Real Estate Analysis and Commentary in [CITY]

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Posted by Pamela Evans on June 3rd, 2017 8:55 AMLeave a Comment

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May 18th, 2017 10:13 PM

Calabasas Highlands- A Hid

 den Treasure For Some

Calabasas Highlands is a small area that is friendly, and surround by outstanding views, and mountains.  This area was created before Calabasas became a city, and therefore it is unique and much similar to homes located off of Mulholland Hwy than homes that are in gated communities.  The homes are predominantly custom, with a few builders that built serval blocks at a time.  Some are two stories, some are three stories, some have steep hillsides behind them with views in the front, others have magnificent Warner Center Views off of every room, and some have no views or backyards at all.

Calabasas Highlands is a mountainous area with a stream very close by.  It is next to a ton of open space, hiking trails, and walking areas that feel like your miles away from Los Angeles, and yet it is a two minute drive to Gelsons Market and Topanga Canyon for everything you want or need.  It was originally created with most homes being built with septic systems, however in the nineties there were sewers installed. (FYI, not everyone is connected and it is one of the first questions a buyer should ask about if considering a purchase in the area.

According to the City of Calabasas Planning Department there is an agreement for water between the Las Virgenes Water District for the area.  Another difference for much of this area, is it has many private roads, yet they are not gated, and the city cleans all the streets on a regular basis.   The lots are predominantly small at approximately 5000-6000 square feet, and current law only allows homes of 2300 sf or smaller on a single lot.  Double sized lots (10,000-13,000 sf) are allowed to be built up to 3500 sf under current building code.   There are no sidewalks, but plenty of dogs being walked in the area.  The area appeals to professionals, and others who love the mountains.  It is very close to services, schools, and the beach.  It is no more than 20-30 minutes to Malibu from this location.  It is also easy to get to Topanga Canyon to go towards Santa Monica or the 101 Freeway if this a requirement for your commute.  For many it’s a great fit, and an affordable entry point into the Calabasas Community & Las Virgenes School District.

Keep in mind when valuing property, some of the land is owned but not developed.  Therefore ensure you’ve researched the lots next to any home you may purchase. Two other interesting facts about the area is it has its own neighborhood (voluntary) association, and a small park at the Summit. As you can imagine, the area lends itself to very eco-friendly people and creative types who enjoy the feeling of being in the mountains and being able to quickly access Los Angeles, Santa Monica or Malibu when needed.  

Posted by Pamela Evans on May 18th, 2017 10:13 PMLeave a Comment

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What a wonderful place to  spend a friday or saturday night in Newbury Park California. (Thousand Oaks, California)   Jeanettes edelweiss.  It's a place that you can call home  - a restaurant with a casual atmosphere and music!    The food is Austrian and the Black Forest Cake is amazing!   If you need to read more reviews look at their Yelp  reviews. Its one of my  favorite picks for taking friends out.    As an appraiser, I value many things, and I embrace a fun evening out, with great food and music in the Conejo Valley.   Definitely worth the drive!

Posted by Pamela Evans on March 13th, 2017 1:58 PMLeave a Comment

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Sellers are hearing that prices are up and that there is limited inventory.  This may be true in Bel-Air but it may not be true in Woodland Hills or Agoura Hills in the Los Angeles area.  Therefore before you set the price for your home be aware of some of most common mistakes sellers make when they set unrealistic expectations for the sale price and market value.

Common Seller Mistakes:

One of the biggest pricing mistakes sellers make is to take a per square foot figure from another sale down the street and use that figure to price their property.  Reality is there isn’t just one price per square foot figure that applies to every single property in a neighborhood. Keep in mind smaller homes tend to have a much higher price per square foot. It’s a matter of size, such as buying a small, medium, or large soft drink. The starting price may be a $1.59 for a small drink 12 oz. drink ($0.13 per oz.), and $2.29 for 24 oz. for the large ($0.95 per oz.)  The price per ounce is larger for the smaller drink.   My advice is to pay attention to price per square foot, but don’t forget to look at actual similar sales in the neighborhood, that have similar locations, gross living areas,  views, and functionality.

Remember the difference between “comps” and sales: if your home is an orange, what have other oranges sold for in the neighborhood? Don’t price your orange according to what apples have sold for.   Don’t consider sales for homes in gated neighborhoods against your home that is in a mountain area with narrow roads that is hard to get to because they are in the same zip code.

It is typical to think all sales are “comps”, but there is a difference between properties that are actually comparable and ones that are simply sales. It’s easy to get distracted by a few high sales in the neighborhood, but if they are nothing like your property, then don’t give them much weight and pay the most attention to homes that are actually similar to yours. 

Also keep in mind, that seller can ask anything they want.  Many realtors are willing to list a property for anything, therefore an informed seller should be pay more attention to sold properties than currently listed properties.  In Calabasas, I have seen a home listed at $1,800,000 in the Classic area of Calabasas with 3400 sq. ft. on a large lot which sold for $1,610,000 after 331 days on the market.  The owner was from outside the area.  Homes less than a mile away with large lots sell for $1,800,000 to 2,200,000 all the time, however they are in an exclusive gated community not in the Calabasas Classics.   If you are not realistic the market will let you know.  If you choose to wait for the “one buyer who can afford to pay all cash.” Just know it can be a long wait, or better yet never materialize. 

And lastly, if you have been doing your own construction and there are no permits, this may hamper your sale or your buyer’s appraisal and market value of the property.   Adding rooms without permits can have an "unexpected" impact on an appraisal.  If it is at all possible go get the building permit.  If you can’t or are not willing to, be sure to disclose everything in your transfer disclosure paper work, and in the MLS.    

Pamela Evans, MBA, Licensed Residential Appraiser, focuses on serving clients and for Estate Planning, Trust Appraisals, and General Evaluation aka Market Value Appraisals, Divorce Appraisal, Date of Death Appraisals, Probate Appraisals, Retrospective Appraisals and Mediation Appraisals. 

Contact Information: Pamela Evans
 (818) 216-0591


You've decided to sell, and now your realtor comes to you to say, " your home is worth less than you thought. The biggest discrepancy is the square footage of the home."  Is this a typical situation?  ''Yes!'"   So what can a homeowner do to make sure there home is accurate in public records so that they can ask top dollar for their home.

Step (1)  Contact your local building and safety department, (some keep excellent record on line, like Los Angeles City's website, Los Angeles Building and Safety), other smaller cities like Simi Valley or Calabasas require you to walk in to look at permits. 

Step (2) reconcile your permits to the square footage of your home.   If you can not do it easily, or you prefer to have a professional handle this, contact a Residential Appraiser and for a fee he/she will arrange a date  to measure your home for you and confirm the square footage.

Step (3) Set your sale price based on your research.

The actual square footage can make a difference in value it can increase or decrease the value of the property by thousands.  Additionally, most homeowners are not aware that if the Assessors states that your property is 2000 square feet, and you say its 3000, you are more than likely only insured for 2000 square feet.  In a fire, they may only cover the permitted square footage.  

What then is a homeowner to do when they realize that there home has 100's of square feet not included in permits?  

According to a local Building and Safety Inspector,  a homeowner can request to legalize the additional square footage, If it meets all local building and safety codes, and from that point on would be  considered "permitted space".  (If you decide to go this route, I would recommended you contact a contractor that specializes in retrofitting for permits, prior to contacting your local Building and Safety Department. Be sure, the space can be legalized, if it can't don't move forward and be prepared to sell  your home and disclose unpermitted construction.   If it can be permitted, you have just improved your chances of getting a higher price for your home, even if it cost you a few dollars.   

 Alternatively if you have no interest in the hassles of looking up your permits,measuring and/or contacting Building and Safety,  you can disclose it is not permitted and be prepared as the seller to adjust the price as appropriate for the market value of a home with unpermitted construction.

Note:  recently, a court decision discussed disclosing square footage issues.  See sq foot fraud to learn more about the court decision in 2015 regarding disclosure of square footage issues. 

Invest wisely in your home, and know that obtaining a building permit can make a huge difference when you go to sell.  


January 20th, 2017 11:57 AM

If you refer to the rules of the IRS, you will note that you are potentially able to put more money in your pocket versus the government's if you follow the  IRS rules on Date of Death Appraisal for Residential Property.   It is highly suggested that you check with your accountant, but instead of just have an individual capital gain exclusion of $250,000 dollars as an individual, you may be able to bring up the tax basis of your home by having a retrospective appraisal completed.   

For example:(Simplified)  Your spouse and you purchased your home 20 years ago at a value of $100,000. Your spouse passed away in 2010 at the high of the market, and at that time the home was worth $1,000,000 dollars.   You are now ready to sell, and in 2017, your realtor has estimated that your home is worth $850,000, and you were not really involved in the finances, so you have minimal records of the improvements you've made over 20 years.   If you have a retrospective appraisal completed by a licensed residential appraiser for the date of death in 2010, and it shows the value was a $1,000,000.  You will save yourself the capital gains taxes of the $500,000 dollars, due to the step up in value that your accountant can claim based on the date of death.   Instead of paying taxes on( $850,000 less $350,000 ($250,000 dollar exclusion plus Original Purchase price) = $550,000)  You may be only be responsible
for taxes on  ($850,000 less (550,000+250,000)  or $50,000.   This example is simplified for example purposes only.  

Pamela Evans, MBA, License Appraiser  Residential Appraisal

Posted by Pamela Evans on January 20th, 2017 11:57 AMLeave a Comment

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