Thursday, December 29, 2011

In your opinion, what was the best and worst real estate trend of the year?

Friends and fans, what did you think about real estate this year? Short sales and foreclosures: too much, not enough? Real estate prices: too high or too low or just right? Real estate agents: too many, too few, too dumb? The real estate market in general: good, bad or indifferent?  I'll post my bests and worsts in the next few days.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The short sale on Verdugo in Burbank has closed, and my nightmare is over.

Well, okay, 2012 W. Verdugo in Burbank wasn't really a nightmare, it was just a typical short sale.  Took way too long, involved a bitter divorce, a seller that wouldn't commit to moving, a loan that was sold at the last minute, etc. etc.  Kudos to our buyer, George, for hanging in for six months.  Thanks to everybody who expressed interest in the house.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cougar Cubs in Burbank

Two baby mountain lions were found in Burbank this week (their mother obviously wanted to raise them in a neighborhood with excellent schools), and are now safely ensconced in a wildlife rehab facility.  Title should link; if not, check the L.A. Times story here.  These poor babys hadn't eaten in quite awhile, so the mother is presumed missing or dead.  Somebody was hitting these poor little things with a broomstick, which makes me want to hit whomever was doing it with a really big broomstick.  Note to all wildlife in the San Fernando Valley: I may not take you into my home, or feed you, but I won't hurt you and promise to call the wildlife rehab folks for you, and I hope every other human will do the same.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Love Tudor-style architecture? Check out my pocket listing in Burbank

This beauty is just as adorable inside as it is outside and yes, it's for sale but not on the multiple listing service.  And it's huge: 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, guest house with 3/4 bath (permitted as rec room), basement, built-out loft, and about 2900 square feet.  Other features include hardwood floors, newer dual-zone a/c and heat, formal dining room, updated bathrooms, tons of storage space, fireplace, country kitchen and fabulous hillside neighborhood.  Asking $780,000; please call me for a private showing or more info.  I'll have more pictures in January.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

More drama on the Verdugo short sale, or why is BofA still selling toxic junk?

Just when I thought the short sale on 2012 W. Verdugo, Burbank was finally going to close, we had another crisis this week.

Backstory: Lender Dana Dukelow had told me the following story: he had funded a loan on a short sale, and it was about to close, when the title company discovered that the lien/loan was no longer owned by the bank that had approved the short sale on the property.  That bank was BofA.

Why is this important? Because there is no longer a valid short sale approval since the original approving bank has nothing to do with it anymore.  The transaction can’t close until – and if – the new bank approves it.  People are trying to move, their cash is tied up, etc, etc.

Dana’s story alarmed me and I decided to check on Verdugo’s BofA loan.  (Citimortgage owns the second loan; it too has been approved for short sale.)

Sure enough, it showed that BofA sold this non-performing loan to HSBC on November 4, 2011, several days before BofA issued the short sale approval – on a loan they no longer owned.

We all were running around with our hair on fire.  I spent several hours on the phone, and so did the short sale negotiator and escrow officer.  There was no record of the loan at HSBC (just so you know, HSBC’s customer service is very spotty).  BofA had no record of the loan being sold, although it had recorded as such at the county recorders.

The story has a happy ending due to a series of coincidences.  Turns out that BofA is the servicer of HSBC/Merrill Lynch loans.  So their guidelines meet HSBC’s guidelines, and the original approval still stands. 

We are some of the lucky ones.  Other Realtors that I’ve talked with are in limbo/hell on their BofA transactions.  One was told by BofA, “We sold 9000 Freddie Mac loans and are behind on our coding.” Great, just great.  So while the bank processes paperwork, buyers and sellers are sitting on boxes, holidays are ruined, foreclosures are proceeding, etc.

Okay, I’m not so savvy on the inner workings of high finance, but this brings up another question: why are the banks selling these toxic assets underperforming loans to other banks?  Who benefits?

And yes, we're on for a 12/23 closing.  Please cross your fingers and hold your breath.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Is the Burbank Board of Realtors tone deaf? Or are they really secret members of the 1%?

I received the above engraved invitation to the annual Burbank Board of Realtors installation dinner.  WTF? Lakeside Country Club? Black Tie? Big Band? Really? For Burbank, which is not exactly the hoity-toity-est of cities to begin with? Is this appropriate in this economic environment? When we're in the middle of a recession and most of our seller clients have lost 10-20% of the value of their homes? And our buyer clients can't afford to buy no matter how low interest rates are? No wonder there's such a downward pressure on the Realtor commission structure.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thinking about moving to get your kid in a great LAUSD school? Read this first.

This appeared on the editorial page of today's L.A. Times, and describes -- sort of -- the point system that's used to select children for the "better" LAUSD schools.  Yikes! I'm glad that I have cats instead of children.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Check out this beauty in Burbank

Former clients Anika and Todd are in the process of giving their Burbank house a facelift.  They've pulled out some old landscaping (new landscaping is on the way), painted the door, porch and trim, removed the porch overhang, installed the planter boxes, etc.  Here are the adorable results (picture is crooked because I had too much coffee).  I'm envious of their design talent and will be excited to see their additional renovations.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Home owners association meetings -- what really happens

Have you ever wondered what goes on at an HOA meeting? I bet you think it’s all wonky budget review and discussions of how to beautify the complex over coffee and cookies. Good laughs all around and concensuses reached, right? Think again. Here’s an edited version of our complex meeting last week. Names changed to protect the inane innocent.

President: We need to discuss upcoming repairs.

Interrupter #1: The hot water is too hot.

President: That’s because we just had the recirculating pump replaced. Remember when we had no hot water at all?

Interrupter #2: I never noticed; I only take cold showers.

Interrupter #1: The hot water is too hot. A toddler could get burned (Note: no toddlers live in the complex)

President: The stolen metal garage grates need to be replaced and we have quotes here.

Interrupter #1: Let’s just get plastic grates made and painted to look like wood, sort of like they do at Disneyland. Cars can roll over plastic grates, right?

Interrupter #2: We need to put up fake security cameras so nobody will steal them again.

Vice President: But people still steal from 7-11 all the time and they have real cameras.

Interrupter #3: I have a “sniper” sticker on my car and an NRA sticker in my window.

Interrupter #4: What kinds of guns do you have? (Long digression about preferable guns ensues. Several residents appear to have a survivalist streak and we all discover that the complex is extremely well armed).

Interrupter #2: The dumpster area is too dark and I can’t take out my trash anymore.

Vice President: There are several hours of daylight every day wherein you can take out your trash.

Interrupter #2: We need a better light over the dumpster.

President: I’ll have the management company get a quote. Now, back to the grates…

Interrupter #1: We have a lot of new bugs around. It’s probably because nobody is taking out their trash because the dumpster area is too dark.

President: What do the bugs look like?

Interrupter #1: They are long green things with many legs. They look like centipedes, but are not. They are probably here for the garbage.

Vice President: Those are caterpillars. They will turn into butterflies and fly away, and it will be beautiful, just like in the 1960’s…

Interrupter #2: Somebody peed on the garage gate.

Interrupter #1: It was probably a coyote.

Interrupter #2: No, it was too high up for a coyote. I’m tired of the building being attacked. We need fake security cameras…

The meeting went on just like this for another 30 minutes. The interrupters continued to interrupt, but eventually repairs were discussed and a sort-of consensus was reached. Stay tuned for next month’s updates from our complex. Here’s hoping all HOA members either bone up on Roberts’ Rules of Order before then or take their meds.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Major price reduction on 2007 N. 6th, Burbank

Big news: 2007 N. 6th Street in Burbank has just had a price reduction to $450,000.  That's down from $485,000, folks.  We received several all-cash offers -- this is a serious fixer and won't qualify for a loan -- but they were all lower than what the sellers want to take.  Some details about the house: it's a 3 bed, 2 bath, 1712 sf, on an 8989 sf. lot.  It's in a great neighborhood and has a lot of upside potential.  But it is a serious fixer and not a DIY project. Do you know anybody that would like to live here and is a contractor?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Lowest price and highest price active listings in Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Valley Village and Toluca Lake

Thanks to our manager, I have the stats on the lowest and highest prices for homes for sale in Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Valley Village, and Toluca Lake as of this day.  These are all active as of today, and it lumps condos and single family homes together. Sorry, Burbank, no stats for you right now:
Sherman Oaks lowest home price: $329,923
Sherman Oaks highest price: $2,495,000

Studio City lowest price: $489,000
Studio City highest price: $10,000,000

Valley Village lowest price: $379,000
Valley Village highest price: $1,595,000

Toluca Lake lowest price: $525,000
Toluca Lake highest price: $8,299,000

OMG! The 2012 W. Verdugo, Burbank short sale is fully approved!

We received the short sale approval from the 2nd lender today! Yay!  This will close at the end of December.  It's the longest short sale I've ever been involved with and has taken nearly six months for both approvals -- and that's with an outside negotiator.  More details to come.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

4604 Norwich in Sherman Oaks closed yesterday at $592,000

4604 Norwich in Sherman Oaks closed yesterday for $592,000.  It was listed at $550,000.  We had six offers in the first week from qualified buyers and the lowest was $565,000.  Although that sounds like it was probably an easy-peasy deal for me, it had serious challenges all the way through.  I blogged about the weird appraisal earlier and may expand on that some day.  Other issues: there was no money in the HOA reserves -- this was my very first time dealing with that, and we had to come up with ways to get it funded.  Oh, the list goes on.  As I said, I may blog more about this in the future.