Echo Park Real Estate: A Look at the Numbers

From LA’s earliest days, people have wanted to live in the storied neighborhoods of NELA. In a densely populated area where residents are always in the process of coming and going, there are always homes for sale in Echo Park at any given time. Since the early 1920’s, the real estate here has been in demand and that is how it is today. Why? Let’s take a closer look and see what the numbers say.

This is an eclectic city located in Central Los Angeles about ten minutes from Downtown. At the center of the city is the renowned Echo Park Lake in Elysian Park, which is the site of special events like the Lotus Festival. It is northwest of Chinatown and Downtown, northeast of Westlake and south east of Silver Lake.

It is split in to four districts:

  • Angelino Heights – This area is known for the beautiful Victorian homes that are preserved by the city’s ordinances.
  • Elysian Heights – This area is historically known for being the home of famous counter-culture artists, filmmakers, architects and political radicals.
  • Historic Filipino town – This section is located in the southwest section.
  • Victor Heights – A lovely area scattered with Bungalows and Stucco homes that share breathtaking views of Los Angeles and the Civic Center.

Throughout the four districts, the most common types of homes are Bungalows, Cottages, Victorians and Stuccos. According to the 2000 U.S. Census there were 40,455 people in there. Spread over 2.4 square miles there were approximately 16,868 people per square mile. This makes Echo Park one of the highest density areas in Los Angeles County. The median household income was $37,708, which is low for Los Angeles County. The average household size was 3.0, which is average for the county.

This city has a high Walk Score of 83/100. This means that most errands can be accomplished on foot within the city. This city’s transit score is 62. This city has good transit and provides its residents with many public transportation options. These include the Metro Red and Metro Purple Line, numerous bus routes and ride sharing options from Relay Rides. This city received a bike score of 49 because of the steep hills and minimal bike lanes.

According to Zillow, the average home value in Echo Park is $795,100. This value has increased 14.4% since last year and Zillow estimates it will continue to rise 4.3% to $829,000 over the next year. The average price of homes that are currently listed is $742,450. The median list price per square foot is $618, which is higher than the Los Angeles average of $451. The average rental price is $2,967 a month. Zillow has given the Market Health a score of 8.2/10, which is very healthy in comparison to other markets across the country. This is based on a series of metrics including how fast the homes are selling compared to the past rate. Echo Park’s prime location and thrilling culture will be sure to keep the housing market rolling for many years to come.

Altadena Real Estate – A Look at the Numbers

The real estate market in Altadena, CA is red hot. Homes for sale in Altadena command high prices and never stay on the market very long. Why? Both realtors and residents will answer that by stating: Altadena is a very special place to live, work and relax.

Altadena is charming community located directly north of Pasadena at the base of the Angeles National Forest San Gabriel Mountains. Altadena is an unincorporated and 14 miles northeast from Downtown Los Angeles. This warm, Mediterranean climate has hot and dry summers that average highs of 91 degrees. The winters are essentially warm and windy with the lowest average temperature of 44 degrees. Altadena averages 21 inches of rainfall annually.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census – Altadena had a population of 42,777 people. With 8.71 square miles to share there were 4,909.6 people per square mile. This is average for Los Angeles County. The population was more diverse compared to other areas of the county with the dominate ethnicity being White at 52.8%, followed by 26.9% Latino, 23.7% Black, 5.4% Asian and 0.7% American Indian.

The population of Altadena is well educated in comparison to the rest of the county with 45.6% of residents aged 25 and up with a four year degree and 87.9% with a high school diploma. In regards to the male population: 57.8% were married, 32.9% had never been married, 7.1% had been divorced and 2.1% were widowed. The female population had53.9% who were married, 24.4% had never been married, 12.4% were divorced and 9.4% were widowed. The average age of Altadena was 37, which is an older average age compared to the rest of Los Angeles County. 9.8% of the people in population were veterans and 20.8% of residents were born in a foreign country. The average commute to work was 27.5 minutes. Altadena has a Walk Score of 48 out of 100 meaning that it is a car dependent city.

The average household size was 2.8 people, which was 9% higher than the national average. Approximately 74.6% of residents owned their homes. This was 10% higher than the national average. 25.4% of the population rented from a house, apartment or condominium. The 2010 Census declared there being 15,518 households with a median household income of $83,917. This is high compared to Los Angeles County.

Altadena real estate isn’t cheap, however. The median price of homes for sale in Altadena is $780,000. This is 226% higher than the national average. However, the average home value is $731,400. The price per square foot is $485. The current housing market “temperature” is neutral. Last year the home values increased by 8.1% and Zillow predicts they will rise only 1.9% within the next year. The average monthly rent is $2,921. This is 53% higher than the national average. The current housing market health is 6.9/10. This is healthy score given by Zillow in comparison to other housing markets across the country.

According to Area Vibes, Altadena has a livability score of 77 – extremely livable. This is higher than the national average of 70. This comfortable, safe community will continue to flourish and grow and produce beautiful homes by its affluent residents. If looking to buy or sell real estate in Altadena, make certain you perform your due diligence and find an experienced realtor who specializes in the area.

Three Ways to Increase Property Values

Real estate investors live and die by their ability to add value. With no added value, there are no profits. This is true with any business, but what makes real estate such a great business and a great investment, is the number of ways you can add value and cash in on big profits. Here are three ways you can add value to your properties.

Upgrades and Repairs: OK, this is the obvious one and is the reason fix and flippers can make money. Some repairs add a lot more value than it costs to do. The more creative you are with the improvements, the more value you can add. For example, I have a client that adds square footage to every house he buys. He really likes the inner city properties because they are the hardest to add square footage. You either need to finish an unfinished basement, or add a second story. There is not typically enough land on the lot to add an addition by increasing the foot print of the property. This client does a lot of basement finishes and “pop tops,” but where he has made the most money is the basement that is only 5 or 6 feet deep. He will go in and dig out the basement to a full 8 or 9 foot height and then finish it. Something most investors would not think of, so he is able to get the deal most other investors pass on. I have also seen some investors find houses that don’t really fit into a neighborhood and they make them fit. This could be limited bedrooms or bathrooms or funky floor plans. All of that can be changed. Obviously many cosmetic fixes like kitchens and bathrooms add a lot of value too. There is a lot more to it than this, but the idea is to buy a property at its true ‘as is’ value, (don’t over pay), and then add value with the repairs and upgrades.

Owner Finance: I love this one because it is so easy to add value with very little to no work. You will need to wait to cash in on your profits, but it is a way to increase a sell price significantly. You can also use this strategy to defer tax gains over a few years, instead of taking a big hit all in one year. When you have a property for sale there are a limited number of buyers for the house, although right now that pool of buyers seems pretty big. If you can increase the pool of buyers, the demand for that one house increases, which forces the price to go up. Someone that cannot qualify for an ordinary loan, limiting the supply of houses to choose from for that buyer, will likely buy your property. That also increases the price. You are adding value by giving them the chance to own a home that they normally would not be able to own. For this value, you should be compensated with a higher price and a decent interest rate on the profits, while you wait for the buyer to refinance and pay you off in full.

Shared Units: This is one area of real estate that I have not dabbled in, but it is extremely inviting. The idea here is to sell your property to multiple buyers. You are seeing this a lot in resort towns. It is always a vacation or second home. Have you ever been to a time share presentation? They are pretty enticing aren’t they? About 13 years ago my ex wife and I were in Florida and got sucked into a time share sales pitch. We decided to go because they offered us free tickets to Disney. We sat there for about an hour and a half and then the hard sale came. They were very good at selling the “idea” of the time share and had my ex wife sold. She asked me to move forward with the deal, but I could not bring myself to do it. I told her that I was not comfortable with an emotional purchase and that we needed time to think it through. “Can I please have our Disney tickets?” was my response. As we rode back to the hotel that afternoon, I started thinking about the math. Each unit can be sold to 52 different people because your purchase only gets you 1 week a year. Add that to the annual maintenance fees and the numbers are staggering. I know people who have flipped time shares successfully, because you can get them for free or near free on Craigslist, but it is not an investment I was interested in. With that said, I have considered doing a half or quarter share on a house in a ski town in Colorado. In this scenario, you are sharing a house with 1 to 3 other people so there is a ton more flexibility. You can use or rent out your weeks and you can be guaranteed valuable high demand weeks every year. It is a way to get a second home without the full expense. From the seller’s point of view, it is a way to get more for the house. ½ a share of a house is going to cost the buyer more than ½ of the fair market value. I have seen business plans from investors that would buy a house and quarter share it out. The idea was that after they improved the property and sold ¾ of the house to 3 different buyers, they would own the last ¼ free and clear. Obviously this strategy will work best in areas where people want second homes. The downside is if there are any improvements or major issues. I can see there being disagreements, so this is something you would want, as a buyer, to work out with all the other owners in writing before you buy.

Apartment Locator VS Apartment Database Search! What’s Best For You?

Let’s start with the fact that 80% of all searches start on line, that being said when you do a search on Google or Yahoo for the terms “rental apartments” or “apartments for rent” you are faced with two basic options; apartment locator that offers their free service ether from their internet sites or using classified ad postings and other internet sites that offer the use of an apartment database. Which is the best for you? Well, that depends on what your needs and wants are and whether you like the “do it yourself” apartment hunting or being helped by a professional Apartment locator.

The Apartment Locator: If you are relocating to a new area or a new city, a place you are unfamiliar with, you don’t know the neighborhoods, schools, job centers, transportation, etc, the apartment locator may be your best choice.They respond to your request by phone or email (you decide) to ask you some details about your ideal apartment. You want to give them as much information about your wants and need as far as: budget, date of move part of town and more. The apartment locator is knowledgeable about the area of his local rental market. They will be very helpful in finding you rental property that suits your particular needs, best of all, in most cases this will be a totally free service. The apartment locator is normally paid “finder’s fee” or “referral fee” from the landlord apartment complex or landlord.

The Apartment Database Search: Unlike apartment locators, the typical apartment database offers an extensive choice of apartment listings. You can read the descriptions of apartment communities see maps, amenities, rent ranges, photos of inside and out and in some cases contact information. All this information helps you understand if a particular rental apartment or complex meet your needs and wants. If you like the “Do it yourself” method an apartment database site might be the one for you. Most require a simple registration which asks for name email and date of move. You do not submit your telephone number and you will not be contacted personally by anyone.

Same as apartment locator, most apartment database are free to use, in some cases you are even offered an Apartment Rebate of $100.00 or more if you tell the property you visit and/or lease that you where sent by a specific referring source ( apartment locating database or website). So, which is better for you? The apartment locator or the apartment database?

The Telltale Signs of Gentrification in NELA: Garvanza and Hermon

The rapidly developing area of North East Los Angeles (NELA) lends new meaning to the name “Boomtown”. Following in the footsteps of Highland Park, their neighbor to the West, the picturesque communities of Hermon and Garvanza have been undergoing a major facelift since the nineties. That’s been good news for homeowners who have seen homes in Garvanza and Hermon spike in value as real estate in these areas become highly coveted.

The once neglected Craftsman-style residence has taken-on a new pride of ownership, making the region one of NEL.A.’s most hidden treasures. The ornate architecture of Garvanza encompass nearly every style popular from the 1880’s through the 1940’s including, Queen Anne, Shingle, Mission Revival, and Tudor Revival. The charm of this unique enclave, overflowing with historic buildings, is reminiscent of small towns in Northern California.

The ginger bread homes of Chico come to mind. These dilapidated beauties from yesteryear are being restored back to their original splendor with the ginormous wave of gentrification sweeping across NELA. The rejuvenation of these sad old buildings has helped to launch the local real estate market into the stratosphere. If to gentrify is to make a house or district more attractive to the up and coming “gentry”, then the dramatic improvement of Garvanza and has come to exemplify this very process.

Garvanza is generally considered to be the birthplace of the Arts and Crafts movement in Southern California, and many of these houses have been recognized as official historic landmarks. For the architecture enthusiast and tourist alike, these spectacular structures are a treasure trove of gems to behold. As the area has become more and more fashionable among prosperous hipsters, the local economies have grown as well.

Evidence of gentrification is apparent when hip organic restaurants spring up, able to accommodate all of your dietary needs. It wasn’t that long ago that you would be hard pressed to find a meal outside of what might be available from the street taco vendor, or pedestrian fare served at mediocre restaurants. In present day Garvanza, the gay couple on the go can delight to poached eggs, avocado toast and espresso after Pilates class. There is even a new café custom made for the cycling culture, taking shape on York Boulevard, of course, peddling cycling gear along with lattés and vegan scones to its athletic neighbors. Starbucks is perhaps the most obvious telltale sign of gentrification and York Boulevard is now bookended by the famous green lady logo.

Adjacent to Garvanza, lies the hilly hamlet of Hermon. This ever so quint residential district is known for its sycamore-lined streets and gorgeous period homes. In the not so distant past, you might find people wrenching on the old family car, parked haphazardly on the front lawn. Fences and walls of commercial buildings were “decorated” with gang graffiti. Legions of homeless folk set up camp under the freeway.

Today Hermon real estate is booming and homes for sale in Hermon are handsome and immaculate, the yards well groomed. There are only so many places to go around, in these parts, which make this cozy bedroom community difficult to get into. The limited supply of homes and the ever-growing demand makes Hermon all the more chic among the groovy people. The small town feel, and close proximity to the L.A. metropolis gives you the best of both worlds.

The Truth About Shadow Inventory In Phoenix Real Estate Market

With a little bit of analysis, the claim that there is a tremendous shadow inventory on the Phoenix real estate market is easily banished. Unfortunately, homeowners and home-buyers are oftentimes led off the path by faulty reporting, even in major news outlets. There are resources that can be inspected to get a precise evaluation of how much inventory may be available and that is currently with lenders.

Erroneous Reporting

Reuters, one of the biggest news agencies in the world, announced in July of 2012 that price gains in Phoenix – and other so-called foreclosure-heavy cities such as Miami – are largely because banks own a great deal of inventory that they’re not putting on the market. The reason given for this is a possible scandal due to robo-signing on the part of banks. Unfortunately, the information put out in the media is inaccurate.

In the Phoenix market, at least, if the banks were to let the inventory that they currently hold onto the market, it would make a trivial or no difference at all in the prices for homes, specifically considering how much demand has increased over the last year.

Not That Many

The Cromford Report follows the amount of inventory that is held by lenders. This tracking is only attainable by subscription, but it keeps record of Phoenix real estate inventory unequivocally. According to these reports, there aren’t even 5,900 residential properties in the hands of lenders. Almost half of them are already active, some of them are pending sales and others are off of the market on ARMLS, according to Arizona Real Estate Trends.

Of the inventory not included in that number, lots of them are under leases and are occupied by tenants. The reporting mentions that, even if that housing inventory was released onto the market, it would account for less than two weeks of inventory in the Phoenix real estate market. This would not have any significant effect on the prices of homes in the overall market. In fact, in a healthy real estate market, the inventory is usually somewhere in the neighborhood of six month’s worth of properties.

Not Many Foreclosures

Another popular conception is that Arizona is one of the worst states in the nation as far as foreclosure rates go. In fact, Arizona has a foreclosure rate that is below the national average. Currently, according to the reporting, Arizona has approximately 5.9 percent of its homes which are 30 days delinquent and not yet in foreclosure. The national average for that same figure is 7.6 percent. As for homes that are more than 30 days delinquent and that are in foreclosure, Arizona has a rate of 8.7 percent, while the nation as a whole has an average of 11.3 percent.

Though the two states are often mentioned side-by-side in real estate reporting, Florida has a 21.3 percent rate of loans that are 30 days or more past due and that are in foreclosure, establishing that Arizona is in better shape than is portrayed in the media. Shadow inventory on the Arizona real estate market, quite simply, is a fabrication.