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Fading Frenzy

Summer's sizzle has been replaced by fall's fizzle. Two buyers and two sellers cope with the changing housing market.

BUYER: 'I'm going to keep looking till I find what I want'

November 29, 1998|SUE McALLISTER

The slight chill on the recently red-hot residential market suits Lawrence and Eleanor Hales just fine; they've identified the perfect neighborhood for their needs and are prepared to shop around for the right house there, even if the process takes some time.

They have owned their three-bedroom house in South Los Angeles for 15 years and are ready to move up, hoping to find a four-bedroom home in View Park. The hilly community with views of downtown Los Angeles is one of several neighborhoods that dot the unincorporated Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles County.

After looking at about 10 houses, the Haleses made an offer in mid-November on a View Park house that was listed for $450,000. It needs a new roof and paint, Hales said, but the owner has been reluctant to make any repairs. If the owner dropped the price significantly, Hales said, he would "take the headaches."

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The Haleses' agent, Jo Ramsey of Coldwell Banker, agreed, but several days after the Haleses made their offer, the seller still hadn't seen things their way.

"I'm going to keep looking till I find what I want," Hales said. "When you buy a house like this, you [should] get what you want, because there's no going back."

Sales have tended to cool off first among higher priced homes, experts say, probably because potential buyers in that category are the most likely to have been adversely affected by losses in the stock market.

So buyers like the Haleses are probably facing less competition than they would have in the fast and furious summer sales period.

Hales, 50, owner of a Los Angeles trucking company, and his wife, Eleanor, 43, an airport police officer, think View Park will serve them well on several fronts: It's close to both Los Angeles International Airport and the trucking company's offices, away from the noise of major roadways and a more comfortable place to raise their teenage son.

"I would love to have something up there," Hales said of the quiet neighborhood that is equidistant from LAX and downtown. "I love the neighborhood."

When it comes time to sell his current home, Hales said, he'll cooperate with the buyer on any necessary repairs.

"I know right now it's a buyers' market, not a sellers'," Hales said.

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