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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!

Sweet Buttertart

New Business in the Community

I put this new cafe in my restaurant guide based on rave reviews from some friends of mine, but you know, dear Reader, that I do try to experience the fruits of our corner of the city myself at every opportunity. Buttertart: coffee & treats. Yum. You have to go there. Located in Sagamore Park, a nifty little neighborhood wedged between Eagle Rock and Glendale, it's named after its signature dish, "a Canadian treat of a soft pastry shell filled with a savoury butter and sugar filling."  They have the regular kind plus a bacon Buttertart. I can't even imagine how much cholesterol that might contain. If the plain one is any indication, you will fall down gasping with your heart attack in complete bliss.

Here's their contact info which I obtained from their website,
4126 Verdugo Road
Los Angeles, CA 90065
Phone: (323) 258-TART (8278)
Office: (323) 254-5040
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Besides serving superb treats, sandwiches and coffee, Buttertart plans to decorate with local art, helping local artists be seen and hopefully be paid:

On Friday, Feb 13th, Butter Tart Presents... Fill in the Blank Gallery opens its doors & fills its blank walls with an inaugural group art show curated by Frank Ryan. What a better way to spend your Friday the 13th of February & Valentine's Day Eve? Next door, Butter Tart Cafe will be open during the show for your thirst & snacking desires. The show goes from 7pm - 10pm, then we mosey on over to Verdugo Bar to continue the freaky activities.

Joshua Aster
Nathan Danilowicz

Kate Barclay
Alex Lee Harris

Jamie Chan
Frank Ryan

David D'Andrade

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1861 Hits

Monday Morning Eagle Rock Real Estate Report February 2, 2009

The Eagle Rock

The Eagle Rock

Good morning! Good week! Starting off February, there are 47 single family homes showing as active on the market in the 90041 zip code, with 15 of them declaring themselves as short sales, and 7 as REO, or Real Estate Owned, which means foreclosure. So, almost one third of what is on the market is subject to lender approval, with another 15% bank-owned, which leaves us with 53% of what is on the market today as "normal" sales. In truth, several more of the "normal" sales are under duress. What does this mean?

1. A short sale is a swamp sale, by and large. By that I mean trying to do one is like slogging through a swamp, where your most likely result is that you'll get mired in mud, maybe even quicksand, and you'll come away with a peculiar rotten smell that's hard to wash off. It is subject to lender approval, which means that you make your offer to the seller, his agent in turn submits it to the bank. You might even open escrow. Then you wait, your agent calls daily, time passes as you think that any day now your sale will be approved and you'll buy this house. Unbeknownst to you, the listing agent is still taking offers and submitting them to the bank. Some poor clerk who makes minimum wage and who couldn't care less that you are salivating over your great deal is buried under a mountain of these and decides to take a few sick days. So many times, the offers trickle in until the property goes to foreclosure sale, the listing agent is out of luck (but many times won't admit it), and some time later the property shows up sold to someone else. Some person who is related to some officer of the bank. (Oh how cynical of me!) Basically, most short sales are a fiction and they clutter up our inventory with what look like great deals and they just aren't, they are no deals at all. My research shows maybe 1 in 20 have been going through, though that number is increasing as the economy has worsened. If you are incredibly persistent, you might end up with something. But don't think you're going to get it at that bargain basement price you saw on the MLS.

2. Foreclosures are almost as hard to do. Strange how the really good deals come on sold or you can't get an answer for days and then it comes up sold, or other frustrating scenarios. In truth, most REO listing agents get piles of offers, have lots of listings and do not behave like human being Realtors like me. They seem to wait for the highest offer to come in, counter that one, and open escrow. Sometimes that one doesn't work out and it goes back on the market and the same system goes on again. They don't take backups, they don't return phone calls, they don't care about you and your offer.

If you are a buyer and you want to buy a home to live in - you know, like a regular person who just wants to buy in this great market, you will find that the ones that are actually for sale that you can actually negotiate for and purchase number maybe 15 to 20 out of that 47 on the market. And the ones in your actual price range number maybe 3 or 4 at best. But you see these 47, priced from $240,000 to $899,000, and you think there are all these deals and there will be more, and you listen to all your friends that the market will drop another 20-50%, and you are stymied. Do you want to buy a house or do you want to sit on the sidelines?

An interesting exercise would be to look at what sold in the last month and see if you would have bought those deals. Would you be interested in a blog post about that?

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Green Community Event this weekend

Come to the Green Fair!

This Saturday, January 31, from 10 till 4: The Neighborhood Green Fair, at Neighborhood Church in Pasadena, located next to the Gamble House at 301 N. Orange Grove, 91105. Admission is free, there's lots to look at, to think about, great music to listen to, and of course there will be lots of things to buy from baked goods to clothing to silent auction items, and raffle tickets for great prizes! Check out the website at: See you there!

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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, ) 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! 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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