Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why contractors should NOT attend open houses when they've done the work on that house's flip

...Because they will be snagging all the open house guests to show them all the cool new plastic face plates they've put over the electric outlets. Contractor/investors, forget what you've seen on HGtv's Flip or Flop.  Let the potential buyers discover the house's ambience, not the $1.75 parts, on their own.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

4484 Stansbury in Sherman Oaks is open Sunday, 2 to 5. Comes complete with its own beer garden.

Please come visit me and check out 4484 Stansbury in Sherman Oaks tomorrow, 7/28, from 2 to 5.  This splendid redo has 3 beds and 2 baths in the main house.  Plus, there's an additional unit above the garage with a full kitchen and 3/4 bathroom, open beam ceiling, and hardwood floors.  If that weren't enough, there's a pool house with 3/4 bathroom, too. It's very close to Westfield Fashion Square, Jinky's, Guitar Center, Boneyard Bistro and more of Sherman Oaks' hotspots. We call this area below the "beer garden."

You can check out more pictures on line and at my site:  The house is listed for $799,000. For those of you who'd rather hang in the house, here's the living room:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Burbank's Benmar retaining walls

If you've been around Burbank for awhile, you know about the BenMar development from the 1950's.  This tract was converted into the 91504 ranch houses that we know and love.  But why are all the BenMar retaining walls failing? Are 60 years the maximum time that cinderblock can hold back dirt? Just asking...

4484 Stansbury in Sherman Oaks is listing on 7/25.

If this address sounds familiar, it is because I've already blogged about it.  I listed and sold it this year to the folks who have now beautifully refurbished it. I'm thrilled to be listing it again. There are three units on the property.  The front house is a delightful 3 bed, 2 bath with a redone kitchen, hardwoods, remodeled bathroom, tons of closets and french doors to the side patio/"beer garden."  The pool and backyard lead to a unit over the garage with a full kitchen and 3/4 bath plus open beam ceiling and private entrance.  Plus, there's an adorable pool house/office with a 3/4 bath, too. This is in the heart of Sherman Oaks and is very close to Westfield Fashion Square -- the neighborhood is called Library Square. Listing price: $799,000. The house will be open from 2 to 5 on Sunday, July 28.  You'll find more photos on my website at after tomorrow.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Open Sunday, 7/21, from 2 to 5: 5227 Denny #101, North Hollywood

If you're looking for a gorgeous condo, you owe it to yourself to see this one.  Three beds, 2 baths, single story with no steps, huge kitchen, new since 2009, bamboo floors, big closets, fireplace two patios, faces the street, and wheelchair-accessible (see post below).  It also has two extra, dedicated storage rooms and the building has a bike room.  It's very close to the Noho Arts District and public transportation, too.  Listed for $420,000; the building's HOA fees are a low $261.  Steve and I will be there from 2 to 5 today.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Need handicapped-accessible or age-in-place housing?

If you, or somebody you know, is looking to own wheelchair-accessible or age-in-place housing, consider 5227 Denny #101 in North Hollywood.  This 3-bed, 2-bath ground floor condo has no steps, a ramp to the building, and extra-wide doorways.  It may be ADA-compliant, too.  Plus, it's gorgeous.  The building was built in 2009 and the unit has a huge, "done" kitchen, living room with fireplace and sunny exposure, two patios, laundry in unit, lots of closets plus two extra storage spaces in the garage.  The decorating is gorgeous with chandelier-type lights and decorator-drapes plus bamboo floors.  It's listed for $420,000 and the HOA fees are a low $261.  The building is a few blocks from the Red Line, Orange Line, and all the attractions this developing community has to offer.  See more pics at or contact me for more info.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Credit Unions for Mortgages? Yes

As you may have heard, some credit unions are getting into the mortgage lending game.  This is good for borrowers as credit unions are not-for-profit.  Have I tried out one of these credit unions as a lender on a property? No, and I am a little nervous that it may take longer to get the loan to go through than it usually does.  But back to the highlights:
- Credit union interest rates are a little bit cheaper than conventional lender interest rates.
- CUs are big on adjustable rate mortgages, although they have fixed-rate loans available, too.  ARMs haven't been popular in recent years, and most people prefer fixed-rate mortgages.  But in a time of rising values, I think there is no reason to fear ARMs -- once a property has equity, a borrower can refinance into a fixed-rate loan.
- Current CU lending guidelines say a buyer needs 10% down for an ARM, or 20% down for a fixed-rate loan.  The borrower's credit score needs to be pretty high, too.
- CUs will make loans on properties that other lenders won't touch.  For example, they will make loans on condos where the condo building's owner occupancy is low.
Note for 7/18/13: a Twitter contact says 5% down, 5/5 ARMs are coming soon to credit unions.

Speaking of condos with low owner occupancy, please check out my listing at 5227 Denny #101 in North Hollywood. It will be open this Sunday from 2 to 5.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sold in Burbank's sweetest, and most carbohydrate-y, spot

My clients Andy and Lynnette just closed on this 3+2 on Niagara in the heart of Burbank’s Magnolia Park.  If you follow me at Judy Graff, Broker Realtor on Facebook, you’ll see the picture of them and their two adorable kids in front of the house.

Lynnette and Andy have been looking for over a year now. Like all of my other buyer clients lately, they made other offers on other properties, only to lose out in multiple offers.  How’d they get this one? The sellers wanted a young family in the house, and Lynnette wrote them a beautiful letter. We still can't believe their luck. Yes, the house needs work, but like many of my buyers, Andy and Lynnette plan to fix it up themselves over time.

The location of the house is amazing.  L&A are mere steps away from Bella VistaRestaurant, which has perhaps the best pizza in Burbank.  If that weren’t enough, Monte Carlo Deli across the street offers gelato, Italian food, and an Italian grocery. Yummy Cupcakes is also just a few steps around the corner. And just down the street: from Urban EatsPorto’s, Romancing the Bean.  Best of luck with everything, and bon appetit, Andy, Lynnette, Louis and Juliana.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Just sold a Silverlake duplex. Termites did not convey with the property.

Client Mario just closed on an adorable, redone (i.e. flipped) two-on-a-lot property in Silverlake.  This was pretty thrilling as Mario had been looking to purchase property for a very long time and had lost out on several offers prior to this.

There was trouble about the termite report.  The main house was built in 1915 and the second house was built in 1920.  This is an OLD property.  Evidently, it had never had any termite work done, so the report came back at about $7000. Seller was not happy.  But it was no surprise to us – that’s almost 100 years of happy termite families raising their termite young, and so on.  Termites eat wood, and over 100 years, they can eat a lot of it. (And by the way, we’ve all seen much more extensive and expensive termite work.)

But at any rate, we came to an agreement with the sellers, deaded the termites, and Mario now has two charming houses to fill in one of the coolest Los Angeles communities.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Coming soon: 5227 Denny #101, North Hollywood

This beautiful 3-bedroom (yes, 3) condo is coming back to market at the end of this week.  If you didn't see it when it was on the market in the spring, you owe it to yourself to see it now.  It's about 1300 square feet and was built in 2009.  It has a huge kitchen with stainless steel appliances including a wine refrigerator, two elegant full baths, in-unit laundry, front-facing balcony, 2 extra storage units in the garage, and a low hoa of $261!  It's in the up-and-coming North Hollywood Arts District and the city is busily working on widening and landscaping Magnolia Boulevard in the area. Perhaps best of all, it is listed for only $420,000.  The first open house will be July 21; call me for a showing before then.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Tonga Hut in North Hollywood

Remember my blog from a year or two ago re Tonga Hut in North Hollywood? Of course you do.  Los Angeles Times has a great article on it today, but there's no link.  In the meantime, here's an article from 2008.  For you lovers of all things tiki and cocktails, there's also the Tiki Bar on Lankershim in North Hollywood, too.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Home buyers, home sellers and pocket listings

If you're a home buyer in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, you may be asking all of your contacts, and your Realtor, for "pocket" listings -- those homes that sell before they ever go on the market.  Since the home buying public doesn't know about these listings, there isn't the frantic purchasing competition that drives up the prices.

If you're a seller, you may also be looking to list your home as a "pocket" as it's a much more convenient sales process. You don't have tons of people traipsing through your house, you don't have to be gone for the open houses, etc.  Your Realtor just networks with other agents and brings you a buyer that way.  It's especially nice and convenient for sellers during our current hot real estate market.

Those are the high points of pocket listings.  Here's the downside for buyers.

I just represented buyers who purchased a pocket listing in west Burbank. George and Yvonne, like most buyers, had been looking for quite awhile and had made a lot of good offers on other properties.  They were thrilled to find a four bedroom, 1900+ sf. home in their price range without having to compete with 25 other buyer groups.  What a relief!

Then, we had the physical inspection.  Lots and lots was wrong with the house, including major structural stuff.  The seller would not consider crediting any money for the work that would need to be done, including health and safety items. The buyers even lost $1000 of termite work. We implored the seller and even asked to meet with her. No dice. The seller's position was that if the buyers didn't want to take the house absolutely as is, the seller would just put it on the mls and probably make even more money. 

The buyers went forward with the sale because, as we all know, inventory is limited, that's a large house in a good neighborhood, etc.  So here's the take-away for you buyers considering purchasing pocket listings:  While it might be easier to buy a "pocketed" home, your negotiating power (such as it is) is seriously diminished because the seller has nothing to lose by cancelling your sale and starting over with the process.

George and Yvonne are very creative and I'm sure they'll have great success in turning this home back into the gem it once was.