Housing inventory is down  *  Prices are up  *  Competition is weak  *  Buyers are ready  *  Now is a great time to sell 
Cynthia Radom - Service, Sales, Success
Real Estate e-Newsletter
Coldwell Banker Previews International
Coldwell Banker Co.
166 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
News & Issues for Baby Boomers to Golden-agers
By: Cynthia S. Radom  *  Award-winning Certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist
July-September 2013   *   [email protected]   *   (310) 288-0479
** Writer and Publisher since October 1999 **
 10 SFRs + 636 Condos = 90067
Century City Boom
Residential development in Century City is booming.  Three new projects will add ten homes and 636 condos to the 90067 zip code.  Currently, C.C. has about 1,900 residences, all of which are condos in various configurations.  Located on what was once the former back lot of 20th Century Fox Studios, Century City is on the western edge of Beverly Hills.

353 New Condos
Plans are approved and construction begins in 2014 to reconfigure the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel plus add two luxury condo towers on the six-acre site.  The hotel is on Avenue of the Stars and the new towers will be around back on Constellation Blvd. where the Equinox Spa and the parking structure are currently located.  Sold in May 2008 for $366.5 million, the 1966 Minoru Yamasaki-designed hotel is being considered for the City's list of historical-cultural monuments.

Century Plaza Hotel will convert 726 guest rooms into 394 larger rooms and add 63 luxury condos on the top five of its nineteen floors for full-time residents.  The two 46-story neighboring towers will have an additional 290 units
A breezeway between the buildings will be converted from the hotel lobby.  Planned on the two-acres of "green" space, connecting the structures in the back, will be fountains and landscaping making the site pedestrian-friendly.  This C.C. project will add a total of 353 condos, plus more retail shops, restaurants and office space to the areas property mix.   Cost of the hotel and condo projects is estimated at $2-billion.

Ten new single-family homes
Century Woods, the 1980s guard-gated community on Century Park West is adding ten more free-standing, single- family residences (SFRs) a.k.a. Villas.  The two-story structures will be located on a 1.75 acre parcel at the corner of Solar Way, which was sold by the Century Woods Association for about $13 million.

In Century City's residential mix there are only 32 free-standing homes, and all are located in Century WoodsThese two-story structures are called "Villas" as opposed to the 48 one-level unit condos disbursed in four three-story buildings within the complex.  The expansion will add ten more Villas, all about 5,000 square feet, and will have monthly dues as a part of the Century Woods
Association.  Plans are not yet approved.

283 New Condos
10000 Santa Monica Blvd. 
Basic plans call for
283 "glass" condominiums in a 40-story residential tower on the 2.4 acre lot adjacent to Beverly Hills High School.

All the C.C. residential projects have great appeal to the down-sizing market from large family homes, and for walking to Westfield's shopping center for movies, restaurants, shopping and more.  Great news for Baby Boomers.
Seniors **MUST READ**
Attention Seniors: Ease in new underwriting rules may allow you to qualify for a mortgage to downsize before selling your family home.  Thanks to a new rule change, Seniors with limited income may qualify for a loan to buy a condo or smaller home using imputed income from a 401(k), IRA or other retirement assets.

Knowing where you're going to live after moving from the family home is always safer and less stressful.  The ability to buy before you sell, using an interim "swing" or "bridge" loan, can make moving much easier.

A little-known policy revision at
Freddie and Fannie, the federally controlled mortgage investment companies, will allow Seniors to use certain retirement account balances to supplement their incomes for underwriting purposes without actually tapping into those balances or drawing out cash.
Aimed at the tidal wave of Baby Boomers entering retirement (8,000 a day for the next 18 years!), many are seeing their income plummet after retiring. Yet on paper they look relatively comfortable, financially.  Often they have growing IRA and 401(k) account balances, solid equity in their home, good credit scores and a modest savings. However, they don't qualify for a loan with new post-recession debt-to-income underwriting standards.

Under the new federal qualifying changes, a borrower's monthly income can increase without cashing out investment funds, and allow them to qualify to make mortgage payments.  For example, having a hefty balance in a retirement fund, that has not been touched and that could be accessed with no IRS penalty, is the key.  However, if an account is already being tapped into and money withdrawn, the computations for loan qualifications are different.

Bottom line: If a debt-ratio problem is preventing you from getting a new mortgage, and you've got substantial untapped retirement funds that might help qualify you on income, don't settle for a rejection.  You may have more income - at least for underwriting purposes - than you thought.  Ask your loan broker or underwriter who are unfamiliar with the program to consult Freddie or Fannie for detailed guidelines.  
Excerpts from an L.A. Times article, 5/24/2013

Borrowers who cannot qualify may have access to a "swing" loan through a private money lender. 
BH Wood Roof Update

Beverly Hills City Council voted to allow the existing 151 home owners with wood roofs to either replace or spray with fire retardant by July 2014.  The spray would need to be reapplied every five years by a certified applicator.  However, if a home with a wood roof is sold, the new owner must replace the roof.  The cost of replacing a roof  may not be a prudent decision for a longtime homeowner. 
Vacation Homes are Up
Now is a great time to sell or buy a vacation home.  As prices remain relatively low, affluent buyers are finding desirable mortgage rates for that vacation getaway.  National Assoc. of REALTORS (NAR) 2012 survey results show an increase in sales of 7% from the previous year for income and vacation properties; the biggest jump since 2005.  Another indicator of this rise is travel expenditures rose almost 9%.
Here are some survey results:
- 42% of vacation-home buyers paid in cash
- 39% purchased distressed properties
- typical Buyer was 50-years-old with a median income of $88K per year
- vacation homes averaged 305 miles from Buyer's primary residence; 35% within 100 miles and 37% more than 500 miles
- typical Buyers plan to own their recreational property for a median of ten years
- 33% of Buyers have numerous vacation rentals, as investors are keeping the inventory thin.
- 91% of vacation home Buyers expect to lease the property for part of the season from one to eight weeks; others for longer

Vacation property prospects are also looking outside the U.S., Canada is very attractive.  These Buyers also plan to rent when personal use is not a priority.

NOTE: It is very important to know that obtaining a mortgage is different for non-primary properties.  Lenders are stricter with vacation home mortgages so Buyers must have immaculate credit - often 720 or greater - and be current with primary home mortgage payments.
Looking for a bargain on a multi-million dollar estate?  Even the wealthy are not exempt from foreclosure.  Any borrower who is delinquent with mortgage payments risks the lender foreclosing and repossessing the home to put on the market for sale.

An example of what you can get in these seven U.S. towns, can be seen (by clicking) on the link below:
- Franklin Lakes NJ
- Middleton WI
- Lakewood CO
- Pleasanton CA
- McLean VA
- Blue Bell PA
- Greenwich CT
- Burr Ridge IL
Million $$$ Foreclosures
(click on link to view properties)

Foreclosure vs. short sale
Foreclosure is different than a short sale.  A short sale is the step just before foreclosure.  The delinquent borrower has formulated an agreement with their lender to discount a mortgage payoff using the proceeds of the property sale,  thereby, avoiding foreclosure.  There are credit implications for the borrower resulting from either default resolution. 
Prorating Costs Through Escrow
In every Residential Purchase Agreement the terms of the sale are determined including who pays escrow fees.  Each principal usually splits the basic fee for the escrow service, based on the purchase price, and then any separate expenses incurred will be paid accordingly.  Costs also include any expenses which one party or the other may have incurred in advance of the property transfer, or charges which cover a period of time following the close of escrow.  The escrow officer tabulates credits and debits, commonly known as closing costs, for the Buyer and the Seller.  Simply put: a debit means the amount the principal's account will be charged, a credit is the opposite.

Prorating is dividing equally or proportionately to the time of use.  Prorating costs apply to calculating the time period when the Seller is still in possession of the property and the remaining days or months the Buyer becomes the new property owner.  Customary costs to prorate include: property taxes, interest, rents, insurance and homeowner association dues, and are normally calculated on a 30-day month.  When prepaid by the Seller, a credit will be given to the owner from the time the property is transferred to the next payment due date...the Buyer will be debited.  If the Buyer pays an expense after the sale, the purchaser will be credited for the period of time the Seller owned the property...and the Seller will be debited.  Not to worry, that is why we pay escrow officers to handle the details!
Residence Corner
A different topic for the Residence Corner column:
Donating your personal and household items.
There are a few non-profit organizations that will pick up donations from your home.  Whether you are clearing a home of a decedent, moving or decluttering, here are a few non-profits to call for a pick-up:
- Beit T'shuvah Thrift Shop:
100% of the proceeds finance beds and maintenance costs at their residential alcohol and drug treatment center, where no one is ever turned away.  Every day residents work at the store as they learn to live productive lives.  This organization bags, boxes and removes donations.
Call: Helen (310) 204-4669  
- UCLA Thrift Shop:
furniture donations only
Call: (310) 478-1793  Ext: 0
- Salvation Army:
you box or bag, they will pick-up
Call: (800) 958-7825  Ext: 2-3  
-Viet Nam Vets:
Call: (866) 924-6722
Each organization has donation qualifications, and none will take used mattresses.
Please let me know of other non-profits that will pick-up.

        Tidbits of News

- Top ten U.S. markets with the biggest home price increases are in CA (sell, sell, sell today!)
Case-Shiller, a leading real estate forecaster, predicts home prices will increase by an average of 3.3% annually until September 2017, which is a return to normal 

- Forward planning: a woman from China bought a $6.5M NYC condo since her two-year old daughter will be attending an eastern college in 2029
- General Electric Co. is making refrigerators with a hot water dispenser in the door
- Kohler Co. is making a wireless speaker system that attaches to a shower head, playing seven hours of music
- Consumers receive a 30% federal tax credit when buying a solar-powered skylight that closes automatically when it senses rain
- First quarter stats: four of the top five least affordable housing markets in the nation are in California
- Clutter-bug: v
isit the Container Store in C.C. for great organizing products  
- CA unemployment is expected to be 9.9% in 2013, down from 10.7% in 2012
- Prices of real estate are up, but still about 21.9% below the (abnormal) high of 2007
Home Seller Changes
CA Association of REALTORS
(C.A.R) provided market survey results of Changes for Home Sellers.  Starting with a record majority, 57% of all 2012 CA home sales were first-time SellersThe survey suggests that not only were longtime homeowners selling, but those who bought a few years ago, when prices were higher, are selling their home. 

As to why they sold, more than half (58%) claimed affordability problems, such as inability to pay mortgage and loss of income.  Other reasons for selling were uncertainty of job and income and major financial debt.  A whopping 79% of Sellers tapped into their home equity by taking out cash.  Another indicator of challenging times is more than half of those Sellers, 53%, currently rent instead of own.  Also, Sellers are not very optimistic about future home prices.  Only one in five surveyed believe home prices will rise in the next ten years; only 12% think that prices will rise in five years and only 9% believe prices will increase this year.  (The survey must have excluded Sellers along the coast where prices are rising.)  This is in sharp contrast to C.A.R.'s Home Buyer Survey: most respondents believe home prices will rise in the future.  One of the main reasons for the current Buyer frenzy.

Sellers moved out of CA in record numbers, 44% in 2012, the highest in the survey's history.  This exodus is up 39% from only 5% in 2004.

 Most Expensive in U.S.

As of this writing, the most  expensive home for sale in the nation is Copper Beech Farm, in Greenwich CT, asking price $190,000,000.  The house is 13,519 sq. ft. with 12 bedrooms,
9 baths and boasts 4,000 ft. of waterfront property on Long Island Sound, click below:

If you have $125 million in cash (no mortgage allowed), the top three PH floors in Manhattan's Pierre Hotel can be yours. So can the $47,000 monthly fee:
Manhattan's $125M Home pix

In Beverly Hills, still listed for $125 million, is Fleur de Lys.  But, Miami's Versace estate is reduced to $100 mill.  Buyers?
Luxury Home Trends
Coldwell Banker released a 24-page Luxury Market Report about 2012 home sales nationwide, upwards of $1 million to multi-millions.  The report identified and examined six U.S. communities that have demonstrated price stability, or are on the rise, and that offer great value for luxury home buyers.  Some areas are less talked about, quiet or hidden gems, others are sleepy suburbs on the rise, including:
1. Bonita Springs FL
2. Castle Pines Village CO
3. Glenview IL
4. Carpenteria CA
5. Marblehead MA
6. Paradise Valley AZ

The above FL, CO and IL areas are noted for value in the $1 mill to $2 million home sales.  The CA and MA areas have seen a rise in the $2-3 million sale range, and Paradise Valley AZ is known for its upper $3 mill+  home sales.

The report also gathered sale statistics by zip code in the Top Ten Luxury Markets in three distinct price points: $1 mill+, $5 mill+ and $10 mill+.  (Note: metro NY sales were broken down into five areas: downtown; upper east and west; midtown east and west because of market density: 
Top cities:$1M - $5M
Downtown NYC 889 sales
Burlingame CA 370 sales
Saratoga CA 344 sales
Manh. Beach CA 334 sales
Top cities:$5M - $10M
Upper East NYC   99 sales
Beverly Hills CA   82 sales
Aspen CO   48 sales
Malibu CA   43 sales
Top cities:$10 mill+
Upper East NYC   41 sales
Beverly Hills CA   21 sales
Aspen CO
   16 sales
Montecito CA
   15 sales
The report also examined what Australia considered as their luxury market, having several cities ranked in the top ten most expensive worldwide.  Australia considers the "prestige" home market to be $5 mill to $50 mill AUD's (US$ is about 3%  .higher).  Areas commanding the highest values include: Sydney's Pier Point, Perth's Peppermint Grove and Melbourne's Toorak.  Australia's record estate sale was in 2009 for about $59.3 million USD.
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2013 Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.  Coldwell Banker is a registered trademark licensed to Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.  An Equal Opportunity Company.  Equal Housing Opportunity.  Owned By a Subsidiary of NRT LLC.  This is not intended as a solicitation if your property is already listed.