In order to achieve a superior lay out and make best use of the square footage the home offered, we had to remove a majority of the interior walls. In doing so, we also retrofitted a majority of the foundation to allow for new interior wall configuration and higher 9-10' ceilings. The foundation work is now complete and new walls are officially going up!
The U.S. is building new homes at about half the historical rate, and it's causing our cities to become unaffordable.
Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin
Wednesday, 13 Jan 2016 | 9:58 AM ETCNBC.com
America's future is happening first here, in Seattle. Just this year, Seattle technology jobs increased 21 percent. Housing prices rose 12 percent. And all the people who built this city out of coffee, lumber and airplanes have struggled to keep up.
Only a third of Seattle homebuyers outside of technology now report being confident they'll be able to afford to live here in 10 years. The same thing will happen in Austin, Boston, Denver, Portland and, eventually, to a dozen other American cities that will become less affordable over the next decade.
The problem is housing.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
When we talk about a city's cost of living, we don't mean food, transportation or clothing, which cost about the same everywhere. We mean housing.
We need a government policy all-out in favor of more, denser housing.
Housing is in short supply. For the 40 years prior to 2008, ground was broken on an average of nearly 1.6 million housing units per year. Starts over the past seven years averaged 788,000; even in 2015, a boom year, starts were only 1.1 million.
What happened to the laws of supply and demand? From 2010 to 2013, home prices were 56 percent higher than construction costs, an increase from the 1990s when home prices were 33 percent higher than construction costs; most economists attribute this increase to zoning laws designed to preserve a city's character and to protect home prices.
In Seattle, there are 40 percent fewer homes on the market than just a year ago, yet this summer, the city council flip-flopped on the mayor's plan to support more high-density construction after neighborhood associations revolted; even with people marching in the streets for affordable housing, only 37 percent of Seattle homebuyers support denser development.
With Seattle's racial diversity a centerpiece of the failed plan, the fight to preserve local character has become fraught with uncomfortable implications. In Boulder, Colorado, this fall, the rallying cry of residents who attempted to prevent any zoning changes was, "They're coming for our neighborhoods." The maze of NIMBYs ("Not in my backyard"), pols and community organizations a mayor has to win over to get anything built in San Francisco is so complicated, it's now a board game.
There are small signs of change. Austin has a new zoning initiativeexplicitly defined to create a more affordable, integrated city. Seattle just announced $45 million in funding for affordable housing, raised in part from local developers. But this is a far cry from the all-out effort to keep housing costs low that we'd pursue if our priority was the people who need affordable housing, not the ones who already have it. As it stands today, housing is the only consumer good where any price drop is universally viewed by the government as a calamity.
On a national scale, the impact of this mentality is breathtaking. The migration from poor areas to rich areas that defined American history for a century is, according to academics, reversing, a phenomenon the mayor of Oklahoma City has described as the "Wrath of Grapes."
These same academics note that janitors now earn less in New York after housing costs than in the Deep South. They argue that limits in housing supply are driven by land-use regulations and increase a city's wealth disparity.
Employers are as sensitive to housing costs as their employees, which is why, when we build more houses, we create more jobs. Google andFacebook are opening campuses across the U.S. because even software engineers can no longer afford San Francisco, where the median home price just topped $1 million. Businesses move jobs across the country or overseas to find places where the same wages can still offer a comfortable life, which begins with a home you can afford.
This is a problem we can solve. It's hard to improve our schools. It's hard to redistribute wealth created by the concentration of technological and financial power or to increase middle-class wages. But it might be easier to lower middle-class costs by building more housing.
"Housing is the only consumer good where any price drop is universally viewed by the government as a calamity."-Glenn Kelman, Redfin CEO
First, federal immigration reform would help. The top new piece of legislation on the lobbying list for the National Association of Homebuilders is immigration reform, to give builders more skilled workers from outside the U.S. How serious is the labor shortage? Builders today are hiring security guards to patrol construction sites, not to safeguard lumber but to prevent recruiters from poaching their people.
We also need federal support for low-income lending; at the moment in 2008 when home prices plummeted, the government essentially outlawed private lending to the working class without adequately funding public programs to fill the gap. The result was nearly a decade of profiteering from cash investors who bought distressed properties for pennies on the dollar, then rented them at above-market rates to folks who couldn't qualify for a mortgage.
But the heroes in this story will be our cities. It should be clear by now to the mayor of every major city that deregulating new construction is key to preventing inequality, sprawl and job losses. And the time is now. When homes are built in an area, anyone can see that change in this boom-and-bust nation happens unevenly, with things staying the same for decades, then changing almost overnight.
A middle-class-friendly housing policy would be aggressively focused on causing a glut of housing, but current policy instead causes a shortage — of fairly historic proportions — causing our cities to become unaffordable, with lower job growth.
It's a little scary to imagine how different our neighborhoods will be if we welcome the growth now coming to many American cities. But what will happen if we don't? Americans will always be protective of where we live, and rightly so. But improving the affordability and diversity of our neighborhoods can enrich their history and character and enrich this nation.
— By Glenn Kelman, CEO of real estate brokerage company Redfin
Los Feliz has long been home to Celebrities, but more importantly, it is home to some of the best architectural properties in Los Angeles. At the end of 2015, our group had the opportunity of acquiring a 3500 sq modern that was ripe for redevelopment located in prime Los Feliz (north of Los Feliz Blvd).
After collaborating with our architectural team, we decided that the entire home needed to be re-designed to make best use of the large volumes of space in the family & living areas. The final product yields a 5 bedroom/5 bathroom 3831 sq ft modern home with lots of indoor/outdoor space thanks to the 28 ft x 9 ft sliding glass system leading to the pool. Here is a quick teaser of what to expect when the renovations are done in February of 2016.
BEFORE - CURRENT SUNROOM
At UAG, we understand that most families do not have the luxury or know-how to spend 6+ months renovating a home and ability to manage a $150,000+ project on a day-to-day basis.
Part of our mission is to redesign our properties to accommodate the modern family, while providing a turn-key home for their enjoyment. In this case we have redesigned the kitchen, guest bath, and added a master bath to allow for better usage and functionality.
Having worked in the Los Feliz community for many years, we were excited to have the opportunity to revitalize a major corner in Los Feliz Village. When we acquired this property, it had been neglected for 20 years+ and had a incomplete third unit that was merely a foundation. Part of our process was restoring the front unit which had original, beautiful Douglas Fir floors and clear views of Downtown Los Angeles. The back unit was a complete ground-up new construction project that we were able to give a modern-craftsman feel. In the end, we were able to handover a completely turn-key and vacant (read: no rent control) investment property to the new owners.
After 4 months of thorough renovations, our Atwater Village project is almost ready to hit the market. Just finishing the landscaping which was designed to enhance the home's English Revival character.