Friday, April 22, 2011

Buying Real Estate at Auction - Trustee Sale or Tax Deed

Buying of properties at trustee sale auctions is tricky and risky, and you should hire an experienced Realtor to help you with that. Any experienced realtor can provide you with oodles of information regarding foreclosed homes. Just remember, it is the trustee, not the bank, that sells the home. Since the lender clearly has the most to lose in the transaction, and because they are the beneficiary of any funds received from the sale, they are allow to place the first bid, and are allowed to credit bid (bid without bringing cash to the sale), up to the amount they are owed.

Just know in the state of California, winning bidders pay the entire price in cash or cashier’s checks. You are unable to finance these purchases. Hence, the strong presence of investors at these sales(Foreclosure & Tax Deed) is quite apparent.  With our current economy, I am seeing more and more cash deals transpire by investors than ever before.  Hard money always talks and speaks loudly to any seller, including bank asset managers and the county's assessor's office.


Not every real estate agent understands the nuances of these particular sales, let alone the common buyer looking for a deal.  There is a great deal of process involved to end up with the deal everyone is looking for nowadays.  Working with an agent who does have the experience will greatly benefit any buyer in the marketplace as it is yet another alternative to the "BOX".  
Bite the bullet and just forecast an additional 3% to your purchase price and BOOM, you are taken care of for a minimal price considering the investment being made.  It is wise to do as much homework as you can on these properties and having an experienced agent by your side to inform and guide you through the process is well worth the nominal fee to ensure as much disclosure as they can.

Properties about to be auctioned at foreclosure auctions can be found through court records, legal notices in newspapers, the real estate classifieds or websites like RealtyTrac. The easiest way is to work with an experienced agent who understands all the nuances to these transactions.

While savvy investors can find deals at foreclosure auctions, not all properties are a steal. The unsophisticated buyer without a real estate professional by his or her side may get carried away during the excitement of an AUCTION. Funny as it sounds, it is true. The euphoria of an auction can sometimes take people over the edge and hence, produce the unwanted 'overbid'.  Having a professional by your side is helpful to keep you on track of the objectives and budget of the transaction.


One of the biggest concerns with purchasing at Tax Deed Auctions is the fact most buyers cannot inspect the property before their bid. The last thing anyone wants to find out later is missing and damaged items.  Trustee Sales are very similar to the County Tax Deed auctions, as buyers are unable to inspect prior to bidding.  Where'd that toilet go?  What happened to all of the electrical wiring?  Forget copper, where's the plumbing?  Again, buyers of auctioned properties incur more risk because of their inability to investigate the home as thoroughly as they could if they bought contingent on appraisal and inspection.

For those who elect to inspect prior to purchase, the Real Estate Owned(REO) properties are better for those buyers.  Bank owned listings are easily generated and can afford a buyer with plenty of information via the Multiple Listing Service(MLS).  The distressed property market is strong here in Los Angeles.  And, you can inspect prior to an offer!  Contact me for a complete list of REO listings in your area/s of choice. 


The other consideration to use caution is finding out what title looks like. The last thing someone wants is someone else's baggage.  No one ever wants a clouded title: mechanic's lien, abatements, bank liens, you name it...  The new buyer will be responsible for paying these encumbrances.


Get a realistic fair market comparable(Comp) prior to bidding on ANY property at ANY type of auction.

Just be aware the courthouse steps are loaded with cash buyers, seasoned and savvy investors looking to buy. Typically these investors have done their homework and know the fair market values of the properties of interest. You don't want to be the person at the end of the day who goes home and then discovers the value. You want to make sure you have a sound fair market value researched prior to any purchase.  

Do your homework or work with a professional to help guide you. Don't allow yourself to be the buyer with buyer's remorse. Due diligence, folks!


Los Angeles County foreclosure auctions located:

12400 Imperial Highway
Norwalk, California 90650
Auctions take place outside on the steps.

Buyers should be aware and due diligence should take place with every transaction.  For friendly and professional assistance, contact

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Preservation Alert: The Barry Building, Brentwood, CA

11973 San Vicente Blvd, Brentwood

Deadline for letters is WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20th

The Barry Building was designed by Los Angeles-based architect, Milton Caughey, Completed in 1951.  

LA Conservancy is currently asking for the public for support in protecting this Mid-Century commercial space from demolition.   Significant due to it's fine example of the postwar development of Brentwood's San Vicente Boulevard commercial corridor and the impact the commercial district has today. the distinctive and highly intact with oodles of features representing the International School of Architecture's philosophies including the building's central courtyard and apropos planting beds.  Another notable feature of the building’s design is the integration of louvers that shield south and west-facing office windows from the California sun’s heat and glare.

Unfortunately, the present owner, Charles T. Munger seeks to raze this retail building only to replace it with a similar-sized building with the same usage being requested.  As it stands now, this Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) is at risk and we need your support.  Yes, even buildings that have been designated by The City of Los Angeles can be threatened by current and future owners unless we let the city know how we feel about the significance of this architecture. 

What is happening is the location of The Barry Building is amongst a development plan of 3 separate buildings to create over 73,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space within two-story structures on San Vicente Boulevard.  The project in front of the city is called 'Green Hollow Square', formerly 'Brentwood Town Green'.

As the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has been released, including a Preservation Alternative reusing the Barry Building for retail space while retaining it's landmark designation, now is the time for your support.  We need to seal the deal here, as the owner does not feel The Barry Building would adequately meet the development needs of the current proposed project.  This is why the Conservancy will advocate for the Preservation Alternative while maintaining the position the project's objectives CAN be met by reusing the Barry Building.


Take a moment to write a brief letter in support of the LA Conservancy's request for The Barry Building to stay intact to stave off the current 'Green Hollow Square' proposal for demolition of this site.

Below, you will find points to mention in your letter.  Please be sure to include the Subject Line:  'The draft EIR regarding Green Hollow Square Project (The Barry Building)'

  • The Barry Building is a designated Los Angeles landmark, Historic-Cultural Monument #887. Every effort should be taken to avoid the demolition of this designated landmark.
  • With its numerous retail spaces and large central courtyard, the Barry Building can be adapted to fit the needs of the Green Hollow Square project.
  • The Barry Building can be sensitively upgraded for enhanced energy efficiency to meet the project’s sustainability goals.
  • Alternative 4, the preservation alternative, should be the preferred project as it would retain and reuse the Barry Building while meeting many of the project’s goals. These include providing the same number of parking spaces and nearly the same amount of square footage as the currently proposed project.
  • Alternative 4 can be further developed and refined to ensure that any new surrounding construction is appropriately designed and integrated with the Barry Building.
  • Demolition of the Barry Building, a city landmark, would call into question the City’s ability to protect our cultural heritage when clear adaptive reuse options exist.
  • The proposed alterations to the median and coral trees (HCM #148), as an optional plan, should be avoided. This sets a precedent and could invite further changes and cumulative impacts to this linear historic landscape monument.  
If you should live in Council District 11, make sure to emphasize you are a resident!!!

To help LA Conservancy track response, we request you copy the following individuals within your emails:, and

Letters to be addressed:
Hadar Plafkin, Project Coordinator
Department of City Planning
200 N. Spring St, Room 750
Los Angeles, CA  90012
the Subject Line:  'The draft EIR regarding Green Hollow Square Project (The Barry Building)'
Thank you for your time and support.
We really appreciate it!