Owning a Classic Craftsman Home in Northeast Los Angeles

NELA home architectural styles vary widely: Modern, Art Deco, Victorian, Tudors, and others. But perhaps the Craftsman residences get the most attention.

Craftsman homes are among the most sought after real estate in Northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods. One of the many reasons why homes for sale in Pasadena, Eagle Rock, Hermon and elsewhere have become hot commodities is a renewed interest in so-called “character homes”. But Craftsman homes come in significant variations, sizes, and conditions – opening up opportunities for homebuyers in a range of prices.

The high value – i.e., prices ranging from $400,000 on past $2 million – being placed on Craftsman homes in NELA is an interesting turn of historical events. These solid structures were originally designed for the advent of middle class home ownership in the late 19th and early 20th century. Gone were the features of Victorian homes that included butler’s quarters and kitchens only used by household staff. Instead, the family prepared their own meals while some features of kitchens blended with dining rooms – which are why there are those built-in, glass-front cabinets for dishware that was previously stowed out of sight from formal dining rooms.

The characteristics of Craftsman homes range from low-pitched roofs to deep eaves, exposed rafters (usually with distinctive decorative knee braces), dormers, one- to one-and-a-half stories, large fireplaces (often flanked by built-in cabinetry), and double-hung windows. Outside, Craftsman bungalows had large porches that welcomed newcomers to the California lifestyle, which offered a longer outdoor season for people arriving from the Northeast and Midwest.

Note that Bungalow and Craftsman style homes are often – but not always- the same thing; Bungalows always have that front porch (“veranda” if you prefer), while Craftsman sometimes do not. (If looking at homes for sale in Glassell Park, Garvanza or Mt. Washington, you might nerd out with your realtor by looking for the distinction.)

A further distinction might be made between Craftsman homes designed by certain architects (Greene & Greene built the trend-setting larger versions, which drew from Spanish mission and Japanese aesthetics), while Craftsman-style homes had a lower cost and were more modest in proportions and features. Craftsman-style homes may have shipped by train in a kit (e.g., “Sears homes”) or been a much-replicated design used by 1920s developers who knew a popular style when they saw one.

What made Craftsmans so popular when first built is what makes them equally popular today. These solid buildings have a relaxed style, one that accommodates an easy flow between rooms and activities. Mothers and fathers making meals in the kitchen can take a break to help children with their homework while keeping an eye on something cooking on the stove. Throw a party on the veranda but some guests might easily drift inside to admire the Arts & Crafts detailing of the cabinetry, fireplace surround, or wainscoting. They are healthy, unpretentious and sturdy: anything standing today has withstood a century of seismic activity, testimony to the sturdy craftsmanship of these Craftsman homes.

Landlords: What Is Your Pricing Philosophy, And Why?

Many people realize, investing in real estate, if done, in a prepared, knowledgable, realistic way, is an important component, in their overall investment portfolio. However, it also requires, instead of being greedy, a smart landlord/ investor, must fully examine, and delve deeply/ discover, a pricing philosophy/ policy, which maximizes the potential return, in a reasonable, rationale, pragmatic manner. There are many considerations, to consider, but, rather, than proceed, either focused on greed, or a degree of laziness, doesn’t it make sense, to proceed, with a logical policy, which will best serve, your best interests? With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, some of the central considerations, etc.

1. How many similar properties do you own, in the area? When asked why, so many landlords, refuse to reduce their rents, in order to attract tenants (especially, when it comes to storefronts, and office space), the response is often, because they don’t want to limit the continuous expansion, in pricing, of rents, into the future! However, from a mathematical, logical perspective, let’s evaluate, what the impact, of every month’s vacancy, means, and how long it might take, to recoup, these losses. For example, let’s assume the asking rental price is $4,000 per month, for a specific storefront. A prospective tenant has offered $3,750, and the landlord refuses to nudge. The difference, of $250 per month, would take 16 months, at the higher rent, to come out equal. If it takes three months to rent, at the higher year, it will require 3 years, to break – even! Does that make sense? Even if it did, it would only make sense, for someone who owns many units, in the specific area!

2. Renting in a two – to – six unit building: If you are investing in a two – to – six unit, residential building, what should be your priority? Should you, merely, focus, on getting the highest rents, in the area, or would you be better served, by finding highest quality tenants, who, if they are satisfied, may stay, for a longer period. Every time, you need to find a new tenant, there is another expense, which you do not encounter, when you maintain your existing tenants. I always strive, to impose realistic rents, from well – qualified tenants, and have been fortunate, enough, to maintain tenants, far longer, than nearly all other similar places, in the area.

What is your pricing philosophy, and policy? Can you afford an extended period, of vacancy? How much have you put aside, for reserves? Can your cash flow, afford it? Does it make sense, in relation, to how long, it takes to make up, the loss?