It has just been announced that Monica Iris Antola is the proud recipient of the President Circle Award for 2018. This puts her in the top 5% of all Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices agents nationwide.
Here’s where you’ll find the highest—and lowest—priced homes
By Elijah Chiland Aug 20, 2018, 10:39am PDT
The study illustrates which parts of the Los Angeles area are home to the highest—and lowest—real estate prices, based on sales data from the first half of 2018.
In a map of neighborhoods tracked by the real estate research firm, most regions are shaded blue, meaning that median home values there are under $1 million. But houses sell for far more than that in a few exclusive pockets of the LA region.
Malibu Colony Beach boasts the highest prices in the area, largely thanks to the sale of a seaside mansion which billionaire Daryl Katz purchased for $85 million earlier this year. But the neighborhood’s astronomical median sale price isn’t just a one-time fluke. That $10.65 million figure is nearly 11 percent lower than the median price this time last year.
Homes in Beverly Hills aren’t much cheaper. Property Shark divides the city up into three distinct neighborhoods: Beverly Hills Gateway, Trousdale Estates, and Beverly Hills Flats. Median-priced homes in those areas cost $9.6 million, $8.35 million, and $7.45 million, respectively.
Four other Malibu neighborhoods (Serra Retreat, Carbon Beach, La Costa, and Broad Beach), along with the North of Montana neighborhood of Santa Monica and the Hill section of Manhattan Beach, round out the top ten priciest areas in LA.
On a neighborhood level, Los Angeles is home to some of the highest home prices in the nation, putting even Manhattan’s priciest enclaves to shame. According to the report, the median price in Malibu Colony Beach was almost three times higher than that of Tribeca, currently the most expensive neighborhood in New York City.
But the gap is wide between the most and least costly neighborhoods in the region.
Watts was the least expensive neighborhood analyzed by Property Shark. So far this year the median sale price there is $335,000. Two Long Beach neighborhoods—Rose Park and Zaferia—were close behind with median prices of $355,000 and $359,000, respectively.
In total, the report identified more than 40 neighborhoods where median prices are under $500,000. On the flip side, prices are hovering above $2 million in 25 different neighborhoods around LA.
California’s property tax laws may have worsened housing crisis
Voter-approved initiatives encouraged potential homeowners to hold out, but change may be on the way
July 16, 2018 09:00AM
The slew of laws California voters have approved over the years to help homeowners save money on taxes also reward them for keeping their homes off the market. The effects of those measures could have helped create the housing crisis that is now engulfing the state, according to Bloomberg.
But an initiative on November’s ballot could help change that.
Proposition 5 would attempt to alleviate the problem by building on two prior initiatives passed in the 1980s. Those measures allowed buyers 55 and older to transfer their lower assessment from a home they sold to their new home, as long as the new property was of equal or lower value. The California Association of Realtors developed the initiative.
Among the culprits may be Proposition 13, which was passed in 1975. That limited property taxes to 1 percent of purchase price and capped hikes to 2 percent a year. Many older homeowners, particularly empty-nesters who may have otherwise downsized, thought twice about selling a home with a low property tax for a newer home with a much higher tax, according to Bloomberg.
Two others, Prop 58 and Prop 193 — approved in 1986 and 1996, respectively — may have also contributed. Those allow parents and grandparents to give their homes to children and grandchildren without an increase in assessed value, regardless of how much the home is appraised.
A 2016 study by the Journal of Housing Research looked at sales in San Diego County by neighborhood. It found that neighborhood turnover was lower when homes there had a lower assessment as a percentage of appraised value, according to Bloomberg.
Prop 5, the measure on November’s ballot, would allow remove that limit on pricing, and would allow buyers to transfer their assessment anywhere in the state without approval. Instead, the new assessment would equal the old one plus the difference in price. [Bloomberg] — Dennis Lynch
By Lauren Beale
Jun 25, 2018 | 6:00 AM
If the name ZaSu Pitts doesn’t ring any bells perhaps the name Linda Ronstadt does. Both the early actress, who made the leap from silent to talking films, and the retired Grammy-winning pop singer are among former owners of a residence in Brentwood listed at $16.25 million.
Like so many other homes with a rich celebrity pedigree, this Traditional-style house dates to the 1930s. Designed by architect to the stars Paul R. Williams, the classic 10,000-square-foot mansion draws heavily from Georgian architecture and takes in canyon, city and mountain views.
Former White House designer Michael Smith updated the elegant 10,000 square feet of interiors in keeping with Williams’ vision. Remaining are the signature winding staircase and a secret passageway from the library to the master suite. There are seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms.
The grounds include a swimming pool and a pool house.
Pitts, who died in 1963 at 69, starred in the silent film “Greed.” With the advent of sound, she worked almost exclusively in comedies, including “Finn and Hattie” (1931), “Blondie of the Follies” (1932) and “Ruggles of Red Gap” (1935).
Ronstadt, 71, enjoyed her heyday starting in the late ’60s with such hits as “Ohh Baby Baby” and “Blue Bayou.”
Jody Fine and Monica Iris Antola of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties are the listing agents.
Marcus Ruiz Evans doesn’t live in Venice, but on Thursday night inside the gymnasium of Venice Animo Charter High School, he’s giving a pep talk to a group of roughly 60 Venice residents about what makes their neighborhood so unique. If it were up to him, Venice would be more than just one of the nearly 300 different neighborhoods in Los Angeles: It would be its own city.
“We are really upset about losing [tax] money, and we definitely don’t feel that we’re Angelenos,” says Evans, proposing a script for audience members to follow if they’re serious about pursuing secession from Los Angeles. “You need to be pissed off. Then people will pay attention.”
Evans, a political activist from Fresno who has hosted conservative-leaning talk radio shows, knows how to get attention.
His fringe secessionist group, Yes California, garnered international headlines last year for a radical proposal to break California away from the United States and incorporate it into its own country. Nicknamed “Calexit,” the controversial 2018 ballot initiative was scrapped after its founder revealed he was living in Russia; activists are working to put it on the ballot in 2020.
Some argue that the nation’s second-largest city, home to more than 4 million people, is too big and bureaucratic to effectively govern the idiosyncratic beach community of some 40,000.
“There was one place where you could express yourself and that was Venice,” says Evans, who was chosen as a panelist by the Venice Neighborhood Council, which has not taken a position on Vexit, for the town hall it organized to discuss secession.
His appeal to Venice’s history as a bastion of counterculture, from beat poetry to skateboarding, drew cheers. But his next statement was booed: “You have a historical culture of being free… that’s why the tech sector is here.”
The range of reactions represents a conflict for many Venetians who value their individuality and their independence, but also recognize that the tech industry is changing the character of the neighborhood, pushing out longtime residents who are disproportionately low income and people of color.
The idea of secession, informally known as “Vexit,” gained steam in 2016 when the Venice Neighborhood Council created an ad hoc committee to research its viability.
The effort has stalled in the two years since—proponents recognize that it’s a long shot that would require years of lobbying and fundraising—but the dream isn’t dead. Now it’s stoking tensions about housing, wealth inequality, and gentrification in the increasingly unaffordable neighborhood.
Community activist and former neighborhood Councilmember Mike Bravo says the panel, though billed as an informational meeting, felt like a pitch in favor of cityhood.
“Until they start to acknowledge us, people of color, native Venetians, we’re not going to let [Vexit] happen,” he says, pointing out that the panel was made up almost entirely of white men and that the moderator did not allow questions or comments from the audience.
Dede Audet, a 97-year-old Venice resident who has lived here since 1957, managed to grab the microphone and voice her disappointment during the meeting.
“What I heard tonight is mainly a bunch of pencil pushers!” she exclaimed, walking to the front of the room and leaving her walker at her chair. “But Venice is about feelings! That’s what it is.”
Like Bravo, she says she felt ambushed by the pro-Vexit message of the meeting.
“I recognized it as a set-up. It was for cityhood,” she says. “All ideas have value. This one, I believe, as far as I’m concerned, has a negative value.”
Proponents of secession, like James “Jim” Murez, a town hall panelist who has been running the Venice Farmers Market for more than three decades, argue that Venice has “clearly been neglected” by the city of Los Angeles, from its eroding sidewalks to its untrimmed trees to its escalating traffic.
These frustrations are shared in neighborhoods across the city, but because Venice was once its own city—from 1905 to 1926—some residents say self-governance makes more sense here than it does in other places.
The effort has stalled in the two years since—proponents recognize that it’s a long-shot that would require years of lobbying and fundraising—but the dream isn’t dead.
Nick Antonicello, a New Jersey native who has lived in Venice for the last quarter century, says the math just doesn’t add up. The city of Los Angeles can’t effectively prioritize the needs of a tight-knit, increasingly wealthy enclave.
“If you had a mayor of Venice, for example, and he lived in Venice, the odds of running into him at the supermarket or seeing him at some event and having actual access to the mayor, I think is a positive,” he says. “The mayor of the second-largest city in the United States doesn’t have the time.”
The other factor undeniably driving the Vexit bid is money, thanks in part to tech companies like Snapchat, which has since left the neighborhood for Santa Monica following years of community protests that attributed its presence to rampant gentrification and displacement.
But proving that Venice would be economically viable as its own city is just one hurdle among many, if supporters were to file an application for cityhood to the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission.
Even if everyone in Venice voted in favor of the bid, it would then need to win a majority of votes from residents across the city of Los Angeles, which is incredibly difficult to do—it’s the reason why the San Fernando Valley’s bid for secession failed in 2002.
And even if the city did somehow vote for Venice’s secession, Los Angeles still has the power to veto the vote, says LAFCO’s Paul Novak. A separate, more radical yet streamlined option would be for a state legislator to sponsor a bill for Venice’s secession and lobby the governor of California sign it into law.
Lisa Leeman, a documentary filmmaker and 23-year Venice resident who teaches at the University of Southern California, isn’t so sure any of this is a good idea.
She says she attended the town hall with an open mind, but has serious concerns about the repercussions of incorporating Venice into its own city.
“I find myself asking, ‘What if a number of well resourced communities all moved to secede from Los Angeles, what’s left?’” says Leeman. “What happens to the underrepresented communities?
“Where is this impulse really coming from?”
- Vexit: Venice Beach wants to leave Los Angeles [Curbed LA]
90401 is No. 1: Santa Monica had the nation’s highest home price increase - A report from Realtor.com showed the city’s median home listing was more than $3M
By Natalie Hoberman | April 10, 2018 04:00PM
Santa Monica may be famous for its tourist throng and historic pier, but there’s another facet to this beachside city: its real estate.
The 90401 ZIP code in Santa Monica posted the greatest gains in median home listing price last year, according to a ranking by Realtor.com. The city posted a 60.7 percent year-over-year increase in median home price, raising the price for a home to a little over $3 million. That increase surpassed other neighborhoods in the state and in New York City.
The West Newton, Mass., 02465 ZIP code was second with a 60.4 percent increase, to a median home listing of $2.22 million. Up the California coast, Palo Alto’s 02465 had the most expensive listing price at nearly $5.6 million. That amounted to a 59.1 percent jump, good for the third spot.
Rounding out the top five were Kattskill Bay, in Upstate New York; and Seattle.
The rankings were calculated based on a comparison of median prices from April 2016 to March 2017, and April 2017 to March 2018.
With its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica has had no trouble attracting some of Tinseltown’s elite. Acting through an entity, “Modern Family” creator Steven Levitan sold his mansion on Woodacres Road for a record-breaking $41 million in September. Just a few months ago, Colony NorthStar chief executive Thomas Barrack sold his home of three years for $34 million.
The neighborhood also has a Marmol Radziner-designed home on the market. With nearly 9,500 square feet, that residence is asking just under $17 million.
Location: Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Price: $6.995 million
Size: 6,160 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms
Perhaps seeking more space to accommodate her growing family, supermodel turned two-time Emmy winning daytime chat show host, reality TV tycoon and cosmetics mogul Tyra Banks shelled out $6.995 million for a multi-story, ocean-view contemporary just above the downtown shopping and dining district in affluent Pacific Palisades, California. Built in 2014 and a jigsaw puzzle-like collection of white stucco volumes broken up by expansive windows and slender balconies, the residence towers three stories above the street with five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms in 6,160 square feet of nearly new and comfortably modern interior space.
Nestled discreetly under a shallow, wood-paneled overhang on the second floor, the front door opens efficiently if inelegantly directly into a combination living and dining room with honey-toned wide-plank hardwood floorboards and a bank of windows that frame glittery blue and green views over the treetops of Pacific Palisades and the Pacific Ocean. Less formal family quarters include an open-plan kitchen with sleekly unadorned dove-grey cabinets and flannel grey and white striated marble countertops that waterfall over the ends of the over-sized center island with three-stool snack bar. A low, pony all divider with a double-sided gas fireplace separates the informal dining space next to the kitchen from a cozily proportioned family room that features a pale gray brick accent wall, a long and low built-in media cabinet and an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling glass panels that slide open to a small covered deck that overlooks the backyard.
Along with a street-facing two-car garage, the semi-subterranean ground floor offers a roomy bedroom suite for guests or staff, a walk-in wine cellar lined with custom bottle racks, a fitness room or children’s playroom and a high-ceiled games room/media lounge decked out with a wet bar, an in-ceiling speaker system and a wall-mounted 120-inch projection screen. Bedrooms are well separate for privacy and in addition to the aforementioned ground floor suite include a main floor bedroom easily converted to an office or den plus two more guest or family bedrooms on the upper most level along with a spacious, top-floor master suite that incorporates an adjoining sitting room, a fitted walk-in closet and a spa-style bathroom that opens through glass sliders to a pint-sized walled courtyard terrace.
Glass doors in the family room and main floor bedroom/den lead out to a terraced backyard with a flat patch of emerald lawn and a plunge-sized negative edge swimming pool surrounded by white limestone terracing. A dramatic rooftop terrace, also paved with white limestone tiles and ringed by a glass railing, offers a built-in barbecue, a fire pit with cushioned built-in banquette seating, a partially sunken molded plastic hot tub that likely had to be craned into place and unobstructed 360-degree ocean, mountain and city lights views.
Banks, currently the host of the long-running reality series “America’s Next Top Model,” which she created and executive produces, a judge on “America’s Got Talent” and, earlier this year, an adviser on “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” maintains an extensive and often in-flux portfolio of residential properties on both the East and West coasts. In addition to the house she just bought, Banks own at least three other multi-million dollar homes in Pacific Palisades, including a 4,797-square-foot, ocean-view contemporary she picked up in an off-market deal over the summer of 2016 for $7.35 million.
Last year the smizing catwalker sold a 2,447-square-foot residence in Northern California’s wine-soaked community of Sonoma for $2.6 million after buying it just two years earlier for $2.185 million; In 2016 she sold her longtime former home in Beverly Hills for $6.33 million; and in 2015 she sold a two-bedroom condo in New York City’s SoHo for $4.25 but continues to own a massive, suburban macmansion-sized duplex in a swanky Battery Park complex — it’s a 7,000-square-foot combination of four units — that she bought in early 2009 for a total of $10.131 million and, after it popped up for rent several times at a mouth-drying $50,000 per month, unsuccessfully attempted to sell last year at $17.5 million.
Listing photos: Coldwell Banker
Location:Santa Monica, Calif.
Size:3,858 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms plus one-bed/one-bath guest apartment
Nestled in the shade of a 100-plus-year-old redwood tree amid a colorful garden of begonias and fuchsias, the shingle-clad 1922 Craftsman-style main house has three bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms in almost 3,900-square-feet. A deep and inviting raised front porch leads to a comfortably capacious, cabin-like combination living/dining room with hardwood floors, a vaulted exposed wood ceiling and a river rock fireplace. There’s also a separate kitchen, a tile-floored family room and a walk-in wine cellar. A more contemporary, two-story guest apartment with its own entrance includes an airy living/dining room with vaulted ceiling and raised hearth fireplace as well as an open-plan kitchen, a separate den/office with built-in desk space and a lofted bedroom with en suite bathroom.
Danson and Steenburgen acquired the neighboring property, a since extensively remodeled compound composed of a three-bedroom 1920s wood-shingled Craftsman-style main residence and a two-story poolside guesthouse plus two more guest studios, in the spring of 2014 for $3.47 million and the showbiz power couple — he currently co-stars on “The Good Place,” she on “The Last Man on Earth” and both regularly popped up on the cult classic sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm” — additionally maintain a charming brick cottage just outside of downtown Nashville, Tenn., they acquired in 2012 for $750,000, a nearly ten-acre spread in Ojai, Calif., they snatched up in 2005 for $4.5 million and a multi-residence spread on two parcels that total six acres near Chilmark, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard.
Capping the freeway would create a new link between the downtown and civic center areas
By Bianca Barragan Jan 8, 2018, 1:20pm PST
A years-old proposal to cap the 10 freeway near its Santa Monica terminus is part of a plan that will soon be considered by the city of Santa Monica, reports the Santa Monica Lookout.
According to a report prepared for the Santa Monica City Council, the Gateway Master Plan will address planning in the area “adjacent to the I-10 Freeway that links Downtown to the Civic Center” and to Santa Monica High School, and it could include covering the freeway with decking that could create new space for a park.
“This key location should become an experience that reflects the city’s values of community, sustainability and pride of place,” the report says.
The new staff report says the Gateway Master Plan offers “a unique opportunity for strengthening connections over the freeway right of way.” It also says the cap park would be a way to offer “an enlarged green space for outdoor enjoyment” where there previously was none.
By removing the visual and physical barrier between the city’s downtown and its civic center area, the park could create a new link between the two sections of the city. The report also notes that by providing access to “peripheral parking opportunities,” the park might be able to reduce car congestion in the city’s downtown.
The process of realizing the Gateway Master Plan would be “an open process facilitated by staff, and include participation from the community, land owners and decision-makers as priorities for the area are refined.” The report indicates city staff would like to get moving on the plan in the first half of this year.
The idea to top the freeway with a park was first proposed in 1996, says the Lookout.
The Gateway Master Plan is one of seven projects that city staff recommends prioritizing, including a neighborhood plan for development in the area around Memorial Park and a similar plan for the Pico neighborhood.
- Plan to Cap Santa Monica Freeway with a Park Moves to the Fore [Santa Monica Lookout]
So long to the hippies in Venice and the tourists in Santa Monica — Silicon Beach elites are now opting for family-friendly Brentwood.
The “bros” of Silicon Beach are increasingly choosing Brentwood, a wealthy (and more inland) neighborhood home to sprawling estates, rather than the oceanside cities of Playa del Rey, Venice and Santa Monica, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In the last decade, Silicon Beach has grown to be a respectable technology hub as Snap Inc., Tesla, Riot Games, Google and Yahoo settled on the sandy coast.
Its presence in Venice — largely driven by Snapchat’s unique real estate strategy of having several offices as opposed to single headquarters — has led to much neighborhood backlash, involving petitions and rallies against the social media company.
Aside from escaping the complaining neighbors, those in the C-suite are also finding they can get more for their buck over in Brentwood, especially considering prices are breaking records and inventory is dwindling in the adjacent areas to the west.
“Most of these people have families, so they want bigger pieces of land,” Santiago Arana of the Agency told THR. “No one wants to be picketed at their house,” added Halton Pardee and Partner’s Tami Pardee, who said privacy is a top concern for the founders, who have become the targets of gentrification protests in Venice.
Among those settling in to the quiet neighborhood are Snap’s Evan Spiegel and his supermodel wife Miranda Kerr, who dropped $12 million for a residence behind the esteemed Getty Museum. Zillow founder Spencer Rascoff snagged a Brentwood Park mansion for $20 million last year, just under what Riot Games executive Brandon Beck paid for his $21.5 million mansion in 2015. Tesla founder Elon Musk, Snap chairman Michael Lynton, Disney executive Sean Bailey and Yahoo executive Mickie Rosen also own homes in the zip code. [THR] – Natalie Hoberman
I just heard that Glenn Frey's beautiful Spanish estate just hit the market in Brentwood Park. Situated on an over 30,000 square foot lot with stunning gardens and unparalleled privacy. This majestic property is a true resort like estate with the feeling of being in Montecito right in Los Angeles. The property is listed by David Offer with an asking price of just under $15M.
This is your chance to own a piece of property owned by music royalty - I would sure love to find a buyer for this beauty! Hit me up if you or someone you know is interested.
Photos Courtesy: The MLS | David Offer | Berkshire Hathaway Brentwood Office
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been updated with the most recent information.
From disorienting “infinity” rooms to dot-covered interiors and installations at Philip Johnson’s Glass House, the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is certain to draw art-loving crowds. And now, the artist has opened her very own dedicated museum.
Years ago, Kusama commissioned a mysterious white building in Tokyo’s Shinjuku area, built by Kume Sekkei in 2014. The five-story structure sparked speculation among locals, but remained enigmatic. Then, in August, a new website for the Yayoi Kusama Museum announced that the building would be ready to open in October.
The museum’s first floor will hold the gift shop and entrance, the second and third floors will display a range of Kusama’s stand-alone artworks, while the fourth floor will house environmental installations, reports Spoon & Tamago. The fifth floor will have a reading room and archive of Kusama-related documents, as well as a terrace.
The museum’s inaugural exhibition, “Creation is a Solitary Pursuit, Love is What Brings You Closer to Art,” highlights her newest painting series “My Eternal Soul,” alongside other new drawings and installations. Tickets and full details can be found on the museum’s website.
Below, take a peek inside and head to Designboom for more photos. According to the New York Times, Kusama’s signature polka dots are not only found on the museum’s new pumpkin works and stenciled glass facade, but also in the restrooms and elevators.
Fleetwood Mac bassist asking $3M for Brentwood pad
July 19, 2017 02:00PM
This is one of my favorite homes in Brentwood. A friend's mother owned it for many years and sold it to McVie. Would love to find a buyer for the charmer!!!!!
“Listen to the wind blow, watch the sun rise” from the Brentwood home of Fleetwood Mac bass guitarist John McVie.
The musician listed his Spanish-style home with an asking price of $2.9 million, three years after purchasing it for $2.5 million.
The 2,200-square-foot home has two bedrooms and three bathrooms, the Los Angeles Times reported.
There is also a recently designed glass studio/guest house by architect Lise Claiborne Matthews with heated concrete floors, Moroccan tiles and a bathroom, according to listing details.
The house on Shetland Lane was also the onetime residence of crime novelist Raymond Chandler.
McVie, whose surname Mac makes up the Mac in the band’s name, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with his fellow bandmates in 1998. [LAT] — Subrina Hudson
Marcie Hartley of Hilton & Hyland has the listing.
A look at the most attractive financing options for new buyers
by Janet Thomson Oct 31, 2016, 12:30pm EDT
Over the last few years, many reports, studies, and articles have proclaimed that homeownership is no longer a key part of the American dream. It’s true that millennials are delaying buying homes, but other studies show that younger generations do want to own a home, they just can’t afford it yet. Crossing from renter to owner is a big, expensive step, but there are a variety of mortgage options designed to make this process easier for first-time buyers.
By offering low down payment requirements or flexibility with credit scores, special loan programs are often the key to homeownership for new buyers. Although the research and paperwork can be tedious making the homebuying process hard, finding financing for low- to-moderate, even high-earning, borrowers isn’t quite that complicated. Here are five programs first-time borrowers should know about when shopping for a new home.
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insures loans so that lenders can offer first-time homebuyers better deals. The FHA allows a down payment of 3.5 percent—significantly less than the typical 10 to 25 percent. Whitney Fite, president of Angel Oak Home Loans, a retail mortgage lender, points out that the FHA is also much more flexible when it comes to to credit score requirements. You can get an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500, but you’ll be required to make a downpayment of at least 10 percent.
Another popular allure is that the FHA allows for the down payment funds to come from gifts from family members, grants, or assistance programs. The agency is also lenient when it comes to your debt-to-income ratio, making this an ideal choice for someone with student loan debt.
However, with government loans there are going to be additional guidelines, says Brian Betzler, a regional sales manager at TD Bank. FHA requires two types of mortgage insurance premiums—one that’s paid upfront, and another that’s paid on a monthly basis—and your home has to meet certain standards.
Fannie Mae Home Ready
The Home Ready loan program isn’t limited to first-time homebuyers, but it is an attractive option because it allows for down payments of as little as 3 percent. Home Ready doesn’t have the upfront mortgage insurance premium that FHA requires, so the initial cost is a little bit less as well.
The program is designed to help low- to moderate-income buyers, so it has income requirements based on the county you reside. For instance, throughout Georgia, it ranges from $67,000 to $72,000 as a max, while for much of New York City, the maximum you can earn is $81,400. If you earn more than that, you won't qualify for the loan.
When it comes to the Home Ready program, Betzler says that buyers can have a credit score "as low as 620, where some of the other products out there do require a higher score to put that small amount down." Betzler adds that TD Bank’s $2,000 closing cost credit allows a first-time buyer to get into a home for the same amount it would cost "for first, last, and security down when they are going to rent."
Freddie Mac Home Possible
Home Possible is similar to Fannie Mae’s Home ready program in that it offers flexible credit terms to families living in underserved communities with low to moderate incomes. Borrowers can use gifts from family or friends towards the down payment, which ranges between 3 to 5 percent of the home’s purchase price.
Generally, Home Possible requires that a borrower’s income level be equal to or less than the area median income of the location where he or she is buying, but there are a couple exceptions. No income limit applies for borrowers buying a home in an underserved area; this is determined by the area’s income level, minority population, and whether or not the location is a designated disaster area. In high cost locations, a borrower’s income can be greater than the AMI by a set percentage.
Veteran loan (VA)
If you are a veteran or currently serving in the military, and you are a first-time homebuyer, it’s possible that you qualify for a VA loan through the Department of Veteran Affairs. The great thing about VA loans is that they require zero money down, no monthly private mortgage insurance (PMI), and offer rates as low as 3.25 percent for a 30-year fixed loan.
The USSA outlines eligibility requirements for veterans, service members, and their spouses. For veterans, it’s generally required that you served at least 181 days straight, while active members need to have served 90 days total.
Conventional 30-year fixed
This isn’t a specific program, per se, but a conventional 30-year fixed loan can be an attractive option for some first-time buyers if you’re planning on staying in your house for at least five years. Your interest rate and monthly payment will stay the same with this type of loan, regardless of inflation or rate changes, but if you know you’ll be moving in three years, you’ll likely end up overpaying with a 30-year program.
The Fannie Mae 30-year fixed program has undergone some changes in the last few years. Today, borrowers are allowed to use gifts towards their down payment, but previously, the purchaser had to have at least 5 percent of the money in their account. Then they could get a gift for anything above and beyond that, according to Fite.
Gifts are now allowed as down payments, but you do have to put 5 percent down rather than the 3 or 3.5 percent that is required for Home Ready and FHA, respectively. Granted it’s a larger down payment, but "if you have the ability to put a larger down payment and your credit score is north of 680 or 700, your interest rate and monthly payment and mortgage insurance would be much lower on this option," added Fite.
From moonlight hikes to shady trails near the beach
by Bianca Barragan Jun 23, 2017, 11:00am PDT
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in July 2014 and has been updated with the most recent information.
Los Angeles’s wealth of outdoors activities is no secret, and now that summer is here, it’s a good time to get out of the house and enjoy that sun.
Hiking is a great, cheap way to enjoy the fresh air and fantastic weather, but for those more reluctant hikers—folks who need a little carrot to dangle in front of them as they trudge up a hill—we’ve compiled a list of Los Angeles-area hikes that all come with spectacular sights along the way or at the end: waterfalls, stunning views, unique leftovers from heydays as a filming site. So bribe friends and family by promising them a cool dip in a waterfall, or a selfie with some leftovers of a M*A*S*H episode, and hit the trails.
Since it’s summertime, be extra vigilant for rattlesnakes and pack more water than you anticipate needing. This list of hiking essentials is a good way to prepare for even the shortest of walks in the wilderness.
Now, time to hit the trail!
1. Malibu Creek State Park
Hikes in Malibu Creek State Park have Hollywood connections, as the park includes areas that were used to shoot M*A*S*H and South Pacific. There are some rusted Army Jeeps and other signs of filming here, and it seems like every hiker who passes through stops to have her picture taken with one of the rusty relics.
The hike to this point and back is under 5 miles round-trip and gains less than 200 feet of elevation, making it a pretty good trip for families with kids who can be coerced onto the trail.
Heads up: You will have to pay the $12 entrance fee to park in the lot if you want to start the hike at Crags Road; the trailheads for South Grassland Trail and Cistern Trail are both close to free parking. Hikespeak offers good directions with pictures here.
2. Echo Mountain
Want to have a picnic among some picturesque ruins? The trail to Altadena's Echo Mountain will make you work for it. Beginning at the very top of Lake Avenue and through a big, beautiful gate, the 5-mile (round-trip) trail is all steep-ish switchbacks and little shade, but it is very well-maintained. It’s also peopled enough that a solo hiker can feel secure.
The reward is a dynamic history exhibit and shaded, very spread-out picnic space left over from the resort that used to be on the site.
There are also large pieces of the dismantled Mt. Lowe Railroad that once brought resort-bound vacationers here, and an old metal echo phone; yell into it and have your words bounce off the mountains back to you. Amazing! Click over to SoCal Hiker for image-heavy directions.
3. Wildwood Canyon
Burbank’s Wildwood Canyon offers an easy-to-moderate 2-mile loop, with a peak providing sweaty explorers some amazing city views and a permanent reclining chair/memorial on which to kick back and relax until it's time to carry on.
There are picnic grounds, restrooms, and drinking water off of Wildwood Canyon Road, too, so you can compare photos and munch post-hike snacks while you sit down and cool off. Get there early, though: The park closes at sundown.
4. Eaton Canyon
Eaton Canyon's lower waterfall is looking fairly robust right now, likely thanks to snowmelt. (The upper falls are closed indefinitely.) The hike to the falls is relatively shady and relatively flat—the roughly 3-mile round-trip hike only gains about 375 feet.
Start hiking from the nature center, where there are restrooms, water, and people to talk to about the trails. This is a really nice novice hike or ideal for a day when you don't feel like being in pain later.
5. Murphy Ranch
By now, a lot of people know about Murphy Ranch—the compound built by 1930s Nazi sympathizers in Malibu’s Rustic Canyon that was eventually supposed to have enough self-contained infrastructure to provide for a small town's worth of people. But who has really gone through the trouble of seeing the place for themselves?
This generally flat hike comes in at just under 4 miles and starts only a few miles from the 405. The grounds are graffiti-covered but the structures that were built are still mostly in one piece (or in discernible pieces), and there are staircases and gates still standing, too. It was rumored last year that the buildings were being torn down, but photos show that it remains a really well-preserved site in a beautiful setting. Hikespeak provides detailed directions from the start of the trail.
6. Mount Wilson
If all of the trails above seem too tame, there's always the hike from Sierra Madre's Chantry Flats to Mt. Wilson, which is a punishing but beautiful trail about 7 miles up with a 4,200-mile gain in elevation. Lots of people do this hike as conditioning, to work up to bigger peaks.
One great reward at the end—if you're up for it by then—is the Mount Wilson Observatory's weekend tours. They start promptly at 1 p.m. and offer visitors a chance to see the 100-inch telescope. You can catch it if you start the hike early enough, a good idea anyway because the parking at Chantry Flat fills up fast.
Added bonuses for visiting the Observatory are the snack shack, which offers cold drinks and food you might buy at a local softball game (chili dogs, Fritos, etc.) and restrooms. Plus, at the parking lot right below the Observatory, some kind soul might be waiting in a car to take your tired bones home.
The lot is about 30 minutes north of La Cañada. Cars parked in the lot will need a $5 day-use Adventure Pass, available for purchase at multiple locations.
Hikers could also continue back down for an approximately 14-mile hike, if desired. Detailed directions here.
7. Solstice Canyon
Solstice Canyon is a popular hike and with good reason: The trail takes hikers past waterfalls, the ruins of a burned-out Paul R. Williams mansion called Tropical Terrace, and the remains of what was once believed to be the oldest building in Malibu.
The National Park Service maintains a great website with directions to the trailhead and a downloadable map. If you go up the Rising Sun Trail and down the Solstice Canyon Trail to the TRW Trail, as suggested by Robert Stone in his book Day Hikes Around Los Angeles, it's about 6 miles total. ModernHiker takes a slightly different route.
8. Mount Baldy
Out in the Inland Empire, Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts hosts a bi-monthly summertime series called Moonlight Hikes, which employs barbecue to get people to hike 2.5 miles and gain about 1,300 feet of elevation. They also offer tickets that include one-way or round-trip rides on the ski lift to the top, for those who can’t or don’t want to hike.
The hike itself isn't an outrageous challenge and the reward here is the amazing far-and-wide views of city lights, live music, and, of course, that barbecue.
Tickets run about $25 ($30 at the door), depending on whether or not you elect to ride the ski lifts. They can be purchased online.
The cost of rent can vary wildly from neighborhood to neighborhood
by Elijah Chiland Jun 20, 2017, 8:33pm PDT
Los Angeles rental prices are high and getting higher, but prices can vary quite a bit from neighborhood to neighborhood. Rental website Zumper has released a map showing where rents are highest—and lowest—in different parts of the LA region this month.
The prices are based on one-bedroom apartment listings featured on Zumper’s site, so they may trend toward higher-end developments, but the map certainly gives an idea of which neighborhoods are in demand with those looking for a new place.
The most expensive area on the map is Santa Monica, where median rental prices are $3,050 per month, according to Zumper. Neighboring beach communities Venice and Marina del Rey aren’t far behind, with prices hovering around $2,950 and $2,740, respectively.
An influx of tech money in the area may have contributed to the rising rents in these neighborhoods, where prices are now higher than ritzy neighborhoods like Westwood ($2,660) and Beverly Hills ($2,650).
Prices are also quite high in Downtown LA, where Zumper lists the median one-bedroom price as $2,500. That amount is especially high given that prices in surrounding neighborhoods like Westlake ($1,550), Pico Union ($1,425), and Echo Park ($1,770) are hundreds of dollars less per month.
Nope, Beverly Hills is not No. 1
For well over a century, Los Angeles has been attracting plenty of wealthy residents seeking the success-affirming ocean views and rays of California sunshine.
But when it comes to picking a neighborhood, where are the wealthy citizens of LA most likely to settle?
Not too surprisingly, the answer seems to be Bel Air—where developers of behemoth megamansions are on a real tear lately.
- 90077 (Bel Air/Beverly Glen)
- 90274 (Palos Verdes Estates)
- 91108 (San Marino)
- 90272 (Pacific Palisades/Rustic Canyon)
- 91011 (La Cañada Flintridge)
- 90210 (Beverly Hills)
- 91302 (Hidden Hills/Calabasas)
- 91436 (Encino)
- 90402 (Santa Monica/Santa Monica Canyon)
- 90275 (Rancho Palos Verdes)
For a more detailed analysis of the wealthiest neighborhoods, check out the Higley 1000—a report that uses information from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey 2006-2010, examines census tract subdivisions, and pinpoints the nation's most affluent neighborhoods according to their mean household incomes. (Fun!)
Recent results (via The Atlantic Cities) reveal that, of the top 1,000 wealthiest neighborhoods nationwide, a total of 55 of them are in LA County. We've gone and narrowed it down even further, picking out the top 10 in LA County.
Some of the usual suspects, like Beverly Hills (also distinguished as the most unequal city in California), obviously made the cut but there are quite a few surprises (and curious absences) on the list.
The top 10 richest neighborhoods in Los Angeles County, with their mean household income:
- Beverly Park: $502,440
- The Hill Section of Manhattan Beach: $399,820
- Beverly Hills (the 90120 section): $395,734
- Hidden Hills: $383,731
- Rolling Hills: $373,524
- Bel-Air Estates: $355,007
- Upper Laurel Canyon: $332,037
- Brentwood Park: $324,289
- Coldwater Canyon: $323,929
- Brentwood Heights: $321,933
Explaining how some well-known hubs of affluence could have slipped in the rankings, the folks at Higley explain it's all those not-rich people in multi-family housing:
"A small change in boundaries, particularly if apartments, condominiums are included, can cause a neighborhood's income to plummet. The neighborhood that was number one in 2000, Holmby Hills in the Platinum Triangle had its boundaries redrawn to take in smaller homes in Westwood and hundreds of so-so condo high-rises on Wilshere [sic x100]."
Holmby Hills sunk to six-hundred-seventy-seventh place in this round of the Higley.
Estate belonged to the late Jay McMahan, who headed McMahan’s Furniture
May 22, 2017 09:30AM
By Subrina Hudson
The estate of the late furniture magnate James “Jay” McMahan and his wife Jaqueline has hit the market for a whopping $32.5 million, The Real Deal has learned.
The couple’s children took over the more than two-acre gated estate on Oakmont Drive after Jaqueline died in January. The home has eight bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a tennis court, a swimming pool and a koi pond. Its square footage wasn’t disclosed.
Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland has the listing.
McMahan took over his father’s namesake furniture business in 1951, heading the retail chain until it shuttered in 2008. He also purchased Williams-Sonoma in 1978 with partner Howard Lester for $100,000, according to the Los Angeles Times. He served as its director until 2003 and as a director emeritus until his death in 2011.
Jacqueline McMahan co-founded the antique dollhouse and miniature museum Angels Attics in Santa Monica. The museum closed this month, four months after her death, after the building traded hands for $3 million, or $1,107 a square foot, to a private investor, according to a release last week by listing agent T.C. Macker of Coldwell Banker Commercial.
Updated Weds., May 24, 2017 at 10:46 a.m.:
The longtime personal estate of the late Modernist architect Pierre Koenig and his wife, Gloria, is on the market for the first time in 32 years.
The Brentwood home, which was designed by Koenig himself, has an asking price of $3.8 million.
The nearly 3,000-square-foot property has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a media room. Koenig’s onsite studio opens onto a courtyard with a fountain, Curbed reported.
The Dorothy Street home is historically archived as “Koenig House #2” by the Los Angeles Conservancy, according to the conservancy. Koenig designed its steel framing system to be easily assembled on site. As such, it took workers only one day to build it.
Koenig is famous for the Stahl House or Case Study House No. 22 on Woods Drive as well as Case Study House No. 21 on Wonderland Park Avenue.
He lived in the Brentwood home until his death in 2004. His stepchildren, Barry and Thomas Kaufman, spent nearly three years restoring the residence, according to listing agent Matthew Altman of Douglas Elliman, who shared the listing with his brother Josh Altman. [Curbed] — Subrina Hudson
They’re right next door to one another
by Elijah Chiland May 14, 2017, 1:40pm PDT
Patience has paid off for Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson. Nearly a year ago, the couple listed two Pacific Palisades homes located right next to one another for a combined $18 million. Now, Variety reports that a single buyer has purchased both properties for just over $17.5 million.
The smaller of the two homes, a 1933 Spanish-style with close to 4,000 square feet in floor area, sold for over $1 million under its $8.75 million asking price. But the other home, a 7,300-square-foot English-style mansion built in 1957 fetched over $10.1 million—well above the $9.25 million asking price.
Hanks and Wilson purchased the two properties in separate sales for a combined $13.1 million, so the couple has certainly scored a nice profit on the homes.
Oddly, the two actors own a third home right next door to the sold properties, which they appear to be hanging on to for now. It’s not their only Pacific Palisades residence either. In 2010, they paid $26 million for a 14,500-square-foot home formerly owned by producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall (both have produced multiple movies starring Hanks).
Hanks and Wilson also sold a somewhat grandmotherly residence in 2013—also in Pacific Palisades. The couple certainly seem to be fans of the neighborhood.