Sean Erenstoft Discusses Fixer Properties

Fixer Properties:

 I love properties I can fix and resell.

It’s how I made a small fortune in my 30’s.

 

Los Angeles real estate is aging. Today, you can drive any neighborhood and observe a 1940’s styled home sitting next door to a hyper-modern structure. Clearly, the forward looking neighbor took a risk at re-building his property in a neighborhood where his property would be the most valuable property on the block. From an investment stand-point, his property value is stunted by the existing structures. But his loss is your gain!

This sort of creeping gentrification works to the advantage of the follow-up homebuyer who utilizes the momentum of a neighbor who built the modern structure. The advantage you have in buying a fixer is that you know that the city is likely to approve future plans to upgrade your location. And if you play your card right, you can avoid the pitfalls he suffered if you involve the right people to streamline the effort. This might include knocking on your neighbor’s door and asking him for the agents, architect and contractors who built his property. At least to inquire about whether they could offer some advice.

I buy and sell properties with Sotheby’s International Realty. My clients are investors who recognize that an exceptional home is simply a frame for an exceptional life. People who truly care about where they call home can see the potential in a property and erase from their mind the current dwelling and imagine a structure where they can live and thrive.

My expertise is finding that diamond in the rough and helping my clients do the math. What’s it going to take to convert an old structure into a dream home worth much more than the initial investment? Here’s some tips.

Do the Math:

Figuring out what you should pay to buy a fixer-upper starts with a simple equation. First, add up the costs to renovate the property based on a thorough assessment of the condition of the house. Be tough with this estimate, which should include materials and labor — yours and other people’s. Next, subtract that from the home’s likely market value after renovation, drawn from comparable real estate prices in the neighborhood. Then deduct at least another 5 to 10 percent for extras you decide to add, unforeseen problems and mishaps that have to be dealt with, and inflation. What’s left should be your offer.

It’s essential that the real estate contract include an inspection clause. At best, the inspection will assure you that the house is a good investment; at worst, it will help you back out of the deal. Often with fixer-uppers, it’s something in between. The inspector will document a serious problem or two, and you can use the findings to get the seller to pay for repairs or negotiate the sale price downward.

If the house needs significant structural improvements, many real estate experts recommend avoiding it altogether. That’s because major repairs — plumbing and electrical system overhauls, foundation upgrades, and extensive roof and wall work — are usually “invisible” and hardly ever raise the value of the house enough to offset the cost of the renovation.

Pick a Project that Pays:

The ideal fixer-uppers are those that require mostly cosmetic improvements — paint touchups, drywall repairs, floor refinishing — which generally cost much less than what they return in market value. New lighting fixtures, doors, window shutters, and siding, as well as updated kitchens and bathrooms, are also lucrative improvements.

Falling in between structural and cosmetic renovations are major additions needed to bring the house in line with its neighbors, such as a family room or third bedroom in a community of three-bedroom homes. Such projects usually cost as much as or more than they return in market value (the exception to this is adding a bathroom, which can be worth twice as much as its cost).

Sometimes it’s possible to fold cosmetic improvements into a structural repair to increase the value of a fixer-upper. If you’re replacing the roof, for example, you could add a skylight at the same time. Or you could install a bay window where there was dry rot in a wall. But you also don’t want to over-improve: For maximum resale value, remodeling investments should not raise the value of your house more than 10 to15 percent above the median sale price of other houses in your area, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

In places where housing costs have run up significantly and are approaching a peak, even a fixer-upper that seems reasonably priced may be too expensive. A large-scale renovation job can take many months, if not years, to complete, and if home prices fall or stay flat during that period, it’s possible to come out at the end of the project with a loss.

Line Up the Money:

One of the most challenging aspects of purchasing a fixer-upper is paying for the renovation. Understandably, most people don’t have much extra cash after making the down payment and paying closing costs, so coming up with additional money to cover repairs or remodeling can be difficult.

For small projects, credit card debt is an option. Interest rates are high and the interest isn’t tax deductible, but there are no up-front costs, such as appraisal and origination fees. It’s also possible to borrow against the cash value in a 401(k) retirement plan, life insurance policy, or stock portfolio. In each of these cases, there’s no credit check and the interest rates are relatively low — on par with that of a typical mortgage — but again, the interest is not tax deductible.

By far the most popular funding choice for a fixer-upper is a renovation loan, either through a home equity line of credit or a mortgage. Home equity lines can generally be borrowed against 90 percent of the equity that the homeowner will have in the house after the repairs and remodeling are completed. To illustrate: If a person buys a $250,000 fixer-upper with a down payment of $25,000, and the house will be worth $425,000 post-renovation, the homeowner will have $200,000 in equity. Even before the work is done, the borrower is eligible for a $180,000 home equity loan. The interest rate on a home equity loan is about the same as for a mortgage, but only up to about $100,000 in interest is tax deductible.

Even more advantageous is a renovation loan tied to the first mortgage. Similar to equity lines, these loans can be borrowed against the house’s value after the work is finished, but like any mortgage, the interest is tax deductible up to $1 million. Renovation loans are offered by almost all mortgage lenders as well as through Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle program and Freddie Mac’s Home Works!

Hire Me to Help Locate a Prime Fixer:

I began my career as a lawyer looking to make a buck improving real estate. My first investment was $42,000 which I flipped and made $220,000 two years later after living in it for a period. My next investment netted me $350,000 and my most recent netted me $1.9 million. It doesn’t take much vision to recognize that an old property can be reconfigured into something beautiful and worth more than you invested. The trick is doing it efficiently. Let me help.

 

Sean Erenstoft is a licensed real estate agent working with Sotheby’s International Realty in Beverly Hills. He is knowledgeable about the aging properties in Los Angeles and monitors emerging neighborhoods. If you are interested in being a pioneer for profit, give Sean Erenstoft a call at (310) 613-8887. He’s also online at www.estatesinla.com

Ever Thought of Renting Your Home? Pay Heed to the AirBNB Debate Raging Now.

Sean Erenstoft discusses short-term rentals and the debate raging about Air BNB

If you are a homeowner who ever thought of renting your home short-term, you may have heard of Air BNB (or perhaps one of its competitors: FlipKey; HomeAway; VRBO; HouseTrip; VayStays; VacayHero; and Roomorama).

The debate about hyper-regulating this relatively new market is heating up and if you have ever thought about renting your home, you should be aware of the debate.

Los Angeles’ plan to allow rentals for only 180 days per short-term listing provided the chief bone of contention in new regulations now being proposed.  City planners say the cap will address nuisance complaints about short-term rental guests as well as deter commercial landlords from turning apartments into lucrative Airbnb listings.

The hotel industry has been bankrolling a campaign against Airbnb, which has been eating into their business. Hotel industry executives complained that Airbnb isn’t required to follow the same guidelines in areas like safety, disability access and health as they do.

Presently, the City of Los Angeles does not have an ordinance regulating Airbnb, which connects travelers with hosts looking to rent out their home or a bedroom in their home, but struck a deal with the company last year for it to pay hotel taxes on behalf of its hosts under a three-year agreement, even though short-term rentals are illegal in many residential neighborhoods.

Among the most controversial parts of the proposed ordinance is limiting the number of rental days per host to 180 days a year. Other cities have enacted short-term rental limitations, with Santa Monica limiting them to 60 days and San Francisco limiting them to 90 days.

Los Angeles projects it could collect over $33 million in taxes from Airbnb for the upcoming fiscal year, and has banked on the number in its approved budget, but the company has warned that capping rental days would significantly cut into that number.

Citizens concerned about maintaining the freedom to rent their homes told city officials that a rental cap would severely impact their finances, with potential hardships including being unable to pay their medical bills, send their kids to college or be able to keep their homes.

“Guests contribute to the local economy, and we need business in our community and we need people to be able to share their homes,” Noreen McClendon, executive director of Concerned Citizens of South Los Angeles, told the committee. “You have heard stories already of people being able to supplement their income and we don’t want that restricted. And I just ask that you take into consideration the stories that you’ve heard, they’re real.”

While Airbnb is fighting the 180-day ordinance, the city has been receiving pressure from other groups to pass a more stringent one.

If you are interested in the current laws affecting short-term rentals, consider this article published by Airbnb. (See article).

Sean Erenstoft works with property rental property investors to ensure that a positive cap-rate.  This includes locating properties within his clients’ price-range and garnering information about condo reserves and HOA dues as well as potential improvements and obsolescence in single family residences.  If you are in Los Angeles looking to buy, call Sean and he will put together a customized list of investment property.  He will also take efforts to show you the properties personally and work to help you negotiate a smooth transaction.

Sean Erenstoft can be reached at (310) 613-8887.

Visiting L.A.? Sotheby’s Realtor, Sean Erenstoft will Customize a Tour of Properties for Sale.

If you are visiting Los Angeles or are already a resident thinking of relocating, your best bet is to contact Sotheby’s International Realty agent, Sean Erenstoft who will custom-make a tour fitting your exact specifications.

When you are planning a visit to L.A. and considering an investment in prime residential property, contact me first.  I’ll give you a personalized tour to make sure you make the best use of your time and find what you are looking for. . . efficiently.

Sean Erenstoft works with Sotheby’s International Realty in Beverly Hills and shows properties throughout the greater Los Angeles area.  His expertise is handling homes in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood, Santa Monica, Malibu, Encino, Studio City and a few selected areas of Los Feliz, Echo Park, Silverlake and Tarzana.  Give Sean a call at (310) 613-8887 for more information and to schedule a personalized tour.

Probate Sales: Sean Erenstoft of Sotheby’s Lectures on Distressed Property Sales

Whether it be a probate, trustee, divorce or bankruptcy sale, the involvement of the court system severely complicates most arms-length transactions. My 25 years of experience as a trial attorney handling real estate litigation in each of these types of transactions can serve to assist you if you are an attorney, trustee or simply a fiduciary called upon to ensure due diligence. As a licensed real estate agent now working in Sotheby’s International Realty, I am assisting buyers and sellers in the purchase of properties that must undergo the additional scrutiny of creditors, judges, and beneficiaries.

I can help you jump through hoops: Generically called due-diligence in the judicial process, the legal procedure of selling properties subject to court oversight requires additional assurance that proper notice, marketing, and maximal value is derived from a transaction. Unfortunately, it’s not just a buyer and a seller and a lender involved in such transactions. The additional layer of scrutiny is satisfied with painstakingly prepared disclosures and declarations. Having successfully completed thousands of property sales, settlements and exchanges involving litigation, mediation, arbitration and court-sanctioned auctions, I can serve as an expert guide to lawyers and fellow agents tasked with closing a transaction within strict time deadlines. I also have ready-access to the formatted declarations, court forms, and third-parties necessary to ensure a seamless transaction.

With that said, let me provide you a cursory background about the various legal procedures that you may be engaged within:

Sale of Property after Death of a Property Owner (with or without a will):

Not uncommonly, I am contacted by a lawyer (or an executor of a will) to assist in the post-mortem

Appointment of the Administrator or Executor of the estate. In most cases, the decedent’s will names an Executor who is designated to handle the distribution of assets, including real property. If no Executor is named, if the named Executor is unwilling to serve or if there is no will, the court appoints an Administrator to carry out these duties. The Executor or Administrator is the person who has the authority to list and sell the property; the sale cannot proceed until that person has been identified.

As provided in the Independent Administration of Estates Act (IAEA), the Executor establishes a list price for the real property. The price takes into account the appraisal by the Probate Referee and is usually determined with the assistance of a real estate agent experienced in probate and trust sales. The property is then listed for sale through that agent/broker.

The real estate agent markets the real property to the public as aggressively as possible to attract the highest offer. This generally involves a number of approaches, including signage, newspaper advertising, listing on one or more real estate websites and hosting open houses for other real estate agents and potential homebuyers. The real estate agent will also schedule appointments to show the property to interested parties who inquire directly.

While buyers of probate and trust real estate may be looking for a bargain, their range of offers are limited by the court. An accepted offer must be 90% or more of the Probate Referee’s appraised value. Once a buyer is found, the real estate agent assists the seller in negotiating terms that are satisfactory to both parties.

When the property has an accepted offer, a Notice of Proposed Action is mailed to all heirs, simply stating the terms of the proposed sale. The heirs have 15 days to review the notice and pose any objections. If there are no objections, the sale may proceed without a court hearing.

If the Executor/Administrator does not have full independent powers under IAEA, or if one of the heirs poses an objection to the Notice of Proposed Action, notice of the sale must be published in a generally distributed local newspaper (unless the will does not mandate such action).

The attorney for the estate then applies for a court date (the “confirmation hearing”) when the sale will be executed. The court date is usually within 30 to 45 days of the date the application is filed. A copy of the application and details concerning the sale are mailed to all interested parties.

Even after the court date has been set, the real estate broker should continue to show the property and advertise the home to potential buyers in the hope of securing an “over-bidder” and thereby raising the sale price.

During the court confirmation hearing, the previously accepted bid may be overbid by another interested party. In such a case, the overbidding party must appear at the hearing with a cashier’s check (no personal checks accepted!) in an amount totaling at least 10% of the minimum overbid price in order to successfully overbid. The minimum overbid is determined by the following formula: 10% of the first $10,000 plus 5% of the balance of the accepted offer.

EXAMPLE: A property is listed at $200,000. The accepted offer is $175,000. The minimum overbid is calculated as follows: Accepted offer = $175,000 +.10 x $10,000 = $1,000 + .05 x $165,000 = $8,250 Minimum overbid = $184,250 x .10 = $18,425 amount of cashier’s check

If there is more than one overbidder, the highest bid ‘wins.’ The winning bidder gives a cashier’s check to the Executor/Administrator and escrow is opened. Escrow will close approximately 30 to 45 days from the court hearing.

Sean Erenstoft can be reached at (310) 613-8887.

 

Sotheby’s Tackles Gen/X and Millennials

Sotheby’s International Realty recruitment of Sean Erenstoft demarks the uniting of the world’s leading full-service art business with one of Generation X’s most respected real estate sales titans.  Erenstoft began his career working with Lloyd’s of London’s insureds handling distressed property sales involving the forced liquidation of luxury and commercial properties mired in divorce, probate, estate sales and bankruptcy.  His quarter-century of legal prowess won him a coveted role with Sotheby’s International Realty representing the next generation of buyers and sellers of luxury property in California.

Counting himself as a Gen-X’er, Sean Erenstoft understands that the new generation of home-buyers demands the full-spectrum of modernity and openness without compromising privacy.  “Today’s homes are utilizing every square foot of buildable area — but my clients are insisting on their privacy from neighbors and passersby.”  Creative exteriors coupled with innovative interior designs ensure privacy in the ever more impacted communities that my clients seems to enjoy.

There is high demand for living close to the Sunset Strip, Equinox, and Bristol Farms.  Life in the epicenter requires that high-traffic neighborhoods are transformed into easily accessible enclaves in popular neighborhoods.  While the price tag for the proximity to pop-culture continues to rise, those who demand it are also constructing their own habitats by which to escape the noise and scrutiny of fellow city-dwellers.

Erenstoft has teamed up with Sotheby’s and a rich assortment of architects, interior designers and landscapers to ensure that his Gen-X and Millennial clientele are meeting their objectives to stay local, remain secluded, and live luxuriously.  If you have questions about L.A.’s luxury market (including Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Encino, Malibu and Hollywood), contact Sean Erenstoft who is now teamed-up with Sotheby’s International Realty in their Beverly Hills office.  Sean handles rentals and sale properties for the rich assortment of modern innovators who are. . . the next-generation.

Sean Erenstoft can be reached at (310) 613-8887.