Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Cool Studio City house

My favorite home for sale on today's broker caravan is at 4540 Beck Ave. in Studio City.  This four bedroom, 3 bath, 2017 sf house is a perfect 1940's progressive-style mid-century house time capsule.  The picture above?  It's the refrigerator, not the kitchen cabinets. (The listing agent, Karen Medved, provided the sandwiches and snacks.)  The electric stove top burners have push buttons.  All bathroom fixtures are pink.  Coved corners, two stone fireplaces and knotty pine cabinets complete the picture  There's olive green shag carpeting too (okay, that's 1970's). It's on a huge lot (12,000+ sf).  Is anybody out there a 1940's house geek? If so, this may be for you.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Another great Yelp review for me

Andy and Lynette and I worked together three years ago when they bought their home in the Magnolia Park area of Burbank.  In the meantime, their little family has grown from two kids to three kids and they've completed several remodeling projects on the house.  I recently assisted them again with their refinance transaction and Andy just wrote this wonderful Yelp review for me.  Thanks, A&L!

Judy is a fantastic agent! She helped us buy our home 3 years ago; she made it a clear and low stress process. Even after we closed we've stayed in contact with Judy and she has been an indispensable resource as we worked on a refinance. Judy knows the market and is incredibly supportive. 6 stars for this one; she is the best!

Friday, December 04, 2015

The Federal Reserve says they are definitely, positively going to raise interest rates.

Check out this article from today's L.A. Times.  Click here for link.  Yup, the Fed now says that there is no doubt they'll raise interest rates, and soon. Nooooo!  The good news is that the rise will come gradually, so it doesn't shock the economy.

What that means for home buyers: interest rates have been gradually inching up this fall anyway, but it means that buyers will have higher mortgage payments than in the recent past.

What this means for home sellers: there will be fewer buyers, especially for starter homes and condos.  There probably may still be multiple offers on properties, because inventory is short.  However, if a house for sale sits on the market for more than a few weeks, a price reduction is probably warranted.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Today is a GREAT day for an open house

Home sellers, if it's not too late, today -- the Sunday after Thanksgiving --  is a terrific day to hold your house open.  People are sick of being in the house with their relatives, the exciting football games are over for the weekend, and home buyers are going stir-crazy and itching to get out of the house.  You'll have more people traffic than you'd expect. Really.

Friday, November 27, 2015

This is maybe the best song about trying to buy real estate, ever.

Check out Depreston by Courtney Barnett.  You buyers out there will totally get this, and there's a lot of poignancy to this song too. It's available on iTunes, of course.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Anniversary party and awards banquet for Judy Graff Properties

One year ago, I left big real estate brokerages behind and opened my own brokerage, Judy Graff Properties.  This year has flown by and has been really wonderful! I miss my old colleagues, of course, but otherwise I wish I had made this leap sooner.  All props and thanks go to my superb clients, who have made this venture a success.

We had an awards ceremony the other evening (produced by Steve and bff Paula); here's a pic of the swag.  Also, I am thrilled to report that my sales production places me at #1 in the office!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The east side of L.A. is hot, as if you didn't know

This is my client, Samantha and her dog Willis.  They are standing in front of the brand new #HighlandPark home that they just bought with Sam's boyfriend, Robin. Just in case you're new to L.A., Highland Park is on the north east side, and that whole part of L.A. has gotten insanely trendy.  It includes Silverlake, Eagle Rock, Glassel Park and Mount Washington. (It may include Atwater, Boyle Heights, Los Feliz, and other communities, depending on who you ask.)  Sam and Robin looked for a year and a half before they found this house.  They had been in escrow once before and had written countless offers.  But we finally found this brand new from the foundation on up beauty and all the stars aligned.  

The house was built by a pro flipper and the escrow went really smoothly.  Of course, there were several items that hadn't been completed by our inspection (no surprise) but the builder took care of everything.

This was Willis's first look at his new house.  Shortly after the photo was taken, he gave everything a thorough sniff and seemed to like what he found.  Best wishes on your new home, Sam, Robin and Willis!

Monday, November 02, 2015

Pounced on by Realtors at an SFV open house?

I applaud my buyer clients who go to open houses by themselves and most home buyers do that nowadays. They've viewed the home on line and only have Saturday or Sunday to see it.  But here's what often happens:  a buyer innocently walks in to an open house and is immediately assaulted by the Realtor there and peppered with questions -- what are you looking for? Are you preapproved? How much are you preapproved for? What do you want your monthly payments to be? Are you working with an agent?  What do you have for a down payment? The poor buyer, who was compelled to sign in, finds themselves called, emailed, texted, sexted, you name it.  I used to do this kind of hard sell when I was a new agent too -- until I realized that people hated it.

Do you think that they are doing this because they are working hard for the seller? Nah. They are trying to pick up business -- your business -- any way they can.  (Again, disclaimer: I used to do this too back when I was a new agent and the earth was still warm.) There are lots of hungry Realtors out there.

Here's my client's experience from yesterday, and it's all too common: What I failed to tell you about my experience at ... open house yesterday is what a hard sell I ran into. I was met by 2 agents AND a mortgage broker. I felt like I was at a Mercedes CPO lot and everyone was trying to meet their month-end quota. I was "required" to fill out their guest sheet and now I'm getting calls and emails. 

AND, one of the agents was trying to steal my business, "I know you have an agent, but I might be able to find you some things."  

Sure, buyers, there are lots of great Realtors out there who are doing open houses.  They'll greet you, and give you the information about the property that you seek.  And then get out of your way. Sellers, please keep agreeing to open houses.  They work.  But you might want to reign in your agent's obnoxious hard sell enthusiasm. Buyers, please keep attending open houses.  They're a wonderful way for you to see a property when your agent can't be with you.  But be firm with pouncing Realtors.  Or take your pepper spray with you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

No interest rate hike in 2015? That's good news for buyers.

Check out this article from today's L.A. Times here.  Interest rates, including mortgage interest rates, won't be going up this year. This contradicts pretty much everything the Fed has been saying about interest rate hikes since the beginning of 2015, but hey, I'll take it.

Friday, October 09, 2015

99 Homes -- powerful new movie about real estate

I have often found it odd that there are no contemporary films or fictional tv shows about real estate. (Feel free to correct me on this.) After all, isn't the r.e. crash what caused our Great Recession? Perhaps HGtv has sucked up all the interest in the topic?

99 Homes, a new movie about the r.e. crash in Florida, changes that. I saw it last night. It has the unique distinction of being realistic with both language and details about the housing downturn (I even learned about some scams I haven't heard of before).  The most riveting -- and cringe-worthy -- parts are the several scenes of people being evicted from their homes.  It's really worth seeing "lest we forget." Here's hoping this never happens again.

Sound interesting? Or not?  It's rated really highly on Rotten Tomatoes and I highly recommend it. Here's the Google synopsis and two review blurbs.

A desperate construction worker (Andrew Garfield) reluctantly accepts a job with the ruthless real-estate broker (Michael Shannon) who evicted him and his family from their home. 
99 Homes is a stunningly effective melodrama of flipped houses and mortgaged souls.
-The perils of illegally gained One Percent privilege make for engrossing, high-stakes viewing

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Before and after with JB and Karen

Clients JB and Karen bought a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo in an older Sherman Oaks building last year.   As you see, the kitchen wasn't anything to write home about.  The remainder of the unit is pretty basic, too.

And here's the after picture.  Karen and JB both have full-time jobs, aren't flippers, haven't done this before and just got married as well.  Even though they only got to this project on weekends, they managed to turn the kitchen/dining area into a show place.  Kudos, guys! I look forward to seeing what else you do with the condo.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Another great Yelp review

I just received another great Yelp review from my clients Briana and Mike.  Their condo was really hard to sell due to HOA issues that most lenders don't like. Other posts about the unit can be found in the archives here -- the address is 5227 Denny Street #101, North Hollywood.

Anyway, we were able to get the unit sold and get Briana and her family into a particular home that they've always wanted.  It's been wonderful working with them over the years and I can't wait to see what they've done with their new place.  From Yelp:

We've worked with Judy for 6 years now. First, when we bought a condo in 2009 and just a couple of months when we sold said condo and purchased a house. Our condo situation was not ideal. It was unwarrantable and near impossible to sell and somehow Judy did it. It was a flawless transaction and I still can't believe we got out of it.

As far as our new home, we had mentioned a couple of times we loved it overt he years as we walked by it all the time. She happened to be the agent for the people who purchased it years ago and mentioned it to us that they were looking to sell. Being that our condo was "unsellable" we thought it was a complete long shot that we would be able to sell it and some how get this new home.  Apparently Judy is a miracle worker because she did it. We closed the condo and moved in to are new home all within days of each other. I cannot thank her enough for putting up with a very stressful me and making this happen. Then, on top of that she thanked us with a thoughtful gift. Judy is the real deal and she just basically makes shit happen. Thanks Judy!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Fed is leaving rates unchanged

For now, the Fed is leaving rates unchanged. Whew! What will this mean for Southern California real estate? Buyers won't have to worry about their interest rates spiking, and sellers won't have to worry about a lot of buyers being knocked out of the real estate market due to high rates.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Need to rent a home in the Studio City hills?

3541 Laurelvale in Studio City is now available for lease for $4,500/month.  This serene mid-century home features 3 beds, 2 baths, A/C, big sunny kitchen with new appliances, separate dining room, flat backyard, lots of storage, and an attached 2-car garage with "pull-through" for extra off-street parking.  It has been recently spiffed up and features new flooring, new paint, newly landscaped front and backyard, and a brand new washer, dryer and refrigerator. The cul-de-sac location guarantees lots of privacy. It gets even better -- this home is in Carpenter School District! Pet cats are allowed with an extra deposit.  Please call me for details or showings.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Four don'ts for home buyers

It’s a tough world out there, real-estate wise.  I know that you home buyers are beaten and bruised and just may not care about the other party’s emotions.  And I know there are a lot of nutty sellers (and buyers). However, it’s always a good idea to keep your transaction going as smoothly as possible – good will goes a very long way in Southern California real estate.  Here are some don’ts for buyers:

- Don’t make disparaging remarks about the house or neighborhood when the sellers are present.  All sellers, even flippers, want to start home sale transactions on a positive note.  Being a hater gets you nowhere.

-         -  Don’t make a purchase offer that is way lower than it should be for the comps or condition.  No matter how adorable the home sellers think you are, they don’t love you so much that they are willing to lose money. Yes, there are unrealistic sellers who have priced their home too high. And of course you don’t want to overpay for your property. But don’t get crazy low on the price if you want a response. Your Realtor can guide you to making an offer and counter offer with a realistic chance of being negotiated.

-          - Don’t miss contractual dates.  Performing the purchase contract’s tasks (yes, there are things you need to do after the agreement) by the agreed-on dates should not be a problem for a serious buyer.  Missing those dates makes you look flaky and can even get you kicked out of escrow.  If you truly need an extension of time (for an appraisal, for example), your Realtor can request one in writing.

-          - Don’t ask for silly stuff after your home inspection.  If the seller knows that you plan to do a $50k home remodel, don’t ask for $500 for “miscellaneous." That just looks greedy.  Also, please know that just because a property element or system is at the end of its useful life, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to immediately fail the minute you take possession.  Unless something is really broken, or is a safety hazard, keep in mind that you’ve agreed to take the property “as is” per the contract.  Also, your home warranty policy will help with repairs for your first year.

In great transactions, the seller gets almost everything they want, and the buyer gets almost everything they want.  Almost is the key word.  Smooth sailing, buyers and sellers.    

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Need a gorgeous Sherman Oaks condo on a blissfully quiet street? Check out 14560 Benefit #207, 2+2, $525000

I just listed this sublime, move-in ready condo below the boulevard in Sherman Oaks.  It's next owner is going to be really lucky -- the front balcony faces the peaceful, green street (no views of stucco here), it's 1518 sf, has a big kitchen with all appliances included, fireplace, new carpet, some new paint, and lots of closet space. The master closet is bigger than my first apartment.  The bedrooms are suite-like and can be closed off from the rest of the unit, which makes this a perfect roommate set up. The well-managed security building has a pool, rec room and spa.  It's walking distance from all of Sherman Oaks' fun stuff, and the local public elementary school is the excellent Sherman Oaks Charter.  The first brokers' open house is Tuesday, 8/4 from 11 to 2 and the first public open house is 8/9 from 2 to 5.  Please call with any questions!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's back-to-school time in the SFV. What does that have to do with real estate? Plenty.

Public neighborhood schools have a huge impact on community desirability and housing values. Many home buyers face the dilemma of paying higher home purchase prices to get their child into a good public school, or else paying a premium to send their child to a private schools. Although public elementary schools in Burbank, Toluca Lake and Studio City all have pretty high ratings, other areas have superior schools too.  Remember that schools with the highest rankings tend to have more extra study programs and enrichment programs, which are often paid for by the children's parents. And parental involvement in children's education is also key.  A home's local school can be found on the LAUSD website. For SFV school ratings, including the Burbank and Glendale areas, please visit this website: http://school-ratings.com/cities/San_Fernando_Valley.html.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

3rd time's the charm: 5227 Denny #101 in North Hollywood has sold. With a VA loan, no less.

After three times on the market, this North Hollywood Arts District condo sold on Monday.  5227 Denny #101 was first on the market two years ago. And was listed for the second time a few months later. We had lots of interest, but because of lending restrictions on certain types of condos and home owner associations, we couldn't sell it to anything but cash buyers, and it never sold.

Mortgage lending has changed and loosened up in the last two years on condo units like this.  The unit sold this time to a buyer with a Veterans' Administration loan.  The VA part itself amazes me.  Most lenders, myself included, will run like hell away from offers with VA loans.  No shade to veterans, but VA loans have always been exceedingly restrictive, have taken a long time to close, and have required lots of extra stuff from both sellers and buyers. But this isn't your father's VA loan program -- it went through without any problems (well, okay, the appraisal took a long time) and closed on time.  Thank you to the buyer's excellent agent Adam Martinez for talking us into taking his buyer's offer!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Read Steve Lopez in today's L.A. Times, then read my not-really-contrarian blog piece.

Here is the Steve Lopez link and here's the link for my last post. Steve bemoans the current real estate market, with its high prices and cash buyers.  He isn't wrong, and yes, the middle class is being priced out of most of the local r.e. market. And yes, buyers who need a mortgage loan are often being beaten out by cash buyers.  However, his example was South Pasadena.  Home prices have always been crazy there, because the public schools are so. damn. good.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Think it's easy to buy L.A. real estate with $1+ million in cash? Think again.

Not to give you home buyers out there even more reasons to be disappointed, but.  Some former clients of mine returned to town after moving to the San Francisco Bay area some years ago.  They had made cash offers on properties in Berkeley and the Oakland hills but were aced out on price each time.  It's not that they were submitting low-ball offers -- most of their offers were over asking -- but they were repeatedly beaten out by offers over $100,000+ more than asking.  The Bay Area real estate market is too crazy, they said.

It's not that bad here, I said.  I was wrong.

In the course of one week, we made three offers on properties in Studio City, Sherman Oaks, and Glendale.  All of the offers were all cash.  All were over the purchase price -- some significantly -- and all were $1.4 million or thereabouts.  Yes, million.  You'd think sellers would be crawling over themselves to take these wonderful, beaucoup-bucks cash offers, but you'd be as wrong as I was.

The first property went for significantly over the asking price for all cash.  We offered $50k over asking on the second property but seller terms were a little grab-y and it went into multiples anyway.  My buyers offered significantly over the list price, all cash, on the third property.  Plus gave the sellers a free 60-day rent back (unheard of in a normal market).  The sellers dithered.  And dithered.  And finally accepted on a Saturday afternoon.  We buttoned up the deal.  And the sellers changed their minds Sunday morning. Ugh.

My poor clients were very philosophical about all of this, and went on vacation to lick their wounds.  And in the meantime, they've decided the Bay Area is not so bad after all.

As for me, sure; these are not great experiences for a Realtor.  Yes, there's the income issue.  But also, it takes just as much work to not get an accepted offer as it does to get an accepted one. Sigh. Onward!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

629 N. Keystone, Burbank is closed -- what a difference five months can make in real estate!

If you've been reading this blog, you know about this home in Burbank at 629 N. Keystone.  Great house with lots of improvements, great neighborhood, open floor plan -- very un-Burbank.  I originally listed this for $779,000 last September. We had lots of activity, but no offers, so we took it off the market just before Halloween.

I relisted Keystone again in April.  Again at $779,000.  And immediately got three offers, all over the purchase price.  We sold it three weeks ago for $805,000.  That wasn't even our highest offer -- we received an offer for $820,000 but were afraid that it wouldn't appraise.  The $805k offer was all cash.  The point is that the housing market is certainly on fire here in the San Fernando Valley.  We went from no interest to heavy, willing-to-pay-more interest in just a few short months.

FYI, a large portion of the buyers that came through my open houses this spring were new parents from over the hill who are looking for decent housing stock and good schools for their children.

Monday, June 08, 2015

What happens if either a buyer or seller passes away during an escrow?

This is one of the strangest sales I've ever been involved in. Names and address withheld here.  Recently, I represented a buyer couple with an off-market sale in Laurel Canyon.  They wished to buy their neighbor's house. The actual seller was the neighbor's mother and the family lives in Utah.  The seller family hates Realtors (o what a surprise) and they represented themselves in the deal.  That is never easy and working with the sellers was like trying to pull a mule up a ladder.

It took a long time to get the property in escrow, but the buyers really wanted to purchase it.  In the middle of the escrow, the seller passed away.  Without a will or a trust.  Which means probate court in both California and Utah to properly dispose of the seller's assets, including this house.

What happens with a property transaction when a party to the sale passes away? It stops the escrow, and often ends it.  Things didn't look good here -- I thought it would be hard to get the whole seller family to agree on anything having to do with the disposition of the assets.  That's what the probate process is for. But my buyers were determined.  They found a California probate attorney that claimed to be able to get the probate done in 60 days (it can sometimes take 6 months).  And they helped the Utah folks find an attorney in that state.  It's a much quicker process in Utah.

Anyway, surprise! The property went through probate in two months, the sale was back on, and it closed last week. Kudos to my buyers for their very hard work and perseverance.  Where there's a will, there's a way, no pun intended.

Friday, May 29, 2015

View Park, LA - my latest neighborhood discovery

You can live in L.A. for decades and still discover new places and neighborhoods.  That's why I love Los Angeles.  Last weekend's discovery was View Park and Windsor Hills.  I was completely knocked out by the stunning housing stock, the manicured landscaping, and the very quiet neighborhoods.  The rolling hills reminded me of Beverly Hills.  Much of the housing stock is large 1950's and 1960's homes, but there are also 1920's and 1930's character homes here. It was hard to spot any home that wasn't expertly kept up. This area is largely unincorporated, which means lower taxes when you sell and private water companies. While prices are soaring there as everywhere, the neighborhoods are still a bit cheaper than corresponding SFV ones -- $800's and $900's for larger houses, $600's for light fixers.  If you absolutely must live on the Westside, this neighborhood may be an excellent option.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Price reduction on 5227 Denny in Noho -- now listed at $430,000. Plus bonus for buyers.

Even though we haven't been on the market even a week, the sellers have decided to lower the price on this gorgeous 3+2 condo to $430,000 from $449,000.  Also, the sellers will credit their buyer $1000 towards closing costs for a less-than-30-days close.  If you're thinking about moving to this up-and-coming area, please come check out 5227 Denny #101 during the open house on Tuesday, the 26th, from noon to 2 pm.  More open house info to follow.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Gorgeous 3+2 condo in Noho for $449,900

This beauty is 5227 Denny, #101 and it's in the rapidly developing area of North Hollywood Arts District. Features include a front-facing unit, huge kitchen that opens to the sunlit living room, long Caesarstone countertops, glass tile backsplash, bamboo floor, custom paint throughout, decorator window treatments throughout, high ceilings, fireplace, and big, sleek bathrooms with modern fixtures. 2 balconies allow for barbecuing and gardening. This unit has 2 dedicated, private storage rooms downstairs and the building has a bike room, too. Security bldg with guest parking, too. Close to the Red Line, Chandler Bike Path, cool restaurants...there is simply nothing like this unit in the neighborhood. Please call me for a showing.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Movies about real estate: "5 Flights Up"

Today's New York Times has an article about a new Diane Keaton-Morgan Freeman film, "5 Flights Up."  Link here.  I hadn't heard of the movie, but it's apparently about a late-middle-aged couple who are selling their Brooklyn apartment.  And making an unexpected fortune, of course.  And naturally, there's at least one venal, grasping Realtor in the film, because hey, that's who we are. Or who Hollywood thinks we are (don't get me started on who we think they are).  But I guess there would be no story if there wasn't a bad Realtor guy driving the action. Anyway, the article contains many comments from NY real estate agents about how our biz is portrayed. Personally, I can't wait to see it!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Transactions that close and ones that don't close -- yes, it happens

The media always makes it sound like everything is coming up roses for all Realtors, right? Nope.  Here are some recent cancellations and what happened and why.

1. A home in Eagle Rock.  This was a great flip on a hill.  It was really nice inside and inspected really well.  Then we had a geologic engineer come to take a look at the hill and foundation.  There was a foundation settlement difference of over 4".  The city of L.A. only allows 1.5".  My buyer clients gave it some thought and decided to cancel.  They were broken-hearted, but that kind of stuff really costs a LOT to fix.

2. A home in Burbank.  My buyer client backed out just before closing.  Yes, that can occur in certain cases even after all contingencies are removed.  In this case, the client received some disclosures at the last minute, which opens up the buyer's right to review/disapprove/cancel.  She was never committed to the house anyway so this gave her a (bogus-but-legal) reason to cancel.  No, we are not working with her any longer. This was a big time suck for everybody involved.

Now, onto the good news: 8554 Burnet #141, North Hills, pictured above, closed at $370k this week.  The transaction was textbook-smooth and my sellers were wonderful.  So were the buyers and their agent, Jennifer Santulan.  This is a stand-alone home in a planned unit development.  These kinds of properties are excellent options for many people -- you get a (small) yard, a nicely-sized home, an attached garage, community amenities, and a security complex.  There are many complexes like this in the Valley, and I wish there were even more.  Seems that these planned unit developments would solve the density question in L.A. nicely, no?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Not such great experiences with Beverly Hills agents lately

I've had lots of contact with Beverly Hills agents over the last many months.  Many of their clients are -- gasp! -- coming to the SFV for more affordable real estate and good schools.  And the experiences have not all been pleasant.

I think they think we're rubes and peasants out here.  And courtesy is in short supply.  So is thoroughness and research.  But I guess if you only sell bajillion dollar listings, the more-affordable market here is pretty bush-league for you.  

And buyers, why would you hire a Bev Hills or Westside Realtor if you're looking way outside of Beverly Hills? Did your business manager suggest it? Bad advice, that. But never mind, we welcome you anyway!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Pink car night in Studio City

I spotted these two pink cars last night in the space of 20 minutes last night.  My client and I were having dinner on the front patio of Laurel Tavern in Studio City when the first car, a Ferrarri without license plates, pulled up.  Of course it was driven by a beautiful blonde woman; this is L.A. The url on the side of the car said c_l_tte.com (no vowels, you can figure it out, I don't want any backlinks to or spam from any weird Russian websites). Of course, we googled the url and turns out that it's a p_rn site.  Hey, p_rn stars need burgers and brews, or whatever, too.
The pink stretch limo drove by shortly thereafter.  I don't think there was a connection between the two. But it was certainly unusual to see two such notable vehicles on the same stretch of road in a short time span.  I love L.A.!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Coming back to market this week -- 629 N. Keystone in Burbank!

The glamorous 629 N. Keystone in Burbank will be back on the market this week and ready for its next owners.  If you saw the house last summer, you'll remember its secluded front patio with herb garden, barbecue, and firepit.  The house also features an open floor plan, saltwater pool, 3 big bedrooms and 2 baths, 2-car attached garage and gorgeous back patio. All landscaping is new, including the front and back pavers and the drought-tolerant plants.  The kitchen is huge and was designed for serious chefs and many of the systems are upgraded.  It features 1728 square feet on a 7129 square foot lot and has a central Burbank location.  It will be listed for $779,000 and will be open this coming Sunday from 2 to 5.

Monday, March 30, 2015

7720 Goodland closed and multiple offers are no fun

7720 Goodland in North Hollywood closed last week for $31,000 over asking.  We had fourteen offers.  I know that multiple offers aren't fun for buyers, but they are not fun for sellers either.  Of the fourteen, half were cash and half required a loan.  Half were above asking, half were below.  I had about 25 individuals asking me if I would write an offer for them.  I said no, because I hate doing dual agency in that situation -- the folks asking me to write are just looking for an angle in order to get their offer pushed.

If you're in a multiple offer situation, here's what NOT to do:
- Come in with a low price if the comparables don't warrant that.  Unfortunately, sellers are more interested in dollars than they are interested in your pretty face.
- Turn in incomplete offers.  Please make sure your agent checks all the boxes.
- Don't provide enough proof of funds to close.  I was surprised at how many buyers turned in offers without proof of enough liquid funds to cover the down payment and closing costs.  Or turned in old financial statements -- please make them current.  Or turned in financials that didn't have any of the actual buyers' names on them.  Yes, I know your parents love you but I need to see money in your name, not theirs'. Yes, we Realtors do look at that and, surprisingly enough, most of us can count.

The transaction went...okay.  The agent turned everything over to an unlicensed, untrained assistant, so that was a challenge.  And the buyer wanted to do additional inspections after she had already removed her inspection contingency.  But the transaction closed.

And by the way, we did NOT take an all-cash offer -- we took one with 20% down and a conventional loan!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A new Yelp review

Please check out my new Yelp review from the sellers of 5248 Ventura Canyon in Sherman Oaks. Josh and Danielle were dreams to work with even though they live in Cupertino.  Here at the house, we had a cooperative tenant family with four-year-old twin boys and a six-year-old, too, so showings were sometimes a bit noisy.  We received three great offers in 10 days and ended up taking the one that was $46,000 over list price. 

Of course, into each escrow a little rain must fall, and we had a kerfluffle towards the end -- I always love it when an inspector says, "That spot could be mold."  The buyers were true champs, though, and the sellers plus 3 different mold-inspectors and plumbers got everything fixed. The property closed today at $825,000.

Friday, March 13, 2015

4 beds, 3 baths, stand alone townhouse with attached garage and yard. How much would you expect to pay?

I will be bringing to market a delightful townhome next week.  It's in a gated community in North Hills/Van Nuys, and features 1630+ sf, is completely detached from other units but has its own, direct access two-car garage and includes a small, completely private yard for pets, gardening, or parties.  All spacious bedrooms are upstairs and there's plenty of closet space.  More info will be coming next week, but here's a question for you:

How much would you expect to pay? ______________ (your answer)

Nope! It's only $359,999.  That's right! This is not a "come-on" price, nor is it a short sale or foreclosure.  Is is one of the most incredible deals in the Valley, though, so please let me know if you're interested in seeing it.  It will be on the mls with lots more pictures on Monday.

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Realtor has two brand new experiences. Neither of them were good.

Last week was quite a week.  I had two new situations that I've never had before in my eighteen years in practice.

First, a seller client passed away in the middle of our escrow.  I represent the buyer on this one.  This essentially puts a hold on the sale until all title issues can be cleared up.  It was a complicated deal to begin with as the seller was a FSBO (for-sale-by-owner).  What did I do on this one? Nothing, and let the estate take care of everything so we can close.

Second, I was blithely invited to commit loan fraud.  A potential buyer on one of my listings wanted to get a loan for x-amount of dollars, but also wanted to give the seller a lot of money outside of escrow so he wouldn't have to pay property taxes on the whole amount of the sale. (A property gets re-assessed by the County Tax Assessor when it changes hands.  In a normal sale, it is assessed at the purchase price.)  I pointed out that this is loan fraud, it's a federal crime, and I don't want to go to jail and neither does this buyer.  The buyer plainly didn't care.  What did I do on this one? I refused to write the offer, which would have been much lower than what the seller would have accepted anyway.

Sheesh! What will this week bring?

Monday, March 02, 2015

Studio City on the cheap

Everybody thinks Studio City is really expensive.  Some of the homes are. Some of the stores and restaurants are.  But some aren’t, as well, and I’m here to tell you how to save your hard-earned pennies in our neighborhood.
1.     You can eat relatively cheaply at Jinya Ramen, Cactus Tacqueria, Henry’s Tacos, Lemonade, Spitz, and more. The food at these places is delicious and cheap.  Okay, the first four don’t serve alcohol, but there’s…
2.       $2 beers at Jinky’s ALL DAY! $3 for craft brews! Really, now you have died and gone to heaven, right? And the food at Jinky’s is good and not expensive either.
3.       Get a massage for as low as $25/hour. You know all of those massage places along Ventura Blvd? With the neon signs in the window? Most of them are legit! Some have you leave your clothes on, but the massage is just as good.  I am not going to name my favorite place but it says “foot massage” in the window, and is cute, clean and peaceful.  
4.       Shop for clothes. There are lots of really cute clothing shops here, both in Tujunga Village and on Ventura.  For deals, though, check out Crossroads Trading Co. As they say, “Whether you call it recycled, resale, vintage or thrift, we call it Fashion.”  Want something a little more upscale? Great Labels on Ventura is exactly that at a discount.
5.       Lots of free recreational opportunities. Studio City is close to some of the best hiking/walking trails in L.A.  The famous Runyon Canyon, of course, plus Fryman Canyon, the L.A. Reservoir (3.5 miles around), and my personal fave, the L.A. River walks.  
6.       Acres of free parking.  If you’re willing to walk a bit to your destination, the lots behind the Laurel Canyon and Ventura intersections are huge and free. Not all day, of course, but you can easily park for two hours there.

Okay, this should get you started with enjoying the Studio City community without spending a lot.  Have I left out anything? Please let me know, if so.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Check out the real estate podcast that I guested on

My guest podcast from Real Estate Radio Show is now available.  Click HERE for the link or visit RealEstateRadioShow.com.  I think the actual site's text about me tells even more than the podcast.  Thanks, Greg and Tracy!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Open Sunday, Feb. 15, from 1 to 4: 5248 Ventura Canyon Ave., Sherman Oaks - $779,000

Sherman Oaks has many interesting homes and this is one of them.  All of the public rooms have been redesigned in a mid-century style and feature gorgeous flooring, skylights, circular flow and lots of built-in panel cabinets.  The three bedrooms are spacious and one has a bonus room.  Plus, there's an inviting pool.  Please come visit Steve and me and check out this jewel on Sunday.  See 5248VenturaCanyon.com for more pictures.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

New listing: 5248 Ventura Canyon Ave., Sherman Oaks. 3+3+bonus room+pool+mid-century touches for $779,000

This is 5248 Ventura Canyon and it's brand new on the market.  The home has particularly splendid mid-century touches like an entrance atrium, "hidden" wood-paneled storage cabinets, terrazzo tile, and a unique living room with a triangled wood ceiling. The storage panel cabinets connect each of the public rooms to one another with an easy flow. It also has 3 bedrooms, 3 updated baths, a bonus room attached to one bedroom, and a gorgeous pool.  The kitchen has been tastefully updated while still keeping the mid-century mood.  The family room/dining room has beautiful honey-colored wood floors, and two sets of sliders to the backyard.  This beauty is between Chandler and Magnolia, just east of Woodman.  Please see 5248VenturaCanyon.com for more pictures and call me for more info.