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BUSINESS
August 16, 2013 | By Lew Sichelman
Lil Miller-Fox's individual retirement account has three bedrooms, two baths and a two-car garage. Better yet, the rental house in a gated community in Sebastian, Fla., not far from the Atlantic, isn't run by an advisor that charges exorbitant monthly fees. Rather, Miller-Fox makes all the decisions, and she doesn't have to pay anyone to execute them. Her IRA is called a "checkbook IRA," an investment vehicle created nearly 20 years ago in a landmark court ruling that essentially said: It's your money, so you can run the show - as long as you follow the rules.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 6, 2014 | By Emily Alpert Reyes and Tim Logan
Dozens of people shared only three showers in the building that Patricia McDowell called home for the last 2 1/2 years. Roaches skittered across the floor, she said, and lights went out and stayed out. In recent months, McDowell said she had to run an extension cord to another room to keep electricity going. But when the Los Angeles Fire Department told McDowell and dozens of other tenants that they had to clear out of the building at 5700 S. Hoover St., citing dangerous conditions, she panicked.
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BUSINESS
June 10, 2012
Sprawling estate with ocean vistas Location: 6264 Ocean Terrace Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes 90275 Size: Five bedrooms and 51/2 bathrooms in 5,620 square feet Published: April 10, 2011 Listed then at: $3.95 million Sold for: $3.5 million in September An old L.A. feel inside and out Location: 3138 Oakshire Drive, Los Angeles 90068 Size: Four bedrooms and 31/2 bathrooms in...
BUSINESS
April 6, 2014 | By Kenneth R. Harney
WASHINGTON - When you're raking in tens of billions of dollars in profits by helping credit-elite borrowers buy homes, couldn't you lighten up on fees a little for everyday folks who'd also like to buy? That's a question increasingly being posed to government-controlled home mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their federal regulators. Though most buyers are unaware of the practice, Fannie and Freddie - by far the largest sources of mortgage money in the country - continue to charge punitive, recession-era fees that can add thousands of dollars to consumers' financing costs.
BUSINESS
April 1, 2012 | By Kenneth R. Harney
WASHINGTON — What's behind the unusually high rate of contract cancellations and settlement delays in the real estate market? With signs of recovery emerging in many parts of the country, shouldn't deals be zipping along with minimal complications? Apparently not. Nearly one-third of realty agents in a new national survey reported experiencing contract cancellations — purchases crumbling before closing — in February. That's up dramatically from a similar poll 12 months earlier, when just 9% of agents reported cancellations.
BUSINESS
September 30, 2010 | By Lauren Beale, Los Angeles Times
The face. The hair. The voice. Why does that real estate agent seem so familiar? Because, in that only-in-L.A. kind of way, there's a good chance the agent is also an actor, reality show personality or has had some other brush with fame. The last decade's real estate bubble and bust spawned more than 20 reality cable television shows devoted to home buying, selling and flipping, so the odds are that some of those agents will end up at an open house near you. Broaden the spotlight to music and acting, and the recognition factor climbs even higher.
HOME & GARDEN
September 27, 2010 | By Lauren Beale, Los Angeles Times
Comedic actor and film star Sacha Baron Cohen has leased out his Sunset Strip-area house for $9,000 a month. But his major real estate deal this summer was the purchase of a nearby Mediterranean compound listed at $18.9 million. Set behind hedges on close to 4 wooded acres, the gated property includes a main house, a guesthouse, a swimming pool, a detached theater, a wine room, a tennis court with a clubhouse and a caretaker's cottage. The 1940s house has seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms.
BUSINESS
December 2, 2012 | By Kenneth R. Harney
WASHINGTON — What would happen to home values in the event that popular real estate deductions for mortgage interest and local property taxes were cut significantly? It's an issue you're likely to hear more about as Congress and the Obama administration wade deeper into "fiscal cliff" and comprehensive tax reform negotiations heading into 2013. Some of the forecasts are scary: Any significant reductions in these long-established tax benefits would inevitably trigger declines in home values.
BUSINESS
February 5, 2012 | By Lew Sichelman
When it comes to lawsuits, real estate agents and brokers tangle mostly among themselves. But a good number of cases are brought by disgruntled buyers or sellers. To be fair, the vast majority of real estate deals go off without a hitch, or at least without problems that leave buyers or sellers feeling so wronged that they are willing to spend the time and money to take someone to court. If the latest edition of "Legal Scan" tells us anything, it is that a handful of agents and brokers and their clients either don't know the law or don't care to follow it. "Legal Scan" is a biennial research report by the National Assn.
BUSINESS
December 27, 2012 | By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
Downtown Los Angeles has changed dramatically in the past dozen years from being known as a high-rise office park ringed by poverty to an actual neighborhood where thousands live and more come to play. Its transformation into a fully rounded 24-hour urban center is far from complete, but the process is well underway and accelerating, said Derrick Moore, a property broker who finds space for such street-level businesses as restaurants, shops and bars. Moore, who works in the downtown office of Avison Young Inc., has tracked the local retail real estate market since 2000.
BUSINESS
April 6, 2014 | By Donie Vanitzian
Question: Our manager refuses owner requests for documents, causing our association to be sued several times a year. Each time she comes to court as a defendant, she brings her so-called evidence and answers, "Your honor, see Exhibit X. " She overloads on exhibits, most of which are contrived for the purpose of that hearing. Her main strategy includes putting on big exhibit head notes supposedly explaining what each exhibit consists of, but when the exhibits are scrutinized and read, they have little or nothing to do with what is head-noted.
BUSINESS
April 5, 2014 | By Tim Logan
The real estate market has long worked on a simple system: If you want to buy a new house, sell the old one and use the equity for a down payment. But the last few years of low ownership costs and rising rents have some move-up buyers trying a new approach: Buy the new house. Keep the old one. And rent it out. Real estate firm Redfin recently asked 1,900 prospective home buyers nationwide what they planned to do with their old house when they bought a new one. As you'd expect, the majority said they would sell.
BUSINESS
April 5, 2014 | By Lauren Beale
Recently completed, this clean-line contemporary is the new kid on a block of older homes in the Beverly Grove area. Among its au courant features are a biometric entry, a glass-walled wine preservation room and such green features as repurposed wood and a reflective roof. Location: 128 S. Almont Drive, Los Angeles 90048 Asking price: $3.4 million Year built: 2014 House size: Four bedrooms, six bathrooms Lot size: 5,397 square feet Features: Oak floors, high ceilings, remote-controlled linear fireplace, security cameras, floor-to-ceiling windows, terrace, walk-in master closet, tankless water heater, swimming pool, gated driveway About the area: Last year, 185 single-family homes sold in the 90048 ZIP Code at a median price of $1.2 million, according to DataQuick.
BUSINESS
April 2, 2014 | By Roger Vincent
From some classic Adirondack chairs in front of his colorful new office complex near Marina del Rey, commercial landlord Ned Fox can sit back and watch his property value go up. The developer who made his bones building skyscrapers in downtown Los Angeles during the late 1980s and early 1990s today finds himself with a close-up view of the rapidly evolving planned community of Playa Vista and the young tech and entertainment workers transforming the...
BUSINESS
April 1, 2014 | By Lauren Beale
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. But the real estate equivalent of a bread crumb trail suggests that the purchaser of the opulent estate is onetime junk bond king Michael Milken, who has spent more than two decades devoted to philanthropic efforts since he pleaded guilty in 1990 to securities fraud.
BUSINESS
March 30, 2014 | By Anky van Deursen
Question: I have lived in Silicon Valley my whole life. I am 70 years old and retired. I recently applied for housing at an apartment complex and asked the leasing agent what my chances were of getting an apartment. He told me they had received a lot of applications. When I asked if it was worth it to apply at all, he shrugged and said I was "up against some Google people. " I was outraged. Am I being discriminated against, since he implied that I did not stand a chance of being chosen over a person who works for Google?
BUSINESS
December 29, 2011 | By Lauren Beale, Los Angeles Times
Despite the tanking of the housing market, posh new realty offices have continued to open their doors, particularly in upper-priced Los Angeles-area communities where agents need only a few sales a year to make a living. "The high-end market is less sensitive to a downturn in the economy," said Stefan Swanepoel, who publishes the annual Swanepoel Trends Report analyzing changes in residential real estate. "That part of the market is less likely to require a loan for purchase. So there is still a lot of activity.
BUSINESS
October 27, 2011 | By Lauren Beale, Los Angeles Times
Real estate agents listing an $8-million home in Santa Monica wanted to ensure a good crowd for an open house last month, so they hired a stilt walker, shirtless male jugglers and a contortionist who floated in the pool, encased in a clear plastic bubble. Over near the Beverly Center, an agent stationed models in front of a new condominium project. Wearing chocolate velour robes and flip-flops, the young men and women served up free drinks — in keeping with the marketing theme that "it's always cocktail hour" at these condos.
BUSINESS
March 30, 2014 | By Donie Vanitzian
Question: I'm the president of our homeowner association mainly because no one else wants the job. We live in a prestigious area of Los Angeles and have fewer than 30 units. Because nobody wants to be on our board we hired a management company. They're not a California company. Their head office is out of state, and we've never seen or been to their California place of business and do not know where it is or that they even have a California office. A management representative came and picked up our files and documents, including owners' personal information and accounts, and gave us their P.O. box number.
BUSINESS
March 30, 2014 | By Kenneth R. Harney
WASHINGTON - Can you be charged interest on your mortgage even after you've fully paid it off? Can the meter keep running when you owe the bank nothing - your principal balance is zero? Surprise! Much to the chagrin of large numbers of home sellers and refinancers, the answer for years has been yes. If your loan was insured by the Federal Housing Administration and you paid it off before maturity, at closing you'd be expected to cough up a full month's interest, no matter what day of the month you actually settled.
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