Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tear-down on 20th

Nice house, no? Built in 1941, this 3 bed/3 bath, 2,394 SF house on a 8,940 SF lot is was at 402 20th, the southwest corner of Carlyle. Listed for $2,450K last October, it closed 2/14/07 for $2,350K. Only downside is the #4 Big Blue Bus passing by every half hour (center of photo). Alas, 'twas not to last. Below are its remains earlier this month.The LA Times blog L.A. Land picked up Monday's post about the next block north, Sticker shock north of Montana. Feels like we made the bigtime!

OFHEO and Case-Shiller updates

The first quarter 2007 OFHEO and March 2007 S&P/Case Shiller numbers are out. See Calculated Risk on OFHEO and Case-Shiller, and a lengthy discussion by Mish. Here are the two since the beginning of 2006:

OFHEO quarterly for California:

CA 2006-1 278.69
CA 2006-2 282.56 - peak
CA 2006-3 279.45
CA 2006-4 273.97
CA 2007-1 270.85 - down 4.1%

S&P/Case-Shiller monthly for Los Angeles:

Jan-06 265.92
Feb-06 267.75
Mar-06 268.23
Apr-06 270.44
May-06 272.12
Jun-06 273.22
Jul-06 273.85
Aug-06 273.80
Sep-06 273.94 - peak
Oct-06 273.66
Nov-06 273.05
Dec-06 270.03
Jan-07 268.68
Feb-07 266.63
Mar-07 264.58 - down 3.4%, falling 1%/month

Case-Shiller is available in spreadsheet form and on Paper Money's graph tool, which I used for the plot above of the original Case-Shiller 10-city Composite and Los Angeles since 1987. My earlier post on Case-Shiller is here.

UPDATE: See Paper Money's new OFHEO graph tool. This link gives the US, California, and Los Angeles-Glendale-Long Beach.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Short sale on Pier

The new third place in the Ancient Listings of Santa Monica is 813 Pier, a 1 bed/1 bath, second lot east of Lincoln, now reduced to $800K. It features a view of a side alley and Big O Tires across Pier (also a short walk to the Starbucks across Lincoln).

According to the County it last sold 2/23/2006 for $800K. It was listed July 2006 for $979K, then reduced four times, now from $879K to $800K. Such a deal: "SHORT SALE. Zoned SMR2YY. Back portion of house was built wihtout permit and is yellow tagged. BUILDERS OPPORTUNITY. Lender approval required. Easy to show ... HURRY...."

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sticker shock north of Montana

This really got me a week ago, asking over $5 million north of Montana, east of 7th. I remember when $3M was high-end, then $4M, now they're trying to pass $5M. It's at 333 20th, 5 bed/6.5 bath, asking $5,095K, featuring all the usual stuff. For an ordinary-looking house on a 60' lot. Aren't you supposed to get a faux chateau for that? (Actually 127 17th crossed the $5M line first, asking $5,395K, sold in March, but I think that's a double lot with tennis court.)

Then there's 506 Palisades, 4 bed/4 bath, asking the extraordinary $7,950K. That's higher than anything west of 7th. Two listings (222 Palisades and 336 Adelaide) asked over $6M last fall (now off market, no sales prices recorded), and 2407 La Mesa - overlooking the Riviera Country Club - sold for $10.5M 12/12/06. But this is just a 50' lot among 100' lots, with no view, across the alley from apartments.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Odd couple on Marine

A block over from Navy St. are this odd couple of listings. On the left is the new 718 Marine, 1 bed/1 bath, 25' x 100' lot, asking $869K. It's described as, "Cute Ocean Park home redone inside and out side, new copper repipe new water heater new tile and wood floors, new double pane windows new bathroom & kitchen with granite counter top". Below is how it looked in April, 2005. According to the County it last sold 3/23/05 for $615K.Meanwhile, the two lots next door at 714 Marine (sold together 12/16/04 for $775K) were cleared of another building like this and two new two-story modern boxes were built. The one to the right in the top photo at 716 Marine has been for sale since 4/20, 4 bed/2.75 bath, asking $1,650K. It's described as, "Whelan-O’Neill Arch. 2007. This New Modern Home is located in Santa Monica's desirable Ocean Park Neighborhood. Walk to local parks, beaches, restaurants". Another next door to the west (beyond the photo) appears identical and still being finished.

$1,650K to live off of Lincoln on a 25' x 100' lot? Does this make 724 Navy St. a good buy at $949K, or are they all nuts?

Friday, May 25, 2007

New FSBO on 26th

New: This house has a "For Lease" sign in front, from an agent. It is 3 bed/3 baths, 2,283 SF, asking $8,500/month. The description includes, "Fabulous kitchen island w/ss appliances. Kitchen and formal dining open to yard and pool ... 1st showing Tues., May 29th"


I'd like to share Frank's comment from this morning. (Did I get the right photo? I didn't see a for-sale sign.)

Last weekend, there was a FSBO sign posted at the southwest corner of 26th and Alta in Santa Monica (in front of 2520 Alta) with an email address of This is the automated response that I received:

We will be selling our house in the next few months, sometime after the end of the Franklin school year.
We have two current appraisals, less than 90 days old, both showing a value of $3 million, as is.
We do not want to do any maintenance, painting or upgrading just to have you do it over again to your own tastes.
We do not need to involve a realtor, and would expect a real estate attorney to handle our end of the deal. Should you choose to involve a realtor, you will bear any costs associated with that decision.
We would be less than likely to sell to a developer or realtor, and would not be happy about dealing with someone who is too greedy or pushy. There are very few houses listed in our neighborhood, and ours is unique.
We would rather sell our house to a family that can appreciate it, our neighborhood and our school.
This has been our home since we bought it a long time ago and it has never been listed.
We would expect to have private showings sometime next month. In order to qualify for a showing you will have to at some point provide proof of financial viability to our accountant, banker, or attorney.
If you are truly a qualified buyer and are interested in going further into this process, please feel free to respond via a follow up e-mail.
We will be replying as time allows but we are, like so many of us, very busy.
Thank You.

This is an interesting Realtor-free FSBO strategy. But is the house worth $3M? It appears nice, an original 2-story north of Montana, but not fixed up and on busy 26th, when the new 528 26th's final price was only $2,850K.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Navy St.

Then there's this 2 bed/1.5 bath house at 724 Navy St., second block west of Lincoln, asking $949K. "Great location in Ocean Park Neighborhood just blocks to Main Street and the beach!" Notice how they never say how many blocks? "Completely renovated with new kitchen, granite counters, stainless appliances, and bamboo floors. The architecturally designed master is bright and has over-sized French doors that open into the yard." Almost a million dollars for a little old house on a tiny 25' x 80' lot?! Words fail me.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Cover your ears on Virginia

So many houses, where to start? How about this 3 bed/1.75 bath at 3011 Virginia Ave., asking $999K. "Pristinely remodeled California bungalow on gorgeous tree-lined street with easy access to freeways." It's across the street from the Santa Monica Freeway!! The front right window is the master bedroom; even with its double-pane windows closed I heard the traffic roar. When did post-war stucco boxes become "California bungalows"? Pasadena knows what a bungalow is, and this isn't. "Perfect outdoor living and entertaining with large, private, meticulously landscaped backyard with 2 lovely patio areas." Will you go out there in the freeway din? [revised 5/22]

Memo to seller: Why didn't you take off the front security door in this vacant, staged house? Isn't it better to communicate 'this house is in a safe neighborhood' (which it is) rather than 'look at this great security door to keep out the dangerous neighborhood'?

The nearest comp is 1826 34th, a fixed-up 3 bed/2 bath 1-2 blocks farther from the freeway, closed 4/27/07 for $910K. Fixers are in the $700Ks, except for our well-known 1817 Warwick, still asking $865K at 283 days on market.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

"The Broker"

You gotta see Tanta's Rock Blog "The Broker" at Calculated Risk today! The song was humming in my mind as I read her words....

According to script

Be sure to read the LA Times today, "Weak state job report adds to consumer woes":

The rise in the state unemployment rate last month stoked concerns that job worries, along with rising gasoline prices and a stumbling real estate market, could make consumers skittish about spending.

The deterioration was due in large part to the slump in home construction. The sector shed 3,000 jobs in April, contributing to an increase of 58,000 in the number of out-of-work Californians. It was the greatest one-month jump in unemployment since February 1992, when that population expanded by 69,000.

Some economists said bad news on the job front could spook consumers who are already ill at ease with paying an average of $3.46 a gallon for gasoline and seeing "for sale" signs linger in their neighborhoods. Home sales in Southern California fell to a 12-year low last month, and prices have begun to slip.

Those of us following Nouriel Roubini et al recognize the script.

Ancient Cabrillo

Oldest north of Venice Blvd. at 173 days, and fifth oldest overall in the Ancient Listings of Palms-Mar Vista, is 3368 Cabrillo Blvd. Goes with the old conquistador Juan Cabrillo ( -1543) (or is that pushing the analogy too far?).

Well-priced new listings still sell fast. Let's see ... 3 bedrooms/2.75 baths for $1,095K (after a $55K reduction in April) in a nice location north of Palms, west of Centinela. No other sales on Cabrillo in the last 2 years. Sales within 2,000 feet in 2007 were 12624 Brooklake St., 3/1, 2/13/2007 for $800K and 12566 Woodbine St., 3/2, 3/20/2007 for $935K. So when's the next price reduction?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Case-Shiller Index

Today's DataQuick stats for southern California (also covered in the LA Times and Calculated Risk) announced the not-unexpected (to us!), "Southern California home sales sank to a 12-year low last month, led by striking sales drops in affordable neighborhoods." But, "Prices were fairly stable overall, ...." The $540K L.A. County median was unchanged from March, and up 5.9% from April 2006 (although other counties were down y-o-y).

That's why the like-sales approach of the Standard & Poor's S&P/Case-Shiller Index is more meaningful. It "uses data on properties that have sold at least twice, in order to capture the true appreciated value of each specific sales unit", for 20 metropolitan areas. It is available in spreadsheet form and on Paper Money's graph tool, which I used for the above plot of the original Case-Shiller 10-city Composite and Los Angeles since 1987.

Culver Blvd.

First place in the Ancient Listings of Mar Vista is this 2 bed/1.5 bath at 12038 Culver Blvd. Oldest at 241 days despite being the cheapest listing in Palms/Mar Vista at $569K.

(Giant sigh. That's still $29K above Los Angeles County's March median sale price of $540K.)

Its description notes, "Hardwood floors throughout. Washer/dryer hookups in Garage." Instead of those commonplace granite counters, this one boasts its washer/dryer hookups. "Walking & jogging to the beach." Only 3-1/4 miles alongside the traffic of Culver Blvd.

According to the County Assessor it last sold 4/21/2006 for $514.5K. Hmmm.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Forbes' "Most Overpriced Markets"

Forbes' "America's Most Overpriced Real Estate Markets" combines multiple criteria (thanks, Sacramento Land(ing)):
  • Their "P/E" ratio is based on "each market's median home price ... divided ... by annual rents minus taxes and insurance for those properties."
  • Their "affordability score is the percent of the population who can afford to buy the median-priced home, assuming a 6% mortgage rate."
  • They seem to have looked at both the trends in housing prices and income growth. San Francisco is dinged for already-unaffordable prices plus low expected income growth ahead.

"So which markets are in bubble territory? Look for a high P/E ratio, low affordability, low income growth and a high cost of living. ... The usual suspects littered our list: Miami came in second, followed in order by: Sacramento, Calif.; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Honolulu; New York; Los Angeles; and Boston. San Jose, Calif., rounded out the top 10." Here are their details for California cities:

1. San Diego
Median home price: $601,800
P/E: 5th highest
Affordability rank: 2nd least affordable
Housing price trend: -4.5%

3. Sacramento, Calif.
Median home price: $374,800
P/E: 10th highest
Affordability rank: 5th least affordable
Housing price trend: -4.1%

4. San Francisco
Median home price: $736,800
P/E: Highest
Affordability rank: 4th least affordable
Housing price trend: 2%

8. Los Angeles
Median home price: $584,800
P/E: 4th highest
Affordability rank: Least affordable
Housing price trend: 3.2%

10. San Jose, Calif.
Median home price: $775,000
P/E: 2nd highest
Affordability rank: 8th least affordable
Housing price trend: 2.7%

So when appreciation ends, the last three cities will be even more overpriced.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Time warp

Now and again, don't you find an open house a real time warp? How about this '60s-vintage TV?

(If this is too fluffy, be sure to read Housing Panic and Calculated Risk today. We'll have weekly inventory tomorrow, and DataQuick for April next week.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


What is this sign saying? "We're Brentwood. (Even if the Post Office calls us Los Angeles 90049.) We're special. We have granite signs to match our granite countertops."

Monday, May 7, 2007

El Medio Bluffs

El Medio Bluffs is the part of Pacific Palisades south of Sunset Blvd., west of Temescal Canyon Rd. Asilomar Blvd. at the edge of the bluffs has a wonderful view of the ocean (over the trailer park on PCH, though).

The house on the right in the photo is at 478 Wynola, 2 bed/1 bath. You can see its very shallow back yard. It was asking $1,299K, but closed 3/23/07 for $1,150K. That's about the bottom there recently. Two other recent cheaper sales were 741 El Medio, 3/2, closed 2/2/07 for $1,440K, and 16050 Aiglon, 3/1.5, closed 2/22/07 for $1,479K.

Sunday, May 6, 2007


At the other end of Westside listings ... how 350 N. Carolwood Dr. in Holmby Hills, only $125,000,000 for "Fleur De Lys - The Finest Estate in America. Available by appointment to pre-qualified clients only. The property has 12 bedrooms, 15 baths, guest house on a 5.01 acres." Note the spacious parking lot motor court behind the house. (Image from MS Live, not the little MLS photo.)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Weekly Inventory update

Active SFR Inventory

5/4: Santa Monica <$3M inventory is down 8% week-week but up 12% month-month and up 21% year-year. Palisades <$2M is down, but overall is a record high this year. Mar Vista and total Westside are record highs this year, matching the whole county (except what must have been an anomaly 3/30). L.A. County is up 35% year-year and nearing last October's record high.

4/27: Surge in Santa Monica and Mar Vista inventory, +5 each.

4/6: Pretty flat overall, unlike the LA County spike. New well-priced listings sell, and the rest sits (DOM is rising, especially for Palisades).

       LA County  Santa Monica  Pacific Palisades  Mar Vista
<$3M New Tot DOM<$2M New Tot DOM Tot New DOM

_________ _______________ _______________ ___________

1/30/06 27,732
2/28/06 29,420
3/31/06 31,819
4/21/06 33,054 35
5/ 1/06 34,032 38 33
6/ 2/06 37,847 56 36 38
6/30/06 42,317 66 39 49
8/ 4/06 45,315 70 35 50
9/ 1/06 46,781 71 27 59
10/ 6/06 47,369 83 25 98 71
11/ 3/06 45,780 80 20 91 77
12/ 1/06 43,103 65 18 72 96 39 20
1/ 5/07 35,646 54 4 60 117 33 6 71 66
2/ 2/07 36,715 38 15 45 124 29 16 61 71
3/ 2/07 41,251 42 14 51 114 26 10 68 79 53 25 76
3/30/07 50,730 42 23 51 104 17 8 71 94 60 50 40
4/ 6/07 41 23 49 107 18 8 73 103 52 52 50
4/14/07 42,857 45 13 55 105 19 2 75 95 56 10 55
4/20/07 44,764 45 20 54 89 19 3 77 89 63 20 53
4/27/07 50 28 60 85 17 6 77 73 68 29 56
5/ 4/07 45,918 46 28 53 92 19 6 82 79 68 35 52

All Westside (updated 1st Fri. of mo.)

                   2/9  3/1  4/6  5/4
Bel Air-Holmby Hls. 86 86 92 100
Beverly Center-M.M. 64 57 48 53
Beverly Hills 67 70 56 46
B.H. Post Office 94 91 92 88
Beverlywood Vic. 35 36 31 39
Brentwood 67 71 73 75
Cheviot Hills-R.Pk. 22 20 19 22
Culver City 35 25 20 28
Malibu 178 181 192 199
Malibu Beach 42 44 51 52
Marina Del Rey 20 20 20 27
Pacific Palisades 64 68 73 82
Palms-Mar Vista 62 53 52 68
Playa Del Rey 7 8 17 20
Playa Vista 3 2 3 1
Santa Monica 50 50 49 53
Sunset Stp.-Hwd.H. 155 178 159 166
Topanga 39 41 36 43
Venice 64 64 57 68
West Hollywood Vic. 23 32 25 36
West L.A. 19 21 25 24
Westchester 53 46 47 45
Westwood-Cent.City 33 44 37 42
____ ____ ____ ____
Total 1282 1308 1274 1377
Month-month incr. 2% -3% 8%


LA County inventory via OC Renter. Santa Monica Days on Market (DOM) is for <$3M, and omits Santa Monica Canyon (in City of Los Angeles but S.M. Post Office). Pacific Palisades DOM is for <$2M and count omits mobile homes. "New" is for previous month, or month-to-date for current partial month.

Friday, May 4, 2007

"Marketplace": meltdown spreading

The lead story on NPR's "Marketplace" today was "Mortgage meltdown keeps spreading":

GM reported today that the subprime mortgage mess has dealt a huge blow to its bottom line. And there may be more losses to come. Some analysts are predicting almost 2 million home foreclosures by the end of the year. ...

And from Washington,

Today, Chuck Schumer, New York's Democratic Senator, unveiled a two-part plan to try and deal with this foreclosure crisis.

Part one: Give community groups $300 million in federal money to counsel troubled borrowers and help them find ways to refinance. Part two: Legislate new codes of conduct for mortgage brokers and lenders. ...

Despite this, there's concern Schumer's bill may not be going anywhere. In the Senate, any changes in banking regulation have to get past the chairman of the Banking committee, Senator Christopher Dodd. Dodd, who's running for president this year, would like banks and brokers to agree to regulate themselves.

Let's see, divide $300M by 2M foreclosures = a whole $150 each! Or nothing. That sure won't prop anything up.

See a great riff on GM at Housing Panic and analysis by Mish.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Delaware eccentric

The cheapest R1 listing in Santa Monica is 2961 Delaware Ave at $699K. (With "For Sale" sign to match.)

Major Fixer on lg corner lot in SM. Legally a 2+ 1. House is being sold "as-is" "where-is". Additions to property w/o permits. No dual agency. Buyer to perform all inspections prior to writing an offer at their cost.

There is a house behind all those trees, reworked into something like old Topanga or Venice. Here's an interior view of angled colors and mirrors.
It's $166K less than Warwick (a block east, still unsold), $70K less than 3008 Delaware (2/1, closed 4/7/06), and $396K less than the newly-listed 2937 Virginia Ave. (3/2), "BIG FAMILY HOME NEAR PARK-NEW LISTING Best value in Santa Monica in the desirable Stewart Park neighborhood." Hardly at that price, across the street from the freeway.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Airport view

LateSummer2008's comment inspired posting this view* from the back of 2314 Pier. It was described as, "Large lot with views from airport to Playa del Rey." The airport runway end is center left; tall buildings in Marina del Rey on right, left of the telephone pole. LP $959K, SP $920K. (*Photo down of backyard matched to photo up of plane taking off.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Low-end Sunset Park

Sunset Park (south of Pico, east of Lincoln) is the most-affordable single-family neighborhood in Santa Monica. How affordable, at current prices? Let's ask, what sold there during the last year for less than $1M?

1773 Dewey St., 2 bed/1 bath, closed 11/13/06, $750K (across from golf course, below planes)
2920 10th St., 2/1, 6/30/06, $800K (tiny lot, overlooks Lincoln)
3224 Pearl St., 2/1, 1/19/07, $835K (tiny house)
2338 Pier Ave., 3/2, 3/9/07, $860K (across alley from airport)
3121 17th St., 2/1, 6/29/06, $888K (little lot, hill slope)
2310 31st St., 2/1, 3/10/06, $895K (between Pearl and Pico, 40' lot?)
1408 Hill St., 2/1, 2/20/07, $896K (more)
1733 Robson Ave., 2/1, 12/8/06, $915K (hill slope, below planes)
2314 Pier Ave., 2/1.75, 3/23/07, $920K (across alley from airport)
1639 Oak St., 3/1, 3/1/07, $921K (behind Ocean Park Bl. stores)
2430 Pier Ave., 2/1, 3/30/06, $925K (across alley from airport)
2447 18th St., 2/1.5, 11/1/06, $925K (east of John Adams)
1616 Hill St., 2/1, 8/23/06, $928K (power lines behind, being fixed up)
3117 17th St., 2/2, 9/7/06, $940K (little lot, hill slope)
1309 Pacific St., 3/2, 4/21/06, $940K (west of SM College, shallow lot)
1125 Oak St., 2/1, 1/30/07, $948K (behind Ocean Park Bl. apartments)
1507 Pacific St., 2/1, 12/15/06, $950K (west of SM College, shallow lot)
2234 23rd St., 3/2, 11/29/06, $953K (between Pearl and Pico, 40' lot?)
1717 Robson Ave., 3/1, 1/12/07, $961K (hill slope, below planes)
2237 21st St., 2/1.75, 8/2/06, $975K (between Pearl and Pico)
2111 Pier Ave., 2/1, 11/9/06, $979K (near planes taking off)
1629 Wellesley Dr., 2/2, 11/21/06, $985K (photo above, cute fixer, top of slope, small yard, don't bump your head on the Chinese elm walking to the front door)