Monday, November 28, 2016

Holiday real estate activity

What does our housing market look like around holiday time?  If you are a buyer, inventory probably seems lower than ever.  It is.  And if you are a seller, it may seem as if buyer activity has dried up.  It has.  This is par for the course, folks.  Sellers usually do not want to list in December because most buyers are too distracted by holiday activity to shop for real estate, and visa versa.  That doesn't mean that the perfect house or perfect buyer are not out there, it just means that the new year will likely bring much more activity.  So curl up by the fire, watch HGtv, and make your real estate plans for 2017.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Here's hoping that you have lots in your life to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

13506 Hartland in Valley Village just closed, no thanks to a particular developer

My listing at 13506 Hartland just closed. Although we received an offer on the house right away, a property developer almost ruined the sale.  Backstory: As most folks in L.A. know, there are condo and apartment projects going up all over.  An 8-unit building is being constructed behind and to the west of the Hartland house.

Early one morning after the house listed, I received a call from my seller.  “The contractors behind us just tore down my back wall.” Yep, without notice or permission.  Mercifully, it was not the entire back wall.  The next door neighbor had it worse – they tore down his entire back wall without obtaining permission or giving him advance notice.

The developer told my client that his survey showed a six-inch difference in the lot line, to his advantage of course, and this is why he tore down the fences. It’s highly unlikely that there is a true boundary dispute -- the entire suburban tract neighborhood was laid out, and built, in the 1950’s by the same people. The lot sizes are all very similar and there has never been a lot line dispute in the neighborhood.

But anyway, the back walls were already gone at this point, so it was late in the game to have a new survey done.  An attorney we consulted said a boundary dispute would take 2 years and cost over $1000.  The neighbor called the city building inspector who had approved the permit.  He never heard back.  (To my knowledge, he tried the same person several times and never heard back.) 

The neighbor and my client spoke to the developer and contractor (who is also a dentist) and they worked out this: the developer would put up a new cinderblock wall where the old ones had been.  They would also use the old fence to create a boundary for my clients’ safety while the project was completed.  They would not tear out a tree on the disputed boundary.

So where’s/what’s the problem with the sale? We already had a buyer for the property, and now the sellers and I had to disclose that there may or may not be a lot line dispute. No buyer wants to buy property where contractors can claim portions of it don’t belong to the property.  No buyer wants to know that their new neighborhood is going to be overrun by rogue developers. Our buyers were quite concerned and worried about this issue, and the escrow teetered. They attempted to do their own due diligence, but it takes time to get a full survey. They asked for some of the negotiated sales price back.  We gave it back rather than have to go through this again with another buyer.  And the cinderblock wall is completed.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

How will the election affect local real estate?

Here's my hyper-local take on what's going to happen with real estate inventory, prices and interest rates in the wake of the presidential election: I don't know.  And neither does anybody else.

Many questions will be answered over the next several months. Will interest rates go up? Will Los Angeles homes for sale inventory rise? Will lending tighten up or loosen up? Will foreign money leave the luxury and ultra-luxury market here? What about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? All this stuff impacts all this other stuff.

So the word here is uncertain.  Hopefully everything will shake out for the better sooner or later.  Yes, I will soon have a post on what buyers and sellers can do in the meantime.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Why home info on the internet is so confusing

I get calls from clients all the time about why their home isn't listed, why is it showing active when it's really pending, etc., etc.  Here's the deal -- different websites list information differently.

First, all the secondary sites (Zillow, Trulia,, Redfin, etc.) pick up their info from the local multiple listing services.  We Realtors enter the info into the mls's. The local mls services are supposed to cooperate with each other, but sometimes add each other's info very slowly.  So while you are seeing something on, say, Zillow, your Realtor may not be able to find it on his/her multiple listing service for a few more hours.

The "fast" sites are Redfin and Zillow.  But remember that it all comes from an mls, so its useful to ask your Realtor to create an automatic search on the mls for you, and look at it first.  Slow sites are some mls's and

Also, there are different confusing designations.  We all know what "active" and "sold" mean.  What does "active-under contract" mean? It means that it is already pending sale, but the sellers are still taking backup offers.  Some websites show this designation as "active." It isn't, not really.  If you really want to see one of these, ask your Realtor to call the listing agent and ask how their escrow is going. That way, you won't waste your time.

And some sites just misinterpret data. (To be fair, some Realtors mistakenly enter incorrect mls data, too.) They mark search fields differently, don't show all open houses, don't pick up pictures, etc., etc.

Confused? Even Realtors get confused by this.  Don't worry, you will get all the info on a piece of property.  It just may take some sleuthing on the part of you and your Realtor.