Interesting homes for Interesting people
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The answer used to be yes, everyone loves a house dressed for Christmas. But especially in a large metropolis like Los Angeles, we now have some good reasons to tone it down.
First is the viral nature of marketing: once a photo is uploaded to the Internet, it quickly goes to hundreds of sites and it’s not so easy to get them off. What if your house is still on the market on January 2? Now those colorful stockings hung from your mantel look kind of sad. If you’ve had professional photography, who needs the added expense of re-shooting photos without the holiday decor? Many people don’t even think of doing that.
Second, whatever your own holiday or religious persuasion, do you have any idea what your prospective buyers' are? What if you have your house all ready for Hanukkah and your potential buyer is Muslim? Or Hindu? Or Quaker? Your decorations might look like nothing more than clutter to them. And we know that the biggest 'don’t' is clutter. We want the buyer to see the house, not your personal expression of holiday cheer.
So have the house photographed with no holiday decorations at all so the house can be seen as fresh on the market in any season. If you want to have some decorations, be minimal. Wait till closer to the holiday to put up anything. In some traditions, the Christmas tree was not put up until Christmas Eve and it was taken down before New Year’s. Limit yourself to a wreath on the front door, a small table top tree, a nice centerpiece on the table. Say to yourself 'Less is More' whenever the urge to haul out every decoration you’ve saved for the last 5 years comes to your mind.
And remember, a nice plate of freshly baked cookies says a timeless Happy Holiday any time of the year.
We just closed escrow on 4920 Floristan Avenue in Eagle Rock today! If you didn't get a chance to see it that's because we sold it in two days, after just one open house. We listed it for $479,000 and accepted an all-cash offer of $500,000 (a credit for repairs brought the final sales price to $491,925). The buyers are newlyweds and now ready to settle in to this private 2 bedroom, 1 bath home.
Listed for $479,000
Sold for $491,925
2 bedrooms, 1 bath
1,102 sq. ft. on an 11,300 sq. ft. lot
Built in 1950
For more pictures visit the 4920 Floristan Photo Album.
We just closed escrow today on this 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo close to downtown Burbank. Listed for $305,000, our buyer purchased the 1,050 sq. ft. unit for $299,000. This condo features a large kitchen, newer flooring, cathedral ceilings, ample closet space, and a balcony. The complex itself has a jacuzzi spa and recreation room. Congratulations to our buyers!
Listed for $305,000
Sold for $299,000 on November 8, 2011
2 bedroom, 2 baths
1,050 sq. ft. condo
Listing and photos courtesy of Raffi Vartanian, Silver Spoon Investments
Now that we can almost smell those relentless reindeer about to land on the roof thanks to ambitious retailers, the question of "Should I try to sell my house during the holidays?" comes up.
You may have heard all the pat answers:
1. Houses look so pretty during the holidays, why not?
2. You won't see as many buyers, but the ones who are out there looking are really serious.
3. Some buyers have to close escrow by the end of the year for tax reasons.
4. Many buyers are on vacation during the holidays and have more time to look at homes.
5. Buyers are more emotional during the holidays, so they are more likely to pay more for a home.
6. There are fewer homes on the market, so less competition for your home.
7. You can close escrow on your home before the spring buying season, and so be in a better position to make a non-contingent offer on your next home.
All pretty good reasons, but the real question that sellers ask today is not really about "should I sell during the holidays" but "Do you think my home might be worth more in the spring?"
That is the 64-dollar question, my friends. I was just asked it today. And prospective sellers don't want to take "I don't know" for an answer! "Come on, someone who has all the experience you do must have at least a feeling for what the market will do next!"
Yes I do. My feeling is that the market is volatile and will continue to be volatile and it could go up or it could go down based on many economic indicators that we don't have information on yet. Like, will the unemployment rate be down in the spring? Or, will the economy be better? Or will interest rates go up? Spring is several months away. Who do you know who is confident that they know what will happen then?
What if I said to you, "Wait until Spring, your house will be worth more," and then come next April the bottom has fallen out of the economy and your best chance of selling at a profit was lost? How would you feel? Do you really trust my expertise that much? If I told you that the best price you are going to get for your house for the next 5 years is right now, would you believe me? Let's all put it out for a vote: who thinks prices are going to go up in the Spring? Down? Oh, it's a 50-50 split. Now what? you really have to make your own decision about when to sell. It's kind of like deciding when to have a baby. What might be great timing for you is wrong for someone else, so how do you decide?
One of the hardest things about putting your home on the market is getting it ready for everyone to see. You have to pack up all your stuff, you have to clean, fix, paint, freshen, landscape...lots of stuff. The best time to put it on the market is when you have that stuff done. So when will that be? Does it help you to have a deadline? Good. Then get it ready now and go on the market when you are done. I don't care whether that is next week or next year. I will be here, ready to do my part when the time comes. My team is here to provide all the support possible to help you through this process.
Interesting homes for Interesting people
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Interesting homes for Interesting people
Sent from my iPhone
Distress sales account for between 30-50% of the total housing sales both nationwide and in a number of local areas. In 2008 and 2009, there were a lot of foreclosures and now there are many more short sales. This has had a downward pressure on home prices in general. Also affecting prices has been the uncertain job market. If you are afraid you might lose your job, you don’t want to put your life savings into a down payment on a home you might not be able to afford in a few months. A number of homeowners have experienced job loss and this has resulted in many of the distress sales. You see the inter-woven relationship between the economy and the housing industry operating here.
But look at this graph of housing inventory for Eagle Rock 90041:
The number of homes on the market compared to the number of homes that go pending and sold has dropped significantly over the last couple of years. The monthly supply of inventory of homes available to sell was slightly over 2 months in September, 2011.
Typically, less than 4 months inventory indicates a seller’s market. So why are prices down? The common theory today is that “Shadow Inventory” (the number of potential foreclosures and short sales from people who are currently “upside down” on their loans) is causing prices to stay low. Why? Because if they all came on the market at once, prices would collapse. I have pooh-poohed this theory before because why would they all come on the market at the same time?
But here is another way to look at it:
With the inventory so low, this inventory of distress sales does take on a significant importance. Meaning, if over half the properties that sell are distress sales, those distressed prices affect the regular market. The common discount that a short or foreclosed property sells at has been computed as around 27%. But if you look at this year’s Eagle Rock prices, you only see a 5% discount. Why? Partly because with so many distressed sales, they have pulled the prices of “normal” sales down to a lower level in general.
Another aspect of the market is the “retail show ready” property vs. the “fixer poorly presented” property. Look at 2030 Estes Rd, a midcentury home, almost entirely remodeled, staged and gorgeous - and compare it to 4842 Algoma, a short sale, not available to be shown, in need of a lot of repair. Guess which one sold for $925,000 (23% over the original list price) in multiple offers in 21 days (start to close of escrow) and which one sold for $470,000 (15% under list price) in 48 days? That is a huge difference in price for houses that were very similar in size. And they both sold for cash!
This is an extreme example of a distress property selling at over 50% less than the regular sale, but the condition, location and amenities of the properties were quite different as well. In other words, if these two properties were in the exact same condition and presented equally, Estes still would have sold for more because of its location, style and amenities. But how much more? That’s why pricing a home for sale and determining value with an appraisal is an art, not a science.
Interesting homes for Interesting people
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The real estate market has hit the Pause button in the last few days. Why? Who knows? Waiting for another shoe to drop (such as even worse economic news?) It doesn’t make a lot of sense, really. Mortgage interest rates have dropped to the lowest in over 50 years. Lots of people have rushed to refinance their homes, but many have discovered that the rules are too tough for them to qualify now. Appraisals are extremely conservative, which means that if you refinanced back in the boom times a few years ago, you might owe too much to qualify for the required 20 to 30% equity that lenders want you to have now.
People who ask me about the real estate market assume that no one is buying because no one can qualify for a loan these days. Surprisingly, this is not true. Lots of people can qualify and are walking around today with pre-approval letters hanging out of their pockets. They even have 20% down payments sitting in their bank accounts ready to go to purchase that new home. Why don’t they make a move?
We’ve talked before about fear and how that has been holding the market back for quite awhile now. Fears such as: what if the prices drop more? What if I lose my job? What if a better buy pops up next week? What if my friends/relatives think I’m stupid for buying now?
Another obstacle is information overload. Every day we hear more economic news about things we really don’t understand, like, say, the Case-Shiller index or Standard and Poor’s credit rating of companies or countries. We hear about Europe’s economic woes, we see the stock market rocket up and down. What does it all really mean? How can we make a good decision in the face of all this information (so much of it bad news)?
How about trying this: turn off your radio, throw the newspaper in the recycling bin, and think about what you really want. Do you want a home to live in for several years? One that you can make your own with your unique designer touches? One that your kids can grow up in with a sense that they are loved and provided for? Want to try your hand at urban gardening? Raising a litter of puppies? What does any of that have to do with the Euro?
For most of us, not much.
The percentage of people in the United States who own their homes has varied between 65% and 70% over the last several years. “Experts” are saying that we probably won’t see 70% home ownership again. So what? So what if it is 65% forever more? Isn’t that still a large majority of the people in this country? Can we agree on this: most of the people in this country live in homes that they own?
Let’s go back to the basics for ourselves. A home is a big investment and the decision to purchase should be taken seriously, but life goes on day by day by day. Things do change, such as interest rates and loan guidelines. If you qualify for a good mortgage today, do you want to risk that you don’t qualify under some new guideline tomorrow? Do you want to wake up one day and see that your opportunity has passed you by?
Now I understand why some foreclosure agents (who typically deal with a lot of offers) are so difficult to get a response from when I submit an offer to them. I have a listing that we “event priced,” that is, we listed it at such a good deal for the neighborhood it’s in that lots of people made offers. We had initial offers that went 25% over asking, so we countered everyone back at that. A number of people dropped out with the attitude of “Was that a typo?” “How do you think you are going to get that?” and the like. But we did get a few that were up at that price, and the highest one was quite a bit over.
So why did it take us almost a month to get this home in escrow?
The highest offer was VA financing, which means no down payment, seller to pay 3% of the buyer’s closing costs. The real issue is that, because the house needs work, a VA appraiser could require a lot of repairs and the seller would have to fix them before the loan could be finally approved. The seller isn’t in a position to do repairs (a major reason why we priced it the way we did.) So this is kind of a “teaser” offer. When I asked the lender what could happen with the appraisal, he said it was 50/50 that they would require a lot of repairs. How much of a gambler is the seller?
The next highest offer was for cash. They accepted our terms, but didn’t read the offer well enough to see that they were supposed to counter us back with their best and final offer. We couldn’t reach them for several days and when we did, we were told that we should have emailed them. So why give us phone numbers? Why didn’t they tell us that? Then they said yes to our “best offer over” price verbally, but then they countered in writing at $15,000 less.
The next offer was the most reliable deal: cash, a good agent, a savvy buyer. But at this point it’s the third highest.
Which one would you take? Or would you keep waiting?
Don't panic: Economy is not as bad as 'experts' sayCommentary: It's time to debunk 'Global Depression'
By Lou Barnes
Take a deep breath. Two. Unclench your hands. Let loose your shoulders. Look out at a brilliant fall sky. Leaves. Breathe again, but for scent.
Put this global/financial/political whatever-it-is ... put it down. Back away from it, and look at it from a long ways off.
Domestic U.S. growth is marginal, but not recession. New weekly unemployment claims are steady near 400,000, with no new wave of layoffs. Purchase mortgage applications are too low to work off excess inventory, but they are stable.
The Chicago Federal Reserve Bank's national index is at -43, which is below the long-term trend line at zero in its index but far above the -70 that would mark recession. Orders for durable goods were flat in August, but held the huge July gain.
It's flat and soggy, but hardly over the cliff that you'd think from listening to many media reports -- and especially to the talk from people in financial markets.
These financial folks are normally the Pollyannas of the airwaves. Upon any devastating flood, nuclear accident or outbreak of war, they've got a loopy grin and a new investment for you to buy. Note how strange it is that finance types sound so panicky these days.
People in markets rarely get hysterical at the same time. Yet the brightest -- Nouriel Roubini, Robert J. Shiller, Martin Wolf, Goldman Sachs itself, George Soros -- are engaged in "Depression leapfrog," every day finding some new reason that the world will be unable to save itself. Risk-averse markets become a self-fulfilling prophecy, imploding.
The most immediate threat is Europe. In 1999, Europe embarked on a common currency to remove the trade-inhibiting risk of volatile rates of currency exchange. That minor problem, easily hedged, has created an entirely new and gigantic one: The euro nations must synchronize not just their borrowing and trade, but their entire economic cultures.
I don't think it will happen, but it may; in any event, this talk of a "Global Depression" as the inevitable result of breakup and/or austerity is nuts.
Italy knows how to run Italy, odd as it is, and France can run France, and so on for each of them. Germany does not know how to run Spain, nor Ireland how to run Germany. If the union blows, back these nations will go to dealing with their own affairs. Separation would be a relief.
Financial types howl, "It's all so interconnected that taking it apart will be the end of life on earth!" Translation: We don't know how to trade it, and we can't figure out who is exposed and how much.
The European Commission in Brussels -- the nascent pan-European government that ain't gonna happen -- says every day that the euro must survive and of course it will because nothing is wrong. (The talk of freeloaders trying to keep their paychecks running?)
Poor Angela Merkel, a scientist trained in Soviet East Germany, is hopelessly unprepared -- she apparently neither wants change nor can grasp its elements, instead clutching at status quo.
Europe has no voice. Change is going to come, and it will be briefly chaotic but will rationalize a hopelessly irrational situation. The euro is only 12 years old, and the status quo ante is hardly a mystery lost in ancient times. The lurch will be quite something, but the locals know what they are doing.
The economic situation here is different, but the problem is the same. No voice. No voice at all. No one to explain, to trust.
The most powerful forces in Great Depression recovery were Franklin Delano Roosevelt's grasp of the essential -- nothing mattered but the economy -- and his voice. My Okie parents and grandparents spoke for the rest of their lives about gathering in front of the RCA when FDR would speak: "Nothing to fear but fear itself!"
Here, as in Europe, the locals know what they're doing. Every state and town is doing what it must to get its budget under control, to raise revenue as it can, and to look after its citizens.
From a safe distance, staring at this predicament, please do not mistake the temporary incapacity of the largest governments for an inability to manage our affairs. We go on. We adapt. Collective arrangements come and go.
Copyright 2011 Lou Barnes