Friday, March 15, 2019

Is your personal info safe during a real estate transaction? Probably not.

As we all know, data collection and privacy issues are a real problem these days.  Data sales are a big, big business, and several national real estate brokerages now admit to being in the business of selling data.  The good news is there are lots of state and federal laws to protect your privacy.  See California's

But some of your info can still be sold.  How can your real estate company, escrow company, bank or title company protect you from having your data sold? First, review the company's privacy policy and ask questions.  The company may be able to furnish you with an opt-out form.  Second, ask if data and files are stored in an online platform.  Some online platforms are theoretically safe (such as your lender's), but some are furnished to third party companies.  If the company does store the info, again ask for an opt-out form or ask if it can be stored in another manner.  Finally, make sure that you are on the do-not-call registry, although this is no guarantee that you won't get annoying calls soliciting your business.  A client of mine recently got about six calls from every five minutes from Realtors who wanted her business.  And her phone number was unpublished.  Her mother got calls too, even though her number is also unpublished and she doesn't even live with her daughter!  (By the way, the info was furnished to Realtors by a company called -- steer clear!)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Wonderful L.A. architecture -- the Stahl house

Are you interested in Los Angeles residential architecture? I was privileged enough yesterday to tour the iconic Stahl house.  You've likely seen tons of pics of this place, including the famous picture above.  It was built by Pierre Koenig in 1960 in the Hollywood Hills and featured a completely modern design of steel and glass.  It opens to a panoramic view of Los Angeles as well.  If you are interested in taking a Los Angeles architecture tour, you may want to sign up for Meetup's L.A. Architecture and Art tours.  No, these are not free, but these small group tours are lead by professional docents and expert educators.  You can see more pics on my Facebook page: Facebook/judygraffrealtor. In the picture below, I am sitting in the same spot as the woman in the picture above.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

2 communities to consider for midcentury modern homes

Is your heart set on a midcentury modern home? That's kind of affordable? Consider both Northridge and Granada Hills in the San Fernando Valley, among other places. C'mon, they are not that far away!  And both communities offer great public schools.  There are other communities that have many of these builds too -- look for So. Cal. areas that were developed in the 1950s and 1960s, when midcentury home building was in its heyday.  These houses don't come on the market everyday, tho. So if you are seriously looking to purchase, you'll need to jump.  Please call me if you need help.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Ugliest house of the year? You are kidding, right?

I'm printing this article from today's Inman almost in its entirety. This is the worst this company has seen? Ok, it looks like they cooked meth in the bathtub, but it in no way is the ugliest or worst condition house that I've ever seen.  Actually, the living room appears to have lots of character.  This flipper did do a nice job, though.  I always wondered who was behind the "We Buy Ugly Houses" flyers on telephone poles.

See the 'Ugliest House of the Year' and its glorious renovation

The 'We Buy Ugly Houses' company gave the award to a 1,700-square-foot Tudor-style home in Queens, New York City that underwent a serious makeover
The honor went to a property purchased last fall by HomeVestors’ franchisee Nyath Properties, as a run-down 1,700-square-foot Tudor-style home in Queens, New York.
HomeVestors reported that the home won the most votes from the American public out of thousands of home makeovers completed by HomeVestors franchisees.
The Queens home had a giant hole in the bedroom ceiling, “destroyed bathrooms, and less-than-habitable conditions throughout,” HomeVestors said.
Performing a resurrection of sorts, the HomeVestors franchisee gutted the house while salvaging the wood floors and exposed beams. It then replaced “everything else,” including sheetrock, windows, electrical wiring and panels, bathrooms, basement floors and the kitchen.
A bedroom of 2018’s The Ugliest Home of the Year when the property was first purchased by a HomeVestors franchisee.
The same bedroom after renovations.
The home’s living room after its purchase.
The living room after renovations.
“We purchased this house from a seller who had been struggling with a sick family member that had lived in it for years, and who was grateful to find a way ‘out’ of dealing with the property,” said Steve Papadakis, who runs Nyath Properties with Michael Gatzonis, in a statement.
“The seller didn’t have the time or resources to improve it to a condition that traditional sellers would consider. But, we were able to give her cash to get her out of her ugly situation, and were beyond thrilled with the chance to work our makeover magic.”
The home’s kitchen pre-rehab.
The home’s kitchen after renovations.
The pre-rehab bathroom.
The post-rehab bathroom.
More than 1,000 HomeVestors affiliates operate in 168 markets across the country, typically hawking all-cash offers with the come-on “We Buy Ugly Houses,” and vacuuming up thousands of properties every year.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

From Sunday's L.A. Times: a lot of potential home buyers are sitting on the sidelines

Sunday's L.A. Times had a really interesting article about how some home shoppers are calling it quits, believing that prices have peaked.  Read the entire article here.  Here are some of the more pertinent quotes:

"A belief that the price slowdown will lead to a price drop could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, experts said."

"Many who are struggling to afford a home in California would welcome a significant price drop, if it wasn’t accompanied by an economic collapse. But experts say such a prospect is unlikely, given that homes don’t appear to be in oversupply. The state has a well-documented housing shortage."

"Other factors argue against a crash. The California economy is still posting robust job growth,despite the shadow of a trade war with China, which has become a big market for goods produced in the state. Whereas last decade’s housing boom and bust were driven by questionable lending, loan standards are much tighter today. And as much as prices have risen, the jump hasn’t been as sharp as it was in the early to mid-2000s.

“We don’t have a debt problem. We don’t have an overbuilding problem. We don’t have an economic problem — prices are not going to fall,” said Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics, who called last decade’s housing crash".

Friday, January 18, 2019

Watch us grow again! Reuben Pacheco has just joined Judy Graff Properties

I am thrilled to announce that ace agent Reuben Pacheco has just joined Judy Graff Properties.  I have known Reuben for years and he is more experienced than 95% of the agents working today.  He has forgotten more than I even know.  Reuben has a subspecialty in architecture and estates, and that knowledge will be a welcome addition to our toolbox here at JGP.  Reuben can be reached at 1-213-804-4245 (domestic/international) or Here's Reuben's bio:

Reuben Pacheco Bio
Thank you for taking a moment to hear my message. My first career choice was to become a Real Estate Professional and in 1986, at age 16;  I began working in a large Westside office as a Receptionist then 6 months later was promoted to Office Administrator. Being an eager and aggressive person, I quickly rose to Office Manager. By 1988 at 18 years of age, I took the leap of faith and became a licensed Realtor.

In my 32 plus years working as a real estate professional, I’ve only worked for a couple of brokerages which, in my line of profession, is unusual. Being self-motivated and self-sufficient at my work, I tend to hang my hat at a company for many years.

By 1993 and at the age of 23, I decided that I wanted to own my own brokerage and did so, by joint venture, with a mortgage company. For 17 years;  I was an independent Broker working with high-net-worth individuals and selling multi-million-dollar properties throughout the Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills & Miracle Mile areas.

In 2011; I was invited to join the esteemed John Aaroe Group as an Architectural Agent. Over the years John Aaroe Group became Pacific Union and finally Compass. Being an Architectural Agent means, I have sold a high-dollar volume of properties with a significant pedigree — which classifies me as a Top Producing Agent ranking in the Top 10 % company-wide and ranking within the Top 2% of real estate agents nationwide.

Over the years, I’ve broadened my talents with skills such as mortgage banking, buying and selling both domestic and internationally, rehabbing and flipping properties, commercial sales / leasing along with training and coaching new agents.

Recently, Judy Graff with Judy Graff Properties has recognized my successes and talents with an offer I couldn’t refuse.  As of January 2019, I will be an Architectural and Estates Director with the esteemed Judy Graff Properties, located in Studio City.  I couldn’t be more pleased to work with such a sophisticated and educated group of well-seasoned professionals and associate my name with the many talented at JGPs. I’m more excited and invigorated than I have ever been before knowing my association with JGP will grant me greater access to more Buyers and Sellers interested in the Architectural and Estates Homes arena and extend my reach as an agent with a more robust domestic and international marketplace.

My outlook is simple: I love my Real Estate career and all the wonderful opportunities it has offered me.  If you feel there is a match between us, I’d very much like to chat with you and see if I can be of assistance. I am here to help!

–Reuben Pacheco

Monday, January 07, 2019

Coming this week -- 12930 Valleyheart #3, Studio City

Ready for a quiet nest in a stellar location? This one bedroom, one bath condo has what you're looking for.  It features a large kitchen, dining area, fireplace, wet bar, sunny exposures, a European-style washer/dryer unit, extra storage, and a huge patio (we will all be barbecuing soon, I promise).  Plus, the building also has a large laundry room.  The proactive HOA has done lots of recent upgrades to the building, too.  This home is listed at $449,000.

This unit is not only quiet and private, but it's on one of the loveliest, greenest streets in the SFV -- Valleyheart.  The street runs right along the river trail.  But for those who desire a little more action, the building is one block from all of the attractions that Ventura Boulevard in Studio City has to offer, including restaurants, stores, shopping and recreational opportunities.

We will be open from 1:00 to 4:00 on Saturday, Jan. 12, and also open from 11:00 to 1:30 on Tuesday, the 15th.  Please call me if you'd like to schedule a showing at another time.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Just sold this mid-century modern home in Granada Hills

Clients Adam and Michelle (pictured) are now the proud owners of this gorgeous, 5 bedroom home in Granada Hills.  If it looks familiar, it's because it was featured in Dwell Magazine.  We had searched for months for the right property and had lots of disappointments on the way.  Then this came up, and it's as pristine as it looks.  The escrow went very smoothly, too!

Granada Hills does have many mid-century homes that have been built here and there.  In addition to a patch of Eichler homes, there are several custom homes there that have been designed by local, noted architects.  And they tend to be less expensive than MCMs found in the hills or Pasadena, too!  Although the rest of Granada Hills is pretty suburban, the community is really not that far away and the schools there are really good, too.  If you are considering this community for your next move, please let me know how I can help you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Local lenders - of thee I sing

Here's the average amount of paperwork generated for a mortgage loan

We're fortunate to live in Southern California, where many local mortgage lenders and brokers are pretty excellent, even the ones with large institutions like Wells Fargo, City National, and BofA.  I was reminded of this recently when a closing with an out-of-state lender went off the rails.

Why are out-of-the-area lenders problematic? Because they, and their staff, really have no skin in the game.  They don't know you, they are not working for your referrals or business, and they often just hand your loan application off to processors that are even farther away.  Here's what you want to look for in a local lender, aside from great rates and great closing costs.
- They promptly return your calls.
- Their staff (who will be touching your file a lot) are people that they supervise.
- Their staff doesn't ask you over and over to provide the same documentation.  Sure, mistakes get made and paperwork gets lost, but if this happens a lot it's a bad sign.
- They are proactive and answer your questions even before you may know that you have them.
- They oversee everything, right up to the minute of closing, even when the file has been passed on to processors.
- They are capable of meeting the several deadlines and timetables that happen during a home sale.

What's the best way to find a good local lender? You don't have to walk in to a bank, just ask your Realtor, friends and family for recommendations (or horror stories).  In one phone call, you'll be able to tell if your lender is heads-up, creative, and the right person for this huge financial purchase.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The property in Panorama City is in escrow. Here's what I learned.

I don't usually talk about my listings that are in escrow.  I don't want to jinx them.  But perhaps this might offer some education.

9076 Willis #16 is in Panorama City.  That's one of the working class suburbs in the North San Fernando Valley.  It's not a popular area. The schools are only ok, and the neighborhoods, while vibrant, don't have much in the way of shopping, eateries, parks, etc.  You can't bike anywhere that you really need to go, although there are bike lanes.  No express buses, and the metro is nowhere near there.  CSUN and Kaiser are close-ish but not really.  In other words, unless you live there, there's no reason to go there.  The unit itself is large, refurbished, and has an attached garage.

What I learned: regular folks can't afford houses anymore.  Even with 3% down loan programs.  The monthly payments are simply too high.  With interest rates and everything else going up, buyers for even condos in that area have to have healthy incomes and no children.  If houses are unaffordable in the outskirts, is that going to begin to squeeze towards the center? Just fyi, we started at $469,000, reduced the price several times, and are in escrow for much less.

What else I learned: everybody who was even remotely interested in the unit is from another country.  The North San Fernando Valley is a regular United Nations.  But these folks want to own homes.  Hopefully, builders will soon be turning their attention to the underserved suburbs and building truly affordable housing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Judy Graff Properties is four years old!

My brokerage, Judy Graff Properties, has just celebrated its 4th anniversary.  I know it's common to say, "When I started, I had a dream but didn't know what I was getting into...bla bla," but the truth is that I did know what I was getting into.  Total autonomy, less fees, more freedom, and more ways to help my clients, to start.

Four years on, we are still cloud-based.  Three agents work for JGP, and I expect to have five by the end of the year.  Watch us grow!  And please let me know if you need a no-bs, savvy broker-Realtor who leads with a heart for service.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

My clients just purchased this sterling mid-century modern in Granada Hills

Here's an incredible example of the currently-most-beloved home style, the mid-century modern home. It's such a pristine style that both L.A. Curbed and Dwell Magazine (click the link for more pictures) have written it up.  The current owner has maintained it in its pristine period style.

And my buyer clients, Michelle and Adam, will be the new owners at the end of the month.  Michelle and Adam and their teenage son and I have been looking for homes for about six months now.  While a mid-century was on the wish list, we considered other styles, too, from Highland Park to Woodland Hills to Monrovia.  When this home was about to go on the market in Granada Hills, we pounced.  For those of you who don't know GH, it's not that far away from everything and they have a nice bunch of mid-century modern homes there.  However those rarely go up for sale.

I can't wait to see what M&A do with this.  By the way, the teenage son gets the bomb shelter/basement all to himself for him and his musician friends.  It's perfect adaptive reuse.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

884 El Paso Ave. in Highland Park just closed

884 El Paso, #HighlandPark is an adorable duplex that has just sold to my clients.  One side was completely remodeled, and both units have long-term tenants.  My clients purchased this as their first investment property and hope to purchase more soon. cash flows! (Meaning that the rents exceed the expenses.)'s in the coolest part of Eastside L.A.! Who says that you can't find profitable residential investments in L.A.?  Please contact me if you would like to discuss r.e. investment strategies.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Great buy in El Sereno: 4443 Verdemour Avenue

Where is El Sereno? It's where all the cool kids are looking now, and is an affordable extension to L.A.'s east side. It's also a rapidly developing area that's just minutes from downtown.  Agent Milla Goldenberg just listed this beauty for $899,000.  It has five bedrooms, 3 baths and over 2200 square feet!  It has been fully updated as well, and appliances are included.  Check it out at Milla's open house on Saturday, October 13.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

9076 Willis, #16, Panorama City is now $408,000

We've just cut the price on this amazing townhouse.  At 1727 square feet, this unit is one of the largest townhomes I've ever sold.  It features 2 bedrooms, a bonus room, 3 baths, 2-car attached garage, 2 fireplaces, balcony, patio, new paint, new flooring, and lots of other upgrades.  The HOA is proactive and has just re-roofed the complex, re-surfaced the pool and spa, and painted all exterior trim.  The monthly dues are still $295 with healthy reserves.

At $408,000, 9076 Willis #16 makes a fabulous rental, too -- rents for units this size in the neighborhood are $2500 to $2700/mo.  See for more pics.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Just listed for $469,000 - 9076 Willis #16

 Looking for a dream townhouse that's still affordable? 9076 Willis, #16, Panorama City has just listed for $469,000 and will be open Sunday, 8/26, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.  See for more pics.  Here are the features: two bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, big bonus room, an unbelievable and rare 1727 sf., two-car attached garage, new paint, new carpet, all appliances included without warranty, patio and 2nd story balcony, two fireplaces, and a proactive HOA with $295/mo dues.  The 28-unit complex features a recently re-plastered pool, spa, new roof, newly painted trim, and plenty of reserves.  Please come see us on Sunday or call me for more details.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Has Brady Bunch house fatigue set in yet?

Just to catch you up, the house used for the exteriors of The Brady Bunch tv show just sold in Studio City.  This has been all over the news and social media.  The house was listed at $1.8 million, and sold $3.5 million.  To HGtv.  Is it worth it?  Nope, nowhere near.  The house is right around the corner from me, and the resale homes around here usually sell for less than half that. And this is a two bedroom home, so it would normally sell for an even lower price.  There's just no accounting for taste and tv production companies that have unlimited budgets.

Monday, July 30, 2018

I'm thrilled to announce that Victor Agbayani has joined Judy Graff Properties!

Watch us grow again! I'm thrilled to announce that Victor Agbayani has joined Judy Graff Properties as an agent.  I've known Victor for 20 years and even showed him some houses before he got his license.  He's one of the smartest people I know and one of the best agents as well -- he's been extremely successful from the moment he obtained his r.e. license 20 years ago.  That was no surprise to those of us who knew him before. Here's his bio:

Victor Agbayani had been selling residential real estate in Los Angeles full-time since 1998. Knowledgeable in the many complexities of today's real estate transactions, his areas of expertise include the fast appreciating "Eastside" from Eagle Rock to Arcadia, the "Valley" from Burbank to Woodland Hills, and the "Westside" from West Hollywood to Silverlake, the Desert area - Palm Springs tp Palm Desert. Victor always strives to give his clients the best and most service, staying personally involved throughout the entire process. Open communication, mutual trust, respect, and a sense of friendship are important elements of Victor's business life. Having spent his entire career in sales, Victor has developed strong contacts with most of the local real estate professionals and affiliates including, but not limited to, other real estate agents, brokers, lenders, escrow officers, title representatives and appraisers. These positive, interpersonal business relationships help ensure smooth, hassle-free real estate transactions.

Victor can be reached at 323-547-6011 or

Thanks for joining us, Victor!

Is the housing market going to crash soon?

Every day, somebody tells me that the housing market is going to crash.  I am not an economist or statistician, so take the following with a grain of salt.  With all due respect to the experts, I just don't see the fundamentals necessary for a crash in the near future.  
  • First, yes, our housing price rises here in CA can't go on forever.  I said that in 2006, too.  Prices are now above what they were in 2008, though. Housing prices are high due to two factors in L.A.: 1) not enough inventory, and 2) there's a lot of money concentrated here.
  • Currently, unemployment is low.  It would have to go up by several points to have an impact on local housing sales.  Last time, it was 8%-9% before we saw a lot of foreclosures here.
  • Interest rates are still relatively low.  When I started in this business, interest rates for mortgage loans were around 8%.
  • Banks and lending institutions have tightened up quite a bit and are no longer giving mortgage loans to anybody that can fog a mirror.  Buyers now have to show that they can actually pay a mortgage back.
  • Even at the height of the Great Recession, home prices here in the Southland, in areas with desirable housing stock, low crime, and good schools, only went down an average of 8%.  Do the math -- even if there's a 10% price reduction, say, in Sherman Oaks, Studio City, or Burbank, an $800,000 home here will be selling for $720,000.  That's not really enough of  difference to make a home super-affordable.
Again, I'm not an expert, but I know what I see.  Could there be cataclysmic event that turns the market on its ear? Sure, but if that happens, we will all have bigger fish to fry than housing prices.  And on that cheery note...feel free to challenge my assumptions or ask questions.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

What will your monthly mortgage payment be?

Here's an easy way to calculate what your mortgage, tax and insurance payment will be every month if you buy a home here in So. Cal.

First, THIS IS JUST AN ESTIMATE CALCULATION. Your payment may be different, but let's assume for now that all other things are equal -- you have good credit, lack excessive debt, and are putting 20% down on your home purchase.  Now, divide the purchase price in half and take off two zeros (or use one of the many great online calculators).

- $500,000 purchase price = $2500 month mortgage, tax, insurance (called PITI).
- $1,000,000 = $5000/mo PITI
- $1,200,000 = $6000/mo PITI
- $1,500,000 = $7500/mo PITI

...And so on.  Condo and townhouse buyers will need to add their HOA dues on top of this.

It's really important to know that the Federal Reserve intends to raise rates more this year, so these numbers are just for now.  Yes, property taxes and insurance are still somewhat deductible from your taxes, but the numbers above reflect the outgoing cost each month.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Please celebrate the birth of our nation on July 4th by registering to vote. Here in CA, it's easy.

Here in CA, you can register to vote online.  Here's the site:

I get all the reasons why you may not have voted in the past:  

1.  Perhaps you don't feel educated enough on the issues.  Everybody feels this way.  But you don't have to vote for everything to have your votes count on what you do vote for.  And there's always an issue or candidate who will resonate with you.

2.  You just don't have the time on election day.  Did you know that by law, your employer needs to give you one paid hour off to vote?  But an easier solution is to vote by mail.  You can fill out and mail your ballot several days in advance of election day.  You can request to always have your ballot mailed.  Just visit the site above.

3.  All politicians are crooks.  Okay, but that shouldn't keep you from voting for the propositions and initiatives that may mean something to you.  For example, this year in CA, the gas tax repeal will be on the ballot.  So will the initiative that divides CA into three states.  We all have opinions on these; voting is a way to make the opinion count.

4.  Finally, your vote doesn't matter.  I sure understand how a person could feel this way.  But many of the local races, initiatives and propositions are carried or defeated by just a few hundred votes! Yes, your vote really does count on these.

Thanks and happy Fourth of July!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Troy Drive in the Hollywood Hills just closed

Andrew and Brian not only bought themselves this really cool midcentury modern home in the Hollywood Hills, but they bought this exquisite view as well.  Good on ya, guys -- I'm happy that I could help.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Fed raised interest rates again, and probably will do so two more times this year.

Today's L.A.Times ran this article about interest rate rises and what they might mean to you.  Interest rates up = home prices down, right? Not so fast.  From another article about how expensive homes are here: The UCLA Anderson Forecast said there is no sign of a correction in home prices around the corner. The report forecasts job growth of 2.2% this year, 1.7% in 2019 and 0.8% in 2020.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Now I've heard everything. I hope.

I recently looked at one of our area's ubiquitous new builds.  These are the Cape Cod-style, open floor plan, five bedroom, six bath, 3000+ sf, all grey and white, etc, etc, luxury everywhere, new houses.  They are not tract homes; they are built by different builders and scattered around the city.  They just happen to look the same.  This particular one is in Valley Village, about half a mile away from one of our also ubiquitous homeless encampments.

For this particular home, the agent took me into one of the bathrooms and pointed out the huge quartz panel in the shower, above. Those aren't reflections, those are lights behind it.  He proudly said, "That piece of quartz was hauled out of a volcano.  In Brazil.  It cost $40,000."  He was serious, and for a minute I wondered if I had just time-traveled back to eighteenth-century Versailles.

Did you know that you needed a piece of quartz from half a world away in order to have a really good shower experience? I certainly didn't.  Is this truly over the top and is it end-times, or is it me?

Friday, April 27, 2018

House of the week - sideways

Would you like to live in a house on its side? That costs over $1 million in the Hollywood Hills? No? Me neither.  But here's a new post and picture direct from the mls.  I won't add the address because I don't want to embarrass the listing agent.  Further, when you click on any of the links, including the actual mls number, it will take you to a different house.  New-fangled marketing, unfortunate mistake, or end times? You decide.

Friday, April 20, 2018

House of the week: 210 N. Norton in Windsor Square, in an HPOZ neighborhood

Yes, we all love mid-century modern architecture, but I'm a sucker for this kind of character design.  Before getting into the specs, why did I select this home? Because it's in an HPOZ, or historic protection overlay zone.  This, yes, preserves the historic architecture of many L.A. neighborhoods.  Owners can't make many changes to these homes without city approval.  Before you get all "too much government interference in our lives" on me, here's the benefit.  Many homes in these HPOZ neighborhoods qualify for Mills Act property tax exemptions -- yes you pay property tax, but not nearly what you'd ordinarily pay.  Nice, eh?  Anyway, this home features three bedrooms, three baths, almost 3000 sf of living space, and is on an 8000+ sf lot.  It has been splendidly maintained inside and is priced at $2,699,000.  A property tax cut on that assessed value would be quite welcome.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

White, gray, wicker: is home-for-sale staging beginning to look all the same?

I love good staging at homes for sale.  Yes, furniture and accessories do help to sell homes.  Lately, though, I've noticed a sameness to the staging at most of the homes for sale that I see here in the L.A. area, regardless of who the staging company is.  Everything is white and gray, with a "pop" of  bright accessory color.  And wicker.  Lots and lots of boxy wicker outdoor furniture. (There's a lot of new home design similarity too, but I'll save that for another time.)  The east side homes aren't quite as guilty of this as the west side and valley, but they're catching up.  For example, this is what I saw during just the last few days. I wish I had invested in this patio furniture company.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Studio City sunset. And Champagne.

When clients Josh and Mac closed on their Studio City home in early December, we planned to celebrate by having champagne on the deck and watching the sunset.  However, either 1) the sun set too early, or 2) it was too windy, or 3) it was raining, or 4) our schedules just didn't mesh.  (The house is still a work in progress.) We finally got a chance to enjoy the view and the sunset last night, and here are the pics.  That's Josh pouring champagne, his wife Mac, and my husband Steve getting ready to toast this special home.

Monday, March 26, 2018

L.A. homes for sale in great high school districts

Most home buyers who are looking for great schools are focused on elementary schools.  But what about buyers with older kids? Recently, a client asked me to research public L.A. high schools with stellar ratings.  Here's the list, with ratings between eight and ten by  Caveat: this is by no means an all-inclusive list.  Many areas with terrific schools are not here because I concentrated on a specific geographic "core" (roughly, with a Silverlake bulls-eye). I also left out magnet schools with super-specific focuses. 

Renaissance Arts Academy – Eagle Rock
Great Schools rating: 9

Alliance College Ready Academy – Silverlake & Echo Park
Great Schools rating: 8

Larchmont Charter – Hollywood & Larchmont
Great Schools rating: 8

Camino Nuevo High School – East Hollywood & Hancock Park
Great Schools rating: 8

Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet – East of Downtown
Great Schools rating: 9

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts – Eastside and South Pasadena
Great Schools rating: 8

South Pasadena Senior High School
Great Schools rating: 10

Alliance Media Arts and Entertainment Design High School – Boyle Heights & East L.A.
Great Schools rating: 8

Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies – Westside but east of 405
Great Schools rating: 8

Culver City High School
Great Schools rating: 9

Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies – Reseda
Great Schools rating: 8

La Canada High School
Great Schools rating: 10

Anderson Clark Magnet School – La Crescenta
Great Schools rating: 10

Crescenta Valley High School – La Crescenta
Great Schools rating: 10

North Hollywood Senior High
Great Schools rating: 8

Burbank High & Burroughs High – Burbank
Great Schools rating: 8

High Tech LA – Van Nuys
Great Schools rating: 9

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Milla Goldenberg is a rock star Realtor.

Milla Goldenberg (that's her smiling face, above) joined Judy Graff Properties several months ago, and just closed a really challenging sale at 4211 Redwood, #202 (pictured above) in Marina Del Rey.  It takes a very talented Realtor to have done this, and not everybody could have pleased the other transaction parties as she did.  First of all, even though the unit was aggressively priced, Milla hung in for months and finally convinced the seller to take the market price.  Next, the building's HOA is in litigation.  It is almost impossible to get a conventional loan on a condo unit in this case.  But Milla drilled down, called a million lenders, and found one who would make the loan at a reasonable cost to the buyers.  Next, there was a bad appraisal, which Milla smoothed over with both buyer and seller.  There were other issues, too -- a robbery during an open house (yes, it happens), divots in the floor during an open house, and on and on.  Yet, she persevered, and performed the amazing feat of getting this property closed to everybody's satisfaction.  Major kudos, Milla -- I am honored to have you as part of the company! If you would like service like this, please contact Milla at

Friday, March 02, 2018

House of the week: 2139 Baxter in Echo Park. It's a probate, but don't let that scare you.

This week's house of the week, 2139 Baxter in Echo Park, was chosen because 1) it's a cutie that's ripe for a renovation or just great decorating taste, 2) it's in a cool Eastside neighborhood, 3) it has a view and a backyard, 4) the price is affordable (although it will probably go over) at $699,000 and 5) it is special because it's a probate sale.  Don't be scared of buying a probate property.  You can do it. 

Here is the quick story on probates.  The thing you need most of with a probate sale is patience.  The sale takes a long time because attorneys are involved and a court date needs to be set.  First, you line up your loan and do your inspections.  Next, you make an offer, put down 10%, and if the estate accepts your offer, you then wait for notice of the court date (your agent and the listing agent will go with you to court).  The judge will ask if anybody objects to the sale and if not, s/he will open bidding.  Yes, you can be outbid in court, so plan to go higher and bring extra cashiers' checks for the increased deposit just in case.  Once the judge rules in your favor, closing is usually within 10 days.

Yes, this takes a lot longer than an actual sale, and there are more details, but this is the overview.  However, this house would definitely be one worth waiting for.