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How To Survive Oscar Weekend In Los Angeles!

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

It's Academy Awards time in Los Angeles and you will probably want to avoid going anywhere near the Hollywood and Highland area this weekend. A huge number of streets and sidewalks will be closed (this LA Times list is pretty comprehensive) and Metro subway trains will bypass the Hollywood and Highland station from tonight until 6 a.m. on Monday. Sunday’s ceremony will be protected by a massive security presence, with federal, state and local law enforcement anchored by a 500-officer contingent from the Los Angeles Police Department. And "lookie loos" who want to catch a celebrity sighting will probably be even further discouraged by the fact that a new-this-year tent over the red carpet will make it even more difficult for fans to get a look at the stars (Academy officials didn't comment on the purpose of the tent but it was probably planned due to the El Nino we all thought would be ruining February. Instead of storms, though, it looks like it will be sunny and pretty warm).

On a brighter note, it isn't just the stars and filmmakers taking home the gold statuette this weekend who will be big winners, the 88th Academy Awards are a huge boon to the local economy. Salons, florists, chauffeur services, caterers, hotels, celebrity home tour companies and restaurants all see a spike in sales during the 2 month awards circuit that culminates with the Oscars. For many local vendors, awards season can make or break their year and tens of millions of dollars are usually generated in local economic activity. Hollywood movie studios alone will spend several million dollars promoting their Oscar contenders by doing things like hiring local PR firms, hosting lavish parties that are the bread and butter for many in the service industry and spending a fortune on make-up artists, hair stylists and dress-makers. 

One of the things we housesellers are really getting a kick out of from this year's ceremony is the fact that the Oscars are going disco this year and embracing the "anything goes" style and glamour of the 1970s. A fringe of gold and silver sequins will dangle over the final stretch of the red carpet, and the stage for Sunday's show was inspired by the glittery, glam styles of the disco era (Production designer Derek McLane said the '70s were on his mind when he was creating the look for the Oscar stage, which will be framed by 20,000 pounds of golden Swarovski crystals). Sounds like it could be pretty fun to us!


How Flippers Have Contibuted To The Housing Crisis

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

Flippers and property owners offering short term rentals have hugely contributed to LA's housing crises. As seasoned Realtors for 26 years, we have been seeing lack of inventory for rentals and sales for the past 4 years. The 'newbie' flippers, thinking it is easy to make a quick flip and a fast buck, soon learn it is not so easy flipping and selling real estate. We sell a lot of probate properties and see people making poor decisions in how they prefer to upgrade a home.  The big surprises for both newbies and quick flippers are 1) Making changes without permits, 2) What might be behind that wall they open up only to find more problems not factored into their budget and 3) Finding they have overestimated the value of their finished product and not willing to understand comparable sales.

There are a few trends we have seen the last few years for Flipped Homes, one is what we call ‘What were you Thinking?’ Buyers do not like seeing poor quality of workmanship, poor quality products installed in a home or poorly reconfigured floor plans. The average Days On Market had been 30-40 days, the past few years it has rebounded back to the height of the 2005 frenzy of 1 week or less.  Poor workmanship and quality, however, contribute to a home languishing on the market, followed by a price reduction due to cheap cabinets or shoddy workmanship or even just terrible taste in design. Even in a quickly moving market regardless of neighborhood, buyers have decided not to purchase someone’s poor quality quick flip and are buying fixer homes they themselves can make changes and upgrades to, perhaps with the help of a contractor.  In the end, our buyers get the neighborhood they want and the quality and style of home that works for their preferences and life styles.  Sellers who are selling their fixer home they have owned for 20+ years do not like the idea of selling to investors/flippers but prefer to sell their outdated home to a buyer who wants to turn the fixer home into a place suited to the new buyer’s lifestyle. They want buyers who appreciate the neighborhood and want to set down roots and enjoy the area as they did 20 or 30 years ago.  We have experienced both these scenarios as listing agents, and when we represent buyers a relationship develops between us, our clients and the seller of the fixer home. The seller then sells to the buyers who like the house for what and where the home is located, even when the home is a condo.

We look forward to when the market may slow down but every year we have seen so many twists and turns in the market place and the truth in the adage “real estate is an ever changing market”. But, we do see the buying and selling of flipped houses slowing down because the numbers do not add up for the professional investor (and we see the inexperienced ‘newbie’ learn this the hard way).  Perhaps in smaller markets outside of California flipping makes sense, but here it really all comes down to numbers. 

Extraordinary Sheats-Goldstein House Acquired By LACMA

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

It is perhaps the most amazing home in Los Angeles and we housesellers have learned that last week the Sheats-Goldstein residence high in the hills of Beverly Crest was the first-ever architecture acquisition by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The home overlooks the San Fernando Valley and embodies the iconoclastic organic architecture and progressive engineering championed by John Lautner, a major figure of 20th century American design who designed some of the most iconic L.A. homes. Immortalized by one of Hollywood’s most beloved cult films, The Big Lebowski, the residence will get a second life now that its owner, the eccentric billionaire James Goldstein, has decided to donate the residence to LACMA upon his death. 

John Lautner is one of our favorite architects and the Sheats-Goldstein residence is one of his most important architectural works (although the Chemosphere, a UFO-like structure overlooking downtown Los Angeles, is his most visually recognized structure). Designed and built between 1961 and 1963, the building was conceived from the inside out and built into the sandstone ledge of the hillside and, as a perfect example of Organic Architecture, is a cave-like dwelling that opens to embrace nature and stunning views (so much so, that birds sometimes fly through the home!). One of the best known examples of Lautner's aesthetic, he designed not only the house but the interiors, windows, lighting, rugs, furniture, and operable features. The house is extensively detailed, and Mr. Goldstein commissioned Lautner to work on a series of "remodeling transformations" that would encompass the entire house over a period of more than two decades until the architect's death in 1994. 

The home itself really is a work of art and as you walk past the main entrance and down several winding concrete stairways, there is a skyspace structure by artist James Turrell (donated along with the house) titled Above Horizon where you can lie on leather mats and watch the cycle of colored lights shift with the time of day. In 2013, French artist Xavier Veilhan installed a site-specific version of one of his "Rays" structures around the house's distinctive swimming pool and placed a green sculpture of Lautner looking out from the cantilevered master bedroom (whose walls open to exactly nothing but the openness of nature). He also created assorted other small sculptures and models to refer to the house and its specific structure, such as its triangular roof beams, as well as paying homage to Mr. Goldstein and his almost half of a decade living in the home. 

Please visit this link for some unbelievable images of this spectacular residence.

Time For The L.A. Marathon!

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

The Los Angeles Marathon is tomorrow and dozens of streets -- including parts of Sunset, Santa Monica, Hollywood and Wilshire boulevards-- will be shut down for several hours Sunday. This year's marathon is run between Dodger Stadium and the Santa Monica Pier (and is expected to have more than 25,000 runners) and the earliest road closures begin at 4 a.m., while some freeway ramps along the 110 and 101 freeways will be shut down at 3 a.m. Visit this link to get the comprehensive list of closures that may affect you. And, if you are planning on attending the race, make sure to bring plenty of water as the temperature is expected to reach the upper 80s by the end of the race. At the Olympic Marathon trials this morning, runners ran in 75 degree temps, the hottest in Olympic trials history. 

This being L.A., the race itself is only part of the fun. One of the highlights of the weekend is the free Health & Fitness Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The Health & Fitness Expo annually hosts over 120 exhibitors featuring brand-new designs in running gear and shoes, as well as the latest developments in sports, fitness, and nutrition. There will be interactive exhibits, live entertainment, the Official Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon Merchandise Store, product trials and all things marathon. The L.A. Marathon is known for its start-to-finish entertainment program to encourage runners and to celebrate the city’s diversity. Dozens of bands will play along the course, celebrating the triumph of each marathoner and as runners leave Beverly Hills and head toward Mile 18, they are greeted by over 600 hundred local cheerleaders making noise to encourage their pursuit towards the finish line. 

A unique aspect of this year's marathon is that it is being held on Valentine's Day and organizers are offering runners and spectators a chance to get married or renew their vows on the course. At mile 10, near the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, a justice of the peace will be on hand to perform wedding ceremonies and renew vows. A race spokeswoman says that as of Tuesday, 53 couples had signed up, which is required in advance.The nuptials are part of a promotion with Universal Pictures for the upcoming release of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. Runners will be greeted by performers doing a traditional folk dance performed at Greek weddings and featured in the original movie. We housesellers want to wish all of the runners (and lovers!) the best of luck.

Fun Facts About The Super Bowl

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl and this year the event promises to be extra special as many different surprises are planned for the 50th anniversary of the most watched sporting, and television, event in America. To help celebrate, we housesellers have dug up some interesting facts about the Super Bowl we thought you would enjoy. First of all, the game has a huge California/Gold connection. It is the Golden Anniversary of the game and is being played in the Golden State in Santa Clara, a region of San Francisco, the Golden Gate City that is home to the Golden Gate Bridge. The game is being played at Levi's Stadium, named for the inventor of blue jeans, Levi Strauss, who came to California from New York to seek his fortune along with hundreds of thousands of others following the California Gold Rush of 1849. Then there is the fact that the San Francisco 49ers are named after those fortune seekers. And we love this cool stat: California teams lead the nation in Super Bowl MVPs, with 5 coming from our state.

This year's match up of the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers will be the first Super Bowl not to use Roman numerals in the official event logo. The NFL decided to break with tradition for the 50th anniversary to give it more impact and further implement the gold motif. Super Bowl "L" probably would have looked awkward and strange for such a hugely marketed event.  When the Super Bowl champion gets crowned tomorrow they won't just get the Lombardi Trophy (which was sketched on a cocktail napkin by a vice president of Tiffany & Co. in 1966 and has not changed in size or design since), they'll also get a golden "50". Like the Lombardi Trophy, the golden "50" will be designed by Tiffany and consist of the  numerals "5" and "0" on a plaque that will be bronzed and plated in 18-karat gold. The Lombardi Trophy itself is made entirely of sterling silver and stands 22 inches high and weighs 7 pounds.

Besides the game itself, a major reason there are so many Super Bowl parties and gatherings is because of the food we Americans love to consume on Super Bowl Sunday. The event is the second-biggest day for food consumption after Thanksgiving. The big 3 national pizza delivery restaurants, Domino’s, Papa Johns and Pizza Hut, will sell around 5 million pizzas tomorrow. 50 million cases of beer will be sold tomorrow to go along with the 125 million pounds of chicken wings sold the week leading up to the big game. Guacamole has also become a fan favorite over the years and approximately 100 million pounds of guacamole will be devoured by fans. The consequences of all this game day gluttony is that, according to 7-Eleven stores, there is a 20% increase in the sale of antacids on the day after Super Bowl!

A few other fun facts:

  • The average number of people at a Super Bowl party is 17.
  • 5% of viewers will watch the game alone.
  • One out of every 12 people watching the game will be suffering through the actual football part just to see the commercials.
  • 6% of Americans will call in sick the Monday after the Super Bowl.
  • No network footage or air tapes of Super Bowl I exist. It was reportedly taped over with a soap opera.
  • The NFL has a policy against holding Super Bowl games in stadiums that have a climate of less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, unless the stadium is enclosed.
  • Every year, more than 700,000 footballs are made for official NFL use. 72 of them are set aside for use during the Super Bowl.
  • 35% of people who attend the game will write it off as a corporate expense.
  • Delivery drivers will log about four million miles and can expect a normal two dollar tip to skyrocket to $20.



Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5