Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"The Walking Dead" - Update

We featured 8616 Sherwood Ave back in April in our "Walking Dead" post.

As a reminder, this was a bank-owned, 2BR / 2 BA 1,440 sq ft SFR on a 3,100 sq ft lot in what I would argue is a nice "WeHo West" neighborhood.

It appeared that the most recent buyers ran out of money while renovating (although having seen the place, it looked complete), and the bank buy-back was $782,000.

First listed in November for a ridiculous $1,049,900, it was reduced/relisted multiple times, with the last listing being in March for $849,900.

Well, it looks like the property sold on June 1 for $810,000.

Congrats to the bank on this one. Hard to tell what exactly transpired, but it looks like they might have come out even on this. Best of luck to the new buyers - given the property and lot size, I'd argue for a mid $600s market value, although it does get a location premium (but not 25%).

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Reality vs. Delusion

First, a tip of the hat to "Warchest" over at SMDM ... I should probably pay him a royalty every time I use some form of the word "delusion" when talking about pricing, since he really coined its use in this context. Warchest - put it on my tab!

One of our theses here at WeHo Homes - not that it takes a lot of smarts to figure it out (unless you're a delusional seller) - is that the wave of bubble deflation will look like this:

- Outlying areas hit. Check.
- Lower-priced "inlying" areas hit. Check.
- Condos in nicer neighborhoods hit. Happening.
- SFRs in nicer neighborhoods hit. Starting to happen but still in denial.

Here's an example of the last two events, and one that shows a contrast between two sellers. As we continue to say, be patient ...

1145 Larrabee St. #5 (90069)
2BR / 1BA
870 sq ft
HOA: $326/mo

DESIGNER DONE CORNER UNIT CONDO! This ultra chic 2 bedroom 1 bath condo boasts loads of natural light, a beautifully updated kitchen with stainless steel appliances, wood floors and an in unit washer/dryer. The master is a tranquil oasis with french doors opening to a private balcony. The bathroom has been remodeled with top of the line materials. Wonderful location north of Sunset close to shops and restaurants.This is the BEST DEAL AROUND!

Sold: 7/90 - $185,000

Sold: 8/91 - $170,000

Sold: 7/98 - $85,000 (are we paying attention yet???)

Sold: 7/00 - $190,000

Sold: 7/02 - $337,500

Sold: 8/05 - $510,000

Here we seem to have a seller in touch with reality. We've already been seeing 2005 rollbacks and have started to see some 2004s. This unit appears to have been upgraded some since the prior purchase, so we may be into an early 2005 rollback with the listing price, which is probably a smart place to start. There are no signs of "distress" indicated (not a short sale or REO) from what I can find, so this seller has accepted that he/she will take a loss given the current environment. Kudos. Of course, we believe that we'll eventually get back to early 2000s pricing, so low to mid-300s is probably more reasonable, but time will tell.

559 Huntley Dr. (90048)
4BR / 3BA
1,818 sq ft

Private & Gated, this Spacious Country English juxtaposes a modern interior w/ the charm of a Cottage style exterior. From the private courtyard w/ trickling fountain, Step into large scale rooms with vaulting open beamed ceilings, glass walls & a loft library. Spacious cooks kitchen with marble counters & stainless appliances. Step down master in the rear which opens to a sparkling pool & spa. Also a beautifully done detached one bedroom guest house plus bonus room perfect for a gym or office.

Sold: 6/12/08 - $1,830,000

No real comments here - the numbers speak for themselves. Of course, missing in the description is the fact that your property abuts the commercial establishments on Melrose. So you've got that going for you. Also, you're in competition with the larger, remodeled 551 Huntley a couple houses down, which has the benefit of a "nude pool" that we profiled last month.
No explicit signs of upgrades here, aside from the "flipper's double" of counters and appliances, so maybe some work has been done, but pricing higher than a year earlier? That's SO 2007 ...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Apples to Apples in "WeHo West"?

435 Westmount Dr. (90048)
3BR / 1.75BA
1,344 sq ft ($855/ft)
5,400 sq ft lot

Just listed

Cozy Span bungalow set privately in an urban oasis. Enter thru gated arbor. Living Room features barreled ceilings, FP, hardwood floors & picture window. Open LR & dining room flows into custom galley kitchen which is perfectly appointed for gourmet dinners. 3 bds/1.75 bas. Both rear bedrooms have French Doors which open out to lush yard, with Zen inspired Koi pond. Lose yourself in the tranquility, only minutes from shopping, entertainment & restaurants.

Sold: 9/3/04 - $950,000

Yes, I know. Technically, I think we're talking "WeHo Adjacent" here. This property is on the cul-de-sac portion of Westmount (the larger spur, not the smaller one coming off La Cienega), and the WeHo boundary - I believe - cuts through Westmount in that area.

In any case, I thought this would be an interesting base case. We've been seeing - and predicting - 2004 rollbacks to be hitting the market. The description doesn't seem to indicate any major upgrades to the property since the 2004 sale, so this could be a nice comparison.

Despite the not-technically-WeHo-address, the house is in a nice area and looks to be in good shape. We can debate the merits of being a block from La Cienega, but given that you're a few lots from the end of the cul-de-sac, at least you're not bounded by a parking lot, like the properties at the end.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

WeHo West

Lots of good comments recently. When I get some more time in the next week or so, I'm going to try and do a comparison of a few neighborhoods and take a look at some data to try and answer that $64 question of "where are we headed?"

In the meantime, how about some real estate porn? The "crown jewel" of our little area to some, a/k/a "land of the snobs" to others, the neighborhood known as "West Hollywood West".

In looking at some of the SFR listings in WeHo West, and thinking about that "where are we headed" question, it's difficult to get an apples-to-apples because, like its truly Western brethren in Beverly Hills or Santa Monica, there's been a whole lotta scrapin' going on in the past 10 years.

Enjoy ...

8822 Rangely Ave.
3BR / 3.5BA
3,150 sq ft
5,000 sq ft lot

New Construction

Newer Contemporary Architectural Musm. Quality Master-Piece in Prime Western part of West Hollywood. A 2bed+2.5bth main house built around a decadent designer central courtyard connecting to large roof top patio/lounge with fire place. There is also a sep. 1bed. loft unit with multi functional use & its own private patio. Open floor plan enhanced by over 14' high ceiling & walls of glass. Superb example of Urban with indoor/outdoor living.

Listed: 8/5/08 - $2,795,000

Delist/Relist game several times until latest listing on 6/22.

330 Huntley Dr.
4BR / 3BA
2,600 sq ft
5,100 sq ft lot

Newer Construction

Beautiful execution & superb quality unite to create this extraordinary 4 bed, 3 ba + den Med. residence. Located majestically on a cul-de-sac, this home has a spacious Frml Lv, Dining rm highlighted by a frplce, wide plank dk wd flrs & arched windows. The gourmet kit incl SS applnc & extensive use of cust tiles, fixtures & cabinetry. Adj to the kit is a spectacular den w/ coffered beamed ceilings & cust built-ins. (see private remarks).

Sold: 12/05 - $1,000,000 (assume scraped property)

8703 Rosewood Ave
3BR / 2.5BA
2,391 sq ft
4,600 sq ft lot

Reduced 100 K !!!Exquisite Mediterranean home in one of the best West Hollywood neighborhoods, steps away from high end boutiques, great restaurants and coffee houses. 2 stories, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and family room .Built in 1997 and recently remodeled.The chef's kitchen and family room open to the backyard with new pool creating the perfect flow for entertainment. Professional appliances in kitchen. 2 car garage attached with driveway wide enough to accomodate another 2 cars .

Sold: 7/00 - $710,000

Sold: 4/05 - $1,500,000 (remodeled prior to this to justify 100%+ increase in 4.5 yrs?)

Listed: 5/14/09 - $2,249,000 (if remodeled prior to 2005 purchase, up 40% from a date we've seen prices roll back to in some areas)

Monday, June 22, 2009

And by "Rare", You Mean Bloody??

1233 N. Flores St. #204
1BR / 1BA
744 sq ft
HOA: $330/mo

Short Sale


Sold: 5/98 - $75,000

Sold: 7/01 - $174,000 (and people say the bubble didn't start until 2003?)

Sold: 11/05 - $385,000 (yep, 100%+ in 4 years sounds right)

Why, why, why? Why, when I'd prefer to focus on SFRs or nice and/or unique condos/townhomes, do listings like this come up to bring my cynical side to the surface?

This is one of several "rare" listings I've seen recently. No, "rare" is when the price drops to a level where it's actually "highly leasable for an investor". You know, investors are people who generally like to make money over a period of time?

At the current pricing level, monthly payment would be around $2,300 (5.5% with 20% down). This place looks to be in a nice area, but to think you're getting more than $1600 or so for rent in this market is laughable. I've seen decent 2BRs at $1800-2000 on Craigslist recently. So, yes, by all means, investors come forward!

Of course, we have another case of a seller trying to walk away with minimal losses in this short sale situation. This property sold for the high $100s in 2001 and I wouldn't be surprised to see it back to that level (not nominally, but inflation-adjusted) in the next several years.

I'd say the odds are high (as in, over 100%) that this is foreclosed on over the next month or so. Will be interesting to see where the bank starts its listing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Marketing 101 - Clues For Sale

972 N. San Vicente
2 Units
Lot Size: 6900 sq ft

Two Original Craftsman bungalo's on one lot in prime West Hollywood location. Front house approx 1400 sq ft. Back house approx 900 sq ft as well as a large Storage rental area. Surrounded by beautiful speciman trees and flowers. Perfect for a developer to convert up to 7 condo's. Newly developments within area selling quickley. Time is of the essence, this is a property you do not want to pass up !! Co-Listed

Last Sale: 6/10/05 - $1,220,000

A couple of things here. First, the petty side of things ... there's been a fair amount of ongoing discussion over at SMDM about the level of (ahem) intellect in the REAL-tor community. I personally do believe that US American REAL-tors are like any other profession - plenty of bad apples among the good. However, each time I see a listing like this - replete with misspellings - I am reminded that this is a "profession" one can enter through a multiple choice exam.

Moving on ...

The more interesting thing here is another seeming act of delusion. I won't continue beating the rollback horse, but I'll give it the whip slightly here ... look at the 2005 price. Should we really be above that level?

And, I won't pretend to know anything about developing properties and knowing the costs involved, but, despite the spelling, to say that "newly developments are selling quickley" is just a joke - how many examples have we pointed out of languishing new condos that have been forced to cut their prices significantly - and are probably still overpriced.

Point being, I do think you need to be pretty smart, and have a lot of cojones, to be in the real estate development game. During the bubble, I'm sure a lot of people got "in the game" who didn't have much skill, but got lucky with the huge run-up. Many of those have (or will have) busted out, never to return. I'm guessing the developers that are left - although they may have taken some lumps - are those who've been through cycles before and now have even a sharper eye on the financial side. Don't we think they're paying attention to the market, and the current "realistic" levels?

Maybe someone with RE development experience can chime in and tell me that I'm off base and show the group how the numbers would work for a property like this ...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Paging Willard Scott ...

A quick post here in response to an Anon's comment:

Have you thought of devoting a post to the longest-running listings?

Well, let's see ... anecdotally, a 6-month supply is historically considered a "balanced" housing market, meaning 6 months is the "average" time on the market for a property if you ex out recent years.

So, in looking at stats on properties listed longer than 6 months in WeHo:

SFRs: 16 (out of approx 75 total on market).

Condos/Townhomes: 46 (out of approx 250 total on market)

In each case, roughly 20% of the properties have been on for more than 6 months.

The "winners" ... errr ... "losers"? A/K/A the "WTF?!?" awards ...

901 N. Orange Grove Ave
1BR / 1BA (sq ft not listed)
Listed: 1/3/05 (563 days on mkt)
Reduced multiple times from $699,000 to $594,000
Last Sale: 1/05 - $579,000

8380 Waring Ave #103
1BR / 2BA, 1382 sq ft
Listed: 7/15/07 (705 DOM)
Reduced many times from $749,000 to $599,000
Last sale: 8/02 - $365,000

I actually feel like it's a waste of time to even focus on listings like this, since there's clearly no acceptance of reality.

In the SFR case, we know that we're at least at 2005 rollbacks, if not 2004, so any price above the last sale is out of line with current market. Forget the fact that we're talking about a 1BR/1BA bungalow.

In the condo case, we don't know if there's been a home-as-ATM situation. If not, get your listing off the market - you have room to drop the price to current market if you're really serious.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here (Even)!

1037 N. Laurel Ave #19 (90046)
2BR / 2BA
1,640 sq ft

Built in 2004

Just Listed

Stunning architectural celebrity owned 2BR & 2BA loft in prime West Hollywood. This dramatic designer live/work loft features 2 living areas, custom built entertainment/media centers, towering windows, concrete floors & modern roll up glass garage door. Private wrap-around roof top deck w/incredible 360 degree views. Chef's open kitchen has beautiful carrera marble counters & offers a large island w/breakfast bar. A separate office level & private ground level yard complete this urban oasis.

Sold: 8/13/04 - $848,500

Sold: 3/16/07 - $1,145,000

When both the sale numbers are in red on WeHo Homes, you know it's a bad sign, kids. Unit was new in mid-2004, already a few years into the bubble, and we know that we are seeing at least 2005 and some 2004 rollbacks, so that's probably a decent reference point for today's market. Yet the lucky previous owner made close to $300k and now the last buyer wants to get out even - oh, excuse me, above top-of-the-bubble pricing?

And, I won't get into it for privacy, but a note to "the industry" ... just because you have an iMdb listing doesn't make you a celebrity ... and a celebrity owning a place doesn't give it a premium ...

That all said, this does look like a pretty sweet place, and this is LA, so some 23 year old who just got paid a half-million for some tween movie will probably take it off the seller's hands. And so it goes ...

Ready for your close-up??

Norma Triangle Trifecta - UPDATE - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Back in March a couple of Anons alerted us to a "trifecta" of homes on Harland Ave on the fringe of Norma Triangle:

There was a for sale sign at 9056 Harland but it's gone the last I saw, and it was last being offered at $789K. It, along with 9048 and 9052, were a trifecta presentation early last year for an outrageous $3 million. No offers, so then these individual listings appeared. And, yes, I think the owner better reconsider the current asking prices.

Well, now, THEY'RE BAAAACK ... at least two of the properties. And it's good to see that the re-list game is al
ive and well:

9048 Harland Ave
2BR / 1BA
800 sq ft

Listed: Jan '09 - $725,000
Delisted: ???

9052 Harland Ave
2BR / 1BA
1,005 sq ft

Listed: Jan '09 - $749,000
Delisted: ???

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Out of the Shadows

We spent a couple posts on the Hancock Lofts (901 Hancock Ave), most recently back in April when the first unit appeared to come on the market.

At the time, "Full Disclosure" provided this insight: "At 4/23 WEHO Planning Commission hearing, local realtor said two "Hancock-ed" units were in escrow, one for $1,000K, other in $900Ks."

Well, now two additional units have come on the market:

Unit #207 is a 1+1 in 1,119 sq ft listed for $850,000

Unit #402 is a 1+1 in 1,042 sq ft listed for $935,000

Both have monthly HOA dues of $550

PropertyShark shows no sale records for the building.

Redfin, interestingly, lists 3 units as having sold - these two, plus #310 (although no sale price for any). I wonder if that's just paper pushing, or the developer getting cute and listing his/her units.

In any case, with 31 units in the building, looks like there are plenty more to come out of the shadow inventory in the coming months. Or will these become rentals? To paraphrase a previous commenter, at least you don't have to go far to get your car washed ...

"Mad as Hell" - UPDATE

We featured the short sale of the 2BR/2BA, 889 sq ft unit #102 at 960 Larrabee Street a few posts ago where we highlighted the somewhat bitter description which included the phrase "bank to discount only a small amount" from the $460,000 owed on the property.

At the time, the price had been reduced to $429,000.

Now the unit is back with a fresh price reduction to $399,000.

A couple of things - although in general, there's nothing really of interest -

1) Be careful what you wish for ... in other words $400-and-something-thousand for a small 2BR 1st floor condo is not, and never should have been, reality. The bank is down about 15% from what's owed in what appears to be a condo-as-ATM situation

2) Are we approaching rental levels here? Despite my cynicism, this is in a decent part of WeHo and seems to be reasonably upgraded. Pre-tax monthly with some realistic assumptions is about $2500. I think similar units probably rent around $2000, so maybe in the low to mid $300s this starts to make sense? (Cue the crowd who hates the idea of owning ANY condo ...)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Up to 44% Off "Sale"

As I was walking down Robertson yesterday seeing all the "sale" signs in the boutique windows, it reminded me to check back on some of the new-construction properties to see where we are on pricing.

In this post we look at the "841 Westmount Townhomes" project.

I found additional details and pictures in this RE agent's blog posting from March.

841 Westmount Drive (90069)
On Market Since: April 2008

16 Brand New Luxury Townhouse Style Condominiums. 1st floor is an open floor plan that has living room,dining and kitchen with powder room. 2nd Floor two large bedrms with access to an outdoor patio or private balcony. 3rd Flr is a private rooftop patio with unobstructed views. Units at present can be customized to buyers specifications of floors, paints, etc. Common areas include a pool, sauna and workout room. Come by and see for yourself and find out why this truly is an Oasis in the City

The blog I referenced indicates (as of March) that 5 of the units were sold and 1 pending. There are no public sale records available, so not sure if that's accurate.

Redfin has 6 units currently listed for sale. A look at the original (OK, delusional, but a reference point as to how far we've come) prices and the current list prices is below.

Unit / Size / Original List in April '08 / Current List / % change
(all are 2BR / 2.5BA units)

#2 / 1,352 sq ft / $975k / $799k / -22%
#15 / 1,504 sq ft / $1.225M / $849k / -44%
#9 / 1,570 sq ft / $1.15M / $825k / -39%
#10 / 1,200 sq ft / $975k / $775k / -26%
#8 / 1,504 sq ft / $1,225M / $849k / -44%
#11 / 1,352 sq ft / $1.075M / $799k / -35%

So, is 44% "off" a deal, with those approx 1500 sq ft units priced at $849,000?

A Redfin search of WeHo condos and townhomes between 1250 and 1750 sq ft brings up 36 units (not including the 841 Westmount units). Of those, 24 are priced less than $849,000. Obviously, that doesn't speak to location, amenities, etc, but there's a resonable amount of supply at that level. The "good news" is that the newest listing is only 3 weeks old, so there hasn't been a ton of new listings coming on the market recently.

You wonder if the developer has reached his/her pain threshold as there have been no additional price reductions since March. Even if six of the units have sold, that's less than half of the total. As we've profiled with other new-construction properties, developers in this situation appear to be fighting the dual headwinds of 1) trying to at least cover their costs while 2) not pissing off those who bought at higher levels in the building. At some point, neither will matter.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

We're Mad As Hell And ... Oh, Never Mind ...

960 Larrabee St. #102 (90069)
2BR / 2BA
889 sq ft ($483/ft)

Front corner 2 bedroom & 2 baths. Newer kitchen, LAUNDRY is allowed in the unit, hook ups are in place.Pergo floors,updated baths. there is a sm. balcony. Prime Close to ALL W. Hollywood location. Western exposure. this is a SHORT short sale, meaning seller owes $460,000. bank to discount only a small amount. both Mtg's are with the same bank so it should be a quick process. 24 hr notice to show, please. REDUCED 6/2.

Sold: A bunch of times prior to 1994 reflecting the late 80s/early 90s bubble with applicable lower and lower successive sale prices.

Sold: 7/01 - $180,000

Sold: 9/03 - $325,000

Sold: 2/05 - $420,000

Listed: 5/27/09 - $475,000

Reduced: 6/3/09 - $449,000

Reduced: 6/9/09 - $429,000

Yes, I am just posting this because I needed a good laugh. Nothing particularly remarkable about this small 2BR. It's in a decent location and appears to have been updated, but is on the first floor and has my personal favorite, laminate wood flooring.

I just like the audacity of the bank in that they're only going to "discount a small amount" from the loan balance, which appears to have been a home-as-ATM situation, or as I like to call it, the "everyone in LA drives a Range Rover, why shouldn't I?" syndrome.

Well, they've discounted almost 10% from the $460,000 and this will need to go lower to clear, since we've seen at least 2004 rollbacks in the condo market.

SFR Rental Data Point

As you know, I talk a lot on this blog about who "should" be able to afford certain properties, and where we are in the rent vs. own pricing disparity.

So I found it interesting to see this rental listing cross the MLS a couple days ago ...

948 N. Vista St (90046)
Asking: $3700/mo
(no picture)
3 Bedroom 2 Bath House for Lease. Newly Updated. Hardwood Floors, Open Floor Plan, Recess lighting, Plantation Shutters, All Stainless Steel Appliances./ Viking Stove, Bosche Diswasher. Large Back Yard with large Deck. Central Air and Heat, Washer and Dryer Hookup, Automatic Gate / and Coded Entry Door. Centrally Located. Pet Ok. If Interested call [removed]. Will show with appointment only. Price is Negotiable

Public records show this as 1,336 sq ft, but also list it as a 3+1 so not sure if the addition of the extra bath also added space or not.

Some (you snobs!) might argue that this is not "prime" WeHo, since you're not only on the east side of town, but also south of Santa Moninca, where Vista actually turns into Gardner north of SMB, so a busy street with a light, etc.

But, here we have a pretty good "comparable" in terms of an entry-level SFR. Based on personal experience, I think "price negotiable" means you could at least get a free month as part of the lease, meaning an effective monthly rental cost of approx $3,400. And you might be able to get closer to $3,000.

Let's assume $3,400 to be conservative. Looking at current rates (assuming 5.75%), you're talking about a purchase price of $800,000 to get you to a tax-affected monthly nut at that level. And that's assuming 20% down. Not sure how many "entry levelers" have $160k cash to throw down, so adjust accordingly. For example, at $650k with 15% or approx $100k down, you're talking a pre-tax monthly figure of $3,900.

There are 2 properties in the immediate area for sale:

7220 Waring is a 3+2, 1422 sq ft that is bank-owned, looks like it might need some work, and listed for $735k. It sold in Feb 2007 for $960k.

814 N. Spaulding is a 3+2.5, 1431 sq ft with some character that appears to have been updated. After listing at the delusional price of $1,099,000 in April, they fairly quickly cut to $969,000.

Also, remember that we profiled a house on the same block, 955 N. Vista St. in February here and then again in this post back in March, where the bank-owned property had been reduced to $715k. It's no longer listed for sale and property records show no recent sale (although it might have sold very recently).

Analyze away ...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Zzzzz ... Another 90069 SFR Under $900k

8467 Willoughby Ave (90069)
3BR / 2BA
1,562 sq ft ($569/ft)

On Market: 421 Days

Reduced $50k! Back on Market and Seller is Ready to Sell! Escrow fell through due to buyer financing problems. Seller says SELL NOW and has priced accordingly. Inspections from cancelled escrow show virtually pristine property condition, even zero termite work needed! WOW. What a clean property! Owners have taken meticulous care of this fully updated home. Be the lucky buyer who steals it! Granite+stainless kitchen, ebony hardwood floors, updated systems, rooftop deck+private yard.Move in+enjoy!

We last featured this property in our "Wine and Cheese" posting back in February in discussing properties that were sitting on the market with little to no price reductions. Well, now we have a recent price reduction (apparently the seller is really "ready to sell!") and are starting to see a trend of SFRs heading first below $1mm and now below $900k. Of course, readers know that at WeHo Homes, we still think decently-sized SFRs in decent neighborhoods will settle in the $700-750k range. Whether that nominal level is reached in the next 12-18 months or is inflation-adjusted over the next several years remains to be seen.

It would be interesting to know the price at which this went into escrow. I'm still of the belief that REAL-tors are not market pricing (driven primarily by delusional clients), ,and so I wouldn't be surprised if the in-escrow price was lower than the current listing, and they still think they can do better. A reminder for all: the price at which a property will sell is a price at which someone will close a deal, not the price at which the seller thinks it will sell. This property is at least a 2006 rollback, depending on when upgrades were done. Since we have already seen 2005 rollbacks, there's nothing here to "steal", despite the listing description.

As a reminder, the "death-by-1,000-papercuts" price history on this property is below, preceded by the last 2 sales, including a low $600k (assuming pre-upgrades) in 2003, already a couple years into the bubble:

Sold: 4/03 - $630,000

Sold: 11/06 - $925,000

Listed: 4/08 - $1,030,000

Reduced: 6/08 - $999,000

Reduced: 9/08 - $969,000

Reduced: 2/09 - $949,000

Delisted/Relisted 4/09 - same price

Reduced: 6/6/09 - current price

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Your friendly blogger was out of town the past several days with limited access to "the internets".

Good to be back, and let's get started by looking at three different recently-listed properties, in conjunction with the poll we posted a short while ago.

1153 Greenacre Ave (90046)
3BR / 2BA
1,503 sq ft ($662/ft)

On Market: 2 Days

Peaceful oasis on quiet cul-de-sac in wonderful neighborhood. Graceful floor plan includes 3 spacious bedrooms, living area, tiled fireplace, hardwood floors and custom cabinetry. Beautiful upgraded tile bathrooms. Custom kitchen w/Viking 6 burner/dbl ovens and dining room open to covered patio, tranquil gardens and fountain. Organic gardens include pomegranates, figs, citrus, blueberries, blackberries, roses....Upgrades include dual pane windows, electrical, plumbing and tankless water heater.

Sold: 6/00 - $409,000

Here we have a decent-sized SFR in a nice East WeHo neighborhood that appears to have been somewhat redone. Assuming the upgrades were done after the 2000 purchase, you're still looking at a healthy appreciation since then. Properties like this will be an interesting litmus test of the supply/demand equation for SFRs. Two years ago, $1mm was the minimum entry point, so I wonder if there's a bit of psychology going on here ("look, honey, a place under $1mm!").

It looks like the slightly smaller house just up the block at 1236 Greenacre, which we featured in a past Friday Night Fights feature here has gone "looking for backup" with a last list price of $849,000.

Keep in mind that at the three to four times income rule of thumb for affordability, you're looking at a family making $250-300k/year to be able to afford this, although in this low rate environment, you could argue that it's "affordable" at a $200k/yr income level.

1424 N. Crescent Heights #20 (90046)
2BR / 2BA
1,553 sq ft ($401/ft)
HOD: $828/mo
possible Mills Act property (tax credit/reduction eligible)

On Market: 6 Days


Sold: 6/02 - $662,000

Sold: 12/05 - $1,225,000

Sold: 4/09 - $718,250 (bank buy-back)
Not exactly sure what is going on here, although it looks like from the description, the unit was bought in 2002 and extensively remodeled - to the tune of a doubling of value in 3 years ...

I'm going to say we're at least at a 2002 rollback here, and much further than that if the remodeling was actually done after the 2002 purchase. If that's the case, this is among the most aggressive I've seen banks on REO properties to date. Assuming the Mills Act offsets most of the HOA fee, you're looking at a monthly cost of approx $3500. Getting close to market rents?

We featured Unit #40 in this building back in April, when we praised them for quick reaction on a price cut. However (and there are a couple other units for sale as well, all in the same range), with the prior prices in the upper $700 range, ths unit starts to look very attractive and sets a "comp" for the building. Another example of how banks getting aggressive on REOs will impact the market with another "leg down" for the condo market over the next 6-9 months, in my opinion.

(a/k/a "renter's alternative")
740 N. Kings Rd. #314 (90069)
1BR / 1BA
600 sq ft ($425/ft)

On Market: 6 Days

Top Floor Unit! View of Courtyard. This cute open floor plan unit has 1 Bedroom and 1 Bathroom with fireplace and balcony. Wonderful original unit for your first time buyers. A well maintained building, the HOA dues includes EQ Insurance, gas and water. Views of city from rooftop sundeck with BBQ. Meeting room with kitchenette and pool table, Jacuzzi spa, gym, security and garage parking. Located conveniently near restaurants and shopping.

Sold: 3/92 - $103,000

OK, OK, some would argue that any condos are "renter's alternatives", but I think that's certainly the case when it comes to 1BR units. If you're a single person, despite what people might tell you about "condos are a terrible investment", if you see a place you like, in a nice area, that you can "make" into a home, maybe you are the "first time buyer" that the listing suggests.

So, first time buyer, are you renting a 1BR for market rates of $1300-1700 as Craigslist would suggest? If so, you'd be paying about $1700 (pre-tax) on this unit, with $50K out of your pocket for a downpayment, or about $1800 with $25k out of your pocket. Tempting???