September Home Sales Up Slightly from Last Year

Southern California home sales dropped last month from August, as they normally do, and eked out a tiny gain from a year earlier as bargain hunting below $300,000 remained relatively strong, according to a release from San Diego-based DataQuick.

To view the complete release visit:

Home prices continued their sideways-to-downward slide, with the region’s median sale price falling below the year-ago level for the seventh consecutive month, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 18,149 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in September. That was down 7.7 percent from 19,654 in August and up 0.3 percent from 18,091 in September 2010, according to the release..

It’s normal for home sales to drop between August and September, partly because many home buyers try to close their deals before school starts in late summer. On average, sales have fallen 8.3 percent between August and September since 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin.

September sales have varied from a low of 12,455 in 2007 to a high of 37,771 in 2003. Last month’s sales were 25.3 percent below the September average of 24,310 transactions since 1988.

“Last month’s Southland sales weren’t great but, like some other economic indicators of late, they came in a bit higher than some might have expected. Holding steady with a year ago isn’t so bad when you consider the hits the housing market has taken in recent months, including a big psychological blow from a tanking stock market in early August. Part of what’s keeping demand afloat is improved affordability thanks to ultra-low mortgage rates and lower home prices. We’ll have to wait and see what impact the lower conforming loan limits, which took effect recently, will have in some of the higher-priced markets,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

The median price paid for all new and resale Southland houses and condos purchased last month was $280,000. That was up 0.4 percent from $279,000 in August but down 5.2 percent from $295,500 in September 2010.

The regional median has declined year-over-year for the past seven months – since March. The last time any one of the six Southland counties posted an annual gain in its median sale price was in January, when San Bernardino logged a 1.0 percent year-over-year increase.

Last month’s median was 13.4 percent higher than the median’s low point in the current real estate cycle – $247,000 in April 2009 – but was 44.6 percent lower than the peak $505,000 median in mid 2007. The peak-to-trough drop was due to a decline in home values and a shift in sales toward lower-cost homes, especially inland foreclosures.

Malibu Beach House Once Owned By Judy Garland

A Malibu beach house originally owned by actress Judy Garland when she was married to film and stage director Vincente Minnelli has sold for $1,475,000, according to the L.A. Times. To see the story visit:,0,3598872.story.

Built in 1947 and located on PCH, the three bedroom, two bath, 1,300 square foot Cape Cod-style home is on Las Tunas Beach. It has expansive decks overlooking the ocean, high ceilings, and hardwood floors throughout.

The Grant Deed shows that one Judy Garland Minnelli purchased the house in November of 1947. The kitchen has Viking appliances. There are two wood burning fireplaces, one in the master bedroom and one in the living room. The property also has a courtyard and direct beach access.

The buyers are Mitchell and Stacy Leib. Mitchell Leib is president of music and soundtracks at Disney Studios. The home is a fixer-upper, said the agent, and the couple plans to update it in the near future.

Kathleen Smith of Rodeo Realty’s Studio City office represented the buyer. Irene Dazzan-Palmer and Sandro Dazzan of Coldwell Banker Previews International were the listing agents.

Sharon Stone Selling Home in Beverly Hills

Joe Babajian of Rodeo Realty’s Beverly Hills office has listed actress Sharon Stone’s Beverly Hills area home for $8,995,000. The Los Angeles Times featured the estate in Hot Properties:,0,4370347.story

The walled and gated Mediterranean estate sits at the end of a private road on five acres with pathways, bridges, waterfalls, fruit trees, a meditation garden, a swimming pool and a tennis court with viewing pavilion.

The main house, built in 1991, includes a paneled library with a fireplace and an oversized living room with a wet bar. The master suite has a fireplace, dual bathrooms, dual dressing rooms and a terrace.
The guest house contains a media room, a gym and two bedrooms, for a total of seven bedrooms and 71/2 bathrooms. There is covered parking for about 14 cars. For more information visit:

Conforming Loan Limits Set to Expire

This is a piece Carol Wolfe of Rodeo Realty’s Encino office wrote for back in August. The original story can be viewed at: Some other resources on the subject were added for this blog post. Here it is:

Unless Congress acts, the current conforming loan limits will expire on Sept. 30, and the cost of a mortgage could rise significantly.

More than 30,000 California families will face higher down payments, higher mortgage rates and stricter loan qualification requirements if conforming loan limits on mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are reduced beginning Oct. 1, according to analysis by the California Association of REALTORS® (CAR).

The Los Angeles Times wrote a piece on the issue today. Read quotes from Rodeo Realty’s Syd Leibovitch at:,0,7797548.story

Despite the Obama administration saying it will support a one-year extension of the current loan limits, said Wolfe, Bank of America has already lowered its loan limits for new loans, and others are expected to follow suit.

This is potentially a big deal for home buyers and sellers here in the Los Angeles area! Many buyers will be looking at higher down payments, higher mortgage rates and stricter qualification requirements.

Government-sponsored enterprises such as FHA, Fannie and Freddie buy and guarantee mortgages. That government guarantee allows buyers the opportunity to pay less money down than conventional mortgages, because it reduces lender’s risk.

In 2008, Congress temporarily raised the conforming loan limits from $417,000 to $729,750 and has extended them annually through fiscal year 2011, according to CAR. This has been an effort to spur home buying in a tough economy.

I agree with CAR’s stance that higher loan limits are an essential part of the housing market recovery. And I support the association’s efforts to urge Congress to maintain the current limits and make them permanent. Congress is the only body that can extend the program.

Heath Ledger's Former Hollywood Hills Home

John Galich and Kristin Morley of Rodeo Realty’s Sunset Strip office are listing the former home of  the late actor Heath Ledger for $2,995,000. Known as “The Tree House,” the secluded abode is also said to have once been owned by comedian Ellen DeGeneres.

The 1951 mid-century is nestled behind gates on a celebrity filled stretch of Woodrow Wilson. It sits amidst a mature sycamore grove and nearly a half an acre of lush grounds. Check out what Huffington Post had to say about the home:

The interior feature two bedrooms, office and two baths, polished concrete floors, open-beamed ceilings and rooms that have been renovated. Walls of glass open to a 2,500 square foot outdoor living area with a movie lounge, dining/barbecue space and multiple seating areas perched in the trees.


The house is wired  for music throughout, cameras, security and projection systems.  For more information contact John Galich at 310.461.0468 or email to

Rodeo Realty Launches Local Market Reports Web Site

State, county and national real estate statistics paint broad brush strokes about what’s happening in the market. The key to success for buyers, sellers and agents alike is understanding market conditions in specific communities and neighborhoods.

So Rodeo Realty recently launched a Web site,, which will post monthly localized market reports for communities in the Westside of Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley area, and Ventura County. (Please note: The images below do not link directly to the market reports. You must visit the before mentioned Web site.)

The reports will break market statistics down into individual cities in the regions. Statistics include: median sales price; number of properties sold; pending sales; properties for sale; average days on market; month’s supply of inventory; and percentage under contract. The reports compare the current month with the same month a year ago, and note the percentage change.

Rodeo’s marketing team is adding data to the site each day. So the available coverage will become more comprehensive over time.

Jason Priestley Selling Toluca Lake Home

Actor Jason Priestley, well known for playing the character Brandon Walsh on the hit television series “Beverly Hills 90210,” has placed his Los Angeles area home on the market for $2.1 million.

Here’s what the LA Times had to say about the property:,0,3550525.story. NBC’s OpenHouse also featured the home:–129505768.html

Priestley currently stars as Richard Fitzpatrick on the television series “Call Me Fitz.” The HBO Canada sitcom picked up seven Gemini Awards this year from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. “Call Me Fitz” received a total of 16 nominations for the 26th Annual Gemini Awards.
The 3,266 square foot gated home has three bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths. A courtyard leads to the entrance where there is a double-height foyer. There is a stone fireplace and banks of French doors in the living room. The large family room opens to a formal dining room and rear covered patio.
The gourmet kitchen features a center island, walk-in pantry, and casual dining area. The master bedroom includes a stone fireplace, cathedral ceilings, walk-in closet, and private bath. The second floor also has two family bedrooms with en suite baths and an open loft-like den.

The grounds include private gardens, pool, spa, and a covered patio spanning the rear of the property. Peter Schwartz and Jonathan Fritts of Rodeo Realty’s Sunset Strip office are the listing agents.

Rodeo Realty Billboard on the Sunset Strip

Location, location, location! Here’s a fun shot of Rodeo Realty’s billboard in a high traffic area on Sunset Boulevard. If you’re curious about the restaurant, it’s Mel’s Diner.
Thanks to Fred Henry,  manager of the Sunset Strip office, who took the shot.   

Wayne Brady Selling Los Angeles Area Home

Actor, singer and comedian Wayne Brady is selling his home in the San Fernando Valley for $2.2 million. Laura Piller and the Cohan Team of Rodeo Realty’s Calabasas office are the listing agents.

Brady is well known for his role on the comedy improv show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” Among his other credits, he hosted and produced “The Wayne Brady Show” and is the current host of the television game show “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Located south of Ventura Boulevard, the Mediterranean-style 5,468 square home has five bedrooms, five baths, gated drive, grand entry and two stories. The entry opens up to a living room with fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows.
The gourmet kitchen features custom cabinets, granite counters, stainless steel appliances, eating area and walk-in pantry. The master suite has a sitting area, built-in media center, customized walk-in closet and spa-style bathroom. The house also has city views, state-of-the-art home theater, and designer touches throughout.

The Power of Newspaper Real Estate Ads

Never under estimate the power of newspaper real estate advertisements. While it’s true more than 80 percent of home buyers begin their search online, there are still plenty of folks who love the feel of newsprint in their hands.
Barbra Stover of Rodeo Realty’s Beverly Hills office recently ran an open house box advertisement in the L.A. Times for her client’s $1,475,000 Malibu property. The home is located in the Las Flores Canyon area.

A very nice lady called from the ad, was excited to see the property, and attended the open house. The woman had been looking in Sea View Estates for a while, according to Stover.
After attending the open house, the woman visited again with her family at least three times. She loved the house, pool, and location. Stover and her co-listing partner had taken extra time to partially stage the property.
The woman finally pulled the trigger. Since she did not have an agent, Stover and Erika Mlachak of Verde Realty represented both sides of the deal. The home was only on the market for a month and sold for the listing price. Comparable sales in the area went back a year!
On another recent occasion, a prospective buyer attended one of Ollie Brown’s advertised open houses for a $1.675 million home in Calabasas.
“The buyer came in without representation, was straight-up, and came back several times with his family, ” said Brown, adding from the beginning he knew the person was willing to go the distance.
Even though other parties expressed interest in the property, and a willingness to pay more, Brown encouraged the seller to go with the gentleman from the open house.
The other buyers talked a lot about wanting the house, he said, but they never followed through on submitting formal offers.
Brown proceeded to represent both sides and use Encore Escrow, L.A. Mortgage and Progressive Title in the deal. He said all of these companies put a solid transaction together quickly. The story gets even better, because Brown just listed the buyer’s other home in Woodland Hills for more than $700,000.