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LA Digs - Northeast LA Real Estate Blog

Welcome to LA Digs, the real estate and Northeast Los Angeles community blog written by Realtors Tracy King and Keely Myres.

Here, we share tips, market updates, and local news bits to keep you informed on what's happening in Northeast Los Angeles and the surrounding neighborhoods. Read on to learn about the latest in your neighborhood!

Selling Your Home in NELA? Make Sure the Price is Right

Selling Your Home in NELA? Make Sure the Price is Right

In a red hot real estate market like Northeast LA, pricing your home right is key.

Real estate in Northeast Los Angeles continues to boom. Beyond ultra-hot Eagle Rock and Highland Park, homes in Mt. Washington aren't staying on the market long and we're seeking homes for sale in Glassell Park being snatched up after a single open house. If you own a home in one of these hot-market areas and you're thinking of selling your home, then you probably have a lot of questions.

One of the most important questions for home sellers is: How should I price my home?

Some people think they should price their home well above the market, in hopes people will make an offer, or negotiate down to the real price. Others think they should price the home just above the market, in hopes of fetching a few extra dollars.

Truth be told, pricing is used to attract buyers and offers, which then leads to negotiating the real price. So it’s important to price your home on the market so it generates lot of buyer interest … and ultimately lots of offers.

When you receive multiple offers, you can negotiate higher prices. As a seller, multiple-offer situations give you leverage. And pricing your home right is a key ingredient to getting multiple offers.

On our team, we work with home sellers to price their homes so they generate lots of interest and offers, which results in our homes selling for higher than the average real estate agent.

If you’d like to learn more about pricing your home so you can create a splash in the marketplace that brings in buyers and offers, contact Team Tracy today to receive expert insights into pricing your home.

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Increase Your Home’s Value Up to 28% with These 5 Tips

Increase Your Home’s Value Up to 28% with These 5 Tips

In Northeast LA, "curb appeal" isn't just about having a great looking home. It's about improving home value.

With homes in Highland Park selling briskly, and Glassell Park real estate in high demand, home sellers in Northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods are thinking about small ways to make a large difference in the value of their homes. They are finding that fixing up one's home to improve the "curb appeal" is a step in the right direction.

Great curb appeal not only makes your home the star of the neighborhood, it can also improve its value and help you sell it for more. Whether you’re thinking of listing your home or just want to make your home the envy of your neighbors, here are several ways to increase your home’s curb appeal.

1. Make your home’s exterior look like new.

For many potential buyers, the condition of the exterior of a home can offer clues to the condition of the interior. The first place to start when boosting curb appeal is the exterior of your house.

Paint. Paint is the best way to make your home appear newer. While you can paint your home yourself, if it’s large or more than one story, consider hiring a professional. Painting is a fairly inexpensive improvement with between 60 to 100 percent return on investment.1

Maintain your siding. Over time, weather and the elements can make your home’s siding appear dull and dirty. Use a pressure washer to clean stains, spider webs and accumulated dirt and grime, or use a soft cloth and a household cleaner to get into those small nooks and spaces. Although the average life expectancy of siding ranges from 60 to 100 years, depending on the material, extreme weather may reduce this number. If you need to replace the siding, you’ll enjoy a 77 percent return on investment.1

Paint or replace garage doors. If your garage doors are in good condition, give them a new coat of paint. If they’re beginning to show their age, consider replacing them. Not only are new garage doors more energy efficient and better insulated than older models, they also have a 91.5 percent return on investment.1

Maintain your fence. Replace rotted or worn posts and panels and freshen it up with a coat of paint. If you have a hedge that serves as your property’s border, keep it trimmed and in good shape.

2. Pay attention to the small details.

The small details tie your home’s exterior together and help it stand out from others in the neighborhood.

Paint front door, trim and shutters. This inexpensive improvement adds brightness to a home, whether you choose a bold color, a neutral tone or classic white.

Install new door fixtures and be sure they match in style and finish and complement the style of your home.

Update your house numbers. Make sure potential buyers and guests can find your home. If the numbers have faded or need an update, replace them. If choosing a metallic finish, make sure it matches the finish of your exterior light fixtures.

3. Tend to your driveway and lawn.

Well-landscaped homes may sell for between 5.5% and 12.7% more than other similar homes and studies show it may also add up to 28 percent to your home’s overall value.5

Place a border along your driveway or walkway made of brick, stone, pavers or another hardscape element to add visual interest to a plain driveway.

Maintain your green space. If you have grass, a well-maintained, green lawn makes your home look inviting and picturesque. However, in many parts of the country, water conservation is becoming more important. Xeriscaped landscapes incorporate drought-tolerant vegetation that thrives in warm, dry climates, such as lavender, sage, wisteria and agave, with water-saving drip irrigation and mulch. Xeriscaping has a cost savings of 36 cents per square foot annually through reduced irrigation and maintenance costs.3 Additionally, these landscapes are virtually maintenance free, which makes it an attractive option for busy buyers.

Include trees and shrubs to create texture and add interest to your landscape. Planting a few types of trees and shrubs of varying heights, widths and flowering times boosts your home’s curb appeal year-round.

4. Make it feel inviting.

It’s no secret that emotions play a role in a person’s decision to purchase a home. Stage the outside of your home to evoke warm feelings.

Stage your porch. If you have a front porch, make it feel more inviting by including seating, such as a chair or loveseat, an outdoor rug and a small table. If space is an issue, incorporate small decorative touches, such as a festive wreath or potted plant.

Hang flower boxes on your front porch railings and/or below your windows. If you don’t want to affix flower boxes to your home, purchase nice planters and containers and place them around your porch or on your front steps.

Choose flowers and plants that bloom at different times of the year for year-round appeal. For example, bulbs not only bloom all spring, they also multiply and come up every year. Perennials often flower for most of the year and will prevent you from having to replant them every year.

If you don’t have a green thumb, choose low maintenance plants and flowers. Flowers such as lavender, rosemary, and zinnias are a few low-maintenance and drought-tolerant options.

5. Boost Your Online “Curb Appeal.”

For those interested in selling, it’s important to know the effect online curb appeal has on a home. The better impression your home gives online, the more likely buyers will want to see it in person. Here’s how to get your home ready for its listing debut.

Stage your home. Staging shows your home in its best light and helps potential buyers picture themselves living there.

Hire a professional to take photos. A photographer has the skills and equipment to shoot your home in the best light and make it look its best.

Include a short video tour of the home. Videos are becoming a popular way to give buyers a glimpse of the home before they step foot in it.

Before you start a home project, keep these four things in mind:

1. Why are you renovating? In other words, is your intention to update your home and get it show-ready or do you want to sell it for more money? Don’t fall into the trap of undertaking major renovations that may not pay off when you sell. If your home is in good shape, a few inexpensive updates may be enough to make your home attractive to buyers.

2. The style of the neighborhood. Whenever you renovate your home, make sure the project fits with the style of the neighborhood and rules of the homeowner association. For example, an HOA may limit the choice and number of trees you can plant on your property. Similarly, a tall hedge border may not fit in in a neighborhood of low, picket fences.

3. Permits. If you’re planning an extensive exterior renovation, you may need a permit from your municipality or other authority.

4. Budget. A budget keeps your project’s costs and scope in check. Make a list of the improvements you’d like to make, set a realistic budget and stick to it. If you’d like advice on improvements you can make to boost your home’s curb appeal, give us a call.

Are you thinking of boosting your home’s curb appeal or renovating your home before you list? Do you want help making your home more appealing to potential buyers online and in-person? Give us a call and we’ll help you present your home in its best light.


1. Remodeling, 2016 Cost vs Value Report
2. Realtor Mag, September 22, 2016
4. Houzz, Houzz & Home-U.S., June 2016

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The 3 Ps of Increasing your Home’s Resale Value

The 3 Ps of Increasing your Home’s Resale Value

For Northeast LA home sellers, it pays to hire an experienced realtor who knows the ins and outs of price, preparation and promotion.

Over the past decade homes in Highland Park and Eagle Rock have become sought after, not only by those moving into the region, but by real estate investors looking to capatlize on the hot, hot market. Consequently, real estate in Glassell Park and Mt. Washington and other areas of Northeast LA have risen in value, too.

Naturally, the question on every homeowner's mind is, "What is my home worth?"

Since you are probably curious about your home’s value, I wanted to give you some tips on how you can increase your home’s resale value.

The best way to get more for you home is to work on the 3 Ps of home sales:

  • Preparation - getting the right things ready so buyers will value your home’s features.
  • Price - pricing your home to avoid Limbo Land, a place where homes sit on the market indefinitely.
  • Promotion - marketing your home to get your home found online and generate buyer interest.

On our team we work with home sellers to implement the 3 Ps and sell homes for higher than the average real estate agent.

If you’d like to learn more about the 3 Ps of home selling and how we can assist you in increasing your home's resale value, contact us today.

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First Time Homebuyers: Feel Like You Have a Tiger by the Tail?

First Time Homebuyers: Feel Like You Have a Tiger by the Tail?

If today's homebuyers want to score big in the hot and active Northeast LA real estate market, it behooves them to think like a seasoned investor.

Many first time buyers in the crazy Northeast Los Angeles real estate market do feel like they have a tiger by the proverbial tail. From their point of view, they looked at dozens of homes for sale in Highland Park or Eagle Rock, dutifully attending open houses. They have competed time after time, pouring their hearts out in charming "I love your house and we are the cute couple you should pick to buy it" letters, scraping together every dime they can, revealing all their financial secrets to people they've never met and probably never will. And then, the 13th or 23rd time they go through this, they win!

They get to buy a house! Now what?

Now they do inspections and, oh my! This house needs work! It costs more than anyone they are related to — anyone they've ever known — has ever paid and it's not perfect! Not only that, this crazy market has been going up way too long and they just know that the minute they close escrow, the crash will happen and they will be stuck with an overpriced turkey that still needs work. Yikes! They have listened to their friends and reluctantly to Uncle Joe the accountant who bought his last house in 1982, and they are beginning to think the family and friends might be right—they are being chumps and they'd better get out while they can.

But they have a buyers' agent who reassures them that even though the house was sold as-is, even though the homeowners provided a general inspection and even a chimney and sewer inspection that revealed these issues, they can still ask for credits and repairs and negotiate the price down.

What the seller may choose to do about the requests is anyone's guess — but often they say no, or maybe they'll negotiate a little bit. Now the ball is back in the buyer's court. What next?

General thoughts: you can say yes, no, or negotiate somewhere between. But if this was a multiple offer situation, there is a good chance the seller has a backup offer, maybe even higher than yours, just waiting for you to back out. Or if you just give up and back out, often the property ends up selling for even more than you were willing to pay. We had that happen a few times in the last year, and sometimes it was a very significant amount of money.

Ask yourself if what you are feeling about this house is really your fear talking. After all, this is a big financial step for you—it might be the biggest step you've ever taken and you don't want to make a mistake. If you are asking all your friends and family what you should do, remember that the best advice they can give you from their perspective is to not take the step— because that is the "safe" choice. But in a couple of years when you still are renting an apartment and prices have continued to go up, will it really have been the safest path?

Some background: this crazy market has been recovering from the Great Recession for a good 5 to 8 years depending on where you are and what you define as "The Bottom." The majority of buyers have only been aware of it for about 4 years, when the number of homes on the market around my 'hood in Northeast Los Angeles dropped to almost nothing and prices started spiking up. For about the last 3 years, some people (many of them smart savvy Realtors) have said that this market is unsustainable and prices will soon level off—possibly even go down!

Suggestion #1: Look at what investors are doing. The beginning of the Renaissance of Highland Park began in 2009 when it truly was the bottom and investors came in and bought crummy thrashed foreclosures for cash, fixed them up with some style so that the people who could get a loan (if only from the Bank of Mom & Dad) would be attracted by the good looks and affordable prices and buy them—and the investor made a good profit. When the great deals got scooped up after a few years, eventually most investors moved on to higher priced neighborhoods where the profit margins were even higher again. Look at what's going on now, though—the investors have come back! Now NELA is where they can make a profit.

Many buyers today say that investors have scooped up all the "deals" and they cannot afford to buy the $million-plus flips that they produce. My question is, why didn't you buy the fixer when it was affordable and fix it up yourself? I have often heard buyers say that that is what they would like to do, but the investor went in and scooped up the property for themselves. In many cases, that is just not so. Here are the facts: in the 90041 Eagle Rock zip code, there were 34 $million + sales in 2016. Of them, 19 were flips. Of them, 12 were listed in the MLS, they were on the market an average of 69 days, and they sold for an average price of $645,000, which was slightly under the average asking price. And they sold fixed up for an average of $1,184,000 in 20 days on the market. That's about a $500,000 gross profit. Figuring in maybe $350,000 in renovation and sales costs, you have a net profit of $150,000. I'm guessing on costs, by the way.

But let's assume you never wanted to buy a fixer. The other interesting lesson to learn from where the investors are buying is that they think Northeast Los Angeles can sustain their investment/profit formula. Remember, they have a lot of risk—they generally pay cash (often with expensive hard-money loans), often self-fund the renovation, and generally take several months to complete the project. They do not want to risk so much money and time and then see the market go away, so if they have faith in the future market, that's a good sign.

Suggestion #2: Don't be confused about what you are really buying. Fix-it items on a house are just that, fixes. What is really important is the location, the lifestyle it offers you, the amenities nearby. I know my friends in the Midwest think our market is crazy—and they thought so 34 years ago when we bought our first house in Eagle Rock for $95,000. That particular house is probably worth $750,000 today, while the same house in Springfield, Missouri might be worth $125,000 today, maybe not that much. If the price of the home is that important or necessary to you, by all means, move to a less expensive area.

Keep in mind that real estate is primarily a long-term investment. If you are planning to move on in 2 years, maybe you should rent. But if you have the money and it seems like the right next step in your life, don't let your fears hold you back.

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How to Be the Most Successful Seller

How to Be the Most Successful Seller

When we talk to a homeowner who is thinking of selling, we outline our process. Some people choose to follow every step we describe and they are usually the most successful sellers we have.

We just congratulated the Sellers of a lovely home in Mount Washington on the successful close of the sale of their home. They told us how easy we had made it for them. Selling a house can be a stressful process whether it ends well or not, so this was high praise. Mt. Washington real estate is a hot region, but doesn't mean selling is always a simple matter. The Seller stated, "We just did what you told us to when you told us to do it, and it all worked out."

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