Monday, October 12, 2009

Westside Starter Houses Take a Significant Dip

Due to some fine research done by our readers and contributors, we have initial sales data showing Westside starter houses have dropped significantly. Hopefully, others will begin posting price drops in their own neighborhood, so we all know what is happening on the Westside. Many are tired of waiting for prices to drop and are jumping in, due to the $8000 home credit and low mortgage rates under the conforming $729,500 cap. Unfortunately, good paying jobs are evaporating, credit is getting tighter and prices will continue to decline. Patience will be rewarded .

Here are the first entry level house reports for some of our Westside areas:

10669 Wellworth 90024
3+2, 1778 sqft
YB 1937
SOLD on 6/24/09 for $725,000

Cheviot Hills
10572 Putney Rd. 90064
2+2, 1451 sqft, 7003 sqft Lot
YB 1946,
SOLD on 8/14/09 for $750,000

Bel Air
2257 Roscomare Rd. 90077
2+2, 1469 sqft, 6900 sqft Lot
YB 1952
SOLD on 5/8/09 for $740,000

12055 Goshen Ave. 90049
2+2, 1364 sqft, 8100 sqft Lot
YB 1954
SOLD on 5/1/09 for $850,000

Westside Village
3214 Military Ave. 90034
2+2, 1230 sqft, 6400 sqft Lot
YB 1947
SOLD on 4/10/09 for $645,000

West Hollywood
513 Norwich
2+1, 903 sqft, 5200 sqft Lot
YB 1939
SOLD on 5/15/09 for $760,000

1215 Appleton Way 90291
3+1, 1612 sqft, 10,962 sqft Lot
YB 1947
SOLD on 7/15/09 for $600,000

Beverly Hills
1471 Robmar 90210
3+1, 1526 sqft, 6500 sqft Lot
YB 1941
SOLD on 9/4/09 for $750,000

Marina del Rey
2911 Thatcher 90292
2+1, 876 sqft, 4240 sqft Lot
YB 1951
SOLD on 9/3/09 for $508,000

Mar Vista
4210 Michael Ave. 90066
3+2, 1809 sqft, 5460 sqft Lot
YB 1951
SOLD on 7/31/09 for $501,000

Pacific Palisades
16751 W. Sunset Blvd. 90272
3+2, 1809 sqft, 5530 sqft Lot
YB 1947
SOLD on 5/28/09 for $650,000

2844 Searidge St. 90265
2+1, 1200 sqft, Lot ???
YB ????
SOLD on 10/1/09 for $506,000

Santa Monica
740 Navy St. 90405
2+1, 1264 sqft, 2292 sqft Lot
YB 1920
SOLD on 9/4/09 for $656,500K

West LA
1707 S. Bundy Ave. 90025
3+2, 1414 sqft, 6969 sqft Lot
YB 1941
SOLD on 7/24/09 for $640,000

Culver City
4462 Berryman 90230
3+1, 1709 sqft, 7875 sqft Lot
YB 1957
SOLD on 9/24/09 for $430,500

7828 Midfield 90045
2+1, 1154 sqft, 6550 sqft Lot
YB 1950
Sold on 8/21/09 for $449,000

Playa del Rey
240 Sunridge St. 90293
2+2, 1285 sqft, 5850 sqft Lot
YB 1941
SOLD on 9/29/09 for $620,000

Keep in mind these are entry level houses for some of the Westside areas. We still need starter house sales for the following areas:

Sunset Strip
Miracle Mile
Hollywood Hills
Ladera Heights

Post sales on these and any other Westside area.


Anonymous said...

This was the best deal of the summer in the Beverlywood vicinity (WEST OF ROBERTSON)

9030 Olin St. 90034
3+2 1640sqft lot size 5624sqft
year built 1939
SOLD 7/21/2009 for $719,000

Anonymous said...

I am not an expert in real estate, but it doesn't seem like a good analysis to just look at 1 or 2 REOs/Short Sales as an indicator of what's really going on. I'm familiar with the properties in mar vista, venice and culver, and that's what they were - exceptions. probably people coming in and paying CASH to get those low bids approved by the banks that own the properties. I'd really love to see some actual factual analysis on this site instead of hand-picking of data that we want to see. of course, i'd love to think the market is really coming down more - but starter homes are in bidding wars on the west side - that's the reality - i know, i'm actually experiencing it, not speculating!

Anonymous said...

Hello all,
I'm new to this blog and have been reading through the posts, so I apologize if this has already been discussed.

I've been house hunting for 9 months in Westside (Beverlywood, cheviot hills, Culver, Mar Vista) and Valley - mainly Sherman Oaks for 3bdr/2BA 1600 - 2,500 sf. I don't want a huge house or backyard, but am picky about quality of house - eg. open floorplans and not feeling "cramped". layouts in WLA houses tend to be somewhat odd...

We work in culver. I'm struggling with the decision of Westside vs Valley. Space vs. location.

The pros of WLA for me are cooler weather, proximity to work and the beach and other things I want to do.

cons are quality/price of housing and general congestion/traffic.

No kids yet but are trying, so schools are a consideration for future.

So far, I have only seen a couple houses I like in my price range in WLA. Some were in "undesirable"
locations, so we passed. (next to freeway, under santa monica airport) In general the layout, size, and quality of house for the same money is much better in SO. Many years ago I commuted from WLA to SO so i know its a pain, but I know you sometimes have to make sacrifices.

I need help from others reasoning this through. I would like to know if others have gone through this and how they came to their decision. I know this is a personal decision and everyone must decide, but I'm really struggling. for the same money you get a much nicer house in SO. but is it worth the commute?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

You bring up a great question. My wife and I have been struggling with the same options. We have been actively looking (Westwood, cheviot, beverly grove, bel air, mar vista, and sherman oaks south of ventura) for 18 months. We have been toured over 100 properties. We have come close to jumping in several times, but have not placed any bids. Over the last 18 months, prices have come down and our savings have gone up.

My wife loves midcentury modern homes. We have recently seen three nice ones in our price range in SO south of Ventura. You definitely get better houses for the money in SO. The grade schools are good there (SO elementary and Roscomare). We did get a couple of surprises on our home tours (like the huge rattle snake skin in the back yard of one of the properties). We finally drove out from the Westside to one of the homes to time the morning commute. My commute to Westwood was not too bad, but my wife's commute to Playa Vista was brutal. We are also starting a family. Imagine getting called by your nanny or daycare etc. that your child is sick when you are working in Culver and you child is in SO. It just didn't seem practical to us.

We have decided to continue trying to deal with the smaller houses with their mostly bland architecture and odd layouts on the Westside. It is my opinion that prices will continue to drift downward here. For an indicator, go to google real estate and check the foreclosures box. There are hundreds of homes in pre-foreclosure across the Westside.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I think the reasonable thing to do at this point is wait and rent a 3/2 (or 1.5) house for $2500-$3000 in a neighborhood where you want to buy eventually. Prices for livable/ready to move in starter homes are not going to come crashing down, but it will drop. No point in seeing your hard earned 20% down payment be cut in half in 12-18 months. It is reasonable with the climbing unemployment rate that a 700k home in CC/Mar Vista area could come down to 630-650k in the next 12-18 months.

As for schools, if your kids will be attending public schools on the westside, you should be ready to spend a lot of extra time at home to make sure that they are learning what they are supposed to at a that grade level in order to give them a solid background to compete with top private school kids for any area they eventually want to pursue in college.

Anonymous said...

I rent very close to the house that sold in Westwood and I can't say I ever realized it was for sale. I might have missed it during the summer, but you generally know more or less what's for sale in your area, what has been taken off the market, etc.

It's interesting to me because only a few months ago there was NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING for less than 1.2 in this area. Then I started seeing the ugly 2 bedrooms (really ugly) go for just around a million. There were a couple of quick sales around spring and the houses are being redone.

This comp is really meaningful. If you consider the price per square foot, it is a lot cheaper than the one in Cheviot HIlls. Sounds like an insider deal, but it's a comp nonetheless. How many of these comps does it take to override the idea that it is an "exception"? Cassiopeia

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have been reading this blog and Dr. Housing Bubble blog for a bit now. Hubby and I had an offer in on a condo in Playa del Rey, it was a short sale. 2br + 2ba, 1300 sq ft, our offer of $430k was accepted by the sellers bank at the end of Sept, but then they rescinded due to some back hoa fees that they refused to cover. Listing agent was going back and forth with the hoa and seller's bank to try to come to a deal, but during that time hubby and I got cold feet and we literally just backed out of the deal. So, Im feeling sad that we wont be buying a place, but semi-relieved that we let the deal fall through. Do you guys think we made the right decision? I need some moral support right now that we made a smart decision - and hoping we can get a similiar place or better within a year or two and at a much lower price...

Anonymous said...

To the person working in Culver City. I was in your exact position 8 years ago. I worked in Culver City (Jefferson and 405) and I my wife and I were looking at houses in the Valley. We found a perfect 3bed 2bath, 1700 sq. ft. ranch in Encino in the Hesby school district. We couldn't be happier. Safe, quiet, great restaurants on Ventura and, best of all, Hesby Oaks school (probably the best in all of LAUSD). Commute is 30 minuets in the morning and 35-40 minuets coming home. I know all the short cuts. I don't know of many (if any) truly good public schools in the westside (maybe a couple here and there). So be prepared to shell out 30k per kid for grade school.

Anyway, hope this helps. One more thing, if you do decide on the Valley it is imperative to stay as close to the 405/101 interchange. Each mile away adds about 10 minuets to your commute, especially in the morning.

Anonymous said...

i suspect that the westwood deal is one of those outliers where mom sold to son. Or...., some old persian brother of mine was evading taxes. Probably had the buyer transfer him the balance in an acct in Iran which happens more than you think in my community.

Anonymous said...

I understand that the Westwood house could be a fluke for the time being, but it's still a good comp :-)

Anonymous said...

On westside public elementary schools. The problem isn't with grade schools...its with middle and esp. high schools....the valley sucks just as hard as the westside i that regard....if not more.

Anonymous said...

There are POSSIBLY four acceptable public high schools on the Westside.

1. Palisades Charter High (state rank 9)
2. Beverly Hills High (state rank 9)
3. MAYBE Santa Monica High (state rank 8)
4. MAYBE Culver City High (state rank 7)

Anonymous said...

There are POSSIBLY four acceptable public high schools on the Westside.

1. Palisades Charter High (state rank 9)
2. Beverly Hills High (state rank 9)
3. MAYBE Santa Monica High (state rank 8)
4. MAYBE Culver City High (state rank 7)

Anonymous said...

I have lived in and around the westside for close to 40 years and have owned two homes and rented in the following areas:
Topanga, Westwood, Venice, Pacific Palisades, Culver City, Mar Vista.

Many of my post college friends were faced with the valley/westside dilemma and in the end those in the valley seem to be less satisfied with their living situation. The hot summers,sterile neigborhoods, and lack of convenient access to the rest of the city are big drawbacks.

Also, individuals who made decisions based exclusively on alleged school quality soon find out that student achievement level is based more on the motivation and work habits of the individual than the school label.

Some of the best school are the LA magnet public schools whose test scores are not separated from the general school results. Check out "Great Schools" and read parent comments if you want a feel for a particular school.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:19, you sound like a great resource. I would be interested to hear how you would consider your experience living in Westwood v. Pacific Palisades (two areas I am strongly considering).

Anonymous said...

From Anon 10:19

Palisades, with its smaller feel, better air quality and weather would be an easy pick over Westwood.

Forty years ago Westwood was a vibrant, exciting area but it's been overbuilt. Despite the high density, the street life is dead. Have you been to Westwood Village lately?? What a run down location. A real tragedy when I recall the stimulating, celebrity, college student, hip vibe of the 70s and early 80s.

Anonymous said...

Convenient access to the rest of the city from Pacific Palisades??? I'll give you cooler weather in the summer, but sometimes too cool.

Anonymous said...

Having lived in Westwood most of my life - since the early 70's - The hype surrounding Westwood Village has never matched the reality. It's always been packed with bums and overpriced chi-chi stores (more so now than back when we had a couple of supermarkets in the village and excellent bookstores). Weekends were packed with high school kids, tourists and yet more bums. Now we just get bums and some moviegoers.

I agree that Westwood (and Westwood Village) is overbuilt now, but the weather is nicer than the valley - by far - and access to the rest of LA is pretty convenient. That said, housing is overpriced, especially considering the average income in the area (discounting the students).

The Palisades is a nice area, but it too has seen quite a buildup.


Anonymous said...

I have always chosen to keep our family close to my husband's work. His time has always been far more valuable to our family than the size of home or buying vs renting. I'd rather rent a dump close for quality of life than have a great home far away. Believe me I feel the pull every time I take my son up to his youth orchestra in Northridge. We'd live like kings there instead of renting a condo in west LA.

I am starting to look actively again because the HOA is not maintaining our building properly and it is getting really annoying. Prices have been coming down for quite a while and my Realtor believes that until unemployment drops prices will continue to drop. My realtor has been doing this a long time and is not an idiot. Last night our fire alarm when off at about 3:00am again and I definitely want a SFR. I am getting tired of condo nonsense. This is not a cheap building, the last units sold for $725k, $650k and $600. The $600 unit was smaller, poorly located and a repo. HOA's just have trouble getting things done.

Anonymous said...

I'm the person working in Culver City who posted about westside vs. valley. Thanks to everyone who posted!! The comments have given me things to think about. My agent (who is also a friend btw) lives in Castle Heights and really wants us to buy there because he likes the neighborhood and says the schools are great. but i never thought to ask him about the middle/HS.

He also insists that prices have bottomed out and are not going lower. I dont know if prices will go that much lower, but almost every house he's shown us has sold for anywhere from 30-80K less than asking price. BTW it does seem like Westside houses sell faster, and for higher prices and there are more people at the open houses than in Sherman Oaks. which makes sense since the supply of available houses is lower than demand in this area. so our agent is also pushing it as a better investment/holding value...

I like the comment about your time being more valuable than the size of home. that is something to keep in mind.

but now that I've seen what I can get in the Valley, it's harder to accept what you get in WLA. but it is the tradeoff of your commute time which is important, but its just not something you can "see".

If anyone has any further thoughts on this topic, I'd love to hear them!!!!

Anonymous said...

If you choose to live on the Westside you pay a hefty luxury tax. This was true of peak prices and will continue to be true during the valleys -no pun intended ;).

If you do not want to pay the luxury tax, the valley is an alternative; however, I cannot see any real validity in comparing the two areas. It isn't apples to apples.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - from October 13, 2009 11:26 AM.

your situation is very similar to mine. I have seen over 100 houses in the last 9 months. Did not put in any bids but came close a couple times. there is a house in sherman oaks im considering now...

I love mid century modern also. its hard to find them in a decent price. i toured a couple in Sherman Oaks. i don't think you'll find many in WLA, though I've seen fabulous ones in Brentwood on websites, not for sale, just showing their remodeling, though I'm sure most would be way over a million...

I'm starting to think i should stick with the westside area too...

Anonymous said...

100 house in 9 months--i would hav shot myself at 50.

Anonymous said...

can we go back to the analysis on what the market is doing? do people who know the westside think that these handful of REO/Short Sales really reflect what the general market is doing? Because i know one REO (!300 Warren) that we wanted to bid on got several offers OVER the bank's asking price. it's not that nice, under the noise of the santa monica airport - and, well, it seems to me that there are plenty of people with money out there looking. Anything decent in the 800,000 range in mar vista or culver goes immediately. and stuff that sits is unbelievable crap.

Anonymous said...

Right - there are plenty of people desperate and hungry for a place under 900 thousand. Anything under 900 is snapped up.

The crash is really in the big money homes. Homes that used to sell for 4.0 million are today going for 3.0

So you get that fat juicy 25% discount on the high end stuff - benefits those shopping North of Montana but not so much the rest of us

Anonymous said...

I agree, my husband is a contractor and he has lots of work in that $800,000 range of new home purchases...which we are also hunting for on the west side. And it seems that things are selling fast at somewhat unrealistic prices, considering the market conditions. Do experts think this is just a blip or temporary jump? I don't what the statistics say, but I can tell you for sure that things are selling fast - we have been outbid (over asking) twice now, and some homes don't even go on the market but are sold through the agent. Does anyone know why this is happening? Does not seem justified to us.

Anonymous said...

so i guess the consensus is that 800k below is crap.

Anonymous said...

at an open house today i heard a realtor telling her clients that there are definitely many more REOS coming on the market beg. of the why are LA Times and Calculated risk calling the bottom of the market for the low end of the market? doesn't make sense?

Anonymous said...

What is a REOS?

Anonymous said...

After looking at over a year on the westside, i have concluded that:

1. Anything under 800k is not good enough for anyone who earns 150k event though 150k ppl can't afford a 800k+ home with a 20% down.

2. Not going to buy until I have a down payment that is big enough to for me to be able to cover monthly mortgage and related expenses without overstretching myself.

3. Rent for the time being.

4. House for my price range and location may not go down, but definitely will not go up.

5. Despite what latesummer2009 school of thought thinks, westside is just damn expensive.

6. Who knows if I will still be in LA when I save enough of a down payment in a few years.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I went jogging around my hood. I rent in the 90024, btw Santa Monica, Whilshire, Beverly Glen and Westwood. I have been looking for a bigger rental for a LONG time, and I am currently checking Westside Rentals frequently, so I know what's out there. The thing that surprised me was that I saw at least six or seven NEW lease listings that I had not known about. They must have popped up this week, and most of them just had a phone number and not a Westside Rentals sign. I had read somewhere that the rental vacancy is at an all time high, but I had not been able to confirm that. Now I'm thinking it might be true. Good time to be a tenant. Cassiopea.

Anonymous said...

Here is my current take on the Westside market. Houses between 700K and 900K are currently very hard to purchase. This may be due to young professionals on the Westside who have been sitting on the sidelines and saving the last 2-3 years. They now have a 180K down payment (the prerequisite 20%). If they take out the highest conforming jumbo
(729), that puts them into about a 900K house. Many of the double income no children couples on the Westside can afford this (although I am not saying it is the right thing to do or that it is a good investment).

Thus, you have pent-up demand from this group that has grown tired of waiting and watching for several years. You are seeing bidding wars on sometimes unimpressive houses priced between 700 and 900 in Mar Vista and the Southern portion of Westwood.

What is interesting to me is that if you move your price point up 200K (around 1.1 million), you are seeing a completely different market. There are currently 20 houses sitting on the market in Pacific Palisades priced between 1million and 1.5 million. Many of these listings have been out for hundreds of days. I guess not many first time buyers could afford Pac Palisades and there are not a lot of "move-up buyers" around right now. The difference in selection, area, and house you can get by moving from the 900K to the 1.1 pricerange right now is downright astounding. It has encouraged me to keep renting (maybe for up to 2 more years if I have to) until we can get into one of these better houses.

Anonymous said...

Seen any gorgeous spanish houses in Santa monica for 1.2 ish???? Thats on my radar...and I am ready to pull the trigger.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:24, I've seen what you're saying in action...

Also take a look at this --

Is it really just the tax credit driving this? I'm sure alot of folks buying 700-900K homes will not qualify for the tax credit.

what is driving this? does it indicate that people think we've reached the bottom? that the economy is heading up? Or is it just that there is still a lot of money floating around california and its heading back into real estate. I for one don't want to get caught up in any bidding wars, it just is depressing to think the craziness could be starting up again when we haven't cleared the mess from the last time any event, it seems like the tide is turning to more of a seller's market in West LA and perhaps other parts of california...what is going on???

Anonymous said...

I'd be curious to know where the money is coming from for all these purchases. Are these people the knife catchers or is there just THAT much money on the sidelines? I wonder if the West Side is really pretty immune? Rents don't seem to be anywhere near mortgage payments for most of the West Side, and along the hills all the way to Los Feliz... There are probably multiple forces at work here, but we are still nowhere near sound fundamentals it seems. Reality is a myth floating in some aether.