Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Thanks, L.A. Curbed, for this story. Americana at Brand, the new destination shopping center in Glendale, will take delivery of a "Spirit of American Youth" statue to the garden area of a shopping center. Pictured above, the statue is a re-creation of the 1949 sculpture at the Omaha Beach Memorial in France that commemorates soldiers who died on Normandy Beach. Of course, before it's good enough to grace a Glendale shopping center, it has to be dipped in gold. Remember the soldiers who died for your right to shop. To the left is the statue, about to leave NYC for Glendale, and the smaller picture below is the original, in France.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
As an aside, I'll cop to being addicted to shows like A&E's Intervention. Yes, it's just another reality show. But it has performed a service, at least for me, in that it has educated me immensely about addiction -- and I had a death in my own family last year as a result of chronic alcoholism. I've learned that sober-living situations can be vital to those struggling to get well.
So here's the conundrum: don't we as a community and a society have a responsibility to help those trying to help themselves? Isn't giving recovering addicts an opportunity to live in a normal community a good thing? I think so. But would I feel safe living close to this particular facility? No. Any answers from anybody out there?
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The second story covers Adam Carolla's view of the San Fernando Valley, complete with "best ofs." Here's a quote from Adam about the usual progression from the Westside to the Valley: "People move here...They get themselves an apartment on the Westside. It's $2,500 a month and they have a roommate...They like to walk to their local coffee shop and say they'd never move. Eventually, they get a little bit older and they say, 'I guess I need to think about buying a house, I'm 37'...Five years go by...because they can't humble themselves to move to the Valley. This is the point where they move...and that's how people end up in the Valley."
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
- New FHA restrictions just came out. Here’s the upside.
- The loan limits for SFR in L.A. are $729,750 (same as “jumbo conforming”).
- Loan limits for 2 units are $934,200.
- The interest rate is 6% as of this writing; however, there is mortgage insurance (see below).
- Minimum down payment is 3% (not including closing costs).
- Fixed rate and Adjustable rate programs are available.
- NO MINIMUM FICO REQUIREMENT (this is huge).
- Must be full documentation loan. No stated income loans.
- No buyer reserve requirement (this is also huge).
- No income limits.
- The seller can contribute up to 6%, including closing costs, although the seller does not have to pay the closing costs.
- There can be non-occupant co-signers on the loan.
- You do not have to be a first-time buyer.
- Gifts are permitted for the entire 3% borrower investment and don’t need to be “seasoned.”
- Gifts are also permitted for all closing costs & pre-paid items.
- Down payment assistance programs are permitted, such as city first-time buyer housing programs.
Now, here’s the downside:
- There is mortgage insurance. It equals either 0.5% point per month, or 1.5% points up front. The up-front payment is deductible from your taxes during the year that you buy.
- There are stricter appraisal requirements:
- Any operable or useful element in the subject property must have at least 2 or more years of useful life or it must be replaced.
- The appraiser must be FHA-approved.
- The appraiser can require a separate inspection upon any “visible” defect or if he/she has knowledge of any existing problem.
- The property must be structurally sound.
- It must have a useable garage.
- The property cannot have code violations.
- Each living unit much contain domestic hot water, sanitary facilities and a safe method of sewage disposal. Connection to public systems is required if available.
- Heating systems must be adequate for healthful and comfortable living conditions.
- Condo projects must be pre-approved; they can be spot-approved but this is much more difficult.
- Condo projects must have sufficient reserve funds.
Monday, March 10, 2008
The mortgage crisis has never been about home ownership. There are 6 major players in this scheme, the home ownership deception scheme.
1. Brokers, 2. Lenders, 3. Investment Bankers, 4. Rating Agencies - and the ones they lure 5. Investors and 6. Borrowers (you could think of 1-4 as fishermen and 5 and 6 as fish). 1 thru 4 have no skin in the game and they are working for Wall St. and have made off with billions of dollars.
After the high tech boom, the housing market was the next investment vehicle that Wall St. was going to push.
Before 2007, real estate was the best investment in America. How does Wall St. take advantage of that? They package mortgages together and sell them at a higher return. "They can't lose, they're the best investment in the world!" There was a high demand, but there was one problem - there wasn't enough product (borrowers - there were only so many people who had 20% down, high credit ratings, etc.)
Where do you get more product (borrowers)? Start creating products that a wider market can qualify for. So first came the A. sub-prime loans, then came the B. high-rate "strangulation" ARMS (interest rate only goes up, not connected to LIBOR or Prime Rate) where payments will double no matter what happens in the market and principle is never paid down, then came C. a negative amortization product (where principle grows and is never paid off), then came D. Option ARMs, then came E. no doc loans. (I may have missed some data regarding these loan products, but you get the idea.)
The point is, the loan products are defective by definition. When you recognize that these are defective products and this is orchestrated to generate billions of dollars out there for the four players in the middle (1 thru 4 above), then what's the solution?
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Saturday, March 08, 2008
I just showed this house at 2219 N. Brighton in Burbank. It's a "3" bedroom (although 1 bed is converted from 1/2 the garage), 1.75 bath, 1280 sf, foreclosure listed at $519,900. It has been largely, but not completely, remodeled, although the floor plan is not good. It also looks as though the flipper/owners/walkaway-ers may have run out of money before they finished this. You can just tell that the owners thought they'd buy an inexpensive house, flip it, and make a killing. But they forgot one very important element of successful flipping: location, location, location. This poor house is located at the confluence of San Fernando, the 5 Fwy, the train tracks, and the airport, plus there's a liquour store one house away. It's hard to imagine a worse location. Seriously, this is a text-book case of what NOT to do to make money in real estate. I predict this house will sell in the high $300's.
In the last day, 10 properties have been reported pending in Burbank, from condos to mid-priced homes. This is a lot for even a warm market. The two to the left are both on Maple -- the condo is in the project at 355 N. Maple and the house is in the 700 block. And, nine properties have reported pending in all price ranges in Studio City. Yes, these aren't "solds" -- but this many "pendings" indicate a surprisingly large amount of activity. Could the Spring selling season be better than we think?
Friday, March 07, 2008
Update: click here for the 3/7/2008 updated Burbank Leader story.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Monday, March 03, 2008
Saturday, March 01, 2008
In short, your monthly housing payment is going to be about the same, because the lower housing prices go, the higher interest rates will likely go.