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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!

Why you should buy a house in Highland Park, Los Angeles, 90042

Here are the bullet points:

    • There are 131 listings today, December 4, in zip code 90042, and 98 of them are asking less than $499,000.
    • Highland Park has a long and honorable history in the development of Los Angeles.
    • Highland Park has the first and largest HPOZ in Los Angeles with many contributing structures that could qualify for Mills Act Property Tax Relief and also help to ensure that your neighborhood doesn'tend up being ruined by unbridled development.
    • There is a vibrant, unique, growing artistic element that adds style and character to the town.
    • There are lots of shops, galleries, restaurants and bars within easy access.

1. As in many somewhat economically lower end neighborhoods, HP was hit hard by the recent downturn and experienced probably three times as many shortsales and foreclosures than its neighbor, Eagle Rock, which today has 56 total listings with 23 less than $500k. So you can now find decent 2-3 bedroom, 1-2 bath homes in decent neighborhoods for anywhere from $300,000 to $450,000. Many need work and therein lies even more opportunity. Read about FHA loan opportunities in a soon-to-be published blog of mine and come shopping with me!

2. Highland Park, one of the oldest suburbs in Los Angeles, began as a lushly verdant area studded with sycamores and oaks that attracted artists, writers, and academics. Large Victorian, then Arts and Crafts-style homes lined the main thoroughfares and hillsides. Several universities began in Highland Park including the Los Angeles College of Fine Arts and Architecture, USC, what is now Azusa Pacific University, Whittier, Loyola Marymount, and Occidental College.

Known as a very highly rated liberal arts college, formerly attended by President-elect Obama, Occidental is still located in Eagle Rock, its third location in Northeast Los Angeles. Check out http://www.nelanet.org/reportsmaps/hphistory/ for a detailed history of Highland Park.
3.The decline of the area happened gradually when the early movie industry moved more towards Hollywood, businesses moved to the mid-Wilshire area, the middle class moved out to the suburbs, and the immigrant population came in as the real estate prices fell. A sad period ensued where grand old homes were destroyed, cut up into apartments, their wood siding was stuccoed and windows were barred. A preservation movement began in the early 80s, which resulted in the first HPOZ (Historic Preservation Overlay Zone) in Los Angeles being established in Highland Park. The Highland Park Heritage Trust has done great work to preserve the heritage of Victorian and Arts & Crafts era homes that remain. One advantage to HPOZ homes is that qualifying for Mills Act Property Tax Relief is much easier. I've sold several homes which have benefitted from this which has saved the owners up to half their original property tax bill.

4. A number of artists, writers and academics remained in Highland Park and are increasing in number as higher prices have driven them out of Echo Park, Silverlake and Los Feliz. The Arroyo Arts Collective just had its 16th tour, featuring about 100 artists in studios and homes all over Northeast Los Angeles, but concentrated mostly in Highland Park. Many of these artists have lived in the area for decades, through all the changes, the economies going up and down, the concrete going in, the bars and fences going up. There is also an upward looking commercial environment including restaurants, bars, art studios, and a variety of all the regular businesses that serve a community. Also, NELAart sponsors the Second Saturday Gallery Night where you can wander through the various galleries and see what's happening or join the Bike Tour sponsored by BikeOven and "go green."

5. Check out Folliero's, a neighborhood Italian restaurant since 1968, serving great pizza with thin crust still made by the founder, Tony Folliero. His daughter, Titina, now runs the place and you will love the staff, the food, and the convenient location at 5566 Figueroa St. Another great restaurant just across the street is the more recently established Cinnamon Vegetarianat 5511 Figueroa. Hipsters priced out of Hollywood are edging into a growing club scene that includes hangouts like The Little Caveand Mr. T's on Figueroa. A York Blvd scene near Avenue 51 is growing with The York PubJohnny's, and Marty's Bar (with valet parking, no less) all within a block of each other. You can check all these out on my Restaurant Guide, which you can have emailed or mailed to you for free if you contact me and ask for it.

One of my favorite discoveries is the Future Studio, which is the home of "Chicken Boy," a great icon of the offbeat artistic vibe of Northeast Los Angeles. Art Fein nicknamed Chicken Boy the Statue of Liberty of Los Angeles. A 22 ft high statue of a man with the head of a chicken, Chicken Boy once stood above the Chicken Boy Restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. Constructed in 1969, saved from destruction in 1984, Future Studio acquired the fiberglass statue and began searching for a home for it. Several museums turned down the opportunity to house Chicken Boy in their sculpture gardens. Finally, in 2007, Future Studio installed the statue at 5558 N. Figueroa St. You can see the statue anytime since it's outside on the roof, but the Studio is open by appointment (323-254-4565 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.and on NELAArt.com's Second Saturday Art Walks. There is a room devoted to Chicken Boy including many actual items with Chicken Boy on them, and the profits go to the upkeep and preservation of Chicken Boy himself. For more info go to chickenboy.com. This Saturday, December 6, Future Studio has its Christmas sale from noon to 6 pm.

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Holiday Reprieve for some in Default

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced that they are temporarily suspending foreclosures and evictions during the holiday season in an effort to keep people from losing their homes, said an article in the Washington Post by Zachary Goldfarb.

The companies said they are taking the step so they can include more people in a newly announced program to change the terms of troubled mortgages to make them more affordable.

The mortgage finance giants, seized by the government in early September, have been under pressure by lawmakers and housing advocates to take bolder steps to fight foreclosures. As the owners or backers of trillions of dollars of mortgages, the companies have an unrivaled ability to shape the home loan market and help people with distressed mortgages.

Last week, the companies said they would enact a program to restructure mortgages for borrowers who are falling behind in their payments. That effort would seek to help homeowners who haven't paid their loans for three months but whose homes had not been foreclosed upon yet. In a foreclosure, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac seizes control of a home and, usually, tries to sell it.

The foreclosure freeze announced November 21 will extend the mortgage modification program to those who have been declared in default and are at immediate risk of being forced from their homes. The companies said as many as 16,000 borrowers could benefit.

Foreclosures and evictions will be stopped from Nov. 26 to Jan. 9. Happy Holidays!

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Time Sensitive Seminar announcement

TAX TIPS FOR ARTISTS AND OTHER SELF-EMPLOYED PEOPLE

Tax Tips class offers important information that all artists should be knowledgeable about. Learn how to take advantage of various deductions, understanding self-employment, and much more!

Tax Tips Specifically for Artists
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This timely three-hour workshop provides important information for anyone who is self-employed, but is especially geared towards artists, writers, performers, and dancers. Topics to be covered include, but are not limited to: Being an employee vs. being self-employed, Having a Hobby vs. Having a Business, How to keep records to protect yourself in case of an audit, The difference between expenses for employees an those for self-employed people, Understanding self-employment taxes and taking advantage of various deductions including entertainment, research, automobile and other expenses unique to artists. Everyone attending will be provided with a wealth of written information to take with them, including some guidelines on how to keep good records and a listing of current websites that are resources for those in business for themselves. NOTE: This class does not cover tax issues for non-profit organizations.

Stephen Benjamin, a CPA whose clients include actors, writers, artists and other people in the entertainment industry, will teach this class. Mr. Benjamin is also an entertainer in his own right and makes the workshop fun as well as informative. He even has prizes to give out to some lucky attendees!

Date: Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Time: 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Location: Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro Street, in Little Tokyo near Downtown Los Angeles
$40 (Non Member) / $35 (BOA/CCI Members)

If you would like to register, please visit http://www.cciarts.org/register.htm

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Market Update for Eagle Rock, CA November 18, 2008

November 18, 2008 Today's Eagle Rock Market

Inventory in Eagle Rock hasn't varied much in terms of number of active listings this whole year. Today there are 45 homes on the active market, 14 of them short sales, 4 REOs, and 33 regular sales including trust or probate sales that don't require court confirmation. Since November 1, 4 have gone into escrow including 2 short sales, 1 REO and 1 regular sale while 4 more have closed escrow including 1 short sale, 2 REOs, and 1 regular sale. Prices are interesting: what is closing escrow is much lower in average price ($411,500) than actives ($568,500) or pendings ($565,725), but the actives and pendings are close in average price. I have to say that the most surprising sale to me is the short sale that actually closed escrow on Townsend, since most short sales have not ever closed. Let's see with the 2 that just went pending if they ever actually close. Perhaps banks are actually beginning to work with people to negotiate these, we'll see. This sample is too small to really tell. But really noteworthy is the fact that 3 of the 4 closed sales sold for more than their list prices. Hello, this is a pricing strategy that works!

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Are You Having Trouble With Your Mortgage Payments?

Help for Homeowners

As I was canvassing the neighborhood last week, I encountered a couple of people who said they were "upside down" in their mortgages, had tried to contact their lenders with no luck, and didn't know what else to do. Here at last is real information with phone numbers, websites, and rules gathered by the California Association of Realtors

Mortgage Workout Programs for Homeowners
The following information is intended for REALTORS® and homeowners seeking information on existing mortgage workout programs.  In general, the loan modification programs on the chart and consumer information sheets (see links below) are intended for primary residences only.
 .HOPE For Homeowners (H4H)

.Countrywide Financial (Bank of America)

 

.Citigroup, CitiMortgage

 

.JP Morgan Chase & Co.

 

.IndyMac Federal Bank, FDIC

 

.Federal Government Loan Modification  (Participants include: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Federal Home Loan Banks, Hope Now participants, Department of the Treasury, Federal Housing Administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and Wells Fargo.)

 

Mortgage loan modifications typically are handled on a case-by-case basis. Homeowners having difficulty meeting their mortgage obligation or interested in finding out more about a loan modification program should start by contacting their lender. Prior to calling a lender or loan servicer, homeowners should have the following information available:

 

.Loan number

 

.Income information and documentation

 

.Most recent mortgage statement

 

.Bank statements

 

.Letter demonstrating financial hardship



If you want help with this, or if you can't access the website or the links, call or email me and I'll either email or snail mail you the relevant information. NOTE: It is illegal for people to charge you a fee upfront for helping you. I am offering information as a public service only. The fewer foreclosures in our neighborhood, the better the neighborhood will stay.

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