Friday, December 28, 2007

WHOA! (Or do I mean Woe? Hmmm.)

PEOPLE! I have a shocking announcement. Are you sitting? Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Ready?

The Case-Shiller year-over-year decline for LOS ANGELES of April 1991 vs. April 1990(a.k.a. the begining of the last bust in housing) was 7.16%.

Do you know what the year-over-year decline for LOS ANGELES was for October 2007 vs. October 2006? Do you?! *drum roll*

8.83% !

That's a record.

Source. (Note: It's in MS Excel)

The S&P Graph

(Click to englarge)

Have you guys seen this? It's a graph of the year-over-year percentage change in the Case-Shiller Index. I hadn't seen the data represented this way before and thought y'all would be interested.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Update on that house on Bucknell

Back on August 14, 2007 I told you abe a house that was foreclosed and then resold to Mr. Mosher who tried to flip it. He held the property for six months and it went inactive today (unclear as to whether it sold or not). Between carrying costs and transaction fees, and possibly some repairs, he took a hit. Anyhoo, check it out:

5703 BUCKNELL AVENUE, Valley Village, CA 91607
(MLS #F1729038)

Property Shark details:
$148.5k Grant Deed from Bin, Fred & Anna to Garcia, Joel & Hayde

$000 Grant Deed from Garcia, Joel to Garcia, Hayde

$451k Trustee's sale from Alliance Title to HSBC Bank

$534k Grant Deed HSBC Bank to Mosher, Michael

Listed by Mosher on 08/01/07.

Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $719,000 to $689,999
Price Reduced: 08/25/07 -- $689,999 to $670,000
Price Reduced: 08/27/07 -- $670,000 to $659,999
Price Reduced: 08/28/07 -- $659,999 to $649,999
Price Reduced: 09/13/07 -- $649,999 to $634,999
Price Reduced: 10/13/07 -- $634,999 to $619,999
Price Reduced: 10/31/07 -- $619,999 to $599,999 (16.55% down)

08/14/07: Zestimate $645,201

12/27/07: Zestimate™ $577,913 (10.43% down)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Honeybaked Ham: The Skinny

So! My parents insisted that there be a ham for their Christmas dinner. So I did what any good daughter would do and got a Honeybaked Ham (I have a day job, I cannot be preparing hams). But y'all, the store was crowded and I did not ask questions and then I realized... ham probably needs to be heated. How does one do this? So I did what anybody in my situation would do... Google! And guess what y'all? Honeybaked hams should not be re-heated. Nope. Check it out:

Debbie Domer, director of marketing for Honey Baked Ham, says: “The ham has already been fully cooked and smoked for up to 24 hours,” she explains. “It’s very delicate, so we recommend bringing it out (of the fridge) about 30 minutes before serving so it will come to room temperature.” Not only can heating a Honey Baked Ham dry it out, it can turn that signature, crunchy honey coating into mush, Domer says.

The 50-year-old company still sells more hams at Christmas, but Easter is the second-biggest time of year, Domer says. And if you’re wondering, the Southern United States is the country’s biggest consumer of hams. Honey Baked Ham is well known for its honey glaze and its precut “spiral sliced” hams, which the company says makes for easy serving. But there are lots of other places to buy a ham in town. And you don’t necessarily need a spiral cut to enjoy some of that falling-off-the-bone hammy goodness.

From Reader Rich

KICKAPOO TRAIL, Chatsworth, CA 91311
MLS #: F1747435

This blog doesn't normally venture so far North in the Valley, but we are making an exception for this submission by Reader Rich.

First: Hee! Because I have the same sense of humor, apparently, as a 9-year-old boy I think it's funny that this house is located on Kickapoo Trail. Get it? Kick a poo? Ha! Okay, sorry.

So, this house is located in the Pornography Capital of the World (whatever, you can say it's Tokyo all you want, everybody knows Chatsworth is REALLY the capital), and granted it is likely a tear down, but I don't think there was a mansion on the land the last time it sold. So how do you justify the 44.71% haircut? See below for the dirty details.

Last Sale: 08/10/06
Sales Price: $520,000
Current List: $287,500

Bedrooms: 2
Full Baths: 1
Square Feet: 758
Lot Size: 13,939 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1946
Listing Date: 12/21/07

Friday, December 21, 2007

Still looking for little cash back, eh?

Check out this Redfin blog post written by an appraiser who asked a few too many questions. Here are a few highlights:

"... I noticed that the purchase contract is for the amount of $620,000. But when I met with the seller at the house, he tells me that there is another purchase contract floating around somewhere for the amount of $680,000."

"I asked him, in this market, how did he get from $620,000 to $680,000? Did the buyer agree to this increase and is the contract fully executed (meaning has it been signed by both buyer and seller)? He then told me his loan broker determined the new price and needed the value to be increased to make this deal work."

"Because there was so much confusion, I pulled out my cell phone to call the loan origination manager at my office with the hopes to clear up some of these questions. He reached over and yanked the phone out of my hand and said to me, 'I don’t want the appraisal anymore. You can go.' "

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Property Shark's REO & NOD Map

UPDATE: Here's a link to the map page. Click the green bar that says "Get More Maps" and then you will see the foreclosure overlay options.

Curious if your neigborhood is foreclosure hell? Now you can checkout the trustee sales (red dot) and notices of default (purple dot) at a glance at Property Shark.

(Click to enlarge map)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Wow. Check out this haircut:

11975 SUNSHINE TERRACE, Studio City, CA 91604
MLS #: F1745760

Bedrooms: 5
Baths: 3
Square Feet: 2,543
Lot Size: 6,435 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1965
Listing Date: 11/30/07
List Price: $775k
Price Reduced: 12/15/07: $775k to $730k (down 5.81%)

Last Sale: 05/16/06
Sales Price: $1,400,000

Zestimate™ $1,562,859

We're talking about a $670k haircut. And you gotta love the MLS description:

"Previous owner was in the process of remodeling - come and bring your ideas and make this home yours! Tax rolls shows 5 bedrooms, 3 baths but upstairs bedroom does not have a closet."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

So not about Real Estate....

I love me some Project Runway. And this week one of my very favorite contestants -- JACK -- left the show for personal reasons. But today, I was thrilled to discover -- through a video post -- that Jack is just fine after all. And if this video doesn't make you happy, well, I feel sorry for you.

Thanks to the boys at Project Rungay for the clip!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Really? This is still going on?

14347 KILLION STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91401

The MLS description reads:

"Huge price reduction!!! Motivated seller!!!!Charm house on a quiet cul de sac street. 3 bedroom + 2 bathroom. Master bedroom leading to a backyard and spa. Fully remodeled and upgraded property. Ready to move in. "

So, how much you wanna bet this listing goes inactive in a day or two? It's just had the telltale price increase:

Price Reduced: 12/06/07 -- $825,000 to $749,900

Price Increased: 12/07/07 -- $749,900 to $780,900

Either they got cold feet, or at least one buyer is still squeezing out the cash-back-at-close deal.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Foreclosure Data from the Good People at PROPERTYSHARK!

(Click to enlarge any image, Sugar.)

You can read the official PR yourself here. More details may follow later today.

But the highlights are: recorded 2436 first time trustee sales in Los Angeles during November 2007, 13.09% higher than last month and 233.7% higher than the same month in 2006.

The top six zip codes for Los Angeles County foreclosures were in Lancaster and Palmdale.

Aren't you impressed with how quickly they get out their data?

I heart PropertyShark! Go on... check them out. Shoo.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Still talkin' about SHORT SALES

3909 LONGVIEW VALLEY ROAD, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
MLS #F1734331
Price Reduced: 09/18/07 -- $815k to $799k
Price Reduced: 10/30/07 -- $799k to $780k
Price Reduced: 12/04/07 -- $780k to $720k

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,256
Lot Size: 6,307 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1952
Listing Date: 09/13/07 (This is a relisting)
List Price: $720K
Last Sale: 10/25/05
Sales Price: $740,000

Zestimate™ $786,190

Another short sale...

14707 ROUND VALLEY DRIVE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(photo not yet available)
MLS #: F1745563
Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,014
Lot Size: 14,820 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1954
Listing Date: 12/04/07
List Price: $685k
Last Sale: 07/20/06
Sales Price: $856,000

Zestimate™ $903,813

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I scream, you scream, we all scream for SHORT SALES.

5448 ALLOTT AVENUE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91401

MLS #: F1745058

Bedrooms: 2
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,600
Lot Size: 7,300 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1933
Listing Date: 11/28/07
List Price: $799k

Last Sale: 11/28/06
Sales Price: $803,000

Zestimate™ $829,932

3933 GLENRIDGE DRIVE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

MLS #: F1744507

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 2,117
Lot Size: 7,630 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1953
Listing Date: 11/26/07
List Price: $849K

Last Sale: 05/07/07
Sales Price: $1,275,000

Zestimate™ $1,248,769

14755 VALLEYHEART DRIVE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

MLS #: F1744945

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,566
Lot Size: 7,530 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1952
Listing Date: 11/29/07
List Price: $749k

Last Sale: 01/30/06
Sales Price: $749,000 (okay, technically, not a short sale YET)
Zestimate™ $792,246


4360 VENTURA CANYON AVENUE #2, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

MLS #: F1741276

Bedrooms: 2
Full Baths: 2.5
Square Feet: 1,359
Lot Size: 940 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1999
Listing Date: 10/15/07
List Price: $560k

Last Sale: 01/24/07
Sales Price: $690,000
Zestimate™ $560,390

Flippity Flop! Watch the price drop!

4507 VARNA AVENUE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
MLS# F1743246
Zestimate™ $764,567
UPDATE: Price Reduced (12/16/07) $869k to $839k (down 3.45%)
Also, did I mention this house has NO BATHTUB? Yup. Remodeling genius!

Bedrooms: 2
Baths: 1.5
Square Feet: 1,598
Lot Size: 8,100 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1949
Listing Date: 11/11/07
List Price: $869k (SNARF!)

So, if you read my occasional posts on L.A. Land you may recall the last house on which E and I officially bid (pictured above); I posted about it here. We were pretty disappointed when we didn't get this house because we loved it. But the winning bidder offered way over list (which was a bit of a head scratcher for us because it was a slightly over priced fixer to begin with). We figured the current owners must have loved it way more than we did.

Or not. Because now it's back on the market. So either they got themselves into a heap of financial woe or they were competing for the title "Dumbest Flippers of All Time". I suspect it was the latter.

Anyhoo... I thought y'all would enjoy watching them go down in flames because, in my mind, they stand for everything that is wrong with the housing market today: (1) they bought a house that they either couldn't afford or had no plans to live in; (2) they did a cheap interior reno (no additional square footage) and expect to see a profitable return after a mere 5 months holding period; and (3) they got cash back at close and (temporarily at least) drove up the comps in the neighborhood.

This house won't sell for a dime over $720k (which is about $70k less than they paid). Mark my words.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Whatwhatwhat? A house in Studio City for less than $800k?

4307 BABCOCK AVENUE, Studio City, CA 91604
MLS # F1742192

Price Reduced: 11/27/07 -- $799k to $775k

Zestimate™ $831,466

Bedrooms: 2
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,532
Lot Size: 6,385 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1939
Listing Date: 11/06/07

In fairness, this house is across the street from an apartment building, but it is in the highly desirable area south of Moorpark near Whitsett. I'm telling you, last summer this house would've been listed at $825k minimum and it would've been snatched up. The kitchen is high end and there's considerable curb appeal.

Even in this market, I wouldn't be surprised if this house sells at 95% of the list price. We'll see.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Random Oddities From Around The Valley

I finally got around to uploading some photos from my camera. I completely forgot that for a while I was taking pictures of odd things I saw while driving to work (at my previous job). So, at long last, here's a few things I used to see on a near daily basis.

This is in somebody's front yard in Chatsworth (click to enlarge). I'm pretty sure it's a life-size concrete woman sitting naked in a bird bath and staring up at a large boulder suspended over her head.

This is an old air-raid siren. They are actually all over the Valley. I suspect that they don't work anymore but it's actually pretty difficult to find any information at all on these relics.

A crafty garden enthusiast transformed some ivy climbing up a telephone pole and it's anchor wire into a rather cute hound. He's maybe 12 (?) feet high and he lives at the border of Northridge.

Feel free to send your photos of Valley Oddities to the email address at the bottom of the page. Once I get a few, I'll post them.

Things that make you go "hmmm"

Nothing like a reference to early 90's pop music to make a post intersting. N'est pas? So I found a house that has not one but three fantastic bathrooms. This first one is a powder room and it appears as though the top 1/3 of the walls are mirrored. Oh, and check out the nice swirly toilet seat lid:

Looks like somebody attended the tile workshop at Home Depot! And then came home with the cheapest tile available and applied every single technique they learned that day. Behold (and pay special attention to the sink counter):

Seriously, this last bathroom conjurs up images of the circus. With the checkerboard sink, harlequin floors, striped wallpaper, and show-biz mirror lights, all you need are some peanuts and a monkey to complete the scene.

With bathrooms like this, you'd think they'd have priced the home as a fixer. But nope! They want $70k over the already high Zestimate. Of course.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It looks like an apartment.

4552 VAN NOORD AVE, Studio City, CA 91604
MLS #: 07_233409
List Price: $829,200

Bedrooms: 4
Baths: 3
Square Feet: 2,160
Lot Size: 5,600 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1964
Listing Date: 11/02/07
Last Sale: 08/16/06
Sales Price: $1.15M
Zestimate $1,384,777

Once upon a time, before the rampant loan and appraisal fraud was exposed for what it is, I considered buying the little house across the street from this monstrosity. As I stood on the front lawn of the little house I wondered if this hideous structure (pictured above) was an apartment building. But no, it's not. It's just the ugliest house in the neighborhood. And some fool paid $1.15M for this hideous hideous structure and now he (well, technically, the bank) is offering to sell it for the low low price of $830k. Nothing like a $320k haircut (and that doesn't take into account the carrying and transaction costs).

Speaking of appraisal fraud, I hope you saw the article in the Times today about the NY Attorney General suing First American Corp. and its appraisal management subsidiary, eAppraiseIT, for complying with Washington Mutual's demands for padded appraisals (some as high as $720k over market value). It's not like we didn't know appraisals were being padded, but somehow I didn't think the banks were actually strong-arming the appraisers and creating written records of their wrongful conduct. It'll be interesting to see how this shakes out.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We've come a long way, Baby.

14035 HARTSOOK STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(MLS # F1741182)
Zestimate™ $769,852

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,682
Lot Size: 8,995 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1952
Listing Date: 10/30/07

At the begining of the year, this house would've been staged and listed at $825k. Back then, the only listings at $675k were 2 bed/1baths that were approximately 1,000 sq. ft. sitting on 5,000 sq. ft. lots. This listing represents a landslide change in Fashion Square.

You can read more about Fashion Square by clicking the "Fashion Square" and the "Kate in the Valley" links in the FAQ section to the right.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

There's a Neutra on the block!

3847 OAKFIELD DRIVE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

(MLS # F1740241)


Photo pending but here's the (error-filled) MLS description:

"Designed by richard j. Neutra, this two bedroom two bath home, floating high above beverly glen, still retains the footprint, bones and feel of the original design. Huge expanses of glass frame spectacular views, adding light and drama to the interior spaces. Revising finishes and fixtures will allow you to bring this home back to the purity of the original design or take it to the next level. "

So, clearly it's been sullied but maybe it can be restored. At $591/sq.ft. I think we'll see it come down a bit before it sells. Well, unless the pictures reveal something unexpected.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Going BK to stop foreclosures....

The WSJ reports that some California homeowners are attempting to fend off foreclosure by going BK.

"In recent months ... an increasing number of homeowners have filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 13, which staves off foreclosure proceedings while the homeowner works out a plan to pay off mortgage debt and other obligations over time -- usually three to five years. To qualify, debtors must have a regular income and must stay current on their new bills. About four in 10 filers today are filing under Chapter 13 -- up from three in 10 two years ago. The 2005 change in bankruptcy laws was designed in part to shift more filers to Chapter 13, which forgives less debt than Chapter 7."

How does this effect us potential buyers? My guess is: not at all. For one thing the people who have what it takes to undertake this course of action to save their homes are few and far between. Even assuming you could successfully undertake this endeavor, why would you want to retain a rapicly depreciating asset (an asset for which you dramatically overpaid)?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Are you effing kidding me? ARE YOU?!

4016 WOODMAN CANYON, Sherman Oaks
MLS #F1734470


Price Reduced: 12/06/07 -- $799k to $759k ( down 10.60 from original list)

Bedrooms: 2
Baths: 1
Square Feet: 864
Lot Size: 4,950 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1942
Listing Date: 09/13/07

The listing description is, well, how many ways can you say "ridiculous"? Here it is:

"At last an affordable house in a highly desirable area."

So, what is "affordable"? "At last"? I hope you are sitting down. $982 per square foot! Uh-huh. That's right. Oh sure, they've reduced.

Price reduced: 10/10/07 -- $849kto $829k
Price Reduced: 10/19/07 -- $829kto $799k (5.89% down)

Now it's a low low $924/sq.ft. And what does Zillow have to say about this? $582,711 Which is still $674 a sq. ft. but it would probably sell at that price.

I really want to fill the rest of this entry with expletives. But, you know, this is a family blog.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ugly (Hideous, really) Los Angelenos

I love L.A. and blah blah blah. But sometimes, even I have to admit that there is something fundamentally wrong with a large percentage of my people. So, without further ado, let me share with you a conversation that illuminates my point:

Me: Hey, that's actually my driveway, it's private property. Please don't park there in the future.

Girl: It's not blocking the driveway. You can get around.

Me: It's not a parking place. And you weren't even coming here -- you went next door.

Girl: What about that car parked right there?

Me: That car is in an actual parking place and it belongs to somebody who lives here. Just don't park there. Next time I'll have you towed. There's a sign right there that says you'll be towed.

Girl: I was only here for 30 minutes.

Me: Just don't park there again.

Girl: You know, you could've asked me more nicely.

Me: What?! You know what was nice? Not having you towed!

Girl: You still could've asked me nicely as well. You obviously have a miserable life!

Yes. It must be that my life is so miserable. Why else would anybody dare criticize a perfectly charming creature such as yourself? It couldn't possibly be the case that you are so self-important and self-absorbed that you feel you are entitled to park in what is very obviously the driveway of somebody you don't know and are not visiting just so that you don't have to walk fifty yards. And, despite your bold decision to trespass, you feel further entitled to defend your actions, refrain from apologizing, and express your discontent for not being treated like the Queen of England.

What was I thinking? It is my privilege and honor to accommodate your every need. Please, park your Nissan wherever you see fit! Handicap spot? No problem! Fire hydrant? You are more important than any public emergency! You are indeed the very center of this universe.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The "Auction" House...

UPDATE: Check out the comments. Apparently this whole "auction" gimmick is going on in Manhattan Beach too.

I'm just back from visiting the "auction" house on Valleyheart. I have quoted the word auction because, as it turns out, it's not really an auction. Yeah. It's a cheap gimmick.

Despite the fact that it says: "Will be sold to bidder with best reasonable offer" they are reserving the right to pull it back if they don't think any offers are "reasonable." I say: if you are opening up the bidding at $589k, anything over that is "reasonable." They disagree and say they will pull back. But! Let's not forget they took out an ad that was phrased much less conservatively. It said in the paper that the home WILL BE SOLD to the highest bidder. And, this being Los Angeles and all, I wouldn't be too surprised if somebody sued.

Anyhoo, so far, their highest bid is $605k (recall that the last sale was at $600k). I doubt it will go higher than that because why bother bidding if they aren't necessarily selling. Ridiculous.

Also, I love that they printed out all these "comps" that are not comparable in any sense of the word. This is a two bedroom house, yet every other sale they present to you as comparable is a three bedroom house.

The house itself is right across the street from the 101. It is very loud despite a large and obvious sound wall. The neighborhood itself is confused. It's a mix of older not very well maintained tract houses with 1970's model RVs parked out front and McMansions. Basically, this aging freeway adjacent neighborhood got hit by gold diggers during the boom and they've all packed up and left the neighborhood with one foot in each world.

14749 VALLEYHEART DRIVE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Friday, October 05, 2007

Hi, Sugar!

So how've you been? Gosh, seems like it's been forever since we talked. But, you know... I mentioned the whole new job thing? Yeah, well, it turns out that there is actual working involved. Which really really cuts into my whole blogging gig. Like bad. I guess what I'm trying to say here is: we need to talk.

I know that every single day you want to know what houses have been reduced and which Realtors are calling me to conspire about crime and I really want to tell you. I do! But I just can't keep meeting you here everyday. I'm really sad about this but I hope you believe me when I say: it's not you, it's me.

Don't leave angry. Hey! Don't act like you've played no part in this. I know you've been reading other blogs. I didn't want to say anything but how could you think I wouldn't notice all those comments you leave around for me to find? Do you think I'm blind? That I can't read? When you cut me do I not bleed?!

Dammit. I promised myself it wouldn't come to this. Let's not place blame. Okay? I still hope we can see each other on weekends and maybe a couple of times a week. We just need to take a little bit of space. I think it'll be good for us. And when we are together, it won't be like before, it'll be Quality Time.

Come here. Let's hug it out.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Juicy gossip!

Suzie La Snitch (not her real name) tells me the home at 5224 Nagle Ave (91401) will be foreclosed on sometime next month.

The details:
  • Single family
  • 5 beds
  • 3.0 bath
  • 2,557 sqft
  • Lot 5,580 sqft (so, not too much yard here)
  • Built in 1961
This home was purchased 0n 8/13/04 for $719k (thanks PropertyShark!). According to Ms. La Snitch, there is an outstanding debt of $1.15M! The Zestimate for this house is $913,167. Suzie says the listing was cancelled by the agent because the seller refused the reduce the home below $995k and preferred to have the home foreclosured upon - possibly for tax reasons. The home was on the market approximately 4 months. It appears the seller abandoned the home recently.

Open House Report (September 30)

4734 NORWICH AVENUE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(MLS # F1735844)
Priced at $819k
UPDATE: Price Reduced: 10/02/07 -- $819k to $799k

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 1.75
Square Feet: 1,273
Lot Size: 6,750 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1948
Listing Date: 09/22/07
Last Sale: 06/15/05
Sales Price: $535,000
Zestimate $687,571

This house has been tastefully remodeled. It's ideally sized for a couple, especially a couple who want a turnkey house. This is a highly desirable neighborhood and this home would've sold at this price maybe six months ago. Today, I think they would have to price closer to $750k (due mainly to the small square footage) if they really want to sell.

4702 HALBRENT AVENUE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(MLS # F1735558)
Priced at $959k

Bedrooms: 2
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,967
Lot Size: 7,800 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1941
Listing Date: 09/17/07
Last Sale: 04/23/86
Sales Price: $226,000
Zestimate $905,442

There is simply no way on God's green Earth that this house will sell for $959k. It's has an overwhelming patchwork hodgepodge feeling to it. It has no emotional appeal. If I had to pick one word to describe this house (and overpriced could not be the one) I'd go with: Blah. There's just nothing special here and the price is outrageous.

13953 HARTSOOK STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(MLS # F1725799)
Price Reduced: 08/23/07 -- $779,000 to $729,000
Price Reduced: 09/12/07 -- $729,000 to $669,000

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 1.5
Square Feet: 1,522
Lot Size: 6,712 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1952
Listing Date: 07/21/07

This house has a great layout with a nice yard and at $669k it's a bit of a bargain. It needs a total face lift -- but it's not as though you'd have to move walls, IMHO. There's wallpaper everywhere and wall to wall rust shag carpet (covering the original hardwoods which looked to me like they could be restored). Back in January, I would've thought long and hard about bidding but I believe this house will further depreciate in coming years and there will be no shortage of listings like this in 2008.

4606 VARNA AVENUE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(MLS # F1735911)
Priced at $889k

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,929
Lot Size: 7,011 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1951
Listing Date: 09/23/07
Last Sale: 04/23/96
Sales Price: $275,000
Zestimate $866,217

It's a pretty house. The bedrooms are a bit small and the house is placed pretty far back on the lot (the garage and drive take up a big chunk of the front) such that the back yard is not maximized. The kitchen is a bit dated. I felt like, once again, this house was priced for six months ago. Expect to see some reduction.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

People! Our first auction!

Well, at least it's the first auction that I am aware of here in Sherman Oaks. You might remember that I wrote about this house a little while ago because I thought it was funny that they were touting this house as the "best deal on the street." Well, I take it all back because now it might very well be the best deal on the street.

I just read the (cap-happy) ad in the Times. I have reprinted it below for your convenience.

"AUCTION! By Owner! 2+2, 1,754 sf, Huge Yard, Rock Pool, Firepit, Spa, Ex-Lg Master, Opening Bid $589,000. Inspections Sat-Sun 10/6 - 10/7 Noon-5PM. Home To Be Sold Sunday Night to Highest Bidder"

14749 VALLEYHEART DRIVE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

I have to say that $589k is a great price for this home today and if for some reason you have to buy a house today (I can't think of why that would be, but nevertheless) then this might be the one for you. Personally, I think this home will be less than $589k in the not-too-distant future so I won't be bidding despite the fact that I would have lost my mind over this last January.

I do have some questions about this, however. Like: if it's "by owner" does that mean that there are no agent commissions paid? Also, if the highest bid is $589k will they sell it at that price? If the highest bidder cannot close, will they move on to the next bidder in line? Hmmm.

Anyhoo, here's the rest of the property details:

MLS #: F1735357
Bedrooms: 2
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,914 (NOTE: different from that listed in ad)
Lot Size: 7,910 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1945
Listing Date: 09/19/07
List Price: $889k
Last Sale: 05/17/04
Sales Price: $600,000
Zestimate $851,857

Friday, September 28, 2007

Yeah, right.

Sorry for the paucity of posts this week, Gang. But I've been otherwise occupied with a new job.
But enough about me, let's talk about sellers.

Today, I received a comment on my post: "Oddity on Sunswept." That's a post about a house that is listed for $750k despite the fact that it was last purchased at $2M. The MLS description indicates geological damage.

The commenter just wants us to know that he spent a lot of money on a geological survey, and he personally inspected the home, and that even with repairs the home is priced about $400k below market. Despite his incredible investment of time and money, and despite his determination that this property is a great deal, he does not appear to be buying this home. Gosh, I wonder why he wanted to let us all know what a great deal it is? Could it be that he is, in fact, the seller?

UPDATE: He came back to let me know that he is bidding! On this great bargain! Wow! How generous of him to share this tip with us when he is bidding himself!

Excuse me while I laugh 'til it hurts.

Check out the comments on "Oddity on Sunswept" for yourself.


Monday, September 24, 2007

It's baaaaaack! (On Ben Ave.)

Y'all remember that house at 4555 Ben Ave.? (Click link for prior post). It last sold on 7/28/06 for $650k. The owner (who is himself a Realtor) did what looked like a lot of work: new kitchen, new roof, new electrical panel, new bath. He listed the house in October and it sat on the market for about a year priced at $749k. Finally, it went inactive but no sale was recorded.

Well, today, it's listed for $685k (MLS # F1735887). That may cover purchase price and repairs but unless he paid all cash, he's lost a year of carrying costs. Not to mention the 2.5% commission to the buyer's agent. Not exactly a good investment, eh?

BTW, $685k would've been a great price 6 months ago. But today? It should've been priced at $650k. IMHO.

Friday, September 21, 2007

MLS Description of the Week!

14749 VALLEYHEART DRIVE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(MLS # F1735357)

Bedrooms: 2
Full Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,914
Lot Size: 7,910 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1945
Listing Date: 09/19/07
List price: $789k ($412/sq/ft)
Last sale: 05/17/04 at $600k
Zestimate $851,857

"This is the best deal on a street with mulitple [sic] million dollar homes..."

The "best" deal? Really? What about the house at 15033 Valleyheart that is priced at $285/sq.ft. (MLS # F1726037). Wouldn't that, technically, be a better deal? Or what about 14725 Valleyheart (MLS # F1721215). That home is priced at a mere $338/ sq. ft. and the lot is bigger. I'd say that's a better deal for sure. But let's get back to that description, shall we?

"This is the time to buy homes with great value and low lis [sic] price...."

SNARF! Did you seriously just say this is the time to buy? Okay, let's get beyond that. Where is this "great value and low lis [sic] price" of which you speak? Because it's not here. I know that much.

"Its [sic] guaranteed to sell, be the first to snatch it up. Good luck [sic]"

Interesting. So you guarantee it, eh? What price do you guarantee, exactly? And, I hate to be nit picky, but technically only one person can "snatch it up." It's not like there could be a second or third person who "snatches it up."

Oh and, hey, good luck to you too! I'm fairly confident you'll be needing it. Also: only four typos! Nice work.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What is it about people on Noble?

You may remember a house I wrote about a while back at 4421 Noble. I was astonished that the seller wanted $150k more than she paid after holding the house for approximately six months and despite the fact that there had been no increase to square footage or other identifiable upgrades. The house has since reduced by $80k (and has been sitting on the market for over two and a half months).

Well, now there's company. The people at 4357 Noble want to sell their house too. This tiny 2 bed/1 bath home has a Zestimate of $672,218. The list price, however, is a whopping $899k. The MLS description reads: "The kitchen is authentic 1948." Gee, I wonder why there's no photo of it? Anyhoo, if they can't sell the 3 bed/1.5 bath up the street for $769k, I doubt very much that anybody is going to pay a whopping $899k for this.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Here we go again (On Greenleaf)

UPDATE: What do you know? The house went inactive today (9/21). Shocking.

Well, it looks like 14629 Greenleaf Street (MLS # F1705215) is about to go inactive. How do I know? Well, it had the telltale price increase this week.

Price Reduced: 04/03/07 -- $1,185,000 to $1,149,000
Price Reduced: 05/01/07 -- $1,149,000 to $1,095,000
Price Reduced: 07/06/07 -- $1,095,000 to $1,039,000
Price Reduced: 08/15/07 -- $1,039,000 to $999,000
Price Increased: 09/18/07 -- $999,000 to $1,185,000

Hopefully the banks and appraisers are saying no to this crap these days. We'll see.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

MLS Porn (On June St.)

Y'all know I love me this Valley. But, once upon a time, I lived in Hancock Park in a dreamy apartment on N. Sycamore Drive near Beverly. So, as it turns out, I love me some Hancock Park too. And perhaps my favorite street in all of Los Angeles is June Street.

If you've never been to June Street, I recommend that you go over there and walk down it. Have lunch over at Larchmont Village, make a day of it. Here's a sample but you need to see this neighborhood in person (lest you think this is just a good McMansion). I assure you, these are no McMansions. These are the real thing.

121 N JUNE ST, Los Angeles, CA 90004
(MLS # 07_209481)
Zestimate $5,332,743
Price Reduced: 09/15/07 -- $5.675M to $5.395M

Monday, September 17, 2007

SNARF! Another "Celebrity" house.

4302 TEESDALE AVENUE, Studio City, CA 91604
(MLS # F1728895)

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,717
Lot Size: 6,433 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1939
Listing Date: 08/10/07
Zestimate $925,768

Okay, sit down. Are you sitting? Here's the list price: $1.499M!!!!!! That's $874/sq.ft. for this fine home that was updated whenever this kitchen was last in style. 1963, maybe?

I honestly don't know how this home escaped my attention for this long. Check out the den:

Fantastic blue carpet, n'est pas? Anyhoo, this listing, like some of my other favorites, is advertised as "celebrity owned." According to Property Shark, a man named Salkin owns it. IMDB does not know anybody named Stephen Salkin and neither do I. So much for the celebrity factor. Well, hold up, this could be him.

  • $1.5M! And pass me that crack pipe!
  • I'm with Zillow, $925k
  • It's a great neighborhood, but anything over $750k is wacked.
  • For 1,700 sq. ft. I wouldn't go over $650k.
  • Less than $300k. I'm totally convinced it's the end of the world as we know it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Win This House!

UPDATE: For the record, I am not advertising this raffle. I am reporting that I received a mail advertisement and discussing the rules that I reviewed for the raffle. I am in no way affiliated with this raffle or it's sponsor.

I got a post card from these people this weekend. For $150 you can buy a raffle ticket to win this allegedly million dollar house at 6967 Sale Street in West Hills. West Hills used to be called Canoga Park but they changed the name once Canoga Park was named the Pornography Capital of the World. Actually, I think it was second to Tokyo. But I digress...

The proceeds of the raffle will go to Kadima Academy. If you don't want the house you can get $800k, according to the official rules. They are only selling 18,000 tickets.

BE WARNED: "A minimum of 15,000 raffle tickets must be sold by the ticket sales deadline in order for the Grand Prize Winner to have the choice of the home or the alternative cash prize. If fewer than 15,000 raffle tickets are sold the raffle will be held as scheduled and all final drawing cash prizes will be awarded; however, the Grand Prize will not be the home or the alternative cash amount advertised."

Also key to note: "Kadima Hebrew Academy and the seller of the home do not make any guarantee, agreement, representation, or warranty as to the value of the home, or that the recipient(s) of the home will be able to sell it for any certain price, including without limitation its initial list price or taxable value, or within any given time period."

You can read the whole thing yourself here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Phase Two Freeze in Playa Vista!

Thanks to Reader Cass for this gem:

"City of Santa Monica, Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, Anthony Morales, and Surfrider Foundation (collectively Petitioners) and Ballona Ecosystem Education Project (BEEP) challenge the certification by City of Los Angeles (City) of an environmental impact report (EIR) and the City’s approval of phase two of the Playa Vista development project ... with respect to historical archaeological resources, methane gas, wastewater, transportation, and alternatives to the project... We conclude that the EIR was deficient in its analysis of land use impacts, mitigation of impacts on historical archaeological resources, and wastewater impacts. We therefore reverse the judgment with directions to the superior court to issue a peremptory writ of mandate ordering the City to vacate its certification of the EIR and its project approvals and make appropriate revisions to the EIR."

(Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BS093502)

Oddity on Sunswept

3615 SUNSWEPT DRIVE, Studio City, CA 91604
(MLS # F1734407)

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 4
Square Feet: 3,276
Lot Size: 12,630 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1970
Listing Date: 09/12/07

"Reo [sic] bank owned property south [sic] of the blvd.[sic] Lowest price [sic] home in the area. Spacious 3 bed + 3.5 bath home. Three levels of living with great views. Granite in kitchen and large tiled baths lower level has a separate entrance with living room and kitchenette. Central heat & air. Balconies on all levels. Multi-million dollar neighborhood. Fix and save! Caution walking on balconies"

Zestimate $2,190,905

So, what was the bank owed on this house? $1.688M.

But what is the list price? $750k. NOT A TYPO! And quite a haircut!

And yet the previous owner allegedly paid: $2.105M.

Here's the Property Shark details:

8/15/2007 $1,688,117: Trustee's Deed
Aztec Foreclosure to HSBC Bank Series

5/31/2006 $2,105,000: Grant Deed
Nakachian, Rouzanna to Kadaryan, Ruzanna

12/23/2004 $835,000: Grant Deed
Duff Trust to Nakachian, Rouzanna

12/19/1991 $210,000: Grant Deed
Duff Trust to Duff, John T Ii

So what the hell? That's a big house in an expensive neighborhood. Reader Ace (Hi!) tells us:

"There is a note for the agents that says 'Property may have geological problems- buyer to be responsible for all inspections and reports'."

Ha! The house "MAY" have geological problems? Gee, ya think maybe that's why the bank is willing to take a nearly three-quarter of a million dollar haircut right off the bat? Possibly?

Melissa Data Sales Chart

For those of you who emailed, here is the chart of historical August sale prices from Melissa Data (click to enlarge). states that these are "average prices" taken from the County Recorder's Office. I do not have additional information on their methods at this time but if and when I secure it, I will post.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sales volumes are down! But by how much?

UPDATE: Reader Cal informs me (see comments) that when DataQuick quotes year-over-year in a press release they re-run the prior year's numbers under the current methodology. However, they do not go back and update press releases that were issued prior to the re-calculation. Thus, this information below is relevant when you are running your own numbers based on DataQuick historical data but not a factor when considering DataQuick's current releases with year-over-year stats.

Everyone is talking about how DataQuick's sale volume numbers are so scary low this August compared to last August. But have we forgotten that DataQuick changed their methodology last Januay? Yup! The numbers under the current DataQuick calculations actually come out higher than they used to. This is what DataQuick says about the new method of counting the number of sales:

To count as an "arm's-length" sale for our sales counts, the logic we've used insisted that there be a seller, a buyer, and that money changed hands. We've now expanded this to include transactions where there was a purchase loan if no price was apparent.

We're also now including multiple sales transactions. If three homes were bought in the same transaction, we now count them as three home sales, not one sale.

These changes increase monthly sales counts by an average of 10 percent. Intra-family transfers are not included, nor are foreclosures until a home is re-sold to a new buyer.

So the number of sales DataQuick now reports each month will be significantly higher than it would have been prior to January, 2007 and thus the decline is even worse than it appears to be at first glance. Check it out here.

Well, what do we have here? (On Laurelgrove)

4523 LAURELGROVE, Studio City, CA 91604
(MLS # F1715573)

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,744
Lot Size: 6,750 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1941
Listing Date: 05/19/07
On Market: 117 days
Price Reduced: 07/10/07 -- $995k to $950k
Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $950k to $899k
Price Increased: 08/25/07 -- $899k to $920k

So let me get this straight... this house sits on the market for three months with no sale. It gets reduced by 9.65%. Then, out of nowhere, it gets marked UP $21k and that magically causes it to go inactive. I don't know about you, but when I find out I can pay an extra $21k for a house... well! That's an offer I can't pass up. N'est pas? Can't wait for the details to show up on PropertyShark.

Update: According to Reader Ace, this house is off market without a sale and is currently a rental (see comment section).

Somebody is serious about selling... in Fashion Square.

13953 HARTSOOK STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(MLS # F1725799)

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 1.5
Square Feet: 1,522
Lot Size: 6,712 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1952
Listing Date: 07/21/07
Price Reduced: 08/23/07 -- $779k to $729k
Price Reduced: 09/12/07 -- $729k to $669k (Down 14.12%)
Zestimate $743,562

These are meaningful price reductions on a house that was not insanely priced to begin with. And before you push that comment button (!) I know you think everything is insanely priced right now. I'm just saying that this house was average priced for its neighborhood and has dropped fast; this appears to be a realistic seller. Who knows, it might set off another wave of reductions in this neighborhood.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This just in...

Countrywide laid off at least 20 people from its Calabasas office today. Legal department expecting layoffs in October.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

MLS Photo(s) of the Day

This is only funny because of the captions that the agent wrote. Please see below for the 100% unaltered photos and captions from a cute little house in Studio City.

Living Room by Day!

Living Room by Nite!

As if day and nite don't happen at other listings...

Yeah, good luck with that.

Here we have two very very average little houses that the current owners decided to list a mere 12 months after purchasing. Are they willing to take a hit for their mistake of buying a house and holding it for so short a period of time? No! Of course, not! They want you to pay the transaction costs for them. Well, let me be the first one to tell you two hopefuls: "Nope. Sorry. No breaking even for you!"

5327 WILLIS AVENUE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91411
(MLS # S504717)

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,128
Lot Size: 6,751 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1950
Listing Date: 09/08/07
List Price: $749k
Last Sale: 09/01/06 at $690k
Zestimate $733,627

5909 JELLICO AVENUE, Encino, CA 91316
(MLS # F1733689)

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,671
Lot Size: 5,619 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1949
Listing Date: 09/07/07
List Price: $749.5k
Last Sale: 08/22/06 at $690k
Zestimate $725,987

Likely to move.

Most of my posts are about ridiculous listings that I don't think will move. So, in fairness, I feel like I should feature a house that is likely to move quickly:

5115 WILKINSON AVENUE, Valley Village, CA 91607
(MLS # F1733703)

Bedrooms: 2
Full Baths: 1
Partial Baths: 0
Square Feet: 1,198
Lot Size: 7,349 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1947
Listing Date: 09/05/07
List Price: $665k
Zestimate $616,254

Why do I think it will move fast? First off, it's pretty cheap so there are more buyers who can afford it. Sure, it's a smaller house but it's on a nice sized lot. Despite the fact that it needs updating, the house appears to be well maintained (notice the new garage door) and if you go to the listing you'll see it has original wood floors that seem to be in good condition. People go nuts for original wood floors. It also has some curb appeal, a nice long covered front porch, and mature trees.

The only drawback, in my opinion, is that it's a bit close to a busy intersection (Whitsett and Magnolia) and Wilkinson is a through street. I don't think that matters to lots of people so it shouldn't affect the days on market much.

A few months ago, they'd have received offers by now so let's see how long it takes this little house to go inactive.