Category: Home owner advice


2018 LA Housing Market Predictions. Are You Prepared?

If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not to purchase a home in LA in the coming year, you could do yourself a favor by moving forward sooner rather than later in 2018. In fact, doing so could help you to get a better “bargain” in terms of overall price and value.

Based on a recent CoreLogic report, while the housing prices across all of Southern California are still currently well below their pre-recession peak – 13% below, to be exact – it is anticipated that by the end of the current year, housing prices in Los Angeles County will rise by nearly 6.5%. And this could make a substantial difference in the price that you pay now versus the price you could end up paying during the second half of 2018.

One of the biggest drivers of this increase in price isn’t the shaky lending practices that were seen prior to the 2008 recession, but rather it is due in large part to a decrease in housing supply. This, coupled with a demand that has continued to be extremely high, has led the price tag – particularly on homes in the more desirable areas of LA – to move north.

For those potential purchasers who want to get a jump on both price and competition for fewer housing options, the sooner you can get yourself into the game, the better off you will likely be.


Will the Fed’s Recent Interest Rate Hike Affect Local Home Sales?

Throughout the past several years, the U.S. has been languishing in a state of historically low interest rates – and, while these miniscule rates have not been good for many income producing investments like bonds and CDs, they have in many ways been a blessing to those who have taken on home mortgages.

This past week, the Federal Reserve increased rates by .25 percent. And, while this may not seem significant, when our economy has been hovering in the neighborhood of 0 percent for roughly the past eight years, even the slightest increase can be substantial enough to scare off at least some buyers.

The good news is that, even with the increase in interest rates, we are still in an extremely low rate environment overall – especially as compared to mid-2000 when the 30-year mortgage rate was just under 9 percent, and the mid-1990s, when it was approaching 10 percent.

So, what should we anticipate going forward? There are some are predictions that the average home mortgage rate will remain in the vicinity of 4.5 percent throughout most of 2017, and then it will increase to closer to 5 near the end of the year. But this will remain to be seen.

Is this enough to scare off potential home buyers? Possibly. But even so, on a home loan of $250,000, the difference in monthly payment between a rate of 4.5 and 5 percent will still be under $140. In any case, if your plan is to “wait out” the market and hope for something better in the future, you could miss out on potential opportunities, wishing you would have moved forward when you had the chance.


Where Have All the Home Buyers Gone?

la buyers

Evidently, not very far.

If you’re seeking some of the hottest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, you won’t have to look very far in order to see a fairly long list of highly desirable areas. In fact, according to a recent report by the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), not very surprisingly, some of the most sought after locales here include Silver Lake-Echo Park, and Venice.

On this list you will also find Atwater Village, along with Westchester and West Hollywood, as well as both North and South Inglewood – which may be rising in popularity due in part to the soon-to-be-completed new Rams football stadium.

Also included, due primarily to their increased selling prices, are Malibu and Malibu Beach, as well as the Brentwood area. Based on the MLS research, the number one hottest neighborhood is Monterey Hills. Sales volume here was up almost 140 percent over the third quarter of last year.

Likewise, in Boyle Heights, nearly 40 homes sold, giving this neighborhood an increase of 87 percent over the same quarter in 2015. There is some talk that this vicinity may be LA’s newest gentrification hot spot. So far, though, there has not been an overabundance of evidence to say whether or not this is the case.

So, what exactly determines a hot neighborhood? There are a couple of parameters, but primarily they include those areas where the combined value of all of the homes that were sold in the previous quarter have risen the most. This could be due to more total home sales, higher prices – or both.


image credits: Lonely Planet


Finding Bargain Real Estate Offerings in Beverly Hills


While the word “bargain” may conjure up images of frustrated shoppers elbowing each other at Wal-Mart in order to purchase great deals on Black Friday, the reality is that just about everyone typically wants to obtain the best price that they can – especially if that includes the ability to purchase property in a distinctive and highly valued area for much less than it might be worth.

There’s no question about the fact that Beverly Hills commands some of the highest priced real estate listings in the entire country. With many of these properties being owned by current or former celebrities, that can often make the asking price soar even higher – especially on those that are located in the 90210 zip code.

So, in an area where there can be buyers clamoring to make offers, why would a seller consider selling their home at a bargain price? One reason is that “situations happen” – even to those who may at one time have had it all. Over the past several years, credit has tightened, meaning that some who once had a high end zip code can no longer afford to keep it up.

When this occurs, the need for a quick home sale is often in the mix, resulting in what some may deem as an oxymoron – multi-million dollar home bargains. Some of these homes may be advertised, while other property owners in this locale prefer a quiet sale. So, just because there isn’t a For Sale sign in the yard, it doesn’t mean that the owner isn’t accepting offers.

Working with an agent who is familiar with the area and its local happenings can help get you much closer to that diamond in the rough in an extremely hot area, for an even hotter selling price.


Free Earthquake Preparedness Presentation At Castle Heights Elementary

Earthquake Preparedness

So much talk has been given to El Nino this year, it’s easy to forget we still live in earthquake territory! A presentation on Earthquake Preparedness will be given on November 12, 2015, courtesy of Beverlywood resident and retired EMT and CERT member Marci Sandell. As a First Aid Instructor (and fabulous public speaker), she is determined to keep her community safe and informed by presenting these programs to homeowners’ associations around town, free of charge.

On November 12, from 7- 8:30 pm in the Castle Heights Elementary School’s auditorium, you will learn some valuable tips about making a family plan, building an earthquake ‘go bag’ and how to survive a major disaster. Space is limited, so if you are interested in joining this informative evening, please e-mail Marci with ‘Movie’ in the subject line and include your name and those who will be coming with you to

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Tips For Preparing Your Home For El Nino

Preparing Your Home For El Nino

We received a call from a reader asking us to publish a list of tips for preparing your home for El Nino rains. Happy to accommodate! Beyond investing in a strong umbrella, here are a few ways to prepare before the wet weather begins:

■ Clean out rain gutters and drains- you don’t want leaves, dirt and debris preventing rain water to flow. If you don’t have gutters, now’s the time to install them. You can also invest in rain barrels to collect all the water and use at a later date.

■ Cover bare spots in the yard. You can use mulch, pavers or artificial grass to prevent muddy messes from getting out of control.

■ Fix window leaks and weather stripping. This is the time to make sure the rain stays outside and not inside your living room.

■ Check/fix stucco cracks.Hairline fractures are probably OK but larger cracks may be disastrous once the rains start. You may want to get the bigger cracks patched up.

■ Check your roof.Consider having a professional out to make sure your roof will withstand the storms. If it’s old, damaged or sagging, now is the time to repair.

■ Hillsides- Consider using a biodegradable jute landscape fabric to keep dirt in place. You can plant erosion control foliage in spots so that the fabric will disappear when the plant roots take hold and start to grow. We have a list of trusted vendors who can help with putting these tips into action so feel free to call my office if you have any needs or questions: 310-858-5489

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Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween Safety Tips

To a great percentage of our population, October just means one thing: Halloween! Every year, hundreds of neighborhood kids and their families head out the door to trick-or-treat up and down our streets. Let’s just take a moment to remember some halloween safety tips, whether you’re accompanying your little ones or passing out candy from home.

1. Ditch the masks and use make up instead- It’s hard to see sometimes from those small eye holes of a mask so it’s a better plan to use make up if a ‘face’ is required for a costume.

2. Replace candles in pumpkins for lights- Nothing beats the spooky glow of a real candle but a safer choice would be to put tiny flashlights inside your carved pumpkins, instead.Not worth the risk of a costume catching fire on your front steps.

3.Watch the road- unfortunately, our streets aren’t blocked off for the holiday and the fact this year’s Halloween falls on a Saturday means it’ll probably be busier than in past years. Take extra caution when crossing the streets and, if you’re a driver, SLOW DOWN!

4.Use reflective tape- if you’re planning on going trick-or-treating after it gets dark, you can put small strips of reflective tape on your child’s costume to help make him/her more visible to drivers.

5. If you go out, turn your light off but if you’re home, leave it on to let trick-or-treaters know you are open for business.

Hope everyone has a very safe, extremely fun and a Happy Halloween!

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A Reception For Los Angeles Applicants To Attend Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University applicants

Back when I was applying to colleges many years ago, I was overwhelmed with choices. I was the number two student at Santa Monica High with a high GPA and back then it felt like I had a good chance at being accepted at a variety of great universities. Up until fairly recently, I was not so sure that would have been the case today. I had heard stories from parents, stressing about where their kids were going to go to school. These students were at the tops of their classes at some of the toniest private schools in town. They busied themselves with a million extra curricular activities, aced the SATs, were accomplished athletes and dramatists yet, the media had me convinced that the door of opportunity for these high achievers was not necessarily wide open. How frustrating is that?? To work so hard throughout high school and then not have the confidence to feel like their efforts would result in the college of their choice? I was lucky that I was accepted to the majority of the schools I had applied to. It came down to a choice between attending Wesleyan University in Connecticut or University of California, Berkley. I grappled with the decision, weighed the pros and cons of each and ultimately decided to brave the cold Connecticut weather and go to Wesleyan- not an easy choice for this Southern California native.  I’ll never know if that was the right decision. Sometimes I think I would’ve been better off at Berkeley.  Sometimes I feel like Wesleyan was the better choice. There’s always the question of the road less traveled and the grass is always greener and all that jazz… We’ll never really know how our lives would’ve turned out differently when faced by (what feels like) incredibly important decisions.   I will say, however, that there is something nice about attending a small school with a stellar reputation. There is a niche familiarity there amongst those who know the school and its reputation as one of the leading liberal arts institutions in the nation today. I recently held a reception for Wesleyan at our home. The purpose of this particular party was to invite applicants from the Los Angeles area and their parents to meet with admissions administrators in a casual setting. University president Michael Roth was here as well, sharing anecdotes about campus life and explaining to the anxious audience that they didn’t even have to submit SAT and ACT scores if they didn’t want to. It’s a new philosophy that a handful of top universities are adopting to acknowledge that applicants wouldn’t be judged on numbers alone. There was also an opportunity for these high school seniors to chat with alumni and learn more about their experiences at the school when they were undergrads.

I was pretty honored to be able to host this reception and show our three young boys that higher education is valuable and highly sought after. It is a luxury that isn’t easily come by and the students who were at the party clearly had worked hard and were incredibly focused on making their attendance at Wesleyan a top priority. What was interesting to note, though, was that while they all of course hoped to gain acceptance to this fine university, they seemed to be pretty confident that if it wasn’t one school, it would be another. That their entire lives didn’t seem to rely on getting that fat envelope telling them that they would be heading to Connecticut in the fall. It was really reassuring to learn that, after meeting these kids from all different backgrounds, and all types of high schools, no matter where they gained acceptance would actually be quite all right. The end-all goal wasn’t necessarily the school but the experience itself. It relieved me to see first hand that hard work still translates to opportunity and I was really happy to play a small part of the whole college process.  I have a feeling that the years between elementary school (where my kids currently are) and college applications will literally zoom right by. An evening with today’s current high school seniors put my nerves at ease and reminded me that the destination isn’t necessarily the goal– but the journey itself that is really what matters.  And wherever these kids end up going to school will be A-OK!

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Choosing A Realtor Part 4: Real Estate Marketing

Real Estate Marketing

Tip #4: Real Estate Marketing

When choosing a solid real estate professional to help sell or buy your next home, there are many factors to consider. We are sharing with you the tips we feel are most important in deciding who to hire and have already covered a few of the basics: does this person work full time or is he just a hobbyist? Is he/she a true neighborhood expert? If this person is related to you, is he/she just as qualified to do a great job? If not, it’s important to ignore family pressure and don’t let it weigh upon your decision regarding who to hire. Always remember that real estate is most likely the single most expensive investment you will ever make. Who to hire to help navigate the process is extremely important and shouldn’t be entered into lightly.

Supermarket- Before hiring a potential agent to sell your home, it’s crucial for you to learn about his/her real estate marketing plan and get all of his promises in writing. A good agent will be able to articulate where and how he advertises your property. Every licensed agent has access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which is essentially the bible for buyers and sellers. This is the most current and up to date tool that agents will use to share with buyers, sellers and other agents what properties he has for sale. So, putting a property on the MLS is a no-brainer that everyone will do. But dig deeper. Who is taking the pictures that will show your property in the best light? Who is writing the description that will highlight all the features that will help get your house sold?  Ask who the agent currently uses for these services. If he says he does all of that himself, move on to the next candidate (unless he has a background in both photography or professional writing- but the chances of this are slim). If he claims to use other people to help in these areas, ask who they are and whether or not you are responsible for paying their fees (a good agent will not expect you to pay for these services. The only thing you may be on the financial hook for during this process is if there are damages in your home that would appear in the photos. You will likely be responsible for paying to patch up a hole or two or repaint a wall if it’s truly awful.  If a professional stager is brought in at your request, you may be expected to cover that cost, as well).

And what advertising will your agent do beyond the MLS? This is important for you to know up front so there are so surprises down the line. Strong agents will be able to show you examples of how he/she markets your property in a variety of different ways, AT NO COST TO YOU! If an agent starts the sentence by saying, ‘Sure I can do that handsome, all color flyer hand delivered to the entire neighborhood but it’s going to cost you a few thousand dollars…’ just do yourself a favor and move along to the next candidate.

You have the right to have your property marketed as widely and extensively as possible. Anyone who claims to do this should feel confident to put it in writing. Anyone who does less should not earn your business.


Home Safety Tips – Are you ready for summer?

home safety tips

Summer is officially here! That means: longer, sun-drenched days; leisurely nighttime swims and an influx of relaxed attitudes mixed with dashes of adventurous spirits. Not to be a Debbie Downer about it, but while the rest of us are lounging around and building sand castles, criminals are getting down to business. Summertime always brings an increased level of criminal activity and it’s crucial to take a fresh look at the precautions you take to keep your family (and belongings) safe. Most of these home safety tips are old news but still bear repeating.

1. Get an alarm system, exterior cameras and/or a watchdog. These all act as deterrents to would-be criminals. They’re not a 100% guarantee but if a crook has the choice to break into a home with one of these or opt for one without, he’s likely heading to the one without.

2. Cancel your paper if you’re heading out of town. If you are like us and still receive an actual newspaper every morning, don’t forget to go on line and put a vacation hold on it while you’re away.

3. Know your neighbors. I’ve had to call my kind neighbors on numerous occasions when I’ve driven away and realized no one was home and the garage door was open. Embarrassed to say we’ve had a thoughtful neighbor tell us more than once that my wife’s car door was left open all night long. Not unlocked, mind you, but completely open. The fact that nothing was stolen says more about the state of mywife’s car than the remarkable security of our fine neighborhood. Three kids and a dog schlepped around all day and you get the picture of a minivan not even a criminal could love.

4. Get a house sitter. If you’re heading out of town, it’s probably a good idea to ask someone to stay at your house. It’s great to have someone take in your mail and packages but beyond that, the trend of would- be robbers is to take note of when residents are home. Often they’ll knock at the door to see who’s inside before taking any action. If someone is home, they’ll typically move on.

5. Technology is your friend. There is a new phenomenon called the RING video doorbell allowing you to answer your door from virtually anywhere whether you are upstairs or in Timbuktu. The doorbell rings and you can answer the door from your Smartphone. Monitors allow you to see who is ringing the bell and all interactions are preserved on video. Hope you never have to use it, but if you are ever concerned about a safety or security issue, you should call the Senior Lead Officer for our area, Mario Gonzales: 310-444-0740 or 310-622-3989.

Here’s to a safe summer season! Wishing you and all your neighbors a great one, and we hope these home safety tips help.

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