Palos Verdes High One of Nation’s Best

pvhs_logoCongratulations to Palos Verdes High School, which has been named one of the top 50 high schools in the entire United States according to The Daily Beast survey.    Coming in at number 44, PV high was ranked highly due to its very high graduation rate of 99.6% and its college-bound rate of 98.7%, plus the academic rigor indicated by percent of students who take Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes (41.7%).

PV High’s sister school, Peninsula, also ranked in the top 125, coming in at number 121.    On other surveys, these two top schools positioning has been reversed, so I think it is safe to say that the Palos Verdes Unified School District’s high schools are both superb.

The grammar and intermediate schools in the PV Peninsula are also fantastic.

My daughters are both graduates of Palos Verdes High School, so we are thrilled to be part of the Sea Kings family and proud of our school!  Let me know if you would like further info on homes in this fantastic school district!

Selling Long Distance — Thank You, You Tube!

I recently sold a beautiful home in the  Monte Malaga area of Palos Verdes Estates to a buyer who closed escrow without ever seeing the home!  How could we do this?  With technology!

The clients were people I had worked with since 2005 who now lived in Hong Kong.  Mrs. Buyer had grown up on the Palos Verdes peninsula and still has family there, so they knew the area well.  They had wanted to buy a home for a long time in this area so that when Mr. Buyer’s overseas assignment ends in a few years they would have a U.S. home; they felt that given our current interest rates and the rate of appreciation of homes, that if they didn’t buy something now, they might be priced out of the market in a few years.  Each time they were in town over the many years since I first met them, we would take a day and look at homes, but because they couldn’t agree on where to look, we always ended up not finding the right home.

Then this year, they were both on the same page regarding location, so the search started in earnest.  Once we had identified a few possibilities, I took her Mom out with me to see each potential home, taking LOTS of video with my cell phone and uploading it to YouTube with a private URL sent only to them.  This allowed the buyer and her husband (she was to be the sole buyer to simplify the tax situation) to evaluate the home choices and decide which of the ones they had liked on the internet really met their needs.  Using more technology to do all the signing digitally using Docusign, and with a few late night Skype calls, some Facebook messages, some texts and Google voice calls, we were able to determine what to offer.  We made an offer to close in two weeks and were able to beat out three other buyers.

Then came the fun part — inspections.  This time the buyer’s Mom AND her brother came with, and were able to communicate back to the buyer and her husband what they had heard.  We also did more video and more photos, more Docusigning and more late night calls.  At one point, I stayed up until 3 a.m. Pacific time (which was a busy Saturday morning for my client in Hong Kong) so that I would be available to forward a time critical document on to the listing agent so that he would have it first thing in the morning as promised.

We also had to solve a tricky problem about funding transfer limits between Hong Kong and the US, but my wonderful escrow officer was able to resolve this and find the “secret sauce” of US banking regulations that allowed the transfer of the funds in a timely manner while still following all the banking rules for international money transfers.

This was an amazingly fast transaction considering that the buyer was thousands of miles away.  The many forms and disclosures that are part of any California real estate transaction were flying through cyberspace on an almost hourly basis for a few days there!    But I can safely say that if it wasn’t for modern technology, we never could have done this.

The buyer and her children are arriving for the Summer soon — I sure hope they like it  :->



Things To Do In The South Bay

From its award-winning schools to its quaint and beautiful neighborhoods, the South Bay prides itself in being a family-oriented area.  Whether you choose to enjoy the natural side of the South Bay or support one of its many bustling businesses, there is truly something for everyone in the family to enjoy.  If you are looking for homes in Palos Verdes, or homes in the South Bay, here is a great list of suggestions for fun family outings.
First and foremost, the greatest draw to the South Bay area is the ocean.  For those who long to do more than just spend a day at the beach, the area offers multiple free aquariums, such as the Cabrillo Aquarium and the Sea Lab, where families can go together to learn about ocean wildlife.  On an adventurous day, the family can go out fishing on one of the many boats in both the San Pedro and Redondo Marinas.
If you want to take your family on a local getaway, Catalina Island is the place to go.  Just hop on the Catalina Express boat and spend the day swimming and snorkeling in the beautiful city of Avalon.
Beautiful Avalon Harbor in Catalina
Beautiful Avalon Harbor in Catalina
In the Palos Verdes area, there are hiking trails that present a great opportunity to interact with nature.  Many of these trails have splendid views that overlook the entire South Bay, and some of them, such as the Abalone Cove hiking path, go straight down to the ocean.  In Abalone cove as well as other South Bay locations, families have the opportunity to interact with sea life in tide pools.
Sunset At Abalone Cove
Sunset At Abalone Cove
For the indoor type of family, both the Del Amo Mall and the Promenade on the Peninsula are great places to catch a movie, go ice-skating, or pick up some new clothes.   Another wonderful place to take the family is Sky Zone Torrance, a gym where both kids and adults alike can bounce across an entire room filled with trampolines.
There are many great activities that don’t happen all year round, but are worth noting.  In the wintertime, families can visit Candy Cane lane, a Torrance neighborhood that takes Christmas decorating to the extreme.  In the summertime, families can attend one of the many fairs in the area, from the Fiesta Hermosa to the San Pedro Lobster Festival.   Also during this time, the South Bay area offers multiple day camps for children.  Junior Lifeguards, Surf Camp, Beach Camp, Art Camp, Pony Camp and Sports Camps are just some of the many summertime programs offered to children.
A House on Candy Cane Lane
A House on Candy Cane Lane
 The possibilities for a family fun day are limitless in the South Bay no matter what your idea of fun is! All you can be sure of is that your children will cherish these little outings and activities for the rest of their lives.


Private Schools On The Palos Verdes Peninsula

Although the Palos Verdes Unified School District provides some of the best education in the country, not every child fits perfectly into the public school curriculum.  Fortunately, the Palos Verdes area is home to multiple extremely prestigious private schools.  Certain schools, such as Chadwick, provide a complete K-12 education, while others, such as Peninsula Heritage School, only provide an elementary education from grades K-5. If you are looking for homes in Palos Verdes or homes in the South Bay, you will most likely need to do research on the different types of education.

Chadwick School, the oldest and most well known private school in the area, provides non-religious education to children from Kindergarten to High School.  Originally a boarding school, Chadwick has grown to include multiple competitive sports teams and an international campus based in South Korea, as well as a rigorous academic program

Rolling Hills Preparatory School offers only High School education, and focuses upon providing superior college education whilst having fun along the way.  Their mission statement is to keep kids from “burning out” on academics, and they are constantly seeking innovative education methods.

For younger students, Rolling Hills Country Day School provides excellent education for children in grades K-8.  A surefire way to prepare for either public or private high school curriculum, RHCDS has impressive facilities with an excess of computers and a Junior Olympic sized swimming pool.

For those looking for a religious environment, St. John Fisher School provides a K-8 Catholic education, integrating faith into the academic setting.

Peninsula Heritage is a small and established elementary school providing education for children in years K-5.  At Peninsula Heritage, learning is individualized for each child, and the education is just as focused on academic learning as well as character building.

Last but not least,  Peninsula Montessori School provides education in grades K-6, and focuses upon highlighting the individual strengths of each child.

It is up to parents to decide which type of education is right for their child, and it is perfectly acceptable and even common for residents of Palos Verdes to blend both Private and Public Education.  For instance, you might decide that private elementary school is a good way for children to better prepare for public high school.  Conversely, you may want your child in public school for their early years until it is time to buckle down and do college preparatory work.  Regardless of your decision to go public or private, living on the Palos Verdes Peninsula will guarantee that your child will receive a superior education.


Which Palos Verdes High School Fits Your Teen Better?

We are all aware of the views that envelope the suburbs of Palos Verdes, but what about some of the other aspects? High school education as we all know is very important and a necessity for a great beginning for the rest of our children’s life.  If you are looking for homes for sale in Palos Verdes or homes for sale in the South Bay, you have probably heard of or looked at both Palos Verdes High School and Palos Verdes Peninsula High School.  Known around Palos Verdes as P.V. High and Pen, both schools are equally academically exceptional yet both have a unique environment.

Aerial view of Palos Verdes High School

Pen and P.V. fight for the title of the ‘better school’.  You can find all of the data driven comparisons for Peninsula here and for PV here. Academically both schools are considered about equal but there are a couple differences between the two.

Palos Verdes High has the ‘block schedule’ which means that instead of 6-7 classes a day at 50 minutes per class, each day is alternated between an A day and a B day.  Each day has 3 classes at 80 minutes per class, and the classes are alternated every other day.  For a child who takes longer to absorb the information and enjoys having teachers help, this might be a better choice.  The longer class periods give the student time to take notes, understand the concepts being taught and then, if so desired, explained a second time.

View of the amphitheater located in the heart of Peninsula’s campus.

For some kids however, sitting in a classroom longer than a 50 minute lecture seems like a form of cruel and unusual punishment.  Peninsula offers the more common schedule, with 6 classes daily (7 if you want to take a zero period) at 50 minute increments.  This gives students enough time to write down the information, absorb it and do the work at home or wherever they please.

The area surrounding each school is also different.  Peninsula is walking distance from The Peninsula Center, The Avenue, and the Palos Verdes Library.  This means a quick walk to get food or anything you need.  The football stadium also offers a breathtaking view of the South Bay and greater Los Angeles area.

P.V. High is a little bit more secluded which means not as much cross traffic, but not as many options either.  P.V. High’s ‘side of the hill’ boasts its own spectacular view of the ocean, along with cliffs and tide pools a short walk away.  Although the options are not as diverse, there is a Fresh and Easy located right up the street and a mom and pop deli within a 5-minute drive.

As the saying goes “You could be the sweetest peach in the bunch, but there will always be someone who doesn’t like peaches.” Thankfully both these schools are equally as sweet, but just different types of fruit.  All you have to do is chose your favorite.  Best part? You can’t lose 🙂



Palos Verdes Estates Area Market Stats



Here are the latest Palos Verdes Estates PVE Market statistics for the week ending 2/15/13.  Wow — PVE is really taking off as much as the beach cities are.  The lack of housing inventory continues to drive the story in the South Bay/Palos Verdes Peninsula.  I believe that Palos Verdes offers the better value for the money right now over the Beach Cities, though, since for the same money you can get a much larger home, possibly with an ocean view, in Palos Verdes.

Would you like to have this information for your own area?  Just contact me and I will be happy to provide it!


South Bay Short Sales – Are They Still Out There?

Everybody wants a short sale, until they start to figure out that these are really “long sales” based on how long it takes.  However, these can still be quite a good deal if you can afford to wait the many months it takes to get one.  With that in mind, are there any in the South Bay?  My great title representative, Matt Goeglein from Fidelity Title ran the numbers for me and  there are very few Notices of Default (NOD — the ones seriously behind in their mortgage payments), Notices of Trustee Sales (NOT — the ones that are actually going to foreclosure auction), or REO (Real Estate Owned — the ones that are owned by the bank) homes, especially in the more affluent areas of the city.

As would be expected, the areas that have better and higher employment, such as the beach cities and more expensive Palos Verdes area, have lower percentages of short sales than the more inland areas of the South Bay such as Lawndale, Gardena, Hawthorne and Torrance.  Short sales in Manhattan Beach are very scarce, as are other distressed properties in Manhattan Beach.

I am a short sale specialist and a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE), so if you ARE looking for a short sale I can help.  I also can help you if you ARE “underwater” on your home and need to sell your home in Manhattan Beach or anywhere in the South Bay.



South Bay Homes are Selling Faster and Faster!

Those of you who read our last blog post will remember that I am part of a discussion group on Linked In that asked a question about real estate in various markets across the United States. We got some more responses and I wanted to post another sampling so that my readers could see that this is definitely a trend that the national news has not yet picked up on.  See some of these other comments:

Arizona markets are HOT! We have low inventory in most areas and price range. The Luxury home market is starting to move also. Multiple offers and lots of investors.

Kingman, Arizona; last week, one of our agents wrote 5 offers and all 5 had multiple offers. Inventory is low, prices are low, humidity and temperatures are low; Cost of Living is Low; Demand is High!!!

Phoenix real estate is a zoo. One house had 15 offers in first 3 days of listing, sold on short sale for 40k above list. Makes one want to sell donuts instead.

San Diego is insane with multiple offers and prices jumping 10% in some areas since the fall. Fasten your seat belts, we’re in for a bumpy ride.

Here in southern CA we are seeing multiple full price offers and over list price offers

The market in the Hampton Roads – Virginia Beach, Virginia – Norfolk- Chesapeake, Virginia areas have seen a tremendous influx of buyers over the past several weeks. I most recently had buyers competing for a house with multiple offers while the seller continued to show the home an additional 13 times the first day on the market. The house was priced competitively and was in good condition…..that’s the key. Agents are busy and sales are happening in Hampton Roads.

In our Manhattan Beach market, we are seeing an astonishing absorption rate of over 50 percent !  That means that more than half of the homes on the market will be in escrow within a month!  As shown in the first chart below, we haven’t seen absorption rates like this since the heydays of 2005.  For Redondo Beach, the trends are almost as strong, as shown in the second chart.  And finally, the third chart shows the entire Palos Verdes Peninsula — the rate is not as high there, but the upward trend is still quite striking!

What all of this tells us is that if you want to buy a home in Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, or Palos Verdes, you need to be working with agents like us at the Fabulous South Bay Team who are connected to the market and can provide you with our Elite Circle level of service, where we actively network with other agents and find out about homes for sale BEFORE they hit the MLS — this will allow you to possibly get in and get under contract BEFORE the bidding war starts. If you are interested, please give us a call and we can discuss the Elite Circle with you.

home sales absorption rate Manhattan Beach April 2012home sales in Redondo Beach absorption rate

Palos Verdes home sale trends for April 2012

Let’s Talk About Dwindling Home Inventory in the South Bay!

There is more and more buzz about the fact that property inventory is getting scarce, and the data definitely support that conclusion.  Our first chart shows inventory levels in the three beach cities of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach over time based on pending sales.  As you can see, it is dropping like a stone, with less than two months worth of  inventory in these cities.  This means that a home put on the market today ON AVERAGE should be in escrow within two months time, no matter the condition, because there is so little out there.  In actuality, what it really means is that anything good is snatched up within days and the badly priced or poorly located or bad condition stuff still lingers like always.  But this DOES indicate a growing “sellers market” in the Beach Cities for homes that are priced correctly in good locations.  If I were a buyer, based on this data, I would put an offer in right away with very good terms if I found my dream home.

The second chart shows the same data for the Palos Verdes cities of Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, and Palos Verdes Peninsula.   Although not quite as dramatic as that of the Beach Cities, it also shows a dropping inventory level to less than three months worth of inventory.  Again, signs of a developing sellers market here, though we have a ways to go.  By digging into the detailed price data, it becomes apparent that it is the lower end that is still selling up in the PV area — the higher priced properties are still staying on the market a little bit, due primarily to the longer commute that PV area offers to most people.

Finally, the last chart I ran shows my favorite “bread and butter investment” city, Lawndale, for the same parameter, but this time for investment property. This is down to an amazing 1.5 months!  This is the reason why my smart investor clients are making offers sight unseen as “subject to inspection”, which means they inspect AFTER they get an accepted offer, since the properties are moving so quickly that they make the offers first and ask questions later!

This is really starting to look like 2012 is the start of a true real estate recovery in the South  Bay!


I’ve joined RE/MAX!

Long time readers of this blog may notice the new logo at the top — as of Friday, I’ve changed brokerages and gone to RE/MAX Execs in Manhattan Beach, CA.  Although I loved my time at South Bay Brokers, Inc., the “boutique” nature of SBBI was that although it was very respected in this area, out of area clients had no idea if I worked for Dewey Cheatham and Howe Real Estate or, as was really the case, a highly respected, top-notch firm.  So I thought “Why not have the best of both?” and have chosen to join a nationally and internationally known real estate company that also is extremely well-respected in the South Bay real estate arena.

My new company has offices for real estate sales in Manhattan Beach, CA (where I’ll be based) as well as Redondo Beach, Torrance/South Bay, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, Marina Del Rey/Venice, El Segundo, Rancho Palos Verdes including the Miraleste Plaza, the Eastview area of RPV on Western, the Silver Spur office, Palos Verdes Estates in Malaga Cove, and a new office opening in Brentwood — ALL UNDER ONE BROKER AND COMPLETELY COOPERATING WITH EACH OTHER!  This means that I’ll have a much wider pool of “pocket” listings available for my Buyers and my Sellers will have a much larger pool of agents helping to bring in Buyers for their homes.  It also means national and international exposure for clients that may have the perfect “beach pad” or “hillside retreat” so popular with foreign buyers.

Needless to say, I am very excited to have access to the huge pool of training and marketing resources that RE/MAX has, and I’m also looking forward to meeting lots of new colleagues to network with.  I’ve always believed that a successful negotiation requires a collaborative effort to reach a mutually acceptable solution rather than an adversarial one, and having the larger exposure can only be good for me and for my clients.  Wish me luck!