Category: Uncategorized


The Smallest Home in the Hamptons Still Provides a Long List of Appealing Amenities

If you conduct business or have other reason to make frequent trips to the east coast, then considering a home in the Hamptons may be an option. Yet, while you can easily find large, sprawling mansions in this locale, there is certainly something to be said about a much cozier abode.

Possibly it spawned from watching numerous episodes of “Tiny House Nation,” but regardless of what the motivation was, architects Ward Welch and Paul Rice make light of the fact that, at just over 500 square feet, they quite likely own the smallest home in the area. That being said, though, they are hardly at a loss for most modern conveniences.

Initially taking the home’s existing foundation, this couple has created a beautiful (and highly functional) residence from a former fishing lodge. Working from an impromptu plan, the duo converted the existing three-room property into two bedrooms (one master and one guest), and an open living and kitchen area. And, while the galley kitchen isn’t considered “spacious,” the couple was able to easily place an ample sized SubZero fridge, as well as an ample sized dishwasher. A beautiful fireplace in the living room helped to add the finishing touch.

With a tastefully appointed interior, the team also amped up the exterior space, including the addition of a year-round garden and stunning 300+ square foot back yard pool. Now that it’s all complete, Welsh and Rice state that they wouldn’t change a thing – including the amount of room that they have here. In all, it just goes to show that great things can still come in small spaces.

Click here to see more pictures of this gorgeous home!


Tired of Spring Cleaning? Take a Day Trip to Reinvigorate Yourself

Now that Spring is officially here, the home project or cleaning to-do list may have expanded. So, if you’re ready for a break already – or you just want to get out and enjoy all that LA has to offer, there’s a variety of things to do and places to go while at the same time taking in some cool local culture.

For example, the Japanese Garden offers more than six fantastically beautiful acres of waterfalls, trees, and eclectic plants to enjoy. This popular attraction, which is located in Van Nuys, is open Sunday through Thursday, and admission is just $5 per person.

Looking for more of an “active” activity to pursue? How about pedal boating around Echo Park Lake? This recreational area has been situated in LA for more than 100 years. Griffith Park can also be a possibility. With more than 4,200 acres to explore, you could literally spend days here enjoying music at the Greek Theatre, driving through the Toontown tunnel, or visiting the Bronson Caves.

If all the sight-seeing and activity has helped you work up an appetite, the Grand Central Market will certainly not disappoint. Open until 10:00 p.m. on most nights, this venue – which sits at 317 S. Broadway in the heart of LA – will oftentimes feature live music to enjoy with your eats.


And the Winner Is…Oops

While LA has been in the throes of Oscar-mania over the past few days, what has seemed to garner most of the attention was when – at the biggest moment of the night – La La Land was mistakenly named as the year’s best picture. But, while Jordan Horowitz, the producer of La La Land, began his acceptance speech with Oscar in hand, there was quite a commotion going on backstage, as the mix-up was quickly discovered.

Due to an apparent envelope faux pas, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced the winner. Yet within just a mere minute, La La Land’s producer, Fred Berger, concluded his speech with, “We lost, by the way.” To that, Jordan Horowitz added, “Moonlight, you guys won best picture.”

While host Jimmy Kimmel tried to lighten the mood, Warren Beatty explained just exactly what happened when the name of the movie was read. Beatty went on to then read “Moonlight” as this year’s winning nominee.

Later in the evening, the accounting firm that tallies the Oscars voting, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, issued a formal apology to La La Land and Moonlight, the emcees of the show, and to all of the Oscar viewers for the mistake that had been made.

Next year will mark the 90th Academy Awards ceremony. This should leave plenty of time to ensure that the proper Best Picture envelope is in hand.


No Driver, No Problem

While you may be familiar with the terms “endless summer” and “aimless wandering,” if you’re in or around the streets of Beverly Hills, you might soon need to become accustomed to a more modern term – “driverless vehicles”.

That’s because the Hills may be slated to become a possible new testing area for these autonomous vehicles. Why Beverly Hills and not a more remote area in the vase U.S. of A?

One of the biggest reasons is because this particular locale could prove to offer a varied driving environment. And, that said variety, along with its commitment to safety, may also springboard Beverly Hills into yet a new world of additional transportation options.

For instance, just this last Spring, the City Council opted to begin developing an on-demand shuttle system that makes use of, yep, you guessed it, driverless vehicles. In order to move forward with this new “robotic” transport option, the city is said to be working in conjunction with both Carnegie Mellon University, as well as MIT, to assist with building the system.

Don’t be alarmed if you happen to pass a vehicle that has an empty driver’s seat.


The Days of Lax Lending Rules May Be Gone for Good


Although the housing market suffered a crushing blow back in the 2008 recession – which led to the tightening of credit, and in turn, the qualification for mortgages by many unqualified buyers – today most purchasers will find that getting a home loan is much easier….at least to an extent.

In fact, many mortgage lenders have created new mortgage programs for first-time buyers and the self-employed, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have worked towards streamlining the application process and relaxed certain credit score requirements.

But, while getting that loan on your next home may not be quite as taxing as going through Fort Knox, the days of the pre-2008 lax lending “rules” may actually be gone for good. For instance, any mortgage borrower now will have to prove their ability to repay the loan. They will also be required to provide proof of their debt-to-income ratio.

Yet, while qualifying for a home loan may not be easy-peasy anymore, the good news is that lenders will be better able to ensure that borrowers are actually qualified for the property they’re purchasing – and because of that, the hope is that we will never see the rate of home foreclosures in droves like we witnessed during the last recession.

Working with both a lender and a real estate professional who understand your needs – as well as any financial parameters that you may have – can make the entire process move much more seamlessly. And, getting pre-approved for a home loan before you make an offer can also provide you with a real advantage.

image credits: Live Well Simply


Have Some Extra Room? Nightly Rentals to Football Fans Could Yield You a Nice Side Income

While living in or near a college town can certainly have its pros and cons, if you’ve got some additional space in your home, you may be able to bring in an extra cash flow this fall. According to a recent study by the financial website NerdWallet, those who live or own property in the vicinity of the Top 25 college football teams could potentially recoup a considerable amount of their monthly mortgage payment by renting out space on game day weekends (nightly rentals). (The site based its study figures on rental prices from the vacation website HomeAway).

Based on information from the study, in some areas of the country, the median per-night rental price can more than double when the home team hosts a game. So, depending on where exactly you own, and how well your local team is doing, it could definitely pay off to do some additional research.

How can it be possible to net so much for such a short period of time?

Well, one reason is because many college towns are not necessarily equipped with a plethora of hotels or other accommodations. So, many die-hard fans who want to follow their team in person, are oftentimes willing to pay a higher price if it means that they can stay close to where all the action is. So, if you have the space, you could have a great home-field advantage when it comes to making a few extra bucks.

image credits: POP!


High-End L.A. Luxury Real Estate: What’s Hot and What is Not

luxury real estate

Since the end of the economic recession, one of the major drivers of demand for luxury homes has been a plethora of wealthy international investors who are looking for a safe place to earn a nice return, while still in a historically low interest rate environment.

Many of these individuals have pulled away – either temporarily, or on a permanent basis – from the falling oil prices, as well as various economic situations, such as the slowing Chinese economy. This can make particular areas of the U.S. an ideal haven for such investors – especially in vicinities like New York City and parts of Southern California.

Being a primary city for luxury properties, many global investors have been drawn to the L.A. area’s solid track record in the past, along with its substantial potential for growth going forward. Plus, in comparison to some other sought after areas like New York, Los Angeles can offer an additional perk for purchasers – land.

In fact, when comparing some of the most expensive cities across the globe, with the average per-square-foot price being in the high-four to mid-five-figure range, Beverly Hills can provide a significant bargain due to the fact that you can oftentimes pick up the property, along with half an acre of yard.

In addition, while L.A. is a key city for attracting many buyers from overseas, the area has also continued to remain in relatively high demand from local residents, too. So, for those who are selling in this market, now could be a good opportunity to list.

With that in mind, homes listed in the luxury real estate market can take longer to sell than an average home – and, the higher the price point, the more time it could take to find the perfect buyer. But, it could also mean a substantial return.


image credit: LA Times


Post-Divorce Stefani and Rossdale Home Listed at $35 Million


While most of the headlines recently have been focused on Gwen Stefani’s current new life with The Voice co-star and musician Blake Shelton, she and her rocker ex-husband Gavin Rossdale are still in the midst of finalizing some post-divorce details – which include putting their 7-bedroom, 10-bath hilltop home on the market.

The home includes numerous amenities, such as an infinity edge swimming pool, a lighted tennis court, a children’s playground, and an outdoor fireplace – plus kitchen and grilling station. Several of the rooms inside the home open out to extensive outdoor lounging areas that offer sweeping views of the eastern end of the San Fernando Valley.

Stefani and Rossdale purchased the guard-gated property in the Summit development – which was formerly owned by the likes of Jennifer Lopez – more than a decade ago, reportedly for just over the $13 million mark. But since that time, it has been professionally decorated by Kelly Wearstler, who is known for bold and colorful interiors.

In addition to its brightly colored themes, the interior of the home provides a living room fireplace that is faced with book-matched black marble, as well as a massive skylight that brightens up the kitchen and surrounding areas. You will also find a professional workout room that has floor-to-ceiling windows on two of the walls, along with offices that can be used for the house management staff.

For those who are seeking an address with a 90210 zip code, this posh 11,825 square-foot residence, located along a mountain top ridge between Studio City and Beverly Hills, is being offered at $35 million. The price also includes a guest house that is situated on the property.


image credit: via The Summit


Ring in Some Holiday Cheer with a Local Adventure


As the year quickly draws to a close, it will soon be time to start thinking about trimming trees and hanging holiday lights. But, while we don’t usually see a lot of snowy rooftops and icicles here in southern California, it still might just be possible to partake in some real, live winter-themed fun.

That’s because the once popular Santa’s Village – closed for nearly 20 years now – may be reopening soon, albeit temporarily, just in time for this year’s holiday season. Situated just south of Lake Arrowhead, in the small town of Skyforest, Santa’s Village was at one time a popular destination for “cartoony” theme park enthusiasts, even a tad before Disneyland became a reality.

Recently, the new owners of this much loved attraction announced a plan to restore the park with many of its previous offerings, and then some. For instance, in the not so distant future, you could be gliding along on the Silver Bells Ice Skating Pond, climbing up candy covered mountains, or even zip lining high above it all.

There is also the Santa’s Village Mining Company, where you can try panning for some cool rock candy treasures. And, you might even want to explore the Magic Tree Bouldering Room – an indoor cave climbing experience for kids who are both young and old. (Climbing shoes are even provided for you).

Open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily – except for Christmas Day – there is plenty of time to take part in a long list of thrills. Skypark is located on the scenic Rim of the World Highway (California State Route 18), so it’s hard to miss this cool adventure land. But you better watch out, and you better not cry when you get there, because Santa Claus will be watching.


Number 1

The rankings for the first half of 2016 have been released and I was proud to be recognized as the number 1 agent in my office: Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills North which happens to be the number 1 Coldwell Banker office in the world. An impressive feat that hasn’t come easily but one I accept with gratitude, pride and excitement. I also recognize that this achievement wasn’t attained without the help and support of my team:  Lilli, Elizabeth, Joe and Marshall. Not to mention all of my fantastic clients who’ve entrusted me with dozens of real estate transactions closed during the first half of the year. Together we have worked hard to make Ben Lee Properties the number one realtor in the busiest CB office in the world and that’s something to celebrate. Let’s raise a virtual glass and make a toast to keep up the momentum and maintaining first chair position for the second half of 2016, too. Cheers! And thank you so much!