Posted by: Tanya Starcevich | September 24, 2016

Why aren’t we building more mobile homes?

People in West Virginia accepted delivery of a little more than 1,000 mobile homes last year, according to census data. Over the same period, homebuilders obtained permits to build about 2,000 single-family homes. In other words, roughly1 one in three homes added to the state’s housing stock last year was a mobile home.

Surprised? That probably depends on how much money you make, what part of the country you live in, and how old you are. The average sales price of a new mobile home was $67,800 in April, compared with an average sales price of $380,000 for a site-built home. Three-quarters of mobile home residents have household incomes of less than $40,000. Mobile homes, which actually aren’t very mobile, are most highly concentrated in the South. More than 500,000 of them are in California, the most in the country, but in recent years new mobile home sales have made up a larger share of the housing market in Southern states, as the chart above shows.

Age matters because mobile home sales peaked in the mid-1990s, when the structures made up one in three new homes sold nationwide.2 Those hefty sales volumes were largely a product of loose lending practices, said Doug Ryan, director of affordable home ownership at the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a Washington-based nonprofit group. The loans started going bad—driving one major lender, a unit of the insurer Conseco, into bankruptcy—flooding the market with foreclosed mobile homes and limiting demand for new product.

That’s probably not the whole story. Mobile home shipments averaged out at around 250,000 a year throughout the 1980s, before the bubble inflated. Other reasons for declining sales include easier access to mortgages for site-built homes, an emerging wariness of mobile home loans on Wall Street, and the stigma attached to the product, which has been cycling through verbiage from “trailer homes” to the more current “mobile” or “manufactured” housing.

Why have mobile homes held on in some states? They tend to do well in rural areas, as well as in parts of the country where they have a longer track record, said Jenny Hodge, vice president of research at the Manufactured Home Institute, an industry trade group.

A better question may be whether the waning prominence of mobile homes is a good thing or a bad thing.

The mobile home industry has a controversial past, with a reputation for selling poor customers shoddy products andexpensive loans. In many cases, mobile home owners buy the structure they live in but lease the land on which it lies. There’s a cottage industry devoted to teaching investors to buy mobile home parks, who juice their profits by cutting operating costs and raising rents, Ryan said. Despite their name, modern mobile homes aren’t easy (or cheap) to move, leaving owners with little room to negotiate with their landlords.

The flip side is that mobile homes are cheap at a time when the home ownership rate is at a record low and a dwindling inventoryof starter homes is driving up prices for first-time buyers. While mobile homes often make the most sense in sparsely populated areas, there’s no reason they can’t be used to increase the stock of affordable housing in U.S. cities.

“You can put them anywhere you have the land,” Ryan said. “What you’re up against is the stigma. You’d have people coming to the planning meetings and saying that you’re killing their home value.”

Maybe it’s time for another rebrand. The homes vary in size and price, but they’re generally smaller than the typical site-built home. Instead of “mobile” or “manufactured,” why not borrow the name for another kind of often prefabricated abode: the tiny house.

Bloomberg News by Patrick Clark  Click here to see my listings


Posted by: Tanya Starcevich | September 19, 2016

Tech Savvy Homes

The latest gadgets and technology have home buyers intrigued – but are they embracing this new technology?

In working with luxury buyers and sellers the features that sell the most seem to be the simplest to operate.

Most buyers want advanced security systems, the 2nd most popular seems to be entertainment, then climate control and lastly lighting and energy efficiency.

The house that “wakes up” when you arrive home is comforting, and knowing that you are connected to your house from anywhere in the world adds peace of mind.   Home buyers marvel at the newest technology and enjoy features like built in vacuum systems that alert you when the bag is full, and light bulbs that last 15 years, and the smart smoke alarms that wake you up gently from sleep.

Connecting and checking on pets/kids when you aren’t home is also a most wanted feature but as I walk clients through the house they seem to appreciate the environmentally technical additions more.  Additions including sub zero fridge that removes mold and bacteria, air purification systems, climate control heating and air systems that learn personal habits and adjust accordingly and floors that heat our feet!

The stable tankless water heaters and self cleaning appliances are always welcomed, but the new self cleaning tile floors and water leak and mold sensors really draw attention!

Topanga and Malibu home owners prefer to live off the grid as we are already geared for this with septic systems, propane tanks and the final frontier – solar energy.  Once we truly are self sustaining and can utilize the well water – there is a desire to increase our independence by adding gardens utilizing native plants for landscaping to minimize water usage and plant orchards, vegetables and raise chickens!

Smart homes are technically not viewed as intelligent choices unless they are environmentally conscious and require less dependence and reduce our carbon foot print on the world!



Posted by: Tanya Starcevich | September 1, 2016

Market Update

Are you thinking of buying?  Contact me at (310) 739-4216

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46,500 new and resale home transactions closed escrow in California during June 2016. In step with the seasonal sales cycle, sales volume was up slightly from the prior month. This was roughly level with a year earlier, continuing a deceleration in year-over-year sales volume in recent months.

2015 ended with 450,700 home sales in California. This is 35,400, or 9%, more sales than took place in 2014. This is just above 2013 sales volume. For perspective, the number of homes sold in 2015 is still 303,203, or 40%, below peak sales volume experienced in 2005.

The number of homes sold year-to-date is 2% higher than 2015 as of May 2016. However, this percentage has steadily decreased in recent months, and it’s likely 2016 sales volume will end level with or below 2015. August 3, 2016

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.



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


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.



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
2. Los Angeles County Assessor’s website:
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

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 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


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 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 for tickets





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