Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Remodeling Cost VS Value in 2014

I posted about this last year and had a ton of people read this article and visited this site.  It really is a great tool to be able to get a feel for whether you want to spend your money on a certain project in your home or maybe go for a different one if you are concerned about a return on your investment.  This site details down to the city you live in so for those of us who live in pricey Los Angeles, it will be different from other parts of the US.  Check it out Remodeling Cost VS Value in 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

Laurel Plaza: Finally To Be Developed

I've been keeping my ear close to the ground for years in hopes to hear that this area of North Hollywood would be developed back to it's originally intended site that use to bring shoppers from all around to this area.  About 50 years ago, this use to be a thriving mall...considered to be one of the best in the country.  You wouldn't even believe this if you drove through this area today.  The run-down shops, broken windows and boarded up stores are a grave site to see.  And it's really too bad because there are some terrific neighborhoods and homes close to this area that have been effected by the sad appearance of this once-lively-mall and it has also brought some of the other downfalls that run-down areas tend to attract.  But North Hollywood, and it's people, are bursting at the seams to give this lovely town a makeover.  And so the news is finally in....Laurel Plaza (where the Macy's is located) is finally sold and plans for development of a mixed-used plaza is now underway.  And I say, cheers to that!! There have been rumors for years that a developer such as Rick Caruso (of the Grove and Americana) would take on this project, but it never took hold I guess till now...and I wish this developer all the best in their efforts to come.  The Northridge earthquake damaged these buildings and it's been a downward spiral ever since for this commercial space.  But now we can finally look forward to new shops, new jobs, and hopefully a wonderful new look.  Now keep in mind, this does not include the development of the shops across the street on Laurel from Erwin to the Victory intersections but hopefully this will be a domino effect and those will soon get a face lift as well.  To read more about this, LA Times writer, Roger Vincent posted an article in last week's paper and you can find it here "Laurel Plaza Shopping Center in North Hollywood is Sold"


Friday, January 24, 2014

Leaf Blowing In Los Angeles

I've written a lot of articles on Los Angeles real estate and things regarding our community.  Anything from "What Does an Escrow Company Do?" to "What is going on with the construction at Ventura and Hazeltine?" can be found here on my blog.  I really try to keep all my articles very informative for people wanting to know about the market or happenings in the area.  But this article is really my soapbox about something that I have a personal interest in (or disinterest to be more fair).  I have a strong dislike for leaf blowers and have had it for a very long time.  From the years when I was in my early twenties living in Hollywood and they would wake me up at 7am to now-a-days where I am in a home in a quiet residential area of the valley and I have to close my windows so they don't wake up my baby.  For those of you who may read this and live elsewhere in an area where they are not used, they can be as loud as a chainsaw, they do absolutely no improvement to the area since all they do is blow leaves and dust everywhere but the immediate area, and the gas ones are bad for breathing and the air.  For those of us who live in LA, we are pretty use to all the noises of the city, the air pollution but also, the wonderful weather we are blessed with here.  But the amount of times that I have to quickly roll my car windows up as I come upon a thick cloud of dust and debris being blown into the streets by a leaf blower, or I have to close my home's windows during certain times of day because of the leaf blowers' noise in the neighborhood, is just uncountable. And for those of us already concerned about the air we breath here with the strong amount of pollution, we just intensify this pollution by kicking up all this dust everywhere we go.  We actually have city ordinances here in LA that not only prohibit gas blowers in a lot of areas, but also prohibit the noise any blower creates. You can find this here on the Los Angeles Police Department website Gas Powered Leaf Blowers Enforcement and Noise Ordinances   Look for Los Angeles Municipal (LAMC) Section 112. 04 (c)  You will find some departments and their phone numbers on that website as well as at the bottom of this article.  But of course this is a double edged sword isn't it?  Because for a very large amount of residents here in LA, most people hire gardeners that use these.  And if they didn't use these, we assume they would charge more for the labor involved in raking the leaves and sweeping, right?  I don't know but I do know that I am not alone when it comes to my extreme dislike of these machines. So while there may not be an easy solution, I believe it is something worth while discussing. Okay, I'm going to breath out now that I have written my frustrations down and feel free to leave your thoughts below. 

Air Quality Management District
800-288-7664 or 800-288-7664
(Emission problems, smoking vehicles, air health hazards)

Leaf Blower Hotline (City of LA)

The number to call when you don't know what number to call--- 311


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On The Fence About Who Pays For The Repair Of A Neighboring Fence?

So your fence is in need of repair and you start to wonder, "Do I pay for this or is this something I split with the neighbor who's property shares this fence?"  We call this the "California Good Neighbor Fence Law" or aka California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 841.  Of course this question is asked all the time because, well.... it's a good question.  If this fence divides the area between you and your neighbor, then who is responsible for the upkeep?  Well, the simple answer is both of you.  If your neighbor also has a fence on another area that border's their land, then you two together are responsible for the section that is between your properties. I guess we would all hope that when our fence is looking worse-for-wear we could just stop by our neighbor's houses with a plate of cookies and talk over the cost for the fence repair and agree to an even split.  It's not always that easy though.  So, if you need a little fuel for your conversation with the neighbor, refer to the California Civil Code 841 and maybe still bring the cookies just as a good gesture.

Friday, January 10, 2014

What Is The Market Doing With The $1Million-Plus Homes Right Now?

This past holiday season was a slow one for homes around $1-2 million here in the Valley.  While we typically see a shortage of homes for sale starting around October going through December, that doesn't necessarily mean that buyers aren't still out there.  In fact, because there are less homes on the market, the ones that are out usually still sell in a good time.  But this year didn't seem to go that was for this price range.  There are many homes above $1 million that have been on the market now for a few months and it's looking slow for them being sold.  So, what is this telling us?  My honest guess is that starting in February we will see the market for these homes at this price start to flourish again.  Last year's market looked something like a high speed race and a lot of people bought homes.  The market took a steep climb up and the other people that weren't ready to buy last year may still be holding onto hopes that there may be a dip.  But come February I think we will all see that these values that were brought to us thanks to last year's market will be holding strong and we will be back to a good market for both buyers and sellers.  I've said it before and I'll say it again...don't look back in a year from now and wish you had made a move. Sitting back and watching the market go by is not going to do you any favors. Hindsight is 20/20.  So if you are looking to buy or sell, give me a call and lets talk about getting it done!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Which Projects Are Worth Your Money When Trying To Sell Your House?

There are a lot of people that ask what they should do with their home when getting it ready to sell.  Some things are DIY (do it yourself) and cost no, or very little money.  But there are other things that could..and should be done that cost money.  So, of these projects that cost money, which ones are worth it and which ones can you skip?
Exterior Painting:  If the outside of your home has a good amount of chipped and pealing paints, but the inside of your home is in good, move-in condition, then you should consider having this done before selling.  I know this is a large expense, but unless you have people lining up to buy houses in your area, this could be an instant turn-off for potential buyers. The only time I would recommend leaving that pealing paint alone is if your house is in a condition that would most likely attract investors who can fix it up or want to flip it.
Interior Painting:  Most of the time, I say leave this one for a buyer to do. Unless you have a room that may have a wild paint job or color or there are marks covering the wall that make a room seem "dirty" then let the next person put their own personalization on their new home.
Fixtures:  There are a number of homes that have older lights or things like bathroom fixtures.  This one depends on how the rest of your home looks. If you have updated things like flooring, appliances, and counter tops but you still have brass lighting fixtures, then change them out.  But if your home hasn't been updated in a longer amount of time, then leave it for the buyer.
Appliances:  This is on the list as one of my personal least favorite things to see in a home...mix matched appliances. If you have a stainless steel stove and dishwasher but a white refrigerator, buy a new one so they are all of the same look. I can even say from personal experience, I did this when I sold my own home. 
Carpeting:  Don't assume that everyone hates carpeting...this isn't true. So if your carpet is still in good condition, keep it.  And on the other hand, if it's not in great condition, maybe still consider leaving it.  This is a larger expense and flooring is a person to person preference.  Some like dark wood floors, others prefer laminate wood-like floors, and others may go for a stone. But very often when showing houses I hear that people either do or do not like a certain flooring, no matter what the condition.  It seems to be such a strong like or dislike at times that it would be a pity to spend a lot of money putting down wood flooring that just might turn off a potential buyer. This being said...if your house is in a very nice condition and has been updated in recent years but your carpet is in question, then perhaps throw in the incentive to buyers that you will credit them a certain amount of money at the close of the sale toward new flooring and let them choose their own.
Landscaping:  Yes, yes and more yes! Curb appeal is high on the list of what you should do to make your home marketable for buyers.  Don't go over board and make it seem as if it is a yard that only a professional gardener could manage, but do spend the money cutting the weeds, trimming the bushes and planting some nice flowers. 
Professional Staging: I would rely on what your realtor says about this one. If your home is larger and empty, then this would most likely be a good idea. But it really is a case-to-case decision based on a number of different factors.

So when you are selling, I know you will add these costs up in your head and think things like "well a new refrigerator would be about $1500, that is a lot of money and I may not make that money back in the price." And you may be right....that is a lot of money.  But believe it or not, unless it is a hot seller's market, your house could loose out on offers because of something like that so you may want to think of these expenses in terms of selling vs not selling or having your house sit on the market for a long time. I hope this helps and if you have any real estate needs in the Los Angeles area, feel free to call me.  I am always here.