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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.

  1. We can still write off some state and local taxes up to $10,000. The bad news is that is actually a tax increase for those of us who have more than an $800,000 house and/or still pay some other state or local taxes.

  2.  We still have the mortgage interest deduction, but only up to a mortgage of $750,000, instead of the $1,000,000 it has been.

  3. The $500,000 capital gains exclusion is not affected! If you have lived in your primary residence for 2 of the last 5 years, you and your spouse can each deduct up to $250,000 of your net capital gain when you sell your house.

So there it is. The basic nuts and bolts. The rules haven't changed. When it comes to investing in any sort of real estate, the rule is, take your time, perform your due diligence, be well informed and understand the benefits and potential pitfalls.

It has always been advisable to consult your tax consultant before making any decisions regarding your real estate activity. This is certainly true today.

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Will the Real Estate Market be Better in the Spring?

This is the hot question for Sellers as we head into the intense heavy holiday season post Halloween, pre-Valentine's Day.  Common wisdom says that people aren't interested in shopping for houses when they have toy firetrucks and the latest video game to buy for the kiddies and spouses.

But we here at the Tracy King Team at Teles Properties do not believe in the "common wisdom" theories of real estate sales because we are not common and neither are our sellers and buyers. We are exceptional! And we believe in doing business all twelve months of the year.

Two weeks before Thanksgiving week we brought a new La Canada listing on the market and sold it in 7 seven days. We also brought a Pasadena listing on the market the week before the holiday and had 100 people at the broker's open house on Thursday and 50 people at the Sunday open house in the pouring rain! We also put an Eagle Rock listing back into a new escrow and finalized opening a new escrow in Highland Park.  Buyers are not halting their home shopping!

On the national front,, a distress property servicer news organization said:

Existing-Home Sales Rise Unexpectedly in October

Sales of previously owned homes got an unexpected boost last month while the number of homes on the market continued to decline, according to data released Monday by the National Association of Realtors. The trade group recorded a 1.4 percent month-over-month increase in existing-home sales in October.

Since our corner of the Los Angeles metro area is generally doing better than the national averages, this is especially positive news.

I know you're still thinking to yourself, "But will the market be even better in the Spring?" - well, that is almost 4 months away and my crystal ball is currently in the shop.  The way we're working, we could be listed, marketed, sold and closed escrow by then - and you could be onto the next part of your life!

So what are you waiting for?  Home buyers sure aren't waiting!


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Market Report: Eagle Rock

ERGraph081111 copy

Here’s my take on this report:

Median price means half the properties sold for more than this number and half sold for less than this number. Is it meaningful? Figure this out (all concerning the month of July only):

3 of the sales this year were for more than the highest sale last year

But what is truly noteworthy about this year over last year is:

The number of active listings is over 40% fewer
The number of properties pending sale is 150% more
The percent of properties under contract compared to what is on the market is over 330% more!

The market is much more active right now. Why? We can say it’s low interest rates and that there is a perception that we are truly at the bottom, but we had the same factors going last year. The economic news isn’t much better, in fact, a number of homeowners have decided to sell because the future holds no promise that the picture will improve in the next couple of years. I think the true meaning is that buyers are buying homes to live in because everyone has to live somewhere and many people do not want to rent, and sellers can sell in this market if their homes are priced right.

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First Half of 2011 Market Update for Eagle Rock, 90041

Here is a table that illustrates the number of sales and percentage of distress sales over the last 3 years in Eagle Rock 90041. The question is, what does it mean? There’s a flipflop from a greater number of foreclosures in 2009 to more shortsales in 2011. Distress sales as a whole dropped in 2010 and have increased again so far in 2011.


My guess, and it’s educated but still a guess, is that the lenders were very resistant to doing shortsales early on and have finally bowed to the inevitable. As more distressed homeowners are able to sell short, there are fewer foreclosures. The more positive numbers in 2010 I attribute to the peak of the “double dip.” Or you might look at the whole thing as our thudding along the bottom.

There is a lot of talk about “Shadow Inventory,” which is distressed properties that might come on the market. This includes properties that have notices of default filed (the homeowner has stopped making mortgage payments), have notices of trustee sale filed (they haven’t brought the loan payments current and are scheduled to go to foreclosure sale), REO or bank-owned or 3rd party owned (sold at trustee sale). It also includes properties that are “upside-down” which means the property is worth less than what is owed. This can be a huge number and there is no way to track what it is. The fear of “Shadow Inventory” is what if a lot of these distress sales come on the market at once? What will that do to the rest of the market

Personally, I think that is a big “if.” If it hasn’t happened yet, why would it happen now? One reason could be if we had a major economic setback. But believe it or not, we have actually been out of the recession and experiencing a slow (excruciatingly slow) recovery for the last 2 years, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Another reason could be a drastic change in mortgage lending in terms of either interest rates or underwriting guidelines.
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It’s Up, It’s Down, It’s Up--It’s the Highland Park Market Update!

How is 90042 doing this year over last year at this time?

What looks like bad news is that the number of listings is up while the number of pending and closed sales is down:

But wait! Look at the average price per square foot!

And look at the average sales price vs. list price!

What is a buyer or seller to do?

If you listen to the news, you will be so confused. One day it’s a good market and housing is a good buy, the next day there is more trouble to come.

Right now, interest rates are back under the 5% range, sellers who are realistic and motivated are eager to sell, and buyers who have the courage to take advantage of this market can find good quality homes to buy.  So all of you, call me!  If you are motivated, I can help you realize your real estate goals.
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Friday Real Estate Wrap-Up

Lots of interesting things going on in the market this week! Let's go through it quickly so you can get the scoop and get on with your weekend:

1. Did you see the "brand new hillside architectural live/work space" at 3126 Verdugo Place in Glassell Park? We saw it on caravan last week, and it's a cool property with FANTASTIC views and a neat rooftop deck with hookups for a jacuzzi. It was listed for $649,00, which is a great price for the property but I wasn't sure the neighborhood would stand up to a price that high. Well, looking at the MLS hot sheet this morning I see that Verdugo Place is in escrow - which is GREAT news for the neighborhood! We don't know what price it's in escrow at, but I'm hoping they got close to asking - or more!

2. There's a very cute little neighborhood (called "Floristan Heights" on title) located south of Colorado Blvd, off of Townsend Avenue, and it is filled with cute little houses (I know because I happen to live in this area!). And one of those cute little houses just recorded as sold in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) for a tidy sum of $515,000. 1576 Glen Aylsa is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath and was recently renovated. It was originally listed for $490,000. This is more great news for this particular neighborhood - things are selling if priced right. It's not all doom and gloom around here!

3. We saw some really great properties on caravan yesterday, and we want you to buy one! Here's a quick peek:

5500 Nordyke Street, Highland Park
5500 Nordyke Street, Highland Park

5500 Nordyke Street, Highland Park: Wow, what a view! This 3 bedroom, 3 bath home sits on a 0.59 acre lot, obviously with fantastic views. It's clean and updated and ready for you to move in and escape from the rest of the city on your private hill. It's in a great neighborhood in Highland Park, tucked away almost to Eagle Rock. Listed for $499,000.

2652 Saxon Drive, Eagle Rock
2652 Saxon Drive, Eagle Rock

2652 Saxon Drive, Eagle Rock: This house has a ton of space, although it may not look like it from the outside. Four bedrooms, two baths in 1,700 SF, all sitting on a 3,060 SF corner lot. It's another Better Shelter flip, so it's done up all nice and pretty and ready for you to settle in. Another one that is tucked away in a nice neighborhood, and it has Eagle Rock schools, so even better. Also listed for $499,000.

1517 Avenue 47, Highland Park
1517 Avenue 47, Highland Park

1517 Avenue 47, Highland P ark: I love, love, love this property. I saw it when it was on the market as a distress sale, and I love what Elemental Homes (another fix-and-flip company) did. The front house has two bedrooms, two baths and a open, airy floor plan. The back house has two bedrooms, 1 bath. The deck in the back of the front house is amazing. It's all amazing. If I could buy it, I would! Amazingly, it is ALSO listed for $499,000! What a deal.

Alright, three great properties for you to consider. If you are interested and want to see one of them, give me a call at 323.243.1234. Or shoot me an email at keelymyres[at]gmail[dot]com. Tracy is taking off to Peru in the morning for a little adventure, so I'm in charge - don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions/comments.

That's it for now, have a great weekend!
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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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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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