Monday, March 31, 2008

New Neighbor

Well, well, well, guess who just moved to Sherman Oaks? I'll give you a hint:

Read about it here. Or just enjoy a few quick pics. This is the back of Ms. Pressley's new digs.

And these are the stairs. But if you've seen one McMansion, you've seen 'em all. Am I right?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

MLS Photo(s) of the Day

So, as I was perusing the MLS today, I came across this odd kitchen photo. You might not see the odd part right away. But focus on the counter lighting.

Yeah. Those are banker's desk lamps scattered around all the counters. How weird is that? Why would you put $16 lamps from Office Depot all over the kitchen in your $1.3M house? Seriously.

Then, this next photo from the same listing captured my interest. Do 'art' photos sell houses? Every once in a while you see a listing with a random close up of a magnolia or a rose with dew drops on it. Or maybe a little Buddha sitting in the yard. This one is particularly creepy though. It's like 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' or something.

Monday, March 24, 2008

House Hunt Retrospective: THE DOOZIE

I first wrote about this house on the L.A. Times blog, LA LAND, and also here. But there's been some recent noteworthy activity. Namely: a short pay.

4507 VARNA AVENUE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
MLS# F1743246
Cyberhomes™ estimate $685,992
Bedrooms: 2
Baths: 1.5
Square Feet: 1,598
Lot Size: 8,100 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1949
Listing Date: 11/11/07
Price Reduced: 12/16/07 -- $869k to $839k
Price Reduced: 03/14/08 -- $839k to $790k (Short Pay)

Last Sale: 07/13/07
Sales Price: $789,909

Shall we all count down to foreclosure together? I give 'em another month.

Returning to Contour Drive

I last wrote about Contour Drive here. One of those houses is back - after failing to rent (apparently).

13507 CONTOUR DRIVE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(MLS #: F1756948)

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 3
Square Feet: 2,038
Lot Size: 4,994 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1952
Listing Date: 03/05/08

List Price: $899,000
Last Sale: 04/21/05
Sales Price: $1,026,000

Per Sq. Ft.:
Based on List Price: $441
Based on Zestimate™: $508
Based on Cyberhomes estimate: $549
Sold Homes: $728 (Pretty sure this number is jacked up somehow).

So, $127k haircut is pretty painful, no? And I don't think they are going to come close to getting their asking price. I think this owner would be very lucky to get $825k today. Very very lucky.

Dear Sir or Madam: Please step away from the crackpipe.

4122 SUNNYSLOPE AVE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(MLS #: 08_255581)

List Price: $1,049,000
Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 2
Square Feet: 1,400
Lot Size: 7,980 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1938
Listing Date: 02/15/07
On Market: 403 days

It's possible they entered the listing date incorrectly because check out the last sale on 05/29/07 for: $850k.

Anyhoodle, I don't want you to choke on your coffee (or spit coffee all over your computer screen) so go ahead and swallow before you check out the per sq. ft. stats:

Based on List Price: $749
Based on Zestimate™: $654
Based on Cyberhomes estimate: $520
Sold Homes: $572

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

D'oh! On Simpson Ave...

4454 SIMPSON AVE, Studio City, CA 91607
(MLS #: 08_257215)

Bedrooms: 3
Full Baths: 3
Square Feet: 1,810
Lot Size: 7,727 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1951
Listing Date: 02/21/08

Last Sale: 06/28/05
Sales Price: $849,500

Price Reduced: 03/19/08 -- $899,000 to $799,000

Here's the annoying listing description (or should I say: "annyng lstng dscr"?)

"Trdtnl hm welcomes you w/ a white picket fence, well lndscpd. Red brick porch & diamond grid wndws. Hm features hrdwd flrs & white beamed clngs in lvng room & fmly rm .The lvng rm w/ frplc opens to dine area, leading you to bright & spacious ktchn, recently re-tiled. All bdrms full of natrl sunlt, mstr br w/ wainscoting & mstr ba, lrg wndws & views of pool. Huge fmly rm features frplc & french drs leading you to prvt patio w/ pool & grassy area. Owner says approx. $100k of imprvmnts/repairs."

I love that, at the end of the description, the agent is basically saying: "The owner wants you to think he put $100k worth of improvements into this house but really the previous owner did. I want no part of this shenanigans but he insists I put this in. So there it is. Happy?"

And why would the owner insist on saying that? My guess is that he fell for it and figures somebody has got to be at least as foolish.

Oops! I almost forgot ... this house will sell for less than $750k (if it sells at all).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

No hope on Hopevale Drive

3954 HOPEVALE DRIVE, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(MLS #: F1758841 )

Bedrooms: 3
Baths: 3
Square Feet: 2,234
Lot Size: 6,029 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1987
Listing Date: 03/17/08

Last Sale: 09/20/06
Sales Price: $1,355,000
Zestimate™ $1,171,500

And the current list price? Wait for it... wait for it...


Sure, it's an REO. But that's a big (and kind of unusual) house in the hills of Sherman Oaks. This is gonna rock the comps fo' shizzle.

Here's the details on the priors:

Sale price: $1,035,000
Buyer: Citibank NaN/Avail , 0
Seller: Quality Loan Service Corp

Sale price: $1,355,000
Buyer: Farrah Madrid
Seller: Pechter,Steven J & Pamela M

Monday, March 17, 2008

House Hunt Retrospective: House Number The Third

Behold, the third house we bid on. Here's the original post. I really loved this house because it is in a great location and I am partial to Spanish style homes. It needed work and it was quite small. It was listed for $675k. We bid $685k (Can you believe it? Me?! Bid over list?!) almost exactly a year ago today. Ultimately, it went to an all cash buyer with a crazy short escrow. It looks to me like the house is owner occupied and they did not tear it down. They just painted it mustard yellow.

The seller made out pretty well. Back in October 2004, she paid $492,636 (yeah, I don't quite get that figure either) with a $423k variable rate mortgage.

Here's what Zillow thinks has happened to this home's value since it's last sale. I think Zillow is smoking crack on this one. I doubt very much that this house would sell for more than $600k today.

I have to say that I am a wee bit disappointed that we didn't get this little house; even with all the market turmoil. It is a cute neighborhood and conveniently located. BUT, I'm sure something will better will come along with this all shakes down. N'cest pas?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Remember the Cash-Back-At-Close House?

UPDATE: It turns out this house was recorded as two "half sales". That is, rather than record the sale as $650k (the actual selling price), it was recorded as two sales at $325k. Apparently this has something to do with how the title was held by the heirs. Still, $650k is quite a drop from the original list price.

I first wrote about this house here. And it's kind of the house that started it all. This agent was calling me and, in my humble opinion, begging me to commit a fraud. Which I refused to do.

Anyway, the house was originally priced at $825k and was ultimately reduced down below $700k as I recall. Finally, it went off the market and today I decided to look it up on Property Shark.

You'll never guess what it sold for. Seriously. Never.

On 12/27/2007 it sold for $325,000. At least that's what the County Recorder says.

Danut Popescu
13739 Hartsook St Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Gibboney Donald E Trust

First mortgage - none
Second mortgage - none

So what do you think happened here? After a year on the market a family member finally decided to buy it? Seems unlikely to me. But what do I know?

House Hunt Retrospective: House Number The Second

Here's the link to the original post about the second house we bid on.

This house had been purchased and re-listed within months. The guy bought the house and started to fix it up (he was doing a very nice job, btw) and then his dream house came on the market and he bought that. Which left him stuck with two houses. And he needed to at least break even on this house or he wouldn't be able to close the dream house. Hello pre-payment penalty! So basically, he wanted the new purchaser to cover the improvements he made, the agents' commission, his closing costs, and the prepayment penalty. But, sorry, the house hadn't appreciated that much in the five months he owned. We couldn't come to an agreement on price -- especially because I did not like the neighborhood. Eventually, somebody else agreed to pay the price and they appear to be occupying the property.
Here's the Zillow graph since last purchase:

I have to say, this is another house I'm really happy we didn't buy. But, once again, it's not so much about the depreciated value. This just wasn't the right house for us -- I wouldn't have been happy there. We were bidding based on very limited inventory in our price range (read: desperation) and we didn't really know what we were looking for in a house yet.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

House Hunting: A Retrospective

Well, it's been over a year since E and I started our little house hunt. Can you believe it? This week, I thought we'd take a look back at all the properties on which E & I made offers. Here's the first one (click on link to see all the photos).

It was a cute little house in Woodland Hills. E hated Woodland Hills. HATED. But it was close to where I was working at the time and it was on a really big lot on a pretty tree-lined street and a stones throw from the Gelson's Calabasis shopping center (convenient!). As I recall, we bid about $630k and it sold for $679k (but today, Zillow says it's worth $610k).

Here's Zillow's value graph showing the decline since last sale:

On the whole, I have to say I'm glad we didn't get this house. It was too far away and it was a bit too small. Tune in tomorrow for House Number The Second.