Echo Park apartment building values are increasing rapidly

Echo Park apartment buildings values are increasing rapidly BRE Investment

If you own any real estate in Echo Park, then you know you’ve got something people want. Condos, homes, vacant lots, mixed-use… really anything at all! But if you happen to own an apartment building in Echo Park, then you’re sitting on a gold mine. If you’re an apartment owner, then you probably already know this because you’re getting a harassing level of marketing an overwhelming level of solicitations to sell.

If you own in Echo Park and you decided to sell right now, then you’d be making a wise choice because we’re seeing very clean apartment buildings for sale hit the market and easily command 4% cap rates. These apartment buildings have renovated interiors, renovated exteriors, upgraded common areas, new building systems (foundations, copper plumbing, etc) and of course and most importantly, market rate rents.

But whether the buildings have been polished or ignored over the years, all of these lower cap rate sales (historically lower by any standard applied in Los Angeles) don’t seem to have any reason of climbing back up in the near future. More than I have ever seen since I started buying and selling here in 2001, there is a tremendous amount of interest in the area and push in values across the board. The up swing in value is only accelerating with this newfound competition among tenants searching for apartments to rent, and among investors searching for apartments to buy in the area.

On a weekly (and sometimes daily basis), I get cold called by newer syndicators representing investment dollars from the San Fernando Valley, the Westside, and the San Gabriel Valley. I noticed this bigger shift in investment in the summer of 2012 when I wrote about it in my BRE Investment market report, but now the conversations about the area are at a fevered pitch.

I hate to say this, but there’s a slight tinge of desperation in investors’ voices, because they, like everyone else, don’t want to be left out of the party. And so my phone continues to ring uncontrollably. Throw in the occasional Orange County investor calls, mortgage broker calls, and hard moneylender calls, and it’s sometimes difficult to get any work done.

For the properties that have tremendous up-side value (rents painfully below market and frozen there because of rent control), there are buyers willing to pay below 4% caps. This is not because they want to take their funds from the relative safety and comfort of their bank accounts earning less then 1% and make, say 3.5% cap (or ROI), but because they are able to relocate, renovate and lease out at market rate rents and immediately increase their value of the property in a dramatic way. Or at least take the risk in trying.

So the take away is if you own anything in Echo Park, anything at all, then you better seriously consider selling. This doesn’t mean you have to, but it means you should think long and hard if no is the right time to make an exit on one of your properties in the area because we’re in a unique investment atmosphere. While there’s still plenty of momentum and time to sell this year, I don’t believe these low caps will stay around forever (2-3 years out), so it might make sense to sell now and capitalize on the fervor, especially if you’ve owned for 10, 20 or 30+ years and have deferred maintenance and low rents.

Please call me if you have any questions.

David Bramante
BRE Investment
213-375-3752 x1

Investing in Pico-Union Apartment Buildings | Pico-Union Realtors

A great neighborhood to invest in 2015

By all accounts, the Pico-Union area of Los Angeles is one of the least desirable pockets of the City. Whether you’re a tenant looking to rent an apartment or a multi-family investor looking to buy apartment buildings, you’re probably not looking in Pico-Union.

Well, I think that’s a mistake because I don’t believe this area will be seen this way in the next few years. The area is changing quickly, and I think it’s actually one of the most desirable areas of LA right now, either as a renter or property owner.

Pico-Union is located in walking distance to some of Downtown LA’s renaissance attractions (the Staples Center, LA Live, LA Convention Center, etc.). Jump in a car and you’re at the heart of Southern California’s hub of major freeways connections for the state (the 10-freeway, 110-freeway, 101-freeway, etc.). And if you don’t want to walk or drive, then you can bike ride a few minutes and catch the major Metro rail connectors in DTLA (Red Line, Purple Line and Blue Line).

But is that all enough to lure new tenants into the neighborhood? No it’s not. But geographically, Pico-Union is poised for its own little renaissance because it’s sandwiched in-between Downtown LA and Koreatown, and both those areas’ populations and rent amounts continue to increase rapidly, and values have been following dutifully. If you look at a map, Pico-Union is clearly in the path of progress.

The current tenants you’ll inherent in the building are typically Spanish speaking, lower income and many times have Section 8 help. But other tenants are coming in and making the area their home, and fortunately you don’t have to wait to test out that theory. Property owners are already getting higher income tenants applying and moving into the area, and this is a new development. We provide property management in the area, and we’re already seeing this change happening.

The percolating of higher paying tenants into Pico-Union apartment buildings is the side effect of higher income tenants getting priced out the real neighborhoods they want to live in. They’re actively looking for affordable alternatives to the surrounding areas with higher rents. These higher income tenants are now vying for property owner’s vacancies because they are looking for alternatives to Silver Lake, Echo Park, Downtown LA and to a lesser extent Koreatown. The new tenants are willing to pay substantially higher rents than the current tenant population.

This in turn means property values will follow (actually they already area following and increasing), and because of this chain event there’s no way this submarket of LA will stay in its current state forever. The area will be significantly more desirable and valuable in just a few years.

To summarize, Pico-Union is geographically great, rents rates are attractively lower, and the architecture is classic Eastside 1920s. So as a property owner looking for places to invest, then Pico-Union should be the play. Many owners want to buy in Boyle Heights, and I think to that area is changing. But Pico-Union is still west of LA River and Downtown LA, so it’s smack dab in the path of progress.

The economics of the area provide for investment opportunities with serious upside, and aesthetically the area has a charm similar to other desirable parts of the Eastside, like Silver Lake and Echo Park.

So Pico-Union is now reclassified as the least desirable to the most desirable. Big jump! Contact me to let me know if you agree or disagree, and if you need help investing in the area.

OWNERS: Let us know what you think and for more information about how we can help you.

Romanticizing Echo Park’s Past | Echo Park Realtors

Should what we see now – or what once was – negatively impact the future of Echo Park, Los Angeles?

By David Bramante

Remember how the Eastside used to be? I hear this all the time about the continued changes on the Eastside by “real” locals rejecting new-comers to “their” areas, especially in Echo Park.

But where do these “real” residents draw the line in history to mark the exact time frames of “theirs” and “ours”? When does their romanticized experience of these neighborhoods trump the experiences and memories of those who came before, those only recently moving in, or the thousands more to come in the future? These neighborhoods are for everyone and should evolve so people can make of them what they will.

If you ask self-proclaimed “real” Echo Park residents for specifics on when the best year or years of their area were, most of their memories and arguments begin to fade away into a murmur. Are they talking about the ‘00s, ‘90s, or ‘80s? They seem to reminisce about the ’80s the most, but usually they don’t have exact dates, because the real resistance is simply to change, regardless of the cause.

But why stop at those dates? Going further back is anyone seriously arguing to keep Echo Park the way it was in the 1930s or even 1830s? No. But are those experiential dates in Echo Park less valid than the 1980s? Could it be that since those that lived in the significantly earlier times are gone, their votes don’t count? That seems illogical and hypocritical, but you don’t hear any “real” residents arguing to scrape the city and take it back to how it used to be when it was just a handful of rancheros. That would be totally insane, but that is effectively the argument.

I’m bringing this up because recently there was an online article published announcing our sale of 1616 Delta Street. In the comments section, as is typical regarding real estate news, I saw a polarized community comprised primarily of two groups: the first was made up of pro-landlord advocates complaining about rent-control laws and relocation costs, and the second was made up of pro-tenant advocates complaining about increasing rents and living costs.

I normally don’t publicly comment online when everyone is anonymously posting and arguing with one another, but this sale made us proud for many reasons. So, I followed the conversation and gave my feedback, strongly siding with pro-landlords on this topic. Although that could clearly seem like an obvious, self-serving answer as a real estate broker, I have real-life experience as a native Angelino. At different times I wore the hats of a tenant, property manager, and owner on the Eastside dating back into the ‘90s. One might say I have the “credentials” to argue against change in the area as a “real” local, but the fact is this: though I have all that life experience coupled with my real estate sales experience in the area, I draw my answer from a completely different source. I believe in intelligent and thoughtful progress into the future.

My comments were quickly labeled as excitement for the area’s “whitewashing” by one of the pro-tenant commenters, but I don’t agree with that racist generalization. I do understand that this person might be frustrated by hipsters or yuppies in the area and/or (more importantly) by an increased cost of living. But the costs of living in LA are significantly more expensive no matter who you are and where you live, and I too have felt those increases.

I understand the feeling of resisting the new just because of a things’ newness. There were times when I felt a knee jerk resistance to the change on the Eastside, especially in Silver Lake, Echo Park and Downtown Los Angeles. Growing up in LA, I have seen the Eastside, Westside and Valley change.

While in Mid-City, I have caught myself saying to friends a few times, “Right over there used to be the Antique Mall, but now it’s a parking lot for the Farmer’s Market and Grove.” It’s fun to remember what it used to be. But then I thought, “Who cares that there used to be an antique mall there?” It was fun, but it was kind of crumby. It’s a much better overall experience there now that the Farmer’s Market and Grove exist – plus I don’t want to sound like a broken record, always talking about the past. These days, as a native and current Angelino, I force myself to slow down and consider what all of these types of real estate and business changes mean (or maybe don’t mean?) for the neighborhood and its community.

The take away for me of this entire sale does not play into the continued, tired, and endless argument of “pro-landlord” versus “pro-tenant” debate. While the two sides argued within the comments section, it was clear that this is a signal of continued fundamental change in the Echo Park area at a critical, game changing level.

What’s exciting about these sales in Echo Park is that the area is finally on the receiving end of major investment dollars from realist investors that had heard of the area but driven through and dismissed it for decades as a poor, dangerous, and forgotten neighborhood of the city. You’ll find this to be a common and honest, but fading, historical assessment of the area. So while this change is annoying some very vocal pro-tenants who cling to their fading memories of the past, it’s a great thing that the pro-landlords’ realistic memories of the past are fading as well.

This is a great shift, because now the area’s largest real estate properties (both the larger apartment buildings and buildings with major retail components critical to the area’s amenity and desirability) are receiving major, thoughtful, and real investment. This is strategic money entering the submarket that will have lasting changes on the neighborhood for generations to come. The Delta property we sold isn’t a mixed-use building, but it is adjacent to the mixed-use Grafton Lofts and it’s interesting to see sophisticated investors purchase properties that are adjacent to, or near, these major community anchors, continuing the area’s growth. These adjacent investments are accelerating the neighborhood’s change towards a future Echo Park where costs will be higher, but in return so too will the area’s amenities, quality of life and desirability increase …it’ll improve everything.

For the “old guard” that continues to complain about the present state of Echo Park while romanticizing the neighborhood of the ‘80s, there’s no winning. They’re living in the past, and you can’t argue with someone’s memories no matter how thick their rose colored glasses are. Every single area of Los Angeles has a romanticized past, where the people who consider themselves more “real” dislike and complain about all the changes they see in the skyline. This probably happens in every single city in the world.

But I doubt there’s not at least one day where the “real” residents don’t secretly admit to themselves that they’ve benefited from the progress in their area in some way. They can keep their memories but they should not impede future progress. They must allow the new resident’s ability to claim the area as theirs too, and benefit from everything Echo Park has and will continue to offer in the years to come.

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions or comments, please contact me. I would love to hear your thoughts about this topic!

1235 Boston Street, LA, CA 90026 – New Construction Echo Park

1235 Boston Street, Los Angeles, CA 90026 - Angelino Heights New Construction - Main 2

New construction in Angelino Heights looks like it’s nearing completion… this 3-unit apartment building is a new construction project in Echo Park, located between the south side of Angelino Heights and the 101-Freeway. Construction appears to be complete and the property is now for sale and listed for $1.775M.

Here’s the previous article with the construction photo and the description from the MLS Marketing:

The Crown Jewel of Angeleno Heights has arrived! Located at the corner of Boston St. and Kensington St., this magnificent brand-new construction triplex is available for purchase. This building consists of an amazing owner/user unit that has 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms, in addition to a private rooftop deck that spans 1,200 sq ft. and has soaring views of Downtown LA. The additional income producing units each have 2 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.

The upstairs unit has a private balcony, while the downstairs unit contains a private patio. The entire property is gated with plenty of parking on site. The unit interiors contain the latest in modern luxuries. All units feature high ceilings and designer finishes; such as wood floors, custom tile work and beautiful quartz counter tops along with state of the art energy star efficient appliances, central air and heating. Each unit features washer/dryers.

The unit mix is reported as one 3-bedroom, and two 2-bedroom units with a gross income of $124.8K per year. What do you think about this price and location?

By David Bramante

721 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 – Silver Lake Property Management

721 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 - Silver Lake Los Angeles Property Management

721 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 – Silver Lake Property Management

We’re proud to announce that we are now managing 721 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 in Silver Lake. This highly visible 10-unit apartment building is located near the intersection of Silver Lake and Sunset. For more information about this property or our property management services, please call us at (213) 375-3752 ext. 2 or visit www.breinvestment.com.