Friday, February 29, 2008

1 plus Guest for Burbank Caravan

Peter Viles came along with me yesterday for the Burbank brokers' caravan. Pete is the blogger/editor of the L.A. Times real estate blog, LaLand. It was lotsa fun and I enjoyed showing him some of the Burbank housing stock. Read about our tour here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Foreclosure on Market...Pending in 10 Days

This is 403 N. Sparks. It's a foreclosure and has 3 beds, 2 baths, 1690 square feet, and is in a great Magnolia Park neighborhood. From the pictures, it's far from being a fixer, although it sure needs some landscaping. It was listed for $542,900 and went pending with multiple offers in only ten days. I think that's fast, even for a great price in a good neighborhood. I think this may be one of the first signs of increased buying activity for the spring season.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Great LAT Articles and My Local Take

There are two great articles in the L.A. Times today about housing and the economy. The first is on the front page. I apologize, but the link wasn't available. It's by Tom Petruno and it's called Cost of Getting By Keeps Getting Higher. I think the spectre of increased inflation scares me more than anything else. The second article, in David Lazarus's Consumer Confidential, is titled Housing Upheaval: a tale of two homes.

Now, not to fly in the face of conventional wisdom, and I know this is anecdotal, but: at our weekly office meeting yesterday, many agents were reporting multiple offer situations and increased traffic at open houses. So, are we seeing a bit of Spring recovery? Is this an anomaly or an uptick?

Bigger, Better, Taller...Power Poles

Paula Allen, good friend and agent extraordinare, reported in from West Burbank today. Burbank's DWP knocked on her door and announced it was replacing the power pole in her backyard. Paula pointed out that the existing pole looked just fine, but BWP said the new poles are needed to meet the increased demand for power. And they're six inches higher than the old ones. Question: isn't the world going to buried power lines rather than poles? What gives? Since Burbank has its own power supply that performed very well last summer when every other community's was going out, I guess I shouldn't question this.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Right Price + Toys + Diplomas = Multiple Offers

Here's 2304 N. Sparks, in Burbank. Ew. It has been on the market forever, but just had a price reduction down to $575,000 (original price $699,000). That's an okay price for a 3+2 with 1450 square feet, although this is very close to noisy Glenoaks. HGTV's "Designed to Sell" redid the kitchen last year, which is no big deal -- they just painted the cabinets and put in a new floor. If they did the countertops, I recommend never watching that show again as they used the cheapest laminate available. It's also a short sale, and the occupants left in such a hurry that they left their kids' toys and their framed college diplomas there. I guess that shows the value of higher education. But anyway...they have two offers. I guess that's what "price discovery" is all about. Update 2/29/08: Listing agent Tricia Ebert has left me a voicemail berating me for my lack of professionalism in writing this post. She and I obviously have different opinions regarding the condition of the house and also what blogging is about. At any rate, she told me that the owners are in the process of moving out, and have not left their children's toys or their diplomas behind.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Good News for a Bad Mall

The Burbank Town Center is the worst mall in the Valley. However, there's good news at the Macy's there (which is, naturally, the worst Macy's in the San Fernando Valley) -- it now features a MAC cosmetics counter! We no longer have to drive to either Glendale or Sherman Oaks for our lip gloss, although we still want to.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

That was Fast

This is 4913 Willowcrest. It's a 3+2 with a guest house in the Toluca Woods neighborhood around Camarillo and Cahuenga. It was just reported pending -- after less than five days of showing at a list price of $698k. Yes, it was on the market previously, but at a higher price, of course. And another caveat: houses with guest houses are very marketable. However, that was fast! I'm glad to see real activity in this great pocket neighborhood.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

More Animal Architecture, Cows This Time

Here's yet more animal architecture in the neighborhood! Here's a cow downspout. And not just any cow downspout, but a singing, guitar playing cow downspout. Look closely and you'll see that udders make a perfect rest for a guitar. If all this isn't enough, there are five of these downspouts running along this building at Cahuenga and Chandler.

Studio City housing prices

Again, from today's LAT: housing prices in Studio City are showing comparative resiliency, especially in the nicer areas of Colfax Meadows and the Hollywood Hills. No surprise -- it's a fabulous area. The median price for 2007 is $982,500.

Just as I Bin Sayin' about Blight...

I've written here before about how awful foreclosures can be -- not just for those home owners getting foreclosed on, but for communities having to deal with the blight that many foreclosures bring, as well. And I've been contradicted both here and in other blogs. But today's LAT has a great article on this very thing -- suburban blight. Click here to read.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Where are all the great new interest rates?

Okay, the economic stimulus package has passed. Where are all the great new interest rates for home loans? Lender Dana tells me we probably won't see reduced rates for 30+ days. Rats.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Just as I was saying on foreclosed renters...

Check out my Jan. 31 post with questions about foreclosed rental properties. Lo and behold, today's L.A. Times has a front page article on that very thing -- and it ain't pretty. If you are about to rent a single family home, here's a tip: ask your landlord how long they've owned the property and how many other properties they own. If the answer is "less than two years" and "none," reconsider renting there -- they may have gotten in the game too late with too little experience to be able to keep/maintain the property.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

From French 75 to Savannah

Whew! No, French 75 here in Burbank hasn't gone out of business, it has just changed its name to Savannah. Presumably, there have been some menu and decor changes, too.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Even Some Republicans Want More Regulation

If you're a regular reader of this post, you probably know that I'm in favor of more regulation of the financial and securities markets. And apparently I'm not alone. Ben Stein writes a very readable weekly column in the Sunday New York Times business section. NYT labels him "a lawyer, writer, actor and economist." He's also a big-time Republican, and as such, one would think he'd be big-time anti-regulation. But no! Check out this quote from Sunday's piece:
"Is anyone ever going to wake up to the fact that there is a lot of larceny in the human heart and that there are a lot of sheep waiting to be shorn and that regulation is not a bad thing? Or will we just lurch from massive meltdown to massive theft and on and on? Is anyone ever going to get it? Anyone? Anyone?"

Thanks, Ben.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Info for Foreclosed Pet Owners

Pets of foreclosed-upon owners can suffer, too. Here's a helpful article from the East Bay SPCA for pet owners who are facing foreclosure -- tips, suggestions, etc. I'm sure our local SPCAs will offer similar resources. Thanks,, for running this. (photo courtesy of -- okay, so I'm not hip)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Burbank Celeb Sightings at the Y

For those of you that think Burbank, outside of the studios, doesn't have its own cool celeb quotient, here's a sighting for you: the totally hot William Fitchner has been spotted working out at the local Y.

Sick of Free Marketers

I've said this before, but I'm sick of free marketers in the blogosphere decrying the newly-passed stimulus package. It will help some people keep their homes. It will help communities fight blight. Houses aren't like some disposable-income consumer item. Is there any awareness, at all, out there that people need a roof over their heads? That a house isn't just an investment but a place to live? Boy, I never thought I'd live to see opinions like these that are pro-homelessness and blight.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

10519 Woodbridge has finally closed

This gorgeous 3+2 at 10519 Woodbridge has finally closed escrow at $1,040,000 after almost a year on the market. It was originally listed at $1,099,000 and has been done to the nines. Don't know why it took so long? That street is one of my favorities in the Toluca Lake area, although old-timers don't consider it to be in TL because it's on the wrong side of Ledge.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Last Week's NODs

I just took a look at the notices of default filed last week for L.A. County. Again, Palmdale and Lancaster are seriously hurtin'. How's the San Fernando Valley doing? About the same. No more, no less defaults in Granada Hills, North Hollywood, Sherman Oaks or Burbank. Only three this week in Studio City. Same amount in Pasadena. Glendale is up a little. What to make of it all?

Monday, February 04, 2008

From our Friend, Hackster, at Real Sedated

Real Sedated has a great post titled "All Work and No Pay" about hiring a Realtor to sell your home. Click here for the link.

Good news/bad news on local listings

First, the bad news: The Woodland listing which sold so quickly (see below) is already back on the market. Some maybe good news: However, the house below on Tufts (with the black shutters) just closed for $630k -- and it sold in 10 days. The Niagara house (below, white door) sold quickly, too -- and was listed on 12/28, no less! the holidays are always a bad time to list -- for $484,900. It had sold in 2006 for much more and was just remodeled, so it is obviously a "flip" gone bad. Once again, I wonder: is the market picking up or is this just the exception that proves the rule?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Need for More Regulation in the Financial Markets

Here's a link to an excellent article about the credit crisis from this week's New Yorker Magazine. While many economists were cheering on the run-up in housing prices, here's one expert that was dubious. Here's a quote regarding the need for, yes, more regulation: “apt intervention and institutional structures are necessary for market economies to be successful.” The article continues, "Rather than waging old debates about tax cuts versus spending increases, policymakers ought to be discussing how to reform the financial system so that it serves the rest of the economy, instead of feeding off it and destabilizing it. Among the problems at hand: how to restructure Wall Street remuneration packages that encourage excessive risk-taking; restrict irresponsible lending without shutting out creditworthy borrowers; help victims of predatory practices without bailing out irresponsible lenders; and hold ratings agencies accountable for their assessments... As Minsky believed, “Economies evolve, and so, too, must economic policy.”

Friday, February 01, 2008

Pets are Losing Their Homes, Too

There's a sad story in the business section of the LAT today. Apparently, many pets are being abandoned when their owners' homes go into foreclosure. The owners usually have to rent a place to live after they leave their homes, and as all we former renters know, very few landlords will take animals. Especially big dogs. But, all sorts of pets are being left behind or taken to shelters. Once again, here's proof that there can be real costs and awful consequences to foreclosure for all family members.

(Picture courtesy of