Monday, March 24, 2008

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.


Anonymous said...

Well if the bathroom as a bidet, it must be worth it! I could see a knife catcher offering $800K or so though.

Here's the Redfin link in case anyone wants to check it out:

fursthome said...

Dear Kate,

I just discovered your blog (today) through the process of endless searches for my "perfect home" online. So far I love everything of yours that I've read. I'm a Newlywed, looking to buy my first home for +/- 500K in the Encino, Sherman Oaks, Tarzana, Valley Village, and Studio City areas. Do you think that it's possible to find any good foreclosure deals within these areas? What advice do you have for me?

1st Home Buyer

Kate said...

Dear 1HB:

Do not buy this year. Sorry, but the number one cause of divorce is financial trouble. And if you buy in those areas right now, you will lose money over the short term.

Sure, you think you will live in your new house for 5 or 10 years... but think back to 5 years ago. Did you know then that you would be where you are now? Five years is a long time and it's hard to predict.

So buying a house that you know will go down over that time period means you could end up between a rock and a hard place if you have to move. In a stable market, at least you'd have some hope of breaking even if you had to move in the short term. My advice to you is: rent. Take your time, watch the market.

fursthome said...

Thank you,

sounds like great advice. That's currently what I'm doing. Renting a place in Encino for $1100/month, while I wait and watch the market. However, don't you think a foreclosure would be affordable enough to avoid "financial trouble." Would you say that buying a foreclosure now is a bad idea? Do you still recommend waiting?

Thanks again,

Anonymous said...


Even foreclosures might be overpriced. Do as Kate says, watch the market. You won't be any worse off in a year: more downpayment, prices won't be any higher, and you'll see where things are going.

Go to a buy vs rent calculator (NYTimes has one) and plug in the $. Your rent is nice and low at $1100. Don't forget taxes and all the other utility/maintenance costs of owning. Plug in a few different scenarios (market goes down, market goes up a tiny bit, like 1% at MOST) and see what it says. Betcha it says renting is better than buying!

Anonymous said...

I say everyone who is on the market should start making serious lowball offers. And I mean serious - 50% to 60% less than asking price - even if you dont want the house. Who cares? Let em sweat! If everyone made a $400K offer on a house listed at $1M, pretty soon, even $600K looks good. Why have mercy on these people? They all drove up the market prices and prevented us from getting our homes...

Anonymous said...

I saw this house when I was looking for a rental - it's VERY nice inside, but a bit awkward (the only way to the lower level is either the outside stairway or a very tight spiral staircase in the kitchen).

I remember the Realtor called us a few times to let us know they'd had "several showings" and we should hurry if we wanted it, to which my husband replied, "so there are offers?" The Realtor responded, "We've had several showings."

We chose a different place, and this listing disappeared off WSR so I'd assumed it had rented. Guess not!

Anonymous said...

Lately every time I go to see a place, the agent tells me, "There are multiple offers..."

Andrew said...

Dear HB1,

Wow, as much as I enjoy Kate's blog, her advice to you to NOT buy because you'll get a divorce is pretty, uh, intense. My newlywed wife and I bought in Van Nuys in 2004, and the years have flown by. Yeah, the house is probably underwater right now, but we've enjoyed it, and don't plan to move anytime soon, so we're not out anything and the tax advantage is phenomenal. You can absolutely buy in our neighborhood (and please do!) for less than $400k. In fact, the house on the corner just got a foreclosure sign in the yard: 14661 Cohasset St. We'd be neighbors!


Anonymous said...

ANDREW advised FURSTHOME to buy now. He said --

"...Yeah, (our) house is probably underwater right now, but we've enjoyed it, and don't plan to move anytime soon..."

Kate's main reason for suggesting
not to buy now was that one
can't really know if they "don't plan to move(or sell) anytime soon".

Three years from now, Andrew may have to move and what he paid in 2004 may be 100-200K more than what he will be able to get in the bear market for SFHs. So Kate's point is
very valid.

Andrew said...

Aside from ribbing Kate about her post to 1HB, the points I was trying to make were:

1) Moving into our house in 2004 has given us greater joy than the $$ we might have saved by waiting until the prices dropped.

2) I would like to see smart, like-minded people to move into my neighborhood. :)

I think that 1HB should buy the house that they a) really want and b) can afford determined by this time-honoured method: is the loan less than 3 times your yearly salary? If so, you can afford it.

Lastly, no one should be treating their house as their primary investment vehicle. Buy a house because you want to live in a house and not an apartment.

Good luck 1HB!

kate said...


I love me some Van Nuys, I do. But if 1HB is renting in Encino, I suspect he is not loving Van Nuys enough to buy there. BUT, if you are willing to buy in Van Nuys, I think you will find that the Lake Balboa part of Van Nuys is pretty, quiet, and has a low crime rate.

Andrew is not wrong about the "3x your salary" formula. It's a formula that I plan to follow myself. The problem is that the market and I currently disagree about what a house that costs 3x my salary should look like. When the market and I finally reach an agreement, then this blog will probably take a turn (hope y'all like to read about gardening and knitting and such).

Finally, to answer 1HB's latest question: even a foreclosed home is overpriced right now. At least if it's South of the Boulevard. However, I'd say that foreclosures in Reseda and Van Nuys (and other neighborhoods that started to decline earlier in this cycle) are probably a good deal now. A home in those areas priced between $200k and $300k is unlikely to dip much lower.

Anonymous said...

What about the houses in Van Nuys that are listed right now at $600k?

Andrew said...

For $600k in Van Nuys, you should get 2000 square feet of house plus a nice big chunk of land! And maybe jewel-encrusted sinks.

As for the glad day when Kate is forced to blog about gardening, I have to say, gardening is something I didn't realize I would enjoy as much as I have.