Mid-century Homes Continue to Thrill

One of the most iconic and striking mid-century homes built as part of the Case Study House Program has hit the market again, this time for $3.6mil. At only 1,280 sq.ft. in an open-floor layout, the 1958 home in the Hollywood Hills is hardly a mega-mansion. Instead, “Case Study House No. 21″ is a study in revered minimalism. The home is one of less than 2 dozen structures still standing from a program started in 1945 by John Entenza, the publisher of Arts & Architecture magazine. Entenza challenged some of the biggest architects of the day — including Richard Neutra, Eero Saarinen, and Charles and Ray Eames — to design and build inexpensive homes that could be easily replicated to house the country’s booming post-war population.
House No. 21, designed by architect Paul Koenig, is a 2BR/2BA home with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a steel frame with steel paneled walls. The bedrooms are separated from the living room and kitchen by a central outdoor court. There’s also a shallow moat-like pond surrounding the structure. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument in 1999, shortly after Koenig himself supervised a restoration.
Case Study homes often fetch hefty prices given their architectural importance. Actress Kristen Wiig paid $3mil for Pasadena’s Case Study House No. 10 in late 2017. Case Study House No. 18, in Pacific Palisades, hit the market earlier this year for $10mil. Mid-century (and copycat) architecture continues to dominate the L.A. luxury market as one the most-desired home styles (see our 2 mid-mod pocket listings, Multiview Drive and Hollyridge Drive). Let us know if you’re interested in buying or selling a mid-century home. We’ve helped many happy clients do so.

Prices, inventory, and rates are all up this week

The number of new listings on® in September shot up 8% year over year, according to a report out this week. That’s the biggest jump since 2013, when the country was still clawing its way out of the financial crisis. And it gives eager buyers a lot more options to choose from (like our pocket listing pictured here). That’s a big shift from a year ago, when bidding wars and insane offers over asking price were par for the course. But it doesn’t mean the housing shortage has suddenly dissipated. Nationally, the total inventory of homes for sale was essentially flat compared with 2017—moving down 0.2%.
And while the U.S.’s median home price, at $295,000, was up 7% in September compared with a year ago, the increase in homes hitting the market helped to slow that rise. The median home price in September 2017 was a 10% increase over the previous year.
U.S. mortgage rates are at their highest in more than seven years. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage climbed to 4.72% this week from 4.65% last week. That means homeowners and borrowers are seeing the highest rates since April 2011. This is the 5th straight week that mortgages have risen in the U.S. The 30-year average stood at 3.83% a year ago.

A Twisted Real Estate Market


In a report released this week by CoreLogic, home appreciation slowed to an 11-month low in 20 major U.S. cities, according to July year-over-year numbers. The combined national rate fell to 5.9% year-over-year, from 6.4% in July 2017, according to the data collected. 15 of 20 cities saw smaller monthly increases in July 2018 than in July 2017. Of the 5 cities posting gains, Los Angeles showed a 6.4% increase in appreciation.

While the national housing market twists and turns, the Federal Reserve announced this week that it would raise short-term interest rates by another .25%, and central-bank officials signaled they expected to lift them again later this year and through 2019 to keep a strong economy on an even keel.

The increase, which drew rebukes from Republican leaders, is the 3rd this year and the 8th since the Fed began to lift rates in late 2015 after keeping them pinned close to zero after the 2008 financial crisis. The Fed’s action marks the first time it has lifted its benchmark rate above 2% since 2008.



To flip, or not to flip?


At least once a day someone asks me about flipping. “Does it still pay? Are there still deals? Where would you buy?” I answer with micro-market specificity, but an article out this week addressed flipping on a national level. The national take-away: Some flipping still pays from coast to coast, but not as much as it did.

A U.S. home flipped in this year’s 2nd quarter sold for an average of $65,520 above what a flipper paid for it, according to the latest quarterly report by real estate data provider ATTOM Data Solutions. As a percentage, flippers turned a 44.3% return on investment (ROI) in 2018’s Q2, down from 47.8% in the 1st quarter. The most recent figure represents the lowest ROI since the 3rd quarter of 2014, according to the report.

In Los Angeles, the ROI was 29.5% in Q2, down from Q1’s 32.5%. Because L.A. had the highest home prices surveyed, it also offered the highest average gross profit of any market. On average, local flippers made an average of $140,000, but had to pay an average $475,000 for a property in Greater L.A. I recently sold a WeHo fixer (pictured) to a flipper for $1,171,000 who plans to net north of $500,000 after an overhaul and a bump-out. The local take-away: Knowing how, what, and where to buy is more important than ever before.


Zillow: It’s a buyer’s market…in 2020.

8 30 18 blast

According to the real estate website Zillow, the number of homes on the market nationally has dropped year-over-year for the last 42 consecutive months. As a result, prices have gone up; affordability down. Zillow partnered with data firm, Pulsenomics, to conduct a survey of housing market economists who said 2020 would be the soonest that may offer buyers a break from current conditions.

“For the past several years, home sellers have held all the cards at the negotiating table, fielding multiple offers while buyers faced stiff competition in a fast-moving market,” said Zillow’s senior economist earlier this week. “Conditions are starting to show signs of easing up, but the effects of years of limited new construction and existing home inventory constriction will linger.”

Nationally, home value appreciation has been faster and higher thus far in 2018 than in 2017. Zillow’s survey noted that in some markets these trends have eased, but mostly prices have increased. The survey predicts 2018’s sales prices will top 2017’s record-breaking growth by 5.9%.