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  • Office Phone: 323-274-2148

Tracy King Blog - Eagle Rock Real Estate - Northeast Los Angeles Realtor

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LA Digs - Northeast LA Real Estate Blog

Welcome to LA Digs, the real estate and Northeast Los Angeles community blog written by Realtors Tracy King and Keely Myres.

Here, we share tips, market updates, and local news bits to keep you informed on what's happening in Northeast Los Angeles and the surrounding neighborhoods. Read on to learn about the latest in your neighborhood!

My Take on the Current Housing Situation

As a Realtor, the most common conversation opener when I meet anyone today is, "How are you doing in this terrible market?" Well, I'm doing okay, thank you. I'm focusing on the people who need to buy and sell right now, I'm paying a lot of attention to my business, and it's working. I opened 3 escrows last week, and yesterday closed escrow on the biggest sale of my career.

You see, people are always changing and that means that they are always moving. Everyone lives somewhere. The four big reasons why people buy or sell homes are: birth, death, job change, divorce. Those things don't stop when the economy gets bad, now do they? So life goes on, real estate goes on.

The next thing people say to me is "When do you think we're going to hit bottom?" My answer is that my crystal ball is in the shop. We'll know we hit bottom when we see that prices have begun to go up.

I was reading the April, 2008, Fortune magazine recently an interview with Warren Buffet, the financial guru of Omaha, Nebraska, and head of Berkshire Hathaway, one of the most respected stock holding companies in the world. Hm, what would something Mr. Buffet said in April look like in the light of what has happened in the last few months?

Mr. Buffett is a smart man. I didn't read one word of prophecy, nothing we can examine 6 months later and say, "Well, that didn't happen the way he said it would!" He did say this in reference to investing, though, "I always say you should get greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy." Do you feel a bit of fear in the market today?And he said in response to the question, "But you’re still bullish about the U.S. for the long term?""The American economy is going to do fine. But it won’t do fine every year and every week and every month." Mr. Buffett is a rational investor, one who holds stocks for the long term. I encourage you to read his interview and substitute the words "real estate" for "stocks" in what he says. I think his words are meant for any investor in any market. Here's the interview.

I have a thought for some of you who are sitting in your homes, wanting to get top dollar to finance your move to the next phase of your life, whether it be a retirement home, a sailboat, or a loft downtown. This could be a time to consider financing your buyer yourself. If you own your home free and clear, you could help an earnest young family purchase your home and make a decent return on your investment as well. Consult your tax and financial advisors and let me know what you think.

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Real Estate Market Update

Slight downward movement in mortgage interest rates was reported yesterday, Sept. 4, 2008:

Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®) in which the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 6.40 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending August 21, 2008, down from last week when it averaged 6.47 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.67 percent.

The article also reported increased home buyer interest and activity.
For the complete report, click here.

According to Itech MLS, in Eagle Rock (zip code 90041), active listings today hover at 44, with 10 of them short sales and only 1 a foreclosure. So 25% of the active listings in Eagle Rock are "distress sales," of which maybe 2 or 3 will actually ever close escrow in the next 6 to 12 months. That's a pretty low inventory of properties truly for sale, folks. All of the short sales are listed for under $580,000, which means that 45% of the properties below the median price of $584,000, are not really viable listings. It makes the real numbers point to a more normal market than a buyer's market in terms of how many months it would take to sell everything currently on the market.

Sellers, don't think this means that the market is back to 2006 price levels. No. Many properties are really more at 2004 levels today. If you have the equity to price your home there, now you're looking at some excitement from the buying community. Call me.

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Tuesday's Crop of Propertunities

Every Tuesday, the Coldwell Banker offices and a couple of MLS organizations have Broker caravans where we look at the latest listings to come on the market. I thought I'd share the news with you, as several I saw today are really good deals! If you want to make an offer, call me! I would love to represent you.

1575 N Los Robles1575 N. Los Robles, Pasadena, only $384,900! Near Howard St in NW Pasadena, this is a 1905 Craftsman, over 1200 sqft with really high ceilings, 3 bedrooms, a big lot (8841 sqft), and a super price! It's a bank-owned, sold as-is, but has copper plumbing, central air & heat, and still some character touches.

278 W Altadena Dr, Altadena278 W Altadena Dr, Altadena, $449,000. Another bank-owned, this one is 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a Janes Cottage on a 8612 sqft lot.

4577 Jessica Dr, Mt Washington4577 Jessica Dr, Mt. Washington, $538,000. Cape Cod style cottage with 3 BR, 1.5 baths, nestled under the trees and in Mt. Washington Elementary area.

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5315 Buchanan, Highland Park5315 Buchanan St, Highland Park, $499,000. A former bank-owned that was rehabbed extensively into a surprisingly nice 5 BR, 3 bath home with entirely new systems and interior. It's not a high-end neighborhood, but this is a real deal for someone who needs this much space.

4840-hartwick.jpg4840 Hartwick St, Eagle Rock, $699,000. This is all about the backyard. If you want a kid's paradise where they can play as if they lived out in the country all in your own backyard, this is your dream come true. First, sit out on the deck overlooking it with a lovely south-facing view. It's a good house, too, with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, in good condition. Located at the end of a culdesac in the heart of Eagle Rock.

2059 Windover, Pasadena2059 Windover Rd, Pasadena, $1,100,000. A midcentury on a huge lot, great style but potential to be really stunning.

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Good news, Bad news, Lots of News (Especially for Entry-level Buyers)

The good news is the Housing and Recovery Act of 2008, signed into law by President Bush last week. This bill permanently increases FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac loan limits in high-cost areas (that's us) to $625,500. There is another provision that offers a first-time buyer tax credit of up to $7,500 that is actually an interest-free loan with a 15-year repayment plan. This is available to a person who has not owned a home in the three previous years. This credit is only in effect for buyers who purchase between April 9, 2008, and June 30, 2009. The purchase has to be for your primary residence, and there are a few more qualifying rules. For detailed information, you can go to the Federal Housing Tax Credit site.

The bad news is that Freddie Mac, the big mortgage finance company, posted a large quarterly loss. This resulted in opinions from various sectors predicting further home price declines and the possibility of mortgage interest rates rising.

So how does this affect the current market in OUR neck of the woods, Northeast Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley? Those of you who are in the under $500,000 price range know that outside of short sales (which aren't sales) and foreclosures (largely junk with the occasional deal that you better be able to pay cash or put 50% down and move really really fast on), there isn't much that is any good and those few are going in multiple offers. This price range was largely non-existent for the years 2004-2006 and is really the buying opportunity of the day.

I know you think "oh, she's just a Realtor trying to make us feel like we have to buy now and everyone else says prices are still going to come down."  Go ahead, take the chance that something you like that is out there now at a price you can afford will be cheaper in a few months or next year. It might happen, but how much are you willing to bet that mortgage rates will stay the same as today? They have already crept up to 6.5% for most 30-year fixed loans and experts are predicting a rise to 7%. What will that do to your falling prices? Make it a wash, that's what. Your buying power drops dramatically when interest rates rise. For every $100,000 mortgage, the cost goes up $67 for a 1% rise in interest rate from 6.5% to 7.5%, meaning your buying power is actually almost $10,000 less. To put it simply, for every 1% increase in mortgage rate, you have a 10% decrease in buying power.

I know some people predict the market will go down another 10-20%, but once the foreclosures and shortsales work themselves out thanks to the Fed, what seller will put their house on the market? Only the few who really must. There you have the supply and demand dynamic, with fewer homes on the market, the demand goes up and so can prices.

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Cowboy Real Estate

Out in Pasadena's West, that is, west of the Arroyo and south of the 210 Freeway, is a lovely area that includes the San Rafael Hills. Most of the homes were built in the 50s, they've been well maintained, have great views, and it's a convenient location to both Pasadena's Old Town and downtown Los Angeles. I noticed some odd real estate happening over there last year when I had a listing that never sold that had appraised at $850,000, thanks to a couple of sales that seemed unusually high for the time. So here's my investigative report:

As of today, August 3, 2008, of the under $1 million market, if you look at the gross numbers it looks like there are 19 homes currently on the market, 19 have sold so far this year and 3 are in escrow. At this rate there are over 7 months of inventory. Since over 4 or 5 months' supply qualifies as a buyer's market, it looks like it's slow in the San Rafael Hills. It is truly slow, since we only have 3 properties in escrow.

Of the 19 homes currently on the market listed for $1,000,000 or less, 8 are short sales and 3 are REOs. Of the 19 properties that have sold so far this year, 2 were REOs, 3 were probate or trust sales and none were short sales. Of the 3 properties currently in escrow, 1 is a shortsale and 1 is an REO. Of the 11 expired or withdrawn properties, 4 were short sales and 1 is now on the market as an REO.

The current real estate commentary you read in the paper says that there is a lot of inventory on the market which is bringing the prices and the demand down. But if you remove the short sales from the equation, we now have 11 active listings or an inventory of about 4 months, which is closer to a normal or even a seller's market.

In my educated opinion which is verified by bankruptcy attorneys and many Realtors who specialize in short sales, most short sales will not be approved. Why? There are many reasons, mostly stemming from the fact that most people don't understand how they work and they advertise their property as a short sale with no idea whether they qualify for one. And Realtors take them on with the same ignorance. Of the 8 short sales now on the market, I'll bet you not one sells until they go through the foreclosure process and come back into the market as an REO, or bank-owned sale. What does this mean to you?

If you own a house in the San Rafael Hills and want to sell it, you are competing with some "fantasy" listings as well as some really bargain priced REOs. The 2 cheapest properties on the market are REOs. Unfortunately for you, you can't disregard them because the buyers and the appraisers are looking at them, and believe me, these properties will sell and sell quickly. So if you don't have to sell, you probably won't.

If you're a buyer, how can you take advantage of some of the really great deals that do appear, like those 2 REOs? First, can you pay cash? Or do you have such a large down payment that your loan can be under $417,000? You are in good shape. If you already own a home that you have to sell in order to buy another, you need to put it on the market and sell it for whatever you can and be willing to rent until you find the deal you want. It's not that difficult, there are lots of rentals out there right now. And when you're ready, don't be confused by the short sales you see on the market. Just ignore them and look at the homes that you have some chance of actually purchasing.

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Tracy King, Realtor
DRE# 01048877
Phone: 323-274-2148 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Keely Myres, Realtor
DRE# 01834633
Phone: 323-274-2148 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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