Monday, December 13, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I will be a docent at today's Eco Homes tour in Echo Park. You'll find me yammerin' at 2403 Valentine St 10:45-12:45. http://goo.gl/XH4Yp
The event is sponsored by the Echo Park Historical Society. It runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 in advance purchased online, $20 on day of event. The tour starts at Williams Hall in Barlow Hospital, 2000 Stadium Way, Los Angeles.
Monday, November 8, 2010
By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 8, 2010; 12:02 AM
As foreclosures began to mount across the country three years ago, a group of state bank regulators suspected that some borrowers might be losing their homes unnecessarily. So the state officials asked the biggest national banks for details about their foreclosure operations.
When two banks - J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo - declined to cooperate, the state officials asked the banks' federal regulator for help, according to a letter they sent. But the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which oversees national banks, denied the states' request, saying the firms should answer only to inquiries from federal officials. In a response to state officials, John Dugan, comptroller at the time, wrote that his agency was already planning to collect foreclosure information and that any additional monitoring risked "confusing matters."
But even as it closed the door on state oversight, the OCC chose itself not to scrutinize the foreclosure operations of the largest national banks, forgoing any examination of their procedures and paperwork. Instead, the agency relied on the banks' in-house assessments. These provided no hint of the problems to come until they had tripped the nation's housing market, agency officials later acknowledged.
"Based on what we were seeing and what we were concerned about, it felt like a chronic underreaction at the federal level," said John Ryan, a senior official with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors.
Even when the mortgage industry itself identified possible flaws in foreclosure paperwork, the agency was slow to act. In September, Ally Financial suspended foreclosures after discovering problems with tens of thousands of cases. But even then, the OCC did not begin to examine the operations of other major banks. Instead, the agency asked them to undertake internal reviews and told them it would conduct its own examination later, an OCC official said.
Over the following weeks, most of the major national banks announced one after the next that they were reviewing their foreclosure practices and putting thousands of cases temporarily on hold. While the freeze offered new hope to thousands of distressed borrowers, it also threatened to undermine the real estate market, which was already struggling to recover from crisis.
Two weeks ago, for the first time, the OCC began sending its staff into the banks to examine their foreclosure operations, interview bank employees and review paperwork.
The OCC is one of the nation's four federal bank regulators and has primary oversight over the largest banks, while the other three - the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of Thrift Supervision - share responsibility for many small and medium-size financial firms. All the agencies failed to spot problems in the foreclosure process.
The OCC's recent initiative is part of a broad federal effort to assess the U.S. foreclosure breakdown. Regulators said they hope to complete a preliminary report this month but have not decided whether it will be made public.
In monitoring the financial health of banks over the years, the OCC had been far more aggressive. Agency staff members have been assigned to work full time inside the largest banks, checking to see whether the banks are taking excessive risks, for instance, by analyzing their holdings.
But the agency did not look closely at how banks foreclose when borrowers don't make their mortgage payments. OCC officials treated foreclosures as the simple act of filing documents to seize ownership of a home once a borrower couldn't pay.
"We looked at the final stage of the process and thought of it as one that would be governed by standards and procedures in internal controls," said Julie Williams, the OCC's top lawyer. "You would only be able to know for sure if there was a problem with the document-signing process if you were standing in the room watching someone sign documents. That is not traditionally part of the bank examination process."
Even as the OCC and other federal regulators were failing in recent years to detect flawed foreclosure practices, evidence was building that abuses were widespread, according to interviews with federal regulators and outside lawyers. It was surfacing in academic studies, court cases, complaints that other regulators brought against mortgage companies, and reports by federal watchdogs.
There was much evidence, for instance, that mortgage servicers - responsible for collecting payment from borrowers and foreclosing when loans default - were charging improper fees and engaging in other questionable practices.
A 2007 study by Kathleen Porter, a University of Iowa law professor, found that servicers often tried to seize people's homes improperly, adding new fees when borrowers wanted to try saving them. She found that many servicers "lack the required documentation necessary to establish a valid debt."
Her findings prompted a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee held in May 2008. Afterward, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who chaired the hearing, concluded that mortgage servicers have "failed to keep even the most basic records to justify their claim."
Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission, which traditionally regulates non-bank financial companies, had been receiving complaints from consumers for several years. In 2003, the FTC reached a $40 million settlement with Fairbanks Capital over defrauding borrowers by not crediting them for payments.
Then in 2008, the FTC reached a $28 million settlement with EMC Mortgage, later bought by J.P. Morgan Chase, to resolve complaints about defrauding borrowers and failing to properly keep track of mortgage documents.
Joel Winston, associate director of the division of financial practices at the FTC, said the two cases were a warning sign about the foreclosure industry. "The conclusion could certainly be drawn that the practices at these companies were at best sloppy and in many cases they were deliberately gouging consumers," Winston said.
He said the FTC routinely passed complaints on to banking regulators and often coordinated with them in sorting out which agency had jurisdiction. "It's fair to say that, over this span, there were frequent and regular communications between us and the bank agencies about servicing issues and companies that might be engaged in problematic practices," he said.
The courts also highlighted abuses. In 2008, for instance, a federal judge in Texas sharply criticized Countrywide Financial, later acquired by Bank of America, for hiring lawyers who ignored the rights of borrowers and being part of a "corrosive assembly line culture of practicing law." The Justice Department was a party to the case.
Then, last year, a pair of reports by federal watchdogs highlighted troubles inside the mortgage business that were undercutting efforts by the Obama administration to help distressed borrowers modify their mortgages to avoid foreclosure. The reports, from the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Oversight Panel for the government bailout of the financial industry, warned that mortgage servicers were understaffed, gave borrowers inaccurate information, failed to track complaints and lost important paperwork.
More oversight failures
Some critics say the OCC's failure to effectively regulate the foreclosure operations of banks echoed other oversight failures in the lead-up to the housing crisis. For instance, state officials criticized the OCC for preempting local laws that restrict risky lending practices, which could have protected many borrowers against taking on unaffordable loans.
"They were a light-touch regulator all along the way," said Kathleen Keest, a consumer lawyer at the Center for Responsible Lending.
While acknowledging they did not police foreclosure practices, OCC officials defended their oversight of banks' mortgage operations. They cite multiple cases brought against loan servicers in recent years. In an instance where the agency caught a manager allowing legal documents to be improperly signed, the OCC fined her $5,000 and told her not to do it again.
OCC officials said they have put their energies into examining whether banks take steps to help borrowers avoid foreclosure. The agency has sent staff into banks to review their mortgage-modification efforts and instructed the firms to hire more staff. The OCC says banks have complied.
"With the benefit of hindsight, would it have made more sense to look more at the foreclosure process?" said Williams, the OCC official. Without answering her question, she said: "In the context of the need for preventing avoidable foreclosures, we put emphasis on the modification process."
Sunday, November 7, 2010
EVO has had much success in the past year with 32 closed/sold. Currently 3 Residences are Pending and only 10 units being offered on the MLS. Residence #1701 1155 S. Grand Avenue is only being offered to preferred agents at this time. If you would be interested in experiencing Downtown luxury in a responsibly built urban dwelling, let us know. Over 90% of the building has sold, so there are not many units left to chose from. This is your chance to own at one of the best-selling addresses in the city.
Close to L.A. Live + Staples Center. If you have never experienced South Park, you really need to. This area has been in development for years now with the Staples Center elevating the presence of the Los Angeles Convention Center. With movie theatres and groceries abound, take advantage of this opportunity and become an Urban guerilla!
Text Steve for quickest response, 213-305-8537 EVO 1155 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010
During the freeze, if an owner who received a Notice of Default, but have not received notification of a trustee sale, the bank will stop the process of foreclosure.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
- The $10,000 credit is the lesser of 5 percent of the purchase price or $10,000
- You must close your new home before December 31, 2010 deadline
- First-time buyers can purchase a new or existing home
- Repeat buyers can only purchase a new home that has never been occupied
- The credit is spread over 3 years, up to $3,333 per year
- The credit has no income or purchase price restrictions
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Hey there. It’s been awhile since I have sent anything out. Hope you have enjoyed the last weekend of Summer and are ready to start nestling in for kids back to school, football and all things related to Fall.
I have enclosed some topical information below. Please take a moment to scan through the blog as there may be something that catches your eye. ;-) Also, you can always follow me on Twitter for up to the minute information @modernhomesla. Twitter and my Blog are where you will find me posting cool listings, relevant market news, as well as some downright cool stuff. Okay, now onwards with my below thoughts…
Besides me wheeling, dealing and negotiating this Summer, I am also someone who is constantly involved in the preservation of our historic Mid-Century architecture here in Los Angeles. It truly saddened me that demolition began last week on the Shusett House in Beverly Hills, which was one of John Lautner’s first two commissioned homes in the Los Angeles area. You may have caught the LA Times blurb? The Lautner Foundation and LA Conservancy were relentless in trying to find a solution, down to the very last moment. There was an eleventh hour ‘Move-the-House’ proposal that went nowhere fast, as the owners decided to tear it down to rebuild anew. The importance for people’s involvement with preservation is enormous. As we cannot place these precious pieces of artwork into a gallery or museum, we should all recognize our responsibility to understand the historical values associated with these buildings and homes, not to mention the tax savings through the Mills Act Property Tax. Again, if you would like to get involved with historic preservation of any period, contact LA Conservancy for more information.
In general market news, if you haven’t heard all ready, we are at a historic all-time low with interest rates. Underwriting has lightened up slightly as we move from a Class 3 state to a Class 2 state in the lender’s minds allowing more flexibility with their guidelines and requirements for pre-approvals. A client locked-in last week at 4.5% no-points 30yr conventional! If interested in Jumbo rates, you would be in the ballpark of 5.67% no points 30yr fixed. Hence, refinancing is not out of the question for some.
Help for Owners Upside Down:
This month in the September issue of California Real Estate Magazine came an article about the California Housing Finance Agency’s new $700 million program to help California homeowners who are struggling with their mortgage payments. The only catch is you have a loan where a cash-out refinance took place and you have hit hardship in making payments or have seen a huge decrease in property value. CalHFA can provide assistance such as: up to $50,000 principal reduction or up to $15,000 to reinstate a mortgage or up to $5,000 in relocation assistance. There are certain requirements for each situation. Look for the plan to begin by November 1. Utilize me if you or a friend is in hardship, as I am a Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource(SFR). If you would like to read the complete CREM article, click here.
For the fun stuff with architecture, you may want to check out what LAAIA has got going on Sunday, September 19 from 11am-4pm. They are presenting their self-driven homes tour of some truly cool architecture from the Hollywood Hills through the Pacific Palisades, THE HILLS: EAST TO WEST 2010 Fall Home Tour Series #1. Notable Architects being featured are Zoltan Pali, FAIA (Studio Pali Fekete architects – SPF:a), Marc Angelil and Sarah Graham, FAIA (agps architecture), John Pugliese, Assoc. AIA (Cambia Designs LLC) and Aleks Istanbullu, AIA (Aleks Istanbullu Architects). Tickets: Non-members: $75/ticket and AIA members $65/ticket. To purchase tickets, click here.
As always, I am here to answer any questions you may have regarding real estate. If you or a friend are looking to sell or purchase a home, it is a fantastic time to do it. Give me a call to find out why.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Here is the latest SPF:a designed 33-unit condominium complex in West Hollywood. Again, I am a HUGE fan of the Culver City-based architectural firm, but I have some mixed feelings about this building. You may have checked out a blog or two ago regarding SPF:a's Woodbridge 12 in Valley Village? Another beautiful and simple form of architecture with the mantra of responsibility to our ecological resources.
It has taken awhile, but we are now seeing listings hit the MLS. This project has taken some time to get to the completion state. This building consists of 2 Bedroom / 2.5 Bath residences. Listings were released a little over a week ago with only one residence being featured: #206 offered for $645,ooo which includes 1,469sf of interior along with ample balconies. Originally, they were contemplating the offering at $670,000+. Things seem to be subsiding as the market truly is dictating some lower prices on these new buildings / lofts in areas such as Hollywood, West Hollywood and the Beverly Center Area.
These residences all have top of the line features and finishes. The Kitchens are outfitted with a Bertazzoni Range and Bosch refrigerator and dishwasher. Finishes include Caesarstone countertops along with full-height glass tiled back splashes that complement the sustainable Italian designed Modulocucine cabinetry. Anyone into the art of cooking would be thrilled in this chef's delight! It doesn't hurt that SPF:a has an exclusive with Modulocucine.
The handsome bathrooms are nothing less than clean and simple = inviting. Each bathroom is outfitted with responsible materials including the Caesarstone countertops, Modulocucine cabinetry and over sized floor tiles. No more grout! Each bathroom has a soaking tub and glass enclosed shower along with European fixtures. The spacious bedrooms look out onto a terrace. The most alluring aspect of these residences is the outdoor areas it provides us Southern Californians. It seems we still appreciate Mother Nature and the beauty of our City of Angels. Check out the view below.
Overall, the split floor plans work well for these two bedroom units. Who wants to be bumping walls with your room mate? By far, the Penthouses in this complex are AMAZING! With over 1,473 sf of interior space, they include over 1,000sf of outdoor terrace areas. This is where they get me. I am such a sucker for functional outdoor space.
If you have financing in the million dollar range, check out the floor plan for Penthouse 3:
HOAs run $360/mo to $435/mo and include gas, water, trash and common area. Each Residence includes two tandem parking spaces.
As always, feel free to reach me for showings or more information.
SPECIAL FLASH PRICES FOR EVO!!!
This just in... It seems that sales at the Uber Green building are on fire and they are now releasing additional units to the public with great incentives, including one year of HOA paid. Along with the CA Tax Credit, there could be a few deals here.
Check out the Units / Price List Below
As always, feel free to contact me if you would like more information or a showing.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
This 12 unit 4-story building has high-end design written all over it AND in it. With open floor plans and top-quality elements, this clean modern design will intrigue many. There are 5 floor plans to choose from ranging from 1,300 - 1,800 square feet. The thing about it is there are only 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath units to select from. Granted, the variety of floor plans will make everyone feel unique. The first floor units boast large outside garden areas. All units above ground level have balconies sizable enough to socialize.
Each unit has a gourmet kitchen, designer baths and floor to ceiling glass. You can imagine the light in these places.
When it comes to sustainability, WOODBRIDGE 12 leads the pack. Resources such as the cement composite panels are mainly made up of the SWISSPEARL® system panels. Neither the raw materials nor the production process nor the finished products contain any dangerous substances. This has to be one of the most efficient systems on market. We are seeing it in most new modern architecture.
The building has subterranean parking, but I can't tell you at this point as to how many. Nor can I tell you what the HOAs will be.
No doubt, this is a beautifully designed conception. But let us consider the reality here. As pricing goes, an agent responded to me earlier this week and let me know they will be ready for showings soon. They will hit market listed somewhere from the Mid $500,000 range up to the $800,000 mark. It translates to anywhere from 370/sf to 450/sf. The location is pretty decent as it is close to the Studio City Golf Course and tennis Club.
The units should be ready for showings in about 3 weeks. Please let me know if you would like to see them.
If you would like to see any or all of the floor plans, let me know. Click here for contact.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Back in the Fall of 2009, Deasey Penner and Associates released units to the public. Their marketing and sales efforts failed. After months on the market, Deasey Penner could not close enough units to acquire occupancy and could not influence a change in pricing. The architecture firm, RSA, Inc. doesn't even mention this project on their web site. I wonder why? Now we have the hot new REO commercial broker, Revive Real Estate Group handling the sales for the bank-owned property.
With the building's clean and handsome facade, I expected a whole lot more out of this building. It's location is still a concern as the Hollywood location is still improving and a bit dodgy still. If you are interested in having views of the Hollywood sign, the 'B' plan units will work, but with a price. Having the building situated right behind Toyota of Hollywood, I cannot imagine anyone wanting to live in the back/north side 'B' plan units abutting the car dealership's maintenance area. I can hear the hydraulics removing lug-nuts as I type. Something about the building doesn't allow me to get too enthusiastic though? I really can't put my finger on it. Maybe I was expecting more from the overall exterior, but once you go beyond the front of the building, it becomes a stucco barrage.
The only units that make sense to me are ones located on the 3rd and Penthouse floors. The neighboring buildings on either side of this site are run down. In order to avoid the unsightliness, it is important to get above their roof lines. Carlton Way is lined with towering palm trees, an example of Old Hollywood. There are four craftsman single-family homes across the street from the site that have just been rehabilitated and look great. They are a welcomed improvement to the area. If only the other owners on the street decided to do something about their curb appeal.
There are five different floor plans being offered ranging from 920sf to 1,240sf with most units 1,200sf. Out of the 41-unit project, units are mainly 2 bedroom 2 bathroom with six 1 bedroom + tech center units. Each unit has hardwood floors in the main living areas and carpeting in the bedrooms, along with tile in the baths. They also have the standard stainless steel appliances along with treated granite kitchen counter tops that provide a unique contemporary finish. Each unit comes with modest balconies. Only the 'A' plan provides an 11x7 balcony. The 'B' plan offers the second largest balconies. The others are much like Juliet balconies, not for socializing.
What impressed my the most about the units were the bathrooms. Marble counter tops, illuminated mirror, deep soaking tubs and a overhead rain head in the shower. I always like to see the new trend of the wet area in bathrooms where we see the shower and bath tub incorporated into one 'wet area'. Makes a lot of sense to me.
The bedrooms are sizable and spacious. Loads of closet space abound! The only downside for me is they have carpet. I would have much preferred the design to include the hardwood throughout, but hey, I didn't design the place...
With the new sales team from Revive, we see that they have brought down pricing around 35%. It will still be determined as to whether or not they have adjusted the prices enough. With other new buildings in the area that didn't sell, we see 'For Lease' signs out front instead of 'For Sale' signs. It may be an indication the bank needs to be a little more flexible. At the moment, the MLS is only showing a handful of units on market. Revive is taking reservations starting this week in hopes of signing contracts in early August. If you are at all interested in Metropol, feel free to contact me at 213-305-8537 for floor plans. There are five floor plans to chose from. More than happy to send them to you via email.
HOAs are in the $350 range. Parking garage below building. No pool. Check out the new price list for the re-release of these units:
Considering we are seeing a flood of bank-owned projects coming to market, it will be interesting to see how this project fares. Stay tuned...
Saturday, July 3, 2010
This has to be one of the ‘successful’ projects architecture firm, Pugh + Scarpa, got right. The exterior design incorporates wood to ground the design and to break the sterile feeling of other projects of theirs, such as the ‘Cherokee Lofts’, which make one feel a bit prisoner-like.
With 123 N Kings Road, you are entering not only a visually stunning property, but the interiors are top shelf. From the refreshing floor plans to the roof-top decks, you are going to lose yourself with the finest of detailing and finishes. Gourmet kitchens with Jen Air stainless appliances. Luxurious bathrooms with granite counter tops and tile showers.
Many units have roof top decks and all have balconies. Check out the pic below! We are talking generous roof top areas for entertaining. Two parking spaces included. HOAs around $315.
When these properties first hit market back in 2009, they were listed in the 1 million dollar range. Now, the re-launch ‘Phase 1’ is hitting the market. Residences 6, 7, 10, 11 are being introduced to the market once again. This time they are working with much more reasonable list prices.
#6 - 1 Bedroom plus Mezzanine Flex space, 1 ¾ bath – 1,509sf - $599,900
#7 - 1 Bedroom plus Mezzanine Flex space, 1 ¾ bath – 1,589sf - $609,900
#10 - 1 Bedroom plus Mezzanine Flex space, 1 ¾ bath – 1,371sf - $584,900
#11 - 1 Bedroom plus Mezzanine Flex space, 1 ¾ bath – 1,371sf - $579,900
Here are a couple of pictures from Residence #5.
If you are interested in seeing the property, please click here to send me a quick email.