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!
As a Realtor, the most common conversation opener when I meet anyone today is, "How are you doing in this terrible market?" Well, I'm doing okay, thank you. I'm focusing on the people who need to buy and sell right now, I'm paying a lot of attention to my business, and it's working. I opened 3 escrows last week, and yesterday closed escrow on the biggest sale of my career.
You see, people are always changing and that means that they are always moving. Everyone lives somewhere. The four big reasons why people buy or sell homes are: birth, death, job change, divorce. Those things don't stop when the economy gets bad, now do they? So life goes on, real estate goes on.
The next thing people say to me is "When do you think we're going to hit bottom?" My answer is that my crystal ball is in the shop. We'll know we hit bottom when we see that prices have begun to go up.
I was reading the April, 2008, Fortune magazine recently an interview with Warren Buffet, the financial guru of Omaha, Nebraska, and head of Berkshire Hathaway, one of the most respected stock holding companies in the world. Hm, what would something Mr. Buffet said in April look like in the light of what has happened in the last few months?
Mr. Buffett is a smart man. I didn't read one word of prophecy, nothing we can examine 6 months later and say, "Well, that didn't happen the way he said it would!" He did say this in reference to investing, though, "I always say you should get greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy." Do you feel a bit of fear in the market today?And he said in response to the question, "But you’re still bullish about the U.S. for the long term?""The American economy is going to do fine. But it won’t do fine every year and every week and every month." Mr. Buffett is a rational investor, one who holds stocks for the long term. I encourage you to read his interview and substitute the words "real estate" for "stocks" in what he says. I think his words are meant for any investor in any market. Here's the interview.
I have a thought for some of you who are sitting in your homes, wanting to get top dollar to finance your move to the next phase of your life, whether it be a retirement home, a sailboat, or a loft downtown. This could be a time to consider financing your buyer yourself. If you own your home free and clear, you could help an earnest young family purchase your home and make a decent return on your investment as well. Consult your tax and financial advisors and let me know what you think.
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 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, 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. 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 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 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 Rd, Pasadena, $1,100,000. A midcentury on a huge lot, great style but potential to be really stunning.
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.
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.