Individual Chicken Pot Pies

Cold weather is coming and with Covid still keeping us more or less restricted to the house, it’s time for comfort food. What could be more comforting than your own personal hot savory pie?

One thing I really like about this recipe is the absence of a bottom crust. You know–the one that never quite cooks properly and then is thoroughly soggy by the time you reach it. This is adapted from a recipe by Deb Pearlman of Smitten Kitchen. You can find the original here: https://smittenkitchen.com/2014/10/better-chicken-pot-pies/

Makes 4 2-cup pot pies

Pastry Lid


2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
13 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
6 tablespoons sour cream or Greek-style yogurt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup very cold water
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash

In a large, wide bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the cold butter. Working quickly so the butter doesn’t melt, use a pastry blender or a couple of table knives held side-by-side to cut the butter into the flour mixture. The result should be coarse texture with no visible butter. In a small dish, whisk together the sour cream, vinegar, and water, and combine it with the butter & flour mixture. Using a flexible spatula, stir the wet and the dry together. Knead the dough mixture into one big ball. Wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Filling


Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 to 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (breasts, thighs and drumsticks are ideal)
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch slices
1 large onion, diced small
1/4 cup dry sherry (optional)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas (no need to defrost)
2 large carrots, diced small (about 1 cup carrots)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Make filling: Generously season all sides of the chicken parts with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If your chicken breasts are particularly large, halving them can ensure they cook at the same pace at the other parts. Heat half the olive oil over medium-high heat in the bottom of a large Dutch oven (minimum of 4 quarts; mine is 5). Brown chicken in two parts, cooking until golden on both sides. Transfer to a plate and repeat with second half of chicken. Set aside.

Heat the second half of olive oil in the same pot. Add onions and leeks, season with salt and pepper, and saute them until softened, about 7 minutes. If using, pour in sherry and use it to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Simmer until mostly cooked off. Add milk or cream, chicken broth, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Nestle the browned chicken and any accumulated juices into the pot. Cover and gently simmer for 30 minutes, after which the chicken should be fully cooked and tender.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool slightly. Discard the bay leaves. Allow the sauce to settle for a few minutes, then skim the fat from the surface.

In a medium bowl, mash butter and flour together with a fork until a paste forms and no flour is still visibly dry. Pour one ladle of filling over it, and whisk until smooth. Add a second ladle, whisking again. Return this butter-flour-filling mixture to the larger pot, stir to combine, and bring mixture back to a simmer for 10 minutes. The broth should thicken to a gravy-like consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Add carrots and peas to stew and simmer for 3 minutes, until firm-tender. Shred or dice the chicken, discarding the bones and skin. Add the shredded chicken to stew and re-simmer for 1 minute. Stir in parsley.

Assemble and bake pies: Heat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide chilled dough into quarters. Roll each quarter out into rounds that will cover 4 2-cup ovenproof bowls or baking dishes with a 1-inch overhang. Cut vents into rounds. Ladle filling into four bowls, filling only to 1 to 1 1/2 inches below the rim to leave room for simmering. Whisk egg with water to make an egg wash. Brush edges of bowls with egg wash. Place a lid over each bowl, pressing gently to adhere it to the outer sides of the bowl. Brush the lids with egg wash. Bake until crust is bronzed and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes.

Do ahead: The dough for the lids can be made up to 3 days in advance and chilled. The filling can be made up to a day in advance and re-warmed before assembling and baking the pot pies.

Real Estate Sales, Oct. 2020

We’re looking at sales in the South Bay area of Los Angeles a little differently than usual this month. Typically we analyze the area as a single entity. This month we’ll divide the South Bay into four parts, allowing you to see a greater level of precision about those four areas.

Within each area the homes will be more similar, both in style and in pricing. We started by combining the four beach cities, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. Each of the cities has it’s own unique character, but they share many common traits. (If your home is in Hollywood Riviera, you can consider yourself one with the beach cities.)

The cities on the Palos Verdes Peninsula come together naturally, so we’ve combined Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills Estates, Rolling Hills and Rancho Palos Verdes.

While Torrance does have it’s own beach, most of the city has more of an inland character, so we’ve combined it with Lomita and Gardena. One immediate benefit is the median prices are more representative of actual prices in those three communities.

Finally, we conjoined San Pedro, Long Beach, Harbor City, Wilmington and Carson, collecting the harbor area cities together.

Beach Cities

Prices have been trending up at a pretty rapid pace for most of the year, so it was a real surprise to find the median price in the Beach Cities had dropped by 6% from the September numbers. Last month the median price was $1.5M, while October only came in at $1.41M. Likewise, the number of sales dropped by a surprising 20%, from 209 sales in September, to 167 in October.

Year over year, beach prices increased by an impressive 17%, from $1.2M last October to $1.4M this October. Over the same time frame, sales volume went up by 45%, climbing from 115 units in October 2019, to 167 units in October of 2020.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Palos Verdes

On the Peninsula is where you really want to be in 2020. Prices and sales volume increased month to month and year to year. From last month to this month was on par with most of the South Bay, with the October median price of $1.68M coming in 5% above September’s median of $1.6M. The sales volume increase was a modest 3%, going from 95 units to 98.

The real treat for the PV cities is the 2020 over 2019 sales prices. October of last year showed a median price of $1.2M versus $1.68M this year. That’s a whopping 36% median price increase in 12 months. At the same time, October unit sales jumped 51% from 65 homes sold in 2019 to 98 sold in 2020.

Inland Cities

Going just a short distance away from the sandy shores of the beach, or from the bluffs of Palos Verdes, makes a huge difference in property prices. Like the coastal cities, the inland cities showed a 6% increase in prices from September to October. In contrast to the beach and the hill, the median price only went up $40K, from $719K to $759K. Like the beach cities, fewer inland homes were sold in October falling 11% from September. The drop wasn’t as great, going from 183 units in September to 163 in October of 2020.

October of 2020 versus October of 2019, the inland cities had median prices go up by 9%, from $600K to $656K. At the same time, the number of sales dropped by unit, from 164 homes sold, to 163 homes sold this October.

Photo by Dominik Lückmann on Unsplash

Harbor Cities

Median price in the harbor cities is typically lower than anywhere else in the South Bay. Similarly, price increases are slower. For example, while the rest of the areas saw 5-6% increases in month to month sales prices, the harbor came in at 3%. From September to October, the median increased from $636K to $656K. During the same time frame, the number of homes sold climbed 5%, from 435 to 457 units.

Comparing last October to this October, homes in the harbor area enjoyed a slightly more sustainable 9% rise in median price. The median for October 2019 was $600K compared to $656K this October. Sales volume jumped by 15%, from 397 units last year to 457 this year.

Why These Crazy Numbers?!

They are crazy, you know. There is no way prices can continue to climb at 5-6% per month. That’s more like what we would expect on a year over year increase.

October2020September2020ChangeM-M
Med Sales $Sales #Med Sales $Sales #Med Sales $Sales #
Beach1,407,5001671,500,000209-6%-2%
PV1,682,750981,600,00095+5%+3%
Inland759,000163719,000183+6%-11%
Harbor656,000457636,000435+3%+5%
So Bay820,000885799,500922+3%-4%

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Beach Cities prices decline. We’ll be watching November closely.

The answer lies in the interest rates. One the borrowing side, mortgage interest rates have been under 3% for some time now. With rates that low, many people who couldn’t afford to buy a home before, now qualify for a loan. Those who are still employed despite Covid-19 are buying homes if at all possible.

The demand created by that phenomenon has created a plethora of bidding wars. Homes with 20 offers on them are not uncommon. All those offers are pushing prices up at clearly unsustainable rates.

October2020October2019Change %Y-Y
Med Sales $Sales #Med Sales $Sales #Med Sales $Sales #
Beach1,407,5001671,202,00011517%45%
PV1,682,750981,233,0006536%51%
Inland759,000163680,00016412%-1%
Harbor656,000457600,0003979%15%
So Bay820,000885699,00074117%19%

Adding to the entry level buyers who are driving the market at the low end, there is another group who have cash in the bank. Unfortunately, that cash is only earning 1%, or less. Those buyers are watching the price of real estate climb astronomically, and are hoping to cash in on a windfall profit. Some of them will.

The Crystal Ball

Watching the median price drop at the beach by 6% is a hint at what’s coming next. We can’t be sure when it will happen, but steeply escalating prices inevitably plummet in a subsequent correction. Current increases are reminiscent of the rapid run-up of prices in 2006-2007 which resulted in the Great Recession.

Further complicating matters, today we have government and consumer response to Covid-19 as a uncontrollable factor. The third quarter of 2020 looked really good compared to the second quarter, until we remember the coronavirus struck in March. Business during the second quarter was essentially nil.

We can’t forget the election. Fallout from the presidential election could push the economy in any one of several directions depending on who the President is, and the degree of polarization in the Federal government.

One would need a crystal ball to forecast this winter, but I predict a volatile ride for the real estate market.

Crystal ball image by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Spinach & Strawberry Salad

The traditional dinner salad is most often an unexciting food. Ditch that classic iceberg lettuce studded with cherry tomatoes in favor of this taste treat. These flavors will burst in your mouth from the first bite to the last. Whether you serve it in the heat of summer, or as a year-round starter, this dish is a treat for the eyes and the taste buds.

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 (6-oz.) bags baby spinach
1 (16-oz.) container strawberries, quartered
1 (4-oz.) package crumbled blue cheese, feta cheese, or goat cheese
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds or halved candied pecans
Balsamic vinaigrette (recipe follows or use bottled vinaigrette)*

Directions

Toss all the salad ingredients together and drizzle with dressing.

*Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Directions

Place the vinegar and seasonings in a bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until the dressing is emulsified.

Some surprises in South Bay Real Estate, 2019 vs 2020

It’s October 1, so it’s time to look at the changes in the local real estate market, both for the month and for the third quarter.

2020 has been a year for making and breaking records. Most of them have been records we truly didn’t want to even consider, like the number of pandemic deaths, and the number of unemployed. Until now, we had little reason to believe the real estate market might bring better news.

Through the first half of the year, the number of homes available on the market just kept climbing. At the same time, the number of homes selling remained stubbornly flat. Despite interest rates hovering just above zero, it seemed buyers had other things on their mind. Then in July the number of closed sales jumped 41%, while available inventory came up a tiny 7%.

Sales continued to climb in August and September, though nothing as dramatic as July. Overall, for the third quarter, unit sales were nearly double those of both, the first quarter of the year (+79%) and the second quarter (+76%).

For the first time this year, the inventory has dropped appreciably.

Comparing to last year, that huge spike in sales brought September in at 47% more sales than in September of 2019. On a quarter over quarter basis, Sales are up 23% over 2019. The red bars in the “Sold vs Available” chart above shows the climbing number of sales, with the blue bars showing the sudden drop of available inventory in September.

Not only were the number of sales climbing, but prices have continued to escalate year over year. September of 2020 showed median prices had increased 23% over September of 2019. Median prices rose 15% for the third quarter of 2020 versus the same time period in 2019.

Combined, the impact of the increased sales and increased prices brought the total dollar value of sales for September 2020 up 89% over that of September 2019. Quarter to quarter, the annual increase was 40%.

South Bay residential sales for the third quarter of 2020 exceeded two billion dollars.

How do we explain record sales and prices during a pandemic, with sky-high unemployment, and the threat of a recession coming from behind? It’ll be weeks before the pundits have sorted it all out. In the meantime, here are a couple of possible explanations.

Third quarter sales range from $285K to $10.5, so we know some of these have been entry level homes. Folks who have been priced out of the area, and because of the lower interest rate could suddenly qualify to purchase here, have jumped at it. Sales under $1M comprise 42% of the total.

At the opposite end, sales over $3M made up 9%. Once again, the interest rate makes it possible to leverage a mansion at a relatively affordable monthly payment. A lot has been said about the future worth of property compared to today’s dollar. Investing at a reduced interest rate usually contributes to a sizable profit at some future sale date.

In between, from $1M to $3M, we have 49% of the third quarter sales. That’s roughly the number of people we would expect to sell for one or another of the typical reasons people move. In fact it corresponds nicely with the rate of market activity for the first half of the year.

In summary, if the thought of making a move in the near future has crossed your mind, this may be the best moment to do so. Call and we’ll put together some numbers specific to your property and your situation. No problem–no obligation!

Photo by Richard Horne at unsplash.com.

August 2020 Sales Analysis

It’s September already! That means it’s time to look at a summary of real estate activity for LA’s South Bay neighborhoods over the past month. Our data is ultra-local which means you get to see the market conditions almost immediately after the month ends.

This summer we’ve been enjoying a relatively busy real estate market with a big jump in sales and mixed results in prices. August 2020 weighed in with the median price nearly 6.8% higher than August of 2019. However, it wasn’t enough to beat the median for this July. August median prices were down by 1.8% from last month. In the first eight months of the year, we’ve seen two months where the median increased, versus six months when it decreased.

Median PricesAugustJuly
2020$1.10M$1.12M
2019$1.03M

We saw 450 homes sold in August, up by 10% from July of this year. Compared to August of 2019, sales this year were up 13%. July and August were exceptional sales months compared to January through June. Both months had sales in excess of 400 units, while the first six months of the year were less than 300. March of 2020 made it all the way to 291 sales despite pandemic activity kicking into high gear that month.

Closed SalesAugustJuly
2020450408
2019398

July & August sales were up nearly double the sales numbers from the first half of the year. Why the jump in summer? Anecdotally, we’re hearing interest rates being at or below 3% brought those buyers not financially impacted by Covid-19 to the table. That huge savings in interest helped drive prices, as well. To buy now and take advantage of the interest rates, many buyers have been willing to offer slightly above asking price, to lock the deal in.

August brought a significant increase in the number of homes available for sale. At the end of August total available counts stood at 3.68 months of inventory, compared to 2.17 months at the end of July. In raw numbers, that’s an 18% increase in homes available for sale. More sellers put their homes on the market, and there weren’t enough buyers to absorb the increase. As Covid-19 moves to a back burner, we expect the inventory to return to higher numbers comparable to the beginning of the year.

A rising inventory indicates downward pressure on prices.

With subsidies and protective government programs closing, we anticipate fewer buyers will be able to purchase. At the same time, we expect the continuing stress will create more defaults and short sales. Forced sales, also known as ‘distress sales’ tend to push prices down.

Combined, a growing inventory and economic stress are precursors of a shift to a buyers’ market. Several noted commentators are predicting a recessionary market lasting through 2021 and possibly into 2022. Like so many things in today’s world, no one is sure of where we’ll end up. But it’s pretty much guaranteed to be different than we had planned.

Photo by Gustavo Zambelli on Unsplash

Tuna Salad

This is more than a tuna salad. This is a meal in a tortilla, a salad on greens to linger over with wine, hors d’oeuvre on chips, or an ultra tasty wrap in a swirl of your favorite cheese!

Albacore as everyone likes it. My general sizing recommendations are: use one if it’s on the large end of the size spectrum, use two if it’s on the small end, etc.

12 to 15 ounces (approximately) of cooked, flaked tuna
2-3 stalks of celery, in a fine dice
1-2 carrots, shredded
1-2 pickled cucumbers (dill pickles are my favorite)
red pepper flakes (optional)
1 large dollop of Dijon mustard
3-4 large dollops of mayonnaise
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon dried dill
salt and pepper to taste.

Process

Let’s start by saying that I really don’t measure anything. If it looks like enough, it’s enough. If it doesn’t, add more. By the same token, if there’s something in the refrigerator that looks like it belongs, put it in! This is one of those “family” recipes where the cook adds and subtracts “to taste.”

First step is to get out a large mixing bowl, a cutting board and your favorite knife.

Flake the tuna into the bowl. I generally use canned albacore tuna, solid, white, in water. Albacore is mild and suits most taste buds. Actually, any tuna will do. Fluffed up, it should be in the neighborhood of 1.5 to 2 cups of tuna.

Wash the celery and carrots. I never bother to peel, but feel free to do so, if you like. Cut both lengthwise, into long, thin slivers. Then turn sideways and cut into a fine dice, approximately ¼ inch square, or less. Add to the bowl. There is a tool, photo here, that will do a very creditable job of creating long, skinny slivers without using a knife. Personally, I love my chef’s knife! I even use it for things it wasn’t designed to do.

Moving on, rinse the pickled cucumber. Using the same process, cut it into a small dice, and add to the bowl. If you’re pressed for time, or prefer the taste, there are commercially available pickle relishes, or spreads, that can serve the same purpose. I think Trader Joe still carries one called “sweet pickle relish” that serves nicely and saves a lot of time.

Sprinkle the sage, dill, salt and pepper over the top. At first, it’ll look like too much, but once mixed, it’ll be fine.

Now, add a dollop (I use a tablespoon, heaped to the point of dripping off) of mustard and most of the mayonnaise. Mix thoroughly. The mixture should hold together nicely, without being crumbly, or drippy. If I plan to use it on bread, I like it a bit more moist. If it’s added to lettuce, more dry. Add more mayonnaise as required to reach a suitable consistency.

For a tasty tuna sandwich, try preparing it open face, covered with a thick layer of tuna salad. Top with a generous amount of shredded or sliced cheddar, and toast until cheese is melted. If your taste buds lean to the spicy side, try a liberal sprinkle of red chile flakes before the toaster.

Be expressive with this dish! Use it as an appetizer, with a dollop of tuna on a tortilla chip and a dusting of chopped cilantro. Or top a plate of mixed greens with three good sized scoops of tuna salad and add the fruit of your choice.

Though tradition calls for an earthy white wine, I’ve often paired a spicy tuna mix with a strong red and had a wonderful repast. Enjoy your meal!

55+ Options in South Bay

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of 55+ housing choices, but a reference point for the more commonly known, age-restricted accommodations available in the Los Angeles South Bay. We welcome your input, but cannot guarantee inclusion.

Condominiums

Breakwater Village, 2750 Artesia Blvd, Redondo Beach, CA 90278
Courtyard Villas Estates, 3970 Sepulveda Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505
Gables, 3550 Torrance Blvd, Torrance, CA 90503
Meridian, 2742 Cabrillo Ave, Torrance, CA 90501
Montecito, 2001 Artesia Blvd, Redondo Beach, CA 90278
New Horizons, 22603-23047 Maple Ave and 22601-23071 Nadine Circle, Torrance, CA 90505
Pacific Village, 3120 Pacific Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505
Parkview Court, 2367 Jefferson St, Torrance, CA 90501
Rolling Hills Villas, 901 Deep Valley Dr, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274
Sol y Mar, 5601 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Sunset Gardens, 24410 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505
Tradewinds, 2605 Sepulveda Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505
Village Court, 21345 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance, CA 90503

Independent/Assisted Living/Memory Care Facilities

Belmont Village, 5701 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275; 310-377-9977
Brookdale Senior Living, 5481 W Torrance Blvd, Torrance, CA 90503; 310-543-1174
Canterbury, 5801 West Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275; (877) 727-3213
Clearwater at South Bay, 3210 Sepulveda Blvd,Torrance, CA 90505; 424-250-8492; (previously Wellbrook)
Kensington, 320 Knob Hill Ave, Redondo Beach, 90277; (424) 210-8041
Manhattan Village Senior Villas, 1300 Parkview Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266; (310) 546-4062
Silverado Senior Living, 514 N. Prospect Avenue, Redondo Beach, CA 90277; (310) 896-3100
Sunrise of Hermosa Beach, 1837 Pacific Coast Hwy Hermosa Beach CA 90254; 310-937-0959
Sunrise of Palos Verdes, 25535 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505; 408-215-9608


Independent Living Only

Casa De Los Amigos, 123 S Catalina Ave, Redondo Beach, CA 90277; 310 376 3457
Heritage Pointe Senior Apartments, 1801 Aviation Way, Redondo Beach, CA 90278; (844) 220-4169
Seasons at Redondo Beach, 109 S Francisca Ave, Redondo Beach, CA 90277; (310) 374-6664

Mobile Home Parks

Skyline, 2550 Pacific Coast Hwy, Torrance
South Bay Estates, 18801 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance
South Shores, 2275 25th St, San Pedro

Recent South Redondo Sales

We monitor local South Bay real estate activity daily. The data is charted to show the direction of the market in terms of tendency to favor Sellers versus Buyers. Ideal market conditions are in the the center band where both have roughly equal market strength. As you can see, South Bay activity was right down the middle for July. The daily market trend has been more or less level since the beginning of the year, with only a slight upward movement each month.

Cumulatively, since the beginning of the year, the market has shifted from almost being a Buyers’ Market to being almost dead center on the chart. What that means in terms of value can be seen by looking at the most recent three months sales. The list below represents only houses, and only those sold in two neighborhoods. If you’re interested in real time information about homes like yours, or near yours, call and ask about our Neighborhood Notice service.

Image of list of South Redondo Sales from May through June of 2020.
These sales are for a select period and a select area. If you have interest in similar data for your neighborhood, we can provide you with our instant Neighborhood Notice. Call us for details.

2020 — The First Six Months in South Bay

Faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, a particularly contentious national election, and weeks of nation-wide civil rights protests, It looked like there was no way 2020 could ever be called a normal year. Then we learned about a growing recession. So halfway through the year, what do we see?

Prices – Up and Down

The South Bay is a nice place to live. Here, the real estate market is frequently shielded from the vagaries of the nation at large. And it’s no different this year. In this chart we compare the average sales prices during the first six months of 2019 versus 2020, by zip code. In nearly all cases the average property price is still going up. Torrance was very nearly flat and 90274 actually dropped slightly. (If your zip code or city is not included here, and you would like statistics, give us a call.)

Volume – Mostly down

With prices are still climbing, albeit slower than they were, what about sales volume. Here we see some negative impact. Hermosa Beach is the only local city not experiencing a drop off in sales. In Manhattan Beach, for example, sales are off by 38% for the first six months of this year. South Redondo is off by 35%. Torrance and the peninsula cities are all down by roughly 5-10% from the number of homes sold in the same period of 2019.

My Crystal Ball

Our Market Trend chart is designed to show whether market conditions generally favorable for sellers or buyers. The year started as a buyers’ market and moved even further toward buyers in February. Since then we have been seeing a slow, but steady movement toward a sellers’ market. Things could change dramatically before the year is out, but right now the red trend line indicates the probability the South Bay will be in a sellers’ market before the end of 2020.

$ Money Matters $

The Federal Reserve Bank (the Fed) moved to lower the federal funds rate by a half-point to a range of 1% to 1.25% March 3 in response to the “evolving risks” of the COVID-19 corona virus outbreak. The Fed doesn’t directly impact housing loans, but they generally move in tandem.

Mortgage rates in the U.S. roughly track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note which has been dropping as the corona virus epidemic expanded. As the yield on the 10-year note drops, there is typically a drop in mortgage interest rates.

Yesterday, purchasers and refinance borrowers were looking at rates of about 3.7%. Today that’s about 3.5%. Some lenders are forecasting that rates could drop as low as 3% before COVID-19 is controlled.

Some analysts report that the stock market anticipates a least a quarter-point rate cut at the Fed’s meeting in April.

Around the world some other central banks have dropped rates as well. Since consumer spending is a large measure of our economys, there is reason to press for more cuts.

In the words of the President, @realDonaldTrump, “The Federal Reserve is cutting but … more easing and cutting!”

Photo by Vladimir Solomyani on Unsplash

Salad as the Main Course

My favorite meal is a fresh salad, transformed to a main course with the addition of a grilled, or roasted, or sauteed piece of meat or seafood. This recipe is a more sophisticated version, with colorful and tasty endive taking the place of standard greens.

Salmon is a great go-to for this dish. If you’re not fond of the taste, or it isn’t readily available, there are several delicious options. Mahi-mahi or rockfish work well, as will chicken breast, or even scallops. The goal is the freshness of the salad combined with the hearty flavor of your meat, poultry or seafood.

Ingredients

3 heads red Belgian endive
3 heads Belgian endive
2 crisp and juicy apples
Juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
2 cups (2-3 oz.) of frisée and/or arugula greens, torn to bite-size
1/2 cup walnut halves or pieces, toasted
6 tbsp. white vinaigrette dressing (recipe below)
1 tsp. finely cut chives
4 fillets of a firm fish, e.g., salmon, mahi mahi, or rockfish

White vinaigrette dressing
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 shallot, peeled and minced
2 tsp. honey (optional)
1 pinch finely chopped garlic
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Salad
Wash and dry endive and apples. Cut endives lengthwise into julienne strips. Slice apples and cut into julienne strips. (If made in advance, you can preserve the color of the apple with a spritz of lemon juice.) Tear the frisée and/or arugula greens into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

White balsamic vinaigrette dressing
In a bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

Salmon: Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Score skin and season fish with salt and pepper. Place skin-side down in hot oil. Cook until skin is crispy, shaking pan to prevent fish from sticking. Turn fish over and continue cooking until medium rare. Remove and keep warm. (Alternatively, salmon may be grilled or baked.)

In a large bowl, combine endives, apples, greens, walnuts and vinaigrette, tossing gently. Season to taste and center on plate. Top the salad serving with one fillet each and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Pundit Quotes on the 2020 Real Estate Market

Usually this time of year I stick my neck out and make some forecasts about the local market in the coming year. What I’ve discovered is my quotes are boring by comparison to those made by the pundits. So, this year I decided to publish some of the more exciting projections by people who claim to know what’s going on.

Let’s set the stage by noting that the real estate market has been notoriously stable for the past few years. Stable, and on a very slight decline. The charts have shown volume and prices all within the normal range, with tiny losses increasing as time goes on. Several pundits have pointed to these stats and projected a recession on the horizon.

At the same time, as I point out in another article, this is a presidential election year. Can anyone remember an election year when the economy failed? It doesn’t happen very often. Let’s look at some quotes.


“Were we to have a recession, I’d argue housing would provide a cushion because the shortage of supply at the entry-level suggests builders could actually continue to build.”

Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist

Well now, I know quite a few builders and developers. But, I don’t know any who will start a project when prices start dropping. As a theory it sounds great, but I think it needs further study.


“While the housing crisis is still fresh on the minds of many, and was the catalyst of the Great Recession, the U.S. housing market has weathered all other recessions since 1980.”

Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist at First American

Kushi says, “…since 1980.” So he had to look back 40 years to find good news?!?!


“Housing people are the most optimistic people, but it takes a lot of optimism to buy a house and tie up your income for 30 years.”

Nela Richardson, investment strategist at Edward Jones.

He’s right, at least as far as purchasers would go. Most tenants wouldn’t be very optimistic after renting for 30 years.


“The vast majority of housing economists project that mortgage rates will remain below 4% in 2020.”

Jacob Passy, personal-finance reporter for MarketWatch

Ha! Like we’re going to see the Fed argue with President Trump! He tweeted and they gave. It’s an election year!


“In the Los Angeles metropolitan area (which includes Orange County), the share of homes that sold for more than the listed price dropped from nearly 35 percent in 2018 to 28 percent in 2019.”

Elijah Chiland, reporter for Curbed, Los Angeles

There is a large difference between our little corner of the world here in 90277 and Los Angeles County in general, and it extends to the LA Metro and to California and to the nation as a whole. In 2019 only 17% of homes sold in 90277 sold for over asking. It is different here. Many brokers/agents have found that the statistics generated by state and national pundits are simply not applicable in the Beach Cities.


Here’s CAR betting on a positive market for the year! It’s an election year, and I can see this happening!

2019 vs 2020 in 90277

Last year saw property prices in 90277 drift down a little. Looking at a five year picture of shifting prices we see that from 2014 to 2018 there was a clear upward trajectory. By the end of 2019 the average price had dropped and the median price followed.

The final numbers for 2019 show the decline continuing and even growing. The median was only down .4%, but the average was down 7.1%, an even larger drop than projected for the fourth quarter of the year.

On a more positive note, 2019 showed a 16% increase in sales volume for 90277.

The downward shift in prices and upward trend in volume of sales are consistent with the overall greater South Bay area. The upper end of the local market is showing signs of having reached an apex in prices, which has stimulated more listings and more sales.

At the same time, the moderate and lower priced neighborhoods have maintained price increases. Prices of lower priced homes are still climbing, but at a slower rate. Sales on the other hand, declined from 2018, or were unchanged.

So what’s the outlook for 2020? To get an early look, we compared January 2019 to January 2020. The statistics show both prices and sales climbing. Sales for the month were 22% greater than January last year. Average prices increased by 14.7%, while median prices were up 5.9%.

All right, so things are looking pretty good, at least in the Beach Cities/South Bay area. But, let’s face it. This is an election year. The status of everything is subject to change in mere seconds, based on the latest poll/post/tweet hitting the internet. There’s not much we can do about the politics, but if you’re looking for a quick update on the real estate market, give us a call. Better yet, take out a free subscription to BeachChatter and we’ll send you a note to keep you abreast of the latest news. There should be a subscription form in the side column. And, we don’t sell your data!

Upgrade Your Home for Senior Living Convenience

As if there has ever been a doubt, surveys clearly demonstrate that those of us in the Baby Boomer generation want to maintain our independence and remain in our family homes as long as possible. The older we get, the more adamantly we pursue that goal. Along with us getting older, our homes are also aging. Things we loved about the house when we were younger are not so lovable now that we’re less agile and adaptable than we were those many years ago.

That upstairs kitchen, with the tremendous views–getting up those stairs becomes a dreaded task when joints become creaky and complaining. Likewise, getting down on hands and knees to reach into the back of a corner cabinet can make one curse the arthritis creeping in on us.

Photo by AndriyKo Podilnyk on Unsplash

In some cases the solution is medical. Doctors can literally rebuild a body today, replacing old, failing parts with new technological wonders. On a more practical level, rebuilding our homes to meet our changing needs can be easier and less expensive. Depending on the structure and your needs, you may be able to adapt the family home to your new lifestyle demands more readily than you can change residences.

Elevator
Photo by Martin Péchy on Unsplash

In our experience, inability to climb stairs is the most expensive and challenging difficulty to remedy. In multi-story homes, options include installing an elevator or adding a chair lift, while in single story homes, it may be as simple as adding a ramp at the exterior entrances.

Elevators may add up to tens of thousands of dollars, but don’t let that deter you from investigating. Sometimes the architect has designed in a space that’s just waiting to be used. Besides, it’s probably less expensive than moving the kitchen downstairs. Though not as aesthetically appealing, a chair lift can be a relatively inexpensive solution, costing only a few thousand dollars.

In terms of cost and difficulty, bathrooms and kitchens come right behind stairs. The key problems are usually related to getting in and out of bathtubs, and manipulating faucet knobs. Whether the result of declining strength, arthritis, or another aspect of aging, these are literally pains we can avoid.

Walk-in bathtubs are available, but very expensive, and most of us haven’t been in a tub since we were children. The most common solution is a “curbless” shower which eliminates the pain and the trip hazard. Adding a seat to your shower is a minor effort for the contractor and a major plus for you. Any update of your faucets will probably solve the knob issue, since nearly all manufacturers have shifted from knobs to levers to meet the needs of the disabled.

Many of the complaints we have as aging boomers have been addressed by manufacturers of “add-on” or “after market” products. Roll out drawers, pull out shelves, lazy susan corner units and similar tools can be wonderful. For the most part these fixes are inexpensive and easy to install. None of them will make us any younger, but with them we can all feel better about growing older.

Main Photo by Jason Pofahl on Unsplash

Growing Old at Home

You knew someone would conduct a survey asking senior citizens where they would prefer to live as they grow older. I’m sure you also knew the answer before the survey was done. There’s no place like home!

A study by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) shows an overwhelming 76% of seniors aged 50+ want to stay in their current home and 77% want to remain in their community as long as possible. Sadly, only 46% expect they’ll be able to stay in their home. Another 13% believe they’ll be able to move to a different residence in the same community.

How strongly do those surveyed feel about staying in their home? Over half wanted it to the extent they were willing to share their home (32%), build an accessory dwelling unit (31%) or join a “village” that provides services to enable aging in place (56%). (We plan to explore “senior villages” in a future article.

“half of the survey respondents indicated they would be
willing to share their home simply for companionship”

In an interesting sidelight, half of the survey respondents indicated they would be willing to share their home simply for companionship. The strength of this psychological need is supported by anecdotal tales we’ve all heard about retirees who move in together for companionship, but remain single for financial reasons. Even more telling is the response of 30% who reported lacking companionship, feeling left out or feeling isolated.

About one third of those surveyed expect their existing home to require major modifications. Most of that group, roughly 25% of the respondents, are not willing or able to make those changes. As a result, they plan on relocating completely to a new area. Moving to a new area can offer a tremendous incentive in that the average price of housing varies dramatically from state to state across the nation.

“less than 25% of seniors are attracted to senior developments”

Some active adult communities, designed for the 55+ cohort, offer pools, gyms, coffee bars, workshops, golf courses and cooking classes. Despite all the amenities, less than 25% of seniors are attracted to senior developments.

In many cases, the problem lies with the lack of social interaction. The AARP concluded “creating a social environment that appeals to everyone is a key part of forming strong, livable communities.” The group cited results showing over 80% of seniors felt it important to socialize with friends and neighbors; engage with both young and old residents; volunteer in the community; and continue formal education.

While we’re looking at the things seniors desire, it’s equally interesting to see what it is they don’t want. On the list of “least important community features” we find that over 75% of the respondents don’t want “Activities specifically geared towards adults with dementia.” Nor are they interested in “Local schools that involve older adults in events and activities,” or “Activities geared specifically towards older adults.” This further reinforces the idea that seniors want to interact with both young and old people.

There are those who say “Children will keep you young.” This survey would suggest a whole lot of us believe that maxim.

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

What is the California Department of Aging?

The California Department of Aging (CDA) is practically unheard of. I recently discovered it and knew immediately we would have to publish the information for our Beach Cities seniors. The Department administers programs that serve older adults, adults with disabilities, family caregivers, and residents in long-term care facilities throughout the State. These programs are funded through the federal Older Americans Act, the Older Californians Act, and through the Medi-Cal program.

To get things done, the CDA contracts with the network of Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), which are organized roughly along county lines. The local AAA directly manages services that provide meals; support for family members, and to generally promote healthy aging and community involvement. In this article we’ll focus on meals and family help, both of which are elements of “Aging At Home.”

“Meals On Wheels”

Here in Los Angeles County, seniors are eligible for home delivered meal service if they meet the following basic requirements. (For detail, see http://wdacs.lacounty.gov/ or call them at (213-738-4004.)

  • Persons 60 years of age or older who are homebound because of illness, incapacity, disability, or are otherwise isolated regardless of income level
  • Spouses and caregivers of eligible participants if it is beneficial to the participant
  • Persons with a disability who live at home with a participant

The Home-Delivered Meals Program also provides nutrition education, nutrition risk screening and nutrition counseling.

Being a senior citizen can be very challenging in our society. Even with family care givers, there can be a lot of questions, and a good deal of confusion. High on the priority list is finding ways so family members can help as much as possible.

Many times close relatives would be happy to stay home and help, but a formal job leaves no time to do so. The In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program is designed to provide training and income for a person who provides services to family members under the program.

Getting paid to take care of a family member

Are you caring for a senior member of the family? Or, are you a senior caring for a grandchild? Either way, you are performing a valuable service, and one you can be paid for! The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) can help you with qualifying for a paycheck in 90 days or less. The best part–it can be tax free income! The requirements:

  • Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 or older providing care to individuals age 60 or older
  • Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 or older providing care to individuals of any age with Alzheimer’s disease or related disorder with neurologic and organic brain dysfunction
  • Relatives, not parents, age 55 or older providing care to children under the age of 18
  • Relatives, including parents, age 55 or older providing care to individuals of any age with a disability

CDA also contracts with agencies that certify approximately 242 Adult Day Health Care Centers participating in the Medi-Cal Community Based Adult Services (CBAS) Program.

So every Californian has the opportunity to enjoy wellness, longevity and quality of life in strong healthy communities, CDA actively works to ensure:
– transportation,
– housing and accessibility
– wellness and nutrition,
– falls and injury prevention,
– dementia care.
For additional information, contact the CDA at https://www.aging.ca.gov/Programs_and_Services/ or you can locate the AAA in your area by selecting your county on the Find Services in My County page of this website.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

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Planning to Grow Old in the Family Home?

In the course of a week I talk to a lot of people who are over 55 years of age. Most of them live in the home where they raised their family many years ago. And as any real estate agent or broker can tell you, most plan to live out their life right there.

And why not? They’re intimately familiar with the house, and probably with most of the neighbors. In many cases, the house is already paid for, so a mortgage won’t drag down their retirement income. The house may be a little bigger than needed, but that just means it holds more memories–right?

Senior Housing Challenges

Maybe, and maybe not. As we grow older, aging adds new challenges for our bodies. We’re not able to move around as easily, can’t climb stairs like we used to, and we don’t keep up with chores like we used to.

Typically, one of the first things I notice when visiting a 55+ client is the condition of the paint under the eaves of the house. As seniors we’re constantly being admonished to “stay off ladders” or “don’t risk falling and breaking bones.” Needless to say, very few of us get those eaves painted. Often those same physical limitations extend to the gardening tasks we used to love, and to cleaning the gutters of fall leaves.

Aging in place, rather than moving to a less challenging home, will work out well for some seniors, and prove impossible for others. Some people may be able to modify their homes to allow themselves to remain. (See Remodels for Aging in Place in the summer 2019 issue and at https://www.beachchatter.com/2019/09/11/remodels-for-aging-in-place/.)

These changes could include adding: ramps, railings or grab bars; stair lifts; plus additional safety and security features. Making our homes safer as we age is important. It isn’t the whole story, though. We still have to find someone to do the painting, clean the gutters, and make the little fixes we used to do ourselves.

Depending on the need, modifications can be cost prohibitive, and even when they are made, some seniors may still need the assistance of a caregiver. In the end, dollars and cents will weigh heavily on the decision. It may make more sense to downsize, move closer to family members who can help — perhaps into a family member’s casita — or relocate to an active adult community.

Designed for Active Adults

Recent years have seen considerable growth in residences designed and built exclusively for residents who are 55+ years old. Some seniors are still physically capable, but have decided retirement should free them from the mundane chores of adult life. The “active adult” lifestyle afforded by 55+ communities often is the perfect solution.

Imagine suddenly deciding on a romantic weekend out of town and being able to leave immediately. You’re in a secure environment–no need to make special arrangements. Maintenance tasks are all handled for you. You and the neighbors watch out for each other all the time, so just pack and go! That’s the real appeal to 55+ homes–they give you freedom.

In addition to the freedom, planned communities offer opportunities to spend time golfing, woodworking, sculpting etc., with peers who love the same things you do. It could be time in the gym, or lying by the pool. Whatever your favorite things are, there’s a 55+ complex out there to help you enjoy them.

There are trade-offs. Typically a down-sizing senior goes from three or more bedrooms, in 2500+ square feet, to a two bedroom unit with less than 1200 square feet. That means a lot of furnishings, knick-knacks and memorabilia get sorted and distributed. It’s work, but handled appropriately can be a valuable experience in turning the familial reins over to the upcoming generation. Writing these words, I have a mental picture of the happiness when my wife gifts her grandmother’s jewelry to our granddaughter. It certainly outshines putting family heirlooms in a will to be routinely read out with no hugs and tears of joy.

Senior Renters Face a Shortage

Seniors who own their homes have the option of modifying their homes or selling and downsizing. But senior renters, living on a fixed income, are much more vulnerable to the rent increases that are occurring more frequently across California.

In a growing trend across the nation, investors have been buying up rentals in bulk and raising the rent and/or sending eviction notices to senior tenants. (See article in the Los Angeles Times.) Tenants who try to fight the increases face lengthy and costly legal battles that don’t always turn out in their favor. The result?

In Los Angeles, 26% of no-fault evictions happen to residents who are 62 years or older. In contrast, roughly 13% of the city’s units are occupied by seniors. Thus, the eviction rate for seniors in Los Angeles is almost twice as large as it is for other age groups.

No-fault evictions usually occur when a renter is living with a month-to-month lease. Some seniors are unaware they have this type of lease, as when their annual lease ends the landlord may choose to continue the lease on a month-to-month basis. Then, when the landlord decides to re-list the unit at a higher rate, they may simply evict the long-term tenant with very little notice.

The number of homeless seniors is rising at an alarming rate. In Los Angeles, the number of homeless seniors rose 22% in 2018, leaving 4,800 seniors on the streets. Experts predict the number could rise to 30,000 by 2030.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

In summary, the three overarching choices for seniors considering a change in housing are: remain in the family home, sell and move to an active adult community, or try to secure stable rental housing. There are lots of variations on each theme. For example, one could rent out the family home to provide an income to cover the cost of a senior rental property.

Regardless of the route you take, the California Department of Aging offers a good deal of assistance for seniors facing housing changes. That department provides more detail about the types of senior housing and assistance here.

For those of you who are considering making a change in where you live, we would be happy to sit with you and find answers for any questions you may have.

Yes! Staging Works!

This summer I saw an amazing example of how effective staging a vacant home can be. If you’re debating the merits of staging your property, whether currently on the market or still in planning, consider this example.

The property in question had been listed for lease in February at $3800 per month. It languished on the market for six months, dropping in price to $3650 in the meantime.

In August the seller listed with a different agent asking $3900 per month. It leased for $3750 in less than 30 days!

After sitting vacant for six months, at a loss of $22,500, what changed? Besides the new agent, the whole look of the property changed! The new listing agent brought in a professional stager, who added furniture, and hired a top-rated photographer who showcased the new decorating gorgeously.

The cost? At over $1000, was it steep, or cheap?. Compare that to the $22,500 lost while seeking a tenant and it comes out looking like a bargain.

This is only one example, and could easily be an anomaly. However, having watched this process repeat over and over, I’m firmly convinced that the cost of a highly professional stager, photographer and broker will be vastly offset by the increased purchase price and/or the rapidity of the sale.

After all, would you rather sell in 30 days, or six months? And would you prefer more money, or less?

Who you hire as your agent really does matter!

Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash

Bœuf a la Bourguignon

First, how does one pronounce that impossible looking name? “Bœuf,” French for “beef,” sounds like a cross between “bif” and “buff.” Say it quickly and you’ll be close enough. “Bourguignon” is bu̇r-gēn-ˈyȯn. Just remember that the letters “g-n” are pronounced in French as though they were “n-y.”

But, you don’t need to pronounce it to love it. This is the dish Julia Child described as”…certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man.” This version is considerably simpler than that in Julia’s landmark book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

Remember to use a good wine—a bad wine doesn’t improve with cooking.

This recipe can be adapted for a slow-cooker. Before loading up the pot, be sure to brown the ingredients as noted here. All ingredients can be added at the beginning except the mushrooms, which should be added at the end.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds boneless beef rump roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 12 ounces button mushrooms (trimmed), halved or quartered if large
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 5 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 10 ounces pearl onions, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large Dutch oven or oven-safe pot with a tight fitting lid, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Add mushrooms and pearl onions. Cook until browned, about 10 minutes, then set aside.
  3. Season beef generously with salt and pepper and add to pot. In batches, brown beef on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per batch (adding up to 1 tablespoon oil per batch, if needed); transfer to plate.
  4. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot. Add bacon and chopped onion. Cook over medium heat until brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add flour and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.
  7. Return beef to pot; add wine, broth, bay leaf, and garlic. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer pot to oven; cook 1 1/2 hours.
  8. Add carrots and cook until meat is very tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours more, adding mushrooms 15 minutes before end of cooking.
  9. Stir butter into stew and serve topped with parsley.

Serve spooned over noodles, rice or mashed potatoes, or even a baguette.

Adapted from Martha Stewart’ version of Julia Child’s quintessential recipe. Wine photo by Lefteris kallergis on Unsplash. Food photo by unknown.

ADUs and Rent Control

We had a call recently asking how California’s new statewide rent cap laws impact homeowners who are supplementing their income by renting out an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). The primary concern was, “Is the owner forced to keep a tenant or pay relocation if they decide to quit renting?”

The question stems from what is called the “just cause requirements” of the new rent control law. Our client was concerned about a decision to evict the current tenant and allow a grandchild to occupy the ADU while attending school locally. If “just cause” applied, it would require they provide relocation assistance to their current tenant.

Renting a part of your home, whether a single room or an entire “guest cottage” may be excluded from the law.

To answer the question, we reviewed the rent cap legislation with an eye to what terms would control should a homeowner need to evict tenants from an ADU.

Applicability of “just cause” relocation assistance, and the rent cap of 5% plus the local Consumer Price Index (CPI) both rely on the same tests.

The first of those tests is the type of property. Multi-family dwellings, i.e., everything from apartment buildings down to duplexes are included in the scope of the law. SFRs though, are excluded, and most importantly, an SFR with an ADU qualifies as an SFR and may be excluded if the second test is also met.

The second test relates to the owner of the property. The following owner types are always included within the scope of the law:
A real estate investment trust, as defined in Section 856 of the Internal Revenue Code.
A corporation.
A limited liability company in which at least one member is a corporation.

The bottom line is that “mom and pop” operations do not fall under the rent cap or the just cause eviction sections of the new laws. There is a caveat! You must notify your tenants!

At the time the lease is signed, tenants should be provided written notice that the residential real property is exempt from this section using the following statement: “This property is not subject to the rent limits imposed by Section 1947.12 of the Civil Code and is not subject to the just cause requirements of Section 1946.2 of the Civil Code. This property meets the requirements of Sections 1947.12 (c)(5) and 1946.2 (e)(7) of the Civil Code and the owner is not any of the following: (1) a real estate investment trust, as defined by Section 856 of the Internal Revenue Code; (2) a corporation; or (3) a limited liability company in which at least one member is a corporation.”

Here is a link to the legislation in question:
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billCompareClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB1482

Prices Soften in South Bay

Here we wrap up 2019 and prepare for 2020, with a tumultuous election at hand and threats of an economic slowdown rearing in the local news. Our first thought is to look for a baseline from which to measure all the changes. So we did some research and assembled actual sales data from the last few years here in LA’s South Bay. Let’s walk, quickly, past some history.

Through 2015 nearly all real estate only became more expensive. Regardless of where you were in the country, or what kind of property you were considering, prices were only going one direction–up. Then, in 2016 the real estate world started changing. Our little corner of the the west coast is no exception. While some areas stand out as successes, others are showing signs of stress.

Torrance prices in the selected zip codes were varied, ranging from a low of 0% in 90505 for 2018 up to a high of 10.2% in 90503 for 2017. You read that correctly–Torrance prices have not gone negative yet! North Redondo Beach has also run positive every year, though 2019 looks like it will end with a mere .7% increase for the current year.

Hermosa Beach dropped a bit of value last year and is projected to lose again this year.

Manhattan Beach is a star performer, with average sales prices consistently above $2,000,000. Surprisingly, the city with the largest average increases is Hermosa Beach, with a price increase of 27.6% in 2015 and another huge price jump 0f 14% in 2017. Both cities declined in 2018 and 2019. Manhattan Beach was down by -1.7% and -2.6%, respectively. Hermosa Beach dropped by -1.6% and -1.0%, respectively.

Manhattan Beach showed exceptionally strong sales only in 2017, with 7 sales on The Strand. In 2018, prices declined slightly, and are projected to decline slightly in 2019.

While Manhattan and Hermosa were making one or two big jumps, south Redondo plugged away with annual increases between 8% and 10% until 2019. Unless something big happens in the final quarter of the year, 90277 will drop by about -6% this year.

After 4 years of increases, south Redondo Beach is slated to lose ~6% this year.

San Pedro has turned in a solidly positive set of numbers, too. The 90731 zip code is poised to show a 2.0% increase for 2019, down from a high of 7.5% in 2015. The 90732 zip code has slipped into negative territory with a forecast drop of -1.5% this year. Prior years have been over 8% increases, demonstrating the desirability of those harbor and ocean views.

San Pedro‘s 90731 has remained in positive increases to date.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula has proven to be quite a “mixed bag” of ups and downs in average sales prices. Rancho Palos Verdes followed a predictable path of gradual increases up to 6.2% in 2018, with a projected decrease of -2.0% this year. The 90274 zip code was all over the map though. It started with an 8.4% increase in 2015, dropped into negative territory the following year with a -4.7%, then dropped another -.8% in 2017, only to jump up by 8.7% in 2018. We’re currently forecasting a 1.5% increase in those prices for 2019.

five_year_avg_price_movement_percent_90274.jpg
The ups and downs of 90274

If you live in the 90274 zip, and are interested in values, give us a call. We are working on a more detailed analysis of where and why distinct PV neighborhoods are seeing values shift on a differing pace. It’s very possible the age of homes in parts of the 90274 zip has pushed them into a “sweet spot” for upgrade or redevelopment. Alternatively, there could pockets not impacted by the economics of the greater community.

Check your city on the chart above. Are your property values still climbing? Or have they already hit the top and started back down?

Market Analysis – October

We’re here in the final quarter of 2019, looking back and comparing this year to 2018. It’s amazing how similar they have been so far in the year. Let’s take a look at the charts and numbers for the South Bay. Keep in mind these are very small movements, in a market that is about as normal and “middle of the road” as we’ve seen in a long time. I’ve shown the charts in large format, specifically so you can see the monthly movement.

Market trend chart for the year of  2018.

Here we see the movement in listings and sales for the year of 2018. Notice the year starts off just below the center line, showing that overall activity is just barely leaning toward favoring buyers. Activity bumps up once in May, again in July and again a bit higher in August.

Note the chart shows a big jump in activity in December. These numbers are not seasonally adjusted, so these properties did actually move off the market. However, they didn’t sell. At the end of nearly every year the local market drops a big piece of the inventory. Listings that have been sitting for months without selling, and similar year-end cleanups, inflate the number of homes leaving the inventory.

Market trend chart for first nine months of 2019.

Compared to last year, 2019 took off the same, running essentially flat until May, when there is a bump up that matches almost identically the May increase from 2018. Slowing down again in June and ramping up a bit for July then August repeats the activity from last year. As fall comes along, sales slow again for September, just like 2018.

It’s important to remember trend data is designed to point in a direction, as opposed to reporting history. I’ve removed the red trend line from these charts so you can more easily see the individual month changes. If you have questions, or would like to know specifics, don’t hesitate to call.

Remodels for Aging in Place

Every year the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) conducts a broad survey of professionals involved in the housing industry. The results of that survey are published as the Remodelling Market Index (RMI). Among other data collected are details about the improvements made by seniors who plan to live in their current home as long as possible.

The ‘Aging-In-Place’ data includes how many professional remodelers do it, how many of their customers are receptive to it and what kinds of projects are completed. Using data from NAHB’s RMI survey for the 4th quarter of 2018, we look now at some of the specific types of Aging-in-Place projects undertaken last year.

It probably comes as little surprise to most readers that bathroom projects dominated the top spots. Over 80 percent of remodelers who answered the question reported installing grab bars, higher toilets and curb-less showers. The next-most-common project on the list, widening doorways, followed at a considerable distance (59 percent).

Much like the relationship between bathtubs and showers in general, walk-in bathtubs are not nearly as desired as curb-less showers. Only 12 percent of remodelers reported installing walk-in tubs in 2018, and only two of the 14 projects on the Aging-in-Place list were less desirable: lowering kitchen cabinets and lowering countertops.

When NAHB began asking Aging-in-Place remodeling questions in 2004, curb-less showers were about as common as wider doorways. But over the years the share of NAHB remodelers installing curb-less showers has grown, from 54 to 82 percent. Requests for curb-less showers are now nearly as common as higher toilets—even though installing higher toilets also reached an all-time high of 85 percent in 2018, up from 68 percent in 2004.

When the RMI questionnaire expanded in 2006, it started asking remodelers about reasons their customers undertake Aging-in-Place projects. Since that time “planning ahead for future needs” has consistently ranked as the most common motivation, cited by 75 percent of remodelers in 2006, and up to a record 86 percent in 2018.

“Acute age related disabilities” and “non-age disabilities” were also higher than ever in 2018, at 51 and 27 percent, respectively. This is only a 1 to 2 percentage point gain over their previous peaks, however.

Meanwhile, the share of remodelers citing “living with older parents” as a motivation has tended to drift downward over time, from over 50 percent in 2006 and 2007, to under 45 percent in 2016 and 2018.

For further results and more detail on the Aging-in-Place questions in NAHB’s RMI survey, the complete report may be found at http://eyeonhousing.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/RMI-2018-Q4.pdf.

New Horizons

For this issue we visit a couple who live in one of the original 55+ communities in the South Bay. The 600 homes in New Horizons were built in the early sixties. Most units have seen some remodelling, while a few have been extensively redone.

The basic units come in three configurations. The two story structures comprising the two most common, with single level ‘A’ units on the ground floor, and single level ‘B’ units upstairs. There are 237 each of the ‘A’ and ‘B’ units in that configuration.

Here an owner has installed a lift chair on the external stair of a two story building.

The two story buildings have downstairs units with essentially no stairs, and a nice patio, frequently enclosed in a wooden fence. The upstairs units have a large balcony off the living room.

New Horizon’s single story, ground level bungalows are highly sought after.

The third style is the highly sought-after bungalow with a total of 126 units. Each ground level building has three units, most in a staggered pattern to minimize shared walls.

Approximately 400 of the 600 units are identified as occupied by the owners. In many cases the official ownership record reflects the names of future heirs. Some units are occupied by seniors, but owned by investors, and we’ve found that often neighboring seniors will purchase available units for their own investment portfolio.

For this visit to New Horizons we’re talking to DeeDee and Arlo (names have been changed) who live in an upper story unit in one of the two story buildings.

  • Q1: How long have you lived here?
  • DD:We bought here seven years ago. It was just what we were looking for. The owner had done a lot of upgrades, so we have dual pane windows & patio doors, and tile floors. A lot of things other units don’t have.
Dining area with custom tile adjacent to kitchen.
  • Q2: Is it your first time living in a condominium?
  • DD:We’ve both lived in an apartment before. This isn’t much different, except for involvement in the association. I was on a committee for a while, but it was too much. After I retire, I’ll get more involved … maybe.
Wide and deep balconies offer immediately accessible outdoor space in addition to large units.
  • Q3: Have you made new friends here?
  • DD:Lots of them! We’re friends with just about everyone in our building and the one facing us.
    AR:It’s like a little Mayberry here. Everyone knows everyone and everything that’s going on. It’s really nice because the neighbors are very watchful. We know when there’s a stranger around, or a wild animal comes visiting.
  • Q4: Have friends from your old neighborhood come to visit? What did they have to say about your new home?
  • DD:We’ve had old friends come by regularly. There’ve been many family birthdays, and even super bowl parties! Everyone likes it. It’s much bigger than most condos.”
The New Horizons golf course has a gorgeous water trap!
  • Q5: Obviously there are things you like and some you don’t care for. What is your favorite part of living here?
  • DD:I play Bunko every second Tuesday. It’s fun and I’ve met a lot of new people–mostly ladies–that way.
    AR:I love the green. Everywhere you look there’s grass, trees, planters, and things growing. The golf course is especially nice with the lake and fountains.
    DD:We’re not at the beach, but being upstairs we get a nice cross-breeze. We wanted to be upstairs because of the extra light coming in and the upstairs units all have attic storage.
Custom built barbeque for al fresco dining on the grounds.
  • Q6: 55+ communities vary considerably in the amenities provided. What does the association provide that you like most?
  • AR:We haven’t even tried everything. There’s a gym with showers, a wood shop with all kinds of tools, and a pottery shop with a kiln. There’s a pool and hot tub here, bocce ball, and a bigger pool over by the recreation center. The rec center has ping pong, pool tables, card rooms, a meeting room with a stage and audio/visual equipment. There’s even a library.
    DD:The association cares for the owners. One of our neighbors needed a lift chair to get upstairs to the second level. The HOA was totally cooperative.”
The grounds are among the most opulent in the South Bay.
  • Q7: How about the things you like least. What would those be?
  • AR:There are all the usual things about living with other people–the gossip, pettiness, and perpetual complainers.”
    DD:The garages are shared, and you can’t really store anything in them.”
    AR:Guests and delivery people have a hard time finding addresses. I usually have to go out to guide them in because there’s a combination of block numbers, building numbers, street addresses and unit numbers.
  • Q8: What are your plans for the future?
  • AR:For right now, we’re staying right here. We’ve talked about moving to Temecula, but haven’t looked into it.”
    DD:We could swap to an inexpensive house there, but we really like being close to the beach and near family and friends.

When Is Assisted Living “In-Home Health Care?”

Last year the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded how it defines many of the “primarily health-related” benefits that insurers are allowed to include in their Medicare Advantage (MA) policies. Air conditioners for people with asthma, healthy groceries, rides to medical appointments and home-delivered meals are among the new benefits now being considered for coverage by insurers. More importantly, insurers are now allowed to cover non-skilled in-home care starting this year.

Assisted living providers often provide this type of care, such as helping residents with bathing and dressing. Thus, the CMS change opened up the possibility that insurance dollars could start flowing to senior housing and care companies. Analysts already envision major MA insurers buying into senior housing companies to maximize profits.

Technically, the Assisted Living facility is your home,
so “home health care” benefits should apply.

Only a handful of insurance companies are offering any new benefits in 2019. Among them, Long Beach, California-based SCAN, announced its “Returning to Home” and “Home Advantage” offerings in mid-November. SCAN was able to quickly add new supplemental home care benefits because it has covered similar services in the past

To provide these benefits, SCAN already has contracts in place with home care agencies. According to SCAN executives, it’s possible SCAN would contract directly with an independent living or assisted living company if it has caregivers on staff, and residents signed up for these new plan offerings.

It’s possible a retiree will have health care
provided by a medical organization
owned by the insurer. Would that be
considered a conflict of interest?

Both SCAN and Anthem, another major player in the MA arena, have indicated they are open to contracting with senior living providers or otherwise forging partnerships with them. We can expect a variety of differing relationships between insurers and providers as best practices are devised.

As insurance companies create their benefits packages and consider potential senior living moves, some senior living providers are looking at ways to add MA policies to the 55+ living packages they offer.

Sunrise Senior Living has a newly established plan called Sunrise Advantage which is currently offered in four states (California is not included). The Sunrise plan replaces the insurance company that normally comes in between the health provider and Medicare. Physician referrals to Sunrise are up 300% since Sunrise Advantage launched, per Sunrise executives.

Should we allow the health industry,
providers or insurers, to engage in monopoly?

Senior living providers like Sunrise, who create their own plans can tap into the new supplemental benefits as well as more well-established options. The changes promise to add bottom-line value for the senior living business, while enhancing residents’ outcomes and reducing some of their expenses.

Many Medicare Advantage plans already offer some health benefits not covered by traditional Medicare, such as eyeglasses, hearing aids, dental care and gym memberships. The new rules, developed with industry input, expands that significantly to items and services not directly considered medical treatment.

CMS said the insurers will be permitted to provide care and devices that prevent or treat illness or injuries, compensate for physical impairments, address the psychological effects of illness or injuries, or reduce emergency medical care.

The changes were adopted late in 2018, so many insurers are still designing their modifications, and many changes will come in 2020. Some health insurance experts said additional benefits could include modifications in beneficiaries’ homes, such as installing grab bars in the bathroom, or aides to help with daily activities, including dressing, eating and other personal care needs.

Even though a physician’s order or prescription is not necessary, the new benefits must be “medically appropriate” and recommended by a licensed health care provider, according to the new rules.

Recession Chatter

The New York Federal Reserve Bank shows a probability of 33% for a recession to strike in the next 12 months.

A recent Zillow survey of economists and other experts predicts a 52% chance of recession by the end of 2019 and a 73% chance of recession by the end of 2020.

Morgan Stanley economist Chetan Ahya estimates that the trade war with China and threatened increased tariffs, “could wind up in a global recession in about three quarters.”

Sounds very ominous. Of course, the fact it does sound ominous reinforces our tendency to talk about it. Then repeatedly hearing the conversation inflates the concern in our minds. Per Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat, the single biggest threat to the U.S. economy is, “Our ability to talk ourselves into the next recession.” (A Reuters article in April discussed ways in which those in the investment industry avoid using the ‘R word’ to minimize concerns on the part of investors.)

So what prompted this forecast of recession?

One of the key indicators used by many is the ‘inverted yield spread,’ also known as an “inverted yield curve.” Campbell Harvey, a Duke University finance professor first linked yield curve inversions to recessions in the mid-1980s. An inversion lasting three months has preceded the last seven recessions, per Harvey. “From the 1960s, this indicator has been reliable in terms of foretelling a recession, and also importantly, it has not given any false signals yet,” he said.

Without going into a lot of detail, a simple way to think of the inverted yield is this: Typically, a short term loan carries a lower interest rate than a long term loan. It’s logical, in that we are much better at forecasting events over a short term like three months, than we are over a long term, like 10 years. And that is exactly what changed late in March of 2019. It became cheaper to borrow for ten years, than for three months. It was the first time since mid-2007 that the yield curve had flipped.

Whether now or later, it is inevitable that a recession will come. That’s the way our economic system works. And preparing for the inevitable is simply wise. We recommend you evaluate your financial position in light of the possibilities and plan to protect your assets. If we can help with real estate information and valuation, don’t hesitate to call.

Ibuyers: Are they Worth the Cost?

iBuyers, instant Buyers, internet Buyers, investor Buyers …

Today, large online real estate service companies are repositioning themselves as investors. These services, like Opendoor, Offerpad, Zillow Offers and Redfin Now, have become known as iBuyers. With their own in-house brokerage services, they handle the entire transaction in an effort to appeal to sellers who want to sell their home with zero hassle. The process essentially eliminates agents who aren’t directly affiliated with the iBuyer companies, automatically reducing the ibuyer’s cost.

Strategically, ibuyers strive to make the initial offer somewhat close to market value. Some, like ZillowOffers, encourage sellers to request value estimates from real estate agents, to provide more assurance of the value. All will inspect the property and adjust the contract price, typically after a contract has been signed. This varies slightly from the normal sales process in that a conventional buyer will have viewed the home prior to making an offer, and incorporated the general condition of the home into the offer price.

“…an ibuyer is purely investment oriented and won’t negotiate.”

There is typically little negotiating room with ibuyers. There will be an inspection and the recommended repairs are priced out and subtracted from the initial offer on a “best and final” basis. Unlike a broker assisted sale where the buyer is emotionally involved, an ibuyer is purely investment oriented and won’t negotiate.

To the ibuyer, the ideal situation is to represent the seller and themselves. The seller is happy because it was quick and easy. The next step for the ibuyer is to make the repairs and list it for sale at an increase in price, once again trying to be the sole broker on the transaction. One could think of it as the real estate version of a vertical market. The ibuyer acts as the listing agent, the buyer, the buyers agent, the investor, and the ‘fix-n-flip’ contractor instead of having separate professionals for each step.

“It’s a sweet deal–for the ibuyer.”

It’s a sweet deal–for the ibuyer. Savings include sales commissions, much of the closing cost, and contractor profit margins. On the flip side of the ledger, the income includes “service fees” charged to the seller, usually in the 7% to 7.5% range, well above the highest real estate broker commissions. Some studies estimate that the final cost to the ibuyer is 15-20% below market value.

Clearly, sellers who use iBuyers end up netting less money, either through a below market purchase price or the higher fees compared to a traditional brokered sale. Is it worth the higher cost to avoid the hassle of making improvements, preparing the home to sell, and keeping it clean long enough to find a buyer who plans to live in the home?

“…it should not be the only option considered.”

When a home is severely outdated or dilapidated and the seller is unable to make improvements, an ibuyer may be the best option. Or, when the market is slow and it’s imperative that the home be sold promptly, an ibuyer may be a good solution. Under any circumstances, it’s certainly one more source to complete a sale. Given the size of the transaction and the cost involved, it should not be the only option considered.

Tuna Niçoise Salad

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
  • 6 large eggs
  • ½ lb. green beans, trimmed
  • 1 lb. new potatoes, baby-size, or cut to approx. 1” chunks
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • 3 cups chunk light tuna, flaked
  • Olives, capers, peperoncini, pickles, or other pickled-briny ingredients (for serving)
  • Flaky sea salt

Recipe Preparation

  • Whisk oil, lemon juice, mustard, honey, pepper, and 1 tsp. kosher salt in a medium bowl; set dressing aside.
  • Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully add eggs and cook 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water (keep pot over high heat); chill until cold, about 5 minutes. Peel; set aside.
  • Meanwhile, add green beans and potatoes to the same pot of boiling water and cook until just tender, 2–4 minutes for green beans, 10–15 minutes for potatoes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to bowl of ice water; let sit until cold, about 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towels; pat dry.
  • To serve, slice eggs in half and arrange on a platter with cooked and raw vegetables and tuna. Top with pickled-briny ingredient(s), sprinkle with sea salt, and drizzle some reserved dressing over. Serve with remaining dressing alongside.
  • Do Ahead: Dressing can be made 5 days ahead; cover and chill. Eggs can be boiled and vegetables blanched 2 days ahead; cover and chill separately.

55+ Options: Torrance

The city of Torrance offers the bulk of opportunities for senior housing in the South Bay. We’ve identified 10 distinct locations with homes exclusively for those 55 years of age and older. They cover a wide variety of living styles, building ages, community sizes, purchase prices and monthly costs.

The available homes change constantly, much faster than this summary of 55+ facilities is updated.  If you have an interest, contact us.  We’re more than happy to go over the differences between different facilities, and the differences between living in a 55+ project and an SFR.  More importantly, we can provide you with up to the minute information about what specific properties are available, and how the cost parameters fit with your personal needs.

NEW HORIZONS
Nadine Circle – Maple Ave, Torrance, CA 90505

Built in 1963-64, New Horizons has ~600 units, some in two story apartment style buildings, with a handful of bungalow style in four unit groups. The recreational facilities include a club house with lounge, billiard room, ballroom with a large kitchen, 9 hole golf course, and pool. Additional amenities include the sports facility, with a modern gym, his & her saunas, Jacuzzi, a second pool, lighted tennis court, both ceramic & wood shops plus a ping pong room.

THE MERIDIAN
2742 Cabrillo, Torrance, CA 90501

Built in 2006 around a central courtyard, the Meridian features forty-four luxury condominiums. Ten are two bedroom / two bath units, with the remainder being one bed / one bath. The complex offers a gated subterranean garage with one parking space per bedroom. Other amenities include bubbling fountains, a community room with fireplace, kitchen, big screen TV and lots of room to relax. To keep your senior body in good shape there’s a modern, upscale fitness center. All levels of the building are accessible by elevator.

PARKVIEW COURT
2367 Jefferson, Torrance, CA 90501

Parkview Court is another of the newer senior condo communities. Located in Torrance adjacent to Wilson Park, it was built in 2007-2008. Fifty-nine tastefully appointed residences, with 29 being two bedroom / two bath and the balance being one bedroom / one bath. This gated community features a large courtyard with a recreation center and fitness center.

THE GABLES
3550 Torrance Blvd, Torrance, CA 90503

The Gables was built in 2006-2007 and offers 38 newer one bedroom units, and 22 studios. In-unit amenities include washer/dryer hookups, A/C and comtemporary styling. The complex also has a community room, with a large screen TV, free internet access, library facilities and more.

VILLAGE COURT
21345 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance, CA 90503

Built in 2006, Village Court is five stories high, with parking on the first floor and residences on the top four floors.  There are a total of 112 units: 12 – 3 bed / 2 bath, 68 – 2 bed / 2 bath, and 32 – 1 bed / 1 bath.  Residents enjoy an inviting outside pool, spa and BBQ area. Amenities include an exercise room, large recreation room with kitchen, TV, pool table and reading area. Shopping, restaurants and movie theatres abound, or drive only 1.5 miles to the ocean.

So far this year one 2 bed / 2 bath unit has sold for $540K.  Two more units are currently in escrow.  One is a 2 bed / 2 bath unit, and the other a 1 bed / 1 bath with a den.  Purchase prices will be available after close of escrow.

At publication time, 2 bed / 2 bath units were renting for approximately $2600 per month.

TRADE WINDS
2605 Sepulveda Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505

Built in 2003, the Trade Winds community in Torrance is four stories high, with parking on the first floor and residences on the top three floors.  With a total of 91 units, Trade Winds has 75 – 2 bed / 2 bath units and 16 – 1 bed / 2 bath units.  The facility offers great amenities: pool, spa, fitness center, clubhouse with full kitchen, TV, library, and billiards table. Resort living close to dining, shopping, parks, freeways and of course the beach!

To date in 2018, 2 – 2 bed / 2 bath units have sold at $525K and $550K.  One 2 bed / 2 bath unit is currently in escrow.  The sold price will be available after close of escrow.  There are also 2 – 2 bed / 2 bath units currently available.  Please call for asking prices.

At publication time, 2 bed / 2 bath units were renting for approximately $2300 per month.

COURTYARD VILLA ESTATES
3970 Sepulveda, Torrance,  CA 90505


Built in 2007, The Courtyard Villa Estates is located just west of Hawthorne Blvd in southwest Torrance.  The complex features upscale comfort, secured entry, and is close to restaurants and shopping. Four stories high, with subterranean parking, the complex includes 42 units;  a central courtyard, lush landscaping, recreation facilities with a pool table, game table and kitchen as well as a gym/exercise room.

Each unit is located on one level with no stairs. There’s a private laundry room inside each unit. Most units have a two bedrooms, while a few are set up with a den as an alternative configuration.  All have two bathrooms, outfitted with natural travertine counters and flooring.  Kitchens are extra large with center islands, granite counters and travertine flooring.

Since the first of the year, one penthouse unit has sold at $720K.  No units are currently available.

SUNSET GARDENS
24410 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505

Built in 1987, Sunset Gardens is located across from the Crossroads Shopping Center in South Torrance.  The complex includes 88 units; 2 – 3 bed / 2 bath, 29 – 2 bed / 2 bath; and 57 – 1 bed / 1 bath.  Amenities feature indoor heated pool, outdoor spa, large recreation room, putting green, shuffle board, elevator, exercise room, game room, community rooms, a roof top deck and BBQ grill area.

All units are single level, enjoy central A/C and heating, a laundry area inside unit, and subterranean secured parking.  (Two and three bedroom units have two spaces, while one bedroom units have one space.)

At publication time there were three units available, including 1 – 1 bed / 1 bath unit at $270K, and 2 – 2 bed / 2 bath units at $380K & $390K.  One 1 bed / 1 bath unit is currently in escrow.  The sold price will be available after close of escrow.  Since January 1, two units have sold: 1 – 1 bed / 1 bath unit at $300K, and 1 – 2 bed / 2 bath units at $400K.

PACIFIC VILLAGE
3120 Sepulveda Blvd, Torrance CA 90505

Built in 2002, Pacific Village is four stories of living space plus adjacent parking.  There are a total of 61 units: 23 – 1 bed / 1 bath and 38 – 2 bed / 2 bath units.  Located across from Madrona Marsh, the complex offers: free community laundry, pool & spa, secure access, a community room with kitchen, elevators and guest parking on site.

Each unit is on a single level with no stairs, has its own heating and cooling, granite, travertine and tile finishes, balcony/patio and breakfast bar.

At publication time there was one 2 bed / 2 bath unit available and one 2 bed / 2 bath unit in escrow.  Since the first of the year, there have been four units sold.  One was a 1 bed / 1 bath which closed escrow at $270K.  Also, 3 – 2 bed / 2 bath units sold, at prices ranging from $355K to $425K.

55+ Options: Palos Verdes

The four cities of the Palos Verdes Peninsula have two unique senior condominium communities.  Rolling Hills Villas, built circa 2008, has occasional resales.  The newest project on the hill, Sol y Mar in Rancho Palos Verdes, has sold out the first phase and is working on phase 2. If you’ve been considering a move to a 55+ community, give us a call.  We’d love to sit down with you and discuss the pros and cons of down-sizing, and buying versus leasing.  In either case, we show you what’s available to fit your needs in the south bay.


Rolling Hills Villas
901 Deep Valley Dr
Rolling Hills Estates, California 90274

Close to the “top of the hill,” Rolling Hills Villas has 40 condominium units for active seniors, 55 and older.  The association maintains a secure building, with subterranean parking, a rooftop patio lounge and bbq facilities.   Nearby are pharmacies, medical, the Post Office, library, restaurants, cafes, grocery shopping, Norris Theatre, banks & more.

Sales during the past six months totaled two units, ranging in price from $679,000 to $875,000.  At publication time, there were none available, however, that can change at any time.  If we know you’re looking, we can keep you updated on new and future listings.


Sol y Sol y Mar
5601 Crestridge Rd.
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275

In phase two of construction now, Sol y Mar, a 55+ luxury community of ultimately 60 new homes in Rancho Palos Verdes is perched atop the Palos Verdes hill. Spectacular coastal views, great weather throughout the year, an engaging lifestyle, and beautiful homes designed for quality and comfort make Sol y Mar an incomparable place to call home.  Amenities (complete or planned) include: Clubhouse, Fitness Center, Conference Room, Meeting Room, Catering Kitchen, Jacuzzi, Outdoor Patio, Fire Pit, Bocce Ball Courts, and a Dog Park.

Every two-story residence features an elevator; a one-story floor plan is also available.  Plans range from 1,550 to 2,352 square feet.  Each residence includes two bedrooms, up to three baths, a study or flex room and a two-car garage.  Prices vary considerably, based on size, floor plan, selected options, and the view.

MLS sales during the past six months totaled four units, ranging in price from $840,000 to $1,146,000.  At publication time, two units were in escrow in the $825,000-$850,000 price range.  Three units are currently available in the range between $975,000 and $1,700,000.

55+ Options: Redondo Beach

In each issue, we plan to highlight one 55+ housing complex. Because residents can speak most authoritatively about their own home, we’re interviewing owners, asking for their input on the best and worst of each location. (If you would like to talk about your senior housing complex, let us know.)

Now in their golden years, the baby boom generation continues to shape our environment. Until about 10 years ago, senior housing in Redondo Beach was limited to a couple of rental complexes. One in north Redondo and one in south Redondo, they are both operated by non-profit organizations, and both have long wait lists.

With Boomers asking for alternatives, developers soon constructed two condominium projects exclusively for senior citizens. Following is a brief introduction to each of those projects.

Both have been quite popular and sold quickly when available. As of this writing, no units are available in either complex.

Next issue … The four cities of the Palos Verdes Peninsula have another unique set of senior living accomodations. In addition, the newest project on the hill, Soli Mar in Rancho Palos Verdes (?), has sold out the first phase and is working on phase 2. If you’ve been considering a move to a 55+ community, give us a call. We’d love to show what’s available in the south bay.

Breakwater Village

2750 Artesia Blvd,
Redondo Beach, C
A 90278

Built in 2007. this senior community offers 191 units, ranging from one to three bedrooms.

Amenities include a recreation room with kitchen, big screen TV, game tables, pool table, and a conversation area with a fireplace.

The exercise room is equipped with state-of-the-art fitness machines.

A sparkling pool is located in the central courtyard, with a built-in barbeque island nearby and an inviting separate outdoor fireplace area. It’s a secure building with gated underground parking garage.

The Montecito

2001 Artesia Blvd,
Redondo Beach, CA 90278

Built in 2008, The Montecito comprises 48 senior condos and three retail units in a combined commercial and residential building.

The three commercial storefronts are located on the sidewalk level, while the residential units are above and behind.

Amenities include high ceilings, private laundry, air conditioning, floor to ceiling windows, granite counter tops, and stainless appliances.

The Montecito

In each issue, we plan to highlight one 55+ housing complex. Because residents can speak most authoritatively about their own home, we’re interviewing owners, asking for their input on the best and worst of each location. (If you would like to talk about your senior housing complex, let us know.)

For our Premiere issue, we spoke to an owner at The Montecito, located at 2001 Artesia Blvd. in Redondo Beach. Our owner, whom we’ll call Susan to protect her privacy, had this to say about her 55+ home.

Q1: How long have you lived here?
A1: Since 2010. I bought from the builder.

Q2: Is it your first time living in a condominium?
A2: Yes.

Downtown LA sparkles against the mountains.

Q3: Obviously there are things you like and some you don’t care for. What is your favorite part of living here?
A3: The views. On the North and West side of the building, the views are spectacular. The building sits up high, so I have views to downtown LA, the Hollywood sign, the Palisades, etc. It’s a glittery sight at night.

I like the fact that the building is newer and that, being on the top floor, I have high ceilings and large windows to capture the view.

I also like that the CC&R’s don’t prohibit big dogs. I would not have purchased the condo if they had a weight restriction for dogs. Lastly, I like how quiet it is here.

Q4: How about the thing you like least. What would that be?
A4: Not parking close to my door. I have to walk to the elevator and then down the walk way to my condo. It’s an easy walk but if I’m carrying a lot of stuff it might take multiple trips.

Inner Courtyard at The Montecito

Q5: You probably previously lived in a free-standing house on a private lot. Condominium living adds other people and “things” to your life. What have you found that stands out as a big difference in the way you live?
A5: Living in a condo is much easier. It’s a low maintenance style of living.

Q6: Downsizing can be traumatic. What challenged you the most about your move to a 55+ community.
A6:
Giving away rooms full of furniture. In the end, it’s freeing to let go of stuff. I like the stream-lined look.

Q7: If you had to do it again, what would you change.
A7: Nothing.

Q8: What are your plans for the future?
A8: Staying put.