Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More on sober living - the Burbank City Council weighs in

If you've read this post before, you know about the controversy over sober-living facilities in Burbank. You also know where I stand on this.

According to the Burbank Leader, the Burbank City Council has asked its staff to look into ways to monitor and potentially impose stricter regulations on local group homes. State and federal laws prohibit cities from restricting members of a "family" from living together. Apparently, that family can't have more than 7 people living together without a conditional use permit.

One of the principal planners quoted in the article indicates that Burbank may tighten the definition of what "family" is.

Am I the only person who thinks this is a slippery slope and the City is vastly overreaching? Am I the only person who thinks that a municipality has no business in defining what a "family" is?

If these sober-living facilities are a hazard to the surrounding community, then this is a law enforcement issue. The solution is to put more cops on the street.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday morning reading

Okay, so it's almost afternoon. Here's a great article from today's NYT Business section about the housing bust in Merced. Three-quarters of the current sales there are foreclosures. My question to the developers of these empty REOs is: Merced? What were you thinking?

For your amusement, I bring you an LAT Opinion section cartoon by Mimi Pond. It's about grocery shopping in our very own Glendale!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bessemer just closed

My Valley Glen listing at 13523 Bessemer closed today at $630,000, just about where the sellers and I thought it would. It was listed at $659,000, and is a 2050 sf 3+2 with a gorgeous, redone kitchen, air, hardwoods, redone baths and more. It has been listed since June 17th.

This sale provides an opposing view, I think, to all of the otherwise-bad real estate news out there. I had encouraged the sellers to wait until after the summer to list the house. I had thought, wrongly, that with "such a bad market" the house would be sitting for several months during the slowest part of the year (late summer). Thankfully, the sellers didn't listen to me. We had a contract five weeks after it listed. Also, considering the news about rampant price declines in local real estate, I encouraged the sellers to lower the price after four weeks. I was also nervous about two foreclosures one street over and what those houses might do to value. Once again, they smartly declined to do so, and we shortly thereafter received the good offer that resulted in a sale. I'm not saying the market isn't bad, mind you; but perhaps all is not as dire here in the SFV as the media would have you believe.

L.A. schools, real estate, and Sandra Tsing Loh

If you've read this blog before, you know that I have harped and harped on how much value good public schools can add to a neighborhood's real estate. It's one of the reasons that Burbank real estate continues to be desireable -- the schools are great. Along these lines, my favorite L.A. humorist, Sandra Tsing Loh, has just released a book entitled "Mother on Fire" about her experiences with L.A.'s public schools. While I haven't yet read the book (can't wait!), I know that Loh has been a long-time advocate and source of info about the LAUSD magnet, charter, and plain old public school programs, and Loh's own daughters go to a magnet school in Van Nuys. Loh's website also contains several local school links that you might want to check out, as well.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No Surprise about the Burbank Collection

I posted here several months ago about the new downtown Burbank loft development, The Burbank Collection. It's right across from the AMC theaters and above Ben&Jerry's, the new Barney's Beanery, etc. The complex features almost 200 units ranging from 1 bedrooms to 2-story penthouses and the prices used to be $400,000 to $700,000+. No more.

A BC representative came to our meeting today to talk about the big price reductions the project has just announced -- about 20% across the board. I understood that this due to two reasons. First, the existing units in escrow did not appraise for their sales prices. The buyer of one unit actually received a $200,000 write-down from her original purchase price offer! Second, according to the rep, the lender on the project is breathing down the neck of the developer. No surprise there.

Further, the rep says that the code words for buyers and their offers are "yes," and "Whatever it takes." That's what we like to hear!

Other news from this rep: the development is almost 50% sold. No units can "go" FHA until the 50% mark is reached. And, I asked about a competing development, the lovely and talented Americana. Apparently, Big A is not giving out sales figures. To anybody. Period. No surprise there, either.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Friday, August 08, 2008

Just goes to show...

...That if a nice home, in a nice neighborhood, with a nice price comes on the market, it will be snapped up quickly, even in this market. I'm talking about 1806 N. Richard in Burbank, pictured here. This house has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1749 sf., a pool, and a music studio above the garage (about 400 additional feet). It has been well maintained and the kitchen and baths have been remodeled. But not with the highest-end finishes. It's in Jefferson school district. It listed on Tuesday for $695,000. The listing agent, who works in my office, tells me there are four offers in on it already, and at least one is over full price. She also tells me that all the would-be buyers are financially well-qualified. Dang. And I was going to show it to some motivated buyers this weekend, too.
Update 8/11/08: Here's another example of things going fast. 1535 Keystone went pending after 6 days on the market. I showed it when it had been on for 4 days and they already had two offers. It is 3 beds, 2 baths, 1354 square feet, with a fountain/grotto that you'd only see in Burbank that practically covered the entire yard. It was listed at $499k, which seems a little low, but a lot of the re-do was of questionable quality.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New restaurant news

I just learned that Barney's Beanery is coming to Burbank!

It will open in the new Loft Collection downtown. For those of you that might not know, Barney's is a legendary Hollywood bar and burger joint. Famous for its rowdy atmosphere in the 70's and 80's, it served lots of imported beers and great hamburgers. Unfortunately, in those days it also had matchbooks printed with the message, "Faggots Stay Out." Those are long gone, thankfully. It will be interesting to see how this works out here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

934 N. Avon has sold

934 N. Avon, Burbank 91505 has just sold for $665,000. This home features lovely character details plus updates, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and over 1600 square feet. It is on the same street as Roosevelt school and is close to the best Magnolia Park has to offer. It took us about six weeks from the listing date to get it into escrow. The sales price is just what I had told the sellers it would go for when I took the listing.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sunday morning reading

For Sunday morning reading, here's a good article from the NYT by Peter L. Bernstein. It's titled "Three Strikes Against Consumers" and discusses the housing/credit crunch, high oil prices, and high food prices. I'm happy to see a journalist from a major news outlet discussing food prices as the issue seems to have been given short shrift elsewhere.
Today's L.A. Times' Business section has an article about whether or not it's a good time to buy real estate. It's by Peter Hong.
Why am I not including a link to this? Because it's way too statistical. The figures it cites just don't jive with my boots-on-the-ground experience of the markets I serve. Nobody disputes that local housing prices have come down. But the article's blanket assertion that the county has come down 30% is just not true for all -- or even most -- zipcodes, and I think the numbers in the article really need to be better qualified. Or perhaps I should just title this post, "I don't care what John Carroll of Dataquick says."

Saturday, August 02, 2008

More on sober living in Burbank

If you've read this blog for awhile, you may remember the post and thread on Burbank's sober living houses. The neighbors close to a home on Clark were upset about its existence.

Sadly, a resident of one of the houses committed suicide in mid-July. According to the Burbank Leader, even that has fueled the neighborhood's ire about the home's existence. Some of the more interesting quotes:

"The news reignited neighbors’ fears about the proximity of the facility to their homes and to John Burroughs High and Walt Disney Elementary schools.“I am not saying this community is perfect and that they don’t belong, I just don’t understand why they have to be on that corner in the heart of America USA,” said one neighborhood resident.

And: "The suicide could have been harmful to local students, [another resident] said. “If school had been in session, kids could have walked right by and seen this happen.”


First, Burbank is now America USA? Please define America for me. The America I live in contains addicts that need help. And kids could have seen it? I don't know if the backyard, where the suicide happened, is somehow exposed to the street, but that's really unlikely. And, school isn't in session. Also, most of the high school kids I have met recently are pretty sophisticated, and I doubt this would have warped their little minds.

But more importantly, suicides happen in every community, in every socio-economic group, and in every kind of home, not just sober living facilities. If the residents of the community want to fight sober living facilities in their neighborhoods, I suggest they come up with a real reason to do so. So far, they haven't.

Friday, August 01, 2008

School and Crime Stats in One Easy Graphic

I'm not in the habit of promoting other real estate sites, but the brand new LA Life offers something really unique. The home page has an easy-to-read chart of all crime and school statistics for all Los Angeles neighborhoods. The info is presented in a numerical format, for example, (Fill in the neighborhood here) crime 2.0, schools, 5.0. Cost-per-square-foot info immediately follows the other numbers. I assume that the school stats are from the recent API scores, and I'm not sure where the crime stats come from. In my experience, these two indicators are the most important factors buyers consider when choosing a neighborhood. I am happy to note that Burbank has a crime rating of 9 (10's the safest) and a school rating of 8.5. I can't speak about the ease of property searches there. You may just have to visit my site at for that;).
Update from the website developer: Our crime statistics come from each department and are broken down to the smallest geographic area that each department puts out stats for. For instance, the LAPD will have more precise boundaries than the Long Beach PD, because the LAPD is more open with information. We then compare the areas, adjust for population, and place them on a scale with 0 being the least safe in LA County, and 10 the most safe. You are correct that the school statistics are derived from API scores, and scaled against other LA schools as well.