Monday, December 31, 2012

The year in real estate - part two

For those of you who can't get enough of year-end lists, here's part two of mine.  This will be more personal and have lots of love, plus a little dirt-dishing (you know you love it).

1.  More wonderful clients than ever.  This year, my relationships with many of my clients seemed to cross over from biz to friendship more often.  Sang and Anh, Jorge and Amy, Kara and Tom, I miss talking with you every day and am grateful that we've gotten to know each other.  Larry A, Frank H, Starr and Alex, Ryanne and Erich, David and Daniela, Mike and Hiroko, Ron S., Ryan and Misty, Sue and Mark, thanks for helping me love my job.

2.  More crazy people than ever, too.  What was it about real estate this year that made more people wacky? Are folks just nervous from the long recession? Either way, as I've said here before, either we need more drugs, or less, out here in real estate.

3.  More differences in Realtor skill sets and ethics.  Okay, there have always been differences, but this year the gap between good Realtor and bad Realtor seemed to grow.  Some of the lenders I met were no day at the beach, either. And on the subject, here's the dirt:

4.  I did a transaction with the most malicious Realtor in Studio City, Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Valley Village, Toluca Lake...maybe even the world. This Realtor was certainly the most awful person I've ever worked with.  No names or identifying details are mentioned here as I am sincerely afraid of retribution.  But this person was insulting to my clients and me, cancelled the appraisal twice which tipped us out of time frames, put the property back on the market during escrow for no reason, and tried to stop the closing at the last minute...for no reason.  I am suspicious about her relationship with her clients as well, but at this point it's a big 'ol WHATEVER.  My clients got the house they wanted, so at the end of the day, I suppose this person's maliciousness doesn't matter.

5.  I've been amazed and delighted by my brokerage, John Aaroe Group.  They continue to educate us and come up with new tools for us.  The management and staff are simply top-notch.

I hope all of your real estate plans go well in 2013. Onward!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

San Fernando Valley real estate 2012 year in review - part one

I'm jumping on the end-of-year list bandwagon here.  If you real estate news in Studio City, Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Hollywood Hills or anywhere else in L.A. for that matter, here are the big news stories -- to me, anyway -- for the year.  You'll know most of these already.

1.  Return of the real estate market.  Thanks to the feds and the super-low interest rates, buyers are out in droves.  Unfortunately, housing stock hasn't kept up and everything is going in multiple offers.  I am hoping that we'll have more inventory coming on to the market as rising prices catch up to what would-be sellers owe on their houses.

2.  Cash is king, and there's a lot of it out there.  It's mind-boggling as to how many all-cash transactions are out there now.  Where is all the money coming from? Foreign countries (the U.S. is still looking like a safe bet to stash your cash), investor pools, and boomers who have recently inherited money from their recently deceased parents.

3.  Trusted brands -- can they be?  As we all know, internet-based real estate sites like Zillow and Redfin are the trusted brands in real estate these days.  That's not surprising as their websites are very user-friendly and contain a lot of information on each page.  And people believe what they read, especially from big sites.  But is the info accurate? Be skeptical, friends -- Zillow, especially, can be way off on their zestimates from what a value really is (and they admit it in the small print).  Actually working with Redfin can be a mixed bag but yes, it can be with non-Redfin agents too.

The next post will include my personal favorite and not-so favorite transactions and clients, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy holidays, everybody!

I'm taking some time off and will be back on this blog before the end of the year.  I hope you're having a great holiday season.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

But you already know this: LA Times says home sales in Los Angeles are up

In case you didn't read the Los Angeles Times today, here's an article talking about how home sales and home prices have significantly increased in Los Angeles the past year.  Some quotes from the article:

The median home price for the region was $321,000, up from $315,000 the two prior months and a nearly 17% increase over $275,000 in November 2011.
All-cash purchases, many by deep-pocketed investors, also remain unusually high.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

News of the week: Tacos, government regulation, 737 N. Catalina, and mortgage lending

Say it ain't so: the much-beloved Henry's Tacos in Studio City/Tujunga Village may have to close! Nooooo! Apparently, the landlord wants to do something else with the property.  There will be a taco eat-in on Sunday to protest and we'll be there.

Seen 737 N. Catalina in Burbank yet? The adorable, unspoiled 2+1 for $425,000? It's not my listing, but I'm taking bets on how many offers it will receive.  I showed it last night, and there were so many other showings around the same time that it was like an open house.

Government regulation or lack thereof: the Department of Real Estate in California is going away next year.  Instead, regulatory matters and law enforcement will be handled by a new branch of the California Consumer Affairs division.  I don't know how this will work, but the DRE was understaffed, so perhaps this will be an improvement.

Learned today: Forget getting credits through escrow for repairs on the house you're buying.  If the house needs repairs, and you're getting a loan, your lender may require the repairs to be made before close of escrow by the seller.  Yup, they're tightening up on that, too.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

1429 N. Rose in Burbank has closed...and for a pretty high price

Little Rae and Gus's house is no longer on the market. It has sold to a wonderful young couple, Jesse and Julie.  Rae and Gus (short for Agnes) are on their way to the Midwest with their parents to start a new life there and all four of them will be really missed -- yes, sometimes I can get really attached to my clients. Happy trails, guys!

The transaction went well, thanks to everybody on both sides and buyer's agent Justin Bunch.  The house did take longer than "usual" to get into escrow as we had it listed pretty high at first, but then we lowered the price.  It closed at $486k after having originally been listed at $495k and getting lowered to $479k.  Sigh. I love these kinds of successful outcomes in real estate.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What happened to the 3 Thanksgiving offers?

I've been asked about the property offers I had out for three separate clients when I left for Thanksgiving.
- One offer died in a multiple offer situation with 15 other offers.  The sellers took an all-cash offer considerably over the asking price. Quite a disappointment, but not unexpected.
- Another offer was in a multiple offer situation with 7 other offers.  The sellers accepted an offer considerably over asking with no appraisal contingency.  This, too, was a major disappointment for my buyers, and was less expected since they offered over the asking price.
- The third offer is a go.  Whew!  We had to jump through hoops to get it, including putting the buyer's current home on the market and selling it in two days.  And even then it took the sellers several days to say yes.  Stay tuned...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Why you trust the internet for homes for sale info

I entered a listing -- the new one below at 2101 N. Rose in Burbank -- into the Combined Los Angeles Westside multiple listing service this a.m.  It is supposed to go to the other area multiple listing services right away (there are about three in So. Cal. and different Realtors use different ones for various reasons).

Four hours later, the listing is still not coming up on the other mls's.  But it's on Redfin!  And probably Zillow, Trulia, etc.  No wonder clients want to search for properties themselves -- they're getting info faster from the internet than from the Realtor community. (Yes, I've called the other two mls's to let them know.)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

This weekend only -- not on the mls -- 3+1 in Burbank for only $435,000!

Update for Monday, 11/26: this is on the multiple listing service after all.  It went on about 10:30 this a.m. You've heard of pop-up restaurants and pop-up about a pop-up house for sale?  2101 N. Rose is offered for sale this weekend only and is not on the mls.  It's an adorable three bedroom, 1 bath, 1016 sf house with a two car garage and a big backyard.  The owners are designers and the house is way cute with custom paint, custom lighting, hardwood floors, cool lino in the kitchen and more.  Yes, it's close to the airport and has all the airport sound retrofitting including new windows, a/c, etc.

Why is it offered only this weekend? The sellers of 2101 N. Rose have made an offer on a new purchase and sellers of that home do not want to negotiate with us unless the owners of Rose have an accepted offer on their property.  Will it be on the multiple later this week? Unsure -- but if $435,000 is your price range and you're a solid buyer, you'll want to check it out sooner rather than later.  More pictures will be on my website at later today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I have three offers outstanding...

...and I'm leaving town for the holiday.  One of the many, many things I'm thankful for this holiday is the internet so I can keep in touch with my business!  Please think good thoughts for my buyer clients.  And by the way, what are you thankful for?

Friday, November 16, 2012

The parrots are back in Burbank!

I saw the famous flock of wild parrots yesterday at Burbank and Orchard Blvds.  I wonder where they've been for the last six months?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Do You Feel Lucky? from the Wall Street Journal

From this past weekend's Wall Street Journal.  I just encountered this when a potential buyer wanted to include $888 at the back of an offering number and I said, "Wha?"
Do You Feel Lucky?
In Vegas, home sellers love listings with 7's, but in Asian neighborhoods, beware of 4's. When pricing in residential real estate is purely a numbers game
Just like the lottery, real estate can be a numbers game in which superstition plays a role. According to research by real-estate website Trulia, "luck" is frequently linked to the last nonzero digit of homes for sale (the eight in $528,000, for example). In Asian-majority neighborhoods, 20% of listings end with a lucky eight, compared with 4% of listings in areas where Asians are a minority.
It's not just Asians who rely on luck. Home-sellers in Nevada—especially Las Vegas—look to lucky seven to unload their homes. Listings with a seven before the zeros are 37% more common in Nevada than in the rest of the U.S.
In the Bible Belt, defined as the Southeast and south-central U.S., homes are 27% more likely to include 316 in the listing price, a nod to John 3:16, a touchstone New Testament verse. Surprisingly, the numbers 666—considered to represent evil—are 39% more common in the Bible Belt than elsewhere in the U.S. And throughout the country, the number 13 is about 15% less likely to appear than either 12 or 14.
But the listings superstition appears to be strongest in neighborhoods where Asians make up more than 50% of the population, according to Trulia data of all homes listed for sale, excluding foreclosures, from October 2011 to the present. The affinity for eight comes across most frequently in luxury homes over $1 million, with 37% of listings ending in an eight before the zeros.
The Chinese pronunciation of eight is similar to the word that means "prosperity" or "wealth," says Zili Yang, professor of economics at Binghamton University. Four sounds similar to the Chinese word for "death," making it a very unlucky number in Chinese culture, Prof. Yang adds. "All businesses try to avoid it in all occasions. We don't even want to put it onto our car plates," he says.
Brent Chang, a real-estate agent with his mother, Linda Chang, with Coldwell Banker San Marino in California, says his clients stay away from fours in nearly all circumstances. He says about 85% of his Asian clients use numerology when buying or selling. "If we suggest $2 million for a property, they will want to price it at $2,188,888. They'll put as many eights in there as possible," Mr. Chang says.
Manoj Thomas, a marketing professor at Cornell University, says lucky numbers are a subconscious strategy used by sellers: If a person believes one number brings him luck and uses it more frequently, it will seem intuitive to him, and he will feel more comfortable using it.
But numbers—and their placement—have a subconscious effect on buyers, too. People tend to look at digits on the left, says Prof. Thomas, who studies the psychology of pricing. Prices with lower left-hand-side numbers give buyers the impression that they're getting a better deal.
That's why prices are often listed with multiple nines, like $19.99, says Alan Cooke, a marketing professor at the University of Florida. "People mentally round down, dropping the cents off of $19.99 and seeing it as $19 and not $20," he says.
The same strategy can be seen in homes priced under $1 million, where 54% of homes have prices ending in a nine, according to the Trulia data. But the picture changes for homes at the higher end: Only 25% of homes that cost more than $1 million end in a nine. One theory: Nines are associated with mass consumer goods, making them less appealing to high-end buyers, says Jed Kolko, chief economist and head of analytics at Trulia.
And pricing psychology may be a tougher game as prices go up. "It's harder to make a $3 million home sound inexpensive," Mr. Kolko says.
Instead, high-end home sellers gravitate toward the number five. With homes over $1 million, 55% have a final nonzero digit of five, such as $2.5 million. Under $1 million, only 26% of listings have the five. Five is a common default number when people end their price listing, Mr. Kolko adds.
"Five does have a special status in our minds," Prof. Thomas says. "We see it as the midpoint on the 1 to 10 scale, and we tend to spontaneously compare any single digit as higher or lower than five."
After a homeowner arrives at an approximate value of his house, he can fine-tune the price by changing the numerical pattern, Prof. Thomas says. "The makes a difference," he adds.
Using precise numbers can give the sense of a bargain, he says, because precise numbers are usually used for lower-cost purchases, like a grapefruit, while round numbers are reserved for bigger purchases. "You can list a house for $500,000, or you can list it for $505,550," he says. "The second one seems like a better deal."
But the strategy can backfire if the number is too precise. A sale price of $1,328,972, for example, can turn potential buyers away, Prof. Cooke says. Since that kind of "bizarre" number isn't used often in daily life, it seems harder to work with, and people may subconsciously reject using it.
For some, lucky numbers are purely a way to stand out in the real estate scene. Triple sevens are three times more common in Nevada than in the rest of the country, but Tina Ott, who works with her family within the Coldwell Banker Woodbury office in Minnesota, has been listing homes with the lucky trio since 1995. "Instead of $319,900, we'll do $319,777," Ms. Ott says.
The strategy works twofold: it bumps the 777 listings up before the 999s when listed by price, and it also puts clients at ease in what can be a stressful process.
"When we're getting ready to get to the pricing part, which can be a tense subject, it helps soften the process," Ms. Ott says. "We try to make it a little lighter by asking, 'Shall we try our luck?' "
Crazy 8 Effect on Addresses
The impact of numbers goes beyond pricing. The street address matters, too.
In a paper presented two years ago, called "Superstition in the Housing Market," Nicole Fortin, professor of economics at the University of British Columbia, found that home buyers in Chinese neighborhoods in the metro Vancouver region were willing to pay a premium for lucky numbers in their street addresses.
Ms. Fortin says buyers paid a premium of 2% to 3% for homes prices that ended with an eight, while sellers had to accept a 2% discount if they were selling a house that ended with a four. The trend was most pronounced among luxury homes.
"It's a luxury to get that number. It's considered to be prestigious," she says.
Brent Chang, a real-estate agent in San Marino, Calif., explains the thinking: "If you have a listing, and the address is 180, you know Asian buyers will be very interested in the house because it's so hard to change the address."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ask the home appraiser

Have you been curious about some of the finer points of home appraisals? I have -- and although I deal with them all the time, things change.  My office recently brought in an appraiser to speak, and here are some of the more pertinent questions and answers.  Remember, these answers were given for a Realtor's perspective.  The comments in italics are mine.

  • Is there a difference between independent appraisers and bank approved appraisers? How do you get to be an approved appraiser? Answer: Banks get their appraisers from appraisal management companies.  For an appraiser to get approved he has to submit a resume package like anyone else looking for a job.
  • What do you do if you get what you consider an undeserved bad appraisal? Should you challenge it with comparables or demand another appraisal? Answer: It is very much better to challenge it with your own comparables.  The management company will ask the appraiser to respond and defind his values.  (Personally, I always give an appraiser comparables before the actual appraisal.)
  • On second appraisals (often done if there is a value question), does the 2nd appraiser know what the 1st appraiser came in at? No.
  • How much does an appraiser credit a house for on the following? Answer: extra bedroom $5-10,000; extra bathroom $5-10,000, pool $10-15,000 (except in Beverly Hills, where it's $50,000 (the extra bedroom credit is much lower than I had previously thought).
  • How do you define baths? What does it have to have? Answer: 1/4 bath means sink only, 1/2 bath means sink and toilet, 3/4 bath and full bath are the same for valuation purposes and mean shower and/or tub, sink and toilet.
  • Under what circumstances does a convertible den count as a bedroom, assuming there is a closet? Answer: If it has a closet it counts as a bedroom if it is larger than 80 square feet.
  • When looking for comps, would an appraiser extend the radius of surrounding comparables or would the appraiser go back further than 90 days. Answer: The appraiser would extend the mile radius.  He would NOT go back more than 90 days.
  • What is the value of "multiple offers" on a property to the appraiser? For the appraised value, only the closed sales figures can be used.  Actives and Pendings are important for the appraiser to note on the appraisal as a matter of interest for the big picture and to see how the neighborhood is trending.
  • Can you use new construction as a comp for non-new construction? Answer: no.
  • Can you use non-new construction as a comp for new construction? Answer: yes, with an adjustment for the age value.
  • What about a total remodel? Answer: No, you cannot use new construction as a comparable.
  • Can you count unpermitted structures, unpermitted work, or unpermitted useage or square footage in the value? Answer: No.  All the appraiser can note is that the work was done in a workman-like manner and there is no health hazard.
  • What can a seller do to make the property the most appealing? Answer: Appraisers are now required to take a picture of every room, so sellers should prepare the house as if they were having it must look as good as possible for the appraiser.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

4484 Stansbury, Sherman Oaks has had a price reduction already!

Since you guys didn't jump on it at the old price of $780,000, we've reduced the Stansbury price to $680,000.  Yup, $100,000 off the price.  But wait, there's more.  It's now a short sale.  Come and get it while it's hot!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Open today, Sunday, 11/4, 1-4 pm: 4484 Stansbury in Sherman Oaks

This delightful 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with units and a pool will be open today from 1 to 4.  Steve and I will be hosting.  The main house features a redone kitchen, redone baths, tons of closet space, hardwoods, an adorable side patio and more.  The unit above the garage is a gorgeous studio with a full kitchen, redone bath, pull down bed and open-beam ceiling.  The pool house has a 3/4 bath too!  We're asking potential buyers to do their own inspections on permits.  The property also has a 2-car garage, redone pool, shared laundry space, and a wonderful location close to all Sherman Oaks has to offer.  It's listed for $780,000 and I hope to see you there today.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Getting a home loan ain't what it used to be...

The owner of our company, Michael Williamson, is buying a Studio City home to live in.  He talked with our office this a.m. on his challenges in getting a home loan.  Mind you, he has gotten home loans 16 times before and says, "I thought I knew everything." Of course, he's putting down a lot of cash and has a very high FICO score too.

But getting a loan ain't as easy as it used to be, says Michael.  It took him an extra 16 days to get loan approval.  The lender kept asking for one piece of paper after another, and one explanation letter after another.  This even involved asking about ONE missed payment from a tenant on a property he owns in Palm Springs!  And this guy is way more qualified than most buyers.

So if you're a home buyer, and your lender asks you for something that doesn't make sense, don't get frustrated, just provide what you can as quickly as you can.  And if you're a home seller, please know that the lender doesn't particularly care about our contractual deadlines and go easy on your home buyers if loan stuff is late -- it truly is out of their hands.

Re Storm Sandy, it goes without saying...

We all need to be prepared for disasters.  We all need our earthquake and storm kits.  But we all need to make sure those kits are adequate.  My bff Paula is stuck on the 46th floor of her Wall Street apartment with her pets.  Last I heard, she had enough supplies for a couple of days -- but now the news says power won't be back on to Lower Manhattan until Saturday.

So get extra water, rotate your battery stock and keep extra in the freezer, have extra pet food on know the drill...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday reading on the mortgage interest tax deduction and the housing market

Here are two articles from today's Los Angeles Times.  The first details the mortage interest tax deduction and efforts to -- maybe -- eliminate it.  Here's the title and link: A look at proposals to limit the mortgage interest tax deduction.  Of course, if the deduction is eliminated, California homeowners will be hit harder than homeowners in other states.

The second article is Short-sale purchases can easily fall apart.  Here's the link.  Of course, if you've been trying to buy a home in the greater L.A. area for any amount of time, you probably could have written this.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Perfect 3+2+pool plus 2 units coming next week in Sherman Oaks

Ever wanted to own a perfect 3+2 in Sherman Oaks with a pool? Ever wanted to be a landlord? Here's your chance to do either or both.  I'll be listing 4484 Stansbury early next week for $780,000.  The front house is a delightful 3 bed, 2 bath with an open, redone kitchen, redone bathrooms, and lots of closets.  It's kind of Cape Cod-y, cottage-y style but bigger.  Move-in condition, of course.  Then, there's a gorgeous unit over the two-car garage that's bigger than most studio apartments.  It has a redone full kitchen with new cabinets and Caesarstone countertops, a bathroom with a luxe shower, open beam ceiling and a pull down full bed for floor space flexibility.  It also has a great tree-top view.  As if that wasn't enough, there's a converted pool house with a 3/4 bath too (but no kitchen).  And a redone pool, green backyard, and cute, covered side patio.  Each unit has heat and a/c and it's own entrance from the street/alley for privacy.  We're not sure about the permits for the two units and we're asking the buyers to do their own investigation.  However, even if you didn't rent out the units, they'd make GREAT studios, playrooms, music rooms, etc, etc.  You can see more pics at, of course; or visit me at the Nov. 4 open house.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oops! Realtor board needs to review its website version of the Code of Ethics

One of a Realtor association's many tasks is to make sure its members are aware of, and will uphold, the National Association of Realtors' Code of Ethics.  Where can a Realtor find the Code? On the local associations' sites, of course. 

But oops! It was discovered today that one of the local association's websites is missing many pages of the Code.  Nobody had noticed.  For years.  Not to worry, though, the local board in question is remedying it and will now have the whole COE up. Then every Realtor will be able to read it and follow it.  Yeah, right.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Great house for cats!

I know you really want another housing economics post, but here's (yet another) post having to do with animals in Burbank instead.  This is 229 N. Beachwood in Burbank, and much of it has been built for the owners' cats.  Actually, the front part of the house was built in 1928 and has the typical period windows, arches and wood floors.  The remainder of the house has linoleum flooring and a fanciful paint scheme.  But the best part for kitties and cat lovers is this: a long cat dining hall, which leads to a dedicated room that serves as a playroom, bathroom and lookout post for the home's pets.  The room has windows on three sides and each window has a perch -- perfect for bird- or other-creature watching. (Am I puffing here? This isn't even my listing.) The house is listed for $490,000 and has three bedrooms and three baths for the humans (or, maybe other pets).  Unfortunately for the pets and sellers, it's a foreclosure.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another short sale fail. This time, it wasn't the bank's fault. And there's a moral to the story, of course

This is 1200 Flores in West Hollywood.  It is up the street from Marix, the fun and famous Mexican restaurant.  My buyer client lives in one of the units and learned early in the year that it would be short-saled.  We submitted an offer as soon as we could -- in April -- and went through the normal short sale waiting (and waiting) period.  The sale was approved in August.  Yay!

However, because the sale hadn't been approved, the listing agent didn't order the documents that the lender needed from the home owners' association until the approval was received.

Fun real estate fact: in addition to buyers, lenders need to review home owners association documents.  They don't want to fund loans on units in buildings with lots of "distressed" (short sale, foreclosure) units, they want to make sure the reserves are adequate, etc.  And they don't want to make loans on buildings with litigation because, obviously, a negative outcome can affect the financial health of the HOA.  

Okay, the documents are ordered and it turns out there IS litigation on the property.  The buyer/tenant had no idea.  Getting info about the lawsuit was like pulling teeth.  The HOA management company wasn't too interested in talking to the lender or me, the listing agent wasn't interested in assisting us, and the HOA president didn't understand the seriousness of the problem.  The lending machinery came to a standstill.  We tried lots of stuff, but couldn't get the litigation to settle.  The listing agent pulled the plug on us last week as he has cash offers and doesn't want the bank to foreclose (in fairness, he had given us extra time to get this sorted out).  After six months of agony, my buyer is content to let this set sail.  He still lives there and will be living there for the time being.  So, no loss, except for many hours and our tolerance for this process.

Moral of story: if there's litigation on a condo complex, even if it's up the street from delicious Mexican food and margaritas, run the other way!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Need a gorgeous 4+3? Please visit 4140 W. Hood, Toluca Lake on Sunday, 10/14, between 1 and 4

Yes, 4140 W. Hood in Toluca Lake is all that.  A kitchen to die for, a huge living room, one downstairs bedroom, three bedrooms upstairs, and almost all new.  I could go on, but you can also see the pictures at  Steve and I will be hosting an open on Sunday from 1 to 4 and hope to see you.

Whew! 2821 Buena Vista closed, and not a moment too soon

Buyers Amy and Jorge closed escrow on 2821 Buena Vista in Burbank yesterday.  It was a wild ride, and I'll have more details later.  But congrats to my wonderful buyers for hanging in like champs, and being very zen when things went crazy, and getting a nice home in this wacky market.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Brand new in Toluca Lake - 4140 W. Hood!

This is 4140 W. Hood, Toluca Lake, 91505. I just listed this beauty for $1,297,000 and it will be open this coming Sunday.  The house has been completely remodeled and expanded and features 4 beds and 3 baths in 3013 square feet.  The living room is huge with high ceilings, bay windows, a fireplace and a curved, custom staircase leading to the 2nd floor.  The kitchen is awesome -- high end appliances, wine refrigerator, 6-burner cooktop, tons of prep space, custom cabinetry with pull-outs and organizers, veggie drawers, -- you can't NOT be a good cook with a kitchen like this!  One bed and bath are downstairs and the other three are upstairs.  One bedroom features a bay window, built-in shelves and a fireplace -- it would make an exquisite upstairs den.  The master features another fireplace, a retreat, a built-in plumbed for a wet bar, and a balcony that practically runs the length of the 2nd story.  There's a huge walk-through closet with custom cabinetry that separates the two bathing areas.  Outside, the gorgeous green yard is also perfect for entertaining, bird-watching or relaxing.  This is very close to Lakeside Country Club and Warner Bros. studios, and the Burbank zipcode means excellent city services and schools.  I'll have it open on Sunday, Oct. 14 from 1 to 4 and I hope to see you there!  More pictures can be found on my website at

Friday, October 05, 2012

1429 N. Rose, Burbank has been reduced!

This adorable 3+2 on a huge lot has just been reduced to $479,000.  In case you don't remember, it has a remodeled kitchen, remodeled baths, central a/c and a HUMONGOUS lot -- 8372 square feet!  With a lot this size, you can expand the existing home, build your dream home, add a pool, have a massive vegetable garden (the current sellers got really into gardening) and more.  The house is in move-in condition and this is a standard sale, too!  Burbank homes don't get much better and this price can't be beat, either.  It will be open on Sunday, October 14, too.  Please call me if you'd like to see it.  Yes, this is the home of the famous actress babies Rae and Gus and the two Brazilian kitties!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Real estate discovery of the weekend: Leimert Park

Yesterday, I found myself in a Los Angeles neighborhood that I've never been to before: Leimert Park.  This area is in south central L.A., and is close to both Baldwin Hills and USC.  The residential streets I saw were lovely and incredibly pristine -- much more so than most similar neighborhoods in the SFV.  No weird add-ons, consistently well-landscaped, etc.  The house above is an example of one the homes I saw for sale; it's on Norton (okay, true crime fans*, does that give away what I was doing there?)  The city of Los Angeles and its neighborhoods just continues to amaze and delight me.

*I was on Esotouric's "Black Dahlia" tour.  Poor Elizabeth Short's body was found on 39th and Norton.

Article from the LA Times: Interest rates are low, but it is still hard to get a mortgage

Getting a mortgage isn't easy these days, and here's an article from today's L.A. Times to tell you why.  The subheading is

Lenders' underwriting standards appear to be tightening even further in some key areas, and the time to close a loan is getting longer.

Oh, great, right? Even our company's owner mentioned this recently as he is trying to buy a new home.  My take: there are lots of moving parts with mortgage lending, and the industry is still scared of a repeat of 2007-2008.  Which is probably exactly what they'll have unless they keep standards pretty tight.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wondering what to do with yourself during Carmaggedon? Come to my Burbank open house at 1429 N. Rose!

I'll be holding 1429 N. Rose in Burbank open on Sunday the 30th.  In case you've forgotten, this is a dreamy 3+2 with a huge backyard, redone kitchen, redone baths, hardwood floors, central air and more.  All for the low price of $499,000.  We'll be there between 2 and 5.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In case you missed the headlines, home prices are up and sales are down

L.A. Times reports today that home prices are up nationwide. In L.A., however, the price rise is 1.3% over last month. Link to the article here.  However, numbers of sales are down.  You knew that -- inventory is ferociously low.  Here's a quote that we all like: "Economists have begun suggesting that the real estate market may have turned the corner for good since tanking in the recession."

Monday, September 24, 2012

1429 N. Rose in Burbank is back on the market

1429 N. Rose in Burbank is back on the market as the buyer couldn't perform.  Alas! It will be open Sunday, 9/30, from 2 to 5 and is easy to show in the meantime! Just call me.   For those who don't remember Rose:

This 3 bed, 2 bath rose-covered home on a huge 8372 sf lot is perfect for gardeners and/or for home additions.  Remodeled kitchen with quartz countertops and newer cabinets and appliances, remodeled bathrooms, central a/c and heat, gleaming hardwood floors, custom paint, custom window treatments, terrific neighborhood, great Burbank schools.  Magnificent backyard with raised vegetable beds, fruit trees, herb spiral, play area and swing set, many areas for relaxing.  Add a wonderful master suite, put in a pool, grow your own food and still have lots of room to play. Listed at $499,000.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Busy week in the home buying and selling world

It's been kind of a crazy week, and I know you all love the dirt, so here goes: First, I'll soon have a gorgeous, almost entirely brand-new home in Toluca Lake on the market. It's about 3,000 sf and will list for $1,297,000. We are working on staging now with pictures to come and then I'll have all the info here.

1429 N. Rose, Burbank is in escrow and all is going well, so far, there. The buyer just did her home inspection yesterday, the pest inspection was today, etc. This won't close until the end of October. By the way, the two cats (pictured above) that live at Rose now need to be rehomed. They are twin black and white kitties, about four years old, can live inside/outside or both, and are very sweet. They were born in Brazil and can meow in Portuguese! Any takers?

Next, there's the Ben Mar home in Burbank. That has NOT been a fun transaction so far. I will have a long post about this baby when it closes. For right now, I can tell you that the buyers and I celebrated the removal of all contingencies last night at Bow and Truss in NoHo.

Then there's the short sale condo in West Hollywood. Jeez, as if short sales weren't bad enough...when a condo is sold, both the buyer and the buyer's lender need to look at the home owners association's financial and governing documents. And getting the HOA documents in a timely manner is ALWAYS iffy. In this case, it's been an extra hard tooth-pull. And we learned that there is litigation against the home owners association from a disgruntled former resident. That's a red flag to the lender. At any rate, it's been one of those 50-emails-a-day transactions this week for me and everybody else concerned and I hope to have this sailing smoothly early next week.

Enjoy your weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Debunking the "shadow foreclosure inventory" rumor

Rumors goin' round: I continue to hear that the banks are holding on to a huge amount of foreclosed property.  Apparently, the banks are doing this in order to keep home values high and to not flood the housing market, thereby driving home prices down again.  The second part of the rumor is that the banks will release this "shadow" inventory at the first part of the year.  I've had strong doubts about this.  At this point, the banks have nothing to gain by holding anything.  Banks lose money by holding non-performing assets and gain money by making mortgages.

There's finally a study that debunks the shadow inventory myth.  Today, Lansner on Real Estate says foreclosures in the state are down by half Here's the link.  And here's a quote:

“We continue to hear about the foreclosure wave that is coming after the election or after the New Year. There is clearly no foreclosure wave in sight,” Michelle Lenahan writes in Foreclosure Truth...".

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Had a long day house hunting? How about finishing with a wine tasting right in the SFV?

Looking to do something a little different in the San Fernando Valley? Perhaps after a long discouraging day of house hunting?  How about wine tasting at D'Argenzio Wines in Burbank? Although I've driven by this place on Burbank Boulevard a million times, I had never stopped in until the other day.  The room was really nice. The D'Argenzio family staff was great. The other tasters were very friendly. A flight of wines is $10, which is remitted if you buy a bottle.  I learned that D'Argenzio is a major grape grower and vintner in the Sonoma area, and is very well known for their red wines.

But how is the wine? I say really, really good.  I particularly liked the Russian River Pinot Noir and the Dry Creek Zinfandel.  Each is about $34 a bottle, so this isn't the stuff you're likely going to drink as you, say, do your laundry.  But perhaps it's worth drinking during another evening spent looking online for homes?

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Open Sunday the 9th from 2 to 5! 1429 N. Rose, Burbank

Have you seen this adorable 3 bed, 2 bath in Burbank yet? If not, please swing by my open house tomorrow between 2 and 5 at 1429 N. Rose.  Redone kitchen, redone baths, 3 bedrooms, hardwood floors, central heat and a/c (which will be blasting) and a huge backyard are just some of the features this home offers.  Build a home addition, put in a pool, grow your own food and still have room to play. All this for $499k!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Pygmy goats in Burbank

Factoid of the day: you can keep up to two pygmy goats at your home in Burbank, but you can't keep full-size goats.  Makes your day, yes?

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Rae and Gus are giving up a successful acting career and leaving town. Why you should buy their Burbank house.

Rae and Gus are giving up a successful acting career and leaving town.  Why you should buy their Burbank house.  Rae and Gus are twin actresses who have hit the big time.  They’ve appeared in shows like Parenthood, Disney Channel programs, etc.  They currently live in Burbank and tell us why they’re leaving.  Rae and Gus are 18 months old.
So why are you leaving? You have a career that other actors would kill for. We’re moving away to spend more time with our family.  Really.  We’re sick of the Hollywood grind -- the auditions, being judged on our looks, long shoots that interfere with naps, and always having to watch the scale.

Tell us about the house you’re leaving.  Really, since we live there, it’s more of a celebrity property.  The address is 1429 N. Rose, Burbank and itwill be listed and available to show on September 4.  It’s a 3 bed, 2 bath house on a humongous lot.  The house is almost as adorable as we are and has two updated bathrooms, an updated kitchen with quartz countertops, newer cabinetry and newer appliances, central heat and a/c,  hardwood floors, custom paint and window treatments.  It also has an oversize backyard where the ‘rents have planted lots of good (and not so good – zucchini? Really?) things to eat.  We’ve gotten so much experience farming that we’re moving to a farm state!

How did you find this house? Actually, the ‘rents found it when we were still working on existing.  They fell in love with the house and the terrific neighborhood, too.  The house had the huge yard and they said, no problem, we’ll build on as the twins’ acting career takes off and we need to house more of an entourage.
But then, the backyard took hold of their imaginations, and they started to grow stuff.  Really, who isn’t a foodie these days? Who doesn’t like the whole farm-to-table, locavore movement even if you secretly eat every meal at McDonalds? And, there are still plenty of sitting (or in our case, crawling) areas to enjoy.  It was like having your own Napa – not to mention naps – back there.

What will you miss most? Everything.  Our warm and cozy home, helping Dad dig in the dirt, chewing on an occasional worm (it helps with our method acting skills) and our wonderful neighbors.  Oh yes – and being pushed around the corner in our stroller to Mucho Mas for margaritas.  Actually, we don’t really have too much memory of those apparently delicious and cheap margaritas but we’re told the paparrazi are in a bidding war over the pics.

The house is listed for $499,000. Are you negotiable on the price of the house? You mean what we’ll take in exchange? Heck yes.  If you’d like to give us a boat-load of resalable Disney princess items in exchange, we’re down with that.  The ‘rents and the agent say green papers are it, though.

Your agent must be unhappy to be losing you.  The only agent we’re concerned with now is our real estate agent, Judy Graff.  She will be negotiating on our behalf and can be reached at 818-370-4837.

For more info or to arrange a showing, please call Broker-Realtor Judy Graff, John Aaroe Group, 818-370-4837 or email

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Coming next week: Perfect Burbank 3+2 with a huge backyard

Ever dreamed of having a house with a huge yard? Look no further -- next week I'll be listing this property at 1429 N. Rose in Burbank.  It will be on the market Tuesday, and available for showing by appointment beginning later that day.  This home is a 3 bed, 2 bath with a remodeled kitchen and baths, central heat and a/c and a huge, 8300+ sf yard.  With a yard this size, you can build a home addition, put in a pool, have a vegetable garden and still have room to play.  More pics are on my website at under "featured properties."  More details will be here and elsewhere in the following days.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Property photo shoots -- what really happens

Love looking at "house porn" pictures and wonder what really happens during a photo shoot? Here's Marco Franchina, photographer extraordinaire, showing just how glamorous it all really is. Work it, Marco!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Real estate blogging panel -- with me

As part of it's ongoing agent training, John Aaroe Group recently conducted a blogging panel with me and two other JAG agents.  It's why I do what I do for you, peeps! For some reason I can't embed the video, so here's the link: 
I come in at about minute 16.  You can also view this on Facebook/judygraffrealtor.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

This bear is walking up the driveway to my Pasadena listing. Fortunately for us all, the house sold 3 months ago.

A neighbor snapped this recent shot of this guy (or gal, sorry) going up the driveway at 1585 Knollwood Terrace, in Pasadena.  Could it be Glen Bearian, the Glendale bear?? I had hoped the house would sell to a celebrity! (Actually, it sold to a very nice human for cash.)  And this bear certainly has wonderful taste in homes (pic of house is above) and locations (Linda Vista area).  But, I have to wonder: is this bear a lookie-loo or serious buyer?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cash offers are the kings of L.A. real estate. Alas, offers with loans are only princes.

Again, cash trumps loans in my world.  A client made an excellent purchase offer with 20% down on a home, only to see the house go to somebody else who is paying cash.  Apparently, that was the only difference between the two offers.  Sigh.  Take heart, buyers -- this will end someday.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Love L.A. architectural history? This video is for you.

As you may have seen below, last week I had the privilege of attending a lecture by Eleanor Scharpa on L.A. residential architectural history.  This is the YouTube video of that lecture and I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Deer at DeBell Golf Course in Burbank

Here are two deer with two fawns that I filmed last night at DeBell Golf Course in Burbank.  I promise you that I WILL get better at this video thingy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Architectural styles lecture by Eleanor Schrader Schapa

Yesterday, it was my privilege to attend an Eleanor Schrader Schapa lecture on Los Angeles architectural history at the Pacific Design Center in Weho.  I took the picture above inside PDC -- is this a disco egg?  I want one for my house.  At any rate, Ms. Schapa is an architecture and design consultant and a lecturer at UCLA.  She also has a web-based radio show with her partner Ann Ascher entitled "Dishing the Dirt on Design." It can be found at has several other architectural episodes as well.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bravo TV's Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis

I just got a call from the casting director of Bravo TV's Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis.  That's Jeff, above.  The show sounds great -- they actually rehab/reconstruct space in your home to make it more user-friendly.  Considering the basic housing stock here and what generations of home owners have done to that stock, home rehab is something that just about every home owner in the San Fernando Valley needs, no?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Home buyers Ryan and Misty discuss their experiences

My home buyer clients, Ryan and Misty, have been looking for a home in Burbank for some time now. They discuss their experiences here.  Excuse the poor sound quality.

Friday, August 10, 2012

No offer acceptances, but as Scarlett says...

This will not come as a surprise, but my buyers' two purchase offers on property in Valley Glen and Burbank were not accepted this week.  In one case, the amount offered was equal to another buyer, but that buyer had a bigger downpayment.  Bigger downpayments equal less risk for the seller.  And that buyer indicated his willingness to bring more money to the transaction if the appraisal came in low.  That's risky.

The second purchase offer was for a gorgeous flipped house in Burbank.  Alas, we were outbid on this one.

But my buyers and I feel lucky that there has been so many nice homes out there to bid on.  And these buyers are wonderfully resilient.

Coming this weekend: my resilient buyers may look at another home in Valley Village.  Another group of buyers will be viewing a property in Burbank if the agent ever calls me back to confirm the appointment.  And my income property buyer and I will be looking for duplexes in Hollywood and Silverlake.  As Scarlett O'Hara said in Gone With The Wind, "Tomorrow is another day."

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

#purchaseofferfail or who do I have to ____ to get an offer accepted around here?

Ugh.  Of the two purchase offers written this weekend, the one for the house in Valley Glen is a definite no-go.  Although we came in over the list price and no other offer was higher than ours or better on terms, the sellers chose one with a higher downpayment that was also willing to pony up more money if the property didn't appraise for the price.  The sellers loved my buyers, but bla bla bla.  I totally understand, but this is so disappointing, especially when we'd really stretched to get this.  So what trick can I come up with next time to make sure my buyers get their desired properties? Is it too late for topless real estate?

Decorating trends from the past

Everything comes back around, right? I have great news for all of you nostalgists out there -- you can find three different trends from the past all in one house on the Burbank/Toluca Lake border!  It's pictured above and also has lots of square footage and a pretty decent price.  It's a foreclosure.  Usually, the foreclosing bank sends somebody in to spiff up their REOs, but I'm sure they didn't in this case because they know somebody with cutting-edge design sensibilities and a love of mid-80's style will snap this baby up.

Remember glass block as a decorating element? Kinda high-tech, but perhaps not quite as useful as other materials? Well, perhaps this look will come back around soon, because this house has plenty of it.  The bathroom above is just one room, there's glass block in several others, too.

And remember colored commodes and other fixtures? Both whimsical and matchy-matchy? This home has both a pink bathroom and a blue bathroom.  I guess that's one for the boys and one for the girls.

Each room in the house is painted a different color, and the kitchen tiles are white and red.  There are rooms off of rooms and closets off of closets.  It's almost like the house has attention deficit disorder. Million-Dollar Listing it's not.  It will take vision, but I'm sure one of you mid-80's enthusiasts will love it, yes?