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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!

Fresh and Easy Donating to Local Groups

Love it or hate it, Fresh and Easy has been taking Southern California by storm.  In the last year Tesco has opened over 30 Fresh and Easy locations in the Los Angeles area offering "a simple shopping experience with everything you need right in the neighborhood."

Besides budget prices for quality products, Fresh and Easy is also billing itself as the "good neighbor," recruiting from the local area and using low-energy lighting and equipment.

As part of being a good neighbor, Fresh and Easy is offering a $1,000 donation to a group from the neighborhood where a store is being opened or celebrating its one-year anniversary.  Anyone from the neigbhorhood can nominate a group on the Fresh and Easy website, which you can reach by clicking here.  Recent donations include high school football teams, children's theater groups, and wildlife organizations.

Here is what Fresh and Easy says:

"When we first opened your store, we invited you and your neighbors to nominate a non-profit group from the local community. From these nominations, the store staff selected a charity to receive a $1,000 donation.

We do this with every store we open because we care about our neighborhoods and the people who live there.

As stores reach their one-year anniversary, we are doing it again. Anyone can nominate a local neighborhood group and the store will decide who receives another donation. It is just another way for us to say "thank you" for your support."

Do you know of a group in the Eagle Rock/Highland Park/Glassell Park area that could use $1,000?  Go online and take advantage of Fresh and Easy's good neighbor policy!

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Los Angeles Real Estate, Then and Now

Stumbling across the April, 2007, issue of Los Angeles Magazine, I found a key to the disaster we see before us. The title of the cover article was Real Estate 2007, When Will the Bubble Burst? And Other Burning Questions.

It is a game, as they say in the article. The game is "Do I Buy/Sell Now?" In 2007, the key to the bubble not bursting was that our local economy was still good. In hindsight, we can see that the real estate market "bubble" has actually been slowly deflating since 2005. The number of properties sold has been going down since then, even though prices appeared to remain high overall. The prediction in 2007 was that we would see prices soften and modestly decline through 2008, maybe by 2 or 3 percent per year. Today, December, 2008, we see prices have dropped anywhere from 15 to 50 percent, depending.

Depending on what? Real estate is a local business, and in my neighborhoods of Northeast Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley, the housing stock varies on a street-by-street basis - no two homes are alike and so no two values are alike. The Case-Shiller index measures the value of a home that sold at a particular time compared to that same home that sold at another time, which is meaningful for that particular home and not many others. See how tricky this all is?

The key to everything is the health of the local economy. Last year, Los Angeles was doing fine. This year, the whole world is in economic disarray. In the early 1990s, the scene of the last big downturn in the Southern California market, we had more local problems that were not felt so much in the national scene, like earthquakes, fires, riots, and the complete restructuring of our economy from defense-related to service-based. So we had an exodus of folks finding jobs elsewhere. I don't think we are seeing that now - times are tough almost everywhere. Now, we have been living in an economy where businesses operate on a line of credit as a matter of course. This was not risky behavior, it was standard operating procedure for any number of law firms, medical practices, and other businesses all over the world. Today, some of these businesses have had to lay off hundreds of people because they can't get their normal credit anymore. This is just one example of the kind of unexpected fallout that is affecting our own little piece of paradise. I know people who have had their own lines of credit on their homes and credit cards reduced or eliminated for no apparent reason.

Credit is basically a promise to pay. The givers of credit have lost faith that those people will repay. This in turn causes the very problem the creditors seek to prevent the loss of the ability to repay. It's all very well to say that we should all return to a cash economy, but few of us operate that way. I feel like I'm watching Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life" all over again. I'm actually feeling a little like Donna Reed, dependent upon Jimmy's ability to restore his depositors' faith in the system for her family's survival. Only today, our Jimmy is President-Elect Obama.

Look at the decline of companies like the Los Angeles Times. They've laid off dozens and dozens of people as their product has become affected by the change in the global way of obtaining information and by the downturn in advertising dollars spent. And this affects me personally because I have many clients who work or have worked for the Times.

And so it goes, from the big picture to our own backyard. In the next installment, I'll talk more about our own microcosm of real estate here.

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Urgent Holiday Planning Alert

This is your last chance to order a wonderfully fresh Christmas tree and benefit the Eagle Rock High School Tennis Team at the same time. And, if you live in or near Eagle Rock, you can have your tree delivered for free! Orders must be in by November 3, that's Monday. Don't forget!
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Propportunity is Everywhere!

I was talking to some of my Realtor friends this morning and heard about some killer deals all around Los Angeles county.

1. El Segundo: Upgraded with care, this bright interior unit in the Pacific Sands complex is a spacious one level with 2 BR/1BA in 1112 sq. ft. It proudly offers new soundproof windows and doors, a new ventilation system, new appliances in newly tiled kitchen, smooth ceilings, a combination of new carpets and tile floors, and new paint! The balcony overlooks the pond, pool and palm trees. Low HODs. FHA approved complex. Conveniently located near the beach and LAX. El Segundo schools. Price? Only $360,000! Wow!

2. Long Beach:Executive Living in the Aqua West Tower of Downtown Ocean Blvd. Two Master suites in this unit have marble in bathrooms, slate and granite in kitchen. Private Enclosed Garage plus 2nd space adjacent to garage. You must see the amenities to appreciate this unit and building. Balcony overlooks Performing Arts Center and Convention Center just a brief walk downstairs. Gymnasium, Business Center, Sauna, 2 Swimming Pools and spas, observation deck, full kitchen in recreation lounge, private business meeting rooms. UNIT 201. Seller to credit 2.5 points with full price offer. Not a short sale! $459,900.

3. Eagle Rock:Fannie Mae owned bungalow near Occidental College in Eagle Rock. Very cute, low maintenance, your basic condo alternative. Seller plans to make some repairs. Property is 2/1 with a carport and a fenced (practically no) yard, very close to everything but off the main thoroughfare. $335,000!

None of these are my listings, so call me or email me for more info and I'll either be glad to represent you or to refer your Realtor to the listing agent.

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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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Summer Solstice in Eagle Rock

It was the hottest day so far this year, 108 degrees by several accounts. TERA, The Eagle Rock Association, had its second annual Summer Solstice Volunteer Recognition Party at the Eagle Rockdale Community Garden and Art Park last night and it was a delightful event.

Lots of food, wine, and water were on hand scattered under the trees in this tucked away corner of Eagle Rock just east of Figueroa off La Loma and Lanark at the end of Shelby-Lanark Park. Several misters scattered under the trees cooled off the partygoers enough to make it bearable.

It seemed like dozens of adorable little girls got themselves drenched in the spray and then listened with rapt attention to the folk/environmental rock of the Glen Iris band. As dusk descended, Queenie and the Saints entertained with torch songs reminiscent of Peggy Lee.

 Does life get any better? A hot night, good music, reconnecting with friends and family, and celebrating the continued renaissance of Eagle Rock; that is a pretty great way to welcome summer, in my book

An adorable audience of little girls listen to the Glen Iris Band.


The Glen Iris Band performs.



The gardens themselves are grown and maintained by local individuals and are producing organic food for their families. The Community Garden is a project sponsored by TERA headed by Mary Tokita, who has lovingly and wholeheartedly worked for several years to make an abandoned right of way into this garden in the city.

How did you celebrate the first day of summer?
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