Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's back-to-school time in the SFV. What does that have to do with real estate? Plenty.

Public neighborhood schools have a huge impact on community desirability and housing values. Many home buyers face the dilemma of paying higher home purchase prices to get their child into a good public school, or else paying a premium to send their child to a private schools. Although public elementary schools in Burbank, Toluca Lake and Studio City all have pretty high ratings, other areas have superior schools too.  Remember that schools with the highest rankings tend to have more extra study programs and enrichment programs, which are often paid for by the children's parents. And parental involvement in children's education is also key.  A home's local school can be found on the LAUSD website. For SFV school ratings, including the Burbank and Glendale areas, please visit this website:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

3rd time's the charm: 5227 Denny #101 in North Hollywood has sold. With a VA loan, no less.

After three times on the market, this North Hollywood Arts District condo sold on Monday.  5227 Denny #101 was first on the market two years ago. And was listed for the second time a few months later. We had lots of interest, but because of lending restrictions on certain types of condos and home owner associations, we couldn't sell it to anything but cash buyers, and it never sold.

Mortgage lending has changed and loosened up in the last two years on condo units like this.  The unit sold this time to a buyer with a Veterans' Administration loan.  The VA part itself amazes me.  Most lenders, myself included, will run like hell away from offers with VA loans.  No shade to veterans, but VA loans have always been exceedingly restrictive, have taken a long time to close, and have required lots of extra stuff from both sellers and buyers. But this isn't your father's VA loan program -- it went through without any problems (well, okay, the appraisal took a long time) and closed on time.  Thank you to the buyer's excellent agent Adam Martinez for talking us into taking his buyer's offer!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Read Steve Lopez in today's L.A. Times, then read my not-really-contrarian blog piece.

Here is the Steve Lopez link and here's the link for my last post. Steve bemoans the current real estate market, with its high prices and cash buyers.  He isn't wrong, and yes, the middle class is being priced out of most of the local r.e. market. And yes, buyers who need a mortgage loan are often being beaten out by cash buyers.  However, his example was South Pasadena.  Home prices have always been crazy there, because the public schools are so. damn. good.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Think it's easy to buy L.A. real estate with $1+ million in cash? Think again.

Not to give you home buyers out there even more reasons to be disappointed, but.  Some former clients of mine returned to town after moving to the San Francisco Bay area some years ago.  They had made cash offers on properties in Berkeley and the Oakland hills but were aced out on price each time.  It's not that they were submitting low-ball offers -- most of their offers were over asking -- but they were repeatedly beaten out by offers over $100,000+ more than asking.  The Bay Area real estate market is too crazy, they said.

It's not that bad here, I said.  I was wrong.

In the course of one week, we made three offers on properties in Studio City, Sherman Oaks, and Glendale.  All of the offers were all cash.  All were over the purchase price -- some significantly -- and all were $1.4 million or thereabouts.  Yes, million.  You'd think sellers would be crawling over themselves to take these wonderful, beaucoup-bucks cash offers, but you'd be as wrong as I was.

The first property went for significantly over the asking price for all cash.  We offered $50k over asking on the second property but seller terms were a little grab-y and it went into multiples anyway.  My buyers offered significantly over the list price, all cash, on the third property.  Plus gave the sellers a free 60-day rent back (unheard of in a normal market).  The sellers dithered.  And dithered.  And finally accepted on a Saturday afternoon.  We buttoned up the deal.  And the sellers changed their minds Sunday morning. Ugh.

My poor clients were very philosophical about all of this, and went on vacation to lick their wounds.  And in the meantime, they've decided the Bay Area is not so bad after all.

As for me, sure; these are not great experiences for a Realtor.  Yes, there's the income issue.  But also, it takes just as much work to not get an accepted offer as it does to get an accepted one. Sigh. Onward!