Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why Do My Offers Keep Getting Outbid? And What Does The Real Estate Market Have In Store For Me In 2013?

It's December 20, 2012 and the real estate market here in LA took a sharp turn. If you have been in the market to buy a home in the past 6 months, you will have definitely seen this change. Have you put offers in on homes and been outbid? Have you even put the full asking price in on a home and still not gotten it? You are not alone. Far from it. There are many people out there that are looking to purchase a home and have not been successful with their offers. Here is what is going on with the market as of today. It is true that prices are on the rise. According to the MLS, the average single family resident home's sold price in Valley Village from 11/1/2011 to 12/1/2011 was $589,250 compared to the average sold price from 11/1/2012 to 12/1/2012 which was $784, 552. And in North Hollywood from 11/1/2011 to 12/1/2011 the average home's sale price was $326,104 compared to 11/1/2012 to 12/1/2012 which was $345, 891.  One thing you can not do is look at where the market was six months ago and expect those prices. The market is always changing and when the market is on the rise or is falling, you can only compare prices to a month or two ago.

Not only are home prices rising but as of today, the number of homes on the market for sale is less that the number of buyers looking to buy a home. So the supply of homes for sale is short.  Also, there are still a lot of investors out buying homes with the hopes that they can buy a home today, fix it up, and sell it in a few months while the market is still on the rise. You may have heard that you were outbid by an "all cash offer".  A lot of times investors use all cash to buy a home and sometimes the seller feels more secure about selling their home to an all cash offer rather than someone who uses a loan to get a home. Loans are not always guaranteed and could fall through, even with the best of the best people looking to get them. Okay, so knowing all this, what do you do now? Well, one option is to raise your budget so you can get the home you would like. Although the market is rising we still have amazing prices from where the market was at a number of years back. We also still have fabulous interest rates available and those won't be around forever either. But maybe you are already at the top of your budget. Another option is to look for something different. Maybe try a different area, or a smaller house or look at some great condos. Another thing you can do when making an offer on a home is ask your real estate agent to write a very nice cover letter about you, informing the seller of how interested you are in their lovely home and what your plans are for their home. Not everyone selling is looking for top dollar. Remember, these are people's homes and people have fond memories made there and personal touches they worked hard on in their homes. They have neighbors they have formed friendships with and some people truly want a nice person that will take care of their home when they leave. It is also possible that your agent can present your offer in person to the seller and hopefully tell them many great things about you and your plans for their home. I know this market can be discouraging for those of you out there that are feeling like none of your offers are working for you but there are options and as always, make sure you are working with a realtor that is on your side and really cares for you as a person and professionally as a client. And when you are looking to buy or sell, please give me a call and I will be more than happy to help with all your real estate needs

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What is a Probate? And What is a Trust?

When my client's are looking for homes, sometimes they use internet search sites such as and Zillow and then I get questions about terms they find on these sites or hear from other sources.  One of the big questions I hear a lot is "What is a Trustee Sale?" and "What is a probate sale?".   Without getting into too many specifics I will try to answer this for all of you wondering the same thing.

First off, every state has very different laws and regulations in regards to real estate.  So this may not pertain to you if you are looking to buy or sell in a place other than California. Now, to be clear, there is a large difference between a "trust sale" and a "trustee's sale".  A trustee's sale, here in California, simply put, is a foreclosure. I believe what most people are really asking about, when it comes to these terms, has to do with probates.

I have included the following information that is written on the California Association of Realtor's webite CAR.ORG

Q 1.  What is probate?
A "Probate" is the court-supervised administration of a decedent's estate. The procedure begins with the filing of a petition with a probate court for the probate of a decedent's will or for letters of administration if there is no will.
The probate proceeding involves "proving the will" (if there is a will), appointing the personal representative, determining the decedent's assets which are subject to probate, determining and paying the decedent's debts and taxes, and transferring title to the beneficiaries (if there is a will) or to the heirs at law (if there is no will).
Q 2.  What property is subject to probate?
A The probate proceeding, generally, is required only for property to which the decedent directly held title at his or her death, and not property which is indirectly held, property owned by contract, or which passes by operation of law to another at the decedent's death.
Q 3.  What property is not subject to probate?
A  The following property is not subject to probate administration:
  1. Property held in a trust (Cal. Prob. Code § § 5000, 13050, Estate of Heigho (1960), 186 Cal. App. 2d 360, 364-365);
  2. Property held by decedent as a fiduciary or as trustee for another (e.g., Totten Trust) (Cal. Prob. Code § § 80, 5000);
  3. Property held in joint tenancy (Cal. Prob. Code § § 5304,  13050);
  4. Property held in a multi-party account (Cal. Prob. Code §§ 5304, 13050);
  5. Property which is a life estate (Cal. Prob. Code § 13050);
  6. Property held as community property with the right of survivorship (Cal. Civ. Code § 682.1);                                                                                                                                             
    Okay, so you don't want your property to go through probate? Then something you can do is put your property into a "Trust". This next bit of information was also taken from

    In an attempt to avoid probate costs, court supervision, and public access to private information, many people put title in their property into a revocable living trust.
    First, the trust document needs to be created designating the names of the trustors, trustees, and beneficiaries.
    Second, title of all real (and personal) property needs to be placed into the trust in the following way:
    “We, John Smith and Mary Smith, husband and wife, quitclaim to John Smith and Mary Smith, co-trustees of the Smith Family Trust, the real property…”
    Furthermore, unless the trust instrument expressly provides other wise, community property that is transferred into a revocable living trust remains community property during the marriage, regardless of the identity of the trustee, if the trust provides that the power to modify the trust may be exercised only with the joinder or consent of both spouses.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I hope you this answered questions you have about probates and trusts. Always consult your Realtor or an attorney when you have questions regarding your property. And feel free to call me when you are ready to buy or sell          

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What Is The Difference Between A Listing Agent And A Buyer's Agent?

This could very well be my shortest blog ever. The question I hear all the time is "what is the difference between a realtor who is a listing agent and one who is a buyer's agent?" The answer quite simply is Nothing. Nodda. Zip. Zero. A realtor receives his or her license in the same manner as the next realtor.  All experience being equal, an agent who works with listings knows and does the same things as an agent working with buyers. Most agents just simply refer to themselves as Real Estate agents either working with residential real estate or commercial real estate.
You may, on occasion, hear an agent refer to themselves as a "Listing Agent". Here's the scoop with that....some agents may prefer to mostly work with selling homes or "listing" them. The reasons can range from personal preferences to a professional persona one may want to put out to others. When you list a home, having your name on the sale sign out front is instant advertisement. Also, some may think that if you do a good job selling the house, that hopefully you will be able to help the sellers now buy their new home as well. Also, word seems to spread more quickly when an agent sells a house and that can lead to more business for that agent to sell more homes. And when you work with listing a home, it is most likely that the people selling their home are serious about doing so, whereas people buying a home may not be. Therefore, some agents would prefer to work with clients that are more likely to follow through with a transaction.
 Every agent, including myself, has worked with a lot of people who are looking to buy a home and for one reason or another, they don't end up purchasing one. Sometimes we can work with buyers for months, and even years, showing homes, sending listings, calling and scheduling showings and then nothing comes of it. It can be a lot of work and cost a lot of money since we don't make salaries, only commissions when we sell. Whether an agent is listing a home or helping someone buy a home, all the things they do for that client come from our personal funds. The photography of the homes, advertising, driving clients to and fro, our websites, the funny flyers you get in the mail with our lovely info and photos on them, our cell phones, computers...everything is on our dollar and we are independent contractors so we don't receive income unless we sell a home. So long story short, some prefer to sell a home, because like I said before, sellers are typically more serious about making a move than buyers. But in real estate, that is just the way things go.
I really hope that if I show you houses for weeks or years, and I do a good job, whether you buy a home or not, that you will come back to me and work with me again. I also hope that you will tell your friends and neighbors about me and that they will work with me as well. So, yes it can turn out to be a lot of hard work to work with buyers, and it may not pay off with that particular client, but hopefully it may, in the future, turn into something else. If you do happen to meet an agent that says they only work with listings, and you are looking to buy something, then you wouldn't want to work with someone who doesn't seem to want your business, and that's when it's time to pick up the phone and call me. I am always more than happy to help you with whatever you need whether it's buying, selling or leasing!
....and I guess this wasn't so short after all.


Things To Do For The Holidays In The Valley

I don't know about you but I love this time of year. I love Christmas lights, the smell of fireplaces and I love the cold winter nights (and for all you folks that don't live in SoCal, "cold" means below 60 degrees). I also love all the things that are happening around town so I wanted to put together a few fun things I know about and pass them along to you. My husband and I will be taking our daughter to a few of these things so if you see me at one, come say hi!

First, this coming Friday, November 30, 2012 in the NoHo Arts district they are having their first annual Holiday Open House. It will be at the corner of Lankershim and Magnolia where the Pitfire Pizza is located from 5PM-9PM. They will have music, poetry, dance, holiday choir, Santa and a tree lighting. Find out more at

On Saturday December 1st from 5PM-9PM, Studio City will be having a holiday street fair in the Tujunga Village. It's located where the famous Vitello's Italian restaurant is on Tujunga Ave. There will be lots of fun things for kids and adults. Santa will also be making a visit here and Vitello's will be having their annual holiday kick-off big band concert. This event is always fun and very popular with the locals. I couldn't find an official web page for it to add here but the banners are hung in the village with all the information there.

This next thing may not be filled with holiday events but this is a fun winter time for all.  Ice Station Valencia's Snow Day Sundays are a fun opportunity for the entire family to Play in Snow, Ice Skate, Drink Hot Cocoa, meet Santa, and have a fun family holiday experience. They will be offering FREE beginning ice skating lessons at 2:00pm and 3:30pm each day. The Snow Day Sundays will also feature Special Skating performances from 3:15-3:25pm.  Adults are free to play.  If you want more info you can go to their website at or call them at 661-775-8686.

And have you ever seen the Magical Christmas Caroling Truck? It's been going on for many many years and it is quite the thing to see. It is a 62 foot tractor trailer decorated with thousands of lights and has over 200 singers and dancers and it parades it's way through Toluca Lake and North Hollywood on Christmas Eve. A must see for all!

Woodland Hills is having a "Jingle in the Jungle Holiday Festival" Their Chamber of Commerce presents the 2012 Village Walk Jingle in the Jungle Holiday Festival. The event is from 4-7pm with the tree lighting ceremony at 6:30pm, followed by a drawing for a few $500 Village Walk shopping sprees. They will have Live music, photos with Santa and live reindeer, face painting, holiday arts and crafts, and complimentary holiday desserts. Parking is free in the parking lot beneath Whole Foods/TJ Maxx.

And of course we have the Americana at Brand in Glendale that is always a beautiful place to go and just walk around, especially this time of year with all the lights and decorations they have up. They also have an hour of snow each night so we can really feel like we are in the North Pole while still having our lovely weather keeping us nice and warm. That happens from 7PM-8PM and Santa has a fancy smancy house recently built at the Americana where you can visit him and get some great photos as well.

And last but not least, the houses here in the Valley can really be done very well. So get in the car and just take a drive through Burbank, Toluca Lake, Valley Village, North Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Encino and Van Nuys and see the creativity that Hollywood has to offer right on their front lawns.  
Happy Holidays everyone and when you are ready to buy or sell your house in 2013, give me a call!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Breaking Out of The Habit of Getting Our Cars Broken In To

Last weekend I went hiking up Fryman Canyon in Studio City with some friends just like I do every weekend. We met there early in the morning and as we were walking in the parking lot, there were multiple police cars parked and a few police officers walking around the empty cars. I stopped and asked one of the officers if everything was okay. He told me that there have been a lot of reports of cars getting broken into while people were hiking. He also said that they were walking around looking into these parked cars and he was seeing that people were leaving valuable items in clear view inside their car. He pointed to the 2 cars that were parked right where we were standing and told me to take a look.  The car on the right had cash just laying on the passenger seat and the car on the left had a cell phone in the cup holder. Thieves don't have to think twice about which car to break into when they see these things in plain site. While most of us consider the valley to be a relatively safe area to live, we still live in a large city and things are bound to happen. If we would like to cut down on crime here, we are going to have to put effort into not attracting into our neighborhoods, public parks and other areas. The holiday seasons are here now as well, and criminals are looking for opportunity. When we park our cars, please remember to hide and remove anything valuable. Even diaper bags that may not contain anything of value can look like loot to a thief. Remember to also put your shopping bags and boxes in your trunk and out of site. Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks is another place that thieves lurk around looking for people to leave things in their cars. So this holiday season, and all other times as well, be safe and keep your car clean and everything out of site of potential thieves.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Helping East Valley High School in North Hollywood by Donating Coupons

It is November 12, 2012 and our local North Hollywood Senior Lead Officer, John Catalano, just sent out an email asking neighbors to help with collecting and giving coupons to families of East Valley High School. The North Hollywood Police station has worked hard to build a relationship with East Valley High and has helped to also lower the crime there as well. They are now on a new venture to help the students and their families with their grocery bills. It is really a very simple and great idea. The North Hollywood Community Police Station now has a collection box at the front desk for all of our unused coupons. They are going to sort and distribute these coupons to the families of the students at this school to help them save money on their shopping. This is so easy and doesn't cost a thing so let's bring in all our coupons and really support our local police station who have worked so hard to better our community with all that they do. My family and I are huge coupon cutters so they will be receiving a lot from us! I hope to see you there too.

New Ralphs grocery store in Sherman Oaks

Finally! Grand Opening is Thursday April 10th! It's been a long time coming but I'm sure everyone is happy that opening day is just around the corner

So many of us have seen our Ralphs on the corner of Ventura Blvd and Hazeltine taken down to make room for the new Fresh Fare Ralphs.  The original Ralphs was rebuilt after the 1994 earthquake but now it's time for a larger and more updated grocery store in this side of Sherman Oaks. Some of our neighbors are happy about this and others thought that it wasn't necessary. One thing is for sure though, and that is that the construction near this intersection can be a hassle for those of us that use this route to get to and from home on a daily basis. Not only do we have a new and improved grocery store coming in, but there is also a new, very large complex being built on the same side of Ventura just one block West. This complex and the construction around it, isn't helping the commuting traffic either.  But, we always seem to have a road or building being worked on around here and this is nothing new for us to see.  But when the Ralph's is completed, which the Sherman Oaks home owners association thinks that this should be in the summer of 2013, it will indeed be bigger and better. It was cover over 65,000 square feet of interior space. There will be underground parking with the street level of the complex to include shops that will be accessible by Ventura blvd. The Ralph's grocery store itself boasts that it will have a very large produce section, a deli that will be competitive to any other in the area, and a full bakery that should test all of us that are on diets. So that is the skinny that I have on our local grocery store and I will keep you posted on all things real estate and neighborhood related.

Update: As things are moving along for this new grocery store, we now know that the summer 2013 is not going to be the opening date (since that has come and gone) but it looks like we will see the doors open here in the fall. I'm curious to see how it will effect traffic since it looks like there are only entrances on Hazeltine and Moorpark. But on the other hand, I'm excited to not have to drive all the way to the Ralphs in Studio City if I need a large selection of things.
2nd Update as of January 2014:  Well, it looks like someone's prediction for this store opening was a long shot. We first heard of the opening in Summer of 2013 and here we are in January 2014 and it still looks like it has some work to be done before opening. Luckily the construction isn't causing too much traffic hassle, but maybe we are so used to what we have been dealing with on Coldwater for so long that any other construction seems to pale in comparison. I spoke with someone at the Sherman Oaks neighborhood council and they said the projected opening date is now March...I guess we will wait and see. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Top 10 Signs You are Being Scammed with Mortgage Fraud

 If any individuals or companies:
  1. Want money upfront for mortgage assistance. 
  2. Offer to fill out paper work for you.
  3. Claim to be doing a "forensic audit"
  4. Ask that payment be made directly to them rather than to your bank
  5. Promise to modify a mortgage or prevent foreclosure, no matter the circumstances.
  6. Advise you stop making mortgage payments.  
  7. Suggest you lease your house and buy it back over time. 
  8. Require payment in the form of cash, cashier's check, or wire transfer. 
  9. Advise you to transfer your property deed or title to them. 
  10. Ask you to give them power of attorney.
 I found this list on which is a great resource for all things real estate related here in California.
If you feel you are being scammed call the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau at (855) 411-CFPB or (855) 411-2372 or go online to

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pinterest and Buying or Selling Your Home

Pinterest is an amazing. Let me say that again...amazing! And no I don't own stock in the company.  There are so many things you can do with this online pin board including help in buying or selling your home. How you ask? Well that is what this blog is all about.
So let me start at the basics for those of you who are not familiar with Pinterest. Have you ever used the "Bookmark" setting on your web browser? So you know, when you find a page you'd like to go to again and have the computer remember if for you, you "Bookmark" it right? Well Pinterest is similar in that it "bookmarks" or "Pins" things that you can find on the internet or you can download your own images, then you can share them with other people such as friends, family, or people that are following you in the same manner that works with Twitter. So, for example, lets say I find a picture of a beautiful garden somewhere on the internet. I can "Pin" this website that has the photo by going to the top right of my screen on Pinterest and hitting "Add". That will take me to the next page where I have the option to "Add a Pin". Once I choose that then I copy and paste the web address from the site where I found the beautiful garden into the space provided on Pinterest and it "Pins" it to my site. I can then add it to my "board" or category that I named "Ideas for my yard". I can even add a little personal note below it that could say something such as "I enjoy this yard because of the flower arrangements but I would prefer a white wooden fence". Then everyone who is following you will see that you pinned this. Then this goes onto Pinterest and other people also on Pinterest may see this photo and have the same thought you did about how nice that garden looks and then they will "Repin" it which just means they are Pinning it to their own board on their personal sight.
How does this help in buying a house? Well sometimes as Realtors we hear our clients say things like, "I want an updated house" or "I want a house with character". These things mean something different to each and every person. So why not "Pin" some things you like about homes on Pinterest and share them with your realtor? Or lets say your significant other travels a lot for business (as a lot of people here in LA do). You could make a board for all the homes you see either from your own personal photos you upload or from internet sights that show the listed home. Then you can add your own person comment to the photos for the home like "smaller than we like but terrific neighborhood".  Then your partner can just go onto Pinterest and look at all the photos with all the comments all at once without having to get separate emails with the photos or links.
What about selling my home? First off, the more advertising done on your home the better and this can be just another form of advertising.  But also, if your home is on Pinterest and someone Pins it, everyone that is on that person's following list will see it as well. Also, if you pin pictures of your home and label it with things such as "Original Spanish tiles" or "dreamer's pool", then people who are already on Pinterest looking for home ideas could find yours based on what they are looking for. And from a Realtor's point of view, if my past clients are following me on Pinterest, they too will see your home I listed and find it interesting or pass it to others that maybe interested. It's like a big web that can catch and hold a lot. And even if you aren't in the market to buy or sell, it can be fun to Pin ideas such as your dream master bathroom or a cute idea to make the best of a small space in a laundry room. So once you are on Pinterest, come find me and see what I've been pinning!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Expect the Unexpected: The Stress of Moving

Have you ever heard the phrase "If you want to make the man upstairs laugh, just tell him your plans"? Well, he must think that real estate is a real knee slapper. There is something very important to know when it comes to buying and selling your house. Try to go with the flow and expect the unexpected.
If you have ever had a conversation with a realtor, you have heard them say that no two deals are ever the same....and it's true. As your realtor, we work very hard to get you moved, get you a fair price, and keep things as smooth as possible. But you must remember, this will be the single most significant purchase or sale you will ever go through and there is a lot that can happen. It is very important to ask your realtor a lot of questions and try to understand how the deal is going. It is even more important to listen to your realtor's advice about situations and not go toe to toe with them about things. If you have hired a good realtor, then they only have your best interest at heart. We are here to help you move through a deal and get you what you want.
But if you find yourself in a deal and just before it closes the bathroom floods, or perhaps the driver of the moving van mows over the prize winning rose garden, or maybe even the seller decided to sign up for a dangerously entertaining game show and brakes every bone in his legs and is unable to move for an extra two are not alone. So grab a glass of wine, take a deep breathe or take a long run and try to get through the events of your life that now seem like a circus and we will do everything in our power to help you through it as best as we can. So before you fly your Mom in from the East coast to see the new house the day you are suppose to move in, or before you go and invite Home and Garden magazine to come take photos of your new rose garden, wait till you get settled in and the deal is done with the ink completely dry. And again, don't feel like you have that little black cloud following you around on a deal...things happen to many people. So try to expect the unexpected and if all things go perfect, well then, that is the luck of the draw and that is wonderful!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What is going on with the real estate market in LA today?

It is May of 2012 and the real estate market here in Los Angeles is making some changes. Some good, some not-so-good, depending on who you are. Here's the scoop. We've been in a down market for many years now. Many homes were lost to short sales and foreclosures which is a sad thing to go through. On the other hand, it made for a good time for people that could afford a new home, since the prices were down and the interest rates were at a record low. the last few months there has been a big shift that you may or may not be aware of.  People have decided to hold off on selling their home, if they can, to hope for a rise in the market down the road so they can get more money in sale. Also, the banks are a bit backed up on getting short sales approved for the sale. This has created a shortage of homes for sale. The economy has been getting better with people finding jobs again and also, there has been a good increase in the stock market. This has lead to more people looking to buy homes. With these two things put together, we in the real estate world, are seeing homes sell with multiply offers on properties. So if you are looking to sell your home right now, and it is priced well, chances are you won't have it sitting on the market long and you may have many people looking to make an offer. But if you are out looking to buy right now, you may be advised (and rightfully so) to move quickly if you find a home that you like, as the good ones are not lasting long. We also still have remarkably low interest rates out there which will not last forever. People on the whole are starting to see that the down market may be at it's end and they are gearing up to buy before prices start to rise again. So, if you are considering buying, now is the time to get out there. And, if you are thinking about selling at this time, you may want to get things together to put your house on the market and don't forget to price it well! Listen to your agent about what your house will go for and you will hopefully have an offer in front of you in no time. Either way, we have some new challenges before us as realtor but we are up for it and ready to inform you of all of them to help your transaction go as smoothly as possible. So, if you are ready to move, give me a call and lets get it done while the good opportunities are still here.