Category Archives: Misc. Post

13 years of depreciation

For those who enjoy the Victorian style homes, here’s a special one; a 4,693sf single story property sitting on .41 acres. It was remodeled in 2002 and it looks to be in great condition inside and out.

1910 S 2nd Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91006

Price: $1,380,000 ($294/sf)

  • Beds: 4
  • Baths: 4
  • Sq. Ft.: 4,693
  • Lot Size: 0.41 Acres

From the listing:

This is a lucky house, owner has moved to a multi-million dollar home. Price right for quick sale.

Price right, you say? Although this home was upgraded in 2002, is it enough to warrant a $500,000 premium over the 2002 purchase price? Is the seller moving into a multi-million dollar home because some knife catcher is going to pay for it?

Sales History

Feb. 1989 $1,100,000 ($234/sf)
May 1992 $970,000 ($206/sf)
July 1995 $777,000 ($165/sf)
Apr. 2002 $850,000 ($181/sf)

This is exactly why you never want to buy during the peak of a bubble. As we can see here, the 1989 buyer would have lost money on his home even after 13 years of ownership! This is why I believe renting, even at the cost of inconvenience (i.e. school, children, relocation, ect), is worth it when home prices are highly inflated.

I know family members who decided not to sell their home during the peak of the bubble because it was “troublesome” to move everything and rent a smaller place. Now that prices are declining, they are regretting the decision to not cash in on $600k of pure equity.

On the other hand, I also know people who bought during the last 2 years because prices have “softened” and they would be living in it for 5-7 years. Of course, they are now freaking out because it’s very possible their home would be underwater that entire time… or even longer.

But I digress. Here is my evaluation:

After 6 years of ownership…

3%    $1,014,944    ($216/sf)
4%    $1,075,521    ($229/sf)
5%    $1,139,081    ($243/sf)
6%    $1,205,741    ($257/sf)

Currently listing for $1,380,000 ($294/sf)

Based on the 6% figure, would you rent if it could save you $180,000 over the next 2 years?

Evaluation of Townhomes

Condos and townhomes are attractive to home buyers because they offer more living square footage per dollar and generally require less exterior maintenance. This is perfect for those who have no desire to maintain a 3,000sf yard or worry about landscaping. Of course, the responsibility of maintenance in condos is paid through HOA fees; so it’s not exactly free.

Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to living in attached or densely built detached units; the lack of privacy. Poorly designed units will have windows facing each other or lack proper sound insulation. I, for one, would not want to hear my neighbor’s garage open and close every time they arrive or leave.

So you give up privacy, lot size and must pay monthly HOA fees. Doesn’t it make sense that condos should be valued lower than single family homes?

42 GENOA St #A
Arcadia, CA 91006

Price: $748,000 ($404 per sq. ft.)

  • Beds: 3
  • Baths: 2.5
  • Sq. Ft.: 1,851
  • Property Type: Attached, Townhouse
  • Year Built: 2008
  • Association fees: $95

This is your typical Arcadia townhome. Buyers love them because they are newer and, at one time, much cheaper than comparable single family homes. Builders love them because dense properties are cash cows. Overall, units cost less to build so return on investment is high.

Take a look, incredibly packed and I’m almost certain your bedroom windows are overlooking the townhomes next door:

This developer is late to the game and I’m sure they are hoping a knife catcher bails them out. Just 3 blocks East are two similar-sized units that recently sold for much less than the asking price of $748,000 ($404/sf).

307 E. Duarte Rd.

Sold on 6/26/2008 for $620,000 ($304/sf)

  • Beds: 3
  • Baths: 4
  • Sqft: 2,040

330 Eldorado St.

Sold on 4/29/2008 for $642,000 ($338/sf)

  • Beds: 4
  • Baths: 3
  • Sqft: 1,896
  • Year Built: 1990

Using these two properties as our comparable valuations, we get:

Currently listing for $748,000 ($404 per sq. ft.)

$304/sf = $562,704
$338/sf = $625,638

Although I’m sure these two properties aren’t 100% comparable to 42 Genoa, I would not hesistate to say it is around $75,000 to $100,000 overpriced. Of course, I can already see an uninformed buyer swooping in and buying this townhome for $700k+.

Enjoying a July 4th Weekend

We snuck into San Marino last night to check out Lacy Park’s annual fireworks show. From what I’ve heard, there are residents who camp out for the event 24 hours in advanced. The entire city must have congregated here because parking was horrible, there was a strong police presence and people were walking everywhere.

Lacy Park is a family, children and dog friendly site. If you’re ever in the area, it’s worth checking out.

I brought along our trusty camera and enjoyed the show. Here are some photos for you guys:

Before heading to the park, we stopped by the Starbucks on Huntington Dr. and San Marino Ave. It was a quite hour leading up to the fireworks show.

We got there late so I had to park near Huntington Dr. and enjoy the fireworks from a distance. Fortunately, my lens had enough range to take photos.

I hope all of you stayed safe and enjoyed July 4th!

Home Insurance – Doing a Home Inventory

We’ll be out of town until Monday but please enjoy the following article on homeowner’s insurance. I can spend days writing about the number of families who have been forced into distress because they never took the time to verify their insurance coverage or inventoried their belongings.

It is wise to do a home inventory as soon as you move in and become settled, as opposed to waiting to do one in a hurry after a fire, natural disaster or burglary has taken place. A home inventory is a list of all of the property you own including a list of the value of the items. The police and the insurance company will need to be given a copy of your home inventory for their purposes.

To begin your inventory for home insurance purposes, first take a walk through your home, going room by room. As you do so make sure you have pen and paper in hand to take notes and film the rooms with a still camera or video camera. Any items that are valued at $50 or more should go on the list and photos should be taken of them. Do not forget any small nook and cranny of your home. Remember the attic, basement and garage.

Items that need to be included on the home inventory include clothing, jewelry, tools, computers, electronic equipment, paintings, CDs, DVDs, any collections you own (such as a stamp collection or coin collection), dishes, antiques and family heirlooms.

Once you have an informal list, you then need to formalize it in the event that it becomes of use. Most insurance companies provide these forms to their clients or you can download free inventory software from the Insurance Information Institute.

Key Information

The more information you have in regards to your personal property the better it is. Record the make, model and serial numbers of items as theses are particularly beneficial in helping the police to locate stolen merchandise. Also make sure you write down which rooms your items are located in.

An estimate of the purchase price, current value and replacement cost of items is beneficial for your home insurance purposes. For items such as antiques or jewelry you may need to have them professionally appraised and these items would need to be listed on the insurance policy in the form of a rider.

Always make sure you know where to find your ownership documents for all of your belongings, as well as the receipts, repair bills and owner’s manuals. Make sure you keep your written and photographic inventories in a safe location, such as the freezer, a safe deposit box or a fire resistant lock box or file cabinet. It is best to have two copies of each. Keep one at the bank or office and the other at home.

Worth your $2MM in the Highlands

2209 Canyon Rd.
Arcadia, CA 91006

Listing price: $1,999,000 ($358/sf)

Beds: 6
Baths: 6
Sq. Ft.: 5,586
Lot Size 0.44 acres

Since it has been a long week at work for me, we will switch gears and avoid the usual negative comments regarding real estate.

So here we have a $2MM home located in the “prestiges” Highland Oaks community. It has plenty of rooms, 5,586sf of living area and sitting on nearly half an acre of land. That’s not all though. If you take a look at the maps below, this home is located on the most northern point of of Arcadia and basically backs up against the base of the local mountain.

At $358 per sq. ft., I give this home the thumbs up if someone wanted to pay spend $2MM in Arcadia. Unlike many other listings, the description does not dissapoint:

Newer Custom Mansion in Prestige Highland Oaks Area…Lavishing Architectural Design Surrounds You in this Newer Home…Impressive Views… Majestic Entrance, High Ceilings and Imported Crystal Chandelier… Marvelous Living Room with Gorgeous View,

Check out the photos!

Given that many McMansions in Arcadia are listing for around $2MM but either lack the size, view or location, this Highland home seems like a steal. Compare it to the following properties listing for $1.9MM:

619 W Palm Dr.
Arcadia, CA 91007

238 W Las Flores
Arcadia, CA 91007

611 W Norman Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007

My only question regarding this Highland home is this: WHY WAS IT PAINTED PEACHY/PINK?

Where’s the Summer Rush?

Ever since the credit crunch reared its ugly head last year, everyone from realtors to specuvestors to homeowners strapped to their overpriced properties all wished for a quick recovery. Fall and winter came and went with nothing but disheartening news of subprime woes. Spring was suppose to be the turning point, but we’ve heard nothing but increasing reports of foreclosures and delinquencies. After this weekend’s heat wave, I’d say summer is here and all I see are the billions and billions of dollars in upcoming rate resets over the next few years. So to those who say the spring summer will be different, I ask: Where the hell is this summer RE rush I keep hearing about?

We’ve all heard this wishful “prediction” from bankers, brokers, realtors and other hopefuls. Don’t worry, we’re going through a bit of a slump, but once spring rolls around buyers will be geared up for the summer selling season and we’ll “turn around” later this year. Um okay, that’s what you said last year and that’s what you said 6 months ago. Am I going to hear the same thing in another 6 months?

As I was out and about this weekend enjoying my time off, I passed by many for-sale signs and open houses. Some had a car or two parked outside, but most seemed empty. Perhaps the hot weather kept buyers out of the sun, but things aren’t looking too good for these sellers. Time is not on their side and everyday their house sits on the market means money out of their pockets. Whether you believe in the numbers or not, the trend is clear. Sales volume is way down from previous years and prices in all local SGV cities are sliding downward as they buckle under the crushing weight of the struggling economy.

We’ve seen the effects of the tightening lending standards and now we’re all experiencing some rather concerning economic hardship. Gas prices are through the roof with no slowing in sight, gold is off the charts and employment is weak at best. Leisure spending has all but slowed to a crawl and the falling dollar has inflation knocking at our doors. Couple this with low consumer confidence, a huge number of rate resets and the inevitable interest rate increases later this year and the US housing market is toast.


So as sellers start to sweat in this heated pressure oven otherwise known as the Summer (RE) Rush, I’ll be that happy renter who’s not worried about losing equity or how long my house has been on the market. There’s no pressure to buy because I’m saving a bunch of cash every month and prices/volume have nowhere to go but down. Don’t believe me? You don’t have to. I put my money where my mouth is and so should you. If prices are going to “rebound” and everything is so fine and dandy, you should hang onto that property you bought a few years ago because it’s such a great investment. *note heavy sarcasm*

Inventory & Market Report 6/21/08

Zip Codes: 91006, 91007market_icon.jpg

Current Market Listings as of June 21st 2008*
Properties for Sale: 224 (+6)
Median Listing Price: $758,900 (0.00%)

Weekly Foreclosure Update*
Properties in Foreclosure: 34(+2)
Properties in Pre-Foreclosure: 68 (+5)
*+/- is compared to previous week’s data.