August 24, 2006 at 11:42 AM #7291
I have only been following this site for a month or so but really enjoy the content. I am greatful to all of you for your wonderful insight into this drama. I notice that some of you are watching different areas of SD and would like to volunteer to watch Topanga Canyon here in LA(as I think I would like to move there after the tsunami) but not sure how to go about gathering data? I am not in RE and dont have access to MLS info. Is there another resource for us lay people to start tracking listings, sales and expirations?August 24, 2006 at 11:45 AM #33014
One thing I’ve done is use ZipRealty to track about a dozen homes in my neighborhood. I can watch the reductions roll in. I’ll also keep track of the total inventory for the zip code.August 24, 2006 at 12:12 PM #33016waiting hawkParticipant
You will have to sign up for zipreality (it is free) and look at homes in the area you want. Then go to zilliow.com and look at how much they bought the home for. Bad thing is that zillow does not show the helocs (home equity line of credits, tax liens, or seconds that were taken out). You can get a good idea. Best thing about zipreality.com is you can see the price reductions, when they listed the property, and when they made their price reductions. If every buyer looked into RE this way they would not buy for a long time. Thanks stupid people! We need you to buy to post declining numbers!August 24, 2006 at 2:43 PM #33044
Great minds think alike! (or, fools seldom differ, I don’t know which camp I belong to anymore..) I’m also keeping an eye on Topanga with a view to buy sometime in 2007.
Personally, I like ZipRealty much better than Realtor.com, as you get juicy bits of information like Days On Market (DOM) and price increases/reductions. Not that DOM means much these days, as quite a few places get taken off the MLS only to be relisted with a new DOM a few days later.
Once I’ve found an interesting place, I look it up on Zillow to see the real square footage (Zip tends to include unpermitted sq footage, rather than what the tax assessment says), last years Tax Assessed Value and what it sold for in previous years. The Zestimates are ‘for entertainmant purposes only’, but you do get a list of recently sold houses nearby to get some idea of what the locale is doing. Unfortunately,
I have no idea how you would find information on Inactive properties, whether pending, in escrow etc…I normally check my “Inactive” list on Zip each week and then go to Zillow to see if it has sold. If anyone knows a better way of doing this, I’d like to know too!
There’s also foreclosure.com, which I’ve looked at, but as its a paying site I haven’t signed on to it.
Also, although I haven’t done it yet myself, the LA County Offices have records on each property, and are online IIRC.
Both Zillow and Zip are free, so if you’re just a looky-loo like I am, there’s plenty to be getting on with.August 24, 2006 at 4:39 PM #33068DanielParticipant
“I normally check my “Inactive” list on Zip each week”.
Could I ask how you do that? Is there an “Inactive” section on ZipRealty? If so, I haven’t been able to find it yet. Thanks.August 24, 2006 at 4:42 PM #33071waiting hawkParticipant
“The Zestimates are ‘for entertainmant purposes only'”
Wow there are some really damn good post in here!August 25, 2006 at 8:08 AM #33171
Sorry, bit of a misnomer…I save a bunch of places in the “my homes’ section on Zip. There’s a button on the top right of the list that allows you to to hide/display Inactive listings. Every week or so I look up the inactive properties on Zillow to see if thy have been sold. By saving them in ‘my homes’ on Zip you keep record of them that doesn’t show up on the normal saved searches.
Its also a good way of keeping an eye on properties that go inactive and then come back on the market with a new MLS#, as they’ll turn up on the saved search lists as ‘new on market’. I can then copy the data from the old inactive list over to the new listing, thus keeping a (very rough) cumlative DOM, and differences in asking price.
As I have narrow criteria for what I’m looking for, more often than not I’ll save the ‘new on market’ record. By sorting the ‘my homes’ list by something like Lot Size, and activating the inactive button, it becomes apparent that its the same property, as they will appear next to each other….
Yes, I know, a Stone Age way of doing it! But I am just a looky-loo at this point, don’t want to get any outside ‘help’ at the moment, nor want to pay subscription for any more specialsed sites.
Apologies to all the professionals here, I know you’re laughing at me now 🙂
Although, if anyone knows a way of finding out what happened to a place that went ‘Inactive’ and hasn’t sold (for free and without the help of others, as above) then I’d be very appreciative of the advice.August 25, 2006 at 8:26 AM #33179
“Zestimates are for entertainment purposes only”.
I’m echoing what others have said about them. Zillow is still a ‘beta’ site, and the estimates will get more accurate as more data on sales collects. Still, its kinda fun to compare the asking price on Zip with what Zillow thinks its ‘worth’..
Although I do keep a record of the week’s Zestimate, and the 2005 Tax Assessed Value in the notes section of the properties I keep on ZipRealty, on the same line as the Asking Price…it can make ‘interesting’ reading sometimes..
You can get more sensible data from looking at the comps list at the bottom of the page on Zillow, but as sales over three months old are going to be ‘aberrant’ in this rapidly changing market, it can be difficult to (Z)estimate by hand. More often than not, there will only be one or two places nearby that have sold in the last three months, so data to calculate an accurate Zestimate is often not there.
As I said in the above post, feel free to ‘take the mickey’ as they say in the UK, this is my highly unprofessional and eccentric way of looking at houses!August 25, 2006 at 8:56 AM #33181PerryChaseParticipant
I do the same thing as you, speedingbullet. Amazingly it works really well and after a while you really get a feeling for the market.
I’ve worked with Realtors before and, in my opinion, they’re a real pain in the *ss. They just want you to decide on a home and buy within 30 days. They love to do that to vulnerable people who know nothing about real-estate.
Since we are looking years down the road, Ziprealty is the best way to do it. When I decide to buy, I’ll just schedule a showing with with ziprealty and I’ll buy from them.
I remember the days when you had to depend on Realtors to access the data (or the days you needed a travel agent).
I think that this crash will happen much quicker thanks to how fast technology desseminates info to the public.August 25, 2006 at 9:45 AM #33196
Thanks for the tips speedingpullet. My window on Topanga is a little longer as I need to save more for the down payment, probably 08-09 for me. I have just started the project and was gathering info, do you know much about the costal commission and why some listings indicate they are in or out? I tried searching thier web but of course they dont list the pros and cons of thier charter with respect to RE.
I have looked at a few places and did some mortgage research on them, its amazing how many have cashed out so much equity. The amount of equity withdrawl never really hit home until you see that every house suffers from it. Also the number of listings that have to get thier asking price to cover the note are numerous, I would hate to be in that boat!August 25, 2006 at 10:37 AM #33221
@ Hank – do you have any links on the mortgage research you did? As long as its free and non-invasive, i’d like to check out a few places myself.
As for when we buy, summer 2007 is the earliest. Depends on how long the Husband can stand living here in the “Waiting Room of Hell” (to quote Johnny Drama, from ‘Entourage’), we’ll stay put as long as we can. Judging from the amount of freefall already happening we may not have to wait to much longer than Q22007 to see ‘affordable’ prices.
Who knows, life’s a mystery sometimes…
It has to do with the Zoning – I wondered what it was too, and found an almost understandable explanation deep in the Labyrinth of the LA County’s website. I think they’re refering to the Malibu Coastal Plan:
If you can’t link to a .pdf file then the home site is:
Scroll down to near the bottom and look under the links for the Malibu Coastal Plan.
I asked much the same question myself recently on Piggintons on this thread:
And thanks to CarlsbadLiving for posting the LAC link 🙂August 25, 2006 at 10:56 AM #33224
Just found this on the coastal commission……looks like I will be looking outside thier jurisdiction.August 25, 2006 at 11:05 AM #33230
If you’re looking to buy an existing home within the jurisdiction of the Coastal Commission, you won’t have have any problems. Unless you were planning to tear down and rebuild. If you buy a vacant lot and hope to develop, it just means that you’d have to get approval from the Coastal Commission.
If the Malibu Local Coastal Program isn’t yet approved by the Coastal Commission then any projects go to a Coastal Commission hearing, if the Local Coastal Program is approved then the City has the authority to hand out Coastal Development Permits.August 25, 2006 at 11:19 AM #33236
From the article lined above it looks like they have a little more control than just building permits, or is that overstated? The last thing I want is a commission telling me how much brush I can clear around my house or what I can plant in the yard.August 25, 2006 at 11:39 AM #33240
If you purchase an existing home, the Coastal Commission has ZERO jurisdiction over you, UNLESS you decide to do something that would necisitate a Coastal Development Permit. (tear down & rebuild, addition). This is not unusual though, a large percentage of existing homes are legally non-conforming (everywhere, not just within the Coastal Zone). Meaning that they no longer meet setback requirements, height requirements, etc. This is because regulations continue to toughen.
These are always things that should be considered when buying a house. But if you are happy with an existing home, there’s no need to worry about what you can plant, etc. (unless you have HOA regulations, etc). Clearing brush can be tricky but that can be tricky anywhere, not just with Coastal.
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