Area real estate experts say the seesaw stockmarket and bouncy consumer confidence stats have not affected the housing market here. They predict that the good times (for sellers) will continue to roll. Housing inventory and interest rates are at a low ebb; with so little on the market, multiple offers on desirable homes keep prices escalating. They’re not talking about McMansions, which take longer to sell, but about quality moderate-size homes in quality neighborhoods. In Pasadena’s leafy Linda Vista neighborhood, for example, there’s virtually nothing under $1 million, and even the smallest homes there can cost a few hundred thousand more than that. So it’s still a seller’s market, Realtors say, because there are so few properties to choose from and so many competitive offers. (For tax reform’s negative impact on housing prices, see page 13.)
Many hundreds of people have visited a meticuously upgraded midcentury modern house in Glendale’s Whiting Woods area, says Realtor Valerie Levitt Halsey of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. “We’re really in no hurry to sell,” she says. “We want everyone to get a chance to see it, and we’ve set a date on which all offers should be submitted.” Interest is exceptionally high in an area like this, she says, because so many buyers are seeking well-built family homes in the peaceful woodsy residential neighborhoods the area is noted for. In Whiting Woods, she says, the setting is bucolic, schools are good and homes rarely come on the market. “People tend to buy their forever homes there, and settle in for decades. It’s a big challenge under current market conditions, especially for those trying to set themselves up to get a good education for their kids. There’s so little to choose from, and so many more buyers than there are properties. And that keeps prices going up.”
Would-be buyers who already own a home and want to move to a bigger or smaller one face the trickiest situation, Realtors say. “It’s hard to figure out how to sell your current home and buy your next home successfully in this market,” Halsey says. “If you need the equity from selling your home in order to buy your next home, you have a problem. The great properties that people want are so competitive that if you haven’t sold your house yet, you can’t make an offer competitive enough to buy the new home. Someone else will snap it up. And if you sell your house before buying a new one, you have no idea how long it will take to find that right new home, and then make the winning bid. You’re faced with having to rent for an unknown amount of time. This is a problem we’ve been seeing and lots of us are talking about.”
While most top Arroyoland residential neighborhoods have remained architecturally intact thanks to Pasadena’s fervent preservation community, there are signs that is slowly changing — already massive homes are being enlarged or torn down and replaced with something even larger, introducing architectural styles that are anything but the hallowed traditional style of the neighborhood. An example is a newly constructed home in La Caňada Flintridge, which Rita Benelian, a Realtor with Keller Williams’ West Hollywood office, calls “an entertainer’s dream home,” with one level that’s an extraordinary “man cave” that would have suited the Rat Pack. The upper levels are traditional in design, the kind of home you might find in Beverly Hills or Doheny Estates, she says. But “it would be about $20 million if it were on the Westside,” she adds. Because it’s in La Caňada, it’s what she calls a real bargain.
Condominiums with spacious open floor plans are having a heyday in Arroyoland, Realtors say, not just because prices can be more affordable, but also because increasing numbers of people are deciding to embrace the freer lifestyle that comes with owning a condo. Realtor Ryan Sarkissian, with Compass Pasadena, says that much the same situation exists for condos as for private homes. “There’s not a lot on the market now in an affordable price range, in good condition and that has a nice, spacious layout,” he notes. “Prices are escalating for condos, because so many buyers have so little to choose from.” And when something good comes on the market, he notes, the bidding competition will be stiff, the price will go up and it will go fast.
Following is a sampling of what you can get for your money:
What you get for…
1127 E. Del Mar Blvd., #334
2 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1,283 square feet
This light-filled corner condo is on the building’s top floor. It has an open floor plan, a fireplace and a balcony. Windows are dual pane and energy-efficient, and the common areas of the entire Casa Pasadena complex are being updated with new landscaping and hardscaping. The complex has a clubhouse, pool, spa and gym. Pets are permitted with some restrictions on dog size. This condo was listed at $540,000 but went under contract for $585,000, as Arroyo went to press.