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LA Digs - Northeast LA Real Estate Blog

Welcome to LA Digs, the real estate and Northeast Los Angeles community blog written by Realtors Tracy King and Keely Myres.

Here, we share tips, market updates, and local news bits to keep you informed on what's happening in Northeast Los Angeles and the surrounding neighborhoods. Read on to learn about the latest in your neighborhood!

The new Tax Reform Act: How will it affect your real estate life?

The new Tax Reform Act: How will it affect your real estate life?

The newly passed Tax Reform Act supplies perks based on investments in property, but not everyone benefits and there is a downside.

It's been all over the news. Pundits have been spinning the plusses and minuses of the newly passed Tax Reform Act. Some say homeowners are going to get the shaft. Some say there will be a windfall for homeowners and investors. As a long-time real estate professional, my inbox has been inundated with questions from those who just purchased homes in Highland Park and Eagle Rock this year, as well as those looking to invest in homes for sale in Pasadena, Mt. Washington and other areas of North East Los Angeles.

The long and short of it? I have good news and I have not-so-good news. The good news is, the new tax reform act that was just passed by both houses of Congress isn't as bad as it could have been for those who have some financial interest in real estate. The not-so-good news is, it's not going to be as good for real estate as it has been over the past several years.

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Trusts, Wills, and Real Estate

When it comes to planning and organizing our “stuff” and making arrangements for our eventual demise, we act like we think we will live forever. The stories range from “my kids will get to deal with this” to “oh, we have a will and everything is set.” My guess is, 1 out of maybe 50 or even 100 people actually have sensible and useful arrangements made for what happens to themselves, their stuff, and their heirs after they pass on.

Without naming names, let me just share that there are people near and dear to me that  are among the majority of people unwilling to address the details of what to do with what they leave behind. Members of my family have had to play guessing games about “what would she have wanted us to do with ?” that cover a range of subjects from cremation or burial to who’s name is the house in? I’m not really pointing fingers, I know I should address some subjects like this for myself as well. I understand the reluctance to come to grips with the fact that none of us get out of here alive. But my husband and I did have wills and a trust drawn up a number of years ago.

Scenario 1: These days, many people live together without benefit of formal marriage. Yet, if one person owns a property separately and there is no will, the “partner” may have no legal standing to claim the property.

Scenario 2: A married couple have no children and no will. Let’s say the wife inherits property from a deceased parent in co-ownership with her brother. What happens if she passes away with no will? The probate laws will govern who inherits her share and very likely her husband will have a claim on the property even if she wanted it to go to her brother’s family. Or the property will have to be sold to settle the estate.

Scenario 3: An elderly couple have a will but no trust. The will was drawn up 40 years earlier and the laws have changed since then. One of the couple has a stroke and is no longer able to sign or understand a legal document. The other spouse no longer wants to live in the house and decides to sell it. He has to go to court and be declared his wife’s conservator in order to sign the deed on her behalf.

A very important fact that few people understand is that even if you have a will, your estate will have to be probated. This is an expensive, time consuming and cumbersome process. The best way you can escape probate court if you have property is to have a properly drawn up trust. Many people have thought that the joint tenancy method of holding property will take care of any issues and often that is true, but again you have the question of who eventually inherits and the state’s view may be different than what you really want.

A very simple and complete description of everything you need to have in place and why is here: I don’t know anything about the law firm, but their website is very easy to understand and use.
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Newsletter, Newsletter, Get Yer October Newsletter!

Alright, folks, here's this month's newsletter:

October Newsletter

In this issue, you will find:

  • Market Update for Eagle Rock

  • All you ever wanted to know about chimney care!

  • Linoleum, a misunderstood flooring option

  • Oh, Great Swami, Answer Me This... in which I respond to my most asked question

  • Arroyo Arts Tour Information

  • My Recent Activity

Comments? Questions? Anything you want to see more of?  Shoot me an email to tracy[at]tracyking[dot]com, give me a call at 626.844.2256, or comment below!
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533 Neva Place, Highland Park

If you are looking for a completely done little Craftsman cottage in Highland Park then you are in luck. 533 Neva Place is back on the market! Two bedrooms, two baths, plus over 1,200 square feet of bonus space. Upgrades include: tankless water heater, central air and heat, laundry, and a finished two-car garage.

Specs: Listed for $479,000, 1,050 SF on a 4,600 SF lot. Built in 1908.

Want to see it? Give us a call at 626.844.2211.

Living Room

Living Room

Dining to Living

Dining to Living





Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bath

Master Bath

Back Yard and Garage

Back Yard and Garage

Listing Courtesy of Matt Manner, Extraordinary Real Estate

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Buy an Incredibly fresh Christmas tree, benefit the Eagle Rock High Boys' Tennis Team!

ERHS Tennis Team Fundraiser -- Order Your Christmas Tree
It's time to preorder your Christmas tree, wreath, or garland to help the boys' tennis team at Eagle Rock High School. Both Noble Fir and Douglas Fir Christmas trees from five to eight feet tall are available, and delivery to your door (for $5) is available in the Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, and Highland Park areas.

All trees are 100% guaranteed, or your money back, to be the freshest and most beautiful you've ever had. This fundraiser has been around for 10 years now! Orders are accepted only in the month of October, so act fast.

Please call boys' tennis coach Eric Jacobson at (323) 340-3571, or complete and mail the order form below to order your Christmas tree item today.

I've bought one of their trees for many years now, and they are the best! And how convenient that they deliver!

Click on this link to view and print order form:                            christmas wreath


and then you can fill it out, write a check to ERHS Boys Tennis, and send it all to:

Eric Jacobsen, Counseling Office

Eagle Rock High School

1750 Yosemite Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90041

And you'll have a fragrant, merry holiday and feel so good that you're helping out Eagle Rock High School.
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857 Bank Street, South Pasadena

Usually when I see things like "original home added on to" in property remarks, I cringe instantly because a lot of add-ons are truly AWFUL. But when we pulled up to 857 Bank Street yesterday for broker's caravan I was very pleasantly surprised.

857 Bank Street

857 Bank Street

The Victorian house was originally built in 1890 and then moved to its current location in 1966. It is currently lender owned, and the bank is actually responsible for finishing the upgrades and add-ons. While there are some finishes that I might have done differently, the lender managed to maintain some original charm throughout the home. There are great floor inlays in the hardwood floors, beautiful tile work in the bathrooms, and large windows flooding the house with light throughout.

Front Door

Front Door

Living Room

Living Room

Modern upgrades include state of the art kitchen with two sub-zeros and a commercial range, master bath with jacuzzi tub and his-and-her's steam shower, central air and heat, and in-kitchen laundry



Master Bath

Master Bath

The home also has a good sized yard with a deck and a patio overlooking the lawn.

Rear View

Rear View

Specs: 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, two fireplaces (living room and master bedroom), a two-car garage, hardwood floors throughout, 3,190 SF on a 11,617 SF lot. Listed for $1,200,000. If you'd like to view this home, give me a call at 626.827.9795.

Listing Courtesty of Deborah Maxson, Sotheby's International Realty.

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Market Update for Eagle Rock and Highland Park October, 2010

As everyone knows, the last three years have been a roller coaster ride for real estate prices all over the country. In Eagle Rock (zip 90041) and in Highland Park (90042), the average price of single family homes that sold went down over 50% between the peak of the market in January, 2008, and the depths of the recession in March of 2009. Wow. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that the value of your individual home necessarily went down 50%, but if you bought your home in January of 2008, you probably would not be able to sell your home for what you paid for it either in 2009 or today. 

Since the so-called “bottom” of the market in March, 2009, we have seen an overall beginning recovery of prices so that as of August of this year, the average sale price in Eagle Rock was up over 27% and in Highland Park over 15%, even accounting for the slowdown that happened after the first-time buyer tax credit expired at the end of April. It felt kind of like home buyers all decided to take a long summer vacation, but about half the current pending sales have opened escrow since September 1, probably due to the most breathtakingly low interest rates we have seen in our lifetime (at least since 1955). Sales prices in 90042 so far this year have averaged both for list and sales price about $337,000. In 90041 Eagle Rock, the averages have been $454,000 list price and $457,000 sale price. Since the 90042 zip code is much larger than 90041, more than twice as many homes have sold there.

If you are new to Eagle Rock and Highland Park, you will love the eclectic mix of older character homes dating from the Arts and Crafts era of the early 1900s to the interesting midcentury moderns that often look out over stunning views of the Verdugo Mountains to the north and downtown Los Angeles to the south. There are traditional, Spanish-style and newer homes scattered through the mix as well. Truly something for everyone. You can purchase a small foreclosure for as little as $300,000, even less in some places, but expect to compete with investors who can pay cash. The highest sales prices so far this year in 90042 for a single-family home was $801,000 in Highland Park for an architect-designed contemporary with 275 degree views and $888,000 for an unusual Zen-influenced home with guest house on a wonderful private garden lot in Mt. Washington. In Eagle Rock, it was $876,000 for a remodeled older home-turned contemporary that also boasted amazing panoramic views. 

The people of Eagle Rock and Highland Park are as diverse and interesting as the housing is. From long-time residents who were born and went to school here to the recent migration of renters from Silverlake, Echo Park and Los Feliz to purchase their first homes in our residential neighborhoods, everyone gets along pretty well and is generally devoted to this vibrant community. You will find a huge number of artists alongside many professionals who work downtown and love the relatively short commute. You will also find a growing number of family-owned places to eat and drink and shop that cater to just about every taste. The recession was a setback, but the positive spirit of our community is irrepressible. Welcome to Northeast Los Angeles!
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1129 Isabel Street, Mount Washington

1129 Isabel Street is an adorable fixed-up traditional-style home. We saw it today on caravan and it looks great inside, plus it has updated plumbing and electric, a tankless water heater, a new roof, and a soon-to-be-fixed-up art studio out back. Two bedrooms, two baths on a 5,600 sq. ft. lot with a covered patio, new landscaping and several fruit trees. Listed for $399,000!

1129 Isabel Street

1129 Isabel Street



Dining area, plus laundry room

Dining area, plus laundry room



If you would like to see this super cute house, give me a call at 626.827.9795.

Listing courtesy of Courtney Smith, Nourmand and Associates

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Linoleum, a misunderstood flooring option

Recently, I recommended linoleum as a good choice for a kitchen floor and the homeowner laughed at me! She had a tile floor that she had installed in recent years and thought it was much superior. Well. Everyone is entitled to their opinion about design choices, but here is my case for linoleum.

First, it’s linoleum I‘m talking about, not vinyl.   Real linoleum is made from natural ingredients including linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone, and pigments, pressed into a jute backing--a product originally patented by Frederick Walton in 1863.  Cheaper vinyl flooring came along in 1947, is made from hydrocarbon products like natural gas or petroleum, came in lots of bright colors and patterns and linoleum appeared drab in comparison. Besides being made from non-renewable resources, vinyl offgasses volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which make many people ill.

But today, real linoleum is back as an eco-friendly flooring. Armstrong, the main U.S. manufacturer of vinyl flooring,  bought the world’s second largest linoleum producer, Deutsche Linoleum Werke, and we can now buy green and buy American. Linoleum is also back as an interesting design element as it now comes in a number of fun colors. Some artistic types have created wonderful patterns and designs with the flooring and have added real excitement to the fairly boring world of flooring decisions.

Another feature is that linoleum is as appropriate for historic homes from the Victorian and Craftsman eras as it is for modern homes today. There is a  book called Linoleum by Jane Powell which has great photos of interesting vintage and newer lino designs. You can look at some pages and also order a copy from  Check out the Wikipedia entry for linoleum and see one of the fun styles from the 50s.

True linoleum (also called Marmoleum, which is a brand name by Forbo) is not only made from renewable resources, but it is anti-static which makes it easy to clean. It is also antibacterial, hypoallergenic, and recyclable. It offgasses as well, but it is from the linseed oil, which is not pleasant to some, but many other people enjoy the fragrance.

But why linoleum instead of tile? It’s true that linoleum is not as impervious to water as tile is, so if you’re the type to leave standing water, or if you want to be able to power wash your floor down at night like in a commercial kitchen, lino is not for you. But if you are a serious home cook, you will enjoy the cushioning effect of linoleum which will be better for your feet, legs and back, and much less likely to destroy your china should you drop it on the floor.

Another advantage of linoleum is that it is easier to install or remove, and it is less expensive than quality ceramic tile. Linoleum costs about $7 to $10 per square foot installed, while ceramic tile can cost from $6 to $30 per square foot installed, and stone, granite and marble can cost even more. These costs vary wildly for custom designs, special preparation or underlayments of the sub floor. And the variety of styles and quality of tile varies hugely. Linoleum is only manufactured by a few companies, and they   all produce  the same high quality.

In my opinion, while some people might prefer ceramic tile over linoleum, linoleum is a more affordable, more neutral flooring. And if you are careful to pick a linoleum style and color that is consistent with the period and color scheme of your home, you will have a floor that will look stylish far longer than the ceramic tile that is currently in vogue.
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Did you know? The deal on paint law

By now, we all know that lead is not-so-good for our general health.  Unfortunately, the U.S. did not ban the use of lead-based paint until 1978.  This means that hundreds of thousands of homes still contain lead paint, and when these older homes need remodeling, the lead can be released into the air, soil, and water it contacts.

Finally, on April 22, Earth Day, of 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule that requires lead safe practices by contractors who perform any renovation or repair projects that disturb lead-based paint in home, child-care facilities, and schools built before 1978.  No longer can a contractor just go in to a home and start demo work, or even just sanding, without being certified and following specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

A little background on lead -- did you know that some scientists believe that the lead used in some ceramic glazes and in the water pipes helped destroy the Roman Empire? Yes, the long term effects of lead poisoning leads to decreased bone and muscle growth, damage to the nervous system, kidneys, hearing, seizures and unconsciousness in children. In adults, effects can include everything from fatigue to infertility, anemia, high blood pressure, and dyspepsia. In general, lead poisoning makes humans sickly and weak, and therefore easily conquered.

If every one of us were all-knowing and filled purely with concern for humanity, we wouldn’t need government intervention. But consider the banning of the use of lead in paints. Did you know that some nations in Europe banned lead-based paint in the 1920’s to protect painters? Meanwhile, the U.S. government endorsed the use of lead in paint because it helped make paint more washable, thereby allowing homes to be cleaner and reduce the incidence of infectious disease. There is a lot written about how in the 1950s scientists found lead in paint to be the cause of lead poisoning among children who lived in poorly maintained homes (with peeling paint).

So, while even more regulations on how you can work on your own home can be annoying,  one of the most important jobs a government can do is to protect you from things that you can’t see.

For the complete information on the rule and the certification and regulation of professionals, go to
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September Newsletter Now Available!

For those who haven't gotten my monthly newsletter via email or snail mail (email me at tracy [at] tracyking [d0t] com if you'd like to be on the list!), here's the link to the September issue:

TracyTalk September 2010

In this month's issue, you'll get the lowdown on:

- Foreclosures that didn't have to happen
- Fannie Mae HomePath explained
- Joys of Home Ownership: Termite Edition
- What is Strategic Default?
- Eagle Rock Music Festival
- My Fundraiser for the Animals Re-Cap

Please feel free print it out or to forward it to any one whom you think might be interested.
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4928 Hartwick Street, Eagle Rock

This 1927 traditional home just came on the market in Eagle Rock this week. It is located on a 5,663 sq.ft. lot on a great street south of Colorado Boulevard. With 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, this home has been pristinely preserved (original details include the arched window in the living room and the bumble bee hexagonal tile in the kitchen). The kitchen has been updated with newer appliances and newer wood cabinets. The back garden is a real treat, with lush landscaping and a rock spa. I wouldn't mind hanging out in that sanctuary! The house is open today 10:00-2:00. If you'd like to see it any other time, give me a call at 626-844-2256 and we can set up a showing.
4928 Hartwick Street

4928 Hartwick Street

Living Room

Living Room





Rock Spa

Rock Spa

4928 Hartwick Street, Eagle Rock
2 bedrooms, 2 baths
1,456 SF on a 5,663 SF lot
Listed for $529,000

Listing courtesy of Craig Farestveit of Craig Estates and Fine Properties

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The Joys of Home Ownership: Termite Edition

We try to be responsible home owners, but we lead busy lives and all of a sudden, ten years have passed since we bought our current home and had it fumigated for termites. When our painter said she couldn't paint the trim on a window because the wood was too termite-damaged, we realized we had to deal with it, and now. An inspection from my trusty termite expert revealed the worst: a complete fumigation for house and carport was required.

Rule #1:  have a termite inspection at least once every 2 years.  Most fumigations come with a 2-year guarantee—just do it. No fumigation will prevent a re-infestation. Be vigilant.

If time slips by and you have to fumigate, here are a few things we have learned that might save you some trouble.

Rule #2: don't be a pack rat, especially about food. Any food or drink that is still factory packed or sealed is ok, but think about all your spices, condiments, flours and sugars. You will have to either remove them or double bag them in special plastic bags the termite company will give you. Everything in your freezer and refrigerator that has been opened has to be bagged also. All your pet food. As my husband was clearing out our pantry, he held up one plastic bag filled with old boxes of tea. Who knew all that was in there?

Then there are medications and vitamins. I think we could open a health food store with what we found.

Basically, anything you ingest needs to be sealed, bagged, or removed.

All plants must be removed from inside. All vegetation near the house must be cut back or removed. If not, water it really well and hope for the best. Most established plants will come back even after turning brown.

All animals, including fish and birds, must be removed. Do you have a fishpond nearby? If the tent is going over it, you'll have to remove the fish or they will die. That was fun to do at 8 o'clock the morning before the fumigation.

Which brings us to Rule #3: Make sure you talk to the termite company in detail about what you need to do to prepare. Ask if you need to meet with the fumigator—because most termite companies subcontract the actual fumigation. My termite guy (whom I’ve worked with for many years, remember) said he told the fumigator to check out the property and to let him/us know what was needed since we have a hillside house and it probably needed extra staff and tenting.

According to all the literature, Vikane (sulfuryl fluoride, the poison used to kill the termites) leaves no toxic residue and once the gas is gone, the house is safe to re-enter. I spoke with a client who wondered if the teargas (chloropicrin) they mix with the Vikane has a damaging effect on anything. I haven't found any literature on that yet. He removed all his computers and other electronics when he was fumigated. I decided to take my chances with that.

Back home after 3 days. As we expected, a few plants were browned. The fish were okay, even the one that eluded our efforts to remove it from the pond. All the electronics were fine. Much as we would have wished differently, the ants were unaffected as well.

Is this the only way to get rid of termites? No. However, the only other method recognized by the California Department of Consumer Affairs for a complete fumigation is the heat method, where your home is heated to about 150 degrees, so the wood core will reach 130 degrees. According to a paper published in 2002 by the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program, the only negative side effect of the heat system is the possibility of damage to the roof when walked upon, and to some heat-sensitive furnishings.  What might those be? This could be big—plastics, cable wiring, computers and CDs, obviously candles and chocolate. Also, consider antique furniture with old fragile glue or varnish. The plusses are that you don’t have to move out or bag your food, and the process takes one day instead of 3. And there are no poisonous gasses.

When we first bought this house, we had the place tented with the heat method. We had it redone within the first year under their guarantee. I didn’t like the company we used and they were the only ones who did the work in Southern California at the time, so I conveniently forgot about keeping up on the termite inspections. Also, it seemed like it would be about the same amount of trouble to remove all the meltable items as it would be to bag the food. And I started hearing more about the things that could melt at temperatures of 150 degrees.

Another method is the orange oil treatment. Check out the details at Eco LA Termite. Bottom line, the orange oil treatment people themselves say that they are best for local treatment.

Another good source for good information about termite is at Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner's website.
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What is Strategic Default?

Here are some resources:

From the website Strategic default, also known as voluntary foreclosure is when the borrower decides to stop paying a mortgage even though they can still afford the payment. For many people who are upside down on their mortgage, the decision to strategically default is one that is difficult, but often times is the first step to financial freedom.

Wikipedia has an interesting discussion of the ethical issues at play One notation from an ethicist states that the economy is essentially amoral. A really well-considered discussion with good ideas about how the banking industry could take some responsibility for helping to fix the problem:  “Zingales and Posner propose that lenders be required to give underwater homeowners the option of resetting their mortgages to the current value of their houses in exchange for giving the lender 50 percent of the house’s future appreciation. Enough with guilt-tripping underwater homeowners into holding on to their homes. Instead, let’s focus on equitable and practical solutions to the negative-equity crisis. The Zingales/Posner proposal would be a great start.”  Free advice.

My thoughts: The question “can they afford to make their payment?” is key. For example, it would obviously be a strategic default if you bought a house with 20% down, a good 30 year fixed loan at say, 5.5% interest, and you still have the same job, your family is fine, you have $20,000 in savings and nothing has changed except your $500,000 house is now worth maybe $400,000. You may not like that fact that your house is now worth less, but you can clearly continue to pay for it.

But say the same situation has one change: you were laid off from your job and the best new job you could find pays 60% what your last one did. You are spending some of your savings—not a lot, every month just to pay the bills. You could change your spending habits and squeak by. Do you bail?

Or try this: Same issue with your job, but you could take on an extra job and be fine, or save yourself the time and trouble and walk away.

Think about these scenarios within this same situation:

There are 5 other families on your street that are experiencing similar issues

There are 3 foreclosures on your block that are boarded up and overgrown with weeds

At what point do you draw the line?
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Ask Tracy: What is Fannie Mae HomePath?

Dear Tracy,

Every now and then when perusing the homes for sale in the area I’d like to live in, I see a description that states it is a Fannie Mae HomePath property.

What exactly does this mean?  Does it make the buying process any different?


Home buyer

When a property is a HomePath property it means that it is (a) a bank-owned home owned by Fannie Mae, and, (b) the buyer of the property is eligible for the Fannie Mae HomePath mortgage program.

As you may know, Fannie Mae is the largest lender in the United States.  Fannie Mae currently has thousands and thousands of homes on their books due to the large number of recent foreclosures.  In an effort to help banks liquidate their Fannie Mae REO inventory, Fannie Mae came up with the HomePath program.

The HomePath program gives lenders and buyers less stringent finance requirements, which is great because more buyers can actually qualify for a loan.  Another great thing – you can get a HomePath mortgage for owner-occupied OR investment properties.  Fannie Mae also has a HomePath renovation financing program for those distressed properties that need a little help before they’re ready to be lived in.

Going the HomePath route makes the home buying process different for a few reasons:

  1. No appraisal is required.

  2. You can make a down payment of as little as 3% of the purchase price.

  3. No mortgage insurance is required (therefore, less up-front cash from buyers and lower monthly payments).

  4. Credit score requirements are more flexible.

So, the million dollar question – why would a lender agree to such a loan?

Well, Fannie Mae is offering a couple of incentives to lenders who process these loans.  First, loans can be sold back to Fannie Mae, so lenders aren’t holding the loans in their own portfolios.  Second, the more loans a lender makes, the more fees it generates for originating and servicing the loans.

I know what your next question will be – with all the cash investors snatching up distressed properties in the area, is it even possible to get one of these properties with a HomePath loan?

I’m not going to tell you that it will be easy, a lot of the time if a bank can get cash, they’ll take it.  But!  We are actually in escrow on a HomePath property and, except for a delay in opening escrow because it has to go through the Fannie Mae channels, everything is going smoothly so far (knock on wood).

My big advice for going into escrow on HomePath properties is to fully exercise your due diligence – get that property inspected thoroughly!  These banks don’t know a lot of the details on the condition of the property, and they rarely will do repairs before the close of escrow.  So do your homework and really understand what you’re getting into.

For more information and a database of HomePath eligible homes, visit
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August Newsletter Now Available!

The August edition of my newsletter is available now - you can download a PDF version here, or pick up a paper copy at one of the shops and restaurants along Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock.  If you are on the mailing list, a copy is on it's way to you as we speak!  Want to be on my mailing list? Shoot me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Let me know what you think of this month's issue!
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Were You Social Last Sundae?

The Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society hosted its annual Ice Cream Social at the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock Sunday, August 1. Admission was free, there was music, a raffle, dollar-a-dip ice cream and baked goods for sale.

Ice Cream Social period costumes

It was a fun event for all ages and they were all there from newborns to, well, much older people. The Eagle Rock High School Key Club staffed the ice cream counter and otherwise helped at the event. The Kiwanis Club, which is the service organization which sponsors the Key Club, was there in force as well. I recognized a few families who had bought one of my listings in the past year, so it’s good to see that new residents are finding their way to community events. One of the great joys about living in Eagle Rock is that the longtime residents are welcoming to new people and want to help them find their way into service groups and community events.

Ice Cream Social Historical Society

I was happy to see the Eagle Rock Latin Jazz Band perform. It was my first experience with the group and I was impressed to see that fully half the band is female. In addition, they have a very talented female singer. Eric Warren, President of the Eagle Rock Historical Society, told me that the group is much larger this year because one of the requirements of the International Baccalaureate program at Eagle Rock High school is an arts component. It’s wonderful to see how supportive the community is of our young people and their emerging talents.

Ice Cream Social Latin Jazz Band

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An Eagle Rock Community Meeting is quite a community experience

A couple of weeks ago, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power delivered notices to the businesses and residences on Colorado Blvd between Eagle Rock Blvd and Townsend that construction would begin that day on replacing water mains along the street and that the occupants along the way could expect limited parking, access and water for the next few months.

The business owners and residents were understandably upset by the cavalier treatment they were given. They called the City Councilmember Jose Huizar’s office and within a short time, the work schedule was suspended and a public meeting was called to discuss the issues involved.

I was at the meeting and I saw that the behavior of some of the DWP staff was a bit unsettling (as in, if we don’t replace these pipes now, they could burst and then we’d have a real problem) and let’s just say inconsiderate of many issues like parking, cleanliness, the Farmer’s Market, restaurants, the Music Festival, Ren-Arts school, repaving the street, effects on holiday business, etc. Luckily, the DWP staff included a very astute gentleman who could see the potential for disaster and encouraged everyone to state their concerns without criticism, all would be heard and we would meet again after some thought and research had taken place.

Tonight was the night for the followup meeting and I believe the DWP and the 14th District City Council office staff had done some good work on the issues as well as possibly some training on how to promote good public relations within the community. The general tone was collegial and positive. And Plan B was well received by all. It was a 180 degree change from the previous meeting.

Since Plan B is slated to begin in March, 2011, the Music Festival in October and the holiday season will not be affected.
The permits that LADWP currently have allow construction only between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm. DWP asked if they could begin setting up cones, etc. at 8 am so they could begin actual work by 9 would help move the project forward more quickly. There was general agreement in favor of that and perhaps even broader hours.

Some of the ideas that were not incorporated into the plan were explained:

  • Placing the utilities underground while the street is open for the water mains is not feasible because another cut is required for utilities and the cost is prohibitive, especially considering the city budget crisis.
  • Resurfacing the Blvd instead of just patching the cut is not financially feasible at this time.

Here is Plan B:

On August 9, work will begin at Loleta Avenue and head east to Genevieve where the onramp to the 134 freeway begins. This work is expected to be finished by December 3. If it is completed earlier, the section between Vincent and Loleta will be done. During this time, the community can see how well the parking, traffic, dust and debris, etc. issues are handled. Suggestions, concerns and problems will be addressed both through the 1-800-DIAL DWP number and through a special hotline that will go to a DWP supervisor. Both these lines will be answered by a live person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Another community meeting will be held sometime in November or December to assess how things are going.

Beginning sometime probably in March, the Eagle Rock Blvd. to Vincent or Loleta stretch will commence. The longest any one business will be without water will be 4 to 8 hours in one day and then 1 to 2 hours when the water is switched from the old main to the new main. These shutoffs will have somewhere between 48 hours and 7 days notice. The longest a business will have construction in front of their location will be about 3 days.

What would have happened if no one had spoken up about this work? We would have construction on Colorado Blvd right now with no real planning done for the parking issues, the water shutoffs, the safety of the Renaissance Art school students to name a few concerns. DWP would have done their job without much consideration of the impact on the struggling businesses in this fragile economy. After all, they were responding to requests from the Council office to replace these pipes before they burst like the ones on Townsend did. Hm. Everyone involved was doing their part to solve a problem, but without a community meeting, each department was unaware of the whole picture.

Moral of the story: If you live in a community, you need to pay attention to what is going on around you and speak up when you see something wrong. We have a responsibility to do our part and attend meetings like this. The government and the large corporations and the developers need to see that the citizens are watching. Over the 27 years that I have lived in Eagle Rock, I have seen and heard of several issues that the community spoke up about and because they did, changes were made. Did you know that someone tried to put a pornographic movie theater into the old Eagle Rock Theater on the corner of Yosemite and Eagle Rock Blvd? Quite a lot of people turned out to protest that. Another issue was when the Mobil station on the corner of Eagle Rock Blvd and Colorado petitioned to sell alcohol at their convenience store. The citizens didn’t believe that selling alcohol at a place that sold gasoline was the right thing to do. And let me tell you, the big guy from Mobil Corporation thought his company’s need for a profit justified the encouragement of drinking and driving. That was stopped. There are many more, including TERA’s fight to stop a MacDonald’s from going in to the old Security Pacific Bank Building (now the BlockBusters).

We don’t all agree on all the issues, but that is why we need to speak up. There might be a solution that will be more palatable to a greater number if only ideas were exchanged in an open forum. I am proud to live in Eagle Rock, where people take a stand when they disagree with what is going on. Our community is better for it.

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Home Buyer Tip #1

Why you should change the locks on your newly purchased home:

Illustrating the advice that you have no idea who might have copies of the keys to the home, how about this story from the blog LAist.

It is just common sense when you think about it, but it's amazing how many people don't get around to having the locks re-keyed when they take ownership of their new homes. The cost is negligible compared to the potential damage and loss that could happen.

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How to Mess Up Your Home Mortgage Approval

Those of us who have been involved in such loan and appraisal nightmares question whether these lenders are interested in actually doing any business.
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