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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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Scam Alert: Property Tax Reassessment

I received a letter today from this company which says they will file for your property tax reduction for a fee of $179 per property. Folks, you might as well flush $179.00 down the toilet! My letter said the deadline to reply is January 7, 2009. According to the real Los Angeles County Tax Assessor's form RP-87 (the real official form to use, not this bogus letter) - This form MUST be filed by December 31, 2008. Applications received after that date will not be processed. For assistance, please call 213.974.3211 or 1.888.807.2111.

The bogus letter looks very official, but if you read the fine print on the backside, it says that "Property Tax Reassessment is not a government agency and at no time should the service fee be construed as mandatory unless you wish Property Tax Reassessment to perform services on your behalf." Interestingly, they say if you don't pay by January 7, you will owe $209.00. That makes it look official, doesn't it?

Don't be fooled. If you are one of the property owners whose market value is now less than your assessed value, you can file for the reduction yourself, or contact me and I will help you for FREE. But the deadline is December 31, 2008, which means you should mail the application by December 29. So you need to start on this right away or ask me now if you want my help. I gave you complete instructions in a previous blog post. It's not difficult if you know what to do, which I do.

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Los Angeles Real Estate, Then and Now

Stumbling across the April, 2007, issue of Los Angeles Magazine, I found a key to the disaster we see before us. The title of the cover article was Real Estate 2007, When Will the Bubble Burst? And Other Burning Questions.

It is a game, as they say in the article. The game is "Do I Buy/Sell Now?" In 2007, the key to the bubble not bursting was that our local economy was still good. In hindsight, we can see that the real estate market "bubble" has actually been slowly deflating since 2005. The number of properties sold has been going down since then, even though prices appeared to remain high overall. The prediction in 2007 was that we would see prices soften and modestly decline through 2008, maybe by 2 or 3 percent per year. Today, December, 2008, we see prices have dropped anywhere from 15 to 50 percent, depending.

Depending on what? Real estate is a local business, and in my neighborhoods of Northeast Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley, the housing stock varies on a street-by-street basis - no two homes are alike and so no two values are alike. The Case-Shiller index measures the value of a home that sold at a particular time compared to that same home that sold at another time, which is meaningful for that particular home and not many others. See how tricky this all is?

The key to everything is the health of the local economy. Last year, Los Angeles was doing fine. This year, the whole world is in economic disarray. In the early 1990s, the scene of the last big downturn in the Southern California market, we had more local problems that were not felt so much in the national scene, like earthquakes, fires, riots, and the complete restructuring of our economy from defense-related to service-based. So we had an exodus of folks finding jobs elsewhere. I don't think we are seeing that now - times are tough almost everywhere. Now, we have been living in an economy where businesses operate on a line of credit as a matter of course. This was not risky behavior, it was standard operating procedure for any number of law firms, medical practices, and other businesses all over the world. Today, some of these businesses have had to lay off hundreds of people because they can't get their normal credit anymore. This is just one example of the kind of unexpected fallout that is affecting our own little piece of paradise. I know people who have had their own lines of credit on their homes and credit cards reduced or eliminated for no apparent reason.

Credit is basically a promise to pay. The givers of credit have lost faith that those people will repay. This in turn causes the very problem the creditors seek to prevent the loss of the ability to repay. It's all very well to say that we should all return to a cash economy, but few of us operate that way. I feel like I'm watching Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life" all over again. I'm actually feeling a little like Donna Reed, dependent upon Jimmy's ability to restore his depositors' faith in the system for her family's survival. Only today, our Jimmy is President-Elect Obama.

Look at the decline of companies like the Los Angeles Times. They've laid off dozens and dozens of people as their product has become affected by the change in the global way of obtaining information and by the downturn in advertising dollars spent. And this affects me personally because I have many clients who work or have worked for the Times.

And so it goes, from the big picture to our own backyard. In the next installment, I'll talk more about our own microcosm of real estate here.

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Sagamore Park is Where You Should be Today!

Sagamore Park Traditional Sagamore Park Traditional

Today (Tuesday, December 16, 2008) is the day you get to see this killer deal at 4273 W Avenue 42, Los Angeles, 90065. That's just west of the 2 freeway in an area known as Sagamore Park, which is a charming little neighborhood in the City of Los Angeles, tucked between Eagle Rock and Glendale. It has Eagle Rock schools and the most convenient location you can imagine for people who need to go downtown or to areas west of Glendale.

The homes were mostly built in the 1940s and many still feature the built-in bookcases, china cabinets, and crown moldings typical of that era. Sprinkled through the area are Spanish-styled homes with colorful tile and hardwood floors as well.

The commercial area along Verdugo Blvd is experiencing a slow movement into the cafe society we all seem to be attracted to these days. ButterTart at 4126 Verdugo Blvd is a coffee and pastries place open mornings only, and they just advertised that they have free WiFi. A wonderful neighborhood tradition is Polka (Polka Catering) at 4112 Verdugo Rd, a truly Polish restaurant that has earned favorable reviews from Jonathan Gold, restaurant critic extraordinaire as well as the discriminating masses on Yelp.

I will have my famous freshly baked cookies at the house, and I'll be there from 10 am til 2 pm. The house is listed for $435,000, and is such a great deal. Besides the 2 bedrooms, 1 bath the assessor's records show, there is a complete downstairs with ¾ bath, separate bedroom, living area and kitchenette. Both levels open out to decks that overlook the lush backyard. Although located very close to the freeway, the house is not affected by noise either in the house or in the backyard. Come check it out!

If you can't make it today, we will also be open Thursday, 10-2, and both Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 pm. See you soon!

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US Gov, Web 2.0

I stumbled across the Twitter moniker for the official Blog of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Called Greenversations, you can check it out here.  Also, I saw on Yahoo that the EPA has a website for its 23 most wanted fugitives, www.epa.gov/fugitives.

The blog has information on what the government is doing regarding climate change, sources for funding for school projects, news releases, contact info. It's user friendly, fast, and interesting.

You can also use the mobile access, www.m.epa.gov and read the blog there, look up issues by your zip code, connect to other government websites on your phone.

Back to Greenversations, check out the Question of the Week. This week's was "What do you do with unused over-the-counter or prescription drugs?" Best answer: Discard in a Hazardous Household Waste event near you. Do not flush down the toilet as this can eventually affect drinking water and wildlife when the meds leach into the aquifer.

If there is no event near you, they suggest that you can discard in the trash, preferably by mixing the prescriptions with dirt, cat litter or some other substance to render the drugs unavailable to consumption. But there is quite a discussion about the eventual leaching into the aquifer through the landfill, so this is not the best solution.

For a list of Household Hazardous Waste Disposal events near you, go to http://www.lacsd.org/info/hhw_e_waste/default.asp.

If you are in my neighborhood, we have a permanent location at 4600 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Phone is 800-988-6942. They are open every Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm, and they take a whole list of waste from electronic to motor oil. It's a tricky place to find, so map it before you go.

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Unique Holiday Shopping & Entertainment

Second Saturday December!

Saturday, Dec 13 - 7 to 10 pm
part of nelaart.org's Second Saturday Art Walk/Ride/Drive

"Hot & Delicious"
New Paintings by Stuart Rapeport

"Our gallery wasn't booked for a month, so I could create something special for our place. Something that reflected the historic nature of community; my interest in drawing and the relationship between line and shape; the tension between the relationships of multiple pieces; creating a narrative in the imagination of the viewer--something that spoke of the limits of our environment and the possibilities of art as a solution.

But I chose to create impressions of pizza."

Join us for pizza art, pizza snacks (from Follieros), and a birthday cake for NELA Art's 3rd anniversary!
Future Studio Gallery
5558 N Figueroa St
Los Angeles CA 90042

* * * * *

Also Opening Dec 13 (7-10 pm) at Avenue 50 Studio:
Silent Testimonies Contemporary Ex-Votos, curated by the wonderful Raoul de la Sota

"A Little Piece of my Soul" by Paula Banqueiro

Artists and community members were asked to interpret the uniquely Mexican art form known as ex-votos with contemporary themes. The artists and community members are from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds: Artists Katrina Alexy, Paula Baquiero, Barbara Carrasco, Ana Flores, Frank Gutierrez, Lucy Hagopian, Amy Inouye/Stuart Rapeport, Pola Lopez, Isabel Martinez, CCH Pounder, Joseph Sims, Cindy Suriyani, Eloy Torrez, Richard Valdes, Sergio Vasquez, along with Board Members Vanessa Acosta, Raoul De la Sota, Ulises Diaz, Kathy Mas-Gallegos, Poli Marichal, Lara Medina, Ricardo Muñoz, David Stowe, and J. Michael Walker were chosen because they had no history of painting such forms.

Our piece is a contemporary saisenbako with ema and it wishes for peace, love, and understanding.

Avenue 50 Studio
131 N Ave 50
Los Angeles 90042
also part of the Second Saturday Art Walk/Ride/Drive

We will be participating in this year's Avenue 50 Studio Holiday Sale & Party, Saturday Dec 20 (7 to 10 pm) and Sunday, Dec 21 (11am to 4pm)--last minute gift items and splurges for yourself--here's who else will be there--
Lalo Alcaraz
Carmen Argote
Jack Fenn
Roberto Gutierrez
Cidne Hart
Kevin Hass
Amy Inouye/Stuart Rapeport (w/ Chicken Boy merch)
Los De Abajo Printmaking Collective
Margaret Garcia
Leo Limon
Leora Lutz
Juan Sigala
Herbert Siguenza
Ulises Ramirez with "Food Not Bombs"
Romero Family:Â Frank, Sharon, Nancy, Rosie and Sonia
J Michael Walker
and more!

Music, spiced eggnog, holiday refreshments and frivolity!
Festive Attire encouraged!

* * * * *

Charles Phoenix's Moonlight Rollerway Holiday Jubilee!
Two performances only . . .
Saturday night, Dec. 13, 2008 - 8 pm
Sunday matinee, Dec. 14, 2008 - 3 pm

Holiday Entertainment


Charles Phoenix's hilarious retro holiday slide show followed by a roller skating revue spectacular starring sixty champion skaters in a variety of costumed musical acts celebrating all the holidays . . .
at Southern California's last classic Roller Rink!
- Live Hammond Organ stylings by the "World's Greatest Roller Rink Organist" Dominic Cangelosi!
- FREE snack bar treats will be served!
- After the show - All-Skate Party - FREE skate rental!
- FREE parking across the street at Home Depot!

Tickets $35 at www.charlesphoenix.com
Moonlight Rollerway
5110 San Fernando Rd (at Harvard)
Glendale 91204
818 241 3630

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