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Tracy King's Blog

With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, and...

With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, and planning her next trip to Paris.

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Please help support The Altadena Foothills Conservancy

This won't even cost you any money! Unless of course you decide to buy some great Patagonia clothes...

This month, AFC is competing with two other nonprofits for a grant through Patagonia Pasadena's "Voice Your Choice" program.

If you're in Old Town Pasadena during March, you might swing by the Patagonia store at Fair Oaks Avenue and Union Street to cast a vote for AFC. We'll receive $2,500 if we get the most in-store votes -- money that would fund our search for new open space to acquire and preserve.

AFC board members will be in the store between noon and 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 19, and Sunday, March 20, talking to Patagonia customers about AFC.  Drop in and say hello! Or, if you'd like to join us at the table and help spread the word about local land conservation, reply to this e-mail and let us know when you're available.



Best,


Nancy L.C. Steele


President, Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy


Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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Altadena feels like Taos here

$1,545,000 and well worth it.

Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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Kickoff Event for Eagle Rock's Centennial Celebration

Eagle Rock’s Centennial Year Begins...February 26 was a classic Eagle Rock day. Kickoff events started at 2 pm at the Center for the Arts, which has become the community center for our hometown within the great City of Los Angeles. Beginning with family-oriented events like the Dahlia Elementary School program and ranging through the Eagle Rock High Latin Jazz band and the Eagle Rock Jazz Quartet, the room was packed with folks of all ages.

Several community groups had booths including TERA (The Eagle Rock Association) promoting their fundraiser Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and their plan to slow down Colorado Blvd and save lives. The Centennial committee and Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society had great Eagle Rock stuff for sale from $5 calendars to mugs that we can buy online beginning next week. Treepeople has organized Saturday, March 26 for tree planting along Colorado Blvd and April 30 for tree planting along York Blvd in Highland Park. Register for tree care and tree planting at www.treepeople.org. Linda Allen told us about ERCPR, the group that has been working to improve the sights we see in the commercial corridor.

Every kind of group and individual was there celebrating the hundredth year of Eagle Rock. It was a great program from the kid events to Eric Warren’s presentation of the history of the buildings in Eagle Rock to the Dahlia cocktails and the unique performance by Morganne, our very own local chanteuse. Hors d’ouerves were served by the Eagle Rock High Key Club. Besides the tickets sold for the cocktails and wine, raffle tickets for prizes donated by local merchants helped defray the cost of the day and to add a bit to the Centennial kitty. Our local elected officials came with encouraging speeches and certificates of recognition for about half the people in the room.

I applaud the hard work of all the volunteers who made this day so special, and am so glad I was one of the diverse, eclectic, and friendly crowd that showed up to take part in the day.

Next up, this Friday, March 4, is Eagle Rock Day at the Los Angeles City Council Chambers beginning at 10 am at 200 N Spring St, 90012. RSVP to 323-254-5295 by Tuesday, March 1 to make parking arrangements. Attendees are asked to wear green if possible.

Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate



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Turn your lawn into a Food Forest!

*Turn a Lawn into a Garden*

"Swan Song for the Lawn" with Larry Santoyo of Earthflow Design Learn how to transform a water-guzzling lawn into a garden paradise.

Join us Sat & Sun, March 12/13, 10:30 am to 4:00 pm in Eagle Rock$25 per day ($40 for both days with one payment)In this hands-on workshop you will learn the basics of Food Forestry, garden design, sustainable landscape construction and more.

Spread the word! RSVP for details and to pre-register via paypal to reserve your space toJoan Stevens 323-630-4673 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

*Please, no persons under 18 years old -no pets

Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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Oxy Lofts - A New Home Option for Eagle Rock

You all know we love Eagle Rock. In our humble opinion, Northeast LA is the best place to live, and we're not afraid to let everyone know it!

Well, now we've got a new option for all you Eagle Rock home-searches: Oxy Lofts! Perfect for those of you that want some square footage to call your own but don't want the hassle of taking care of an actual house. The 32 units at Oxy Lofts are classic post-and-beam architectural design with open floor plans, large windows, and natural materials. Complete with patios and balconies that bring the outdoors in, these units are California living at its best.

Courtyard



And even better - this project is FHA-approved! You could get into your new digs for as little as 3.5% down!

Even better than THAT, we can help you get settled in for as little as $359,000! I know what you're thinking, "But Tracy and Keely, for $359,000 I probably get only a one bedroom in such a stylish looking building!" But you would think wrong - $359,000 is the asking price for a 2 bedroom, 3 bath with 1167SF - what a deal!

So here's the thing. Go check out the Oxy Lofts. You will fall in love. As an added bonus - if you sign in and say you're with Tracy King, we'll give you a $10 gift card to The Bucket*. Of course we are here to help you navigate your way into a purchase, so don't hesitate to give us a call if you have questions. Or if you've completely fallen in love.

Oxy Lofts are open for your viewing pleasure daily from 11am to 2pm, Wed/Thu to 6pm, and Sat/Sun to 4pm.

For more pictures go here. For more information go here. If you have questions call us at 626.844.2256.

Loft Living to Kitchen


*(first 25 people to register with Tracy King at the Oxy Lofts open houses get a $10 gift card to the Bucket)

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A Loan Modification Story Edging Toward Success

Here is an inside description of one family's experience with navigating the loan modification process. These are clients of mine who sold their first home that their growing family had outgrown and bought a larger one right at the peak of the market and then had the misfortune of losing a job and half their income. I've always admired these people for their positive attitude about whatever came their way and their ability to keep moving forward. They sent me this story of their experiences because they want to help others navigate these very choppy and treacherous waters if they can. Please feel free to comment or ask questions and I will get them to my client for whatever answers might be available.

Our story is a familiar one.
In January 2010, my husband lost his job. We could no longer afford our mortgage
payments, so we stopped making them. That sounds much easier than it actually was
(emotionally, anyway). We’d purchased our house at the height of the market so we
owed about $120k more than what we could sell it for. A regular sale wasn’t an option
for us. We began researching our other options and after talking to friends in similar
situations, reading articles and discussion boards online, we came to the conclusion
that despite Obama’s Making Home Affordable program (HAMP) and despite all the
efforts of millions of homeowners trying to save their homes, very few people actually
succeeded. Our particular loan structure made a work-out even more difficult. We began
trying to make ourselves comfortable with the idea that we would be losing our home.
Thanks to a persistent friend who couldn’t accept that we were going to let it go so easily,
we rallied. This month, we were offered a trial modification from our bank, which gets
us 90% of the way to getting a permanent modification. Here’s what we did right.

We bought our second mortgage.
We bought our home 4 years ago with two loans: the 1st mortgage was 80% of the
purchase price and the 2nd was 20%. Indymac held our 1st and CitiMortgage held the
2nd. This definitely made our journey more complicated. Thanks to a conversation with
a financial counselor, I discovered that it was possible to negotiate with the bank to buy
our second loan (a settlement). It’s basically like doing a short sale, except we could be
our own buyers. I did a little research on it, and despite not really having much in
savings, we thought we’d give it a try. I called the bank and asked to talk to someone
about a settlement. They transferred me to the loss mitigation department, who had me
fill out some paperwork and submit a hardship letter, which I wrote. In it, I outlined that
we had a hardship (income loss) that we’d like to make good on our loan in any way that
we could. I explained that because we bought at the height of the market, if our house
sold today in a short sale or foreclosure, after paying off our 1st mortgage, there would be
nothing left for the 2nd. I offered to settle with them by paying $9,000 for my $119,000
loan. It seemed impossible, but worth a shot. A few weeks later, they called and
countered. They offered $12,000 and I took it! I wired in the $12,000 and within a
couple of weeks the loan was written off as ‘settled for less than the amount owed.’ We
took a hit on our credit, but it meant that if we did lose our home, they couldn’t come
after us for the money later and if we didn’t lose our home, it was again worth
approximately market value.

We called a HUD Counselor and our Congressman.
After buying our 2nd mortgage, we started trying to modify our 1st. This was not
easy. This application was about 67 pages. It required constant updating (sending in
a new paystub every two weeks, a new bank statement every month and writing letters
explaining things when the packet was kicked back because the reviewer was confused).
I called 2x a week to check on the status of the modification and to see if they needed
any new documents. After 4 months, I had to resubmit my application (again, 67 pages)
because it had expired. And after 5 months, we got a notice on our door that our house was being sold at auction. It seemed like the end. But we had two things on our side.

First, our HUD counselor knew the California laws: that they couldn’t sell our home at
auction while we were in the HAMP modification process. She called our bank on our
behalf and made sure that we had a process for stopping the sale (that process was, of
course, complicated). Second, I’d contacted our congressman early in the modification
process, asking for his help. His office had a contact within the bank, who they regularly
called to check on the status of our loan. That’s all they could really do, but just the
fact that the congressman was working on our behalf helped us get special attention. I
called his office as soon as we got the foreclosure notice on our door. Within days, the
bank called us (this NEVER happens) to tell us that our sale was put on hold, that the
escalations department was handling our modification and that they were trying to finish
it.

Three weeks later, we had an offer for a trial modification. From what I understand, this
means that the bank has established that we are eligible for a permanent modification and
that they can offer us a new loan. They are offering us a new payment, which is about
30% less than our old payments combined, and if we make those payments on time for 3
months, they should offer us a permanent modification. There are still things that could
go wrong. Trial payments have been known to go on much longer than 3 months. Banks
are overwhelmed and under-staffed, so they make mistakes. But this is a win, and for
now, we’ll take it.

Find yourself in a similar situation?
• Call a HUD counselor. Operation HOPE was very helpful to us: http://
www.operationhope.org/smdev/
• Contact your congressman and ask if he/she can assist you when dealing with
your bank. On Congressman Becerra’s website, he has a button right on his home
page that says “How can I help you?”: http://becerra.house.gov/
• Be persistent. It is a lot of hard work. But if you’re willing to fight, you might
just save your home.




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Pet Adoption Festival Tomorrow!

“Adopt a Valentine” - Pet Adoption Festival
Saturday, February 12, 11am-3pm
Special Festival Day Adoption Discounts:
$83.50 (max) per dog - $50.50 (max) per cat (fees include spay/neuter, vaccinations & microchip)

Games - Food - Vendors - Door Prizes - Contribution Prizes
$25 Microchipping your pets
Located on the lawns of the North Central Animal Shelter - 3202 Lacy Street, Los Angeles 90031

Sponsors for this event include Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, Atwater Village Neighborhood Council, City Councilmember José Huizar, Council President Eric Garcetti, and L.A. City Animal Services.

See the flyer here:Pet Adoption Festival

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Huge Price Reduction! 1857 Hanscom Drive, South Pasadena

1857 Hanscom Drive
SOUTH PASADENA, CA
HUGE PRICE REDUCTION! OPEN SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2-4PM AND SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2-4PM! For more pictures and info go to www.1857Hanscom.com.

4BR/3+1BA Single Family House
$799,000
Year Built 1966
Sq Footage 1,891
Bedrooms 4
Bathrooms 3 full, 1 partial
Floors 3
Parking Unspecified
Lot Size 5,190 sqft
HOA/Maint $0 per month
Description

Enjoy stunning sunset views from two levels of decks on this sophisticated 3-level home. Updated kitchen, living room, dining area flow out to the deck and create an open floorplan for entertaining and easy California living. Second level features 4 original bedrooms (one has been remodeled to a large laundry room but hookups remain in the garage as well), with 2 bathrooms. The third level is not included in assessor's square footage and offers an office area, storage room, bathroom with sauna/wine cellar opportunity, and the most fabulous man-cave in town with bar, home theater potential, huge space. REST measured the house to be over 3100 square feet. Seller says third level is permitted
Property Features

Central A/C Central heat Fireplace
Family room Living room Bonus/Rec room
Office/Den Dining room Dishwasher
Refrigerator Stove/Oven Microwave
Washer Dryer Laundry area - inside
Balcony, Deck, or Patio
Community Features

Garage parking
Other Special Features

Actual square footage is 3,100 including third level
Third level includes space for office, storage, family room and more!
South Pasadena School District
For more pictures and floor plan visit www.1857Hanscom.com
Additional Photos

1857 Hanscom Drive
Living Room
Kitchen
Balcony
Family Room
Bedroom
Contact Info
Tracy King
Coldwell Banker
DRE Lic#01048877
(626) 844-2256
For sale by agent/broker

Equal Opportunity Housing
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New listing! 652 Milo Terrace, Highland Park

652 Milo Terrace
HIGHLAND PARK, CA
NEW LISTING! For more pictures and information visit www.652MiloTerrace.com

2BR/1BA Single Family House
$399,000
Year Built 1937
Sq Footage 1,163
Bedrooms 2
Bathrooms 1 full, 0 partial
Floors 1
Parking 2 Car garage
Lot Size 3,270 sqft
HOA/Maint $0 per month
Description

Want an affordable home that doesn't require a lot of work to make it your own?This light and airy 1937 traditional offers an open floorplan with the living, dining rooms and kitchen flowing from one to the other. The bedrooms are spacious as well. Original details throughout include bathroom tiles, the fireplace, the high coved ceiling in the living room, and hardwood floors. Comfortably updated with central air & heat. The backyard is a secret patio garden with garage rooftop deck. You can entertain with ease and have no lawn to mow.
Property Features

Central A/C Central heat Fireplace
Hardwood floor Tile floor Living room
Dining room Refrigerator Stove/Oven
Laundry area - garage Yard
Other Special Features

Traditional exterior with Spanish style on the inside
Many original details maintained - hardwood floor, 1930s bathroom tile, fireplace
Outdoor space features a deck and patio - no lawn to maintain!
Open floor plan from kitchen to living room
Additional Photos

652 Milo Terrace
Kitchen
Living Room
Master Bedroom
Bath
Deck
Contact Info
Tracy King
Coldwell Banker
DRE Lic#01048877
(626) 844-2256
For sale by agent/broker

Equal Opportunity Housing
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New listing! 5024 Monte Bonito Drive, Eagle Rock

5024 Monte Bonito Drive
EAGLE ROCK, CA
New listing! Open Sunday, February 6, 12-3pm; Tuesday, February 8, 10-2pm; and Thursday, February 10, 10-2pm.

5BR/2BA Single Family House
$599,000
Year Built 1927
Sq Footage 2,599
Bedrooms 5
Bathrooms 2 full, 0 partial
Floors 2
Parking 2 Car garage
Lot Size 6,250 sqft
HOA/Maint $0 per month
Description

Character and style emanate from this lovely spacious Tudor-style home located above Colorado Blvd. The treetop views from the living room are framed by the original picture window. Gracious arches separate the dining room from the living and family rooms. The kitchen includes a breakfast eating area. The floorplan can accommodate several lifestyle choices. Want a large master suite with its own office or sitting room? Or maybe two master suites including the upstairs layout? Do you need 5 bedrooms? Or would you rather have separate offices for each family member? The backyard is fenced and private, ready for your al fresco barbecue party.
Property Features

Central A/C Fireplace Hardwood floor
Family room Living room Office/Den
Dining room Breakfast nook Dishwasher
Laundry area - inside Balcony, Deck, or Patio Yard
Other Special Features

Spacious Tudor-style home with character details
Located north of Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock
Floor plan can accomodate several lifestyle choices
The backyard is fenced and private, ready for your al fresco barbecue party.
Additional Photos

5024 Monte Bonito Drive
Living Room
Original Details
Dining Room
Kitchen
Yard
Contact Info
Tracy King
Coldwell Banker
DRE Lic#01048877
(626) 844-2256
For sale by agent/broker

Equal Opportunity Housing
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NEW LISTING! 1402 Hill Drive, Eagle Rock

1402 Hill Drive
EAGLE ROCK, CA
NEW LISTING! Open Sunday, February 6, 1-4pm; Tuesday, February 8, 10-2pm; and Thursday, February 10, 10-2pm.

3BR/2BA Single Family House
$649,900
Year Built 1937
Sq Footage 1,711
Bedrooms 3
Bathrooms 2 full, 0 partial
Floors 1
Parking 2 Car garage
Lot Size 6,534 sqft
HOA/Maint $0 per month
Description

This Deco-era traditional has been rescued from a shabby past and transformed into a spacious updated home with all the modern conveniences--from central air & heat to a restaurant-style stainless steel stove. From the original front door and entry hall to the brick patio off the back, tradition has been honored in this quality re-do. The living room is graciously large, with original French doors and windows, hardwood floors, wainscoting, and tailored brick (decorative) fireplace all accented with Martha Stewart paint colors. The kitchen and bathrooms are new but recall the bygone days with marble counters and subway tile. Enjoy the best of both old and new--all on the most prestigious street in Eagle Rock.
Property Features

Central A/C Central heat Fireplace
Walk-in closet Hardwood floor Tile floor
Living room Dining room Dishwasher
Refrigerator Stove/Oven Laundry area - inside
Balcony, Deck, or Patio Yard
Community Features

Garage parking Covered parking Laundry on-site
Other Special Features

Completely renovated Deco-era home
Located on the most desirable street in Eagle Rock
All the modern conveniences amidst original charm
Kitchen and baths totally new, but maintain character details
Gracious living room with French doors leading to patio and lawn
Additional Photos

1402 Hill Drive
Living Room
Dining Room
Kitchen
Master Bedroom
Patio and Yard
Contact Info
Tracy King
Coldwell Banker
DRE Lic#01048877
(626) 844-2256
For sale by agent/broker

Equal Opportunity Housing
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Deal of the Day

Available to see 12-3 Sunday. English Tudor in Eagle Rock. Flexible floorplan offers as many as 5 bedrooms, 2 baths, den, family room and more! $599,000!

Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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Design Tips to Sell Homes

One of the panels we attended at the Inman Connect Real Estate Conference in New York a couple weeks ago featured Vern Yip from HGTV's "Deserving Design." He was fantastic to listen to and had a lot of great tips for showcasing a home to really appeal to its buying audience. Here is his presentation (you can skip ahead to 11:45 to get to the tips): Design Tips to Sell Homes. You can read the transcript of the presentation here.

And here are his "Best Ideas for Staging Your Home":

1. Present an optimal space plan

Optimize every room with a space plan that keeps rooms open and easy to negotiate, while showcasing how to utilize unusual spaces. Moving furniture around doesn't cost anything! This is so critical because not everyone who enters a property has the ability to envision how that property can be fully utilized. Sometimes people just aren't visual people, that's not what they do. Presenting an optimal space plan is the first and most critical portion of really showcasing what makes a property special.

A couple of examples:


  • Take an awkward nook in a bedroom or kitchen and turn it into a home office.

  • Use a dining room table as a place for meals and a desk for projects. In Urban Oasis New York, Vern used a table that seats six, but also served as a desk complete with pedestals for storage and electronics. He points out that it also serves as a prep surface for the open layout kitchen - all to show viewers how to optimize square footage in a small apartment.

  • Hide a laundry unit behind doors in the kitchen, or a hall closet, or a bathroom closet.

It's really about showing people how a space plan can improve their space and what they're actually getting.

2. Stick to a monochromatic scheme

A monochromatic room with minimal contrast looks bigger because the number of visual breaks is minimized. When you diminish contrast you actually expand the visual plane. Neutral colors in tans, warm grays, taupes, and shades of warm white have the most flexibility for adapting rooms to anyone's style and have the broadest appeal. A fresh coat of paint is the best investment when staging a property for sale.

An example:

In one unit from the show Selling New York there were some serious architectural elements in the living area. Everything in this unit is painted a warm white color, even some of the furniture is white. So the structural element blends in with the environment. You can accent it if you want, but painting it the same color as the wall diminishes it so if somebody doesn't necessarily like it, it fades into the background.

SELLING NEW YORK BIGGER JPEG

3. Incorporate organic elements

Real elements will make a property look well cared for and add an appealing sense of life, vibrancy and vitality to a space. They don't have to necessarily always be fresh flowers or plants. A couple of examples:


  • Instead of fresh flowers, Vern staged three clear jars with different kinds of hard candy in the entry area of the Urban Oasis New York Unit (he also mentioned "candy is questionable as to whether or not it's organic, but again it's injecting that sense of life to a space").

  • A bowl of apples is a great way to go. They can last three to four weeks, are relatively cheap, and they give a lot of life to a space.

  • One of Vern's favorite tricks: Monstera leaves in a vase (placed on a nightstand or bathroom counter looks great). They are a couple dollars each and last for several weeks.

monsteraleaves

4. Edit to showcase a space

Editing is free and an invaluable tool for expanding the visual volume of a room while also making it look neater, cleaner, and more expensive. When it comes to accessories, fewer items with higher individual impact offers the most bang for your buck.

People have a natural tendency to just accumulate stuff. Before going on the market it's important to go through a home and really edit down your belongings so that a potential buyer can visually understand what's happening in the property they're looking at.

An example:

Yip.Bedroom-HighRes-1

"This is a bedroom from Urban Oasis New York. It's not the world's largest bedroom, but we've done the monochromatic color scheme and we've really pared it down. We put one large, central bed there, we have these pedestals on either side showcasing these keystones from a demolished brownstone here in Manhattan, and these pedestals also have niches so that they serve as night stands. Fewer things, really substantial things. More meaningful things, but fewer things really help showcase the property."

5. Place visual emphasis on highlights of a room

Whether a space has a fantastic view, a tremendous volume, or incredible floors, the highlight of a room should always be underscored dramatically! This is so important because every room has highlights, it's really up to you to now find out what those are and highlight them.

If, say, the highlight is an unobstructed view - put low furniture near the window and keep a monochromatic scheme to not distract the eye from the view.

6. Remember secondary spaces

Finish and accessorize auxiliary spaces. Bathrooms, guest rooms, and home offices should be treated as primary spaces and showcased with furniture, accessories, and organic items to illustrate that a property has many possibilities.

Everybody thinks about the living room, everybody thinks of the dining room, everybody thinks about the master bedroom. But you have to think about the secondary spaces as well if you really want to sell a property.

A couple of examples:


  • In bathrooms: include artwork on the walls, place fresh towels in a basket, put a plant on the counter.

  • In guest bedrooms: make sure there are fresh linens on the bed, put lamps on the side tables, add an organic element to a dresser.


So those are your tips today on how design can really help sell a property. Of course, if this all sounds like way too much work for you to handle before you sell your home, staging is a great option to showcase your home for the market. We work with a fantastic stager who will come in and make a detailed list of what needs to be done to make your home look fantastic.

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Join me for food from The Spot at 1260 Topeka, 91104 today 11-2!

Good food, fantastic property, great deal!
Artichoke dip
Caprese skewers
Bow-tie pasta with lemon cream sauce
Turkey lavash sandwiches

Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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tracyking23@gmail.com sent you a link to content of interest

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. sent you a link to the following content:

Your block need a bike rack? Here’s how to place your order
http://www.theeastsiderla.com/2011/02/your-block-need-a-bike-rack-heres-how-t...

The sender also included this note:

The intrepid bicycle riders in Los Angeles should be helped to park safely, don't you think?

Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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Green Monday

Turn a blue Monday green with some of these tips for reducing your carbon footprint and at the same time save money by using less gas in your car!

Drive Greener

• Shade: Park in the shade when possible, and cool down your hot car by driving with the windows down before turning on the air-conditioner. Over time these practices can result in a much smaller workload for your AC—and significant energy savings.
• Tune-ups: Change your oil, check the fluids, replace spark plugs, and perform other regular maintenance tasks to save fuel. Rotate your tires and keep them properly inflated. For every three pounds they fall below their recommended pressure your fuel economy will fall by one percent. When it’s time to replace tires consider using low-rolling-resistance (LRR) alternatives, which can boost your mpg.
• Smooth ride: Slow down. Driving 75 mph instead of 65 mph burns 10 percent more fuel. A smooth ride also helps, so use cruise control when it’s practical. Stop-and-go driving and jackrabbit acceleration really take a toll—just one second of “pedal to the metal” acceleration emits almost as much carbon monoxide as half an hour of normal driving. And when you’re not driving your car, turn it off—don’t let it idle.

Source: The Green Guide
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More good economic news...



Real estate sales rebound in 2011, prices nearly flat


NAR forecast anticipates quicker recovery for new homes


By Inman News, Thursday, January 27, 2011.

Inman News™








In its latest real estate and economic forecast, the National Association of Realtors anticipates that sales of existing homes, after falling 4.8 percent in 2010, will rise 7.9 percent this year, to 5.3 million, and another 4.5 percent in 2012, to 5.53 million.

The median price of existing homes, meanwhile, rose 0.3 percent in 2010 after a 12.9 percent drop in 2009, and is expected to rise 0.5 percent this year, to $173,800, and another 2.4 percent in 2012, to $177,900.

Sales of new single-family homes are expected to rebound faster, rising 17.7 percent this year, to 374,000 sales, after a 15.5 percent drop in 2010, and then rising 51.1 percent in 2012, to 565,000 sales. In an earlier forecast, released last month, NAR anticipated that sales of new single-family homes would climb 20.8 percent in 2011 and 30.9 percent in 2012.

The new-home median price rose 2.2 percent in 2010 and is expected to climb 1.8 percent this year, to $224,700, and 1.9 percent in 2012, to $229,000.

NAR expects that 30-year-fixed mortgage rates will average 5.1 percent this year, up from 4.7 percent in 2010, and rise to 5.9 percent in 2012.

The group also forecasts the U.S. unemployment rate to fall from 9.7 percent in 2010 to 9.4 percent this year and 8.7 percent in 2012, while U.S. real gross domestic product is expected to dip from 2.8 percent in 2010 to 2.6 percent this year, rising to 3.2 percent in 2012.

Also today, NAR reported a 2 percent month-to-month rise in December for its index tracking pending sales of existing homes, though the index was down -4.2 percent compared to December 2009.

The Pending Home Sales Index tracks homes for which a sales contract has been signed but the transaction has not yet closed. Typically, a sale is finalized within one to two months of signing, so the index is considered a leading indicator.

Regionally, the index fell 10.7 percent in the West, 5.3 percent in the Northeast and 5.1 percent in the Midwest while rising 1.7 percent in the South in December 2010 compared to December 2009.

And the index dropped 13.2 percent in the West while rising 11.5 percent in the South, 8 percent in the Midwest, and 1.8 percent in the Northeast from November 2010 to December 2010, NAR reported.

Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, said in a statement, "Modest gains in the labor market and the improving economy are creating a more favorable backdrop for buyers, allowing them to take advantage of excellent housing affordability conditions. Mortgage rates should rise only modestly in the months ahead, so we'll continue to see a favorable environment for buyers with good credit."

NAR reported last week that the sales rate for existing homes rose about 12.3 percent from November 2010 to December 2010, but fell 2.9 percent compared to December 2009. The median price of existing homes dropped about 1 percent year-over-year in December, to $168,800.

Sales of new single-family homes were up an estimated 17.5 percent from November 2010 to December 2010 and fell about 7.6 percent year-over-year in December, the U.S. Census Bureau and Housing and Urban Development Department reported Wednesday. The median price rose about 8.5 percent year-over-year in December, to $241,500.


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Last week the sky was falling, this week...?

The big real estate news in the last few days has been the Case-Schiller report which says that home prices have slid! Let’s look at this rationally:

This report is for October-November 2010 sales. When interest rates ticked up in December, the buyers came running for homes to buy before they were priced out of the good deals.

This “big slide” in prices totaled a whopping 1% in Los Angeles County. Come on, folks. Is Chicken Little back in town?

Nationwide, as President Obama says, “…after the worst recession in decades, we see an economy growing again.” Oh, but the news says different about the housing market:

U.S. Home Prices Keep Weakening as Nine Cities Reach New Lows According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. November 2010
U.S. Home Prices Weaken Further as Six Cities Make New Lows According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. Data through October 2010,
Broad-based Declines in Home Prices in the 3rd Quarter of 2010 According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. Data through September 2010.

FACTS:
April, 2006 was the highest index for Los Angeles County: 273.10
November, 2010, was 171.86.
The lowest index was 160.34 in May 2009.

So what is this NEW LOW? The index was all of .22 lower than the previous month’s report, and although it was the lowest of 2010, we are still talking about a total spread over the whole year of less than 5 points, which is over 10 points higher than the low of May 2009. All this in comparison to the truly big drop of over 110 points from the peak of April 2006, to the trough of May 2009. OMG! But let’s not all leave our homes in despair quite yet. (And where would we go? Under the nearest bridge?)

Let’s look at more local data.  Just so you don’t think I’m a Pollyanna insisting that everything is wonderful, the table below shows the “peak to trough” numbers for several zip codes in Northeast LA, Altadena, South Pasadena, Northeast and Southwest Pasadena: You can see that we had drops of 41 to 77% from the highest quarter to the lowest. But that doesn’t mean that if you live in Southwest Pasadena that your particular house lost 77% of its value and is now worth less than half of what it was in August of 2008. That zip code actually lost less value over the last 4 years than the others. These numbers reflect what houses sold for in the last few years, not what your house is worth today. And although lenders hire appraisers who look at the past sales to indicate current value, we don’t have very many housing tracts of identical houses in Northeast Los Angeles. What your neighbor’s house sold for is not necessarily what your house will sell for.



Confused yet? Think about the poor buyers in the market right now. Last week it was all about how prices are sliding. Today the December numbers showed much stronger improvement than “the experts” thought. We who own homes think we are above any of this value talk. My house is worth $800,000 because I say so, doggone it! What is a buyer to do? We can only look at what is available versus what similar (?) properties have sold for, versus what a lender will agree to lend on it. Unless we can pay cash. I wish we could. Then we wouldn’t have to put up with all this loan craziness. Unfortunately, most home sales involve a lender and the lender wants to make sure their investment is secure. Tiresome, but understandable. Especially if you own stock in a mortgage company or a bank (you don’t want these banks just lending money on anything do you?)

This is the dynamic of the housing market: recent sales influence the value of the current sale. In custom-built, diverse, eclectic neighborhoods like ours in the Northeast LA and Pasadena areas, pricing is an art not a science. Average price per square foot is a Zestimate, and we all know what we think of Zillow’s numbers. I don’t care what some appraiser says, there is a huge subjective aspect to valuing a home. Sometimes the appraiser, buyer, lender, seller and agents all agree, and many times we don’t.
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A Positive Slant on Buy vs. Rent


Can you believe it? One of the cities where it is more affordable to buy than rent is Los Angeles!

Check out this article from DSNews.com:






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Featured Home: 3641 Kinney Place, Glassell Park

3641 Kinney Place
GLASSELL PARK, CA
OPEN SUNDAY, JANUARY 30, 1-4PM! For more pictures and information visit www.3641Kinney.com.

3BR/2BA Single Family House
$489,000
Year Built 1962
Sq Footage 1,392
Bedrooms 3
Bathrooms 2 full, 0 partial
Floors 2
Parking 2 Car garage
Lot Size 5,290 sqft
HOA/Maint $0 per month
Description

Nestled in the hills above Glassell Park, this delightful secluded home affords both stunning views from the city to the mountains from the top deck and cozy treetop views from the balcony below. Updated features include: new designer-remodeled chef's kitchen with 2 matching Swanstone sinks,Rosemary Caesarstone counters and custom maple cabineting with glass-front cabinets. The floorplan is just what buyers want today with the kitchen, dining and living space all open to the view and the deck, secluded by surrounding trees. There is new bamboo flooring on the main floor, slated tile entry and fireplace, premium dual-pane windows throughout and much more. The 2-car attached garage has direct access into the house and a new garage-door opener. There are 2 bedrooms, 1 bath upstairs. The third bedroom was converted to a convenient den off the living room with the laundry room and downstairs bath adjacent. The backyard down below offers a potential for great gardening or pet/play space
Property Features

Central A/C Central heat Fireplace
Tile floor Living room Office/Den
Dishwasher Refrigerator Stove/Oven
Laundry area - inside Balcony, Deck, or Patio
Community Features

Garage parking
Other Special Features

Built in 1962
1,392 SF on a 5,290 SF lot
Designer-remodeled chef's kitchen
New tankless water heater
New 30-year main roof
New bamboo floors on main floor
New dual pane windows throughout
Open living space that flows to a deck with spectacular views!
Additional Photos

View to Griffith Observ.
3641 Kinney Place
Kitchen
Living Room
Kitchen Window
Dining Area
Contact Info
Tracy King
Coldwell Banker
DRE Lic#01048877
(626) 844-2256
For sale by agent/broker

Equal Opportunity Housing
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