Agoura Horse Property - Custom & Equestrian Real Estate by Nona Green

Saturday, February 23, 2013
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A client of mine called me to help with her refinance. I sold her the home, located in the custom neighborhood of Old Agoura, about 2 years ago. The home's value has increased signifiganty. Wanting to take advantage of even lower interest rates since her purchase date, my client applied for the refinance and paid for the requisite appraisal.

Nearby recent sales easily demonstrate the increased value of her home. No problem, right? Wrong. The appraiser said that he omitted a couple of choice comparables since those homes sold with more than a third of the purchase in cash. The appraiser explained that these were likely investor purchases and did not reflect an "arms length" transaction.

I am speculating about the appraiser's reasoning. How does the loan-to-value ratio, or whether or not a purchase is made with all cash, affect the price paid? Conversely, there are many examples of an all cash purchase selling for slightly LESS than top market value*, yet in this case, the comparable property sold for higher than the average selling price for the area. In defense of this appraiser, I am also seeing buyers pay cash for properties with no comparables to support the price they are willing to pay. Without the benefit of an appraisal, buyers are purchasing properties for more than what a lender would say the property is worth. It would behoove a buyer paying cash, to obtain an appraisal prior to removing all purchase contingencies. Not only do appraisers estimate value, they measure property dimensions and call out discrepancies with public records, recognize health and safety concerns and possible code violations. In a custom neighborhood, it is not uncommon for buyers to pay more than appraised value. With that appraisal in hand, they can at least make an informed decision.

I was able to provide my client with alternate comparable sales to support the true value of her property. Hopefully, my client's lender will recognize that the appraiser they assigned to evaluate the property had prejudiced methodology. A check with reliable sources confirms that this appraiser's policy is not a new industry standard.

With property values increasing in the wake of rampant lending abuse, appraisers are sometimes conservative to fault. A homeowner, especially of custom or rural property, should have an area specialist in his or her corner. I can advise the appraiser, or the lender how one property can be superior to another, even if the difference is not obvious by looking at the MLS detail.

*When a homeowner receives multiple offers, sometimes an all cash offer, even if the price is lower than another offer that requires new financing, is more desirable. Occasionally, features of the property, or the condition of the property may preclude conventional financing.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013
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Regulators are putting the crush on one Agoura family wanting to enhance their property with a vineyard. In 2005, the homeowner planted over 30,000 square feet of grapes on their 1.6 acre property, located behind the gates in Medea Valley Estates. Unfortunately, the family didn't obtain a permit to grow crops in a residential neighborhood. The amateur vintners, producing wine that is not intended for sale, didn't know a permit is required.

A few years later, after complaints about pesticides and runoff from the property resulted in a Notice of Violation, the Medea Valley Estate owner is now applying for a Conditional Use Permit from the County of Los Angeles. Medea Valley Estates is a planned community governed by a Homeowner's Association and is in the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County. A public hearing is set for March 6, 2013. Travis Sewards, the county planner handling the case, says that anyone who is thinking about planting a vineyard in a residential zone should observe the outcome of this hearing. Even if the homeowner has demonstrated that they conform to all environmental and grading standards and agrees to refrain from the use of pesticides in the future, the planning commission can decline to approve the vineyard.

Sewards expects to hear testimony from a handful of neighbors whose opposition has been fermenting. Sewards explained that if a property is over 5 acres and is in an agricultural zone, a permit would not be required. "Not yet." With the popularity of vineyards increasing in the Santa Monica Mountain communities, environmentalists are soured on the increased clearing of natural chaparral, grading and terracing, and otherwise altering the natural viewshed and animal habitat. More regulations and restrictions are sure to germinate.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Out of Africa in Hidden Hills

Don't tell the Homeowner's Association that this is not a horse. It looks like a small horse, excepting the stripes. Well...a new listing in Hidden Hills is owned by an exotic animal trainer. She has kept big cats, zebras, and other exotics on the 2+ acres equestrian facility that highlights a private view estate.

Call Nona if you need a superb horse property with a great barn, guest home, caretaker's quarters.

 

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

LA Planning to Vote on Plans to Develop Original Malibou Lake Clubhouse Site

To the protestors who would like to see the lot remain vacant, Clark Cable couldn't have said it better, "Frankly my neighbors in Malibou Lakeside, I don't give a damn." Clark Gable, Jimmy Cagney, Carole Lombard and other Hollywood types, had been known to play a round of poker at the old clubhouse, a lodge style structure with 24 boarding rooms. The site is a popular dog walking park ever since the clubhouse burnt down in 1935.

The owners of the 5 acre site, consisting of two legal parcels on Seminole and Crags Drives, have bent over backwards to appeal to the protestors, offering to reserve a portion of the lot as a park. The zoning of the site is Resort and Recreational. It would be easier for the owners to obtain a permit for a convention center or a rodeo facility, than to obtain the Conditional Use Permit to build the two single family homes that they are proposing.

Don Haskin, one of the owners of the site, hopes that the community will see the advantages of building two custom homes, versus a commercial use that the zoning would allow. Haskin sees the potential for a beautiful equestrian facility on the site, including a riding arena. A trailhead into Malibu Creek State park is just a block away, at the end of Crags Dr.

A group of neighbors offered to buy at least one of the two parcels, rather than allow any type of construction. A price that would be acceptable to the owner has not been determined.

The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the matter at their regular session on Feb. 12, 2013 at the County offices downtown. The only variance requested is to cut down one of more than 50 oaks on the property.

Malibou Lake
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