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!