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Most homebuyers enjoy looking at real estate, particularly in character-rich Northeast LA. But first you should get your financial ducks in a row.

It is no secret that Northeast LA is a hot real estate market. For many years, real estate in Highland Park, Eagle Rock and Pasadena have consistently been in high demand. Homes in Glassell Park, Hermon and Garvanza continue to fetch top dollar. Everyone is trying to take his or her slice of the American dream of homeownership.

But some interesting data on home prices, rental prices and home ownership rates with younger people in the Los Angele area should be given serious consideration by young individuals and couples who are sitting on the house-buying fence in 2017 and 2018.

The short story is prices for owning and renting are going up, ownership rates in LA lag behind the rest of the country, and low interest rates mean mortgage payments are actually less right now compared to other periods in the recent past.

Since 2007 home ownership dropped from 52.3 percent to 47.8 percent (in 2016), according to data collected by Apartment List. Those least likely to be homeowners today are African-Americans, Hispanics and people under the age of 45. (For what it’s worth, ownership rates overall dropped by 8.1 percent in San Diego.)

Another set of statistics (compiled by Lending Tree) found that 36 percent of Millennials were homebuyers. Ownership largely correlates with income and savings, so for those who think they might be able to do that, here are four critical steps to take to make it happen:

Time it to when you are most employed/credit worthy – You want to show a lender your best credit worthiness, which is a function of total income (both earners), debt-to-income ratio and your overall credit score. If either member of the couple plans to take time off or scale back their work schedule, such as to have children or go back to school, it’s wise to get a mortgage before making that move.

Know your financial parameters – Simply, you need to know what you can afford. List your monthly expenses, your monthly income, and pay special attention to what your monthly housing expenses are (calculating for utilities and insurance). Then meet with a mortgage broker to use that information to calculate what size of a mortgage you can afford. There are various terms in every mortgage (i.e., number of years, interest rates, size of down payment and closing costs) that will affect the size of your monthly payments. 

Find your down payment – This will be 10% to 20% of the purchase price, or more if you have it. On a $600,000 home, that means you’ll need at least $60,000 (unless you're getting a special low down payment loan). We will leave it up to you to determine where it comes from (often it is from parents or grandparents who understand the good sense of owning over renting).

Plan for 4-6 years out – Because there are transactional costs associated with home buying, there is a breakeven point for all purchases (assuming an appreciating market) where you will be able to see a profit should you decide to sell. The real estate valuation firm Zillow calculated in 2015 the “breakeven horizon” in the Los Angeles region to average at 5.1 years. But this comes with variation. The Zillow analysis found numbers for several Northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods that hover around this average:

Eagle Rock

6.3 years

Highland Park

4.8 years


4.5 years

Glassell Park

5.5 years

Mount Washington

6.1 years

Note that other areas have longer breakeven points, including Atwater Village (7.4 years), Silver Lake (8.3 years), Los Feliz (8.9 years) and South East Pasadena (9.1 years). No numbers were available for Garvanza, another popular NELA area.

Without question it’s a process that requires planning, saving and organizing. But for most people a home is also the biggest investment of their lives. There should be a little work involved. 

tracy 150x175With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, or planning her next trip to Paris. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Los Angeles, contact the Tracy King Team at 626.827.9795 or