Home Buying in Studio City>Question Details

Neemast, Home Buyer in Studio City, Los Ang...

Is now the right time to buy a condo/ townhome or will we have additional price declines with more foreclosures surfacing in the next few months?

Asked by Neemast, Studio City, Los Angeles, CA Tue Jan 25, 2011

My brother and I are young professionals currently renting a 2 bedroom apartment in Brentwood and working in Hollywood. If now is the right time to purchase, what areas in LA have the best buying opportunities (highest price adjustments) and present the best value for the money? We’re looking at keeping our mortgage payments (including tax, interest, and HOA) at or below 3k per month.
If we should wait, when do we anticipate to hit the bottom?

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi Neemast!

This is certainly a loaded question. The sad part is that it is an all too common question these days. I will first inform you that I was born and raised in Southern California and lived there until 2001. I then relocated to Houston, Texas. I have seen many peaks and valleys in California's real estate market. Something we don't experience here in Houston. At least not as severe.

I know you understand that nobody will be able to tell you if this is the right time to buy or not. It is especially difficult for a real estate agent located in So Cal to discourage you because that's how they make their living. Can you imagine for a moment...if you will, a real estate agent in So Cal saying..."No, don't buy something from me right now."

So then, how do you navigate this? The "data" in California is not going to help you much either. It shows to the rest of us in the country that home prices are gaining by 2 or 3%. Keep in mind this takes into consideration ALL home sales including those in the 1m and higher range. If you could get your hands on data that showed homes in the $500K range are going up than that would mean something.

Where am I headed with this? The decision to purchase real estate has many variables. In California, however, real estate is a very different market. It goes up and it goes down...it always has, and despite the devastating effect it had on California over the past couple years, it will probably always will.

Where does that leave you? To answer the question, "Is now the right time to buy" you need to weigh out the economic variables in your own circumstance. If you are buying with realistic variables such as, for example:

A 500K property with 30 year fixed @ 5% producing a payment of...X

And you can afford this, then considering your current rent, it seems as though it would make sense to buy. Where the issue comes in, is the reason you are buying. Are you doing it for an investment to provide returns in the near future, or are you looking for a home? Are you looking to make a better financial decision than throwing money away on rent?

These are the things to consider. Will prices keep going down? Maybe they will and maybe they won't. Who can really answer that?

In this event you need to look at other aspects as I have mentioned. When you really get down to it the issue of declining values only matters in the short term. In other words if you buy a home today for $500K but you plan to stay in it for 7 years than the fact that the home will drop down to $400K in the next year does not matter as long as it has appreciated in value by the time you are ready to sell it. However, if you plan to sell it in the next 3 years...it may be a bit of a risk.

The other question is, "I don't want to pay $500K for something I can get for $400K in a year from now"
This is a very risky way to buy real estate. Nobody can tell you the answer and you are gambling either way. When you are sitting on a fence it's best to look at other criteria in making a decision.

I think every answer you get will simply be an opinion and that's all. There are many professionals who advised a "would be" buyer in 2007 that then was the time to buy.

My opinion is...I think there is certainly more room for some depreciation in the So Cal housing market. The jobless rate is high, but interest rates are low. They are talking about raising interest rates and when ever they do that, it puts pressure on home prices so there could be some slight declines related to that. If you can purchase a property and plan to stay in it a while and it is comparable to leasing the same property then buy all means purchase something.

I know this is lengthy but I really wanted to give you a good answer. I hope I have.

Best of luck.

Jonas Mancuso
Remax / Lakeland
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011

Now is definitely the right time to buy, this all time low interest rate is slowly going to increase over 2011 and you will feel sorry for having waited and missed the opportunity.

There are good deals everywhere, the most important factor of your decision should be how much you like the neighborhood you will live in and will it retain and perhaps increase in value. As the current crisis proved, appreciation in value is never guaranteed, but with the help of a good Realtor you will be able to find the right place at the right price.

I would recommend you to look into buying a short sale or REO property in Los Feliz, Silver Lake or Atwater Village, these are great neighborhood, central to everywhere and the commute to Hollywood is a breeze.

Hope this helps!
3 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
Hi Neemast;

This question has been raised often in the last 12 months, and even into 2009. I've blogged about "timing the bounce", the attempt to buy right at the bottom of the market, on several occasions in the last few years. ( See the BLOG LINK, below, for Timing the Bounce) Unfortunately, none of us can accurately answer as to where the market will go. There is definitely a buildup of REO inventory sitting with the lenders, but don't look for a big instant "dump"...they will release it a little at a time to retain value.

Already, many markets in the Westside of Los Angeles are showing 3-6 month runs of decreased inventory, increased demand, higher prices, and multiple offers. Sales of previously owned homes surged 7 percent in December, the National Association of Realtors reports. Existing-home sales have increased five of the last six months and have now hit a seven-month high. Distressed homes accounted for 36 percent of the sales volume in December, up from 33 percent in November.

Interest rates have more to do with keeping payments in line than price. No one was complaining when rates were 6.5%. not long ago, but a 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 4.875% on Friday at close of business. Because of mortgage rates alone, the average home buyer in our market can afford a home priced $150,000 to $200,000 more and still have virtually the same payment!

Because of mortgage rates, first time home buyers can look up to $600,000 instead of $450,000, and that certainly opens up more possibilities. A move up buyer can look up to $1,700,000 instead of $1,500,000. The difference could be getting a house instead of a townhome, that slightly better neighborhood or school district, those granite counter tops and family room that you always wanted, or getting the home with the 2 car garage and pool now instead of waiting until your next move.

When did the ball bounce? It bounces when it hits bottom and starts back up. Can one ever time the bounce to see the exact bottom? Unfortunately, no. So then what is the buyer’s strategy for building wealth in a turbulent market? The old saying of “buy low, sell high” is a tried and true method of creating wealth. The expression is not, “buy bottom, sell top” for a reason- it’s not possible to time the bounce.

My advice: Shop interest rate before price. Interest rates will go up. Lock now and buy.

Deborah Bremner
The Bremner Group at Coldwell Banker
REALTOR, 00588885, ABR, CDPE, eAgent, CSP, SFR, HRC, CRE
(O) 310-571-1364 DIRECT
(D) 818.564.6591
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
As you've heard, there is plenty of inventory. A few questions for you: in which area do you want to buy? What are your concerns/wants? E.g., a centrally located condo complex priced out a 2-bedroom condo at $1500/month (full PITI plus HOD), but it's not Brentwood--so is it the best "value" for your money? Value should be getting what you want from your purchase. Sounds like a little more questioning is called for or you will be sold what someone else thinks represents value--not you.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
It is a great time to buy now. Best advice would be to wait only as long as it takes to find the property you want. Basically every neighborhood has terrific values right now. Most pricing for homes is competitive due to so many distress sales (shortsales and foreclosures) on the market. I would be happy to assist you in finding the "right" property.
Richard "RJ" Kas (SFR, SRES)
"Representing the finest properties from Los Angeles worldwide"
KAS Properties - Coldwell Banker Previews International - Beverly Hills East
9388 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310.859-5334 office - 310.488.9826 mobile - 310-273-0670 fax ATT: RJ
RichardKas@gmail.com - http://www.RJforLA.com - DRE: 01352771
Sellers Buyers Investors Leasing Consulting
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
Hi Neemast
I get ask that question by my clients all the time, so like the other agents have told you this is a great time to buy and start securing your future, what a great way to do that, then Real Estate wouldn't you think,If you have an questions please call me at 323-356-6694.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
Hi, how are you?
I wished I have the crystal ball to start with, don't we all? But as long if you buy it 'smart' then who cares about 'double deep recession' or whatever most people call it nowadays.
I'd be better of to start with a SFH, with condo/townhouse you'll never know what's gonna happen with the value and worse case scenario if the price keep declining you still have a good market for a SFH.
When you happen to hear the news or mass of people say 'it's the best time to buy' more then likely you already missed the boat. So is it the right time to buy? Only you can answer that..

Chris W - CWI Inc
Real estate, Finance, Wholesale
PO.Box 4362
Culver City, CA 90231
(424) 442.0809
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
Hi Neemast,

I'm sure you've heard this a hundred times, but no one has a Crystal Ball and we will only see the Bottom in Hindsight. Instead of trying to "Time the Market," evaluate WHY you would like to buy and consider the following:
Are you secure in your current relationships? Are you thinking of expanding your family? Will you have to relocate in the future for work or to help with the health of a family member? Are you secure in your job?

Even though it's been a great time to buy for 2-3 years now, you're smart to look at your monthly payment. If prices drop and interest rates rise, then your monthly payment could remain the same. For example, a quarter point hike in rates equals about a 10k drop in price (for a property in the 500k range).

Good Luck and feel free to contact me directly to set up an MLS search for you.

p.310.383.1141 | http://www.LAVillageRealty.com
RealEstateSuz@gmail.com | lic # 01390707
(a division of Power Brokers Int'l | lic # 01520327)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
I'm an agent and I am investing now -- they say condos are still declining but, here in AZ when you can buy a nice place for the price of a car and make it cash flow - who cares if they will dip a little more. I'm already clearing $500 a month from the first one I bought and now I'm looking for more. Why wait? I completely concur with what Steven below wrote. Very good answer.


Sandy Farmer
Realtor, GRI, CSSN
John Hall & Associates
Web Reference: http://homesales411.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
Interest rates are at historical lows -- Prices are well off their highs -- Nobody knows what will happen in the future, but -- Historically, when price and rates have lined up like this, it has worked out well for the buyer.

In any market, stocks, commodities, housing. . . you won't know if it's the bottom until 6 months later. So, if you find a home that you would like to live in, and your not planning on flipping it in a few months, you should buy it............ Also talk to your CPA because there are tax benefits to owning. Please call me if you'd like to discuss this. Thank you --

Steve Rifkin
Prudential California Realty
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
Good morning - Your question is a good one. Studio City, especially, has held value better than most areas. Though there has been a decline, as a Valley broker, I can tell you that we are seeing that the bottom has been reached (or close to). Regardless, you will make up for it over time by increase in value over the next 5-7 years and in the form of the current continued low interest rates.
Please feel free to contact me directly if I can address any additional questions or services for you. I am always available to be of assistance.
Don Linden

Realtor / E-Pro / CMIS / BMA / CMMS
Relocation Specialist / Seniors Real Estate Specialist
DRE #01251120
"Thank you for thinking of me when referring your family, friends and business associates. It is greatly appreciated"
Prudential California Realty, Sherman Oaks
818-380-2138 (direct / voicemail) 818-515-8936 (cell)
818-386-9007 (fax)
http://www.DonaldLinden.com (website)
DLinden@sbcglobal.net (e-mail)
http://DonLinden@posterous.com/ (blog)
http://twitter.com/DonLinden (Follow me on Twitter)
Web Reference: http://www.DonaldLinden.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
I believe that now is a great time to buy. I have actually started to see the prices going back up in the new year, with many more new great listings (priced very reasonably), more buyers, and more deals happening. Something to consider is that interest rates are currently at an all time low. Even if prices fall slightly, but interest rates rise, which they will surely do soon, then you may actually end up paying more for the property on a monthly and yearly basis at the end of the day. There are deals out there to be had and the buyer has the bulk of the negotiating power right now, so you may want to act before the proverbial pendulum swings back in the other direction. I would not buy something to try and sell in a year, but if you are planning on staying for 3-5 years, then now is as good a time as ever to purchase! The Hollywood area is booming as well with over $2 Billion in recent development, so that is a great place to look in my opinion.

Best of luck in the hunt.

Best Wishes,

Eric Smilay
Smilay Properties
West Los Angeles Realty
Direct# 310.600.9172
twitter: @esmilay
Web Reference: http://smilayproperties.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
Thank you for your question about buying a condo in LA. Prices will continue to come down. Prices fell in December as opposed to November and sales were down from a year ago, but that does not mean you should wait to make a purchase.

There are some great deals in Hollywood and West Hollywood right now. Find a good local agent and look at a few properties. It can't hurt.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
Unfortunately, none of us can accurately answer as to where the market will head tomorrow, or down the road, as none of us knows; but we all know today, therefore if you need to buy and are ready to buy, consider visiting with any qualified loan officer--after reviewing your overall financials a determination on qualification can be made, the type of loan, of much, etc., then go from there.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
Don't try to time the bottom, its impossible. You will only know the bottom a couple of years after it happens. Find something that you like, that you will hold for a few years, and that is affordable, and if prices drop 5%, it won't matter to you. The biggest price drops have been in the Valley (compared to the areas you mentioned). Premium areas like Brentwood, Santa Monica, etc, have had much smaller comparative price drops. If you want to discuss further, or if you want to tour properties, give me a call.

Richard Schulman
#1 Selling Agent, Keller Williams Westside
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
If you get a good price on a unit you like and can lock in a good rate then do it. You are buying one unit not the market. Certain mid-city areas hold their value very nicely, especially the Westside. But do your due diligence on the HOA.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
That's the million dollar question.

No one knows where we're going. One thing is for sure.. The market has been almost the same for about 4 years now. I'd say if the timing is right for you, go ahead and buy. We are seeing great prices and mortgages are at an all time low!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 25, 2011
Yes it's an excellent time to buy

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 7, 2015
Now is a good time to buy
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 7, 2015
Now is a good time to buy
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 7, 2015
Now is a good time to buy
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 7, 2015
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 7, 2015
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 7, 2015
LA home prices have been on the rise and with the low inventory and interest rates, show no indication of this changing for a while. If you are one of the fortunate who have the ability to purchase a home, you should take advantage of this start the home search.

If there is anything I can do to assist in that search, please let me know.

Sean Seckar – Realtor
RE/MAX of Santa Clarita
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 9, 2015
NOW is always the best time to buy. (when you can do it!) + interest rates are great.
In the San Fernando Valley you will get more for the $$$$$

Good luck

Maggie Oreck
CalBRE Lic# 01352758
RE/MAX Showcase
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 6, 2015
Now is a great time to buy, 2 months ago would have been better.Rates have risen from a low of 3.5 to approx. 4.6-4.7 % If you were qualified for $500,000.00 you can only qualify for 450,000.00.We think the rates will be over 5% with-in the next month to 120 days .All the areas between Brentwood & Hollywood are good ! Good Luck !
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 7, 2013
The bottom already happened on the Westside about a year ago. Last summer, prices were still quite low for 2BD/2BA condos in Brentwood, Santa Monica, and adjacent areas. Around $400,000. Now they're going for closer to $600,000. So you're looking at a roughly 50% price increase coupled with higher mortgage rates today.

Still, you might be able to keep your monthly payment below $3,000 if you find a condo with a low HOA. Sadly, many HOAs are $500 around here. Of course, present owners are easily renting their condos for $3,000+, so it could still make sense to buy, just be prudent in your decision. Don't just assume you're going to make a killing in this market. Things may cool off soon. Some buyers are holding off until fall and winter when competition slows down. Prices could ease at that time as well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 6, 2013
I'm going to answer this (from a 2013 perspective), to update this question…. Now is a really good time to buy a condo/townhome - or any real property. Don't you just hate that line from a Realtor? What am I supposed to say? No, wait… I don't need to get paid this year! LOL. But really, in all sincerity, prices are moving steadily upwards - and in some areas there have been a couple significant bumps. Interest is at an all time low (range-wise), and the new programs that keep people in distress IN their homes - reducing principal, interest rates and payments - actually, at long last, are real, and the process is manageable. That equals fewer and fewer foreclosures, and a market that can finally begin to recover in a meaningful way. Quality homes, well priced are going quickly, in multiple offers and fewer and fewer "deals" are available. To get a "bargain" right now, one must take a property with some problems, but potential, in most cases. Or be part of one of the big inside players, who are buying up bulk properties directly from banks. Sorry folks, that's going to eliminate most of you - Now is a good time to make a reasonable deal, maybe even pay a tad more than you'd hoped for, and bank on the appreciation. That's the bet I'm taking personally, or I wouldn't give anyone else that advice.

But to each his own, and each person has a different risk tolerance for investing - for my $$, it's time to invest.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 5, 2013
Dear Neemast,

What I have been seeing in my area of West Los Angeles, is a lack of inventory and multiple buyers. I would take a good look at Westchester (near LAX) for great home value for your money.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 29, 2012
Have you consider living in the Valley?Maybe Sherman Oaks,Studio City,Toluca Lake.It is an easy access to Westside and Holywood,These are high end areas in the Valley with a lot of people living there and working in ent. industry.You should keep your payments always as affordable as poosible.The best time to make purchase is when you are ready.We sell homes in every market,it is great time to buy if you are in need of financing.
Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 28, 2012
Anytime really is a good time to buy a condo/townhome, there are lot's to choose from. Feel free to contact me lol.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 19, 2012
Hey Neemast!

Have you considered buying in Downtown? You are right, the time to buy is NOW- and Downtown LA is the PLACE.

I would suggest checking out the Santee Village Lofts. They will be returning to the market and premiering available units February 26-27. Believe it or not, but units start at $199,000 and average $280 SF! These prices were previously unimaginable less than a year ago.

Santee Village is also one of the most thriving communities in LA. In addition to the very communal atmosphere, Santee Village is in the thick of the Fashion District, which recently received $1 million to fund a study to revitalize the area. Buying in Santee Village is a great value and worth great consideration.

I attached a video that features Santee Village residents and the new units.

I would suggest at least visiting the building or http://www.santeevillagelofts.com and signing up for the interest list because names on the list get first dibs on news, events, availability and the best deals.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 4, 2011
Hi Neemast,
Although there is talk about new foreclosures coming into the market but no one can give you a definite answer as to where or what is going to happen in the coming months.
I can tell you one thing for certain is the present and now is a great time to buy since it is a buyer's market with a more then abundance of inventory which in turn gives you the vantage point to make more aggressive bargaining.
I would suggest you speak with a realtor to the get specific historical statistics on the areas that you are interested in and then you can make an informed decision.
If you need my help in running some comps on areas of your interest I will be more then happy.

Thanks and good luck.
David Akram
Realtor, DRE# 01891274
Century 21 All Moves
Contact: http://contactme.davidnewhome.com
Web: http://www.DavidNewHome.com
Web Reference: http://www.DavidNewHome.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Hey Neemast,

Nobody can tell you with 100% confidence about where we are going, but you can see how we have been trending. I think a lot of us who make our living selling real estate in LA have a sense of better days ahead. The energy in the market feels strong and positive and it is reassuring to see positive economic headlines resurfacing in the news.

An important part of your research should be to look at the statistics in the specific areas that interest you. When did that area hit it's peak? Is that area trending down still or have stats shown an uptick in prices? Is the area one that was hit hard by foreclosures? How many Notice's of Defaults and Notices of Trust Sales are recorded? Are there a lot of short pays? Open up this dialogue with a trustworthy agent, gather the answers, and then trust your instincts. Although many will try to convince you that NOW is the right time to buy, it has to be the right time to buy for YOU.

Best of luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 28, 2011
Hello Neemast, many believe we have already hit the bottom in these areas. Many areas have increased in value for the last 4 months slowly, but steadily. One thing to definitely consider is the interest rates will be creeping up and this will also affect what your payment is going to be. I would recommend getting pre-qualified to see how much the two of you can buy, this is the best starting point. There are great deals out there right now and buying now before summer you will have less competition. How soon do you picture you and your brother wanting to move? If you are thinking in the next 3-4 months, then you will definitely want to start the process now. Also, once you are pre-qualified, this remains good for awhile so you can take your time to look, feel free to search my website anytime for properties in your area, it has all the available active properties in Southern California on it.

Have a great day, if you need a realtor to assist you, which I highly recommend as they will know of all the great properties that will match what you two are looking for, feel free to call me or email me anytime.

Heather Paul
Coldwell Banker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 27, 2011
Hi Neemast,

It is a great time to buy now. Best advice would be to be patient and take your time to find the property you want. It is a buyer's market at the moment with surplus inventory of homes which is great if you are prospective buyer.

Let me know if you have any questions that I might answer for you on the current real estate market.

David Akram
Realtor, DRE# 01891274
Century 21 All Moves
Contact: http://contactme.davidnewhome.com
Web: http://www.DavidNewHome.com
Web Reference: http://www.DavidNewHome.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 26, 2011
There is more downside danger in many areas. You can be very selective because you are in the drivers seat, lots to choose from in a down market.

as far as areas, have your agent check 3 or 4 areas you like & have them calculate the months of inventory in that area (closed sales per month vs # of current listings) a higher # of months inventory could indicate an area where you have more negotiation power.

I encourage you to have patience & drive a hard bargain.

The values may still come down however, it looks like interest rates may be rising so you maybe in a bottom for monthly payment. Ask your agent to look for properties that have been listed for a long time or just expired in your target areas. These seller may have the most motivation to deal.

Good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 26, 2011
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