How Will the Winds Shift for SoCal Housing Market After Wildfires?

It's the uncertainty that has kept Howard Behar on edge. From the windows of his four-bedroom Bel Air home in Los Angeles, the entertainment lawyer can smell the smoke. From his neighbor's home, which sits on a canyon rim, he's seen helicopters dumping water on the wildfires below. He and his wife packed a car with a few changes of clothes, important documents, and a few select family photos—just in case they're ordered to evacuate. "I'm exhausted. It's been stressful and scary," says Behar, 67, who has lived in the home since 2001. "You've got to sleep with one eye open because you don't know what's going to happen. ... [Wind] can shift." Just two months after the deadliest wildfires in California's history, hundreds of miles to the north in the wine country of Sonoma and Napa counties, the state finds itself fighting a growing and dangerous conflagration again. As of Friday morning, six wildfires in Southern California had torched 141,000 acres, 212,000 people had been evacuated, and hundreds of buildings had been damaged and destroyed, according to the most recent information from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. Several people have been injured, but no casualties have been reported so far. The state has issued its highest fire alert. More than 86,000 homes in Ventura and Los Angeles counties are at risk of damage from this latest round of fires, according to real estate data firm CoreLogic. That could cost $27.7 billion to rebuild. And these figures don't include the more recent blazes that broke out in San Diego to the south and Riverside County, east of L.A. Compounding the tragedy is that these are already tight housing markets. That could get worse as more displaced renters and homeowners compete for whatever unharmed abodes are available as they rebuild. It could "exacerbate an already challenging market for buyers," says Chief Economist Danielle Hale of realtor.com®. "People will probably look more toward apartments." But there aren't enough affordably priced rentals to go around either. In all of California, nearly 2,045,000 homes are deemed at high or extreme risk from wildfires, according to the 2017 Verisk Wildfire Risk Analysis. That's 15% of the state's households, according to the insurance, natural resources, and financial services data analytics company based in Jersey City, NJ.

Lessons learned from October's deadly fires

Usually after a major disaster, real estate prices drop. Buyers don't want to look out their windows to see the burnt-out remains of their neighbors' homes. Whole neighborhoods can become loud and messy construction zones as residents rebuild their beloved communities. And of course, there are always fears that another disaster could strike. The October fires in Northern California killed 44 people, damaged more than 21,000 homes and 2,800 businesses, and cost more than $9.4 billion in insurance claims as of Dec. 1, according to the California Department of Insurance. About 100,000 residents were forced to flee their homes. But instead of prices going down, they actually shot up in Sonoma and Napa counties after the tragic wildfires. Median prices of single-family houses rose 6.1% in Sonoma and 7.5% in Napa from September to November, according to real estate brokerage Pacific Union. In Santa Rosa, the Sonoma County city that was devastated by the fires, median home prices have risen about 9%, says real estate agent Daphne Peterson of Keller Williams Realty. They typically fall this time of year as the market slows down ahead of the holidays. So what's going on? Despite the destruction, this is still an incredibly desirable area to be—so much so that folks are willing to take the risk. Many of the residents who lost their homes still want to remain in the area, and will pay whatever is necessary to do so. That's why in these sorts of anomalous places, prices can rise as a result of the disaster, says Orell Anderson, a national real estate appraiser with Strategic Property Analytics in Laguna Beach, CA. The fact that there weren't enough homes on the market before the crisis only exacerbates the situation. Undamaged homes are now receiving multiple offers and going as high as $100,000 to $200,000 above asking, says Rick Laws, regional vice president of Sonoma County for Pacific Union. And many buyers in the wealthy area, whose high-end homes were damaged in the flames, have the means to pay all cash. "The majority of people here are saying, 'This is my home, this is my neighborhood, this is my community,'" says Laws of locals who want to stick around as they fix up their homes. "We’re going to rebuild and we’re going to make our community and our homes nicer than they were,” these locals say, according to Laws.

How natural disasters usually affect local real estate

That kind of topsy-turvy postdisaster price appreciation may not occur in Los Angeles and the other counties affected by these latest infernos. After most natural disasters, homeowners can expect to absorb a roughly 10% discount if they put their properties on the market, says real estate appraiser Anderson. That's because people buy neighborhoods as well as homes. So properties that were miraculously spared on burnt-out blocks are going to see the biggest discounts. (Buyers are unlikely to want daily reminders of the devastation.) Los Angeles has some of the nation's most expensive real estate, but the city is very different from the wine counties up north—vastly larger, more diverse, and perhaps less predictable. And it isn't yet known which areas will be damaged. Generally, most people after a disaster are risk-averse, and yet most will rebuild, Anderson says. If a rebuilt home is later sold, it typically does so for about 5% to 10% less than the previous price. But that discount fades over time, and by five years or so, it disappears. Rebuilding is likely to cost a pretty penny after the Los Angeles fires, as the demand for construction workers and materials, already tight in the region after the last round, will soar due to the demand. Homeowners whose homes were burnt also have to contend with insurance companies paying out only home repairs. They typically don't compensate policy holders for the value of the land, which in some parts of California can total about half of the property's value—if not more. And even those unaffected by the fire may not be fully safe—they need to be on guard against landslides, Anderson says. Many of the trees and plants incinerated in the blaze were anchoring the land on hillsides. Without those stabilizing roots, land could be more vulnerable during a big rainstorm. "Natural disasters on this scale can put a thumb on the scale psychologically against people relocating to California," says Patrick Carlisle, chief market analyst at the Paragon Real Estate Group in San Francisco. "However, unless the fires continue, people’s memories are relatively short." But it could induce some folks whose homes were destroyed or those already considering a move, like retirees, to leave, he says.

Wildfire season is lasting longer

Wildfires are fairly common natural occurrences in the western swath of the country. They rejuvenate forests as they help certain plants to reproduce. They're usually problematic only when they burn through heavily inhabited areas, says Tom Jeffery, senior hazard scientist at CoreLogic. The high, hot Santa Ana winds that typically whip up this time of year are making the situation even worse, pushing the fires through vegetation that dried out in the drought. That's made the area "very susceptible to wildfires," he says. The lack of rainfall is also intensifying the problem. Wildfire season usually runs from late spring and early summer to midfall. By December, it's usually over. But "what we're seeing more and more is a lengthening of that season," Jeffery says. Some areas, including much of Southern California, now have year-round risks. "Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be anything in the near term that's going to reduce this [wildfire] risk." That danger hasn't made Bel Air homeowner Behar, and many more like him, want to move. "This isn't the first fire in California. And we have earthquakes, too, and we keep thinking about 'the big one' coming," Behar says. "But you probably can’t go anywhere in the world where it's completely safe.” Article found on Realtor.com

The construction worker shortage in California is getting even worse

It’s time Californians swap the fedora and snapback for the hard hat. A new survey from the Associated General Contractors of America found that 70 percent of construction firms are struggling to find quality workers, KPCC reports. The firm surveyed over 1600 firms working in public works, commercial, industrial and apartment construction across the nation– 97 of which were from California. Single-family home builders were exempt. The survey showed 75 percent of the firms surveyed in the western part of the the country were struggling to fill construction positions, up from 71 percent in 2016. Roughly 70 percent said they were still planning to grow their crews in the coming year to meet demand. For the Golden State, that news is especially troubling as developers and lawmakers are in a rat race to build in an effort to combat the housing shortage. The state added nearly 50,000 construction jobs in the period of July 2016 to July 2017, with 34,000 projects in the Southern California region. With less quality workers available, trade organizations and construction firms are investing more heavily in recruiting and training workers who weren’t traditionally in the field, such as women and veterans. Others are increasing hourly wages to retrain and attract workers, contractors group said. [KPCC] – Natalie Hoberman   Article found on therealdeal.com

How to ditch vibe-crushers that could give potential buyers the creeps

Whether it’s an off-putting odor, kitschy decor or questionable artwork, a good real estate agent knows how to disappear such sale-killers for potential buyers without offending the home seller. If professional staging isn’t an option, real estate agents are left to tell clients, delicately, how to literally and figuratively hide the dirty laundry — or the litter box, prurient artwork or even that collection of family keepsakes that can be a bit too personal. “There is no more emotional product on the market. This is their nest egg, their inheritance,” said Sharona Alperin, of Sotheby’s International Realty in West Hollywood. “I tell them I am here for one reason and that’s to maximize their return on the sale. And it’s a business at this point. They have to realize they have to turn it from a home into a house.” The process begins with an overall deep cleaning and de-cluttering, but what agents have found in the process can be surprising. Mike Deasy, chief executive of Deasy/Penner & Partners, has seen his share of oddities throughout his career. “We have had, I think twice, collectors of insects, but they kept them in a glass case,” he said. “And there was one instance where there was a pathologist, and he had various specimens of things in jars. We told him to put those away.” Home offices also offer the unexpected, particularly among medical professionals who may have diagrams and three-dimensional models of things you’d rather not think about. Though many potential home buyers are animal lovers, there are limits. Deasy has more than once seen a departed furry companion preserved in taxidermy and proudly displayed. “That freaks people out,” Deasy said. “And animal trophies — mounted heads — that disturbs a number of people, especially in L.A. Sometimes you see them in a gentlemen’s pub room or pool rooms. Men think it’s a sign of macho, but a lot of men and women don’t think that way.” Living pets can pose an equal hazard. “People love pets, but they don’t want to see any traces of them when they go to buy a house,” said Ken Winick, a Coldwell Banker agent in Silver Lake. “I’ve seen houses where you walk in and they haven’t cleaned up after their dog and there are clumps of hairballs that roll across the floor and blow away.” Winick advises sellers to fix pet damage — clawed doors and screens, scratched floors and lingering odors — or expect a 5% to 10% hit to the home’s selling price. Brian Ades of Sotheby’s isn’t staunchly against clutter. However, he’s careful about leaving remainders of a former resident’s illness in homes, including medications or special equipment such as medical beds or walkers. “One of the biggest things is what do we do with the mechanical chair that takes you to the second floor. You should have it removed. It’s a little Debbie Downer,” he said. “It’s expensive, and it served its purpose, but now it’s time to go.”   Article from LATimes.com written by Valli Herman

Is the real estate market about to crash? No way, says this CEO — and here’s why

With corporate headquarters on Bunker Hill downtown, CBRE Group Inc. — the world's largest real estate services firm — is one of only a handful of Fortune 500 firms based in Los Angeles. And it’s riding high after a long real estate boom. The company finished the first quarter with its profit up nearly 60% compared with a year earlier to $130 million after posting record revenue of $13.1 billion in 2016.
Los Angeles has notably benefited from the boom too, and looks to continue doing so. The city ranked No. 1 in a recent CBRE survey of global real estate investors looking to buy property this year in North America. “L.A. is the Clayton Kershaw of destinations for institutional capital,” said Chief Executive Robert Sulentic, 60, who has led the company since 2012 and previously was chief executive of Trammell Crow Co., a Texas real estate developer CBRE acquired in 2006. The company, known for decades as Coldwell Banker & Co., makes money on commissions from brokers who arrange sales and leases of offices, warehouses and other commercial property, and by managing real estate for corporations and other property owners. Though it keeps a fairly low profile in its hometown, its roughly 75,000 employees have a vast footprint, with clients in more than 100 countries. It counts outposts in such financial centers as New York, London, Paris, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore. In a recent wide-ranging interview, Sulentic, who grew up in Iowa and graduated from Harvard Business School, discussed how his firm is faring and whether the real estate market is due for a big correction, as some fear.

What is it about L.A. that makes real estate investors write big checks?

One of the key things is that there is good job growth here — more than in San Francisco and San Jose combined. L.A. has a cross-section of what millennials like: It’s the entertainment capital of the world with beaches, mountains and edgy places like Venice and Hollywood to live. Tech companies like that. One of the problems Silicon Valley has is no office space. We have a decent amount of empty space in L.A., and that’s a good thing. It’s also cleaner than other international cities. The whole emissions-control program has been a big difference maker.

CBRE leases and sells a lot of shopping centers. Isn’t the whole retail sector getting hammered by online sales?

About 12% of all retail sales are only online, so a massive amount of product is still bought in stores. Well-located malls and high-street retailers in places like L.A. are doing quite well — retail rents grew faster than office rents last year. B and C-level malls are under pressure, however, and where retailers overbuilt there is going to be a day of reckoning independent of e-commerce.

But why travel to a mall when you can get exactly what you want with a few mouse clicks?

There isn’t a single baseball game that will be played in the big leagues that you couldn’t watch better on your couch, but 75 million people will go to the ballpark this year because people want an experience, want to be with other people. Imagine being a millennial in a favored place like downtown or Hollywood. If I said to you, “By the way, there is no retail,” would you go live there? You would not, and neither would they. That’s why retail is not going away. We do think e-commerce is a big deal. We just don’t think e-commerce is going to run retail off.

The industrial real estate market has practically no vacancies in much of Southern California and elsewhere. What’s going on?

This is where e-commerce is a growing factor. People like to buy good stuff from around the world, and that fills up warehouses. There has to be a whole distribution system to handle that. This year it looks like we’re going to build more than we lease, though. It has been the other way around.

Have we overdosed on so-called creative offices, where most employees share an open floor plan and individual offices are out of fashion?

Some people say the pendulum has swung too far, and it probably has. But most companies want to work with some version of creative space. You can do that in a downtown high-rise or a warehouse in Venice. People are saying, “We’ve got to figure out who we are and what works for us.” Maybe that’s more private offices. Tech companies are leading the way. Pull up a picture of Apple’s new headquarters. It’s hardly a loft space.

Experience teaches us that the real estate market is cyclical, and we’ve been on the upswing for years now. Is it time for a downturn?

We expect the economy will sustain slow growth into next year. If it’s slow growth, there won’t be a lot of overbuilding. Historically, several years into an economic expansion there is overbuilding. Now the market is more organized. This is unlike any cycle I have seen in my 33-year career.

Are you saying the real estate industry somehow finally got smart enough to avoid overbuilding and tanking the market?

The industry is capitalized and managed more transparently and thoughtfully than it has been historically, with less easy money floating around. Banks got smarter, equity sources got smarter and developers got smarter and more conservative. Compared to 25 years ago, the business is more transparent, professional and institutional. That makes a crash less likely.

CBRE beat analysts’ earnings estimates by at least a dime for the last two quarters. What did analysts miss?

They are handicapping us to perform like the real estate market, but we have some things going on that aren’t fully understood. For example, our real estate outsourcing business we call Global Workplace Solutions (a property management service) is growing consistently at a double-digit rate. If investment sales slow down, that doesn’t slow down. Across the board we have been doing a good job of taking market share.   Article seen in the LAtime.com, written by Roger Vincent.

What $2 million buys right now in three L.A. County real estate markets

Here’s a look at what’s on the market for about $2 million in the affluent communities of Cheviot Hills, Pacific Palisades and Rolling Hills Estates. CHEVIOT HILLS: Built in 1938, this single-story home features an updated kitchen with white subway tile and a wide island/bar.
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Address: 10561 Clarkson Road, Los Angeles, 90064 Listed for: $1.999 million for four bedrooms, three bathrooms in 2,400 square feet (7,649-square-foot lot) Features: Updated bathrooms; living room with fireplace; outdoor living room About the area: In the 90064 ZIP Code, based on 26 sales, the median sales price for single-family homes in March was $1.807 million, up 46.3% year over year, according to CoreLogic. PACIFIC PALISADES: Situated at the end of a cul-de-sac, this updated midcentury invites self-reflection with a glass-enclosed meditation room. Address: 16925 Donna Ynez Lane, Pacific Palisades, 90272 Listed for: $1.895 million for three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms in 2,016 square feet (0.35-acre lot) Features: Open-plan living room; mountain and ocean views About the area: In the 90272 ZIP Code, based on 25 sales, the median sales price for single-family homes in March was $2.625 million, a 3.4% decrease year over year, according to CoreLogic. ROLLING HILLS ESTATES: Sliding glass doors lead to a wraparound deck at this freshly renovated traditional-style home on more than a quarter-acre. Address: 4 Gaucho Drive, Rolling Hills Estates, 90274 Listed for: $1.995 million for four bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms in 2,630 square feet (0.28-acre lot) Features: Open-space floor plan; chef’s kitchen with center island; fireplace feature About the area: In the 90274 ZIP Code, based on 34 sales, the median sales price for single-family homes in March was $1.476 million, up 7.3% year over year, according to CoreLogic. CHEVIOT HILLS: Lush landscaping and mature trees surround this 1950s traditional, which has hardwood floors and a wall fireplace in the living room. Address: 2736 Anchor Ave., Los Angeles, 90064 Listed for: $1.895 million for four bedrooms, three bathrooms in 2,738 square feet (9,459-square-foot lot) Features: Formal dining room; covered patio; park and greenbelt views About the area: In the 90064 ZIP Code, based on 26 sales, the median sales price for single-family homes in March was $1.807 million, up 46.3% year over year, according to CoreLogic. PACIFIC PALISADES: Vaulted and beamed ceilings keep the eyes moving upward inside this traditional-style home, built in 1954. Address: 16723 W. Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades, 90272 Listed for: $1.995 million for three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms in 2,010 square feet (4,946-square-foot lot) Features: Living room with fireplace; hardwood floors; updated kitchen/baths About the area: In the 90272 ZIP Code, based on 25 sales, the median sales price for single-family homes in March was $2.625 million, a 3.4% decrease year over year, according to CoreLogic. ROLLING HILLS ESTATES: Two-story windows and thin clerestories bring natural light inside this updated home with a swimming pool. Address: 34 Horseshoe Lane, Rolling Hills Estates, 90275 Listed for: $1.99 million for four bedrooms, four bathrooms in 3,024 square feet (0.32-acre lot) Features: Vaulted and beamed ceilings; living room with fireplace; conversation pit About the area: In the 90275 ZIP Code, based on 28 sales, the median sales price for single-family homes in March was $1.293 million, up 1.2% year over year, according to CoreLogic. Article from LAtimes.com

Charming Cape Cod Style Makes You Feel Right at Home

Cape Cod-style homes may have originated on the East Coast, but they’re making a comeback on the opposite coast. The popular cottage style’s roots can be traced to Colonial New England, and is quickly recognizable by its low, broad profile, typically one and a half stories half tall, with a steeply pitched roof with end gables. In cold climates, the roofline of a Cape Cod is practical as it sheds snow and water. But it’s the traditional look of the inviting homes that are attracting more of them to be renovated or built from the ground up in one Los Angeles coastal community: Pacific Palisades.

One community’s most-desirable style

“The majority of homes I sell in the Palisades are Cape Cod-style; it’s the most desired style in the community,” said Marco Rufo of our Pacific Palisades office.
cape-cod-architecture

16957 West Sunset, Pacific Palisades | Presented by Marco Rufo

“Many Cape Cod homes have been here for years, but most are brand-new construction. Pacific Palisades is a very traditional area, very family-oriented, and that Cape Cod style is reminiscent of that. We’re considered like a little Mayberry here. It’s a very quaint town.” 'The Cape Cod style is the most desired style in the Palisades' - @marcorufo Click To Tweet Also quaint are the towns back east where Cape Cod homes are found, including much of New England, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and parts of New York. Cape Cod homes remind people of those places, which also attracts them to the style. The homes’ characteristics vary from region to region, depending on location and weather.

A variety of wood styles

“The ones really close to the water have a lot of cedar-wood shingle, the ones more inland have a lot of plank, and most of them are horizontal as opposed to vertical plank,” Marco said. “And the ones from the Hamptons are all vertical plank. So there are specific styles for specific areas, and we have every one of them in the Palisades. “There’s been a growing number of custom-built Cape Cods in Brentwood and West Los Angeles, where you didn’t see them so much before, and also in Santa Monica, where styles were always very Mediterranean and Spanish.”

Revived in the 20th century

Massachusetts-born architect Royal Barry Wills is widely credited with popularizing the Cape Cod-style house, particularly its 1930s to 1950s Colonial Revival incarnation. Houses built to his designs continue to command premium prices. Wills was greatly inspired by the homes along the shores of Cape Cod in the 17th and 18th centuries. The simple structures were designed with affordability and practically in mind. They had to withstand the region’s fluctuating weather conditions, which included harsh winters. The homes were made of timber, which was abundant in the area, and had a steeply pitched roof that kept snow from piling up. A central fireplace was often built to keep the whole house warm.
cape-cod-architecture

1120 Monument Street, Pacific Palisades | Presented by Marco Rufo

Details to look for

Other defining characteristics of Cape Cod-style homes include:
  • Cozy and efficient floorplans.
  • Shutters, which were a must in the original Cape Cod designs to protect windows from severe winds.
  • Dormers, the windows on the second floor, were more common in the 20th-century versions of the Cape Cod. They let light into the second-floor bedrooms.
  • Windows made of many small panes of glass, which also stood up better to the high winds and weather of New England than an individual pane.
  • Simple, symmetrical exteriors ideal for embellishments such as window boxes and pedestrian paths.
  • Indoor and outdoor light fixtures and sconces specific to Cape Cods.
The style has come a long way from the original cottages. They’re now all sizes, with new ones designed to accommodated the needs of modern families. If you find one, you’re sure to fall in love with this style that has stood the test of time.   Article from Bershire Hathaway Blog : http://blog.bhhscalifornia.com/charming-cape-cod-style-makes-you-feel-right-at-home/

Los Angeles ranks as the top choice in the U.S. for international real estate investors

Los Angeles is in a sweet spot in its real estate cycle that will make it one of the top choices in the world for buying property this year, a new report says. The L.A. area ranked number one in North America in a survey of global real estate investors who have a combined total of $1.7 trillion to spend on property in 2017. Top choice cities for investment in other regions were London and Sydney. Overall, offices are the preferred category of real estate to buy, with warehouse distribution centers and multifamily residential buildings close behind. Shopping centers, hotels and industrial properties ranked lower in investor interest. “L.A. has been waiting for this moment for a long time,” said Lew Horne, president of Southern California and Hawaii for CBRE Group Inc., the Los Angeles-based international real estate services company that conducted the survey to be released this week. It was the second year in a row that Los Angeles was the top choice for investment in the Americas. In the first CBRE Global Investor Intentions Survey, conducted two years ago, San Francisco ranked number one in the region. Forty percent of investors said they intend to spend more this year than this did last year, while 16% said they would spend less. Researchers caution that while the outlook for commercial real estate investment looks more positive this year than it in 2016, we are now the eighth year of a global economic expansion. Property values have risen for the most every year since 2009, which suggests the market may be peaking. Only 15% of respondents, however, said that property is overpriced and that bubble conditions exist. Of greater concern was the fear that interest rates could rise faster than expected (21%) or that an undefined “global economic shock” could undermine demand from renters (22%). Los Angeles is in a more favorable point in its real estate cycle than other markets are in theirs, said Todd Tydlaska, a CBRE broker who specializes in investment property sales. “Rents in other markets have really run up” in recent years, he said. “L.A. was late to the recovery and still has room for rents to rise.” Property prices in Los Angeles are also considered a bit of a bargain by international standards, Tydlaska said. “L.A. is still a value compared to San Francisco.” Even though investors remain bullish on Los Angeles, it may be hard to top the volume of money spent there last year, he said, when some enormous deals took place. Among the biggest were the $1.34 billion purchase of four Westwood office buildings by local real estate investment trust Douglas Emmett Inc. and the Qatar Investment Authority, as well as the $511 million purchase of the Colorado Center office complex in Santa Monica by Boston real estate investment trust Boston Properties Inc. Another was the $429 million purchase of two Playa Vista office buildings by New York landlord Edward J. Minskoff Equities Inc. All three were among the 50 largest office deals in the country last year, according to real estate software provider Yardi Systems Inc. “Los Angeles’s office market reigns supreme as the main target for investment on the West Coast,” Yardi said in a report. The Westside, where those those and other big sales took place, is the L.A. area’s core market for investment, according to CBRE, in part because it consistently commands the highest rents in the region. But downtown Los Angeles, which has seen billions of dollars worth of investment from Chinese and Canadian firms in recent years, is also growing in appeal to U.S. developers with experience in other cities where old neighborhoods have already been transformed, Horne said. He expects still more investment in once-neglected blocks such as L.A.’s Arts District and Historic Core. “The guys from New York and San Francisco have already seen this movie before,” Horne said.
Article by Roger Vincent on LATimes.com

Introducing Palisadian-Post’s Real Estate Columnist: Marco Rufo

Marco Rufo has worked all over the world, but his work in Pacific Palisades as a broker associate and luxury properties specialist with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices keeps the Sunset Mesa resident passionate about his career today.

Photo courtesy of Marco Rufo

Photo courtesy of Marco Rufo

The award-winning real estate professional with over 20 years of experience was born in a small town called San Donato, located about 60 miles southeast of Rome.

“My family immigrated to this country from Italy when I was about 7 years old,” Rufo said. “At home as a child my language was Italian, and after coming to the United States, I grew up in West Newton, a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts.”

Growing up, Rufo worked for his father’s construction company, building and designing homes throughout Boston. He moved from Boston to Los Angeles at 17 years old to attend UCLA.

“I studied business and minored in theater, living in Westwood while I was attending school,” Rufo said of his time in college.

Rufo started his real estate career in commercial real estate in Beverly Hills, where he lived from 1992-2008.

“I specifically represented a Japanese conglomerate, and I became their exclusive real estate broker. We bought hotels [in Hawaii and Beverly Hills], resorts [in Canada, Palm Springs and San Diego] and many office buildings, the largest being the AT&T building in downtown LA for $96 million,” Rufo said.

But then his career path changed course a bit.

“My commercial real estate days ended in the late ’90s, at which time I transitioned into residential real estate,” he explained. “I was part owner of a Century 21 office in LA and managed about 120 real estate agents. I sold my share to my partners in 2003. Then in 2004, I became one of the managers at Sotheby’s International Realty in Santa Monica and worked there for about three years.”

He then moved to Pacific Palisades and became the managing broker for Miramar Coastal Properties for three years. Then, in 2010, he began working for Prudential California Realty in Pacific Palisades, which is now Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

“When I lived in Beverly Hills I had purchased a piece of land in Malibu and built a 4,000 square-foot brand new traditional home, which I sold in 2013,” Rufo explained of what brought him to the Palisades. “During that process I landed in Pacific Palisades and purchased another piece of property, tore it down and built the 3,300 square-foot home in Sunset Mesa, where I currently live.”

Throughout his 20-plus years of experience, Rufo has won awards and earned accreditations. He currently serves as director, president of the Professional Standards Committee and president of the Grievance Committee—all for the Beverly Hills Greater Los Angeles Board of Realtors. Rufo also holds several National Association of Realtors designations, including e-PRO, GRI, ABR, CRS and SRES.

And when he’s not working?

“My family is a big part of my life,” Rufo shared. “I met my wife Paula in 2001 and we were married in 2003. We have two beautiful girls: Alexa and Olivia. Both girls go to Corpus Christi School, which is right across the street from my office and that was very important to me.”

Article found on palipost.com

Top 10 Home Design Trends To Expect In 2017

Article found at Forbes.com By Mitchell Parker Looking for some great ideas for your home? How about a voice-activated assistant that will give you a weather update while you pour coffee into a preheated mug from a warming drawer? Not your style? No worries — there’s something for everyone in this preview of 2017 design trends. We plowed into Houzz data, sifted through popular photos and articles, and talked to industry leaders for this look at 10 things we think you’ll be seeing more of in the home in 2017.
  1. Satin brass. Brass finishes have been making a comeback in recent years, cherished for their ability to bring shiny golden tones to a space without the high price tag. But more recently, designers like Elizabeth Lawson have been turning away from the reflective finish of polished brass and embracing satin or brushed brass, which is more muted and warm.
“I especially like a satin brass finish because it’s transitional and can complement a number of styles,” says Lawson, who used the finish in the kitchen shown here. “It also looks amazing against almost any color of the rainbow. I think we’ll continue to see rooms with satin brass for quite some time and also possibly mixed with other finishes for a more eclectic look.”
  1. Voice-activated assistants. There’s been a lot of talk about voice assistants in the home. It’s something Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on the Consumer Electronics Show every year in Las Vegas (Jan. 5 to 8, 2017), says will be big in 2017.
Amazon’s Alexa, which is enabled in the Echo Dot shown on this side table, acts as a voice-activated interface for many smart home devices. Google Home’s voice assistant launched about a month ago. These devices work through activation phrases like “Alexa” or “OK Google.” The devices, placed throughout your home, are always listening in somewhat of a dormant state. Say the activation phrase, and the device fires up and awaits your command. Ask it to give you the weather or play a song from Spotify or dim your lights or power up the hot tub. Early last year, Amazon opened its platform to third parties and has since added thousands of integrated features from smart home companies like Lutron, Crestron, Philips Hue, Wemo, Honeywell, Nest, Samsung Smart Home to other services from Uber, Domino’s, NPR and more. Google Home just launched its voice-activated assistant about a month ago, and DuBravac says he expects the company to open the platform to third-party companies soon. “What you’re seeing is continued maturing of the smart home ecosystem,” he says. “It’s still a very nascent technology. Maturing isn’t something that happens instantaneously, but over time.”
  1. Vanity conversions. If you’re having trouble finding the right premanufactured vanity for your home, try thinking outside the cabinet box. Many savvy homeowners are finding chests of drawers, old file cabinets, vintage consoles and more, and converting them into one-of-a-kind vanities.
  1. Hardworking kitchen storage walls. In search of more open space, many homeowners and designers are doing away with expanses of upper cabinets and pushing all that storage onto a single hardworking wall. This one-stop hub frees up the rest of the space to create a breezy look.
  2. White with off-white. There’s just something refreshing about a room bathed in white. But when done in one stark white tone, things can start to feel clinical. Balancing a white palette with creamy off-whites and natural linen hues creates a breathtaking look that can be rich with character.
  1. Greenery. Pantone’s verdant color of the year for 2017, Greenery, seems to be an instant hit for those looking for a revitalizing, back-to-nature hue that brings zest while still managing to work with warm wood tones.
  2. Splurging on laundry rooms. Everyone knows that kitchens and bathrooms get the big remodeling dollars, but many homeowners are seeing value in making every space look great. And laundry rooms in particular are seeing more love. Design tricks to bring in more light, smarter storage and better function resonate with homeowners who realize that since they spend a lot of time doing laundry, why not do it in a space that makes them feel good?
According to the 2016 Houzz & Home Report, people remodeling their laundry rooms of 150 square feet or more will spend an average of $2,700. Take away appliances, and that’s a sizable budget to splurge on tile and other details.
  1. Splurging on entryways. The entry, like a powder room, is a compact place where you can have fun with design without blowing a budget. Homeowners will spend on average $2,500 to make over their entryway or mudroom that’s 150 square feet or more ($1,400 for a space that’s less than 150 square feet), according to the 2016 Houzz & Home Report.
Sometimes all it takes is a small area to feature a fun piece of wallpaper, a statement mirror or a narrow table with a tray for shoes underneath. After all, first impressions matter.
  1. Outdoor-feeling indoor showers. An outdoor shower is highly desirable but not practical year-round in most areas of the country. To get around the weather dilemma, designers and homeowners are looking to intimate courtyards and strategic site placement to create bathrooms that connect deeply to the outdoors while still maintaining privacy.
  1. Counter-depth fridges. For small to modest-size kitchens, remodeling is often a game of inches. Counter-depth refrigerators sit flush with adjacent cabinetry and countertops, freeing up just a bit more space while creating a streamlined look.

10 of the Most Beautiful Streets in the World

Not all streets are created equal. Take the colorful Caminito that anchors Buenos Aires's La Boca neighborhood—not only does it provide visitors with a vibrant photo op, but it also serves as a reminder of how the neighborhood was built in the 19th century. Streets, however, don't have to offer a history lesson or be rendered in Technicolor to be charming. Some are notable for their stunning natural features, such as the cherry blossom tunnel in Bonn, Germany, which makes an appearance for a few short weeks every spring. Here, AD surveys ten of the most beautiful streets in the world.
The multicolor homes that line the La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, still reflect much of their late-19th-century history. When European immigrants arrived from the Italian city of Genoa, many of them became dockworkers, who, with little to no disposable income, built their homes with thin pieces of corrugated sheet metal from the docks, coated with leftover paint. When one color inevitably ran out, they would simply use another one. And thus a colorful neighborhood was born. Today, Caminito (shown) is brought to life by an artist's re-creation of the old tenement dwellings that used to line La Boca's streets.
 
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San Francisco's Lombard Street has become one of the city's most visited sites. Tourists often gather to watch as drivers make their way through the hairpin turns. Completed in 1922, the street was designed to slow cars down on its steep hill. Drivers are advised to proceed at 5 m.p.h.
Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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The streets of Chefchaouen, a small city in northwest Morocco, are famous for their different shades of blue. Founded in 1471, the city was once used as a fortress for exiles from Spain. Over the centuries, many Jews moved to Chefchaouen, bringing with them the ancient belief that using blue dye would remind people of God's power. For the most vivid experience, visitors should stroll down such streets as Al Hassan Onsar, Rue Outiwi, and the tight stairs leading up and down Rue Bin Souaki.
Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Located in Andalusia, Spain, Jerez de la Frontera is a city known for its exquisite wine. Here, a street in the historic center is shaded by grape leaves from vines grown along the surrounding walls.
Photo: Getty Images
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A UNESCO World Heritage site, the 1,000-year-old Old Town in Lijiang, China, is famous for its orderly canals and walkways. Walk along Qiyi Street Chongron Alley or Wuyi Street Wenzhi Alley for some of the more spectacular street views.
Photo: Getty Images
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For two to three weeks each spring, the magical tunnel created by the trees lining Cherry Blossom Avenue in Bonn, Germany, brings in tourists and photographers alike.
Photo: Getty Images
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Bregagh Road in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, is a birch-lined street designed in the 18th century. Nicknamed Dark Hedges, the road will be instantly recognizable to fans of the HBO show Game of Thrones.
Photo: Getty Images
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Paris's Champs-Élysées could well be the most famous street in the world. Beautifully manicured trees line the 1.2-mile-long avenue, which stretches from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc d Triomphe (shown).
Photo: Getty Images
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Lined with boats and bicycles, Amsterdam's many canals have drawn tourists through the ages. But the Brouwersgracht, located a little more than half a mile northwest of the central train station, just might be the most picturesque in the Dutch capital.
Photo: Getty Images
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Águeda's Umbrella Sky Project began in 2011 as a part of the Portuguese city's annual Ágitagueda Art Festival. Each summer, when temperatures soar, a handful of Águeda's narrow streets feature canopies of colorful umbrellas that provide shade to the pedestrians below.
Article from Architectural Digest.