily Magic Mountain, Schniepp said. “The (local) residential sector has not responded to demand but soon will,” he added, with a combined 4,344 upcoming units, including Newhall Ranch and Skyline Ranch. Williams – who boarded CBS’s long-running Beltway-set, 250 person-employing drama “NCIS” after season five – humorously outed local establishments doubling as urban or suburban Washington, D.C., sites, including Vista Public Golf Course, Hyatt Valencia, and Old Town Newhall gastropubs. Blue Cloud Movie Ranch serves as Middle Eastern or African locations, he added. Spotted at the event: Jake Ganagian, a senior vice president at lead event sponsor Wells Fargo; Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital CEO Roger Seaver; IAC Properties President Larry Krasner and Director of Development Leasing Michael Perlmutter, and Trammel Crow Senior Vice President John Balestra and Senior Managing Director Brad Cox; JSB Development’s James Backer; Jason Tolleson of Serrano Development Group (overseeing Newhall Crossings mixed-use and Laemmle Theatres projects in Old Town Newhall), and Westfield Vice President of Development Christopher Kitchen. Chinese individual investment Recently, the People’s Republic of China has dampened Chinese investment in U.S. commercial real estate by exercising capital controls on native companies investing over $1 billion overseas. Last month, China’s Insurance Regulatory Commission seized the multi-billion-dollar assets of U.S. hotel portfolio-holding Anbang Insurance Group and incarcerated its chairman. With residential real estate, the scenario is not so dire. “The government is now relaxing the controls on the individual purchasers,” said Vice President of Sales for Americas Josh Cunningham of Investorist, the Australian broker-to-broker global marketplace of residential pre-construction investment property listings. Since 2000, California has seen more Chinese investment than any other state. According to a National Association of Realtors report for 2017, foreign buyers from five countries accounted for most residential real-estate purchases (46 percent of all foreign buyers) with China (14 percent) edging out Canada (12 percent) to also top Mexico, India and the United Kingdom. Between April 2016 and March 2017, Chinese buyers purchased over 40,500 housing units, totaling $31.7 billion—up from 29,000 units and $27.3 billion the year prior. Sixty-seven percent of those units were single-family homes while 61 percent of all sales were suburban purchases. “Use by a student is perennially stronger for Chinese buyers than among buyers from other countries,” the report said. “Even when the stock market broke in China and basically crashed (circa 2015), it increased the purchasing from China,” said Cunningham. Another driver – the inherent insecurity of China’s home-ownership structure, where citizens may purchase a property but do not outright own it. “The Chinese government could potentially strip them of their homes,” Cunningham said, whereas Chinese nationals feel more stability investing in a U.S., U.K. or Australia property. Staff Reporter Michael Aushenker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 316-3123.