Timely Real Estate News……………………………….15 May 2019
Memorial Day commemorates fallen military
On Monday, May 27, the U.S. will commemorate and honor the U.S. men and women who died while in military service for their country. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it was enacted to honor those fallen Union soldiers of the American Civil War, but it was later expanded to World War I and to include any American casualties of any war or military action.
Many view this as the unofficial start of summer and for those of you who live in West Los Angeles, it is a beautiful sight to see all of the flags that have been placed at every grave site at the Veterans Cemetery off of Sepulveda, Veteran and Wilshire Boulevard.
Sales volumes improve, prices mixed
Peeking through the June gloom, which always arrives as May Grey for some reason, we’re seeing slight improvements in sales volume. After a somewhat miserable first quarter, which saw sales volume decline by nearly 25% compared to a year ago at this time. We’re now just 13.5% behind the four-month totals of 2018. And while it may not sound like a big deal, we are moving in the right direction. The softest part of the market is in the high end which basically starts at $4,000,000 and up.
Sales for the five communities I focus on — Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills Post Office, Bel-Air/Holmby Hills, Westwood/Century City, and Brentwood, total sales through April 2019 were $948 million compared to $1.096 million this time last year. As I have mentioned a number of times, in comparing the sales from year to year, one has to look at the actual sale prices to see how the numbers get skewed. For example, in Beverly Hills this year there were 9 closed escrows over $3,000,000 in April with the prices ranging from $3,100,000 to $34,000,000, and for April of last year there were 6 ranging from $3,212,000 to $17,000,000. For Beverly Hills Post Office, the difference is far greater. This year there were 4 sales within the price range of $3,000,000 to $6,195,000 where as last year there were 5 sales but the range contained a very large sale of $32,000,0000 against other sales from $3,900,000 to $12,400,000 so obviously the large sale threw all of the averages off. In Bel Air – Holmby Hills, this year we had 5 sales above $3,000,000 from $5,925,000 to $11,000,000 (there were 2 at this price) vs. 5 again last year from $3,100,000 to $20,750,000. In Westwood-Century City this year we had only 1 sale above $3,000,000 at $3,550,000 vs. again only 1 sale above $3,000,000 and that closed escrow at $4.095,000. We had some healthy sales in Brentwood for both years. This past April saw 10 sales above $3,000,000 with prices ranging from $3,100,000 to $33,000,000 and last April there were 6 above $3,000,000 from $3,650,000 – $19,000,000.
As you have seen, each month I also talk about the stats from other communities as well and this month it is Pacific Palisades. In April of this year, there were 5 sales above $3,000,000 with the numbers running from $3,035,000 to $7,350,000. Last April in the same category – the prices for the 15 sales ran from $3,252,000 – $19,000,000. As a result, the stats show a 45% drop in sales volume, registering $167 million through April versus $305 million a year ago. Look at the number of sales as well as the sales which shows a decline were across the board, with Beverly Hills Post Office suffering the most with $73 million behind 2018. Westwood/Century City was down $43 million while Beverly Hills was only off $17 million, Bel-Air/Holmby Hills was down $20 million, and Brentwood was negative $24 million. We’ve been seeing steeper declines in year-to-year sales, but the market is picking up, albeit slowly.
As you know, I run a “hot sheet” every day which gives me an eyeball look at what is happening in the market. The other day I saw a house in Beverly Hills Post Office that came on the market for $1,000,000. It sold in 10 days for $3,400,000. How did that happen?? It was/is a house that is a major fixer or tear down that was designed by a well-known architect and was marketed specifically for someone who knows the market and knew what can/could be done with the house. You need an agent who knows that market, I am that agent and can assist you in finding your hidden gem! Just ask me to help.
Median Sales Prices — a mixed bag
I always regard year-to-date median sales prices as the best stat to measure just how strong the market is. As you have seen from the previous paragraph, three markets were up in positive territory — Beverly Hills was up 11% to $8.950 million; BHPO was up 21% to $2.900, and Brentwood was up 5% to 3.150 million.
Trailing 2018 median sales prices year-to-date were Bel-Air/Holmby Hills, down 39% at $1.710 million, Westwood/Century City off 15% to $1.925 million and Pacific Palisades, down 11% to $3.080 million.
April was a hot month for several areas — for example, Beverly Hills, which was over $11,000 median sales prices in February, was still impressive — registering $9.325 million for April, 2019, a 117% increase over April 2018 Brentwood was up 75% to $4.450 million,
All of the other communities were down in year-over-year median sales prices — Beverly Hills Post Office was down 5% to $2.337 million, Bel-Air/Holmby Hills was down 38% to $2.279 million, Westwood/Century City was down 13% to $1.975 million, and Pacific Palisades was down 31% to $1.987 million.
So, what does this all mean? Volumes are climbing back up as we are hitting the Spring selling season.
There is mold, and then there is mold….
Mold is four-letter word at the mere mention of it send buyers running for the hills. It’s gotten so bad that in some states, home inspectors are advised to no longer use the word mold, instead they are told to use the term “fungal growth.”
Here’s what you need to know about mold and all of its impact when purchasing or selling your home as well your home maintenance.
Fact No. 1 — Not all mold is “mold”. There are more than 10,000 species of mold living in North American homes, according to CDC estimates (more if you expand the search globally.) Molds that grow inside an enclosed space, such as a house, are different than mold that grows outdoors.
Fact No. 2 – Many homes already have mold –According to a Harvard study, roughly 50% of homes in North America have some type of mold present in the home — despite a lack of smell or any visible infestation. If allowed to grow in your home, mold can cause significant damage to your home’s structure by disintegrating less stable products, such as drywall and rotting wooden beams and posts.
Fact No. 3 — Fighting mold requires constant diligence
Moisture in a home can result from many issues: from excessive condensation on uninsulated pipes; a lack of insulation in the walls; and a lack of vents in the roof, which restricts the air circulation throughout the home.
There are numerous ways to combat mold — repair water leaks, clean/replace furnace filters, vacuum often, reduce stored materials such as clothes, paper, and stored furnishings. Mold grows in fabrics, paper, wood, and practically anything collecting dust and holds moisture. Having a regular inspection by a qualified mold specialist could save homeowners money. I highly recommend that we all have our homes inspected on a regular basis not only for mold but termites as well. If you need a recommendation, I can give you some. Not only can it make it easier when you decide to sell your home, but it can also be helpful for potentially solving any health issues your family may have.
Birth order influences housing preferences
Yes, there are people who actually want to know answers to buying preferences by birth order. Whether one is first born, second or middle, last born, or an only child, researches have now identified who buys what and why, as chronicled in The Birth Order Book by Kevin Leman.
According to Leman, first borns are more apt to look for neatness and orderliness in their housing preferences. They also prefer places that offer independence and solitude. But the middle child may display some of fewest preferences because they never had a mom or dad to themselves, and therefore, they gravitate to a condo or community where shared interests dominate.
As for the baby of the family they tend to prefer condos that are stacked on each other, apartments, or a place with a community pool where they can meet others. And the only child — as they go through life — are likely to prefer isolation or a home on top of hill because they are more used to solitude and quiet for the most part.
I personally don’t agree with his theory, but it is fun to think about isn’t it? So, where do you fit in?******************
Hottest trends — Front yards, front doors
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), nearly 50% of home buyers make their purchase decision before entering the front door. So, what prospective buyers see from the curb is going to have a major impact on their decision.
People are re-discovering the joys of using their front yard and porch as an extension of their living room according to the NAR. This gives the homeowner actual benefit from the front yard other than just showcasing the house from the street. And besides, neighbors also enjoy well maintained front yard because it lends to a better sense of community.
Over recent years, builders have been taking note of consumers’ increasing desire to have a front porch again and are including it in more home blueprints. The front porch was once a mainstay in home design in the early 1900s, but over the years, it was replaced by garage-facing homes. The entertainment focus of the front porch was then shifted to the backyard, which also affords one greater privacy, too.
Some of the things you can do to enhance your “urban appeal” is to spruce up the front yard with rocking chairs or a swing, designers suggest. Also, display colorful planters and hanging plants and fill window boxes with bright flowers. It isn’t just about getting your home ready to sell…it’s also about enjoying your home more while you’re still there!
Harden your home — brush clearance season
With all of the wonderful rain we got this past fall and winter, it helped all of the brush and vegetation grow and the forecast is that not only are we heading into a hot summer, but also the potential for a very dangerous fire season. The Los Angeles County Fire Department has put homeowners on notice that it’s not only brush clearance time, but this year, they’re going beyond that. As Los Angeles homeowners prepare to trim grass, weeds and trees for the annual brush clearance inspections in May and June, the L.A. County Fire Department’s Forestry Division advises moving beyond standard procedures when it comes to reducing wildfire risk.
California, which suffered major fire disasters in the past year, wants homeowners to “Harden your homes”, which will give homeowners the best chance for a home to survive by protecting the first 30 feel surrounding the home. “We know it works,” the Fire Department stated. And that means that it’s not just about clearing out the brush but also removing nearly all vegetation and trees next to dwellings and windows.
Homeowners are taking initiatives to work with neighbors in making sure all nearby homes are ‘hardening’ their homes against wildfire. For example, North Topanga Canyon Fire Safe Council recommends neighbors band together to form their own local fire safe council. With smart design and landscaping, homeowners can create plenty of “defensible space” around their homes. This goes beyond Neighborhood Watch — focusing on making homes safer during the wildfires which consumed more than 90,000 acres in the Woolsey Fire, not to mention fires in Montecito, Santa Rosa and Paradise.
One more home safety tip
A few weeks ago, those of us who live in the Sepulveda Pass area suffered a power outage which not only shut the power off for a few hours, but cut all of the land line phones off as well (I am talking about the phones that are plugged into an outlet rather than the hands free ones that always go out when the power goes out). As I don’t yet have some kind of back-up generator, and the “juice” on my cell was low, and that I have a 97-year-old Mom, I wanted to make sure I could leave if I had to. I am trying to figure how what kind of generator to get, but am leaning on the solar powered one. I was able to by-pass the power on my garage door and open it manually, but was unable to close it manually. This along with my desire to have some kind of backup generator for power lead me on a quest for more information. I am still in the process of doing that research, but in having a conversation with one of my lovely neighbors (thank you Vivian & Bob), I found out that effective 1 July 2019 all new garage door openers HAVE to have a battery back-up. I did some more research and am having one installed in my house tomorrow. I am looking forward to feeling a little safer in my house. If you would like more information or have any information to share, please do not hesitate to give me a call.
The World According to Carole
As I discussed in an earlier paragraph, we are in the Spring Selling Season. We have a larger number of new listings by some of my fellow agents in the office than we have seen in a while. Last week, we also had a number of multiple offers on various properties with different price points. As for me I am busy with my two lease listings in Bel Air Crest, Brookshire and Folkstone as well as a number of Buyers who are part of “that quest” to find “the house”. The process can be frustrating, but we will prevail.
Personally, we are getting ready to celebrate my Mom’s 97th birthday on the 23rd with everyone coming from all parts, my daughter & son in law from Oregon, my sister, brother in law, niece & her husband from Vancouver, and my nephew from Montreal. It will be a multi-day celebration including a BBQ at my house culminated with a concert with a Mariachi band. I have also hired a new assistant who starts on the 28th of the month.
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I look forward to hearing from and seeing you.