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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.

Pretty Costs More

The adage "Pretty Costs More" applies to a number of subjects, but especially to the current real estate market.

Buyers in today’s market are being bombarded on all sides with confusing stories about what a home might be worth, whether it’s a good time to buy, what to look for in a home, and especially whether the market is going up or down from here. What to do?

Many buyers go for looks. Just like a pretty girl gets more attention at the high school dance than the brainiac, a house that looks like it stepped out of Dwell or House Beautiful gets more attention and subsequently more money than the house with good bones, solid construction, but tired or out-of-date bathrooms and kitchen.

One example of the pretty theory: a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house in Highland Park recently came on the market for $379,000. It was a trust sale and the house needed a lot of work.  So the agent had inspections done, had the sellers clean, paint, and stage it, and hoped to get a few offers and a bit more than the asking price. Perhaps you saw it on the front page of the Los Angeles Times.  This property captured the attention of the media because it was cute and charming -- and at a great price. The paint and staging brought out the unique character of the home and buyers came running.  Seventy-three (yes, 73!) offers later, the property ended up selling for $542,000.  And that was even after the agent provided to all prospective buyers disclosures and inspection reports that showed the house needed lots of work, including foundation, electrical, plumbing.  Basically all the expensive, not fun items that make for a smooth-running, low-maintenance home.

Here’s another example: a cute little 2-bedroom, 1-bath cottage in Eagle Rock was listed for $419,000. At the time (the start of the spring buying season), it seemed like a reasonable price for a small house in a good but not the best part of Eagle Rock. Seventeen offers later, the house sold for $505,000 cash. This was an investor flip and all the investor did was polish it up a little -- new kitchen counters and a dishwasher, refinished the hardwood floors, painted and landscaped. The inspections showed that the chimney was completely unusable, the HVAC was at the end of its life, and the sewer line was invaded by roots to the extent that the camera couldn’t get through the whole line. No matter, the buyers were happy that they were able to buy the charming home.

The perfect example of how pretty is worth more is 2035 Ridgeview Avenue, which was perfectly updated and exquisite, but only 1353 square feet. We came on the market at $649,000, which was what the sellers had paid for it in 2006 before putting about $200,000 into in, and we ultimately sold it for $760,000, the highest price per square foot for a home sale in Eagle Rock since 2007.

The final example is where all the factors came together at the perfect time: a good 1920s house on a large lot with views, a wonderful private setting, a tastefully updated floor plan, and a seller who did everything the stager dictated. We priced it at $699,000 because that was a number the seller could live with, and at our first open house we were asked by some people why it was priced so high. There were no comparables for a house that size in that location, but the house had such emotional appeal that we ended up with 23 offers and the property ultimately sold for $865,000.

On the other hand, there are a couple of good solid homes in good locations that are currently sitting on the market. We priced them $80,000 to $100,000 less than the prettiest listings, and we have no offers. These are properties that a buyer could put their own designer touches to and have great properties for less money, but buyers obviously don’t see it that way. Why?

Buyers have no imagination. If it isn’t gorgeous already, they don’t see the potential. Sorry, buyers, this sounds harsh, but I have seen it time after time.

In today’s market, the pretty houses that are well-priced are going for more in multiple offers. If you are a buyer, tired of losing out in the intense competition, what can you do?

  • Find some more money and offer more on the next one.

  • Look for properties that have several good features, see if the ones you don’t like are ones that you could improve yourself, and make an offer.

  • Give up and stay where you are.


Another option that I have seen many people try is to keep looking, thinking they will surely find that needle in a haystack, that great house that nobody else has seen that is in a great neighborhood, has a great price, and is really charming and pretty besides. If this is the option you are pursuing, maybe you should ask yourself if you really want to buy a home right now, or do you just think you do.  This is the subject of another article that is coming up soon, so stay tuned.
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Why You Should Short Sell Your House Now

If you’ve been sitting on the fence about whether to proceed with selling your house as a short sale, you should read this article by Lew Sichelman.

A short sale is a transaction in which the homeowner owes more on the home than they can sell it for. What is owed includes the mortgage debt owed to the lender as well as the closing costs they will incur when they sell, such as commissions, title and escrow fees, taxes, etc. The property can’t be transferred unless the lender agrees to take less than they are owed because the lender has a recorded lien against the property that has to be satisfied before the title can be transferred to the new owner. Of course, a lender isn’t going to forgive the debt unless there is no hope of having it paid in full, and that’s where the homeowner’s distressed financial situation has to be evaluated. Also, there is a penalty to be paid which has been both a big black mark on the homeowner’s credit score and a tax penalty by the government for what is called “debt relief.” This tax penalty has been lifted for the last 5 years because of the severity of the economic downturn.

As the article points out, this 2007 tax relief law expires at the end of 2012, but short sales and foreclosures can take several months to complete. If you have been hanging on to your house, hoping for the market to return to 2007 levels so you can sell it, you may want to reconsider your strategy. In our market area of Northeast Los Angeles, Pasadena and surrounding communities, the average sales prices are mostly still down 20% to 30% from 2007 levels.

There are buyers looking for properties to buy now. Mortgage interest rates are still very low. Inventory is very low. These conditions make it a perfect time to put your house on the market–if you can sell it for what the market will bring you. We are experiencing the best time in the last four years to sell a home. Some homeowners have had the pleasant experience of thinking they would have to short sell their home and finding that it sold for enough to be a regular sale! We would be happy to meet with you confidentially to discuss your own situation.

Tracy King 626-827-9795 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. DRE#01048877

Keely Myres 323-243-1234 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. DRE#01834633

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CDC - Read CDC's #ZombieComic Preparedness 101 Zombie Pandemic

The following link found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov) has been sent by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

CDC - Read CDC's #ZombieComic Preparedness 101 Zombie Pandemic
http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies_novella.htm

Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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Just Sold in Eagle Rock: 5022 Mount Royal Drive

5022 Mount Royal Drive

5022 Mount Royal Drive received quite the flurry of attention when we brought it on the market mid-April.  Offers came pouring in for this adorable 2 bedroom, 1 bath cottage.  As we mentioned before, the market has exploded in Eagle Rock. The highest offer (we received 17 total) we received for this flip was $505,000, all cash.  We closed escrow (in 20 days) today at that price.  Welcome to the neighborhood, new homeowners!

5022 Mount Royal Living Room
5022 Mount Royal Dining Room
5022 Mount Royal Kitchen
5022 Mount Royal Yard
Property Details:
Listed for $419,000
Sold for $505,000
2 bedrooms, 1 bath
996 sq. ft. on a 6,953 sq. ft. lot
Built in 1922

For more pictures and details visit www.5022MountRoyalDrive.com.
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Just Sold in Eagle Rock: 1143 Arbor Dell Road

1143 Arbor Dell

We brought this Midcentury Ranch home on the market at the end of March for $549,000.  Featuring three bedrooms, two baths, plus a den and a private cul-de-sac location (north of Hill Drive), 1143 Arbor Dell Road quickly went into escrow. This week we closed escrow with a sales price of $549,000.  Our seller has lived in this home since the 1960s and is ready to move on to something new.  We welcome the new homeowners into the neighborhood!

1143 Arbor Dell Living Room
1143 Arbor Dell Kitchen
1143 Arbor Dell Den
1143 Arbor Dell Patio
Property Details:
Listed for $549,000
Sold for $549,000
3 bedrooms, 1.75 baths
1,840 sq. ft. on a 9,090 sq. ft. lot
Built in 1953

For more pictures and details visit www.1443ArborDell.com.

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The Winds of Change

Real estate's Spring Buying Season is upon us. In spite of the current run of grey, drizzly days, rays of light are starting to shine on the local market. Just in the last couple of weeks we've seen multiple offers on almost every good property that's come onto the market in our Northeast Los Angeles area. And we're talking up to 22 offers on the extra special ones. (Others have had only 3 or 4, but, as we like to say, you only need one.)

We have been talking about the opportunities in the market for several years now, and many buyers have seized their deals and have been enjoying the benefits of home ownership, while many more were too fearful of jumping into a market full of scary economic predictions.

What has changed for the hesitant buyers? The good news for buyers is that mortgage interest rates are still low and prices for the most part are still less than the bubble prices of 2007.  But if you own a property and have been waiting for the market to improve, this is the best time in the last 4 years to sell your house. Even today with bad economic news on the European economy and only slight improvement in the job outlook for the U.S., there is a new optimism in our little corner of the world.

According to Trend Graphics from Itech Multiple Listing Service, we are seeing the numbers of properties going into escrow trending up since the beginning of this year, and the days on market going down. The inventory of available homes is very low, and when there are more buyers competing for a desirable property, we generally see prices go up. The inventory has been low but not this low for the last year--so why are we seeing all this activity now and not before? Because all the bad news about foreclosures and other distress sales added to a general feeling of fear that the market would continue to go down and prices would never recover. Now, because of government intervention and a gradual shift in lender's handling of distressed properties (from forcing more foreclosures to facilitating more shortsales), we are seeing the distressed properties influence on regular sales shrinking.

 

We are not back to the bubble prices of 2007 and early 2008. But we are working our way to a better market and if you are a property owner and considering making a move, you will find a good number of serious buyers ready to make an offer. So, why not wait for even better times? Well, we just observed the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. If you were around back then, you may remember a number of factors that happened that no one could have predicted: the first Iraq war, the 1994 Northridge earthquake, we even had a tornado in Los Angeles during that time!

 


If making a move now could be a good option for you, consider talking with us. We will help you consider your options and if it makes sense to your own situation, we can make it happen for you.
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Action Alert Update: Moore House Demolished

This pains me deeply. I am so tired of seeing these demolitions that make way for giant soul-less stucco boxes. And I am tired of these style-less stucco boxes where ever they are built.
Los Angeles Conservancy

ACTION ALERT UPDATE:
Moore House Demolished

Demolished Moore House
The Moore House demolished.
Photo by Sarah Farris-Gilbert.
Moore House by Stephen Russo

The Moore House was one of Lloyd Wright's most significant postwar residential designs.
Photo by Stephen Russo.

Moore House Demolished 

Detail of the demolition. Photo by Flora Chou/
Los Angeles Conservancy staff. 

Despite several years of intensive advocacy and significant public outcry, the Moore House (Lloyd Wright, 1959) in Palos Verdes Estates (PVE) was demolished on Wednesday, April 25.

The demolition occurred less than a day after the PVE City Council denied the Los Angeles Conservancy's appeal of the City's earlier decision to allow the home's demolition.

The Moore House was a unique, irreplaceable, and extraordinarily significant modernist residence, designed by Lloyd Wright, renowned architect and son of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The environmental impact report (EIR) for the replacement project didn't evaluate a single sincere preservation alternative that would have maintained the Moore House's eligibility for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources.

 

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is a state law that requires the evaluation of a range of alternatives. It also requires that those alternatives be analyzed with the public's interest in mind, not the property owner's -- even for a private residence. 

 

When the EIR for this project failed to provide a reasonable preservation alternative, the Conservancy commissioned our own. It provided for a sensitive addition to the Moore House -- a standard approach to increasing the size of an existing home. We met with the owner to present this alternative, yet it was disregarded by both the owner and the City.

With no protections in place for its historic resources, the City of Palos Verdes Estates can continue to erase its architectural heritage, one demolition at a time. If you live in PVE, please let your elected officials know that you care about your city's tangible history and want it preserved for future generations.

Thank you to the hundreds of people who submitted letters of support on this issue, and for the people who attended the City Council meeting Tuesday night. Your voice will continue to be heard as we work to preserve other historic places throughout Greater Los Angeles.

Green arrow for e-news jump linkMore information on the Moore House
Green arrow for e-news jump linkThe Conservancy's testimony from the April 24 City Council Meeting (PDF)

 

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© 2012 Los Angeles Conservancy. All rights reserved.

 Los Angeles Conservancy  |  523 W. Sixth St. Suite 826  |  Los Angeles, CA 90014
213-623-2489  |  laconservancy.org

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Just Sold - 2035 Ridgeview Avenue, Eagle Rock

Alright, Eagle Rock homeowners, we have proof that our real estate market is getting better. This is truly an amazing sale - and sets the new highest price per square foot for a three bedroom, two bath home in Eagle Rock since 2007! 2035 Ridgeview Avenue, located near Occidental College, features three bedrooms, two baths, completely upgraded and remodeled with style throughout:

2035 Ridgeview Avenue, Eagle Rock

We came on the market at $649,000 and received several offers. After a week we raised the price (causing many eyebrows in the community to do the same) to $724,900. Soon after that we opened escrow, with the requirement that there be no appraisal contingency because there were no comparable home sales like this home. No one thought it would appraise at the new asking price - little did they know what we were actually in escrow for!

2035 Ridgeview Living Room

This week we closed escrow and can finally reveal our sales price - $760,000! That is $562 per square foot (the average price per square foot for a three bedroom, 2 bath home in 2011 was $329). Not only that, but it did appraise for that amount. This shows what a great house with high quality finishes in a great Eagle Rock neighborhood can do.

2035 Ridgeview Kitchen

The whole neighborhood will miss our sellers, but we are also gaining a fantastic new member of the community! And of course they may decide that Eagle Rock is the place to be (as we all know it is...) and work their magic on another home here.

2035 Ridgeview Avenue Back Yard

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Why Do We Buy Homes?

Everyone has been so concerned with the real estate market’s ups and downs, gain or loss in value, future prospects, that we have lost sight of the point of it all: Home.
Why do people buy homes? Here is a list of all the reasons I could think of quickly. How many apply to you?
  • To have one to live in, for the most part.
  • To define a space that is an expression of ourselves, our creativity, our artistic vision.
  • To be safe.
  • To be comfortable.
  • To provide shelter for ourselves and our families.
  • To be a personal retreat from a hectic world.
  • To be a meeting place for friends and family.
  • To be a symbol of our success.
  • To represent a stake in the community.
  • To be a tax write-off.
  • To be an investment.
  • To be a do-it-yourself project all our own.
Today, mortgage interest rates are at a 60-year low (!), prices are the lowest they’ve been in 5 to 10 years, and we are now seeing real (though tiny) signs that we are inching into recovery. The smart people are stepping forward and getting some great deals, not only on distress sales, but good regular houses.
Here’s my thought: even the properties that seem to be selling at a premium are deals today. If you look at what happened in the 90s and what people paid for homes in, say, 1995, today they look like incredible bargains. Even what people paid in 2000 was dirt cheap compared to now.Sometimes things don’t work out the way we want or expect them to. We move before we think we will because of work or divorce or some other necessity. But even if you have to move before your home becomes a profit center, you will have had the enjoyment of your own space. If you take a long view of owning homes and you focus on what you have put into living in them, the good times you have spent, the lessons you have learned, you may find that the returns have been much more than monetary. After all, do you only do the things in life that make you money? Do you only assess your success in life by the profits you have made? Or do love, comfort, joy and beauty enter into it?
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Spring Cleaning Before Spring Listing

Spring-time is commonly known as the "buying season," and we've definitely seen some more movement in the Northeast LA and Pasadena-area real estate market recently.  Home buyers are out there making offers on homes for sale.  In fact, several Eagle Rock homes have sold in multiple offers for over the listing price.  If you are thinking about making a move, this could be a great time to do so.  We'd be happy to sit down and discuss your home selling options, just call us for a consultation.  In the meantime - get ready to stand out from the competition with these spring cleaning tips:

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2012 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

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FREE Interactive Family Concert at Center for the Arts








Center for the Arts Eagle Rock presents

Ponce De Leon + A Balloon Drop & Pop Happening with Miggie Wong



Saturday, March 3, 2012
2:00-4:00pm
(doors open at 1:30pm)

This is a FREE all ages event!

Center for the Arts Eagle Rock
2225 Colorado Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041

Ponce De Leon: Made Up Songs From a Fake America

High concept electro-punk band Ponce de Leon brings its baroque and bizarre music performance to Center for the Arts Eagle Rock with "Made Up Songs From A Fake America"- a selection of songs from a decade of taking strident liberties with the history of America.

Balloon Drop & Pop Happening with Miggie Wong

A created situation experiencing a collective silence during the drop and the collective explosion during the popping balloons.
This project is supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation.

MORE INFO
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This is all we Realtors do, walk around looking at great houses.

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A lovely place to come to work.


Taken at Teles Properties

Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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The Overblown Threat of Strategic Defaults

Very interesting point of view about a subject we all thought we understood, but didn't. Considering the looming end of the Tax Forgiveness Act which saves defaulters from paying income tax on the forgiven debt, this article is of even greater interest today.
The overblown threat of strategic defaults Source: latimes.comWalkaways. Jingle mail. Strategic defaults.

Tracy King sent this using ShareThis.

Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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70 degree midwinter evening in Pasadena. Life is good.


Taken at Rose Bowl

Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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This is one fun event for the Art Deco Society


Taken at The Los Angeles Athletic Club

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Can you see the snow capped mountains in the distance?


Taken at 1221 Ocean Avenue

Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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Roof Top Views in Eagle Rock

Today we went to see a charming brick apartment building located at 5119 Eagle Rock Boulevard and spied some fantastic views from the roof.  The 1923-built apartment building is for sale for $995,000, and has six studio apartments upstairs and five commercial units on street level.  The building has been refurbished by the current owner, and even has a back yard for tenants to use.  Want to see this great opportunity?  Call us at 323.243.1234 to schedule an appointment.

 

Looking south across Eagle Rock

Looking north towards the mountains

 

Listing courtesy of William Ramsey, Rodeo Realty
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Mortgage settlement is great — for politicians and banks

In case you were wondering how much your own housing situation would be affected by the big mortgage settlement: probably zilch...
Mortgage settlement is great — for politicians and banks Source: latimes.com I hate a parade. And the parade of rosy self-congratulation staged last week by the creators of the $25-billion mortgage fraud settlement with five big banks is the kind of parade I really hate.
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Have you eaten at Halong Bay, yet?

We enjoyed a delicious meal at Halong Bay in Eagle Rock tonight - have you tried it yet?  Great atmosphere, delicious food (I recommend the grilled pork chop), attentive service, good selection of beer and wine, what else could you need!  Check it out next time you want to dine out in Eagle Rock.


 

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