San Gabriel Valley Entertainment: "Old Town" Pasadena

San Gabriel Valley Entertainment – “Old Pasadena, a prewar civic hub and architectural marvel, had by the early 1980s long since gone from a leafy center of commerce to a garden of earthly blight, its bleak, crumbling buildings oozing decay, its businesses shifted to the Lake District, its families down to the Arroyo, if they could afford it, or off to other San Gabriel Valley cities.

San Gabriel Valley Entertainment:
Old Town Pasadena

San Gabriel Valley Entertainment | Brion CostaA San Gabriel Valley Jewel … As Seen From Outside

The San Gabriel Valley is jam-packed with entertainment possibilities and both residents and visitors are afforded a long list of things to do and things to see.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to live in this wonderful Southern California area can become a bit “jaded” in our view. We live here, after all, and we become used to what’s around us. That makes it very interesting when we hear opinions from others concerning what they find here.

Today we’re sharing an interesting article from the Travel section of the Sacramento Bee. It was written by Sam McMannis and presents an interesting oursiders view of the “Old Town” Pasadena area and the many attractions to be found there.

The New “Old Pasadena” May Just Bowl You Over – The Sacramento Bee Apr 27

Perhaps it’s not so surprising, after all, that Old Pasadena was saved. It’s difficult to think of another Southern California city more steeped in history than Pasadena, whether it’s the Rose Bowl and concomitant Tournament of Roses Parade, or the gorgeous rows of 100-year-old bungalows that represented the height of the Craftsman style of home design, or the stately, no-longer-crumbling 100-year-old Colorado Street bridge, or the paintings by the Old Masters at the Norton Simon Museum, or venerable Vromans bookstore (started in 1894), Southern California’s oldest and largest independent bookstore …

Read More Here:

A Sense of History – A Rarity In Southern California

The thing that’s actually unusual in “Old Town” Pasadena is that it has a “sense of history” at all. One of the often heard criticisms of Southern California is that such a thing doesn’t exist in the area at all. That’s certainly not true of the “Old Town” area in Pasadena. Anyone who wants to experience the feeling of what it was like to be in Southern California in bygone eras will find no better place than Pasadena to experience just that. From the Gamble House, to the Norton Simon Museum, to Castle Green, you’ll find history at every turn.

Enjoy your visit!

San Gabriel Valley Home Sales: Final Numbers for March

San Gabriel Valley Home Sales – “Pending home sales in California hit their highest level in eight months in March and the percentage of short sales plummeted to levels not seen since 2008, according to the California Association of Realtors. 

San Gabriel Valley Home Sales:
Final Numbers For March

Content Curation | Curation Works | Steve GaghagenNumber Of “Short Sales” Drops Sharply

When we look at “Pending Home Sales” we are looking at the activity on the market Right Now. “Closed” sales are those properties that have actually closed escrow and been recorded. These are the actual “done deals” and the usual number we pay really close attention to, as it takes into account all the influences which might cause a property to “fall out” of escrow.

However, the “Pending Sales” number is also important. It shows us exactly what is happening on the market at the moment. An escrow may take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months to complete, depending on the property and the makeup of the transaction itself. In many cases a transaction will record in April, but the Buyer actually made the offer in February. The market activity that precipitated that offer is actually 3 months old by the time the recording of the sale occurs. Thus, we’re looking at “market history”, not “current conditions”.

The Pending Home Sales number is the number of escrows opened during the month. It tells us how many buyers wrote offers and how many properties they put into escrow. This is a more current and immediate number to look at.

We have some new numbers out, and they’re very good in several respects, but reflect a market that is very “narrow”. It’s “narrow” in the sense that some sectors are good, but many are fairly stagnant. The market is still moving along, but there is not a wide coalition of driving factors. Rather, our current market movement is provided by a very small base of very active buyers.

Here’s a comprehensive article from Kevin Smith in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune:

Pending homes sales jump in March, short sales decline – San Gabriel Valley Tribune Thu, 24 Apr 2014 19:33:23 GMT

Pending sales — a forward-looking indicator of future home sales activity — were still off 9.9 percent from the revised 126.9 index recorded in March 2013. But the year-over-year decline in the index has been tapering over the past few months, CAR reported.  … The share of equity sales — or non-distressed property sales — has also risen steadily over the past year. …

Read More At:

Activity Has Actually Slowed Since Last Year

The market action seems firm, but activity has slowed since the first of the year. At the beginning of 2013 there was a surge in prices and activity, but then interest rates rose and slowed things down. The article above quoted the owner of our firm here in Monrovia, Tom Adams, as saying, “A lot of it (market activity) is offshore money … Asian investors are really the only thing that is keeping California’s housing market alive right now. We’d be in dire straits if it wasn’t for that.

(Photo from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune – SGVN/Staff Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)

San Gabriel Valley Economy: Jobs Added, But Unemployment Rate Steady

San Gabriel Valley Economic News – “Los Angeles County’s jobless rate for March remained unchanged at 8.7 percent. That still landed well below the year-ago rate of 10.1 percent, the state Employment Development Department reported..

San Gabriel Valley Economy:
Jobs Were Added, But Unemployment Rate Steady

San Gabriel Valley Economy | Brion CostaThe Good News Is That Every Sector Is Adding Jobs

Since economic conditions create the market conditions we see in our local real estate market, Costa Real Estate Digest will at times supply information that deals with the economy in a “raw” manner … not particularly focused on real estate, but looking at the Southern California economy in a more general way.

With this in mind, today we’ll take a look at some new figures that are indicative of what’s going on in our area economically. 

Several reports have been released recently … from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Beacon Economics and other statistical outlets, and they are discussed here in a comprehensive article by Kevin Smith that just appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune:

Unemployment rates hold steady; jobs added in Southern California, state – San Gabriel Valley Tribune Sat, 19 Apr 2014 01:53:12 GMT

“The main thing to note for the L.A. County economy is that we’re generally seeing every sector adding jobs,” said Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. “We continue to see some problems with job counts in financial services, insurance and manufacturing, but the overall picture is one where we can say we’re closing that gap from where we need to be and where we are right now.” …

Read More Here:

Overall Direction Is Basically Good News

As you can see in the article, there is good news and bad news as well. These things do work in tandem, though, to create an overall trend. The bottom line is that basically the economy is moving in the right direction, which bodes well for the Southern California real estate market and the San Gabriel Valley area in general.

Selling Your Home: Should I List In Summer Or Winter?

Selling Your Home:
Should I List In Summer Or Winter?

Selling Your San Gabriel Valley Home | Brion CostaContrary To “Popular Wisdom”, Listing In Winter Might Bring You A Better Price!

Everyone knows that if you want to sell your home quickly and for the best price, you need to list in Spring with an eye to selling then or just as Summer begins, right? I mean, this is what we’ve been told forever, so it must be true … Right?

Well … maybe not so much. Apparently there’s a lot of research that tells us that you might actually have a better chance at a higher priced sale in the winter! It’s contrary to what “common knowledge” tells us, that’s for sure, but think about it for a moment. If everyone “knows” that it’s harder to sell a home in winter what happens? Well, less people list their homes. And what does that mean? It means if you do list your home in winter, you have less competition. And, less competition can mean a faster, more profitable sale … if the Buyers are active.

Here’s a really comprehensive article by Kenneth R. Harney from the Los Angeles Times:

Listing in winter may yield higher home price | Los Angeles Times April 20, 2014 5:00 AM

A study of 1.1 million home listings between 2011 and 2013 in 19 major markets by the national realty brokerage firm Redfin found that, contrary to popular impressions, houses put on the market in winter — defined as Dec. 21 through March 21 — had a 9-percentage-point greater probability of selling within 180 days and at a smaller discount to the initial list price than houses put on the market during the spring months (March 22 to June 21) …

Read More At:,0,7783915.story

How To Be Absolutely Certain Your Home Won’t Sell

Of course, in all this talk about seasonal influences and best times versus worst times, it’s possible to lose track of a couple of very important ideas. The first is that getting the absolute best price possible in the absolute least time on the market will probably not be your only concern when you sell your home. Many things factor in, such as school schedules, work transfers … a thousand different things need to be weighed against each other and a balance reached.

The second thing to keep in mind if you are considering selling, is that the only way to guarantee your home will not sell … is to keep it off the market. If you’ve decided you want to sell … and you could do it now or 5 months from now … waiting those 5 months because of some statistical speculation you’ve read is usually not the wisest move. While you’re waiting for that statistically “superior” time, you could be passing up qualified buyers prepared to purchase your home. Get it on the market. That way you have some reality to deal with … and not just speculation.

If you’d like to discuss the possibility of listing your home for sale in the near future, give us a call. My Team and I would be pleased to assist you in any way we can.

Southern California Real Estate: Apartment Rental Rates Rising

Southern California Real Estate:
Apartment Rental Rates Rising

Southern California Real Estate | Brion CostaGood News For Investors … For Renters … Not So Much!

There are at leasttwo sides to every equation, and in the world of real estate things are no different. Today we’re going to look at rental rates … which are rising for a variety of reasons. That’s good news for investors on one hand … they are getting more return. It’s not such good news for Renters, many of whom are getting priced out of higher priced markets like San Francisco.

There are a variety of forces comvbining to bring about this trend. When the real estate market crashed in 2007 many homeowners lost their homes and were forcedinto the aparment rental market. During the credit crisis that followed, many developers could not get loans and construction of new multi-family units ground to a halt. Nowwe have the end result ofthat: a market with more people wanting to rent and not enough units available in most markets. Thus higher rents.

To look at the trends in detail, here’s a great article from Alex Veiga,  AP Real Estate Writer, as it appeared just the other day in the Alliance Review:

Growing demand for US apartments pushing up rents – The Alliance Review Fri, 11 Apr 2014 07:01:00 GMT

The Picerne Group is among the apartment complex owners with buildings under construction. The company, which owns properties in California, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado, expects to break ground soon on luxury rental buildings in the Southern California cities of Cerritos and Ontario. The buildings, which have nearly 500 units combined, are due to open next year, said Brad Perozzi, managing director of the company, based in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. “We definitely see demand improving, especially the younger demographic coming out of college and being in their prime renter years,” …

Read More Here:

Savvy Investors Still Have Time!

As you can see by the article, the experts do not expect the trend to “peter out” anytime soon. Once again, this is good news for potential investors. If you’re looking for a reliable place to invest, the Southern California multi-family real estate market might be a very good place to look. In our office we specialize in commercial development and commercial investments of just this type of property. Contact us with any questions or if you’d like to discuss the possibility of investing in Southern California multi-family real estate.

San Gabriel Valley: Some Great Food & Restaurants

San Gabriel Valley:
Some Great Food & Restaurants

San Gabriel Valley Food | Brion Costa

Fruit-filled behemoths have made The Donut Man a destination.

13 Of The East San Gabriel Valley’s Best Dishes

As the San Gabriel Valley grows, morphs, and changes, so does the food available here. Over the last couple of years things have really changed, and now the area is known as being the place to be for the best Chinese food in the entire nation!

That yummy prospect is really only the beginning, though. Throughout the valley you’ll find great food from Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia … but you’ll still find some of the best Mexican and Italian food on the planet! We are, in fact, beoming known as one of the great areas to explore for really great food from all around the world!

In keeping with our new focus of providing our readers with not just the most up-to-date real estate news about the area, but also expanding that to include local events, activities, and history, here’s an article titled “13 Best Dishes In The East San Gabriel Valley“. It’s from Joshua Lurie writing in Food Republic:

13 Best Dishes In The East San Gabriel Valley | Food Republic Mon, 07 Apr 2014 17:00:07 GMT

The San Gabriel Valley, a sprawling area east of downtown Los Angeles that encompasses almost 300 square miles, houses the best regional Chinese cuisine in the U.S., plus impressive representatives from countries like Vietnam, Japan and Indonesia. Navigating the vast expanse can be a challenge. We started in the west and conclude our tour in the eastern SGV, which extends from San Dimas and Diamond Bar west to the 605 Freeway. Here are 13 of the east’s best dishes. …

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San Gabriel Valley Food and Restaurant Information!

As time goes by here, we are going to be building up more and more information on this site concerning San Gabriel Valley activities and information … such as food and restaurants. We hope you’ve found this post informative and we hope also that you’ll join us for more food and recreational activity information in the future.

Real Estate News: Zillow To Market Southland Homes Directly To Chinese Market

Real Estate News:
Zillow To Market Southland Homes Directly To Chinese Market!

Southern California Real Estate | Brion Costa

Homebuilder Lennar has attracted Chinese and Chinese American buyers in Chino, Calif., such as Rebecca Chow and her family, from left, Ryan, Tiffany, and Tommy, with a home-within-a-home concept with a second living room and “wok” kitchen designed to accommodate Chinese cooking (LA Times /Cheryl A. Guerrero / MCT / September 7, 2013)

Zillow Announces Partnership & Will Provide SoCal Listings Through Chinese Online Portal 

We’ve written in these pages recently about the current influx of Southern California real estate buyers that are Chinese nationals. There is a great deal of money being invested in California real estate that is coming from China these days. In fact, wealthy Chinese buyers are driving the market in certain areas. The San Gabriel Valley is certainly one of the most prominent of those.

As if to offer verification of these contentions, the Seattle-based real estate website company, Zillow, Inc., has just announced that it will partner with Beijing-based Leju, an affiliate of E-House China Holdings, Ltd. Together the two companies will construct a co-branded website to offer Zillow’s US online listing data to Chinese buyers in China.

Here’s an article from Andrew Khouri with all the details as it appeared in the Los Angeles Times:

Zillow To Partner With Beijing Firm To Market U.S. Homes Abroad – Los Angeles Times Wed, 4 Apr 2014

Many see U.S. real estate as a cheaper and more stable investment as fears over a Chinese property bubble grow amid other political and economic concerns. … Chinese buyers bought 12% of all U.S. homes purchased by foreign citizens last year, up from 5% in 2007, according to the National Assn. of Realtors. More than half their home purchases were in California. And more than two-thirds of them paid cash…

Read More Here:,0,4820992.story#axzz2xwqk5gDT


UPDATE: Read Zillow’s Own Announcement To Real Estate Pro’s

Zillow to Power U.S. Real Estate Listings For Leju, China’s Second Largest Real Estate Website – Zillow For Pro’s Blog 2 Apr 2014

Beginning in early summer 2014, Leju visitors who search for U.S. properties will be brought to a Zillow-Leju co-branded website whereby they will have access to Zillow’s robust home search experience, rich data on homes, millions of for-sale listings, and unique pre-market inventory … The co-branded site will be translated into Chinese….

Read More Here:


Savvy Brokers and Agents Can Capitalize

With the coming of this new and very direct informational link with the huge potential market of Chinese buyers, savvy real estate brokers and agents can make good use of this new opportunity. With so much of the California market being driven by this type of investor, those real estate practioners who have their listings displayed on Zillow will have a huge new market … that of the Chinese investor … directly viewing the properties they have available.

Southern California Home Sales: Highest Southland Price Ever At $102 Million!

Southern California Real Estate:
Highest Southland Price Ever At $102 Million!

Southern California Real Estate | Brion Costa“Un-sellable ‘Fleur De Lys’ Mansion Sells To Mysterious Buyer! 

Well, whoever the buyer might be, and whatever the mysteries are, the fact remains that this is a very good sign for the future of Southern California real estate. SOMEONE is willing to sink this much money into the ground here in California for a residential property. That’s news that may seem frivolous at first, but really cannot be ignored … and it effects all areas of the Southland, not just the west side.

The property has been on and off the market for years now, and some were beginning to think it could not besold for anything approaching an acceptable price. The current sale would be the highest ever in California, but there was one for $117.5 million in Northern California last year which was also the highest ever for a singleresidential sale in the U.S.

There has been speculation that the buyer is Michael Milken, the infamous “junk bonds” trader who ran afoul of the SEC in the 1990’s. However, no one isconfirming anything as yet.

Here’s a video from CBS in Los Angeles, and an article from Lauren Beale in the Los Angeles Times:

Westside mansion sells for $102 million, highest Southland price – Los Angeles Times Tue, 01 Apr 2014 17:48:35 GMT

After an international bidding war, a Westside mansion often described as a French palace has changed hands for $102 million, making it the most expensive residential sale ever recorded in Southern California. As is often the case with high-end properties, the identity of the trophy home’s unnamed buyer has been obscured behind layers of lawyers, agents and a limited liability company.  …

Read More Here:,0,7358513.story

Upper End Homes Are Moving – A Good Sign For The Market

There’s an old phrase in the investment world that refers to “the Smart Money”. In real estate the “Smart Money” can usually be traced by following the Upper End market. This part of the market is populated with folks who make a business of investing and who also have people (advisors) who help them do it wisely. Using the upper end market as one barometer of the real estate market can be very wise. You can get a good sense of how comfortable the “smart money” folks are with sinking their funds into the ground of an area. That can tell you a lot about how knowlegeable people feel about the area’s economy and prospects.

In Southern California, the high end market is moving. This bodes well for the future of the Southern California real estate market and for the area’s economy in general.