Lyon | Stahl Investment Real Estate

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Month: October 2015

5 Haunted LA Spots You Can Visit

 

With Halloween just around the corner, who isn’t at least a little curious about the so-called haunted locations of our dear city? While many of the creepiest places are closed to the public, there are several you can see up close and personal – some unbeknownst to most who visit. If you’re looking for a thrill, these are some of the most haunted places in LA that you can set foot upon.

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The Roosevelt Hotel is well known for having housed many celebrities over the years, often for long periods of time as they stayed in Hollywood to star in famous films. The most notorious of which is Marilyn Monroe, whose ghost is said to appear from time to time in the mirror she once used in her favorite poolside suite.

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The Hollywood Sign, shortened from the original “Hollywoodland”, is a landmark that is symbolic of the hopes and dreams – and sometimes unfortunate circumstances – of those flocking to the city to pursue their acting careers. Some turn their dreams to reality, while others fail to make it. Over the years this sign has been the site of many suicides, the most famous of which being 24-year-old Peg Entwistle, who leaped to her death from the letter “H”. It is rumored that sometimes, at night, the ghost of a young, very noticeably upset woman can be seen pacing around near the sign.

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The Del Monte Speakeasy, located in Venice, is one of the few remaining actual speakeasies from the Prohibition era. Maintained to give off the vibe of a 30’s bar, this quaint watering hole has been reported to have sightings of its deceased previous owner seated in his old favorite booth.

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Yamashiro, famous for its gorgeous palace-like architecture and breathtaking views of the city, has become a popular wedding venue due to its grandiose beauty and romantic feel. But behind the glitz and the glamour of this exclusive private club, there are rumored hauntings by resident ghosts. One has been nicknamed the “Weeping Woman” – a woman dressed in white who can be heard sobbing from the second floor bridal suite. From outside of the building, there have also been sightings of a male figure passing through the windows of the second floor. There are some conflicting ideas of who the mysterious man is, but it is believed to be either a former bartender, or the old owner – whose remains are buried in the garden.

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The Queen Mary was a major mode of human transportation from 1936 to 1967 between the US and the UK. Transatlantic travel was not always smooth sailing – numerous deaths have occurred on the boat, and paranormal activity is rampant on board this ship, now anchored in the Long Beach Harbor. Several sections of the ship have actually been closed off due to spooky sightings. If you’re into that kind of thing, ghost tours of the ship are offered daily. For the truly daring, you can even spend the night in the actual galley rooms which were once home to those making their voyage across the sea.

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Whether you believe in ghosts or not, you’re bound to have a chilling good time checking out some of these so-called spooky spaces. Why not get in the spirit of Halloween and pay them a little visit? If you dare, that is! Happy haunting…

Water-Friendly Landscaping

 

Being water-conscious is a responsibility shared by everyone in LA. One of the quickest ways to dramatically decrease your water consumption is through your landscaping. It can be hard to let go of that lush, green lawn, but rest assured that there are plenty of options available that will be equally attractive, but require much less maintenance.

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For large areas of ground coverage, you can try gravel, rocks, stepping stones, permeable hardscaping, or even wood chips. In many parts of Los Angeles, you can apply for the Cash for Grass Rebate Program, which rewards residents who transition their lawn to a more water-friendly option. This program is currently inactive because of its overwhelming popularity and lack of funding, but will begin accepting applications again starting July 1, 2016.

Oh, and good news for those of you who still can’t bear the thought of not having a grassy lawn…there are several artificial turf manufacturers, and many of the newer versions are strikingly life-like. The grass can now be greener on your side of the fence. Check out SynLawn – they have such a wide variety of artificial grass products, you are bound to find at least a few that would suit your needs!

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Environmentally sound gardening is actually much simpler than you might think. By filling your yard with plants native to the area, maintenance is practically zero. Those specific plants have evolved over the years to thrive in this specific region and live in harmony with the local weather, insects, animals, and neighboring plants, making them very easy to care for. Check out this list of top native plants for gardening in Southern California, courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens. Who says native plants can’t be pretty?

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Converting your landscaping to be more water-conscious shouldn’t sound like a daunting task. With so many options available, there is no doubt you’ll find something you love that won’t take a toll on our environment – or your water bill!

Interest Rates, So Hot Right Now

Act now or forever hold your peace, because interest rates are about to jump – and we may not see rates this low again for a while.

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Interest rates have been next to nothing since 2008, but that’s about to change in the near future as financial experts predict that rates are on the cusp of a sharp increase. If you have (or plan on getting) a mortgage, this is going to affect you. Just a tiny tweak, like the quarter of a percent increase we’re expecting in the next few months, can have a massive impact on the total amount you’ll have to pay. For a mortgage, this seemingly small difference can change the amount you owe by potentially tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a 30 year loan.

However, the impact that this financial decision will have on property prices is still up in the air. Some feel that rising rates will lead to lower prices in order to compensate for the higher mortgage payments; others believe that rising rates are a sign of a healthy economy, which equals higher prices. But the fact is, historically, there has been no clear relationship between interest rates and property prices. Instead, as you can see in the chart below, there is a stronger relationship between property prices and our economy’s general health.

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Higher interest rates mean higher loan payments when compared to total amount of the loan – not necessarily higher or lower property prices. Although it can be frustrating to have to pay more money for the same property, it’s actually a good sign that this is happening – our economy is recovering!

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We can expect these rate changes to be a hot discussion topic for the next several months, so what we can do while we wait for the final outcome is make sure we’re prepared for an increase. The market is constantly changing, and it definitely pays to stay ahead of the game!

Real estate investing can be tricky, and the market can be volatile. Let Lyon Stahl help you make the most of your investments!

This City is About to Become Very Popular

 

Los Angeles, being such a massive and dynamic region, naturally experiences periodic ebbs and flows of popularity throughout its neighborhoods. In the real estate market, it’s seemingly a race to see who can get to the hot spots first. Luckily for us, there are a few telltale signs that an area will be increasing in value in the future – and right now, the city surrounding the Hollywood Park Project is looking to be our new favorite place. Yes, Inglewood: The City of Champions.

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The 20-year rumor that the NFL is coming back to LA continues on with yet another development project to build a football stadium. This construction event is proposing to build a multi-purpose center housing a football stadium, retail and office space, a performing arts theater, a movie theater, a boutique hotel, and even housing units. It’s designed to house two NFL teams, and the top contenders to take charge of this field are the Rams, the Chargers, and the Raiders.

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Set back from the beach and miles south of the downtown action, Inglewood is one of LA’s quieter cities now that the Hollywood Park Racetrack has been shut down. But this is all going to change once this entertainment giant pops up. Construction will be accelerated in eager anticipation of the incoming football players, so assuming everything goes smoothly, the “City of Champions Revitalization Project” hopes to be completed by the end of 2018.

Now, for the real estate market in the area, prices have just begun to rise. This mean it’s an optimal time to make moves, for both buyers and sellers. For those looking to purchase, the newly rising prices are a great sign that the property values will continue to increase in the near future – meaning you’ll likely get a great deal on your property. For our sellers, the high demand from buyers ensures that you can get your property sold swiftly and easily, and generally for close to (or even more than) your listing price. Win-win situation for both parties.

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If investing in hot new neighborhoods is your thing, Inglewood just might be your best bet in the upcoming couple of years!  Let Lyon Stahl help you make an investment choice that’s right for you.

6 Surprise Costs of Investing

Investing in real estate is certainly one of the best ways to grow your portfolio and, subsequently, your wealth. However, for new investors, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for a few hidden costs that you may not be expecting.

Unexpected repairs. Sure, a home inspection gives you some peace of mind. But a routine inspection will not necessarily catch every single problem a property may have. What about weaknesses in the plumbing that can’t be seen without tearing up the floors or the yard? Major leaks can cost hundreds or even thousands to fix, and you can’t always be sure they won’t happen.

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Vacancies. Adding insult to injury, sometimes vacancies are forced due to necessary repairs – further costing you as the owner. Or maybe the property simply didn’t rent out. Vacancies are a double loss because not only are you left with the mortgage payment, you’re also missing out on your profits. Ouch!

Opportunity cost. You looked at multiple properties. You did your research. You thought about it long and hard. But the simple truth is that nobody knows what the future is going to hold, and you may not always end up with the most profitable property. That, my friend, is opportunity cost, and it will always be there when you make an investment purchase.

Property management. If you don’t have the time to tend to your property at all hours of the day (and let’s be honest, who does?), especially when you have multiple properties or a large number of units, it might be time to hire a property manager. this will usually cost you about 7-10% of monthly rents, but can potentially save you a massive headache. For new investors, it can be tempting to try to do it all yourself – from repairs to finding tenants to collecting rents and so on, but at some point it might be time to hand off some of your responsibilities to someone else.

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Don’t let your investments wear you down!

Taxes. When tax season comes around, be sure to set aside a lot more money for taxes than you might think you’ll need. Capital gains taxes take out a large percentage of your profits, and you need to be prepared. Consider exploring 1031 tax exchange options – this keeps all of your money working for you rather than leaving you.

Closing costs. Just because you’re in escrow doesn’t mean you get to relax quite yet! Settlement costs often take new buyers by surprise. Loan origination fees, discount points, appraisal fees, title searches, insurance, or deed-recording fees are just a few examples.

Real estate investments are a massive commitment and will require lots of hard work. In the beginning you’re bound to make a few mistakes, some of which can be costly, and at times you will be frustrated. But the good news is that investment real estate can be an extremely rewarding experience and can offer high returns – just be sure to always keep your eyes open in case anything goes wrong. And, of course, keep your emergency fund for backup.

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Always keep your emergency funds available.

Want to keep your money working in your favor?Let Lyon | Stahl‘s 1031 Tax Exchange experts guide you on making the most of your investments!

The Emerging Single Family Rental Market

 

For the past several years, there has been a sharp decline in homeownership across the nation. Decreased home values, lost jobs, stricter mortgage loan requirements and a foreclosure epidemic have all contributed to this trend. Millennials make up the largest generation our country has ever seen, while also being the least likely to enter into the world of homeownership. Is it because they are taking longer to settle down? Is it the lack of jobs? Is it the the horrendous amount of student loan debt pressure they face? Perhaps it’s a combination of all of the above.

 

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For those looking to invest in a rapidly growing market, the Single Family Rental (SFR) market may be just the place to dive in to. When this housing sector entered the scene in 2012, it was mainly dominated by large companies that had massive amounts of funding available. Now, individual investors are gaining access to these opportunities by means of new mortgage loans created specifically for this type of property. Instead of only considering a borrower’s income, lenders are now taking into account the cash flow that a rental property is expected to generate.

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According to CoreLogic’s July 2015 MarketPulse, current vacancy rates are staying extremely low while construction is on the rise. Detached single family homes, built specifically to be rented, are steadily increasing in popularity with development companies. Furthermore, the number of renters is expected to continue to increase as the millennial generation forms new households, but shies away from ownership. The strong demand for housing will keep rents and occupancy rates high, especially in metro areas such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.

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There is, of course, some doubt that this is a lucrative investment opportunity. Some feel that these decreased home values may actually be luring individuals towards purchasing a home at a more affordable price…assuming that they can qualify for a mortgage loan, which is becoming increasingly difficult for both young adults who haven’t had time to establish their credit yet, or those whose credit has been damaged in the recession.

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Currently, the Single Family Rental market appears to be very promising as hundreds of thousands of new rental homes are being constructed each year, while hundreds of thousands of new renting households are being formed. It’s safe to say that in today’s real estate market, properly investing in the SFR market will be an excellent choice for those looking to grow their wealth!

Lyon | Stahl specializes in investment property throughout the Los Angeles area. Visit our website today for more helpful information on real estate investing!

Are You Ready for Winter 2015?

 

After years of drought, Californians are in for a wild ride this winter when we get a visit from an El Nino of record-breaking strength. It’s hard to say how much damage has been done to our homes and neighborhoods by the lack of rain, so now we must take proper precautions to avoid any unnecessary costs this winter.

 

Dry, hot climates lead to wildfires. When wildfires occur, they take out all of the trees and brush, whose roots are helping to keep the soil together. Without that extra stability, when the rain comes, landslides are the result. One important thing to handle, before any inclement weather arrives, is to check your home insurance policy. Most policies don’t cover flood damage, and El Nino has been known to cause dramatic flooding. If you aren’t already covered, now is the time to add flood insurance to your home insurance policy.

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Your next task is to take a close look at your roof and ceiling to see if there are any leaks. You’ll want to get those patched up early – or else you’ll be frantically searching for buckets once the rain starts! On a similar note, clear out your gutters thoroughly and often. Leaves and debris can really wreak havoc on your home’s drainage abilities.

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Check your furnace and water heater. This is an obvious one, with the chilly weather approaching. But another scary thing to look out for is a carbon monoxide leak – on that note, double check your carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors too while you’re at it! If there’s any chance you’re going to be stuck inside, you need to make sure your home is a haven and not a hazard.

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Lastly, you’re going to want to make a few useful purchases before the storm hits. Rain gear like umbrellas, boots, and coats are a given. Everyone knows you’re supposed to have an updated and non-expired emergency preparedness kit. But what about the non-necessities? Consider waterproof housing for your iPhone or camera so you can document this weather anomaly! Get some sidewalk chalk and create temporary washable outdoor art. Find a magnifying glass or pair of binoculars and see what fresh new parts of nature have been uncovered once the rain stops. The rain doesn’t come to California that often, so make the most of it while it’s here!