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Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

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Once A Celebrity Hub Of LA, Inglewood Returning To Glory Days

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

The massive NFL stadium set to open in Inglewood in 2020 that was a major incentive that Los Angeles civic leaders used to lure the Chargers and Rams to LA has resulted in home values in that city rising at roughly 37.3% in the last two years (In Los Angeles County, in general, prices climbed 18.7% over the same time period). Perhaps more amazingly, in less than seven years the median price of a home in Inglewood has more than doubled. Property owners are reaping many benefits due to interest in the city, and homeowners in Inglewood collected higher profits when selling their residences in 2017 than those in any other city in Los Angeles County.

This is definitely the "hot spot" area to watch out for as the stadium will be joined by a huge mixed-use development with more than 3,000 units of housing. Also, the Crenshaw/LAX rail line is coming soon, there is a new arena for the LA Clippers being proposed for the area, new office and recreation developments are going up around nearby LAX, and the city is close to the beach cities of the South Bay and emerging tech hubs on the Westside. The 2014 grand re-opening of the legendary Forum arena as the world's premier concert and entertainment venue has also boosted the city's good fortune.

We housesellers love how the Hollywood elite of the 1930s used to gather at Hollywood Park in Inglewood after California became one of the first states to legalize horse race gambling in 1933. Stars of the day like Pat O’Brien, Jack Benny and George Burns and Gracie Allen would broadcast the day’s events live from the stands, and regular attendees included famed Hollywood figures such as Barbara Stanwyck (who owned a successful horse farm with Zeppo Marx), Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, George Raft, Mickey Rooney, Errol Flynn and Darryl Zanuck. But horse racing fell out of favor and Hollywood Park closed in December of 2013, and on May 31, 2015, the Hollywood Park track was imploded in a 30 second demolition. Ironically, dozens of football fans watched the implosion while shouting "LA Rams! LA Rams!" and now an 80,000-seat NFL stadium is rising to host the LA Rams (and Chargers).

 

 

The Truths And Myths Comparing The 2008 Housing Market Vs. 2018

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

We housesellers have seen a lot of articles of late comparing the housing crash of 2008 that led to the Great Recession to today's market. We feel it is important to separate the 2 biggest myths from the facts regarding the idea that we are on a similar trajectory as in 2008 and heading toward another housing crisis.

First off, 2008 was a radically different situation. Then, instead of a healthy 6 month supply of housing, we had almost 12 months. When questionable mortgage practices (such as lending to clearly unqualified buyers for homes well out of their reach) finally ceased, demand dried up and there was a glut of inventory on the market which caused prices to drop dramatically due to too much supply and not enough demand.

Today, the supply of homes is well below 6 months and lack of inventory is keeping home values from tumbling down. There are more programs today to help qualified buyers purchase homes (vs. the shady lending of a decade ago) and more renters are taking the steps to buy their first homes.

Then there is the worry that a recession would lead to a housing market crash. The reality is recessions always follow long periods of continued economic growth (of which we have had nearly a decade of) and do not lead to a housing crisis. People tend to associate these two terms with one another because the last time we had a recession it was caused by a housing crisis. According to the Federal Reserve, there have been six recessions in the last four decades and in each of the previous five recessions, home values appreciated.

 

 

 

The Unusual History Of Single Family Home Zoning In Los Angeles

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

The City of Los Angeles is known for its sprawling neighborhoods and horizontal layout, which is a stark contrast in comparison to the other two biggest cities in the United States, "the upzoned" New York and Chicago. When people think of LA, they think of ranch homes and Craftsman bungalows and we housesellers have unearthed some interesting facts about why that is still the case today, even as we suffer through an affordable housing crisis that is one of the worse in the nation. In fact, close to 50% of the land that can be developed here is set aside for single-family homes, not apartments or other forms of housing that could hold more people, and the abundance of single-family neighborhoods is the main factor that HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development) blames on the  crisis.

It breaks down like this: Roughly two thirds of the land in Los Angeles City is zoned to allow residential construction and, of that total, more than 75% is reserved for either single-family homes or duplexes. The first zoning laws in LA were introduced in 1920 but they were fairly lax and by the 1930s, there was still less than 5% of the city’s zoned land restricted to single-family homes. The City's zoning rules became much more restrictive, however, through the coming decades. For example, in 1946, Los Angeles updated its zoning laws with nearly three pages of restrictions and regulations (a lot for that time period). These zoning rules (still in place today) helped to create the neatly arranged residential communities we see today, but they also severely limited available space for new or alternative multi-family development. By 1970, almost half the city was zoned for single-family use only.

Also in the 1970s, residents and local leaders sought to slow LA’s growth by limiting the amount of housing of any type that developers could build. Some other strange facts we found out were that in 1960, Los Angeles was zoned to house up to 10 million people. But in 1990, the city had the capacity to house just under 4 million. Twenty years later, in 2010, it was still zoned to just house around 4.3 million. As we wrote about this summer, officials in LA do seem willing to alter single-family zoning laws in areas near transit and in July, the LA City Council unanimously approved a plan to adjust the zoning of several single-family blocks near stops on Metro’s Expo Line.

What You Should Know About Termite Swarming Seasons

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

There are two main seasons in Southern California for swarming termites: Spring, which brings out large numbers of subterranean termites, the species that lives in the ground with the sole purpose of eating dead or dry wood, and late Summer through Fall, when you see flying termite swarms. Flying termites, the most common of which here (especially in coastal communities) is the drywood termite, have their annual migration period from August to December when the winged pests take flight on warm days searching for any exposed wood to start new colonies. According to the LA Times, some 60% to 80% of Southland homes are infested with some species of termite.

A general recommendation is to have your home inspected once a year for termites. Signs of drywood termite activity that might not be as noticeable as swarming include:

  • Mud tubes, which the light-averse insects build to move from place to place in or around your home.
  • Sagging floors and ceilings, which could indicate termites eating away at wood.
  • Termite excrement, which looks like wood pellets or coffee grounds.
  • Discarded wings, from termites chewing off or dropping wings after they establish a new colony.

There are quite a few ways to address the situation if you find you have a termite infestation. While "tenting", tent fumigation that seals the entire house, used to be a go-to method for eliminating insect pests, this is now more of a last resort. If you have spotted the problem early enough there are many natural and DIY ways to affordably take care of termites such as cardboard traps, exposing infested areas to extreme heat or cold, using a sodium borate (borax) liquid solution or boric acid baits or buying the chemicals the professionals use and applying them yourself (this, of course, requires some research on application techniques but is far cheaper than hiring a professional). Of course, we housesellers know that sometimes the infestation is just too great and you will definitely need to consult a professional termite control company. This link and this link offer some great tips on how to deal with termites and how to prevent them from being an issue in the first place. 

 

 

Here Are The Best Fall Los Angeles Home Decorating Tips

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

Fall is just about here, so it is time for those who have been planning to redecorate their homes for the coming months to take action. Even in Los Angeles, we like to pretend we have seasons so let's start with the must-haves: heirloom pumpkins and other small gourds (definitely not jack o' lanterns), Fall-themed dishes, towels, pillows, welcome mats and throw rugs, Fall colored flowers such as mums or pansies, candles and room sprays in Fall scents, and door wreaths that incorporate orange, brown and yellow (but also bits of palm, sand and shells).

The first thing people see when they pass by your house is your porch and/or front yard so why not use the aforementioned pumpkins to draw attention? Yes, we housesellers know that pumpkins are everywhere this time of year, even in LA, so you might as well just embrace them. There are so many different varieties to be found in our area that you could easily assemble a pumpkin patch around your mailbox, front door, porch, edge of your driveway--wherever. You can stack them on outdoor (or, indoor) window sills, create interesting displays around your plants and bushes or just plop them in your native species, drought resistant garden for contrast. Keep in mind that white pumpkins are especially trendy this year.

Heading back inside, wicker is a big trend this year all over the country. Mix-and-match styles in earth tones are also trending for everything from furniture to table decorations to paintings and other wall fixtures. The tea light Mason jars we have posted a pic of here are the perfect way to add a little glow throughout your home and the popular canning jars, in general, are again a hot trend to use for everything from DIY candles to drinking glasses to storing Fall spices. Painted acorns are predicted to be quite popular for the Fall (and Winter) and make great decorations as wall hangings, arranged in a bowl on the dining room table or strung up on the outside of bathroom doors.

 

 

Secrets Behind Some Of Southern California's Most Extraordinary Plants

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

The flora of Southern California may be the most diverse in the entire United States, but do you ever actually take the time to stop and smell the roses? Well, not the roses because they are actually not a very dominant species of plant in So Cal, but there are certainly plenty of other amazing flowers and plants to consider. For example, did you know that Sierra Madre is home to the largest flowering plant in the world? ''The Vine", as it is known, blooms every Spring when more than a million vibrant purple blossoms drape from its tangled branches. We housesellers were fascinated to learn that the plant grew so fast and so much after being planted in the late 1800s, that it devoured its owners' house in the 1930s.

A plant you may or may not want to smell is the so-called "Corpse Flower" at the Huntington in San Marino, which is one of the most famous plants on Earth. When this large, foul smelling flower bears fruit or blooms, an event that lasts for only a few hours, it’s a special occasion that turns into a true Los Angeles media event (the carrion flower is native only to Indonesia, btw). However, the less attention-getting San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas recently witnessed their corpse flower bloom, but it’s unlikely to happen again anytime soon since some corpse flowers wait a decade to bloom again.

If you are fascinated by things really old, one of the oldest living organisms on Earth is located in the Mojave Desert north of Big Bear. With an average diameter of 45 feet (though it can stretch as wide as 67 feet), the "King Clone" creosote bush has been estimated at roughly 11,700 years old, making it one of the oldest living things on the planet. And if you travel further north to Inyo County in Death Valley, you'll find the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Groves of these ancient trees that are, on average, over 4,000 years old somehow miraculously flourish in the harsh desert conditions. The most famous of them is called Methuselah, and it was long thought to also be the oldest at roughly 4,850 years old until another tree (unnamed and with an undisclosed location) was discovered to be at least 5,065 years old.

 

Earthquake Early Warning App Gets Successful Test

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

For over a century, Los Angeles has been one of the pioneering cities of the world but, as a region famous for its earthquakes, we housesellers know we have dropped the ball in comparison to other countries in regards to developing early earthquake warning systems. Recently, that has changed as the city has partnered with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and a Santa Monica company called Early Warning Labs to develop an app to give people advanced warning of an impending earthquake.

Beta-testers of the app have been able to experience how well the technology works over the last few months, and last Tuesday the app issued an alert about the La Verne earthquake (which measured 4.4) and people throughout the LA area were given up to 12 seconds notice before feeling the quake. While that may not seem like a lot of time, a few seconds could give cities the time to stop trains and freeze elevators, give doctors time to halt surgical procedures in hospitals, allow police and firefighters time to strategize in the case of a power or communications failure, etc. It could also save many lives by getting people away from dangerous obstacles and giving them a few seconds to get away from glass windows or weak masonry, for example, which would likely reduce many common earthquake injuries. This, in turn, would free up first responders to attend to other crises.

BTW, the La Verne quake was the largest in Southern California since Dec. 29, 2015 and was felt during the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Anaheim Angels at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. It was also followed by more than a dozen aftershocks. The Early Warning Labs app was able to tell the expected arrival time of the earthquake, distance from the epicenter and the expected intensity. EWL and Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti are hoping to have a smartphone version of the app available to all residents by the end of this year. 

 

 

Time To Indulge Your Taste Buds This Labor Day Weekend!

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

Labor Day weekend always sees some great food festivals popping up in Los Angeles and this year is no exception. We housesellers will start right off the bat with the biggest event for foodies for the rest of the year, and that would be the Los Angeles Times epic food festival, The Taste. This annual event has been a major deal for a long time, with the top LA chefs and culinary stars participating each year, and is returning to Paramount Studios for live cooking demos, chef panels and food and wine galore. What makes this year's Friday through Sunday outing a "next-level" event is the passing of the iconic LA Weekly and LA Times food writer, Jonathan Gold, in July. The Pulitzer Prize winner, and previous co-host of The Taste, has been honored all over the city for the last month and this event will offer multiple tributes, including many participating restaurants such as Faith & Flower, Pacific Dining Car, Herringbone and Chiguacle Sabor Ancestral de Mexico presenting special dishes inspired by him. 

Vegan food, and culture, is pretty ubiquitous these days and LA has one of the most intense Vegan scenes in America. And not just the food, which is amazing all over town, but just the atmosphere around Vegan-centric events here. Take the Vegan Street Fair LA Nights event in NoHo this weekend. While not as crazy as their annual March Fair, this event offers dancing, games, live entertainment, karaoke, a beer and wine garden and, according to their website, "VERY loud music and partying all night". They also promise all food vendors will have at least one $4 or less item.

While The Taste is the big dog food & drink event this Labor Day weekend, there are some great, lower key food happenings that are part of larger festivals. Brews, Blues & BBQ at the S.S. Lane Victory Pier in San Pedro is one of those events. Happening Sunday (and part of LA Fleet Week, the annual, multi-day celebration at the Port of Los Angeles celebrating the U.S. Sea Services), this multi-faceted beer, wine, music and food fest is also a great excuse to visit the restored S.S. Lane Victory, which served with distinction during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Things Not To Do When Staging A Home

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

We housesellers have seen a lot of trends over the years when it comes to staging a home that has been listed and we have seen some things that did not do any favors for the home or the seller. If you are thinking about listing your home, please realize that how you stage it is extremely important to the showing process and there are some very important things you should never do. For example, we have walked into homes littered with personal belongings. Never show a cluttered house and this means stuff like no toys lying around to trip over, no visible paperwork pilesno cupboard doors or drawers left opened or askew, and definitely no unmade beds. Basically, make sure everything is stored away and the house is as tidy as possible. Also, don't over-personalize with photos and mementos. 

This next step is VERY important. Do not display a bunch of faux props. You do not want a stager who suggests a nice bowl of fake fruit or anything inflatable. No fake plants, fake flowers, fake food, fake TV screens and computers and, certainly, no blow-up mattresses. According to realtor.com, "Every time buyers see a fake item they are reminded that this is not real, this is not achievable, and this is not their new home."

The scale and style of the interior is also of utmost importance. We know you want the home to seem roomy but make sure your furniture and accessories match the room in scale and proportion. If you have a huge living room, make sure the furniture compliments that fact. A bunch of tiny couches and tables will just detract from what a potential home buyer could envision in the large space. Don't use loud or tacky colors for the decor. Make it easy for your buyer to visualize their stuff in your home by neutralizing the decor. Also, make sure to stage the entire home in one aesthetic, no mismatched or overly quirky furniture or patterns and prints.

These are just some of the important steps you should avoid taking when staging a home, but there are lots of other tips on what you should do that we would love to discuss with you if you are thinking about staging your home when listing it. Please feel free to call, email or respond to our social media with any questions you may have.

 

 

Getting Ready For Closing Day When Selling A Home

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

At the beginning of the week, we housesellers wrote about some of the things a buyer needs to know and do to prepare for closing day and taking possession of their new home. As a follow up, we are going to now list the important steps the seller must take as they get ready for closing day. You have accepted the offer, signed and executed all of the pre-closing disclosures and documents, and you and your buyer have agreed on a closing date as part of your purchase and sales contract. Your first step is to retain all executed seller disclosures as well as the purchase contract and the closing statement. Ideally, your escrow officer or closing agent will hand you a complete package containing all these things at closing, but don't rely on it. 

With the paperwork gathered up, it is time for the chores. Clean the house so that it appears the way you would want it if you were the buyer. Turn off shut-off valves, including all water sources (just make sure to remind or leave a note for the buyers so they don't call a plumber when the water doesn't turn on!). Cancel your insurance policies and close accounts for things like utilities and newspapers. If you pay utilities quarterly, you may have a refund coming and be sure to cancel the paper at least a week in advance. Consolidate incidentals such as house keys, remotes, gate & pool keys and mailbox keys for the new owner, as well as assembling a packet of appliance manuals, receipts and any warranties.

Closing day is just about here, so now you take the final steps before you meet with the buyers. Attend the final walk-through so you can pass on tips such as which light switch operates which lights, whether a door sticks and how to clean the swimming pool. Have your partner or a friend double check everything so you don't leave anything behind like the small items you would keep in a cabinet or drawer. Don't forget to change your address, not just with the post office but with those entities that might not be able to have their correspondence forwarded. Finally, lock everything up tight, close windows and window coverings and turn off the lights. You may want to consider leaving an inexpensive lamp behind on a timer, especially if the home is going to be vacant for awhile. Now, you are ready for closing day and the new chapter in your life!

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