• Compass DRE# 01991628
  • Address: 2120 Colorado Blvd., Suite #1, Eagle Rock, CA 90041
  • Office Phone: 323-274-2148

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


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!

The Latest Real Estate Scam

When hard times arise, so does crime.

The latest real estate scam strikes at people who are struggling to find a home they can afford in a nice neighborhood.  The fraudulent “owners” find a house for sale that appears to be vacant, look up the owner's name, then advertise it on Craigslist or Hotpads or other free websites as being for rent for a really great price. The ad has an email/phone that goes to them, not the real owner. The “victim,” a.k.a. prospective tenant, is told to go look through the windows and see if they want to rent the property. Then they are advised that they can secure the property by sending a money order to a particular address.

If you think about it, this is almost as lame as the prince of some distant African kingdom needing your help to obtain his inheritance.  The prospective tenant goes to the property, sees the Realtor’s for sale sign, calls the Realtor and finds out that the deal is a scam, and does not send the money to the fraudulent owner.

One woman told us that she lead the scammer on for a little why and he told her to just peek in the windows of the house "since he is in Washington and his wife the "minister" is in Texas so they wouldn't be able to meet her.  He told her he would send her the keys and rental documents via overnight mail if she wired him $2400 through Western Union.

Here's the basic response that people get when they inquire on what looks like an amazing rental deal (click to view larger):


Lame, but it must work once in a while or why else would they do it?  And people do it all the time. I’ve had calls like this for several years on properties I’ve sold. The people looking to rent a home are understandably upset when they discover that the 3-bedroom, 2-bath home above Hill Drive in Eagle Rock is for sale for $500,000 and will not be rented for $1200 per month. They want the police to track down this criminal and put them in jail. So far, the people I have talked to who have tried to report this to the police have been told that unless they have actually sent in the money and lost it, no crime has been committed that can be investigated. They think I should do something about it.

What can I do? I have reported the ad as a scam and the website has not removed the ad. I am not a detective or a law enforcement officer.  All I’ve thought of so far is to courteously tell every person who  calls me that it is for sale not for lease and to congratulate them that they are smart enough to check on a story that sounded too good to be true. And to write this blog to let you know what goes on out there.

The only thing that really can be done is to spread the word about these scams so people can recognize them when they happen.  Please forward this on!

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If You're into Infinitesimal Changes...

The annual rate of change in home prices continues to show improvement, according to Standard & Poor’s. Data just released by the agency shows the 20-city composite reading of the S&P/Case-Shiller index for August came in below its year-ago level by 3.8 percent. The previous month, S&P reported a 4.1 percent annual decline. The closely watched gauge posted a 0.2 percent increase in August versus July, marking the fifth consecutive monthly gain.

Posted via email from Tracy's LA Real Estate

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Why Should I Buy Now?

The real estate market has hit the Pause button in the last few days. Why? Who knows? Waiting for another shoe to drop (such as even worse economic news?) It doesn’t make a lot of sense, really. Mortgage interest rates have dropped to the lowest in over 50 years. Lots of people have rushed to refinance their homes, but many have discovered that the rules are too tough for them to qualify now. Appraisals are extremely conservative, which means that if you refinanced back in the boom times a few years ago, you might owe too much to qualify for the required 20 to 30% equity that lenders want you to have now.

People who ask me about the real estate market assume that no one is buying because no one can qualify for a loan these days. Surprisingly, this is not true. Lots of people can qualify and are walking around today with pre-approval letters hanging out of their pockets. They even have 20% down payments sitting in their bank accounts ready to go to purchase that new home. Why don’t they make a move?

We’ve talked before about fear and how that has been holding the market back for quite awhile now. Fears such as: what if the prices drop more? What if I lose my job? What if a better buy pops up next week? What if my friends/relatives think I’m stupid for buying now?

Another obstacle is information overload. Every day we hear more economic news about things we really don’t understand, like, say, the Case-Shiller index or Standard and Poor’s credit rating of companies or countries. We hear about Europe’s economic woes, we see the stock market rocket up and down. What does it all really mean? How can we make a good decision in the face of all this information (so much of it bad news)?

How about trying this: turn off your radio, throw the newspaper in the recycling bin, and think about what you really want. Do you want a home to live in for several years? One that you can make your own with your unique designer touches? One that your kids can grow up in with a sense that they are loved and provided for? Want to try your hand at urban gardening? Raising a litter of puppies? What does any of that have to do with the Euro?

For most of us, not much.

The percentage of people in the United States who own their homes has varied between 65% and 70% over the last several years. “Experts” are saying that we probably won’t see 70% home ownership again. So what? So what if it is 65% forever more? Isn’t that still a large majority of the people in this country? Can we agree on this: most of the people in this country live in homes that they own?

Let’s go back to the basics for ourselves. A home is a big investment and the decision to purchase should be taken seriously, but life goes on day by day by day. Things do change, such as interest rates and loan guidelines. If you qualify for a good mortgage today, do you want to risk that you don’t qualify under some new guideline tomorrow? Do you want to wake up one day and see that your opportunity has passed you by?

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Interesting Financial Advice

I'm posting this because it strikes me as good advice that shows some thinking outside of the box for financial planning, which is what I like to think I do regarding real estate. I have subscribed to Justin's email newsletter ever since I saw him speak at a California Association of Realtors conference a few years ago. I have never worked with him, I don't know how good a job he does, but you might want to contact him if you are looking for a Financial Planner. I certainly will.

Justin Krane, a Certified Financial PlannerTM professional, is the founder ofKranefinancialsolutions.com. Known for his simple, savvy, holistic approach to financial planning, he has the unique ability to advise his clients on how to merge their money with their lives, so that they can make sound decisions with their finances, and get more of what they want in their lives.

8 Things I Want You to Know Right Now

1. Try not to panic. It's tough to make money that way.

2.  Keep your eye on the price of gold. For stocks to make a comeback, gold needs to go lower.

3.  The stock market needs leadership from Washington. Obama needs to appeal to business owners and tell Congress to come back from vacation and get a better budget deal done.

4.  If you had a target allocation of 50% bonds and 50% stocks, you probably are now 45% stocks and 55% bonds. Consider rebalancing back to what your initial allocation was.  This is general advice.  I have no idea what your risk tolerance is and when the PERFECT time is for rebalancing.

5.  Company insiders (CEOs) have been buying their own company stocks aggressively. That is a good thing.  Many retail investors have been selling out of mutual funds - great contrarian indicator - meaning the general public makes poor timing decisions.

6.   Based on your situation, consider converting your IRA to a Roth IRA. Talk to your financial advisor and CPA for all of the details.

7.  Call your mortgage person and consider refinancing your mortgage.

8.  Not sure what you should do based on your own circumstances?  Give us a ring.  310-989-0934 or 800-506-6071 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We're here for you.  No judging, just really solid advice to help you figure this financial stuff out.

This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice.

P.S.  Click Here to forward this information to anyone who might be interested.

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Appraisal Is Art Not Science

I’ve been reflecting on appraisals lately, and I’m not alone— almost everyone who sells real estate is having appraisal issues. Why? Because appraisals are based on closed sales, appraisers are evaluating the present value based on the past value. If we’re in a declining market, appraisals will be close to the price that the buyer and seller agree on. It’s when we are in a fairly normal or increasing market that we have the issues that many of us face today. You might see this as good news since it could be an indication that the market is normalizing or increasing. From the appraiser’s view it just looks like available comparables can’t justify increasing sales prices.

There is general acceptance of the notion (believed by many appraisers) that appraisal is a science, not an art (even though you’ll get as many different valuations as you have appraisers on the same property.) Many buyers believe this as well. But consider this scenario:

There is a 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath house in good condition in a nice neighborhood in a small community within Los Angeles. It has a guest house for which no permit can be found, nor can a permit be found for the half bath. So for appraisal purposes, this is a 2-bedroom, 1-bath house. Because very few properties like this sell in any 3-month period, the only sales comparables that fit this size house are distress sales in poor condition that sold in the range of $350,000 to $450,000. Six months ago, there were a few comparables that sold for $480,000 to $520,000. An appraiser brought in a value of $440,000. Why? Because the “good” comps were too old and the more recent comps were all low, so to his mind that meant that the current value was lower.

Here are some questions for you:
Had this appraiser seen all the properties that he used for his research? No, because in the current appraisal business these appraisers are working all over Southern California. The likelihood that they have ever been inside the comparables they use is slim.

Did he talk to the Realtors who actually did see the properties? Very few appraisers bother to do that.
Did he listen to the listing agent who met him at the property with comparables? No, because he thinks that appraisers know more than Realtors who are just trying to make a sale. He pretty much said that.

Why all of a sudden did we have such low comparables? Did the values drop? Again, very few properties of a given size sell in this zip code. By chance, the only three of that size and configuration that sold in the previous 90 days were short sales and foreclosures. The consequence is that regular sellers who own 2-bedroom 1-bath houses are reluctant to sell because the only comparables that appraisers are willing to use are so low. It’s a vicious cycle. One almost feels that that is what some of these appraisers and lenders want to see happen, because it is less risky for prices to be low.

When prices drop, regular sellers either don’t need or want to sell or can’t because they now owe more than the property is worth. They can’t refinance into a lower interest rate for the same reason. In 2005-2007, if you lost your job you might be able to use your equity line of credit to get by for a month or two. Or you could sell for a profit, move to a less expensive home and rent for awhile until you got on your feet. Today more people are stuck with too much debt and nowhere to turn. For many of these people, it is the same debt they were totally fine with in 2006, but their circumstances have changed. Now their only option is either foreclosure or short sale. And there you have more lower prices.

But let’s go back to the pure appraisal question. How do you evaluate a property? Wikipedia says: Real estate appraisal, property valuation or land valuation is the practice of developing an opinion of the value of real property, usually its Market Value The need for appraisals arises from the heterogeneous nature of property as an investment class: no two properties are identical, and all properties differ from each other in their location - which is one of the most important determinants of their value.

In residential real estate, market value is usually defined as the price that a willing buyer and a willing seller agree upon subject to appraisal if a loan is necessary. If everyone paid cash for property, the situation in real estate today would be much different. We wouldn’t have had the bubble and the resulting crash, for one thing, since they were both caused by unsafe and unsound lending practices.

Market value is a concept distinct from market price, which is “the price at which one can transact”, while market value is “the true underlying value” according to theoretical standards. The concept is most commonly invoked in inefficient markets or disequilibrium situations where prevailing market prices are not reflective of true underlying market value.
This is the crux of the matter: the prevailing market prices are not reflective of true underlying market value.
In San Marino, prices have not dropped. Why? Because most homes there are owned outright. The same is true in parts of Arcadia. Distress sales drive prices down. If no one is in distress, the price doesn’t go down. Why not, when the entire country has been in a housing depression? Because if you aren’t in distress and you can’t get the price you want, you just don’t sell.

What I am seeing with all the HVCC (Home Valuation Code of Conduct) and other strange rules pretending to establish reasonable rules for evaluating properties is that appraisers are all looking at market prices and defining them as value. If a buyer believes that a house is worth, say, $500,000, because it has all the amenities he feels he should find in a house at that price, why should an appraiser be able to declare that the actual value is only $350,000 because that is what a house of similar size sold for down the street?

So what does a good appraiser do?
What does a good Realtor do?
What is the relationship like between a good appraiser and a good Realtor?
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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.
COMPASS DRE# 01991628

Keely Myres, Realtor
DRE# 01834633
Phone: 323-274-2148 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
COMPASS DRE# 01991628