Altadena Real Estate – A Look at the Numbers

The real estate market in Altadena, CA is red hot. Homes for sale in Altadena command high prices and never stay on the market very long. Why? Both realtors and residents will answer that by stating: Altadena is a very special place to live, work and relax.

Altadena is charming community located directly north of Pasadena at the base of the Angeles National Forest San Gabriel Mountains. Altadena is an unincorporated and 14 miles northeast from Downtown Los Angeles. This warm, Mediterranean climate has hot and dry summers that average highs of 91 degrees. The winters are essentially warm and windy with the lowest average temperature of 44 degrees. Altadena averages 21 inches of rainfall annually.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census – Altadena had a population of 42,777 people. With 8.71 square miles to share there were 4,909.6 people per square mile. This is average for Los Angeles County. The population was more diverse compared to other areas of the county with the dominate ethnicity being White at 52.8%, followed by 26.9% Latino, 23.7% Black, 5.4% Asian and 0.7% American Indian.

The population of Altadena is well educated in comparison to the rest of the county with 45.6% of residents aged 25 and up with a four year degree and 87.9% with a high school diploma. In regards to the male population: 57.8% were married, 32.9% had never been married, 7.1% had been divorced and 2.1% were widowed. The female population had53.9% who were married, 24.4% had never been married, 12.4% were divorced and 9.4% were widowed. The average age of Altadena was 37, which is an older average age compared to the rest of Los Angeles County. 9.8% of the people in population were veterans and 20.8% of residents were born in a foreign country. The average commute to work was 27.5 minutes. Altadena has a Walk Score of 48 out of 100 meaning that it is a car dependent city.

The average household size was 2.8 people, which was 9% higher than the national average. Approximately 74.6% of residents owned their homes. This was 10% higher than the national average. 25.4% of the population rented from a house, apartment or condominium. The 2010 Census declared there being 15,518 households with a median household income of $83,917. This is high compared to Los Angeles County.

Altadena real estate isn’t cheap, however. The median price of homes for sale in Altadena is $780,000. This is 226% higher than the national average. However, the average home value is $731,400. The price per square foot is $485. The current housing market “temperature” is neutral. Last year the home values increased by 8.1% and Zillow predicts they will rise only 1.9% within the next year. The average monthly rent is $2,921. This is 53% higher than the national average. The current housing market health is 6.9/10. This is healthy score given by Zillow in comparison to other housing markets across the country.

According to Area Vibes, Altadena has a livability score of 77 – extremely livable. This is higher than the national average of 70. This comfortable, safe community will continue to flourish and grow and produce beautiful homes by its affluent residents. If looking to buy or sell real estate in Altadena, make certain you perform your due diligence and find an experienced realtor who specializes in the area.

Strategies for Improved Efficacy of Construction Project Management Software

The ever-changing digital technology is gradually making life on earth easier and less hassle-free. Benefits of digitization encompass the construction industry as well. These days, a range of efficient construction project management software is readily available to make things easier for those, who are involved with the industry.

The assortment of software applications comes with many innovative features that help managing:

 All communication with your subcontractors and crew

  • Every electronic correspondence
  • Project schedules
  • Budget estimation
  • Timesheets
  • Site photos and much more

Extra spadework is required

However, if you’re planning to get such a helpful software tool to drive your projects to successful completion, here’s a word of caution! Just procuring construction project management software will not help you achieve your goal. After all, it’s not any magic wand that will do wonders. You need to do some extra spadework, like preparing a foolproof plan, regularly monitoring the work progress, facilitating personal interaction with both the stakeholders and team members. Moreover, it is important to take care of the cash flow to ensure your project(s) wind up on time. To put it in simple words, the more efficient you’re in handling your responsibilities in the construction industry, the more efficiency you can expect from the range of software tools.
The core competencies
Now, at this juncture you must be wondering if there’s any core competence of the modern software tools. As far as the building and construction industry is concerned, project management software applications help you in the following ways:

  • Accessing critical information right at your fingertips
  • Having everyone on the same plane, so that there’s no missed information or error
  • Alternative plans ready at hand to keep the workflow moving
  • Ensuring systematic progress of every project right from the word ‘go’
  • Facilitating communication with the peers, colleagues, stakeholders and team members even from remote locations

Considering all these benefits the range of software offers, it’s obvious that there’s hardly any necessity to rework on a module. Thus, project management software helps successful winding up of construction projects right within scheduled deadlines.

Just like any other commercial sphere, the construction industry too expects you to thread in the latest version of technology to achieve greater heights of success faster. However, you should have realistic expectations from technology to help your business grow bigger. Use the web to update your knowledge pool about the benefits these virtual resources offer. This will help you stay at-par with the best performers in the industry.

The 4 Benefits of Fix and Flip Loans

Buying a real estate property, repairing and selling it quickly tends to be a profitable recipe. However, a key component of this recipe to success is access to capital. If one does not have sufficient funds but is interested in rehabbing a property, a hard money lender who offers a fix and flip loans could be a great financing option. These loans are structured in such a way that allow a purchaser to quickly acquire the property and have access to a reserve of funds for construction and renovation costs.

Buying a real estate property, repairing and selling it quickly tends to be a profitable recipe.

Advantages of Fix and Flip Loans

There are many advantages to fix and flip loans and the demand for this source of funding is steadily increasing in the real estate investment industry.

Four key benefits include:

  • Quick Approval: Getting approved for a fix and flip loan is a far quicker process when compared against the traditional banking system. If the borrower has submitted the requested documents, a private lender can approve the loan within a couple of days whereas a traditional financial institution can take at least a month. In addition to the significant longer wait time for bank loan approvals, the borrower will be required to submit numerous documents and clear multiple conditions as part of the process.
  • Any Property: Properties in varying states of the condition can qualify for a fix and flip loans. Whether the property is bank owned, a short sale, a foreclosure, or in a dilapidated state, a borrower is still likely to find a hard money lender willing to fund the deal. Once again, a borrower may not have the option of funding these types of real estate opportunities with a bank. Banks are very risk averse and have strict rules in place as to what type of property they can accept as part of their loan portfolio.
  • Zero Prepayment Penalties: If you take out a loan from an established bank, you may be hit with penalties should you have the opportunity to pay the loan off before the maturation date. This is called a prepayment penalty. Most fix and flip lenders will not subject you to this fee.
  • Repairs Covered: When you buy a property with the intention to flip it, a significant portion of your budget will be spent on construction and renovation costs. A fix and flip lender will usually set up a loan reserve which will cover repair costs of the property in addition to interest. This can alleviate a lot of stress and pressure for builders and developers since they don’t have to worry about spending money out of pocket for repairs or payments.

Teaming up with a solid lender who understands your property, the local real estate market, and is willing to help you throughout the acquisition, construction and selling process is vital. When choosing a hard money lender, keep the following in mind:

  • The lender must have sufficient experience in the industry. A private lender that has deep roots in the real estate investment market will not only be able to offer you a better deal but will also have numerous contacts that will prove helpful along the way – from recommended settlement companies, to permit expediters and other preferred vendors. This can prove to be a great asset as speed, quality and efficiency is the name of the game in the fix and flip world. The less time you need to spend vetting companies and contractors is more money in your pocket.
  • Check the history of the lenders to ensure that they are genuine and have a good track record. It may be worth taking a closer look at lenders that tempt borrowers with “teaser rates” or a “no documents” underwriting process. As with most things in life, if it seems too good to be true – it usually is.
  • Finally, you should check out what previous or current customers have to say. Is the lender responsive and knowledgeable? How many loans do they have on the street? Do they have good ratings on Google or the BBB? Just as the lender performs due diligence on their borrowers, the borrowers should, in turn, conduct due diligence on the hard money lender. It’s a partnership and both parties need to be solid and committed to the process in order to ensure success.

Understanding Home Closing Costs in Southern California

Looking to buy a house in Northeast Los Angeles – NELA, as it is known – but unclear of the process and amount of money needed? A licensed Realtor can help you figure it out. But for ballpark purposes, it might help to do some preliminary study on your own.

NELA is, after all, one of the hottest markets in all of Los Angeles. Not just the obvious neighborhoods like Glendale and Pasadena, but in smaller, lesser-known neighborhoods.

You might be in love with the schools in Mt. Washington, the housing inventory in Highland Park or the neighborhoods of Eagle Rock, but you have to work through some of these details before you can call any of those places home.

Much is made about closing costs in real estate transactions, and yet these vary for several reasons. The single largest expense, the real estate commission, is covered by the seller (who pays the commission in a split between the buyer’s and the seller’s agents).

Fees the buyer will need to pay at the closing come with some variation; the following are the largest of such costs at closing:

Homeowner association fees – If the property is a condominium the seller might be in arrears with the homeowners association, in which case you will find this out before entering the sales contract. In distressed circumstances (foreclosures, near-foreclosures and short sales), these fees might amount to thousands of dollars.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – If your down payment is less than 20% of the price of the property, you will be required to insure the mortgage at between 0.3% and 1.15% of the loan amount.
Origination fee to the lender – Even while you fix your dreams on a Victorian in Glassell Park, a two-unit duplex in Garvanza or fixer-upper in Hermon, you have to go through a large amount of paperwork with a would-be lender to prove your creditworthiness. And yes, they do charge fees at closing for all that fun.
Points – These enable you to change the terms of the loan to your favor if you pay one or more percentage points toward the mortgage amount. If you have the cash and plan to own the property for a decade or longer, paying a point or two upfront can save you much more over time.
Prorated property tax – As the LA tax year begins on July 1, you will need to cover whatever remains in the year in advance from the day of the closing.
Insurance premiums – Protecting the property (as required by all lenders) from damages and liability is required at closing also.
Escrow fees – Third parties performing escrow services need to be compensated for that work. Note that fee structures are not fixed or regulated by the state of California, but are generally set according to the size of the transaction.

Technically speaking there are multiple fees that will be part of the buyer’s closing costs but which the seller automatically pays for in a reimbursement. These include the city transfer tax, documentary transfer tax to title and the owners title policy. Multiple other fees under $500 (average) costs include the lender appraisal fee, credit report fee, prorated HOA fees, courier services related to the transaction, notary services, archiving fees, recording trust deed (to title), and loan tie-in fees.

Note that the process of looking at houses and negotiating a price, and perhaps that of qualifying for a loan, are typically more time consuming than the closing itself. An experienced realtor will be able to advise you on all these details, invariably to the point where you are told how much money to bring to the closing and in what form.

The Real Estate Resurgence of Glassell Park and Highland Park

Real estate in Northeast Los Angeles has been booming for years. We hear about it on television and in the news. Rarely does a news story get published where the term “Gentrification” is used to describe areas such as Eagle Rock, Mt. Washington and Highland Park, regions where home values have spiked. Is it something home-buyers and home sellers need to know?

By definition, “to gentrify” is to improve a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste. The middle class, or Bourgeoisie, is attempting to emulate upper-class standards. In the U.K., the gentry refer to people of high social position, specifically the class of people next below the nobility. Therefor the gentrification of an area is a process whereby those of lower socioeconomic status are forced out of a region in order to make it more attractive to the people of higher socioeconomic standing. Taking deteriorating inner city homes away from working class families to be renovated and sold to the privileged is also known as progress, or gentrification.

That is precisely what is occurring in the once run down neighborhood of Highland Park. This ongoing restorative transformation has helped to eradicate crime and strengthen the local economy. Juice bars and yogurt shops have sprung up in place of derelict Laundromats and liquor stores. Local businesses are now thriving, where the windows were once boarded up and car carcasses rusted.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Glassell Park, where police not long ago bulldozed suspected gang homes in a dramatic crackdown on crime. Soon after, investors began investing in fixing up Glassell Park’s hillside view homes and property values began to rise with new shops and restaurants appearing in direct proportion.

At one time, Eco Park stood as the poster child for gentrification in Los Angeles. This forgotten slum went through a complete metamorphosis in the 90’s, turning it into one of the most sought after areas east of downtown. With Echo Park as a model, the restoration movement has continued its march east, rehabilitating other areas, such as Highland Park and Glassell Park, with great potential.

One telltale sign of the up and coming neighborhood is what is known as the Starbucks phenomenon. If this “7-eleven” of coffee houses has chosen to plant its green lady logo on the block, you can bet your bottom dollar that the ‘Hipsters are coming or more likely, the Hipsters have already arrived. This of course means that property values are climbing. In the historic region of Highland Park, York Boulevard is now book ended by Starbucks. Having a Starbucks on the corner is clear evidence that a moneyed community is on the rise. The values of homes for sale in Highland Park are absolutely exploding.

Another way of measuring affluence is by exploring the high volume of trendy restaurants, bars, and art galleries not to mention the cafes populated by too cool for school patrons everywhere. This enclave has become a hot spot for exotic dining among foodies and the like. Good eats just seem to go along with gentrification. That is one of the advantages. Today you can find French, Italian, Japanese, Vietnamese, and a wide variety of Vegan food in this once neglected district. It has become an amazing multi-cultural mecca. One more example of economic growth is improved public transportation. Business people can commute from paradise to downtown by train in a matter of minutes.

The median price for a house in Highland Park is now approaching seven hundred thousand. In relative terms, this area is still a bargain in Los Angeles’ exorbitant housing market. As the beautification of these older neighborhoods flourishes in NELA, the real estate naturally becomes more desirable and the property values escalate.

Glassell Park Real Estate – What the Numbers Tell Us

Real estate in Glassell Park, a hillside neighborhood adjacent to red-hot Mt. Washington and Highland Park – is in high demand. Prices for Glassell Park real estate are rising and the inventory of homes is shrinking, creating a seller’s market. But why is this happening now when the area was undiscovered for so long? Let’s look at what the numbers tell us about this special community.

Glassell Park is a moderately diverse neighborhood located in Northeast Los Angeles. Glassell Park resides south of Glendale, west of Eagle Rock and northeast of Mount Washington. This neighborhood is quite hilly and provides its residents with astounding views. During the housing boom of 2000 a large group of middle-class people moved to Glassell Park because of the inexpensive cost and abundance of Craftsman homes. The average temperature for the hottest month of the year, July, is 73 degrees. The average temperature for the coldest month of the year, December, is 57 degrees. January is the month with the most precipitation at 4.6 inches.

Area Vibes awarded Glassell Park a livability score of 72, very livable, which is higher than the national average of 70. Walk Score says that Glassell Park is a 61, with a transit score of 44 and a bike score of 38. Therefore, Glassell Park is somewhat walkable, and some errands can be accomplished by walking. There is some public transportation with a score and not many bike lanes.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 23,467 residents within the 2.75 square mile neighborhood. This equates to 8,524 people per square mile, which is average density for Los Angeles. The ethnicity break down was as follows: Latinos: 66.1%, Whites: 13.7%, Asians: 17.4%, Blacks: 1.4% and others 1.4%. 51.5% of its residents were born abroad with the highest two being Mexico, 49.3% and the Philippines, 16.2%. The average age for residents was 30; this is average for the city and county of Los Angeles. 19% of the residents who are 25 and older have earned a four-year degree. There was 4.8% of the population listed as veterans.

The median household income in Glassell Park was $50,098, which is an average figure for the city and county of Los Angeles. The average household size is higher compared to most parts of Los Angeles at 3.3 people. This is 21% higher than the national average. Renters reside in 56.2% of the housing stock; this is 55% higher than the national average. Owners are the remaining 43.8%, these figures are 30% lower than the national average.

According to Zillow, Glassell Park homes are valued on average at $713,700. This is a 9.3% increase from last year and they expect it to raise another 2.6% next year. The average price of homes on the market is $675,000; this is 148% higher than the national average. The market health is rated at 3.8 out of 10 in comparison to other markets across the county. The average price per square foot is $499, which is higher than the Los Angeles average of $448. The current market temperature is “cool” which is ideal for the Buyer’s market. The average price of rent is $2,900, which is 33% higher than the national average.

When buying and selling real estate in Glassell Park, buyers and sellers should consult an experienced real estate agent who specializes in the area.

Mt Washington Real Estate: A Look at the Numbers

For many years – decades, in fact – the LA district of Mount Washington was one of the hidden treasures of Los Angeles neighborhoods. All of that changed during the real estate boom of the mid-1990’s and since that time, the run on Mt. Washington homes for sale has been akin to the California Gold Rush. Homebuyers, investors, home flippers and creative types of have been snapping up Mt. Washington real estate as fast as they can. Let’s look at what the facts and the numbers tell us.

Mount Washington is located in Northeast Los Angeles just south of Eagle Rock, west of Highland Park and Northeast of Cypress Park. This mountainous community is located in the San Rafael Hills. Every house is situated on unique and hilly terrain. This eclectic community is home to many styles of houses, which allows people to build on lots of all shapes, sizes and slopes.

The various styles include: Cottages, Midcentury Moderns, Spanish, Hillside Midcenturies, Historic Craftsmen, Tree House Cabins, Bungalows and Craftsman Bungalows.

According to the LA Times, the population of Mount Washington was 13,531 people in 2008. With its 1.85 square mile radius there were 6,878 people per square mile. This is about average for Los Angeles County. The average income in 2008 was $57,725 and 2.9 people per household size. Both of these numbers are average for the county.

Even though the houses are on hills, Mount Washington is surprisingly accessible for walking, biking and public transportation. According to WalkScore Mount Washington is somewhat walkable with a score of 50. Some errands can be accomplished on foot. The transit score for Mount Washington is 59, meaning there are many convenient public transportation options – including the Gold Line Metro what deposits travelers at the Southwest Museum. Lastly, although this community is decorated with a slue of steep hills, there are some bike lanes on the main roads earning a bike score of 35.

Zillow states that the Home Value Index of Mount Washington is $720,100. This is an increase of 5.1% since last year. Zillow predicts the value to increase 2.8% up to $740,000 by the end of the year. The average price per square foot is $612, which is higher than the Los Angeles average of $451 per square foot. The average rental price is $2,942 per month.

Since Redfin named Mount Washington one of the hottest cities in the country, house flipping increased in like wildfire throughout the community. In effect Zillow has labeled the housing market as “Cold” because it has become ideal for the Buyer with so many fresh homes to choose from. Because of this increase in listings, approximately 11.5% of listings end up shaving their price down. Compared to other markets in the nation, Mount Washington has a market health of 2.2/10. This is part of the average real estate flux. People will continue to search for homes in Mount Washington, but eventually the majority of the homes will be house flipped and/or sold. Once the number of listings decrease the community will turn back to “Hot” – a Seller’s Market – with hoards of people trying to obtain property in this hidden oasis of Los Angeles.

Three Ways to Increase Property Values

Real estate investors live and die by their ability to add value. With no added value, there are no profits. This is true with any business, but what makes real estate such a great business and a great investment, is the number of ways you can add value and cash in on big profits. Here are three ways you can add value to your properties.

Upgrades and Repairs: OK, this is the obvious one and is the reason fix and flippers can make money. Some repairs add a lot more value than it costs to do. The more creative you are with the improvements, the more value you can add. For example, I have a client that adds square footage to every house he buys. He really likes the inner city properties because they are the hardest to add square footage. You either need to finish an unfinished basement, or add a second story. There is not typically enough land on the lot to add an addition by increasing the foot print of the property. This client does a lot of basement finishes and “pop tops,” but where he has made the most money is the basement that is only 5 or 6 feet deep. He will go in and dig out the basement to a full 8 or 9 foot height and then finish it. Something most investors would not think of, so he is able to get the deal most other investors pass on. I have also seen some investors find houses that don’t really fit into a neighborhood and they make them fit. This could be limited bedrooms or bathrooms or funky floor plans. All of that can be changed. Obviously many cosmetic fixes like kitchens and bathrooms add a lot of value too. There is a lot more to it than this, but the idea is to buy a property at its true ‘as is’ value, (don’t over pay), and then add value with the repairs and upgrades.

Owner Finance: I love this one because it is so easy to add value with very little to no work. You will need to wait to cash in on your profits, but it is a way to increase a sell price significantly. You can also use this strategy to defer tax gains over a few years, instead of taking a big hit all in one year. When you have a property for sale there are a limited number of buyers for the house, although right now that pool of buyers seems pretty big. If you can increase the pool of buyers, the demand for that one house increases, which forces the price to go up. Someone that cannot qualify for an ordinary loan, limiting the supply of houses to choose from for that buyer, will likely buy your property. That also increases the price. You are adding value by giving them the chance to own a home that they normally would not be able to own. For this value, you should be compensated with a higher price and a decent interest rate on the profits, while you wait for the buyer to refinance and pay you off in full.

Shared Units: This is one area of real estate that I have not dabbled in, but it is extremely inviting. The idea here is to sell your property to multiple buyers. You are seeing this a lot in resort towns. It is always a vacation or second home. Have you ever been to a time share presentation? They are pretty enticing aren’t they? About 13 years ago my ex wife and I were in Florida and got sucked into a time share sales pitch. We decided to go because they offered us free tickets to Disney. We sat there for about an hour and a half and then the hard sale came. They were very good at selling the “idea” of the time share and had my ex wife sold. She asked me to move forward with the deal, but I could not bring myself to do it. I told her that I was not comfortable with an emotional purchase and that we needed time to think it through. “Can I please have our Disney tickets?” was my response. As we rode back to the hotel that afternoon, I started thinking about the math. Each unit can be sold to 52 different people because your purchase only gets you 1 week a year. Add that to the annual maintenance fees and the numbers are staggering. I know people who have flipped time shares successfully, because you can get them for free or near free on Craigslist, but it is not an investment I was interested in. With that said, I have considered doing a half or quarter share on a house in a ski town in Colorado. In this scenario, you are sharing a house with 1 to 3 other people so there is a ton more flexibility. You can use or rent out your weeks and you can be guaranteed valuable high demand weeks every year. It is a way to get a second home without the full expense. From the seller’s point of view, it is a way to get more for the house. ½ a share of a house is going to cost the buyer more than ½ of the fair market value. I have seen business plans from investors that would buy a house and quarter share it out. The idea was that after they improved the property and sold ¾ of the house to 3 different buyers, they would own the last ¼ free and clear. Obviously this strategy will work best in areas where people want second homes. The downside is if there are any improvements or major issues. I can see there being disagreements, so this is something you would want, as a buyer, to work out with all the other owners in writing before you buy.