Friday, July 25, 2014
Zillow and Trulia are having discussions about merging. What does that mean to Los Angeles-area home buyers and sellers? It will make home searches easier. Rather than having two portals to view, you'll now have one. No more cross-checking, or getting the same listing from separate sources. And by the way, the sales info on all of the megasites comes from, yes, the local multiple listing service. Not the Zestimates or tax records, of course, but the pictures, descriptions, showing info, amenities, etc. -- we Realtors create that and add that to our local multiple listing services.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Lately I've been viewing and showing condos and townhomes in Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Burbank, Toluca Lake, North Hollywood...there are lots of nice, and not so nice, properties on the market now. Here's a sample of what I've seen.
Inventory is not as short for Los Angeles condos and townhomes, so there are still plenty of nice units out there.
Inventory is not as short for Los Angeles condos and townhomes, so there are still plenty of nice units out there.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Perhaps buyers realized that lots of home prices might come down a bit in the next few months. That often starts to happen in early July. Maybe sellers realized that prices have peaked for the year, too. And then, interest rates are still low and haven't seen the predicted rise.
Nobody can predict the market, but I would recommend that sellers sell now, especially in the areas of Burbank and Studio City -- people want to buy homes in good school districts before their kids start school. And, if interest rates do go up, as all experts predict they will by the end of the year, that will have a negative effect on home prices. And I would recommend that buyers buy now -- interest rates won't be this low much longer.
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Thursday, June 26, 2014
housing costs are a greater burden here in the L.A. area than in any other metro area. It's nice to have it confirmed, eh? That's not just for mortgages, it's for rent, too. And this statistic is from a study was done by Harvard. The study sites stagnant wages as the primary contributing factor. (photo credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg; article by Tim Logan)
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to show property in Country Club Park, a lovely area that I had never explored before. Where’s that? It’s just off of Wilshire and Olympic in mid-central L.A. That’s an area, or at least an intersection, that most of us have all been in before. However, like much of Los Angeles, residential neighborhoods can be dramatically different from the commercial parts of the nearby main roads. (BTW, the house pictured above and below is the Milbank Estate. That wasn't the property I showed, unfortunately.)
Country Club Park was once the western edge of the city. In the 1920’s, large homes were built that reflected the popular architectural styles of the times: craftsman, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, and Mediterranean Revival. Of course, land was relatively easy to come by then, so big lots, broad lawns, and mature foliage are characteristic of this neighborhood.
Country Club Park is also designated an HPOZ, or historic preservation overlay zone. This zone preserves the distinct architectural character of the neighborhood houses, provided that they conform to the style and period being preserved. If you are a homeowner in a HPOZ, and you want to change the exterior of your historic home, you’ll need to get permission from the 5-member HPOZ board. Minor repairs are easy to approve, of course, but if you want to substantially change the outside, it will take longer and may not be approved. Of course, you can change the inside without the board’s permission. L.A. City’s Office of Historic Planning provides a guide to maintaining your historic home.
Here’s another benefit to owning a historic home in a HPOZ: you may qualify for tax savings through the Mills act. Qualifying owners can receive a potential property tax reduction and use the savings to help rehabilitate, restore and maintain their historic homes.
For more info on HPOZs and the Mills Act, please visit preservation.lacity.org.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Saturday, June 14, 2014
I am now writing short features about San Fernando Valley real estate and the home buying and selling process for Examiner.com. Please visit my page there at http://www.examiner.com/real-estate-in-los-angeles/judy-graff and subscribe. Thanks!
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Here's a great article from today's L.A. Times. It states that the market is settling down, there aren't as many price escalations, etc. Here's a quote:
"We're bumping along a ceiling. I really can't see values going up much more," said Steven Thomas, of ReportsOnHousing.com, which analyzes Southern California housing markets. "Buyers are homing in on trying to pay a fair value. A year ago, everyone was willing to pay extra. Now that bidding up is not happening."
This doesn't mean that multiple offers are over, however -- just that there won't be 20-40 offers for the same property, we hope.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Have you been looking for a home in the San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles? Have you been disappointed with the kinds of homes that you have seen? Have you made offers, only to lose them out in multiple bidding situations? Here are three tips to help you.
Be realistic about your finances and what you can afford. Home prices have rebounded from the recession. They have risen, too, since you first began considering making a purchase. Home inventory is really low as well which results in more buyers chasing the same few homes. If you find yourself in a multiple offer situation, price is going to matter to your seller much more than your good looks. If you love a home, but will be really stretched to afford it, or if you do not have a decent down payment for the home price range that you are looking in, you may want to wait awhile and save up more money.
Before you begin home shopping, get pre-approved for a mortgage loan by a local lender. I've said this before. Now is the time to shop for a lender and rates, not on a Sunday night after you have visited the open house of your dreams. This is important because most sellers and listing agents will look at your financial qualifications before they review your home offer. Your lender will be able to look at your financial profile and determine how much you can comfortably pay. A good lender can also coach you regarding cleaning up credit, straightening out financial issues, and qualifying for the best loan programs.
Write good offers. A home purchase offer contains much more than just the price, and your Realtor will be able to advise you on how to make your offer stand out. Put down a decent deposit. Find out in advance what your sellers' moving dates are and try to accommodate them. Shorten your contingency periods if you can. Think twice about asking the seller to pay for any of your closing costs. Yes, a letter explaining who you are and why you like the house will usually be helpful, too. Make sure to include a picture of your kids and pets.
Hopefully, you will now be better prepared to get the house you want. Happy house hunting -- your perfect home really IS out there.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Today, I saw some pretty interesting things on the Realtor caravan, in addition to three homes for sale in Studio City.
Sunday, June 08, 2014
MacArthur Foundation: The housing crisis is not over for 7 in 10 Americans | Inman News
This is worth a read; it's not TLDR.
This is worth a read; it's not TLDR.
Friday, June 06, 2014
Well, first, hire me.
Next, go through all the Realtor flyers that have been left on your doorstep or in your mailbox for the past several years. Pick the cutest guy or gal.
Seriously (I was serious about the “call me” part if you’re in L.A.): there are several ways to pick a good listing agent.
1. Do you think that the Realtor who sold you the house did a good job? If they are still in the area, give them a call and discuss your needs.
2. Visit open houses in your area. Chat up the Realtor, but do not mention that you live nearby and are thinking of selling – the Realtor will stalk you. We are really good at that. Anyway, see what impression you get. Do they seem engaged with the people they are meeting? Do they offer extra information on the home? (Do they even know anything about the home they are selling?) Can they (intelligently) answer questions? Do they know your neighborhood? Remember that many listing agents send assistants to cover these things – you will be able to determine who’s who very quickly.
3. Presuming that you are still in touch with them, ask your former neighbors, who have sold and moved away, for referrals. You will soon learn the good, the bad, and the ugly about the folks that have sold real estate in your neighborhood. Of course, you will also learn about how quickly the news spreads that you are selling.
4. Ask your friends who have just sold for referrals to their agent, presuming they are generally in the same area. And presuming your friends think their Realtor did a great job.
5. Ask folks who have recently bought homes in your neighborhood for referrals. Buyers’ agents for your neighborhood often make the best listing agents – they are familiar with everything that has been sold there lately.
6. Check out the doorstep and mailed flyers are usually circulated by Realtors who work in your neighborhood. By all means, contact these folks if they have a track record in your neighborhood. Don’t forget to Google who you pick.
This post originally appeared with edits in Examiner.com.
Thursday, June 05, 2014
After retiring at the end of 2013, I decided to sell my Burbank home of 28 years. Luckily, after some diligent Yelp and Zillow research, I found Judy Graff. Judy is a fantastic real estate agent and a consummate professional. Judy made some suggestions that helped me prepare the house for sale, and once the house was listed, she was on top of every detail so that all phases of escrow proceeded smoothly. Judy listed my home on 03/31, and it was sold at the open house which followed on 4/7. And, it also sold for 10,000 over list! Who can ask for more than that!! It is obvious that Judy loves her work because she does it so well. Besides helping me through every step, she was even of service to the buyers of the property. I had to leave the property before escrow closed and Judy oversaw an emergency repair to a gas pipe I discovered the night before I left. I simply cannot say enough good things about Judy. She is courteous, professional, wise, and the perfect person to advise you about buying or selling real estate. I would definitely use Judy again, and I would recommend her to my friends and relatives without hesitation. Judy exceeded my expectations in every area. She also has some excellent references for professionals you might need during the process, i.e. plumber, electrician, and even a rubbish guy. 5 stars for Judy for sure!
Monday, June 02, 2014
You may have heard what happened last Friday at the office. Heather and Michelle were outside at the front of the building when a woman riding a Vespa hit the curb and she minus the Vespa went sailing into the planter and wall of the building. Lead by Heather, the office mobilized to help this woman . . . called the paramedics, got her cell phone and called her husband and MOST IMPORTANTLY stayed with her and spoke comfortingly and reassuringly until her husband and the paramedics came. Heather checked on her progress on Saturday and the woman said she could not remember too much that happened but what she did remember was that she didn’t feel alone—that she was surrounded by people who were looking after her and comforting her. Special acknowledgement to the following: Scott Nell, Steve Sax, Dion Tretta, Vicki Watson, Ian Marks, Joel Vendette, Michelle Mandel, Rose Fahey, Tony Catalano, Rose Osman, Kevin Driscoll, Michael Razak, Joel our Valet, Mary Baldwin. Please forgive if I have forgotten anyone. We all agreed on one other important thing: If you ever find yourself in trouble, please be sure that Heather is with you. Never seen a woman mobilize so fast! She never noticed until it was all over that she had blood all over her pants. Thank you to everyone who dropped what they were doing to lend aid.
Sunday, June 01, 2014
Friday, May 30, 2014
Agent Hospitalized After Being Attacked By Feral Cat | NewsGeni.us This is just too good not to post. Probably the buyer client wasn't preapproved for a loan, which really aggravates any seller.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
If you are purchasing a new home, you are likely going to be getting a property inspection. While most Realtors see these as routine, most buyers will find them scary. Hopefully, this will dispel some of the fear about your soon-to-be-new home's condition.
Your inspector will be checking out the house’s major structures and its systems. These include the roof, the foundation, the electrical system, the plumbing, the garage if there is one, and the HVAC. The other structures he or she will check are most of the appliances, windows, doors, floors, and safety items. No house is perfect, not even brand-new ones.
Here is what very commonly comes up on home inspections. This is mostly for single family homes, but some of the items pertain to condos, too.
First thing to know: most of the houses around here were built several decades ago. Yes, they are old, but hopefully they have been decently maintained. Even if they haven’t been well taken care of, remember that everything can be fixed (yes, for a price).
Plumbing – water is a house’s enemy and some plumbing item almost always needs to be fixed or properly installed. Also, each plumber does everything differently from every other plumber (why IS that?) and they all complain about their predecessor’s work. The water heater almost always needs something fastened or replaced. See below about sewer inspections.
Electrical system – Most electrical panels need to be upgraded from time to time to handle new electrical loads. The chances are that your electrical panel may not be sufficient for your power usage. And even if your house is rewired, the previous owners may not have rewired the garage, or it may not be rewired to code. Codes change all the time. And, in 95% of all home inspections that I’ve attended, some breaker will be wired incorrectly. The electrical system’s problems are safety items, so please take care of the issues right away if your seller doesn’t do so.
HVAC – These systems are usually adequate unless the heater or a/c unit is really old. Sometimes the inspector will call for the units to be fastened down better than they currently are. Inspectors almost always call for the filters to be changed which is really easy to do.
Roof – Even if the roof is newer, the inspector will probably call out maintenance items like sealing pipes, fastening a few shingles down, replacing the ridge cap, etc. The good news is that maintenance like this is not difficult or expensive. Once you own the house, have a roofer check this stuff out from time to time and don’t forget to clean your gutters out.
Foundation – Many, if not most, houses are bolted, but they may not be bolted to current codes. That does not mean that they are unsafe, but you may want to upgrade the bolting once you own the place.
Termites – This is a separate inspection from the general inspection. Almost every house here is made of wood. (Forget what your relatives back east tell you – you don’t want a brick house in earthquake country.) If your new home is like 99% of all homes here, it will have termites, because termites eat wood. You may have negotiated a termite inspection and correction with your seller. If not, you will want to have a licensed termite company take care of this.
You may also get a sewer check and a fireplace/chimney inspection. These are difficult to critique because we can’t see what the inspector sees. One thing, tho: I have never, ever seen a fireplace or chimney inspection that didn’t show problems. I promise you that your chimney/fireplace will not be perfect.
If there is a tree anywhere near your property, you will likely have tree roots in your sewer. If there are just a few, don't worry. If they block the entire sewer, you could have plumbing backups. Watch the video with the inspector and ask a lot of questions.
I will continue to update this list as I think of other items. Please contact me if I can help you find your soon-to-be dream home.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
1034 N. Evergreen in Burbank. For those of you who don't know, Debbie was a popular movie-star of the 1950's and 1960's -- see Singing in the Rain. Anyway, I listed and sold this house last October for $657,500. The house looks almost exactly the same 65+ years later! If these walls could talk...
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Burbank and it closed last week for $515,000 after listing for $505,000. My seller, Laura, had just retired and wished to move out of the area. She had kept the house up nicely and had remodeled the kitchen and baths. The buyers are a young couple and this is their first home. Everybody moved through the escrow very smoothly and we faced no big hurdles. Yes, that's a surprise to me, too! East West Bank did a very impressive job at getting the appraisal done, getting the loan documents early, and closing the loan right on time. I will miss Laura, and I wish the buyers lots of luck.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Click here for the article. This is in contrast to expert forecasts that rates would be steadily going higher and would be at 5% by the end of the year. This is the news we need to help buyers get off the sidelines and into the local real estate market.
Thursday, May 08, 2014
Burbank's Magnolia Park. It features 4 beds, 3 baths, 2400 sf and has been completely redone inside. Lima is one of my favorite streets in this terrific neighborhood, and this house is very close to all the cool stores and restaurants. Plus, it's in the award-winning Roosevelt Elementary district. Although it's not my listing, please call me if you want to see it -- it's priced at $918,000.
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
Monday, May 05, 2014
If you are thinking about selling your home, you are probably wondering: a) where you're going to go. The homes you may move into are just as expensive as the house you're selling. So there goes your profit. And b) you want to stay put for your commute or your kids' school or another good reason. Selling and moving will be really tough. I don't have suggestions here, except: home prices have come roaring back. If you are considering making a life change, this year may present great opportunities for you, at least as far as home profits go. Will home prices continue to increase? Nobody knows. If you're thinking about selling, I'm happy to prepare a comparative market analysis for you that will show you what you may gain -- just call me.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
Monday, April 28, 2014
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
- Because the days are longer, you can squeeze more showings into the spring and summer months;
- Inventory usually is shortest in December. But that doesn't mean that houses don't sell -- they do; and just as rapidly as any other time if they are in good condition and priced well.
Please let me know if I can give you any other insights into good times to list or buy a home.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
I think a townhouse is coming up in our Studio City building. The unit is empty, and workers have been there all week painting, fixing, and installing new floors. And...I just noticed the telltale lockbox installed on our front railing. The unit is 2 beds, 2.5 baths, den and probably around 1600 sf. I imagine that it will list for $525k or more. Please contact me if you're interested, and if you'd like nice neighbors.