Monday, August 31, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

5915 Irvine closed yesterday

5915 Irvine in North Hollywood closed yesterday! This was the house with the three appraisals in three weeks with a span of $100,000 between the three. However, the buyers really wanted the house and bravely worked through the drama and the seller and his agent were very kind and patient with us. Sometimes difficult deals do work out...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fun site discovery

Are you obsessing about decorating your home or the home you'll own one day? Here's a great new site for you: These folks just won't quit redoing their house, and some of their ideas are so easy that even I could tackle them. Yes, there is a lot of personal stuff on this site that you won't really care about, but just get past that. Thanks, Floris and Rose Anne, for the heads-up here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Home inventory drops as sales rise, as if we didn't know

California Association of Realtors is reporting that the supply of available homes for sale is diminishing as sales increase. Oh, really? Gosh, how long has that been happening? Thanks to LALand, the LATimes real estate blog, for picking up this story, as I am never particularly interested in what CAR says.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Am I cool because I know what a gastropub is?

This is about my second-favorite obsession: food. The husband and I recently discovered two newish restaurants in the area, Laurel Tavern and Henry's Hat. Both are really bars that also serve terrific small meals ("gastopubs"), and both are casual and (relatively) inexpensive. Both are cavernous rooms with long full bars, and phenomenal hamburgers. And both are on the same stretch of road, although they're about two miles apart.

Henry's Hat, pictured above, is at 3413 Cahuenga Blvd., right across from the southern Universal City entrance. It's owned by Luna Park, and is a little more sports-bar-ish of the two. Laurel Tavern is on Ventura, east of Laurel Canyon, in Studio City. The decor is remarkably similar at both places. Laurel Tavern is the more "foodie" of the two (it has marrow bones on the menu and fewer tvs). Again, the burgers are terrific and the atmosphere is friendly and casual at both places. Welcome to the area, gastropubs!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Against the odds, 500 Amherst closed today

I represented the buyers in the purchase of 500 Amherst Dr. in Burbank, which closed today. We never thought it would. The house was on the market for $985,000 for months. The sellers had several offers, and even had it in escrow once before us. My clients bought it for $910k, which I thought was still a little high, but it appraised just fine. And we even cancelled the escrow once. But the real estate Gods apparently wanted my buyers to have this, and thanks to everybody's patience this has happened.

Architecturally, the home is a little different -- most homes in the neighborhood are traditional, not contemporary. And for such a big home (3800+ sf), it only has two bedrooms. That's right. Two. The entire upstairs is one massive master suite. And it was last redone in the early 1960's. The decor is straight out of Mad Men, complete with pinch-pleat drapes, wallpaper, a built-in high-fi cabinet, and lots of wood paneling. Nevertheless, there is something really charming about it, and the backyard is huge and gorgeous (it has drainage issues, but that's another story).

My clients are extremely creative and I look forward to seeing exactly what they do with this.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

L.A. Times catches up: "Home sales and prices on the rise"

Sorry for two LAT posts in a row, but this was the headline on the front of today's times: "Home sales and prices on the rise." (The hard copy headline is slightly different from the LALand headline, where I got the link.) I know you won't believe me, but Peter Hong interviewed me for this article. I didn't make the final edit. Bah.

In fairness to the media and how under-reported this story has been, most of the major journalists use financial statisticians and data experts for their sources. As we all know, those folks measure what has occurred, not what's happening this minute.

As far as all that foreclosure inventory, don't hold your breath for it to hit the market. My sources tell me that it will trickle on to the market over the next two years.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday evening reading from LAT -- who saw the bubble coming and do they see it going now

Here's an article from today's L.A. Times. It's about financial experts who saw the housing bubble and impending crash coming (like, that's everybody) and sold their homes. Now, some are buying again. And some are not. For those who are timing the market: are they right? Or just lucky? Or what? To me, as much as I love Paul Krugman, it just goes to show: nobody knows anything.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

iPhone app I'd like to see

Here's an iPhone app I'd like to see: Put-rude-lying-Realtors-and-their-venal-grasping-clients-on-a-rocket- ship-and-shoot-them-into-the-sun app. Or how about a death-ray-from-Mars -for-home-buyers-attempting-"claw back"-strategies app? Can some iPhone software developer help me out here?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tale of two appraisals.

It was the best of appraisals, it was the worst of appraisals. And both were on the same house. Names and addresses are left out here to protect bla bla bla.

Backstory: the house was bought at a foreclosure auction in May, fixed up, and sold to my clients in July. Our purchase price is $525k.

The first appraisal came in at $425k. The appraiser was from out of the area. We knew we were in trouble when the cover page picture was of some other house. And two comps used were on major streets, not residential streets. What happens when an appraisal comes in so low? The lender will only loan 80% of the appraised value.

The second appraisal was done two weeks later after the clients switched lenders. The appraiser used realistic comps. And the value came in at $525k. Not only will the bank loan more money on this property, but my buyer clients are relieved that the house is currently worth what they agreed to pay for it.

How can two appraisals be so different? The answer may have to do with new appraisal regulations. Banks and lenders now have to order their appraisals from pools of appraisers, rather than just calling individuals they've worked with before. And these pools are undercutting each other on price. So what you get are inexperienced appraisers doing as much as they can, as fast as they can, as cheaply as they can. And often not doing a very good job in picking comparable properties. If you're in this situation, don't be afraid to ask for an appraisal review if you think that something about the appraisal just doesn't quite smell right.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Foreclosures and statistics

For those of you waiting for an increase in home inventory due to foreclosures, and sure that the banks are going to dump a bunch on the market any minute, here's the latest from Realtors who handle many bank-owned properties: it's going to be a trickle, not a flood. One of the reasons: the banks don't want to dump a lot of houses on the market at once because it will depress prices further.

And Market Metrics has come out with this statistic: there is only a month-and-a-half supply of inventory right now in the SFV. No surprise. The supply of houses for sale is as low as I've ever seen it, not counting brand new condos.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Real estate gone wild!

Local real estate was so giddy with excitement this week that it pulled up its shirt and flashed us. Seriously, this week was the busiest I've had in a long time, and Wednesday and Thursday were the busiest days I've had as a Realtor ever. Let's save the reasons for another time and look at my numbers:
- Number of people at my Sunday open house on Birmingham: 80+. Number of people who attended the Lincoln open house that a colleague held: 100+.
- Offers on my listing on Lincoln by Tuesday: 6. Number of offers at or over full price: 4. Sellers accepted an offer substantially over full price.
- Offers on my listing on Birmingham by Tuesday: 5 -- one accepted at full price. And these listings were not deliberately underpriced at all.
- Number of offers previously submitted by prevailing buyers on the Lincoln house: According to their agent, 31. Anymore, it seems that buyers are submitting eight or nine or nineteen offers before they get one property.
- Of all offers received, number that were offering less than 20% down (and yes, I ask for proof of funds to close): only 1.
- Offers written by me for clients this week: 2.
- Offers written that were then accepted: one (yay!). The other offer was one of 11, and even though my buyers came in $40k over asking, they were still $60k from getting it.
- Transactions that appeared to be falling apart by mid-week: 3. All transactions look solid now.
- Problems with lenders: 1
- Problems with appraisals: 1.
- Unnerved clients: everybody.
- Realtor who wished this week that she were paid by the hour: 1 and that's me.
- Drinks needed: plenty.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to get home loans through BofA

Bank of America and Countrywide are bringing their "c" game these days. While they agressively market their purchase money lending services, they apparently can't deliver on what they're promising. We're hearing many stories -- more each day -- about their loans crashing and burning and/or taking forever to fund -- up to 70 days.

This doesn't surprise me as my own refinance took five months to go through.