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Aug. 16, 2008

Monterey Hills California: Temple Terrace

Temple Terrace is a beautiful complex in Monterey Hills. It is very unique for the area since it consists of both condos and townhomes. It is located on Via Marisol, but the postal address is Temple Terrace.

There are 75 condos and 47 townhomes in this complex. It is beautifully landscaped and has mature trees and lush foliage. As you walk around the complex, you almost get a resort-like, almost cottage-like feel.

It is the only complex on the hill that has gas range/ovens. Everything else in Monterey Hills is electric. So if you like to cook with gas and live in Monterey Hills this complex is for you.

Amenities include a pool and a spa and home owner association fees are some of the lowest in Monterey Hills. HOA dues include water, gardening, cable TV & trash service.

There's plenty of guest parking available throughout Temple Terrace although the townhomes have a 2-car attached garage and most condos come with 2 subterranean parking spaces.

Monterey Hills is a great place to live and is only minutes away from Old Town Pasadena, downtown LA, Paseo Colorado, the USC Health Sciences Campus and the Gold Line.

As of August 15, 2008, there is only one townhome on the market:

853 Temple Terrace, Monterey Hills 2 bedrooms/2 baths $429,000

It is nice and bright with beautiful views of the hills from each room.

READ MORE: Monterey Hills Overview

READ MORE: Top 10 Condo Buying Tips

Search for Monterey Hills condos

Aug. 16, 2008

Pasadena Mortgage Rates Report: August 15, 2008

Pasadena Mortgage rates were stable this week. ARM rates went up and the fixed rate mortgage rates are the same as they were Monday. I mentioned that traders felt "stuck in the middle" of conflicting data. Core inflation is risingbut oil prices are falling like a rock off a cliff. I'm as confused as the mortgage bond traders so I'm taking this opportunity to lock rates for loans closing within 30 days.

READ: Why Oil Prices Will Drop BELOW $100/ Barrel in 2009


Why? I think the rising ARM rates suggest that traders believe, in their hearts, that the Fed will tighten before Thanksgiving. I'm more about mitigating risk rather than pouncing on opportunity so when I'm confused, I lock mortgage rates. Maybe the descent in oil prices will continue and mortgage rates decline further but "I ain't seeing it" from my ivory tower.

Pasadena Mortgage rates for August 15, 2008. Loan amounts up to $417,000:

3/1 ARM 5.750%

5/1 ARM 5.750%

7/1 ARM 6.000%

10/1 ARM 6.250%

30 Yr Fixed 6.375%

All rates offered to the borrower with 1 point cost. Rate quotes assume a purchase transaction with a 20% down payment, 720 credit score, and full income qualification. Rates are subject to fluctuation. Custom rate quotes and rate lock advice are available by calling (858)-777-9751.


Next 7 days: Neutral

Next 30 days: Neutral

Next 3 months: Neutral

Originally posted on


Aug. 16, 2008

San Marino Real Estate Market Report - May 2008 to July 2008

San Marino's real estate activity has been holding steady in the month of August. We actuallly saw an increase in the number of San Marino homes that opened escrow, from 8 in June to 13 in July.

The number of homes on the market in July remained at 41 with 14 new San Marino listings coming on the market.

Looking at the 12 San Marino homes that actually closed escrow in July, the sales price to listing price ratio is pretty close - 98.23% - meaning that most homes sold close to asking price. Interestingly enough, we're still seeing multiple offers in San Marino. Three of the 12 homes sold OVER asking:

Address Asking Price Selling Price $/Sq.Ft. % of Sold/Asking
1755 Sharon Place $950,876 $1,028,000 $671.46 108.1%
2270 Huntley Circle $1,050,000 $1,100,000 $541.61 104.8%
1522 Wembley Road $1,598,000 $1,668,000 $725.85 104.4%
1740 Hilliard*

1846 Lorain Road*









Both 1740 Hilliard and 1846 Lorain Road were sold after a price adjustment and being on the mrket for several months. Once the prices were adjusted, both homes pretty quickly at full asking price. A lot to be said for correctly pricing your home.

May 2008 to July 2008 San Marino Housing Statistics:

Single Family Residence May-08 Jun-08 Jul-08
New Listings 14 13 14
Total Listings 39 41 41
Sales Pending 15 8 13
Homes Sold 10 15 12
Listings Expired 4 4 4
Average Days on the Market 40 77 60
Average Price Per Sq. Ft. $552 $601
Average Selling Price $1,807,900 $1,638,045 $1,461,150
Absorption Rate (# of weeks to sell current inventory at present rate of sales) 17.8 11.8

Data taken from ITEC (Pasadena Foothills Association MLS service)

READ MORE: San Marino Real Estate Market Housing Report for August 2008

If you are interested in beginning your search for a San Marino home, please click on the search home link here.

For weekly updates on San Marino real estate market activity, please feel free to request market analysis reports with detailed information by clicking on the Real Estate Market Reports here. These reports are gathered and updated by Altos Research and will be emailed to you with my compliments.

Posted by Irina Netchaev 626-627-7107

Aug. 15, 2008

August 2008 Dusty Deals

The list of these homes is no longer available. You can search all homes for sale in Pasadena below:

Posted in Dusty Deals
Aug. 15, 2008

Federal Tax Breaks to Owning Real Estate

Every time I meet with a potential Pasadena home buyer, a question comes up about tax benefits of home ownership. In this post, I'll cover some of the tax incentives that are currently available. These tax incentives are a nice little bonus that is allowed by the IRS to add on to the satisfaction and enjoyment of being a homeowner.


Interest paid on the primary residence and a second or vacation home is deductible from one's income tax. Since the vast majority of the early years' mortgage payment is interest, this can be a substantial deduction, saving the homeowner thousands of dollars in Federal and State income taxes. This is often the largest single itemized deduction the taxpayer has.


Real estate property taxes are deductible on the primary residence and a second or vacation home. That portion of the homeowner's monthly mortgage payment which goes toward the payment of real estate taxes may be deducted from federal income taxes. In the early years of a mortgage, as much as 95% of the payment goes toward interest and taxes, making as much as 95% of the total house payment tax deductible.

READ MORE: Decline in Value Reassessments

READ MORE: Property Tax increases on Your Pasadena Home


IRS codes allow individuals who already exceed the minimum standard tax deduction barriers to claim additional tax withholding allowances or exemptions when they purchase homes of greater value or second/vacation homes. This increase in W-4 exemptions allows the homeowner to receive $30-600 per month in additional take home pay from their employer. It may assist them in budgeting a home of greater value or a second home. This monthly increase in take home pay is in lieu of a large lump sum income tax refund. This little known tax law may also be used by first time purchasers, if they purchase a home which will allow them to itemize substantially more than the minimum standard deduction amount.


Moving expenses may be tax deductible if you are moving more than 50 miles from your present location. The actual moving expenses plus cost of the trips for job hunting and some other expenses associated with moving may be deductible.



Part or full time use of an office in your home may be tax deductible. Under IRS rules, a prorated portion of the housing expense, operating expenses and depreciation may be deducted from income taxes if you use a portion of your home as an office, and you meet certain guidelines.


A homeowner may sell his principal residence and exclude up to $250,000 of profits under a capital gains exclusion. A married couple may exclude up to $500,000 in profits, each time they meet the eligibility requirements, but not more than every two years. To be eligible for this capital gain exclusion, the homeowner must have owned and occupied the home as a primary residence for at least two of the five years prior to the sale.


Active real estate investors who actively participate in the management of rental properties can deduct up to $25,000 per year for deprecation, negative cash flows, interest, taxes, maintenance, repairs and miscellaneous costs, as long as their adjusted gross incomes do not exceed $100,000. $1,000 of the $25,000 deduction is eliminated for every $2,000 over the $100,000 adjusted gross income, until the AGI reaches $150,000.

No deductions are available for the 3-5% of taxpayers whose adjusted gross income exceeds $150,000. - However, the $25,000 tax deduction is a huge deduction and would be over and above the deductions for one's primary residence and second home. This $25,000 tax deduction could conceivably reduce a gross income of $50,000 to a taxable income of only $25,000, resulting in a substantial tax savings. The tax savings would even be greater in states having state income taxes, as state income taxes are usually based on Federal income taxes, which would be lowered.

Information courtesy of Jeff Elias.

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Aug. 15, 2008

Another Mention in Pasadena Weekly

Joanna Beresford, a Pasadena Weekly reporter, wrote an article asking the ultimate real estate question - To Buy or Not To Buy? She was kind enough to interview me to get my perspective and gave me an honorable mention. :-)

So... here's this week's, August 14, 2008, Pasadena Weekly's real estate article:

What Price is Paradise?

Now may be the best time to make that move to a new home

By Joanna Beresford 08/14/2008

To buy or not to buy? That is the question. Is it better to await the possibilities of further plummeting home values and rock-steady interest rates or, by acting now, avoid the potential effects of world affairs, federal regulations and other cosmic catastrophes? And by acting, perchance, to acquire the home of your dreams ...

Well, in a recent Los Angeles Times article, Celia Chen, director of housing economics for Moody', contends that housing prices will continue to deflate by as much as 25 percent. In the same story, Los Angeles economist Christopher Thornberg agrees (so emphatically, in fact, that he resorts to using a bad word; can you really write H-E-double toothpicks in the newspaper these days? Wow).

"There's no way in hell the house you buy now will be more expensive next year," asserts Mr. Thornberg. Or, asserted. I don't think he keeps on asserting it after the initial statement, in spite of literary convention, or unless he suffers from some form of Tourette's syndrome, or something.

Naturally, no absolute realities will provide us with a singular, satisfying response to the question.

Many experts will advise consumers: calm down, don't rush into anything, but consider MAKING A MOVE before the market turns something worse or different than upside down. So everyone scrambles to seize upon some semblance of a property, sell off the family heirlooms, scrape together a down payment, make an offer, and don't think about sleeping or eating until you get a response from homeowner or banker.

That's one way to go. But, then there's the voice of reason. First of all, the Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley region aren't equivalent to the country, the state, or even the county of Los Angeles. The region hardly comprises its own cohesive, discreet entity that can be uniformly assessed.

Enter two of my most enterprising, intelligent and doggone cute local resources. First, Martha Shanks, mortgage professional with Vesta Marketing, in Pasadena. Martha never freaks out or jumps to conclusions. Ask her about fluctuating markets and she replies with refreshing candor. "My initial response is this. I've always told people, and I've been saying until the last 30 days, that really time is on your side. You can buy or not, housing prices will probably continue to tumble. You're in a perfect position to find the house that really suits your needs."

Martha says won't be surprised if home prices in general continue to drop, but she's more likely, very recently, to consider the undulating landscape of world events, interest rates, etc. as potentially significant factors in the home-buying experience.

"It may make more sense to buy now," she concedes.

Then there's Irina Netchaev with Keller Williams Realty. I'm still toying with the idea that Irina is a beautiful Soviet-era spy, sent to the United States to report on our bad grammar, poor hygiene and other slovenly habits. She's so elegant. But she also really knows her business, so I accept her at agent/face value. Here's what Irina says about The Question.

"It is always a good time to buy real estate if you are prepared to buy real estate and have consulted with a real estate professional and lender to understand your options. For example, if a buyer has spoken with a lender, was preapproved and has a very clear understanding as to how much they can afford to pay monthly, what their closing costs will be and how much house they can afford, they are ready."

Irina also expresses some concern about the possibility of rising interest rates: "The interest rates are still very low ... If interest rates go up, even if the home prices go down, waiting could be a serious mistake."

Guess what? When the first Midwestern settlers purchased the land that would become Pasadena in 1873, they bought the property for about $6.30 per acre. Boy, it's a good thing they didn't wait for the market to turn around, eh? In spite of the seemingly low-ball price, these Hoosiers (Indiana natives, mostly) believed they had stumbled upon an unlikely expanse of paradise, and that's one thing that most of us, more than two centuries later, can agree on; so how do you put a price on that?

Joanna Dehn Beresford is a former teacher, nanny, actress, rock star, farm girl, waitress and clerk. She can be reached at

READ MORE: It's fun to be famous if only for a day!

Posted in About Us
Aug. 11, 2008

Pasadena Mortgage Rates Report: August 11, 2008

Pasadena Mortgage rates for August 1, 2008. Loan amounts up to $417,000:

3/1 ARM 5.500%

5/1 ARM 5.750%

7/1 ARM 5.875%

10/1 ARM 6.250%

30 Yr Fixed 6.375%

All rates offered to the borrower with 1 point cost. Rate quotes assume a purchase transaction with a 20% down payment, 720 credit score, and full income qualification. Rates are subject to fluctuation. Custom rate quotes and rate lock advice are available by calling (858)-777-9751.


Next 7 days: Slightly Higher

Next 30 days: Neutral

Next 3 months: Neutral

Remember the song "Stuck in the Middle With You" by Stealer's Wheel? It was background music for a particularly gruesome scene in the Quentin Tarantino movie, Reservoir Dogs.

Well, I don't know why I came here tonight
I got a feelin' that something ain't right
I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair
And I'm wonderin' how I'll get down those stairs
Clowns to left of me, jokers to the right
Here am I stuck in the middle with you

Wall Street bond traders are singing that tune and it's bouncing mortgage rates all over the place. They're scared because they feel that "somethin' ain't right" with the underlying loans held by Fannie and Freddie. Still, the US Treasury Secretary has pretty much guaranteed that the government will back Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should the dung hit the blades.

While the treasury securities market has been somewhat stable these past few weeks, mortgage-backed securities are bouncing all over. Some days ,they act like treasuries and the spread narrows. Other days, they act like junk bonds and the spread widens. If you listened to my "dog on a leash" analogy, imagine a rabid animal running away from a scared owner one day and a docile pet running and cuddling with him the next.

Like the song, says, we're "stuck in the middle" which means, in my mind, we'll see mortgage rates rise a bit, to the 6.5% level, then drop to the 6.0% level. We still haven't seen the full effect of the Russian invasion to Georgia. The American response will be much more than a Bush and Putin exchange at the Olympics. Georgia is a SERIOUS U.S. ally with a major oil pipeline running through it. The Russian attack was clearly unprovoked and part of a concerted effort to weaken the US dispute with Iran.

We're locking loans that are closing within 10 days with an eye towards locking late August closings some time next week (when mortgage rates come back down).

This mortgage rates report is offered courtesy of Brian Brady. Contact Brian for more information about a home loan or apply online.

Originally posted at Mortgage Rates Report on August 11, 2008

Aug. 10, 2008

Monterey Hills Real Estate Market Report May 08 - July 08

There are definite opportunities in Monterey Hills right now for both first time home buyers and investors. For the first time, we're actually seeing 2 bedroom and 2 bath condos fall under $300,000 thanks to short sales and hesitant buyers.

The inventory for condos remains pretty much the same. Even though looking at the graph below, the number of total Monterey Hills condos dropped to 16, there were 8 condo listings that expired which suggests that they will be relisted and put back on the Monterey Hills real estate market shortly. At today's rate of condo sales of about 5 per month, there's about 17 weeks of existing inventory available.

Investor Recommendation: Wait for condos to drop around $275,000 if you'd like to be at break even at about 25% down.

Homeowner Recommendation: The prices are much lower than the surrounding South Pasadena and are perfect for purchase to live if you see a condo that you like, especially if you're thinking of holding on to it for 3 to 5 years. Go for it!


READ MORE: South Pasadena Real Estate Housing Market Report for May 08 to July 08

Monterey Hills Townhouses are still hard to find. Inventory of Monterey Hills Townhouse listings has dropped to 2. Only a couple sell per month, but that can be do to the lack of available townhomes to begin with.

Condos May-08 Jun-08 Jul-08
New Listings 7 5 8
Total Listings 26 24 16
Sales Pending 6 4 3
Homes Sold 5 4 5
Listings Expired 3 2 8
Average Days on the Market 83 136 79
Average Price Per Sq. Ft. $297 $302
Average Selling Price $356,400 $304,520 $344,578
Absorption Rate (# of weeks to sell current inventory at present rate of sales) 20.8 17.3
Townhomes May-08 Jun-08 Jul-08
New Listings 6 0 1
Total Listings 8 4 2
Sales Pending 0 1 2
Homes Sold 3 1 2
Listings Expired 0 0 0
Average Days on the Market 48 154 98
Average Price Per Sq. Ft. $401 $302
Average Selling Price $426,000 $655,000 $465,500
Absorption Rate (# of weeks to sell current inventory at present rate of sales) 5.8 8.7

Data taken from ITEC (Pasadena Foothills Association MLS service)

If you are interested in beginning your search for a Monterey Hills condominium or townhouse, please click on the search home link here.

Posted by Irina Netchaev 626-627-7107

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Aug. 9, 2008

Custom Property Brochure and Marketing Your Home For a Quck Sale

Over the last couple of days we loooked at a Formula for Selling your Pasadena Home in 30 days or less. It all comes down to getting your home ready for sale, pricing your Pasadena home correctly and marketing exposure.

In my second post in the Selling Your Home series, we reviewed how best to showcase your home listing in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and the use of Flash Presentations or Home Tours.

Today, I wanted to take a look at how to create an effective Property Brochure for Pasadena home buyers. This is especially helpful for our For Sale By Owner Sellers.

What is the purpose of a home property flyer or a brochure?

The main purpose of a home brochure is to ensure that home buyers will easily remember your home and be able to contact the home seller (if you are selling your home by owner) or the real estate agent representing your home.

Other reasons that home buyers pick up a brochure is to:

  1. Share information about the home with their friends and family.
  2. Easily access important data about the home - home sales price, square footage, HOA (if any), year home built, special features, etc.
  3. Compare your home with other homes that they have seen around Pasadena.

Choosing a property brochure design layout:

  1. Should this be a one page or a two page brochure? I always recommend using both sides of your brochure. Why waste the back of the brochure and leave it blank? It's just like thinking of a real estate location - 1st page of the brochure is your prime real estate and the back is secondary real estate location. I prefer to have a stunning picture on the first page with home address and price. The second page on my brochures will usually have more beautiful photographs and specific details about the home for sale.
  2. Color and Design of the Border of the brochure. Using too many colors will actually take away from the brochure. One or Two colors will add to a more striking presentation.
  3. Decide on text font and size. Remember to have lots of white space for easy reading and headers as appropriate.

Describe your home:

  1. The first thing I recommend doing is going through your house room by room. Make notes about what is special about each room. What are your home's highlights? Think about how you entertain. What do your friends and family like about this house?
  2. Have a concise leading paragraph and follow up with bullet points of special items and amenities.
  3. Be as clear as possible. The very last thing you'd want to do is mislead a potential customer. Do not over-enhance the home's features. Stay factual.

READ MORE: Power Words that SELL

Add Photographs:

  1. Decide on the number of photographs that you will use. I usually prefer to use 5 to 6 photos highlighting some of the rooms, the front of the house and the backyard.
  2. Make sure the photos are in order of how a buyer would view your home. It will make it easier for the potential buyer to remember what it was like walking through your home.

Contact Information:

  1. Remember to put your name, phone number and email address so that potential buyers can get a hold of you quickly.

Printing Property Brochures

  1. Good quality paper is an important part of the presentation. Make sure that you select a good heavy stock paper.
  2. Always print in color. Please, no black & white copies. These are just a huge NO NO!
  3. There are plenty of printers that would be happy to print off 100 to 200 copies for you. The average charge is about $75 for 100 flyers. Have plenty on hand for the buyers and the potential agents that might stop by.


  1. Keep the home sale brochures available at the entry of the home presented in a nice stand. Dining room table or kitchen bar works nicely as well.
  2. I am not a huge advocate of having brochures in front of your home in a brochure holder. The idea here is to have buyers visit and view your home, not just pick up a brochure. If you do choose to have some outside, make sure the brochures are of the highest quality so as not to discourage potential buyers.
  3. Distribute property brochures to local real estate offices. Remember that even if you choose to sell your house by yourself, in all likelihood a real estate agent will end up selling it for you. Get the local real estate community involved by letting them know that your home is for sale. Most buyers will be represented by a professional real estate agent.

Okay, you are ready to start working on your property brochure. Don't forget to check your spelling!

Aug. 9, 2008

Pasadena real estate market report May 2008 to July 2008

There was a huge increase in new listings of Single Family Residences in July 2008. The number almost doubled from 77 new home sellers to 140 new home sellers. The influx of new Pasadena homes for sale had a downward effect on the average SFR sales price and price per square foot.
The least expensive home for sale in Pasadena is listed at $120,000.
The most expensive home for sale in Pasadena is listed at $52,000,000.
Pasadena SFR homes under $412,000 seem to stay on the market the longest about 4 months with homes over that price selling in about 2.5 months.

Residential house prices are a function of supply and demand, and market MARKET ACTION INDEX conditions can be characterized by analyzing those factors. Come back to this site to watch this index for sustained changes: if the index falls into the Buyer's Market zone for a long period, prices are likely in for a downward correction.

The Market Action Index (MAI) illustrates the balance between supply and demand using a statistical function of the current rate of sale versus current inventory.

An MAI value greater than 30 typically indicates a "Seller's Market" (a.k.a. "Hot Market") because demand is high enough to quickly gobble up available supply. A hot market will typically cause prices to rise. MAI values below 30 indicate a "Buyer's Market" (a.k.a. "Cold Market") where the inventory of already-listed homes is sufficient to last several months at the current rate of sales. A cold market will typically cause prices to fall.

Pasadena condos actually dropped in the number of available listings to 169 per ITEC.
Pasadena townhomes also had a reduction in inventory.
READ MORE: Pasadena Real Estate Market Report - August 2008

Pasadena Real Estate Market Report for May 08 to July 08:

Single Family Residence May-08 Jun-08 Jul-08
New Listings 120 77 140
Total Listings 424 388 390
Sales Pending 43 54 66
Homes Sold 58 54 65
Listings Expired 52 48 42
Average Days on the Market 82 121 104
Average Price Per Sq. Ft. $445 $417
Average Selling Price $955,191 $968,727 $807,139
Absorption Rate (# of weeks to sell current inventory at present rate of sales) 29.0 31.3
Condos May-08 Jun-08 Jul-08
New Listings 33 52 41
Total Listings 199 182 169
Sales Pending 14 30 25
Homes Sold 20 24 29
Listings Expired 20 34 17
Average Days on the Market 94 126 92
Average Price Per Sq. Ft. $391 $386
Average Selling Price $538,075 $503,451 $515,788
Absorption Rate (# of weeks to sell current inventory at present rate of sales) 39.4 30.5
Townhomes May-08 Jun-08 Jul-08
New Listings 22 36 21
Total Listings 81 90 81
Sales Pending 7 9 15
Homes Sold 14 11 10
Listings Expired 33 7 9
Average Days on the Market 115 102 84
Average Price Per Sq. Ft. $391 $374
Average Selling Price $ 592,857 $ 555,236 $ 695,800
Absorption Rate (# of weeks to sell current inventory at present rate of sales) 27.9 31.9

Data compiled from ITEC (Pasadena Foothill Association Multiple Listing Service).
If you are interested in receiving a weekly Pasadena real estate market report with the Market Price Index, you can request the Pasadena Market Real Estate Report here and it will be emailed to you automatically each Monday. This is a report that I order specifically for the readers of my website from Altos Research who specializes specifically in real estate housing market activity throughout the country.
I also offer real estate market reports for Alhambra, San Marino, South Pasadena, Monterey Hills (under Los Angeles 90042), Arcadia, Altadena, San Gabriel and more.
If you have additional questions about the state of the Pasadena housing market, please call me at 626-627-7107 .
Irina :-)