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.