September 15, 2014 on 10:06 am | In Fascinating Information, Green, Historic Properties, New Developments, Of Local Importance, Trends, Uncategorized, WOW | 2 Comments

by Jodi Summers

Bet you didn’t know that the ancient Sumerian city of Uruk was one of the first master-planned cities. Uruk was situated on an ancient channel of the Euphrates River, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq, The city was the main force of urbanization during the Uruk period (4000–3200 BC).

Like history? The Uruk epoch saw a shift from small, agricultural villages to a larger urban center with a full-time bureaucracy, military, and stratified society. Uruk period culture, exported by Sumerian traders and colonists, had an effect on all surrounding peoples, who gradually evolved their own comparable, competing economies and cultures.

Millennia has passed since the days of ancient Uruk, as well as other early planned cities such as Harappa, Lothal, and Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley Civilization (in modern-day northwestern India and Pakistan). The ruins of these antiquated cities display the earliest examples of deliberately planned and managed cities. Streets were paved and laid out at right angles in a grid pattern, with a hierarchy of streets from major boulevards to residential alleys. Archaeological evidence suggests that many Harrapan houses were laid out to protect from noise and enhance residential privacy; many also had their own water wells. These ancient cities were unique in that they often had drainage systems, seemingly tied to a well-developed ideal of urban sanitation.

The earliest multifamily dwellings date back to ancient Rome and the first century BC. The insulae (singular insula) were large apartment buildings where the lower and middle classes of Romans (the plebs) dwelled. The floor at ground level was used for tabernas, shops and businesses with living space on the higher floors. Ancient Roman insulae in Rome and other imperial cities reached up to 10 and more stories, some with more than 200 stairs.

Essentially, some elements of smart urban planning and harmonious living are thousands of years old. Today, as urban planners rethink livable cities and green communities, we borrow many elements of these early civilizations.

Look Backward

The past is a great source of ideas that work. “Density and adjacency increase sociability,” observes , says Donald Powers, principal of Union Studio Architecture & Community Design.

Time-tested elements like mid-block alleys – a staple of residential planning from the 1920s and ‘30s – lessen emphasis on the car. Small setbacks and stoops help houses relate to the sidewalk. Courtyards encourage interaction. Corners are important; houses built on them should play to the street. “Give 5 more feet to the corner lot and let the porch wrap,” affirms says Carson Looney, principal of Looney Ricks Kiss. “The house is just one element, not the element.”

Build for History

“Built with craft and care, well-designed places that people want to spend time in never lose their luster. They remain vital and continue to appreciate in value,” offers Stefanos Polyzoides, principal of Moule and Polyzoides. A big part of is ensuring that there’s interest and variety in the streetscape.

Appealing neighborhoods are a long-term proposition. Forest Hills in Queens, N.Y.—widely seen as one of the most successful master planned communities ever—started 100 years ago; it earned that inviting patina over time. “Once upon a time, the trees were little twigs,” Powers offers. “Fifty years from now, people will say Kentlands was the Forest Hills of its time,” says Powers of the Gaithersburg, Md., community developed in the late ’80s. “One of the goals is to create a pattern that will be picked up on and connects the new with the old,” as opposed to erecting buffers between them.

Social Sidewalks

“Four-foot sidewalks aren’t wide enough for couples to stroll, or for people to stop and talk and a baby carriage to pass by,” Looney says. “Four and a half feet is good, and 5 feet is better.”

“Each place is different,” says Speck, but “home builders who are interested in long-term value will insist that all streets are lined on both sides by trees approximately 30 feet on center.”

Experts agree, street trees should be as many and as big as the budget allows. Choose variations that are in full glory in the fall while others are blooming in the spring.

Encourage Interaction

Design public spaces as outdoor rooms with a sense of enclosure. Configure them so storefronts face each other. At home, large front porches to encourage neighborhood interaction while providing a buffer for private living spaces. Special care needs to be taken for porches that are very close to the sidewalk. Savvy urban planners elevate these types of porches 3 feet or 4 feet to help homeowners feel comfortable with instead of vulnerable to action from the street.

Be Wise with Commercial Tenants

“If you take the first tenant who comes along, you might end up with a cell phone store, a dollar store, and a liquor store,” instead of a coffee shop, a bookstore, a clothing store, and a restaurant, Powers advises. “Pick tenants that contribute to each other and to the public realm.”



August 31, 2014 on 1:56 pm | In Charts + Statistics, Fascinating Information, fUNNY...mONEY, Uncategorized, WOW | 2 Comments

by Jodi Summers

All totaled, California has 111 billionaires – more than any other state. Indeed, if the Golden State were its own country, it would be tied with Russia for third-most billionaires in the world, behind only the United States and China.

More than one-third of California’s billionaires are in tech, focused in Silicon Valley. San Francisco has 20 billionaires alone, second in U.S. cities only to New York City’s 66. Palo Alto, Calif. ranks eighth among U.S. cities with nine billionaires, and Woodside, Calif. is tied for 10th with eight. In total, California billionaires personally hold assets worth $485 billion, more than the entire GDP of all but 24 countries in the world.

There are seven billion dollar property tycoons living in California, many of them own thousands of rental units. Indeed they are an admirable bunch…

Rank Name Net Worth Age Source Country of Citizenship
#60 Donald Bren $15.8 B 82 real estate U.S.A.
#328 John A. Sobrato & family $4.8 B 75 real estate U.S.A.
#443 Edward Roski Jr $3.8 B 75 real estate U.S.A.
#755 George Argyros $2.4 B 77 real estate, investments U.S.A.
#820 Richard Peery $2.2 B 75 real estate U.S.A.
#960 John Arrillaga $1.9 B 76 real estate U.S.A.
#996 Donald Sterling $1.9 B 78 real estate U.S.A.




August 20, 2014 on 4:27 pm | In Buyers, Curious, Experts Say, Fascinating Information, For Your Purchasing Pleasure, Investment Opportunities, Of Local Importance, Uncategorized, WOW | 2 Comments

by Jodi Summers

Looking for your fantasy Beverly Hills mixed use development project? One of the most desirable pieces of real estate in the country —9900 Wilshire Blvd., is for sale again. Price in the mid-$300-million range for the 8-acre parcel.

“A truly rare circumstance in the highly regulated and supply-constrained city of Beverly Hills,” note the experts.

The site of the former Robinsons-May department store in Beverly Hills has been vacant for more than a decade and has changed hands a number of times. The current sellers, Hong Kong private equity firm Joint Treasure International, intended to complete an existing plan to build 235 condos on the site.

They had already navigated Beverly Hills’ arduous city planning process and were successful is getting approval on a mixed use complex design by Richard Meier, architect of the Getty Center.

“Upon transfer of ownership, the incoming buyer will leverage the value already created and be able to immediately commence construction — a truly rare circumstance in the highly regulated and supply-constrained city of Beverly Hills,” the selling brokers said in a statement.

The Meier plan includes 876 underground parking spaces and almost 21,000 square feet designated for office space, shops and restaurants.

The property at 9900 Wilshire Blvd. is, “one of the most desirable pieces of real estate in the country,” the L.A. Times writes. The paper notes that the property, located along Merv Griffin way, “has seen multiple owners who have so far been unable to bring a condominium complex designed by a famous architect to life.”

In 2010, Hong Kong private equity firm Joint Treasure International bought the parcel for $148 million. In 2007 the parcel sold for $500 million in one of the largest transactions in the history of Los Angeles County. The company that purchased it subsequently went bankrupt, which is how Joint Treasure International acquired the property.

Will you be the next owner developer for 9900 Wilshire?

For more information please contact Jodi Summers and the SoCal Investment Real Estate Group @ Sotheby’s International Realty – or 310.392.1211, and let us move forward together.



August 5, 2014 on 9:52 am | In Buyers, Charts + Statistics, Economy, Experts Say, Fascinating Information, Investment Opportunities, New Developments, Of Local Importance, Rents, Sellers, Trends, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

by Jodi Summers

“Developers are saying that as they look forward to 2016 and 2017, they see no let up in this demand, so they’re out looking at new projects to build even more multi-family housing in the county of Los Angeles,” proclaims Senior Economist Jerry Nickelsburg in the 2014 midyear UCLA Anderson Forecast.

Here’s the hypothesis: the demand for multi-family housing stems from household formation. The rate of household formation in California was decimated by the Great Recession of 2008-09. The recent growth of jobs in the State (employment is now above pre-recession levels) induces new household formation as the kids are able to move out of their parents homes, friends out of friends homes, and Mom and Dad out of their children’s homes into their own space. An increase in the rate of household formation increases the demand for rental housing, particularly multifamily housing, thereby driving up occupancy and rents.

The Los Angeles multifamily market is regionalized. The Valley differs from Downtown, which differs from Mid-Cities, the South Bay and the West Side. Marcus and Millichap have done a grand job together compiling statistics from all areas…and here are some noteworthy highlights…

Housing and Demographics

■ In the first quarter, average rents at 2000s-vintage apartments were $41 less than the monthly mortgage obligation on a median-priced home. One year ago, effective rents were $370 per month higher.

■ The median home price soared 15% during the past 12 months to $418,900, while median household income inched up a modest 2% to $55,800.

Vacancy + Rents

■ The strongest rent growth over the past year was observed in 1990s-vintage apartments, where rents climbed 4.5% to $1,684 per month. At apartments constructed in the 1970s, effective rents advanced 3.9% over the last 12 months to $1,473 per month. Rental rates on new units have stalled. Rents rose 3.4% nationally for the 12-month period ending in June, according to the Wall St. Journal.

■ Over the past 12 months, vacancy declined across every vintage of unit, with the exception of those properties constructed since 2000. At 2000s-vintage assets, vacancy inched up to 4.3% as a combination of new construction and tenant resistance to higher rents impacted operations.

■ One-bedrooms are preferred – One-bedroom apartment vacancy was flat over the past year while the rate declined in both two-bedroom and three-bedroom units. Although the decline was modest, early signs that renters are “doubling up” are emerging.

■ Outlook: The impact of heightened competition will keep rent growth modest this year. Effective rents are projected to climb to $1,750 per month in 2014, up 2.3% from the end of 2013. Last year, effective rents advanced 2.8%.

Sales Trends

■ Average cap rates in Los Angeles County are in the mid-5% range, though first-year returns vary significantly by region. In the coastal communities, first-year returns are close to 4%.

■ Outlook: In Los Angeles County, buyers outnumber sellers by a large factor. Treasury yields are low, reducing the attractiveness of purchasing government bonds.


■ The construction pipeline has swollen to 14,500 rental units, including 12,200 market-rate units. At the end of the first quarter, nearly 29,000 rentals were planned in the county, which is roughly 50% higher than the number of units on the drawing board the year prior.

■ Outlook: “There’s going to be a very severe housing-shortage problem,” Moody’s Chief Economist Mark Zandi told WSJ. “People are going to be in very difficult situations. This is a problem that’s going to be increasingly severe over the next few years.”

Conditions in the Los Angeles apartment market have tightened significantly during the past few years, which would typically usher in a period of elevated rent growth. However, development activity will bring 2014 construction to 11,000 new units – the highest level in more than a decade. (Last year, builders completed 5,600 units in the county.) Subsequently, this will keep operators at existing properties cautious when considering lifting rents.

Buyers will outnumber sellers through the end of 2014 as low interest rates keep financing obtainable and equity remains prevalent.

For more information please contact Jodi Summers and the SoCal Investment Real Estate Group @ Sotheby’s International Realty – or 310.392.1211, and let us move forward together.



July 14, 2014 on 1:28 am | In Government, Green, Lenders + Vendors, Of Local Importance, Problem Solving, Trends, Uncategorized, Utilities, WOW | 3 Comments

by Jodi Summers

Didja know > about a quarter of U.S. households live in multifamily housing units. This group of apartment dwellers spends about $40 billion on energy costs each year. The Better Buildings Challenge > Multifamily Edition < estimates that making multiunit housing units 20% more energy efficient would save more than $7 billion per year and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 430 million tons.

As part of the Better Buildings Challenge, DOE and the HUD are partnering with leading private and affordable buildings owners and public housing agencies to cut energy waste and help families save money. Better Building Challenge multifamily Partners are leaders in market rate multifamily housing, public housing authorities, and affordable housing.

Challenge renovation areas include:

Save Water

2013 saw record little rainfall in Southern California. Water is precious and expensive. Fixtures like the new low-flow toilets work better and save dramatically more water than models that just a few years old. According to the Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) the savings may pay for the cost of the fixtures in a year to 18 months.

Expert Installation

Some companies can now install water-saving technology for you, with little or no up-front cost. Companies like eConserve and Minol do such work in exchange for taking a cut on future savings in the future.

Designate an Energy Manager

A leaky sprinkler system or a mistake by a utility company can go unnoticed until someone finds the problem. Landlords, do yourselves a favor and designate person on staff to read the property’s energy bills. Software tools such as EnergyScoreCards, Portfolio Manager, or WegoWise track and compare utility usage.

Utility Rebate Programs

Periodically, utility companies offer rebates for things like installing energy-saving lighting. The T12 fluorescent lighting rebates are gone, but there’s always going to be another incentive. Call the number on your bill and ask how they can save you money.

Energy Star Appliances

Many appliances with the federal Energy Star label for energy efficiency are priced in line with conventional products. Like flat screen TVs, a product whose up-front cost was too pricey last year, might be affordable this year.

Reconsider Solar Panels

If you’ve decided in the past not to install solar panels because the panels were relatively expensive, revisit the numbers. The cost of panels has come down, and more utilities are allowing buildings to use the solar energy they produce themselves during the day to offset the electricity used by residents at night. Depending upon roof space, some new companies will offer “solar-power purchase agreements.” At little or no cost, the companies will install solar equipment at a multifamily property. In exchange, the property agrees to buy a certain amount of the power produced by the solar panels.


« Previous PageNext Page »

Powered by Digital Shake LLC with WordPress