Pasadena Real Estate - Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Buying or Selling Your Home in Pasadena!

Greater Pasadena real estate market trends, valuable news about market conditions, including foreclosure information in Pasadena and surrounding cities plus much more.

Find your home in Pasadena
April 19, 2008

Buying a home in Pasadena? Get a sewer inspection!

You found the right home in Pasadena and are so excited!!! All you have to do is just get through the inspections period.

There are three main contngencies that stand between you and your Pasadena home. A contingency is a condition that needs to be met prior to going forward with the escrow. They are:

1. You need to get approved for a loan

2. The property needs to appraise at its selling price.

3. You need to perform your due diligence and get a physical inspection. This includes going to the city to review permits and to ask any questions that might be of a concern to you. Getting a physical inspector to go out to do a general inspection of the property. Checking the local area, looking at the schools, etc.

If I may make a suggestion, as you're checking the neighborhood out, hiring an inspector for your general overview of the home, include a sewer inspection as one of your items to order and review.

The reason for this suggestion is simple, a physical inspector can give you a pretty good feel for the house, the Air Conditioning system, structure and can point you towards getting additional inspections if something is amiss. What they can not do is get into the pipes and make sure that they look okay.

A sewer inspection runs about $250-$300 in the Pasadena area. A plumber comes out with a special camera and runs it through the piping all the way to the sewer lines. You can see exactly what they do on a screen and will get a DVD with their findings. Its not much to spend considering that any issues uncovered could potentially cause you thousands of dollars.

I learned this the hard way, one of my sellers found out that their guest house was connected to a septic tank instead of city sewer lines through this inspection. My sellers did NOT know this. The city signed off on all plumbing for the guest house with no notation about the septic tank. The city did not know about the septic tank also. The buyer probably would not have known about this as well unless something went wrong down the road.

Its a small price to pay for peace of mind.

If you would like some references to sewer line inspection companies, please email me at Irina(at)PasadenaViews(dot)com or give me a call at 626-629-8439.

Good luck with the purchase of your home!

Posted in Buyers
April 19, 2008

What does your Pasadena Real Estate Agent do for you?

Sellers what do you expect from your Pasadena Real Estate Agent?

Most sellers will say to sell my home at the highest possible price with the least inconvenience.

But, how do Pasadena Real Estate Agents differ?

We all have different approaches and views on how to accomplish our sellers goals. When you are interviewing a Realtor for the job of selling your home, I would urge you to first LISTEN to what the Realtor says:

Is he or she trying to identify whats important to you in selling your home?

  • Is the Realtors approach more consultative vs. ˜salesy?
  • Do you feel like theres a connection between the two of you?
  • Do they understand the market trends in your local area? Can they intelligently predict, based on hard data, the pricing trend in your area?
  • Do they know the inventory and how many months of inventory is there on the market currently?

Here are some of the questions to ask:

  • How will you market my property? A good Realtor will have a nice mix of internet, ˜snail mail, e-mail, paper/magazine advertising. She will also market to top agents in the area, neighbors and current sellers that could fall into the move-up category for your home.
  • How will you keep in touch with me throughout the process? A Realtor should be updating their clients via phone at least once a week and should be able to provide access to a personal website where youll be able to track activities on the sale of your home. If you like using email, is your agent email savvy? How often do they check it? Do they have set times for returning their voicemails daily?
  • Do they have an assistant or helper for when theyre out of town or unavailable?
  • Do they have a full blown campaign ready to go the moment the listing is ready to be put on the market with custom color flyers, personal websites, 800 number (IVR) technology? It usually takes at least 7 to 10 days to line everything up so that your home is marketed correctly on day 1. The first 2 weeks of putting your home on the market are the most critical. Make sure that everything is perfect and not rolled out ˜piece-meal.
  • Will they stage your home? A staged home will sell for more money and in less time than a home that is not staged.

Read more on Staging: What is Staging?

  • Does he/she have Showcase homes on Featured Homes? Only very few Realtors have Featured Homes. These spots give your home unprecedented exposure with hundreds of hits daily.
  • Are there tracking reports available for all activities on my listing? A good Realtor will provide you with weekly stats.
  • How often will you reevaluate the market and my competition? Its critical to make sure that you and your Realtor know what your competition is so that an appropriate strategy is used.
  • What kind of pricing strategy would be best used for my home? Theres a fixed price and a Value Range Marketing Price. A good Realtor will be able to discuss the best pricing strategy and recommend the one that is right for you.
  • How many Multiple Listing Services (MLS) are in my area? In the Pasadena area, there are 2 distinct MLSs and another 2 that are on the border. To get the maximum exposure, your home should be listed in ALL of them.
  • Where does most of the Realtors business come from? You want to hear - REFERRALS! What a great indication of them doing a spectacular job if their clients refer them to more.

Dont be afraid to ask for names and telephone numbers of past clients. Your home, in most instances, is your largest investment. ASK, ASK, ASK and LISTEN!

All Realtors are NOT created equal! Do your homework and Good Luck!

Posted in Buyers, Sellers
April 19, 2008

Pasadena Buyers: Do you want to get your offer accepted?

I was reading Jana Coles post Technology, Yes, but always Verify and it occurred to me how many Pasadena agents still continue to fax over offers when representing their buyers.

When I started my career in real estate, I was taught to always present my buyers offer in person to the Listing Agent. Unfortunately, over the last several years, with the market in Pasadena, California going through the roof, many Listing Agents would not allow presentation of the offer in person. Especially, with multiple offers, where we sometimes get 15 to 20 offers at a time, it would make going through the presentations very time consuming.

Since I represent many sellers in Pasadena and surrounding cities, I have always been amazed by the lack of care that Buyers Agents show to their clients.

home sweet homeHalf the time, an offer would arrive without even a phone call from the agent.

The other half, the agent would call me, ask most, if not all of the right questions, and then knowing that it is a mutliple offer situation, still submit a very badly and sloppily written offer.

In any case, this post is not about how to write an offer. Its about how to SUBMIT an offer.

Now, to me, this is common sensical. When I represent buyers, I have to ensure that I not only sell my buyers to the seller, but I sell myself to the other agent.

At a minimum, this is what I would do:

Prior to writing the Offer:

  • Call the Listing Agent to introduce myself and ask about the property: Is the home still available? Did any offers come in? When will the offers be reviewed? What is the seller looking for in terms of escrow length? Where is the seller going to? Do they have a new home lined up? Are there certain providers that the seller and the agent are more comfortable working with or already have a relationship with? I always ask for any additional information that the Listing Agent thinks I should have.
  • Get together with my buyer to strategize on the best way to structure the offer. Agents, please listen carefully, the offer is NOT ONLY ABOUT THE PRICE! Terms are very, very important! How long should the contingency period be? Escrow period? Do we need a loan or appraisal contingency? How do we come up with the price? How much does my buyer want the property? THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE MY BUYERS OFFER STAND OUT FROM THE REST OF THE PACK!

Okay the offer is written, now what?

  1. I always recommend for the buyer to write an introduction letter to the seller. In this letter, the buyer has an opportunity to talk about themselves and why they like and want to live in the house. REMEMBER, A LOT OF SELLERS ARE ATTACHED TO THEIR HOME. They have many, many memories there. They want to have someone buy the home who will continue to love it as they did. And, if you get a seller that doesnt really care about who the buyer is, the letter will not hurt our position.
  2. I write a cover letter to the agent summarizing all the critical terms of the contract: price, down payment, earnest money deposit, escrow term, contingency periods, providers (escrow, title, home warranty)
  3. Attach a well written, PRE-APPROVAL letter from a respected lender. Make sure that the lender is aware that an offer is being presented. All good listing agents WILL CALL the lender to ensure the information is accurate and to ask additional questions.
  4. I make THREE copies of the contract. 1 copy for the Listing Agent, 1 copy for the Seller and an extra copy for the Transaction Coordinator or assistant. I usually put a post it note on each copy identifying who its for.
  5. I package the offer in a company folder with my business card. I put my cover letter on top, followed by the buyers letter to the home owner and the preapproval letter.
  6. The folder is then placed in an envelope and personally delivered to the listing agent. Call the agent first
  7. If the agent is not available and I had to drop the offer off at the listing agents office, I would call to ensure that the listing agent knows the offer is there waiting for them.

I cant tell you how many times, this simple presentation was able to separate me and my clients from the rest. I can attribute at least three offers that were accepted over the last four months specifically due to the way they were presented.

Remember our actions speak for themselves. Take the time to professionally package an offer the way you would want to receive one and GOOD LUCK!

Call me at 626-629-8439 if you have any real estate questions.


Posted in Buyers
April 18, 2008

How is the Real Estate market doing?

How is the real estate market doing?

Both home buyers and home sellers ask that question all the time.

Do you truly care about whats going on in Phoenix, if you live in Pasadena, CA? Do you care about how the market is doing in Pasadena, if you live in San Marino, CA?

As a real estate broker, the answer is yes... I care. As a seller or buyer, I couldn't care less.

I just sold my house. It is located in San Gabriel, but has San Marino schools. The first thing I did when I was thinking of selling my house, is to learn what was going on on my street. How many homes were on the market now? Who will be my competition?

I wanted to know which 7 to 10 homes will I be competing against. I got into the car and visited all the homes. I knew how much they were priced at, how long they've been on the market and what kind of upgrades they had.

Now I knew my market and could price my home correctly to sell.

The market in my mind was the 1/4 mile radius around my home, preferably homes with San Marino schools.

This local market research, along with getting prepared by following a few simple steps like:

  • Getting a Physical Inspection - which allowed me to anticipate issues up front and address them prior to listing my home.
  • Curbside appeal - the exterior was painted and a landscape artist was invited to stage the front and side of the home.
  • Staging - my stager extraordinaire, Nickie Rothwell of Staged2Sell, used both my existing furniture and brought in additional furniture and accessories to make the home stand out.
  • Marketing - well... that's my forte - heres a quick sample of the personal home website, Featured Homes, numerous blogging platforms, emails to top agents in the neighborhood and targeted buyer mailings, amongst other things.
April 18, 2008

Pasadena CA Real Estate: High Balance New Conforming Loan Features now available for Buyers

The Fed has been working hard in trying to make homes, or at the very least home loans, more affordable to buyers. With the average home prices in Pasadena being around $787,000, the first mortgage loan limits of $417,000 forced many Pasadena California real estate buyers to get a much more expensive 2nd loan for the difference between the first mortgage and the buyers down payment.

Solution: the new ˜high balance˜conforming loans that are being offered to Pasadena real estate consumers. These new loans allow Pasadena buyers to get the first trust deed as high as $729,750. This applies to most of the Los Angeles county and includes Pasadena, San Gabriel, San Marino, Monterey Hills, Arcadia, Temple City, Monrovia, Sierra Madre, La Canada, Arcadia, Duarte, Burbank, Glendale and surrounding cities.

Will this help? Maybe¦ These loans do allow a higher loan amount, but these high limit new conforming loans have pretty strict guidelines and cost more than what we previously have come to expect from our conforming loans.

To make it easier for our Pasadena buyers, I put together a quick outline of the features of these ˜high balance loans that home buyers can refer to:


  • You can now get your Pasadena First Trust Deed home loan amount up to $729,750
  • Buyers will need to have a MINIMUM credit score of 700 (FICO)
  • Most lenders require a minimum of 10% down, mostly 15% to qualify.
  • Available programs include 30 and 15 year fixed loans. Loans that are fixed for 10, 7 & 5 years and then move to an adjustable. Also being offered are 30 and 5 year interest only loans.
  • These loans apply to Single Family Homes and are not allowed for 2nd or vacation homes or multiple units.
  • You will need to occupy your Pasadena home to qualify. Non-owner occupants are not eligible.
  • Cash out refinances are NOT allowed.
  • Refinance to combine current 1st and 2nd mortgages are NOT allowed
  • The buyers debt to income ratio needs to be a max of 45%
  • Full verification of employment or income is required
  • A maximum of 3% seller contribution allowed.

AND most importantly, these loans will cost you about 1% higher than the standard ˜conforming loan (under $417,000) and 1% lower than jumbo loans.

READ MORE:  Do you need an arm?


April 16, 2008

Pasadena Home for Sale Staging. What is it?

I was exposed to ˜HOME STAGING several years ago when I heard Barb Schwartz, founder of and THE 'inventor' of the term ˜STAGING speak on the subject. I remember sitting in the audience of about 500 real estate agents thinking to myself - this makes a lot of sense.

Barbara, who has been staging homes since 1972 had single handedly created this brand new industry - STAGING. Barbara uses the following analogy to help us understand what Staging is all about:

Think of going to see a play in a theater. When you walk in, you see the stage, an audience, actors. You also know that there's a producer and the director behind the scenes. For the play to be a success, you need the play to be captivating and for all the seats to be full.


Now¦ lets say that your house is a ˜set on a stage of that play. We would need to ˜Stage your house for the audience - potential buyers - who will be coming through to see it.

The seller would be a producer because the seller owns the home. The Realtor would be the director since she will set the scene for how each room should look, with the help of a stager, to ensure a ˜sellout performance, i.e. buyers coming through to look at the house. And, there would be critics - yes - critics! Who are the critics? The critics are the other Real Estate Agents who will decide whether or not to bring their clients to see the house. They will also spread the word about the house to the rest of the agents that didnt get to see it themselves.

I have staged quite a few homes since the time I met Barbara. Some homes were staged by myself and others with an Accredited Staging Professional.

Let me tell you - Staging works!!! Its that simple.

Of course, Staging works in concert with the Pricing of the home. But, with everything being equal, a home that is priced right and staged will sell quicker and for more money than a home that has not been staged!

Stay tuned for my next post where I will show you some statistics and provide you with some specific staging ideas.

In the meantime, if you would like to see some before and after pictures, please visit my Staging Show by clicking Play the Show button below.

Play the Show Button

Posted in Home Staging, Sellers
April 16, 2008

Pasadena Real Estate Ownership is NOT for everyone

When my husband and I got married almost 19 years ago, my husband surprised me with a tiny 1 bedroom condo in West Hollywood. As I think back on this now, I was actually pretty upset that he just purchased it without consulting with me.

His reasoning was, we needed a place to live and he didn't want to rent. We had tono place like home start someplace.

A couple of years later, we sold the one bedroom for just enough profit to put a small down payment on a 2 bedroom condo that was just rehabbed in Monterey Hills, close to South Pasadena.

The Monterey Hills condo was beautiful. It was on a 3rd floor of Drake Terrace, a corner unit and had absolutely spectacular views. We had both of our kids there and stayed there for ten years.

I sold that condo for the highest price at that time in Monterey Hills, a whopping $136,000. I was being congratulated by all my fellow real estate agents when in reality someone should have sat me down and consulted with me about whether or not I should have sold vs. rented it. The same condo sold several times since then and is now worth somewhere in the high $300,000 range.

The rental market in Monterey Hills has always been great since its close to USC, downtown LA and Old Town Pasadena. In any case, my mistakes are not what I wanted to write about - back to the story.

The reasons for moving out of our 2 bedroom condo were simple: our family was getting too big - 2 adults and 2 kids in 2 bedrooms tend to be tight and we needed good schools. Monterey Hills is part of LAUSD. We lived close to South Pasadena and San Marino - both cities with great school districts.

A friend of mine told me that there was an area in Pasadena and San Gabriel that had homes which fell under the San Marino School District jurisdiction. I found one of those homes in San Gabriel. We borrowed money for an additional down payment and spent at least $50,000 more than we wanted to, to purchase our new home.

Our new home was close to 3,500 sq. ft., had a pool and a spa, was very private, backed up to the Sunnyslope reservoir and above all offered us the schools that we needed. I signed both kids up with San Marino and never looked back. We paid $438,000 for it ande let me tell you it was painful. We scraped and saved to make those payments.

This month, we sold the same home in a down-trending market with multiple offers for $1,075,000 and moved into our new home in San Marino itself.

The morale of the story is owning a home is not for everyone, but

  • if you want a home to call your own,
  • if you want to start building equity,
  • if you want to have a write off
  • if you want to build your wealth

I have many clients who come to me wanting to buy a home, but their wants are much bigger than their pocket books. Please, please start some place and move up a bit at a time. Don't wait too long to realize your own dreams of home ownership.

Here are some of the Monterey Hills condos for sale on the market now.  This list is updated with new homes for sale as they become available:

READ MORE:  Pasadena real estate update 2012 – see luxury home sales.

Irina is a Top Realtor and the founder and President of Pasadena Views Real Estate Team™. She is available to assist you in all of your Real Estate transactions. Email or call her today at (626)629-8439.

Are you relocating to Pasadena?  If so, take a look at our 365 Things To Do In Pasadena® .  Call us at 626-629-8439 to schedule a time for your free home buyer or home seller consultation!

Jan. 28, 2008

South Pasadena Real Estate Market Report - October 2008

South Pasadena real estate is still very much in demand and the homes are holding value. The family atmosphere, wonderful South Pasadena schools and the limited inventory make homes that are prepared for sale and priced well quite in demand.

Single Family Homes in South Pasadena are selling at 94.84% of asking price. Although one home sold $51,000 over asking at 106% of asking.

Condos and townhomes in South Pasadena are selling close to 97% of asking price.

The lowest priced South Pasadena home in October is at 1108 Foothill Street and is listed for $439,000. It is a small (listed as having 755 sq. ft.) 2 bedroom, 1 bath.

The highest priced South Pasadena home is at 1133 Buena Vista Street with 7 bedrooms adn 7 baths and over 7,500 sq. ft. This South Pas estate is listed at $3,600,000.

Read More: South Pasadena City Guide - relocation guide for South Pasadena

Real Estate Guide - Everything You Need To Know to Buy or Sell Your Home

South Pasadena real estate and housing statistics for August through October 2008:

Family Residence
Aug-08 Sep-08 Oct-08
8 10 13
26 33 34
1 9 8
Homes Sold 11 5 5
3 3 5
Average Days
on the Market
119 68 96
Price Per Sq. Ft.
$483 $499 $493
Median Price
$915,000 $930,000 $940,000
Selling Price
$795,273 $1,145,178 $1,037,300
Rate (# of weeks to sell
current inventory at present rate of sales)
10.2 28.6 29.5
and Townhomes
Aug-08 Sep-08 Oct-08
3 6 4
15 18 13
1 5 2
Homes Sold 3 5 4
4 5 0
Average Days
on the Market
77 111 186
Price Per Sq. Ft.
$352 $397 $401
Median Price
$533,000 $590,500 $733,500
Selling Price
$561,000 $637,200 $647,200
Rate (# of weeks to sell
current inventory at present rate of sales)
21.7 15.6 14.1

Real estate data based on information from ITEC (Pasadena Foothills
Association MLS service)

Interested in seeing what available for sale? Click on the form below to search for full access to the Multiple Listing Service. 

READ MORE:  Pasadena real estate update 2012 – see luxury home sales.

Irina is a Top Realtor and the founder and President of Pasadena Views Real Estate Team™. She is available to assist you in all of your Real Estate transactions. Email or call her today at (626)629-8439.

Interested in seeing what available for sale? Take a look at the home listings below. The information is updated real-time as new homes are entered into the Multiple listings service:

Jan. 2, 2008

Oba Sushi Izakaya - a Pasadena Community Hangout

Oba Sushi

Kunche loves Pasadena and she loves the Japanese restaurant business. It's this passion for Pasadena and her consumer driven approach to provide the best service and the freshest food in the area that drove her and her partner, Alvie to open Oba Sushi Izakaya Restaurant.

I want to please my customers. After being on the floor for so many years, I understand the needs and wants of consumers - says Kunche.

Oba Sushi Izakaya just celebrated its 4 week anniversary and when I visited there yesterday for lunch it was filled with happy customers. It has a Traditional Sushi bar focusing on basic sushi rolls without the use of heavy sauces. Although, if you request a special roll, the sushi chef will be more than happy to accommodate you. A visit to a local fish market takes place a couple of times a week where fish from Japan is purchased.

The weekly specials will focus on introducing different varieties of fish with unique texture like "live" sweet shrimp and sea eel that is not marinated.

The kitchen food is spectacular. The chef makes his own teriyaki sauce from scratch with simmering vegetables and beef bones. No canned sauces are used. Black tiger shrimp (the larger shrimp variety) is used in tempura and you just have to try the Sukiyaki.

For the health conscious, a variety of grilled fish is available. Ice cream is a hit with the kids.

Kunche has true Japanese beer and a nice choice of Sake which she will be updating every couple of months.

Alvie took a few minutes to talk about the reasons for opening Oba Sushi Izakaya. You can see his perspective below.


Kunche and Alvie in front of the Sushi Bar.

The restaurant itself is very comfortable and inviting and features sleek, modern lines with a calm grey color throughout. As explained below by the architect that designed it - Skyler Kogachi at Schism Design, Oba Sushi divided into two sections - a bar area with a large TV for Pasadena neighborhood gatherings and a sushi bar area which offers a quiet and relaxing atmosphere. Sit down tables are set against large windows.

Oba Sushi Izakaya is open for lunch and dinner. Lunch is served Monday through Friday between 11:30 am and 2:30 pm and offers a nice selection of lunch boxes ranging between $8.50 and $10. Oba Sushi Izakaya is open for dinner 7 days a week from 5:30 until 10 pm.

If you enjoy great service, fresh sushi and a friendly atmosphere, you will not be disappointed in Oba Sushi Izakaya. Give them a try and tell them that Irina sent you!

Oba Sushi Izakaya

181 east glenarm street, #110 pasadena, california 91105