By: Malcolm Scott
This post might seem a bit like a plug. Well, I guess it is. Primarily, because I have seen the light. Well, at least the clouds have broken open a bit, (enter the sun) through my otherwise close-minded vision of what I might call a home. Perhaps it is just a story of a man’s vice-grip on what he feels comfortable, slowly loosening.
After growing up in Greenwich, Connecticut I seem to have traditional architecture supplanted in my psyche all the way down to the cellular level. Along with that goes the North of the Merrit Parkway standard four-acre-zoning, then comes the never-ending rolling lawns, black shutters framing the windows, multi-story boxy styling, terraced gardens, pool houses, ponds, gazebos, tennis courts, and, the like. Unfortunately, my present pumpkin-world existence doesn’t offer that kind of extravagance. That’s alright, the weather back there was horrific for the most part, anyway.
Begrudgingly, I look at all the McMansions out here, which often consist of the pseudo-Spanish style, stucco and a few tiles tossed in here and there. Well, it isn’t quite that bad. Some of the track developments are though. I should perhaps temper my sarcasm a tad, as there are truly some stunning homes in Southern California; they come in all shapes and forms, with enough architectural diversity to satisfy a broad spectrum of varying tastes.
Along Comes 171 3rd Anita in Brentwood, Los Angeles
Perhaps what has surprised me the most was seeing Randy Forbes Jr.’s most recent listing located at 171 Anita 3, in Brentwood. I remember when I lived in Venice 15 years or so ago, I used to call those concrete contemporary homes the special bunker styling. It was quite prevalent and still remains the foundation to the artsy architectural landscape down there. Even though I was renting at the time, I was way too close-minded to appreciate it.
Enter 2009, the end of the world part two has come, people are scrambling for their identity, new careers are being considered, Wall Street has come undone, Bankers are wearing camouflage and hiding somewhere. And, I, the traditional purist, have embraced this stunning contemporary home on Anita. I’m not sure I have had an epiphany, although, I have changed my tune considerably. Do traditional homes still give me the warm and fuzzies? Well, yes, but I have to tell you, this home on Anita really opened my eyes.
During the open house with a hundred people roaming through there, it felt like it was hardly occupied. There were intimate areas scattered all over the home. A variety of living spaces and areas to gather. The screening room was awesome, the downstairs family room was insanely cool. The views out the back are expansive, and, the architecture wasn’t cold and stark but rather unique, warm and very functional. Fountains seemed to be everywhere, the outdoors and indoors areas seemed to have no borders, but existed through some invisible diaphanous membrane that made both worlds merge as one.
The scary part…I could actually see myself living there! Nice pool, very private, outdoor indoor living space, outdoor fireplace, barbecue potential on multiple layers, really, quite complete. It encompasses all the accoutrement’s of fine upscale living. When I checked my pockets I realized I was slightly out of my purchasing range, but, irregardless I could see myself sipping my double latte in the morning on one of the balconies or some other concoction at dusk. Some builders and architects have their fingers on the pulse. These folks have a traditionalist reevaluating his stance on comfort and style. If you are so inclined, you owe it to yourself to see this fine piece of living space. That is, if you can afford a multi-million dollar home. It’s funny, I still find myself reflecting on Anita with a true sense of admiration and respect.
By: Malcolm Scott
It seems that the real estate market is experiencing a bit of life again. Thank God. Buyers are snatching up some great deals too. But, unfortunately, sellers in a lot of instances are the highest bidders on their own properties. Whether it’s Santa Monica, Brentwood, Los Angeles, or Pacific Palisades, I see it happen time and time again. Just in case sellers haven’t noticed, it is a buyers market! But it isn’t all bad, with the right price- tag anything will sell. I promise you that.
Bottom line- even in this market, if a home is priced right, it sells.
Often sellers have a figure in their head they “need to make” to have it all work out for them. “I need to net $500,000, after paying off my note or I won’t sell.” ” I need to, after all expenses, put $100,000 in my pocket.” Whatever the figure is, often it is based on something other then market reality. It is based on emotion, what you would prefer, but, often times it isn’t realistic based on the current market conditions. Expectations need to be tempered with the market reality.
“Well, darn It, I just remodeled that bathroom last year!”
Often they have lived there for years. Maybe that’s where their children grew up. Maybe they remodeled and spent a ton of money, blood sweat and tears in the process. A labor of love. There is an emotional attachment to the home. And, often we feel justified based on that attachment to overvalue our home. We don’t think we’re being unrealistic. We see it differently, we just see “more” value there. Often Realtors, in an effort to accommodate the seller, will take that listing. “Let’s give it a shot at that price-you never know.” Almost every realtor has done it over the years. And, we have all enjoyed sales, even multiple offers when we felt homes might have been priced too high. So, the market place can often be fickle and surprising.
Often the realtor has spent a great deal of time and money on the marketing and advertising, not to mention the photography, MLS, mailers…the list goes on. Even fancy brochures and a big advertising budget won’t sell an overpriced home. Actually, some of these real estate magazines should be titled, “The Fancy Over-Priced Homes that will NEVER sell!” They are fun to look at though. After all, you are hiring a professional, take their advice. Would you tell your dentist or doctor how to do his work?
It happens over and over again… A realtor will place a home on the market and it will be over- priced. After painfully examining the data ad-nauseum, the seller just “has a feeling” they should start at that high figure. So what happens? The real estate community will then see it during the open house and they’ll probably leave saying; “You know, I loved that home on San Vicente, but it was just so overpriced.” Now what?
By: Malcolm H. Scott
“My son was always so sweet, and he still is, but, I just feel things could be better, and frankly, I’m at a loss on what to do.”
As parents, early on, we often have a vision of how we would like our child to turn out. Based on our parenting skills, our children’s experiences, their education, friends, and, perhaps some luck, the results will often be varied. What’s the cause and effect? Maybe as parents sometimes we become complacent, not out of a lack of caring or love. No one said it would be easy. Maybe our complex lives are the culprit. Sometimes it takes a lot of work, sometimes it’s simple and at other times our efforts seem to have the opposite affect on our children that we had hoped for. Do we lower our expectations? That sounds crazy. Then, after all, we are awfully busy. Is that just the way it is? How can we create a significant shift? “How can I enrich my child’s life?”
“We just want to be good parents and give our kids a chance. What are those experiences and influences that have some kids go awry and others make choices that keep them on a great path? What if there was a way you could increase the probability significantly that your child will learn and embrace values such as; responsibility, humility, fairness, compassion, and, develop courage and a sense of indomitable spirit? How about learning to face fear head-on and not fearing fear itself but using it as a tool to recognize areas that need work?
We accept that our children might not be the best at everything they do, but, at a minimum we want them to be decent people.
“It would be so cool if there was a class on ‘how to live your life right’, where does one go for something like that?”
By: Malcolm H. Scott
With the current economic crisis forever worsening, no one seems to be immune to the onslaught of financial hardship. Whether wealthy or living on the fringe, people have been affected. Some are seeing what they have worked for over the last decade or more disappear right before their eyes. Some seniors have watched their annuities fade away, others have watched their retirement accounts dwindle to nearly zero. Every day hard-working folks, just like you and I, are losing jobs. Some families have seen one of their income earners laid off. Others are hardly able to make house payments, while some are slipping into foreclosure. There is no denying America and the rest of the world are deeply embedded in a catastrophic economic crisis, even those veiled in denial have changed their opinion by now. Read the rest of this entry »
By: Malcolm H. Scott
“The Great Depression was, no doubt, depressing”
As it turns out the Stock Market Crash of 1929 didn’t create the Great Depression,
it was just perhaps the last tick of the bomb that imploded the whole market and world economy. The SEC, The Security and Exchange Commission had not been created yet and the practices in the 20’s were operating in a rather less-than-ethical space. New Companies like General Motors, seemed to be making everyone rich, operators like Joseph Kennedy, (and a slew of others) were notorious for making the big bucks in questionable practices. Investment scams that inflated values of stocks ( that were eventually dumped by the scammers) and consequently, left the investor pools holding the proverbial bag. These were the scams of the day. Read the rest of this entry »
By: Malcolm H. Scott
There are communities around the United States that are practically abandoned due to the recent wrath of foreclosures.
Real Estate Development deals have been stopped for lack of construction financing when nearly 90% complete. Businesses that need loans for equipment and expansion are being turned down that once had no problems getting financed. Mezzanine financing on large commercial real estate deals has almost completely dried up. And, the lenders that are still lending more resemble hard money shysters, yielding the kind of fees and interest rates that most would call usurious. Not to mention, the deals are now contingent upon the lender becoming an equity partner too. Thanks for the due diligence, we love being your partner. Surprise!
The last couple of years probably can’t end quick enough for most of us in the mortgage industry. The same could be said for those of us in real estate. I’m sure there are some securities brokers that wished the windows opened in some of those big office buildings. Most of them didn’t leap, although, there are a few that I would have liked to push out! I mean that in a nurturing and loving way. I’m sorry, after I’m finished standing in the bread line I’ll go see my therapist to suppress this festering resentment I have! Speed-bump?
and with that the lending guidelines have adjusted to our new, not so, “Brave New World.” That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, seeing some folks were giving out loans to pretty much anyone that could fog a mirror. We knew the house of cards was destine to fall sooner or later. When a mortgage back security is leveraged out 38 times or so, a lot was depending on those questionable folks making payments. Of course times got tough, jobs were lost, rates adjusted, home values finally plummeted and here we all are in a heap sorting through the ashes of what we once knew. I could use a hug. Read the rest of this entry »