Thursday, April 17, 2014

Know anybody that wants to buy a townhouse in Studio City?

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.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Prices rising, sales declining, says L.A. Times

Today's L.A. Times headline was Southland Home Prices Surge, but Sales Plummet.  Hey, welcome to my world! Click here for the article.  Here are some of the article highlights:

"The market for high-dollar homes is hopping, with sales on the rise and buyers launching bidding wars. But sales of low- to medium-priced homes have plummeted during the same period — with many potential buyers priced out.

Housing affordability is really taking a bite out of the market," said Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist for the California Assn. of Realtors. "We haven't seen this issue since 2007."


and

"...declines came even as sales of high-end homes increased. Sales of homes costing $800,000 or more grew 12%, while sales of homes costing less than $500,000 fell at twice that rate.

So if it seems like a case of "the rich and the rest," it is. 

If you are even remotely considering selling your home in the next two years, it's a good idea to start your preparations now.   Nobody knows how long this market will last.  Please call me to discuss the procedure, your home's value, and the near future.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Game of Thrones, real-estate style. (Yes, yet another GOT meme.)

For you prospective home buyers out there, I know buying a home can seem just as hard as battling for the throne of Westeros.  (Admit it, this is your fourth season of trying to buy something.) Your experiences on this journey probably look like this to you:

The part of town you'd like to live in:
It's a little congested, but it's really very walkable.

The part of town you can actually afford to live in:
The, um, "city" council is trying to get the next CicLAvia here, and has promised to create bike paths on the dirt roads.

Your seller:
Would have more fun killing you than closing the deal.  Would prefer it, in fact. Every encounter with your seller is fraught with menace if not outright danger.

Your agent:
Nice package but probably bitter, twisted and a little drunk.

Your lender:
Seems to be on your side, but can turn on you at a moment’s notice and scorch you.  Insatiable appetite for paper.

How the house you'd like to buy looks to you:

How the house you'd like to buy looks to you, after you get the inspector's report:

You, after you’ve lost out on yet another house.
Feeling trapped by fate.


Never fear.  If you are truly motivated and qualified, I can help you win your fight for your own palace.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

And...2008 N. Rose, Burbank is in escrow

We had a wonderful turnout at the 2008 N. Rose open house on Sunday.  If you were there, thank you for coming. And we received multiple offers from qualified, adorable people.  The seller selected one offer and we are now in escrow with backups.  The seller, who is leaving the state, says "whew"!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Open Sunday from 2 to 5 in Burbank - 2008 N. Rose Street

Please come visit us at 2008 N. Rose Street in Burbank on Sunday.  This remodeled 3 bedroom, 1 bath has been splendidly maintained and features a new kitchen (above), new bath, new paint, new landscaping, recessed lighting, gleaming hardwood floors, and more.  It also has all airport sound retrofitting, which includes double-paned windows and glass outer doors. It would be a great place to expand, or just live in and love as other generations have done.  It is listed for $505,000 and all the appliances stay -- even the big screen tv!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Five ways to lose weight while house hunting

Let’s all multi-task and combine our two favorite activities, weight watching and house hunting, shall we? Here goes!   

1.       Run, don’t drive, between Sunday open houses.  It will help to map them first.  Stay hydrated while you do this.
2.       Skip dinner and see a new listing every night instead.  Do NOT stop at a bar on your way home to drown your sorrows.
3.       Skip lunch on days when there are broker caravans (Burbank has theirs on Thursday from 9:30 to noon; the rest of the San Fernando Valley and L.A. have theirs on Tuesdays and Fridays.)
4.       Stop buying food and use that money to pay down your consumer debt, thus raising your FICO score.  High credit score = low scale score.
5.       Get so neurotic about the home-buying process that you can’t keep any food down.  This is called home-buyer bulimia and it’s my favorite.

Depending on your search length, you can lose between five and 40 lbs! Seriously, if you need a new home, call me – I can help.  I can’t really help on the weight loss but you can come to Weight Watchers meetings with me.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Another home sale record

Fleur-de-Lys in Holmby Hills (pictured above) sold this week for a record $120,000,000.  This is the highest sale ever recorded in California.  Here on the (cough) other side of town, 848 N. Avon in Burbank has sold and it broke records, too, at least for me.

This Magnolia Park home got eleven offers in 7 days.  Only a couple offers were at asking price.  Only one was below asking price, and everything else was above list. Three were all cash (but the seller chose buyers who got a loan. More about that below.).  The record-breaker here was that everybody was wonderfully qualified.  There were only a couple down payments below 30% and everybody had high FICOs.

Also, seller Todd got some great letters from the prospective buyers.  One couple even put together a charming video. 

Next, the house was priced at $675,000, which was in line with comparable sales and other factors.  However, it sold for $726,500.  Yes, that’s $51,500 over the asking price.  Did it appraise? Not sure, but the “finalists” were all willing to bring in money to close the gap if it didn’t appraise to value.

Third, we had 213 people at the open house and almost all seemed to be serious buyers.  I usually get quite a turn-out at my open houses, but this was a record for me.

Fourth, it was a three-week escrow.  This is due to the incredible Mark Young and his staff at Prospect Mortgage, and also the courtesy of the buyers.


The escrow process went very well.  The buyers and their wonderful agent, Robert Louis, were completely terrific throughout.  But the most terrific of all was my seller, Todd.   He staged the home beautifully – it doesn’t hurt that he is an art director – and really was extremely thoughtful in picking the buyers from the great offers we had.  Todd did want the highest dollar, of course, and the finalists were so, so close to each other in numbers.  But he also wanted a family that would really make the house a home and love it like he did.  Good on ya, Todd.  Here’s wishing the best of luck to both Todd and buyers Robin and Jay. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2008 N. Rose in Burbank is on the market for $505,000

Just when you thought that there was nothing to buy, along comes this lgem.  The seller has maintained it and updated it extremely well, and now it's time for other folks to put their personal stamp on it.  It will be open next Sunday, April 6; please call me if you'd like to see it sooner.


Interactive FloorPlan Presentation


Here's the mls description: Move right in to this 3 bedroom, 1 bath, pride-of-ownership North Burbank home. Remodeled kitchen with gorgeous new cabinets, new counter tops and new appliances, remodeled bath with double sinks, glossy hardwood floors and ceramic tile, a/c plus ceiling fans, newer double-pane windows, newer outer doors, 2 car garage with laundry plus workshop.  The huge grassy yard is big enough for a pool or home expansion.  Airport sound retrofitting completed.  Terrific neighborhood with great Burbank schools and city services. 1016 sf, originally built in 1944.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Listing next week: Lovely 3 bedroom, 1 bath in North Burbank

I will be listing this lovely home early next week and the open house for it will be Sunday, April 6.  It has been wonderfully maintained and upgraded and features a brand new kitchen (see above).  It will be on the market for $505,000.  I will have more info soon but feel free to contact me with any questions.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ask me anything: do cash offers ALWAYS prevail over financed offers for a house?

No, a home buyer's all cash offer DOES NOT always win out over an offer with a loan.  These days, it seems like many buyers are wonderfully qualified by truly talented direct lenders. (I will be blogging about this when my 848 N. Avon property in Burbank closes next week.)  If you are a property buyer out there in Burbank, Studio City or anywhere else in the east San Fernando Valley or Northern Los Angeles area, and you need a loan in order to purchase a home, here's what you can do:
- Get pre-approved by a direct lender, such as Prospect, Wintrust, or Madison Lending. You can also go to property lenders at Chase or Wells Fargo. And by all means, check with your credit union.  That means, yes, filling out all of the paperwork and turning in all your needed financial documents.
- Please stay away from "middle-men" lenders who just take your paperwork and then push it out to a random lender.
- Do this in advance.  Please don't wait until you've already found the house.  You'll have to get the paperwork together eventually anyway.
- Clean up any credit issues.  Your lender can help you with identifying what these may be.
- Save as much money as possible.  I know this is hard, but perhaps you can defer big purchases for one more year.
- Gifts from family members are good, but please make sure they are indeed gifts and there is no expectation of a payback.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns re home buying!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Are you on Nextdoor.com yet?

Nextdoor


Have you signed up for Nextdoor.com? It's the new, private social micro-network for your neighborhood. You join to learn -- and post -- about neighborhood events such as gatherings, crime, lost and found things, school events, pets, etc. The site is FREE and advertising-free, plus it anonymizes your info so that all people see of you is your name -- they don't have your address or direct email unless you want to give it out.  You can choose to be connected to other close-by neighborhoods, or not, and there is no obligation of any kind.  You can apply on the site (they confirm your address), or one of your neighbors must invite you.

If you're in the Studio City - Woodbridge Park area, you're in my Nextdoor.com area.  Gary Steinberg, my Realtor-Partner for the area, has done a beautiful job in being lead for our area, and you may see us out meeting the neighbors in our 'hood too.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Earthquake! More stuff for homeowners to think about

We just had an earthquake.  It felt stronger than it was, mostly because it was pretty close by and not, say, out in the ocean.  OF COURSE you've all checked your earthquake safety kits by now, but here are a couple of other things to think about:

-  If your chimney isn't braced, now is the time to think about having that done.  Better yet, have an entire fireplace and chimney inspection.

- Many homes are bolted to the foundation.  Is yours?

- If you have an old-school water heater, please check its pipes for any small leaks or tears.

- Regarding your pets, experts say that dogs run and cats hide.  Make sure tags are up to date and every furry family member is microchipped.

- Make sure you have plenty of coffee on hand.  You will need help waking up after that.  Kidding.

Do you have any earthquake tips to share?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday reading about real estate from the Los Angeles Times

Two interesting articles about real estate appeared in today's L.A. Times.  The first is "Helping your appraiser do the best job" and the link is here. The article begins, "Your home is on the market. You found buyers, a nice young couple just starting out, and they're sold on the home. But wait — there's one more person you have to sell: the appraiser." I'll say.  Elsewhere, the article discusses the need to give the appraiser good comparables.  The listing agent should supply these -- I always do for my listings.

The second article is "4 million homeowners climb out of negative equity" and the link is here.  Just as I been tellin' ya, eh? One of the more interesting points: "[With] 12.6% of mortgaged homes underwater, California has a lower overall negative rate than the national average (13.3%)." I would bet that L.A. County's rate is even lower.  No more short sales! Yay! 



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

North Hollywood, Studio City and Toluca Lake are really safe

Sgt. Carmona of the LAPD spoke to our Studio City residents meeting last night.  He told us that crime in the Noho, Studio City and Toluca Lake areas is down to 1956 levels.  The most frequent criminal acts are car break-ins.  And there hasn't been a single homicide in the area this year.  Mercifully.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Multiple offers for my Magnolia Park/Burbank listing

Burbank's Magnolia Park is way hot. Yes, we received multiple offers (eleven) for this nice home at 848 N.Avon in Burbank and we are now in escrow.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how qualified almost all of the would-be buyers are/were.  Last Sunday's open house was attended by 213 people -- a record turnout -- and most appeared to be serious buyers, not just looky-loos.  If you attended the open house, thanks so much for coming.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Ask me anything: How do I know that I am not pricing my house too low?

You're not.  Final sales prices today reflect the full market value.  How does that work?  Today's market is full of very sophisticated buyers ("the market") chasing very few properties.  The buyers have many tools at their disposal for evaluating the price of a specific property. And, they compete against each other for your house (unless your home is somehow stigmatized).  And we know what competition does -- it drives prices up, and you will get what "the market" determines your home is worth. Coming soon: what factors determine value?

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Record-breaking turnout at my open house today in Burbank's Magnolia Park

I held 848 N. Avon in Burbank open today, and it was the busiest open house I've ever had.  We had 213 people through.  My previous record was 198, last year on Cordova.  I think this is due to the low level of house-for-sale inventory -- many, many qualified buyers, not so many sellers.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Open Sunday 1-4 pm: 848 N. Avon St. in Burbank's Magnolia Park

Come visit us, rain or shine, at 848 N. Avon in Burbank! We'll be showing off this lovely 3 bedroom, 2 bath home, playing music, and talking up the terrific Magnolia Park neighborhood from 1 to 4 on Sunday.  The home is listed for $675,000; you can see more pictures on my site at JudyGraff.com under "Featured Properties." Yes, you'll have time to visit Porto's, do some shopping on Magnolia Blvd., view our house and still be home in time to watch the red carpet activity for the Oscars.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ask me anything: I want to get pre-approved by a mortgage lender. What documents will my lender need from me?

If you wish to buy a home and need a loan, a mortgage lender's preapproval is pretty essential.  You'll need that preapproval in writing before you make a purchase offer.  Most lenders need the following:
- 2 most recent pay stubs
- Last 2 years' w-2s and/or 1099's
- Last 2 years' federal tax return with all pages and corporate returns
- 2 most recent consecutive months' bank statements for all asset bank accounts
- For borrowers with corporations, a "profit and loss" statement for the business
This seems like a lot, I know. But that's because a) you are borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and b) you probably have this paperwork scattered all over your house.  So, if you're thinking of buying in the near future, now -- especially since it's tax time anyway -- is a good time to assemble your paperwork.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I'm in the top 5% of Realtors for John Aaroe Group

Agent rankings just came out and I'm in the top 5% of all John Aaroe Group Realtors and in the top 10 for our office.  Those of you who get the L.A. Times will see my picture on Sunday.  Thanks to all of you clients that helped make this possible.



Friday, February 21, 2014

New Burbank home for sale at 848 N. Avon in Magnolia Park!

I'm thrilled about my new listing at 848 N. Avon, in the Magnolia Park area of Burbank.  It will list on Monday for $675,000.  The first open house is next Sunday, March 2, from 1 to 4.  Please call me for showings.

Interactive FloorPlan Presentation


This Tudor revival has been wonderfully expanded while maintaining beloved vintage details.  Right across from outstanding, award-winning (and public) Roosevelt Elementary and in the heart of Burbank’s hip Magnolia Park. 3 beds, 2 baths, 1774 sf, spacious kitchen is perfect for multiple cooks and lots of gear, character dining room, master suite with French doors to backyard deck plus updated bathroom with spa tub.  Transitional design includes newer light fixtures, breakfast bar, skylights, original plus newer windows, hardwood floors throughout, fireplace.  Tons of storage including attic space in house plus loft in garage.  Separate deck overlooks large, green backyard, refreshed landscaping, and a built-in barbecue.  House is super-close to all area attractions -- this area was recently flatteringly described by website Gawker as Burbank’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Gourmet in Studio City's Tujunga Village/Woodbridge Park area: Girasol

I met a friend here at Girasol, in my new neighborhood, for a glass of wine last night (they only have wine).  We met when the restaurant opened at 6:00.  By 6:15, it was full.  Did we eat? No, but with that kind of crowd, it has to be good.  It's really the only restaurant in the Tujunga Village area besides Vitello's that offers a high-end restaurant experience.  I'll report back once I actually eat there -- if we can even get a reservation.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ask me anything: what do homeowners association dues cover?

If you buy a condo or townhome, you will likely pay dues to your homeowners' association.  What do your dues cover? The big items are hazard and liability insurance, and management company costs (if you have a management company -- somebody has to write the checks).  Dues also cover building maintenance, exterior power and gas, general swimming pool maintenance, gardening, any municipal fees, and garbage pickup.  I tell my clients that the amount you spend in dues usually equals the amount you spend on maintenance and upkeep for a single family home.

Coming next week! A home for sale RIGHT ACROSS the street from Burbank's award winning Roosevelt Elementary school

I published this a few weeks ago, but it's worth publishing again as the 3+2 home will be on the market next week.

Looking for a fabulous public elementary school in a wonderful location? Roosevelt Elementary School in Burbank may fit the bill.  It has high APIs and GreatSchools.org score of 8. It's very close to the newest, coolest attractions of Burbank's Magnolia Park, including restaurants, vintage shops, services, etc.  And best of all, I will soon have an adorable 3+2 for sale right across the street. Private message me for details. If you've dreamed for decent public schools for your children in a cool affordable neighborhood, this might be your chance to make that dream come true.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

More urban wildlife at my new Studio City home

This possum was just sitting on our back wall tonight.  I saw him/her last night as well. It was sitting in the glow of an outside floodlight.  I don't know much about possums -- is it unusual for wild animals to expose themselves in the light like this? Is this possum okay? Possum experts, please let me know.

Two weeks ago, I saw this guy/girl on the same wall:
I love our urban wildlife!

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ask me anything! How much of a mortgage interest deduction can I actually expect? What will I save in taxes?

How much of a tax savings will you get when you finance your new home through a home loan? Only your tax preparer can tell you exactly what deductions you can take and what tax savings you'll receive, but here's a good rule of thumb: for every three dollars that you pay in interest on your mortgage loan, you'll get back one dollar in taxes.  One of three.  But again, only your tax preparer can give you the true amount.

Monday, February 10, 2014

4327 Greenbush Ave., Sherman Oaks and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. What does one have to do with the other? Read on.


My latest house crush is on the new listing at 4327 Greenbush (click link for more pics) in Sherman Oaks.  This new construction, 5+6, 4500 sf is a knock-out.  You'd expect that for the asking price of $2,389,000, no? Sweeping entry with high ceilings, sunny exposure everywhere, huge kitchen with panty AND a butler's pantry, a wine room -- yes, room -- saltwater pool with fountains, a master bedroom with workstation and wine refrigerator, master closet bigger than my first apartment, balconies...and on and on.  Systems are electronic, and can be controlled from your device thingy.

Of course, the decorating details are all really glamorous.  It looks like like the stagers for the Architectural Digest cover photo shoot just left.  As you'll see from the pictures, this house is painted in shades of grey, sand, brown and white, with white marble kitchen countertops, arches, engineered hardwood, lots of glass, and crystal chandeliers.


Here's the dog part. In honor of Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which airs tonight and tomorrow, I pick the dog that would most "go" with the decor:
Yes, a perfectly groomed, pure bred, white standard poodle.  This animal is as elegant as the house and is thematically matchy-matchy with the interior.  (But please adopt shelter dogs if you need a pet.)

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Ask me anything: can student loan debt affect your ability to get a home mortgage?

Can student loan debt affect your ability to get a home mortgage?  Yes, because it's part of your entire financial picture.  And it seems that most people's student loan debt is soaring.  However, only your lender can tell you for sure.  Other factors about your income and finances may outweigh your debt.  Remember, when you choose a lender, go local and go for a direct lender.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

984 Riverside #2, Burbank is open Saturday and Sunday. Please come visit!

I'll be helping listing agent Rose Osman with her open house this Saturday at 984 Riverside, #2 in the Burbank Rancho.  Here's the link for the virtual tour of this beautiful 3+3, 1635 sf, 3 story townhome.  Please watch; it's gorgeous. And, for horse lovers, horse stalls are available! The unit is listed at $559,950 and we'll be there from 1 to 4 on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Ask me anything! First up: what size mortgage loan can I qualify for?

What can you qualify for? I don't know.  How's that? Only a local mortgage person can tell you that after looking at your income (and how you earn it), your credit score, and your debt-to-income ratios.  I highly recommend selecting a local, direct lender or credit union.  Many online-only lenders will promise the moon and then not deliver.  You'll want somebody that you can go "live" with, who will be responsive to your calls and answer all of your questions.  If you'd like some lender recommendations, please visit the "Local Partners" page on my website at JudyGraff.com.  It's under the "Resources" tab.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

12626 Rye Street, Studio City - coolest house on Realtor caravan today

This is the interior of 12626 Rye Street in Studio City.  It's for sale and has been recently been redone by Better Shelter, the folks with all the cool flips on the Eastside. Described as a "coastal modern traditonal," it has 3 beds, 2 baths, 2 bonus rooms, 1700 sf and a pool.  Listing price is $1,199,000. If for no other reason, it's worth seeing for the great flea market/transitional interior design.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Another discovery in my new Studio City neighborhood - Stout Burgers and Beers

One of the things I love about my new Studio City neighborhood is its many dining choices.

My latest "find" is the Studio City location of Stout Burgers and Beers.  By now, you're probably thinking, "Please God not another gastropub" But this one is different.  First, the burger I had was terrific.  This place grinds their own beef every day and the superior quality is evident.  The burgers are better than Umami.  Really.  And not too pricey -- most of the burgers are $10 or $11.  Of course, there are more beer choices than you can shake a stick at and -- be still my heart -- they're only $4 during happy hour!!! The wine choices are very good for a gastropub and I had a very good Spanish red for only $8.  The husband had a veggie burger which was okay but a little crumbly.  Service was great, the room has a nice ambience, great place to watch a game, etc, etc. If all this isn't enough, they even have a parking lot. I'm not being snarky; parking lots for restaurants are rare in Studio City.  The lot is small, though, so get there early before the valet shows up.

Stay tuned for other local finds and please feel free to tell me about your favorite places in the east Valley.  Anybody know of a good drive-through car wash in SC?