Friday, August 31, 2007

MLS Description of the Week!

17220 COLLINS ST, Encino, CA 91316

The MLS description reads: " Encino village [sic] welcomes the westside [sic]... This is a true encino [sic] village [sic] gem!"

What does that even mean? Are they suggesting that if you are from the West Side, and you buy this house, you don't need to worry about your new Encino Village neighbors burning crosses on your lawn?

For the record, I have never ever heard of anything like that happening in the Valley. We are peaceful folk. And also, it is too hot here to intentionally set things on fire.

Well, well, well. I hate to say "I told you so" ...

16724 LA MAIDA STREET, Encino, CA 91436
(MLS #s: F1711924 & F1732128)

This 1,125 sq.ft. 3 bed/1 bath house was originally listed at $818k (that's $727 a sq. ft., Peeps) . Which I think is a lot of money for a house that doesn't even have a bath tub. Oh yeah, he took out the bath tub. Behold:

That itty bitty 3/4 bath is the only one in this house. And, ladies, I have no idea where you would put your make up while you get ready in the morning. Just look at that tiny sink counter!

Anyhoodle, he has now reduced the price to $715k. Which might have been a fair price back in May... WHEN I TOLD HIM THAT I WOULD PAY THAT! But no... he thought he could get an additional $100k. Who was right? Hmmm?

Well, guess what Mr. La Maida? Now I would only pay $575k. So go ahead and email me at the address on the bottom of this web page if you want me to buy your house at $575k. Otherwise I guess we'll just have this conversation again in a few more months. (This offer will expire in 48 hours and is subject to the usual financing and inspection contingencies).

Also, I think he bought the same model house next door as a flip. Which may be why he is so motivated to sell now.

Something doesn't smell right... (in Encino)

15560 OTSEGO STREET, Encino, CA 91436

I wrote about this house earlier... calling it a sinking ship. Well, interestingly, after 172 days on the market with no nibbles, they think a price increase is in order. Check it out:

Price Reduced: 04/04/07 -- $875k to $859k
Price Reduced: 04/13/07 -- $859k to $829k
Price Reduced: 04/22/07 -- $829k to $779k
Price Reduced: 06/07/07 -- $779k to $739k
Price Increased: 08/30/07 -- $739k to $805k

They updated the listing description to read: "... seller will credit buyers closing costs..." For $66k, I figure he'll be crediting more than that. It'll be interesting to see how this number pans out.

UPDATE: Well, mystery solved. Apparently they just wanted to turn the clock back and start offering the same reductions all over. Because, you know, buyers are stupid and they will never notice. Here's the new price point. Look for a reduction to $739k soon:

Price Reduced:
09/10/07 -- $805k to $779k

Thursday, August 30, 2007

What?! You don't want to build your McMansions?!

14040 MILBANK STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

The MLS description reads:

"The proposed development site is approved for a 3 lot subdivision. This subdivision has 3 lots proposed for zero lot line sfd. The sfd will share no common walls & are all seperate [sic]. Each sfd is proposed to be approx. 2,500 sqft. The proposed developments will have a reduced setback & small front and rear yards. Room for infinite [sic] pools." (emphasis supplied).

The price? $999k. Zestimate $661,564 The prior sale? $402k in June '03.

Why do you think the seller decided not to build his three McMansions with "zero lot lines," "reduced setback" and "small front and rear yards"? Could it be that people just aren't buying McMansions anymore?

Lord. I hope so.

Linkage and Whatnot

Check out Habitat for Humanities Re-Stores. You can be kind of green and you can be kind of good, all at once.

Best Rental Markets according to

Dude actually sold his condo on Zillow ... the WSJ's Real Estate Journal says says he got over a million bucks too. I wondered if that ever worked.

Housing Tracker: Median Price Graph

This data was lifted from and then dumped into an excel graph (click to enlarge). It shows the median list price (not sale price) of the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile in Los Angeles county for each week since August 2005. The 75th percentile shows a 20% dump over the last two years while the 25th percentile shows only a 5% decline.

The jumbo loan changes really effect both 50th and 75th percentiles so it will be interesting to see how they pan out over the next 3 to 6 months.

Wow. This is The Suck.

4253 COSTELLO AVENUE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

This house looks not so bad from the curb. But that's only because you don't know this 2 bed/1 bath house is 798 sq.ft. and listed for $699k (that's $875 sq. ft. for those of you keeping track at home). Zestimate $585,891. It's starting to look worse, eh? Let's look at the MLS description:

"Lowest price for just south of ventura blvd, [sic] sherman oaks [sic]."

Yeah. Maybe because it's the smallest crappiest house South of Ventura? Is that why? But let's read on:

"Some upgrades included, updated tile in kitchen, bath, windows, possibly copper plumbing,"

First off, "possibly copper plumbing"? Why not just write "possibly treasure chest buried in yard." Anyhoo, let's take a look at that updated tile in the kitchen and bath.

Yeah. I'm sure the new owner will be keeping that. Let's go back to the description:

"...otherwise a fixer, sold in it's present, as is conidtion[sic]."

Hahahaha! "Otherwise" a fixer! So the kitchen, bath, and "possibly" copper plumbing are fine? Well, whatever, let's see the rest of it.

I presume this photo is to illustrate that it needs some paint.

And this photo shows that it the hardwood floors cannot, in fact, be restored because they have been replaced with press board.

My point here has nothing to do with the prior owner; people hit hard times; homes fall into disrepair. I get it. This is about the listing agent. The description should read: "Sold for lot value only." Not to mention, it should be priced accordingly. I wonder if somebody will take out a 9.75% jumbo loan to buy this?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Between $900k and $1.5M (S.O.B. Beverly Glen - Coldwater)

As of 8/29/07, these are all the homes listed between $900k and $1.5M that are South of Ventura, North of Mulholland, West of Coldwater and East of Beverly Glen (click map to enlarge). With the new jumbo rates and tightened lending criteria, these homes should feel the pinch a bit. I'll track them here by updating the post with new listings and reductions.

Between $1.26M and $1.5M (11 13 listings)

4166 Nagle Ave. (F1712556) $1.349M
Price Reduced: 05/22/07 -- $1.47M to $1.399M
Price Reduced: 07/11/07 -- $1.399M to $1.349M (down 8.23%)

3604 Glendridge Dr. (F1719836) $1.499M

4137 Fulton Ave. (F1719015) $1.499

13304 S. Newcomb Dr. (C101496) $1.489M

4146 Ventura Canyon Ave. (F1725779) $1.295M
Price Reduced: 08/09/07 -- $1.395M to $1.295M (down 7.17%)

4268 Hazeltine Ave. (C101483) $1.395M
Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $1.45M to $1.395M (down 3.79%)

3969 Van Noord Ave. (F1728661) $1.257M
Price Reduced: 09/07/07 -- $1.297M to $1.257M (down 3.08%)

14078 Davana Terr. (F1728535) $1.295M

3737 Oakfield Dr. (F1731770) $1.3M
Price Reduced: 09/07/07 -- $1.35M to $1.3M (down 3.71%)

3253 Longridge Terr. (F1731648) $1.249M
Price Reduced: 09/18/07 -- $1.39M to $1.249M (down 10.14%)
Zestimate $2,033,215
Last Sale: 10/29/84 @ $249K

3214 Longridge Terr. (F1731946) $1.295M

4220 Ventura Canyon Ave (F1732409) $1.5M
*This is actually a 6-unit apartment building.

13545 Contour Dr. (FR2055214 & F1732673) $1.349M (Prior post.)
Price Reduced: 07/23/07 -- $1.599M to $1.495M
Price Reduced: 09/03/07 -- $1.495M to $1.349M (down 15.63%)
*09/03 reduction is actually a relisting with new MLS.

3531 Weslin Ave. (F1733010) $1.279M
*This house was purchased in 11/06 for $1M.

3683 Longview Valley Road (C101690) $1.185M

Between $1.0M and $1.25M (9 11 listings)

13213 Cheltenham Dr. (F1708934) $1.249M
Price Reduced: 08/10/07 -- $1.4M to $1.249M (down 10.78%)

14011 Valley Vista Blvd. (F1719530) $1.089M

13507 Contour Dr. (F1719868) $1.129M

3880 Dixie Canyon Ave. (F1720189) $1.149M
Price Reduced: 07/18/07 -- $1.199M to $1.149M (down 4.17%)

14301 Valley Vista Blvd. (F1722818) $1.19M
Price Reduced: 08/02/07 -- $1.249M to $1.199M (down 4.00%)

3843 Longview Valley Rd. (C101448) $1.117M

13059 Dickens St. (F1729822) $1.052M

3470 Camino De La Cumbre (C101658) $1.1M

3950 Witzel Dr. (F1731643) $1.199M
Price Reduced: 08/28/07 -- $1.999M to $1.199M (down 4.00%)

13566 Contour Dr. (F1732137) $1.16M (Prior post.)

4240 Mammoth Ave. (F1733317) $1.199M

Below $1M (6 listings)

3930 Ventura Canyon Ave. (F1721373) $995k

13553 Contour Dr. (F1722523) $950k
Price Reduced: 07/12/07 -- $1.025M to $950k
Price Reduced: 09/05/07 -- $950k to $895k (down 12.68%)

4100 Beverly Glen (F1725222) $999k
Price Reduced: 08/25/07 -- $1.049M to $999K (down 4.77%)

4064 Sunnyslope Ave. (F1728746) $979k
Price Reduced: 08/28/07 -- $1.049M to $979k (down 6.67%)

13411 Rand Dr. (F1728984) $995k

14322 Greenleaf St. (F1731192) $949k

Fairy Tale Cottage in NoHo

5101 STROHM AVENUE, "Toluca Lake", CA 91601
(MLS # : B2100128)

While the MLS says Toluca Lake, this home is definitely in North Hollywood and it is the only one like it for miles (the surrounding homes are mid-century ranch). This was one of the very first homes I saw back in January '07. It went inactive for awhile and then came back on the market. Obviously, the owner has trouble making up her mind about the value of this unique home:

Price Reduced: 04/16/07 -- $1,000,000 to $850,000
Price Reduced: 07/18/07 -- $850,000 to $835,000
Price Reduced: 08/07/07 -- $835,000 to $749,000
Price Increased: 08/09/07 -- $749,000 to $950,000


Built in 1939, this 2 bed/1bath is on a 10,270 sq. ft. lot so there's definitely room to expand. It's one of those charming Disney architect numbers. The living room is beamed and has intricate hand carved corbels with faces on them. The fireplace is extra big ... you can see below that the big church bench would nearly fit in there. There are many original details through out the home. This is a really cool house if you are willing to do a bit of construction. I couldn't talk E into it no matter how hard I tried but it wouldn't have mattered because I'm fairly certain the owner never would've taken the $675k I was going to offer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The "Celebrity" House -- Revisited

Previously, I posted about 10748 Aqua Vista Street, "Toluca Lake" 91602 (MLS # F1721875 & F1728153).

You may recall that: (1) this house is really in North Hollywood; and (2) I was shocked and appalled at the list price. After my post, the home went through a series of reductions:

Price Reduced: 07/02/07 -- $780k to $769k
Price Reduced: 07/17/07 -- $769k to $764k
Price Reduced: 07/18/07 -- $764k to $759k
Price Reduced: 07/23/07 -- $759k to $754k
Price Reduced: 07/27/07 -- $754kto $749k

Then it went inactive only to come back on the market at $749k with a new MLS number. Well, anyhoodle, guess what?

It was reduced again. Uh-huh. Was so.

Price Reduced: 08/25/07 -- $749k to $699k
Price Reduced: 10/02/07 -- $699k to $679k
(down 12.95% from original list price)

But, at $685 a square foot, it's *still* too expensive. The Zestimate is $592,479 and even that's generous. At this point, I think he'd be very lucky to get $550/sq.ft. (or $521k). If he doesn't get realistic soon, it's only going to be worse.

Woot! Pete on CNN

Sorry, Peeps, I've been out of town and so I am getting all of my scoop late. I just learned from Curbed that Peter Viles of LA Land (pictured right) was on CNN last week to talk about L.A's housing bubble. Yeah, he basically tells me nothing.

Anyway, even if it didn't feature our favorite blogger, I'd tell you to go check out the video because that's how I roll. Go on. Shoo!

The Anger Phase

The above graph is largely lifted from Hofstra University's "Psychology of a Housing Bubble" (click to enlarge). It's posted because, last week, I learned that the local housing market is edging out of The Denial Phase and into The Anger Phase.

As y'all know, I've been doing guest posts over at L.A. Land. Some posts I think will generate a lot of feedback and other posts I think will go without much notice. My last post was about some features that I like in a house (a porch, a deck and newer electrical/plumbing/roof) and figured there wouldn't be very many comments. I couldn't have been more wrong. People flipped the hell out (and by "people" I mean "real estate agents" and "home owners"). They left over 80 comments so far but only two or three are about house features. To spare you the chore of sifting through them all, I've harvested the angry gems.

One guy accused me of being a transvestite -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- I just can't see how wanting a front porch brings somebody's gender identity into question. He wrote:

"I feel like you're scamming me. You sound like a middle-aged male Realtor in drag. Why not fess-up and stop the pathetic story of deception! At least come up with a new photo....


Just a little advice. You're living in fantasy land. Most people trying to get in this market would take a Maytag box on 3000 sq ft lot just to get in.

"...So before you start with the 'I'll pay extra so I don't have to deal with the problems.' Why don't you ask 'Mr. Kate' how many extra hours he wants to work per week so you can have your perfect cabinets, typical spoiled brat.

AnnS, who elsewhere states she is a retired attorney and currently a commercial broker, draws the conclusion that I do not like fixers (which y'all know I love) and goes on to call me: a bore, a nitwit, spoiled, and a shallow, unrealistic brat. Again, this is all because I want a porch, a deck, and a credit for dead tree removal. You will note that she is very focused on interior decor, something I made no mention of in the post. Behold:

"I want this, I want that, I want simply everything..... and god forbid I would have to lift a paintbrush to get it, I might break a nail."

What a crashing bore 'Kate' is.

Anyone without such an overblown grandiose sense of entitlement would know that interior decor is something which you just assume you will change...

This little nitwit was throwing a fit a few weeks ago about how she could't [sic] get the cotract [sic] restructured to show a lower purchase price to save on real estate taxes by paying the realtors [sic] seperately [sic].

... this spoiled shallow and unrealistic brat wants it flawless"

Frankly, I suspect there's a bit more in her coffee than just cream and sugar, if you know what I mean. AnnS goes on to tell a charming tale about how she threatened to kill a potential buyer in the course of closing one of her own deals:

"She reminds me of a buyer in a commercial real estate transaction we handled were we represented seller. It was a turnkey retail business in full operation and was being sold to an employee. After running through 3 loan offers (all of which he got in succession, all wonderful deals with financing at 125% of asset value...) because he 'could do better', it finally got to closing. Buyer then started hemming and hawing about finishing up the transaction because when he had been to the facility that AM, a light bulb had been burned out in a storage room. It had been over 8 hours trying to close it - and the title company was stunned at how much time it was taking. I threw the $1 at him for a light bulb and roared 'Sign the damn documents or I will personally break you neck after I grab your hand and make you sign it! ENOUGH!! You work there so you know what you are buying.' He signed.

Posted by: AnnS | August 24, 2007 at 07:48 AM"

Another commenter suggests that, because I am not willing to buy at today's prices, I should have my head examined and E should dump me and nobody should sell their house to me:

"...She needs a shrink to help her to deal with her obsessive behavior of shopping and not a house. If I were MR. Kate, I would've probably dumped her by now and if I were the seller, I would never sell to someone like her.

You chased the market up, now you'll chase it down and will not by anything. I sure hope you prove me wrong, because I sure hope not to see anymore posts about you on this blog.

One faithful LA Land commenter declares that E is a figment of my imagination and that I am broke. He also appears to be under the mistaken impression that I run advertising here at May 5 and that is my primary source of revenue. He writes:

"Ann S, you and I are totally sympatico [sic] on this one- Kate will never find what she wants because she and the dubious Mr. Kate (probably doesn't exist) don't have the budget for it. Instead of waking up to the reality she comes here and whines. I suspect that she's hoping her little blog will generate enough Google Ads revenue to propel in into the financial position she'll need to be in afford her dream home.

Posted by: vultur | August 24, 2007 at 10:28 AM"

Later, he decides he has more to say about my interest in front porches:

Yet Kate still can't find a home she deems worthy of her enormous self-image. It's not the home that overpriced- it's Kate's self-importance that's inflated!

I bet she can't wait to through [sic] her first dinner party and gloat to her friends how she snatched her dream property away from some poor flipper fool caught in the credit crunch.

Kate, I've got a perfect house for you babe and I'm certain you'll love it- it's called 'Barbie's Dream House' and you can customize it any way your little heart desires. You can even invite your husband Ken to come play with you. And the two of you with live happily ever after in your perfect house in your perfect world on your perfect little slice of Americana.

So, yeah, The Anger Phase. It's here. And it means we are that much closer to "Return to the mean." I thought these days would never come.

Set yourself apart from the competition!

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

While most listings will reduce after a 100 days or so on the market, some people want to set themselves apart from the pack. I'm not talking about incentives. Nope. I'm talking about thinking outside the box. If everybody else is reducing, why, you should be different! Increase!

Price Reduced: 07/10/07 -- $995k to $950k
Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $950k to $899k
Price Increased: 08/25/07 -- $899k to $920k

Does this ever work?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Erie Days

So I took two planes and drove a hundred miles from Cleveland, OH to Erie, PA to visit my cousin who just had her second beautiful baby boy. That's right! This post is coming directly to you from the great State of Pennsylvania. I am sitting on the first floor of her beautiful 3 bedroom Colonial. It is huge. The street has a fantastic island down it's length that has gorgeous mature trees. If you look closely, you can see some chips in the street where the original brick shows through. It's like a fairy tale. And, I could have all this for one year's salary. I am weeping openly right now.

Also, I am wondering why the good people of Ohio do not think it is necessary to put lights on their highways or roads. Strange. And, who exactly is in charge of radio programming between 11:30 pm and 1:00 am in Ohio? Because I am not pleased. To keep awake I had to sing the following songs (which were the only ones on the radio that I could even recognize). Ready:

(1) Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)
(2) Chances Are (Johnny Mathis)
(3) She Bop (Cyndi Lauper)
(4) And I tried.. oh my god how I tried (?) (Concrete Blonde)
What's Up (4 Non Blondes)
(5) Give me the Simple Life! (Tony Bennet)
(6) Sister Christian (Night Ranger)

Yeah. It was pretty bad.

Anyhoodle, here's a sample real estate listing in Erie:

This house would cost what in Sherman Oaks? $3M? But in Erie, it's $360k. Just kill me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Guess who! (In Encino)

These photos are of a celebrity home in Encino. Click to enlarge and note that I lifted them from (more on that in a sec). You love the pool, right? You love the views, right? It's a little too modern-glass-concretey for moi but it's still a nice pad.

Okay, I'm not going to tell you who owned this house because you seriously need to get over to Real Estalker and read Your Mama's Notes on it for your own sweet self. At the end of the article, you will scream out "AMEN!" like a Baptist on Sunday. And then you will need a Valium because you will be so fired up. Go on! What are you waiting for? Get your Valium ready and click on that link. Shoo. Shoo!

Data Quick July 2007 Median Home Price -- Selected Areas

Following are excerpts from Data Quick's July 2007 Median Home Price report. (Click link for full report).

All S.F.V
No. Sales
% Change
W S.F.V.
492 $555,250 $575,500 (-3.52%)
293 $550,000 $533,000 (3.19%)
132 $627,250 $595,000 (5.42%)

Encino had 57 sales with a median price of: $610,00. Last year's median: $660,00. Down 7.58% year over year.

Sherman Oaks had 56 sales with a median price of: $856,500. Last year's median: $765k. Up 11.96% year over year.

Studio City had 35 sales with a median price of: $920,000. Last year's median: $785k . Up 17.20% year over year.

Valley Village had 26 sales with a median price of $644,250 . Last year's median $781,364. Down 17.55% year over year.

Tarzana had 32 sales with a median price of $525,000 . Last year's median $415,750. Up 26.28% year over year.

Woodland Hills had 78 sales (!) with a median price of $711,000. Last year's median $700,000. Up 1.57% year over year.

Finally, Honest appraisals.

Redfin has some nice new blogs about L.A., as y'all know. Here's an excerpt from a recent post by Ron DeGenova that I found particularly interesting. Ron is an appraiser who refused to green-light a deal:

"Today, a tragic thing happened when I was appraising a townhome for a purchase... I was assigned to appraise a 2000 sq/ft. 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bath townhome in Newhall, in the city of Santa Clarita. The subject property was built in 1978 and about a year ago, these townhomes were going for about $470,000. Today, I am seeing comparables at $420,000 and $435,000. The seller purchased the subject in March 2007 for $404,000. Per the listing agent, it was a fixer. I was told that the current owner put about $25,000 in up-grades and listed it on the MLS this June for $474,900. A buyer has come along and offered $470,000.

"YIKES! Put on the breaks! The bank has to fund the loan yet. At this point, I am asked to step in and supply to the bank an appraisal report, to verify if the value is there. I am sad to report that comparables in the area do not support the value. I am then provided a Fee Appraisal report ( an appraisal done independently of the bank). I notice that in order to achieve the value of $470,000, the Fee Appraiser used comps in an adjacent townhouse tract that was built in the year 2001and made only a $10,000 adjustment for age and condition. By definition, a comparable is a property that shares similar characteristics to the subject. A townhouse built in 2001 is not a comp for a property built in 1978. My value for the subject is $435,000. So now the seller and buyer will have to work out how they plan to carry out this deal. The buyer may end up walking from the purchase."

Read the whole thing here.

It's definitely happening.

5209 BUFFALO AVENUE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91401
(MLS # F1726452)

I know that we've heard the foreclosure song over and over: "people who bought in the last two years will lose their homes... they'll just walk away... the houses were just not worth what they paid..." But then you see nothing but national numbers and it just doesn't feel local, it doesn't seem like it's happening here in your own backyard. Well, it is.

This 4 bed/4bath, 1,910 sq.ft. house was purchased in November '05 for $850k. Zillow estimates it at $905k (Zillow really needs to revisit their algorithm because they are way off these days). Anyway, let's look at the listing description:

"Bank owned and priced for immediate sale! Great 4 bedroom and 4 bath home on a good street with large family room and wet bar area. Kitchen opens to dining area and yard. Good size bedrooms. Large pool. Minor work needed. Sold as-is. Vacant with keybox. Tax rolls show 1,646 square feet the home has been measured to 1,910 square feet. Additions are without permit. Available until reported pending!"

So what is the price for an "immediate sale"? $680k. And, according to Property Shark, Countrywide is owed a little over $721k. Here's the prior sale details:

05/22/07 $721k Trustee's Deed

Recontrust Co Countrywide

11/18/05 $850k Grant Deed
Flores, Marcelino Minaya, Manuel

04/26/05 $749k Grant Deed
Vartan RobertTrust Flores, Marcelino
09/15/04 $617k Grant Deed
Tannenbaum, Wayne
Flores, Marcelino
08/06/03 $455k Grant Deed
Rosenfeld, Maury Tannenbaum, Marla

$680k for a house that big, in a decent neighborhood, will definitely put downward pressure on the existing listings. Like this comparable home just up the street:

5338 BUFFALO AVENUE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91401
(MLS # F1726282)

It's listed at $829k (!) with a Zillow estimate of just $665k. You should check out this particular listing for yourself. Bizarrely, the agent posts 20 photos including street signs, Trader Joe's, the mall, the high school, a park ...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Linkage and Whatnot

America's Top Ten Most Expensive Commutes, according to While SoCal did not make this list, it did hold THREE OUT OF TEN spots on Forbes' Most Unhealthy Commutes list.

Learn how to low ball without offending at the WSJ's Real Estate Journal.

Give your new house that old look at Casa Sugar.

Rally in the Alley! In The Oaks asks you to volunteer for a Sherman Oaks beautification project.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Alex, I'll take "Things That Never Happen In The Valley" for $1,000

688 NIMES RD, Bel Air - Holmby Hills, CA 90077
(MLS # 05_064967)
Price Reduced: 11/21/06 -- $53M to $43M
Price Reduced: 05/31/07 -- $43M to $40M (down 24.53 %)
Zestimate $19,420,102

This home was last purchased for $1.9M back in 1990. As of the date of this post, this house has been listed for 658 days.

Seriously, People. I don't even know what to say about this. Can anybody? I mean... it's just that... ummm. Yeah. I'm flummoxed.

Sinking Ships in Encino

15560 OTSEGO STREET, Encino, CA 91436
(MLS # F1703604)
Listing Date: 03/12/07
Price Reduced: 04/04/07 -- $875k to $859k
Price Reduced: 04/13/07 -- $859k to $829k
Price Reduced: 04/22/07 -- $829kto $779k
Price Reduced: 06/07/07 -- $779k to $740k (down 15.43%)
Zestimate $838,038

4918 LIBBIT AVE, Encino, CA 91436
(MLS # 07_198853)
Listing Date: 06/28/07

Price Reduced: 07/12/07 -- $1.075M to $1.035M
Price Reduced: 07/19/07 -- $1.035M to $1.025M
Price Reduced: 08/13/07 -- $1.025M to $990k (down 7.9%)
Zestimate $999,465

16150 MOORPARK STREET, Encino, CA 91436
(MLS # F1722337)
Listing Date: 07/01/07

Price Reduced: 07/02/07 -- $949k to $899k
Price Reduced: 07/25/07 -- $899k to $874k
Price Reduced: 08/07/07 -- $874k to $850k (down 10.43%)
Zestimate $745,498

4828 DENSMORE, Encino, CA 91436
(MLS # F1700151)
Listing Date: 02/20/07

Price Reduced: 03/01/07 -- $1.1M to $999k
Price Reduced: 04/12/07 -- $999k to $975k
Price Reduced: 05/16/07 -- $975k to $950k
Price Reduced: 06/24/07 -- $950k to $939k
Price Reduced: 08/08/07 -- $939k to $900k (down 18.18%)

Zestimate $1,124,675

Hate it. (On Sunnyslope)

4310 SUNNYSLOPE AVENUE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(MLS #s: F1709214 & F1730323)

Price Reduced: 06/01/07 -- $949k to $919k
Price Reduced: 07/10/07 -- $919k to $879k
RELISTED 08/18/07: $812k

Price Reduced: 10/02/07 -- $812k to $790k (down 16.86%)

I kind of hate this house.

Here's what the listing description read originally:

"Huge price reduction!!!.This residence captures the charm of sherman oaks [sic] living.Walk to all the great resturants [sic]and shopping on the bivd. [sid] Just remodeled!Large living room w/fireplace,country kitchen,master suite with romantic fireplace.Make offer!!"

We all know that "MAKE OFFER" means: "Just give me something so I can call up everybody who ever visited the house and tell them I have an offer so that they might bid against you."

Anyhoo ... here's the current listing description:

"This residence captures the charm of sherman oaks [sic] living. Walk to all the great resturants [sic] and shopping on the blvd. Walk to dixie canyon elementry. [sic]Just remodeled!Country kitchen. Large living room with fireplace.Wood floors.Master suite with romantic firteplace . [sic] Make offer!!"

Ugh. Learn to spell already, would you? And stop commanding me to make an offer. Sheesh.

What the picture doesn't show you is that there is a hideous McMansion next door. I mean, a real eyesore. Also, there are three or four different types of hardwood flooring in this house giving it that patchwork "Home Depot Close-Out Special" feeling. The kitchen? Blech. In short, this house is a major fixer and it is way way overpriced. And not like "everything is overpriced right now" more like: "step away from the crack pipe" overpriced.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Open House Report (August 19)

4453 VAN NOORD AVENUE, Studio City, CA 91604
(MLS # F1723633)
Listed at $789k


Price Reduced:
08/30/07 -- $789k to $759k
Price Reduced: 09/17/07 -- $759k to $749k (5.07% down)
(Guess that "all cash offer" went away after all, eh?)

This house has been on the market for about forty days and the agent reports that there is an all-cash offer for $720k on the table. Yet the owner is considering a price reduction. Hmmm. Something tells me that the all-cash offer will fall through. This is a 2 bed/1 bath but the agent will tell you the dining room is a third bedroom because there's a closet. This home needs significant updates and an additional bath. Zillow estimates the value at $820k -- Zillow is so very wrong here. This house is worth closer to $680k.

4716 BECK AVENUE, Valley Village, CA 91602
(MLS # F1713724)
Price Reduced: 08/16/07 -- $839,000 to $799,000
This house has been on the market for about a hundred days now. Zillow estimates this 3 bed/2.5 bath at $829k but given the listing history, Zillow is wrong on this one too. It's a pretty cute little house but the bathrooms require updating and the street does too. If I had to guess, I'd say this house will sell around $750k.

12515 MILBANK ST, Studio City, CA 91604
(MLS # 07_185919)
Price Reduced: 06/19/07 -- $939,000 to $925,000

This house has been on the market for about a hundred days now, but I think it was listed once before. Zillow estimates this 3 bed/1.5 bath at $913k! I can't imagine that anybody will ever pay anything close to that for this little 1,600 square foot house. For starters, the only bathroom with a shower is a tiny guest bath near the front door. The main bath was remodeled to include a claw foot tub but no shower -- well, it has some ridiculous hand held gizmo that you might use if you had to and you were say 18 years old and staying in a youth hostel in Paris. My guess is that this house will sell at around $800k, time will tell.

13516 NORTH VALLEYHEART DRIVE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(MLS # C101556)
Listed at $1.099M
Price Reduced: 09/14/07 -- $1.099M to $1.059M
And:"5 plasma TV's w/ full price purchase."
Price Reduced: 09/20/07 -- $1.059M to $998k (down 9.19%)
But plasma TV offer has been rescinded. :-(

These people really really like slate tiles. This 3 bed/2.5 house is completely upgraded. Despite it's 1,903 square feet, it feels small. They converted their two-car garage into a one-car garage plus office. The office is very utilitarian. One plus to this property is that you can buy, from the City of Los Angeles, an additional 2,000 square feet of land behind the lot. Zillow estimates the property at $938k and it was purchased for $777k last August. It just didn't feel like a million dollar house to me.

BTW, Tisha M. Greene is the Realtor and I have to say that she was very charming and I wouldn't hesitate to hire her as my own listing agent.

11602 HARTSOOK STREET, Valley Village, CA 91601
(MLS # F1725805)
Listed at $1.39M

This is a really beautiful 4 bed/2.5 house with a great layout. As a bonus, it has a free-standing apartment out back and a two car garage. Zillow estimates the value at $961k and it last sold at $760k in '05. The location is not fantastic, it's on a through street near Magnolia and Colfax. The location wouldn't stop me from buying the house, but it would make me hesitate to lay down a million bucks (assuming I had a million bucks to lay down). However, this is a very emotional house, somebody might pony up.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Layoff Factor

UPDATE 08/22/07: L.A. Land reports that 38,000 layoffs have been recorded nationwide in the mortgage sector and another 20,000 in construction. Click link for whole story.

As y'all know, the aerospace layoffs were a major factor in triggering the last housing bust in L.A. and people keep saying that this bubble is different because that "lay off factor" is missing.

Except that today the L.A. Times reported that Countrywide may be laying off staff soon:

"A bankruptcy filing by the lender would make life uncertain at best for its 61,500 employees, about 15,000 of whom work in Calabasas and elsewhere in Southern California."

And Thousand Oaks based Amgen hinted at lay offs in its recent SEC filings. Amgen employs some 8,300 staffers locally.

Not quite the same scale as the aerospace layoffs but then again the last bubble didn't feature the same credit perils as this one.

Completely believable. (In Sherman Oaks)

14629 GREENLEAF STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(MLS # F1705215)

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 (down 15.69%)

The MLS description on this one is a gem:

"Unbelievable!! Under a millions $ for this enchanting cape cod south of the blvd...."

It's only $1,000 under a million, for god's sake. And after 148 days on the market, yeah, I believe it. Especially when the Zestimate is $943,759 and the current owner paid less than half a million five years ago. In fact, I'm willing to believe that this house will get reduced to the low $800s before a buyer comes along.

Linkage and Whatnot

I HEART ROBERT SHILLER! And, I HEART FREAKONOMICS! Together at last! Oh be still my heart! Check out their blog post on the bubble.

"How ratings firms' calls fueled the subprime mess" on the WSJ's Real Estate Journal.

Countrywide facing bankruptcy? Holy cow. Check out the L.A. Times article.

Hunny child! Your Mama will be on TV tonight! I will definitely tune in to see the Real Estalker on VH1.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Lots of reductions on the MLS today...

Below is a small sample of the reductions that came out yesterday in Sherman Oaks, Studio City, and Valley Village. I guess the high season is over.

14024 LA MAIDA ST., Sherman Oaks CA 91423 (See prior post).
Price Reduced: 08/02/07 -- $825k to $799k
Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $799k to $765k (down 7.27%)
Zestimate $738,285

13739 HARTSOOK ST., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 (See prior post).
Price Reduced: 07/06/07 -- $825k to $775k
Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $775k to $759k (down 8.00%)
Zestimate $828,516

5703 BUCKNELL AVE., Valley Village, CA 91607 (See prior post).
Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $719k to $690k (down 4.03%)
Zestimate $645,201

4214 BAKMAN AVE., Studio City, CA 91602
Price Reduced: 08/06/07 -- $899k to $869k
Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $869k to $839k (down 6.67%)
Zestimate $673,539

11680 SUNSHINE TERR., Studio City, CA 91604
Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $799k to $750k (down 6.13%)
Zestimate $824,751

4555 BEN AVE., Studio City, CA 91607 (See prior post).
Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $749k to $719k (down 4.00%)
Zestimate $604,437

4828 LONGRIDGE AVE., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Price Reduced: 08/09/07 -- $899k to $875k
Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $875k to $859k (down 4.45%)
Zestimate $821,348

4523 LAURELGROVE, Studio City, CA 91604
Price Reduced: 07/10/07 -- $995k to $950k
Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $950k to $899 (down 9.65%)
Zestimate $991,363

4174 VANETTA DR., Studio City, CA 91604
Price Reduced: 07/17/07 -- $1.175M to $1.125M
Price Reduced: 08/14/07 -- $1.125M to $1.075M (down 8.51%)
Zestimate $949,490

Save 0.13% in Encino (not a typo!)

17700 COLLINS STREET, Encino, CA 91316
(MLS # F1726004)

Price Reduced: 08/15/07 -- $749,999 to $749,000

Whatwhatwhat? I can have this house for a cool $999.00 less? Holy crap. $749,999 was out of my range, but at a cool 749,000 -- well! This seller must be seriously motivated if he's willing to make a whopping 0.13% reduction!

BTW, Zillow estimates this house to be worth a mere $668k and the current owner paid $500k back in '04. And, at last count, this neighborhood had approximately 30 homes for sale in this price range. Yes, thirty.

In fairness, it looks like there was some remodeling. In particular, the MLS mentions new landscaping in the front and rear yards. All I see in the front is a couple of pygmy date palms ... do they mean the sod? Well, let's look in the back.

Yeah. That's fantastic. I can't believe Better Homes and Gardens hasn't done a spread on this yard.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Only foreclosures are moving...

Today, L.A. Land reports that So Cal home sales are 54% below their peak:

"Some industry experts have warned that August sales may be even weaker, given the widening credit squeeze that has spread to non-subprime mortgages. The only area of sales growth: foreclosed houses, which now make up 8.3% of the Southern California home sale market, up from 7.7% in June and just 2.0% last July, DataQuick reports."

So the following listing was foreclosed and then resold to Mr. Mosher who is now listing it for sale. Let's watch and see how Mr. Mosher does with his foreclosure purchase.

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

Listed 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 (down 11.68%)

Zestimate $645,201

Property Shark details:

$534k Grant Deed HSBC Bank to Mosher, Michael

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

$000 Grant Deed from Garcia, J C to Garcia, Hayde

$148.5k Grant Deed from Bin, Fred & Anna to Garcia, Joel & Hayde

Monday, August 13, 2007

Woe is Woodland HIlls

It seems like Woodland Hills felt the squeeze sooner than the rest of the Valley. Here's a sample of some aging listings. There are plenty more just like these.

4764 CERRILLOS DRIVE, Woodland Hills, CA 91364
(MLS #F1703540)

Price Reduced: 03/27/07 -- $899k to $850k
Price Reduced: 04/10/07 -- $850k to $800k
Price Reduced: 06/30/07 -- $800k to $770k
Price Reduced: 08/12/07 -- $770k to $699k (down 22.25%)
Zestimate: $785k

4787 SAN FELICIANO DR, Woodland Hills, CA 91364
(MLS # 70000877)

Price Reduced: 04/12/07 -- $729k to $714k
Price Reduced: 05/10/07 -- $714k to $699k
Price Reduced: 06/12/07 -- $699k to $695k
Price Reduced: 07/06/07 -- $695k to $675k
Price Reduced: 07/09/07 -- $675k to $665k
Price Reduced: 07/18/07 -- $665k to $650k (down 10.71%)
Zestimate: $697K

22430 SOUTH DOMINGO ROAD, Woodland Hills, CA 91364
(MLS #F1720551)

Price Reduced: 07/12/07 -- $839k to $819k
Price Reduced: 07/16/07 -- $819k to $799k
Price Reduced: 07/25/07 -- $799k to $789k
Price Reduced: 08/06/07 -- $789k to $769k
Price Reduced: 08/08/07 -- $769k to $749k (down 10.73%)
Zestimate: $777k

5021 CALDERON, Woodland Hills, CA 91364 (MLS # FR2050421)

Price Reduced: 03/15/07 -- $745k to $720k
Price Reduced: 08/02/07 -- $720k to $680k (down 8.72%)
Zestimate: $752K

Linkage and Whatnot

13% for a jumbo loan? Whoa. Thanks to Reader Greg for the tip.

On L.A. Land today, Peter Viles highlighted this OC Register story about a sad street in Santa Ana that is hurting bad from sub-prime loans.

Read about tightened lending standards at Calculated Risk.

Tips for negotiating out of your home purchase contract from the WSJ's Real Estate Journal.

Celebrity sightings at Fashion Square Mall! From Timewaster. I once shared a table with Michael Douglas for an entire meal; I had not idea. I am officially the worst celebrity spotter ever. Well, I did see Kelly from The Office at Fred Segal last week. But only because she sort of stepped on my foot.

The Sexiest Real Estate Show Around!

It's the guys from! I love these guys. This week they are talking about sex. Checkitout!

Sorry, Keith, but I don't think a wig is going to do the trick.

My vote for sexy goes to Stephen Pannesco at Coldwell Banker. E and I met Steven at one of his showings. After that, E's interest in escorting me to open houses (and holding my hand, and putting his arm around my shoulder...) went way way up. Thanks, Steven!

Bad at math, on Contour Drive.

13545 (?) CONTOUR, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423(MLS #FR2055214)

Price Reduced: 07/23/07 -- $1,599,000 to $1,495,000

Let's see here: 1,599,000 - 1,495,000 = 104,000.

But what does the listing description read?

"Reduced 200k !!!! Now ready to show to your clients!!! Buff & hensman aia 1979 published architectural pool home on expansive wooded double lot..."

Allegedly, this is a 3bed/2.5bath ... but you better check for yourself because somebody is not so good at the math, if you know what I mean.

Mysteriously, there appear to be no records for this home on either Zillow or Property Shark. I think that this is because the address is really 13547 (pesky numbers, again!). If so, this home has gone through several transfers with no recorded sales price. Strange.

Anyway, it's been on the market for 322 days. Maybe I should offer them $600k and just say it's a full price offer. They probably won't know the difference.

Oh, Sweet Fancy Moses! How will I sleep tonight?

Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! *shudder* I am totally and completely squicked out by this L.A. Times article from this morning.

See that little guy in the photo? It's a mother effing bedbug. I thought they were made up. You know, like "sleep tight don't let the bedbugs bite?" Well, turns out, they are not made up. They are very real and very hard to get rid of and apparently are infesting Southern California.

If that doesn't convince you to fumigate a house before you move in, I don't know what would. Uck.

Photo credit: L.A. Times

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Open House Report (August 12)

14007 MORRISON STREET, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(MLS #F1708870)

UPDATE: After this post and after 132 days on the market, he finally reduced the price. Wonder if he read this...

Price Reduced: 08/20/07 -- $820k to $779k (down 5.00%)

Earth to Seller. Come in Seller. Seller, are you there?

Seriously, this Seller has lost all contact with the planet Earth. He paid $675k at the peak of the market (07/21/06) and he now wants $820k for this blah little house (across the street from an ucky McMasion). The house needs a new kitchen and new baths and the back yard needs lots of love. He's had it on the market since April 11, 2007 and hasn't lowered the price despite the fact that nearly every other home in the neighborhood has done a 10% reduction in this period and still not sold. Look for this house to be a rental.

5252 TEESDALE AVENUE, Valley Village, CA 91607 (MLS #F1728327)

This is a pretty cute little house. It's listed at $829k and Zillow estimates it at $781k. If this house were in a hot part of Sherman Oaks, it might sell at the list price but it's not. It's in Valley Village which was quite the darling during the boom but now it's looking more like the nice part of North Hollywood. The house next door needs some serious grooming -- as do several other homes on the street. I think this home is likely to get reduced before it sells.

4246 GREENBUSH AVENUE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 (MLS #F1728930)

UPDATE: Told you so... after less than one month on the market, this listing is inactive.

A gem. At $829k, this house will not last. It's walking distance to the boulevard and it's just darling for a couple with no kids. Zillow estimates it lower at just $780k -- nobody will care.

5013 VENTURA CANYON AVENUE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 (MLS #F1719927)

Hubba hubba. This is a remodel done right, ceiling to floor. Huge lot, nice street (well, Milikin Jr. High is at the end of the street and that's a bit of a bummer but probably not a deal breaker). At $1.6M it will probably require a reduction but not much. It was last sold in 2005 for $1.1M.

4500 MORELLA AVENUE, Studio City, CA 91607 (MLS #F1719428)

Price Reduced: 07/11/07 -- $1,049,000 to $1,025,000
Price Reduced: 07/29/07 -- $1,025,000 to $999,900

Get over yourself. It's a cute house, I get it. But it's also a 2bed/1bath. Zillow estimates it at $785k and it last sold in 2001 for $399k. I think they would be very very lucky to get $700k.

4447 FARMDALE AVE, Studio City, CA 91602 (MLS # 07_180385)

U-G-L-Y! You aint got not alibi! You're ugly! Sorry, but it's true. This house needs a face lift, like bad. The bedrooms are too small for a house this size (2,219 sq. ft.). Zillow estimates the house at $916k but Zillow is very very wrong on this one. The house has been listed since April 23, 2007 with no takers.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Take Atwater, for example.

This morning I was perusing California Housing Forecast and I came across a Zillow graph of property values in Atwater, California (Hello, Atwater! I've seen you lurking on the site). The rest of you may be wondering: where's Atwater? Well, it's kind of in the middle of the state (click map to enlarge).

Anyhoo, the point is that this Zillow market graph for Atwater shows how home values are doing over there:

Yes, People. This is in California. And, yes, that is a very steep decline. To put it in perspective, let's look at the 10 year graph:

I realize that Atwater is a very different market than Los Angeles. But it's still in California. Could the Los Angeles graph dump as sharply? Hmmmm.