Saturday, April 30, 2011

Watch Kobe and Pau from the ladies' room in Burbank

Girls, now you can drink all the $2.50 beers you want and still never miss a minute of the Lakers! The Office Bar and Grill in Burbank has something of a first: a high-def tv in the (nice and clean) ladies room. And it's turned to whatever game the big screens are featuring at the bar. Now, this is social progress.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Weekly stats for the areas that I serve

Here are 7-day statistics from the areas that I serve, courtesy of the mls:
New listings: 211
Pendings: 256
Price changes: 200
Back on market: 86
Expired: 51
Sold: 152

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hot Lava in Burbank! A salute to SFV architectural kitsch

(Cue B-52s "Hot Lava" song) I viewed this listing at 338 N. Griffith Park, Burbank earlier this week.  It has lots and lots of exterior and interior lava rock accents and is a wonderful example of whimsical San Fernando Valley architectural style.  The rocks have been used both outside in the wainscoting and inside at the fireplace.  I suspect the owners added these to this 1940’s home in the 1960’s after seeing "Hawaii" with Julie Andrews. Do you know anybody that loves bungalows decorated with volcanic rock? I know; me neither. But if you meet anybody, here’s the deal.  Although it is listed as a 3+2, it’s really a 2+2 (3rd bedroom is now an open den); square feet: 1289, redone and expanded kitchen with tile, not granite; new green carpet, sports bar-style patio, and terrific mid-Burbank location.  The price is $509,905 which may be a tad rich, but what do I know?  Now, if you could only turn this house into a tiki bar…

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

L.A. Times and Case-Shiller say it's officially a double dip. Buyers, here's your chance.

This comes as no surprise to those of us "on the street," but housing price gains in the last year have been erased. Article link here.  L.A. has dropped 1%.  Not to be too rah-rah, but buyers, here's your chance to buy at low prices and low interest rates.

Another distinction for Burbank, Glendale and La Crescenta: we have some of the biggest tax scofflaws in the state

Here's an article from today's Burbank Leader, bestowing yet another distinction on our area: according to the California Franchise Tax Board, Burbank, Glendale and La Crescenta have an usually high amount of people/businesses "behind" on their state income taxes.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

L.A. Times discovers the San Fernando Valley! Can L.A. Weekly be far behind?

Today's LA Times' travel section has a long article about attractions in the San Fernando Valley! Yay! Way to go, SFV! Click the title above or click here to read.  Long-time readers of this blog will note that Aroma Cafe and The Federal Bar, posted about here, are featured in the article.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's not all swimming pools and movie stars in Shadow Hills

...But this is the place to move to if you want exotic pets but still want to be in L.A. city limits. Yes, this was taken at a property showing today.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Real estate stats for you

Here are 7-day real estate transaction statistics for the areas I serve. (Note: this is not all of L.A. County, or all of L.A. City either, but includes Burbank, Studio City, Toluca Lake, Glendale, Montrose, Pasadena, Hollywood Hills, Eagle Rock, Sunland, Sun Valley, Valley Village, Valley Glen, North Hollywood, Granada Hills, Sherman Oaks, and much of the San Fernando Valley. Whew.) Yes, it includes single family homes and condos/townhomes, and it includes short sales and REOs in those categories, too.
New on market: 521
Price change: 424
Back on Market: 230
Expired: 155
Pending and Backup Offer: 524
Sold: 313
These stats are courtesy of the MLS.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

(Where the hell is) Sparr Heights, the land that time forgot

I know this post probably seems counter-intuitive since I usually work more to the west, but I previewed a really nice home (above) in Sparr Heights this week. You say you don’t know where that is? Why, it’s part of Montrose (which is the north side of Glendale [where it meets La Crescenta and La Canada]).  Not far from Descanso Gardens.  And the 2 Fwy.  And close to the best TJ Maxx in our area (in La Canada).

When I haven't been there for awhile, I am always instantly reminded of how nice the community is.  If you've never been there, here’s the dope: it’s a very pretty, residential area with an old-school, charming vibe.  The properties are unspoiled but well-maintained (mostly, anyway) single family character homes of about 1100 sf to 1800 sf, with old growth trees, old L.A. street lights (the area began to develop in the 20’s), no McMansions, no upzoning,  and good public schools.  Real estate prices start in the $500ks.  For you statisticians, here’s a link to the entry, which also has a map.  The community is close to the Montrose shopping streets of Honolulu Avenue and Ocean View, which is also an area that chain stores and restaurants mostly forgot.  The shopping street probably has more mom-and-pop stores than any other area this side of Arizona, but it also has some really cool restaurants, including the newish and getting better-known-by-the-day Bashan

What’s the catch? It’s miles from anything except La Crescenta and La Canada (and the best TJ Maxx).  Americana at Brand isn’t really even close.  And you have to go over or around a mountain to even get to Pasadena.  That’s probably why it’s so unspoiled – nobody goes there that doesn’t already live there and the residents like it just the way it is.  And houses don’t go up for sale there very often.  Still, the neighborhood is definitely worth a field trip if you're considering a single family home in the price range.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Do you like my new picture?

Whadda you think of the new pic, right? Like most women, I enjoyed being glammed up for the photo shoot.  Yes, as you can see, I am wearing more makeup than most drag queens.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why did the foreclosure we tried to buy sell for less? Courtesy of

Normally,'s answers are a little generic for me.  Hey, you can't please all of the people all of the time. But here's a good one: Why foreclosures sell for less.  Thanks, author Elizabeth Weintraub; this answers are short, to the point, and TRUE.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm set up in the new Sherman Oaks office!

I'm all moved in at John Aaroe Group in Sherman Oaks. New direct line: 818-453-9120, but the voicemail is not set up yet.  Same email, same cell phone.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Who ya gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS! or maybe not

We took this pic at the Laurel Canyon offramp of the 134 in Studio City.  I guess the engine got slimmed.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Housing Trends L.A. has some good news

It is no surprise to me that housing numbers for L.A. are up for March over February, because February SUCKED: The MLS®/CLAW™ reports median single-family home price up 10.6% in Mar-11 over Feb-11, sales climb to 684.

Mar-11 Quick Facts:

* The median price of existing single-family homes increased to $536,250 up 10.6% vs Feb-11.
* Existing single-family home sales increased 44.0% from Feb-11 for a Mar-11 total of 684 sold units.
* Condos increased in price to $427,550 up 5.5% vs Feb-11.
* Existing condo sales increased 53.5% in Mar-11 over Feb-11 for a total of 390 sold units.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I've joined a new real estate company!

Yesterday, I ended my eight-year long association with Dilbeck Realtors and joined Aaroe + Williamson, a division of John Aaroe Group.  My new office will be in Sherman Oaks, but I'll still be covering Burbank homes for sale, Studio City real estate, Toluca Lake, Toluca Terrace, Glendale, Hollywood Hills, North Hollywood, Valley Village, Valley Glen and Sherman Oaks real estate.  And of course, as needed, Pasadena, Eagle Rock, the West San Fernando Valley, Silverlake, downtown L.A., etc., etc.  I cover the waterfront for my clients.

It was difficult to leave Dilbeck Realtors.  I've been in that office for 8 years (10 if you count when it was Coldwell Banker) and the people there are like family to me.  I know that's cliche to say, but it's true.  I have been very comfortable there.  Too comfortable.  I am ready for new real estate challenges, a new outlook, and new clients, and the John Aaroe Group fits the bill. (Call me or email me offline if you want more details.) I'm thrilled to be with r.e. geniuses John Aaroe's and Michael Williamson's relatively new real estate company.

For those of you that are curious, yes, I investigated other brokerages (again, email me offline...), including Redfin. I think Redfin may indeed be the wave of the real estate future, but I was not ready to jettison my own online presence -- and that includes blogging for you, dear reader.  But I hope to become a "partner" agent for Redfin once my feet are on the ground at JAG.

I don't have a new phone number yet, but if you would like to contact me, please call me on my cell, email me or answer here.  And please wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Great new LOL site! Lovely Listing by the folks who brought you

From the folks who brought us Icanhascheezburger, here is: Lovely Listing - Odd Finds in Real Estate Listings. Yes, as you can guess from the pic above, these are, well, really interesting interior/exterior shots of houses for sale, captured from various multiple listing services.  Anybody can submit a pic, and anybody can caption one.  The caption here is: "Sometimes a man just wants to sit by the fire and think. And sometimes a man just wants to take a piss. And sometimes a man says “I just had the best idea… ” and dashes off to the plumbing supply store. ($50,000 and this 2-bed, 1-bath — I guess they’re not counting the living room — house in North Carolina is yours.)"  Personally, IMO, the big selling point is the debris on the floor.  I call this...SOLD!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Elderly and Facing Eviction...and other Sunday reading

The first part of today's Sunday reading has more of a senior citizen theme than a real estate theme. Warning: none of these articles will leave you feeling particularly cheerful. Sorry. The first article, from yesterday's L.A. Times and by Rosemary McClure, is titled Elderly and Facing Eviction.  The title above should link; if not, click here.  Here's a quote: "California's foreclosure crisis has severely impacted some of the most vulnerable tenants in our state — seniors who live in residential-care facilities,...These residents had no warning that they were about to lose their homes, and their families and caretakers were left in a panic to find immediate emergency housing."  My late father was in assisted living and then a board-and-care home as he became progressively more feeble, and I find this article really scary.  It's another example of the social wreckage that foreclosures can bring, and I've wondered how long it would be before the national media began reporting on this element.

The second piece is more senior-related than real-estate related, and is yesterday's Tim Rutten column from the L.A. Times. Its subheading is Ryan’s budget blueprint would push the aged into poverty. Quote:"The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has outlined what adoption of this proposal to supplant Medicare with vouchers and private insurance exchanges would mean. The overall cost of healthcare would go up, and retirees' out-of-pocket medical expenses would double — an increase that would push tens of millions of people living on fixed incomes over the financial brink." There was a lot of talk this past week about the new budget plan and its war on women; what about its war on seniors? When did we get like this?

And finally, you'll need to have a strong stomach for the proposed new mortgage rules.  Here's an LAT article from today's edition titled Changes in mortgage finance rules could hurt recovery.  Quote: "...the Center for Responsible Lending...argues that if adopted in its current form, the proposal would make it much tougher for modest-income and minority consumers to afford a first home." IMO, it wouldn't make it tougher, it would kill it.  Hopefully there will be some middle ground in the new regulations.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Houses I saw in Toluca Lake and Burbank this week

Okay, we're finished with the digression from the last post and are back to really discussing real estate. Whew. The first listing that I saw this week (pictured above) was 4445 Cartwright #104, Toluca Lake.  It is listed for $259,000.  This is a very nice, very big condo in a very old (1963) building.  Although the building is dated, it’s immaculate.  You can really see where the HOA monies are going.  The condo has been painted, carpeted and spiffed up too and is quite large for a one bedroom.  Downside: the patio “screens” are cinder block.  Why did any designers ever think this was a good idea?

The nicest house I saw this week is 508 Groton, Burbank 91504, listed for $609k.  Yes, the picture on the mls is that teeny; I don't know why. It’s very plain vanilla from the outside but has been completely redone inside, and is in an excellent neighborhood.  2 beds, 2 baths, 1494 sq. ft. on a 7400 sf. lot.  I hope there’s some room in that price.

423 N. Naomi, Burbank 91505 is typical of many Burbank homes in that it has had a lot of square footage added to the original house. Actually, it feels a little cobbled together. It has 3 beds, 2 baths, lots of gleaming wood floors and paneling, a den with built in day beds, etc.  I think it is listed for $539k.  I asked the open house host why there wasn’t a price on the flyer, and he said, “We never put prices on flyers anymore.  That way, we don’t have to change anything when the price goes down.”  Okay.

345 N. Sparks, Burbank 91506 is a 2+2 listed at $499k.  It’s the home of the fat kitty from the previous post (see picture and post below).  The front landscaping is gorgeous (although the mls description says “Greeting you with a zest of colorful landscaping…” – what did they do, grind a few lemons over the front yard?).  It has an added on den and needs a little spiffing up inside – paint, etc, but the kitchen is pretty big.  The driveway to the garage is really narrow.

521 Irving Drive, Burbank 91504, above, also has a terrific location and seems well-priced at $565k.  It’s a 3+2 with 1436 sf, and a 7400 sf lot and would need some updating, but for somebody with an eye for design and the talent to remodel it, it might work.  The Xmas lights can come down any time now.

Talk about real estate! The fattest cat on caravan, and maybe even in all of Burbank

In addition to being a Realtor, I’m also a crazy cat lady. (My husband and I own only four cats.  We’re “holding” at four.  It is hard.)  During yesterday’s Burbank broker caravan, I met the fattest cat I've ever seen.  That’s him, above, in all his glory.  He could be a she (I didn’t ask), lives on Sparks Ave. and must weigh at least 35 lbs.  If he was any bigger, his parents would need to pay L.A. County property taxes on him.  He was a very sweet, friendly open house host.  This is good, because it’s not like he could have hidden anywhere. His/her belly drags on the ground, and needs to lose 20 lbs, at least, to be healthy.  Either that, or this kitty needs to be carried everywhere.  This amount of excess weight is as bad for cats as it is for people.  I’m sure this kitty’s parents know this.  Yes, I’ll have more about the houses I saw in another post, but couldn't resist letting you know about this wonder.

Monday, April 04, 2011

A new short sale plan from BofA? Wha? Gah!

Apparently BofA, our all-time-favorite-lender-not, is rolling out a new short sale program.  It's called the coop program, and it calls for approval of a particular short sale before offers are received.  I learned about this from a listing agent when I called to inquire about the status of my buyer's short sale offer.

In the short term, this will delay the sales of these kinds of distressed properties.  In the long term, it will be good, however, as potential home buyers won't have to waste their time on properties that are not approved.

And not all short sales do get approved, or get approved at market price.  I just had a (different) short sale deal die because the bank would not approve the appraised price and wanted more money.  My buyers, and the seller too, have been waiting on the approval SINCE EARLY DECEMBER. The bank was Bank of Evil Empire Bank of America, naturally.  I hope to blog more about this particular transaction in the future.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

IMO, the L.A. Times is back! At least the biz section, anyway

Many of us were dismayed when the L.A. Times began to cut back on its editorial staff and pages a few years ago.  Personally, I missed the separate LAT real estate section and the L.A. Land blog, especially when the editor was the outstanding Peter Viles.  I turned to Calculated Risk and Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times for my real estate and business news. Caveat: while I don’t have a really sophisticated understanding of all things finance, I do try to keep up with the news, especially about banking, lending and real estate.

But regular business columnists David Lazarus and Michael Hiltzik have changed my mind about the quality of the L.A. Times’ business reporting.  Both are outstanding writers and produce business news columns that are informative, topical and easy to follow for us regular folks.  I’ll never give up reading NYT’s Gretchen, and this isn't a smackdown, but Lazarus and Hiltzik make reading the L.A. Times biz section an educational pleasure once again.