Posted by: Tanya Starcevich | June 3, 2016

How Crowdfunding has Made Flipping Houses a lot Easier

How crowdfunding has made flipping houses a lot easier

David Berneman isn’t developing an app. His company isn’t venture backed. In fact, his business is about as low-tech as it gets: He buys houses, fixes them up and flips them.

But he too is funded by the crowd.

Berneman’s family business, Golden Bee Properties, borrowed $1 million to buy a West Los Angeles home that he plans to renovate and expand before putting it back on the market. The money didn’t come from a bank but from 44 small investors, some of whom put in as little as $5,000.

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Berneman and his backers came together through crowdfunding, which enables businesses to publicly solicit investment from individual investors online.

“It’s like a Kickstarter for the real estate industry,” Berneman said. “It allows people to get into real estate investing in a way they wouldn’t have been able to before.”

Although crowdfunding is closely associated with tech start-ups, the practice has found a niche in real estate and in house flipping in particular.

Between September 2013, when equity crowdfunding was first permitted under new Security and Exchange Commission rules, and September of last year, investors pumped $870 million into crowdfunding platforms tracked by New York data provider Crowdnetic. Nearly a quarter of that amount, $208 million, went into real estate projects.

That’s more than biotech, alternative energy, tech wearables, online gaming and social media start-ups combined.

Although data providers don’t track the number or dollar-volume of loans going to house flippers as opposed to developers of larger projects, more than a dozen real-estate-focused platforms offer loans to them. And a handful of Southern California start-ups specialize in the market.

Patch of Land in West Los Angeles made about $61 million in loans last year, mostly to house flippers, and PeerStreet in Manhattan Beach made $40 million, almost entirely to them.

“There’s a crowdfunder popping up once a month now, and the low-hanging fruit is the fix and flips,” said Jonathan Lee, a principal at George Smith Partners, a Century City real-estate-financing firm.

Entrepreneurs behind the financing platforms find house flipping attractive because banks don’t participate and there are no big, established players.

Traditional mortgage lenders want to know a borrower’s individual credit history and income, and probably wouldn’t allow a borrower to have loans outstanding on half a dozen properties at once, not an uncommon practice among flippers.

That has forced most house flippers to rely on a hodgepodge of small private lenders, wealthy investors or friends and family for capital. Today’s crowdfunding platforms enable flippers to tap into a much larger investor network. The platforms are open to accredited investors, who have to make more than $200,000 annually or have a net worth of at least $1 million.

“It’s an industry that’s been relying on knowing a guy who knows a guy. It’s ridiculously inefficient,” Jason Fritton, chief executive of Patch of Land, said about financing for house flipping.

And while house flipping might lack the cachet of tech, it’s a relatively safe bet compared with the risky world of start-ups, said Eric Smith, director of data analytics for Crowdnetic.

“Real estate is a tangible asset,” he said. “It’s not like you’re going out there trying to buy into the next Facebook.”

Flippers traditionally are financed by “hard money,” or short-term loans with double-digit interest rates that are secured by a hard or tangible asset, in this case real estate.

Like hard-money lenders, crowdfunding platforms guard against risk by securing the loans to the property and lending for less than its full value.

If a borrower goes bust, the lender takes title to the property, which, in theory, can be sold for more than the loan principal. PeerStreet, for instance, typically will lend only about 75% of a home’s value.

“They don’t look at income or tax returns. They’re looking at the property and the project. Is there profit to be made?” said Christian Fuentes, a Pomona real estate agent and house flipper.

For investors, the steep interest rates — ranging from 8% to 13% on an annualized basis — translate into attractive yields.

“It’s just not the kind of loan a bank can make, so the interest rate is higher,” said Brew Johnson, chief executive and co-founder of PeerStreet. “[But] when done correctly and lent to good borrowers, it’s a great loan.”

The platforms also provide quick and relatively easy money.

Berneman and Golden Bee have been flipping houses since 2002 and used to finance projects by tapping into a Rolodex of about 30 wealthy contacts. Each investor would have to be convinced that it was a good idea to go in on a deal.

“If you have to go to a dentist or a family doctor to get an investment, it can be time consuming,” he said. “Hemming and hawing can cost us a deal.”

Berneman likes the speed that crowdfunding platforms promise.

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Patch of Land can issue a check in just a couple of weeks, assuming that a loan meets its underwriting standards. The loan is then offered up to the 17,000 investors signed up on its site.

Golden Bee in November bought a two-bedroom house on Greenfield Avenue in West L.A., not far from the Westside Pavilion. The company paid about $1.2 million, with $1 million coming from Patch of Land at an annual interest rate of 12%.

Berneman is planning a $750,000 renovation that will add more than 1,500 square feet of space, along with new plumbing and wiring. He estimates that the house, built in the 1930s, hasn’t been renovated in 50 years.

“We’ll be knocking some of it down to the studs,” he said.

Berneman hopes to sell the house for as much as $2.5 million once it’s back on the market this fall. Golden Bee would stand to make $575,000, not including the cost of financing.

Searching for investors willing to put their cash into house-flipping projects is also time-consuming for the small hard-money firms that have traditionally lent to flippers, many of which rely on the same type of wealthy investors.

Just like flippers, those lenders are turning to crowdfunding platforms.

Until it started working with PeerStreet, Costa Mesa hard-money lender Golden Capital sold its loans to a small group of rich investors, all of them worth at least $5 million, said James Golden, one of Golden Capital’s owners.

“There’s millions of people out there who have $10,000,” he said. “But there aren’t that many who have $5 million.”

Over the summer, Golden Capital lent $233,000 to Fuentes, the real estate agent, to buy a bungalow on Meserve Street in Pomona. Golden kept some of the loan but sold most of it — $194,000 — to 25 investors on PeerStreet.

For Fuentes, it was a pricey loan, carrying a 10% annual interest rate and $7,000 in loan origination fees.

Still, he came out ahead. After four months of work spent on about $25,000 in renovations — including painting, landscaping and new kitchen cabinets — he sold the house for $339,000. He cleared nearly $40,000.

The interest that Fuentes paid was spread around: 1 percentage point each went to PeerStreet and Golden Capital, and 8 percentage points to investors — an attractive yield compared with many other investments.

So far, though, the crowdfunding platforms haven’t proved as popular in other parts of the real estate market, including for commercial projects needing millions of dollars.

Downtown L.A. development group Rising Realty Partners, which has a portfolio of large office properties, is an investor in Fundrise, a Washington, D.C., real estate crowdfunding platform.

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FOR THE RECORD

12:17 p.m.: An earlier version of this article called Fundrise a New York real estate crowdfunding platform. It is based in Washington.

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Even so, Chris Rising, president of the development group, said he hasn’t raised any money for projects through the site, given the rates of return demanded by small investors.

“We just did a deal in Burbank,” he said. “I wanted to give Fundrise the business, but it was just expensive money.”

Whether real estate crowdfunding remains popular with investors is hard to predict. It has existed for only about two years. And during that time, residential and commercial real estate prices have been heading in one direction: up.

The acid test will be seeing if such loan terms help the crowdfunding platforms weather a sharp housing market downturn.

“Eventually, somebody’s going to have losses,” Patch of Land’s Fritton acknowledged.

james.koren@latimes.com

 

 

Posted by: Tanya Starcevich | May 20, 2016

Tips for Lowering Your Property Taxes

Tips for Lowering your Property Taxes

Yep, we get it.  Rising values means property taxes are on the rise as well.  In the short term, rising property taxes aren’t terribly painful, maybe a few hundred dollars?? However,   over time you could spend several thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your home ownership. Here are some practical things you can do to help dispute your Property Tax Values.
1. Review your Assessment –  If recent sales in your neighborhood look to be equal or higher than your current property value, you should probably stop reading and be glad your value is lower than it should be.  If your value is higher than you think it should be, continue reading for suggestions to help with your local tax authority. If you require help assessing the value of your home visit my website at http://www.tanyashouses.com
2. Los Angeles County Assessor’s website: http://www.lacountypropertytax.com
3. Look up your neighbor’s home value and see if it compares to your home. Sometimes your home has been raised in value when your neighbors have not. If this is the case, we have seen people protest in the past by simply bringing in the values of the other homes on their street.
4. Take pictures of things you still need to update in the home to help justify your value.
5. Bring extra copies of what you are presenting to the assessor and realize that it’s always better to protest in person rather than online.
If you have specific questions regarding your own Property Value, you can always reach out for help to:
Tanya Starcevich, member of Malibu Association of Realtors (310) 739-4216
Written by Seychelle Van Poole on May 9, 2016

Posted by: Tanya Starcevich | May 17, 2016

Why Should You Buy a Home in 2016?

6 Stellar Reasons to Buy a Home in 2016

By
Kimberly Dawn Neumann

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Photos: papparaffie/iStock

Is it really 2016 already? For those of you who happen to be planning on buying a home this year—or even just trying to—there’s a whole lot to celebrate. Why? A variety of financial vectors have dovetailed to make this the perfect storm for home buyers to get out there and make an (winning) offer.

Here are six home-buying reasons to be thankful in 2016!

Reason No. 1: Interest rates are still at record lows

Even though they may creep up at any moment, it’s nonetheless a fact that interest rates on home loans are at historic lows, with a 30-year fixed-rate home loan still hovering around 4%.

“Remember 18.5% in the ’80s?” asks Tom Postilio, a real estate broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate and a star of HGTV’s “Selling New York.”“It is likely that we’ll never see interest rates this low again. So while prices are high in some markets, the savings in interest payments could easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage.”

Reason No. 2: Rents have skyrocketed

Another reason home buyers are lucky is that rents are going up, up, up! (This, on the other hand, is a reason not to be thankful if you’re a renter.) In fact, rents outpaced home values in 20 of the 35 biggest housing markets in 2015. What’s more, according to the 2015 Rent.com Rental Market Report, 88% of property managers raised their rent in the past 12 months, and an 8% hike is predicted for 2016.

“In most metropolitan cities, monthly rent is comparable to that of a monthly mortgage payment, sometimes more,” says Heather Garriock, mortgage agent for The Mortgage Group. “Doesn’t it make more sense to put those monthly chunks of money into your own appreciating asset rather than handing it over to your landlord and saying goodbye to it forever?”

Reason No. 3: Home prices are stabilizing

For the first time in years, prices that have been climbing steadily upward are stabilizing, restoring a level playing field that helps buyers drive a harder bargain with sellers, even in heated markets.

“Local markets vary, but generally we are experiencing a cooling period,” says Postilio. “At this moment, buyers have the opportunity to capitalize on this.”

Reason No. 4: Down payments don’t need to break the bank

Probably the biggest obstacle that prevents renters from becoming homeowners is pulling together a down payment. But today, that chunk of change can be smaller, thanks to a variety of programs to help home buyers. For instance, the new Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage Program allows for a 3% down payment for credit scores as low as 620.

Reason No. 5: Mortgage insurance is a deal, too

If you do decide to put less than 20% down on a home, you are then required to have mortgage insurance (basically in case you default). A workaround to handle this, however, is to take out a loan from the Federal Housing Administration—a government mortgage insurer that backs loans with down payments as low as 3.5% and credit scores as low as 580. The fees are way down from 1.35% to 0.85% of the mortgage balance, meaning your monthly mortgage total will be significantly lower if you fund it this way. In fact, the FHA predicts this 37% annual premium cut will bring 250,000 first-time buyers into the market. Why not be one of them?

Reason No. 6: You’ll reap major tax breaks

Tax laws continue to favor homeowners, so you’re not just buying a place to live—you’re getting a tax break! The biggest one is that unless your home loan is more than $1 million, you can deduct all the monthly interest you are paying on that loan. Homeowners may also deduct certain home-related expenses and home property taxes
7 More Reasons to Own A Home

Tax benefits. The U.S. Tax Code lets you deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage, your property taxes, and some of the costs involved in buying a home.

Appreciation. Historically, real estate has had a long-term, stable growth in value. In fact, median single-family existing-home sale prices have increased on average 5.2 percent each year from 1972 through 2014, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. The recent housing crisis has caused some to question the long-term value of real estate, but even in the most recent 10 years, which included quite a few very bad years for housing, values are still up 7.0 percent on a cumulative basis. In addition, the number of U.S. households is expected to rise 10 to15 percent over the next decade, creating continued high demand for housing.

Equity. Money paid for rent is money that you’ll never see again, but mortgage payments let you build equity ownership interest in your home.

Savings. Building equity in your home is a ready-made savings plan. And when you sell, you can generally take up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple) as gain without owing any federal income tax.

Predictability. Unlike rent, your fixed-rate mortgage payments don’t rise over the years so your housing costs may actually decline as you own the home longer. However, keep in mind that property taxes and insurance costs will likely increase.

Freedom. The home is yours. You can decorate any way you want and choose the types of upgrades and new amenities that appeal to your lifestyle.

Stability. Remaining in one neighborhood for several years allows you and your family time to build long-lasting relationships within the community. It also offers children the benefit of educational and social continuity.

Posted by: Tanya Starcevich | April 24, 2016

Topanga Days 2016

Topanga Days Country Faire runs May 28th, 29th and 30th and has been running for  over 40 years; and I remember my first event in the late 1970’s with Robin Williams as our Grand Marshall during the parade!

The crowd of thousands comes from all over to hear the music and join in the festivities.  This year we will have booths, gourmet food, vendors, Topanga Historical Society, Topanga Chamber of Commerce and there are many volunteer opportunities.

Check out the Topanga Days website for dates, lineups, booth sales and ticket sales each year. The music, the booths, gourmet food trucks and good people meld together to make this an event not to be missed!

You can also vistit our local site for more info:  ONETOPANGA

Posted by: Tanya Starcevich | December 5, 2014

Topanga Snow Day & Holiday Pot Luck December 20th – Pine Tree Circle

SAT DEC 20

Topanga Snow Day & Holiday Pot-luck, Pine Tree Circle

Bundle up and bring your kids, sleds and flying saucers or cardboard boxes to slide down the hill on Snow Night

Come one – Come All!

Posted by: Tanya Starcevich | October 21, 2014

TOPANGA FOLK FESTIVAL Oct 26th

Topanga Folk Fest!

 

Anam Cara and Label27 are proud to present the Topanga Folk Fest. This exciting cultural heritage and benefit concert is set to take place October 26 on the beautiful grounds of the Topanga Community Club in Topanga Canyon, California, conveniently located 6 miles from the PCH and 6 miles from the 101 freeway. This annual event is a fundraiser for Gabriel’s House at Anam Cara, a non-profit end-of-life compassionate care home that provides a nurturing environment to ease the end-of-life transition by attending to the mind, body and spirit of an individual and their loved ones. Apart from being a fundraiser, and a fun-filled family event, Topanga Folk Fest will also serve as a cultural heritage project, celebrating the folk arts and artists of the region.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Tanya Starcevich | September 18, 2014

Woodie Guthrie Show – Topanga

Saturday, Sep 20th 2014 ~ The Woody Guthrie Show

Visit http://www.theatricum.com for tickets

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Tanya Starcevich | August 17, 2014

Theatricum Botanicum is in Full Bloom! Enjoy a night under the stars!

Click here to visit website

LEAR

“CRITIC’s CHOICE… Geer’s title role performance [rivals] the best male interpreters in intensity and heartbreak… Her harrowing storm scene traversing the front and rear of the venue is a high point in the staging’s spectacular use of its outdoor canyon environs.” — Los Angeles TimesFull Review Here“A revitalized statement on female authority, oedipal succor and the tragedy of enlightenment… the layers create a new tragedy as it plays out with subtle alterations…  a 360 degree swivel in your seat, visually entertaining ride… Ellen Geer at her best… King Lear is dead. Long live the Queen!”  — Eye Spy LAFull Review Here

“Striking.. Ellen Geer is formidable… the natural elements create an imposing presence in the usually peaceful glen.” — Shakespeare In LA
Full Review Here“BRILLIANT… In a society which is inching ever closer to race, religious and gender equality, not to mention equal pay for equal work, a female Lear just makes sense…this “Lear” stays true to the playwright’s intention, motivation and language mainly by staying true to itself… touch[es] on the human condition like a rainbow touches air.” – NoHoArtsDistrict.comFull Review Here“ENTHRALLING. the great performances heightened by the beauty of the venue… the gender reversal…  makes this production fresh and interesting, ”– Examiner.comFull Review Here

“Extraordinary… works brilliantly!…Theatricum’s production takes risks, yet stays within the bounds of Shakespeare’s original work. The theater, set outside in a wooded alcove, is spectacular.” — La La Scoop
Full Review Here

“STUNNING… intriguing, funny and ultimately, heartbreaking… A must-see!” –Topanga MessengerFull Review Here

“Extraordinary… inspired… a theatrical version of Cinerama — and it’s all in 3-D and living color! Lear’s madness scene on a rooftop is stunningly staged and there is plenty of swordplay onstage and gamboling through the woods” — Hollywood Progressive
Full Review Here

“A truly thrilling theater experience… this gender-reversed production is a feast for the body and soul… the entire cast is terrific!” — Reviewplays.comFull Review Here

 

“A must see… I found myself shaking my head in awe of how well it worked, this risk of shifting genders… the acting is superb. Ellen Geer gives an exceptional performance as Queen Lear.… come prepared for a lovely evening of theatre, woods, food, and fun!” —Life In LAFull Review Here

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

CRITIC’S CHOICE… upends preconceptions and provokes thought… centered by a never-better Willow Geer, whose supremely lucid Helena is an eloquent, self-actualized heroine for any era…“All’s Well” may not be a flawless work, but it nonetheless ends well here.” — Los Angeles TimesFull Review Here
“Magical!… a rarely performed work of the Bard’s that you may not have already seen a dozen times” —‘Will Call for Theaterfull review here
The perfect summer outing or date-night theater event… All’s Well is packed full of delightful one-liners and memorable quotes… The physical comedy makes this play soar…diverse casting lends a marvelous cultural depth and honesty” —Topanga MessengerFull Review Here“RECOMMENDED…a fun show.. It’s quick, slick, and provides a great opportunity to see one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays with a fine cast, a unique venue and to enjoy more than a few laughs along the way.” — Stage RawFull Review Here

Much Ado About Nothing

“A rollicking good time” — Los Angeles Times
full review here
“The story comes to life anew under the stars and sycamore trees…. convincing, compelling, funny.” — Life In LAfull review here 
“A standing ovation from the Theatricum Botanicum crowd, as they were treated to a sublime performance.” –  Living Out Loud Los Angelesfull review here
“Romantic and witty… harmoniously delivered… a wonderful evening under the stars.” — LA Splashfull review here
“Theatricum Botanicum has once again delivered a terrific bit of theater… [a] gem… I wholeheartedly recommend this production. — Stage Happeningsfull review here
“INCREDIBLY SATISFYING… impossible not to smile throughout.” — Mommy Blog Expertfull review here

 

2014 Season Productions

 

REVIEWS 2013The Taming of the ShrewLos Angeles Times “Critics Pick”Edge Los AngelesShakespeare in LASplash Magazine Los Angelesexaminer.comanother review form the examiner

“CRITIC’S CHOICE! This rip-roaring take on William Shakespeare’s ever-popular romantic comedy opens the 40th anniversary season at this incomparable outdoor venue with marvelous forward momentum… [a] riotous, delightfully fun-filled romp.” — Los Angeles Times

FIVE STARS! every aspect of this production is remarkable… wild and perfect.” – L.A. Performing Arts Examiner

Boisterous, bawdy and big fun, Theatricum’s ‘Shrew’ is a must see” — LA Theater Examiner

“A brilliant production full of mirth, mischief and above all love…  Theatricum Botanicum delivers in a big way.” — Culver City News

“A gleeful production … This beautiful theater hidden away in the hills of Topanga and its skilled cast breathe new life into this old story.” — EDGE

“Organized mayhem… [a] naughty, bawdy, rowdy farce.” — LA Progressive

“A wonderful rowdy comedy Shakespeare at its best in the fairytale setting of Topanga Canyon” — LA Splash

“FUNNY! Geer’s screams of frustration are believable… Gerald C. Rivers is hilarious as Christopher Sly.” – Examiner.com

“Delightful… A fast-paced comedy that charms and delights the audience the perfect date play for -summer” – Topanga Messenger

“Fast-paced- and acrobatic, with enough music, movement, and silly sound effects to keep whole families entertained from start to finish… the rustic, idyllic setting can convert the pickiest picnickers to fans of the bard..” – LA Mommy Poppins

 

Posted by: Tanya Starcevich | July 23, 2014

Hippie Chic Topanga Canyon!

http://www.tanyashouses.com

A recent article in W Magazine says it all:

California Dreamy
A new generation of crunchy creatives has moved into L.A.’s perennially hippie-chic Topanga Canyon.
June 25, 2014 9:00 AM | by Susan Morgan
As you drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica, the shoreline curves around the bay and the mountains tip downward into the sea. Five miles past the city’s amusement pier, with its carousel and neon Ferris wheel, other emblems of Southern California start to appear: the Getty villa—a model of an ancient Roman country house—crowns an oceanfront cliff; and the Malibu Feed Bin, a rustic red barn selling chicken feed and livestock sundries, hunkers down at the mouth of Topanga Canyon. Turn right here.
The village of Topanga (population 8,289) has long functioned as Los Angeles’s bohemian Brigadoon. Surrounded by Topanga State Park, the largest wilderness area within a city limit in the United States, it’s accessible by just one route: Topanga Canyon Boulevard passes through chaparral-covered hills and steep outcrops of rock, winding along for 12 miles from the ocean to the San Fernando Valley. Since the early 20th century, a scattering of businesses—a rotation of general stores, taverns, spiritual centers, community galleries, and cozy cafes—have come and gone along this main drag. Perhaps emblematic of the latest wave of creatives: The old Bruno’s Dead Dog Saloon—a biker bar nicknamed the Stop and Fight—was recently transformed into Topanga Fresh Market, featuring organic, locavore fare and pressed juice. But some things don’t change. The Inn of the Seventh Ray, a terraced creekside restaurant that opened in 1973 touting “angelic vibrations,” is still festooned with fairy lights and continues to rate as a romantic destination—celebrity trackers report Leonardo DiCaprio, Channing Tatum, and Fergie as regulars. The French-born Museum of Contemporary Art director, Philippe Vergne, and the curator Sylvia Chivaratanond, who are the L.A. art world’s It couple du jour, were married there.
“When you turn off PCH and head up into the canyon, all you can see are those beautiful cliffs and trees,” says the filmmaker Alexander Payne. “You roll down the windows, smell the smells, and I think your blood pressure lowers about five points.” Since 2005, Payne, a devoted Nebraskan, has been dividing his time between a condo in downtown Omaha and a 1930s Topanga retreat boasting fruit trees, live oaks, and spectacular mountain views. “In the little city, I live as though I live in the big city,” he points out. “And in the big city, I live as though I live in the country.” The Topanga commercial attractions do have that down-home feel. Locals dig in to the breakfast special on the porch at Pat’s Topanga Grill, sip margaritas at Abuelitas Mexican Restaurant, and buy black radishes and fig yogurt at the farmers’ market on Fridays. But at the same time, one has the opportunity to practice yoga alongside models like Angela Lindvall and Sibyl Buck.
The artist and filmmaker Meredith Danluck and her husband, Jake Burghart, the director of photography for Vice Media, spent six years shuttling between New York and L.A. before happily settling in Topanga four years ago. “We both surf, so being five minutes away from the ocean has been amazing,” Danluck says. “The air here has its own story. Every day it’s something different: citrus blossoms, fireplaces, night-blooming jasmine. And I love watching the Pacific fog roll into the canyon like a slow white river.”
Topanga’s artistic roots date back at least as far as the McCarthy era, when Will Geer—a blacklisted actor and trained botanist—fled Hollywood and bought a parcel of canyon land. With his family, he established a large, working garden and an open-air theater, where Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott performed. In the ’70s, when Geer gained new fame on the hit TV show The Waltons as Grandpa and his children had grown up to be actors, the family created Theatricum Botanicum, now a venerable woodland venue for performances and workshops.
George Herms, a peripatetic beatnik who infuses visual art with a free-flowing jazz sensibility, arrived in Topanga in 1965 for an eight-year sojourn. “It was a creative community unlike anyplace I’d been a part of before—or since,” he says of his circle, which included the late Wallace Berman, one of the West Coast’s most enigmatic and influential artists; and former child actors Dean Stockwell, Billy Gray, and Russ Tamblyn. The artist Peter Alexander arrived a few years later, in 1970. He was living in downtown Los Angeles when land at the top of Tuna Canyon—located on the Malibu edge of Topanga, with a view straight out to the ocean—became available. He and his then wife, the painter Clytie Alexander, and their two small daughters camped out there, planted a garden, and eventually built a house out of timber scavenged from a demolished Union Pacific Railroad building. From their ridgeline, there was only one other inhabited place in sight: Sandstone Retreat, a nudist colony. “We could see little pink things running back and forth,” Alexander remembers. “But what was vivid was a particular sound wave that penetrated the canyon: ice rattling in cocktail glasses.”
Music has long reverberated through the canyon. Although the Topanga Corral, a roadhouse on Horseshoe Bend, burned to the ground in 1988, its musical history has grown mythic. In the hippie heyday, the local band Canned Heat pounded out their anthem “Going Up the Country” there; Neil Young, having left Buffalo Springfield to go solo, played; and Taj Mahal delivered the blues. “I remember my dad going to hear the Flying Burrito Brothers in ’68 or ’69,” recalls Wallace Berman’s son Tosh, a writer, who spent a chunk of his childhood in Topanga. “The only people in the audience were my dad and the Rolling Stones.” The musician Jennifer Pearl, of the noirishly psychedelic L.A. band VUM, says that she and her partner in love and music, Christopher Badger, “were magnetically attracted to Topanga’s ethereal forests, musical history, and strange, burnout-’60s-misfit culture.” In 2011, Pearl and Badger emigrated there from L.A.’s Eastside and settled into an apartment that had been the recording studio where Neil Young wrote and produced his 1970 LP After the Gold Rush. Embracing “a hideout, hermit lifestyle,” the couple wrote Laura Palmer/Are You Animal?—an album produced by their own label, Secret Lodge Recordings.
It’s not hard to understand what draws so many artists to Topanga: wild, wide-open spaces; enforced solitude; and an atmosphere that teeters between insular and inspiring. Perhaps the most dramatic creative compound belongs to the artists Chris Burden and Nancy Rubins, who bought a tract of land atop a mesa in 1981 and, over the years, have acquired an 80-acre spread made up of a modest house, capacious studio buildings, and a vast collection of airplane parts, vehicles, and architectural salvage that they use to create their sculptures and installations. Three years ago, the artist Sam Falls and his wife, Erin, a director at Hannah Hoffman Gallery, in Los Angeles, landed in Topanga after moving from New York. For Falls, whose process-based work often employs natural elements—rainfall, river water, sunlight—the prospect of working outdoors was a big appeal. The couple soon recruited their friend and former housemate, the artist Joe Zorrilla, who found a tiny cabin on a large property nearby. Zorrilla, who maintains a Mid-City studio, now has what he calls an “outdoor office”—a table where he sits to draw and read. “When I left New York, I wanted to slow things down,” he says. “In the canyon, there are things you couldn’t change even if you wanted to—there’s only one way in and one way out.”
Living within one’s own vision of paradise, Payne says, is central to the Topanga vibe. “Each house in the canyon is an entirely different universe,” he observes. “The only thing that unites them is a sense of creativity, of having your house reflect you in some way. I think that people who live in Topanga have two attitudes going on. One being, I love to be part of a community like this. And the other being, leave me the hell alone.”
SEE MORE Alexander Payne Angela Lindvall Art

Posted by: Tanya Starcevich | February 19, 2014

Warm Weather Home Searches Sizzle!

I am currently working with two buyers from the East Coast – both of whom are n the middle of the freezing winter and making the  move to Sunny CA!

The polar vortex, bringing record-breaking low temperatures to large swaths of the country, is prompting more house hunters to search for homes in warm-weather climates, according to a Trulia study based on home searches on the real estate site from Dec. 1 to Jan. 21.

With every 10-degree drop below 41 degrees Fahrenheit, Web home searches in metros with warmer climates rose 4.4 percent, and searches for homes in warm vacation spots surged 5.5 percent. The highest increase in searches were in the South and West.

Data from realtor.com® supported these findings. While cities like Chicago and Detroit — both facing polar grips this winter — remained in realtor.com®’s top 10 cities with the most home searches in December, their month-over-month searches declined 4.95 percent and 4.04 percent, respectively. Cities with warmer climates, such as Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, and Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando in Florida, rounded out the top 10 list. Other cities in Texas, Florida, and California saw increases of up to 1 percent in home searches in December.

The following metros from the Trulia study topped the list for home searches in that timeframe:

Miami: home searches rose 7.3% for every 10-degree drop in temperatures
Phoenix: +6.9%
Jacksonville, Fla.: +6.4%
Orange County, Calif.: + 6.4%
Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.: +6.3%
Sacramento, Calif.: +6.2%
New Orleans: +6.2%
Vacation areas — where vacation homes account for 25 percent of the housing stock — got the biggest boost in traffic as temperatures plunged. The vacation areas with the biggest increases in home-search traffic were along Florida’s coast, the study found.

Source: “Cold Spell Heats Up House Searches in Warm-Weather Markets,” The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 27, 2014)

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