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Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

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Time To Get Spooky Under The Friday The 13th Full Moon

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

If you are one of those people who expects spooky things to occur on Friday the 13th, you must be extra excited knowing that we'll also have a full moon that night, the first time that has happened since the year 2000. It's the perfect day, then, for ROW DTLA (the massive complex in the heart of Downtown that combines artist spaces, event venues, offices, shopping and dining) to host Haus of Creep. The event is being billed as a multi-sensory art exhibit that immerses guests in a bizarre and shocking world where reality and performance art blur together. If you do an early version of the event you can walk down the street afterwards and see the 1980 classic slasher flick, "Friday the 13th" at the LEVEL complex. 

It's expected to be a warm, clear night Friday so you'll probably want to be outside at some point to view the Harvest Moon. We housesellers think a good bet would be heading to the Hollywood Bowl to see legendary funk, soul and R&B band Earth, Wind & Fire and the huge fireworks display that will follow. September is always a great month to see a show at the Bowl and you can be sure the band will play "September", one of their biggest hits, as they join up with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. If you are a fan of southern rock, the LA County Fair in Pomona hosts a concert with 38 Special, the Marshall Tucker band and the Outlaws—music pretty much made to listen to under a Harvest Moon. Venice Beach, of all places, is celebrating the Harvest Moon with a free pop-up event sponsored by Bare Snacks happening this Friday through Sunday that brings the kind of Fall we don't have here in Los Angeles, and it will include apple picking, playing in leaf piles, Autumn arts & crafts and more.

If you are someone who suffers from paraskevidekatriaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th), National Geographic reports that experts say people may actually be safer on this infamous day, despite long-held beliefs of gloom and doom. People often avoid dangerous activities on Friday the 13th, or take extra care to make sure they are well prepared for problems, and these superstitions are attempts to understand and even control fate in an uncertain world. BTW, the trepidation surrounding Friday the 13th is rooted in religious beliefs surrounding the 13th guest at the Last Supper—Judas, the apostle said to have betrayed Jesus—and the crucifixion of Jesus on a Friday, which was known as hangman's day and was already a source of anxiety.

 

 

 

Read This Before Your Next Home Remodel!

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

We housesellers have been in the real estate business for a long time now and have heard many horror stories from clients who had the remodel of their home turn into a disaster. It has been awhile since we tackled this topic so we thought we would draw attention to some of the biggest mistakes folks make when remodeling their homes. We'll start with the big myth that a lot of home owners who are expecting to sell seem to believe...and that is that custom features and fixtures always increase a home's value. You may think a tricked-out home entertainment center or a basement gym is a selling point, but not everyone will agree with you. Having too many niche features limits your ability to recoup your remodeling costs because each buyer will have a different taste. In Los Angeles, especially, buyers are looking for more free square footage than a home cluttered with built-ins or add-ons.

The next point we want to stress is DO NOT have an unlicensed contractor do work on your home. It may be tempting to have the neighborhood handyman or your buddy from work or a handy relative help you replace your roof, but future costs could far exceed the money you'll save if they are not a licensed contractor. Most home improvement projects require permits and an unlicensed contractor cannot legally pull them so you may deal with fines, or even worse, damage to your property resulting from shoddy work. Projects that usually require permits are things like demolishing a section of your house, changing electrical wiring or plumbing, converting a garage to livable space, and even replacing your water heater. And, for the DIY folks...yes, you can save thousands of dollars installing a furnace yourself but this could cost you a lot of money in the future when the city makes you reinstall it because you didn't do the work to code.

It is important to be aware that things need to occur in a certain order when remodeling. For example, you don't want to refinish or install new flooring, then start painting (a crew of painters and gear can easily damage brand new floor coverings, so flooring should almost always be done last in a renovation project). A fancy new kitchen may be more exciting than fixing a leaky roof or old electrical wiring in a home, but not doing those things first will only lead to higher expenses in the long run. Once you have established the order of things, don't forget the commonly overlooked part of a remodel: the cleanup. Will your project require a dumpster? What about a truck to haul away debris? Think through your project from start to finish to ensure you've accounted for all the necessary steps in the process.

The 1970s Houseplant Craze And How Millennials Have Now Embraced It

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

Social media first took notice of the boom in houseplant demand a few years ago when sites like Pinterest and Instagram exploded with user pics of their favorite ferns, philodendrons and fiddle-leaf figs. Turns out, Millennials have been the drivers of this plant party, and in the past three years U.S. sales have surged almost 50% to $1.7 billion, according to the National Gardening Association. With worries about climate change, shrinking rain forests and decimated green zones across the globe, many are connecting with what they worry could be a thing of the past in their future. And, with many Millennials delaying parenthood, Bloomberg News declares that "plants have become the new pets", fulfilling a desire to connect to nature and the blossoming “wellness” movement. 

While Millennials get credit for the modern houseplant craze, it was the Baby Boomers who planted the post-WWII seeds in the 1970s. That decade, which began with the world’s first Earth Day in 1970, brought with it a groundswell of interest in all things green. Hippies snapped up spider plants and crafted macramé hangers for them, experts appeared on television talk shows to promote the practice of talking to plants to keep them healthy and vibrant, and local plant shops were as ubiquitous as Starbucks are today. Adding to the houseplant craze was that certain housing styles of the day such as open-plan spaces, lots of glass, wood paneling, geometric accents, and earth tones (all part of recent design trends) made ideal counterparts to the inviting, warm & organic feel of the vast variety of fauna available. This was also an era where people were really getting into nature, so it made sense that people wanted to bring plants into their homes.

To that end, we housesellers are delighted to see that the Getty is having an event Saturday called Ever Present: Mother Earth’s Plantasia that will celebrate California plant culture with a special program inspired by 1970s Los Angeles and how Angelenos then (as now) really took advantage of the vast array of plant life we get to enjoy here. The free event will be held at the Getty's Central Garden that overlooks LA and will double as a counterculture party to celebrate the experimental compositions of Mother Earth’s Plantasia, a 1976 album of early synth songs thought to help plants grow. The day will be filled with music, workshops, and presentations that explore the influence of plants on art and society in Los Angeles over the last five decades. 

 

Computer Game Overload Is Causing Angelenos To Seek Out Old School Community Board Games

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

We housesellers loved reading the recent story in Los Angeles Magazine titled "As People Search for Something Tactile, Board Games Are Booming in LA". When we did some further digging, it looks like the trend has been slowly building for a few years all over the country, partially as a response to the massive popularity of online gaming (especially combat-style games) that involves multiple people interacting in real time from the privacy of their homes but no real human-to-human connection. In these overwhelming times, “tabletop” games offer folks a chance to put down their devices for awhile and interact with friends, both old and new, while giving their brains an nice workout. As we head into the final stages of 2019, people of all ages (fueled by a constant stream of Kickstarter projects and looking for personal connections), have been the drivers of board games sweeping the city of LA. 

In Los Angeles you’ll find you have plenty of choices for places to go to play some board games with a drink in hand, whether it's a cold brew, cocktail or coffee. It doesn't matter if it is Scrabble in Inglewood, dominoes, backgammon and Connect Four at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, Battleship, Sorry, Trouble, checkers and chess in Burbank or Monopoly and Cards Against Humanity in the DTLA Arts District, the trend seems to be exploding right now all over the Los Angeles area. Even though video games still bring in more money overall, tabletop games attract six times as much funding as any other category on Kickstarter, with 1/5th of all funds raised on the immensely popular platform coming from that category. Sales of tabletop games are expected to top $12 billion globally by 2023, with the largest share in the United States. 

Of course, the popularity is not just fueled by people throwing down their Risk boards in a hotel lobby. Entrepreneurial types have been inventing and introducing wildly popular games that offer more and more diverse characters, richer settings and outcomes that ratchet up player engagement and investment. As LA Mag explains, "Cooperative games (“co-ops”) let players work together to solve a crime or fight the zombie apocalypse, and “Euro-style” games force players to make efficient use of resources to produce the best wines or build the largest city". One of the more positive things we gained from the article is that for many, there is a focused effort to avoid spending so much time online among this new resurgence of game players. For them, there’s a very warm and real satisfaction from interacting with actual components such as drawing tiles, shuffling cards, tossing dice, taking cubes and tokens. And a main draw seems to be the satisfaction of learning something new and spending time with others who share a common interest.

Yes, Mosquitoes Are Becoming A Bigger And Bigger Problem In LA

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

If you have ever been to certain parts of the country like Texas, Florida, the Upper Midwest or the East Coast, you know how lucky we are in Los Angeles to not have the problems with bothersome and annoying insects that bite you that many regions in America have...especially in the warmest months. That said, complaints about mosquitoes are on the rise in Southern California and, according to multiple local news stations, health officials say this year’s mosquito activity is worse than usual. Last Winter’s record rainfall is one big reason for the influx, but there are other factors, including new breeds joining the native mosquito known for carrying West Nile Virus.

We housesellers want to be clear that there is no major health crisis regarding mosquitoes (or other insects) happening but, depending on where you live in Los Angeles, complaints to health officials about mosquitoes are on the rise in Southern California. In fact, LA and Orange counties have some of the most concentrated populations of mosquitoes in all of California. Of particular concern in LA is the Aedes mosquito, which is a more aggressive type whose population began to increase in SoCal about four years ago when officials believe it arrived on a container ship from Asia. It's the Aedes mosquito that spreads diseases like Zika, dengue, and yellow fever, and these buzzing nuisances are different from the native mosquitoes (that bite mostly for a few hours in the evening) in that they bite from early morning and throughout the day. 

These are some pretty common, but important, steps to take to avoid being bothered by the increase in mosquito behavior in SoCal:

  • Eliminate standing water in clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, discarded tires, buckets, watering troughs or anything that holds water for more than a week

  • Ensure that swimming pools, spas, and ponds are properly maintained

  • Change the water in pet dishes, birdbaths and other small containers often

  • Place Mosquitofish in ornamental ponds as they are especially fond of mosquito larvae

  • Wear EPA-recommended insect repellent when outdoors where mosquitoes may be present

  • Make sure you don't have any containers filled with water just sitting around in your house

World's Biggest Wildlife Bridge To Be Built In Los Angeles

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

One of the things that sets Los Angeles apart from other major metropolitan areas in America is that we generally tend to encounter and interact with much more wildlife than they do. And while we humans all know the traffic nightmare we often have to deal with here, that same traffic is also displacing and/or killing many of our precious animals. Mountain lions are a prime example of that, and the National Park Service reports that since 2002, they have studied over 60 mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains area and have found one main issue: their homes have been cut off and the only thing that can save these big cats is their ability to move between regions. Busy Freeways and urban development throughout Los Angeles has halted that ability, leading to a threat of extinction (plus, these roads have have also killed 17 lions since the study began). 

Now, California transportation officials and environmentalists are planning to construct the largest animal crossing on earth to save mountain lions and other threatened species from extinction. The project is a 200 foot high bridge over ten lanes of the 101 Highway about 35 miles from Downtown LA in the Liberty Canyon area of Augora Hills that is designed to help animals trapped in the Santa Monica Mountains access feeding and breeding areas across the bustling expanse. It is estimated to cost $87 million, most of which will be private funds, and environmentalists have already raised $13.5 million from roughly 2,000 donors (including $300,000 from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, a couple from Kansas who donated $300,000, a $5 million grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board that is likely to be passed next year, and a million dollars from the Coastal Conservancy).

Southern California’s celebrity mountain lion, a male known as P-22, is the poster child for the project. We housesellers should point out that because he lives in Griffith Park many miles from the crossing, he likely won’t end up using it...but many of his relatives are poised to benefit from the bridge. Famous for traveling across two freeways and making the huge park his home, P-22 lives a solitary life and has become a symbol of the shrinking genetic diversity of wild animals trapped by growing developments and is, himself, at risk of becoming roadkill. Hoping to fend off the extinction of mountain lions like P-22 and other species that require room to roam, the bridge will give big cats, coyotes, deer, lizards, snakes and other creatures a safe route to open space and better access to food and potential mates. It’s on track for groundbreaking within two years and completion by 2023, according to the California Department of Transportation, and construction will take place mostly at night and not require any lengthy shutdowns of the 101 Freeway, officials said.

 

Culver City's Fiesta La Ballona Extravaganza Is This Weekend!

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

This weekend will mark Culver City's biggest community event as the town presents a full weekend of family-friendly fun at Veterans Park with the annual Fiesta La Ballona. Featuring carnival rides and games, a petting zoo, pony rides, a beer-and-wine garden, more than two dozen outdoor concert performances and an aquacade at the Culver City Municipal Plunge, this year marks the 69th anniversary of the Fiesta. It kicks off at 4:30 pm Friday with a performance by “yacht rock” band Harbor Party (who describe themselves as a “ragtag group of sailors, pirates and tourists in paradise”, and the Culver City High School Marching Band and the a cappella group The Santa Monica Oceanaires are also among the evening’s concert bill. Some of the other entertainment throughout the weekend includes Lady Zep, a Led Zeppelin tribute band, Irish rock-folk band Paddy’s Pig, and the Kingston Ska Collective, a seven-piece Jamaican ska band.

As you stroll the festival grounds, you'll notice more than 100 vendor booths featuring community groups, artisan wares and an interactive sustainability information booth. This FREE multi-cultural event will be offering up cuisine from many different regions and locales at the more than 30 food booths and trucks such as Brazilian pastries, Indonesian satay, lobster rolls, Thai-Mex burritos, grilled Jerk Veggies and French crepes. In past years they have had kittens up for adoption, hula hooping areas, photo booths where you can dress up in various costumes, and plenty of freebies such as grocery totes, energy drinks, pins and even bags of compost to encourage home gardening. If you want to ride the carnival rides, $30 gets you an all day wristband pass.

We housesellers are especially intrigued by the history of the festival since the Fiesta La Ballona Days began in 1951 as a week-long celebration of the Early Settlers, with events geared for all segments of the community. People came dressed as Cowboys and Cowgirls, Native Americans, Western Prospectors, and in historic Spanish costumes because the early fiestas served to evoke pride in family heritage for some, and an opportunity to feel like an early settler for others. Floats, marching bands, scout troops, and mounted horsemen in festive costumes moved down the boulevards to lively music, while the descendants of the old families were privileged to ride in the parade in horse-drawn buggies identified with their ancestral names. Fiesta La Ballona has evolved over the years, but the spirit of cultural appreciation is still central to the modern-day event.

 

 

 

The Real Truth Behind Many Real Estate Reality TV Shows

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

Over the last decade or so, the popularity of real estate-related reality shows such as House Hunters, Property Brothers and Million Dollar Listing has exploded. But, like all reality television, shows centered around real estate often stretch the truth and we housesellers thought we would dispel some of the myths. We'll start with one of the most common ones: the homes buyers are touring are actually for sale. The truth is, everything is staged for TV and many of the homes shown are already sold and off the market. And if you are watching a show like Fixer Upper, keep in mind that contracts have already been in place when producers approach homeowners to be on the show so those looks of panic and surprise as the list of needed repairs grows are purely theatrical.

Home buyers on reality TV shows always seem get the house they put an offer on (especially shows set in Southern California). You can probably guess that that is not reality at all! On the other hand, if buyers are shown as not being close to making a decision this is usually untrue, as well. Since there is no way to show the entire buying process in a 30-minute show, TV producers often choose buyers who are further along in the process and have already chosen a home to buy. Another myth these shows promote is that buyers only look at three homes before deciding to purchase one of them, which may happen in some cases. However, that is not the norm and, according to the National Association of Realtors, the average home buyer tours ten homes as a part of their search.

In the world of reality TV, if you list your home for sale, it will ALWAYS sell at the open house.
Wouldn't that be great! The truth is open houses are important to guarantee the most exposure to buyers in your area, but they are only one piece of the overall marketing of your home and many homes are sold during regular showing appointments. Homeowners also don't decide to sell their homes after a 5-minute conversation and similar to the buyers portrayed on the shows, many of the sellers have already spent hours deliberating the decision to list their homes and move on with their lives and goals. While we would love things to work out for our clients the way they do on television, unfortunately that isn’t always the case and having an experienced team like ours while navigating the real estate market is the best way to guarantee that you can make the home of your dreams a reality.

Update On Los Angeles's First Billion Dollar Listing

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

A year ago we housesellers wrote about the notorious Beverly Hills property know as "The Mountain" after it was put on the market for $1 billion. At the time, we detailed some of the infamous 40+ year history behind the 157 acre parcel of land with 360 degree views from the Pacific to Downtown LA that sits on the top of a hill in the coveted 90210 zip code. Well, since its listing last summer, the property has continued to add more drama to its story and, though the vacant parcel also known as "The Vineyard" has seen its price dropped to a mere $650 million, it goes on the auction block tomorrow (Thursday) “behind the fountain” at Civic Center Plaza in Pomona, with bidders instructed to pay by cash or check.

The property has drawn interest from a number of Hollywood celebrities and business titans over the years, with even Amazon guru Jeff Bezos having visited the property multiple times over the past few months (but ultimately deciding that it was overpriced). No doubt, many are intrigued by the history, as much as the astounding views and massive size of the property (the whole shebang is actually a patchwork of 17 lots with six residential tracts that afford the possibility of constructing up to six houses of 50,000 square feet each, for a total of 300,000 square feet). Shams Pahlavi, the late sister of Iran’s last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, owned the property in the late 1970s, then TV mogul Merv Griffin bought the property in 1987. He sold it in 1997 to Mark Hughes, the wild billionaire founder of Herbalife, who planned to build a sprawling Mediterranean mansion on the site but then he died in 2000 at the age of 44 at his Malibu estate from a lethal combination of alcohol and medication.

If a buyer doesn’t shell out at least $200 million, it will likely become the lender’s property and that lender is the estate of Mark Hughes, who loaned roughly $190 million to fund the Mountain’s sale in 2004 (the estate sold the Mountain to Atlanta investor Charles “Chip” Dickens for $23.75 million in a seller-financed deal, making the Hughes trust the key lender on the deal). Mark's son, Alex, who is in his late 20s, is slated to inherit the entirety of his father’s estate when he turns 35 after a trust was established to manage the, at the time, $400 million dollar estate (including the Mountain). So, the saga continues in this real life "Dallas/Dynasty" 1980s-type soap opera.

 

The Heart Of Hollywood Will Be Ruled By Non-motorized Vehicles Next Weekend

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

CicLAvia, the non-profit organization that "catalyzes vibrant public spaces, active transportation and good health through car-free streets" will take over some of LA’s most iconic streets later this month, with a 6.5-mile route stretching from West Hollywood to East Hollywood. Inspired by Bogotá, Columbia's weekly ciclovía, CicLAvia temporarily closes streets to car traffic and opens them to Los Angelenos to use as a public park. Free for all, CicLAvia connects communities to each other across an expansive city, creating a safe place to bike, walk, skate, roll, and dance through Los Angeles and aims to engage with people to transform our relationship with our communities and with each other. We housesellers have written about their many events in the past, but this one, occurring from 9 am to 4 pm next Sunday, August 18, is one of their most ambitious outings yet.

Dubbed, "Meet the Hollywoods", long stretches of Santa Monica Boulevard, Highland Avenue, and Hollywood Boulevard will be closed to cars, and the East Hollywood, Little Armenia and Thai Town neighborhoods will be included in a CicLAvia’s event for the first time since the organization started in 2010. What makes this event, presented by the LA Metro, so special is that from the Hollywood Walk of Fame to West Hollywood's rainbow crosswalk, you will literally get to see some of LA's most iconic streets without cars or motor vehicles. Another great aspect of the event is that bikes, scooters, and other devices will be available for rent all along the route, and many businesses will be offering special deals to passersby on the day of the event.

Hubs where participants can eat, drink, and participate in activities will be located at the western starting point, as well as Plummer Park, Hollywood and Highland, Hollywood and Van Ness Avenue, and Barnsdall Park. Keep in mind that if you’re planning on driving to the event—or just passing through the area—street closures will begin at 7 am and will be in effect until 6 pm. Also, Santa Monica will be closed off between San Vicente and Highland, Highland will be closed from Santa Monica to Hollywood and Hollywood will be closed from Orange Drive to Vermont. So...to avoid issues, taking public transit might be your best bet. Thankfully, the route has easy access to four different subway stops on the Metro Red Line (Sunset/Vermont, Hollywood/Western, Hollywood/Vine, and Hollywood/Highland).

 

 

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