Friday, August 27, 2010

Duende Reduced to $1,329,000 and Open this Sunday

1341 Duende Lane.
List Price: $1,329,000… reduced from $1,365,000.

Just Reduced! This 3-bed, 2.5-bath upper Marquez house has all the features of a great starter home in the Palisades and includes impressive city and mountain views from the living room, all three bedrooms, and the expansive porches on both levels. It is located on a cul-de-sac, close to local schools and situated on a large and very private lot. The private yard is perfect for entertaining and relaxing, and the floor to ceiling windows provide ample natural light and a seamless indoor/outdoor flow. While minutes from Sunset, the village, and the beach, this home makes you feel like you’re living above it all. Easy to show. Link to virtual tour and more photos.

** Check out previous posts for other featured listings. **

Mortgage Rates and Home Values

Check out the graphs below to see the history of Mortgages Rates and Home Values:

Notes on a Realtor's Scorecard

I hope you are enjoying the summer that has finally arrived in Southern California. This has to be one of the cloudiest and dreariest summers in the past quarter century. With the sun finally coming out, people are out taking advantage of it and the real estate news cycle is fairly slow but as you will see below, we have a few interesting items to alert you to.

Mortgage Delinquencies Up Nationally: One in 10 American households with a home loan was behind on payments by at least one month this summer, the Associated Press reported. Mortgage Bankers Assn. report on second-quarter delinquencies as saying that 9.9% of borrowers fell into that category as of June 30. In a worrisome sign, the number of homeowners starting to have problems paying their home loans rose after trending downward last year. But the number of homes in the actual foreclosure process fell slightly, the first drop in four years, according to the Mortgage Bankers Assn. quarterly report.

New Homes Sales Reach Record Low:
With the expiration this spring of federal tax credit, sales of new homes were at their lowest point since the government began keeping records in 1963...California even has a $10,000 tax credit in place for buying new construction but it doesn’t seem to be helping.

Sign of the Times:
Sales of previously occupied homes plunged last month to the lowest level in 15 years, despite the lowest mortgage rates in decades and bargain prices in many areas. July's sales fell by more than 27 percent, the largest monthly drop on records dating back to 1968, and sharp declines were recorded in all regions of the country.

Another example of 2004 pricing… A look at the 90401 zip (Santa Monica): This area is bordered by 11th Street to the East, The Pacific Ocean to the West, Wilshire Boulevard to the North and Pico Boulevard to the South and considered a starter area for Santa Monica, is within walking distance to Downtown and the Santa Monica shopping center. A few notable sales show prices trending toward 2003 levels…

1252 11th Street
# 304 90401; 2+2, 1,142 sq. ft. YB:1973
Sold on 5/27/04 for $500,000
Sold on 5/6/10 for $450,000
Note: REO, Tenant Occupied

1239 9th Stree
t # 7 90401 1+1, 598 sq. ft. YB:1987
Sold on 10/28/05 for $440,000
Sold on 4/27/10 for $385,000

Recap of a Few Significant Recent Sales

11351 Albata Street in Brentwood Glen goes for over asking:
11351 Albata Street, a 3 bed/3 bath, 1,275 sq. ft. home on a 5,250 sq. ft. lot that was stylishly remodeled in the past 5 years was listed for $1,219,000 and sold for $1,240,000. The Glen is a great area that is currently dealing with traffic issues due to the 405 widening project, but once the work is done, the area will be even more desirable.

The Lemon of the Palisades sells… it's amazing what poor construction can do to a sale price:
The much talked about 720 Almar in Pacific Palisades, created a frenzy when it was initially listed as banked owned a few months ago, reportedly sold for only $2,150,000, far less than what was anticipated. It was listed for $2,349,000 and in 2008 was listed for $3,800,000! We don’t know who bought the house but it looks like it was an all cash, non-contingent offer. The word on the street is the house has a major mold problem and construction defects throughout…despite that, a heck of a price for who go it. . .

821 Alma Real sells for $350K less than it did in 2006:
Not a bad drop considering recent housing news and a good sign the Palisades has not dropped like some other locales. This New England traditional in the Huntington Palisades is 5,621 sq. ft. on a 8,015 sq. ft. lot, 5 bed/5.5 bath home sold for $3,600,000 and was bought in late 2006 for $3,950,000…moral of the story: Location, Location, Location

My Market Thoughts

Unlike many of my fellow Realtors, I have always preached that you buy a home because you feel strongly that you are going to enjoy living in it, like the location, and it fits you and or your family’s needs. The “steroid” era of the home market caused a distorted picture of home ownership and the correction we are currently going through is strongly preaching that. Owning a home is a beautiful thing and over time a great, leveraged investment, but it should only be done if the fundamentals make sense and you can see yourself in the property at least for a 5 to 10 year period. We are just reaching the bottom of the avalanche of the Mt. St. Helen’s of real estate run-ups, which it reached its peak in late 2006.

The market will eventually rise again and I believe the next 18 months will provide great buying opportunities. However, in my opinion, the Westside market has at least another 10% left on the downside. As long as mortgage rates continue to decline at unprecedented levels, we may not see the drop right away but recent market activity has been very slow on the high end indicating the drop could be coming sooner rather than later.

Until the fundamentals of what people earn vs. what they can afford properly matches up and the economy picks up some sort of steam, the current housing prices in the jumbo loan market are still a bit high. I say this with one caveat. If you can afford to buy and have a great credit score, history will look back on this time as a great time to buy since it is extremely rare to have prices dropping along with mortgage rates that are trending toward 1981, rates were above 18%.

Preservationists Fight Condo Project

This project concerned the Spanish-Colonial revival design of a proposed condominium project at the corner of Ocean Avenue and San Vicente Blvd. Though the development plan won approval from the planning commission last week, preservationists who claim the development would detract from the neighborhood’s character, are prepared to fight.

Article: Preservationists Fight Condo Project

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Check out this Price Reduction in Brentwood

12679 Promontory Road.
List Price: $2,349,000… reduced from $2,425,000.

This Elegant and luxurious home (over 5,000 sq. ft.) with a completely remodeled interior is a family-friendly living space that is the gem of the Mountaingate community. At its newly reduced price ($465 dollars a square foot!), this home is truly worth a look.

Virtual Tour and Photos.

Featured Listings: 1341 Duende Lane Open This Sunday 2-5/ 756 North Bundy

1341 Duende Lane: Come by Duende on Sunday from 2-5pm to take a look at this great Palisades home.

This is an opportunity to purchase a great Palisades starter home with great city views and privacy you won't get anywhere else. Details below...

List Price: $1,365,000. 3 bed, 2.5 baths, 1,867 sq. ft.
Upper Marquez home situated on a very large and private lot. Located on a cul-de-sac and very close to local schools. The home features dark hardwood floors and indoor/outdoor flow with tremendous views from the living room, all three bedrooms, and expansive porch on both levels. Click here for the virtual tour, photos and listing info.

756 North Bundy: If you're looking for a 3-bedroom home in Brentwood, be sure to check out the virtual tour below. Listed at $1,585,000, this 3 bed/2 Bath, 1,993 sq. ft. home was rebuilt in 2004. A large chef’s kitchen opening to the living room highlights the property. Located 1 mile north of Sunset. Click here for the virtual tour, photos and listing info.

Have a great weekend!

Mortgage Rates Fall Again… and Again… and Again

Its no secret that falling interest rates on mortgages have led to an increase in home refinancing…this summer has seen record low rates continued to fall for the eighth time in the past 9 weeks – triggering the highest volume of home refinancing in the past 15 months.

Full Article: Mortgage Rates Sink Lower Still

Friday, August 13, 2010

Notes on a Realtor’s Scorecard

The Santa Monica 90404 zip code: bordered by Wilshire Blvd. to the North, Pico Blvd. to the South, 11th street to the West and Centinela to the East functions as an entry level market for the area and in examining sales in 2010, both condo and single family home values have dropped back to 2004 levels and seem to be trending toward 2003 levels... starting to be a good time to buy with record low interest rates?

Check out these price reductions:
12624 Brooklake:
This 4-bed, 6-bath, home in Mar Vista is newly relisted at $1,679,000 after substantial time on the market between $2,199,000 and $1,749,000. The new listing price is a 24% reduction from the January 2010 list price. This is further evidence that the high end market in Mar Vista is struggling.

1925 Mandeville Canyon:
This 3-bed, 3-bath Cape Cod style home situated on a half acre lot in North Brentwood is currently listed at $1,849,000. The property’s list price has taken almost a $1M hit since its listing in September 2009 at $2,795,000… a 34% reduction in asking price. Despite the septic tank issues on Mandeville, this home should sell fairly soon now that it is priced as it is.

408 17th Street sells for 16% less than list price:
This 5-bed, 4.5-bath, 3,522 ft2 home on a 7,500 ft2 lot sold on 8/2/2010 for $3.15M, about $600K, and 16% below its May list price. This is a sign that realistic sellers are definitely willing to work with buyers in high priced neighborhoods.

... Are these signs that the next 12 months will be a great time to buy?

Wells Fargo own
ed Malibu beach house sells: The 3,800 sq. ft. Malibu beach house that was at the center of a Wells Fargo public relations storm last year finally sold after nearly 11 months on the market. The house was surrendered to Wells Fargo in May 2009 after the Madoff fraud exposure, and was first listed at $21.5M. It was then reduced to $18M and sold this week for $14.95M.

Smoking Ban on the Santa Monica Pier: This ban is soon soon to go into effect. Smoking on the Pier, a 100yr. old landmark, has been confined to designated areas and will soon be outright banned.

Century Plaza Plan for Two Tall Towers Released: A new plan for the Century Plaza was released this week by Next Century developer Michael Rosenfeld. This project plans for two 46-story skyscrapers to go up behind the Century Plaza Hotel. This is an attempt to “strengthen the identity of Century Plaza” while adding 290 condos and 190,000 square feet of offices/retail.

LA Times Article: New plan for Century Plaza hotel adds two 46-story towers

720 Almar: The Lemon of Pacific Palisades?

About three months ago the bank owned 720 Almar was the talk of the Palisades real estate community and unfortunately it is still a topic of conversation because it hasn’t sold. However, it just went into escrow for the second time since the bank took ownership so hopefully this time it sticks.

Quick history: Potential buyers were lined up and ready to offer on the newly built home with rumors on the street it was going to list for around $2.3M about three months ago. In fact, other sellers in that price range were forced to wait and see what was going to happen. Many thought it would go out in a flurry of multiple offers at that price point since it originally hit the market in 2008 for $3.749! After multiple reductions and no takers, the builder could no longer hold on and they stripped the property of the fixtures and appliances and let it go to the bank.

Once the property hit the market a few months back at a $2.349M list price, most buyers were disappointed at the cheap fixtures the bank installed and it just didn’t live up to the hype. Despite this, they still had takers and the home went into escrow fairly quickly…only to fall out.

The word on the street is the house must have endured heavy water damage at some point and could be facing over $70K+ in mold related fixes.

The current listing price seems to have figured that into the equation but with the work that needs to be done on top of the appropriate fixtures and appliances, the deal is not as amazing as it originally appeared.

The property just went into escrow again so it will be interesting to see if it sticks.

The Skinny on Westside Happenings

Santa Monica - Twilight Dance Series – Santa Monica Specials: Thursdays August 19th, 26th and September 2nd
Along with the Twilight Dance Series, there are great specials and events each Thursday night in Santa Monica. Enjoy dining specials from Border Grill, La Salsa, The Lobster, and many other restaurants in the area, as well as shopping discounts and other specials.

Pacific Palisades - Movies in the Park
: A great family and neighborhood event in the Palisades, the annual “Movies in the Park” series is underway! It takes place on Saturday evenings on the Field of Dreams at the Palisades Recreation Center. Upcoming movies are 'Toy Story' on August 21 and 'Enchanted' on August 28.

Short Sales Soaring In California

Real estate deals in which lenders agree to take less for a property than the balance on the mortgage have tripled since 2008.

Short sales are becoming more appealing to investors, banks and owners as a cheaper way out then foreclosure. The owner benefits by not having to take a bigger credit hit and the banks and investors will likely get more out of a short sale than what they would in foreclosure.

LA Times Article: Short sales soar in California, U.S.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Notes On A Realtor’s Scorecard

Summer Dull-drums: Despite record low interest rates, the activity level the past three weeks has been slow across the board. We are seeing more movement on the lower end, but not nearly at the pace of the spring. The market between 1.25M and 2.75M has come to a screeching halt with open house attendance very low unless the home is priced to move. Even then, buyers are not in a rush. Hopefully a majority of the market has been on vacation and will jump back in soon.

Most high-end neighborhoods (Brentwood, Bel-Air, North Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Silver Strand Marina Del Rey) have rolled back to 2004 pricing levels unless the home is in great condition and then it might nudge up to 2005 levels, but that seems to be the exception.

Microsoft in Malibu: Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen recently bought an oceanfront house in Malibu listed at $29.5 million and it is believed Allen paid just above $25 million.

The white stucco-and-glass house sits on Carbon Beach, where neighbors include media moguls David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The house is 5,800-square-feet with five bedrooms, a gym, screening room and deck with a pool.

The Baron has landed: Word has hit the street that my former high school teammate and Clipper star point guard Baron Davis has bought an estate on Chautauqua in the Palisades. The 5 bed/4.5 bath home sold for around six million (listed for 8.750 in March per the MLS) and is just over 5,400 sq. ft. and sits on a ½ acre lot. It is a very traditional home in excellent condition with great views and a pool. . .hopefully the new digs and a new b-ball coach will coincide with Baron having a great year leading the Clips to the playoffs!

The Wealthy recovering in Los Angeles…but not at the pace of New Yorkers: While New York City’s millionaires seem to have recovered from the recession that began in 2007, in Los Angeles, the ranks of millionaires are still down from pre-recession levels.

The Los Angeles numbers for 2009 (235,800) were up 13.3% from 2008, but that was not enough to make up for the 17.8% drop in millionaires the previous year during the heart of the financial crisis.

In New York City, the rise in the number of millionaires in 2009 was enough to make up for the losses the year before -- bringing the total number of millionaires in the city up to 667,200.
Capgemini, a French consulting firm, calculated the number of individuals with a net worth of over $1 million, excluding real estate, in the 10 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. Most of the gains for the rich are attributed to the climb in the stock markets.

National news… Pending home sales dip 2.2%: Home purchase contracts dipped 2.6% from May to June as fewer shoppers appeared to be in the market after expiration of federal tax incentives for buyers.

The National Assn. of Realtors’ pending home-sales index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed for previously owned homes, fell to a level of 75.7 in June from an upwardly revised 77.7 level in May. The index stood at 93.0 in June 2009. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was both the first year that the group began tracking the data as well as the first of five straight years of record increases for sales of previously owned homes.

What $2 Million can get you North of Montana in Santa Monica: 423 15th street sold for $2M after being listed for 2.395 in April. The 3+2.75, 2,262 sq ft house on a 7,500 sq ft lot has been modernized and updated with hardwood floors thru-out, fireplace, built in entertainment center in the family room and a kitchen with white marble counters, stainless steel cabinets and top of the line appliances. The house was bought for $2,365,000 toward the end of 2008. This is about a 15% decline from when it was purchased and probably about a 20-22% decline from its height in 2007.

Santa Monica Place Grand Opening Today!

Opening Celebration and Events Friday–Sunday, August 6th-8th

The new retail and dining destination, is opening today after a complete renovation and is expected to draw crowds, as a new nexus for fashion, food and the visual arts.

The grand opening ceremony will include a full weekend of special and retailer hosted-events, including Bloomingdale’s, Nike and Disney. There will also be some ongoing exhibits in the upcoming days and weeks that are definitely worth checking out!

For more information about events and featured sales, please visit the Santa Monica Place website ( and individual retailer sites.

Enjoy your weekend!

July 2010 – Westside Sales Data and News

July sales data for selected areas is included in the tables below:

There was less movement in the market from last month, and previous years, though given the current global financial situations, and the summer holidays, this was not far from expected.

Of all the sales, 4250 Grand View, in Mar Vista jumped out the most because it sold for 58% over its reported list price, a listing to sales price discrepancy that is not representative of the area or market, and clearly indicating that this was an auction situation. Excluding this listing, the average sale price in Mar Vista was 2% less than the average list price where the majority of sales were below the $1M price point.

In comparison to higher priced neighborhoods, such as Brentwood and the Palisades, sales prices averaged 6% lower than listing prices.

The Pacific Palisades had two properties sell for about 15% lower than their listing prices. 1246 Piedra Morada Drive, that eventually sold for $2,549,375 - 14% lower than its list price, and 854 Napoli Drive, that sold for $3,800,000 - 15% less than its list price. Both properties were listed for about 6 months – 2 months longer than the 4-month average for that area.

In other areas, some sellers took a similar price drop – like 641 18th Street in Manhattan Beach. This property sold for $2,865,000, 13% lower than its list price of $3,295,000 but after only 6 weeks on the market.

New and Pended Sales in July

Across the board, new listings are outpacing deals that are going into escrow for the second straight month. Inventory on the Westside and Manhattan Beach has been increasing the past two months after decreasing during the spring late winter and spring months.

Record Low Mortgage Rates Are Still Declining

According to Freddie Mac, lenders are offering 30-year fixed loans at less than 4.5% this week and 15-year loans at less than 4%.

Reporting a seventh straight week of declines, Freddie Mac said the 30-year rate averaged 4.49% for the week ending Thursday, down from 4.54% last week and 5.22% a year earlier. On home loans with rates fixed for 15 years, the interest rate averaged 3.95%, down from an even 4% a week earlier and 4.63% a year earlier.

Freddie Mac asks lenders about the rates they are offering on mortgages up to $417,000 to borrowers who are good credit risks. The borrowers would have paid 0.7% of the loan balance to the lenders in upfront fees and points, Freddie said.

In addition, solid borrowers who shop around often find slightly better rates than those published in the survey.

*Sources: LA Times, Housing Wire