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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 made her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. Now retired, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, hanging out with her grandson, and planning her next trip to Paris.

Real Estate Market Update

Slight downward movement in mortgage interest rates was reported yesterday, Sept. 4, 2008:

Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®) in which the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 6.40 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending August 21, 2008, down from last week when it averaged 6.47 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.67 percent.

The article also reported increased home buyer interest and activity.
For the complete report, click here.

According to Itech MLS, in Eagle Rock (zip code 90041), active listings today hover at 44, with 10 of them short sales and only 1 a foreclosure. So 25% of the active listings in Eagle Rock are "distress sales," of which maybe 2 or 3 will actually ever close escrow in the next 6 to 12 months. That's a pretty low inventory of properties truly for sale, folks. All of the short sales are listed for under $580,000, which means that 45% of the properties below the median price of $584,000, are not really viable listings. It makes the real numbers point to a more normal market than a buyer's market in terms of how many months it would take to sell everything currently on the market.

Sellers, don't think this means that the market is back to 2006 price levels. No. Many properties are really more at 2004 levels today. If you have the equity to price your home there, now you're looking at some excitement from the buying community. Call me.

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Tuesday's Crop of Propertunities

Every Tuesday, the Coldwell Banker offices and a couple of MLS organizations have Broker caravans where we look at the latest listings to come on the market. I thought I'd share the news with you, as several I saw today are really good deals! If you want to make an offer, call me! I would love to represent you.

1575 N Los Robles1575 N. Los Robles, Pasadena, only $384,900! Near Howard St in NW Pasadena, this is a 1905 Craftsman, over 1200 sqft with really high ceilings, 3 bedrooms, a big lot (8841 sqft), and a super price! It's a bank-owned, sold as-is, but has copper plumbing, central air & heat, and still some character touches.

278 W Altadena Dr, Altadena278 W Altadena Dr, Altadena, $449,000. Another bank-owned, this one is 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a Janes Cottage on a 8612 sqft lot.

4577 Jessica Dr, Mt Washington4577 Jessica Dr, Mt. Washington, $538,000. Cape Cod style cottage with 3 BR, 1.5 baths, nestled under the trees and in Mt. Washington Elementary area.


5315 Buchanan, Highland Park5315 Buchanan St, Highland Park, $499,000. A former bank-owned that was rehabbed extensively into a surprisingly nice 5 BR, 3 bath home with entirely new systems and interior. It's not a high-end neighborhood, but this is a real deal for someone who needs this much space.

4840-hartwick.jpg4840 Hartwick St, Eagle Rock, $699,000. This is all about the backyard. If you want a kid's paradise where they can play as if they lived out in the country all in your own backyard, this is your dream come true. First, sit out on the deck overlooking it with a lovely south-facing view. It's a good house, too, with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, in good condition. Located at the end of a culdesac in the heart of Eagle Rock.

2059 Windover, Pasadena2059 Windover Rd, Pasadena, $1,100,000. A midcentury on a huge lot, great style but potential to be really stunning.

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Good news, Bad news, Lots of News (Especially for Entry-level Buyers)

The good news is the Housing and Recovery Act of 2008, signed into law by President Bush last week. This bill permanently increases FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac loan limits in high-cost areas (that's us) to $625,500. There is another provision that offers a first-time buyer tax credit of up to $7,500 that is actually an interest-free loan with a 15-year repayment plan. This is available to a person who has not owned a home in the three previous years. This credit is only in effect for buyers who purchase between April 9, 2008, and June 30, 2009. The purchase has to be for your primary residence, and there are a few more qualifying rules. For detailed information, you can go to the Federal Housing Tax Credit site.

The bad news is that Freddie Mac, the big mortgage finance company, posted a large quarterly loss. This resulted in opinions from various sectors predicting further home price declines and the possibility of mortgage interest rates rising.

So how does this affect the current market in OUR neck of the woods, Northeast Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley? Those of you who are in the under $500,000 price range know that outside of short sales (which aren't sales) and foreclosures (largely junk with the occasional deal that you better be able to pay cash or put 50% down and move really really fast on), there isn't much that is any good and those few are going in multiple offers. This price range was largely non-existent for the years 2004-2006 and is really the buying opportunity of the day.

I know you think "oh, she's just a Realtor trying to make us feel like we have to buy now and everyone else says prices are still going to come down."  Go ahead, take the chance that something you like that is out there now at a price you can afford will be cheaper in a few months or next year. It might happen, but how much are you willing to bet that mortgage rates will stay the same as today? They have already crept up to 6.5% for most 30-year fixed loans and experts are predicting a rise to 7%. What will that do to your falling prices? Make it a wash, that's what. Your buying power drops dramatically when interest rates rise. For every $100,000 mortgage, the cost goes up $67 for a 1% rise in interest rate from 6.5% to 7.5%, meaning your buying power is actually almost $10,000 less. To put it simply, for every 1% increase in mortgage rate, you have a 10% decrease in buying power.

I know some people predict the market will go down another 10-20%, but once the foreclosures and shortsales work themselves out thanks to the Fed, what seller will put their house on the market? Only the few who really must. There you have the supply and demand dynamic, with fewer homes on the market, the demand goes up and so can prices.

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Cowboy Real Estate

Out in Pasadena's West, that is, west of the Arroyo and south of the 210 Freeway, is a lovely area that includes the San Rafael Hills. Most of the homes were built in the 50s, they've been well maintained, have great views, and it's a convenient location to both Pasadena's Old Town and downtown Los Angeles. I noticed some odd real estate happening over there last year when I had a listing that never sold that had appraised at $850,000, thanks to a couple of sales that seemed unusually high for the time. So here's my investigative report:

As of today, August 3, 2008, of the under $1 million market, if you look at the gross numbers it looks like there are 19 homes currently on the market, 19 have sold so far this year and 3 are in escrow. At this rate there are over 7 months of inventory. Since over 4 or 5 months' supply qualifies as a buyer's market, it looks like it's slow in the San Rafael Hills. It is truly slow, since we only have 3 properties in escrow.

Of the 19 homes currently on the market listed for $1,000,000 or less, 8 are short sales and 3 are REOs. Of the 19 properties that have sold so far this year, 2 were REOs, 3 were probate or trust sales and none were short sales. Of the 3 properties currently in escrow, 1 is a shortsale and 1 is an REO. Of the 11 expired or withdrawn properties, 4 were short sales and 1 is now on the market as an REO.

The current real estate commentary you read in the paper says that there is a lot of inventory on the market which is bringing the prices and the demand down. But if you remove the short sales from the equation, we now have 11 active listings or an inventory of about 4 months, which is closer to a normal or even a seller's market.

In my educated opinion which is verified by bankruptcy attorneys and many Realtors who specialize in short sales, most short sales will not be approved. Why? There are many reasons, mostly stemming from the fact that most people don't understand how they work and they advertise their property as a short sale with no idea whether they qualify for one. And Realtors take them on with the same ignorance. Of the 8 short sales now on the market, I'll bet you not one sells until they go through the foreclosure process and come back into the market as an REO, or bank-owned sale. What does this mean to you?

If you own a house in the San Rafael Hills and want to sell it, you are competing with some "fantasy" listings as well as some really bargain priced REOs. The 2 cheapest properties on the market are REOs. Unfortunately for you, you can't disregard them because the buyers and the appraisers are looking at them, and believe me, these properties will sell and sell quickly. So if you don't have to sell, you probably won't.

If you're a buyer, how can you take advantage of some of the really great deals that do appear, like those 2 REOs? First, can you pay cash? Or do you have such a large down payment that your loan can be under $417,000? You are in good shape. If you already own a home that you have to sell in order to buy another, you need to put it on the market and sell it for whatever you can and be willing to rent until you find the deal you want. It's not that difficult, there are lots of rentals out there right now. And when you're ready, don't be confused by the short sales you see on the market. Just ignore them and look at the homes that you have some chance of actually purchasing.

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What's Real in Real Estate Today? Part 1.

Well, I'll tell you one thing that's not real is a short sale. Those are properties where the sales price won't be enough to cover the loan and closing costs, so the bank has to agree to take less than they are owed to make the deal work. Guess what? They almost never agree to take less! They don't care that they may make less eventually when they have to sell it as a foreclosure. They want to make an example of these irresponsible sellers and make them suffer for getting themselves into such a financial pickle. If you are such a seller and need to sell, you had better be in real financial trouble or your short sale will not be approved. That means you can't have any other assets, or if you do, you have to give them to the bank. They'll transfer what you owe to another property, or they'll take a promissory note if you don't own any other real estate. And you almost always have to already be in default on your loan, so your credit is trashed regardless

So, you the prospective buyer say, what's the harm in looking at short sales? Here's the problem: you are wasting your time. Not just by looking at unlikely properties, but what if you fall in love and make an offer? What if it's actually accepted, pending lender approval, of course? Then you waste even more time waiting weeks, even months to find, 95% of the time, that the lender turned the deal down and foreclosed on the property yesterday. Not only is that really frustrating, but you have a huge loss in missed opportunities. That cute little foreclosure on the next street that sold in a day. That regular sale that sold in multiple offers last week. Oh, yes, and even though the paper says that the prices are dropping, now that you're back in the market it seems like anything that's any good is $20,000 higher than you thought you were going to pay with the short sale.

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Tracy's Micro Market Report for Friday

Pasadena, CA:


Constant readers know I am the King of Eagle Rock, but my real estate license is good in the state of California, and I have sold a lot of real estate all over Northeast Los Angeles and the western end of the San Gabriel Valley including Altadena and Pasadena in my 18 years as a Realtor.

Last week, I co-listed a terrific property at 3150 San Pasqual Street, Pasadena, for $1,875,000. We priced this to sell, not to market. We had 121 Realtors attend the Broker's Caravan last Thursday and 112 people attended the public open house last Sunday. We were given an excellent offer and after a bit of negotiation came to a mutually acceptable agreement by the end of the open house.

Wow, this sounds like the activity of the good old days, doesn't it? Here's the deal: we had sellers who wanted to sell, buyers who wanted to buy, and everyone eventually was satisfied with the price. A number of people whined about how quickly it sold although they admitted that they knew it was a good deal. They had been lulled by the current expectation that all houses take a while to sell and didn't act quickly enough.

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Check out the Eagle Rock Farmer's Market!

The Eagle Rock Farmer's Market has been around for almost 9 years, can you believe it? It's had its ups and downs that included pony rides, Elvis impersonators, fresh pressed apple juice, inexpensive clothing, incense, and the balloon clown. Today's market includes a fast food row with Latino, Filipino, and American style foods like hot dogs, horchata, chicken and pork skewers. There is always the Farmer's Market Table run by John and Sueann Miller on behalf of Michael Noguiera and the Chamber of Commerce. And there is good, fresh produce in season. Right now you can enjoy strawberries, plums, peaches, grapes, all kinds of greens, mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, herbs, and lettuce. The orchid lady is there with several varieties of orchids at slightly higher than Trader Joe's prices. Every week brings a slightly different cast of vendors, so this week there was another garden booth selling small pots of other plants.
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Check out the Eagle Rock Farmer's Market!

The Eagle Rock Farmer's Market has been around for almost 9 years, can you believe it? It's had its ups and downs that included pony rides, Elvis impersonators, fresh pressed apple juice, inexpensive clothing, incense, and the balloon clown. Today's market includes a fast food row with Latino, Filipino, and American style foods like hot dogs, horchata, chicken and pork skewers. There is always the Farmer's Market Table run by John and Sueann Miller on behalf of Michael Noguiera and the Chamber of Commerce. And there is good, fresh produce in season. Right now you can enjoy strawberries, plums, peaches, grapes, all kinds of greens, mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, herbs, and lettuce. The orchid lady is there with several varieties of orchids at slightly higher than Trader Joe's prices. Every week brings a slightly different cast of vendors, so this week there was another garden booth selling small pots of other plants.
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Two events this week

Two community events worth checking out:

Join me at Shaker's restaurant in Glendale to support the Women's 2oth Century Club tomorrow night!  The Women's 20th Century Club of Eagle Rock is a non-profit organization of local women who work together to improve the community, so the money raised will go straight into bettering Eagle Rock .

Womens' Club Fundraiser

The tree-lined sidewalk by Montrose Shopping Park plays home to a variety of artists who display and sell their work this weekend.  From 9 am to 4 pm, walk along Honolulu Avenue to see the fine art created by the community's own artists.

Montrose Art Walk
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Finance 101 thanks to Money Magazine

An interesting calculation in the June 2008 Money magazine is the TED spread, an indication of easy it will be to borrow money. It's the difference between the 3 month LIBOR rate and the 3 month T-bill rate.  The T-bill is essentially risk free and the LIBOR is the rate the banks charge to borrow from one another. If they are nervous about lending to each other, they certainly are more fearful about lending to you and me. They say a difference of .4 % is what we need to see. The latest figures show a spread of .97%, which is a bit more than last month, and a lot more than 1 year ago when it was .41%.

My conclusion: this formula confirms that it is difficult to get loans right now. I already knew that anything but the most pristine of credit, 20% down, conforming loan type buyer was having trouble getting a loan, but this formula shows me why and also how I can know when it is changing.

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Summer Solstice in Eagle Rock

It was the hottest day so far this year, 108 degrees by several accounts. TERA, The Eagle Rock Association, had its second annual Summer Solstice Volunteer Recognition Party at the Eagle Rockdale Community Garden and Art Park last night and it was a delightful event.

Lots of food, wine, and water were on hand scattered under the trees in this tucked away corner of Eagle Rock just east of Figueroa off La Loma and Lanark at the end of Shelby-Lanark Park. Several misters scattered under the trees cooled off the partygoers enough to make it bearable.

It seemed like dozens of adorable little girls got themselves drenched in the spray and then listened with rapt attention to the folk/environmental rock of the Glen Iris band. As dusk descended, Queenie and the Saints entertained with torch songs reminiscent of Peggy Lee.

 Does life get any better? A hot night, good music, reconnecting with friends and family, and celebrating the continued renaissance of Eagle Rock; that is a pretty great way to welcome summer, in my book

An adorable audience of little girls listen to the Glen Iris Band.

The Glen Iris Band performs.

The gardens themselves are grown and maintained by local individuals and are producing organic food for their families. The Community Garden is a project sponsored by TERA headed by Mary Tokita, who has lovingly and wholeheartedly worked for several years to make an abandoned right of way into this garden in the city.

How did you celebrate the first day of summer?
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Buyers In Today's Market

Buyers in today's market are seeing some of the most confusing contradictions we've had in the market in my 18 years selling real estate. On the one hand, there is more inventory including more foreclosures and short sales than we've had in over 12 years, and we often see price reductions of over $100,000 on some even modestly priced homes. On the other hand, we see multiple offers with prices going over asking. It doesn't seem to make any sense.

Especially in these confusing times, pricing it right is the key to success. The hard part for a buyer to figure out is whether the price is right or can they offer less? Sellers are wondering whether the right price is too low and can they try just a bit higher? If the price is good enough to draw multiple offers, is it crazy to be in a bidding war when all the news says we're in a down market?

Here's the really hard part: you need to rely on the advice that moves you toward what you really want. This is true of any subject, from housing to your career. That means that your mother or nephew or friend at the office is not who you should rely on because they are rarely the ones who tell you to do something adventurous. They usually see their role in your life as the cautionary voice of what can go bad. This way, they are never wrong. If you ignore their advice and do something and it doesn't turn out, they told you so. If you don't do it, they were right and can never be proven wrong. And if you do it anyway and it turns out great, well, maybe you forget that they told you not to do it. The only advice that people seem to take from friends all the time which is risky is buying stocks. And that turns out badly so often, it's amazing.

What to do? Buy because you need a place to live. Buy because you want your own home in a neighborhood so you can be a grownup and a citizen and participate in the American Dream. Buy because you're tired of your landlord raising your rent and telling you you can't smoke in your own home, or own a dog, or paint your bedroom purple. Buy because you are tired of seeing all that rent money go to helping your landlord buy your house with you not getting any ownership of it.

Buying a house as purely an investment strategy is not a bad thing, but you cannot expect to see your stock share go predictably up like the accumulated interest on a CD. Over time, say 5 to 10 years, you are pretty sure to see your initial investment increase significantly. But don't make that the only reason to own a home.
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I’m Walking and Fundraising to Fight Breast Cancer

Did you know that every three minutes, another woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer? I didn’t, and I was shocked to learn how prevalent this horrible disease has become in this country.

Ten years ago, I joined thousands of other women and walked the first Avon Walk Against Breast Cancer. This time, my daughter Keely asked me to join her on her first Avon Walk, and I’ve committed to doing that.

I’m asking for your help. On September 13-14, we’ll spend the weekend walking, along with thousands of other people, in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. We will walk at least the distance of a marathon (26.2 miles), and I may walk as far as a marathon and a half. Either way, it’s a very long walk. I’ll have to spend the next few months training, fundraising, and preparing for the event. It’s a big challenge, but I’m very excited about doing it because I know it will make a real difference to the millions of people affected by breast cancer.

The money raised goes to the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade, a 501(c)(3) public charity whose mission is to provide access to care and to work toward finding a cure. They provide funding to organizations all over the country in five areas: medical research, clinical care, support services, educational and advocacy seminars, and community-based, non-profit early detection breast health programs. Much of the money raised will stay right here to help people in our city.

I’m required to raise at least $1,800 to participate. Please help to support me and the breast cancer cause by making a generous contribution to my efforts. You can make your donation online by simply clicking on the link at the bottom of this message, which will bring you right to my personal page. Please remember as you’re making your donation that in less than the time it took to read this e-mail, another woman in the U.S. was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Thank you for your support. If you receive duplicate emails from me, please understand that I wanted to make sure at least one message went to your current email address.

P.S. You can find out more about the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer by visiting

Click here to visit my personal page.

If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:

Some email systems may send your response to the Avon Foundation, not to your walker/donor when you push “reply”. Before “sending”, please confirm that your message is addressed to your intended recipient (above). If This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. appears as a recipient, please delete and add the correct recipient email.

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Straight Talk About Foreclosures

The people who made the most money during the California Gold Rush of the 1800s were the grocers and other providers who sold goods to the prospectors. Today, the people making the most money off the great deals to be found snapping up foreclosures are selling the lists, how-to programs, and access to the websites that publish the data on pre- and post- foreclosures.

You don’t believe me? Fine. Pay your $49.95 per month for access to the lists and then go convince one of the people who have had a notice of default published that they should sell to you instead of going through the disgrace of foreclosure. Keep in mind that someone in this kind of financial trouble is not a particularly reliable source of information about the true state of the property in question, or about other liens there might be against the property besides the one that filed the notice. Are you an investor? In this case, that means someone who does not intend to live in the property. If you are, then a Realtor cannot represent you because there is an odd law called the Home Equity Sales Contract Law that says they can’t without a bond that doesn’t exist. So you are on your own to negotiate the jungle of preliminary title reports and what they mean among other technical issues. Also, the seller can claim duress anytime up to 2 years after the sale and have the sale rescinded, plus collect damages against you

Another thing to keep in mind is that the minute a notice of default is recorded against a property, the owner starts receiving all kinds of letters and notices from attorneys, lenders, investors, and other individuals who all promise they have the magic pill that will cure all the homeowner’s financial problems and allow them to keep the property or sell it at a profit or win the lotto or something. The homeowner quickly becomes immune to any communication relating to the property due purely to mail overload. And phone call overload if their phone number is listed

You can buy yourself a cheap foreclosure on the steps of the courthouse because the website says that the equity is 40%. Of course, you have no access to the property, no inspection or disclosure rights, and when you become the owner of the property you get to be the one who evicts the unfortunate tenants or former owners from the site. In the City of Los Angeles and other communities with rent control laws, you may find yourself with tenants you cannot get rid of. And anywhere, if they are there with a valid lease, a change of ownership does not affect their right to live out the terms of the lease. Also, if the lien holder in second or third position is the one foreclosing, you may find that you have a senior deed of trust that you are now responsible for paying.

In actual real life, most foreclosures eventually become listed by Realtors who have a relationship with the lender that obtains the property. They get to make sure the tenants vacate, secure the property and do whatever cleanup/fixup the bank approves. Then the property is listed on the Multiple Listing Service and is treated just like any other listed property, which means you can call me to represent you on the purchase. Sometimes they are listed for a really low price and there are multiple offers, sometimes the bank is just like many sellers who think they need to get more than what any buyer is willing to pay for the property.

Does this make you want to run out and pick up a foreclosure list or sign up for access to a foreclosure site? Call me, I have a great bargain for you. It’s out in the desert. It’s a bridge!

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Here is Tracy's new and improved blog at last!

It's great to be back posting after a several month hiatus. Bear with me while I work out the bugs.

My focus is on life in Northeast Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley, with a particular emphasis on housing since that is what I do--connect interesting homes with interesting people. I define interesting in a lot of different ways, so don't worry about whether what you want is interesting enough for me, let me be the judge of that, ok?
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June 2002 TracyTalk Newsletter

Interest Rates Drop; Anxiety Fuels Sales

According to the Los Angeles Times, mortgage rates have dropped to under 6.8%, and are likely to provoke already surging sales.

Interestingly, several experts agree that anxiety is the primary factor that drives the Southern California market-the fear that a consumer won't be able to buy a home before rates rise or double digit price increases push desirable properties out of reach. Loan applications haven't increased much because most buyers are unaware that rates have dropped.

Public Misconception
In fact, the current feeling among the general public is that interest rates are bound to go up significantly soon. Every month that the economic news is not as positive as expected is a month when interest rates stay low.

There is a certain amount of unemployment in the Los Angeles area, but most people in "regular" jobs are in a very good position to buy property now.Why have rates dropped?

Many investors are putting money into mortgage-backed securities which offer higher yields than other fixed-income investments like money-market funds. That increased investment has pushed down the cost of borrowing and lowered rates.

Long-Predicted Rise
Analysts are predicting that mortgage rates will begin rising by late summer if the economy continues to improve. As I recall, I said the same thing a couple of issues ago and ended up with egg on my face as mortgage rates remained low. Really, how can any of us predict anything?

I'll take a big breath and predict this: home prices are not going down in the foreseeable future.

Eclectic Eagle Rock Home Tour Turns Three
It was a great day on May 19. The weather was cool and although it drizzled in the morning, it turned out to be a perfect day for a home tour.
We sold almost 700 tickets, not much different than last year. I think there were too many other interesting events going on that day-the Venice Artwalk and the Arroyo Museum Day to name two. Of course, our event was the most interesting that day. Well, I think so.

Is It Worth It?
It's a lot of work to put on a home tour. Is it worth it? A few days before the tour, I'm sure you would have had several opinions on that from the committee.

A few of us had our doubts the morning of the tour when the shuttles that the City Council office was supposed to provide didn't show up for two hours. When they finally did, they were too big to go up Linda Rosa Street-which was what we wanted them for in the first place.

At the end of the day, though, I think we all agreed it was well worth it. That day, we saw hundreds of people strolling along Hill Drive and?oh my gosh?even strolling along Floristan south of Colorado! We saw shops and cafes on Colorado and Eagle Rock Blvds filled with customers.

Residents Return
We welcomed new people to the community, and some people who had moved away came back to see what Eagle Rock was up to now. Several long-time residents decided to become more involved as volunteers and instantly ran into people they hadn't seen in years.

I gave away lots of Should I Stucco My Wood House? brochures.

The Home Tour Committee always has an after-party to thank our volunteers and home-owners and celebrate the day. This year's after-party featured a live harpist, lots of food and drink, and was held at the Puthuff house, a wonderful two-story Craftsman which was featured on our 2000 home tour. Homeowners Bill and Jackie Stutz created a fabulous garden complete with fish pond for our pleasure.

Planning Next Year
Soon we'll have a summing up meeting and then we'll start planning for next year. Actually, we already have begun planning because next year is the 90th anniversary of the 20th Century Women's Club.

We are focussing on Hermosa Avenue (which the Club anchors onto Colorado Blvd) and on some other homes nearby. If you would like to join the committee, or if you have a house on Hermosa Avenue that you think is a good candidate for the tour, please contact me at 626-844-2256 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Home Tour committee is a terrific group of talented, dedicated volunteers. Thanks again to all of you.

Mold Grows as Sticky Problem
Let me tell you, mold is quite a sticky issue these days.
If you can't see it but have reason to suspect its presence because, say, a wall is warm and damp or you smell a musty odor, you can spend a thousand dollars very quickly just finding out if it's there and how to get rid of it.

For home owners and potential sellers I offer this advice: if you have a leak somewhere, don't just patch it, make sure it's really thoroughly fixed and that there are no musty odors or funny looking damp patches or discolored areas left behind. You will end up many dollars ahead by replacing a roof properly rather than continually patching a roof at the end of its life.

"You will end up many dollars ahead by re-placing a roof properly rather than con-tinually patching a roof at the end of its life."

Leaks have a way of trickl-ing down along rafters and soaking into insulation for a long time before it becomes evident on your ceiling or wall. By then, you could have mildew and mold on lots of wood and drywall in inaccessible areas that will cost you a lot of money to replace.

For those of us who have flat roofs-you really have to maintain them by making sure they are free of debris buildup and that there is no standing water on them. Preventive maintenance will save you thousands of dollars. If you have gutters, make sure they are clean so that water can drain away properly.

So you think it's too dry to worry about roof leaks. Okay, then check your plumbing. Any leaks anywhere?

And check your sprinklers-are they spraying water against the side of your house? Apparently, that was the culprit at a house I recently had buyers reject because of damp walls. Day after day of sprinkler spray can soak through stucco and wood and down onto your foundation, all bad places to have water.

Remember, warm, moist, dark conditions are what mold loves. Think about places where that can exist at your house. Get rid of them!

This is another reason for a homeowner to invest in a physical inspection before putting a house on the market. Whether you've lived in the house for 2 or 20 years, you may not notice conditions that are red flags to inspectors and buyers today. An inspector will point out stains on beams or dry wall that will indicate past leaks. Have you noticed prob-lems in the past and repaired them? Remember that when you are preparing to sell and make a note of that on the Transfer Disclosure Statement.

A common problem with copper piping installations is using improper fittings to connect to the remaining gal-vanized pipes and having the pipes corrode there. It is really rare to have 100% copper pipes.

"Whether you've lived in the house for 2 or 20 years, you may not notice conditions that are red flags to inspectors and buyers today."

As your Realtor, I can point out things to watch for, but I'm not an inspector, and I'm not crawling around in your attic or under your house-and 99% of the time, neither are you.
If you spend $400 on inspections ahead of time, you can often save yourself a lot of headache during the buyer's inspection, and end up with more of the sales price in your pocket.

Although every inspector is different, they should all catch the big stuff. Then you can either fix or disclose or explain them before they become an issue to a nervous buyer who has just paid a lot of money for your house.

So you say, heck, the chimney didn't work when I bought it so what do they expect? Well, chances are they are paying many thousands more for your house than you did and they might be expecting everything to work unless you already told them up front what didn't.

What are you going to expect when you pay more for your next house?

Scenarios to Educate Buyers and Sellers
In just the last month, the market has become even more competitive and intense as interest rates not only stay low but go lower, and as housing inventory actually becomes even more scarce than before.

Let's look at how this is affecting the various people involved in a home transaction.

Some sellers are confused by how quickly the market is rising and worry that they are selling too cheap. What if they had waited another couple of weeks before going on the market? Would they have made more money?

If, as a seller, you've already made your arrangements for your next home whether it be a rental or another purchase, you will be much less worried about your price because you will have made an acceptable deal for yourself based on the market at that time.

Seller's Example
I sold my house just 1 ½ years ago and recently was thinking, gee, I could have gotten so much more for that house today! Really, my old house would probably be worth $75,000 more today. But what about the house I bought back then? It's worth over $100,000 more than I paid for it, possibly even more than that compared to recent sales within just a block of me. So I'm happy. I am so happy with my house.

As a buyer, you may find sellers feeling they sold "too cheap" hard to believe, but what was ridiculously high in May now looks like a good deal. Buyers are really feeling abused today. A buyer offers full price and is rejected. A seller receives, say, three full price offers the day after coming on the market and decides his price must be too cheap and raises the price $20,000.

Ten people offer anywhere from full price to 5% over the asking and the seller comes back with "make your best and final offer." Where is this going to end? It is understandable that a buyer feels taken advantage of in this market.

I think we are close to having the bottom of the market rise out of reach of the first time buyer in the entire San Gabriel Valley-Northeast Los Angeles area.

Here are more scenarios, and most of these are from my own clients.

Scenario 1
A good two bedroom, one bath house above Colorado in Eagle Rock comes on the market at $369,000 and immediately receives three offers, one for $389,000, which the seller accepts with the caveat that the house is being sold "as-is." The buyer discovers during the inspection that the roof needs to be replaced and a few other significant defects exist. Suddenly the house doesn't look so desirable anymore and the buyer drops out.

How could this have been prevented? If the seller had had a pre-listing physical inspection, all this could have been avoided and we'd be closing escrow about now.

But just a couple of weeks later, after replacing the roof and damp drywall, the house is going back on the market for $399,000.

Scenario 2
A house in Highland Park has a real estate sign out front that the buyers find as they are driving around. They stop and ask the resident (the owner's son) about the house. It's in their price range, they take a quick look around, and call their agent, who promptly calls the listing agent.

Now the listing agent says the seller didn't want the house to be shown, it wasn't really on the market yet (so why is the sign up?).

At last, the listing agent calls back to say that the seller has raised the price $20,000 and is ready to show the house. The buyers look again, raise their price $20,000 and their agent is told that the seller likes their offer and is going to sign it.

Then a day passes and after many more phone calls, the listing agent finally calls back to say that another offer has come in that is higher and the seller likes it better.

The buyers' agent asks for a counter offer, but not only does one not materialize, the listing agent doesn't return repeated phone messages.

How could this have been avoided?
(Continued next issue)

New Local Business Performs Home Preservation Inspection
Paradise Home Inspections is a new inspection business in our area with a hot new idea: The Home Preservation Inspection. John Wagner, who is a certified home inspector and member of CREA (a professional organization for home inspectors), is offering this special for $50 off his fee for a regular inspection.

The Home Preservation Inspection is designed for people who just want to have a checkup on their home's condition to make sure there is no problem that they haven't noticed. John spends a couple of hours or more looking at all the systems of the house and gives you a written report of what he finds. What a great idea for those of us who have lived in our homes a long time and never go under the house or up on the roof.

Are you a senior who suspects there might be some deferred maintenance on your home but you just aren't sure? This inspection is for you! Thinking about putting your house on the market? Have this inspection, then call me. You can reach John at 323-254-6777 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Staying Cooler Doesn't Always Demand Central Air
Everyone in Southern California seems to think that central air conditioning is a necessity of life.

I've never owned a house that had it, and every time I think that I really must have it installed for the 10 or 20 days we need it a year, I get a couple of wildly different estimates and give up on the idea again.

Dishwasher a Must
Lest you think I'm just too reactionary, I know a couple of people who have never owned a dishwasher! Hah! I won't live in a house without a dishwasher!

Even if you have central air now, you may be interested in keeping your electric bill in line with, say, your mortgage payment.

Here are some tips from the Department of Energy as reported by writer Michelle Dawson for Realtytimes:

  • Use light colored surfaces on your roof and the exterior walls of your home.
  • Install sun-control or combination films on your windows to improve efficiency.
  • Insulate, weather-strip, and caulk-especially in the attic.
  • Shade your house with trees. A well-placed tree can reduce indoor temperatures as much as 20 degrees.
  • Use exterior shades like landscaping, awnings, and shades. On a personal note, after we had to cut down some of our trees last year, the house became really hot in one area. My husband hung up a simple bamboo shade outside and it made a huge difference in making the house cooler. Interior shades can work also.
  • Don't use heat-generating appliances during the day. Try to cook outside.
  • Buy energy efficient appliances. Ceiling fans can make a room seem several degrees cooler.

Check for Rebates
Check for rebates from the utility companies for buying energy-efficient appliances. The gas company and DWP have been offering up to 50% rebates on solar powered systems and energy efficient cooling systems. Check out,,,

Should Real Estate Bail Out Leaking Sectors of New Economy?
There was a thought-provoking article in the Sunday, May 19 Los Angeles Times.

At first glance, it appeared to be talking about a real estate "bubble." Many of the people who missed the lower housing prices a few years ago are anxious to read of any signs that today's high prices are a temporary spike and will turn back, returning to 1997 levels.

Further reading showed that the high housing prices tend to fund bubble-like economic development in other sectors (like Wall Street). So, in this case, it's actually that the real estate market is bailing out the boom and bust excesses of other sectors.

Cautionary Note
The cautionary note is a good one, though. Because home equity can be turned into cash by refinancing or equity lines of credit for any purpose, it does tend to stimulate almost a gambler's mentality. If you borrow $20,000 to take a flier on a promising but risky stock, it hurts a lot less if you lose it all but are only paying $75/month to pay it back than if you had saved up every penny from collecting soda cans.

To quote the article, "The nation's mortgage market and tax system were built to facilitate home ownership, not provide wealthy investors with another source of capital." That lending institutions are a little concerned about this phenomenon is evidenced, I think, by how conservatively refinance appraisers are valuing property.

Beyond Intent of Tax Laws
Buying a new boat or car with your home equity, or buying a new wardrobe or 1000 shares of Microsoft are not what was originally intended by the folks who designed our tax laws.

Another reason people are borrowing against their equity is that they are investing in more real estate. Now that's a good reason!

Leveraging Real Estate Investment
Whether you use the equity to give yourself a "swing loan" to buy the next place before you put your current one on the market, or you decide to buy some investment property, leveraging your investment in real estate can be a profitable move today.

Read more about this in the next issue.

Coats of Many Colors Reward Savvy Sellers
Check out my website soon under Favorite Links for the before and after picture of my old house. I couldn't believe what a difference the color made!

Regardless of how much cooler a white house may be than a sage green one, I would go for color everytime. There was a great article in the spring, 2002, American Bungalow magazine about historic colors, and the websites they provided are terrific.

Paint companies offer a number of resources to help you pick colors, see what colors work with each other, and what colors are typical of any given architectural period or type.

Also, Glidden paint company is helping paint classrooms. They paint a certain number of kindergarten class-rooms every year for free! Check out for details.

If you're a kindergarten teacher or know one, you can download the application form from their website.

Sherwin-Williams has a great site with color palettes for the various styles popular in America. It's at

Local Businesses Strive To Improve Your Life
I'm still having fun and feeling healthy with my fresh organic produce delivery from LOVE.

So how much is this great service? Starting at $25 a box, depending on size, up to $50 for Love Supreme. Institutional boxes are also available. I guess you need to call them to find out the cost for those.

The small box is good for a family of 2?3, though it de-pends on whether you want to buy all your produce this way or just part of it.

Go online at and you can fill out the questionnaire of your fruit and vegetable prefer-ences and sign up for weekly or every-other-week delivery.

Also, if you refer a friend and they sign up for at least 3 deliveries, you get a free box! Mention my name when you sign up, OK?

It really opens a whole new dimension to menu planning at my house. For instance, how to use up what's left before the next box comes?

Or what in the world should I do with Ruby Swiss Chard? And we've been having the most interesting fruit salads lately with apples, oranges, mangoes, dates, and strawberries mixed with baby lettuce.

The LOVE lettuce is so fresh, it keeps for days in the refrigerator, if you don't get around to eating it right away.

LOVEP.O. Box 1315,Venice, CA This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Experts Simplify Moves, Life
The Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society had a road show recently, and the expert antique appraiser turned out to be Sharon Hindson of Turnabout Teacup in La Canada.

I sold some furniture and other items on consignment through her store when we moved a couple of years ago. I knew her as the mother of one of my daughter's gymnastics friends, but she is a great re-source for people who need to move, as well as the owner of a charming tea shop and antique store.

Sharon works with many seniors who are moving to retirement homes or scaling down their possessions, but don't let youth be a barrier to checking out her shop.

It's a really fun place to browse and find some wonderful things to buy, and it's a business that can perform a real service for you if you have household items you want to sell and aren't sure of their worth or how to market them.

Turnabout Teacup1432 Foothill BlvdLa Canada Flintridge, CA 91011-2107818.790.3342

Here's another great resource for people of all ages who are moving, but an especially great help to those who are downsizing.

At Carol's Antiques, Carol won't do estate sales for just anyone, but mention my name and she might consider it. She and her crew price everything, set it up, and donate the left-overs to charity for you.

Carol's Antiques1866 N. Allen Ave.Pasadena, CA 91104-1613626.798.1072

The Huntington Collection in Pasadena also performs a great service, but they will only take items valued over $100 on consignment and will take the rest as a charitable donation for which you receive a receipt for your taxes.

All these places are great places to shop for interesting and bargain finds, besides being a great help when you're moving.

The Huntington Collection766 S Fair Oaks AvePasadena, CA 91105-2602626.397.3078

New Chef at Cafe BeaujolaisEarns Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhs
This is great news.

The new chef at Café Beaujolais just started June 5, and the food is fabulous.

We swooned. The waiters cheered. You'll love it. Be sure to make a reservation.

The waiters were so excited about the menu the night we went, you'd think they'd cooked it themselves. If you haven't been to one of Eagle Rock's best restaurants in awhile, you'll find it trans-formed.

Cafe Beaujolais1712 Colorado Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90041-1338323.255.5111

Eagle Rock Augments Its Growing Commerce
Looking forward to Camillo's on Colorado Blvd.any day now and Target at the Eagle Rock Plaza in July!

Can commerce get much better in Eagle Rock? Yes! How about a bookstore? But we've come a long way in a couple of years, haven't we?

Coming soon also is another Savon at the corner of Figueroa and Colorado, in the triangle across from the Eagle Rock post office. Oh, and Walgreen's wants to put up a stucco box in place of the Shopping Bag Building.

How has Eagle Rock managed to attract all these drugstores? Do we need Walgreen's? Do we need another Savon? Do we need BOTH of them?

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