Millions to Spend? Consider the Global High End

“City of Angels”

land-in-la-city-of-laOne area heating up after a slow period is the very high end of global real estate deals, says Jay Belson, CEO of Estate 1 in Beverly Hills, California, who develops luxury homes in the Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Holmby Hills areas of Los Angeles.

Jay Belson estimates that his average deal provides a $10 million profit. They buy a property for $10 million, largely based on location and view, build a home on it for $10 million, and then sell it for $30 million.

That seems expensive but not in the context of global luxury real estate, Belson says. Prices in his area are now about $2,500 a square foot, but compared to New York, Shanghai and other big cities, Los Angeles is a bargain. “They are used to seeing much higher prices elsewhere. To them, it’s a steal” he says.

“The category we buy is A+location, A+lot, and A+view. What we are creating is a state-of-the-art property for the ultra wealthy. Our client is a global billionaire who is looking to park cash here. They will come in once or twice a year”

In big cities, buyers are accustomed to townhomes, condos penthouses, and brownstones. In Los Angeles, they seek a couple of acres of real land with a view of the ocean. “We don’t get a lot of volume, maybe one or two a year. And it takes a lot of attention. But if you pay attention, you will be the one doing the sales. When the buyer comes to town, they come to look at your project,” he says.

It’s a home, but largely an investment, and a conservative one at that, he explains. “It’s a safer investment than some of the more volatile currencies in the world” There’s always some hot spots for these buyers somewhere in the world, and “when that happens, all the global-high-end investors buy there. New York was a hot spot, now it’s Los Angeles, particularly for Asian money”

It is expected that over the next 3 to 5 years it will continue to be a great time for luxury development in Los Angeles.

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist for more than 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (at) westsideland (dot) com and information can be obtained from westsideland.com

Los Angeles County: An overview of the Property Tax and Assessment Process

‘there is no such thing as a good tax’

Rent, property taxes, insuranceIt takes three separate Los Angeles County offices, Assessor. Auditor-Controller, and Treasurer and Tax Collector to produce and account for your property tax bill and payment.

Assessor

The Los Angeles County Assessor establishes the assessed value of your property by appraising the value of that property under applicable State laws. The assessed value is then placed on a list with all other properties in Los Angeles County and this list is called the “Assessment Roll” The Assessor also approves and applies all exemptions, which are added to the Assessment Roll. The Assessment Roll is then presented to the Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller for further processing.

Auditor-Controller

The Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller adds direct assessments to the Assessment Roll then applies the tax rates, which consists of general (1%) levy and debt service (voter & bonded) tax rates to the value to create an Extended Assessment Roll. The Extended Roll is then sent to the Los Angeles County Treasurer and Tax Collector for individual tax bill distribution and payment collection.

Treasurer and Tax Collector

The Los Angeles County Treasurer and Tax Collector receives the Extended Roll, prints and mails the property tax bills to the name and address on the Extended Roll. The Treasurer and Tax Collector collects secured and unsecured taxes. Secured taxes are taxes on real property, such as vacant land, structures on the land, i.e. business/office building, home, apartments, etc. Unsecured taxes are taxes on assessments such as office furniture, equipment, airplanes and boats, as well as property taxes that are not liens against the real property.

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for more than 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (at) westsideland (dot) com and information can be obtained from http://www.westsideland.com

The Top 10 Landowners in America

By Robert Frank CNBC – Tuesday, October 1st, 2013.

As the wealthy get wealthier, they are putting more of it into land.

landinlosangeles-top-10America’s 100 largest individual landowners added 700,000 acres to their landholdings last year, according to the Land Report 100, put out by the http://www.landreport.com and http://www.fayranches.com. Those 100 individuals or families now control more than 30 million acres, or 2 percent of America’s entire land mass.

Ranches and farmland have become a popular investment for the wealthy, who are looking for more stable and tangible stores of wealth. Many of the largest landowners also generate income from their land, from sustainable timber and agriculture.

“Significant properties are a finite commodity and have repeatedly shown over time to be resistant to our most challenging economic times”, said Greg Fay of Fay Ranches, the ranch brokerage firm.

Topping the list again this year is John Malone, with 2.2 million acres. The cable titan added to his landholdings this year, with the purchase of two properties in the posh horse country of Wellington, Fla., totaling more than 120 acres.

Ted Turner ranked second again with 2 million acres-making Malone and Turner the Gates/Buffett of landholdings.

Most of the top landholders are families that either own or owned timber companies, like the Emmerson family and Irving family.

But big changes in the list were further down the ranks, with Stan Kroenke the real estate and sports magnate vaulting from No.10 to No.8. He purchased the Broken O Ranch last November, giving him an additional 125,000 acres and bringing his total to 848,571 acres.

Some other big landowners include Jeff Bezos, with 290,000 acres, the Koch family with 239,000 acres and hedge fund titan Louis Moore Bacon, with 215,990 acres.

Here is the full list of the top 10:

  1. John Malone, 2.2 million acres
  2. Ted Turner, 2 million acres
  3. The Emmerson family,1.86 million acres
  4. Brad Kelley, 1.5 million acres
  5. The Irving Family, 1.25 million acres
  6. The Singleton Family, 1.1 million acres
  7. The heirs of King Ranch, 911,000 acres
  8. Stan Kroenke, 848,571 acres
  9. The heirs of Pingree lumber and wood-products company, 830,000 acres
  10. The Reed family, 730,000 acres.

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for more than 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (at) westsideland (dot) com and information can be obtained http://www.westsideland.com

What is USGBC and LEED Certified?

‘building green’

USGBC

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

What is LEED?

LEED is an internationally recognized green building program. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary, consensus-based, market-driven program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. From individual buildings and homes, to entire neighborhoods and communities, LEED is transforming the way built environments are designed, constructed, and operated. Comprehensive and flexible, LEED addresses the entire lifecycle of a building.

Participation in the voluntary LEED process demonstrates leadership, innovation, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. LEED provides building owners and operators the tools they need to immediately impact their building’s performance and bottom line, while providing healthy indoor spaces for a buildings occupants.

LEED projects have been successfully established in 135 countries. International projects, those outside the United State, make up more than 50% of the total LEED registered square footage. LEED unites us in a single global community and provides regional solutions, while recognizing local realities.

How it Works

For commercial buildings and neighborhoods, to earn LEED certification, a project must satisfy all LEED pre-requisites and earn a minimum 40 points on a 110 point LEED rating system scale. Homes must earn a minimum of 45 points on a 136-point scale.

Learn about LEED

LEED is developed, implemented and maintained with the help of the LEED Committees. Focusing more on the application of LEED, the LEED International Round Table identifies ways LEED can better meet the needs of global users. Together, these groups include representation from a variety of industries across the country and around the globe.

USGBC is your source for up-to-date, high quality education on the rating systems. Visit www.USGBC.org

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for more than 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (at) westsideland (dot) com and information can be obtained from www.westsideland.com

Brush Clearance in Los Angeles

‘making your community a safer place’

Extreme Fire Danger Today Sign IsolatedProperty must be cleaned as required prior to May 1st so that it can pass the 1st Fire Department Inspection, thereby avoiding a time consuming 2nd inspection, which leads to a expensive 3rd Inspection. Property owners who are unable to clear their landscape vegetation themselves should hire a professional to do this for them. Note there is no need for property owners to call the Fire Department for an inspection, as a Los Angeles Fire Department computer keeps track of all properties. When your property is in need of an inspection, the appropriate Inspector will be automatically notified.

1st Inspection:

The 1st inspection is done by the Los Angeles Fire Department Brush Task Force, beginning the first week in May and continuing for 6 weeks until all properties in the brush zone have been inspected. Property found to be non-compliant will be issued a Notice of Violation. The property owner will then have 15 days to comply with the Notice of Violation.

2nd Inspection:

Property owners issued with a Notice of Violation on the 1st inspection will be inspected a 2nd time after the 15 day period to comply has passed. If the property is then found to be in compliance, the owner will receive notification from the Los Angeles Fire Department Brush Unit. If the property is not fully in compliance the owner will be notified via mail and the property will be assigned to the Area Inspector. The Area Inspector will then photograph the non-compliant property and create a package that will be presented to the City brush clearance contractors for bid.

3rd Inspection

When a 3rd inspection is required there is an automatic fee assessed to the property. The fee is applied even if the property is found to be compliant at the time of this 3rd inspection. This fee is for an Inspector having to inspect the property for a 3rd time. To avoid this cost, property owners must be in compliance by the 1st inspection and no later than the 2nd inspection.

If your property fails a 3rd inspection:

Property not in compliance with the Los Angeles Fire Department Brush Clearance requirements following the 3rd inspection will be cleared by Fire Department order. The property owner will then be charged for the cost of clearance, plus the 3rd inspection fee, plus an administrative fee. Failure to clear your property in accordance with the regulations in a timely fashion is not only expensive, but endangers the lives and homes of your neighbors and the firefighters. To learn more about the Los Angeles Brush Clearance Program, including as to why property owners who live in a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ) receive a $23 invoice from the Los Angeles Fire Department, please visit: www.lafd.org/brush

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for more than 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales(at) westsideland (dot) com and information can be obtained from www.westsideland.com

Game Of Loans

‘systematic greed at the expense of financial integrity and stability’

Image

When the current economic crisis began in 2008, at least one hundred of the biggest Banks in the US had construction and lending departments. As the economic crisis evolved, all of these Banks shut down their vacant lot and construction lending divisions. As of today, not much has changed. With the current government rules so harsh on regular lending, coupled with fears of making bad loans, Banks have been hesitant to venture back into the game of making land loans.

If you want to buy a vacant lot and build your own home right now your timing could not be better. Although it is difficult to find vacant land and construction financing, it is not impossible. Lending rates today are as low as 3.75% for vacant lots and 3.00% for construction lending. When looking to buy land, you need to investigate the lot thoroughly prior to getting funding. The investigation must include questions such as; how much acreage is included in the lot? Are their multiple APN numbers (assessor parcel numbers) with this lot? What is the zoning of this lot? (residential zoning will be accessible, but agricultural will be difficult for lending) Does the property ‘percolate’ for septic systems or does the lot have direct access to the local sewer system? Is water provided by a local water company or will you have to drill a well? Is water available by well? Are utilities able to be hooked up, or will you have to pay the local company to bring power to the site? Is the lot burdened by easements? If so, how will those easements affect your build? What city ordinances will be applied to the lot? What are the exact boundaries of the lot?

What about the soils and topography of the site? Are you dealing with a ‘cut’ site where the lot is graded and ‘cut’ right out of the hill, or do you have ‘fill’ in which dirt is compacted to accommodate your building site. How much slope does the lot have, because more ‘slope’ will usually mean more retaining walls and or caissons. Caissons and retaining walls can be very expensive and add up to 20% to the build. Usually, this cost will not come back when an appraisal is completed, as it is regarded as a sunk cost to build a house on a hillside. All these questions, amongst others, need to be answered before moving forward with the loan and purchase of the lot.

Since the Great Recession of 2008, vacant lots have been reduced to approximately 35% to 45% of value depending where the lots are located. With loan rates and land prices so low, this is an excellent time to buy vacant land and build on it.

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for the past 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (at) westsideland (dot) com and information can be obtained from www.westsideland.com

Swimming Pools

‘sink or swim’

Whether purchasing an existing home, a fixer-upper or tear-down, the component that often gets most overlooked and/or understated in a general inspection is usually the existing swimming pool on the subject property.

One major issue that a buyer can encounter, is copper plumbing on these existing swimming pools. This can be observed as it exits the ground in the pool equipment room/area. Copper on house plumbing is a good thing; copper on pool plumbing is a fragile ticking time bomb. To replace it, the surrounding pool decks must be demolished, then removed for the re-plumb to take place. Copper plumbing on swimming pools was the material of choice up until the early 1970’s. After that era, builders switched to white plastic schedule 40 PVC. Swimming pool chemistry often gets out of the ideal ranges especially if maintained by a non professional or by the homeowner who has very little knowledge of knowing how to maintain a swimming pool professionally. The Ph of a swimming pool is the measurement of acid verses a base present in the water. If a swimming pool gets too acidic, it will “strip” or eat the interior wall of the copper plumbing. Copper, compared to other metals, is so soft it does not resist corrosive acid. A pool with copper plumbing that was constructed in, say 1970 or before, could have been dangerously acidic 20 times in its life or more. Pool service people often just “splash and dash” without careful testing and calculating the quantities of acid required to correct the basic nature of pool plaster. If they add too much acid, small amounts of the wall thickness of the copper pipe is removed when the acidic water is circulated. The copper can also be stripped if a pool pump was installed that is over sized and hydraulically moves too much water through these pipes. The friction created by fast moving water carved the Grand Canyon, and will certainly remove the interior walls of the copper pipes just as easily. Swimming pool contractors should make it a policy not to re-plaster a pool or pour new concrete surrounding the pool without total revision of the plumbing system. Because, if a freshly plastered pool starts to leak, then the pool owner will question the plaster’s integrity and its ability to hold the water, and the contractor will claim the copper plumbing failed, resulting in a dispute that will cost both parties unnecessary time and money. Or worse yet, the plumbing leaks two years after the contractor has gone out of business. Other areas of concern on these older swimming pools are cracks inside the plastic skimmer area. The skimmer area is under the circular deck lid on the pool deck which is a common area for leakage.

Home Warranty policies offered by Insurance Companies can give a Buyer a false sense of security, because like most Home Insurance policies, it will only cover simple fixes. Note that most Home Warranty policies exclude any below ground swimming pool repairs. A point of interest is that many insurance companies unfairly deny claims from pool owners on the basis of dirty filters, rodent chewed wires, rodent droppings, et al, which they consider “lack of maintenance” by pool owners. So, pool owners may want to “tidy up” so-to-speak and photograph for their records their pool equipment room/area before calling the pool repair person. More importantly, the best route for a Buyer interested in upgrading or keeping an existing swimming pool, is to consult with a licensed swimming pool professional before moving forward with the purchase of the property.

I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for the past 15 years creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (at) westsideland (dot) com and information can be obtained from www.westsideland.com