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.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Did y'all know that the IFC has sitcoms? I, for one, did not. At least not until yesterday when I discovered my new favorite show: The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman.

If you don't currently get IFC then you need to call your cable provider pronto (and lord help you if it's Time Warner). Meanwhile, you can check out the video clips here. And then try and tell me that Kightlinger's Jackie doesn't remind you of Jayne Russell's Dorothy Shaw in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Well, get to it then. Nothing to see here.

Drop it likes it's hot! (On Magnolia)

14030 MAGNOLIA BOULEVARD, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
( MLS #: F1718339)

Last Sale: 05/22/06 at $840k
Zestimate $894,030
Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,732
Lot Size: 5,970 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1956
Listing Date: 06/05/07
Price Reduced: 07/18/07 -- $699k to $675k
Price Reduced: 08/17/07 -- $675k to $625k
Price Reduced: 09/01/07 -- $625k to $599k

Year over year loss: $241, 000
or 28.69% (assuming sale at current list; not including transaction or carrying costs and improvements, if any)

Just up the road:

14335 MAGNOLIA BOULEVARD, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(MLS #F1721525)

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,345
Lot Size: 3,794 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1947
Listing Date: 06/26/07
List Price: $615k
Last Sale: 10/05/06 at $665k
Zestimate $724,835

Year over year loss: $50k or 7.52% (assuming sale at current list; not including transaction or carrying costs and improvements, if any)

Anybody wanna live on Greenleaf?

Greenleaf is a nice little street that runs through Sherman Oaks two blocks South of Ventura Blvd. It currently has quite a few homes for sale at an average list price per sq. ft. of $512.54. (Note: There is one listing on Greenleaf in Studio City which is omitted because of location).

14322 GREENLEAF STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(MLS #: F1731192)
$522.58/sq. ft.

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 3.5
Square Feet: 1,816
Lot Size: 7,920 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1940
Listing Date: 09/07/07
List Price: $949k
Last Sale: 05/28/93 at $361k
Zestimate $940,109

14571 GREENLEAF STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(MLS #: F1728975)

Bedrooms: 6
Baths: 5.5
Square Feet: 4,340
Lot Size: 6,800 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1928 (!) Obviously redone since.
Listing Date: 08/10/07
List Price: $1.895M
Last Sale: 08/18/04 at $750k
Zestimate $1,111,543

14629 GREENLEAF STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(MLS #: F1705215)
$504.80/sq. ft.

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 1.5
Square Feet: 1,979
Lot Size: 7,040 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1939
Listing Date: 03/21/07
Price Reduced: 04/03/07 -- $1.185M to $1.149M
Price Reduced: 05/01/07 -- $1.149M to $1.095M
Price Reduced: 07/06/07 -- $1.095M to $1.039M
Price Reduced: 08/15/07 -- $1.039M to $999k (15.70% down)
Last Sale: 03/15/02 at $499k
Zestimate $941,816

14722 GREENLEAF STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(MLS #: F1727234)

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,544
Lot Size: 10,750 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1924
Listing Date: 07/31/07
Price Reduced: 08/16/07 -- $997.5k to $957k (4.06% down)
Last Sale: 02/26/98 $370k
Zestimate $912,068

14859 GREENLEAF, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(MLS #: F1718469)

Bedrooms: 4
Baths: 3
Square Feet: 3,200
Lot Size: 10,750 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1933
Listing Date: 06/06/07
Price Reduced: 06/26/07 -- $1.599M to $1.499M
Price Reduced: 08/26/07 -- $1.499M to $1.399M (12.51% down)
Last Sale: 06/18/04 at $800k
Zestimate $1,227,085

15350 GREENLEAF STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(MLS #: F1733554)

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,569
Lot Size: 5,630 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1952
Listing Date: 09/07/07
List Price: $819k
Last Sale: 12/16/93 at $222,363
Zestimate $761,580

15424 GREENLEAF STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(MLS #: F1730830)

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 1.5
Square Feet: 2,313
Lot Size: 8,000 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1954
Listing Date: 08/21/07
List Price: $1.2M
Last Sale: 08/28/00 at $510k
Zestimate $1,081,795

15425 GREENLEAF STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(MLS #: F1723045)

Bedrooms: 4
Baths: 3.5
Square Feet: 3,030
Lot Size: 10,730 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1941
Listing Date: 07/06/07
Price Reduced: 09/05/07 -- $1.679M to $1.599M (down 4.76%)
Last Sale: 10/21/03 at $665k
Zestimate $1,480,407

15430 GREENLEAF STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(MLS #: F1725493)

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 2,100
Lot Size: 8,807 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1941
Listing Date: 07/20/07
List Price: $1.099M
*NOTE: Zillow had this listing for sale at $1.195M since 04/23/07
Last Sale: 07/28/98 at $438k
Zestimate $985,465

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Playa Vista (for Cass!)

Yesterday E and I went out to Playa Vista to check out all the model homes there. I have to say it is a nice development. The model homes at Icon are particularly stunning. Seriously, I've seen lots and lots of model homes and these are really impressive. You will not be getting any yard but you will be getting between 3,200 and 3,700 sq. ft. and they are detached residences. What will you pay for this? Oh... anywhere from $1.77M to $1.969M. Uh-huh.

There's no ocean view. There's no proximity to the studios. I already mentioned that there's no yard. Why the hell would you pay nearly $2m to live here? WHY?! They appear to have sold about 25%. The models are sold and the builder is leasing them back to the owners. So somebody seems to think it's worth it. Personally, I can't figure it out. Is this maybe an easy commute to downtown?

I also saw the models at Coronado. Their townhouses are priced between $594k (for 1,130 sq. ft.) and $926k (for 2,249 sq. ft). Seems like a bargain compared to Icon, no? But there is a huge difference in quality between the two developments. Not that Coronado is bad, it's certainly not. It's just not as big and not upgraded with hand-hewn exotic wood floors, imported marble, and so forth.

I find it hard to believe that either of these developments will be able to sustain this kind of pricing for long.

Open House Report (September 9)

13553 CONTOUR DRIVE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(MLS # F1722523)
Price Reduced: 07/12/07 -- $1.025M to $950k
Price Reduced: 09/05/07 -- $950k to $895k
Zestimate $879,349

This 2,300 sq. ft. house has 3 beds and 3.5 baths. It needs some cosmetic work inside (the bathrooms are carpeted -- ee-yew) and it's definitely a quirky layout. When you come in the front door there are two bedrooms then you go downstairs to the kitchen and main living area. There's a nice little yard and pretty views. Compared to the other listings on the street, this is a bargain.

13059 DICKENS STREET, Studio City, CA 91604

This is a real cosmetic fixer in Longridge Estates at $1.025M. Zestimate $1,018,171 And it's already sold at list. This is a probate sale that requires court confirmation so you can still go and bid. And frankly, I suspect a flipper has the current bid (because it came in within hours of the listing going up) so it might be back on the market. It's a beautiful street and the house is fairly well maintained it's just dated. Really really dated. There's wallpaper everywhere in huge graphic prints and primary colors. Pink shag carpets. The whole nine yards.

3253 LONGRIDGE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(MLS # F1731648

Price Reduced: 09/18/07 -- $1.390M to $1.249M
Price Reduced: 11/02/07 -- $1.249M to $1.150M
Price Reduced:12/26/07 -- $1.150M to $995k (down 28.42%!)

This 6 bed/4 bath house is priced at $1.39M Zestimate $2,088,389. It's another fixer -- this one appears to have been a groovy seventies bachelor's pad. The lot sports really fabulous views and it's a very private location. The pool is smaller but I think it's ideally sized for the lot and you can see the whole valley from it. While the lot is huge ( 28,500 Sq. Ft.) it's mostly hillside but the flat part of the lot is maximized. I can't tell whether this is a great price or not -- it'll be interesting to see if it moves.

3867 RHODES AVENUE, Studio City, CA 91604
(MLS # F1723986

Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $1,049,000 to $1,029,000
Zestimate $1,232,032

While this lot is huge ( 21,180 Sq. Ft.) it's all hillside. The usable yard is tiny. And the house is tiny too. While it's advertised as a 3 bed/2 bath it's really a 2 bed and it's 1,360 sq. ft. Which puts this house at $757/sq.ft. though the agent reports that it will be reduced to $989k shortly. The sellers paid $965k back in 2005 so it looks like this may be a bit of a loss situation. Indeed, this house has an interesting sales history:

09/24/2003: $719,000
05/02/2003: $519,000

I have to say that $519k seems about right to me. If this house sells for more than $725k I'll be very very surprised.

(MLS # B2100132)

Price Reduced: 04/19/07 -- $1.199M to $1.149M
Price Reduced: 06/04/07 -- $1.149M to $1.129M
Price Reduced: 08/03/07 -- $1.099m to $1.079M (down 10.01%)

Zestimate $896,659

They just bought this house a year ago for $849k and now they want another $230k (in fairness, the house does appear to have had some remodeling). This 3 bed/2 bath home is about 2,000 sq. ft. on a 7,723 sq. ft lot. The original bedrooms and closets are just as tiny as you'd expect in a 1940's ranch. The bathroom and kitchen are tastefully redone. The problem with this property (other than the price) is the two stables that take up a lot of the yard; they should probably be torn out. It made me sad to think of two horses living all day long in those dark little stables. And I'm not sure where you would even take the horses for exercise -- apparently along the dirt path that follows the wash? Not very pretty. Long story short, this doesn't feel at all like a million dollar house -- watch for more price cuts.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Linkage and Whatnot

One Realtor who hates Freakonomics. He's all fired up over being compared to the Klan. Whatever, Buddy, you didn't see me freaking out when they made The Devil's Advocate.

Sick of going to open houses? Check out the Greek Fest this weekend instead. I'd tell you to go to the County Fair but this is opening weekend and with their "Deep-Fried-Everything-On-A-Stick" theme it'll be jam packed. Seriously, you should click on this link and type in "fried" to see all the fried food offered at the fair this year-- it's amazing. I've had the fried olives and they are spectacular but I'm really looking forward to fried Coke. The Deep Fried Elvis, on the other hand, scares me. But I'm sure E will try it.

The WSJ Real Estate Journal has an interesting piece on whether it's a good time to buy a house. (Hint: probably not.)

From the NYT, a couple who are bound to turn violent on each other: "... their entire one-bedroom apartment measures about 200 square feet, including the bathroom, the separate bedroom and the huge 19th-century fireplace that they occasionally use for roasting marshmallows."

Thanks Richard!

UPDATE: These numbers are from the SoCal MLS and vary dramatically from those reported at Melissa Data which are drawn from the County Recorder's Office. I believe the SoCal MLS numbers reflect all homes off market after a purchase offer is accepted (e.g. do not reflect canceled sales) whereas Melissa Data only shows closed sales. Feel free to offer more insight in the comment section. Thanks!

These stats are for the month of August and were compiled and presented by Richard Johnson of RE/MAX OTB Estates (OTB = On The Boulevard for those of you who live outside this majestic Valley). You can reach him at: 818-730-4128.

He reports that: "The four highest selling cities are: Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Toluca lake & Encino. The worst selling city is Van Nuys." No shocker there, but Burbank is doing better than I suspected. Maybe because there were some pretty dramatic decreases in Magnolia Park.

Also, Richard built this cool site that makes it easy to search for foreclosed properties. Check it out.

And, in case you are wondering, I have never ever met Richard he just sent me some emails with his stuff. If you're a Realtor too, and want me to look at your sites or widgets, feel free to email me at the address on the bottom of this page. But, be warned, I won't post something just because you send it in and it's possible that I will post an unfavorable review.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Incentives are one thing, discrimination is another.

So, I was reading Curbed LA this morning and they featured this house for sale with a houseboy thrown in as an incentive. The ad reads: "Tell A Friend About The Ultimate Gay Man's House - Complete With Free Houseboy!" And:

".... this gorgeous houseboy to reduce the stress ... grills up a mean hot-dog, is fun to hang out with, and gives a great massage! He will be there for you to do ... whatever you need done."

First off, why hot dogs? Why not steaks? Hmmm, what could they be suggesting? Also, thanks for including a photo of his feet. But why not include photos of him popping balloons? Wearing a ball gag? Covered in latex? Dressed like a pony?

Anyhoo, where I come from, that's called prostitution. Also, it's illegal. Of course, you are paying for his time. Anything else that might happens is purely between two consenting adults. Right? Whatever.

What really gets me is the stereotyping and discrimination. Since when is that okay?

I wan't to buy this house just to spite them. I want to bring down the gayness of this house/street/neighborhood by a factor of one. I will flaunt my heterosexuality up and down the street. I may even start babysitting small children en masse to shore up the appearance that I am actually a breeder. I am going to hang up some flag out front that says: "I have sex with men ... AND I'm a woman!" Noticeably absent from my porch, during Gay Pride Week, will be all of the rainbow colors.

If you support my very strong opposition to discrimination and stereotyping, then please start sending in donations. As soon as I raise the $999k asking price, I solemnly swear I will buy this house and do everything stated above. That's how committed I am to this cause. The fact that I would be getting a free house in Los Feliz is not the point at all.

Price Point Tests

5404 BELLINGHAM AVENUE #s 1, 2, & 4, Valley Village, CA 91607
(MLS #s F1730904, F1730911, F1730908

This photo represents three different units in the same building. The units were all priced at $779k on August 22. But now:

#1 Price Reduced: 09/05/07 -- $779k to $778.5k
#2 Price Reduced: 09/05/07 -- $779k to $778k
#4 Price Reduced: 09/05/07 -- $779k to $775k

Granted, at 1,950 sq. ft., these are big condos. But they aren't houses and they are in Valley Village so I just don't see them selling for that. I normally don't track condos, but given the interesting pricing strategies here, let's see what happens.

Carpenter School Discrict blah blah blah

4063 LAUREL GROVE AVENUE, Studio City, CA 91604
(MLS # F1733064)

No photo yet, but the listing description really says it all:

"Cosmetic fixer in carpenter school district. 2 bedrooms + 1 bath. Hardwood floors. Fireplace in living room, formal dining room. Nice yard."

For some reason, Zillow can't find the property in search, but I was able to hunt and peck it out. The Zestimate is $783,565. The current owner paid $605k back in 2004 for this 1,056 sq. ft. house. And what price does Mr. or Ms. Laurel Grove expect to receive today? $839k. That's right, they want $239k for sitting on this cosmetic fixer for three years. Through the magic of the Internet, I hope that we will all watch the weeks go by and the price drop, drop, drop.

Also, I am so tired of hearing "Carpenter School District." Last I heard, there are way more kids in the district that there are seats in the school so it's a lottery system. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong about Carpenter -- but if I am not, I really think they should put a disclaimer if they want to advertise the school district.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Classic Mistake on Blix.

11301 BLIX, Toluca Lake, CA 91602
(MLS # FR2061729)

UPDATE: People! Check out the comment section! Zillow's very own Dave G. was here and he advises us that, not only is this homeowner bad at pricing, this homeowner is potentially bad at taxes because their failure to update the county assessor of the one-bedroom status of this home probably cost them. That is all. Carry on.

This cute little house has been on the market for 302 days and counting. What could be wrong with it? Could it be the price?

Price Reduced:
03/28/07 -- $925k to $899k

Price Reduced: 04/29/07 -- $899k to $875k
Price Reduced: 07/18/07 -- $875k to $850k
Price Reduced: 07/31/07 -- $850k to $825k
Price Reduced: 08/18/07 -- $825k to $799k (down 13.62%)
Zestimate $898,269

Well, according to Zillow the price looks not bad. Oh, hold up. Zillow thinks this is a three bedroom house. And, indeed, these days the listing description says it's a three bedroom house (it didn't always say that, trust me). So guess what? I've been there. It's a one-bedroom house. Yup.

So here you have two of the biggest mistakes in real estate history:

(1) Asking a million dollars for your house that has never on its best shiniest day been worth a million dollars; and

(2) Removing two of the three bedrooms that your house was originally equipped with.

Let's take a gander at the listing description:

"Sure it's been on the market forever but give this beauty another chance! Nothing wrong with this house, we're just giving it away!"

Yeah. They're giving it away. It's that big vase out front that costs $800k. The house is free (with purchase of big vase).

"Perfect for a single or a couple who love to entertain."

Yeah. Guess why it's perfect for a single or couple? ONE BEDROOM. That's why. Well, good luck with this one Mr. or Ms. Blix. I don't see your chances improving any in the coming months.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

An exciting open house, for sure.

Would you rather be "freeway close" or "coaster close"?

Check out this story on about three houses that had a coaster go up in their back yards.

If you watch the whole video, you get to see the dude who says he'd buy it. He has maybe taken one too many roller coaster rides, if you know what I mean.

I totally have a crush* on Joel Stein.

I also have a crush on John Stewart but that has nothing to do with residential real estate so I have no excuse to pine for him here.

Joel Stein, on the other hand, recently wrote a rather entertaining piece about residential real estate so I'm super excited to provide you with a hyperlink to said article. You can read all about Stein's potential bathroom remodel and its effect on resale value. As a bonus, there's an actual Q&A with Flipping Out's Jeff Lewis.

UPDATE: Okay, this is a bit awkward, People. But since this post went up, I kind of sort of had an email exchange with thejoelstein and so, in the off chance, if he comes here, I need to clarify this whole "crush" thing. And so, by "crush" I mean, you know, "I like his work." Because obviously I have never met him and so how can you really have a crush on a total stranger. Right? This is only making things worse isn't it? I really should've thought this through before I posted it. In short, I just want to say: I am not insane. Thank you.

I love this! How soon can we get this in Sherman Oaks?

UPDATE: This house was pending but the site reports that "BUYER COULDN'T GET THE FINANCING." As of 09/07/07 the house is back on the market and the price is still ticking down.

You guys have heard about the Canadian house, right? The one where they are knocking off $1,000 each day until it gets sold? Oh yeah. How awesome is that?

To top it off, if you buy before September 10 the seller is including a complete high definition home theatre package valued at $10,000! Of course, I'd rather wait an additional 10 days and deal with the home theater system on my own -- but that's me.