Monday, January 28, 2013

Save the pink bathrooms, you retro renovators!

Frequent readers of these posts will know that I have often made fun of colored bathroom fixtures.  But my dirty little secret is that I grew up with this MCM decorating (I am midcentury, too) and have a deep and abiding love for it.  And I'm thrilled to have just disovered Pam Kueber's site.  Full of pink bathroom tips, places to buy midcentury building and decorating materials, and similar info, SPB is a wonderful companion site to Pam's main site,  (I'm sure you retro-renovators have already caught on to this site, but I just love discovering this stuff.) Pam's kitchen is below -- bitchen, no?

Speaking of renovated properties, I'll have a wonderfully renovated Cape Cod listed next week in Adams Hill.  Write me offline for details.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday morning reading

There are two interesting articles in the newspapers today:  First, from the NY Times, the esteemed Robert Shiller says that we're NOT in another housing bubble, and the future of housing still has many clouds.  He does agree that the market is improving, however.

And Alejandro Lazo of the L.A. Times has a feature on the Calculated Risk blog.  Please note that CR is in this blogroll, and this blog is on CR's blogroll.  Yes, the blog is a little wonky, but for those of you that like stats, you might want to check it out.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Saw 20 homes for sale last weekend...

Last week was pretty crazy for showing property for sale in Studio City, Burbank and Toluca Woods.  And the week has been busy too, but I wanted to share what I saw.  Of course, I won't talk about some of the properties my clients are still interested in...

First, there are a lot of nice flips out there.  Seriously, they're nice.  The one pictured above is on Laurelgrove in Valley Glen.  One trend spotted: lots and lots of beigy/brown/cream-colored subway tile.  Tons of travertine.  And no doors on showers.  Also, granite is "last year," and white quartz or caesarstone is this year.

Another tip: if you want a big yard, think Van Nuys.  There are pockets where the houses are smallish, but the yards are HUGE.  Same with Valley Glen.

I showed a pocket listing in Toluca Woods.  Folks, if your Realtor offers to show you a pocket listing (one that's for sale but not officially listed), jump at the chance.  Houses like this won't go into the crazy multiple offer situations that we're seeing today because nobody else but you (and a few other potential buyers) will know about them.

What to say about the Burbank houses? Well, most Burbank homes began their lives as small houses.  Over the decades, successive families built on...and on.  Not all of the build-outs make any kind of sense, but they did to somebody at some time in the past.  If you're considering Burbank homes for sale, think about working with weird floor plans and making them not quite so weird, or weird in your own way, or tearing the back off a house and starting over.  You'll see the same kind of "architecture" all over the San Fernando Valley.

I saw several nice condos and townhouses for sale, too.  However, some of the newer townhomes and condos in Studio City and Toluca Lake look like apartment buildings.  You can tell the developer was attempting to squeeze every possible last dime out of every square foot they built.  Prices are soaring on nice units though, right along with single family houses.

Finally, of course, I spotted the grotto-shrine in a front yard in the valley.  Let's call her Our Lady of Valley Glen, and hope that she intercedes for us in our real estate searches.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

LA home prices up 19.6% last year -- but wait, there's more

Alejandro Lazo at L.A. Times has a great article today about year-over-year housing trends in the L.A. area.  Yes, prices were up in December 19.6% compared to December 2011.  Click here for the article, but read past the headlines -- there's some pretty significant info here (the emphasis throughout is mine):

The strong performance last month indicates that 2013 will also continue to bring home price gains, analysts said.
The gains came as foreclosures declined, housing inventory plummeted, mortgage interest rates hit record lows and demand from investors spiked.
In California, buyers can anticipate little new inventory on the market. A supply of only about 2 1/2 months' worth of single-family homes for sale was available statewide at the end of December, the California Assn. of Realtors reported Tuesday. A supply of six or seven months is considered healthy by most economists. Cash buyers and investors are also playing a big part in snapping up home inventory. Cash buyers bought up 33.8% of all resale homes last month, while absentee buyers purchased 29.1% of Southland homes in December.
Oh, those pesky cash buyers! But here's my take-away.  Prices aren't coming down any time soon.  The house you want for $700k will cost you $725k by the summer.  So you may want to think about getting in the game now...


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Adult classifieds from

You all know, the first listing megasite? It has been a little eclipsed by Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, etc. but it's still a place that serious buyers go to search for properties and contact listing agents.  I just got this contact:

To: Judy Graff
First Name: robin
Last Name: y
Subject: Lead from a website consumer about your other listings
Just saw your pic. You are beautiful.
I'm an investor looking for a beautiful agent to work with and have fun on the 
Um, no, Robin Y and you need to get your eyes checked.  Or I need to get a more recent picture.  Realtors out there, feel free to contact Robin if you're interested, but don't forget to give me a referral fee!

Monday, January 07, 2013

Real estate surprise of the week -- a backyard vineyard in Burbank

I was showing property in the hills of Burbank saturday and lo! I discovered this secret hilltop vineyard off Country Club Drive.  I know the pic isn't very good; take my word for it; I had to climb up a hill to get it.  Ah, the discoveries to be made when showing homes for sale!

Coincidentally enough, today's L.A. Times has an article about local backyard vintners and the garagiste movement (article will explain what that is).  Most of the wine-making activity seems to be concentrated in Santa Clarita, of all places.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Two sales to start the new year off

This week, I closed sales on two homes that were contingent on each other.  If you're not familiar, that means that the close of escrow of one house is dependent upon the close of escrow of another (and the transfer of funds, of course).

Buyers Jessica and Sam owned 2101 N. Rose in Burbank (the yellow house).  They needed to sell it in order to buy 931 N. Orchard in Burbank (the sage house).  The Orchard sellers would not accept our offer until Rose was in escrow.  Yikes!  So Jess and Sam (and their two little kids) worked their fannies off getting Rose ready over Thanksgiving weekend.  I had recently been in several multiple offer situations for buyers with houses of about the same size and price, so I contacted the other agents who also had clients for the multiple-offer deals to tell them about this house.  We had it sold before it officially went on the market the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Whew!

And then we opened escrow on Orchard.  Orchard is a very nice expansion/flip (coincidentally, I had brought an offer on it for other clients when it was a short sale earlier in the year). Of course, we had to compete with other offers, but it all worked out. Thanks, listing agent Desi Kepe, who worked with us throughout to make this happen.  But a really big shout-out to clients Jess and Sam, who performed above and beyond the call of client duty on both transactions.  I hope you're very happy in the new house, guys.