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Carole Schiffer

has been recognized as one of Coldwell Banker's Top 500 agents in the United States -- out of 41,000 agents nationwide according to Bruce Zipf, president and CEO of NRT, Coldwell Banker's parent company. "This is a tremendous honor," Carole stated, "and I am so proud to be a member of the Coldwell Banker family since 2000." Carole has always been one of Coldwell Banker's premier agents in their Brentwood Office. She specializes in the sale of luxury homes in West Los Angeles including gated communities. A dynamic, intensely dedicated agent, she is respected by peers and prides herself on providing the ultimate professional service and intimate real estate knowledge. .

About Carole Schiffer

Call Carole at (310) 442-1384

SchifferLine 15 September 2014

Timely Real Estate News………………………………………………….15 September 2014

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Man holding house  on his shoulders

Heavy Baggage Follows

Median sales prices hold steady through 2014…
We continue to see median sales prices holding increases over the previous year through the first eight months of the year, although prices have modulated somewhat. Beverly Hills continues to be the leader in median sales prices, with a mean average of $4.812 million through August 31, 2014 for a 5% increase over the previous 2013 period. Beverly Hills Post Office is 14% ahead of last year’s median sales price at $2.415 million, and Bel-Air is 19% ahead of 2013 median sales prices at $2.250 million. In Westwood/Century City, prices have escalated 26% over 2013 median sales prices at $1.400 million, and Brentwood is 13% ahead of 2013 with $2.690 million median sales prices.

The major sales leader in these five communities was Brentwood, with 20 sales closing escrow in August 2014, with 8 taking the pulse of a houseproperties over $3 million and large sales of $9 million, $17 million and $24 million. Beverly Hills also had three sales over $10 million — $11 million, $15 million, and $16 million. Westwood/Century City had 17 homes sold in August with 2 over $3 million. And Bel-Air had three homes of $3 million plus out of 10 homes sold. Please remember these numbers reflect the sales from the multiple listing service only and no private sales if there were any are not included.

Summer ends on a positive note….home prices and sales activity remain solid
The spring and summer selling seasons have produced a solid year so far in the five communities that I report on in the SchifferLine — Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills Post Office, Bel-Air, Westwood/Century City, and Brentwood. Total sales activity through the end of August shows that we are 10.5% ahead of 2013 through the same period as last year. Total sales activity through August 31, 2014, is $2.133 billion vs. $1.930 billion the year before.

In 2013 — through the first eight months — we were 14% ahead of 2012 totals, but remember, the real estate market then was coming out of the doldrums — so to speak, and the trend line moving upward was at a steeper incline. We have somewhat leveledend of summer out during this past year — as the market is turning back to “normal”.

We have been talking about “normal” for the past several months, and Coldwell Banker executives keep pointing to the positive signs that a normal market brings to the residential housing market. For one thing, we are beginning to see these past few months a slow-down in the steep price increases which were driven largely by the lack of inventory — the old “supply and demand” rule.

As our inventory increases, the competitive factor kicks in and buyers are getting more choices and therefore, can be a bit more selective. We are seeing more buyers at open houses, and even though a lot of those really “old, good deals” have largely disappeared; sellers are willing to negotiate to move their homes into the sales column.  A good example of that is that when you look at the “Sales Price” vs. “Original Listing Price” as provided by the MLS, we are seeing prices dropping to the low 90% range (or lower). Beverly Hills’s median sales price was at 89.16% of the original listing price, BHPO was at 91.1%, Bel-Air was at 94.1%, Westwood/CC was at 96.69%, and Brentwood was at 93.49% of the original listing price. If ascience of pricing house is priced correctly, it will sell quickly, this holds true in any market. Recent media reports about sellers reducing prices, can be valid, but we must always remember, some of this information is regional with the West Los Angeles market showing more strength than the San Fernando Valley or Orange County markets for example, and once again the over riding factor is that if a property comes on the market too high and does not sell, then the price needs to be reduced. Recently in my office, one of my associates listed a lovely home in Cheviot Hills and while they had very strong open house activity, after two weeks, no offers were generated. Late last week, the price was reduced by $75,000 and they now have an offer!

While the economy sputters here and there, we are still seeing strong demand for homes in all price ranges and we have continued to hold steady through the first eight months of 2014. The UCLA Forecast (see below) indicates that California’s economy is going to be basically treading water through to 2016. Job growth is lacking and this is causing a moderate slow down….but on our side of the economy equation, we are still seeing a strong residential market on the Westside.

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Bel Air Crest’s Emergency Preparedness work gets well-deserved attention
It was a nice surprise to pick up the Los Angeles Times last week (9/6) and read about your neighborhood in a very positive light. In the LAT article — “In Bel Air, the luxury of disaster readiness”, Bel Air Crest’s Emergency Preparedness program was highlighted as an example of how one community prepares for practically every major disaster — from earthquakes to fire that could befall any neighborhood.

emergency preparednessAt Bel Air Crest’s Emergency Preparedness committee envision, the primary focus is dealing with a major earthquake. Over the past three years, the homeowners association has spent approximately $50,000 on emergency supplies and equipment — including the purchase of a 2,000-gallon water truck, emergency supplies that include a 13,000-watt tri-fuel generator, satellite phone, and a neatly organized boxes of medical supplies.

The Committee, headed by Board members Carole Schiffer and Harris Sperling, came into being after a fire charred a nearby hillside three years ago. With the leadership of Bel Air Crest Operations Manager, Rick Cole, the emergency preparations got underway — including the allocation of special Command Center at the community center.

According to LA Fire Department officials, they are not aware of any area that has poured more resources into disaster preparedness than Bel Air Crest. “We have nothing left to purchase,” according to Sperling. Under his direction, he created a 42-page disaster plan and the HOA already has an emergency broadcast system and a residential data base.

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If you got it, tap it — what homeowners are doing with equity
If you’ve got it, tap it. That appears to be the strategy for growing numbers of homeowners across the country that have begun taking out home equity credit lines at a rapidly accelerating pace.

New data collected by one of America’s largest credit-rating bureaus, Experian, suggest that a rebound boom in equity-tapping is underway. Owners have pulled out $120 billion in new home equity credit lines in the last 12 months, a 27% equity lines of creditincrease in volume over the year earlier.

A recent SchifferLine story pointed out, though, that many equity line borrowers were not aware of the coming due dates on their HELOC (Home Equity Line Of Credit) loans and were in for a big surprise. But if you’re not one on the edge or not in this HELOC situation, this could be interesting news.

In California alone, nearly $6 billion in new equity credit lines were originated in the last 12 months, according to researchers. In some states, new home equity line borrowing is exploding — up 169% in Wyoming, 85% in Oklahoma, 79% in Arizona, 53% in Florida and 52% in Ohio. Dollar volumes of new lines are highest in areas with the most expensive housing, especially along the West Coast and the Northeast.

In many cases these are not small lines, either. For owners with high credit scores, the average amount that can be drawn down on new lines is just under $120,000. And for those with good but not perfect credit, dollar limits average in the $40,000 to $60,000 range. HELOCs are particularly attractive because of their low interest rates and repayment flexibility. Rates for owners with good credit run from the mid-3% range to 4%. Repayment terms typically are interest-only for an initial period of years, after which payments “reset” to include principal plus interest.

home as an ATM machineMost HELOCs are made by banks. As long as the total mortgage debt secured by a house — the combination of the first mortgage plus the maximum HELOC amount — does not exceed 80%, banks believe that they have a margin of safety should home values decline. But some banks and credit unions recently have begun pushing the combined debt limit to 90%, provided applicants’ credit scores and documented incomes are high.

The rapid increase in new credit lines is the direct result of the significant gains in home prices in most parts of the country during the last year, researchers say. According to Federal Reserve estimates, owners’ equity holdings jumped by $2.15 trillion between the first quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of this year.

But here’s a key question: Despite the big jumps in home prices and equity holdings, is the boom in HELOCs beginning to look like a bubble? Is it a good thing — or an omen — when new HELOC volumes soar in a year by 79% in Arizona and 52% in Florida? Both states were early leaders in the mortgage credit crazes that preceded the bust. Are we heading for a
repeat? My suggestion: Be careful. Using your home as an ATM machine is never a great idea. Get lots of informed advice from your CPA, bank or financial investment advisor

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UCLA Forecast — slow, steady, and unexceptional growth
Sound stimulating, doesn’t it? OK — so that’s the forecast for California for the next two years according to UCLA Anderson Forecast for September. The third-quarter report, released last week, predicts that the state unemployment rate will sink to 5.7% by the end of 2016 from 7.4% now That would continue to top the national rate which economists expect will fall to 5.3% from its current 6.1%.

Basically, California’s economy is like ‘treading water’ — it’s not sinking, but it’s not moving fast toward some exceptional UCLA Anderson forecastgrowth period. “Unexceptional growth” was the term of Jerry Nickelsburg, a senior UCLA economist with the Forecast. Our recovery continues to trail the state and nation because the city and county economies plunged more deeply into the recession. And our payroll still lags behind our pre-recession numbers.

Competition for jobs remains high — and both ends of the job-searching spectrum suffer. Older, more qualified workers are looking to book into a lower-paying job to survive and get hired…whereas; younger people who need their entry-level job are being challenged by the older job seekers.

And let’s not forget the world economy — it’s stagnant, too. The unrest in other parts of the world continues to put a drag on economic growth, and California continues to lose jobs to out of state offers (Toyota, Tesla for example).

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happeningsLocal happenings

What is happening on my “local level”? I am currently working with buyers looking at properties in Santa Monica, Hancock Park, and Venice. We are seeing much of the thing as has been reported in the media. The good houses that are well presented and well-priced are selling quickly, generally with multiple offers.

There are some homes in Venice, and Santa Monica that we saw about two months ago that are still lingering waiting for the seller to understand that they need to adjust their prices and perspective before finding that buyer they are looking for.

Situations continue to change. For the past two Sundays, I have either held an open house or attending them with one of my clients, and despite the heat, buyers were streaming in and offers were being looked at mid-week. Please check out Facebook
page and as always, let me know how I might assist you with ANY of your real estate needs.

Stay tuned….Carole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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