Altadena Real Estate

Just Listed: Spanish Revival In Southeast Pasadena

We’ve just listed 3063 Oneida Street in Pasadena for $539,000. This charming Spanish-style home, built in 1929, is located on a tree-lined street in a prime southeast Pasadena neighborhood. It features two bedrooms, living room with fireplace, dining room, family room and period detailing throughout. The tastefully remodeled full bath has a pedestal sink, soaking tub and Kohler fixtures. Recent upgrades include refinished hardwood floors, new central heat & air, copper plumbing, updated electrical, new exterior stucco, fresh paint and professional landscaping. In the back, there is a large bonus room of approximately 300 square feet and a separate workshop of almost 200 square feet, plus a detached two-car garage.

Here is a wonderful opportunity to own a spacious character home at a very attractive price.

Please visit our site,, for additional information and photos. And, come by the Open Houses on Tuesday, July 19th, from 10:30 to 2, Thursday, July 21st, from 10 to 2, and Sunday, July 24th, from 2 to 4!

Home Buyers Shun “Fixer-Uppers”

I just read an interesting article by Kathleen Lynn on RISMedia that very much reflects a trend that we are seeing in the marketplace:

In the overheated housing market of five years ago, buyers often felt they had to accept homes in woeful condition. But these days, most look at “as-is” properties and say, “No thanks.” “I try to stay away from things that need a lot of work,” says Michael Lisa of Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., who is searching for a home in northern Bergen County, N.J.

“Buyers will tolerate nothing,” says Maria Rini, a Re/Max agent in Oradell, N.J. A recent Coldwell banker survey found that 87 percent of first-time buyers said a move-in-ready home is important to them.

“This is absolutely the story of this market. It seems buyers will pay a premium, engage in a bidding war and even overpay just to avoid buying a ‘project’ house,” said Beth Freed of Terrie O’Connor Realtors in Ridgewood, N.J.

As a result, real estate agents strongly advise sellers to fix up their homes for quicker and more profitable sales.

For example, when Kate Conover recently listed a Franklin Lakes, N.J., colonial, she encouraged the seller to replace the roof and driveway, repair ceilings, rip up carpets and paint interiors.

Paying contractors to do the work cost almost $40,000, but Conover estimated it added well over $100,000 to the asking price.

“There is no question homes that have been spruced up for the market sell quicker,” says Conover, a Re/Max agent in Saddle River, N.J.

But she recommended against major renovations—such as replacing the kitchen and baths—in the Franklin Lakes home. Most agents agree with that philosophy, saying sellers shouldn’t risk spending more than they’ll get back in the sale price. That’s especially true with major kitchen and bath renovations because they’re so much a matter of taste.

“No matter what you do, it may not be the buyer’s choice anyway,” says Antoinette Gangi, a Re/Max agent in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.

On the other hand, agents say that major maintenance and safety issues—such as underground oil tanks and leaky roofs—must be dealt with before the home goes on the market, because buyers are unwilling to take them on.

Beyond those kinds of headaches, sellers can make a big difference with simple and relatively inexpensive fixes: painting the walls, getting rid of clutter and pulling up carpets to show the hardwood floors that buyers crave.

And spruce up the front yard and entryway to make a good first impression, recommends Pat Sudal, a Weichert agent in Ramsey. “Freshen the flowerpots, trim the bushes and mulch,” she suggests. In the same vein, Gangi recommends painting the front door if it’s looking tired.

“Curb appeal is very important, and the front door is the first thing you see,” Gangi says.

Getting rid of clutter (as part of an overall deep cleaning) is probably the most cost-effective step, agents say. When sellers resist this advice, Rini reminds them they’ll have to pack up their stuff when they move anyway.

“You’ve got to clean it out sometime; if you do it now, it’s going to benefit you financially,” she says.

Marie Ferraro, an Oakland, N.J. decorator who works with sellers, calls this “pre-packing.”

“You want to depersonalize the home so that prospective buyers can see their lifestyle happening there,” says Ferraro. Buyers may not even consciously notice that a room is cluttered or crowded with awkwardly arranged furniture, she said, “but they experience it nonetheless.”

“Get everything off the floor,” advises Cynthia Harkins, an agent with Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Franklin Lakes.

Harkins, who self-published a book called “The Savvy Seller,” says sellers can make rooms (and closets) seem more spacious by clearing the floor of boots, magazines, gym bags and backpacks.

Anne Landesman, who is moving to Austin, Texas, packed up books and artwork before putting her family’s Park Ridge, N.J., home on the market recently. She and her husband, Roy, also put a lot of furniture —including three sofas —into storage.

“I think it made a huge difference,” Landesman says. “People could get a good idea of the size of the rooms.”

Dawn Cox, a Weichert agent in Wayne, N.J., often counsels sellers to go beyond decluttering, by replacing outdated kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures and installing granite countertops.

Alan and Mary Chris Bassman did a bathroom upgrade rather than a complete renovation by replacing the vanity and toilet and repairing a cracked shower door.

In all, the family spent about $5,000 to spruce up the home, following the advice of Ferraro, the decorator, who works with the Bassmans’ agent, Kathleen Falco of Re/Max of Franklin Lakes.

“We sold the house in a couple of days, which I was shocked at,” Alan Bassman says.

Not all sellers have the energy to spruce up. In those cases, agents sometimes pitch in themselves to help declutter and stage the home and hire painters, cleaning crews and handymen. Homeowner Jennifer Glusman was pleasantly surprised when agents Lois Fein and John Schwartz of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty helped her prepare her family’s Edgewater condo for sale.

“John came in and helped stage items on our bookshelf and in the kids’ room and our room,” Glusman says. “He also lent us one of his own paintings.”

If sellers can’t or won’t prepare their homes for market, agents say, they have to lower their expectations on price.

This, in turn, can offer an opportunity for buyers who are willing to give up the search for HGTV-ready homes and look at properties that need “some love,” in the words of Tom Mikalouskas, a Re/Max agent in Montvale, N.J.

“I tell my buyers to look for the best bones or the best bang for your buck,” he says. “Basically, if you are able to get the worst home in a great neighborhood, you can only improve on your investment. You simply have to focus on potential in a down market like this.”

“Buyers who can look beyond the cosmetic issues usually can find treasures in this market,” Falco agrees.

Just Listed: Lovely Condominium In A Prime Location

We’ve just listed 1225 North Granada Avenue, #44, Alhambra, for $489,000. This beautifully updated one-story unit for is located in a sought-after garden complex on the San Marino border. Its open floor plan features two large bedrooms, including a master suite, one and three-quarter remodeled baths, living room with fireplace, and dining room. The gourmet kitchen, designed by Sierra Custom Kitchens, has maple cabinets, new stainless appliances, CaeserStone counters and a skylight. The living room, dining room and kitchen open onto a private atrium that leads to an attached two-car garage. Other amenities include fresh paint, new carpet, plantation shutters, new ductwork and newer central heat & air.

Please visit our site,, for additional information and photos. And, come by the Open Houses on Tuesday, March 1st, from 10:30 to 1, Thursday, March 3rd, from 10 to 2, and Sunday, March 6th, from 2 to 4!

Where Is The Real Estate Market Headed?

People constantly ask us where we think the market will be 6 months from now. Unfortunately, without a reliable crystal ball, it’s impossible to know. This article from Inman News does do a fair job of predicting the future:

Two leading indicators — applications for purchase mortgages and the number of homebuyers entering into contracts to purchase homes — suggest sales of resale homes hit bottom in July and will rebound this fall, economists at mortgage insurer The PMI Group Inc. conclude.

In their latest monthly Housing and Mortgage Market Review, PMI Chief Economist David Berson and analyst Brett Soares make a case that existing-home sales will show “some modest gains” in August, September and even October.

After hitting a low in the first half of July, purchase mortgage applications have edged up slightly, the report noted, citing statistics gathered by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Because of the time it takes to approve a loan and close a home sale, loan applications submitted in August might not show up in statistics on existing-home sales until October.

Another leading indicator, which counts the number of homebuyers who have entered into purchase contracts — the National Association of Realtors’ pending sales index — was up 5.2 percent in July.

“This is consistent with the increase in the MBA’s purchase applications, and the two of them together strongly suggest that sales have bottomed out, at least for now,” PMI economists said.

A housing market index published by the National Association of Home Builders slid in August, but that’s probably an indication that a rebound in new-home sales will lag sales of existing homes, the report said, with buyers likely to bargain hunt for distressed properties.

“The leading indicators of housing demand suggest that the drop in home sales is probably over and that some modest gains may be in store for the (August through October) period,” the report said. “Beyond that, the underlying determinants of housing demand will have to strengthen in order for home sales to rise appreciably.”

Those factors include job growth, affordability, demographics and consumer sentiment.

PMI economists think unemployment will surge during the fourth quarter to a 2010 high of 9.8 percent, before gradually falling to an average of 8.7 percent by the fourth quarter of 2011 and 8 percent in 2012.

Fears of a second recession are likely overblown, the report said, although economic growth is unlikely to accelerate until the middle of next year.

Affordability is close to record highs, which should drive housing demand. And although household formation remains below average, it’s been increasing at a stronger pace, the report said.

Consumers remain concerned that large inventories of vacant or distressed homes will continue to put pressure on home prices in the future, making them less willing to make the decision to buy a home today.

With nearly one in four households with mortgages owing more than their home is worth, “a large segment of potential homebuyer demand has been eliminated in this cycle,” the report noted.

But faster economic growth in the second half of 2011 “should lead to a pickup in job gains and stronger household formation,” Berson and Soares predicted in their report.

Next year should bring “a stronger, but still historically modest, rise in home sales,” the report concluded.

In their forecast, Berson and Soares envision sales of existing homes rebounding from a projected 4.96 million this year to 5.5 million in 2011 and 5.67 million in 2012.

New-home sales are expected to total 342,000 this year, 485,000 next year and 590,000 in 2012.

The report suggests next year will be a difficult one for lenders, as the refinancing boom sparked by low rates comes to an end. Refinancings accounted for 69 percent of the $1.99 trillion in mortgages originated in 2009 and 67 percent of what’s expected to be $1.55 trillion in mortgage loans funded this year.

Refinancings will probably account for 43 percent of a projected $1.32 trillion in mortgage lending in 2011, and 35 percent of the $1.43 trillion in lending envisioned in 2012.

PMI expects that purchase loan funding will jump 47 percent in 2011 — which bodes well for the majority of Realtors whose commissions are determined by sales prices.

It’s Time To Think About Refinancing
Interest rate vs money balance - NPF
Image by RambergMediaImages via Flickr

For people that plan on staying in their homes for at least the next couple of years, it may well be worth looking into refinancing their existing mortgages. According to Inman News, record-low mortgage rates have sparked another refinancing boom but aren’t doing much to spur homebuyers into action, according to the results of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.

Demand for refinancings was up nearly 6% during the week ending August 20th when compared to the previous week, and down 26% from four weeks ago, reaching the highest level since May 2009.

Demand for purchase loans was essentially flat, rising 0.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous week, and down 1.1 percent on an unadjusted basis. Looking back a year, demand for purchase loans was down nearly 39 percent.

Requests for refinancings accounted for 82.4% of all mortgage loan applications — the highest share observed since January 2009.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.55% from 4.6%, with points decreasing to 0.89 from 0.92 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans. This was the lowest 30-year contract rate ever recorded in the survey, which dates to 1990.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 3.91% from 3.99%, with points increasing to 1.64 from 1.05 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. This was the lowest 15-year contract rate ever recorded in the survey. But due to the increase in points, the effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for one-year ARMs decreased to 6.84% from 6.9%, with points increasing to 0.22 from 0.21 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans.

Steve and I know several very competent mortgage professionals. Please call or email us any time for our recommendations.

Enhanced by Zemanta


We’ve just listed 484 Punahou Street in Altadena:

This charming Traditional, set on a 10,000+ square foot lot, is located in a wonderful neighborhood near the Altadena foothills. It features three bedrooms, two and three-quarter updated baths, den with a brick fireplace, and bonus room adjacent to the attached double garage. The eat-in kitchen has been tastefully remodeled with custom cabinets, granite counters and a breakfast bar. The light-filled master bedroom suite has a walk-in closet and views to the landscaped yard, which offers formal and informal areas for dining, gardening and play. Recent upgrades include central heat & air, copper plumbing, updated electrical, newer windows, refinished hardwood floors and fresh paint. Here is wonderful opportunity to own a move-in ready home in a parklike setting.

Please visit our website,, for additional information and photos. And, stop by the Open Houses on Tuesday, July 13th, from 10:30 to 1, Thursday, July 15th, from 10 to 2, and Sunday, July 18th, from 2 to 4!


We’ve just listed 587 Punahou Street in Altadena for $535,000:

This lovely Traditional home, built in 1925, is set on a 10,000+ square foot lot in a wonderful neighborhood near the foothills. Its light-filled floor plan features three bedrooms, one and one-quarter baths, living room with fireplace, formal dining room and updated kitchen. High ceilings, hardwood floors, built-in cabinetry, crown moldings and other period details are found throughout. Modern upgrades include new smooth-coat stucco, aluminum-clad multi-pane wood windows, central heat & air, partial copper plumbing, tankless water heater, and re-built chimney. Outside, pathways through the drought-tolerant landscaping connect the gardens and patios that surround the house. Here is an exceptional opportunity to own a character property in turnkey condition.

Please visit our site,, for additional information and photos. And, join us at the Open Houses on Tuesday, May 11th, from 10:30 to 1:00, Thursday, May 13th, from 10:00 to 2:00, and Sunday, May 16th, from 2:00 to 4:00.

A New Line Of High Quality Bags Inspired By Altadena

We just saw this L.A. Times article about a new line of stylish bags called “Altadena Works”:,0,5877537.story

Here are a few pieces from the collection:

A cool tribute to an amazing community!

JUST LISTED: Traditional Home High In Altadena

We’ve just listed 2910 Santa Rosa Avenue in Altadena: This charming Traditional, set on a 13,000+ square foot lot, is located in a wonderful neighborhood near the foothills. Its light-filled floor plan features three bedrooms, one and three-quarter tastefully remodeled baths, and a grand living room with vaulted ceiling, skylights and brick fireplace. The spacious master bedroom has a walk-in closet and French doors leading to a patio. In the back, there is a detached bonus room well-suited for use as a home office, plus a sizable yard. Recent upgrades include central heat & air, copper plumbing, new carpet and fresh paint.

This home is priced at only $549,000 — a truly amazing value!

Please visit our web site,, for additional information and photos. And, stop by our Open Houses on Tuesday, March 16th, from 10:30 to 1, Thursday, March 18th, from 10 to 2, and Sunday, March 21st, from 2 to 4.

Some Very Positive News For Home Sellers

Trulia, a real estate search site, announced today that home-price reduction levels have reached a new low.

Of the site’s single-family and condominium listings, 21% that went on the market on or after Jan. 1 have experienced at least one price cut, the lowest share since the site started the survey in April 2009. The previous low was in December, at 22%. This month’s survey marks the second month of declines in price-reduction levels. The data do not include foreclosures.

“Historically low interest rates currently available and tax credit incentives are the ultimate price reductions for homebuyers. As rates rise throughout the course of the year, buyers will need to adjust their purchase-price ceiling,” said Pete Flint, Trulia co-founder and CEO, in a statement.

The total amount slashed from homes fell 14%, to $21.2 billion, compared with $24.7 billion in December. Houses in the luxury market — defined as those priced at $2 million and up — were hit the hardest, with an average discount of 14%, compared with 10% in the nonluxury market. Luxury homes are less than 2% of all current listings on Trulia, but make up 26% of that total discount, the company said.

The average discount nationwide stayed the same — 11% off of the original listing price.

The number of major U.S. cities with price-reduction levels at 30% or more dropped 50%, to seven, compared with 14 last month. Those with largest price reductions include Los Angeles, Calif., at 46%; New York City and Jacksonville, Fla., at 36%; Memphis, Tenn., at 34%; and Minneapolis, Minn., and Honolulu, Hawaii, at 33%.

Inventory levels of condos and single-family homes on Trulia’s site have dropped 4%, compared with a 9% decrease in December.

The continued drop-off might be attributable to the winter season, said Ken Shuman, a company spokesman. “It’s less competitive because there’s less inventory available,” he said.

Based on our personal experience, the lack of homes listed for sale in the local market is the driving force behind price stabilization.