Monday, March 30, 2015

7720 Goodland closed and multiple offers are no fun

7720 Goodland in North Hollywood closed last week for $31,000 over asking.  We had fourteen offers.  I know that multiple offers aren't fun for buyers, but they are not fun for sellers either.  Of the fourteen, half were cash and half required a loan.  Half were above asking, half were below.  I had about 25 individuals asking me if I would write an offer for them.  I said no, because I hate doing dual agency in that situation -- the folks asking me to write are just looking for an angle in order to get their offer pushed.

If you're in a multiple offer situation, here's what NOT to do:
- Come in with a low price if the comparables don't warrant that.  Unfortunately, sellers are more interested in dollars than they are interested in your pretty face.
- Turn in incomplete offers.  Please make sure your agent checks all the boxes.
- Don't provide enough proof of funds to close.  I was surprised at how many buyers turned in offers without proof of enough liquid funds to cover the down payment and closing costs.  Or turned in old financial statements -- please make them current.  Or turned in financials that didn't have any of the actual buyers' names on them.  Yes, I know your parents love you but I need to see money in your name, not theirs'. Yes, we Realtors do look at that and, surprisingly enough, most of us can count.

The transaction went...okay.  The agent turned everything over to an unlicensed, untrained assistant, so that was a challenge.  And the buyer wanted to do additional inspections after she had already removed her inspection contingency.  But the transaction closed.

And by the way, we did NOT take an all-cash offer -- we took one with 20% down and a conventional loan!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A new Yelp review

Please check out my new Yelp review from the sellers of 5248 Ventura Canyon in Sherman Oaks. Josh and Danielle were dreams to work with even though they live in Cupertino.  Here at the house, we had a cooperative tenant family with four-year-old twin boys and a six-year-old, too, so showings were sometimes a bit noisy.  We received three great offers in 10 days and ended up taking the one that was $46,000 over list price. 

Of course, into each escrow a little rain must fall, and we had a kerfluffle towards the end -- I always love it when an inspector says, "That spot could be mold."  The buyers were true champs, though, and the sellers plus 3 different mold-inspectors and plumbers got everything fixed. The property closed today at $825,000.

Friday, March 13, 2015

4 beds, 3 baths, stand alone townhouse with attached garage and yard. How much would you expect to pay?

I will be bringing to market a delightful townhome next week.  It's in a gated community in North Hills/Van Nuys, and features 1630+ sf, is completely detached from other units but has its own, direct access two-car garage and includes a small, completely private yard for pets, gardening, or parties.  All spacious bedrooms are upstairs and there's plenty of closet space.  More info will be coming next week, but here's a question for you:

How much would you expect to pay? ______________ (your answer)

Nope! It's only $359,999.  That's right! This is not a "come-on" price, nor is it a short sale or foreclosure.  Is is one of the most incredible deals in the Valley, though, so please let me know if you're interested in seeing it.  It will be on the mls with lots more pictures on Monday.

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Realtor has two brand new experiences. Neither of them were good.

Last week was quite a week.  I had two new situations that I've never had before in my eighteen years in practice.

First, a seller client passed away in the middle of our escrow.  I represent the buyer on this one.  This essentially puts a hold on the sale until all title issues can be cleared up.  It was a complicated deal to begin with as the seller was a FSBO (for-sale-by-owner).  What did I do on this one? Nothing, and let the estate take care of everything so we can close.

Second, I was blithely invited to commit loan fraud.  A potential buyer on one of my listings wanted to get a loan for x-amount of dollars, but also wanted to give the seller a lot of money outside of escrow so he wouldn't have to pay property taxes on the whole amount of the sale. (A property gets re-assessed by the County Tax Assessor when it changes hands.  In a normal sale, it is assessed at the purchase price.)  I pointed out that this is loan fraud, it's a federal crime, and I don't want to go to jail and neither does this buyer.  The buyer plainly didn't care.  What did I do on this one? I refused to write the offer, which would have been much lower than what the seller would have accepted anyway.

Sheesh! What will this week bring?

Monday, March 02, 2015

Studio City on the cheap

Everybody thinks Studio City is really expensive.  Some of the homes are. Some of the stores and restaurants are.  But some aren’t, as well, and I’m here to tell you how to save your hard-earned pennies in our neighborhood.
1.     You can eat relatively cheaply at Jinya Ramen, Cactus Tacqueria, Henry’s Tacos, Lemonade, Spitz, and more. The food at these places is delicious and cheap.  Okay, the first four don’t serve alcohol, but there’s…
2.       $2 beers at Jinky’s ALL DAY! $3 for craft brews! Really, now you have died and gone to heaven, right? And the food at Jinky’s is good and not expensive either.
3.       Get a massage for as low as $25/hour. You know all of those massage places along Ventura Blvd? With the neon signs in the window? Most of them are legit! Some have you leave your clothes on, but the massage is just as good.  I am not going to name my favorite place but it says “foot massage” in the window, and is cute, clean and peaceful.  
4.       Shop for clothes. There are lots of really cute clothing shops here, both in Tujunga Village and on Ventura.  For deals, though, check out Crossroads Trading Co. As they say, “Whether you call it recycled, resale, vintage or thrift, we call it Fashion.”  Want something a little more upscale? Great Labels on Ventura is exactly that at a discount.
5.       Lots of free recreational opportunities. Studio City is close to some of the best hiking/walking trails in L.A.  The famous Runyon Canyon, of course, plus Fryman Canyon, the L.A. Reservoir (3.5 miles around), and my personal fave, the L.A. River walks.  
6.       Acres of free parking.  If you’re willing to walk a bit to your destination, the lots behind the Laurel Canyon and Ventura intersections are huge and free. Not all day, of course, but you can easily park for two hours there.

Okay, this should get you started with enjoying the Studio City community without spending a lot.  Have I left out anything? Please let me know, if so.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Check out the real estate podcast that I guested on

My guest podcast from Real Estate Radio Show is now available.  Click HERE for the link or visit  I think the actual site's text about me tells even more than the podcast.  Thanks, Greg and Tracy!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Open Sunday, Feb. 15, from 1 to 4: 5248 Ventura Canyon Ave., Sherman Oaks - $779,000

Sherman Oaks has many interesting homes and this is one of them.  All of the public rooms have been redesigned in a mid-century style and feature gorgeous flooring, skylights, circular flow and lots of built-in panel cabinets.  The three bedrooms are spacious and one has a bonus room.  Plus, there's an inviting pool.  Please come visit Steve and me and check out this jewel on Sunday.  See for more pictures.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

New listing: 5248 Ventura Canyon Ave., Sherman Oaks. 3+3+bonus room+pool+mid-century touches for $779,000

This is 5248 Ventura Canyon and it's brand new on the market.  The home has particularly splendid mid-century touches like an entrance atrium, "hidden" wood-paneled storage cabinets, terrazzo tile, and a unique living room with a triangled wood ceiling. The storage panel cabinets connect each of the public rooms to one another with an easy flow. It also has 3 bedrooms, 3 updated baths, a bonus room attached to one bedroom, and a gorgeous pool.  The kitchen has been tastefully updated while still keeping the mid-century mood.  The family room/dining room has beautiful honey-colored wood floors, and two sets of sliders to the backyard.  This beauty is between Chandler and Magnolia, just east of Woodman.  Please see for more pictures and call me for more info.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Open Sunday, 2/8, 1-4 pm: 5927 Wilkinson in Valley Village 91607

Check out this great 4 bedroom, 3 bath + den home in Valley Village for $725,000.  It will be open tomorrow from 1 to 4.  I'll be there along with Steve, the sargeant-at-arms.  Wilkinson is 2132 sf (feels bigger), with a fireplace, attached 2 car garage, sunny kitchen with large breakfast area, dining area, newer master suite, lots of closets, laundry room and two patio areas.  The green backyard has mature cypress trees for privacy.  This neighborhood is close to Whitsett and Oxnard, has many close-by mass transit options, and is also really close to houses of worship.  See for more pictures.

Monday, February 02, 2015

7720 Goodland in Noho is now on the market. 3+2 for $399,000. That's not a misprint.

Looking for the perfect home at an unbelievable price? Check out 7720 Goodland Ave., North Hollywood, 91605. How’s this for home features: stellar residential neighborhood, 3 bedrooms (could be four), 2 baths, 1509 sf (feels bigger), dining room, kitchen with eating area and plenty of counter space, big living room, beamed ceilings, fireplace, green backyard, separate 2 car garage, great vintage details – and priced at $399,000. That’s not a misprint.  This home has loads of original mid-century charm – either enhance the period details or re-do with your own decorating taste. Tax records show four bedrooms. One was converted to a dining room and can be converted back. This is a probate sale but no court confirmation is required -- call me if you'd like to know more.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Coming next week - 4+3+den in Valley Village

This inviting home will be on the market next week.  It features 4 beds, 3 baths and a den -- more pics coming soon -- and exudes original charm.  It is in a fantastic Valley Village location close to the Whitsett/Oxnard area and is on a quiet cul-de-sac.  Best of all, it will be listed for $725,000.  Here's your chance to snag a big, mid-east-SFV home at a great price! Contact me for more details, showings, etc.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Upcoming Noho listing is having an estate sale tomorrow. Here's your chance to see it before it goes on the market.

A few days ago, I mentioned an upcoming listing in North Hollywood.  You have an opportunity to see it tomorrow, Saturday, before it even goes on the market! The address is 7720 Goodland in North Hollywood and it's a 3+2.  It used to be a 4+2, but one bedroom was converted to a dining room.  It needs decorating and/or remodeling, but it's a steal at $399,000.  Large vintage kitchen, big living room with fireplace, sizeable master suite, beamed ceilings, separate 2 car garage, green backyard and a a lovely, quiet pocket of North Hollywood.

You can preview the listing at tomorrow's estate sale, conducted by estate sale manager extraordinaire Lara Nethery.  That's one of Lara's pictures above, and here's Lara's blurb:
This quaint home is all about vintage and mid century! Mostly art, furniture, electronics and collectibles. Please see my craigslist ad for more info and pictures. 

Hope to see you!! 

7720 Goodland Avenue
North Hollywood, CA 91605

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Eight Studio City revelations

Exactly a year ago, I moved from Burbank to Studio City.  Although I was quite familiar with Studio City already, here are eight things that I've learned this past year about my new neighborhood.

1.  The L.A. River is really the L.A. Slot.  The only water in it is in the little narrow channel in the center unless it pours rain.

2.  Halloween is a really big deal here.  Some of the houses in the neighborhood are decorated like movie sets, and it's really fun to see.  No other holiday has quite the presence in the neighborhood as Halloween.

3. Jinky's Studio Cafe provides an essential service.  Perhaps not quite as essential as LADWP, but...

4.  IMO however, Aroma has the best French toast and Dupars has the best pancakes.

5.  If I live 100 years, I'll never make it to all the sushi restaurants here.

6.  Almost everybody here is nice, at least the people that I've met.  That's pretty important when you're a door-knocking Realtor.  And just about everybody in the single family homes here has at least one dog.

7.  The Trader Joe's parking lot is the most treacherous TJ's parking lot ever.  If you shop at any Trader Joes, you will know that the competition is very heavy.

8.  It is relatively easy to get people involved in community concerns such as (over)development and crime issues.  Good thing, that.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Coming next month but I can show it now: North Hollywood 4+2

Early next month, I will be listing a 4 bed, 2 bath home in a really nice residential section of North Hollywood.  It has been in the same family for years and needs updating and decorating, but the rooms are spacious and the house is ripe for a new family's vision.  It has a covered patio, family room, fireplace, and big back yard.  Here's the best part: it will list for about $400,000.  With the new 3% down payments and low interest rates, here's a wonderful opportunity for folks who otherwise thought they might not be able to buy a home this year.  No pictures yet, but I can show it to qualified buyers.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Another good Yelp review -- thanks, N&L!

I just helped N&L buy their first home.  We had a lot of challenges and a lot of laughs, too.  Here's their Yelp testimonial.  I am so grateful that they became my clients as they were wonderful to work with.

As I pick the obvious 5 stars Judy deserves Yelp is informing me that the meaning of this rating is 'Woohoo! As good as it gets!' and I couldn't agree more.

Buying a home can be an overwhelming and confusing undertaking at times, especially your first home. Having Judy on our team made all the difference in the world. She is a true professional, knowledgeable and has an incredibly creative approach that really helps her clients stand out from the myriad of other people bidding for that one property - especially in this competitive market. But more impressive than all of that is how much genuine care and importance she places on making sure her clients are educated during the process and that they get what they need. 

One of my favorite things about working with Judy is her sense of calm. She maintains a serenity that cuts through the challenges that are bound to pop up when buying a home. She is a source of protection and safety while at the same time being an incredibly forceful advocate for her clients. This is a very efficient mix! Judy is able to pull this off while keeping all interactions between the parties friendly and respectful. 

I guess the main thing I am taking from my experience with Judy is that she truly loves what she does and it really shows (in both how she treats her clients and the results she gets for them). I would not go with anyone else in any future real estate dealings because, as Yelp stated, Judy is 'as good as it gets'. Thanks for everything Judy. You're amazing!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Good news for buyers re low down payments and lower mortgage insurance! And a teeny bit of bad news.

As you may know, low down payment loans are back.  Yes, 3%-down conventional loans (not just FHA loans) are available to buyers.  Before anybody gets all "slippery slope" on me, think about this: in L.A. and the SFV, with average home prices hovering around $500,000 to $600,000 for modest homes, who has $100k to put down on one? Or even $50k? Not young buyers, who are usually saddled with debt from student loans, have been paying high rent, and are usually salaried a little lower than older buyers.  Not move-up buyers, who have been paying a good part of their salaries for their existing homes and haven't been able to save.  (Only one buyer has to be a first-time buyer.)  Here's an article from Forbes about the new program.  Also, it's almost impossible to get a condo complex FHA-approved -- there will be far fewer condo approval issues with the new lower conventional loans.

And if that weren't enough, mortgage insurance has been lowered, too!  As many of you know, this is the premium that you pay if your down payment and loan-to-value is lower than 20%.  Here's an article from the Chicago Tribune about it.  I've always thought this was a rip-off -- this insurance sure didn't help anybody that was in trouble with their mortgage during the 2008-2009 recession.  But anyway, it's lower now, and will help buyers.

Here's the teeny bit of bad news for those of you buyers that live here.  It will still be hard to get a low-down loan accepted by your seller if you're in a multiple offer situation.  That's because sellers perceive -- rightfully so -- that high-down loans have a better chance of closing.  There are other ways to make your offer stand out, though, and we'll discuss that in future posts.

Friday, January 02, 2015

The saga of poor little 11485 Moorpark #17 in Studio City

This semi-charming townhouse was listed by me back in early October and finally sold in December after three, yes, three escrows.  Although it is only a little over 1000 feet and needs some upgrades, it has two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, and two balconies.  Best of all, it's in Tujunga Village.  Because of the needed repairs, we listed it at $399k, which was $10,000 the most recent (and smaller) sale in the building.  You'd think it would fly off the shelves, right? Everybody wants to live in Studio City and that's an excellent price, right?

We had lots of activity the first few days and got three offers.  Two were over $400k, and we picked one.  Those buyers backed out after their inspection.  Too much work for them, even though the price was right.   Dang.  Three weeks later, we received another offer.  A brand-new Realtor was the buyer.  I should have had a hunch that she wasn't sincere when she seemed more interested in a lower price than the actual condo.  She danced us around for awhile and finally cancelled after almost three weeks. Ugh.

But -- one of the original of the three would-be buyers noticed that we were back on the market and reinstated her original offer! Her offer had been $390 and the sellers took it.  The escrow went relatively smoothly and she closed just before Xmas for $390.  I hope she'll be very happy in her new home.  I loved working with my sellers, too.  Takeaway: Surprise! Even properties in hot areas at low prices can languish on the market.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014


Several past clients are expecting little ones in the new year! Briana Hicks and Michael Pedicone will welcome their first child any minute now.  Erich Meschkat and Ryanne Meschkat are having a Meschkitten.  And Abby Hatch will have a new sibling, courtesy of parents Robin Hatch and Scott Hatch.

Also, the Misty Martin, Ryan Martin plus Phoenix and Haze Martin welcomed baby Sailor a few months back.  And Mark LaCorte and Jackie LaCorte have their first son, Romeo, as well.

Congratulations, everybody!  I look forward to meeting all of the new little ones.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Sunday a.m. reading: Getting a mortgage may be easier than you think. And Moby.

Both today's L.A. Times and today's NY Times have articles today about the loosening of mortgage requirements.  The L.A. Times link is here.  Some particularly excellent news: Fannie Mae is going to lower the downpayment requirement from 5% to 3%.  Before anybody starts thinking about "moral hazard" and such, consider Southern California's buyers who aren't wealthy.  If the average house costs about $450,000, the downpayment now needs to be $13,500.  Plus about 2% in closing costs.  That equals $22,500 and represents A LOT of savings for younger or middle-income buyers.

Today's other news is that performer Moby just sold a Hollywood Hills home for $12+ million.  He bought it four years ago for a little under $4 million, and spent -- sit down -- $2 million restoring it.  At first I thought the $2 million was a misprint, as I couldn't imagine what could possibly cost that much. What could that huge amount possibly be spent on? Diamond-encrusted laundry rooms? Fur-lined sinks? Real unicorns for the yard? But the house is apparently huge, so... The other big take-away is that Moby made about $6 million on this transaction.  Yup, that's huge.  Not bad for a non- professional real estate investor dj-songwriter.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Check out Listed and Twisted

Please check out my colleague Tracey Raphael's semi-new blog,  (Kudos for the very cool title, Tracey!)  The blog is described as the mad rantings of a real estate soccer mom.  Tracey is a wonderful Realtor who has lots of experience, integrity, and is fed up with the b.s.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Just sold this huge home/lot in...Valley Glen, of all places

Here's a pic of the house that I just sold to a wonderful couple who wish to remain anonymous.  It's in an area called Hillview Park Estates in Valley Glen, close to Valley College.  All the homes in this small area are on huge, 14000+ sf lots and the streets are gorgeous, tree-lined and quiet.  Especially quiet because there's no parking between 8:00 a.m. and midnight.  Ugh...yes, I got a parking ticket.

The escrow had its challenges, mostly because of the home's condition.  I know more about sewers now than I ever thought there was to learn.  The wiring was a safety hazard, the huge pool needs everything, and generations of rat families have raised their young in the attic.  Still, the house has so much potential that it's easy to see why my clients were attracted to it, and stuck with it.

My buyers have already started the rehabbing and make-over.  They are still debating what to do with my favorite room, the "rumpus room." It's pictured here and was probably last redone in the early 1970's.  Note the wood paneling and turquoise and orange accents.  There are workable beer taps and plenty of room for a full bar.  The owners thought of everything: to prevent a dangerous injury to home drinkers, bar stools are permanently bolted down.  And in true relic style, there's orange shag carpet under the turquoise carpet! The room had a built in sound system, a juke box, neon beer signs, pool table, gaming tables, and an electric panel hidden behind a wall-mounted snack machine.  They really knew how to party in the 1970's!

The rooms are all spacious and the backyard seems to go on for ever.  Good luck with the place, buyers, and I can't wait to see what it looks like in a few months or so.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Judy Graff Properties: providing the difference

Here's my biz card.
Here's what my yard sign will look like.

It's official! I am pleased to announce that I am finally going solo and forming my own real estate company.   This new direction will give me the opportunity to give my clients more of what they need – expertise and outstanding service.  No pitches or pressure, just astute advice, counsel and solutions for your real estate needs.  Call it Judy Graff Properties, or just call it me – Judy Graff.  I can be reached the same old ways.

I have been delighted to be of service to all of my real estate clients for the almost two decades, and I am honored to have been part of my clients' lives.  I look forward to continuing to help, advise and educate new clients on their real estate transactions with my new venture.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ask the Realtor: should I sell or buy a California home in the winter?

This is kind of an anniversary post for me.  Please read on.

Most people think that real estate goes dead during the fall and winter, even here in Southern California.  That's not entirely the truth, but most home sellers want to celebrate or have a quiet time in peace, and most buyers do not want to even contemplate moving over the holidays.  But here's the upside of home sales at this time of year.

In late November/December/early January, there isn't as much on the market.  So if you're a home seller, this is an opportunity to capture the interest of serious buyers.  (However, if you want to wait and capture the rising spring market, I'm down with that, too.)

And if you're a home buyer, you'll know that if a house is on the market during these months, the sellers are very serious.  This is also the time of year that prices don't go up, so you may get a really good deal.

But nobody wants to move at this time of year.  Too many hassles, too much else to do, etc.  So here's the work-around: sellers can arrange to rent back the home for a few weeks.  Many Realtors will caution everybody against this, but if each side believes the other side is trustworthy, it can work out really well.  Buyers, your first payment isn't due until the end of the first month that you own the new home, so the rent-back monies can be paid up front and can offset your closing costs.

Here's where the anniversary part comes in.  This is exactly what my husband and I did last year when we bought our new place.  We had an offer accepted on November 17, closed on December 17, the sellers rented back for a month, and we moved in on January 21.  It was a win-win all around.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Burbank residents, BWP has even more rebates for you

If you own a home in Burbank, Burbank Water and Power is gifting you with even larger rebates on new, energy-efficient appliances.  They've doubled the rebates for new refrigerators, washers, and dishwashers.  Check their website for details.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

10 types of Real Estate Agents to Avoid

Readers, this was written for other real estate agents but it will be amusing for home buyers and sellers, too.  I so wish I could name names here.  This article originally appeared in the Trulia Pro Blog and was picked up by Inman News.  The writer is Jovan Hackley and the entire text of the article is here.  I've edited this for home sellers and buyers, rather than just real estate agents.

1. The agent who could use a little more training …
Expertise and experience are two different things. Unfortunately, many of you said that there are too many agents who are simply undertrained, and it can show during the transaction.
My comment: this may surprise you, but it is truly #1.  But as with all other professions, it takes a long time to learn the ropes.  Many people get into selling real estate because it looks easy to make a lot of money. (Sound of cackling laughter.)  But experience is the only true teacher.
2. The agent who misses all of the contract deadlines — and doesn’t know it …
We’ve all run into that agent who hasn’t seen a deadline he couldn’t miss.
My comment: See #5 and #7.

3. The agent who always overpromises and underdelivers …
Ambition is good, but according to those in the industry, making a promise that can’t be kept is a deal breaker! Clients and other agents remember those who talk a big game without bringing home the win.
My comment: if you are reading this blog, you've probably investigated local real estate enough to run into agents like this.  Be careful of standard sales pitches.
4. The agent who forgets everything and anything …
Showing appointments are a shock! Four out of 5 of their clients insist they forgot! They’ve had scheduling conflicts the last three weeks in a row!
My comment: This just forces that agent's clients to do the remembering for them.  And that's not what the clients are paying them for, is it?
5. The agent who avoids (OK, ignores) every call and email …
When you’re trying to close a solid deal for your clients, there can be nothing more frustrating than working with someone who won’t return calls, listen to voice mails, or return calls.
My comment: like, you have something better to do? Like what? Solving the crisis in the Middle East? And don't tell me that you didn't get the message -- you have your iPhone implanted where your ear used to be.
6. The agent who quotes crazy high prices to win a listing …
Winning a listing is great — unless in the process you’ve ruined your client’s chance of closing in a timely fashion. One big complaint we’ve heard from agents across the country is on others using bad pricing tactics to win clients. The reality is that market value won’t move based on any delusions.
My comment: good sales comps are those that are closest in time, closest in distance, closest in size and condition.  Home sellers, have you been shown this data? I hope so.
7. The agent who doesn’t focus on the details …
There is a lot expected of real estate agents. You’ve got to be able to see the bigger picture and hone in on the details. Whether it’s dealing with deals, presenting an offer or reading emails, thoroughness is a valuable skill in this industry. And those who don’t have it can be a headache to work with.
My comment: some agents are just focused on getting the listing. Again, if you're still reading this blog, you've probably investigated the local market enough to know who these folks are.
8. The agent who tries to be a big bully …
Agents whose methods of moving a transaction along always involve voice-raising and choice words scored high on the drives-me-nuts scale.
My comment:  Shouldn't people who value their work and their clients have at least a little class? Agents, please -- stay away from the phone when you are drunk and angry. Or just feeling mean.
9. The agent who doesn’t anticipate potential problems …
Real estate deals are about getting clients to closing the best way possible. That’s impossible if an agent is always getting tripped up by transaction surprises.
My comment: some problems are unimaginable in advance, but here's where well-rounded experience with transactions comes in.  Experienced Realtors anticipate problems in advance. 
10. The agent who’s dangerously walking that “ethical” line …
The last and least liked of all the agents are those who are actively unethical. Those who get the deal done by treading in the gray area of the law or jeopardizing someone tend to make other agents uneasy. And that’s understandable!
My comment: this happens, and it really is scary.  When an agent in a transaction behaves unethically, all of our licenses are at risk.  And we risk lawsuits, too.  

I hope you've enjoyed this! If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you know that I give shout-outs and props to good real estate agents.  Feel free to call me and ask me about the good guys. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ask the Realtor: Mansionization in L.A. and what it means for you

(Cartoon by the incomparable Ted Rall) Recently, two separate residential real estate clients have called about parcels of residential property next to or adjacent to their houses.  These parcels are either vacant land or an older, smaller home in disrepair.  They’re worried that a real estate developer will come along, buy the properties for cash and build a mansion which will then block my clients' light, their view, their neighborhood ambience.  Could this really happen? Yup.  Check out this recent article from the L.A. Times about many residents’ growing frustration.

This won’t make you feel better, but here are some rules of thumb about what can and can’t be built on residential property.  Each separate city has its own rules, though, so if you want to be certain, please check with that city’s building and planning department.

-        First, the house’s square feet can only be 35% to 45% of the lot’s square footage, not including the garage.  So a house of 3000 sf can be built on a standard 6700 sf lot.  At least it’s not a 5000 sf house (cold comfort, I know).

-     There have to be set-backs from lot lines.  Standard here is 5 feet (not enough IMO) on the sides, and 25 feet at front.

-      The design has to conform to the neighborhood character.  So while somebody could build a fake Cape Cod (the house design du jour), they can’t build a replica of the Parthenon.  (Except in Glendale. Kidding.)

- If the lot is smaller than 5,000 sf, building on it at all may not be permitted unless a variance is issued.

What to do if you’re next to a potential humongous construction project?

-     Try to make nice with the new owners before they dig.  If they are not developers and plan on staying there, perhaps they will re-scale grandiose plans.  Not likely, but it’s worth a try.

-       Go to your city’s building and/or planning department and speak with whomever is reviewing the plans (before the old house, if there is one, is torn down).

-        Buy the lot/house yourself (thanks a lot for nothing on this one, Judy).

If you’d like to investigate further, here is the link toL.A. city mansionization ordinances.