A Snapshot of the Best Places to Live SoCal

Agoura Hills

Agoura Hills is a beautiful and affluent community about one half hour outside of Los Angeles which makes for an easy commute. This Los Angeles County city is home to a state-of-the-art civic center and offers a variety of cultural and outdoor activities for the whole family including horse riding and trails – some of the best. One of the faves is Malibu Riders in Agoura Hills. Take advantage of the 2 hour Malibu Creek ride! Agoura Hills is a very family-friendly community not to mention it boasts 200+ sunny days each year, so of course outdoor activities abound! Some other fun choices offered here include, pee-wee yoga, hiking, fencing, and even senior socials. So if you have an elderly loved one living with you, this is a community where they have options to get out and enjoy. The weather is great and there are fun activities to enjoy. Additionally Agoura Hills is consistently ranked one of the safest cities in the country. Most recently ranked 14 out of the 50 Safest Cities, according to Safewise, “the FBI’s Crime Report states that authorities were made aware of just three robberies in 2011.”

Calabasas

Situated in the hills west of the San Fernando Valley, Calabasas is not only beautiful with a temperate climate, but it’s also a leader in the green movement. Made famous by its one-time residents, the Kardashians and Justin Bieber, it’s so much more than a celebrity haven. Families enjoy its quaint community feel while still being a stone’s throw from the Malibu beach or a short ride to Los Angeles. Another city that consistently makes the “safe” list and ranked 13 out the 50 Safest Cities, Calabasas, according to the latest FBI Crime Report as reported by Safewise, only had three robberies reported to authorities in 2011. Also, for those who care about environmental issues, you will undoubtedly be impressed with all of the green initiatives offered by the city. Lastly, as a resident, you will have the privilege of enjoying sunset concerts at Calabasas Lake, tennis and swimming at the Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center, or day trips to the many parks in the community.

Westlake Village

A little lakeside community surrounded by a golf course and situated between Thousand Oaks and Agoura Hills, Westlake is the perfect affluent, Southern California community in which to settle down. Upscale dining and shopping at The Promenade or boating and fishing at Westlake Lake – take your pick! It’s all here. But whether you choose this area for investment or to purchase your dream home, residents have access to North Ranch Country Club and the award winning Westlake Golf Course not to mention it’s only a short 30 minutes to the city of Los Angeles and a short drive to Malibu. Additionally, the public schools are ranked some of the top in the country. According to GreatSchools.com, Westlake Village on average spends $12000 + per student. Several Westlake Village public elementary and high schools ranked 9 out of 10 on their list with 10 being best.

Lydia Gable sells and lists homes in Agoura Hilla, Westlake Village and Calabasas. Even better she lives, works and plays in the Westlake Village. If you need a realtor with years of proven experience and a real appreciation for the community in which you’ll purchase or sell your home, contact Lydia Gable today.

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How Much ‘Home’ Will $1 Million Buy in Southern California?

‘The Bedroom Could Fit Inside a Walk-In Closet’

How much home will a million dollars buy in Southern California? In certain coastal areas of Southern California, prepare to appreciate the beach location over the size of the home. Unlike other parts of the country, $1 million in Malibu for instance, won’t buy you a mansion – a quaint cottage home maybe. And in Orange County for example, the home of the famed Real Housewives of OC, whose lifestyle we’ve all become privy to, $1 million doesn’t stretch as far as you might think.

A recent article in the Orange County Register, highlights just how little home $1 million will buy in the OC. Paul Crane, consultant to a group of investors who bought a 1930s era home in Newport Beach says when he stood in the bedroom doorway of a home for lease one block from Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula – an exclusive part of Orange County—it was abundantly clear that the buyer was paying for the location not necessarily the home. The price tag: $1 million. His conclusion:

The bedroom could easily fit inside a typical walk-in closet in this city. The residence itself is only 534 square feet. What we would consider a bedroom is maybe not what they considered a bedroom when (the home) was built.

And, points out the author, Marilyn Kalfus:

Twenty six miles inland, $1 million could fetch a ‘highly upgraded,’ 2,800-square-foot, five-bedroom home on half an acre in Fullerton… with a swimming pool and spa – plus a private tennis court.

The Median Home Value in Westlake Village: $847,400′

If you prefer instead that the price match the luxury surroundings and home size, don’t be disheartened quite yet. Travel a bit north of the OC and there are still very exclusive areas in Southern California where $1 million can buy you a beautiful home – quite possibly a beautiful home in a gated community surrounded by lake views, mountain ranges and just minutes from the Pacific Ocean.

Wikipedia describes it well saying, Westlake Village “borders the Malibu hills, and is nine miles inland from the Pacific Ocean.” What else could you want? But that’s only he cherry on the proverbial cake. For $1 million or less, you will live in a gated community among professionals and celebrities alike, just a short ride to Los Angeles and in one of the best school districts in Southern California. In Westlake Village, you can buy a home for less than $1 million and currently the home prices are on the rise. It’s a good time to dip your toe in the market. If you buy now, the valuation—if the market continues to rebound as it’s predicted—should appreciate in a few years if you plan to invest and sell. Of course there are many homes—as is true of any luxury community—in the area that list above $1 million, however there are just as many properties where $1 million will be buy you a luxury home and I promise, your bedroom will be bigger than a closet! Zillow writes, regarding home prices in Westlake Village:

The median home value in Westlake Village is $847,400. Westlake Village home values have gone up 4.9% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 1.8% within the next year. The median price of homes currently listed in Westlake Village is $835,000 while the median price of homes that sold is $894,750.

You Can’t Put a Price Tag on Quality of Life

If you’re curiosity is piqued about what a $1 million looks like in the Westlake Village area, come take a tour of the community. A drive through the neighborhood, the surrounding exquisite scenic views, and the prime location, will leave you wanting more. Take it from me – I not only sell homes in Westlake Village, but I live in the area. My point of view after living in the Conejo Valley for many years: you can’t put a price tag on quality of life!

If you are a potential home buyer, our team will find the right fit for your lifestyle and needs. Lydia Gable specializes in the finest real estate and luxury properties. She is a permanent resident of Conejo Valley who lives and plays where she works. Contact Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

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Turnkey Homes: ‘Turning’ Up the Dial on Conejo Valley Home Sales

“Turnkey” home listings have experienced a recent jump in popularity specifically on the West Coast. The term “turnkey” refers to those properties which require no renovations or repairs. The house is ready to move in – everything inside it is part of the asking price. West Coast realtors, including yours truly, have found when it comes to home sales, these types of homes are ‘turning’ home listings into fast closings. As a realtor, I thought you’d find it interesting to hear my unique perspective on turnkey homes. While in years past, the trend leaned more toward building a home to exact specifications, now as the market finds a new resurgence, turnkey homes are indeed ‘in’ again.

What Realtors Say About Buying Turnkey

Although turnkey listings tend to be a bit more expensive than traditional home listings, buyers like this option because once you close on the home your expenses are essentially complete. A recent article on MSNBC says that there has been an increase in popularity—mainly on the West Coast and in vacation communities—for turnkey properties. In the article titled, Where to Find Turnkey Homes, Susie Nancarrow, broker and owner of Nancarrow Realty Group in San Diego County is quick to point out though that turnkey “isn’t necessarily synonymous with move-in ready.” She says:

… a 1970s-style house in great condition isn’t turnkey because it’s dated. I usually use ‘turnkey’ when the house is up-to-date with today’s buyers’ expectations.

At the end of the day, the process is much simpler. There’s no need to imagine where the children’s room will go, how you will renovate. View real estate listings, choose the home you fall in love with, make an offer, close and the best part awaits. Put the key in the lock, turn it and voila, you are home.

The Benefits of Buying Turnkey Real Estate

The real reason a buyer wants turnkey-ready is two-fold. The buyer may be a very busy executive with very little time to remodel. With interest rates at an all-time low– the prices while a little higher than traditional home sales are still very low. The buyer is then more willing to pay a premium for this type of home.

Home buyers understand that to remodel a home they will need a minimum of 20 percent down to purchase it in addition to the money it will cost to then do the remodel. So the idea of only paying for the home with no additional costs can be attractive. If a kitchen needs a remodel for example, this could cost the home owner another $50,000 to $75,000.00. To redo windows for example, it could cost $20,000. To upgrade to central heating/air, it could be another $15,000.00. If a buyer only remodels the bathroom, it could cost upwards of $10,000 and $25,000.00 just to remodel the master bedroom. These are estimates of course, depending on the size of the home, but one can clearly see the benefit and savings based on these examples, in choosing a turnkey home.

Is there a down-side to buying a turnkey home? Not really – if there is, maybe one could say “it doesn’t have my personality stamp”. But the truth is, if you fell in love with the home in the first place, it does – it must speak to some aspect of your personality and personal taste! And there is no saying down the line, you can’t make changes or add special touches. But truly, if you’re buying a vacation or a holiday home or even buying your first home, this is a good move. I think especially if you must move in a hurry for a job change, a turnkey home can be the perfect alternative to a traditional option. So there you have it –just one realtors perspective. Good luck on your home search whether it’s for a turnkey home in Westlake Village, a mansion in Calabasas or a condo in Thousand Oaks, your home is wherever your heart is!

For more on “turnkey homes” or to view property listings in the Conejo Valley, contact Lydia Gable today.

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Keep Your Home Cool in the Summer Heat

We are already starting to see glimmers of Southern California summer heat especially in Ventura County. The temperatures reached blistering temps twice already last week and it’s only May. Pretty soon we’ll be taking lazy weekend trips to the many lakes, long stretches of beaches, and hiking trails that Southern California residents boasts about. So start preparing your home now for the hot season. Then all you have to do is sit back and enjoy your beautiful chilled home as the dry West Coast desert temps hit their high marks.

Following are easy steps to use as a check list when preparing your home for summer.

First Things First: AC

Check and change the filters in your heating/cooling systems. Change them as often as is recommended by the manufacturer. Also, make sure to double-check that the thermostat is working correctly. Don’t wait until it’s already too hot to do the maintenance because if you do, you run the risk of trying to get an HVAC repair man to come out during the busiest season in town. For more tips on checking air conditioning, read my article titled It’s Summer: Check Your Air Conditioning Units in which I said in part:

If you have lived through even one summer season in Los Angeles and especially in the San Fernando Valley area, you already know that the air conditioning unit in your home is your best friend. And conversely if your AC is on the fritz, it can become your biggest head ache.

Up on the Roof

Now is a good time to inspect both your roof shingles and your attic insulation. An MSN real estate article recently offered some great suggestions to keep your home cool. And many of the answers are up on the roof. The piece suggests:

  • Using light shingles on a new roof can cut the amount of heat the house absorbs. Repainting in a light color, especially south- and west-facing exterior areas, helps as well.
  • Upgraded insulation in the attic and double-paned windows all around, complete with tinting to reflect sunlight, are good ideas, too.

Cut Your Costs While You Cool Your Home

If you want quick ways to weatherize your home with spending as much on the cooling as you spent to buy the house, a Networx article Simple Weatherizing for Summer, offer a few greats tips to keep the costs and the temperatures down without breaking the bank. The author suggests that a cost saving tip:

Caulking doors and windows: Air leakage is a serious problem. Running a bead of caulking around interior and exterior doors and windows will create a seal to minimize air flow, keeping cool air in and hot air out.

Soak Up the Fun in the Sun! Then Come Home to COOL!

Now you are prepared – stay cool inside while after enjoyed the outdoors in the beautiful Southern California sun . And on that note, if you need ideas for things to do this summer in and around Conejo Valley, read my recent blog, Spring & Summer Fun in Conejo Valley. Summer’s almost here, go have a mint julep, enjoy your dream home and beautiful backyard and reflect on how blessed we are to have this weather. Oh…and remember this when the temps shoot up to triple digits!

Lydia Gable is an experienced and respected Realtor® who has helped countless clients in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties find new homes. For more information on any topics covered in this article or to view home listings or meet about homes sales, contact Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

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Conejo Valley Real Estate Updates from Lydia Gable

5/16 – This information has recently been updated:

As somebody who likes to keep a pulse on what is going on in our lovely community, I wanted to share some exciting news about upcoming developments I recently received from my friend and trusted commercial Broker, David Massie, with DJM Commercial Real Estate.

Here is the update:

  • The Old Plug Nickel location (now a wine tasting bar called Cuvee Terrace) in Westlake Village is being sold and leased to a couple of very high-end successful Italian restaurants in other cities.
  • The vacant space in the same center as Lure Seafood just past The Counter location has signed a lease for a New Zeland Pacific Rim type restaurant called Aroha. In the old 9021Pho location in this center to the left of The Counter, a new restaurant called Kaze—which somehow fuses Japanese and Italian foods together—signed a lease.
  • In Agoura Hills, Vincitori Italian (owns Spumoni in NP also and replaced China Star here) just opened up recently in the Agoura Hills City Mall where the Agoura’s Famous Deli is and there will also be a new Kosher Israeli restaurant opening in the next couple of months just to the left of this Deli.
  • Padri’s will be opening up a high end Mexican restaurant in the Whizzins Center where Latigo Kid used to be in the next couple of months. Latigo relocated to the old Alamo location in the Vons anchored center at Kanan and Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Agoura Hills.
  • The old Red Robin in Calabasas is being leased by the Agoura Famous Deli owner and it’s yet to been seen what it will become.
  • The Gelsons/Sprouts/Vons center in WLV (all owned by one owner) is performing a 25 million dollar renovation and is going to not only remodel but also build new buildings in some of the parking areas as well as try to connect all 3 different plazas into one. New restaurants/food uses coming here are: Leilas (rumor only, not confirmed), Mendocino Farms, Pitfire Artisan Pizza, Le pain Quotidien, Pressed Juicery and Firefly. Target is under construction with a July 25, 2014, grand opening date and they own their land. The goal is to get all other Tenants open on or around this date, with the exception of buildings B and E, which will be later phases delivered in September. Here is a website link that will show you a site plan for each building so you can see where each tenant is going in this new center:http://www.shoppesatwestlakevillage.com/.

Building J – In N Out

Building G

– Suite A: Hook Burger

– Suite B: Negotiating with several food users

– Suite C: In Leases with a sit-down seafood restaurant

– Suite D: In Leases with a dessert tenant

Building F

– Suite A: In Leases with a sub sandwich tenant

– Suite B: Greens Up!

– Suite C: Olio E Limone Ristorante

– Suite D: Olio E Limone Pizzeria & Enoteca

Building C

– Suite G: Los Agaves

– Suite F: All Tressed Up (blow dry bar, also offers make-up application)

– Suite E: In Leases with a wireless tenant

– Suite D: Endless Beauty (high end beauty supply)

– Suite B & C: Salon suites tenant (haircut and color services)

– Suite A: BCBC Nail Salon

Building D

– Suite A: Negotiating with sushi concept

– Suite B: Negotiating with women’s apparel

– Suite C: Negotiating with a jewelry store

– Suite D: Negotiating with a home goods boutique

– Suite E & F: In leases with a men’s clothing store and children’s concept, but may relocate both users to accommodate a microbrewery we are negotiating with

– Suite G: Jeannine’s Marketplace

Building B (this is a second phase of the project, which will be delivered in September)

– Suite H: Tilly’s

– Suites A, B and a portion of C: Medical Use

Building E (this is a second phase of the project, which will be delivered in September)

– We have a lease out for signature with a 1,000 SF user, however. Will have several food and retail tenants.

Isn’t that exciting? These new developments will do wonderful things for Westlake Village Real Estate values and will certainly keep all of us entertained!

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First-Quarter SoCal Real Estate Market Update

While I am immersed in the busiest spring season for this realtor’s real estate career in years, I thought it pertinent to share with you a 1st quarter housing market update for Southern California. It’s good news indeed for you vigilant housing market watchers especially in the Ventura County area. Real estate numbers are on the up-tick and apparently not just for yours truly! Profit margins, new development, buying and selling— a majority of analysts report—is all on the incline. And although many naysayers feared another “housing bubble” debacle, the numbers remain consistently positive as does the future forecast.

Following are just a few analysts’ findings as they pertain to, specifically Southern California and Ventura County housing market numbers for this, the first quarter of 2014.

Positive Real Estate Market Numbers in SoCal

According to The Press Enterprise, KB Home, an LA based home builder discussed first quarter market results for 2014. KB Home President and CEO Jeffrey Mezger said in a conference call with analysts, “There is a strong indication that new home development in California will rise – and coastal communities will dominate the sales scene.” KB’s profits are at $10.6 million profit for the period ending Feb. 28. And he stressed that this is a profit margin milestone that hasn’t been achieved in the first quarter since back in 2007. Metzger went on to say:

Total revenues grew 11 percent to $405.2 million from the company’s delivery of 1,442 homes compared to 1,485 in the first quarter of 2013… California has some of the most dramatic examples of reposition strategy. We expect positive cross-over to positive unit sales in California at some point in the same year.

Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village Home Sales – HOT!

A February 2014 article in Ventura County Star said while some of Ventura County and parts of Southern California are experiencing a slump, the numbers emerging from the end of 2013 and now in this first quarter, indicate that luxury property sales are doing remarkably well. The Starsays some the best reports are coming from my “neck-of-the-woods” and I can vouch for that. The report says:

Homes selling in 2013 for at least $1 million in the county leapt nearly 43 percent to 780 sales up from 547 in 2012, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. Hot areas were the Thousand Oaks-Westlake Village area.

Additionally, at least according to the forecast for Ventura County as projected by Zillow, these numbers over the next year are likely to continue a steady incline. Says the Zillow forecast of current home values, expected home prices, and the Ventura County housing market overview, it’s all moving upwards:

Ventura County home values have gone up 15.3% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 4.9% within the next year.

Ventura County Market Overview
(Data through Feb 28, 2014)

  • $474,700 ZHVI
  • 4.9% 1-yr forecast (Feb 28, 2015)
  • $559,000 Median listing price
  • $454,000 Median sale price

Where Luxury Steps Up to Greet You

Where luxury steps up to greet you – this is the focus for Westlake Village Realty. Beautiful homes are listed for sale now in the exquisite communities of Westlake Village, Lake Sherwood, and Thousand Oaks and Agoura Hills. If you are a potential home buyer or seller, I can help you find the perfect fit for your luxury lifestyle. For questions on any topic covered on this article or to set up a consultation to view or sell fine homes in the Conejo Valley, contact Lydia Gable today.

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