HONEST SERVICE – WHAT A SENIOR, ORIGINAL BURBANK OWNER/SELLER DESERVES!

One aspect of my 32-year career selling real estate here in Burbank has been a focus on representing “Senior” clients. Perhaps because I’m among the senior ranks now myself, but I’ve always enjoyed working with “Senior Sellers” especially! I find their long term homeownership stories fascinating, especially those who are original owners – who recount what Burbank was like back when they bought or built their homes; the cost(s), relative to today; tales of raising their families; Burbank people, places and things that have come and gone; etc. I’m honored to say I’ve represented 7 original Senior Sellers over my career! But the aspect I value most in representing these folks is the TRUST they and their families place in me when it’s time to finally leave their memory-filled homes and move on to a new space and next chapter in their lives. It’s a very emotional and difficult time for many of them, and as a certified Senior Real Estate Specialist, I have received training and have resources available to help make the transition just a bit easier! A recent case study – my sale of the home of Don & Joan Nissen.

I had met Joan previously, but when she called this time, it was to tell me that after 64 years in her beloved home at 217 S. Reese Place, Burbank, a home she and her husband Don built back in 1955, it was now finally time to leave the home and “downsize.” However, during my first meeting with the Nissens it became very apparent that they had no idea where their next home was going to be! Whether to rent or buy; what were smaller one bedrooms rentals going for and what was available; should they stay in Burbank (their preference) or move closer to their grown children; etc. And given the fact that both were in their 90s and had been coping with a years earlier dementia diagnosis for Don, whether an assisted living facility made sense and could they afford the expensive care costs. One reason they called me was the fact that I’ve represented upwards of 50 homes in their “Rancho Adjacent” neighborhood and that their beautiful home would no doubt add to that count! However, given the circumstances, I suggested we slow things down a bit and bring their three children into the discussion and figure out a “next step” FIRST!

My approach was quite different from another Realtor who had heard they were considering selling and paid them an uninvited visit. His approach: Priority one, since Joan had mentioned that she had spoken to me,  was to get a signature on a listing contract ASAP at a price “to be determined;” charge a higher commission rate than the going market rate; didn’t investigate or know whether Don had the ability to sign or ultimately legally convey title per the terms of their Living Trust; had little or no discussion about preparing the home for sale; and whether, given Don’s condition,  it made sense to move first before putting the home on the market. To these and other issues, his attitude was basically, “we’ll figure it out as we go, but hurry and sign here”  Simply put, to treat two ninety year-olds, one incapacitated, who hadn’t bought or ever sold a home in 64 years, in such a terrible and unprofessional manner, was OUTRAGEOUS! Fortunately, the oldest son, Greg Nissen, whom I had already spoken to, and the rest of the family were not on board with the other agent’s approach and happily signed with me! I enlisted the help of a Senior organizing/packing/moving vendor I use, who along with myself and the family, cleared and prepped the house for sale and arranged the moving process to get Joan & Don into their new Burbank apartment home! BTW, the Nissen’s home generated 11 offers and sold for $71,000 over the list price in just over a week, allowing them to be settled in their new home just in time for Thanksgiving!

If you or someone you know are a “Senior Seller” and want to be treated professionally and with the respect that you deserve, PLEASE CALL ME!

BUYING A CONDO? YOU’RE BUYING THE HOA TOO!

In this post, I want to share a “cautionary tale” and just a couple of the issues that should be top of mind when buying a condominium; specifically, the all important Homeowner’s Association (HOAs) that are such an important aspect of owning a condo. Recently I was working with my past and current client, Paul Stanwyck, in selling his Burbank townhome that I sold to him way back in 1991. We prepped the unit for sale, and it turned out beautifully, resulting in a great offer that we recently closed. However, before we got started marketing the property, I had to do some homework to find a suitable lender willing to lend on the unit and complex, and that’s where the plot thickens…

The complex is a very simple, self-managed 8-unit building, with no amenities (i.e. pool, tennis courts, fitness center, etc.) and consequently a very low HOA fee of only $200. A situation like this can be great and very cost effective if all owners are willing to do their fair share in assuming roles in governing the HOA and being proactive in terms of “keeping the books,”  maintenance, insurance, legal, financial and other issues which all go into running a viable HOA. In our case, the challenge was back when the building was built in 1980, an engineer that worked on constructing the building, I guess liked his work so much that he and his wife bought 3 units for themselves and held them all these years as investment rentals. Well, most conventional lenders have a threshold as to how many units can be owned by one entity/party and have a maximum allowable number of rentals vs. owner occupied units in any given building. In our case, three units were one too many! The engineer husband had died several years ago and his elderly wife was still content keeping the three units as rentals. Fortunately, before we went on the market, I had found a lender that could do the loan as long as the Buyer had more that 20% down. Coincidentally, the Buyer, who put 70% down, was using the same lender… so it all worked out. But going forward, this current dynamic of one owner owning three units and the majority of the building being occupied by renters could prove to be problematic for the other owners that may want to eventually sell. The HOA should address this issue and perhaps change the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) to make the collective building more lendable, hence more valuable for everyone! This story is just one example of why if you own or are considering a condominium purchase, you must be involved with the governing HOA – it’s a HUGE part of what gives value and continued appreciation to a condo unit OR diminishes it!

 

 

BURBANK REAL ESTATE MARKET – MIDWAY, 2019

At the halfway point in 2019, it’s a good time to revisit Burbank real estate market inventory levels, price appreciation (both up and down) and how interest rates are playing a vital role in affecting both! First, let’s talk what’s available in Burbank: Currently, there are a whole 62 single family homes (SFRs) listed! The lease expensive, a 2BD, 1BA in 900 sq. ft. located on busy victory Blvd. going for $595,000. The most expensive, a 6BD, 5BA in 3,474 sq. ft. going for $1,650,000 (way over priced). More importantly, of those 62 homes listed, just under half (29) start at $1 million! Now let’s talk Burbank condos: Current active inventory is 33 units, with the least expensive being a 1BD, 1BA in a whole 760 sq. ft. listed at $400,000. Most expensive: a 3BD, 3BA unit with only 1,493 sq. ft. listed for $895,000 (again, in my opinion, way high). But like the SFR market, there’s very little “affordable” condo inventory, with more than half the inventory (20) priced above $600,000! Essentially, these very low inventory levels have persisted for the last five years; SFRs ranging from 60-90 homes and condo inventory fluctuating between 25-45 units for sale. Meager supplies spurring high demand competition and sale prices!

And to be clear, the only way Burbank real estate Buyers are able to afford a median home price of $885,000 and a condo median of $560,000 is by utilizing historic low interest rates! This point is clearly illustrated when you look at sales numbers and prices from earlier in the year when rates were at or below 4%. We hit a median high SFR price of $965,000 and $597,000 for condos, then when rates rose, the Buyer pool shrunk, market times increased and the median numbers came down. Same pattern with rates recently going down again – more Buyers could squeeze into qualifying and competition and prices have again risen. Currently, the Federal Reserve Bank is in quite a dilemma: Do the remain independent, data-driven and refrain from or consider raising rates in an effort to keep inflation at bay and maintain a strong yet slowing economy? Or do they bow to pressure from Wall Street and a president that wants rate cuts to keep an historic prolonged “Bull Market” going entering an election year? Time will tell. But suffice it to say, given these historic high prices, seemingly small swings in interest rates can have a big impact on how high prices remain here in Burbank!

What are your thoughts? Please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss any of the aspects discussed above!

“LET’S DO THE NUMBERS!”

Even though I’ve been a Realtor for more than 32 years, it’s always been interesting to me how Buyers of real estate react when going through a loan pre-qualifying/pre-approval process and are informed what their monthly mortgage payments will be. Given where current real estate values are in Burbank, I thought it might be interesting for readers to get an idea what a hypothetical “monthly nut” would be based upon the current median price for a Burbank home. I’m sure like many of you, I remember when my family bought our first home, I thought the figure was astronomical and wondered “what are we getting ourselves into?” Of course, with the passage of time, growth in equity and perhaps a refinance or two later, that payment looked like a bargain and the myriad of benefits of owning real estate became every more apparent! However, play along with me here and take a look at what a lender colleague of mine came up with for me to illustrate what a Burbank homebuyer faces in today’s market:

Purchase Price: $870,000 (Burbank’s current median price)

Downpayment: (20% or $174,000) Loan Amount: $696,000

Interest rate: 4.25% 30-year Fixed rate

Monthly Payment: $3,424 (Principal & Interest only)

Property Taxes: $906 (per month; $10,972 annually)

Homeowners’ Insurance: $90 (per month; $1,080 annually’ no Earthquake coverage)

TOTAL MONTHLY HOUSING EXPENSE: $4,420

Annual Household Income Needed to Qualify: Approximately $138,000 (incl. approx. $500                                                                                                                                                         other monthly debt)

Not exactly easy numbers for a young couple/first-time Buyer to buy into the “American Dream!” That said, obviously property is selling, with still not enough inventory to meet current demand. My advice for young, aspiring homeowners: start saving/investing early and aggressively AND be extra nice to your parents, who, if your lucky, may pass some of their hard-earned equity on to you to aid in your purchase!

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAN’T AFFORD BURBANK? TRY NO HO OR SUN VALLEY!

Probably like you, I LOVE BURBANK! And I’ve loved selling real estate here for more than 32 years! But during my career, given the prices  Burbank real estate can command, especially in up or frenzied market cycles, Burbank can be extremely challenging for first time Buyers to crack! I was reminded of this again as I am about to list the home of past clients, Andy & Ellen Smith, who reside in North Hollywood. You see, back in 2010, even though we were still in the aftermath of the financial crash and Great Recession of 2008, the Smith’s still could not afford to buy in Burbank. A single family home was out of the question, and condos, while more affordable, were still just out of their reach. So…. as with several other first-timers I’ve worked with over the years, I suggested broadening their search to “better parts” of the Burbank adjacent areas of North Hollywood and Sun Valley.

Now compared to Burbank, you might be thinking, “Dan, there aren’t any better parts of No Hollywood  or Sun Valley!” Oh, contraire! Regarding No Ho, generally speaking, as long as you stay South or just North of Victory Blvd., you can find some decent product on nice tree-lined streets in safe neighborhoods! In Sun Valley, again, as long as you stay further South, and in the hillside area of Sun Valley (above Glenoaks Blvd.), which includes “Glencrest Hills,” you’ll find your RE dollar goes further when compared to Burbank! For example, right now in Burbank, there are only five listings priced under $700,000, with the least expensive going for $585,000! Compare that to North Hollywood, where there are 24 listings in the $600s or less, with the least expensive priced at $529k! Similar story in Sun Valley – 14 homes in the $600s or less, with the low starting at $495k!

Now don’t get me wrong, the Smith’s would have preferred to have bought in Burbank and enjoyed greater and faster property appreciation,  along with all of the civic amenities a independent city like Burbank can offer. But, approximately 9 years later, their North Hollywood on Cleon Ave., just above Victory Blvd., that they bought for $360,000, will be coming on the market for $600,000! Rather than continuing to pay rent, they bought and started to build wealth utilizing real estate! Do you know anyone who I can help to the same? If so, please contact me!

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE BURBANK MARKET IN 2019!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! And if you’re a Burbank homeowner, the real estate market continued to treat you well in 2018! How well? I pulled up lat year’s “Market Update” to you and here’s how the beginning of the last year compares to the beginning of 2019: Last year begain with the median Burbank single family home value being $778,000! Today, that value has continued to rise to $865,000! Same scenario with condominiums – last year, $516,000, this year we begin 2019 with a median value of $597,000!

In terms of inventory, that’s where the story is changing a bit from last year. We began 2018 with the lowest number of actively listed properties I’ve ever seen as a 32-year Burbank Realtor: 2018 begain with a mere 25 SFRs and only 9 condos offered for sale! We start this year with 63 SFRs and 21 condos listed. The reason behind the increase include rising interest rates – 30 year fixed rate loans have finally cracked 5%. And because of rising rates and the price points where we’re at, the Buyer pool has shrunk, consequently longer market times and larger inventories (still very low by historic standards!) Also, all of the year-end gyrations in the stock market and press coverage of a “slowing real estate market” in general, has pushed some would-be Buyers to the “wait & see” sidelines. Will prices start to finally decline in 2019? NO, at least not in my opinion! Burbank still remains a very sought-after market! However, the number of people who can afford our market is getting smaller and as a result I think our rate of appreciation will slow to a more modest 2-3%. What are your thoughts?

You can reach me through this site or please feel free to call me at (818) 437-0859

 

 

BURBANK REAL ESTATE MARKET SNAPSHOT (as of 9/1/18)

I haven’t talked about real estate inventory levels here in Burbank for several months. In fact, not since the beginning of the year, when I reported we began 2018 with astoundingly low 25 single family homes and a mere 9 condominiums on the market! This year also began with the median price for a SFR going for $778,000 and a smaller eye-popping median price for condos of $516,000!

Fast forward to the end of August, and we find a substantial increase in inventory (but still way low by historic Burbank market standards): Currently, there are 84 SFRs listed for sale, ranging in price from a low of $535,000, which gets you a 1BD, 1BA in a whole 779 sq. ft. located on Buena Vista; to a high of a “very optimistic” $3,000,000, for a 4BD, 4BA with just under 5,000 sq. ft. located on the “Hill” in the Burbank Estates (not Hallston development). Your condo buying dollar gets you a 1BD, 1BA unit in 690 sq. ft. for $434,000; to a top list price of $750,000 for a 3BD, 3BA unit in 1,583 sq. ft. As you might imagine, beginning the year with such a meager inventory supply, the law of supply and demand stoked even more multiple offers and further price appreciation. You can see this continued climb in values reflected in the current median prices: $856,000 for SFRs and $570,000 for condos! One other aspect of the current single family inventory: More than 35% of those 84 homes listed for sale are priced OVER $1 MILLION! However, given those prices and the fact that interest rates are sloooowly rising, I expect the Burbank inventory to build even further. As a lifelong resident of Burbank and a 31-year real estate professional who has seen all kinds of markets, these prices are amazing! All the more reason, if you haven’t had a thorough evaluation of the value of your real estate holdings in more than 5 years, please call me – KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

REAL ESTATE MARKET EXPERIENCE (All Kinds) – PRICELESS!

In my last blog entry I wrote about the historic low levels of inventory we are currently experiencing here in the Burbank market. We began the year with a very meager 25 single family homes and 9 condominiums on the market. As of the first of March, those levels have increased to a mere 37 SFRs and 15 condos – not exactly a robust increase!

Because of these very low inventory levels, when “quality product” does come on the market, a “multiple offer feeding frenzy” quickly ensues. I experienced this recently on a listing I just closed. The property was in the very desirable “Rancho Adjacent” area of Burbank and is truly an impressive updated property, especially the front and rear yards. I always advise a Seller who is selling a property like this, in spite of instant attention and Buyer interest in writing offers immediately, to expose the property to this frenzied market for at least a week, hoping to develop multiple interest/offers which usually results in a higher sale price and more money in the Sellers’ pocket. In the case of my listing, that is exactly what happened! We ended up with four offers, with the winner containing very strong terms and a final sale price $60,000 over the list price! There are a myriad of other things that go into exploiting this kind of short inventory market. If you’re considering selling your home, let me put my 31 years of “all kinds of markets” experience to work for you!

2018 BURBANK REAL ESTATE MARKET – HOW WE START!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  And if you’re a Burbank homeowner, you should be happy, as 2017 concluded with the median Burbank single family home value rising to an incredible $778,000! Likewise, if you own a condo in Burbank, as that median value rose nicely as well, ending the year at $516,000!

From a Sellers’ standpoint, the  “good news” should continue in 2018, largely due to a continuing basic “supply and demand” dynamic. In my 31 years selling real estate here in Burbank, I have NEVER seen inventory levels so low! As of the first day of 2018, there are a whole 25 SFRs currently on the market. Yes, that’s right, a mere 25! Even less condominiums – 9 (4 if you take out 5 very overpriced listings in a newly constructed building). Obviously, those numbers will grow as we enter the Spring/Summer selling season. But I don’t think we’ll be back up to levels that we’ve averaged for approximately the last 3 years, when inventory hovered between 75-90 SFRs and 25-40 condos (and even those ranges don’t represent a “normal” amount of inventory). Hence, competition among too many qualified Buyers chasing too few properties will keep values increasing, but in my opinion, more moderately given expected rising interest rates. Suffice it to say, not the best market for Buyers, especially young, first-timers. Of the current 25 homes listed for sale, a measly four are priced below $700,000 (and frankly, those homes, in my opinion, are garbage!) The least expensive condo/townhome is listed at $395,000 (on the market for 110+days), then a “fixer” offered at $445,000 and an overpriced unit going for $539,000 – that’s it! The remaining inventory is $700,000 and above!

Whether you’re considering buying or selling , please give me a call me to discuss this unprecedented Burbank real estate market and how you can cash in!  OR become a real estate owner who benefits from the Burbank community and its strong and seemingly ever-rising home values!

“ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS” (ADUs) COMING TO BURBANK! (Part II)

Back in June of this year, I wrote here about new state laws, which took effect January 1st, which are intended to increase the supply of “affordable housing” throughout the state, including the city of Burbank. Known as “Accessory Dwelling Units” or ADUs, these secondary structures can be built in R-1 neighborhoods (except for R-1H areas, known as the “Rancho” here in Burbank) and are defined as follows:

“An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is an attached or a detached residential dwelling unit which provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons separate from the main house. An ADU includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation and may be rented. A property with an ADU may not be subdivided and may not be sold as separate property and the property must be owner occupied” (occupying either the ADU or the primary residence, which will be verified by an annual inspection process conducted by the City of Burbank).

Along with the owner occupancy requirement, working under the auspices of an Interim Development Control Ordinance, or IDCO, the city is also attempting to refine the state laws to make them more compatible with and protect our beloved Burbank R-1 neighborhoods, while still providing much needed affordable housing stock. To that end, the Burbank City Council has already decided to limit the size of an ADU to only 500 sq. ft., thereby effectively reducing the number of potential occupants and increased parking demand in neighborhoods, along with somewhat capping potential rental rates by virtue of the ADU size. Also, the city has stipulated that ADUs cannot be rented for less than 30 days, so as to prevent the proliferation of Airbnb uses.

I’m only scratching the surface of the many aspects pertaining to this very important issue. Please feel free to call me or visit the City of Burbank website, burbankca.gov and search “accessory units” for more information.