Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ethel Ave (Y2/M2/D28)

So I've been watching this little 2bd/2ba on Ethel Ave. It was listed on March 29 at $899k and I scoffed. HA! Do you hear me? I am laughing out loud! This home is only about 1,200 square feet.

Then, on June 1, they lowered to $869k. Still too much, but definitely more interesting.

Then, on June 23, they lowered to $799k! Which is a lot closer to the $725k that I would pay for this cute little house in a desirable neighborhood.

But THEN! It went off the market, I think today, June 28. So did the $799k work? Did the house magically sell exactly 90 days after listing? Or did the listing expire. Hmmmm.

UPDATE: The sign is still up so I figure that means the house is in escrow. It'll be interesting to see the sale price (in like 3 months when Zillow finally picks it up).

UPDATE THE SECOND: It's up on the MLS again.

UPDATE THE THIRD: Looks like that was just a duplicate MLS, it's officially inactive.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sweet! LA LAND! (Y2/M2/D26)

People! I have REALLY big news! Are you sitting down? Oh. Of course you are. Who stands up and reads their computer? But I digress, NEWS!

I am officially a celebrity guest blogger on the L.A. Times real-estate blog: LA Land. When I told my dearest friend in San Diego about this, she said to me: "What makes you a celebrity?" She really knows how to take the wind out of my sails. But, alas, she is right. I am merely a plain-old guest blogger. But I am still pretty excited about it. Because: YAY!

Also, you should know that I will not be using my real name or E's real name. I will be Kate in the Valley and E with be Mr. Kate in the Valley. I know, I know, how did I ever think of such creative names? El Sid, however, will go by her real name because that's how she rolls.

And, yes, I am concerned that now I am one of those people who sign up for a reality show thinking that she will be the first person in history to NOT make a complete and total fool of herself. But I solemnly swear to you, Gentle Readers, I will not throw a tantrum backstage and get hauled off by security. Not even during sweeps week.

Photo source.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Cash-Back-At-Close Scheme (Y2/M2/D22)

Price Reduced: 07/06/07 -- $825k to $775k
Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $775k to $759k
Price Reduced: 09/04/07 -- $759k to $749k (down 9.21%)

UPDATE THE SECOND: The MLS description was changed 7/13/07 to read: "
motivated sellers! New commission 2.75% yes 2.75% "

Well, it looks like the tides might be starting to turn on the housing front. Today I got a call from a real estate agent following up on her open house that I attended. I am actually kind of flooded with these calls now but this one was different. Here's a rough transcript:

Agent: Hi Kate! This is Agent. Remember the house you saw in Sherman Oaks on Sunday?

Me: I saw lots of houses Sunday....

Agent: Oh, of course! Well this one was priced at $825k and we had a long talk about how you thought it was worth closer to $725k?

Me: Oh yes, the one that needed a new kitchen? In Sherman Oaks?

Agent: Yes! Well, would you consider maybe $760k?

Me: Honestly I've been down this road before and I prefer that there be a price reduction before a I write my offer.

Agent: Well, they already have one offer but I happen to know that the prospective buyer has made an offer on another bank-owned foreclosure property.

Me: . . .

Agent: So would you be willing to write an offer at $760k?

Me: But I already told you I don't think the property is worth that so...

Agent: Well, I could get the house appraised at $800k and you could get cash back you know for your closing costs or whatever and ....

Me: Let me make sure I understand you.

Agent: Okay.

Me: You want me to write an offer for $800k on your listing?

Agent: Yes. But you will get cash back so it will only be $760k and ...

Me: Let me finish.

Agent: Okay.

Me: You want me to write an offer for $800k, and take back about $40k, so I am giving the seller only $760k.

Agent: Yes! Yes!

Me: But I pay 5% commission on that higher sales price?

Agent: Well... yes but you are getting cash back for your closing costs and improvements...

Me: Again, I am paying 5% commission on $800k instead of $760k, and my property tax basis will be $800k instead of $760k?

Agent: Well, the property tax is only 1.25%

Me: Every year.

Agent: Right.

Me: Okay, so I am paying higher commissions on the sale and higher taxes every single year, for the privilege of getting a $40k loan?

Agent: ....

Me: Why would I do that? I have good credit and I do not need a loan. Also, I think it's a fraud on the market.

Agent: It's not fraud. Let me tell you how it works!

Me: Trust me, I know how it works:

You get a bigger commission and you get to delay the inevitable price crash in your little pocket neighborhood. The sales data for the area will reflect artificially high prices so honest people with decent incomes and good credit scores who used to be able to afford the area no longer can. And what do I get? A $40k loan that I don't want or need. As a bonus, I will not only pay interest on this wholly unnecessary $40k loan but I will pay an additional $2,000 sales commission to you and my agent up front because that $40k is being treated like purchase money. But that's not all! No! I will also have to pay an additional $500 in property taxes every year I own the house because the records will reflect an artifically high purchase price.

Agent: ....

Me: Call me if the seller lowers the price.

Agent: Okay, when do you want to see the house again? Friday? Does that work for you?

Me: Are they lowering the price on Friday?

Agent: No.

Me: ...

Agent: Hello?

Me: I'm sorry. I'm really busy. I have to go.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


After twenty some years, I finally got to see The Police live. And it was pretty great. E saw them last when he was 12, needless to say, he was pretty excited.

The best part was: no new songs! The worst part was that Sting re-worked every single song. And not always for the better. Really just for the fancier. But I have to admit that Wrapped Around Your Finger was really impressive. It was not a song that I thought needed improving and yet it was really brilliant in this new take.

Stewart Copeland is still amazing. At one point he was tapping away with his left hand and then decided he needed something that was maybe behind him and so his whole body is clearly engaged in some other activity but not that left hand. And pretty soon the beat changed and now his right hand was at it too but he is not done looking around and it becomes completely obvious that percussion requires virtually not thought or attention from him. For me, not so much. I cannot tap out the most simple rhythm without sticking out my tongue and squinting one eye and still I don't get it right. Alas, that is why I have chosen the correct (non-musical) profession.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Super Glam Pad (Y2/M3/D4)

So I've had my eye on this house that is in a tony Valley neighborhood for a couple of months. It was reasonably priced at less than a million even though it is a smaller home. The few posted photos looked lovely and I wasn't sure why it hasn't sold. I haven't gone out to see it personally because, while reasonably priced, it is still out of my price range. Recently, 21 pictures were uploaded -- apparently to stimulate interest in the property. And I have to say, I am more interested now than ever. Also, questions.

First, that is one fancy-pants green vinyl bar, n'cest pas? I like that the bar top has a matching upholstered bumper so that, lest you toss back one too many, your noggin will not get bruised should you lose consciousness and slump forward unexpectedly. I like that there are rows and rows of liquor on those built-in shelves and I wonder if there is some Creme de Menthe or Kahlua in there that is older than I am. I wonder if that giant orange plush ottoman is available for purchase with the home. And, is that an oil painting of Carmine Miranda hanging on the far side of the bar? I think it is and I think I love it.

This shot of the bed/dressing room makes it clear that the current owner of this home is very glamorous. I do wonder why there are two chairs at the vanity, though. Sisters, maybe? I like that there is a writing desk nearby because that seems like the logical place to contend with one's fan mail. And if you look closely in the mirror, you can see a fainting couch (possibly floral) on the far wall.

I don't think you can walk into a house like this in just any town I am pretty sure you need to be in the Valley. Man, I love me the Valley.

We bid on another house. But at least I bought some nail polish. Heh. (Y2/M3/D4)

E and I took a fun trip to DC but I haven't gotten around to uploading the pictures yet (stay tuned). And also, we are bidding on YET ANOTHER house. This time the seller has "ideas" about how to sell a house much to his Realtor's (and our) dismay. The "idea" that is currently annoying me is that he is just holding on to our offer for days and days to try to stir up a bidding war. I will pull my offer in 24 hours if he doesn't cut the crap. Good lord, I know how to pick 'em. But E really likes that this house is less than one mile from where we live now and I like that it's a big lot and no walls need to be moved. But it's not like there's any shortage of houses for sale so I'm going to give him 24 hours to accept the offer as is.

UPDATE: The offer expired. Shockingly, this little 2bed/1.5bath on Varna Ave went for $745k (despite the fact that both bathrooms were incomplete, the kitchen was in a total shambles and the back half of the house had no flooring).

But MOST importantly people, I have secured a bottle of Heat Wave nail polish. I'm still looking for a bottle of Orange Blossom (if you see one, even a tester, grab it for me!). I know it may seem odd that anybody could care enough about one color of nail polish to scour the Internet for days obsessively ... especially when Somebody's boyfriend wouldn't notice if Somebody's toe nails fell clean off ... but I do and it is what it is.