Sunday, March 11, 2018

Milla Goldenberg is a rock star Realtor.

Milla Goldenberg (that's her smiling face, above) joined Judy Graff Properties several months ago, and just closed a really challenging sale at 4211 Redwood, #202 (pictured above) in Marina Del Rey.  It takes a very talented Realtor to have done this, and not everybody could have pleased the other transaction parties as she did.  First of all, even though the unit was aggressively priced, Milla hung in for months and finally convinced the seller to take the market price.  Next, the building's HOA is in litigation.  It is almost impossible to get a conventional loan on a condo unit in this case.  But Milla drilled down, called a million lenders, and found one who would make the loan at a reasonable cost to the buyers.  Next, there was a bad appraisal, which Milla smoothed over with both buyer and seller.  There were other issues, too -- a robbery during an open house (yes, it happens), divots in the floor during an open house, and on and on.  Yet, she persevered, and performed the amazing feat of getting this property closed to everybody's satisfaction.  Major kudos, Milla -- I am honored to have you as part of the company! If you would like service like this, please contact Milla at

Friday, March 02, 2018

House of the week: 2139 Baxter in Echo Park. It's a probate, but don't let that scare you.

This week's house of the week, 2139 Baxter in Echo Park, was chosen because 1) it's a cutie that's ripe for a renovation or just great decorating taste, 2) it's in a cool Eastside neighborhood, 3) it has a view and a backyard, 4) the price is affordable (although it will probably go over) at $699,000 and 5) it is special because it's a probate sale.  Don't be scared of buying a probate property.  You can do it. 

Here is the quick story on probates.  The thing you need most of with a probate sale is patience.  The sale takes a long time because attorneys are involved and a court date needs to be set.  First, you line up your loan and do your inspections.  Next, you make an offer, put down 10%, and if the estate accepts your offer, you then wait for notice of the court date (your agent and the listing agent will go with you to court).  The judge will ask if anybody objects to the sale and if not, s/he will open bidding.  Yes, you can be outbid in court, so plan to go higher and bring extra cashiers' checks for the increased deposit just in case.  Once the judge rules in your favor, closing is usually within 10 days.

Yes, this takes a lot longer than an actual sale, and there are more details, but this is the overview.  However, this house would definitely be one worth waiting for.

Friday, February 23, 2018

House of the week! 3510 Chandler, Burbank

I'm going to start picking a "house of the week" to feature in this blog (don't hold me to this weekly timetable, though).  The home will be in the L.A. area, and will hopefully be unique in one or more ways.  To start--

This one is for every buyer who believes that there is no such thing as a home for sale in Burbank under $700,000 anymore.  You're right.  But the exception proves the rule, and 3510 W. Chandler in Burbank is a great exception for the right buyer.  It is listed (not by me) for $584,500.  That's less expensive than many condos and townhomes in similar areas these days.

Chandler has a lot more to offer than meets the eye budget.  Yes, the house is small -- 809 sf., 2 beds and 1 bath.  And it's on a small lot -- 2,589 sf.  That's bigger than a lot of townhomes and condos, though.  It has a one-car garage (there is lots of street parking around here too), wood-burning fireplace, a/c, laundry room and little yard.  These homes on this stretch of Chandler are little gems.  They were built along the railroad tracks as starter homes back in the 1940's.  The railroad tracks are long gone, and a gorgeous -- and famous -- bike/walking path has replaced it.  The home is also walking distance to all of Magnolia Park's attractions.  Did I mention the great schools in Burbank?  

Of course, buyers, call me if you would like to tour this home.  It's going to be a terrific choice for buyers who are looking for a condo-alternative, or investors who want those hard-to-find, relatively inexpensive rental properties in great areas.  

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Are real estate agents becoming obsolete? Asked and answered.

For residential real estate brokerages, the beginning of a new year can bring many changes.  It's agent recruiting season.  There are several big conferences.  Everybody (including me) wants to weigh in on how the industry will change in the coming year and future.  

This year, the r.e. industry talk has all been tech, tech, and more tech, such as:  Artificial intelligence will make agents obsolete.  Agents need more tech tools.  For brokerages, "my tech is bigger than your tech" is the new rallying cry.  Even the head of Keller Williams has stated, "We are no longer a real estate company.  We are a tech company."  What does this mean, and how will it impact home buyers and sellers?  Regardless of what you hear, I believe tech will have little impact, that it hasn't already had (Docusign, Zillow, Redfin), on residential real estate.

This is coming from an agent who loves technology.  I had a website in 1998, before most people even knew what a website was.  I've had this blog going since 2008, for pete's sake.  Docusign enabled me to start my own brokerage.  My social media footprint is strong, and I've tried (and paid for) lots of shiny new stuff along the way.

So, if I love tech so much, why am I flying in the face of industry "experts"? Because agents in wear at least two hats.  Sure, you can find a home online.  If you're a seller, you can create video walk-throughs and hope nobody pesters you to actually see the house.  But the second part of any real estate transaction is negotiating, shepherding, and managing the sale.  It is an even bigger part of a transaction than the initial find/buy, and it takes a client-centered, individual touch that no tech can provide.  As an example, here is a post from the online blog Quora:

Sean Hess
I am a Realtor and a Broker, and if you could just jump online and buy a house you wouldn’t need me. Actually, there are auction sites where you can buy a house online, so you really don’t need me.

But I will always have a job, and I chalk it up to human nature.

Buying a house should be easy. You should be able to go out and find a house you like, and then buy it. But there’s so much drama.

Here’s some of the issues I’ve seen pop up over the years:

A buyer wanted to buy a house near the beach, and yet seemed astounded when I advised her that she needed flood insurance.

I had a seller tell my customers as that some river rocks around the house made it “termite proof.” I had to convice these customers that there is no such thing as “termite proof” in Florida.

The first thing almost every buyer asks when they sign a purchase agreement for a home is, “How do I get my money back if…” (the question is always open ended). In other words, they’re already thinking of backing out before they’ve even made the offer. 

In a sale where I had the buyers, the sellers claimed on a written disclosure that the home never had termites, yet proudly presented receipts for work done to repair “extensive termite damage.”

I’ve had the sellers in a transaction swear a home was termite free. After termites were discovered and a pest service came out to fumigate, the neighbor strolled over and said, “Well, they’re finally doing something about those termites.”

After a lender told me three days before closing that the buyer’s paperwork was good and we would close on time, the lender literally disappeared. I had the sellers and it was a very rough month until we could close again with another lender.

I once had a couple lose a house because they put off some required paperwork in order to go play bingo.

At a home inspection one of my partners attended, he opened the door to find a man with a gun drawn. The seller didn’t bother inform the tenant (with the gun) that people were coming over that morning. The tenant thought someone was breaking in.

Is a pattern emerging here?

So why do you need a Realtor? 

You would think it’s the marketing, the access to all of the homes, knowledge of certain neighborhoods, the understanding of contracts, or all the background expertise about inspections. But it’s not.

Because in every real estate transaction at least one of the parties visits Crazyland somewhere along the way. And that’s normal.

The Realtor’s core value, the sole reason we exist, is to keep the other side honest and to massage away problems when they happen.

A real estate sale is probably the highest dollar transaction a regular person will ever be involved it. It creates a huge amount of stress.

Because of this stress I often see people at their very worst.
Something goes wrong and they get so upset with the other party that they are willing to cut off their own nose to spite their face.

They break promises and lie because they think telling the truth will cost them money. Usually it ends up costing them money anyway and it always takes a Realtor to iron things out. With grace and with tact.

So even though I’m the business of selling a staple product (food and clothing being the other two), I actually owe my job to human nature.

Honestly, I would rather deal with sane people. But when one of my agents comes in with a transaction blowing up I tell them, "That's our job, that's the reason they need us. Let's go save somebody's world again..."

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Housing and the January Jobs report: instant reaction

This is straight from the National Association of Realtors website.  Please read until the end.

The following is NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun’s reaction to this morning’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report on January employment conditions:
“The best news from the January jobs report is accelerating wages, which rose 2.9% from a year ago. The continuing job growth of 200,000 in January, and 2.1 million over the past 12 months, have kept the economy at essentially full employment. It is now to the point where employers have to offer higher wages to attract new employees.
Not all is fine, however. The labor force participation rate is still stuck at 62%, compared to 67% a decade ago, prior to the big recession. Also, the tightening labor market along with faster wage gains means that the Federal Reserve is inclined to raise interest rates more frequently.
Ultimately, the desire to buy a home will rise because of this strong job growth with higher pay, but the financial capacity to buy will be cut because of rising interest rates.”

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Another two great Yelp reviews.

I am grateful and thankful to have worked with these folks.  Here are my new Yelp reviews:

"My wife and I have now bought two properties with Judy's help. We couldn't be more impressed with her diligence, honesty and hard work. 

Here's how we know Judy has the buyer's best interests at heart: she talked us OUT of making offers multiple times because she knew the homes we were looking at either weren't worth the money or had too many major problems. 

Every time an agent talks a buyer out of making an offer, that agent runs the risk of never getting paid. 

Judy is willing to run that risk, because she knows what a big deal it is to buy a house. So she's determined to make sure the buyer gets the RIGHT house. 

She's amazing and we would never work with another agent."

"I met Judy through my now-husband when we were in the beginning stages of searching for our first home together. He had been following her real estate blog for quite some time and was really impressed with her knowledge and of-the-moment perspective on the real estate climate in the area. 

What is so refreshing about Judy is that she talks to her clients as friends first. She's honest and real during the entire process. And also INCREDIBLY patient! She finally helped us get into our townhouse north of Ventura Boulevard in Studio City after a somewhat painful and laborious process with the sellers. That was five years ago. We entrusted Judy to help us yet again on our search for our long-term home as newlyweds. 

Countless open houses, countless MLS listings, and countless emails back and forth later (did I mention how patient she is with her clients?!), Judy helped us find our new home in the Studio City hills. After another somewhat stressful and laborious process with the sellers, Judy was just fantastic. She was completely on her game through every moment of the process and was able to nudge us along gently to help us get our ducks in row. But I need to mention, Judy is on her game ALL THE TIME. She's a real gem in the real estate world here, and I feel so lucky and fortunate to have found her. I'd recommend her to friends in a heartbeat."

Friday, January 26, 2018

It's official. Los Angeles home prices have broken previous records.

Yesterday's L.A. Times featured an article with the following headline: Southern California median home price breaks record set last decade during housing bubble.  The headline should link to the article.

My favorite paragraph is the first.  It states, "The Southern California median home price in December finally surpassed bubble-era highs, a milestone that took more than a decade to achieve and is once again raising concerns that housing is too costly." Raising concern? Ya think?

Do I foresee that the bubble will burst? No.  The fundamentals for that to happen now just aren't there.  We no longer have high unemployment, and there's just a lot of money in this state.  Do I think prices will continue to rise?  Perhaps a bit.  But I doubt we'll see the yearly 8%-10% rises we've seen lately.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I am pleased to announce that Realtor Dayna Cussler has joined Judy Graff Properties

Watch our company grow! I am thrilled to announce that Realtor Dayna Cussler has joined Judy Graff Properties as an associate licensee.  I have known Dayna for many years and love her expertise and her cool vibe. 

Dayna has lived in the Los Angeles area for over 30 years.  She knows this great city well and loves all the diverse culture it has to offer. She has helped many entertainment professionals, families and people new to the LA area with their real estate needs, providing quality service to both buyers and sellers.  She can also stage your home to help in the selling process.  Her number one priority is her client.

Daynas been in the real estate industry for ten years.  She also has a passion for creative arts and endeavors.  A former actress, flamenco dancer and wardrobe stylist for movies, she now enjoys playing the drums in her band, Stations Of The Sun, driving classic cars, photography, creating childrens books and caring for her rescue dogs.

Areas of Expertise:
Toluca Lake, Burbank, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, Glendale, Pasadena and La Canada-Flintridge.

Dayna can be reached at 818-590-5944 or

Monday, January 15, 2018

Wait! Before you tear down that rock wall around your fireplace...

Rock walls are really unpopular and difficult to get rid of.  What are they good for?

No need to go to the rock wall climbing gym ever again!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Salute to a couple of local businesses

This isn't an ad, just high praise for two local businesses that I frequent.  We all love Lowes and Do-It Center, but if you're in Studio City, there's no better hardware store than locally-owned North Hollywood Hardware at 11847 Ventura Blvd.  These folks not only have just about any hardware that you might need, they also have the most knowledgeable, helpful employees.  I was just in there to buy a little lightbulb and got immediate, expert assistance for this tiny part.

What would you give to (almost) never have to go to the DMV again? Smogland in Studio City will smog your car and electronically take care of your registration before you can finish looking at your Instagram feed.  In addition to registration and smog checks, they do title transfer, vin verification, duplicate registrations, stickers and license plates.  They are located at 4021 Radford and Sassan Dameshghi is the very friendly, knowledgeable owner.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Curbed has selected San Pedro as neighborhood of the year!

Every year, Curbed LA runs a neighborhood contest in which their readers select the best livable L.A. neighborhood.  This year, our own little Burbank almost won. (Finally, some recognition for Burbank.)  But at the end, it was beaten out by...San Pedro! Check the link here.

I actually sold a home in San Pedro this year.  Before that, I just thought it was an industrial port with cruise ship berths.  My buyer clients, who knew better than I did, convinced me otherwise.  Once I went down there, I became impressed by the housing stock and the affordability.  Many of the homes, including the one my clients purchased, are on the hill and have views of the harbor.  Yes, it's a bit far away from many attractions, but the Ports of Call development is getting a huge face lift, so new and better entertainment and dining options will be coming very soon.  Good on ya, San Pedro!  And hopefully Burbank will win the Curbed contest next year.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

What the new tax plan means for Los Angeles area home buyers and sellers

Unless you've been doing last-minute holiday shopping 24/7, you know that the U.S. Congress passed a new bill that governs the federal taxes that you pay.  Without getting deep in the weeds about the details, here are the major issues that you should know about if you are searching for a home or selling a home in the Los Angeles area.

Re the mortgage interest deduction: it has been lowered from $1 million to $750,000.  That's the amount of the mortgage loan, not the total cost of the home.  Mercifully, it will not hurt affordability for most people who buy a home in the $400,000-$900,000 range -- and most properties in L.A. County are in that range -- so your MID is safe.  What does it mean for sellers? Not much. Your pool of qualified buyers will not shrink for median-priced homes and townhomes/condos.  And, if you are selling a very expensive property, your buyers are probably not as concerned as they already (presumably) have ample means to pay the mortgage and don't require a big yearly deduction.

Re the capital gains on home sales exclusion:  This is unchanged.  If you are a single person who has lived in your home two out of the last five years, you can still exclude up to $250,000 in profit from capital gains taxes.  If you are married, you can exclude up to $500,000 in profit.  For buyers, no concerns here.

Stay tuned, though.  I have a feeling that the U.S. Congress is not done tinkering with this tax plan yet.

Monday, December 11, 2017

3747 Berry, Studio City - sold! With challenges, of course

Although you can't see the house well, this is 3747 Berry in Studio City and it just sold to my friends and clients, Josh and Mac.  Josh and Mac have been looking for a home in the hills for several months now.  You know the drill: find the house, make an offer, get excited, only to find out that you are one of 18 other offers, don't get the house.  Our number must have come up this time because we got lucky and got into escrow at our offering price.

It was a challenge for a couple of reasons.  I won't go into detail here, but if you buy a house on a hill, please get a geologic inspection.  Also, please use a direct lender for your loan and not an investment company.  The investment company is very reputable and came through at the end, but the buyers had to jump through higher and higher hoops and the communication from the company was just plain bad.

Obviously, the story has a happy ending.  Josh and Mac intend to build an addition and are in the fun process of getting started on that now. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Another sexy subject: How to paint your place

The first thing almost all buyers do when purchasing a new place is paint.  And often, sellers do this before putting their homes on the market.  Paint is the quickest way to begin decorating and freshen up the look of a house.  But it's such a hassle that many people outsource it to professionals, and that can get expensive.  However, yesterday's New York Times had a great how-to article on how to do it yourself.  It's really specific.  Click on this title for the link: A Pro Teaches You How to Paint Your Apartment.  My favorite "don't" in the article? "Don't shop for paint before 10 am or after 4 pm or you'll get caught waiting in line behind all the contractors."

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

3rd anniversary of Judy Graff Properties, Inc.!

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of the formation of Judy Graff Properties.  Three years ago, I made the move away from large agencies and opened my own full-service real estate company.  I have never looked back.  JGP is slowly growing, but will always be providing the difference, and leading with a heart for service.  Thanks to all the clients and agents that have made this endeavor such a success!
Graphic courtesy of Steve, of course.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

LA Times published my letter on affordable housing and density

I am tired of hearing about so-called "affordable housing" and I am tired of the L.A. Times support of  high-density as a way to produce more affordable housing.  (Yes, as a Realtor, I know that I benefit from more stuff to sell, but I also benefit as a human from a more livable city.) I wrote this letter earlier this week and it was published in today's L.A. Times.  First, the link:

To the editor: 
I am disappointed by The Times’ support of high-density housing near transit stops as a way to solve the “affordable” housing crisis. Getting people out of their cars plus giving them affordable housing are two separate issues and should be treated as such. (“L.A. obviously needs dense housing along the Expo Line. Why isn't the city planning for it?” editorial, Nov. 9)
Why not build affordable housing in neighborhoods where people actually live now rather than where we want them to live?
Let’s continue allowing granny flats and guest houses in neighborhoods that are not close to transit. Let’s allow spot zoning in residential neighborhoods for duplexes, triplexes and small-lot townhome developments — yes, with parking spaces.
A guest house that can be rented offsets the high cost of a single-family home and may put home purchases within reach for people of modest means. A guest house will surely rent for much less than a fancy new apartment in, say, downtown Los Angeles. Let’s stop trying to cram more people into areas that were never meant for high density in the first place.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Another great Yelp review

I love Abhi and Shweta.  I've seen them purchase their first home and now, their second home.  I've known them since they just had one baby -- now, they have two kids and the oldest is almost as tall as me.  Both of them are smart, focused and practical.  It has been an honor to work with them.  

Judy helped my husband and me buy two houses.  She is a very sweet and skillful lady with a golden heart. I absolutely love her and her smart way of working. 

She understand the importance of time, therefore she will not show you any random house. She will first understand you and your choices and then filter the houses that will best match your requirement, your taste and also is a very good house according to Market.

The Best thing I like about Judy is her HONEST OPINION. She don't care about making more and more money, all she cares about is to do right what is right for you. 

I over looked and missed a lot of things in my both houses but nothing skipped from her eyes. The way she analyzed things and looked at every single details, shows her amazingly deep knowledge and experience in this business.

She entered in our life 9 years earlier as a agent but now she is like a family to me
She is an absolutely pleasure to work with and will HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY  Highly recommend her.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Roof repair is so sexy

Californians, you probably haven't thought about your roof since the rains last year.  However, before it begins to rain again (if that happens), now is an excellent time to do roof maintenance.  You're probably thinking that I mean shingles.  Actually, the really important stuff is having the vents and pipes properly sealed (sealant wears out) because that's where moisture comes in.  And having the gutters cleared so they don't top out with water that sloshes back where the roof meets the house.  And shingles too.  Maintenance isn't expensive, and an ounce of prevention beats a pound of whatever, bla bla.  

Another reason to do this now: you can actually schedule a roofer now, something that will be impossible once the rains start -- these folks get all booked up really quickly. You don't want to be the person who wrestles a blue tarp up a ladder and over a leak.  It may be less expensive now than in December-January-February, too.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

My clients just closed on this cool Highland Park home

Clients Alison and Jason just bought this very cool 3+2 Highland Park bungalow.  Although the house is almost a hundred years old, it has been expanded and extensively rehabbed.  Even though I tried to interest them in other areas, the buyers had their hearts set on a Highland Park home.  They had made really good offers on three other houses prior to this one, and were quite philosophical about their previous disappointments.  Needless to say, we were delighted and went out for bubbly the night we learned that the seller had accepted our offer. (By "we," I mean me and Ali.  Jason is working out of town and has only seen the house once, for ten minutes, after it was already in escrow.  Risky? Yes, but in this hot market, none of us wanted to wait.)

My favorite thing about the house is its stellar location.  You can see and walk to the Occidental College campus from the street.  It's also very easy walk to The York, which is a very cool pub.  I hope Ali and Jason have many wonderful years here.

New price heights for L.A. area homes

I know, I know -- this blog is getting to be just a news clipping service.  But bear with me for yet another article from yesterday's L.A. Times by Andrew Khouri.  Here's the link.  The title is "Home prices in Southern California reach bubble-era highs." Among the other data points is this: L.A. County home prices have risen 9.5% this year to $505,000, which is $25,000 higher than the highest 2007 pre-recession price.  The article also states that economists aren't as worried this time around, since the rise is not driven by risky loans.  Instead, it is driven by an improving economy, historically low interest rates and a shortage of homes for sale.

Do I see prices getting soft and perhaps even dropping a little? Not in the foreseeable future.  I predict another rise in prices in the Spring.  I wish I could foresee more affordability instead.
Photo courtesy of  Brian Chan/Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Steal this Studio City midcentury rental

3541 Laurelvale has had another rent price reduction! The monthly rent is now $4300 and pets (with some restrictions) are allowed.  This great midcentury features 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2 car garage with pull-through for extra parking, appliances included, and serene hillside location.  Got kids? It's in the Carpenter School area.  Carpenter Elementary is one of the most renowned schools in the LAUSD district.  Get it while it's hot!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Check out Milla's new listing at 4211 Redwood, Marina Del Rey!

Milla Goldenberg, my associate agent here at Judy Graff Properties, just listed this stunning condo in Marina Del Rey for $899,000.  It has two bedrooms and 2 baths and is almost 1200 sf.  The address is 4211 Redwood Ave., #202, Marina Del Rey 90066.  And it's open Sunday, 10/15, from 2 to 5 pm.  Here's Milla's description:

It's clear from the moment you walk in that a designer lives here, one who has tastefully upgraded every inch of this stunning condo. This exquisite unit in a newer building has had only one owner and is the only one that allows hardwood floors in both bedrooms. With its high ceilings, the open-concept living area extends to a cozy patio and succulent wall. The light-filled master bedroom features a spacious walk-in closet and master bath with marble tile in the shower and Caesarstone countertops. The gated complex includes two tandem parking spaces, a common area for grilling and a bike rack. With a walk score of 80, this unit is less than a mile from the ocean and close to shops, restaurants and theaters. Property also comes with many designer fixtures and furnishings, including high-end stainless steel appliances, stackable washer and dryer, an ethanol fireplace, patio chairs, Murphy bed in the guest room, George Nelson bubble lamps and a walnut console that has been custom built for the living room. All other furnishings are negotiable as well. Don't miss out on this move-in ready beauty that is missing nothing but you.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Price reduction on 3541 Laurelvale lease in Studio City!

The mid-century modern Studio City hillside living fantasy just became a little less expensive.  Yes, less.  3541 Laurelvale is now listed at $4475 a month.  This 3 bedroom (one bed converted from office), 2 bath home features almost 1500 sf, a spacious kitchen and pantry, flat backyard, 2 car garage with pull-through for extra cars, and a peaceful, quiet neighborhood.  Appliances are included without warranty.  Pets are allowed too with breed and weight restrictions.  And, walking distance from Carpenter School. Contact me to view this special property.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Best editorial about CA housing crisis EVAH. Thanks, Mike Gatto.

From today's L.A. Times comes this editorial about the current housing crisis, 10 points to keep in mind about housing affordability in California.  The writer is Mike Gatto, who was a CA assemblyman for several terms.  Click here for the article.  My favorite sentence: While having a roof over your head is a human right, being hip is not.

I would add this one thing: Developers build where they build in order to make a profit.  That's why they build/flip expensive stuff -- because there is more money to be made.  Could California come up with a way for developers to make a profit in less expensive areas without cutting corners? I don't think it's a matter of zoning as much as it is a matter of profit. Thoughts?
Photo courtesy of L.A. Times.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Priced for drama or priced for sale?

It’s no secret that much of L.A. real estate sells for more than the asking price.  And it’s no secret that Realtors sometimes price their properties for a little less what they will certainly sell for in order to quickly get offers.  The sales price of a particular property – what qualified buyers are willing to pay for a property, along with availability of funding, comparable home sales and property condition – usually winds up being exactly what the home is worth in the current market.

But how much is too much when it comes to underpricing? Recently, I have been looking for properties for clients on the popular eastside of L.A.  And I have seen places deliberately priced for more than $100,000 under what they will eventually sell for.  Yup, One. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars. Less.  The Realtors know it.  The sellers know it.  A lot of buyers don’t know it, though, and get excited about the prospect of buying in their desired neighborhood. A lot of buyers’ hearts get broken.

Why is this extreme underpricing necessary? All it does is disappoint many, many potential buyers who will never be able to really afford the particular property.  It wastes everybody’s time.  And it creates a lot of unnecessary drama around the showings and the marketing process.  Who benefits from this approach? In a hot market, the sellers are going to get the best price the market will bear anyway.  Is it bragging rights? Do the Realtors and sellers need that much attention?  C’mon, guys; let’s try to bring some fairness to a process that’s already pretty unpleasant.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Midcentury modern lease in Studio City

Want to lease a home with a tranquil canyon vibe and a midcentury modern design? 3541 Laurelvale in Studio City will be just what you're looking for. Two bedrooms plus convertible office, two baths, big outdoor area/backyard with tree-top view, large kitchen, dining area, 2 car garage with pull-through for extra parking and more. Yes, pets are allowed (with restrictions) and it's in Carpenter Charter school district too.  Available in early October; $4800 a month and minimum one-year lease. Call me for an appointment to see.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

From today's L.A. Times: Young couples are buying again. Yes, but that commute!

Today's L.A. Times' biz section has an article entitled A new generation of  young home buyers is tiptoeing into the market.   The number of first-time, under-35-year-old home buyers has ticked up since the recession.  Yes, the article does go into how tough it is for most first-time buyers and how unaffordable most r.e. is.  One of the profiled couples (pictured above) bought in the Riverside County "exurb"of Murietta and are delighted by their new big house.  Of course, the man now has a 75-mile commute to work.  Seventy-five miles.  Let that sink in...
Photo courtesy of Glenn Koenig/LA Times

Monday, August 21, 2017

It was all about the schools -- 2023 Karen in Burbank just closed

Do people move for good schools? Yup. Does moving to a particular school district guarantee admission in that school?  Nope.  My clients, the Guptas, bought a house nine years ago in Burbank.  That home is in a good school area, but they wanted an even better school area for their growing family. So they looked in the Jefferson School area within Burbank and found 2023 Karen St.  They had made offers on other properties before that hadn't been accepted, so we were thrilled when we were told the sellers had picked our offer.  It was the right size -- five bedrooms -- and was just up the street from the school.

However, we were saddened to learn that Jefferson School was full and not taking any other new students.  Yes, that can happen in public schools as well as charters and private schools.  The Gupta children were wait-listed with no promises given of ever getting into Jefferson.  The family decided to roll the dice and purchase the house anyway.  But by some sort of magic (that's the only thing we can figure), they received a call last week telling them that there was room for the kids in the school! Whew! I am sure the family will be really happy in the new home and at the new school.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

10962 Kittridge - amazing activity in North Hollywood

This is 10962 Kittridge, in North Hollywood.  It looks like a townhouse, but it is really a single family home and was built under L.A.'s small lot subdivision ordinance.  It closed yesterday for $575,000.

This home is newly built (2014) and has three bedrooms and three baths in over 1600 sf.  It has a double garage but no yard.  Since it isn't in the "nice" redeveloped part of North Hollywood (some people call this area No-No Hollywood) we weren't sure what the activity would be, and we priced it along with the comps -- at $530,000.

Within four days after listing, we already had seven offers, and the price started to climb.  In some cases, agents and their buyers were not even waiting for counter offers, they were just throwing new, higher offers at us instead.  The seller and I finally cut off all the bidding at $575,000 and accepted one of the offers.  Would their be an appraisal problem? Probably, but all of the high bidders had removed the appraisal contingency.  This means that even if they couldn't get a loan for the whole amount, they'd bring in the extra funds to bridge the gap between the loan and the sales price.  For what it's worth, we did not select a cash offer and picked one with a loan instead.  The buyers had written a very sincere letter to the seller -- yes! that helps -- and the lender was a known entity, so we did not believe there was a risk.  Who knew that No-Noho was so hot? I'm sure the buyers will be really happy in their new home, and needless to say, my seller was delighted with the results.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Remember the invest-in-r.e.-outside-of-CA thang? Here's NYT's take

As you may recall, earlier this year I began brokering single family rentals in other parts of the country.  The rental homes have been rehabbed, have tenants, are managed, and offer a little income every month.  Plus appreciation.  These are all in cities where r.e. is much, much less expensive than L.A.

Anyway, NYT has an article about this very thing:  They mention one of the national companies, HomeUnion.  I have a relationship with HomeUnion but they don't do their own management.  If you would like to explore this further, please contact me.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Milla Goldenberg joins Judy Graff Properties

I am thrilled to announce that Milla Goldenberg has joined me as a real estate agent. I've known Milla for nine years -- we both posted regularly on L.A. Times' late r.e. blog, LA LA Land.  Here's Milla's bio, in her own words and from her website at

Like many people, for a long time I wondered what I wanted to be when I grew up. And like many more, I got it wrong with several different jobs before finally getting it right with real estate. The detours were often fun and interesting, including stints as a journalist for NPR, GEEK magazine and various entertainment publications, which took me to Comic-Con and landed my byline in "The New York Times." Other times, they were less fun, like those dreary 11 years I spent working in financial compliance.


It seems obvious to me now that real estate was my true calling and my biggest regret will be that I didn’t switch careers sooner. I also regret not becoming a homeowner sooner, as I truly believe homeownership is the best path toward financial security. When I did finally buy my little fixer in 2008, a foreclosure in Highland Park, I was a single woman with limited means up against a big bank that refused to negotiate. The entire experience was stressful and isolating, with tons of jargon I didn’t understand being thrown at me daily and the creeping suspicion that everyone involved was only interested in making money off me, my agent included. While lousy at the time, that experience helped shape my philosophy about the kind of real estate agent I promise my clients I will be: one who is patient, not pushy, puts their interests above everything else, is committed to excellence, and believes in total transparency.


It’s the promise I make to you as well, whether you’re looking to purchase your first home (and uneasy about the implications) or ready to sell and trade up. I promise to stay by your side every step of the way and do everything I can to ensure a stress-free experience. And as a native Angeleno (who attended both UCLA and USC -- go, Brojans!), I know Los Angeles well, particularly Northeast LA, and not just the neighborhoods, but the restaurants, coffee shops, art walk and community events as well. I'm happy to answer any questions about them while addressing all of your real estate needs. Call me today to get started.