Los Feliz Ledger Recognizes TRG Realty’s “Can-Do Reputation”

“Our Bread & Butter”…we’ll take it, Los Feliz Ledger! Check out the latest issue of the Los Feliz Ledger for The Rental Girl‘s very own feature…we’re all kinds of giddy about it. In the interview with Ledger Columnist Kimberley Gomez, our broker and owner Liz McDonald shares how it all started:

 

“I was in my mid-20s, knew how to write a good ad, and related to renters’ experiences, which is what makes us good at what we do,” said McDonald.

The article describes TRG Realty as having a “solid can-do reputation”, and discusses our growth over the years into a fully fledged leasing and sales agency, specializing in helping first time home buyers purchase their first property. We love what we do and we’re glad the Los Feliz Ledger is a fan! Check out the full article here: [Our Bread & Butter] The Rental Girl

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JUST LISTED: 944 E. HOWARD ST, PASADENA, $799,000

Artfully Restored 1913 Craftsman in Pasadena

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944howardst.com

Presenting TRG Realty’s newest property for sale in Pasadena, represented by Liz McDonald. Artfully restored 1913 Craftsman home in the desirable Historic Highlands Landmark District! This three bed, two bath home with detached bonus studio and two car garage has returned to its original charm with beautiful upgrades and permitted additions: board and batten wainscoting and exposed beams give warmth and texture to the sunlit living room; leaded glass doors show off built-in bookshelves and a leaded glass and mirrored hutch; new white diagonal subway tiles, new Frigidaire® stove and dishwasher appliances, quartz counters, cabinets, and new hardware make the kitchen a culinary playground. Then, through the hallway, restored antique gold hardware bejewels the doorknobs and an original oversized sliding pocket door that leads to the master bedroom. Direct access to basement from third bedroom closet. Out the glass paned back door and beyond the new wooden deck and double-door two car garage are the charming grassy yard, Zen garden, and bonus studio with a decorative painted brick fireplace—a wonderful space to entertain or use as an office. Additional upgrade features include solar panels (owned, not leased), a full size laundry room closet, new oak hardwood floors, recessed lighting, refurbished French windows, additional full bath, HVAC, new electrical, copper piping, and drought tolerant landscaping with a sprinkler system. Celebrate the creativity and vibrancy of the community at the espresso bar and flower stand around the corner in East Washington Village.

Details

944 E. HOWARD ST, 91104

3 BED/ 2 BATH

SQUARE FEET: 1560 SQ/FT

LOT SIZE: 6967 SQ/FT

LIST PRICE: $799,000

 

Contact

Liz McDonald

323-313-5780

liz@trgrealtycompany.com

BRE #: 01449897

WELCOMING ALISON TO THE RENTAL GIRL SALES TEAM!

We’re very excited to welcome the wonderful Alison Gilbert of alisonproperties.com to The Rental Girl Sales Division! If you’re thinking of buying or selling property in the Northeast LA area, contact Alison here!

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Alison Gilbert

 

“Buying a house is like making the vision of how you want to live your life a reality.” Helping others do that is Alison’s favorite thing. Though she’d built a career in public radio that most aspiring journos would give their right arm for, Alison—an artist at heart and lover of interior design—boldly made the leap from producer to realtor. She formerly worked for Marketplace and Marketplace Money, both of American Public Media; she earned a B.A. in Sociology and M.A. in Media and Public Affairs from George Washington University. Having made the cross-country move from east to west coast a bunch of times, she and her family finally nestled in on the peaceful hilltop sanctuary known as Mt. Washington. And she fits right in. An architecture buff and mid-century modern design aficionado, Alison has turned her haven into a creator’s paradise, crafting a natural fiber wall hanging, knitting throws, and making hand-dyed wool balls for her pillows. “Regardless of what you do for a living – nothing gives you more feel-good energy than creating something.” Her favorite creation so far? That’s easy: her twins, Ruby and Noah. Oh, and she’s just a wee obsessed with Baxter St. James, the cocker spaniel and king of the family.

 

ALISON GILBERT
REALTOR®
alison@alisonproperties.com
323-369-3464
BRE#: 01879624
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5 HOUSING MARKET PREDICTIONS FOR 2016

A New Year brings new opportunities, and that’s certainly true if you’re looking to sell or buy a home in 2016. What exactly does the year ahead have in store for housing?

Industry experts point to a lot of promising signs — moderate increases in prices and sales, the creation of more households, and an improving job market — for the national housing picture in 2016. But the gains won’t look like they have over the past two years, and we’ll see more local housing markets stabilizing in the near future. And that’s a good thing.

After the deluge of damaging foreclosures and short sales that flooded U.S. cities during the downturn, a number of housing markets have recovered in a big way in recent years, to the relief of homeowners and economic analysts alike. In 2013, there were 5.09 million existing-home sales nationally, according to the National Association of Realtors. In 2014, sales dropped by 3.1% to 4.93 million. Although final figures for 2015 are not yet available, NAR predicted existing-home sales would close out the year at 5.3 million — nearly 7% higher than the previous year.

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Here’s a closer look at five key housing predictions for 2016:

1. Rising rates will squeeze first-time homebuyers most

The Fed’s move to increase interest rates in December reflects the major strides the U.S. economy has made as it emerges from the Great Recession. Higher rates (though they haven’t happened yet), along with rising prices and limited supply, will make it harder for some to afford a new home. The good news: Long-term mortgage rates will see only a gradual increase this year and will remain relatively low compared with what they were before the downturn.

Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages, which averaged under 4% for most of 2015, will average 4.4% this year, according to Freddie Mac. Meanwhile, housing data firm CoreLogic, in its latest U.S. Economic Outlook report, predicts mortgage rates will increase roughly half a percentage point in 2016 over 2015.

If you’re a first-time homebuyer or you earn a lower income and haven’t had a raise lately, the rate increase might make it harder for you to afford a home. For the most part, though, a slight rate bump isn’t cause for panic and is unlikely to sideline most potential homebuyers, says Christian Redfearn, an associate professor of real estate at the University of Southern California.

Increasing mortgage rates will clamp down on refinancing activity as fewer homeowners will have enough incentives to refinance their current mortgages, according to CoreLogic. As a result, the firm is forecasting refinance originations to decrease by one-third this year.

2. Sales will rise, but modestly

Even though mortgage rates are rising, home sales will still be up about 3% this year as existing homeowners jump into the selling pool, according to a forecast from the National Association of Realtors.

After years of depressed prices, many homeowners have regained much of the equity they lost in the downturn, so they may seek to cash in on that value and sell in 2016 to move up to their next home, NAR President Tom Salomone says. In some markets, though, prices have increased too quickly, causing a bumpy recovery that’s priced out some potential homebuyers, he says.

“We don’t want these big peaks and valleys we’ve seen since the downturn,” Salomone says. “Steady, sustainable growth is what we’re after.”

As the economy continues to grow and more jobs are added, potential homebuyers with strong credit will be more willing to jump into the market too, Salomone says.

3. House prices will increase, too, but not at 2015 levels

Another trend that sellers in particular will appreciate: Home prices will rise again this year by 4% to 5% as demand increases faster than supply, according to CoreLogic. Although the increase in home prices will outpace inflation, it’s less than the 6% increase seen in 2015.

The more measured growth of home sales and prices is good news for the millions of younger Americans who are on the cusp of homeownership. However, experts agree that a shortage of housing inventory and new construction, which leads to bidding wars and competitive market conditions, will fuel higher home prices until more sellers enter the market or more homes are built.

“We haven’t built enough housing for a long time,” Redfearn says.

4. Housing demand will be up

The improving job market has been a boon for new household formations, a term that refers to configurations of people who live together under one roof, be it you and a few roommates, a married couple, a nuclear family of four, or just you. This increase will continue in 2016, with more than 1.25 million new households expected to be formed.

Millennials — all 83.1 million of them — now outnumber baby boomers and comprise more than a quarter of the U.S. population, according to the Census Bureau. Many of them are moving out of their parents’ homes, getting married or having children. As they do, these young Americans will create higher housing demand, particularly for rental homes.

This new surge in demand is expected to spur more construction of single-family homes and multifamily apartment buildings, but not at the pace needed to keep up with new households. NAR forecasts 1.3 million single-family housing starts this year, but the country needs 1.5 million to keep pace with demand.

Freddie Mac predicts total housing starts will increase 16% from 2015 to 2016, but it’s still not enough. That’s why more people are turning to the rental market, which is faced with a similar crunch.

5. Rents will also rise

Construction of multifamily homes will increase this year, but there’s still a shortage of rental homes for the millions who need them. Rental vacancy rates are at or near their lowest level in 30 years, according to the CoreLogic report. Accordingly, rents in 2016 will continue to rise faster than inflation, CoreLogic predicts.

With rents climbing, it’s no wonder so many millennials struggle to afford a down payment. For starters, 41% of them are saddled with student loans that frequently run into the tens of thousands, according to NAR. Plus, wages are growing slowly or not at all as rents and other living costs get steeper. It’s a combination of challenges that makes it hard to save for a down payment on a home, experts say.

Homeownership rates will dip slightly again this year as the number of new households that rent exceeds the number of new homebuyers. However, 94% of renters under 34 surveyed by NAR say they still want to buy a home in the future, and that bodes well for a more balanced market in the years to come, Salomone says.

The bottom line

The housing market has come a long way since the Great Recession, but the recovery has been uneven, and some areas still have a long way to go.

A sustainable housing market, Salomone says, is one that’s fair for both buyers and sellers. All the signs we’ve mentioned point to a more balanced road ahead for housing, but it’ll take a little more time to get there.

Guest blog provided by Deborah Kearns, a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: dkearns@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @debbie_kearns.

Are you looking to buy or sell home this year? TRG Realty Inc. is the parent company of The Rental Girl, and features our “For Sale” listings, as well as advice to buyers and sellers in the real estate market. If you’re thinking about transitioning from renting to buying, looking to move to a new neighborhood, or trying to sell your current home…head on over to TRG Realty and we’d to love to help you take the next step!

Happy Hunting!

The Rental Girl

www.therentalgirl.com

Meet Riley, A Personal Real Estate Assistant From Your Phone

Don’t have time to search through tons of sites for property listings that match what you’re looking for? Well, you most likely have time to text. Riley— a text message based service that acts as a “personal real estate assistant“, allows consumers to text their home-hunt criteria, and within 24 hours sends a list of matches, as well as the ability to schedule showing appointments. Riley is part-robot, part-human, and saves consumers an average of 3 hours. The service is currently free of charge, and doesn’t require any app download–just text (740) 478 4021 to start! 

The Rental Girl loves all things real estate and technology related, so we sat down with Riley’s creator Daniel Ahmahdizadeh to find out more about this brand new real-estate tech:

The Rental Girl: How would you best sum up Riley, and the overall company mission?

Daniel: Riley is a personal assistant for all things real estate, through text message. Riley is part-human, part-robot, and essentially people can text us to help them find their next home. We generate leads for property managers, realtors, moving companies, brokers—anyone who finds value in someone moving, for both rentals and sales throughout the country. What’s great about text message in particular is that you don’t have to download an app, which makes it accessible to say, my parents, as well as tech-savvy Millennials. The broader vision for Riley is to get brokers more business and help them make money, as well as save time and create a better experience for the consumer—so it’s a win-win for everyone.

The Rental Girl: We love it! How and when did Riley get started?

Daniel: Well on June 19th 2015, I hired a freelancer overseas and told him I had this idea and just needed a really simple website built. It took him 3 hours, I paid him $50, and it was just a static webpage with our Google Voice number on it. At the time that’s all it was, and we were responding completely manually. The next day, Riley got featured on a popular start-up website ProductHunt, which was insanely helpful for getting the number out there. We saw a ton of demand on the consumer side, so I started meeting with brokers, property management firms and move-in companies, and they were super interested in getting involved. That’s when we knew we couldn’t keep manually responding and we had to actually build something. Now the conversation is automated…think Siri but for text message. We have a big team of friends and friends of friends who are volunteering their time to get this to the next stage. Things are moving very quickly…it’s been a crazy 2 months!

The Rental Girl: A crazy but exciting month indeed! Tell us a little more about your background? Do you have any previous experience in real estate?

Daniel: Well I was born in Paris, but moved to New York at the age of one so I was basically a Parisian souvenir. I just graduated from Stony Brook University in Long Island last year, class of 2014, and I actually studied Business and Chemistry. While I was in school I worked at a few health tech startups and at a Venture Capital firm in San Francisco—so my background is not in real estate per-say. I’m thankful that we have two really great real estate brokers and real estate advisors on our team who are a major help to Riley. But I really think when we talk about real estate tech—there are a lot of archaic systems in place and it seems brokers and landlords, etc aren’t so receptive to change because the ROI isn’t that clear. With Riley, we really believe that the ROI could not get clearer. We increase conversion rates for realtors and save them time through a medium that they already actively use, text-messaging.

The Rental Girl: That’s a really interesting way of looking at it. Any recent news or updates for Riley during this preliminary launch?

Daniel: Yes, actually just this morning we released the ability for realtors to claim zip codes! So for example, let’s say you’re a realtor in the Westwood area, you can claim that zip code and all the leads that we get in that zip code will go directly to you. The ultimate goal is to increase conversion rates for brokers, and I think one of the added benefits with using Riley is that we take care of those preliminary questions realtors constantly have to ask. Are you a first-time homeowner? Do you have an agent already? Do you have a co-signer? All of these questions take up time, so we ask them for the broker, and then only send the broker leads who have answered these questions and are serious about the property. So realtors are really excited about that new feature!

The Rental Girl: Wow, that’s exciting stuff! One final question: what does the future look like for Riley? What are your biggest hopes for the company?

Daniel: My biggest hope for Riley is to be the #1 Phone Number for all things real estate. Whether you need a hostel, a rental, a sublet, a mover, a handyman—if it’s any service you need related to your home, we want to be that number. Riley is a new way to begin your home search, and we’re starting with real estate—particular with rentals and sales. Text is ubiquitous, it has international application, and we’re getting really interesting data. I think a personal assistant for real estate via text-message is going to happen in the future, and I think it’s going to be Riley!

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The future looks bright for Riley! It was great getting the opportunity to talk to Daniel and learn about the beginnings of this exciting new start-up. If they’ve achieved this much in a mere 2 months, what will they achieve in the next 2 years? We think Riley has the potential to revolutionize the way we do real estate!

Now we couldn’t do all this talking without giving the service a try for ourselves. We texted Riley and were super impressed by the speed in response, friendly personality, and the multiple listing options provided. Here’s the text conversation below…

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As simple as that! If you want to give Riley a try and experience one of the newest technologies in real estate, click here!

Happy Hunting,

The Rental Girl

therentalgirl.com

Why Rent When You Can Buy?

Buying a home is on average 38% cheaper than renting in America’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, according to a recent study by Trulia. In Los Angeles as reported by the LA Times, a study by RealtyTrac that looked at prices for 2013′s fourth quarter, found renting to be cheaper here by about $100/month. But that doesn’t necessarily take into account the tax benefits of home ownership, the peace of mind of the permanence of owning a home, the investment aspect, etc.

Should you bite the bullet and shell out for a home of your own? There’s a lot to consider when it comes to home ownership, but for starters, take a look at this handy dandy rent vs. buy calculator from Trulia which allows you to compare the cost of renting and buying based on various factors like your location, ideal rent, and tax/mortgage rate.

4849 San Rafael Ave in Mount Washington

Fabulous artist retreat in Mt. Washington! Nestled into the hillside, this 1924 craftsman home is on a corner lot, is surrounded by greenery, and boasts vista views of San Gabriel Mountains and beyond. Walls of over-sized windows allow natural light to pour in every room. From the formal light filled entry, take the stairs down to the large permitted recreation room with white walls and plenty of windows – perfect for a home office, studio or playroom. Upstairs on the main level is a spacious open living/dining room with wood burning fireplace. The eat-in kitchen and laundry room open out to the private back yard with a multi-tiered deck, perfect for sunbathing, entertaining or relaxing. Outdoors features a drought-tolerant native garden, which provides food and shelter for butterflies and birds, minimizes water use, and adds color fragrance, and seasonal interest. Detached single car garage and plenty of driveway parking. . – See more at: http://www.4849sanrafael.com

 

4849 San Rafael Ave, Los Angeles 90042

2BD + rec room/1.5BA

Approx SF: 1,600

Price: $549,000

Listing by Elizabeth McDonald, TRG Realty.