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Tracy King's 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!

Tracy King begins her 27th successful year as a real estate professional specializing in buying and selling homes in Northeast Los Angeles with a depth of experience that makes her the only choice for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor.

Market Update: Northeast LA Housing Market is Our Own Special World

Market Update: Northeast LA Housing Market is Our Own Special World

Well, my friends in Northeast LA and nearby environs, Northeast Los Angeles real estate is truly in our own special spaceship of home-buying and home-selling activity. The California Association of Realtors Chief Economist, Leslie Appleton Young, gave a talk on the state of California's housing in the recent past. According to her charts and statistics, California has not yet reached the peak prices of 2007. 

In contrast. we are experiencing the highest sales prices ever in Los Angeles--from the beaches to the mountains, across almost all communities. Is it any wonder that one of the most common questions we Realtors are asked now is "So when is this bubble going to burst?"

Here is the latest update for Northeast LA real estate market.

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Are you Considering a Downsize?

Are you Considering a Downsize?

Working in the Northeast LA real estate world, we often talk to people who need or want to downsize for one reason or another. Downsizing can be fun and freeing, or it can be very hard and feel limiting. It's easy for us to look at someone else's situation and see clearly what is the necessary thing to do. When it comes to our own situation, though, it can be really hard to figure out.

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2014 and 2015 Real Estate Statistics and What They Mean for You!

If you read my last post about the history of real estate in Northeast Los Angeles, you'll see that these numbers are unexpectedly positive. This bodes well for those thinking of selling their homes in neighborhoods like Eagle Rock, Highland Park and Mt. Washington.


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Eagle Rock Schools: Renaissance Arts Academy

Renaissance Arts Academy is a charter school located in the heart of Eagle Rock in the historic Piller's Department Store building.  We just attended their annual End of Year show and were so impressed!

They performed a modern dance/recital/concert that used all their students who danced, played music, and I'm sure helped with the production, design, and backstage details. It lasted only about an hour, but it was electrifying and wonderful.

Once they closed the doors to the theatre, the performance commanded complete attention. Latecomers were only allowed in the back section, no cell phones or cameras flashed, the theatre sat spellbound by what happened onstage.

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Transitioning from Renting to Buying in Today's Real Estate Market

The most important tip for transitioning from renting to buying is to Be Prepared.

Do two things first:

1. Talk with a good lender about the loan process and what you can afford to buy. You might be surprised--either happily or unhappily. If your credit score or income aren't as good as they should be to qualify for the loan amount you need to purchase your dream home, you might be looking at a longer time saving and paying off bills than you thought. There are good lenders who can actually have your loan fully underwritten and approved before you identify the home you want to purchase. This makes you look like a much stronger buyer to the seller who may be considering several offers as well as yours. Because, of course, if you love that home, you can bet others will, too.

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The Myth of Price Per Square Foot

Every now and then, someone asks me to discuss what their home is worth as “price per square foot.” Fine, then. Here is my reasoning on why determining value by price per square foot is a myth.

Looking at value in terms of price per square foot is an attempt to make value an easily quantified number that is real. Example: the average price per square foot for sales of homes in the 90041 zip code over the last 3 months is: $504. Therefore, the home at 2014 Estes Road is 1735 square feet and the value calculates out to be $874,440.  

Great. Is that a real value? Should I list my home for, say, $869,000? Maybe, maybe not. Is it really “worth” that? I have a 14,000 square foot lot. Should I add in some value for that?  Or for my central air and heat? Or my view?

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Zillow and the Essential Truth of What Your Home is Worth

In a recent Sunday Los Angeles Times, the discussion regarding the Zillow Zestimate of home values continued, as it does on Facebook and in almost every conversation that includes the question "What is my home worth?"

I love Zillow, because it embodies the essential truth of home valuation--no one really knows what a home is worth. What does Zillow know about your home? It knows the public record of its square footage, bedroom and bath count, and where it is on a map. That's about it. It doesn't know that you legally added 1500 square feet of exquisitely appointed master bedroom suite including spa bathroom and vast walk-in closet that somehow hasn't shown up on the tax records yet. It doesn't know that the house down the street that sold for $200,000 less than you think yours should was a tear-down. 

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Mortgage Startup Caters to Self-Employed and Small Business Owners

All you self-employed, small business ownrs, entreprenuers, and nontraditional career works - take heart! Privlo, a new mortgage startup, just launched in California last week and they cater specifically to small business owners, entrepreneurs, Millennials with nontraditional career paths, or seasonal workers with spiky incomes - namely people with complex incomes that can't be proven on a tax return or W2, and are increasingly turned away by their banks even though they may be creditworthy.

It's an option that self employed homebuyers haven't truly had until now, as Privlo takes into account a far wider range of alternative documentation and credit criteria than a traditional lender. Here's their press release along with more info.

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What Does it Mean to Sell Your Home "Off-Market"?

What Does it Mean to Sell Your Home "Off-Market"?

Some people are very excited about selling their homes "off-market" these days. They say it can save time and hassle and not invade one's privacy as much a regular marketing plan.

Some Realtors would even have you believe that you can make more money this way, that people will be so excited about buying a house without all the competition that they will pay you top dollar.

My question to these people is, How do you know what top dollar is without exposing it to the market? We recently had an Echo Park home for sale that ended up going just over 20% above the asking price of $799,000.

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The Home Buyers' Real Estate Market Update

After almost vertical price increases beginning at the first of the year, summer has brought a small lull in the market. We are actually seeing a number of price reductions appearing all across our Los Angeles marketplace, including the Westside.

Why? As prices jumped up, more homeowners who had been waiting for the market to "recover" put their homes on the market and our inventory of homes for sale increased from breathtakingly low to just very low. This, coupled with an uptick in mortgage interest rates, caused buyers to step back and think. Properties that came on the market priced to take into account the expected price increase all of a sudden seemed a little overpriced. Only the very best properties are still going in crazy multiple offer bidding wars (best in this case can mean an incredibly well done or well located house, or incredible deal for a house.) Those homeowners who have less than the best are finding that they are not going to be swept along with the buyer stampede as they had hoped.

We are also seeing a couple of interesting trends in how escrows are going. There seems to be an uptick in the number of escrows falling out, and largely over some aspect of buyer remorse. I've heard from escrow officers that they are averaging 30% fallout in the escrows they have. Why? Buyers are hugely afraid of overpaying. At the same time, there is much less willingness on the part of the seller to put up with renegotiating the price over conditions that come up during the inspection period. There is also less and less tolerance for letting contingencies drag on past their due dates. 

What to make of these trends? Buyers now have an opportunity to be a little more thoughtful about the home they purchase as long as they are willing to shop in the second tier of homes for sale (the best of the best still go for the most.) But once they go into escrow, buyers need to be more business-like in their behavior and keep up their end of the contract, or they might just be bounced out of escrow by a more business-like seller.

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What's Happening in the Northeast LA Real Estate World Now?

What's Happening in the Northeast LA Real Estate World Now?

The Northeast LA real estate market is an ever-changing beast.  Here are the main elements of what's driving our market today:

Increased Interest Rates

The big news in the real estate market is that rates have jumped up quickly. Most of the market volatility is stemming from speculation that the Fed will eventually be discontinuing its QE3 program. Rates have increased approximately 1% across the board on all products.

Although no one really likes higher interest rates, it is normal in a recovering real estate market to see rates rise. Also slightly higher rates will allow new lenders to enter the arena making for a more efficient market through increased competition. However, rates are still at historical lows compared to the 13.4% 30 years ago! The market is filled with opportunity and we cannot emphasize the importance of good strategic advice with access to innovative products to thoughtfully structure the right solution for clients.

Increased Inventory

The number of homes for sale in Northeast Los Angeles has definitely increased in the last few weeks. We are now averaging about 30 homes currently for sale in Eagle Rock. While significantly higher than the 12 we had earlier this year, we are still a far cry from the 75 homes for sale back in 2010. In Highland Park we are averaging about 40 homes active on the market, compared to 159 back in 2009. We are still seeing multiple offers on our listings.

Instead of perhaps attracting 10-15 offers, we are receiving 5-6. This of course depends on pricing strategy and what else is available when we come on the market.

The under $500,000 market continues to move very quickly. We received 10 offers on our one bedroom listing at 1915 Chickasaw (listed for $389,000).A house on Avenue 54 in Highland Park received 60 offers (listed for $299,000) and sold for 33% over asking price.

Increased Average Sales Price

The average sold price in Eagle Rock in June 2013 was $590,000, which continues the upward trend we’ve been experiencing. That’s 7.5% higher than the average of $549,000 in June 2013, and 27.4% higher than the average of $463,000 in June 2009.

In Highland Park the average sales price has reached $439,000, which is 44.9% higher than the average in June 2009, and 17.7% higher than the average of $373,000 just last year.

What does this mean for you?

This is still the best time to sell your home that we’ve seen in the last 5 years. While we are not experiencing the dramatic price spike that we saw earlier this year, prices have gone up considerably year over year. With more inventory available, the ability to move up into a bigger home, or down-size, while selling your home is more achievable. Our sellers are getting strong prices for their homes.;Our buyers are starting to see more opportunities in the market.

Call us today to discuss your real estate needs.

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Tracy King is featured in Top Agent Magazine!

Tracy King Honored in Top Agent Magazine

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What is a Home Worth? An Update on the Local Real Estate Market

Foreclosure inventory is down nationwide (according to Corelogic’s National Foreclosure Report), and by almost 20% on a year-over-year basis.

What difference does this make to the value of your home, you ask? As the number of homes in distress goes down, the price of homes selling in your neighborhood is more likely to go up. This is one important piece of the housing recovery puzzle.

At the same time, buyers today are very well educated about the local real estate market. Did you know that you can find out what properties are in some stage of the foreclosure process on for free? As with many facts today, this raw information can lead people to some flawed conclusions.

If you look at Eagle Rock, 90041, on Zillow, you see a number of homes in some form of distress -- 82, in fact. These homes are what is called Shadow Inventory (properties that are in some stage of mortgage default.) Since there are only 17 properties currently for sale in 90041, this would seem to indicate that the Shadow Inventory is 4 times the current inventory. Doomsayers might say this means that if all or most of the shadow inventory came onto the market at the same time, it would have the effect of flooding the market with distress sales and would bring prices down. Therefore, they conclude, prices are depressed in Eagle Rock.

That’s kind of like saying if everyone who came to a traffic light suddenly decided to run the red light, we would have a whole lot of accidents and insurance rates would go up. Probably true, ifthat happened, but the idea of everyone losing their minds at the same moment is unlikely. The likelihood of all or even 10 of the 82 distressed properties coming on the market at the same time is also practically non-existent.

But some people like to look at the worst possible outcome. Many buyers are hoping that the housing market will continue to be distressed so that they can still jump in and get “a deal.” Many of these same buyers have been looking for a home off and on for several years and have passed up many “deals.” I have talked to a few of these people and many of their friends who have discussed how Joe Smith should have bought that cute little house on XYZ street last year when he had the chance because now he is going to have to settle for a much smaller house for the same money.

It is very difficult to know how much a home is “worth,” especially when you are a buyer in a multiple offer situation. It’s almost as difficult when you are the only buyer about to make an offer on a house. But ponder this: what would you be thinking about the deal you made on a house if you bought it 2 or 3 years ago?

Too much information can be a bad thing. If you are expecting all this Shadow Inventory to give you the opportunity to get a great deal on a house, you're going to be waiting awhile. The reality of today's real estate market, at least in Eagle Rock, Highland Park, and the surrounding neighborhoods, is that there is low inventory available to buy, there are multiple offers on most homes, and sales prices are typically going over the asking price. Yes, even that house that you think needs a new kitchen is getting multiple offers - because there are buyers who realize that they want to buy a house now, and the longer they wait, the less house they can buy.

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New Home For Sale in Pasadena: 1532 Rose Villa Street

Tracy King | Teles Properties | (626) 827-9795
1532 Rose Villa St, Pasadena, CA
For sale or for lease. Open Thursday, December 13, 10am-2pm.
3BR/2BA Single Family House
offered at $1,279,000
Year Built 1925
Sq Footage 2,070
Bedrooms 3
Bathrooms 2 full, 0 partial
Floors 2
Parking 1 Car garage
Lot Size 11,008 sqft
HOA/Maint $0 per month

Originally owned by Walter Putnam, a structural engineer who became the head of Pasadena's building department, this 1925 home was built to last with style and a dependable grace. Located in the highly sought-after Cal Tech neighborhood, this Mediterranean influenced 2-story Craftsman home boasts original details throughout, from the window and door hardware to the hardwood floors and built-in buffet and bookcases in the dining room and living room. A Batchelder-style tiled fireplace warms the living room and there are lots of windows to welcome in the light in every room. The downstairs master suite has garden views, each upstairs bedroom has its own balcony to bring the outdoors in. A compact office has French doors which open out to the patio and private back yard. Modern amenities include central air & heat, an efficient laundry room, and a gourmet kitchen with Viking appliances, tasteful granite counters and Saltillo-tiled floors as well as a sunny breakfast nook. Unusual for California, there is a large basement to provide ample storage and wine cellar space. The 11,000 square foot lot includes raised garden beds behind the garage, an in-ground spa, an outdoor fireplace and BBQ, patios for al fresco dining and entertaining.
see additional photos below

- Basement - Breakfast nook - Dining room
- Living room - Master bath - Office/Den
- Storage space - Stainless steel appliances - Balcony, Deck, or Patio
- Garden - Lawn - Yard
- Central A/C - Central heat - Garage - Detached
- Fireplace - Granite countertop - Hardwood floor
- Jacuzzi/Whirlpool - Tile floor

- Convenient location in the sought-after Caltech neighborhood
- Move-in ready
- For more details and open house info visit
- Also available for lease for $4,500/month

1532 Rose Villa Street
Living Room
Dining Room
Master Bedroom
Master Bath
Contact info:
Tracy King
Teles Properties
DRE Lic#01048877
(626) 827-9795
For sale by agent/broker
Posted: Dec 12, 2012, 11:35am PST
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Plugin Adventure Part 2: Ford Focus Electric

Not a super exciting choice at first glance, but the Ford Focus Electric has a range of 100 miles, top speed of 100 MPH, is in stock and the list price is about $40,000, which is barely acceptable with the tax rebates figured in on top of that. It is hard to get past the fact that the electric version is over twice as high in sales price as the gas version. But in reading reviews of the Focus, several people talked about leasing it. Why lease? The electric car battery technology is changing and improving so fast, people are unsure of committing to a purchase at this time. News flash! You still can qualify for tax rebates and pay about $450/month for a 3-year lease contract. This sounds like a pretty good compromise. Especially when our  gasoline prices are spiking up by pennies a day, over 50 cents per gallon in one week!

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My Search for an Electric Car

What is the Electric Car?

I’m a Green Realtor. That means I’ve taken the time and spent a bit of money to learn about energy efficient homes. I’ve taken the test and received the Green Realtor designation from the National Association of Realtors. I care about environmental issues on many levels, and our dependence on oil and petroleum products is disturbing. Let’s get it all out on the table: I do think we are experiencing Climate Change and that humans have a lot to do with it and we need to immediately reduce our dependence on petroleum and the emissions that come from burning it.

Since I’m “green,” when I saw a notice that the film “What Is the Electric Car?” was premiering at the Eagle Rock branch of the public library, I dragged my husband down there to see it. What a life-changing experience for us both! Every objection to the electric car was addressed in this film. In brief, the main reasons to own a plug-in vehicle are that it is not dependent on foreign oil, and it is cheaper and cleaner to run -- even with some electricity produced by coal-burning power plants and even with electric cars being more expensive than gasoline-powered cars. I left a believer, an advocate, and an eager purchaser of my electric car!

I went to the website and checked out their vehicle tracker, which they said had a list of all the new electric vehicles, when they would be available, and what their range, cost, and speed are. The vehicle that excited me most was the Toyota Rav-4, because it is a popular car having most of the features I want, and from what they said, it sounded like it would be affordable. There was no price listed on the website, so I went to the Toyota website and discovered that the Rav-4 is going to cost $49,000! Whoa! Even with the $7500 Federal tax rebate and $2500 State tax rebate, this is too rich for my blood.

So now what? I thought perhaps a journal of my search for the right plug-in car arrangement might make a good series of blog posts and help you and me figure out the best way to go. Stay tuned as we consider the pros and cons of a few plug-in cars.
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Ranting about Buyers, Sellers and Requests for Repairs

I'm primarily a listing agent. That is, I mostly represent sellers of residential real estate. But we do work with buyers so we hear their side of it, too. Buyers today are overwhelmed by fear: fear of overpaying, fear of their friends telling them they made a mistake, fear of their parents thinking they were stupid, fear of the market going down after they buy, fear that something will go wrong that they should have known about...the list goes on about another foot or two.

In our neighborhoods, the market is shifting right now, and it is going in the direction of a seller's market. That means that inventory is very low and prices are beginning to go up. Buyers do not want to hear this, they are remembering all the bad news of the last four years and think it is still a buyer's market with high inventory and a tidal wave of distressed properties looming on the horizon, ready to flood the market and bring the prices down more. Then they lose out on a few multiple offer situations and decide they'd better offer more in order to get the deal. Or maybe they find a property that has been on the market awhile and scoop it up. Then it is time for inspections. They pay for every possible inspection and further inspection that is recommended to them. This is good, you should understand the condition of the house you purchase.

This is where it gets complicated. Sometimes an inspection turns up a big problem that no one knew about. If the buyer has paid over market for a house that has a major foundation issue, it might make sense for a seller to negotiate some kind of compromise with the buyer. But to expect that the seller should also repair the sewer line, upgrade the electrical panel, and replace the old but working heating system is questionable. Every situation is different, there are no rules, and the eventual resolution runs the entire spectrum from no concessions to paying for everything, from arriving at an amicable agreement to canceling escrow.

I think it comes down to who is negotiating in good faith and how much experience they have. I find it hard to believe that a first time buyer is re-negotiating the price entirely of their own volition--their agent, friends or family are advising them. In several cases, after clearly and emphatically agreeing to an “as-is” sale where the buyer agrees that the seller will make no repairs, we have heard the buyers’ agent tell the buyer that the next step after the inspection is the request for repairs. Unfortunately, it has become customary for a buyer’s agent to advise negotiating for repairs--they believe that this is their value to the buyer.

If you are buying a home built in the 1920s, you should expect that there will be items that are older but still functioning. There will be items that were up to code when installed, but not up to today’s code. No house is in perfect condition, not even new construction. Yet, many buyers expect sellers to deliver a perfect house or give a discount.  Did it occur to anyone that the price was already discounted to cover any defects? Some buyers are convinced that the seller must have known about the issue and is lying about it.

How about looking at it from the seller's point of view? I have sold so many properties in the last couple of years for people who paid more for the house than they are selling it for, who have decided that the best thing for them to do is to take the loss and move on. If it's a short sale, where the seller owes more than they can sell it for, there is no question of repairs--the seller isn't doing any. It's the seller who has equity enough or resources enough to sell it without having to ruin their credit and go through the pain of a short sale who seems to be the magnet for the fearful buyer.

It's time to move on and just live with the loss of $20,000 to $150,000. This could be due to misfortunes like divorce or job loss, or good stuff like marriage or needing a bigger house for their growing family.

Interest rates are shockingly low...much lower than when they bought it in say, 2006. And they cannot refinance into these current rates because they have no equity to qualify for a new mortgage. They did inspections when they bought and spent some money fixing the problems or remodeling because they knew that the house they bought wasn't perfect. They were just glad to get a house that had much of what they wanted.

And now here is a buyer who offered the most to buy their house, just like they had done. And this buyer promised to buy it as-is, just like they had done. But now this buyer is asking for $10,000 to $40,000 back to pay for things that were not played up as issues when they bought. It seems as if the buyer offered a lot to get the house and now is trying to get the price back down.

Does this sound familiar to any of you out there? See how suspicious buyers and sellers are of each other today? But I know these people. These sellers are not intentionally hiding problems or being unreasonable. And I don't think these buyers are really as cunning about re-negotiating price as they seem to be. So what's up?

Standards have changed. With the proliferation of investor "flips" that have freshly updated marble counter tops throughout, dark-stained wood floors, white interiors, and minimal but stylish landscaping, a dated but well-built older home looks tired and in need of lots of repairs.  HGTV is another influence that has taught many that original tile and practical, period-appropriate materials like Marmoleum are no good. Liability has changed. Where an inspector 6 years ago might have said that a less than 100-amp electric panel and 60-year old wiring was serviceable, today they will call for an electrician to evaluate. Guess what, the electrician recommends an $8,000 re-wire and updated panel. Chimneys and sewer lines that would be called old but working would now be referred to chimney masons and plumbers for their replacement costs.

But also, here is a seller who has lost a good amount of money being asked to pay out some more so they can move on to the next phase of their life. They see a buyer who is paying less for their house than they did several years ago, obtaining a loan at an interest rate they can't get on the house, trying to get them to pay for repairs or upgrades that they either didn't know were issues, or were things that they hadn't been able to afford to do. And they are being treated as if they are lying about such things, or at least were stupid for paying more for a house that needed so much work.

Is it really any wonder why everyone is unhappy?
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Just Sold! 5318 Raber Street, Highland Park

5318 Raber Street, Highland Park

We just closed escrow on this short sale in the hills of Highland Park.  Perched on a hill in Highland Park, 5318 Raber Street has the privacy, views and potential to make a fantastic hideaway in the city.

We brought this sweet 1926-cottage on the market in March, and after receiving multiple offers, put it right into escrow.  It took four months to navigate the short sale process.  We received short sale approval in July and were able to complete the escrow process with a final sales price of $290,000.  We look forward to seeing how the new homeowners transform this house!

If you would like more information on short sales and how they work, email us or give us a call.

5318 Raber Deck
5318 Raber Kitchen
5318 Raber Living Area
5318 Raber Yard
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Don't Get Scammed!

Looking for a reasonably priced rental is a frustrating experience for many, and it is currently a world filled with unscrupulous people trying to steal your money. If you see a 3-bedroom, 2-bath home in Eagle Rock listed for rent for $1200-1500 per month, ask yourself why would someone throw away at least $1,000 per month? Could this be a scam?

Lately the story has been a missionary in Africa who wants a good honest person to rent his childhood home, another is a missionary in Texas, and there's another one up in Oregon.

Live by this motto: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That means, as much as you want it to be true, it’s not!

I’ve spoken with dozens of people over the last few weeks who have seen ads in Craigslist, Hotpads, and now Trulia that are claiming to be rentals but they are actually my listings for sale. They tend to be vacant houses but not always. I am not the only listing agent with this problem, believe me.

Some of the people who have called me have argued that the house is really for rent. No, it’s not. I am not a disgruntled agent whose seller has decided to rent out the house for cheap rent instead of sell it for enough to get on to the next step in his life. Today, the calls were about a property that is actually in escrow and due to close in about a week. Why would I lie about that?

If you look for rentals on these websites, be careful. I wish I had some good alternative places for you to look for a rental. Maybe the time has come for Realtors to list rentals because prospective tenants can’t trust regular prospective landlords. You can at least be certain that a rental listed by a Realtor is for real.

Many callers have thought that I should do something about this. Well, the police don’t want to hear about a scam unless you have actually lost money on it. Would you like to do that? So this blog post is my doing something about it. Don’t send a deposit check to an absentee landlord. Don’t believe that a person who texts and emails with you is the real owner of the home if he can’t meet you at the property and show it to you. Do feel free to call me if it’s my listing and check if it’s really for rent. I don’t want you to lose your money. I want you to save up and eventually buy one of my listings!
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