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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!

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Magical Thinking and this Crazy Real Estate Market

Magical Thinking and this Crazy Real Estate Market

Homebuyers and home sellers's expectations often clash with harsh realities of the market when it comes to the nitty gritty ... selling price and offers.

Magical thinking and this crazy real estate market. What am I talking about? I have some examples.


The Home Sellers’ Magical Thinking

PREMISE: The house next door to mine sold last year for $1.1 million. It was smaller and there was only one house on the property. We have two houses and more square footage, therefore we should list ours for $1.2 million and get at least as much as that one.

FACTS: The house next door was small, but every detail was well designed and evoked a very emotional response. The landscaping was lush and serene, like a Zen retreat, a special relaxing haven in the midst of a harsh city.

The subject property lacked curb appeal and the landscaping was non-existent. Being a 2-unit income property, it is valued very differently and income properties are supposed to be valued on a formula based on its income. Historically low rents in a rent-controlled area do adversely affect the property’s value. That’s why vacant properties usually sell more quickly and at a higher price than ones that have been occupied by long-term tenants in a rent controlled area.

PREMISE: Why are these offers so low? I saw that a house sold just down this very street for over a hundred thousand more!

FACTS: There hasn’t been a sale this high on this street in over two years, and that one was a 5-bedroom, 3-bath redone Craftsman. This is a 2-bedroom, 1-bath home with a lot of view but no yard.

What am I saying? We don’t value our own property anything like a buyer or an appraiser will.

But sellers aren’t the only ones subject to magical thinking. In fact, homebuyers can really try to bend reality to suit their own agendas.

Homebuyers' Magical Thinking

PREMISE: Today, we have a Sellers' market that has actually been going strong for a good 6 years. Buyers are convinced that now is the time for what has gone up to come down, and down hard. We all remember the Great Recession, don’t we? In Northeast Los Angeles, we lost 40 to 50% of our average sales price in just 15 months. But buyers today have an even better fantasy: prices will fall to 2009 levels just long enough that they will be able to buy their dream home for a bargain price, then right after they close escrow, prices will rally back up to 2018 levels.

FACTS: Many facts belie this fantasy. Do those of you who were actually in the market in 2009 remember what the houses for sale were like? Many were distress sales, so forget about beautifully prepared homes, forget about pre-inspections, and forget about decent loans with low interest rates and 21-day closes. The loan process was so draconian only those who could prove they didn’t really need a loan could get one. Plus, even more properties were selling for cash than are today and most sellers rightly preferred cash sales over the obstacle course that was the loan process then. Owners who didn’t have to sell (such as owners who were not in trouble, owners who had pride of ownership and didn't have to deal with penny-pinching buyers who acted like their lovely home was just a piece of trash) just waited it out. What happens then? Low inventory and higher prices. This is known as unintended consequences.

There is a whiff of desperation in the air today ... 

Sellers want to time the market for the highest possible sales price, and buyers worry that if they buy now, they will close escrow the day before the market crashes and they will be left owning an overpriced turkey. What happened to owning a home as a place to enjoy your life, raise your family, and do whatever you want without a landlord telling you that you can’t? Even if you buy your home at the height of the market, if you hold onto it long enough, it will increase in value. And if you look at the prices over time, a correction almost never takes prices down to previous lows. Even the overblown prices of 2006-2007 are not seen today:

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So if you want to buy a nice house in a great neighborhood for a bargain price, you will most likely be leaving LA.

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1857 Hits

What's Going On With This Market?

What's Going On With This Market?

Regardless of how confusing interpreting the market may be, one thing is clear: Buyers and sellers need an agent who understands the fine points of buying and selling.

After a long, steady period of seeing homes for sale in Highland Park and Eagle Rock selling fast and high, and homes in Glassell Park and Mt. Washington being snatched up with record multiple offers, there are signs that trend is changing.

Everyone is talking about it—the market seems to be slowing down! I’ve talked to Realtors, potential sellers, buyers, and the man on the street—they all feel the same. So are they right? Well, let’s see. Looking at the Trends analysis for Eagle Rock since May of 2012 we see this:

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NELA Real Estate: The Numbers - Jan 1-May 31, 2017/2018

NELA Real Estate: The Numbers - Jan 1-May 31,  2017/2018

Just when some said real estate prices can't climb any higher, guess what? They're still climing in Northeast Los Angeles.

The numbers are in and there are no surprises. Homes in Highland Park and Hermon, Eagle Rock, South Pasadena, as well as Mt. Washington and Glassell Park homes are selling well, selling fast and selling for a lot.

Let's look at zip Codes 90041 (Eagle Rock), 90042 (Highland Park-Hermon) 90065 (Glassell Park-Mount Washington), and 91030 (South Pasadena) averages.

Note: All data is taken from , except the last column in 2018 is the percent increase from 2017 to 2018. The first column is first the year, then the average sales price for all single family homes in that zip code, the zip code with just the homes that sold for $1 million or more. AV SF is "average square feet", AV $/SF is "average price per square foot". The DOM is "days on market". LP is the "average list price" when the property went into escrow. The LP/SP is the list price/sales price ratio—a number over 100 is what percent the sales price exceeded the list price. And then #SALES is "number of sales" for that category January 1-May 31. %YOY$ is the percent increase in sales price from 2017 to 2018.


 

2017 AV SF AV $ / SF DOM LP $ SP $ LP/SP # Sales
90041 1630 588 53 882,659 900,602 105 60
90041
$ Million
2508 513 83 1,287,643 1,299,509 102 14
90042 1330 599 41 696,853 724,068 104 110
90042
$ Million
2473 441 22 1,049,200 1,124,380 109 5
90065 1540 549 48 772,614 790,986 102 112
90065
$ Million
2473 501 52 1,131,187 1,166,733 104 15
91030 2338 659 40 1,405,591 1,460,193 105 44
91030
$ Million
2484 662 40 1,498,526 1,556,803 105 38

 

2018 AV SF AV $ / SF DOM LP $ SP $ LP/SP # Sales % YOY $
90041 1781 628 40 1,035,928 1,062,825 105 60 12.72
90041
$ Million
2437 622 54 1,144,392 1,465,333 104 24 12.76
90042 1525 611 41 809,800 845,285 105 128 16.74
90042
$ Million
2072 574 31 1,070,463 1,139,133 107 30 1.30
90065 1548 625 36 852,667 888,339 105 126 12.30
90065
$ Million
2266 587 28 1,183,485 1,247,163 107 33 6.87
91030 2353 746 35 1,627,598 1,687,116 105 43 15.54
91030
$ Million
2461 744 37 1,708,633 1,769,667 105 39 13.69

 

Yes, you’re right—the market has continued to climb in Northeast Los Angeles. And it has climbed even more in South Pasadena. I’m sure this will spark more discussion of “are we in a bubble?” but I have been hearing from financial and real estate insiders that we have at least until 2020 before there are any signs of a major correction. And I have also heard  “it can’t go on like this,” with several compelling reasons why not. There is a lot of gray between “bubble burst”, “flatten out” and “keep going up.”

If you keep saying the same thing about the market, it will eventually be true—because real estate and financial markets are cyclical. The difficulty is exactly “when” markets will change, not “if” they will change. It’s sort of like predicting exactly when someone will die. You can be sure that it will eventually happen, but when exactly is based on so many variables, any prediction is only a guess. Maybe it’s a very educated and well-reasoned guess, but that’s not the same as knowing. Because NELA and South Pasadena have very few developments and most of the single family homes are custom built, it’s especially difficult to make general rules about their value.

This is what I’ve seen: the homes that sell for the most money tend to be those that are in great condition, great style, great locations, and/or have great potential. Location seems to be the most important, but great and stylish updates are a close second. That means that if your house is in great shape but needs updating and it’s not the best location, you aren’t going to get top dollar. However, you might be surprised by how much you do sell for in this market. It will almost certainly be more than you ever would have made before now.

Thinking that now might be a good time for you to sell? We know some stuff about how to strategize getting you the most possible now for your home. Call us for a consultation.

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2149 Hits

This Real Estate Rule Changed over Twenty Years Ago

This Real Estate Rule Changed over Twenty Years Ago

If the home you sell was your primary residence two of the last 5 years, guess what? There is no tax on your capital gains!

Whether we’re talking homes for sale in Glassell Park, commercial real estate in Eagle Rock or homes in Mt. Washington, nobody can dispute that it has been a seller’s market. Northeast Los Angeles real estate market remains red hot and many property owners have cashed in.

Though surely not everyone …

I can’t tell you how many times over the last 29 years someone has told me, “I don’t want to sell because I don’t want to pay the tax if I don’t buy another property within 2 years.”

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1934 Hits

The 2017 Million Dollar Story Exceeds Expectations (Well, Mine Anyway)

The 2017 Million Dollar Story Exceeds Expectations (Well, Mine Anyway)

An investment in homeownership in NELA isn't just a sound investment in the good life. It's a good investment period. The numbers tell the story and they don't lie.

It's official. Owners of single family homes in Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Mt. Washington and even Glassell Park homes are asking - and getting - a million dollars or more. Let's face it: There's never been a better time to be a homeowner in Northeast Los Angeles. The numbers are in!

As of December 29, 2017 (the last day of the year that sales could be recorded by the County), zip code 90041 had 51 single family homes sell for over $1 million each, including the highest sale ever recorded here. And now in January, 2018, an even higher highest sale ever closed escrow! Yes, after 7 years of trying with various agents, the almost 3-acre historic Bekins estate at last sold to a comedian and his heiress wife for $5,250,000!


The following table shows the number of $million homes sold over the last 6 years in Eagle Rock (zipcode 90041), Highland Park (90042), Glassell Park (including Mt. Washington--90065) and for some contrast, South Pasadena (91030).

Million $ Single Family Homes

  Zip Code 90041
Eagle Rock
90042
Highland Park
90065
Glassell Park
Mt. Washington
91030
South Pasadena
 
  2012 0 1 2 30  
  2013 0 1 4 63  
  2014 10 3 5 76  
  2015 20 7 18 95  
  2016 34 10 27 97  
  2017 51 19 50 95  

What is going on? Are we in a bubble? This is the question so many people are asking now. Respected real estate experts (and it seems like everyone else) have been asking this question since 2012. These very same experts have been absolutely certain that these price increases are unsustainable. And yet they continue. Why? Partly because we continue to experience low interest rates and low inventory. Also, Northeast Los Angeles is still cheaper than most communities to the west of us like Los Feliz, Silverlake, even Echo Park. We are considered the closest “decent” neighborhoods to downtown according to many buyers. Others are beginning to look at other neighborhoods like El Sereno and Lincoln Heights who are seeing prices go up accordingly.

Let’s face it, prices go up and some people can no longer afford to buy where they want to. This is not a new story, but it’s painful if it’s your story.

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2194 Hits

The new Tax Reform Act: How will it affect your real estate life?

The new Tax Reform Act: How will it affect your real estate life?

The newly passed Tax Reform Act supplies perks based on investments in property, but not everyone benefits and there is a downside.

It's been all over the news. Pundits have been spinning the plusses and minuses of the newly passed Tax Reform Act. Some say homeowners are going to get the shaft. Some say there will be a windfall for homeowners and investors. As a long-time real estate professional, my inbox has been inundated with questions from those who just purchased homes in Highland Park and Eagle Rock this year, as well as those looking to invest in homes for sale in Pasadena, Mt. Washington and other areas of North East Los Angeles.

The long and short of it? I have good news and I have not-so-good news. The good news is, the new tax reform act that was just passed by both houses of Congress isn't as bad as it could have been for those who have some financial interest in real estate. The not-so-good news is, it's not going to be as good for real estate as it has been over the past several years.


  1. We can still write off some state and local taxes up to $10,000. The bad news is that is actually a tax increase for those of us who have more than an $800,000 house and/or still pay some other state or local taxes.

  2.  We still have the mortgage interest deduction, but only up to a mortgage of $750,000, instead of the $1,000,000 it has been.

  3. The $500,000 capital gains exclusion is not affected! If you have lived in your primary residence for 2 of the last 5 years, you and your spouse can each deduct up to $250,000 of your net capital gain when you sell your house.

So there it is. The basic nuts and bolts. The rules haven't changed. When it comes to investing in any sort of real estate, the rule is, take your time, perform your due diligence, be well informed and understand the benefits and potential pitfalls.

It has always been advisable to consult your tax consultant before making any decisions regarding your real estate activity. This is certainly true today.

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2942 Hits

Priced Out of Prime NELA Real Estate? There's Still Hope For Something Affordable and Close By

Priced Out of Prime NELA Real Estate? There's Still Hope For Something Affordable and Close By

Let's face it: When buying a home, the word "affordable" is relative, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't look at what the numbers say.

The big question plaguing many wannabe homebuyers today is, where can I afford to buy? They say they can’t afford the high sticker price of homes for sale in Mount Washington, Eagle Rock or Highland Park. For many buyers, even homes for sale in Glassell Park - once up-and-coming and affordable - is out of their reach.

Always being mindful that the median price of affordable places like Detroit, Michigan ($36,000), Harlingen, Texas ($84,000) or even nearby Desert Hot Springs ($188,000) is what more people think of as "affordable", there are some communities in Los Angeles, not too far from Eagle Rock, that are a bit more affordable as you can see in the table below.

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1986 Hits

NELA's Low Housing Inventory - Here's Part of the Story

NELA's Low Housing Inventory - Here's Part of the Story

Experienced realtors understand that real estate sales is a numbers game. Why are there so few homes on the market? Let's look at the numbers.

While homes for sale in Highland Park, Eagle Rock and Mt. Washington are still greatly in-demand, there are fewer homes on the market in Northeast Los Angeles. This is true of real estate in Altadena, Pasadena and surrounding areas.

In the quest to understand why Northeast Los Angeles is experiencing such low housing sale inventory, I thought it might be helpful to start with some actual numbers.

There is quite a bit of talk about how many more people there are in Northeast Los Angeles than there used to be. For some perspective, I have also included nearby South Pasadena.

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1820 Hits

Is the Holidays the Best Time to Put My NELA Home on the Market? If Not, When Is?

Is the Holidays the Best Time to Put My NELA Home on the Market? If Not, When Is?

When it comes to selling a home in Northeast LA, conventional wisdom tell us, if you have a great home to put on the market, it will be in-demand no matter what time of the year.

They say "timing is everything" about, oh, everything and they're probably right. It's certainly true about buying and selling real estate. This is especially true in the red-hot Northeast Los Angeles real estate market, where homes in Mt. Washington, Highland Park and Eagle Rock are in high demand and real estate in Pasadena, Glendale and Altadena continue to surge.

Many potential sellers believe, for instance, that the holiday season is not an ideal time to put their NELA home on the market. Are they correct? This question is more complicated than it seems, but there is a way to understand it all.

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1412 Hits

Buying a Home? See Something You Want? Then Ask for It!

Buying a Home? See Something You Want? Then Ask for It!

When negotiating the details of a home sale, being shy - and making assumptions - are sure to work against you.

Homebuying is both an art and a science, whether we're talking about buying in the ultra-hot Highland Park real estate market or purchasing homes in Glassell Park, Mt. Washington or, our favorite neighborhood, Eagle Rock. There are tried and trued methods and rules that buyers should understand well in advance of signing on the line that's dotted. Here's one of those vital rules to remember:

When purchasing a home, never assume anything. I can’t count how many times I've heard homebuyers state: “But I assumed that the Seller would leave the refrigerator (or stove, or washer/dryer, or garden tools, etc.).”


Here is how it works under the current California purchase agreement—if it isn’t attached, it isn’t staying unless you specifically ask for it and the Seller agrees to leave it. I refer you to page 3, item 8 of the contract: “Items listed as included or excluded in the MLS, flyers or marketing materials are not included in the purchase price or excluded from the sale unless specified in paragraph 8 B or C.” I also include verbal statements from either agent or anyone else about what stays or goes as something to confirm in writing.

So do you want that birdbath that perfectly goes with the house but is just sitting on the ground outside? Then ask for it! In writing on Page 3, Item 8. Are you not sure if the birdbath (or washer/dryer, or bookcase, or kitchen island and bar stools) is going to stay? Trick question—if it isn’t specified in the purchase contract, it’s not supposed to stay!

Sometimes items that you thought were attached are not. If there is anything you want that you assume (that danger word again) is attached, ask for it anyway just to make sure. It’s better to err on the side of being thought silly for asking for the apparently built-in SubZero refrigerator than to see after the day escrow closes that it is gone.

Sellers, you need to pay attention also. If you want that wonderful chandelier that is the centerpiece of the whole dining room, you should replace it before you go on the market. Otherwise, you are supposed to leave it with the house. Putting it in the marketing remarks that it will be replaced in escrow is asking for the buyer to fixate on that as the main reason that they offered what they did for the house. You can negotiate that out in the contract, but why ask for trouble? Avoid problems, never give the buyer a chance to flip out over it. This is one of the rare times that it’s really better not to talk about something you know about the house.

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What Does the Million $ Real Estate Market Look Like in Eagle Rock 90041?

What Does the Million $ Real Estate Market Look Like in Eagle Rock 90041?

Eagle Rock homes are now selling in the millions of dollars ... for turnkey homes and fixers. What does this mean to buyers and sellers?

Everyone from homeowners, homebuyers, home sellers, Eagle Rock realtors and market analysts have been keeping a close eye on the Eagle Rock real estate for a long while. The long, steady growth of the market has been the talk of the town. Now enough data is in and the information we can glean from the numbers is telling indeed.

There are so many interesting things to note in this table (all data from TheMLS):

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1721 Hits

2017 Northeast Los Angeles Market Update

2017 Northeast Los Angeles Market Update

By studying the available data and comparing year-over-year market performance in NELA, there's much to surmise.

The Northeast Los Angeles real estate market continues to be strong, if not for how many homes are on the market, than strong in terms of the average final price of homes sold. Homes in Eagle Rock and real estate in Glassell Park and Highland Park continue to be in-demand. A quick look at the data confirms that even in 2017, it's still a perfect time to sell your home and, if you're seeking to buy, there are still some good deals out there to be had.

Let’s see how some popular zipcodes compare in terms of some of the factors we have to consider when looking for that dream house. This table looks at how competitive a marketplace is in terms of available listings of single family homes to buy and their average sales price, as well how much and what direction the market has changed since end of summer 2015.

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1546 Hits

The Benefit of an Army of Agents Selling Your Home

The Benefit of an Army of Agents Selling Your Home

There’s an art to selling real estate, but the science of numbers comes into play for any great real estate agent.

It’s no secret that the communities that comprise Northeast Los Angeles – Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Mt. Washington and Garvanza, to name a few – represent a hot real estate market. Homes for sale in Glassell Park can draw several dozens of prospective buyers to an open house. Homes in Pasadena almost always sell quickly and with multiple offers. How does that work exactly?

Selling real estate is a numbers game. The more potential buyers that see your listing, the more inquires we receive. The more inquiries we receive, the more likely we are to have a lot of prospects show up to an open house or request a showing. The more showings, the more offers. The more offers, the chance of achieving an over-the-asking-price offer for your home.

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1567 Hits

Looking to Buy a Home in Eagle Rock? Now Is a Good Time!

Looking to Buy a Home in Eagle Rock? Now Is a Good Time!

Whether for homebuyers or investors, getting a great deal on a home in Eagle Rock is all about good timing.

The Northeast Los Angeles region's real estate market is always in flux. Many potential homebuyers are waiting by the sidelines for the perfect time to buy homes in Eagle Rock or invest in Highland Park real estate. The question for them is, "when is the perfect time?". The answer: Now.

So far this year, the Eagle Rock market has been almost as low in active listing inventory as it was in 2013, when the market caught on fire in the face of withering inventory and rapidly increasing prices. That means that there were usually fewer than 20 homes for sale then and now.

Suddenly, we have 26 homes for sale, and 7 of them are listed for over $1 million! Hold on to your hats—one is even listed for over $2 million!

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Homebuyer? Home Seller? You’re Gonna Want to Know Home Values

Homebuyer? Home Seller? You’re Gonna Want to Know Home Values

What is the best way to obtain an accurate value of your home? There’s a simple answer.

Who would have thought 20 years ago that the rising values of homes in Highland Park and Eagle Rock - as well as real estate in Mt. Washington and Glassell Park - would be the talk of the town? If you own a home in one of these regions - or are looking to buy - odds are that home values are on your mind.

Regardless of whether you’re looking to buy a home or sell a home, it only makes sense that you will eventually want to gain an understanding of your own home’s value, if you’re selling, or the value of a different home if you’re buying.

But with all the information, articles, blogs and website tools out there offering home evaluations, its become easy to get, well, confused. That’s because as you’re performing your research and due diligence, the first thing you’ll notice is that there is little consistency in the values offered. One evaluation will be wildly different from the one before or after.


The reasonable question is, why? How? There’s a simple, straightforward answer: There are actually two types of values of homes - automated home values and manual evaluations.

Automated home values are very useful as a general reference tool, to give you a rough idea of what your home or any other home may be worth in the current market. And sometimes a general, rough idea is a good place to begin.

Let’s be honest, though.  

Every home is unique. This is especially true in the neighborhoods of Northeast LA where tract homes don’t really exist. Most every neighborhood in the region is dotted with custom homes and it’s rare to find one that is like another.

Also, there are all sorts of renovations, upgrades and features that aren’t reflected in automated home values.  Added up, these renovations and upgrades can make a considerable difference in price.

For instance, there is no way possible that an online tool can know if a home owner has refurbished the kitchen or the master bath. It doesn’t know if all the 80’s era carpet has been replaced with beautiful bamboo or magnesite. It might not even know if a room addition occurred since the last time the home was sold.

So the next reasonable question is, how do you as a home seller learn the true value of your home?

That’s where I come in.  As a local professional real estate agent, I know what sells ... and what doesn’t.  I know what buyers will pay more for, and how much that renovation really will net you in a home sale. Most importantly, I can provide you with a much more accurate and precise value of your home.

One last question …

When is the best time and date for me to stop by?

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1320 Hits

The Internet is Driving the Northeast Los Angeles Real Estate Market Like Never Before

The Internet is Driving the Northeast Los Angeles Real Estate Market Like Never Before

Hot Markets like Eagle Rock, Highland Park and Mt. Washington Owe their Heat to Online Listings

If you’re a potential home seller, you’ve probably noticed that home prices are through the roof in Northeast LA. Homes in Pasadena are always in high demand, and real estate in Highland Park, Glassell Park and Eagle Rock don’t stay on the market long.

If you’re considering selling your Northeast Los Angeles home, a good question to ask yourself is: “How did I find my existing home?”. For most people it was either online, from a Realtor, or from seeing a yard sign.
 
Statistically speaking, you probably utilized the Internet at some point during your search process if you’ve purchased your home in the last 10 years.

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1522 Hits

Selling Your Home in NELA? Make Sure the Price is Right

Selling Your Home in NELA? Make Sure the Price is Right

In a red hot real estate market like Northeast LA, pricing your home right is key.

Real estate in Northeast Los Angeles continues to boom. Beyond ultra-hot Eagle Rock and Highland Park, homes in Mt. Washington aren't staying on the market long and we're seeking homes for sale in Glassell Park being snatched up after a single open house. If you own a home in one of these hot-market areas and you're thinking of selling your home, then you probably have a lot of questions.

One of the most important questions for home sellers is: How should I price my home?

Some people think they should price their home well above the market, in hopes people will make an offer, or negotiate down to the real price. Others think they should price the home just above the market, in hopes of fetching a few extra dollars.


Truth be told, pricing is used to attract buyers and offers, which then leads to negotiating the real price. So it’s important to price your home on the market so it generates lot of buyer interest … and ultimately lots of offers.

When you receive multiple offers, you can negotiate higher prices. As a seller, multiple-offer situations give you leverage. And pricing your home right is a key ingredient to getting multiple offers.

On our team, we work with home sellers to price their homes so they generate lots of interest and offers, which results in our homes selling for higher than the average real estate agent.

If you’d like to learn more about pricing your home so you can create a splash in the marketplace that brings in buyers and offers, contact Team Tracy today to receive expert insights into pricing your home.

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1515 Hits

Increase Your Home’s Value Up to 28% with These 5 Tips

Increase Your Home’s Value Up to 28% with These 5 Tips

In Northeast LA, "curb appeal" isn't just about having a great looking home. It's about improving home value.

With homes in Highland Park selling briskly, and Glassell Park real estate in high demand, home sellers in Northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods are thinking about small ways to make a large difference in the value of their homes. They are finding that fixing up one's home to improve the "curb appeal" is a step in the right direction.

Great curb appeal not only makes your home the star of the neighborhood, it can also improve its value and help you sell it for more. Whether you’re thinking of listing your home or just want to make your home the envy of your neighbors, here are several ways to increase your home’s curb appeal.

1. Make your home’s exterior look like new.

For many potential buyers, the condition of the exterior of a home can offer clues to the condition of the interior. The first place to start when boosting curb appeal is the exterior of your house.


Paint. Paint is the best way to make your home appear newer. While you can paint your home yourself, if it’s large or more than one story, consider hiring a professional. Painting is a fairly inexpensive improvement with between 60 to 100 percent return on investment.1

Maintain your siding. Over time, weather and the elements can make your home’s siding appear dull and dirty. Use a pressure washer to clean stains, spider webs and accumulated dirt and grime, or use a soft cloth and a household cleaner to get into those small nooks and spaces. Although the average life expectancy of siding ranges from 60 to 100 years, depending on the material, extreme weather may reduce this number. If you need to replace the siding, you’ll enjoy a 77 percent return on investment.1

Paint or replace garage doors. If your garage doors are in good condition, give them a new coat of paint. If they’re beginning to show their age, consider replacing them. Not only are new garage doors more energy efficient and better insulated than older models, they also have a 91.5 percent return on investment.1

Maintain your fence. Replace rotted or worn posts and panels and freshen it up with a coat of paint. If you have a hedge that serves as your property’s border, keep it trimmed and in good shape.

2. Pay attention to the small details.

The small details tie your home’s exterior together and help it stand out from others in the neighborhood.

Paint front door, trim and shutters. This inexpensive improvement adds brightness to a home, whether you choose a bold color, a neutral tone or classic white.

Install new door fixtures and be sure they match in style and finish and complement the style of your home.

Update your house numbers. Make sure potential buyers and guests can find your home. If the numbers have faded or need an update, replace them. If choosing a metallic finish, make sure it matches the finish of your exterior light fixtures.

3. Tend to your driveway and lawn.

Well-landscaped homes may sell for between 5.5% and 12.7% more than other similar homes and studies show it may also add up to 28 percent to your home’s overall value.5

Place a border along your driveway or walkway made of brick, stone, pavers or another hardscape element to add visual interest to a plain driveway.

Maintain your green space. If you have grass, a well-maintained, green lawn makes your home look inviting and picturesque. However, in many parts of the country, water conservation is becoming more important. Xeriscaped landscapes incorporate drought-tolerant vegetation that thrives in warm, dry climates, such as lavender, sage, wisteria and agave, with water-saving drip irrigation and mulch. Xeriscaping has a cost savings of 36 cents per square foot annually through reduced irrigation and maintenance costs.3 Additionally, these landscapes are virtually maintenance free, which makes it an attractive option for busy buyers.

Include trees and shrubs to create texture and add interest to your landscape. Planting a few types of trees and shrubs of varying heights, widths and flowering times boosts your home’s curb appeal year-round.

4. Make it feel inviting.

It’s no secret that emotions play a role in a person’s decision to purchase a home. Stage the outside of your home to evoke warm feelings.

Stage your porch. If you have a front porch, make it feel more inviting by including seating, such as a chair or loveseat, an outdoor rug and a small table. If space is an issue, incorporate small decorative touches, such as a festive wreath or potted plant.

Hang flower boxes on your front porch railings and/or below your windows. If you don’t want to affix flower boxes to your home, purchase nice planters and containers and place them around your porch or on your front steps.

Choose flowers and plants that bloom at different times of the year for year-round appeal. For example, bulbs not only bloom all spring, they also multiply and come up every year. Perennials often flower for most of the year and will prevent you from having to replant them every year.

If you don’t have a green thumb, choose low maintenance plants and flowers. Flowers such as lavender, rosemary, and zinnias are a few low-maintenance and drought-tolerant options.

5. Boost Your Online “Curb Appeal.”

For those interested in selling, it’s important to know the effect online curb appeal has on a home. The better impression your home gives online, the more likely buyers will want to see it in person. Here’s how to get your home ready for its listing debut.

Stage your home. Staging shows your home in its best light and helps potential buyers picture themselves living there.

Hire a professional to take photos. A photographer has the skills and equipment to shoot your home in the best light and make it look its best.

Include a short video tour of the home. Videos are becoming a popular way to give buyers a glimpse of the home before they step foot in it.

Before you start a home project, keep these four things in mind:

1. Why are you renovating? In other words, is your intention to update your home and get it show-ready or do you want to sell it for more money? Don’t fall into the trap of undertaking major renovations that may not pay off when you sell. If your home is in good shape, a few inexpensive updates may be enough to make your home attractive to buyers.

2. The style of the neighborhood. Whenever you renovate your home, make sure the project fits with the style of the neighborhood and rules of the homeowner association. For example, an HOA may limit the choice and number of trees you can plant on your property. Similarly, a tall hedge border may not fit in in a neighborhood of low, picket fences.

3. Permits. If you’re planning an extensive exterior renovation, you may need a permit from your municipality or other authority.

4. Budget. A budget keeps your project’s costs and scope in check. Make a list of the improvements you’d like to make, set a realistic budget and stick to it. If you’d like advice on improvements you can make to boost your home’s curb appeal, give us a call.

Are you thinking of boosting your home’s curb appeal or renovating your home before you list? Do you want help making your home more appealing to potential buyers online and in-person? Give us a call and we’ll help you present your home in its best light.

Sources:

1. Remodeling, 2016 Cost vs Value Report
2. Realtor Mag, September 22, 2016
3. REALTOR.com
4. Houzz, Houzz & Home-U.S., June 2016
5. Houselogic.com

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The 3 Ps of Increasing your Home’s Resale Value

The 3 Ps of Increasing your Home’s Resale Value

For Northeast LA home sellers, it pays to hire an experienced realtor who knows the ins and outs of price, preparation and promotion.

Over the past decade homes in Highland Park and Eagle Rock have become sought after, not only by those moving into the region, but by real estate investors looking to capatlize on the hot, hot market. Consequently, real estate in Glassell Park and Mt. Washington and other areas of Northeast LA have risen in value, too.

Naturally, the question on every homeowner's mind is, "What is my home worth?"

Since you are probably curious about your home’s value, I wanted to give you some tips on how you can increase your home’s resale value.

The best way to get more for you home is to work on the 3 Ps of home sales:


  • Preparation - getting the right things ready so buyers will value your home’s features.
  • Price - pricing your home to avoid Limbo Land, a place where homes sit on the market indefinitely.
  • Promotion - marketing your home to get your home found online and generate buyer interest.

On our team we work with home sellers to implement the 3 Ps and sell homes for higher than the average real estate agent.

If you’d like to learn more about the 3 Ps of home selling and how we can assist you in increasing your home's resale value, contact us today.

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First Time Homebuyers: Feel Like You Have a Tiger by the Tail?

First Time Homebuyers: Feel Like You Have a Tiger by the Tail?

If today's homebuyers want to score big in the hot and active Northeast LA real estate market, it behooves them to think like a seasoned investor.

Many first time buyers in the crazy Northeast Los Angeles real estate market do feel like they have a tiger by the proverbial tail. From their point of view, they looked at dozens of homes for sale in Highland Park or Eagle Rock, dutifully attending open houses. They have competed time after time, pouring their hearts out in charming "I love your house and we are the cute couple you should pick to buy it" letters, scraping together every dime they can, revealing all their financial secrets to people they've never met and probably never will. And then, the 13th or 23rd time they go through this, they win!

They get to buy a house! Now what?


Now they do inspections and, oh my! This house needs work! It costs more than anyone they are related to — anyone they've ever known — has ever paid and it's not perfect! Not only that, this crazy market has been going up way too long and they just know that the minute they close escrow, the crash will happen and they will be stuck with an overpriced turkey that still needs work. Yikes! They have listened to their friends and reluctantly to Uncle Joe the accountant who bought his last house in 1982, and they are beginning to think the family and friends might be right—they are being chumps and they'd better get out while they can.

But they have a buyers' agent who reassures them that even though the house was sold as-is, even though the homeowners provided a general inspection and even a chimney and sewer inspection that revealed these issues, they can still ask for credits and repairs and negotiate the price down.

What the seller may choose to do about the requests is anyone's guess — but often they say no, or maybe they'll negotiate a little bit. Now the ball is back in the buyer's court. What next?

General thoughts: you can say yes, no, or negotiate somewhere between. But if this was a multiple offer situation, there is a good chance the seller has a backup offer, maybe even higher than yours, just waiting for you to back out. Or if you just give up and back out, often the property ends up selling for even more than you were willing to pay. We had that happen a few times in the last year, and sometimes it was a very significant amount of money.

Ask yourself if what you are feeling about this house is really your fear talking. After all, this is a big financial step for you—it might be the biggest step you've ever taken and you don't want to make a mistake. If you are asking all your friends and family what you should do, remember that the best advice they can give you from their perspective is to not take the step— because that is the "safe" choice. But in a couple of years when you still are renting an apartment and prices have continued to go up, will it really have been the safest path?

Some background: this crazy market has been recovering from the Great Recession for a good 5 to 8 years depending on where you are and what you define as "The Bottom." The majority of buyers have only been aware of it for about 4 years, when the number of homes on the market around my 'hood in Northeast Los Angeles dropped to almost nothing and prices started spiking up. For about the last 3 years, some people (many of them smart savvy Realtors) have said that this market is unsustainable and prices will soon level off—possibly even go down!

Suggestion #1: Look at what investors are doing. The beginning of the Renaissance of Highland Park began in 2009 when it truly was the bottom and investors came in and bought crummy thrashed foreclosures for cash, fixed them up with some style so that the people who could get a loan (if only from the Bank of Mom & Dad) would be attracted by the good looks and affordable prices and buy them—and the investor made a good profit. When the great deals got scooped up after a few years, eventually most investors moved on to higher priced neighborhoods where the profit margins were even higher again. Look at what's going on now, though—the investors have come back! Now NELA is where they can make a profit.

Many buyers today say that investors have scooped up all the "deals" and they cannot afford to buy the $million-plus flips that they produce. My question is, why didn't you buy the fixer when it was affordable and fix it up yourself? I have often heard buyers say that that is what they would like to do, but the investor went in and scooped up the property for themselves. In many cases, that is just not so. Here are the facts: in the 90041 Eagle Rock zip code, there were 34 $million + sales in 2016. Of them, 19 were flips. Of them, 12 were listed in the MLS, they were on the market an average of 69 days, and they sold for an average price of $645,000, which was slightly under the average asking price. And they sold fixed up for an average of $1,184,000 in 20 days on the market. That's about a $500,000 gross profit. Figuring in maybe $350,000 in renovation and sales costs, you have a net profit of $150,000. I'm guessing on costs, by the way.

But let's assume you never wanted to buy a fixer. The other interesting lesson to learn from where the investors are buying is that they think Northeast Los Angeles can sustain their investment/profit formula. Remember, they have a lot of risk—they generally pay cash (often with expensive hard-money loans), often self-fund the renovation, and generally take several months to complete the project. They do not want to risk so much money and time and then see the market go away, so if they have faith in the future market, that's a good sign.

Suggestion #2: Don't be confused about what you are really buying. Fix-it items on a house are just that, fixes. What is really important is the location, the lifestyle it offers you, the amenities nearby. I know my friends in the Midwest think our market is crazy—and they thought so 34 years ago when we bought our first house in Eagle Rock for $95,000. That particular house is probably worth $750,000 today, while the same house in Springfield, Missouri might be worth $125,000 today, maybe not that much. If the price of the home is that important or necessary to you, by all means, move to a less expensive area.

Keep in mind that real estate is primarily a long-term investment. If you are planning to move on in 2 years, maybe you should rent. But if you have the money and it seems like the right next step in your life, don't let your fears hold you back.

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