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Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

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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.

 

Dodgers, Metro Proposing A Gondola From Union Station To Dodger Stadium

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

If you missed this story from last month, it looks like the Los Angeles Dodgers have been meeting with Metro officials and they have been discussing building an aerial tramway connecting Union Station with Dodger Stadium. If you have read our blogs on getting to the games, you know that we housesellers have mentioned the many alternative ways to get to the stadium that don't involve driving your car but, still, thousands of baseball fans find themselves idling in snarled, rush-hour traffic in a car or on a bus...to the point of sometimes missing the first pitch. Now, a company funded by former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has proposed a novel way to alleviate some of the congestion in the form of a gondola that would take passengers from Union Station to Dodger Stadium by air in roughly five minutes. 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (who is a member of the Metro Board) said a 1.25-mile tramway or gondola system would whisk fans high over Olvera Street and directly onto the Dodger Stadium premises. The gondola idea probably conjures up for most people the image of a ski resort, but here in the United States, the systems have been in use for decades, including on New York's Roosevelt Island and in Oregon, where a cable car carries commuters between a waterfront neighborhood and a university in the city of Portland. The LA Metropolitan Transportation Authority will be working with a private contractor on environmental reviews and design studies, Garcetti said. He stressed that this plan could move 5,000 people per hour, thus cutting down some of the traffic issues by a substantial amount.

The steep hills and outmoded travel routes of Elysian Park have long presented a challenge to transportation planners and Dodgers fans, but those hills are perfect for a gondola line, which could easily scale inclines that cause issues for light rail lines and buses. This plan would also benefit those outside of the city or county who travel to games at Dodger Stadium. After Dodgers games there is no scheduled Metrolink service from Union Station past 7 pm to Orange County, past 8 pm to Ventura County or past 10 pm to the Inland Empire and Antelope Valley. If fans want to stay for an entire game, an automobile is typically what they use to get home but the gondolas would stay open late until all the fans who want to use it have left the stadium. 

 

Summer 2018 Concert Season Is Here!

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

It's one of we housesellers most favorite and fun things to research and write about as Summer approaches: the FREE Summer concerts that are spread out all over the Los Angeles area from now through September. Each year the offerings seem to get better and better, and this year is no exception.

We'll start with one of our favorite spots for free summer shows, Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey. Their Summer Concert Series is always one of the best and most diverse, and this year they may have topped themselves. Their season doesn't start until July but includes Opera at the Shore from the Culver City/Marina del Rey Symphony, actress/singer Katharine McPhee, a fully staged production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific, multiple Grammy-winning Blues and Gospel singer, Lalah Hathaway, indie rock superstar, Cat Power and, perhaps the greatest and most important punk band LA ever produced (and definitely the most beloved), X...with all of the original members!

Grand Performances, the longest-running presenter of free live performances in Downtown LA, celebrates its 32nd Annual Summer Series line-up of free outdoor concerts at California Plaza from June 1st to August 18th, 2018. This great series of shows seems to be starting right off with a highlight: the June opener is a celebration of Sly & the Family Stone called Higher! The Psychedelic Soul & Genius of Sly and The Family Stone. Want to keep that funky groove going? Bootsy Collins, the famed bassist and vocalist from Parliament-Funkadelic will be laying down his grooves for free in July. Then we have the East LA’s darlings of Coachella this year, The Delirians, wowing folks with their bilingual vintage ska sounds, And, there is world-renowned performance art diva Astrid Hadad and French pianist Chassol adding to just some of the great variety that will be bringing people to Downtown to enjoy a wealth of fantastic entertainment.

Jazz at LACMA is a great bet for those music lovers interested in one of the best free music series that also allows you to view some of the best art in LA. Saturdays Off the 405 at the Getty Center is also a fantastic mix of art and music, and showcases a very eclectic mix of music all Summer long. 

KCRW Summer Nights is also an extremely eclectic mix of musical genres and runs from this Saturday through late August and moves its events weekly to locations all over the area from the Hammer Museum to Union Station to Chinatown

The most comprehensive concert line-ups are the FREE shows at the Levitt Pavilions in LA and Pasadena. Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles has acclaimed national acts such as Fishbone and Blind Boys of Alabama on their roster this year, and the shows there run from June 9th through September 2nd. The Pasadena location starts presenting shows a few weeks later, and both locations have offered up 50 free shows per Summer for over a decade. 

 

 

 

According to a news brief from the American Automobile Association, this 2018 Memorial Day weekend will see near-record amounts of travelers heading out of town over the long weekend. AAA is reporting that almost 42 million Americans will travel over the Memorial Day holiday, nearly 5% more than last year and the most in more than a dozen years. Luckily for Angelenos, you don't have to leave Los Angeles to have an amazing Memorial Day experience. As we housesellers love to do, we have combed the internet to select a sampling of what we think are some of the most interesting, fun and unusual events going on today through Monday.

Apparently you can't escape "The Dude", as every single Los Angeles event/travel/entertainment site we investigated online had one common theme: The Lebowski Fest at the Wiltern tonight and tomorrow. Fans of the film show up in droves for a The Big Lebowski screening, bowling, trivia and costume contests, and, of course, to drink White Russians. Grab your bowling shoes and viking helmets and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the movie.

If good eating is your goal, well...clearly there are too many options to post in a blog. But, we were struck by how enticing Pearl's Memorial Day Picnic BBQ looks. It is going on all weekend in Downtown LA from today until Monday and features a ton of food trucks, music and entertainment. This might be the deal of the weekend as it is just $5 for a one-day ticket (with a free beer), and $9 for a VIP four-day ticket (that includes a free beer each day). 

If you are heading to LACMA Saturday, be sure to check out the Boogaloo Assassins, who will doing a free show starting at 5 p.m. The 12-piece Latin band mixes soul, salsa and funk as they reinterpret classic tunes, and they will be kicking off LACMA’s 13th annual Latin Sounds Concert Series.

LACMA also hosts a free day at the museum on Memorial Day, itself. Enjoy a free day of fun and learning at the largest art museum in the Western United States. Expect art workshops for all ages, bilingual tours and live music with Soft Streak at 12:30 and 2:45 p.m. in the afternoon. 

Northridge hosts the Valley Greek Festival Saturday through Monday. The 45th annual fest celebrates the sights, sounds and tastes that define the traditional Greek way of life. Chow down on classics like gyros and baklava, watch traditional dance performances, shop for Greek specialities at the outdoor market, tour a Greek Orthodox Church and just revel in the fun of this great culture.

On Sunday, Santa Monica transforms into a giant Monopoly board game for MAINopoly Santa Monica, where attendees can earn "MAINopoly dollars," which can be exchanged for food tastings at the street's top restaurants.

We cannot forget that Memorial Day is a day to honor those who sacrificed themselves while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Since 1868, the United States has honored people who died on a day previously known as Decoration Day. The Southland's largest celebration is in Palos Verdes, but there are plenty of ways to honor our nations's heroes throughout the LA area. This link will guide you how.

 

 

 

Demands Buyers Should Never Make When Submitting A 'Request For Repairs'

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

With no end in sight to this hot seller's market we have been experiencing in Los Angeles, it is important for buyers to understand how tricky it can be to toe the line between what is acceptable to ask of a seller and what might just cause them to cancel an escrow. Buyers are bidding on homes in an ultra-competitive market where multiple offers are the norm, so choosing what repairs to ask for requires some strategy. After all, requesting too many fixes could potentially tank the sale if there are less high-maintenance buyers waiting in the wings. Here are some common repair requests a buyer should never make:

  1. Cosmetic Issues. They are the #1 things other buyers in this market are likely willing to overlook. You can probably afford to add a fresh coat of paint to the den, have the wood floors refinished or fix the broken tile in the kitchen that is bothering you. Don't sour a deal by asking for cosmetic changes.

  2. Renovations you are already planning. If a kitchen redo is at the top of your list for when you move in, do not expect the seller to replace a warped pantry door or damaged baseboards. However, if there are things that you both agree are clearly in bad shape, you can discuss any credits they may want to give you for damaged items. 

  3. Items the home inspector didn't flag. If things like a jammed window or creaky basement door are bothering you but the inspector has not flagged them for safety or code violations, it is best not to include these in any repair requests. 

  4. Minor electrical issues. A nonworking light switch or faulty electrical socket that pops up in an inspection may seem like a fix you should request, but if it’s truly a minor issue and not a sign of larger problems with the home's electrical systems, skip it.

  5. Missing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If the area where you are purchasing the home requires sellers to provide working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, by all means mention that. But if they don’t, make a note to replace them yourself after closing. This is an easy, inexpensive update and in most cases, not worth risking the sale.  

  6. Upgrades. Although it’s OK to ask the seller to ensure that the existing electrical system in an older home is working correctly for the date it was built, it is not acceptable to request that the electrical system be upgraded to current codes. The same applies to other systems as well: You should not be asking sellers to upgrade galvanized pipes to copper or PEX, install new furnaces if the old ones are still working safely (even if they are somewhat old), seismically retrofit foundations, replace single pane windows with dual pane products, install insulation, etc.

  7. Asking for an abatement. Older homes in particular may have materials in them deemed hazardous, especially asbestos and lead-based paint. While there will likely be an inspection to determine if these materials are present, most buyer's agents agree that it is not reasonable to ask the seller to pay for their removal.

The above are just a few of the many things clients have discussed with us in the past. And it is true that many things that would have been fine with asking the seller to help with in past markets are no longer worth risking alienating them. If you have questions about what is acceptable to ask for in a request for repairs, please feel free to contact us and we housesellers will help in any way we can. Also, there are many things that you absolutely should have the seller pay for and we will be listing some of those common requests in the coming weeks. 

House Hunting Mistakes NOT To Make!

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

As a follow up to our blog the other day about what to expect if you are house hunting in Los Angles in 2018, we wanted to add to that some of the things that, now that you have the basic essentials of the housing market here, you should absolutely not do. 

First and foremost, do not start house hunting if you are not clear about what you want. Make a wish list before you start shopping, because looking at extremely different types of properties will slow down the process. There is nothing wrong with considering your options, but try to narrow them down before you fill your weekends with home tours.

Don't start seeing homes without a mortgage pre-approval. In the hot LA market, almost every seller will be unlikely to entertain an offer without one. A pre-approval also lets you know exactly how much mortgage you qualify for, so that you won’t waste time looking at properties you can’t afford.

Don't wait too long to see a home. In this tight market, if your real estate agent calls you about a new listing, do whatever you can to see it right away. Waiting even a day in this 2018 market can make the difference between getting the house or not.

Don't ignore the neighborhood. Take some time to feel the vibe of the community to make sure it's right for you. Is the neighborhood quiet or bustling? Is it predominately hipster singles or families? Do neighbors seem friendly and likely to gather on their porches in the evenings or do they keep to themselves? Also, check for local shops, restaurants, or parks if these amenities are important to you. And, in LA, especially, check for access to freeways and public transportation.

Don't speed through an open house. You should never be afraid to explore the whole house and property in detail and this includes opening closets and pantry cabinets to check out every nook and cranny, making sure the windows are hanging straight, flipping light switches to check their upkeep and inspecting the floors and the foundation to make sure they are in good shape. Take notes (even if they are just mental) and don't be afraid to flag those things you have concerns about. 

Don't expect perfection. We all have an idea of our dream home, but for most of us it is rare to get exactly everything we want in any area of our lives. So...focus on what is most important to you. The best dream homes are the ones that have the basic foundation of what we were looking for that we then turn into the home we desired through our family dynamics, creativity and just the pure joy of home ownership. 

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