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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!

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The Eagle Rock Business Model and How It Works

These are difficult times for businesses of almost any kind. We all were holding on, looking forward to the day President Obama was inaugurated and lo! The stock market dropped 300 points! How mean. So everyone continues to cut back, economize, bargain, and figure out what they don't need to buy.

Needless to say we see a number of stores in our fair town hurting and even going out of business. Case in point, it looked like Regeneration (1690 Colorado Blvd, 323-344-0430, www.shopregeneration.com ) was going away, the sign in the window even said so. I felt bad because I believe in the idea of the store -recycled materials turned into beautiful goods like purses made from gum wrappers, shoes made from recycled rubber, even wine glasses made from recycled glass. Their tagline is "recycle, repurpose, rethink" - great idea, right? But the prices were a bit high and today, the price is everything, isn't it? And the need for something is really essential. Do you need a pair of shoes made from old whatsits? Well, maybe if they cost $5.00 you would, but for $45.00, not so much.

Then, hooray! The sign in the window said "Staying in business!" I went over there and met the new partial partner, Jeff. He is the former owner of Silverlake's "The Sniveling Sibling," an antique furniture store which was driven out of business when the real estate boom drove up the lease price. Not so today, right? And the furniture he has is affordable! He had a cool set of 4 dining chairs for $185! In fact, every chair in the store was under $200, and every one was really special, in my humble opinion. Jeff showed me through the store and filled me in on his ideas for some stylish home accessory displays and even an art gallery section.

So I say, give Regeneration a second look.

But back to the Eagle Rock Business Model. What is it? It's Good Value. Who has it? Oh, so many stores and restaurants. Top of mind is the Colorado Wine Company with its motto "Wine for Everyone." Their original model was no wine over $25 a bottle. They do have some higher end wines now, but you can generally go in there and taste something and not have to sell your house in a short sale and move under a bridge to pay for it.

There are so many more places to check out: Casa Bianca, the best Pizza Pie in Southern California. Armon's Cafe. Auntie Em's for dining, take out, catering, and even organic home delivery. Oinkster, really slow fast food with pastrami made on site. Dave's Chillin' and Grillin' - no one makes a better sandwich. Brownstone Pizza , where you can actually get pizza by the slice! George's Shoe Repair - he makes copies of keys that actually open the door you want, plus he can restore, polish, adjust or fix your shoes, purses, briefcases - very "green" wouldn't you say? Of course, our Trader Joe's is like Eagle Rock franchised. Plus we have the French bistros Cafe Beaujolais and Petit Beaujolais. Fatty's for gourmet vegetarian food with great wines and incredibly inventive and sinful desserts. Larkin's for soul food in a juke joint setting. Pollen for stylish and fun orchid and other flower arrangements at affordable prices (plus Craig does wedding flowers, landscaping and sells soy candles and so on). Eufloria is great for flowers too. Camilo's for very tasty and stylish food and surroundings, plus catering. There are other businesses like Eagle Rock Montessori, the best pre-school you will ever find at affordable prices. Ballroom Blitz, with affordable dance classes. Lady, a charming and quirky clothing store with cool hip clothes and jewelry and stuff on consignment. How about Don's Music, where you can find old vinyl favorites and all kinds of retro musical fantasies? Then there's the Cactus Gallery, Toro's Pottery, and Jose Vera's Fine Art and Antiques.

Gee, I wish I could refer you to the Eagle Rock website that would give you a place to check all these places out, but we don't have that! www.EagleRockTalk.com has the most, I think. Maybe the Chamber of Commerce will step into the 21st Century with a complete listing of businesses with their websites and contact information. I can't list here all the nifty stores we have. I do have a restaurant guide that has all the local eateries I like in it. Click the tab above to view it, I update it every few months or so.

What are your favorite Eagle Rock spots?  How about Highland Park?

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Iku Kiriyama's Presentation, "The Box"

What should we have organized and ready in case something happens to us? When Iku Kiriyama's husband passed away, she knows now that she could have been much better prepared.

Her advice to us included:

Make sure every medical provider you see has the whole story on your health. Whether you go to an HMO or a private medical group, you often will see different doctors and specialists and you shouldn't assume they will all be equally well-acquainted with your history.

If you have hospice care, ask for counseling and information right away. Your hospice caregiver has vital information that can ease this last time you have. There are other options than hospice, like in-home care, that you might consider as well.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with a fatal disease, of course you want to be positive and keep searching for a cure, but take the time to enjoy each other's company before it is too late.

Iku actually uses a cardboard box for her important papers. She keeps it near her front door on a cart. When she travels, she takes the box to a friend's house, in case of a fire or other disaster. She emphasizes that the information must be kept current. If you put a box together and then store it away, it won't have what you need when you need it.

What information should go in the box?

- Names and contact information for all of your professionals: estate lawyer, tax professional, financial advisor, Realtor (ahem, that would be me, right?), trust attorney, personal banker, doctor, dentist, etc.
- Current statements for all of your asset accounts.
- Current list of every service provider you use, including utilities. Think about it. Your survivors need to be able to stop services and avoid running up unnecessary debt.
- Think about "Who would know where this is?" about anything you own. Here's a good one, how about a set of keys to your vehicles? And the key to your safe deposit box?
- Important documents you should have: marriage & birth certificates, will & trust documents, ownership papers for autos, boats, other expensive items and of course your house, Medicare, Social Security, insurance of all kinds including long term care, medical bills and copay receipts. Note: if you've paid off your house loan, be sure you have the letter of reconveyance of the deed of trust. It is one document that can be difficult to replace, especially these days with lenders going out of business.
- Make a list of your wishes concerning funeral arrangements, if you want flowers or donations made to your favorite charity.
- Besides keeping the original documents all together in a safe place, you need a hard copy, plus you could use a computer copy. Iku has a flash drive of all the documents she needs. You could use a CD, or you could keep it online, but you need an index that gives the location of everything that isn't physically in the box.

So what did Iku consider the most important preparation? She thinks it is simply to say, and keep on saying, what you want to say to those you care about.

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Saving Your Wooden Windows

If you don't plan to be dancing in the streets all evening on Tuesday, January 20, you might want to go to the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society meeting and learn about saving your wooden windows. Ed Sanchez of Window Restoration and Repair, Inc, will tell you how to avoid replacing your stuck, leaky windows. The meeting is at 7 pm at the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock, at 2225 Colorado Blvd, 90041. The Eagle Rock Historical Society is a wonderful organization and deserves your support. They have a website: http://eaglerockhistory.org.

If I weren't going to be celebrating the Presidential Inauguration, I would definitely be at the meeting. I'm hoping I can find someone who will take notes, or perhaps Mr. Sanchez will be able to do his presentation again somewhere. thumb_window2

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How did Eagle Rock Real Estate do in the last couple of years?

Market Update Eagle Rock 90041

At last we have a Multiple Listing Service that has all the listings in one place, no matter what far-flung MLS an agent might put a listing in. So our sales data are now much more complete and, boy, is it interesting. The following table is a sales overview comparing 2007 to 2008:eagle-rock-sales-2007-to-20083
Eagle Rock followed the news of the day pretty faithfully in that the prices and number of sales dropped a bunch from the second half of 2007. But there are many stories in the details. Look how the number of units sold went down from 2007 through the first half of 2008, but then picked up again. Why? Because the prices continued to drop. This indicates to me that Eagle Rock reached a bottom, at which buyers were seeing value in the market and going for it. Does that mean that prices are going to bounce back up? I don't think so. One expert said that this market cycle is not like a "V" shape, but rather like an "L," where we are in a bottom that stays down flat for some time.

Comparing the two years, you see that 9% fewer units sold in 2008 than in 2007. But if you look at the highest 6 months which were the first half of 2007, compared with the lowest 6 months which were the last half of 2008, you have 12% fewer sold. The lowest price home sold was actually 50% lower in 2008 than in 2007! And the highest price sold was 25% less than in 2007. More indicative numbers were the 19% and 20% drops in the median and average prices. Does that mean the value of your home dropped 20% in the last year? Maybe, maybe not. The really good, well-done homes have maybe only dropped 10%, maybe even less. Because we live in a community of individual, more or less custom homes, it's very tricky to try to generalize.

More facts: 27 of the homes sold in 2008 were REOs or foreclosures, and most of them were in the lower-priced half of the sales. 22% of the homes sold in 2008 were REO, and I'd say that's a significant number for our little town of Eagle Rock.

7% of the homes sold were short sales, while 10% were trusts or probates. So almost 40% of the homes sold in Eagle Rock last year were not "regular" sales. Another way of looking at that is that 60% were "regular" sales.

What about now, 2009? So glad you asked. Of the 43 single family homes active on the market today, 15 are short sales, 9 are REOs, and none are trust sales. That's 35% short sales, 21% REOs over half the properties on the market are distress sales! 28 properties are now in escrow of which 11 are short sales, 8 are REOs, and 2 are trust sales. Percentages again are 39% short sales, 29% are REOS, and only 7% are trust sales, with all of 25% of them regular sales. Again, well over half are distress sales.

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Fresh and Easy Donating to Local Groups

Love it or hate it, Fresh and Easy has been taking Southern California by storm.  In the last year Tesco has opened over 30 Fresh and Easy locations in the Los Angeles area offering "a simple shopping experience with everything you need right in the neighborhood."

Besides budget prices for quality products, Fresh and Easy is also billing itself as the "good neighbor," recruiting from the local area and using low-energy lighting and equipment.

As part of being a good neighbor, Fresh and Easy is offering a $1,000 donation to a group from the neighborhood where a store is being opened or celebrating its one-year anniversary.  Anyone from the neigbhorhood can nominate a group on the Fresh and Easy website, which you can reach by clicking here.  Recent donations include high school football teams, children's theater groups, and wildlife organizations.

Here is what Fresh and Easy says:

"When we first opened your store, we invited you and your neighbors to nominate a non-profit group from the local community. From these nominations, the store staff selected a charity to receive a $1,000 donation.

We do this with every store we open because we care about our neighborhoods and the people who live there.

As stores reach their one-year anniversary, we are doing it again. Anyone can nominate a local neighborhood group and the store will decide who receives another donation. It is just another way for us to say "thank you" for your support."

Do you know of a group in the Eagle Rock/Highland Park/Glassell Park area that could use $1,000?  Go online and take advantage of Fresh and Easy's good neighbor policy!

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