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Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

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The Hidden Meaning Behind The Names Of Some Of LA's Well Known Neighborhoods

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

We housesellers know that residents of Los Angeles place a lot of stock in the neighborhood they live in, whether it be on the Westside or Eastside, Downtown or nestled in the Hollywood Hills. LA is a huge, sprawling area with roughly 272 distinct neighborhoods so we were excited to come across some online sites recently that explained how many of them got their names. Below you will find a list of some of the ones we found most interesting.

  • Century City went from being a 20th Century Fox backlot before Fox sold it for $50 million to finance the making of 1963's Cleopatra. The project to make it a real city was so ambitious at the start that the joke around the name, which was derived from the studio’s, became that it would take a century to finish
  • Granada Hills is named after a province in Spain
  • Pacific Palisades, originally founded as a possible religious commune, is named after the cliffs that overlook the Hudson River in New York and New Jersey
  • The neighborhood of Wilshire is indeed named for the boulevard that runs through it, one of the major roads in Los Angeles, that is itself named after local farmer, Henry Wilshire
  • Tarzana was literally named after Tarzan
  • One of the early settlers of Hollywood, Harvey Henderson Wilcox, wanted to name his new land “Figwood,” but he was overruled by his wife, who picked up the name Hollywood from a Dutch woman she met on a train heading west
  • George Sunday, the son of famed evangelist Billy Sunday, came up with the name for Mar Vista, which is Spanish for "sea view"
  • We guess a few people certainly know this one, but Eagle Rock is named for a large rock near the neighborhood that—hey!—looks like an eagle
  • Palms earned its name when contractors rode in in 1886 and planted thousands of palm trees as a way of sprucing up the land they were about to sell
  • Echo Park was named after the constant echos that boomed during construction...and then were never heard again
  • Encino is simply Spanish for "Oak"
  • Pico Rivera takes its name from Pío Pico, the last Mexican governor of California before it transferred into the hands of the United States following the Mexican-American War

If you would like to learn about the meaning behind the names of many of our other neighborhoods, please click on this link.

California Association Of Realtors Considering Building Affordable Housing In LA

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

Back in May, the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) announced it was exploring the redevelopment of the site of its Los Angeles headquarters to build affordable workforce rental and for sale housing. As of today, the idea is still moving forward and C.A.R. is proposing the development of up to 181 residential units that would be available to individuals and families earning 60 percent to 150 percent of the area's median income. Additionally, 20 percent of the units would be allocated to veterans earning 50 percent or less of the area's median income.

Located in the Koreatown area, the project also includes an office facility to accommodate the Association's Los Angeles headquarters. C.A.R.'s Board of Directors recently approved a pre-development plan for the project and a proposal to move forward with the development will go before the Board in October. The development would also include modern office space for the trade association, which boasts nearly 190,000 members. C.A.R. also hopes to achieve a “green building” certification from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The current structure that sits at the site will be razed to give way to the new development and C.A.R. hopes to have shovels in the ground by late 2019 or early 2020 if there are no delays.

In other related news, we housesellers were excited by news this month that the State of California recently awarded $40 million to Los Angeles County via three grants to support the development of affordable apartments and related infrastructure projects in the County’s unincorporated areas. The projects will generate more than 320 new affordable apartments in a region beset by “skyrocketing housing costs”. Approximately $30 million will be set aside to build affordable apartments, while the remaining $10 million will be used to develop sustainable infrastructure to help residents of the new mixed-income housing developments connect to transit.

How Much Do You Know About Santa Monica's Gold Coast?

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

The history of the Santa Monica beach north of the Santa Monica Pier to Santa Monica Canyon is a rich and fascinating story that many Los Angeles residents might not know much about, but the area along the Strand bike path was once the social hub for many of Hollywood's elite during the Golden Age of film. From beach volleyball reportedly being developed in Santa Monica during this time by surf legend Duke Kahanamoku, who brought a form of the game with him from Hawaii, to Will Rogers introducing polo to the region on his Santa Monica Canyon estate to the famed white, columned Georgian Revival mansion that boasted over 100 rooms, 37 fireplaces and 55 bathrooms that William Randolph Hearst had built for Marion Davies in the Late 1920s, the "Gold Coast" of Santa Monica has one of the more glamorous histories in a city full of great tales about early movie stars.

The Hollywood elite and up-and-coming socialites of the 1920s and 30s flocked to the beachfront paradise of the Gold Coast (also dubbed Rolls Royce Row and the American Riviera), and it was where movie stars and creative industry giants such as Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, Greta Garbo and Orson Welles lived and played, while F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about their escapades. Soon even bigger names like Darryl Zanuck, Mary Pickford and Louis B. Mayer were commissioning beachfront homes by the biggest architects of the day, including Julia Morgan,  Richard Neutra, Wallace Neff, Julia Morgan, John Byers and Paul Williams. Though today these styles seem incongruous for the beach (and the architects themselves rarely designed beach homes), at the time they signaled taste and pedigree. They were houses built in reverse, with showy fronts facing the beach and fortified garages and gates lining the busy Palisades Beach Road (now the Pacific Coast Highway).

We housesellers loved learning that curious motorists who drove by these homes often had to contend with the line of chauffeurs polishing the chrome adornments on one luxury car after another in front of the garages on Sunday mornings. Houses were leased, borrowed and sold to other movie folks frequently, meaning that at some point almost every Hollywood celebrity one could think of lived or stayed on the Gold Coast. This list includes Cary Grant, Harold Lloyd, David Niven, Errol Flynn, Greta Garbo, Anita Loos and famed oilman J. Paul Getty. However, the glitz of the Gold Coast began to dim and the slow exodus northward to secluded Malibu accelerated after World War II.

 

You Might Be Surprised By These Intriguing Facts About Independence Day

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

No matter what your plans were today, we housesellers hope you enjoyed your Independence Day holiday and were able to enjoy the relatively cool weather before we hit triple digit temps over the weekend. Every now and then we like to post some of the less well known facts about a particular holiday we think you'd enjoy hearing about and, since we recently learned some new Fourth of July facts, we thought we would share them with you: 

  • The colonies actually officially declared independence on July 2nd, 1776, not the 4th, but the Second Continental Congress didn't approve the Declaration until the 4th.
  • Few of the signatories were available to sign on the 4th so only two men signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776 — John Hancock and Charles Thompson.
  • Thomas Jefferson changed the wording of the Declaration of Independence from “the pursuit of property” to “the pursuit of happiness.”
  • The Liberty Bell rings 13 times every Independence Day to honor the 13 original states.
  • Three U.S. presidents have died on Independence Day, Thomas Jefferson (1826), John Adams (1826) and James Monroe (1831). Many of us grew up knowing that Jefferson and Adams died on the same day in 1826, the 50th anniversary of Independence Day...
  • ...but did you know that America’s 30th President, Calvin Coolidge, was born on July 4, 1872.
  • Eighty-five years before the Fourth of July was recognized as a federal holiday in 1870, one tradition began that continues to this day. Billed as "America's Oldest Fourth of July Celebration," the town of Bristol, Rhode Island, has been honoring Independence Day since 1785.
  • While we think of hamburgers, hot dogs (Americans eat 150 million of them on the 4th!) and apple pie as traditional 4th of July fare, in New England the tradition since the beginning has been to eat salmon. During the middle of the summer, salmon was in abundance in rivers throughout the region, so it was a common sight on tables at the time and has stayed that way even with the decline of Atlantic salmon since Revolutionary days.
  • It was seen as unpatriotic if you kept your business open on Independence Day before the Civil War. But after the war ended, restaurants and stores starting having sales on red, white, and blue merchandise and they've continued ever since.
  • Other countries, including Denmark, England, Norway, Portugal and Sweden also celebrate the Fourth of July as a way to bring in American tourists.
  • While the United States of America now boasts a third of a billion citizens, on July 4th, 1776 there were just 2.5 million residents in the new country.
  • U.S. soldiers got a special treat on the 4th of July in 1778 when George Washington helped the troops celebrate by allowing them a double ration of rum.
We're sure you may have some fun facts about the holiday that we may not know about so please feel free to share in our comments sections or on our Facebook page. Happy Fourth of July!

The Groundbreaking Frank Lloyd Wright Ennis House Is Restored And On The Market

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

Many of you may know that we housesellers are pretty big architecture buffs and have, over the years, connected buyers with (and represented sellers of) some pretty amazing local properties with extraordinary histories. This is why we have such a strong interest in architects who have made their mark in Los Angeles, and few loom larger than the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright. Now, one of his crowning achievements, and one of the most famous houses in LA, is on the market after a long and costly and lovingly painstaking renovation.

Located in Los Feliz, the 5,500-square-foot Ennis House was built from 27,000 concrete blocks, with some blocks featuring intricate geometric patterns. Ron Burkle purchased the home from the nonprofit Ennis House Foundation for $4.5 million in 2011, he then restored it by adding an extra $10 million to improve the home after it had suffered major damage from a previous earthquake and heavy rains. 

All the internal systems have been redone, all of the damaged tiles and concrete blocks have been restored, and the house will come with some of its original furniture and many of its build-ins intact. The position that it has on the hilltop it sits on gives it a 200 degree view from Downtown LA to the Pacific Ocean, which may be its most attractive feature. The house is laden with multiple balconies, patios and wraparound walkways. There’s also a large pool deck and a fish pond.

The architectural marvel has been featured in more than 80 movies or television shows and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The home’s first major role was in the 1959 Vincent Price thriller The House On Haunted Hill, and it has since been featured in iconic films such as Blade Runner, Rush Hour, The Karate Kid and the current HBO show Westworld

 

Let's Talk About The Extreme Food Events Coming To LA

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

Los Angeles residents love our incredible food culture and realize how lucky we are to have perhaps the greatest variety of food offerings of any city on Earth. There are literally hundreds of different countries represented and you could probably try a different dish every day and never run out of new culinary experiences. But sometimes you just want to eat your favorite familiar food. Since we housesellers know Angelenos love to go big, we have scrounged up a few of the more extreme food-related events happening in the near future that involve our most beloved comfort foods. 

We should probably start off with the fact that LA is getting an interactive pop-up pizza museum. Although it won't be here until October, tickets go on sale Friday for The Pizza Experience, and demand is expected to be high. The Pizza Experience bills itself as "room after room of immersive sensory overload, captivating experiences, selfie stations, cat walks, giant installations, videos, oversized cheese pool, pizza hall of fame" and more...all for the love of pizza. It has apparently been so successful in other cities that it is expected to stick around LA for 4 months before heading to Chicago in the Spring.

Mac and Cheese might be the ultimate comfort food but it isn't very extreme. Unless you are at the Globe Theater in Downtown LA on Saturday, July 7 for the Los Angeles Mac and Cheese Beerfest. Attendees will have access to complimentary samples of over 50 craft beers spread across 3 floors and can enjoy a killer lineup of live bands & DJs. So far, more than 12 of the city's top chefs and restaurants are coming together to offer their signature Mac and Cheese creations to pair with the beers.

And because most people can't get enough of dessert, why not have a two day celebration of all things dessert-related? The Dessert Goals dessert festival July 7 - 8 at the Cooper Design Space Downtown will have more than 20 of the best sweets vendors in LA, an Instagram Garden designed specifically for dessert photos, a savory Salt Bar to "cleanse your palette" between sweet bites so you can indulge in more treats, complimentary coffee from Bodum, plus complimentary drinks from Boxed Water, Zico and Sparkling Ice.

 

 

 

Watch Out Coachella, Arroyo Seco Weekend Is The Hot New SoCal Festival!

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

This weekend marks the second annual staging of the Arroyo Seco Weekend, a music, arts and food festival on the leafy green grounds surrounding the Rose Bowl that saw its inaugural shows last year enjoy great success, and which proved to be a fantastic alternative to the massive Coachella festival now going into its 20th year. Arroyo Seco Weekend is a little more family-friendly, as well as being much closer, having far better food offerings and presenting a killer lineup of artists in a much less frenzied environment. 

The music lineup last year was great, with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (sadly, this was one of Tom's last performances before his unexpected death), Weezer, Mumford & Sons and the Shins among the top tier acts. This year, however, they have really upped their game with headliners including Neil Young, Robert Plant, Jack White, the Pretenders, guitar hero Gary Clark Jr. and Kings of Leon. The second stage acts are also pretty awesome and include 80's and 90's hit-makers like the Bangles, Alanis Morissette, the Specials, Third Eye Blind and the Violent Femmes

What makes this festival stand out among those that offer up such incredible musical acts is that it is also a world-class food festival. The biggest star of the Korean BBQ scene, and the person responsible for the explosive growth of the gourmet food truck culture in America , Roy Choi and his Kogi truck will be there as well as offerings from such restaurants as Donna Jean (the plant-based San Diego phenom), Silver Lake's Jewish comfort food joint, Freedman's, and Cal Mare, which serves up food that is an homage to the coasts of Italy and Southern California.

Another interesting aspect of the festival that we housesellers love is that it also focuses on art, literature and science. This is an area of the festival that especially focuses on family as there will be representatives and exhibits from places such as the Kidspace Children's Museum (including a petting zoo, drum circle and classes on how to make homemade musical instruments), NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Huntington Library's Focus on Flowers installation and the Energy Playground where you can do neat things like charge your cell phone by riding a see-saw. If you go, also keep an eye out for the multiple "little libraries" that will populate the grounds. These will be stocked by Vroman's Bookstore, Southern California's oldest and largest independent book store.

Outdoor SoCal Activities That Go Beyond Biking, Rollerblading and Volleyball

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

It's the weekend and we housesellers know that many of you like to get outside and participate in some of the sports activities that it sometimes seems that Los Angeles invented such as beach volleyball, rollerblading or riding a beach cruiser along the Strand and, of course, surfing our great surf spots. There are, however, plenty of other great outdoor activities offered up in our area and we thought we would highlight a few that range from easy to challenging (and that are probably not the first ideas that come to mind).

Did you know that you can get free archery lessons in Los Angeles? The Pasadena Roving Archers has been a top U.S competitive archery club since 1935 and offers free lessons on Saturday mornings, but they’re not the only game in town. Woodley Park Archers in Van Nuys slings their arrows on an Olympic-quality range seven days a week and they offer free lessons to the public on Saturdays and Wednesdays. There is also Rancho Park Archers in the heart of Los Angeles and over a dozen other archery clubs from the Valley to the South Bay to Long Beach.

Rock Climbing tends to be something many Angelenos think of as an activity you do at a rock climbing wall at the gym or park, but Echo Cliffs in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu has become one of the premier sport climbing venues in Southern California and hosts nearly 200 climbing routes. Expert climbers love the many faces that feature pockets and blocky holds on vertical to overhanging rock in a beautiful, typically sunny setting with routes that are bolt protected and have fixed anchors at the top. But, if you didn't understand what any of that^ meant, there are also plenty of beginner to intermediate climbs!

Looking for a local spot featuring the rugged coastline and stunning ocean views usually associated with Northern California? Abalone Cove Shoreline Park in Rancho Palos Verdes has them. You will also find extensive tide pools teeming with a world of miniature marine life such as sea urchins, starfish, and anemones, and the bluffs above make for spectacular viewing of Catalina Island.

Did you know that the Will Rogers Polo Field in Pacific Palisades is the only remaining Polo field in LA, and that there used to be almost 30 of them in the area? We know you are likely not in the market to join a Polo club, but they do offer free events most weekends from April through September where you can watch the matches from close up and enjoy a nice picnic lunch. 

If you are looking to avoid the crowds at places like Runyon Canyon or Griffith Park, but still want a vigorous hike, Ernest E. Debs Regional Park in Montecito Heights is a hidden oasis that offers a robust and secluded trail system complete with an idyllic pond and amazing views of DTLA. There is also the world-class Audubon Center where you can swap your ID or keys for a loaner backpack containing binoculars and a field guide if you have the time for some world-class bird-watching.

Important Steps To Take When Presenting An Offer

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

You have finally found the perfect house to call 'home' and you really want to work with the seller to make the deal happen. You also might be a little nervous because in this extreme seller's market you know there are going to be multiple offers and you will be competing with many people who feel the same way you do. Because we housesellers understand this market so well, we have put together 4 main steps to follow when making an offer.

First, trust your agent when they help draft the offer that you are going to present. An experienced agent knows what the key considerations are, such as similar homes recently sold in the same neighborhood, the condition of the house and what you can afford. Always be sure to get pre-approved as it will show home-sellers that you are serious about buying and allow you to make your offer with confidence knowing you have already been approved for a mortgage in that amount.

Next, discuss strategy with your agent to find out if there are any ways in which you can make your offer stand out in the very competitive Los Angeles market. Making sure your agent is active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer.

Now that you have submitted what you consider to be a good offer, the seller will most likely counter offer, typically to ask for a higher price or asking to adjust the closing date. In these cases, the seller’s agent will submit a counter offer to your agent detailing their desired changes. You can either accept the offer or decide if you want to counter and each time changes are made through a counter offer, you or the seller have the option to accept, reject or counter it again. The contract is considered final when both parties sign the written offer.

Finally, remember that these days you have to act fast. The inventory of listings for sale has remained well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market and buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale. Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as quickly as possible.

'Walkability' Is The Hot Luxury Los Angeles Buyers Are Seeking

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

As more and more pedestrian-friendly parks, walking paths and shopping areas become the norm in and around Los Angeles, the hottest luxury that is trending among buyers now is the desire to move into one of the region's many growing walkable neighborhoods. Certainly a home in the hills with a private garage, infinity pool and high-end fixtures is still the desire of many, but this shift in priorities comes as Angelenos are growing more and more frustrated with worsening traffic, high-priced parking and time wasted driving everywhere. Another factor is community-oriented millennials who are gaining market power and seem more concerned with quality of life issues rather than status symbols. Also fueling the trend is a slew of new luxury condo buildings in neighborhoods where developers are hoping buyers will pay a premium for proximity to urban life. More and more LA residents are willing to share walls in exchange for the ability to run out for a bagel in the morning, meet locally for a beer at night or a chat with neighbors while out walking to pick up groceries.

The walkability of a city is measured by things such as access to amenities like supermarkets, doctors, parks, schools, and restaurants. Designs that encourages safe pedestrian traffic such as crosswalks, well-lit sidewalks and close proximity of destinations to one another are important. Green spaces and parks are vital, as are public art, mixed-use buildings close to the street and a variety of architecture. Buyers also look for comfort and ease with which people can get around, including designated spaces for bicycles, pedestrians, and vehicles. This may also include narrower streets with fewer lanes, forcing vehicles to drive more slowly.

Although Los Angeles is listed at #13 in the Walk Score rating of large cities (behind San Francisco and Long Beach in California), considering that the city was built for cars and we are world-famous for our long history of an intense car culture, we housesellers have seen a drastic improvement in the walkability of LA's neighborhoods in the last decade. In fact, some neighborhoods such as the Wilshire District, Central Hollywood, Westlake and MacArthur Park all have scores of 90 or higher, with Downtown LA having a score of 95. Roughly a quarter of LA's neighborhoods have a score of 80 or higher.  According to walk scores that Redfin calculates for neighborhoods, areas that see a boost in walkability from a score of 60 to a score of 80 add an average of $129,000 to a property’s value. For a further look at just how important walkability is to the Los Angeles real estate scene, please check out this Wall Street Journal article.

 

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