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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 planning he...r next trip to Paris. More

Last TracyTalk Newsletter of the Year!

Here it is, last TracyTalk of 2010! Featuring:

  • What are Closing Costs?

  • End of Year Market Update

  • First Step for Home Buyers

  • Winterizing Your Home

  • Mortgage Interest Rates

  • Putting Money into a Refinance

  • A Special Thank You

  • Recent Activity

  • December Newsletter



Forward on to anyone you might think would find it interesting, and let me know what you think!
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Morning on Chaney Trail

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Is Putting Money into a Refinance a Good Investment?

Today’s interest rates are the lowest in just about forever. Yet a number of people are not refinancing to take advantage of these rates because the value of their homes is not quite enough to show that the equity is the 20 to 25% that the lender requires to do the loan. What am I talking about? Lenders today like for borrowers to have a healthy amount of equity in their homes before they lend them money at the incredibly more affordable interest rate than any of us have seen in any of our memories. That’s so in case we don’t make our payments and the lender has to foreclose, they will actually be able to sell our property for enough to pay them back for their investment, even if we don’t make our payments for many months and even if the value of our property goes down after they give us the money.

Interest rates are so low right now that even if you are a bit “upside down” with your loan, meaning that you owe, say, 90% of what it is worth today, you might want to consider investing in paying down your mortgage balance to complete the refinance. Jack Guttentag, The Mortgage Professor, wrote an article for Inman News that illustrates the scenario (http://www.inman.com/buyers-sellers/columnists/jackguttentag/reap-benefits-cash-in-refinance). Check out his calculator to see what return paying a lower interest rate yields on your money: http://www.mtgprofessor.com/Calculators/Calculator3f.html.

One important element to this idea depends on whether you can get an appraisal that reflects an acceptable value for your home. I blogged recently about my personal trials and tribulations regarding this, but in the end, I was offered a lower interest rate than I could have gotten earlier this year, and although I had to put money in to get the loan, I think it was totally worth it in the long run.
Another element is, of course, do you have the money to put into the payoff? This is obviously not a solution for those who are upside down and unable to pay down the mortgage or having trouble affording their payments.
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Winterizing Your Home

The change of seasons from fall to winter is a great time to check that your home is still in good shape.  Even in sunny Southern California, we need to think about “winterizing” our homes.

If you are a homeowner, the best single thing you can do is schedule a periodic inspection of the major areas that can affect how safe, warm and dry you will be this winter.

Here’s a list of points you can use to make sure your home is ready for winter (however mild it may be here!):

Safe:
1.       Are your doors and windows secure?  It’s easy enough to check all your locks, knobs and handles. Also, if you have recently moved into your home, have you had your locks re-keyed? It’s not expensive and can prevent someone else’s old friends from wandering in.
2.       Is your house safe from bugs? A termite inspection every year or two is such a smart thing to do. Take it from the person who waited nine years and had to go through a fumigation, wood repair, repainting…a whole lot of work that could have been easily prevented!
3.       Is your house safe from fire? Have your chimney cleaned and inspected.
4.       Are all your systems operating safely? A professional  general inspection will tell you if you have electrical or plumbing issues that you might not know about otherwise. I once listed a house in which the electrical system was so old and worn that the inspector warned them a fire could start at any moment. They re-wired the house immediately, but would not have known to do so otherwise.
Warm:
1.       Have your furnace inspected and serviced. Are you changing your filters as often as recommended? You will ensure safe and efficient operation, plus you can save on your heating bills—a clean filter lets more warm air through with less energy used.
2.       Have you checked your doors and windows for air leaks? You can apply weather-stripping yourself with inexpensive supplies from the home improvement store.
Dry:
1.       Have your roof inspected.
2.       Check your yard. Is the ground sloped away from the house so that moisture doesn’t flow or wick toward your foundation?
3.       Do you have rain gutters? Clean and inspect them often, especially if you have trees nearby. A clogged gutter can cause water to collect on your roof and drastically reduce its life.
If you don’t have gutters, you might want to investigate having them installed—they can help keep water away from your foundation.
4.       Back to plumbing—How often do you go under your house? It is very common in older homes to have a plumbing leak that is small enough that you don’t notice it, but it can do a lot of damage over time. Or it can provide a breeding ground for mold, dry rot, or pest infestation.

These inspections don’t have to be expensive. A reputable termite company might charge $75-$125 to inspect your home. Start with that and a chimney cleaning ($75-250) and go from there.
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Housing opportunity of a lifetime!

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Home Purchase Activity Up in November

Here’s a hopeful article from DSNews.com, a news source aimed at the mortgage servicing industry: Home Purchase Activity Hits Six Month High.

The meat of the article is that mortgage applications for home purchases in the third week of November reached their highest numbers since May. Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s (Mortgage Banker’s Association) VP of research and economics, said “The level of purchase applications on a seasonally adjusted basis is now at its highest level since the expiration of the home buyer tax credit.”

This is very encouraging news.

We are seeing similar results on a local level as well:

This is the November, 2010 pending and sold activity for Eagle Rock, 90041 zip code as of November 30, 2010:

Here are the active listings currently on the market in 90041:

This is the year to October information;

One item of interest is that the List Price/Sales Price ratio had been drifting down into the 90 percentiles in the last few months, but in November it was back over 100%. Also, active inventory is drifting down again as these properties are selling at a greater rate than they are coming on the market. Since I have a few new listings hitting the market this week, I am really glad to see these numbers!

What’s going on?

It looks like the combination of historically low interest rates and the slight uptick in consumer confidence is finally having some effect on our market. Also, prices have come down a bit as sellers decide that it might not get better for a long time and price their homes to get offers. But maybe it’s just that a lot of people have decided they want to be in their new home by the end of the year. That’s a goal that is still possible if you hurry!
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Invitation to view Tracy King's Picasa Web Album - Peru Trip Selections

You are invited to view Tracy King's photo album: Peru Trip Selections
Peru Trip Selections
Cusco to Machu Picchu, Peru -
Nov 13, 2010
by Tracy King
Selections from our trip November 13-24, 2010

Message from Tracy King:
If you're interested in my photos from Peru, here is the link.


These pictures were sent with Picasa, from Google.
Try it out here: http://picasa.google.com/
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To share your photos or receive notification when your friends share photos, get your own free Picasa Web Albums account.

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New Listing: 725 N Avenue 63, Highland Park

725 N Avenue 63
HIGHLAND PARK, CA
OPEN TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30 10-2; THURSDAY, DECEMBER 2, 10-2; SUNDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1-4!

3BR/1+1BA Single Family House
$449,000
Year Built 1923
Sq Footage 1,024
Bedrooms 3
Bathrooms 1 full, 1 partial
Floors 1
Parking 1 car detached garage
Lot Size 5,445 sqft
HOA/Maint $0 per month
Description

Sweet Craftsman cottage has it all--even the white picket fence! Located in the newly designated Garvanza area of the Highland Park Historic Overlay Zone, this is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Highland Park, adjacent to Pasadena. This adorable 1923-vintage home has an efficient floorplan that covers it all--3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, hardwood floors, a rebuilt 1-car garage with rooftop deck, a backyard designed for entertaining with a patio, garden, and play area. Updated with central air & heat, remodeled kitchen & baths, crown molding, and bead-board wainscoting. The lot is completely gated and fenced for added privacy.
Property Features

Tile floor Living room Laundry area - inside
Balcony, Deck, or Patio Yard
Other Special Features

Great location in Garvanza, near the Pasadena border
Updated kitchen and baths
Great outdoor space with patio above garage and patio in back
Additional Photos

Photo 1
Living Room
Kitchen
Bath
Back Yard
Contact Info
Tracy King
Coldwell Banker
DRE Lic#01048877
(626) 844-2256
For sale by agent/broker

For more pictures visit www.725Avenue63.com


Equal Opportunity Housing
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New Listing: 5284 Ellenwood Drive, Eagle Rock

5284 Ellenwood Drive
EAGLE ROCK, CA
OPEN TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 10-2; THURSDAY, DECEMBER 2, 10-2; SUNDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1-4

3BR/2BA Single Family House
$589,000
Year Built 1936
Sq Footage 1,530
Bedrooms 3
Bathrooms 2 full, 0 partial
Floors 1
Parking 2 car detached garage
Lot Size 7,238 sqft
Description

5284 Ellenwood Drive is a traditional-style home located in a desirable Eagle Rock location just below Hill Drive. Upon entry, the large living room greets you with a brick-faced fireplace, built-in bookcases, bay window, and entry to the side garden. Separate dining room leads to the light-filled kitchen, with new floor and tile. The home is complete with three bedrooms and two baths, one of which has the original 1930s tile in great condition. Hardwood floors throughout have recently been refinished. Other features include: basement for added storage, laundry room off the kitchen, central air and heat, flat enclosed yard, recently repaired chimney, new fence along south side of property and a two-car detached garage with bonus room perfect for office, art studio, or more storage! Located in the Blue-Ribbon Distinguished Eagle Rock Elementary School area - check with the school for attendance information.
Property Features

Central A/C Central heat Fireplace
Hardwood floor Living room Dining room
Dishwasher Refrigerator Stove/Oven
Microwave Basement Washer
Dryer Laundry area - inside Yard
Other Special Features

Award-winning elementary school district
Recently repaired chimney
Re-tiled kitchen
New paint inside and out
9 year old roof
Refinished hardwood floors
Additional Photos

Front
Living Room
Kitchen
Dining Room
Hall Bath
Back Yard
Contact Info
Tracy King
Coldwell Banker
DRE Lic#01048877
(626) 844-2256
For sale by agent/broker

For more pictures visit www.5284Ellenwood.com


Equal Opportunity Housing
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Another beautiful morning on Echo Mountain

Although I hoped it would be easier after hiking the Inca Trail.

Tracy King
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Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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Holiday Art and Gift Sale at Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock

Center for the Arts is having a Holiday Arts Festival on Sunday, November 28 11am-4pm.

Welcome winter and join for an afternoon of shopping, featuring artists selling their creations.  Jewelry, accessories, ceramics, and other fine wares available for purchase directly from the artists.

10% of all sales benefit Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock.

There will also be a fun holiday photobooth, so dress up and take your holiday pictures!

Raffle tickets will be $5 each or 3 for $10.

Free parking at Bank of America.  Center for the Arts is located at 2225 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041.  For more information, visit their website at www.centerartseaglerock.org.
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Inca Trail

Tracy King
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Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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Breakfast before the trek begins

In Ollaytaytambo we had American breakfast: eggs, bread, butter, jam. And coca tea. Everyone is in different stages of altitude sickness from none to almost didn't make the trek.

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Peruvian food

Chicken and potatoes. Delicate and yummy.

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The adventure begins

Checking in for our trek.

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Invitation to view Tracy King's Picasa Web Album - Inspiration point

You are invited to view Tracy King's photo album: Inspiration point
Inspiration point
Nov 10, 2010
by Tracy King

Message from Tracy King:
What a perfect day for a 9.5 mile hike to Inspiration Point and back.
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5312 Sierra Villa Drive, Eagle Rock

5312 Sierra Villa Drive
5312 Sierra Villa Drive
5312 Sierra Villa is a bright, clean Craftsman cottage with lots of windows, re-finished hardwood floors, spacious rooms, and updated kitchen and bath. Upgrades also include copper plumbing and fresh paint inside and out. The finished attic is full-length with built-in dresser drawers, providing lots of additional storage. The two-car garage adjoins the patio and the guest house. Landscaping includes several fruit trees - lemon, lime, persimmon, pomegranate, fig and avocado.
Living Room
Living Room
This property also includes a separate guest house with one full bedroom, bath, kitchen and living area; permit status is unknown. It has recently (finally!) been vacated by the tenant and is being completely renovated by seller. We mean gutted down to the studs, carpet ripped up - the whole shebang. The finishes will match those of the main house, according to the seller. Main house has an additional 1/2 bath in the second bedroom, permit status is unknown.
Kitchen
Kitchen

Listed for $549,000
1,188 SF on a 6,650 SF lot
2 bedrooms, 1 bath
2-car detached garage with bonus workshop/storage space attached

Attic

Attic

****UPDATE***** We will being holding Sierra Villa open on November 21, 1-4pm. If you, or someone you know, is looking for a great move-in ready home in a great neighborhood in Eagle Rock, come check it out!

Guest House
Guest House

For more pictures visit www.5312SierraVilla.com.

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Fall morning at Echo Mountain

The remnants of the Mt. Lowe Scenic Railway.

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The Box Revisited

Almost 2 years ago I blogged about “The Box,” a presentation by Iku Kiriyama, who, as a public service, shares her experiences when she lost her husband to a fatal disease and realizing what she could have done to have made the process much easier. This is disaster preparedness of the highest order and applies to a fire, a hurricane, or the loss of a spouse. What kind of information do you need to be prepared? Get the notes from that presentation here.

One of the women in my knitting group recently lost her husband, and she told me this evening that “The Box” had really helped her. I’m very gratified that Iku’s desire to help others made a difference. Since that presentation, I’ve learned about a couple of websites that can make the process of organizing your important papers even easier and safer. You can scan all your important documents and store them in two different places online and be able to access them from any computer.

www.Carbonite.com: Online backup of your documents. It’s automatic, it’s reasonably priced, it works. Check the reviews and comments on their site, and you can even sign up for a free trial. Did you know that 43% of computer users lose their photos, documents, data every year?

www.Dropbox.com: Also an online backup system set up differently. It’s free, you can share files with other people and the documents (photos, files) that you save to your Dropbox folder are updated automatically.

I use both these websites. And check this out, they can work together to save you even from yourself! One day I accidentally moved some files from Dropbox on one computer. I went  to another computer to restore them, but I had done something odd and the files weren’t there. But I could go to Carbonite and restore them from there. Double indemnity! This is priceless.
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Colorful lunch at Auntie Em's

Beet salad & squash,fennel & frigate quiche. Yum.

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