Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More truth from the real estate 'bots

More snarky fun from our friends, the real estate 'bots.

L.A. Times AND Daily News say home prices are up...

Our local papers are reporting that housing prices posted gains for the third month in a row. On a year-to-year basis from August 2008, our total decline is now a statistical 12% for L.A. I don't think this has to do with the $8k credit. Rather, I think it's because of historically low interest rates and very short inventory.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nice surprise in North Hollywood

Yesterday, my client Steven and I took a look at several townhouses. I was very pleasantly surprised by this pud/townhouse development in North Hollywood, of all places. The borders are Saticoy on the north, Laurel Canyon on the east, Whitsett on the West and Runnymeade (I think) on the south. Although I thought I knew all the complexes in the area, this was a new one for me (there's a joke here someplace about old dogs and new tricks).
There must be over 300 townhomes and single family homes in this subdivision and the development is remarkably well kept up. Further, it looked like everything had just had new windows installed, new paint, and a fairly new roof. Best of all, the asking prices are low -- around $300k and less for a big townhouse with an attached garage! However, there isn't much available there now, naturally. But still, this is certainly a subdivision that's going on my radar from here on out.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Back from the South

I'm back from my trip to Savannah, Charleston and the low country in between those cities. Loved the residential architecture in the historic city centers. The historic preservation people in those cities must run them with an iron hand. Of course, the ability to get tax credits for restoring historic houses does not hurt, either. Lots of homes are for sale and naturally, they are very very expensive. There went my hopes of picking up a pre-Civil War 10,000 square footer for $60,000 -- prices seem to start around $2 million and go up from there. I did notice many new planned developments between the cities although most were hidden by forests -- I think developers are aiming for the retirement market. All in all, a very interesting trip!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Underpricing reaches a ridiculous new low

This is 9801 Rincon, in Pacoima. It listed today. It's a foreclosure. These pictures hardly do it justice -- it's a historic hacienda-style Spanish, built around a central courtyard, 2500 square feet on a 9469 square foot lot. Probably built in the teens or '20's. Beautiful architectural details, but needs updating. And it's at Osborne and Laurel Canyon, which is not the most desireable neighborhood in the SFV. But still, a very, very special house. How much do you think the sellers are asking? $600k? $500k? Nope: $287,100. Since I have an interested client, I called the listing agent and was told they already had two offers in, were expecting several more, and expected it to go way over this price. They are turning the offers into the bank at the end of the day Friday and I was told, "We're only required to market this for three days." Hence, the low price in order to get lots and lots of activity in a very short time. But jeez, why get so many people excited when you know you could list it much higher and still get lots of offers?

House prices stabilizing

Hi, L.A. Times clipping service here. The title above links to today's story "Housing upturn occurring in some parts of So. Cal., data show." This is not news to those of us with our boots on the ground. Of course, there are all sorts of caveats in the article, and median prices are still lower than they were in 2006, but still.

But still indeed. There's also another L.A. Times story here, stating that mortgage professionals expect foreclosures to rise next year.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Governor signs several new mortgage laws

The title above links to an L.A. Times story about mortgage- and real estate related bills that our Governator signed into law yesterday. Among them:

"The new law also bans so-called negative-amortization loans, which offer the option of monthly payments so low that the loan amounts can actually grow over time." - This is huge.

"Late Sunday night, the governor signed AB 260 by Assemblyman Ted Lieu (D-Torrance). The measure, which takes effect Jan. 1, tightens restrictions on mortgage brokers so they cannot steer borrowers to riskier, higher-interest loans when they qualify for less-expensive ones. " - Also huge.

"AB 957, by Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), allows buyers of foreclosed homes to choose local escrow officers, rather than being forced to use the escrow company chosen by the seller." - Not so huge, in fact this is completely useless. Now, if there was a bill that prevented seller banks from making buyers prequalify with them, that would be huge.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

NYT: A bounce? Indeed. A boom? Not yet.

Economist Robert J. Shiller has recently completed a very interesting study of current home buying habits. The title above is the link to his article about it in today's NYT. Among the more interesting quotes: "This year’s survey coincides nicely with the upturn in home prices, the sharpest change in direction we have ever seen," "The sudden turn could signal a new housing boom, but is more likely just a sign of a period of higher short-run price volatility," and most especially, "The suddenness of this shift surprised me. In my column in June, I wrote that home prices might well continue to decline for years." Nice to know that noted economists can admit they were wrong.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

From today's L.A. Times: Realtor org says prices will rise next year

L.A. Times clipping service here! Today's business section has the following article: State median home price to increase next year, Realtors group says. This is from the California Association of Realtors, and they predict a 3.3% rise in prices next year. Candidly, since this is statewide, it really has very little meaning for each individual neighborhood. But anyway, here are a few other quotes that I agree with [emphasis mine]: the number of purchases will decline slightly because there will be fewer foreclosures available and It will continue to be hard to sell higher-priced houses because values have dropped and financing is hard to get.

EWWWW in Mount Washington

Collegue Stacy represents the buyers in an escrow in Mount Washington. She and the seller just had to go there to secure the house. It is vacant, and some vagrant broke in, drank a beer and pleasured himself. Apparently, in addition to the empty beer bottle, they found a wad of stuck-together kleenex...ewwwwwwww.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Clea Duvall spotted at Aroma

I visited Aroma, the very cool Studio City cafe today, and spotted actress Clea Duvall there. If you are thinking it must be a slow week in real estate if this is all I have to post about, you are right!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Another just great showing

Another non-optimal showing today of another 2+1, 1245 square feet house:
-The place was a cluttered mess.
- Bedsheets for curtains.
- A newer kitchen but every inch of counter space was being taken up by stuff and the sink was full of dirty dishes.
-Somebody sleeping in one of the two bedrooms.
-Crying kids.
-Garage converted to guest house/shack.
-Owner with scary-looking prison tats, plus lots of underwear showing.
And they want $600k for this? I know it's in Toluca Lake, but...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Latest questionable Realtor trend

The latest trend is home marketing has appeared this week: many Realtors are only showing a property once or twice. No, not once or twice to you. Once or twice, period. The house is usually held open for a couple of hours one day, then maybe a couple of hours another day. And then offers are due. But what if you want to come back and see the house when it's quiet? Or bring parents or spouses back? IMO, a home should be very easy to show for at least seven days in order for everybody who is looking to have an opportunity to see it. If you're a seller, casting your net wide is the way to get the highest and best sales price. If you're a buyer, you should be able to take a second or third look to make sure it's the house for you.