February 10, 2014 on 8:32 am | In Fascinating Information | 1 Comment

by Jodi Summers

Don’t you just hate driving around downtown Santa Monica looking for parking? A new automated garage, the kind of the future, is now being tried in Santa Monica. The “West Coast’s first automated parking garage” is moving cars around the UCLA Santa Monica Outpatient Surgery Center. Drivers can leave their cars at six bays, where a movable platform takes the car to a crane. The 8,000-pound crane then lowers the car onto one of six levels. Employees swipe their driver’s license or a badge to retrieve their cars, while the public will use a credit or debit card (the garage will open to the public when all the kinks are worked out). Usually the cars can be retrieved in two minutes and people seem happy with the system. “It breaks down sometimes, but when it’s working it’s really great,” according to one nurse.

One of the best aspects of the robot garages, other than never losing your vehicle or dealing with break-ins, is they hold more cars than a typical garage and can be built smaller.  West Hollywood and Chinatown both have automated parking garages in the works.



January 15, 2014 on 8:59 pm | In Fascinating Information, Green, Problem Solving, Recycling, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

by Jodi Summers

The City of Santa Monica seems to get a lot of money for a lot of prototype projects.

Thanks to a grant from CalRecycle’s Tire Derived Product program, more than 5,000 tires were diverted from landfills, incineration and illegal dumping and used to create innovative products that facilitate life in Santa Monica.

By recycling tires into crumb rubber, the City of Santa Monica’s Resource Recovery & Recycling Division (RRR) has inspired the Boardwalk to the Sea. 298 rubberized planks were recently installed on the beach north of the Santa Monica Pier as an extension to the existing wooden boardwalk. The Boardwalk to the Sea offers individuals with disabilities (ADA) access to the sea at high tide.

Recently, rubber bumpers were installed in trash enclosures to alleviate damage to walls and doors when pushing and pulling trash, recycling and food waste bins to the trucks for collection.  It’s estimated approximately 2,500 passenger tire equivalents were reused for the purpose of quieting bin enclosures, diverted them from the landfill.

Another innovation, curb ramps, facilitate city staff in the pushing and pulling or recycling, trash and food waste bins. Designed to fit snugly in the curb gutters, these ramps allow employees to easily maneuver the very heavy dumpsters off of the curbs to the collection trucks. These rubber ramps, made from approximately 440 tires, are stored in the collection vehicles. As a result, injuries to employees have lessened when using this tire derived product.

L.A. County has partnered with CalRecycle in using scrap tires in roadway rehabilitation projects. Scrap tires could be used to make rubberized asphalt concrete and slurry for use on road maintenance and resurfacing projects. It has many advantages and benefits over regular asphalt concrete. The County uses it in many of its street rehabilitation projects and chances are you have driven on rubberized asphalt concrete.

In Los Angeles County, approximately 10 million waste tires are generated annually.




January 1, 2014 on 10:41 pm | In Fascinating Information, For Your Purchasing Pleasure, Market Snapshot, Market Trends, Of Local Importance, Sellers, Statistics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

by Jodi Summers

Two+ years ago, Google ditched their digs in downtown Santa Monica and expanded into Venice. They took over the landmark binocular building on Main St., leasing 100,000 square feet in three buildings for hundreds of employees.

Other technology monsters and puppies followed, and our neighborhood took on the name Silicon Beach. From Microsoft’s new office at Playa Vista to the scores of start-up accelerator programs and incubator programs that followed, techies seem pleased to be away from aggressive Silicon Valley and settled on our peaceful Westside.

As the tech community swell in number, housing prices are climbing. The Los Angeles Times report that 25-year-old Snapchat co-founder Bobby Murphy recently bought a new two-bedroom house in Venice for $2.1 million, more than 25% higher than Venice median December home price of $1,600,000.

Our burgeoning tech community is inciting a Westside housing grab that has enabled landlords to push sky-high rents even higher and helped send home prices above their pre-recession highs.

“There are 8.5 million people on the planet; 8 million of them would like to live at Venice Beach,” notes decade-long resident Brian. “I’ve been living here for years, but since Google moved in, Venice has become the place.”

Here’s a curious statistic, as fabulously hot as Venice might be, between Dec-2012 vs. Dec-2013 the median
asking price of for sale properties dropped -8%. In December the median asking price for the 43 homes had fallen to $1,678,000, from a media price of $1,822,000 for 46 properties the year before. Meantime the median price
of sold properties is up 22% to $1,600,000 – with 23 properties sold. Expect asking prices to rise again in the spring.

Silicon Beach sister city Santa Monica is quite a different story. In 2013, the median sold price for a home in Santa Monica is down -37%. In December, 2012, the median sale price was $2,398,350 – with 25 homes sold, while December 2013 saw a 19 homes closing price of $1,510,000 – a drop of $888,350. Meantime, median asking prices have risen 16% to $ 2,440,000.

Condo prices for each beach were similar, with Santa Monica logging in a 9% increase to a median sale price of $720,000 and the minimal Venice condo seeing 11% growth to $ 1,082,500.

Combine property types and locations and Santa Monica and Venice sold prices were cumulatively up 15% for all property types.

Around the rest of town 2013 saw residential real estate prices rise Los Angeles by more than 20%.

For more information please contact Jodi Summers and the SoCal Investment Real Estate Group @ Sotheby’s International Realty – or 310.392.1211, and let us move forward together.



December 28, 2013 on 8:26 pm | In Buyers, Fascinating Information, Federal Government, fUNNY...mONEY, Lenders + Vendors, Market Trends, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

edited by Jodi Summers

Now that getting a loan has finally returned to a more comfortable process, the new Qualified Mortgage (QM) rules happening January 10, 2014 add a new twist to the lending game.

QM is a newly created set of restrictions on lending guidelines and the products that are available in the secondary market. For example, there will be no more:

- Interest Only

- Prepayment penalties

- Loan terms longer than 30 yrs

- Generally no debt ratios over 43%

“The effect of QM will be that many qualified borrowers will have more difficulty in obtaining financing,” reveals Caroline McPherson, Senior Mortgage Consultant @ RPM Mortgage.

Fitch Ratings believes that after the Qualified Mortgage rule goes into effect, it will help to protect investors and provide incentives to originators and issuers to maintain high-quality originations while upholding guideline compliance.

Borrowers are still able to apply for Non-QM loans. Most mortgage brokers will continue to offer Non-QM loans, including interest only, higher debt ratios and other unique programs.

The forthcoming ability-to-repay and qualified mortgage rule will have direct consequences for the primary and secondary mortgage markets. Experts say processes will need to be developed to satisfy secondary market participants, including loan aggregators and residential mortgage-backed securities investors.

For borrowers with a debt ratio is over 43%, solutions include paying down debt so that they can qualify under the new debt ratio guidelines. Another option is FHA Loans. Mortgages insured by the federal government will have somewhat looser restrictions.



December 15, 2013 on 5:15 pm | In Fascinating Information, fUNNY...mONEY, Uncategorized, WOW | 2 Comments

By Jodi Summers

While trolling through pages and pages of information and statistics, we came across this really cool graph of the top 1% of money earners vs. the average American > check it out….

Thanks to the Big Picture –

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