Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Renovation Boom

If you live in the greater LA region (or maybe anywhere in the country for that matter), you would have to be particularly un-observant to have missed the hot real estate market. A look at the LA County Assessor web site can be quite astounding. I created the composite image at right by overlaying one of their maps on a satellite image of our neighborhood. The tinted tracts are ones that recently sold.

All this activity seems to be fueling an equally hot home renovation boom, no doubt spurred by the ironic fact that homes are "worth" so much, people who already own can't afford to trade up. Home equity loans, on the other hand, are a fairly painless way for home owners to tap into the real estate bonanza, without having to move out of state. Surely home equity is behind this flurry of additions and remodels. In our little part of the world, it is particularly obvious. I snapped these pics this morning in less than a one block radius.

"1 wall standing" remodel. Almost a new house.

Gutting interior. Enclosing back porch.

Nice addition on the front (living in rest of house).

But the big news is about the new construction that I heard about yesterday. In our neighborhood, the 900 pound gorilla has been the vacant "lot" on the west side of the street. Long time residents have seen for-sale signs go up and come down many times on this overgrown mud cliff. No-one ever thought someone would build there. When we saw a soil testing crew come and dig four deep sample wells a few months ago, we thought that would finally put an end to the discussion, and the unfortunate owner would finally realize that the lot was unbuildable and donate it to the County or a conservancy or whatnot.

Much to our surprise, the soil test came back "buildable". Look again at the image at the upper right corner of this post. See the tract with the little star in it? That's right. Freshly sold. So fresh in fact that it is not on the assessor map yet. This news according to the new owner, whom I met yesterday while she was inspecting the land. I am happy to say that she seems very friendly, she is an artist, and part of her mission yesterday was to spread poppy seeds on the lot :)

She says she does not have a building permit yet, and is still working on funding, but is planning on using straw bale construction.

I did these little connect-the-dots exercises on the survey stakes in case you are wondering exactly where the property is.

Also, for my own jollies, I made this hi-res composite image from terraserver. I'ts under 1MB if you want to check it out.

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