Monday, May 31, 2010

We leave the 'hood for meals

 Yesterday, after my open house at 4552 Morse in Studio City, my husband and I ate at one of my favorite places -- Laurel Tavern in Studio City.  And then, after burgers and brews, we got some gelato in Tujunga Village.  (Yes, we can really pack it away.) And today, after running another real estate-related errand, we had a great brunch in Silverlake at Dusty's Bistro.  It would be really great to have these kind of places where we live in Burbank, although Tony's Darts Away is a good start on the gastropub trend.

Okay, this is less about real estate and more about restaurants and the crowds they draw.  Crowd in Studio City: Young to middle aged, but it was early.  Everybody seemed friendly, and deeply engaged in  conversation.  Extremely casual, but in a moneyed way.  And boob jobs. 

Later, on the street in front of the Tujunga Village gelato place, we saw a guy masturbating a girl with a red wallet/clutch.  Outside of her clothes.  They were trying to be discreet, but.  No, I am NOT kidding.  I do not know if they'd just eaten gelato. 

Crowd for brunch in Silverlake:  Really young to not-quite middle-aged -- hipster babies and their tatted-up moms and dads.  And a lot of people who looked like they just rolled out of bed (it was late morning, after all).  Messy hair and porkpie hats, but again in a moneyed way.  Needless to say, we were NOT the coolest people in the room.  Anyway, the food was great there and I can't wait to go back.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

4552 Morse Ave., Studio City - Open Sunday, 1 to 4!

This is my new listing at 4552 Morse in Studio City.  It's a completely lovely 2 bedroom, 1 bath home in a gorgeous, green residential neighborhood and is listed at $659,000.  It also features a walled front patio, sunny living room with fireplace, redone kitchen with GE Profile appliances, a redone bath with swanky custom tile, extra storage, a big backyard, and more.  Come see the "more" tomorrow at my open house from 1 to 4 pm.  Also, you can find more pictures on my website at under the "featured properties" tab.  (Yes, Al, you'll have to sign in again.  Sorry.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Celebrity sighting

Spotted at Aroma Cafe in Studio City today: Eric McCormack.  Handsome as ever.  By the way, Aroma's sister bookstore, Portrait of a Bookstore, now has a blog:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Coming soon in Studio City

I'll be listing this lovely home in Studio City later this week.  It features 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, a sun-filled living room, a gorgeous front patio, remodeled kitchen, bath, dining room, extra closet space, a/c, a grassy yard with wisteria-covered pergola and more.  Stay tuned to this station -- our listing price will be $659,000 and yes, there will be more and better pictures.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Thinking of buying, and then selling, a fixer?

Thanks to my manager, Mike Napolitano, for the following article.  All in all, I recommend leaving the flipping of fixers to professional groups that do just that.  Most of the foreclosures I've seen lately are properties that were bought by regular folks with the hopes of adding improvements and then selling at a profit.  And on most of these foreclosed properties, you can see exactly where in the house the would-be flipper ran out of money -- usually somewhere in the kitchen.

Fixing to sell: Don't go overboard

Make improvements that pay off

Fixer-uppers with upside potential were in high demand when the market was appreciating at a fast pace. Once depreciation took over, speculators disappeared until 2009, when low-end foreclosure properties in some areas became hot properties -- particularly if they were selling at a 50 percent discount from the peak in summer 2006.
In California, 70 percent of the homes bought by investors in 2009 were distressed-sale properties, according to the California Association of Realtors. Some were stripped of appliances and fixtures. But, at half price, there was profit potential for buyers who were up for a redo -- especially seasoned investors buying multiple homes to fix up and resell, or rent out.
Fixers priced over $500,000 aren't as easy to sell today. Most buyers in higher price ranges are buying a home to live in. They want a home in move-in condition that will suit their long-term needs.
There are exceptions. In high-demand market niches with few listings, there is occasionally a fixer-upper that draws a lot of attention. Usually, these fixers sell to buyers who will live in the property and fix it up themselves to save money. Often this is the only way they can afford to move into the neighborhood.
Sellers of fixers in such neighborhoods should make their property as presentable as possible by cleaning out clutter, both inside and out. Many homebuyers can't visualize a property's potential. It's often worth a modest investment to show the house at its best advantage.
Cosmetic improvements, such as painting, replacing outdated floor covering, or refinishing worn hardwood floors can pay off. Some fixers are staged, even though the property needs a lot of work, so that buyers can envision themselves living there.
Presale inspections will help buyers make a decision about whether or not to tackle the project. Make reports available to buyers before they make an offer to avoid having to put the home back on the market if the deal falls apart because the buyer's inspectors discover defects not previously disclosed.
HOUSE HUNTING TIP: How much you spend preparing a fixer for sale depends on several factors. How much did you pay for the property? How much do you owe against the property? Is there demand for fixer-uppers in your area? Finally, how much does your real estate agent think you can sell the home for given current market conditions?
Sellers who have equity in their home and cash to invest in fix-up for-sale work should consider making cost-effective renovations, like a kitchen upgrade, but not an entire renovation. Ask your agent what the home would sell for with and without these improvements before doing anything to it.
The investment may not yield a profit, but could recover the costs when the home sells. In areas where fixers aren't selling, sellers might need to enhance the property to sell at all. A good real estate agent should be able to provide references for reliable, reasonably priced professionals who can do the jobs for sellers who haven't the time or expertise to do the work themselves.
Buyers who bought at the peak may not be able sell for even close to what they paid. One possibility would be to rent the property, if it makes sense financially. You may need to fix up the property somewhat to attract a good tenant. Consult with a certified public accountant about the tax consequences of converting a single-family residence to a rental.
Another option, if you don't have to sell now, is to stay put for awhile and fix the property up gradually over time. Avoid investing a large amount of money in the hopes of getting a bigger return.
THE CLOSING: The housing market in your area may be too uncertain for speculation.
Dian Hymer, a real estate broker with more than 30 years' experience, is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of "House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer's Guide."

Realtors and short sales

Twice this past week I've been told by a short sale listing agent that they have hired an outside "negotiator" to handle the dealings with the bank.  When I asked why, each agent told me that they were "too busy" to call the banks.

Too busy? Really? Doing what?  Isn't that kinda, like, our job to make sure these transactions are handled smoothly?  Sure, I can see needing help if you have 10+ short sale listings, but if you have only one or two...?  No, it's no fun to spend 20 minutes on the phone with the bank once or twice a week.  But if a Realtor can't fully service a listing, should s/he be taking it at all?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

947 N. Brighton and 4644 Coldwater Canyon #301 both closed this past week

 Both 947 N. Brighton and 4644 Coldwater Canyon, #301 closed escrow this week (that's Brighton, above). I rep'd the buyers for Coldwater and the sellers for Brighton.

4644 Coldwater is a brand new condo building.  As in most brand-new building transactions, the developer/seller gave my buyers lots of incentives: big credits towards closing costs, high-end appliances, all home owners association fees paid for a year, etc.  My clients and I were generally happy with how everything went, all requested touch-ups and fixes were timely done, etc. The seller even let the buyers close late in order to take advantage of the California state tax credit. Mara Escrow handles most new building/unit escrows around here, and I’ve had very mixed performance from them in the past, but this Mara office (Bev Hills) was top-notch.  So was the building’s lender, Corey Reid at Met Life.

The 947 N. Brighton transaction went pretty smoothly, too, and the house closed at $568,000.  A tv music supervisor bought the house and intends to turn the unit over the garage into a sound studio.  Excellent choice, in my opinion.  We delayed the close of escrow, which didn’t thrill the sellers, so the new buyer could take advantage of the state tax credit.  Also, pest work turned out to be more extensive (and expensive) than we thought – there were not only more termites, but there was a bee hive that needed to be removed, too.

More on the tax credits

As you may know, in order to be eligible for the federal tax credit, a sale has to close no later than June 30 (the transaction needed to start by April 30).  This article from the L.A. Times details possible delays, and offers advice on how to avoid them.

Also, don't forget: if your transaction is eligible for the California state tax credit, you need to apply for the credit within 10 days of closing.  Paperwork has to be done by both the buyer and the seller.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

How my short sale is going, Chapter 3 (or is it 4? Whatever)

When I last posted about my short sale, the file had just been sent to the closing department at Chase.  This is good news because that's the last step.  And then...nothing.  Nobody assigned to it, bunches of phone calls, etc.  Finally, I managed to have it resent to the closing department.  And this week, I got a name of a closing manager!  AND HE CALLED ME BACK YESTERDAY!  WOO HOO! However, it was just to tell me that the file will be assigned to a closer some time this week.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Does foreclosure lead to terrorism?

...Because if it does, we all better take cover.  Okay, not funny.  But you have to wonder about housing circumstances of the guy that tried to blow up Times Square.  By all accounts, he lived a nice life: house in the suburbs, wife and kids, job, education, etc.  And then it went wrong, or he went wrong, or something.  Couldn't pay the 1st mortgage, couldn't pay the 2nd HELOC, and got foreclosed from there.  Did losing that part of the "American Dream" unhinge him and tip him into radicalism?  Would he have tried to blow up Times Square if he and his family (now no longer in the country) were still settled homeowners and if the bank had done a loan modification?  I'm not being flip, I'm just wondering.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Life Would Be Perfect if I Lived in that House

This should be fun.  One of my favorite L.A.Times columnists, Meghan Daum, has just had her new book released (see picture, left, or click on the title link above).  I can't wait to read the real estate parts.  While the title is ironic, you wouldn't believe how many people think that the right house is the answer to all their prayers.