JUST LISTED: 8610 W. West Knoll Dr. PRIME West Hollywood $2,249,000

Beautiful entry into this serene property

Asking Price: $2,249,000

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 3

Separate guest house, long drive way, hedged and gated, prime location

This West Hollywood home is in the center of it all, yet discretely and securely tucked away behind gated hedges on a quiet tree-lined street. Once behind the gates, a 4-car driveway is revealed with direct access to the front and backyard through custom wooden gates. A large fountain, lush landscaping and multileveled bricked patios offer a serene outdoor area that’s perfect for relaxing.

Double doors open into a tiled entry allowing shoes or a coat to come off before stepping into the massive open floor plan of the living, dining and family rooms. The living room offers a formal experience with custom fireplace (controlled by remote) and beautiful hardwood floors. Recessed lighting and a large picture window make the room bright and warm. Custom wood posts divide the formal living and dining room allowing for entertaining and hosting dinner parties. The dining area offers custom built sky lights along with custom sliding windows all of which have beveled glass mirroring the clean lines of the wood posts and chair railing. Recessed lighting with controlled dimmers above (and through-out the home) allow for setting the mood in any room of the home.

The open kitchen features high-end stainless steel appliances and custom cabinetry. Double ovens are situated next to a 5 burner gas stove making the perfect combination for the cook. Two sinks for prepping (or Kosher cooking), filtered water system, and double door fridge complete this premium kitchen. Black Caesarstone counters make the stainless steel appliances shine and multiple breakfast bar areas are situated around the kitchen, perfect for eating or leaning on while talking to the cook. Stepping away from the kitchen, you enter the family room with beautiful, custom architectural skylights. This area is perfect for the more relaxed days of the week watching a movie with friends and family or sipping a glass of wine. Off the family is a beautiful outdoor patio that is elevated above the backyard, yet is still perfectly private. Plenty of room for entertaining your guests or lounging alone, this is the perfect getaway just steps from the inside of the home. Also off the patio is a staircase leading into the large backyard.

Beyond the entertaining areas, the first floor of the home includes a master bedroom with views of the beautiful treetops in the backyard. Two entry options into the room, from the hallway or family room create a nice flow for the room. Two separate closets allow for large wardrobes and storage. The master bathroom has beautiful custom tile work and multiple shower heads to create a spa-like experience.

Down the hall is a guest bedroom with access to the front yard and custom built-in book shelves. This room is perfect for guests or a home office/library and also features double entry ways, double doors opening into the living room and also an entry into the hallway. A guest bathroom with black and white tiled floors and custom cabinets create a high-end feel. The bathroom also has enclosed laundry room with high-end stackable washer and dryer and shelves for linens.

A custom glass and wooden staircase lead the way to the second floor of the home which is situated downstairs below the main level of the house. This part of the home is truly rare and offers many options for the owner. The stairway is concealed behind a door with additional storage in the hall perfect for luggage or seasonal decorations. The large bedroom has views of the backyard and a full bathroom with custom double sinks and allow for the perfect guest retreat or extended family member’s stay.

This level also includes a mother-in-law kitchenette and second laundry room with high-end washer/dryer. The kitchen (once operating as a recording area of a studio) offers easy access to food and drink or can be easily converted into a projection room, media storage or left to serve its current purpose. A truly versatile space waits just on the other side of the kitchen which currently functions as a recording studio. This room has many useful options and is a wonderful bonus space for a home owner to have and can be used as living space, screening room or additional lounging area.

The lower part of the home opens into the backyard with multiple covered and open entertaining areas hidden with large manicured hedges that create privacy. The property has fruit trees and a garden area perfect for skipping the market for fresh fruit or herbs.

The home also offers the quintessential white picket fence which separates the main house from the full guest home. A separate entrance from the side of the yard makes this convenient for extend guests or family to enter the guest house with privacy and ease. A large room offers the prefect amount of space for the already installed kitchen area, living and dining space. A separate bedroom encloses off the living space with walk-in closet. The guest house also offers a fully remodeled bathroom with custom tile work and jacuzzi tub. An exterior area that is hidden away from the rest of the property offers privacy and lounging areas for the guests. Also featured is a third laundry area so entrance into the main house is not necessary.

ZONING: R3

Freddie Mac: 30-year mortgage rates fall to 4.5%; Fed helping

The Federal Reserve’s decision to continue a stimulus program unabated should put more downward pressure on mortgage rates, which had fallen sharply this week even before the central bank announced its decision.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell from 4.57% last week to 4.5% this week, according to Freddie Mac’s survey of lenders, which was conducted Monday through early Wednesday. The 15-year fixed home loan declined from 3.59% to 3.54%.

On Wednesday afternoon, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke stunned Wall Street by saying the economy is still too sluggish for him to start tapering off on the stimulus, as many economists had expected he would do.

That means that for now, the central bank will continue buying $85 billion a month in Treasury and mortgage-backed securities, pumping money into the economy and pushing down interest rates.

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Fed’s stimulus program?

The terms that lenders were offering on 30-year loans immediately eased Wednesday afternoon following Bernanke’s announcement, said Jeff Lazerson, who heads the Mortgage Grader loan brokerage in Laguna Niguel.

The rate for a 30-year loan with no discount points dropped from 4.5% to 4.375%, Lazerson said. To obtain a 30-year fixed mortgage at 4.125%, borrowers were paying one point, down from two points Wednesday morning.

Retail sales and industrial production are growing more slowly than economists had expected, and consumer sentiment fell for the second straight month in September to the lowest level since April, noted Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft.
This, in part, was why the Fed chose to keep up its massive bond-buying program, Nothaft said.

“It also cited the tightening of financial conditions observed in recent months,” he added, “which in the case of the housing market means the rise in mortgage rates since May.”

Several economists said the longer-term trend is for 30-year home loans, which in May dropped as low as 3.35% on average, to rise back toward more normal levels, meaning mortgages starting with a “5.”

In an email to The Times, Nothaft said Freddie Mac projects that the rate will average around 4.5% or less for the rest of this year, “and stimulate further improvement in home sales and home-price appreciation.”

“However,” he said, “we are still projecting the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to be at or above 5% by the end of 2014.”

Freddie Mac’s survey asks mortgage bankers what terms they are offering to borrowers with good credit and down payments of 20% who pay less than 1% of the mortgage amount in upfront fees and discount points to the lender.

 

 

Source: LATIMES.com/business

New Listing Alert: Stunning Spanish in the Grove Area of LA $1,749,000

435 N Martel Ave

435 N. Martel Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Walking distance to The Grove – lovely location)

3bedrooms/3.5bathrooms/2,500 Sq. Ft

ASKING PRICE: $1,749,000

Please contact me at jkryukova@gmail.com or call (310)402.8181 for more information or to schedule showings:

This rebuilt, remodeled, redesigned three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom Spanish residence in the heart of The Grove/Melrose area sets a high standard for the neighborhood. Walk to everything or stay home and enjoy a sequestered life behind gates and mature ficus hedges. Amazing finishes, fixtures and top-of-the-line stainless-steel appliances reflect a Hollywood era gone by, but provide a complete set of today’s most sought-after elements–including a built-in Miele espresso machine.

An elegant light-filled living room with extra tall and wide picture windows, wood-burning fireplace and barrel ceiling offers ample room for formal entertaining.

Just outside the living room is a lofty combination of rooms in the center of the house. A chef’s eat-in kitchen, dining area, media room and powder room form an axis of activity for residents desiring an open floor plan conducive to contemporary living and entertaining.

The chef’s kitchen features Caesarstone counter tops, custom Downsview cabinetry, a professional-grade Wolf range (multiple burners + griddle + grill + double ovens) and a stainless-steel Wolf hood. The room’s over-sized center island provides that hard-to-come-by space for cooking and entertaining while also keeping an eye on the game on the media room’s flat-screen television. Upper and lower cabinet lights and recessed halogens provide multiple options for mood lighting. Stainless double sinks with filtered water system, an appliance lift door (for microwave or toaster oven), Miele dishwasher and Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer make this kitchen one of the best in the area.

Bonus alert! A designated media/family room in three-bedroom Spanish homes around The Grove is a rarity. This room adjoins the dining area and provides a sight line into the kitchen area. Five-speaker surround sound makes watching screeners a theatrical experience. Custom floor-to-ceiling blackout draperies (throughout the home) convert this area into a true home theater.

Two guest suites (each with their own sparkling bathrooms) and a massive master suite with a huge spa-like bathroom and a giant walk-in closet provide plenty of private living space. The master bath has an over-sized step-in rain shower, a separate extra-deep tub, Carrara marble counters, Walker Zanger and Ann Sacks tiles, custom wood Downsview cabinetry, mirrors, double sinks, in-wall speakers and a TV monitor. Can you say “Mandarin Oriental” or “Ritz-Carlton”?

The master bedroom’s walk-in closet/dressing area has a floor-to-ceiling built-in closet system by California Closets including hanging areas, dressers and storage cabinets. Each of the other two bedroom closets also has built-in storage systems. One of the two guest rooms has a built-in “office wall” with upper and lower custom wood cabinetry by Downsview and a Caesarstone counter/desktop, a perfect work-from-home or study area.

A laundry room (with king-sized side-by-side front-loading washer/dryer) provides built-in storage shelves for cleaning supplies. A media cabinet and linen cabinet augment the house’s storage components.

The home has a security system, Harman/Kardon sound system (with individual room-by-room volume controls), climate control, art lighting, double-paned E-glass windows and French doors. A “California basement” houses some of the home’s systems, as well as additional long-term dry storage.

Outside is a restful, private backyard retreat with a pool, waterfall and spa. A shady, luxury hotel-style cabana with a vaulted ceiling creates opportunities for an outdoor living/dining room, game room or carport.

A driveway gate can be operated electronically and provides access to off-street parking. There is additional off-street space for two cars in front of the gate. Access to the grassy hedged-in front yard and front door is through an electronically-secured pedestrian gate.

This home is a rare example of an extensive renovation done right. Impeccable attention to detail and not a single thing to change. Move in, unpack and enjoy California indoor/outdoor living at its best.

NOTE: Assessor’s interior sq.ft. is 2,300. A recent floor plan draft from R.E.S.T. calculates interior sq.ft. at 2,439. Outdoor cabana is not included in these calculations. [Buyer to verify square-footage.]

7135 Pacific View Dr. Hollywood Hills, CA 90068 Open Sunday 2-4pm

Asking Price: $719,000

2bed/2bath

Stylish Hollywood Hills mid-century modern with dramatic city light views. Move-in ready with an open floor plan, fireplace, beamed ceilings, wood floors and a generous balcony that is great for entertaining. The kitchen’s design features stainless steel appliances, retro metal cabinetry, and built-in dining table. Master bedroom includes built-in cabinetry for extra storage, large closet and newly remodeled master bathroom. Attached garage is currently used as additional bonus space with office area, family room area and laundry area, which also features a frosted glass and stainless-steel break-away roll-up door. A side yard area provides private outdoor space for kids/pets, and an above-ground spa provides a place for adults to relax. This home is a true Hollywood Hills pad, but is conveniently located on a flat street with plenty of parking and walking distance to Runyon Canyon.

Open Sunday September 16, 2012 2-4pm.

Please contact Julie Kryukova at (310)402-8181 or jkryukova@gmail.com for more information, showings, and other properties in the Hollywood Hills & Surrounding Areas.

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The Real Estate Market is on Fire!!

Luxury Homes Spur Bidding Wars in L.A. as Market Rebounds…

Great Article on Bloomberg about the bidding wars happening while the market rebounds!

A week after Christine Lynch listed her house in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles for $3.625 million, she had seven offers. Within 10 days, a deal was reached for the five-bedroom, six-bathroom home — and for $225,000 more than she asked.

“My first reaction was, ‘Wow, I guess we’re really doing this,’” Lynch, 55, said in an interview. The all-cash transaction was completed on April 23. “I was really surprised by this level of interest and how quickly it sold,” she said.

This Brentwood home was listed for $1.55 million and had more than 100 people look at it during three open houses. It received 11 offers and is set to close escrow on May 23 for $1,705,000. Source: Coldwell Banker Previews International via Bloomberg

This Brentood house originally listed for $3,625,000; after seven offers a deal was reached within 10 days for the sale of the five-bedroom, six-bathroom home for $3.85 million. Source: Coldwell Banker Previews International via Bloomberg

This home located in Santa Monica two blocks from the beach, was sold in mid-April for $2.85 million after receiving multiple bids within the first week of having been listed. The agency that sold it to a husband-wife couple with four kids was Beverly Hills-based RodeoRealty Inc. Source: Rodeo Realty Inc. via Bloomberg

Bidding wars are breaking out for luxury homes in such wealthy Los Angeles enclaves as Brentwood, Beverly Hills and Bel Air as an increasing number of buyers bet on rising home prices and investors return to the market. Even properties in need of extensive renovation are being fought over by shoppers who expect to resell them for more after a remodel or rebuild.

“The percentage of people who think prices are only going to go up is the greatest I have ever seen in my career,” said Syd Leibovitch, president of Rodeo Realty Inc. in Beverly Hills.

Sales of Beverly Hills homes priced at $2 million and higher climbed 11 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier to 39, according to DataQuick, a San Diego-based provider of property information. In Brentwood, whose residents include actress and singer Julie Andrews, they increased 56 percent to 25, and in Malibu they gained 64 percent to 23.

Throughout the U.S., residential-property sales of $1 million and higher rose 7.2 percent in March, the most recent month for which figures are available, from a year earlier, according to the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors, whose price categories stop at that amount.

Across U.S.

Demand has been rising for high-end homes in the northeastern U.S., including Boston and New York; on the California coast; and in parts of the southern U.S. amid a recovery in financial markets, according to Paul Bishop, vice president of research at the Realtors group.

In Brentwood and Beverly Hills, homes usually start between $2.8 million and $3.2 million for those on smaller lots in low- lying areas, and can go as high as $20 million for larger plots, according to John Gould, manager of Rodeo Realty’s Beverly Hills office. Properties in hillier areas, which usually are larger and have views, tend to range from $5 million to $75 million.

In the Los Angeles area, multiple offers — as many as a dozen per home — have reduced listing times for the highest- priced houses as bidders worried about losing out act faster than they have in the past two years, according to Stephen Shapiro, cofounder of Westside Estate Agency in Beverly Hills.

Acting Quickly

While luxury properties used to linger on the market for weeks and months as recently as 2011, offers now come in on the day of the first showing, a phenomenon that was common during the 2007 buying frenzy, Shapiro said.

“In recent history, buyers would look at homes and return six months later to find the same home was still on the market,” he said. “Now if buyers hesitate, the house is often sold by the time they come back. And each time one sells, the next one comes on at a higher price.”

Sales remain less than the record reached from 2005 to 2007, said Leibovitch of Rodeo Realty. In Beverly Hills, where celebrities including Sharon Stone have homes, first-quarter transactions for properties priced $2 million and higher were 40 percent below the 65 homes sold in the third quarter of 2005, and in Brentwood the 25 purchased were 49 percent below 2007’s second quarter, according to DataQuick.

Too Few Sellers

Deals are being held back in part by a shortage of willing sellers. Nationwide, about 2.37 million existing homes were listed for sale in March, the fewest for the month since 2005, the year U.S. home sales reached a record 7.08 million, the National Association of Realtors reported April 19.

“We could have twice as many sales if we had more inventory,” Leibovitch said.

A total of 19,284 houses and condominiums sold in Los Angeles and five other Southern California counties in April, DataQuick reported yesterday. That was down 3.4 percent from March, and 21 percent below the average for April since 1988.

Jack Massopust listed his 92-year-old father’s Brentwood home, which boasts views of the city, the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island, on April 3 for $1.55 million. Within about a week, more than 100 shoppers had come to three open houses, and the 3,200-square-foot (300-square-meter) house, which Massopust’s father bought new in 1960, had received 11 offers. Eight were at or higher than the asking price.

‘Very Surprised’

The property, listed through Mary Lu Tuthill of Coldwell Banker Previews International in Brentwood, is in escrow, expected to close May 23, for about $1.705 million. The purchasers agreed to a “buy as is” condition, Massopust said.

“I have always appreciated the location and the view,” said Massopust, 64, a retired transportation engineer for the city of Los Angeles. “That’s in my opinion what sold the house for that price. But I was still very surprised.”

Sales volume for homes priced $5 million and higher at all of Coldwell’s West Los Angeles offices was up 35 percent this year through May 8 from a year earlier, according to Joyce Rey, the Beverly Hills-based head of the estates division at Coldwell Banker Previews International.

“There’s an added degree of confidence in the future and that prices are likely going to go up,” Rey said. “There is a definite change in consumer attitude.”

Tuthill, who also brokered the sale of Lynch’s house, said an increasing number of homes sell within a week of being listed. One 6,000-square-foot property on Tower Road in Beverly Hills, in escrow and scheduled to close by the end of the month, came on the market at $7.295 million and within a week received five offers, the highest of which was for more than $2 million greater than the asking price, Tuthill said.

Speculators Back

The increase in demand for high-end properties is being driven in part by investors looking to make a profit, a buyer pool that’s been almost nonexistent the past couple years, according to Rey. She said investors have grown to about 20 percent of the shoppers she represents since the beginning of the year.

Throughout Southern California, the portion of investor purchases was close to a record last month, and the share of buyers paying cash was double the historical average, according to DataQuick.

“The speculative buyer is back,” Rey said. “This is the first time since 2007 that I have investor clients again.”

That’s buoying an increase in bids for homes that need major work, she said.

Bidding War

One house on a 25,000-square-foot lot in Brentwood hadn’t been on the market in more than 50 years and was considered a “borderline tear-down,” according to Tuthill. The home, with original 1930s kitchen and bathrooms, was listed at $5.495 million at the beginning of March and received five offers, the highest of which was $5.6 million. After the seller countered at $5.695 million, two bidders upped their offers to $5.7 million and one jumped to $5.75 million, the eventual selling price.

“We were always joking that we were holding it together with bubble gum and paper clips,” Tuthill said. “The initial reaction was that this property was priced too high for recent comparables. But what brokers underestimated is the pent-up demand.”

A home on Bel Air Road in Bel Air came on the market in mid-March at $10.25 million and the final purchase agreement was signed for $1 million more. Escrow is scheduled to close next week.

Major Renovation

The mid-century house, once owned by the late television host Art Linkletter, hadn’t been on the market in 40 years. The buyer is considering a major renovation or tearing it down, Tuthill said.

“Those types of properties are more in demand than ever,” said Leibovitch of Rodeo Realty. “With interest rates as low as they are, investors can really get a good deal.”

Competition is so fierce that one couple looking to buy in Santa Monica had their daughters, ages 8 and 10, write a letter and draw a picture of the home to try to persuade the elderly seller to choose them over other bidders.

The neurologist and his wife, who asked not to be named because they don’t want his patients to know details of the purchase, agreed in mid-April to pay $155,000 more than the $2.695 million asking price for the four-bedroom, three-bathroom house, located two blocks from the beach.

Lynch and her husband, who’d owned their Brentwood home for 18 years, bought a smaller, three-bedroom house in the West Los Angeles neighborhood of Rancho Park, because they now spend about 40 percent of the year on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. They’re relieved they decided to act now, she said.

“We didn’t really have to sell,” Lynch said. “It was more of a lifestyle choice, a question of where do we want to be 10 years from now. But with this type of response, it seemed like it was meant to be.”

Spring Cleaning: Scrub, Shine and Sell!

The sky is blue, the sun is bright and the forsythia is blooming. Time to cue the annual ritual: spring cleaning.

But with a “For Sale” sign in your life, it’s also time to ratchet up the spit-spot drill. When you’re selling a house, making a good first impression happens only once, and a clean, sparkling home (new, old, renovated or fixer-upper) does just that—all for only sweat equity. So clean, clean, clean.

Bring out the big guns, a.k.a., the obsessive-compulsive cleaning genes. Banish those dust bunnies left and right until every nook, corner, counter, floor—well, you get the idea—is spotless. Although focusing on those biggies is critical, sweat the small stuff too. Prepare Your House For Sale suggests that little things pay off in a big way.

Take the basement. Dust the electrical panel box and clean/sweep the concrete floor thoroughly until you can walk on it barefoot. Not that you would, but potential buyers will be impressed and will remember that they could.

Polish front door hardware until it gleams. Inside, vigorously attack switch plates, doorknobs, cupboard door handles and mirrors, too. Bleach that tile grout.

Organize everything behind closed doors is the recommendation from About.com. With kitchen cabinets/pantries, for example, alphabetize spices and stack all dishes neatly with cup handles facing the same way.

Let there be light. Lose the window screens and wash those panes inside and out. Hire someone if necessary. The amount of light streaming through streak-free, screenless windows will amaze you and impress buyers.

The final tip is, of course, to keep the cleaning frenzy going until the dotted line is signed.

If you’re interested in the value of your property or need help in preparing your home for sale…please contact me today.

Why are families flocking to Sherman Oaks, CA?

As a Realtor in Los Angeles and also a native of the city, I know how expensive and even out of reach buying a proper family house can be in Los Angeles.   By proper family house – I mean 3 -4 bedrooms, good living spaces, a nice sized yard, and a kitchen with that large island all the kids can gather around – most moms dream of this and I can understand why! Unfortunately hard working parents all over this city are finding themselves unable to afford that dream because the LA market, even in this recession, is incredibly expensive when compared to the rest of the Country.  In Dallas…you can have a 5 bedroom house for $450,000, in the suburbs of Minnesota you can own a 4 bedroom house on a lake with a huge yard for $350,000…it just seems like the American Dream is so much more realistic everywhere but Los Angeles.  This brings us to Sherman Oaks, a beautiful part of Los Angeles that offers good public schools, easy access to freeways and canyons, as well as great parks, shopping, and entertainment.  As a Realtor who works with many families and often times families who are relocating or expanding – I believe Sherman Oaks is a great place to invest! In the $850,000 range you can get over 2,500 square feet,  at least 3 bedrooms, that great big grassy yard, and large kitchen you’ve been dreaming of.  Ventura Boulevard is now filled with tons of trendy coffee shops, restaurants, and stores for kids, clothing, art, and antiques.   It’s just plain simple – Sherman Oaks is upscale and accessible – but it’s also affordable! You get more for your money just over the hill and it’s a great place to raise your family! If you’re looking for a great family house in the area or looking to sell a property you currently own – please feel free to contact me at (310)402-8181 or jkryukova@gmail.com

 

http://www.juliekproperties.com

Written by: Julie Kryukova

9 Reasons To Buy A House Now

If you’re planning to buy a house right now, the next few months may be the best time to buy. Waiting for both housing prices and interest rates to fall may not be a good strategy for potential homebuyers since analysts don’t expect any significant declines in these two most important home-buying factors. Here’s nine real estate trends that suggest you should get into the housing market sooner than later.


1. Lowest Housing Prices in Years
Nobody knows when the housing market will hit bottom, but prices are at their lowest in several years and may soon start inching back up again. So buying now or in the near future may be the right time. An abundance of bargain-priced housing is now available because of foreclosures and falling prices.

2. Interest Rates at a 50-Year Low
Interest rates are near a 50-year low, according to housing analysts. By the second week of May, 2011, 30-year fixed mortgage rates had fallen to their lowest rates of the year at 4.63%. Although mortgage rates vary from day to day, the 30-year rate at this level is an attractive inducement to first-time buyers, or buyers who want to either move up to larger residences, or others, including many empty-nesters wanting to sell and move to smaller houses or condos.

3. Interest Rates Expected to Go Up
As the economic recovery gains momentum, interest rates are expected to increase, making mortgages more expensive. Even a half-percent increase in mortgage interest can add a hundred dollars or more to your monthly payments, depending on the amount of your loan.

4. Adjustable Rate Mortgages at Record Lows
Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) are also lower now, although there are risks that interest rates may increase over the life of the mortgage and the balloon payment due at the end of the mortgage life, usually three or five years, could be substantial. Nevertheless, for new buyers who are sure they’ll have enough income to meet payment obligations, an ARM may be the best way to buy a house. Keep in mind that payments may increase on a monthly basis. For a full explanation of advantages and risks in an ARM, visit the federalreserve.gov.

5. Low Down Payment Mortgages Available
Low-down-payment financing through Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages is available as an additional inducement to buy a house now. Down payment minimum requirements also fluctuate and may increase as the market heats up, so potential buyers with less cash to consummate a deal may be well-advised to buy now. 

6. Easy to Qualify, Easy to Borrow
Lending standards have become less rigid recently, so qualifying for a mortgage may be easier. Experts advise that a potential buyer become pre-approved for a loan by a lending institution – meaning that a lender guarantees to make the loan contingent on an appraisal of the property. But the good news in seeking pre-approval is that lenders are now willing to let a potential buyer take on more debt than the previous formula allowed – a percentage of monthly income. (For more on getting a cost effective mortgage, see Score A Cheap Mortgage.)

7. Lenders Offer No-Fee Mortgages
Many banks and other lending institutions are waiving mortgage loan generation and other fees and points (each point represents 1% of the loan amount), thereby reducing the cost of buying.

8. Home Builders Eager to Sell, Offer Incentives
Home builders, competing with the resale market, are offering incentives to potential buyers to reduce their inventory of unsold new homes. Incentives may include cash for furniture or free refrigerators, washers and dryers. In Seattle, for example, builders have offered opportunities to win iPads or Smart phones, and $3,000 buyer bonuses. Specific demographic groups, including military personnel, police, firefighters and health-care workers, have been targeted by builders for special offers. But virtually anyone who can qualify for a mortgage is likely to get a good deal from a homebuilder who is eager to sell.  

9. Motivated Home Owners Desperate to Sell
Desperate sellers of existing homes have also been offering attractive inducements to potential home buyers, including warranties on appliances, air conditioners and furnaces. Some sellers are even offering cash or have included furnishings, refrigerators, washers and dryers as a bonus to potential buyers. With so many existing homes in foreclosure or underwater – bargain prices are abound in this depressed market. (For help on buying a house, read Top Tips For First-Time Home Buyers.)

The Bottom Line
With a convergence of the factors above, all of which are favorable to the prospective home buyer, there may not be a better time to buy than right now. It’s a buyer’s market, but like everything else in life, the bargain deals won’t last.

Source: www.blog.forbes.com 

Southern California rents are likely to remain flat, study says

Rents are predicted to remain largely flat for Southern California’s market through 2012, according to a forecast by USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate.

Southern California’s apartment dwellers probably won’t face big rent increases any time soon, but the steep declines seen in recent years are beginning to ebb as the economy improves, a new study says.

Rents are predicted to remain largely flat for Southern California’s market through 2012, according to a forecast by USC‘s Lusk Center for Real Estate. Rents changed little across Southern California in 2010 — ranging from a 1% increase in the Inland Empire to a 0.2% decline in San Diego County.

From landlords’ perspective, the region continues to lag behind the rest of the nation, where overall rents increased 2.3% last year. But that might change if California’s economy continues to pick up. Nearly 100,000 net new jobs were added in the Golden State in February, and that kind of pace could help strengthen the rental market.

“The economic improvement in the last couple months could definitely lead to a faster recovery than we are anticipating right now,” said Tracey Seslen, a professor at the USC Lusk Center who co-wrote the study. “The jobs number for the last two months showed really nice growth.”

Factors potentially keeping the lid on rents include decreased demand for rentals as people look to buy homes, lured by skyrocketing affordability. In addition, investors are increasing the supply of single-family homes for rent by purchasing foreclosures and converting them to rentals. High gasoline prices also could drive down rents in far-flung areas by encouraging employees to move closer to their jobs.

The rental study was based on rental data for apartment buildings of five units or more from the research firm MPF Research. It does not include rental data on single-family homes, which have been putting pressure on the traditional rental market since the housing bubble burst and foreclosures hit the market.

“Single-family homes that are being rented out compete with traditional multifamily product — high-rises or garden apartments,” Seslen said. “That supply is very hard to calculate.”

Mia Melle, president at RentToday.us, a company that manages rental homes for investors throughout Southern California, said that the rental market had been saturated with investor-owned properties and that prices of these homes continued to decline, particularly in low-income areas.

“A company or a hedge fund that just bought 100 houses, they have the ability to offer more affordable rents, which lowers the rental market as a whole,” she said. “The bigger guys are not going to haggle. They just want to get them rented.”

The economy continues to take its toll on the rental market, Melle said, with people who have experienced reduced hours, layoffs or furloughs struggling to make their rental payments.

“On the flip side, things are leasing very quickly for us,” she said. “If it is priced right, it is leasing within days, meaning that there are a lot of tenants out there.”

Southern California’s rental market has been good to Adam Cohen, 28, the president of Inland Empire Recycling, a scrap metal yard.

Cohen has been renting a four-bedroom, 21/2-bathroom home in Rancho Cucamonga with a big backyard with a koi fishpond for the last three years with his wife, Selina, 28, three daughters and son. The family pays $1,750 a month, and Cohen said his landlords had not raised the rent on him much.

Although Cohen said he viewed renting positively, he hopes to become a homeowner this year.

“The housing market is in a great spot right now for buyers,” he said. “I would like to get in while the getting is good.”

Along with an improving economy, some other factors may work to increase rents in Southern California, according to USC’s rental study. They include a squeeze on the supply of apartment buildings because construction of apartment buildings slowed during the real estate downturn.

Separately, data for the first three months of the year show that rents in Southern California have increased little compared with the rest of the nation, according to Reis Inc., a real estate information firm. Los Angeles rents rose 0.2% from a year earlier while the U.S. as a whole increased 1.9% from a year earlier, Reis said.

Source: LA Times Online