Saturday, August 31, 2013

Meeting Your Agent For The First Time

I met with some new clients today at a local cafe. I like to sit down and talk about what to expect when looking for a home and also bring them a copy of the purchase contract to go over with them.  They had a lot of really good questions and we had the chance to talk about the time frames of the contract, the contingencies and a number of other things. I explained to them about the inspections and appraisal.  How those work, and what they can cost. We also talked about legal matters, good faith deposit vs down payment and some other things.  When we went to leave, the couple told me they had met a few other agents, but not one had gone over any of these things with them or taken the time to ask of they had any questions. I know it seems like a lot of our time is spent opening a front door and saying "here is the house, what do you think?" but if you are working with a good agent, they should take time out to explain the process to you and go over the contract well before you are looking to sign one. I know I'm not the only agent out there that does this but I must say I'm disappointed that I was the first this couple had met that went through this with them. But that is neither here nor there because they are in good hands now, but if you are working with an agent that hasn't done these things yet...please ask them to sit down with you and go over them.  It is really only to your benefit to understand how getting an offer accepted works and they days following an accepted offer might look.  Cheers and have a great labor day.


NoHo Is The Place To Be

Wow, NoHo is on the move folks. This town is making some noise and bringing more and more people who want to call it home everyday.  According to this article I attached below, NoHo is ranked #3 on This has to do with the fact that NoHo has the metro red line, the orange line, bike paths and lots of great theaters, shops and restaurants all within a short distance.  What this article didn't mention, is that as a commuter, NoHo also has access to the 170, 134, and 101 within blocks of each other. And the places that are popping up here are drawing in people from everywhere.  Have you tried Bow & Truss, the Federal, Republic of Pie or been to the new Laemmle theater or 24 Hour fitness?  Or what about some of the great places that have been here a while like Pitfire Pizza,  Eclectic Cafe, or the famous El Portal theater? I have been to and frequent them all.  It looks like if you want to be where it's happening and you can go from place to place without even getting in your car, then NoHo is the place to be.

Friday, August 30, 2013

July 2013 And The Housing Market is Still Rising

You read it right...the reports have come out to say that July was a great month and they are predicting it to continue to keep rising and for August's numbers to reflect the same. According to this article from Zillow "July marked the 14th straight month of annual home value appreciation" Read more here

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Islands In Sherman Oaks

I don't know about you guys, but one of the reasons I love where I live and work has a lot to do with the selection of restaurants.  All these "ma and pa" places to eat out here are great. I love places like Miya sushi in Valley Village or Hayat's Kitchen in NoHo and Spumoni in Sherman Oaks.  Then, of course there are some smaller chains that are on my favorites list as well like Umami Burger and LoterĂ­a Mexican Grill, both in Studio City.  But you don't really find a lot of the big chain restaurants around here. But, right across from my office there is a beautiful building that is just finishing construction.  On the front of one of the entrances the sign for "Islands Restaurant" hangs there holding it's place in this new building. But I wonder how a chain like that will do here. I mean, when we go to visit the grandparents out in Palm Desert, this is where they always like to go.  And we always take them there and the average age of the clientele is about 70. Okay, I know that may have a lot to do with being in Palm Desert but that is just what my mind associates with Islands restaurant.  And we have a couple other big chains like Cheesecake Factory and El Torito but I always figured those places survived because of the lunch business people that go there.  So, I guess we will wait and see if the locals will venture out of their local watering holes and restaurants to Islands, or if they'll keep to what they know and like.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

30 year fixed mortgage rate finally dropped a bit

Good news buyers....the rates just dropped for the first time in a while. Check it out

Half Of Real Estate Is About Who You Know...But What About The Brokers You Would Rather Not Know?

Being in the real estate biz, I've learned that doing business is about half of what you know and half of who you know.  And even more so, sometimes avoiding the ones you know.  I mean, every real estate agent should be up-to-speed on how to do their jobs, knowing the contracts, laws and regulations (not that this is always the case though). But we should also know our fellow realtors.  Building relationships means that when you come to me to buy or sell, I have other people I can turn to, to help get the other side of that deal done. But there are also other realtors that some realtors won't turn to.  And you, as a consumer, may not be aware of this. Accepting an offer has more to do with than just the price on the paper a lot of times. There are some realtors that are very difficult to work with, and when word spreads about this, you would see that those people may bring in offers, but their offers may not be taken seriously because of the broker who is working on them. And it's one thing to be a hard-nosed realtor, someone who really fights for their clients, but it's a whole other thing to just be a bad business person.  Sometimes realtors won't even respond to those broker's offers because they've already had bad experiences with them.  And if you are selling a house, and you get one of these offers in, I would be frank with you and let you know my experiences with that bad broker and why accepting an offer from them could be risky and even costly.  But if you are out looking to buy, how do you know if your broker has that type of reputation that could keep you from getting your home? And same goes for selling as well...what if your thinking about hiring someone who has a poor reputation?  This could really impact the sale of your house because a lot of realtors won't even bring their clients to houses for sale by bad brokers.  Well, first off, I won't sign anything with a broker when you are looking to buy until you get to know them a bit and get a good feeling. Hopefully in just a couple of weeks, you could get a good sense of their professionalism and over-all personality.  Are they returning your calls or emails in a timely manner? Are they answering your questions well or are they answering questions before you even have them? And here is the last clue as to whether or not your realtor is someone that has a not-so-great reputation: ask a couple other realtors.  While we are not allowed to speak poorly of our fellow brokers, if you ask me about someone I know, as my mother said, if I don't have anything nice to say, I just might not say anything at all.

Friday, August 23, 2013

If The Walls Of Your Home Could Talk, What Would They Say?

Los Angeles has such a variety of homes, and a lot of them date back to 1950 or well before.  We have history running through the veins of our streets and neighborhoods.  And the valley is no exception.  Back in the 1930's we had 3 airports up and running and it wasn't long before we were the home of a lot of the major studios like Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, CBS, Disney Studios and many more.  The airports and studios drew in so many people wanting to live in the valley that between 1930 and 1940 the population doubled. We have had some of the most famous actors, singers, directors, and producers call the valley their home, and we still do. And while the stories of the famous are always interesting, so is the history of the people and homes that made the valley what it is today.  So, if you've read any of my other articles, I'm sure you can tell I love my job buying and selling houses. But one of the most fascinating things about real estate, is the history and architecture behind the homes. I have dozens of books about these things but the other day I ran across a website that contains an enormous amount of information about our Valley homes and areas, and the history behind a lot of them. This site even gives a breakdown of certain groups of homes and the story behind who built them, when they were built, and their addresses.  If you enjoy reading about these things as much as I do, you must check this out. Or maybe, you might even find your house on one of these lists and learn things you never knew before. Check it out here Survey LA

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Actions (or no actions) Speak Louder Than Words

I am now working on a second deal back to back with the last one where the involved parties don't respond to things needed per the contracts.  Let me remind all buyers and sellers out there that if you are handed a contract to sign, unless you don't want to move forward with the deal, you should sign it in a timely manner. Especially when it comes to the first signatures needed which would be on the offer for a home. If you are a buyer and you receive a counter offer, until you accept that counter by signing it and returning it, the seller can accept any other offer that comes their way.  And also, if you are lagging on signing other things that are needed, the other party involved may look into your actions, or lack there of, and interpret that to mean that you are being disrespectful or playing games. Don't forget, the process of buying and selling a home takes two cooperating parties to complete the sale and if in the middle of the process someone isn't acting in a professional timely manner, other people's feathers can get ruffled and cause a snowball effect of things to come. And don't ever think you have the upper hand in the middle of a deal because it happens almost every time that you will eventually be in a position where you will be needing something from the other party and if you haven't been acting nice, they may start playing hard ball too. 

No More Fannie & Freddie? Is It Possible?

It was announced by President Obama that the government would like to move toward getting rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two artists previously known as government ran, then privately ran, then taken back under by the government are in the lime light again. But I can't figure out what for.  They got into hot water when the market fell a number of years back for doing a few things that were, well, not cool to say-the-least.  But then the government came in, took back control, forked over a bunch of money and sent them back to the school of "do business the right way or you're outta here".  So what's the news about getting rid of them?  And if there were no more Freddie and Fannie, then where would we get our loans? The LA Times reports "...Freddie Mac has financed 1.8 million home purchases, 7.2 million refinancings and 872,000 loan modifications or workouts. As of next month it will have paid back $41 billion of the $71 billion in assistance extended by the government."  I personally don't think it's possible to get rid of them but I guess if we really don't need anyone to get our loans from, well then, go ahead Washington. Read more at LA Times Real Estate here Dissolving Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac May Hurt Borrowers

HGTV! Look out for me on an upcoming episode

One of the many perks/fun things about selling real estate here in LA is that I'm surrounded by "Hollywood".  My fabulous associate, Judy Graff, recently shot an episode for HGTV and during one of the shots, she was unable to make it so she called me. So be on the lookout for an episode where you will see both Judy and I selling some homes! Hollywood, here we come (at least to sell you houses)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Studio City Farmer's Market New Parking Restrictions

Over the past number of weeks, the shopping center on the corner of Laurel Canyon and Ventura where the Von's is located, has been cracking down on parking. I actually bank in that shopping center and a while ago I mentioned to the teller that it was hard just to make it to the bank there since every time I came by, there was no parking. She told me they were about to start enforcing parking restrictions that say you can only park there for two hours if you are shopping in that complex. They were noticing that people were parking there and either shopping there, then walking down Ventura for more shopping and leaving the car there for hours on end or just not even shopping there but going somewhere nearby.  Well, this has been going on for a number of weeks and I've already seen the backlash from it. One day I was meeting some friends at Mexicali and they were a little late. Needless to say, after them being late and ordering and chatting, next thing I knew, 2 hours was up. It was a bit of a pain, that I had to go move my car in the middle of dinner to avoid being towed. And then today I drove to the Studio City farmer's market and there were barricades that said no farmer's market parking. I drove in the lot anyway to run by the bank and it was 3/4 empty. Now, I see both sides of this. One, from a person who banks there and couldn't find parking.  But from another who doesn't want to move my car every two hours and doesn't want to drive in circles forever on Sundays to look for parking for the Farmer's Market. And those of us that go there know that you can't even really drive in circles very easily because there aren't a lot of places to just turn around and look for more parking.  So, what is the solution? And is this going to help or hurt the businesses in this complex?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Just Sold 1014 W Riverside, Burbank


                        Just Sold                                   

This Parkside Equestrian townhome has 1,700+ sqft of top of the line living space. It offers 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a private garage with epoxy flooring, hardwood floors, updated kitchen with newer high-end appliances, a tankless water heater and even a stall on site for your horse. There is nothing you could want for in this home.  With the Griffith Park views at your back and Burbank's shopping and restaurants out your front door, this home is highly sought after by many.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What Will You Gain From Selling Your House In Today's Market?

It's August 2013 and this isn't the first time I've told you that it's a good time to sell.  Every time, I've told you what you could expect to gain from selling during that time.  From the end of 2012 through the end of Spring 2013, I mentioned it was a good time to sell since there was an extreme shortage of houses for sale.  This was putting the seller in the driver's seat in terms of negotiations during a transaction. This made it a great time for sellers that may have otherwise had troubles during a sale with things such as repair work needed on the home or perhaps needing longer escrow periods or rent backs. We were seeing 10, 20 and more offers on each home if they were marketed well. But that amount of multiple offers has slowed down now with loan rates having increased.  So why is it a good time to sell now? Because you finally have equity back in your home!!! This past year of increasing home prices has finally put money back into your home and now you are probably not in need of thinking about short selling or you've gained enough equity to take that money elsewhere.  So for everyone who has been thinking about moving for the past 2-5 years but haven't been able to because of the down market, well now you finally can.  And how do you find out how much you could sell your house for and how much it would cost to sell your home?  Call me. I can give you an idea of what your home would sell for and go over the math of closing costs with you as well.  Or if you don't live in the LA area, I can recommend agents in other areas as well.  So if you've been itching to make a move for a while now...go ahead!  Chances are you're house is worth a lot more this year than it did this time last year.

Monday, August 5, 2013

When An Agent Works For Both The Buyer And Seller On The Same House: Is It Good or Bad?

The term "Dual Representation" means that the real estate agent who has an agreement with sellers of a home, also has an agreement with the buyers.  So this person is said to be "working both sides" of a deal.  But I know what you are this a good thing to get into? Well, let me start off by telling you why I am writing about this subject today. It has been a very competitive market for some time now. And many buyers out there have been through the roller coaster ride of putting offers on multiple homes only to be turned down. And it's not a secret, although it may also not be something everyone wants to admit to, but there are some listing agents that are telling buyers that they will have a better shot at getting the property if the buyers working with them as an agent.  And so buyers have put their faith into agents that are working both sides. So, how does this work if you are a buyer or seller that is represented by the same person? And is it a good thing or not? And what does it really mean and boil down to if you are in this scenario?
Well, I will start off by being frank.  There are always exceptions, but for the most part, this is not something I would want to do. And here is why:  I have a responsibility to the seller, to work at getting them the best price, with the best buyer and work hard at negotiating a lot of other things once the deal is underway.  I also have a responsibly to a buyer to get them a fair price, with a home of their choice and work hard at negotiating a number of other things throughout the deal for them. How shall I go about getting the highest and lowest price at the same time you ask? And when the seller want
A,B,&C and the buyer isn't wanting to give A,B,&C then which one do I try to negotiate with the most?  Well, that is why, it's just not that simple to be an agent for both buyer and seller.  It's like playing thumb war with yourself.  And while there are many many agents who are honest and would truly work in your best interest, it's really hard to work for the best interest of two opposing teams, so-to-speak.
So, as a buyer and seller, how do you still get what you want in a competitive market like this one and still avoid working with an agent who is working for the other side as well?  Start off by choosing your agent to help you buy your home and stick with them throughout the whole process. I have worked with many buyers this year and each one of them bought a home and are very happy with their purchase.  Not one of them had to write an offer with the listing agent to get into their homes. So don't think that doing that is your best option to getting a home.  Also, if you are already working with an agent who happens to list a home while you are with them, that you would like to buy, try asking them if they could refer you to someone else that they trust to represent you on the buying side. And as a seller, when you are going over the P's & Q's of selling your home with your listing agent, ask them what they would do if a buyer approached them and wanted to work with them in purchasing your home. This should be something you should think about before the situation comes up.
So, I hope that gave you some insight into what a dual representation means and remember, every agent and transaction is different so don't assume that if you are being represented by an agent working both sides, that you are not be represented well. But also remember, that there are choices out there and if an agent is backing you into a corner to tell you that your best shot at getting a house is to work with them and they are already working with the buyer, then use your best judgement and know, when the right house is meant to be, it will be.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

What Does A Low Appraisal Mean For You?

Let's start off by trying to understand how an appraiser arrives at the price of the home. Typically an appraiser shows up at the house or condo and takes notes and pictures of the home. They look for things like updated kitchens, roofs that need to be repaired, 2 car garages or no garage at all, and many other things about the house that influence the price. They will take into account the location as well. Is this house next to a freeway or a high school? And is the condo situated in a building with neighbors above, below and on each side of you? Or is the home more like a townhouse with only one wall shared with a neighbor? Then they will look at recent sales, usually only using ones within the past 3 months. They will also stay within a certain perimeter of about a mile from the home and look at homes that have a similar amount of square footage. With all these things taken into account, that is where an appraiser gets their price of your home from.
But now you are selling or buying your home and the accepted offer price is $900,000 and you've just received the appraisal back, and to everyone's surprise, the appraisal says the home is is valued at $840,000.  Everyone thought this home would be valued at $900,000 or more according to the opinion of both real estate agents and the buyer and sellers. So what happened and what are your options now? Well, there could be a number of things that happened.  First, the appraiser could simply not be from the area and not understand the value of a certain neighborhood or area. We all here in LA know that you can have million dollar homes on one street and just a few blocks away, the homes could be half that price. So if the appraiser isn't familiar with the area, they can miss the boat on that one. Or perhaps there was a recent foreclosure up the street and since the value of those are typically much lower, maybe the appraiser used that home as part of their comparison. And while there are a lot of great appraisers who do their job very well and work hard to understand a home's value, like any other job, there are sometimes appraisers who just aren't as good at what they do, and that can show when you get a low appraisal on a home where the value should be a sure thing.
So now you've got that low appraisal, what do you do?  Well, there are a number of options and most of these must be agreed upon by both buyer and seller. First option is the buyer simply comes up with the difference in cash and moves forward with the sale. Another option is that the buyer can ask the seller to reduce the price to the appraisal amount so that the buyer can work with their lender and buy the home. Depending on the seller and the condition of the market, this can work in the buyer's favor or not work at all and the seller and buyer must agree to not move forward together in this purchase.  Another more complicated option is that the buyer seeks out a different lender who will use a new appraisal for their loan process.  This can be a pricey and risky gamble since you must pay for another appraisal and run the risk that it may come back low again. And it's risky for the fact that your purchase contract has sensitive time lines on them that must be met.  Sometimes seller's are flexible with these timelines since they know the buying process and obtaining a loan can be complicated but a buyer should get that in writing from a seller if that is the case. A low appraisal can be a speed bump or even a road block in the buying or selling of your home.  But if you are working with a good real estate agent, then hopefully they have explained this process well before the situation comes to play and you are in need of making a big decision of what to do. And if you have any questions about real estate, feel free to call me or email me.