Saturday, October 25, 2014

Check out my new Yelp review!

Thanks, Jim and Elizabeth, for my new 5-star Yelp review.  Jim and Elizabeth, the writers, are the new owners of the Hollywood Hills home that I blogged about last week.  Even though the transaction got a little hairy, I had a great time working with J&E and I miss them already.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Surprise! Mortgage interest rates are really low.

In defiance of expectations, mortgage interest rates moved down this week.  All the financial experts said they'd be going up and we'd probably hit 5% by the end of the year.  Just shows what experts know, eh?  Right now, rates look like this:
30 year fixed: 20% down = 4.00% with no points
30 year fixed: 10% down = 4.125% with one point

It may be time to pull the trigger on purchasing a home.  BTW, my 11485 Moorpark #17, Studio City is open on Saturday from 2-5 and 629 N. Keystone in Burbank is open on Sunday, 2-5.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hollywood Hills house closed yesterday - whew!

First-time buyers Elizabeth and Jim are the proud new owners of this home in the Lake Hollywood area.  This transaction had a bunch of challenges.

The house is a flip and the new stuff is really nice, but an entire lower unit had been torn out on the order of L.A. City.  And there were lots of brand-new concrete pours and patches which indicated lots of cracks and slipping.  This is no surprise as the house is built on a hillside.

We had lots of inspections and estimates and the news wasn't so great.  But two factors made this purchase a go: first, Jim and Elizabeth are up to the challenge of a not-perfect house and second, the sellers gave the buyers a huge, huge credit.  (It's the largest credit of any real estate transaction I've been involved in.)

I am eager to see how Jim and Elizabeth (wonderful clients, btw) will fix this up.  Here are pics of a friendly neighborhood kitty and also the sunset view from the front porch.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Check out my brand-new website at JudyGraff.com!


Please visit JudyGraff.com and take a look at my newly-designed website.  It has lots of new functionality plus many of the same popular features as the old one.  Search the local mls, read my blog posts (without pictures), and get community news.  Some bugs are still being worked out, but I hope you like it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Burbank-style Octoberfest

Now that you've seen this, you can't un-see it.  Thanks, clients George and Yvonne Feucht, for the fun night! George, you are adorable in your lederhosen!

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Best breakfast in Studio City -- by item

Who needs Yelp, eh? Let's all hop on the restaurant ratings bandwagon! Lately, I've been sampling various specific breakfast food items in my new hometown of Studio City.  I've come up with a not-so-definitive "best of" list by item for those of you that share my tastes. 

I select Jinky's on Colfax and Ventura for the best all-around egg-type breakfast.  Not only do they have many, many kinds of omelets and such, they also have quick service with a smile, celebrity spotting, a dog-friendly patio, and mimosas.  Coffee is a bit pricey but you get a whole pot.

Now on to the really carbohydrate-y stuff that we won't admit we eat:

French toast even better than Mom used to make can be found at Tujunga Village's Aroma.  This is dipped in the real egg batter stuff and is so rich that I dare you to finish an order.  It's even better than nearby foodie-fave Girasol's brunch French toast.  This is how I want to start my birthday day for the rest of my life.

Good old standby Du-Pars has the best regular pancakes (pictured above).  Light, fluffy, and scrumptious, the order is so large that you'll want to share these (or maybe not).  The parking lot there at Laurel and Ventura is a bit tricky, so go early.

What is it about banana pancakes? I don't know, but I crave these when the bananas are cooked in the batter, not just laid on top.  Vivian's on Ventura, close to Vineland does a wonderful job on these noms (pictured above), and their patio is delightful as well.  The other breakfast items are good, too, although they are a bit chintzy on the toast.

Yes, my weight is up 5 lbs from last year when I moved.  Please feel free to comment, or add other faves.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Long before there was a Studio City, Burbank, Toluca Lake...there was an SFV and here's a link to pictures

Take a look at these pictures from our land.  These are from back in the day when "real estate" meant "farmland" or "belongs to the Catholic Church." Most of these were taken in the 1880s.  Unrecognizable? I'll say.  http://waterandpower.org/museum/Early_Views_of_the_San_Fernando_Valley.html.  Thanks, Melinda, for the heads up!

Friday, September 26, 2014

629 N. Keystone in Burbank is open Sunday from 2 to 5!

If you think there's nothing left to buy, you haven't seen this lovely 3+2 in Burbank's Magnolia Park.  Totally upgraded with an open, flexible floor plan and two gorgeous patios, the home also boasts a chef's kitchen and sparkly, saltwater pool.  And it's in Burbank's best neighborhood, too.  Steve and I will be there spinning tunes from 2 to 5 on Sunday. More pictures and info can be found at 629NKeystone.com.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Open Sunday, Sept. 21, from 2 to 4 -- 11485 Moorpark #17, Studio City

Please swing by my open house tomorrow in Studio City and see this amazing townhouse.  It has 2 beds, 2.5 baths, two stories, two balconies, a fireplace, a gym, and a gorgeous pool.  It has been spiffed up with new paint and new upstairs carpet.  Best of all, it's priced at an affordable $399,000 and the HOA is only $225 a month.  Do the math: depending on your down payment, that's cheaper than renting the same-sized unit.

Plus, this is in the neighborhood that everybody loves -- Tujunga Village.  Walk to Girasol, Vitello's, Aroma, groceries, cool little stores...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Please and thank you for open houses

For the most part, holding open houses are one of my favorite real estate things.  It can be like a party and I get to meet new people.  Some people think that houses never sell from an open house showing, but that's completely false and I've done it several times.  However, some open house guests amaze me with unmindful behavior.  If you're visiting an open house, please...

  • Please don't bring your pet in the home with you.  I, like you, love dogs more than people, but that sentiment isn't universally shared.  It's not just that your pet might have an accident; it's that other guests may be afraid, allergic, etc.  I'm sure your dog isn't aggressive but nobody else knows that -- plus, there may be pets in the home that get aggressive at the sight of your dog. Thanks!
  • No matter how awesome your kids are, please keep them with you and maybe even hold their hands. Nobody wants an accident and your little ones are on unfamiliar turf.  Nobody wants anything broken in the house, either. Thanks!
    • This goes double for kids around outside swimming pools.  Your toddler may swim like Diana Nyad, but you probably don't, I don't either, and why cause panic to rise among all guests when you turn your back for one minute? Thanks. 
  • This "please" comes with a story.  The one time one of my open houses was burgled was right at the end of it.  The people posed as open house guests just as we were wrapping up, putting things away, and I was distracted.  They new I was distracted.  My bad.  The guys, who didn't look like potential home buyers, immediately went for the top drawer of the dresser and stole jewelry.  Of course, I make my sellers take all valuables out of the house, but...If you are a couple of guys who come at the end of the open, or a posse of young adults, expect me or my trusty bouncer to escort you through and not leave you alone for a second.  If you're really home buyers, you won't mind that, will you? Thanks!
I hope to see you at Sunday's open house at 11485 Moorpark #17 in Studio City.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

11485 Moorpark #17, Studio City, is now on the market

Do you want an affordable townhouse in the Tujunga Village neighborhood of Studio City? Wanna live within 3 blocks of Aroma Cafe (below), Vitellos or Girasol? (Yay! Never circle for parking again!) Here's your chance.  This 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse has just listed for $399,000.  It features a front exposure, two balconies, washer/dryer hookups, security building, new paint, new carpet, laminate downstairs, fireplace, lots of closet space, pool and gym.  The HOA is incredibly low -- $225/month -- and includes earthquake insurance.  And of course the complex allows pets. Come visit me and the stalwart Steve Fisher there at this Sunday's (9/21) open house from 2 to 5 pm.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

629 N. Keystone, Burbank is open Thursday from 9:30 to noon and this weekend, too!

Looking for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with an open floor plan, killer kitchen, pool and aesthetic flair? Come see my 629 N. Keystone on Thursday, the 11th, from 9:30 to noon or on Sunday, the 14th, from 2:00 to 5:00.  It is listed for $779,000 and is in a great Magnolia Park neighborhood with outstanding Burbank public schools. Other showings by pre-arrangement.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

629 N. Keystone, Burbank - great indoor-outdoor flow and 3 beds, 2 baths!

Interactive FloorPlan Presentation


This amazing Magnolia Park home will be on the market tomorrow for $779,000.  Everything you could want is here: cool aesthetic vibe, great indoor-outdoor flow, big rooms, open floor plan, huge pool, beautiful xeriscape with fountains, big 2-car garage, chefs' kitchen and stellar location.  Call me for more details or if you'd like to view it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Jens closes on his new Burbank condo

This is Jens, otherwise known as JB (it's been a month for JBs).  He just closed escrow on his first home -- a great two bedroom condo in east Burbank.  This was supposed to be a video of me handing him the keys, but alas, the film thingy wasn't working on my phone. Fun fact: his backpack contains paint samples. Jens has been a wonderful client and was very eager to learn the ins-and-outs of the home buying process.  I know he and girlfriend Kristy will really have a wonderful time making the condo their own.  Another nice thing: The listing agent on this is an old friend of mine from Burbank.  She showed me a lot of ropes when I was a newbie agent and it was great to work with her again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Karen and JB closed escrow on their Sherman Oaks condo today!

My wonderful first-time home buyers, Karen and JB, closed escrow on their new home today.  This couple met in college and will be married next year.  Even though they are still in their 20's, they wanted to take the plunge into home ownership and we looked at Sherman Oaks condos for about a month until we found the perfect place. Best of luck with everything, K&JB, and thanks for introducing me to Local Peasant in Sherman Oaks!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Coming soon...Magnolia Park 3+2!

Have you been looking for a single family home in Burbank's Magnolia Park? I just might have something for you.  There are no pictures yet because the sellers are still spiffing it up, and it's not officially on the market until after Labor Day. It has an open floor plan, lots of cool architectural details, two amazing patios, a chef's kitchen and a super saltwater pool, among other things.  It's defined by its unforced naturalness and is certainly not your basic plain vanilla house.

Contact me if you're a serious buyer and if you think this might be right for you.

Monday, August 11, 2014

#StudioCity #celebrity sighting!

Studio City is one of the best places for celebrity sightings that I know of, and here's proof.  This is the actual Rusty, of Rusty's Discount Pet Center in Studio City! I got to meet him on Saturday.  He's a beautiful 19-month old collie, and he's really sweet and well-behaved.  I was too shy to ask to take a selfie with him, though.  The pet supply store is great, too.  It's in the same strip mall as the famed (deservedly so) sushi restaurant, Katsu-ya.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ask the Realtor: Does the seller have to disclose all property reports in their possession?

Any real estate transaction contains lots of paperwork, much of which are disclosures.  A property seller has an affirmative duty to disclose anything and everything that they know about a property.  I once had a seller disclose that a house was haunted.  Seriously.  The buyers bought it anyway.

So if a seller has property condition reports from another, earlier escrow, those must be given to the buyer, too, right? Ethically, yes.  Legally, no. 

I know; this is really surprising, and I just learned the legal answer myself.  Part of the contractual legalese says the seller only discloses "known, material facts" and doesn't specify reports. And some unethical agents will say that they never read a particular report and therefore can't possibly "know" what's in it.  I call bullshit, but there it legally is.  Property sellers, your buyers will likely find out everything about your property anyway -- why risk their wrath? And a lawsuit? Buyers, think twice about getting into a transaction with a seller that appears to withhold information -- if they seem to be concealing something, they probably are!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Insider dope: Zillow and Trulia may merge

Zillow and Trulia are having discussions about merging.  What does that mean to Los Angeles-area home buyers and sellers?  It will make home searches easier.  Rather than having two portals to view, you'll now have one.  No more cross-checking, or getting the same listing from separate sources.  And by the way, the sales info on all of the megasites comes from, yes, the local multiple listing service.  Not the Zestimates or tax records, of course, but the pictures, descriptions, showing info, amenities, etc. -- we Realtors create that and add that to our local multiple listing services.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I view SFV condos and townhomes so you don't have to

Lately I've been viewing and showing condos and townhomes in Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Burbank, Toluca Lake, North Hollywood...there are lots of nice, and not so nice, properties on the market now.  Here's a sample of what I've seen.

First, there's 11485 Camarillo #3 in Studio City (pictured above) for $409,000.  Another fixed up unit in the building was on the market for months, and never sold.  So I thought the price for this might be a little high.  But no -- I'm told it is already in escrow (after three days on the market) for over list price.  Just shows what fixing and staging can do, and it doesn't hurt that the townhouse is very close to Tujunga Village.

If you're looking for good deals on condos and townhomes, Granada Hills has several.  Most of the units there have nice square footage, private garages, and are in large complexes with amenities.  The one pictured above, on Crestview, has a gorgeous view of the entire San Fernando Valley.  Yes, Granada Hills is quite far north, and the community doesn't have a lot to boast about, but you can get units like this in the lower $400,000's.

Here's another great townhome on Camarillo in Toluca Woods.  It's in escrow now.  It has three stories, the building is beautiful, and it has a roof-top patio.  Less than 1,000 sf, it was listed for $390,000.  Worth every penny, IMO.

It's common for buyers to want to overlook condos in older buildings.  I get it, but that might deserve a re-think.  I've seen several condos in older buildings on Dickens in Sherman Oaks, like the one above.  Yes, they look like apartments inside, but huge apartments! And the buildings are amazingly well-kept up by their activist HOAs.  Condos in buildings like this can go for the $340k's up to $500's, with most being in the low to mid-$400's.

Finally, there's this one in Burbank.  It's the cheapest unit on the market at $320,000.  There's a reason it's so cheap.  The best I can say about it is that the neighborhood is nice.

Inventory is not as short for Los Angeles condos and townhomes, so there are still plenty of nice units out there.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Home buyers and (some) home sellers are coming out of the woodwork in the San Fernando Valley

Something must have happened during last weekend's rockets' red glare, because all of a sudden, everybody I know is busy with several sets of home buyers and some home sellers.  What happened to you, people?

Perhaps buyers realized that lots of home prices might come down a bit in the next few months.  That often starts to happen in early July. Maybe sellers realized that prices have peaked for the year, too.  And then, interest rates are still low and haven't seen the predicted rise.

Nobody can predict the market, but I would recommend that sellers sell now, especially in the areas of Burbank and Studio City -- people want to buy homes in good school districts before their kids start school.  And, if interest rates do go up, as all experts predict they will by the end of the year, that will have a negative effect on home prices.  And I would recommend that buyers buy now -- interest rates won't be this low much longer.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Think you're paying too much for housing in the L.A. area? You are.

Today's L.A. Times reports that housing costs are a greater burden here in the L.A. area than in any other metro area.  It's nice to have it confirmed, eh? That's not just for mortgages, it's for rent, too.  And this statistic is from a study was done by Harvard.  The study sites stagnant wages as the primary contributing factor. (photo credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg; article by Tim Logan)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Country Club Park and HPOZs

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to show property in Country Club Park, a lovely area that I had never explored before.  Where’s that? It’s just off of Wilshire and Olympic in mid-central L.A. That’s an area, or at least an intersection, that most of us have all been in before.  However, like much of Los Angeles, residential neighborhoods can be dramatically different from the commercial parts of the nearby main roads. (BTW, the house pictured above and below is the Milbank Estate.  That wasn't the property I showed, unfortunately.)

Country Club Park was once the western edge of the city.  In the 1920’s, large homes were built that reflected the popular architectural styles of the times: craftsman, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, and Mediterranean Revival.  Of course, land was relatively easy to come by then, so big lots, broad lawns, and mature foliage are characteristic of this neighborhood.

Country Club Park is also designated an HPOZ, or historic preservation overlay zone.  This zone preserves the distinct architectural character of the neighborhood houses, provided that they conform to the style and period being preserved.  If you are a homeowner in a HPOZ, and you want to change the exterior of your historic home, you’ll need to get permission from the 5-member HPOZ board.  Minor repairs are easy to approve, of course, but if you want to substantially change the outside, it will take longer and may not be approved.  Of course, you can change the inside without the board’s permission.  L.A. City’s Office of Historic Planning provides a guide to maintaining your historic home.

Here’s another benefit to owning a historic home in a HPOZ: you may qualify for tax savings through the Mills act. Qualifying owners can receive a potential property tax reduction and use the savings to help rehabilitate, restore and maintain their historic homes.

For more info on HPOZs and the Mills Act, please visit preservation.lacity.org.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Something that you would not expect to find growing in Studio City: blueberries!

Who knew? Along with citrus fruit, pot pomegranates and figs, blueberries can grow in Studio City.  The beauties on this tart were grown by my Tujunga Village/Woodbridge Park.  He harvested four gallons from one bush this year.  If you would like to plant a blueberry bush, my neighbor tells me that you will need to put a net over the bush or birds will do the harvesting for you.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Please visit my Examiner.com page

I am now writing short features about San Fernando Valley real estate and the home buying and selling process for Examiner.com.  Please visit my page there at http://www.examiner.com/real-estate-in-los-angeles/judy-graff and subscribe.  Thanks!