Innovative & Exciting Pop-Up Houses

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When I saw this video, I could barely believe my eyes! It’s a pop-up house that deploys by itself in under 10 minutes. No machinery or labor necessary! And when you’re ready to move to a new spot, just fold it up, hook it up to a truck and drive away.

Imagine being able to take a vacation home to the beach in the summer and to the mountains in the winter (or vice versa).

Each structure expands to three times its transport size to 689 square feet. Once open, the walls can be adjusted according to your preference, so it’s super adaptable. You can even stack them to make a larger structure, or go fully off-grid by adding solar panels.

It has all the conveniences of an RV, but is much more spacious, high tech, and comfortable. It feels like a real home!

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They start at about $129,000, but when you consider that you can move it anywhere, it’s a bargain! Currently, they are working on getting the designs converted to meet US building safety codes. They predict home delivery will be available to all areas of the US by the end of 2018, or sooner.

Pop-up houses, prefab houses, and 3D print houses are soon becoming a viable option for home owners. The industry is getting flooded with innovative designs that are stylish, durable, and portable.

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One of the coolest and most affordable offerings is the DublDom series from a Moscow-based company. These simple modern cabins range from a 280 square foot studio to a 1,400 square foot 3 bedroom dwelling. Prices range from $23,000 for the smallest model to $100,000 for the largest model.

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Another company, this one based in the UK, has started creating prefab homes to provide affordable housing for young, single urban workers. The first homes, located in SW London, will be rented out at an average of $800 per month, well below the cost of renting a current 1 bedroom apartment in the area, which roughly starts around $1,300 a month.

Google is also jumping on the bandwagon- they recently purchased 300 prefab homes as temporary housing for their employees in San Francisco. The building company, Factory OS, claims their homes come at a 40% price reduction from normal construction.

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Another SF-based company used 3D printing to build a house in just 24 hours! The company used a mobile 3D printer to print the house's concrete walls, partitions and building envelope, so that the workers could then assemble it. The result is a 400 square foot house that's about as big as a standard hotel room, and costs about $10,134. For those interested in tiny homes, this definitely fits the bill.

Many other companies are getting into the prefab business, believing that industrial manufacturing techniques and new business models can solve the affordability crisis many young workers face. Perhaps, this could help solve the housing crisis in Los Angeles? Though it’s hard to imagine anything ever replacing a large, comfortable home for a family. For a younger generation looking for affordable housing, prefab could be the answer.

Some homeowners are even electing to use pop-up houses in their backyards as guest houses or granny flats! Between these new pop-up home innovations, and the latest laws that have made it easier to build secondary structures on your property, you'll likely soon see a few of these in your neighborhood.

Would your kids live in a pop-up or prefab home?

Do you know what to do if there is an earthquake?

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Living in Southern California, a large earthquake affecting our region is not an “if” but a “when.” We all know “The Big One” could hit any day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re prepared. In the event of an earthquake, do you know what to do? I’ve found some tips to help you, your family, and your home prepare for when the shaking starts.


How to Prepare an Earthquake Kit

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You should have an earthquake kit in your home, car, and your office. You need to be prepared to survive up to 7 days off the food and supplies in your kit. Your kit should include:

  • Non-perishable packaged or canned food

  • A gallon of water a day, per person (Replace supply every six months and count pets as family members)
  • Manual can opener

  • First aid kit and handbook

  • Clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes

  • Blankets or sleeping bags

  • Portable radio and flashlight, with spare batteries

  • Essential medications

  • List of family physicians as well as the style and serial number of medical devices, such as a pacemaker
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts

  • Extra set of house/car keys

  • Toilet paper, toiletries and feminine hygiene products

  • Fire extinguisher

  • Pet food, water and leash/carrier

  • Cash and change

  • Any special food or supplies for babies, the disabled or the elderly
  • Plastic utensils, paper cups and plates

  • Paper towels

  • Knife and/or razor blades

  • Candles, light sticks

  • Matches in a waterproof container

  • Small tool kit

  • Local street map and compass

  • Paper, pens, pencils and stamps

  • Entertainment pack of family photos, notebooks, reading material and games

This kit should be stored somewhere convenient, such as a pantry or hall closet. If you store it in an attic or garage, you run the risk of not being able to access it when you most need it.

What To Do During An Earthquake

Wherever you are during an earthquake, remember to Drop, Cover, and Hold On.

  • Drop to the ground.

  • Cover your head and neck with your arms, and if a safer place is nearby that you can get to without exposing yourself to flying debris, crawl to it.

  • Hold On to maintain cover.

If you’re inside a building, get under a sturdy object if possible. If there is nothing nearby, crawl away from windows, next to an interior wall. Stay away from windows, glass, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as light fixtures or furniture.

Stay where you are until the shaking stops.

If you are in bed when you feel the shaking, stay there and cover your head and neck with a pillow.

If you’re outside when the earthquake hits, move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. Once you’re in the open, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” Stay there until the shaking stops.

If you are in a moving vehicle during an earthquake, stop as quickly as possible and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, bridges, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.

How To Tell If Your Home is Earthquake-Proof

A single-story, wood-framed house is the safest option in an earthquake. But that doesn’t mean you have to move if your home is two stories or not wood-framed. Your home will be relatively safe in an earthquake if the following is true:

  • The house has a properly installed poured-concrete foundation with no cracks

  • The home is bolted to the foundation and adequately braced

  • All appliances and cabinets are bolted to the wall

Take a walk around your house and make sure your home is up to par according to these rules.

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If your foundation is crumbling, your home is either made of brick, is not bolted, or you might not be safe.

How To Make Your Home Earthquake Safe

If you have an older home, or found any of the problems listed above, you should consider getting your house earthquake retrofitted. Retrofitting will keep your home from being displaced from its concrete foundation, making the building safer and less prone to major structural damage during an earthquake. Older homes often need to be retrofitted because they were built before the current knowledge of earthquake-safe construction.

Typically, this includes the construction of a cripple wall to reinforce the foundation.

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Hopefully, you now feel ready and prepared for an earthquake when it hits. If you need references for a retrofitting company, let me know!

John Aaroe Group is Now Pacific Union LA!

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Big news: John Aaroe Group is now Pacific Union LA! Pacific Union, originally based in Northern California, has merged with John Aaroe Group and Partners Trust, making it the largest independent residential real estate brokerage in Los Angeles and all of California!

This change bumps our team to over 900 agents in the Greater Los Angeles area alone, with 20 offices throughout the SoCal region. That’s 51 office locations across the state, and over 1,700 real estate professionals available to our clients.

There are already over 600 properties listed on the new Pacific Union website, so check it out here and see what interests you. It’s easy to search by zip code or address to find a home anywhere from San Francisco to Santa Monica.

We have cutting edge real estate tech that you can use such as our Best Buyer Report which helps us target the perfect buyers using "Big Data" technology based on in depth criteria of your home. Pacific Union started in Silicon Valley which means that we will have the best tools at our disposal to buy and sell your homes at the best prices and to find the right home quicker than the rest.

John Aaroe group was already one of the top real estate companies in California, and this merger has brought it to the top. “This changes the narrative considerably,” said Gus Ruelas, formerly of John Aaroe Group and now executive vice president for Pacific Union’s Southern California offices. “Because of our size, we now have the ability to compete with the big national brands, and it puts us at No. 1 for market share. That’s never happened with an independent company,” Ruelas said. The new company has $18 billion in projected sales for 2018.

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If you’ve been looking to invest in real estate, this is the time to do it! Our robust team and list of properties makes it easier than ever to target exactly what you’re looking for. When you work with Pacific Union LA, you have access to a curated list of properties you can’t find anywhere else - not even on MLS. One click on the website will show you all the open houses in the SoCal area (currently at 1188 properties) so you can get moving on that investment and wate no time.

By broadening our options to beyond SoCal, we’re the perfect real estate company if you’re looking to relocate. If you need a break from Silicon Beach and want to move to Silicon Valley, we’ve got you covered. Or, if the mist-covered bay has you craving sunshine, we’ll find you the perfect beach bungalow in a flash.

 Search the website and find a gorgeous home like this one! 

Search the website and find a gorgeous home like this one! 

SEARCH THE WEBSITE AND FIND A GORGEOUS HOME LIKE THIS! 

I am so excited for what the future holds for Pacific Union LA. We’ll be able to serve our clients better, by offering you a wider selection of homes across a broader region. If you’ve been wondering if it’s time to buy or sell, trust me, the time is now!

"O, Christmas Tree!"

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Tis the season for - Trees! There’s something so magical about the holiday season, when empty parking lots are transformed into festive forests packed with piney contestants all wanting to be chosen as the most beautiful Christmas  tree in the annual pageant. Normal sidewalks become winter wonderlands, with each tree decorated with lights and ornaments. Palm trees might not be the most festive tree, but once they’re wrapped in lights, they become the distinctly SoCal Christmas pageant contestant.

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These annual symbols of the yuletide serve as a good reminder of how important all trees are to our world. Trees provide ecosystems for animals, wood we need for homes and furniture, and, of course, the air we breathe. During this time of giving, lets give back to the these majestic sentinels that give us so much. And it is so easy to do so; please check out the charities listed below.

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An easy way to help the trees of the US and all they do is to make a donation to the National Forest Foundation. For every $1 donated, a tree is planted to restore wildlife habitat across the country. By planting more trees, water quality is improved, wildlife is protected, and climate change is combatted. Their goal is to plant 50 million trees by 2023, and you can make a donation here to the National Forest Foundation.

Unfortunately, living in beautiful, tree-filled California can be dangerous as well. The wildfires that are sweeping through Ventura County, and Sonoma earlier this year, are causing devastation for thousands, including many animals. The Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation is accepting donations through its Noah’s Legacy Fund, and The Sonoma Humane Society in Santa Rosa has taken on the task of sheltering stray pets and giving first aid to animals that were harmed by the fire. They worked non-stop in the aftermath of the fires, and now they need help to continue caring for these animals and replenishing their supplies. You can donate to LA County animals at lacountyanimals.orgDonations can be made to Sonoma Humane at this link.

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Trees can also be used to build good things, like homes for those who need it most. New Story is a charity that builds homes in areas after a natural disaster or in tent communities around the world. 828 million people live in slums or inadequate housing, which causes their sleep, safety, and health to suffer. Donations can be made in any amount, but if you raise $6,000 you can sponsor a family to build them a home - and you can see a video of them on move-in day. One hundred percent of donations goes to relief, and they hire local workers to build the homes (the donation is also tax-deductible). Make a donation today for New Story at this link.
 

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Just the opposite is true for our fellow Americans in Texas. Those affected by the massive destruction and flooding from Hurricane Harvey need help with housing as well. You can put Houston flood victims in houses through the Houston Coalition for the Homeless. Those who are homeless are most at risk during a natural disaster, and placing them in permanent housing will help save lives during the next hurricane. Help build houses with the Houston Coalition for the Homeless at this link.

I would personally love to hear your thoughts on this list, and which charities you donate to regularly. It is helpful for us all to know more about opportunities to help one another and the world. Please let me know in the comments!

May the holiday season bring your family the peace of the season. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and best wishes for a fabulous 2018!

 

Best Horror Film Screenings in LA 2017

Halloween is the season for scary movies! Sitting in the dark, eating popcorn, safely nuzzled under a blanket, covering your eyes, when BOO!, you scream and the popcorn goes flying. And luckily, Los Angeles is full of horror film screenings! If you’re a fellow scary movie-lover, check out some of these great movie events around the city.

Shaun of the Dead at The Greek

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Talk about watching a movie on the big screen! All you Geeks need to head to The Greek Theatre for a screening of cult-favorite Shaun of the Dead. Dress as your favorite character for this fun movie event. Plus, all attendees get a free t-shirt! Get your tickets now, the event is Thursday October 26th.

Talk about watching a movie on the big screen! Head to The Greek Theatre for a screening of cult-favorite Shaun of the Dead. Try dressing up as your favorite character for this fun movie event so you can feel right at home. Plus, all attendees get a free t-shirt! Click here to get your tickets, the event is Thursday October 26th.

Rooftop Cinema Club

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This modern take on a drive-in has two venues in LA, on the rooftops of buildings in downtown LA and Hollywood. Throw on the provided wireless headphones, snuggle into a desk chair, and prepare to be scared. Screenings for the rest of the month include Scream (Oct. 27), A Nightmare on Elm Street (Oct. 28) and The Shining and Halloween on Halloween Night. Great movies and great views, it’s the ultimate film experience.

 Click here to purchase tickets for Rooftop Cinema Club.

 

Aero Theatre’s Horrorthon

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And for all you Glendale Ghouls, the fabulous Aero Theatre movie marathon is a great choice. One ticket gets you a seat for this spooky sleepover, with over 8 feature films plus a series of shorts, and free food! Oh, and you also get free coffee all night long, in case the scares aren’t enough to keep you up. Movies include An American Werewolf in London, The Tingler, and Hack-O-Lantern. Check it out October 28th!

Click here to purchase tickets.

 

The New Beverly

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A cinephiles favorite theatre doesn’t disappoint during Halloween. The New Beverly, owned and programmed by Quentin Tarantino, has horror movie screenings every night, including on Halloween, in 35mm. Some favorites that will be screened include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original scared the hell outta me in college), It Follows, and a special Halloween night screening of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion.

Click here to see the full schedule.

How brave are you and which of these screenings sounds most scarily fun?? Comment with your favorite Halloween movie - or any screenings I missed!

The Noted Architects of Los Feliz

Los Feliz is one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in Los Angeles due to the stunning views, beautiful homes, and relative affordability. Scattered across these hills are architectural gems evoking the ‘Old Hollywood” built by architects such as Leland Bryant, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Paul Williams. On a related note, I have a pocket listing designed by architect Elmer Grey. This is a 4 bedroom Spanish built in 1926 with unbelievable views- it even has a chapel! I can show it after Labor Day, but please call with any questions. 

 

Wallace Neff

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Wallace Neff is largely responsible for developing LA’s distinct architectural style referred to as “California style", featuring now common elements like Spanish tile, courtyards, and exposed wood. The A.L. Schoenborn residence, built  in 1924, before Neff was even 30, is one of his masterpieces (pictured above). His beautiful mansions can be found throughout Hancock Park, Beverly Hills, and Los Feliz- they have been owned by a range of the rich and famous from Brad Pitt and Diane Keaton to philanthropist Wallis Annenberg.

Frank Lloyd Wright

The infamous Frank Lloyd Wright needs no introduction. He left his mark throughout LA, and many of his stylistic homes are still intact including the Sturges House in Brentwood, the Freeman House in the Hollywood Hills, and the Ennis House in Los Feliz. The Ennis House is actually one of only four Mayan revival style houses in LA that is made up of 27,000 interlocking pre-cast concrete blocks. You might recognize it as Rick Deckard’s house in Blade Runner. 

Richard Neutra

Many modernist architects owe their inspiration to Richard Neutra. From the 1920s-1960s, Neutra designed dozens of homes, apartment buildings, and government buildings in the Los Angeles area alone. Sitting just across from the Ennis House is Neutra’s Alpha Wirin House, which features his signature Mid-century modern style. With sweeping views of the city, warm wood ceilings, balconies overlooking a pool, and a level of built-in seats, it’s a modernists dream.

 

Gregory Ain

Gregory Ain was known for bringing elements of modern architecture to lower priced housing, including a variety of homes in LA. After working for Neutra for a few years, he struck out on his own by building homes like the the Beckman Residence in Hancock Park and the Anselem A. Ernst House in Los Feliz. The latter, built in 1937, is a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, and has original walls of glass, high ceilings, original cabinetry/built-ins, a dual-level fireplace, and incredible views!

 

R.M. Schindler

Like many other architects of the time, R.M. Schindler trained under Wright, even helping to supervise construction of the Hollyhock House. Schindler liked to experiment, and therefore, inevitably developed a unique and distinct modern style that was responsive to the local culture. His 1950s Schlessinger House is a prime example of his architectural style, and ended up being the last home he ever built.

I am an expert in these vintage homes and would be thrilled to take you on a tour!

Downsizing - How to Re-Feather an Empty Nest

My son will be heading off to college next month, and the reality of being an empty-nester has struck me like a ton of bricks. Standing in the doorway to his bedroom and seeing the future, actually the floor which has been covered in clothes, towels, dishes and skateboards for years, leaves me with mixed feelings. Soon his room will be clean, and devoid of the wonderful chaos he has brought to this house for the past 19 years. I know this is a passage most parents face, especially this time of year, thus this months topic. 

As a soon-to-be empty nester, you won’t need as much extra space, the kids are gone, you’re traveling, and now your big family home is becoming too big. It might be time to downsize! Moving into a high-end condo is a great option for those who don’t need so much space, and are looking to eliminate some responsibilities. With a condo, you don’t have to worry about home repairs, lawn upkeep, high utility bills, or just cleaning rooms that never get used. Plus, many luxury condos come with perks like gyms, pools, and community events! 

You can still find condos with extra bedrooms so you can entertain, or when those kids inevitably come home with bags of laundry and voracious appetites for summer vacations. Plus, the built-in community of a condo lets you meet like-minded residents. Embrace your new kid-free life and enjoy the condo’s events, communal pool, or gym. 

Even if you aren’t an empty-nester, downsizing is an excellent option. Even small families with one child can enjoy living in condos. If you love to travel, a condo makes it easier to pick up and go, as you don’t have to worry about holding your mail or timing the sprinklers. Condos are often much more affordable than large homes, but with many more amenities than you get with a house.

Empty-nester or not, Los Angeles is a great spot to find a gorgeous luxury condo that’s tough to resist! 

Some things to consider: condos can have less privacy than a house, and living in closer quarters might not be for you. But, on the flip side, they also create a community of likeminded residents. You might find that you like getting to know the people around you and it's easy to visit new friends in the building. These buildings will sometimes offer fun events, and a communal pool, tennis court, or gym which allow you to easily meet your neighbors. 

Los Angeles has long been a hub for gorgeous luxury condos that are tough to resist! Historic pre-war doorman buildings offer elegance, security and the chance to live a glamorous Hollywood lifestyle.

As many of you know I work extensively with historic properties - Country Club Manor, Faubourg St Michelle, and Colonial House ( home of Bette Davis), to name a few. This Hancock Park building is a historic French-Normand style building built in 1926 by famous Los Angeles architect, Leland Bryant. The elegant lobby features a piano and cozy fireplace, and you can wander the grounds with hidden gardens and fountains.

Another building designed by Leland Bryant is the Colonial House in West Hollywood. This gorgeous property has been home to Hollywood stars Bette Davis and F. Scott Fitzgerald, among others, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Each light-filled unit has original bookcases, spectacular views, and updated kitchens. Don’t miss the beautiful heated pool nestled among the meticulously maintained grounds. 

If you’re interested in something a little more modern, check out 432 Oakhurst in Beverly Hills this sophisticated condo is the epitome of convenience and luxury. Each unit has a luxurious master suite, boasts spa-like soaking tub, and the spare bedrooms have en-suite baths and private balconies, The building boasts state-of-the-art fitness center, concierge, and guest lounges for extra space. There are currently units available in this building, contact me for details

For those who work downtown - or just want to explore this bustling hot spot - TenTen Wilshire is a luxurious high-rise to consider. Each suite comes furnished and with new kitchen appliances. But the real benefit is the rooftop, which has a pool, fire pits, outdoor game tables, and frequent networking events and happy hours, plus has sweeping views of DTLA. 

Or, switch out a city skyline for the beach and check out The Seychelles in Santa Monica. Luxury units include gourmet kitchens and private balconies, then get social and step onto the community rooftop. Lounge by the pool, attend parties on the terrace, and take your dog to the pet spa. 

Downsizing can offer great opportunities to live somewhere spectacular, get extra amenities, and remove the stress of owning a home! These luxury units are spacious and remodeled, and you’ll love the convenience. If you think it might be time to downsize please call me to help you “refeather you nest”

 

Frank Gehry's '8150 Sunset Project' Cannot Demolish The Lytton Savings Bank

As I mentioned back in January, Frank Gehry’s newest project has been under intense controversy from the very beginning. His development at 8150 Sunset was set to be placed right on top of the historic Lytton Savings/Chase Bank, much to the dismay and chagrin of preservationists. The bank was built in 1960 and is known for its zig-zag roof that showcases Googie architecture.

Well, last month there was finally progress in the "battle to save the bank". Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Amy Hogue, ruled in favor of the Los Angeles Conservancy in its lawsuit to stop the demolition of the Lytton Savings Bank.

“We’re very grateful for this decision, and we’re excited that the development project can move forward incorporating the historic Lytton Savings building,” said Linda Dishman, the Conservancy’s president and CEO to WehoVille.

Los Angeles is accustomed to the challenge, or privilege, of marrying old structures with newer ones, as evident from the countless modern buildings popping up next to historic structures all throughout LA.

“We’ve worked with many architects and developers to successfully integrate historic places into new developments, and now that can happen here,” said Adrian Scott Fine, the Conservancy’s Director of Advocacy. “Blending old and new is the wave of the future in Los Angeles.”

Initially, the developers explored two designs that included the historic building. Early on, the Conservancy began collaborating with the developers, Townscape Partners, to incorporate the bank. However, once Gehry developed a new design for the site, both plans that included the bank were eventually deemed not feasible and the city approved the demolition. This sparked the Los Angeles Conservancy to take drastic action to protect the building and inevitably lead to them filing their lawsuit.

What saved the building was the developer’s failure to fully comply with environmental impact rules set by the state. The court found the City of Los Angeles’ approval of the building’s demolition violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The law requires cities to study the effects of some new buildings on things like traffic, noise, animals, views and historic buildings in order to find ways to minimize potential harmful impacts.

At a court hearing, Hogue said it “didn’t seem right” for the developer and the city to demolish the building simply because they wanted to build something modern. In the end, she ruled to “withhold approval of demolition [of the bank building] unless it can prove the benefits of the project outweigh the significant environmental effect of demolition.”

The bank amounts to just 6% of the project’s total square footage, so there is trust that a new design will able to accommodate Lytton.

Despite the Conservancy’s efforts, the building could still be at risk. Hogue’s decision perhaps only bought time for Gehry’s team so they can come up with better justification for why the bank needs to be torn down. Gehry has made it clear that demolishing older buildings is part of life and something he's had to witness before with his own buildings.

It seems like almost every week there’s a new debacle between saving old buildings and bringing modern flair to Los Angeles. One of the things I love about LA is the mix of historic architecture with modern buildings, but alas, it is not always possible. For a building of such architectural significance, you would think they could find a way to incorporate the Lytton Bank. On the other hand, it might compromise the design of the new structure, and the current trend on Sunset Boulevard toward modern, glass buildings with a more contemporary urban feel.

What do you think – Should the Lytton Savings Bank be saved, or go the way of the dodo?

Financial Tools To Help You Save Money

The digital age has made it easier for all of us to order food, watch our favorite TV shows, receive purchased items within hours, and thankfully for us, even save money towards a new home! The following five financial apps and websites make it a cinch to save big in no time:

Mint

Mint is a great site to track your spending and create simple budgets. Once you've entered your online banking, credit and investment account information, Mint begins to automatically track your money. The default categories are sufficient for most people, but you can even add your own, for everything from restaurants to movies and travel. The site allows you to view your spending trends, as well as how much money you have in all your accounts at any one time. Mint comes with a free credit score and is owned by Intuit, so the data automatically feeds to TurboTax at tax time. The perfect way to start if you’re new to tracking your spending.

Acorns

Acorns is a savings tool that helps users save money by automatically investing change from each charge. Just like a squirrel saves a few acorns everyday for the winter, so to will you be prepared when you need your acorns the most. With micro investing, every purchase helps save towards your future. For instance, if a transaction costs $1.50, Acorns rounds it up to $2 and sends those extra 50 cents into an investment portfolio diversified with ETFs. It’s a mindless way to save big, and has a low fee of $1 a month on account balances below $5,000 and 0.25% per year on balances over $5,000. You can also set recurring or one time investments to boost your savings if you’re looking to save more than a few cents at a time. Squirrels are going to be so jealous of your acorn stashing robot.

Digit

Leave the saving to the robots with Digit. This app monitors your income and spending habits, then stashes small amounts of money every few days (or whenever it thinks you won’t miss it) into a savings account. They never deduct more than what they think you can afford and even provide a ‘no overdraft’ guarantee. When you’re ready to access your savings, just transfer the money back into your bank account. Similar to Acorns, Digit moves money in small intervals so you won’t even notice you’re saving. If you want to save without any hassle, Digit is a great option (plus, it’s free!).

You Need a Budget

This budgeting app helps users learn to live on last month’s income. You Need A Budget directly imports transactions from your bank accounts, but requires manual categorization by the user. The app says this helps you raise your awareness about your spending, and also provides the user with a harsh wakeup call when they are forced to view all their Uber charges. Their envelope-based system allocates the exact amount of income available, putting a cap on spending. The app costs $50 a year, but might be worth trying if you want to work with your money hands-on.

Personal Capital

For personalized financial help, Personal Capital assigns users financial advisors to answer all their questions regarding anything and everything, including retirement planning, refinancing and obtaining a mortgage. The site also offers a 401(k) fee analyzer and a retirement planner which crunches numbers to tell users whether they’re on track to meet their savings goals. An investment checkup tool looks at the asset allocation in a user’s investment accounts and recommends a target allocation. If you’re looking for someone to guide you through more complicated investments, Personal Capital fits the bill.


Download these apps and you’ll be a financial wiz in no time! Or, at least, you’ll figure out how much you’re spending on lattes.

Considering Investing In A Real Estate Investment Trust? Read This Before You Pull The Trigger!

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A question has kept rolling around in my brain ever since I heard about crowdfunding real estate investing. Is it possible to invest a bit of money while at the same time saving for a house each month? If this is possible, it could mean freedom from a 30 year mortgage, or more likely, a quicker path to saving for a down payment. This article explores crowdfunding real estate investment opportunities and I will tell you if it is actually a game changer or not.

Ok, first things first, what is real estate crowdfunding and investing? Real estate crowdfunding and investing is the ability to invest a relatively small amount of money into a property or collection of properties. The investment is open to everyone so the cost of the property is divided between all parties and the rental income is collected and dispersed back to the investor. This became legal just last year under the Jobs Act. This new option is available to the general public, so let’s explore the possibilities and see who this type of investment is right for.

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This type of investment was born off the back of the real estate Investment Trust (REIT). A REIT is a collection of real estate that an investor can put his money into. Each investor owns shares, which represent a portion of the holdings of the fund. If you know what a mutual fund is then you can think of a REIT as a real estate centric mutual fund. REITs are popular because they diversify risk and they are mandated by law to pay out 90% of profits to shareholders each year. REITs are only accessible to accredited investors who make over $200,000 per year or who have at least $1,000,000 in assets minus their private homes.

Crowdfunding-REIT-real-estate-investment-trust-realty_mogul

  (Realty Mogul)

When the SEC, Securities & Exchange Commission, adopted Title III of the Jobs Act, it opened the door for any investor to buy a REIT share even if they are unaccredited. Through licensed exchanges anyone can put money into a share of a piece of real estate or a portfolio of real estate. An investor can own a piece of a real estate deal for as little as $5,000.

Crowdfunding-REIT-real-estate-investment-trust-newport-harbor-wealth-management

We talked with Royce Running, a Financial Advisor with Newport Harbor Wealth Management, to find out what he thinks of the crowdfunded REIT.

What do you think about the idea of young adults investing in a crowdfunded REIT every month as a way to start saving for a house?

“Not the best idea. REITs aren't very liquid so you may finally save enough, find your dream home, start the qualification process, then find out you can't get your money out of the REIT. The investor will not get their money back for 6-10 years.”

Where would you recommend someone to put their money if they have $100 per month to invest and want to save for a house?

“Low volatility liquid investments, such as fixed income/bond ETFs or high interest savings accounts. You want something that doesn't cost a lot and doesn't fluctuate too much, but also a vehicle where you can pull your money out when you reach the end of your time horizon.”

Given the opportunities and the current laws, who is this investment right for? 

“Crowdfunded REITs are excellent investments for the long-term investor who wants to get their feet wet in real estate without having to deal with managing tenants and all of the headaches that go along with being a landlord.”

Crowdfunding-REIT-real-estate-investment-trust-baby-genius

James Sprow, Director of Research with Blue Vault Partners, says: "We...do not recommend crowd funding of real estate as an avenue for individual investors to save or invest. It is especially inappropriate for individuals who wish to accumulate a nest egg or a down payment for a home.

The concept of crowdfunding is interesting but any investor who participates should be advised to do considerable due diligence prior to committing funds. The skills and experience necessary for such research and analysis is going to be well beyond most investors.  Again, individuals who are simply trying to save for a home purchase should be unequivocally warned to stay away from such programs and be advised to use conventional, low-risk, liquid methods for accumulating savings: Bank Savings Accounts, CDs (Certificates of Deposit) and Money Market Funds."

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The amount of money needed to invest is low, sometimes as low as $5,000. Crowdfunding may be enticing to beginning or novice investors because it is a relatively small amount of money to invest, and it seems like less risk, but this is not the case. The more knowledge of real estate you have the better your chance of substantial returns. Each deal will take extreme vetting on the part of the investor.

Unfortunately, my original hope is not feasible. Crowdfunded REIT’s are a very bad investment for a first time home buyer looking to save for a house or down payment. They do not allow you to get all of your money back easily, so it means that when you are ready to buy a home you won’t be able to count on that little nest egg.

The crowdfunded REIT is the wild wild west right now. It is inevitable that first time investors will lose their money or get it stuck without understanding the terms of their investment. Hopefully this article will dissuade some of you from making this mistake. The idea is still being defined and it is yet to be seen if the successful practices of the REIT will transfer over to the crowdfunded REITs. Right now, the space is mainly for investors looking to experiment.

“It’s predicted that commercial real estate crowdfunding in the U.S. will grow potentially to $10 billion in five years.”

New Bill Makes it Easier to Build "Granny Flats"

Granny flats, in-law units, back houses - whatever you call them, California has made it easier to add a small house to your property! A new law, SB 1069, gives owners of most single-family residences the option to construct accessory dwelling units - and they don’t have to be for just grannies anymore.

Historically these “accessory dwelling units” were added for elderly parents to move in. They provide an excellent solution for living close to aging parents, while still allowing them to live independently. The homes can be customized to provide handrails, safe bathrooms, padded floors, and more to help seniors live safely. It’s the perfect combination of an elderly care facility and living at home! But today, with rising rent prices, more homeowners are adding these units to provide supplemental income, or to provide an independent place to live for grown children.

Approved by Governor Jerry Brown in September, the bill is geared toward encouraging the development of new units of housing in markets where a lack of supply has driven up rental prices at alarming rates. The law, which went into effect in January of this year, is good news for Los Angeles homeowners who have constructed or tried to construct such units on their residence in recent years.

The city requirements would limit the size of accessory dwellings to 640 square feet or 50 percent of the square footage of the main house—whichever is larger—up to 1,200 square feet.

Just think about what you could do with 1,200 square feet! This accessory dwelling unit could be used for an aging parent, a lease, or used as your own private guesthouse. Consider these uses:

  • Providing a safe place for aging parents to live, while maintaining a close relationship with them. Perfect for grandparents who want to help babysit their grandkids or spend more time with them.

  • Allowing adult children to live cheaply while finishing school or finding employment.

  • Earn supplemental income by renting it out.

  • List the unit on Airbnb to add to your income and meet travelers coming to your city.

  • Use it to pursue your passions, like an art room, music practice room, or the ultimate man cave!

Adding a guest house can provide much needed extra space and supplemental income. Plus, building one on your property can significantly increase the value - as long as it’s done legally!

Saving For Your First Home

The latest stats show that the median Los Angeles home price is $525,000. Anyone within the sound of my keyboard knows that a house for $525,000 is like a unicorn - they don't exist. So lets use $1mm as an example. So how do you prepare to put that 20% down - a whopping $200,000? Finance professionals say the best options for “individuals who are trying to save for a home purchase...are advised to use conventional, low-risk, liquid methods for accumulating savings: Savings Accounts, CDs and Money Market Funds," said James Sprow, Director of Research at Blue Vault Partners. These three, along with Exchange Traded Funds, ETFs, are all great options for new homeowners- read below to see which method is best suited for you!

 

Fixed Income/Bond ETFs

Exchange Traded Funds, or ETFs, trade like stocks but are more liquid and have lower fees than a mutual fund. When you purchase an ETF, you are buying a share of a bond, making you eligible for a portion of the profits. ETFs experience price changes throughout the day as they are bought and sold. It's like the stock market but more stable.

Pro: ETFs can have very high interest rates and keeping money in an ETF for a few years can have a large return rate.

Con: A broker fee is incurred and ETFs are not guaranteed to preserve capital as they’re based on the stock market.

As ETFs fluctuate with the market, it is almost impossible to predict the growth of your investment with any guarantee.

Learn more about ETFs here.

 

High Yield Savings Accounts

A savings account is a simple and proven strategy even your Grandma would approve of. You can find a great high yield savings account at most banks, particularly online ones, which offer great rates (no overhead of a brick and mortar bank). These accounts allow you to earn more interest, with the safety of being FDIC insured, and is a common way to save for a down payment.

Pro: You can access your money at any time, and with a little research, you can find a great interest rate.

Con: These do not have as high an interest rate as a CD, so if you’re not planning on touching your money for a few years, there are usually more lucrative options.

At an average 1% Annual Percentage Yield, APY, contributing $500 per month to your account, it would take you 17 years to save enough for the down payment while using a high yield savings account. Don't start choosing your paint colors just yet!

Learn more about high yield savings accounts here.

 

Certificate of Deposit (CD)

CDs allow you to deposit a chunk of money into a savings account and lock in a rate of return for the length of the CD. CDs are available in terms ranging from 6 to 60 months, with higher interest rates available if you're willing to leave your money in for longer amounts of time. For CDs, patience is a virtue!

Pro: CDs offer great interest rates and help you reach your savings goals faster by using money you don’t immediately need.

Con: If you end up needing to withdraw your money out of a CD before the term is up, you will likely incur a penalty.

If you don’t continue to add money to a CD, it’s advised to invest a larger chunk of money. For a 5-year CD, the average APY is 2%. So, if you invest $5,000, in 5 years your money will increase to $5,520.

Find more info about CD investments here.

 

Money Market Mutual Fund

A money market mutual fund is an investment that earns interest for shareholders while maintaining a Net Asset Value (NAV) of $1 per share. Confused? Basically, they are short-term securities that are a very safe, low-return type of mutual funds. You won’t get much back on these accounts- they act as a holding place for your money before you decide to invest it.

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Pro: Very safe with no chance of losing your money.

Con: Low return on your investment. You would be better off putting your money into a savings account with a higher interest rate.

Money Market accounts tend to have the same rates as savings accounts. Investing in an MMA will also take around 17 years to save enough for a down payment, saving $500.

If you'd like to learn more about money mutual funds, check this out.

OR

ROB A BANK. YOU WILL LIKELY GO TO JAIL AND YOU WILL IMMEDIATELY HAVE A “HOUSE”, NOT TO MENTION 3 SQUARES A DAY, HEALTH INSURANCE AND NO PROPERTY TAXES. ACTUALLY SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD RETIREMENT PLAN.

The Colonial House Has A Star Studded History

1416 Havenhurst Drive | West Hollywood, CA 90046

21 Units | 7 Stories

The Colonial House, built in 1930, is located in prime West Hollywood just below the Sunset Strip. It was designed by architect Leland Bryant, who also designed Savoy Plaza & Sunset Tower, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Colonial House has been home to many historic celebrities from Bette Davis, Cary Grant and Clark Gable to newer past residents, Jodie Foster and Katy Perry.

The Colonial House offers 21 residences on 7 floors with 1, 2 & 3 bedroom plans ranging from 700 to 2,500 square feet. The units offer outstanding period details like arched hallways, custom built-in cabinets, wrought iron work, French windows & high ceilings. This French Normandy building enjoys Mills Act status and offers tax benefits to unit owners. Lastly, the building boasts a doorman, gorgeous lobbies, a black bottom pool, a library & lovely gardens making it a dream place to live.

Ghosts Of Old Hollywood & The Places They Haunt

The stars of Old Hollywood can still be felt and seen all around the city. People tell stories of stars gone by and people dress up as them and traipse around the town. You can’t think of Hollywood without remembering stars of the past like Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis and Charlie Chaplin. These icons ran Old Hollywood, making their mark both on and off screen. When they weren’t making classic films, they spent time together, threw lavish parties and got into all kinds of hijinks. Here are some of their secret stories.

The devilish Bette Davis was known for making you feel right at home in her LA mansions, until you said something to upset her. One night, while making scrambled eggs and toast for her guests, she turned a knife on a long-time producer friend for complementing Bette’s rival Joan Crawford. You can bet he stopped requesting snacks that involved knives next time he came to visit! Bette called many places home over the years, with her final home being at The Colonial House in West Hollywood. Bette chose this apartment because it overlooked the La Ronda apartment house, where she first stayed when she arrived in California with her mother.

The Colonial House has also been home to many other celebrities including Clark Gable, Carol Lombard,  Cary Grant, Eddie Cantor, William Powell and Norma Talmadge. It was even featured in the 1954 crime film, “Down Three Dark Streets” (1954), starring Broderick Crawford. I currently have a 1 Bedroom apartment for lease in the building, the perfect choice for any lover of Old Hollywood glamour.

Stars of old seemed to change homes practically as often as they changed spouses. Which in some cases, ended up being biannually. Another famous LA partier was the Tramp himself, Charlie Chaplin, who at one time lived in a quirky Moorish home. Charlie Chaplin had lots of homes and lots of wives during his time on the Hollywood A-List, throwing lavish parties for both his friends and co-stars. Charlie was known for livening up the atmosphere at any event. Determined to be the center of attention, he’d dance with invisible balloons or mime a bull and matador and fight with himself. He’d even mimic Hollywood leading ladies, pretending to get them in all sorts of terrible behaviors. After a while, people stopped inviting Mr. Chaplin to their parties for fear of being mocked themselves!

For other stars, a home was an accessory. Joan Bennett’s longtime 14-room home in Holmby Hills went through a makeover halfway through her stay there. She explained, “I’d furnished the house when I was a blonde, and when I became a brunette [she began dyeing her fair hair around 1940], naturally the colors were no good with my dark hair. So I gave the house a brunette personality.” Makes sense to me!

There’s no Old Hollywood story without Norma Jean herself, Marilyn Monroe. Over the course of her short life, Marilyn Monroe lived in over 40 homes, with dozens in the Los Angeles area. She occupied the Bel Air Hotel, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and many houses around West Hollywood and The Valley. 

Marilyn even spent a summer bunking with Harry Warner (yes, of the Warner Brothers Studios) in his Guest House at 1006 Rexford Drive in Beverly Hills. 

The seven bedroom house includes the famous guest house, plus a European garden, rock lagoon pool and spa, waterfalls, a tennis court, and is currently for sale. Any takers? I’d be glad to set up a showing!

After all that moving, Marilyn finally settled down and bought her first (and unfortunately, last) home in 1962 in Brentwood. Her body was found there later that year and her death is still shrouded in mystery, which is why she is thought to haunt the home today. The house was sold in 2012 for $5.1M, Marilyn’s ghost included.

Sure, you could take a Hollywood tour to see celebrity homes, or better yet, you could take a walk through Hollywood, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood! Imagine heading to lavish parties at the old mansions and apartment buildings you’ve seen here- Happy ghost hunting!

Frank Gehry's Fight For Sunset Boulevard

There is no more controversial site in Los Angeles right now than 8150 Sunset. The coveted spot on Sunset Boulevard is stuck in a battle the city has seen all too frequently - development vs. preservation. THE BUILDING IN QUESTION IS THE LYTTON/CHASE BANK with glass walls and a funky zigzag roof. Frank Gehry, however, is currently designing a modern development to replace the building, much to the chagrin of preservationists. Whether the bank will be booted for the new building, or if the two will find a way to coexist, is our LA architecture saga.

The proposed project, located at the intersection of Sunset and Crescent Heights Boulevard was approved in November. It features five buildings with two residential towers, a shopping center, and a central courtyard. Perhaps the most well-known living architect in the world, Gehry has lent his modern design to dozens of unique and controversial buildings all over Los Angeles, including the futuristic Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The historic Lytton Savings Bank, designed by architect Kurt Meyer in 1960, is a notable example of post-war bank architecture in Los Angeles. It currently serves as a Chase Bank branch but it was designed as the executive headquarters for Lytton Savings and Loan Association. Featuring Googie and New Formalism stylistic influences, its got style you can bank on (And yes, I know how corny that sounds but I am leaving it in because it popped into my head and made me laugh).

Recently, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to designate the Lytton Savings building a historic-cultural monument. Preservationists were overjoyed at the outcome. The decision last month may not necessarily save the building, but it does delay the potential demolition for another year. Now, there are three potential outcomes: destroy the building, relocate it, or build Gehry’s new structure around it.

Gehry, however, has already made his opinion known about the building. In an October letter to the LA City Council, he discussed the issues with working around the bank, writing:

 “We tried dozens of massing options for this project to arrive at the best solution. We looked at options using the bank building and without the bank building. I do not come to this recommendation lightly or without having done my homework, but I really do not believe that I can design a successful project while keeping the bank on the site.” 

Gehry goes on to explain his own experience watching his past designs meet the wrecking ball, and urges the city council not to get sentimental about the bank. When asked to protest on his buildings’ behalf, he explains, “I declined because it was clear to me that time had passed and the people behind the demolishing were interested in creating new buildings for a new generation of activities.”

The future for the Lytton Savings Bank is questionable but relocating it seems like the best compromise. This would allow the building’s architecture to remain intact while creating space for a new development and the opportunities that come along with it for people in the community. Structural engineers have quoted the cost of moving the building at $1 million, a relatively small fee for this industry.

Of course there is the question of where to move it, but there are many likely empty sites that would welcome a building of such architectural significance and integrity. The surrounding Sunset area is already filled with strip malls and fast food restaurants, so a stylish new housing and retail development would be a welcome change for the neighborhood. While we as a community should certainly do our best to preserve historic buildings, we also must do what is best for us in this day and age.

This presents an interesting question. “Should we be concerned about demolishing significant or historic buildings if the present community requires something bigger or better, OR is there a middle ground that allows for historic preservation within the scope of new construction? Perhaps the current restoration and repurposing of the Herald Examiner building, designed by famed architect Julia Morgan, will pave the way for mutual consensus on projects of this sort in the future.

What is YOUR opinion?

Share below!

Tesla's New Solar Roof - The Future

Now is the chance to be apart of history. The biggest thing in home energy has just been announced and finally there is an elegant solution to home solar power. What I am talking about is a completely self-contained home energy system which runs only on the solar energy collected by the home. No grid energy is needed at night like previous home solar incarnations due to the battery technology that stores energy during the day for home use. The new system promises to be less expensive than a traditional roof and it’s camouflaged. Your solar roof no longer needs to look like a shuffleboard deck for aliens.

The core of the new system is a solar roof. This is a new concept where the roof tiles are individual solar panels yet they look like traditional roof tiles. Elon Musk says in order for widespread use to occur “It needs to be beautiful, affordable, and seamlessly integrated. If all of those things are true, why would you go any other direction?” So, do his new solar tiles meet these lofty claims? Let’s find out.

How are they affixed to the roof?

The solar roof is an actual roof, so, it is affixed to the house the same way that a traditional (techies now call it a “dumb roof”) is affixed to the house.

There are four tile designs

The French slate roof is the most intriguing of the bunch because of it’s design. Each tile is manufactured to be unique, Musk calls them “snowflake tiles” and they are created through a process called hydrographic printing. The tuscan glass tile is also very impressive from the ground it looks like a terra cotta roof due to a tech called micro louvres this means that the sun sees a shiny solar panel from it’s high angle and we see an orange terra cotta roof from the ground.

How is it stored?

Power can be stored in a battery called a power wall which is integrated into the system. It retails for $5,500. It stands about 4 feet tall, 3 feet wide and 1 foot thick. You do not need to have the Powerwall to have the roof system. If you don’t have the Powerwall then the whole model works differently. Without the battery, solar energy is used only during the day and any excess is sold back onto the grid. At night energy is used from the grid. With the Power Wall, everything is self-contained. Energy collected during the day is stored in the battery and the battery is used during the evening.

 

Cost

Tesla’s new solar roof product, he claimed, will actually cost less to manufacture and install than a traditional roof—even before savings from the power bill. “Electricity,” Musk said, “is just a bonus.” Quote from Bloomberg article.


The pricing is not finalized yet, but what Elon Musk is saying is that if you are redoing your roof or building a new house then it will be less expensive to own his new solar roof with the cost of electricity factored in. But, If you have a roof in good condition, it makes more financial sense to put solar panels on top of your current roof.

Is it available now?

The roofs are not yet available, however you can add yourself to the waiting list on the Solar City Website, click here. Production begins in mid-2017 and will only be available in California to begin with. (I love California, we get all the good stuff first) So you can speculate amongst yourselves when people will actually be getting their roofs. Probably near the end of 2017.

Shop Mom & Pop This Christmas - Larchmont Village

Tell'em Jill sent you!!

It's holiday shopping season and you have so many options to choose from when it comes to places to shop. This article is a friendly guide to fun shopping in Larchmont Village. Go with a friend, make it a date. The places I suggest have salons and places to eat attached so your shopping can be a fun event instead of a stressed out chore. It's also nice to keep the holiday money in your community where it is more appreciated by family business owners rather than big department stores.

 

Pickett Fences is a well curated shop with a casual hip and slightly vintage style. Here you will find clothing for women and men, lingerie, pajamas, accessories, jewelry, books, candles, baby gifts, cards and unique items that you would never think to buy. Think cozy, cute + stylish - that's on everyone's Christmas list. (323) 467-2140

pickettfences.com

 

Their soaps and facial cremes are the best. You just can't find this kind of quality in very many places and they have everything you can think of. Seriously, even hard to find imports. You can find beauty products for hair, body, nails, cosmetics and even candles. They also have a full salon so you can treat yourself to a massage or go with a friend and get your nails done. Fred, Shanon and the helpful staff will answer any questions you have. (323) 461-0162

Diptyque has a one of a kind luxury style. Everything they sell is also a work of art. This year they have beautiful holiday candles, unique fragrances and skin and body balms. This is the 1st store in U.S. which insures this as a unique treasure. The lovely manager Isabel Mayfield will treat you like a queen. (646) 560-1820

Village Heights has many great accessories and useful items. Men's watches, those new great swell bottles etc. But this Solar Queen Elizabeth figure is my favorite.

To celebrate Her Majesty’s reign, designer Chris Collicott created this commemorative Solar Queen. Just place her in a bright spot and watch her wave with a subtle twist of the wrist. The solar panel on her handbag is her power supply. The Queen also available in a limited 90th birthday edition. Plus the solar corgi, as well as the solar Pope, Napolean and Einstein. For the person who has everything. This store has something for everyone on your list and proprietor Lewis is always friendly, fun and helpful.

VillageHeights.com

 

Wine ALWAYS appreciated as a gift. Larchmont Wine & Cheese has an excellent selection from all over the world they say they have an admitted bias towards the great wines of France, Italy and the United States, we also carry selections we love from Spain, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia and Hungary. Select beer and spirits also available. Their gift baskets are the perfect gift for the connoisseur on your list. Ask for Simon or Sergio for wine selections.

This shop also has my favorite baguette in the city. They lots of great cheese and do yourself a favor and get one of their sandwiches. People come from all over for these!!! (323) 856-8699

larchmontvillagewine.com

Happy shopping and Happy Holidays.

'Voice Australia' host Darren McMullen sells pied-à-terre in West Hollywood

  (Gabriel Felix | Inset: Getty Images)

(Gabriel Felix | Inset: Getty Images)

Australian television host Darren McMullen has sold a one-bedroom condo in West Hollywood for $950,000.

Television and radio host Darren McMullen of “The Voice Australia” fame has sold his pied-à-terre in a historic West Hollywood building for the asking price of $950,000.

Found within the Colonial House, a 1930s building designed by noted architect Leland Bryant, the one-bedroom condominium has a view of the Hollywood Hills and city lights.

The one-bedroom condo lies within the Colonial House, a historic West Hollywood building designed by Leland Bryant.

The cozy unit, offering just 780 square feet of living space, is light and bright with white walls, built-ins and large picture windows. A living room with a wood-burning fireplace, an updated galley-style kitchen and a breakfast nook are among the common areas.

The lone bedroom features a wall of closets and a shower decorated in subdued period tile.

Outdoors, a central courtyard has a swimming pool, a brick patio and mature landscaping. One assigned parking spot was included with the unit.

McMullen bought the property two years ago for $720,000, records show.

Jill Galloway of John Aaroe Group was the listing agent. Galloway also represented the buyer in the sale.

The Scottish-born McMullen is known for hosting “The Lair” on MTV Australia, the reality series “Love in the Wild” and the vocal competition series “The Voice Australia.” He currently hosts the television game show “The Big Music Quiz” on Australia’s Seven Network.

neal.leitereg@latimes.com

Spotlight On Studio City

For big city amenities at a small town pace, Studio City is a destination for many Angelenos looking to settle down. Studio City's mixture of hip enclaves and residential escapes attract big-name celebrities, struggling actors, studio execs and Los Angeles families. With walkable Ventura Boulevard serving as downtown, there are many enticing restaurants and shops for all as well as nearby hiking trails for a little greenery.

 

Things to Do

Fryman Canyon Park

Get out and take a walk in this sprawling park. One popular route is the Rainforest Trail, a one-mile narrow footpath inside the park that’s a little harder to find. The trail leads to a gully covered by lush foliage- it's quite a sight in the late afternoon.

 

CBS Studio Center

Watch a taping of your favorite TV show at one of the studio’s 18 sound stages. Some shows currently in production at the studio include Young & Hungry, The Odd Couple and Last Man Standing. There’s no easier way to have a celebrity sighting! Request tickets here: http://www.tvtickets.com/.

 

Shopping on Ventura Boulevard

Ventura Boulevard is packed with chain stores, independent shops, toy stores and more. Book lovers should head to the Barnes & Noble that’s housed in an old movie theater. If you’re looking for a new outfit, pop into one of the many clothing boutiques, many with unique pieces. There are even a variety of upscale thrift stores. What more could you ask for?!

 

Where to Eat

Aroma Coffee & Tea - Coffee Shop/Cafe

There’s often a line out the door at Aroma, but it’s worth the wait. With a cozy atmosphere, vast menu, unique tea flavors and specialty coffee, you might just stay there all day.

Matsuda - Sushi

Studio City is known for its sushi- it even has an area called Sushi Row. But one stand out is Matsuda, which has reasonable prices and high-quality sushi all tucked into a strip mall. Pass the wasabi please!

Laurel Tavern- Gastropub

Enjoy bar classics with an extreme twist at this hip restaurant. Head here for Cantonese lollipop wings, steamed PEI mussels or a burger topped with bleu cheese and caramelized bacon.

 

Where to Drink

Black Market Liquor Bar

This unmarked, low-key spot has a cozy setting and seasonal craft cocktails mixed by skilled bartenders. This is a black market you’ll be happy to attend.

 

Oil Can Harry’s

If you’re ready for a wild night out, this bar has it all- country line dancing, disco music, karaoke, reasonably priced stiff drinks and a friendly easygoing vibe.

 

River Rock Lounge

Located in the classic Sportsmen’s Lodge hotel, this modern bar has live music during the week and DJs on the weekend.

 

Schools

Harvard Westlake Upper School

Known as one of the best high schools in the country, Harvard Westlake offers excellent academics, athletics and other enrichment programs. A private college preparatory academy, the class of 2017 has 26 students who were National Merit Recognition Semifinalists.

 

Robert A. Millikan Middle

This middle school is home to a Performing Arts Magnet Academy, Cinematic Arts Academy, Math Academy and more. The charter school also offers rigorous honor courses to prepare students for high school and beyond.

 

Carpenter Community Charter

This top-ranked elementary school is beloved by students and parents alike. The charter school prides itself on providing a full enrichment program including music, dance, art, fitness and technology literacy.

 

Upcoming Events

Winter Family Festival

Celebrate the winter season on December 11th with the Studio City Residents Association Winter Festival, which trucks in 70 tons of snow for sliding, snowball fights and snowman making. This family event brings a little bit of winter to sunny SoCal- no snow tires necessary.

 

Studio City Film Festival

From November 3rd-6th, this international film and TV festival honors short films, features, music videos and more. Buy tickets for a 2-hour block, which screens numerous films from up-and-coming filmmakers.

Whether you’re just here to visit, or thinking about relocating, Studio City is a bustling city with great food, shopping and atmosphere. Come over the hill and check out this hip valley spot!