Timely Real Estate News……………………………15 March 2016
Wear ‘the green’ for good luck. Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17
In the real estate world, it’s all relative….sales still up
Buffeted by a slowing economy in the fourth quarter, where the GDP just reached 1%, the real estate market is at least making some headway. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to show that the five communities I report on each month are moving in a positive direction — as of February 2016 sales volume was 2.9% ahead of where we were last year.
Sales volume for Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills Post Office, Bel-Air, Westwood/Century City, and Brentwood was $386 million vs. $375 million a year ago. But two years ago, we were at $405 million for the first two months of the year, meaning that we are trending “flat” in terms of overall sales activity. Why? Lack of inventory is the big reason, of course, which means that lower unit sales are offset by higher prices. And the sales volumes in each community can vary greatly between one year and the next and even between one month and the next. For example, for the first two months of this year, BHPO volume was up over $27 million compared to a year ago, while Bel-Air was down $35 million.
One of the key indicators
Of course, is year-to-date Median Sales Prices, which have always provided the better measurement of how we are doing. Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills Post Office are showing strength again. Beverly Hills’s median sales price is up 30% at $4.830 million….for the two months of this year compared to a year ago of $3.700 million. BHPO is up to $3.395 million or up 58% for the same period. Westwood/Century City is up 2%, but Bel-Air is down 2% and Brentwood is down 8%. Pacific Palisades remains even with last year’s median sale price at $2.700 million (year-to-date).
Comparing this February to February 2015….
Beverly Hills median sales prices grew significantly from $3.955 million to $6.825 million, a 72% increase….and BHPO went from $2.000 million to $2.795 million, a 39% increase. Bel-Air was up 7%, Westwood/Century City was up 14%. Brentwood was down 3% and Pacific Palisades was down 11%. As you can see there is a lot of fluctuation between the communities, even though we’re very contiguous and clustered in the same Westside enclave, prices and demand differ between each area. “Brand” (think “address”) has much to do with choices buyers make, but frankly, there isn’t a community (brand) this isn’t top notch in my ‘neck of the woods’. The other thing we all need to remember is that a large sale or two will definitely skew all of these numbers.
As Coldwell Banker sees it….
The top Previews agents meet quarterly to review what is happening in the high end of the real estate front in the
Los Angeles area. At our meeting a few weeks ago, a bus load of Previews agents bused up from Orange Country, so we were also able to gain a glance at the high end market in the OC! The oft repeated mantra “pricing is the key to selling homes in any market” was a constant theme throughout the entire meeting. The other overall comment that was made was the low level of inventory throughout the entire market, except in the upper high end.
Locally, what we are seeing is that there are some very hot markets and some markets, not so hot. Hancock Park is one of the more active markets today — prices are increasing rapidly in this tony section of Los Angeles. Hancock Park is attracting buyers who are seeing more ‘value’ for their money in this well-established neighborhood.
In other areas, it was reported that Malibu is “soft” but areas near Silicon Beach such as Venice and Playa Vista & Mar Vista are hot and strong. . And overall, the market for $10 million homes and up is not that strong with the buyers “sitting on the sidelines watching what is going on”, but in the $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 sector, the market is very strong, in essence giving us two different markets. What came out of our Previews meeting is that there is a lot of money out there — wealthy US, Chinese, and German buyers are focusing on Los Angeles and San Francisco. We’re fortunate to have what buyers want — they want quality, location, choice, and yes, weather.
Millennials are making moves to the “Burbs”……
Millennials are on the move — not to urban centers, which heretofore have attracted this upwardly mobile generation. Their passions for culture, car-less city-life, and intimate urban landscapes were their choices over a suburban lifestyle found outside urban cores. Not so much today.
For the third year in a row — millennials comprised the largest number of recent homebuyers — 35% of all buyers. Younger buyers seem to be shifting from seeking homes in urban city centers to the more sedate suburbs. According to the 2015 National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey the share of millennials buying in an urban area decreased to 17% from 21%. Also, fewer millennials purchased multifamily homes than last year (10 % instead of 15 %).
Overall, the majority of buyers in all generations continue to purchase a single-family home in a suburban area, and the younger the buyer, the older the home they purchased. “The median age of a millennial homebuyer is 30 years old, which typically is the time in life where one settles down to marry and raise a family,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Even if an urban setting is where they’d like to buy their first home, the need for more space at an affordable price is for the most part pushing their search further out. Furthermore, limited inventory in millennials’ price range, minimal entry-level condo construction and affordability pressures make buying in the city extremely difficult for most young households,” he said.
Silicon Beach is driving a lot of new buyers into our Westside neighborhoods including Venice, Playa Vista, and Culver City. Mar Vista is becoming a ‘hot’ area and as I have said in the past, the farther East you go, you’re finding millennials moving in droves to these lower-priced homes. Since I started my real estate career in the Marina, I know how popular and active that market is today. If you want more information on what’s ‘hot’ in these areas, please call me at 310-442-1384.
Getting ready to sell…better check out these handy tips
A lot of sellers still love their “castle’, and the thought of moving is sometimes a painful experience. But more often than not, I’ve run into homeowners who believe that they can just put a “For Sale” sign on their front lawn and that will do the trick. It doesn’t. I have found that a great location can, indeed, make the difference when it comes to “days on market” — but in today’s competitive climate, how your home presents itself to buyers will determine the final selling price.
When you’re ready to sell your home, make sure potential buyers see it at its best. Here are the top ways to fix up the appearance of your home without investing a lot of money. A little time and effort now will pay big dividends at closing.
Landscaping — Trim the grass and make sure all flowerbeds are freshly mulched and free of weeds. Prune overgrown shrubs, especially if they’re hiding windows or blocking the entryway. Fresh flowers go a long way in giving our homes a new look.
Fences — Reinforce sagging gutters and straighten crooked fences. Make sure the gutters are cleared of obstructions and the soil isn’t washed out around downspouts. A quick power washing will brighten fences, driveways and walkways. Clear away clutter like bikes, tools and toys. Use weed killer on grass and weeds that sprout in pavement cracks. Keep edges neat with a weed eater or edger.
Front Door — Freshen the door and trim with a new coat of paint. Tighten loose doorknobs, oil squeaky hinges and make sure the doorbell works. Clean any furniture or outside decorations. Add a colorful potted plant or a new doormat.
Kitchen — Set a warm, inviting mood by keeping countertops free of clutter and adding decorative canisters or a scented candle. Clean out the refrigerator, degrease the oven, wipe down cabinet doors and keep the sink shining.
Bathrooms — Make sure your bathrooms sparkle. Clear countertops of unnecessary clutter. Replace discolored or damaged caulking. Fix dripping faucets and leaky toilets.
Closets — Organize the contents to make your closets appear larger. Donate unwanted items to charity and store what’s left in stackable plastic totes to maintain a neat, tidy appearance.
Garage – This is the time to sort through all the junk and decide what to keep and what to give away. Use easy-to-assemble storage shelves to stow tools and sporting goods; wall hangers for garden hose, blowers and other equipment.
Lighting — Replace burned out bulbs and clean fixtures, inside and out. . Consider replacing dated fixtures in the most visible locations. Install indoor track lighting to highlight artwork and open drapes and blinds to let in natural light. Outside use landscape lighting to accentuate architectural features.
Los Angeles is joining a club it may not want to join….
Los Angeles is now the eighth most expensive city in the world for tourists and foreign business people. In a study released last week a rising U.S. dollar has pushed the City of Angels ahead of pricey metropolises including Tokyo and Shanghai.
Simon Baptist, chief economist at EIU, said in an interview that for Angelenos, the cost of goods and services in fact is not rising much because inflation has remained relatively low. But the sharp appreciation of the dollar against many other currencies since mid-2014 is making many American cities relatively more expensive for foreigners. And that could cut into the number of tourists coming to Southern California and curb their appetite for purchases.
The Worldwide Cost of Living survey, which has been conducted for more than 30 years, looks at prices of 400 goods and services, though it does not include the cost of accommodations.
“We know that international tourist arrival [numbers] are quite sensitive to this,” said Baptist. “They are less likely to come to the U.S., and those that do are likely to spend less.”Los Angeles welcomed a record 6.7 million foreign visitors last year, up 3.4% over 2014, and they spent $6.4 billion, the city said. Mexico, China, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom were the top sources of overseas visitors. While Mexico supplies the most foreign tourists, China’s numbers are growing the fastest of any country, up more than 13% last year to 779,000.
On the list of 133 cities compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit Singapore, Los Angeles, which ranked 27th last year — is now only slightly less expensive than New York, which ranked 7th. Singapore remains the world’s most expensive place for visitors and expats, followed by Zurich, Hong Kong, Geneva, Paris and London. The less expensive cities were Lusaka, Zambia; Bangalore, India; and Mumbai.
Fashion trends transcend to interior design
For Coldwell Banker’s Previews International, we are immersed in the world of luxury real estate, and so it is natural to ask: “Which fashion trends will cross over into the world of home decor?” After all, fashion and interior design have been closely linked for decades. According to New York City-based designer, Phillip Thomas, “…there is an undeniable link between the worlds of interior design and fashion. Each pushes the other in new directions by the use of colors, patterns, and texture. You often see fashion designers crossing the line into interior design by the creation of homes collections including furniture and fabrics.”
He listed five major trends where fashion crosses over into luxury interior design….1) Feminine Romanticism: “I see this trend manifesting itself in interior design with beautiful florals.” 2) Sparkle: “By sparkle, it was not just the use of metallics, like golds and silvers, but also the use of shimmer and reflectivity. In interior design, this trend is apparent in fabrics, embroideries and trims that incorporate sequins, to wall coverings and specialty plaster finishes with metallic elements or contrasting sheens.” 3) Tie Dye: “The runways also saw the resurgence of tie dye which is often indicative of the relaxed appeal of the summer wardrobe and an offshoot of the street art influence seen in 2015 collections. Tie dye has made it in to fabrics and wall coverings from designers both in the United States, to European houses. Gauzy linens with tie die motifs, for example, invigorate existing summer spaces breathing new energy.”4) Futurism-Silver: “The fashion runways continued this love for grey by featuring textured metallic’s, such as mirrors and lame, in their fashions. This story has been interpreted in interiors through the use of materials such as glass and mirror which have had a renaissance based on production innovations that have allowed for the creation of new and dynamic materials.” 5) Stripes: “Although quite simple in concept, stripes can often be a challenge, as colors or proportions can impact the end result. Interior designers are using stripes interpreting them new and bold manners. Striped wallpapers are used and cut in asymmetric manners to create fractured wall surfaces with depth and movement.”
Life continues to be good and busy.
I have a number of new listings coming up and am working with my sellers in helping them get their homes ready to put on the market plus working on my existing escrows getting ready to close. In the mean time, I am also working on my house, installing outdoor lighting in my garden, painting the exterior of the house, and removing and planting some new trees and flowers. We are also working on my new web site, which I invite you to visit.. caroleschiffer.com, and to Face Book me… www.facebook.com/CaroleSchifferRealtor.
I am here to assist you with all of your real estate needs, so please do get in touch with me.. Carole@caroleschiffer.com or 310 442-1384.