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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 Winds of Change

Real estate's Spring Buying Season is upon us. In spite of the current run of grey, drizzly days, rays of light are starting to shine on the local market. Just in the last couple of weeks we've seen multiple offers on almost every good property that's come onto the market in our Northeast Los Angeles area. And we're talking up to 22 offers on the extra special ones. (Others have had only 3 or 4, but, as we like to say, you only need one.)

We have been talking about the opportunities in the market for several years now, and many buyers have seized their deals and have been enjoying the benefits of home ownership, while many more were too fearful of jumping into a market full of scary economic predictions.

What has changed for the hesitant buyers? The good news for buyers is that mortgage interest rates are still low and prices for the most part are still less than the bubble prices of 2007.  But if you own a property and have been waiting for the market to improve, this is the best time in the last 4 years to sell your house. Even today with bad economic news on the European economy and only slight improvement in the job outlook for the U.S., there is a new optimism in our little corner of the world.

According to Trend Graphics from Itech Multiple Listing Service, we are seeing the numbers of properties going into escrow trending up since the beginning of this year, and the days on market going down. The inventory of available homes is very low, and when there are more buyers competing for a desirable property, we generally see prices go up. The inventory has been low but not this low for the last year--so why are we seeing all this activity now and not before? Because all the bad news about foreclosures and other distress sales added to a general feeling of fear that the market would continue to go down and prices would never recover. Now, because of government intervention and a gradual shift in lender's handling of distressed properties (from forcing more foreclosures to facilitating more shortsales), we are seeing the distressed properties influence on regular sales shrinking.


We are not back to the bubble prices of 2007 and early 2008. But we are working our way to a better market and if you are a property owner and considering making a move, you will find a good number of serious buyers ready to make an offer. So, why not wait for even better times? Well, we just observed the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. If you were around back then, you may remember a number of factors that happened that no one could have predicted: the first Iraq war, the 1994 Northridge earthquake, we even had a tornado in Los Angeles during that time!


If making a move now could be a good option for you, consider talking with us. We will help you consider your options and if it makes sense to your own situation, we can make it happen for you.
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The Big Seller Question, Shadow Inventory, & Northeast LA By the Numbers

The first quarter issue of our newsletter is available online now!  Click here to get the latest news on Northeast LA real estate, including:

  • The Big Seller Question: Why won't they just make an offer?

  • Current state of the market

  • Northeast LA real estate by the numbers

  • Is cash always king?

  • Shadow inventory: What the heck is it? Will it even affect our local market?

Click here to download a PDF copy.  If you would like to receive a hard copy via snail mail, email us your address - it's free!

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November Home Sales: Glassell Park/Mount Washington 90065

November Home Sales Glassell Park/Mount Washington 90065

November Home Sales Glassell Park/Mount Washington 90065

Here are all the single family home sales in Glassell Park/Mount Washington 90065 from November.  The high sales price was $740,000 (compared to $786,000 in October), the low sales price was $156,600 (down slightly from $177,000 in October), and the median sales price was $387,500 (down from $403,000 in October).

You can also see the November sales for Eagle Rock 90041 and Highland Park 90042.

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Another Point of View on Pricing and the Market

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.

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In a Foreclosure Agent's Shoes

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?

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