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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!

Home Upsizing, Downsizing Or "Rightsizing"? That Is the Question

Home Upsizing, Downsizing Or "Rightsizing"? That Is the Question

When we consider the important elements of our lives - like buying and selling our homes - the words we use and how we think about it matters.

Helping homebuyers and home sellers buy and sell real estate in NELA for as long as I have, I’ve seen it all. Homes for sale in Mt. Washington, for instance, offer large modern homes as well as tiny bungalows. Homes for sale in Pasadena offer ginormous California Craftsman homes as well as very small ones. Many are buying and selling homes to upsize. They need more space. But we also see many trying to downsize. They require less space.

Rather than thinking “upsize” or “downsize”, for many good reasons, we might ought to consider the modern term “rightsizing”.


Right-sizing is often about our quality of life. Often a much larger home requires a lot more work and effort to maintain. That time could be better used for other endeavors. Time is the last luxury. We are ALL running out of it.

This is one of the 6 points that Leonard Steinberg, Compass' President, itemized in his daily email regarding downsizing, or  rightsizing as he calls it. I'm dealing with a couple of downsizing/rightsizing projects myself, and I know how stressful it can be. My husband and I often ask each other--how did we end up with so much stuff? Then there's my mother, who is 91 and facing the same issue with only my sister and me to help. And I'm 300 miles away! 

But enough about me. I loved Leonard's conclusion:

Scaling down your home often feels like a regressive, negative moment in life, but I see it as the exact opposite. I have bumped into clients months after they made this stressful shift only to find them happier, less stressed and with a new sense of freedom. Remove ego from homeownership and the decisions made are often much wiser.

The wisdom of removing ego from homeownership, and from all kinds of real estate transactions, is so true in so many ways. For instance, your house will not sell for more than a flipped completely done house that's bigger no matter what you think of their taste. It's not about you and how cool you think your house is. It's about buyers and what they think. And they speak with their feet these days.

"Why don't they make an offer?" Sellers ask this all the time. It's because they don't want to offend you, or they don't want to bother, or they've been trained to believe that you really mean your price.

Here's another example: real estate agents who try to dominate a transaction, like "I would never let my buyer get less than half the credit I told him to expect from the seller." What? This agent thought she had some eerie power over the seller and the buyer in this escrow. My seller said "Let's kick this buyer to the curb and go to the next one." We had a great backup buyer and we did exactly that.

We all have some interest in real estate. After all, we all live somewhere, even if it's under a bridge or on our buddy's couch. Let's figure out what we need and let go of at least some of what we want and maybe we will all be a little more content with our lives.

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Is Cash Always King?

Cash buyers are exerting downward pressure on prices, according to a report in DSNews.com, quoting a study from HousingPulse Survey. This article points out that with distressed properties, the investors with cash dominate the market and that sellers often take lower cash offers because the deal can be closed faster with fewer problems. As a result, the first-time and FHA buyers are shut out of the entry-level distressed property market. This is a funny kind of capitalism in action. Free market means that the seller does not have to take the highest offer, they are free to choose a lower offer with cleaner terms.

But if you are a cash buyer and you want a really nice home, you don’t necessarily have the same influence on price. You may still get the deal, but only if you do offer the highest price. I could quote several stories over the last several years in which the winning bid in multiple offers was cash for homes that were not at the low end of the price range. I represented a buyer last year who purchased a couple of homes in La Canada and Pasadena by either paying cash or agreeing to no loan or appraisal contingencies. One of the highest sales in Eagle Rock last year was all cash, and this year I have seen cash buyers competing with each other on good properties, driving up the price as a result.

Where is all this cash coming from? Lots of places: investments that have been earning a fraction of a percent interest in CDs, sales of businesses, inheritances, divorces, lawsuits, and retirement accounts, even savings. Another source is the Bank of Mom and Dad, which sometimes is a gift and sometimes is a gift that is expected to be returned at some future time.

What does all this mean?


  1. Don’t make the assumption that if you have cash you will always win at a bargain price.

  2. Don’t believe everything you read about how bad the market is. There are a lot of people who are serious buyers today because they have faith in the value of real estate over the long term.  And a lot of them have cash.
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Are you a home buyer starting your search? READ THIS!

In the past we posted our number one tip for home buyers -- always change your locks when you move into a new home.  But that tip is for buyers who actually find a house and make it to the close of escrow, not buyers who are just starting out on their journey to home ownership. 

So for all of you who are jumping in and not quite sure what to do besides pore over Redfin listings online, here you go:

The very first thing you should do, BEFORE you even start looking online for houses, is call a lender and get PRE-APPROVED!

If I got a dollar for each time I'd seen buyers start looking before they take this crucial step, end up finding their dream home and then learn that they can't afford it -- well, I'd be able to buy my own dream home!

Talking to a lender should really be foremost in your mind.  Learn what your options are.

Because let me tell you, if you're looking at homes in the $500,000 range and then learn that you can only afford $350,000... well let's just say that a house listed for $350,000 is a whole heck of a lot different than a house listed for $500,000.  Or even $450,000.  Nothing in your new $350,000 range is going to look good enough after you've seen those $500K homes.

And then there's the flip side - what if you learn that you can actually afford a bigger loan?  Or that there is a financing solution that allows you to get a re-hab loan?  Maybe you didn't even know you could afford a house!

Don't have a lender?  Try Edward Uriarte (310.463.2270).  Or Steve Kenilvort.  We've worked with both and they've done great things for our clients.
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