Co-Ops versus Condos

29 Jan 2013 · by ChrisSampaio


Although Co-Ops are not very common in Los Angeles, one of my agents asked me this question and I thought I would post it here in case somebody else also would like to know.

The Condo AKA: Condominium

Basic Structure: Just like buying a house, a condo is when a buyer purchases a part of a building. It’s basically like owning an apartment, but instead of paying rent, the buyer is paying a mortgage. A condo owner also has an undivided interest in certain common elements of the building, such as the lobby, lounge, and/or gym facilities.

Pros: The assessed value of a condo is usually higher than a co-op that is of similar size, design, etc. Applying for a mortgage is typically easier than for a co-op because the owner of the condo will own it outright. It is also easier to make deductions on taxes for condo mortgage payments.

Cons: Because the assessed value is usually higher than a similar co-op, property taxes are also usually higher. Condos often cannot acquire financing as an entity for large capital improvement projects, thus making it difficult to do major remodeling projects or other similar ventures. Condo boards have little power to prevent the transfer of property to other (possibly undesirable) owners.

The Co-op AKA: Housing Cooperative

Basic Structure: Without getting too deep into all the legalities, basically a co-op is when a buyer purchases a share (or shares) of a corporation that actually owns that building/residence, and the shares reflect his equity in that corporation.

Pros: Property tax is generally lower for a co-op than for a condo, and the taxes are usually included in monthly payments. The building’s corporation can acquire capital for large projects, and the repayments can be spread among the many co-op residents. For celebrities, the transfer of ownership can be kept hidden because it’s technically a transfer of stock and not real estate and therefore not on the public record. Co-op boards have legal power to prevent the sale of shares to others for a variety of reasons, such as concern over someone being able to make payments or celebrities who might tarnish the co-ops reputation.

Cons: First and foremost, you have to deal with co-op review boards that determine if you’re a good “fit” for the residence. Because the property is really owned by a company, some financial institutions will not provide mortgages for co-ops, which leads to smaller lender selection pools and overall higher mortgage costs. Monthly fees are generally higher because they include taxes, mortgage payments, and fees for maintaining common areas and facilities. Co-ops are usually assessed at lower values than similar condos, so bragging rights usually lag compared to your condo neighbors. And if you want more information on condos and co-ops, you can always turn to good ol’ reliable Wikipedia to continue your journey of real estate edification.

Zero Dark Thirty

28 Jan 2013 · by ChrisSampaio

This wekend I watched Zero Dar Thirty. Great movie and cast. As I watched the long 2:45 minutes of it , I noticed a scene where they have a terrorist attack in a hotel. The hotel lobby is the Eastern Columbia lobby. if you haven’t watched yet, you can see the lobby below.

Eastern Columbia Lobby

QR Codes

25 Jan 2013 · by ChrisSampaio

QR Codes have been around for some time now.  I myself do not use them that much, but I do see them everywhere. Last night I was designing the new Loftway postcards and I decided to include QR codes in it. Each listing has a QR code directing to the listing page where clients are able to see more info and pictures. 

I also did some research to see if people really use them. It seems like its bigger in Europe than in the USA. One of biggest mistakes companies do is to have QR codes directing to sites no optimized for mobile users. Most QR codes are scanned with a cell phone and therefore this is very counterproductive.

Some companies are getting very creative with them. Below are a few cool examples.21-great-examples-of-qr-code-business-cards url

5 6

The Loftway Report 2013

24 Jan 2013 · by ChrisSampaio

Loftway Report 2013 pic

Every year we release the Loftway Report,  our annual examination of Downtown LA’s L

OFT real estate market. This report uses market-wide data based on transactions that closed in the year of 2012 in each building. Closings typically occur four to six weeks after a contract is signed. For that reason, the sales activity discussed trails actual market conditions. 

The Downtown LA market ended the year with robust results. Market-wide sales in the year of 2012 went up comparing to 2011. The strong sales performance in t2012 was even more


impressive given current market challenges such as record low inventory levels and limited new development supply.  

If you have any questions regarding your future and specific needs, our agents are here to help you with expert market knowledge and exceptional service. Loftway is the leader in our mark

etplace and we look forward to working with you. 

Here is a copy of the report: Loftway Report 2013







Great Arts District article on the Times.

23 Jan 2013 · by ChrisSampaio


Downtown L.A.’s edgy arts district is neighborhood in transition

The arts district is drawing comparisons to New York’s meatpacking district, where trendy shops, restaurants and offices have taken over industrial buildings.

By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times

7:30 AM PST, January 19, 2013 

When Gideon Kotzer set out to open a discount electronics store in the mid-1990s, he deliberately chose an old warehouse in the cultural middle of nowhere — the arts district of downtown Los Angeles, which charitably could be called sketchy.

Crazy Gideon’s on Traction Avenue became an island of commerce in an area that saw little other retail activity beyond illegal drug sales. The store’s remoteness in an otherwise unwelcoming warren of aging brick and concrete industrial buildings was central to Kotzer’s business strategy.

“He bought that space with the mind-set that if people would drive to a desolate, faraway neighborhood, they wouldn’t want to leave empty-handed,” his son Daniel Kotzer said.

Crazy Gideon’s has closed, and its formerly shabby space in the 1917 structure is expected to open to the public again this year as an expansive brew pub serving house-made beer with meals. The upgrade is emblematic of changes going on throughout the arts district.

The neighborhood along the Los Angeles River east of downtown’s Civic Center is drawing favorable comparisons to New York’s meatpacking district, where trendy shops, restaurants, hotels and offices have taken over many industrial buildings that were strictly blue collar for decades.

The transformation has such momentum that some of the neighborhood’s biggest supporters expect that it will be difficult to find artists in the arts district in another decade as gentrification drives up rents and pushes low-paid artists to cheaper locales.

But for now, the arts district is in a sweet spot of transition for many. Vegetable wholesalers and furniture makers share streets with top-flight restaurants and front-line technology and entertainment firms. Its walls sport elaborate murals — and foreboding razor wire.

“There are very rough patches,” said architect Scott Johnson, who lives in a condominium on Industrial Street. “It’s muscular. It’s complicated. It’s interesting.”

Part of the appeal for Johnson, who lived in the meatpacking district in the late 1970s, is the roughness most suburbanites would find off-putting. He calls it “authenticity” in a time when “we’re getting bombarded with fake stuff.”

The spine of the arts district is Mateo Street, a truck-laden thoroughfare named after early landowner Matthew “Don Mateo” Keller. The district evolved from agricultural uses including Mateo’s winery in the mid-1800s to being the city’s industrial heart in the early 20th century.

One of the most ambitious private developments of that era was Union Terminal Annex, which was connected by rail to the city’s seaport and was the second-largest wholesale terminal in the world. Two of the four large remaining buildings are occupied by clothing manufacturer American Apparel Inc., and the owners are improving and divvying up long-vacant remaining space for other business tenants including the makers of Splendid and Ella Moss apparel.

The advanced age of the neighborhood’s buildings worked against the district in recent decades as businesses moved to more modern, efficient industrial properties elsewhere in the region. Those that remained often barricaded themselves behind tall gates and barbed wire as the area gained a reputation for crime and homelessness.

“There were drug addicts and prostitutes on the corner when we started,” said restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi, who began working on French bistro Church & State seven years ago. “Now limousines pull up on a regular basis.”

Sarmadi opened her bistro in the former West Coast headquarters of National Biscuit Co., a seven-story factory built in 1925 that was renovated and converted to condos in 2006. She was attracted to the historic nature of the building, she said, and the fact that it was remote from the elite restaurant enclaves of the Westside.

“It was far more exciting for me to be in a place that wasn’t already ‘there,’ so to speak,” Sarmadi said.

She lives in the arts district and enjoys the company of artists who are neighbors, but knows that the march of prosperity will make it hard for some of them to stay. It may take 10 more years to become as affluent as once-lowly Venice, Sarmadi said, but gentrification will come.

“I think it’s inevitable,” she said. “It brings a tear to my eye, but it’s also progress.”

Guiding change is Tyler Stonebraker, who helps young businesses such as film and television production company Skunk set up shop in old warehouses and factories.

Stonebraker’s real estate firm Creative Space caters to creative companies that consider nontraditional offices essential to their identities and part of their appeal to desirable workers in the millennial generation.

“It’s part of their brand now,” Stonebraker’s partner Michael Smith said of the creative firms. “They make up the bleeding edge of early adopters. And they like to be near each other.”

Among Creative Space clients is Urban Radish, which Stonebraker calls an “ultra artisanal” gourmet food market set to open in March. Urban Radish is being built inside a metal warehouse on Mateo Street — bedecked with a mural of giant chipmunks — that was last used for glass manufacturing.

Flanking its parking lot is an electric car charging station owned by the market’s landlord, Linear City, the developer of Biscuit Company Lofts, where Nabisco once made cookies, and the adjacent Toy Factory Lofts condominiums.

Such developments have drawn numerous entrepreneurs who run small businesses from their units, Stonebraker said. Major corporations including Nike have followed with outposts of their own. The sports apparel retailer rents 8,000 square feet in an old brick building with an exposed bow truss ceiling in the Factory Place Arts Complex. Its offices are made from shipping containers and include an elaborate skateboard park, he said.

Gentrification of that sort has reinvigorated buildings that were otherwise obsolete for most industries, real estate broker Armen Kazaryan of Lee & Associates said. When the arts district loft conversion trend took off in the mid-2000s, landlords realized they could get more rent from tech and design companies than they could from warehouse and manufacturing businesses.

Commercial rents can top $2 per square foot per month and can surpass the prices paid for space in ritzy high-rises visible on the downtown skyline a few blocks away.

The industrial buildings were not originally intended to support many occupants, however, which has led to a chronic shortage of parking in the area, Kazaryan said. One parking space may cost as much as $100 a month to rent. Older buildings often lack air conditioning as well.

“It’s one of the hottest, most desirable areas” of Los Angeles, he said, but “it’s still got some way to go.”

With so many prosperous newcomers making the neighborhood into an urban frontier with hip amenities, some residents are laboring to keep art in the arts district.

Daniel Lahoda, owner of Lala Gallery on Willow Street, works with artists to get them financial support from landlords to paint murals on the sides of buildings. There are now more than 100 murals in the district, he said, including the chipmunks at Urban Radish painted by Belgian graffiti artist Roa.

A mural becomes an identifier for its building and adds creative energy to the neighborhood, Lahoda said. “Otherwise, it’s just a collection of run-down warehouses with cool renovated interiors.”

Rising rents are putting a strain on local artists, though.

“It’s already too pricey for the majority of artists,” he said, and some are moving across the river to less trendy Boyle Heights. The monthly rent on his Mateo Street residential loft has risen from about $1.10 a square foot to $1.50 a square foot in the last five years.

“I hope my artist friends can grow with the district,” Lahoda said, and he and his girlfriend will try to do the same.

“We will endure the increases as long as we can,” he said, “because we love the neighborhood so much.”

Like what you read, See our Listings in the Arts District

We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 12637633 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.

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New Listing at Library Court

19 Jan 2013 · by ChrisSampaio

Library Court

We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 13645591 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.


15 Jan 2013 · by ChrisSampaio

Just found out about this, pretty cool concept. You can rent a car from people near you on an hour or daily basis. 

Its very similar to Zip Car, but the regular people own the cars and make money renting. 


Pinterest big LOFT List

19 Jan 2013 · by ChrisSampaio

pinrestAt Loftway we have a Pinrest account, you can see it by clicking on the icon on the footer.

I was looking at the site today and found some other LOFT pins with some cool pictures of LOFTS. Great to get ideas for you own place. Have fun.



Fiscal Cliff and your LOFT

7 Jan 2013 · by ChrisSampaio


By Kerri Ann Panchuk

 • January 2, 2013 • 7:56am

The mortgage industry can breath a sigh of relief with the final fiscal cliff deal bringing back a popular tax break on mortgage insurance premiums and debt forgiveness for borrowers who go through a short-sale or some other type of debt reduction.

A topic that is still up for discussion and likely to surface later in the year is whether the popular mortgage interest tax deduction will be part of a long-term deficit reduction plan.

Still, the deal passed by the Senate and House on Jan. 1 is one that leaves room for hope in the housing market.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 apparently extends a law that expired at the end of 2011, which allowed for the deductibility of mortgage insurance premiums, according to a research report from Isaac Boltansky withCompass Point Research & Trading. The law now applies to fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

“The law dictates that eligible borrowers who itemize their federal tax returns and have an adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $100,000 per year can deduct 100% of their annual mortgage insurance premiums,” Compass Point said.

“Certain borrowers with AGIs above $100,000 may benefit from the deductibility as well but are subject to a sliding scale. The tax break covers private mortgage insurance as well as mortgage insurance provided by the FHA, the VA, and the Rural Housing Service. In 2009, about 3.6 million taxpayers claimed the mortgage insurance deduction,” the research firm added.

One of the more watched provisions of the fiscal cliff was the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, which was set to expire on Dec. 31.

The fiscal cliff deal extends it for another year, meaning homeowners who experience a debt reduction through mortgage principal forgiveness or a short sale are exempt from being taxed on the forgiven amount.

“The amount extends up to $2 million of debt forgiven on the homeowner’s principal residence,” Compass Point Research & Trading said. “For homeowner’s to qualify, their debt must have been used to ‘buy, build, or substantially improve’ their principal residence and be secured by that residence. The law, which was passed in 2007 with a 5-year sunset provision, will now be in effect until Jan. 1, 2014.”

Another minor win for housing is a provision tied to the government’s plan to increase the capital gains tax rate from 15% to 20% for individuals who earn more than $400,000. While in theory, this is harder on higher-income homeowners, Compass Point sees a silver lining through an exclusion.

Compass Point notes the law “states that only gains of more than $250,000 for individuals ($500k for households) are subject to taxes on the excess portion of capital gains. Point being, in order for an individual homeowner to be impacted by the increased capital gains tax rate they would need to have an adjusted gross income above $400,000 and gain more than $250,000 from the sale of the property. Since this exclusion threshold remained intact, the impact of the capital gains tax increase is limited.”