Thursday, September 5, 2013

SOTHEBY'S INT'L REALTY NAMED "BEST IN CATEGORY" FOR FRANCHISEE SATISFACTION, 2013

For the sixth year in a row, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC has won the prestigious Franchise Business Review's "Best in Category" for Real Estate Franchisee Satisfaction award. 

“It’s great to see the Sotheby’s International Realty brand top our Real Estate list once again this year,” said Franchise Business Review President Michelle Rowan. “As the real estate and housing markets bounce back, franchises within the space need to stay top of mind with franchise buyers and consumers. The brand continues to seek ways to drive franchisee satisfaction and profitability–and their hard work shows here.”

The Sotheby’s International Realty® network currently operates in approximately 660 offices in 47 countries and territories worldwide. Each office is independently owned and operated.

For white glove service with a local touch and global reach, contact Elaine Mallon, Broker Associate, Peninsula | Sotheby's International Realty, 310-721-7121.  Serving:  Palos Verdes Peninsula, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, San Pedro Peninsula and the surrounding coastal cities of Los Angeles county.

Friday, August 9, 2013

MILLION DOLLAR HOME SALES JUMP IN CALIFORNIA AS WEALTHY RETURN

Excerpt from Bloomberg News, by Kathleen M. Howley:
 

Home sales from Los Angeles to Charleston, South Carolina, that are priced at more than $1 million are gaining at triple the pace of the broader market, according to real estate research firm DataQuick Inc. Wealthy purchasers, helped by gains in equities, are diving into real estate a year after a recovery began in the housing market.

Sales of homes priced at more than $1 million jumped an average 37 percent in 2013’s first half from a year earlier to the highest level since 2007, according to DataQuick. Transactions priced at less than $1 million rose 11 percent in the same period to the highest since 2009, data from the National Association of Realtors show.

The $1-million-and-up end of the market usually trails cycles of the broader market because real estate purchases by wealthier buyers “tend to be discretionary spending” that can wait until economic conditions are right, says one expert. Those homeowners usually can hang onto properties during tough times, and their houses are big enough for them to stay even if their families expand.

The rebounding housing market is helping to spur a broader recovery. Economists are predicting the U.S. economy will expand by 2.3 percent this quarter from 1.7 percent in the prior three months and grow every period through at least 2014’s third quarter, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

Wealthy families are gaining confidence in the economy and they’re seeing stability in their investments,” said Nikki Michelini, director at wealth-management firm Aspiriant LLC in Los Angeles.   “A lot of them are saying now is the time to buy a house.”

The upper tier of real estate that’s now rising the fastest also fell the hardest during the financial meltdown. Sales of property priced for more than $1 million tumbled 41 percent in 2008 as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) fell to an 11-year low. It was preceded by a 4 percent falloff in 2007. In the wider market the collapse began in 2006 with a 39 percent plunge through 2007, followed by a 3.8 percent drop in 2008, according to the Realtors’ association.

Homes priced at more than $1 million lost about 46 percent of their value during the housing crash, according to a Bloomberg survey of sales in the top four cities, based on valuation data from Zillow.com. Since then, their value has more than doubled. Home prices in the broader market fell to $154,600 in early 2012 and increased to $214,200 in June, according to the Realtor’s group.

Rebounding equity markets have helped to fuel the surge in sales of high-end homes, LePage said. The Dow Jones benchmark has jumped 18 percent this year through yesterday. North American millionaires have about 37 percent of their assets in stocks, according to a June report by Cap Gemini SA (CAP) and Royal Bank of Canada.

“The rich are feeling better about their prospects and starting to rediscover real estate as a place to park money,” LePage said. “The stock market has created a tremendous amount of wealth, and that’s being put into homes.”

For buyers of real estate selling for more than $1 million, rising interest rates may be less relevant than for other buyers. About eight out of 10 purchases of luxury real estate are made in cash because it makes bids more competitive, said Aspiriant’s Michelini, the director of wealth management. Most buyers then take out mortgages on their new properties, she said.

“It makes sense for them to then get mortgages because rates are so low they’re getting more leverage out of their assets by investing the proceeds of the loan,” she said.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

MANHATTAN BEACH REAL ESTATE SALES -- AND PRICES -- ON FIRE!

Excerpts from Aug. 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine:

 

The South Bay's unbeatable small-town beach vibe is an irresistible lure for high-profile sports stars, celebrities and others who are pushing sales prices past even 2006 highs.

 
By key metrics, Manhattan Beach is one of the most on-fire real estate markets in the L.A. area right now. The small beach town of 35,000 residents located just south of LAX -- known for its high-profile sports star residents and Raleigh Manhattan Beach Studios -- hit a peak median residential sales price of $1.8 million in May, surpassing the highest median price of the boom year of 2006 (and up 22 percent from the same month in 2012).

The South Bay town had the most $1 million-plus home sales of any Southern California city in 2012. Look on the Multiple Listing Service, and, as of July 22, there are just five single-family houses for sale in the burg for less than $1 million.

"Once we hit the new year, all hell broke loose -- with multiple offers on everything. Here in July, we're 17 percent higher than we were in March," says one local agent.  Bidding wars are not uncommon and inventory is still limited.

So why the frenzy? A combination of factors has turned Manhattan Beach -- originally named Manhattan by its New York developer around 1902 (the "Beach" part was added later) -- into a posh paradise.  No. 1, of course, is the big blue sea. "Well, it's really about the ocean," says Andre Jacquemetton, who has lived in the area with his wife, Maria, for a decade. (The two Emmy-winning Mad Men writer-producers recently left the show after six seasons to set up an overall production deal at Warner Bros. Television.) "When we moved to Southern California, we really wanted to take advantage of the ocean. What's the point otherwise?" he adds.

Quality public schools also are a major selling point. The Manhattan Beach district as a whole ranks as the third-best performing in the state. Says Maria, "We have kids, and it's been a really terrific place to raise your children sort of far from the craziness of a big city."

For many, the city's density -- so unlike Malibu's coastal sprawl -- is key to its Mayberry appeal. Houses, even the biggest ones, sit nearly cheek by jowl. This means that walking anywhere, and particularly to the main commercial strips, is a jiff.

"Everyone knows everybody," says writer Steve Maeda (The X-Files, Lost). "You don't have a choice. Everything is packed in so tight." Adds WME agent Cori Wellins: "I love the area because you can drop your car on Friday and not need to be back in it until Monday morning. You can walk, jog, scooter or ride your bike anywhere."

Not that the morning drive is as far as those who don't live in the South Bay might think. "I probably shouldn't say this, but it's only 30 minutes to CAA," says agent Amie Avor. "I don't want the secret to be out. I've hacked the route. It's not that hard."

More than anything, though, Manhattan Beach's sports, business and entertainment industry players have been drawn to the oh-so-SoCal vibe. "When I was a kid, my mother used to say, 'Get out of your school clothes and get in to your play clothes,' " says producer Jeremy Elice, whose wife, Nicole, is Showtime's entertainment public relations director.  "In Manhattan Beach, you have that same thing, that you're going from your work clothes to your play clothes. It's laid-back."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

PRIVATE HOMES SALES, KNOWN AS "POCKET LISTINGS," ARE SURGING IN THIS HOT MARKET

EXCERPT FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, May 10, 2013, by Kenneth R. Harney
 
Top brokers in some highly competitive markets say pocket listings are becoming a significant factor in the business.
 
WASHINGTON — How hot is hot when it comes to housing markets across the country right now? Crazy hot: Some houses sell within days, sometimes within hours, of listing. Then there are the growing numbers that sell even before they formally hit the market — sold through a controversial technique known as "pocket listing."

What's a pocket listing? Essentially it's a private, "off-market" listing, often of short duration. Instead of putting the house on the local Multiple Listing Service, which exposes it to a vast number of shoppers and agents via real estate websites, agents restrict access to information about the house to their own buyer clients or colleagues in the same brokerage, hoping for a quick, full-price sale.
 
Pocket listings are surging, real estate experts say, because of historically low inventories of homes for sale in major metropolitan areas, along with strong buyer demand and low mortgage rates. This combination has made control of upcoming new listings a powerful, highly profitable asset for agents in the most competitive sellers' markets.

If agents can sell their off-market listing to a buyer-client they bring in on their own, they can collect both sides of the commission rather than splitting it with another agent. If they can sell it through colleagues in their own firm — even at a slight discount to regular commission rates — the full commission remains inside the brokerage.

Though no organization or research firm publishes statistics on the subject, top brokers in some highly competitive markets say pocket listings are becoming a significant factor in the business.

Real estate executives are critical of pocket listings. They argue that by restricting access to information about homes available for sale to relatively small numbers of potential buyers, agents who engage in the practice are not fulfilling their core duties to their seller clients and not obtaining the highest possible prices.

Bill Podley, broker-owner of Podley Properties, says he has heard estimates that as many as one-third of luxury and upper-cost homes selling in northeastern Los Angeles County involve pocket listings.  Podley cites the example of a house he recently sold. Because it was put on the Multiple Listing Service, it drew 300 visitors and 50 offers within five days, and it sold for more than 40% above the asking price.

"It is highly unlikely," he said, "that the seller would have achieved that kind of price had the home been exposed to a limited number of buyers" through a pocket listing.

Some agents, however, argue that there is a good case for keeping things private: Sellers may not want hundreds of strangers tramping through their homes. Others just want to get the transaction done quickly at an agreeable price — not a bonanza — and don't see the need for Internet exposure. Still others argue that large brokerages that are prominent in the upper brackets of their local markets have agents who know hundreds of potentially interested buyers.
 
Bottom line: If you are thinking about selling, be aware that pocket listings restrict the audience for your property, and possibly your maximum price. If that's fine with you, and you understand the potential conflicts of interest when brokerages represent both the seller and the buyer in a real estate transaction, then go for it.


Distributed by Washington Post Writers Group

OFF MARKET "POCKET LISTINGS" ARE SURGING

Private sales of homes, known as 'pocket listings,' are surging

Top brokers in some highly competitive markets say pocket listings are becoming a significant factor in the business.

May 10, 2013|By Kenneth R. Harney
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WASHINGTON — How hot is hot when it comes to housing markets across the country right now? Crazy hot: Some houses sell within days, sometimes within hours, of listing. Then there are the growing numbers that sell even before they formally hit the market — sold through a controversial technique known as "pocket listing."
What's a pocket listing? Essentially it's a private, "off-market" listing, often of short duration. Instead of putting the house on the local Multiple Listing Service, which exposes it to a vast number of shoppers and agents via real estate websites, agents restrict access to information about the house to their own buyer clients or colleagues in the same brokerage, hoping for a quick, full-price sale.
Pocket listings are surging, real estate experts say, because of historically low inventories of homes for sale in major metropolitan areas, along with strong buyer demand and low mortgage rates. This combination has made control of upcoming new listings a powerful, highly profitable asset for agents in the most competitive sellers' markets.
If agents can sell their off-market listing to a buyer-client they bring in on their own, they can collect both sides of the commission rather than splitting it with another agent. If they can sell it through colleagues in their own firm — even at a slight discount to regular commission rates — the full commission remains inside the brokerage.
Though no organization or research firm publishes statistics on the subject, top brokers in some highly competitive markets say pocket listings are becoming a significant factor in the business.
Bill Podley, broker-owner of Podley Properties, a Pasadena firm that specializes in middle- and high-end communities, says he has heard estimates that as many as one-third of luxury and upper-cost homes selling in northeastern Los Angeles County involve pocket listings.
David Howell, executive vice president of McEnearney Associates Inc., a large brokerage in the Washington, D.C., area, says he heard a recent estimate that such listings may run as much as 20% nationally.
Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Redfin, an online real estate firm, said "we are seeing more pocket listings across the U.S. In Boston and Los Angeles, we also see listing agents refuse to allow any showings of the home until the weekend open house."
Real estate executives are critical of pocket listings. They argue that by restricting access to information about homes available for sale to relatively small numbers of potential buyers, agents who engage in the practice are not fulfilling their core duties to their seller clients and not obtaining the highest possible prices.
Podley cites the example of a house he recently sold. Because it was put on the Multiple Listing Service, it drew 300 visitors and 50 offers within five days, and it sold for more than 40% above the asking price.
"It is highly unlikely," he said, "that the seller would have achieved that kind of price had the home been exposed to a limited number of buyers" through a pocket listing.
Some agents, however, argue that there is a good case for keeping things private: Sellers may not want hundreds of strangers tramping through their homes. Others just want to get the transaction done quickly at an agreeable price — not a bonanza — and don't see the need for Internet exposure. Still others argue that large brokerages that are prominent in the upper brackets of their local markets have agents who know hundreds of potentially interested buyers.
Tom Heatherman, communications director for Michael Saunders & Co., a Sarasota, Fla., brokerage with 600 agents, says his firm conducts weekly "caravans" for its agents to view homes not yet on the Multiple Listing Service but scheduled for listing by the company later in the week.
In this spring's atmosphere of "feverish" buyer demand, he said, the firm's agents often are able to sell these houses "before they even make it to the market." According to Heatherman, the company's ability to market first to its own large pool of agents is a key reason sellers choose it.
Bottom line: If you are thinking about selling, be aware that pocket listings restrict the audience for your property, and possibly your maximum price. If that's fine with you, and you understand the potential conflicts of interest when brokerages represent both the seller and the buyer in a real estate transaction, then go for it.
kenharney@earthlink.net.
Distributed by Washington Post Writers Group

Thursday, March 7, 2013

LEVERAGING A GLOBAL, LUXURY POWERHOUSE FOR BUYERS & SELLERS HERE AT HOME

 
ELAINE MALLON, Peninsula | Sotheby's International Realty:
Leveraging a global, luxury powerhouse for Buyers and Sellers here at home.
 
CLICK HERE FOR ONLINE SLIDESHOW:

Friday, February 15, 2013

HOME PRICES RISE AT FASTEST PACE IN 7 YEARS


By Elaine Mallon

Home prices and sales rose at the fastest pace in 7 years in the last quarter of 2012, providing more evidence that the real estate market recovery is solid.

Lawrence Yun, National Association of REALTORS chief economist, reports that all conditions needed for strong price growth are currently at play, including:
 
1. Increasing home sales
2. Record low interest rates
3. Lowest inventory of unsold homes in 12 years
 
These factors are playing a big role in motivating those who have been waiting on the side-lines, to get back into the market.

"Home sales are being fueled by a pent-up demand and job creation, along with still favorable affordability conditions and rents rising at faster rates," Yun said. "Our population has been growing faster than overall housing stock, so supply and demand dynamics are very much at play."

Rising activity in California continues to be impacted most by limited number of houses for sale, and a strong desire to buy now ahead of an appreciating market. These factors have contributed to the return of more competitive offers and bidding wars on well-priced homes.

What is clear is confidence in the market is strong and, as a result, we have quickly gone from a "Buyers" to a "Seller's Market".

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Luxury Market Update: Sales of Million-Dollar-Plus Properties Hit 5-year High

LUXURY REAL ESTATE MARKET UPDATE: As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the number of California homes that sold for more than $5 million reached an all-time high last year, while those selling at a million dollars or more rose to the highest level since 2007. The luxury real estate market is coming back strong.

Cash buyers, an upturn in home prices and the recovering economy played a role in the increase, as did a year-end rush among the wealthy to take advantage of lower capital gains taxes by closing before year end.

Across California, 697 homes sold for more than $5 million compared to the previous high of 491 in 2011.

The 26,993 homes sold at $1-million-plus represented a 26.9% jump from 2011, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. In comparison, 42,502 home sales exceeded the million-dollar mark in 2007, before the mortgage meltdown dragged down home prices across the housing market.

"It should go without saying that buyers and sellers in the prestige market tend to respond to different motivations and incentives than the rest of the market," John Walsh, DataQuick president, said in a press release. "Job security, down payment sizes and mortgage interest rates don't play the same role. Returns on investments in a low interest-rate financial environment and safe-haven investing do play a role."

Cash buyers accounted for a record 7,791 of the million-dollar home sales, up from 5,802 in 2011.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

BE AWARE OF VAST "HOME VALUE" INACCURACIES FROM ONLINE REAL ESTATE SITES

By Elaine Mallon

Today's Home Buyers and Sellers are more educated than ever, yet both continue to rely on faulty information provided by various Internet resources (such as Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Homes.com, etc.) to help determine a home’s value. It is important to be aware of the extensive inaccuracy of these home value “estimates” in order to protect your investment dollar.

Approximately 90% of home buyers begin their search on the Internet, and many blindly rely on these "estimates", despite the fact that valuations on these sites – by each site's own admission – can be wildly inaccurate.

These online home valuations can be 20%-50% higher or lower than a property’s eventual sale price, as the sites themselves admit. That means a Buyer who relies on this rough information might be passing up a truly good value or a Seller who relies on this data might be undervaluing their home by tens of thousands of dollars, if not more.

“A Trulia estimate is just that – an estimate,” says a disclaimer on the site’s home value tool. Zillow goes a step further, publishing how imprecise its estimates can be. Every major site urges house hunters to consult appraisers or real estate agents to refine their results.

Beware: These online sites don’t evaluate each property individually to determine “true market value.” They clump nearby homes together, using tax assessor’s office data and recent sales. Their values are based on broad computer algorithms, not refined human expertise. They don’t take in to account each home's unique characteristics, upgrades, condition, extras or other intangibles that affect value.

Zillow has accepted revisions on 25 million homes – perhaps the strongest testiment to how seriously consumers take its estimates and how off its numbers were.

People need to realize this whether they are buying, selling or refinancing because it can greatly affect their decisions and their bottom-line. With the right professional counsel, no one should be leaving money on the table in this housing market.

Elaine Mallon is a Broker Associate with Peninsula Sotheby's International Realty, the most prestigious brand in the sale and acquisition of luxury real estate. She is a Certified Residential Specialist, Certified Negotiator, Certified Investor Agent Specialist, Certified Corporate Relocation Specialist, Certified Palos Verdes Area Specialist and an award-winning Marketing & Public Relations veteran.

For assistance with all your real estate needs, please contact Elaine at: www.PeninsulaSIR.com.

Friday, January 4, 2013

TAP YOUR I.R.A. NOW TO INVEST IN THIS RECOVERING HOUSING MARKET -- TAX FREE!

Did you know you can tap your IRA right now and invest in this rebounding housing market, TAX-FREE with NO EARLY WITHDRAWAL PENALTY? As an alternative to investing your IRA money in stocks, bonds, etc., a Self-Directed IRA allows you to take advantage of real estate investment opportunities now while home prices are down and mortgage rates are still at historic lows!

A Self-Directed IRA allows the account owner to make investments on behalf of the retirement plan -- like a regular IRA -- and that either a qualified trustee (for example, a company that specializes in this), or custodian, simply hold the IRA assets on behalf of the IRA owner. The appreciation and/or passive income on your real estate investment then grows within this IRA, tax-free.

Real estate purchased may include residential and commercial properties (both in the U.S. & Internationally), farmland, raw land, new construction, property renovation, development, and passive rental income. Real estate purchased in a Self-Directed IRA can also have a mortgage placed against the property, thus lowering the amount of total cash needed for a purchase.

If you'd like more information -- or would like a referral to a qualified local agent who can assist you -- please contact me at Elaine.Mallon@SothebysRealty.com. If you think you don't have the money to take advantage of today's housing market, please consult your financial planner or tax advisor and think again!

http://www.sothebysrealty.com/eng/associate/180-a-928-4026437/elaine-mallon