Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Just sold this mid-century modern home in Granada Hills

Clients Adam and Michelle (pictured) are now the proud owners of this gorgeous, 5 bedroom home in Granada Hills.  If it looks familiar, it's because it was featured in Dwell Magazine.  We had searched for months for the right property and had lots of disappointments on the way.  Then this came up, and it's as pristine as it looks.  The escrow went very smoothly, too!

Granada Hills does have many mid-century homes that have been built here and there.  In addition to a patch of Eichler homes, there are several custom homes there that have been designed by local, noted architects.  And they tend to be less expensive than MCMs found in the hills or Pasadena, too!  Although the rest of Granada Hills is pretty suburban, the community is really not that far away and the schools there are really good, too.  If you are considering this community for your next move, please let me know how I can help you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Local lenders - of thee I sing

Here's the average amount of paperwork generated for a mortgage loan

We're fortunate to live in Southern California, where many local mortgage lenders and brokers are pretty excellent, even the ones with large institutions like Wells Fargo, City National, and BofA.  I was reminded of this recently when a closing with an out-of-state lender went off the rails.

Why are out-of-the-area lenders problematic? Because they, and their staff, really have no skin in the game.  They don't know you, they are not working for your referrals or business, and they often just hand your loan application off to processors that are even farther away.  Here's what you want to look for in a local lender, aside from great rates and great closing costs.
- They promptly return your calls.
- Their staff (who will be touching your file a lot) are people that they supervise.
- Their staff doesn't ask you over and over to provide the same documentation.  Sure, mistakes get made and paperwork gets lost, but if this happens a lot it's a bad sign.
- They are proactive and answer your questions even before you may know that you have them.
- They oversee everything, right up to the minute of closing, even when the file has been passed on to processors.
- They are capable of meeting the several deadlines and timetables that happen during a home sale.

What's the best way to find a good local lender? You don't have to walk in to a bank, just ask your Realtor, friends and family for recommendations (or horror stories).  In one phone call, you'll be able to tell if your lender is heads-up, creative, and the right person for this huge financial purchase.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The property in Panorama City is in escrow. Here's what I learned.

I don't usually talk about my listings that are in escrow.  I don't want to jinx them.  But perhaps this might offer some education.

9076 Willis #16 is in Panorama City.  That's one of the working class suburbs in the North San Fernando Valley.  It's not a popular area. The schools are only ok, and the neighborhoods, while vibrant, don't have much in the way of shopping, eateries, parks, etc.  You can't bike anywhere that you really need to go, although there are bike lanes.  No express buses, and the metro is nowhere near there.  CSUN and Kaiser are close-ish but not really.  In other words, unless you live there, there's no reason to go there.  The unit itself is large, refurbished, and has an attached garage.

What I learned: regular folks can't afford houses anymore.  Even with 3% down loan programs.  The monthly payments are simply too high.  With interest rates and everything else going up, buyers for even condos in that area have to have healthy incomes and no children.  If houses are unaffordable in the outskirts, is that going to begin to squeeze towards the center? Just fyi, we started at $469,000, reduced the price several times, and are in escrow for much less.

What else I learned: everybody who was even remotely interested in the unit is from another country.  The North San Fernando Valley is a regular United Nations.  But these folks want to own homes.  Hopefully, builders will soon be turning their attention to the underserved suburbs and building truly affordable housing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Judy Graff Properties is four years old!

My brokerage, Judy Graff Properties, has just celebrated its 4th anniversary.  I know it's common to say, "When I started, I had a dream but didn't know what I was getting into...bla bla," but the truth is that I did know what I was getting into.  Total autonomy, less fees, more freedom, and more ways to help my clients, to start.

Four years on, we are still cloud-based.  Three agents work for JGP, and I expect to have five by the end of the year.  Watch us grow!  And please let me know if you need a no-bs, savvy broker-Realtor who leads with a heart for service.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

My clients just purchased this sterling mid-century modern in Granada Hills

Here's an incredible example of the currently-most-beloved home style, the mid-century modern home. It's such a pristine style that both L.A. Curbed and Dwell Magazine (click the link for more pictures) have written it up.  The current owner has maintained it in its pristine period style.

And my buyer clients, Michelle and Adam, will be the new owners at the end of the month.  Michelle and Adam and their teenage son and I have been looking for homes for about six months now.  While a mid-century was on the wish list, we considered other styles, too, from Highland Park to Woodland Hills to Monrovia.  When this home was about to go on the market in Granada Hills, we pounced.  For those of you who don't know GH, it's not that far away from everything and they have a nice bunch of mid-century modern homes there.  However those rarely go up for sale.

I can't wait to see what M&A do with this.  By the way, the teenage son gets the bomb shelter/basement all to himself for him and his musician friends.  It's perfect adaptive reuse.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

884 El Paso Ave. in Highland Park just closed

884 El Paso, #HighlandPark is an adorable duplex that has just sold to my clients.  One side was completely remodeled, and both units have long-term tenants.  My clients purchased this as their first investment property and hope to purchase more soon. cash flows! (Meaning that the rents exceed the expenses.)'s in the coolest part of Eastside L.A.! Who says that you can't find profitable residential investments in L.A.?  Please contact me if you would like to discuss r.e. investment strategies.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Great buy in El Sereno: 4443 Verdemour Avenue

Where is El Sereno? It's where all the cool kids are looking now, and is an affordable extension to L.A.'s east side. It's also a rapidly developing area that's just minutes from downtown.  Agent Milla Goldenberg just listed this beauty for $899,000.  It has five bedrooms, 3 baths and over 2200 square feet!  It has been fully updated as well, and appliances are included.  Check it out at Milla's open house on Saturday, October 13.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

9076 Willis, #16, Panorama City is now $408,000

We've just cut the price on this amazing townhouse.  At 1727 square feet, this unit is one of the largest townhomes I've ever sold.  It features 2 bedrooms, a bonus room, 3 baths, 2-car attached garage, 2 fireplaces, balcony, patio, new paint, new flooring, and lots of other upgrades.  The HOA is proactive and has just re-roofed the complex, re-surfaced the pool and spa, and painted all exterior trim.  The monthly dues are still $295 with healthy reserves.

At $408,000, 9076 Willis #16 makes a fabulous rental, too -- rents for units this size in the neighborhood are $2500 to $2700/mo.  See for more pics.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Just listed for $469,000 - 9076 Willis #16

 Looking for a dream townhouse that's still affordable? 9076 Willis, #16, Panorama City has just listed for $469,000 and will be open Sunday, 8/26, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.  See for more pics.  Here are the features: two bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, big bonus room, an unbelievable and rare 1727 sf., two-car attached garage, new paint, new carpet, all appliances included without warranty, patio and 2nd story balcony, two fireplaces, and a proactive HOA with $295/mo dues.  The 28-unit complex features a recently re-plastered pool, spa, new roof, newly painted trim, and plenty of reserves.  Please come see us on Sunday or call me for more details.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Has Brady Bunch house fatigue set in yet?

Just to catch you up, the house used for the exteriors of The Brady Bunch tv show just sold in Studio City.  This has been all over the news and social media.  The house was listed at $1.8 million, and sold $3.5 million.  To HGtv.  Is it worth it?  Nope, nowhere near.  The house is right around the corner from me, and the resale homes around here usually sell for less than half that. And this is a two bedroom home, so it would normally sell for an even lower price.  There's just no accounting for taste and tv production companies that have unlimited budgets.

Monday, July 30, 2018

I'm thrilled to announce that Victor Agbayani has joined Judy Graff Properties!

Watch us grow again! I'm thrilled to announce that Victor Agbayani has joined Judy Graff Properties as an agent.  I've known Victor for 20 years and even showed him some houses before he got his license.  He's one of the smartest people I know and one of the best agents as well -- he's been extremely successful from the moment he obtained his r.e. license 20 years ago.  That was no surprise to those of us who knew him before. Here's his bio:

Victor Agbayani had been selling residential real estate in Los Angeles full-time since 1998. Knowledgeable in the many complexities of today's real estate transactions, his areas of expertise include the fast appreciating "Eastside" from Eagle Rock to Arcadia, the "Valley" from Burbank to Woodland Hills, and the "Westside" from West Hollywood to Silverlake, the Desert area - Palm Springs tp Palm Desert. Victor always strives to give his clients the best and most service, staying personally involved throughout the entire process. Open communication, mutual trust, respect, and a sense of friendship are important elements of Victor's business life. Having spent his entire career in sales, Victor has developed strong contacts with most of the local real estate professionals and affiliates including, but not limited to, other real estate agents, brokers, lenders, escrow officers, title representatives and appraisers. These positive, interpersonal business relationships help ensure smooth, hassle-free real estate transactions.

Victor can be reached at 323-547-6011 or

Thanks for joining us, Victor!

Is the housing market going to crash soon?

Every day, somebody tells me that the housing market is going to crash.  I am not an economist or statistician, so take the following with a grain of salt.  With all due respect to the experts, I just don't see the fundamentals necessary for a crash in the near future.  
  • First, yes, our housing price rises here in CA can't go on forever.  I said that in 2006, too.  Prices are now above what they were in 2008, though. Housing prices are high due to two factors in L.A.: 1) not enough inventory, and 2) there's a lot of money concentrated here.
  • Currently, unemployment is low.  It would have to go up by several points to have an impact on local housing sales.  Last time, it was 8%-9% before we saw a lot of foreclosures here.
  • Interest rates are still relatively low.  When I started in this business, interest rates for mortgage loans were around 8%.
  • Banks and lending institutions have tightened up quite a bit and are no longer giving mortgage loans to anybody that can fog a mirror.  Buyers now have to show that they can actually pay a mortgage back.
  • Even at the height of the Great Recession, home prices here in the Southland, in areas with desirable housing stock, low crime, and good schools, only went down an average of 8%.  Do the math -- even if there's a 10% price reduction, say, in Sherman Oaks, Studio City, or Burbank, an $800,000 home here will be selling for $720,000.  That's not really enough of  difference to make a home super-affordable.
Again, I'm not an expert, but I know what I see.  Could there be cataclysmic event that turns the market on its ear? Sure, but if that happens, we will all have bigger fish to fry than housing prices.  And on that cheery note...feel free to challenge my assumptions or ask questions.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

What will your monthly mortgage payment be?

Here's an easy way to calculate what your mortgage, tax and insurance payment will be every month if you buy a home here in So. Cal.

First, THIS IS JUST AN ESTIMATE CALCULATION. Your payment may be different, but let's assume for now that all other things are equal -- you have good credit, lack excessive debt, and are putting 20% down on your home purchase.  Now, divide the purchase price in half and take off two zeros (or use one of the many great online calculators).

- $500,000 purchase price = $2500 month mortgage, tax, insurance (called PITI).
- $1,000,000 = $5000/mo PITI
- $1,200,000 = $6000/mo PITI
- $1,500,000 = $7500/mo PITI

...And so on.  Condo and townhouse buyers will need to add their HOA dues on top of this.

It's really important to know that the Federal Reserve intends to raise rates more this year, so these numbers are just for now.  Yes, property taxes and insurance are still somewhat deductible from your taxes, but the numbers above reflect the outgoing cost each month.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Please celebrate the birth of our nation on July 4th by registering to vote. Here in CA, it's easy.

Here in CA, you can register to vote online.  Here's the site:

I get all the reasons why you may not have voted in the past:  

1.  Perhaps you don't feel educated enough on the issues.  Everybody feels this way.  But you don't have to vote for everything to have your votes count on what you do vote for.  And there's always an issue or candidate who will resonate with you.

2.  You just don't have the time on election day.  Did you know that by law, your employer needs to give you one paid hour off to vote?  But an easier solution is to vote by mail.  You can fill out and mail your ballot several days in advance of election day.  You can request to always have your ballot mailed.  Just visit the site above.

3.  All politicians are crooks.  Okay, but that shouldn't keep you from voting for the propositions and initiatives that may mean something to you.  For example, this year in CA, the gas tax repeal will be on the ballot.  So will the initiative that divides CA into three states.  We all have opinions on these; voting is a way to make the opinion count.

4.  Finally, your vote doesn't matter.  I sure understand how a person could feel this way.  But many of the local races, initiatives and propositions are carried or defeated by just a few hundred votes! Yes, your vote really does count on these.

Thanks and happy Fourth of July!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Troy Drive in the Hollywood Hills just closed

Andrew and Brian not only bought themselves this really cool midcentury modern home in the Hollywood Hills, but they bought this exquisite view as well.  Good on ya, guys -- I'm happy that I could help.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Fed raised interest rates again, and probably will do so two more times this year.

Today's L.A.Times ran this article about interest rate rises and what they might mean to you.  Interest rates up = home prices down, right? Not so fast.  From another article about how expensive homes are here: The UCLA Anderson Forecast said there is no sign of a correction in home prices around the corner. The report forecasts job growth of 2.2% this year, 1.7% in 2019 and 0.8% in 2020.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Now I've heard everything. I hope.

I recently looked at one of our area's ubiquitous new builds.  These are the Cape Cod-style, open floor plan, five bedroom, six bath, 3000+ sf, all grey and white, etc, etc, luxury everywhere, new houses.  They are not tract homes; they are built by different builders and scattered around the city.  They just happen to look the same.  This particular one is in Valley Village, about half a mile away from one of our also ubiquitous homeless encampments.

For this particular home, the agent took me into one of the bathrooms and pointed out the huge quartz panel in the shower, above. Those aren't reflections, those are lights behind it.  He proudly said, "That piece of quartz was hauled out of a volcano.  In Brazil.  It cost $40,000."  He was serious, and for a minute I wondered if I had just time-traveled back to eighteenth-century Versailles.

Did you know that you needed a piece of quartz from half a world away in order to have a really good shower experience? I certainly didn't.  Is this truly over the top and is it end-times, or is it me?

Friday, April 27, 2018

House of the week - sideways

Would you like to live in a house on its side? That costs over $1 million in the Hollywood Hills? No? Me neither.  But here's a new post and picture direct from the mls.  I won't add the address because I don't want to embarrass the listing agent.  Further, when you click on any of the links, including the actual mls number, it will take you to a different house.  New-fangled marketing, unfortunate mistake, or end times? You decide.

Friday, April 20, 2018

House of the week: 210 N. Norton in Windsor Square, in an HPOZ neighborhood

Yes, we all love mid-century modern architecture, but I'm a sucker for this kind of character design.  Before getting into the specs, why did I select this home? Because it's in an HPOZ, or historic protection overlay zone.  This, yes, preserves the historic architecture of many L.A. neighborhoods.  Owners can't make many changes to these homes without city approval.  Before you get all "too much government interference in our lives" on me, here's the benefit.  Many homes in these HPOZ neighborhoods qualify for Mills Act property tax exemptions -- yes you pay property tax, but not nearly what you'd ordinarily pay.  Nice, eh?  Anyway, this home features three bedrooms, three baths, almost 3000 sf of living space, and is on an 8000+ sf lot.  It has been splendidly maintained inside and is priced at $2,699,000.  A property tax cut on that assessed value would be quite welcome.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

White, gray, wicker: is home-for-sale staging beginning to look all the same?

I love good staging at homes for sale.  Yes, furniture and accessories do help to sell homes.  Lately, though, I've noticed a sameness to the staging at most of the homes for sale that I see here in the L.A. area, regardless of who the staging company is.  Everything is white and gray, with a "pop" of  bright accessory color.  And wicker.  Lots and lots of boxy wicker outdoor furniture. (There's a lot of new home design similarity too, but I'll save that for another time.)  The east side homes aren't quite as guilty of this as the west side and valley, but they're catching up.  For example, this is what I saw during just the last few days. I wish I had invested in this patio furniture company.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Studio City sunset. And Champagne.

When clients Josh and Mac closed on their Studio City home in early December, we planned to celebrate by having champagne on the deck and watching the sunset.  However, either 1) the sun set too early, or 2) it was too windy, or 3) it was raining, or 4) our schedules just didn't mesh.  (The house is still a work in progress.) We finally got a chance to enjoy the view and the sunset last night, and here are the pics.  That's Josh pouring champagne, his wife Mac, and my husband Steve getting ready to toast this special home.

Monday, March 26, 2018

L.A. homes for sale in great high school districts

Most home buyers who are looking for great schools are focused on elementary schools.  But what about buyers with older kids? Recently, a client asked me to research public L.A. high schools with stellar ratings.  Here's the list, with ratings between eight and ten by  Caveat: this is by no means an all-inclusive list.  Many areas with terrific schools are not here because I concentrated on a specific geographic "core" (roughly, with a Silverlake bulls-eye). I also left out magnet schools with super-specific focuses. 

Renaissance Arts Academy – Eagle Rock
Great Schools rating: 9

Alliance College Ready Academy – Silverlake & Echo Park
Great Schools rating: 8

Larchmont Charter – Hollywood & Larchmont
Great Schools rating: 8

Camino Nuevo High School – East Hollywood & Hancock Park
Great Schools rating: 8

Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet – East of Downtown
Great Schools rating: 9

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts – Eastside and South Pasadena
Great Schools rating: 8

South Pasadena Senior High School
Great Schools rating: 10

Alliance Media Arts and Entertainment Design High School – Boyle Heights & East L.A.
Great Schools rating: 8

Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies – Westside but east of 405
Great Schools rating: 8

Culver City High School
Great Schools rating: 9

Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies – Reseda
Great Schools rating: 8

La Canada High School
Great Schools rating: 10

Anderson Clark Magnet School – La Crescenta
Great Schools rating: 10

Crescenta Valley High School – La Crescenta
Great Schools rating: 10

North Hollywood Senior High
Great Schools rating: 8

Burbank High & Burroughs High – Burbank
Great Schools rating: 8

High Tech LA – Van Nuys
Great Schools rating: 9

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Milla Goldenberg is a rock star Realtor.

Milla Goldenberg (that's her smiling face, above) joined Judy Graff Properties several months ago, and just closed a really challenging sale at 4211 Redwood, #202 (pictured above) in Marina Del Rey.  It takes a very talented Realtor to have done this, and not everybody could have pleased the other transaction parties as she did.  First of all, even though the unit was aggressively priced, Milla hung in for months and finally convinced the seller to take the market price.  Next, the building's HOA is in litigation.  It is almost impossible to get a conventional loan on a condo unit in this case.  But Milla drilled down, called a million lenders, and found one who would make the loan at a reasonable cost to the buyers.  Next, there was a bad appraisal, which Milla smoothed over with both buyer and seller.  There were other issues, too -- a robbery during an open house (yes, it happens), divots in the floor during an open house, and on and on.  Yet, she persevered, and performed the amazing feat of getting this property closed to everybody's satisfaction.  Major kudos, Milla -- I am honored to have you as part of the company! If you would like service like this, please contact Milla at

Friday, March 02, 2018

House of the week: 2139 Baxter in Echo Park. It's a probate, but don't let that scare you.

This week's house of the week, 2139 Baxter in Echo Park, was chosen because 1) it's a cutie that's ripe for a renovation or just great decorating taste, 2) it's in a cool Eastside neighborhood, 3) it has a view and a backyard, 4) the price is affordable (although it will probably go over) at $699,000 and 5) it is special because it's a probate sale.  Don't be scared of buying a probate property.  You can do it. 

Here is the quick story on probates.  The thing you need most of with a probate sale is patience.  The sale takes a long time because attorneys are involved and a court date needs to be set.  First, you line up your loan and do your inspections.  Next, you make an offer, put down 10%, and if the estate accepts your offer, you then wait for notice of the court date (your agent and the listing agent will go with you to court).  The judge will ask if anybody objects to the sale and if not, s/he will open bidding.  Yes, you can be outbid in court, so plan to go higher and bring extra cashiers' checks for the increased deposit just in case.  Once the judge rules in your favor, closing is usually within 10 days.

Yes, this takes a lot longer than an actual sale, and there are more details, but this is the overview.  However, this house would definitely be one worth waiting for.

Friday, February 23, 2018

House of the week! 3510 Chandler, Burbank

I'm going to start picking a "house of the week" to feature in this blog (don't hold me to this weekly timetable, though).  The home will be in the L.A. area, and will hopefully be unique in one or more ways.  To start--

This one is for every buyer who believes that there is no such thing as a home for sale in Burbank under $700,000 anymore.  You're right.  But the exception proves the rule, and 3510 W. Chandler in Burbank is a great exception for the right buyer.  It is listed (not by me) for $584,500.  That's less expensive than many condos and townhomes in similar areas these days.

Chandler has a lot more to offer than meets the eye budget.  Yes, the house is small -- 809 sf., 2 beds and 1 bath.  And it's on a small lot -- 2,589 sf.  That's bigger than a lot of townhomes and condos, though.  It has a one-car garage (there is lots of street parking around here too), wood-burning fireplace, a/c, laundry room and little yard.  These homes on this stretch of Chandler are little gems.  They were built along the railroad tracks as starter homes back in the 1940's.  The railroad tracks are long gone, and a gorgeous -- and famous -- bike/walking path has replaced it.  The home is also walking distance to all of Magnolia Park's attractions.  Did I mention the great schools in Burbank?  

Of course, buyers, call me if you would like to tour this home.  It's going to be a terrific choice for buyers who are looking for a condo-alternative, or investors who want those hard-to-find, relatively inexpensive rental properties in great areas.  

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Are real estate agents becoming obsolete? Asked and answered.

For residential real estate brokerages, the beginning of a new year can bring many changes.  It's agent recruiting season.  There are several big conferences.  Everybody (including me) wants to weigh in on how the industry will change in the coming year and future.  

This year, the r.e. industry talk has all been tech, tech, and more tech, such as:  Artificial intelligence will make agents obsolete.  Agents need more tech tools.  For brokerages, "my tech is bigger than your tech" is the new rallying cry.  Even the head of Keller Williams has stated, "We are no longer a real estate company.  We are a tech company."  What does this mean, and how will it impact home buyers and sellers?  Regardless of what you hear, I believe tech will have little impact, that it hasn't already had (Docusign, Zillow, Redfin), on residential real estate.

This is coming from an agent who loves technology.  I had a website in 1998, before most people even knew what a website was.  I've had this blog going since 2008, for pete's sake.  Docusign enabled me to start my own brokerage.  My social media footprint is strong, and I've tried (and paid for) lots of shiny new stuff along the way.

So, if I love tech so much, why am I flying in the face of industry "experts"? Because agents in wear at least two hats.  Sure, you can find a home online.  If you're a seller, you can create video walk-throughs and hope nobody pesters you to actually see the house.  But the second part of any real estate transaction is negotiating, shepherding, and managing the sale.  It is an even bigger part of a transaction than the initial find/buy, and it takes a client-centered, individual touch that no tech can provide.  As an example, here is a post from the online blog Quora:

Sean Hess
I am a Realtor and a Broker, and if you could just jump online and buy a house you wouldn’t need me. Actually, there are auction sites where you can buy a house online, so you really don’t need me.

But I will always have a job, and I chalk it up to human nature.

Buying a house should be easy. You should be able to go out and find a house you like, and then buy it. But there’s so much drama.

Here’s some of the issues I’ve seen pop up over the years:

A buyer wanted to buy a house near the beach, and yet seemed astounded when I advised her that she needed flood insurance.

I had a seller tell my customers as that some river rocks around the house made it “termite proof.” I had to convice these customers that there is no such thing as “termite proof” in Florida.

The first thing almost every buyer asks when they sign a purchase agreement for a home is, “How do I get my money back if…” (the question is always open ended). In other words, they’re already thinking of backing out before they’ve even made the offer. 

In a sale where I had the buyers, the sellers claimed on a written disclosure that the home never had termites, yet proudly presented receipts for work done to repair “extensive termite damage.”

I’ve had the sellers in a transaction swear a home was termite free. After termites were discovered and a pest service came out to fumigate, the neighbor strolled over and said, “Well, they’re finally doing something about those termites.”

After a lender told me three days before closing that the buyer’s paperwork was good and we would close on time, the lender literally disappeared. I had the sellers and it was a very rough month until we could close again with another lender.

I once had a couple lose a house because they put off some required paperwork in order to go play bingo.

At a home inspection one of my partners attended, he opened the door to find a man with a gun drawn. The seller didn’t bother inform the tenant (with the gun) that people were coming over that morning. The tenant thought someone was breaking in.

Is a pattern emerging here?

So why do you need a Realtor? 

You would think it’s the marketing, the access to all of the homes, knowledge of certain neighborhoods, the understanding of contracts, or all the background expertise about inspections. But it’s not.

Because in every real estate transaction at least one of the parties visits Crazyland somewhere along the way. And that’s normal.

The Realtor’s core value, the sole reason we exist, is to keep the other side honest and to massage away problems when they happen.

A real estate sale is probably the highest dollar transaction a regular person will ever be involved it. It creates a huge amount of stress.

Because of this stress I often see people at their very worst.
Something goes wrong and they get so upset with the other party that they are willing to cut off their own nose to spite their face.

They break promises and lie because they think telling the truth will cost them money. Usually it ends up costing them money anyway and it always takes a Realtor to iron things out. With grace and with tact.

So even though I’m the business of selling a staple product (food and clothing being the other two), I actually owe my job to human nature.

Honestly, I would rather deal with sane people. But when one of my agents comes in with a transaction blowing up I tell them, "That's our job, that's the reason they need us. Let's go save somebody's world again..."

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Housing and the January Jobs report: instant reaction

This is straight from the National Association of Realtors website.  Please read until the end.

The following is NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun’s reaction to this morning’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report on January employment conditions:
“The best news from the January jobs report is accelerating wages, which rose 2.9% from a year ago. The continuing job growth of 200,000 in January, and 2.1 million over the past 12 months, have kept the economy at essentially full employment. It is now to the point where employers have to offer higher wages to attract new employees.
Not all is fine, however. The labor force participation rate is still stuck at 62%, compared to 67% a decade ago, prior to the big recession. Also, the tightening labor market along with faster wage gains means that the Federal Reserve is inclined to raise interest rates more frequently.
Ultimately, the desire to buy a home will rise because of this strong job growth with higher pay, but the financial capacity to buy will be cut because of rising interest rates.”

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Another two great Yelp reviews.

I am grateful and thankful to have worked with these folks.  Here are my new Yelp reviews:

"My wife and I have now bought two properties with Judy's help. We couldn't be more impressed with her diligence, honesty and hard work. 

Here's how we know Judy has the buyer's best interests at heart: she talked us OUT of making offers multiple times because she knew the homes we were looking at either weren't worth the money or had too many major problems. 

Every time an agent talks a buyer out of making an offer, that agent runs the risk of never getting paid. 

Judy is willing to run that risk, because she knows what a big deal it is to buy a house. So she's determined to make sure the buyer gets the RIGHT house. 

She's amazing and we would never work with another agent."

"I met Judy through my now-husband when we were in the beginning stages of searching for our first home together. He had been following her real estate blog for quite some time and was really impressed with her knowledge and of-the-moment perspective on the real estate climate in the area. 

What is so refreshing about Judy is that she talks to her clients as friends first. She's honest and real during the entire process. And also INCREDIBLY patient! She finally helped us get into our townhouse north of Ventura Boulevard in Studio City after a somewhat painful and laborious process with the sellers. That was five years ago. We entrusted Judy to help us yet again on our search for our long-term home as newlyweds. 

Countless open houses, countless MLS listings, and countless emails back and forth later (did I mention how patient she is with her clients?!), Judy helped us find our new home in the Studio City hills. After another somewhat stressful and laborious process with the sellers, Judy was just fantastic. She was completely on her game through every moment of the process and was able to nudge us along gently to help us get our ducks in row. But I need to mention, Judy is on her game ALL THE TIME. She's a real gem in the real estate world here, and I feel so lucky and fortunate to have found her. I'd recommend her to friends in a heartbeat."

Friday, January 26, 2018

It's official. Los Angeles home prices have broken previous records.

Yesterday's L.A. Times featured an article with the following headline: Southern California median home price breaks record set last decade during housing bubble.  The headline should link to the article.

My favorite paragraph is the first.  It states, "The Southern California median home price in December finally surpassed bubble-era highs, a milestone that took more than a decade to achieve and is once again raising concerns that housing is too costly." Raising concern? Ya think?

Do I foresee that the bubble will burst? No.  The fundamentals for that to happen now just aren't there.  We no longer have high unemployment, and there's just a lot of money in this state.  Do I think prices will continue to rise?  Perhaps a bit.  But I doubt we'll see the yearly 8%-10% rises we've seen lately.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I am pleased to announce that Realtor Dayna Cussler has joined Judy Graff Properties

Watch our company grow! I am thrilled to announce that Realtor Dayna Cussler has joined Judy Graff Properties as an associate licensee.  I have known Dayna for many years and love her expertise and her cool vibe. 

Dayna has lived in the Los Angeles area for over 30 years.  She knows this great city well and loves all the diverse culture it has to offer. She has helped many entertainment professionals, families and people new to the LA area with their real estate needs, providing quality service to both buyers and sellers.  She can also stage your home to help in the selling process.  Her number one priority is her client.

Daynas been in the real estate industry for ten years.  She also has a passion for creative arts and endeavors.  A former actress, flamenco dancer and wardrobe stylist for movies, she now enjoys playing the drums in her band, Stations Of The Sun, driving classic cars, photography, creating childrens books and caring for her rescue dogs.

Areas of Expertise:
Toluca Lake, Burbank, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, Glendale, Pasadena and La Canada-Flintridge.

Dayna can be reached at 818-590-5944 or

Monday, January 15, 2018

Wait! Before you tear down that rock wall around your fireplace...

Rock walls are really unpopular and difficult to get rid of.  What are they good for?

No need to go to the rock wall climbing gym ever again!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Salute to a couple of local businesses

This isn't an ad, just high praise for two local businesses that I frequent.  We all love Lowes and Do-It Center, but if you're in Studio City, there's no better hardware store than locally-owned North Hollywood Hardware at 11847 Ventura Blvd.  These folks not only have just about any hardware that you might need, they also have the most knowledgeable, helpful employees.  I was just in there to buy a little lightbulb and got immediate, expert assistance for this tiny part.

What would you give to (almost) never have to go to the DMV again? Smogland in Studio City will smog your car and electronically take care of your registration before you can finish looking at your Instagram feed.  In addition to registration and smog checks, they do title transfer, vin verification, duplicate registrations, stickers and license plates.  They are located at 4021 Radford and Sassan Dameshghi is the very friendly, knowledgeable owner.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Curbed has selected San Pedro as neighborhood of the year!

Every year, Curbed LA runs a neighborhood contest in which their readers select the best livable L.A. neighborhood.  This year, our own little Burbank almost won. (Finally, some recognition for Burbank.)  But at the end, it was beaten out by...San Pedro! Check the link here.

I actually sold a home in San Pedro this year.  Before that, I just thought it was an industrial port with cruise ship berths.  My buyer clients, who knew better than I did, convinced me otherwise.  Once I went down there, I became impressed by the housing stock and the affordability.  Many of the homes, including the one my clients purchased, are on the hill and have views of the harbor.  Yes, it's a bit far away from many attractions, but the Ports of Call development is getting a huge face lift, so new and better entertainment and dining options will be coming very soon.  Good on ya, San Pedro!  And hopefully Burbank will win the Curbed contest next year.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.