Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Plaintiffs in DOMA are from Burbank, CA!

Here's some more good news: the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court DOMA case are from Burbank! And if that isn't enough, I'm going out of town for a few days.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rising mortgage interest rates and home sellers and buyers - what it means

By now, you've probably heard that mortgage interest rates are rising and may go up as high as ('gasp') 5% by the end of the year.  That's still historically very low, but here's how it will affect you.

If you are selling your home in Burbank, Studio City, Toluca Lake, Sherman Oaks or any other place in our region, rising rates will have a dampening effect on activity.  Some buyers will be knocked out of the market and that should "stabilize" prices a little bit.  Higher interest rates usually exert a downward pressure on prices.  That doesn't mean that you won't get multiple offers for your home if it's priced right; it just means that there may be less offers than we've been experiencing. The offers may not be quite as high, either, especially if home inventory increases. However, your home will sell if it's priced right and marketed correctly.  (See the marketing page on my website at

If you're a home buyer in the San Fernando Valley, all of the above will be good news for you except the interest rate part.  Yes, it will cost you more to buy a home.  But you won't have as much competition (some of my Valley home buyers wrote eight to ten offers before getting one accepted) and prices won't be rising as much.  And if inventory increases, that will have a downward effect on prices.  So keep looking.  Your house is out there.

If you're a buyer and you're currently in escrow, make sure your lender locks in your interest rate.

Caveat: some of the neighborhoods here in the Southland are immune to the effects of rising rates.  The really, really expensive high-end L.A. markets are still awash in cash, with a lot of that coming from overseas.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

How can we miss you when you won't go away? Or the story of the Studio City condo

This is the story of the Studio City condo that my buyer closed on last month.  The names have been changed to protect the guilty.  Yes, this was one of the bad ones.

My buyer had made several offers already when this condo came on the market in early February.  Our offer on it was immediately accepted. Yay!  It was a short sale, but the short sale was approved in record time – also “yay” and “it’s a miracle” -- and we prepared to close 30 days later in mid-April.

A week before closing, the seller’s dad announced that they had no idea the condo was closing and they not only would not be leaving, they also would not sign the necessary paperwork to close it.  We were incredulous. How could that be? Well, turns out that they just hadn’t found a suitable place to move to yet.  At that point, not only had my buyer made moving plans that were difficult to alter, but his loan documents were ready, and the condo itself was about to go to foreclosure if it didn’t close shortly.

Through the coming days/weeks, the seller’s dad refused to give us a closing date or a move-out date.  Contract? Ha! It meant nothing to the sellers.  Nobody could budge them.  The communications were extensive – I have over 400 emails about this in my file and that’s just me (so much for you guys that think we Realtors just open doors and say, “Here’s the kitchen.”)  The sellers stopped communicating with those of us who they believed to be “against” them.  I pretty much assumed that this was a lost cause.

Where was the listing agent? Missing in action. Why didn’t my buyer client cancel the sale? Because the condo was perfect for him and, sadly, by late April he was already priced out of the Studio City housing market.

Although it is typically discouraged, my buyer reached out to the seller dad.  And seller dad began to communicate directly with the buyer.  They actually got somewhere (by this time the seller dad had pretty much alienated everybody else on the team, and my buyer has the magic touch.) Of course, my buyer had to do the accommodating. The foreclosure was postponed again. Whew!  And a month after it was supposed to close, the seller dad gave my buyer a date for both closing and for possession.  My buyer was able to move his plans around to accommodate the new date.

And the closing finally, finally occurred. The sellers moved out.  As much agony as we went through, my buyer client’s efforts made this happen.  We were thrilled to celebrate on his new patio last week, and toast the buyer’s persistence.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Prices of homes for sale increased locally, as if you didn't know

In case you did not see the L.A. Times, home prices increased 24.7% year over year.  And not just for homes in Burbank, Toluca Lake or Studio City either -- this is an average of five counties.  L.A. county home prices increased 30.2% to an average of $410,000 per house.  Here's the link to the article.

Friday, June 07, 2013

621 N. Keystone in Burbank closed today

621 N. Keystone in Burbank closed today for $607,500.  It originally went into escrow at $615,000 but there were some needed repairs that lowered the price.  We held our breath on the appraisal but it came in to value and is now the highest price by square foot in the neighborhood. The sellers are wonderful and the buyers are, too.  It was something extremely rare -- a smooth escrow (very unusual these days).  I hope the buyers and their baby daughter will be very happy in their new house and I wish my wonderful seller clients the best of luck, too!  Thanks to Gary Mazziotti, my partner on this transaction, and the terrific buyers' agents too.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

New interest rates and new r.e. stats

Yes, interest rates went up this week.  Again.  Conforming loan rates are now hovering around 4.2%-4.3%. The lenders that I've spoken with don't expect them to go down much in the near future, if at all.  They are still at historic lows, but that probably doesn't make you feel much better if you're a buyer.

And here are some interesting local stats from California Association of Realtors:
- From 2001 - 2007, all-cash purchases were about 6.2%-8.4% of total sales,
- In April 2013, all cash purchases were 29.3% of total sales,
- 27% of California sales are to non-U.S. citizens,
- 66% of investor buyers are holding for the long term,
- 75% plan to hold for about 6 years,
- 25% are flippers,
- 67% investors are paying cash,
- For those who sell, the return on investment is around 14%,
- 78% of investor purchases were single family homes,
- 14% were multi-family homes.

Will this all change? Of course.  When? I don't know.  But the real estate market has really surprised all of us with its quick turn arounds in the last few years.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Real estate in Spain

Just what you wanted to know -- how's the real estate market in Spain?  Well, since I was there last week I'm able to tell you.  The Spanish economy is not good.  Unemployment is really, really high and of course the Spanish are experiencing somewhat of the same kind of real estate market that we did in 2008+.  A lot of smaller areas have new developments that are unsold and, in some cases, not even finished.  The picture above is of a town in Don Quixote country.

...But of course, in the highly desirable centers of the bigger cities, premium apartments and homes in the bigger cities are going up in price.  Sound familiar?

But what of all those lovely character homes in the centers of the old cities? Wouldn't it just be fabulous to own one of those? Apparently, nobody wants them.  There is no place to park.  The streets are just a few feet wide.  (Imagine trying to get your brand-new front-loading washer dryer set delivered.)  All electrical wiring is on the outside of the building.  It's a real problem to get anything fixed as the municipalities won't let you make changes to the outside of the residential buildings.  Sellers have to hang for-sale signs from their windows as there are no yards to put posts in (see above).  So as interesting as this all was, I think I'll stick to San Fernando Valley real estate for now.