darren hubert

Urban Hillsides Real Estate: Community and Lifestyle

Often these days our first interactions with new people are not in person - it’s typically through email or a phone call. With this in mind, our video is our way of revealing a little more about who we are and our approach to real estate.

Documenting the philosophy came easy compared to the fear of being in front the camera reciting it. I practiced and told myself to relax, to act natural, but my mind and body did not listen. It was challenging and I was nervous. Thankfully we had a creative team of people who coached me through the process and had excellent editing skills.

I was clearly outside of my comfort zone. I challenged myself to get in front of the camera, and to push my business to new levels this year. I have built a great team to help me grow and deliver the same quality of service as I always strive to deliver. Kelly is a social activist who has dedicated her free time to neighborhood issues through both grassroots organizing and city government. Joe has extensive experience in local media and marketing, and continues to support this vibrant, creative community. Together we have an intimate knowledge of what it’s like to live in, grow and connect to the communities of Northeast Los Angeles.

For those of you who have personally never met me, we hope this gives you an idea of who we are so that when we do finally meet - whether it be by email or a phone call - you know who we are.

Helping clients achieve their goals is what we do, and I hope you can help us achieve ours! Please share this video with your social network and let people know that you recommend our services.

Share this video:

The changing climate of Downtown Echo Park

2014 is a new year and a lot of changes along Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. The most notable changes over the past couple of months - popular restaurants and retail businesses leaving, some of which have been around for decades. Restaurants like Barragan's, which opened in 1961 in that same spot, and, just down the road, 35-year old El Conquistador also just closed.

Some empty retail spots are finally getting some attention - a restaurant of some kind is going in to 1525 Sunset Boulevard near Laveta; it's been a few years since anything has happened there. And, despite the controversy surrounding its owners, Lassen's has started working on the former Save-a-Lot next to Walgreens on the corner of Sunset and Logan, which has been collecting dust for a couple of years now.

For those who welcome those changes, empty storefronts are never good for a neighborhood. But some neighbors aren't thrilled with the changes. Having been in Echo Park for over 30 years now, I can understand the sentimental connection for the history of the neighborhood - after all, it's home!

These are cyclical changes - sometimes painful, sometimes great. I remember going to El Studio 1 back in the day; when it closed down in the 1990s, the place just sat there for nearly 20 years. Before we knew it, it became a bustling craft beer restaurant by the name of Mohawk Bend. It's changed, but I'm glad it's no longer rotting away.

The foundation of the communities in and around Echo Park have and are still shifting; whether it be in real estate, in new restaurants, in the quality of life for our neighbors and our families. Despite the loss of many good things through these changes, as inventor Charles Kettering said, "You can't have a better tomorrow if you are thinking about yesterday all the time."


Leading economists have differing views on recovery

Leading economists agreed at the recent American Economic Association meeting that economic output has fallen short of its potential. Additionally, the 2009 fiscal stimulus was not aggressive enough to spur the recovery, however policy will lead to faster growth.

What economists didn't agree on was how to improve the economy. Stanford economist John Taylor argued that government needs to go back to the "rules-based" fiscal policies which historically have shown careful growth - NOT the unusual policy steps of quantitative easing (the bond buying stimulus program, and the bailout of financial institutions), which he believes are not sound for recovery.

On the other hand, Harvard's Larry Summers worked in the turbulent Obama years of QE and the bailout; his solution was to go beyond the historic norms of fiscal policy and treat the economy as a patient, gauging and monitoring the condition to respond appropriately.

Who holds the keys to 2014's economy? All eyes are on nearly-appointed Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen, who is a believer and practitioner of a rules-based monetary policy. Overall, 2014 looks to be one of the strongest years in the recent past with consumer spending up as housing and stock markets have risen.

Los Angeles home prices on the rise, but not for long

Home prices in the major metros of the U.S. are still on the rise, with average home prices now looking like its spring 2004 level. In the past year, Los Angeles home prices have gone up 19.2% according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index, while the CAR cites a 31.7% year-over-year price increase, and Trulia a 37.5% increase (wow!).

The major factors contributing to the rise in home prices, especially when it comes to real estate in Los Angeles areas like Echo Park and Silver Lake, are a lack of inventory. Also, interest rates continue to stay at historic lows, even though mortgage rates have recently gone up.

The rise in home prices in Los Angeles is slowing down – from April to May this year, the data shows a price increase of only 2.6%, as opposed to a 3.4% gain from March to April. Mortgage rates are on the rise, and we do expect to see a trickling of homes coming on the market as home values and prices appreciate. Because demand is high, these factors make now a perfect time to consider selling in the Northeast Los Angeles area.

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, now is a perfect time. Give me a call today!

Foreclosure activity in California dropped dramatically



Big news for California real estate numbers: Foreclosure activity in the state has hit an all-time low since the last housing boom.

During the first quarter of this year, only 18,567 mortgage default notices were filed – that’s 51.4% down from Q4 of 2012, and 67% down from the same time last year. The drop is being attributed to recent regulations placed on foreclosure activity – particular the Homeowner Bill of Rights that took effect on January 1.

DataQuick expects that foreclosure activity will pick up slightly once lenders adjust to these new policies.

Interested in Echo Park real estate or purchasing a home in other Northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods? Contact me today!!

Ready for a new servicer on your loan?

Bank of America may have just unloaded two million loans (totaling $306 billion) to other lenders, but it’s already looking to sell rights on at least $100 billion more MSRs. Last week, BofA started with selling $306 billion in mortgages to Nationstar Mortgage Holdings and Walter Investment Management. The move is not unusual – lenders have been known to do it as costs rise and servicers go bankrupt. Additionally, Basell III capital rules will soon take effect, forcing banks to “hold more capital for mortgages serviced or to put less premium on the value of MSRs.” Servicing companies are exempt from this rule, so they are eager to buy.

Ally Financial and JP Morgan are looking to do the same soon.

A look at the Northeast Los Angeles real estate market

Communities included: Echo Park, Silver Lake, Atwater, Highland Park, Glassell Park, Eagle Rock, Mt. Washington, Montecito Heights. Single Family: September/October

  • Properties sold: 91 / 100
  • Average days on market: 54 / 62
  • Median price: $498,745 / $492,222
  • Average cost per square foot: $360 / $337

Residential Income (2-4 units)

  • Properties sold: 18 / 24
  • Median price: $495,000 / $578,517


  • Properties sold: 17 / 15
  • Median Price: $300,000 / $291,286

(Source: The MLS)

Also see our last market review for July/August 2012.