KITCHEN AID: DESIGNERS WEIGH IN ON WHERE TO SPEND ON KITCHEN REMODELS

Even grilled cheese tastes better when made in a stylish kitchen. For those who love to cook, a gourmet kitchen is the dream. However, unlike a living room or bedroom, this space is much harder to remodel. Kitchens can't be rearranged at whim, cabinets can't be easily changed, and counters -- well, there's very little you can do to hide 1980s laminate countertops. (Their existence is proof that not everything comes back in fashion.) But don't shelve your dream just yet. It's possible to get a luxurious look for under $50,000, which is close to the average price spent on a budget kitchen remodel. We asked designers where they'd splurge, where they'd save, and other projects to consider for a space worthy of your culinary creations. Click here to read more.                         Continue reading

SELLING STRATEGIES: SETTING A PRICE FOR YOUR HOME

One goal when you're selling your house is to get as much money as possible. It can be tempting to overprice. There's always a chance you might score big. Right? Technically, yes. But that doesn't mean testing the market by setting your home's price above what the house is worth is a good strategy. In fact, there are many reasons not to test the market this way. 1. You won't get offers (but your neighbors might). It's great to be a good neighbor, but unintentionally sacrificing your sale to help your neighbors sell their homes might be going a bit far. Click here to read more.                       Continue reading

BEHIND THE BOOM: THE FACTORS DRIVING INVESTMENT IN LOS ANGELES REAL ESTATE

Encouraged by Los Angeles’ positive economics and high real estate values, big money investors from around the world are pouring billions of dollars into commercial multifamily residential real estate development throughout the Los Angeles region. The region is experiencing strong job growth, according to a Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. (LAEDC) report, with employers adding 105,000 in 2014 and potentially 104,000 more jobs this year.   Strong demand for housing, specifically in the Los Angeles area multifamily housing, set off a construction boom beginning in 2013 that has steadily accelerated.  The other construction accelerator in Southern California has been hospitality projects. According to numerous sources, new multifamily/mixed-use development is expected to remain robust for at least the next few years, as robust rental rates and for-sale property values remain strong.  Click here to read more.                       Continue reading

DOWNTOWN LANDMARK CONVERTS TO CONDOS: A GUARANTEED SUCCESS?

The last time an apartment building in downtown Los Angeles was converted to condominiums was 2006 — shortly before the housing bubble burst. But now, with young professionals pouring into the up-and-coming neighborhood, an acute shortage of condos has prompted the owner of a landmark Art Deco-style apartment tower to put 74 units up for sale. Apartments at the Title Guarantee Building rent for as much as $6,100 a month for a penthouse, but real estate investor Admire Hill figures it can make even more money selling the units. Prices are expected to start at $500,000 for a 750-square-foot unit at the building at 5th and Hill streets. Click here to read more.                       Continue reading

CAN TWO BUCK CHUCK BOOST YOUR HOME VALUE?

There are plenty of Southland shoppers who value their local Trader Joe’s. But that value may run deeper than many imagine, according to a newly released analysis from RealtyTrac. RealtyTrac’s study shows that if you live near a Trader Joe’s your home has appreciated in value more quickly than if you live near a Whole Foods Market. Now there’s an analysis I never would have dreamed up. The study shows that homeowners who live near a Trader Joe’s have seen an average 40 percent increase in home value since they purchased, compared with 34 percent appreciation for homeowners near a Whole Foods. Click here to read more.                     Continue reading

THE BUBBLE MYTH: THE LA REAL ESTATE MARKET IS NOT ON THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE

As home prices rise ever higher in Los Angeles, some are beginning to wonder if the region is in another housing bubble, one that's ready to burst. Real estate blogs add to the hysteria by pointing to the most ridiculous listings, the million-dollar bungalows in need of a complete renovation, the $3-million teardowns. But the data suggest that the market is not, in fact, on the brink of collapse. Using the all-transactions house price index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, I examined price history in Los Angeles County, adjusted for inflation, from 1975 to the present — 1975 being the first year data were available. Along with some short-term fluctuations, we can see four major housing price cycles in Los Angeles since 1975: Click here to read more.                   Continue reading

IS SOCAL REAL ESTATE BACK TO NORMAL?

The median price of a home in Los Angeles County rose by 4.7 percent in July, compared with the same month a year ago, while the number of homes sold jumped by 13.5 percent, a real estate information service announced today. According to CoreLogic, the median price of a Los Angeles County home was $492,000 last month, up from $470,000 in July 2014. A total of 8,236 homes were sold in the county, up from 7,256 during the same month the previous year. Click here to read more.                   Continue reading

WILL EL NINO RAINS BE A FLOOD OF BAD NEWS FOR REAL ESTATE?

Summer may be waning, but the Pacific Ocean is just starting to heat up. And with that warming water comes El Niño, the dangerous and sometimes disastrous series of weather events that “heats up the atmosphere and changes circulation patterns around the globe, especially the jet stream over the Pacific, which becomes stronger and dumps more frequent and intense storms over the western U.S., especially California,” writes CNN. Sigh. This year’s El Niño, according to the forecast released by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center on Thursday, is “significant and strengthening.” Translation: It’s gonna be hot, it’s gonna be stormy, and it’s gonna be long. While the effects are felt around the world, in the United States, California and the South tend to be hardest hit, and, as The New York Times reported on Friday, “El Niño May Bring Record Heat, and Rain for California.” Click here to read more.                   Continue reading

BIG BUCKS: THE MOST EXPENSIVE SALES IN LOS ANGELES REAL ESTATE LAST WEEK

A Westside penthouse, a Greene & Greene Craftsman and new construction in Arcadia and Hollywood Hills West were among the priciest residential real estate sales in the greater Los Angeles area in the week that ended Aug. 15. $9 million — Santa Monica An ocean-view penthouse at the Seychelle building in the 1700 block of Ocean Avenue was sold in one of the priciest condominium transactions historically in the Westside community. Click here to read more.           Continue reading

MONEY NEWS FROM THE MOTLEY FOOL: WHAT TO DO BEFORE INTEREST RATES RISE

The U.S. economy has come a long way from the depths of the Great Recession. In the second-quarter, U.S. GDP grew 2.3% (although this estimate will be revised twice more), all while the U.S. unemployment rate in July held steady at its lowest level (5.3%) in seven years. Admittedly, things are far from perfect for the U.S. economy -- but growth is continuing at a steady enough pace that things almost feel back to normal. As this "new normal" sets in, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee will have to make some critical decisions in its upcoming meetings to determine what's next for the American economy. With multiple tools at its disposal, the most likely course of action in the coming months -- and one that Wall Street and investors have expected for a while -- is a hike in the federal funds target rate, or the overnight rate that banks charge when lending to one another. Click here to read more.                 Continue reading