Real Estate Newsletter: Renting is becoming a competitive sport

Welcome to the real estate newsletter. This week, we focus on the brutal and broken state of the Southern California rental market.

More than half of LA County residents are renters — one of the highest rates in the country — so it was fair to wonder why it’s so hard to find housing here.

First, we spoke to tenants, landlords and experts and found that the rental market is increasingly looking like the housing market, which sees potential buyers entering bidding wars and driving up the sale price of hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes more. Well, the same thing seems to be happening for tenants, as potential tenants have started offering more than the monthly rent in order to land the perfect spot.

The engine of the trend? A vacancy rate of only 3.5%, the lowest in more than two decades.

We also took a look at the myriad of COVID-related eviction bans, some of which expire and some of which remain. During the pandemic, it seemed like new tenant protection was being passed every month, so we checked which ones are still in place.

For example, the city of LA continues to prohibit evictions for non-payment of rent to anyone who has experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19. However, even though your landlord may not be able to evict you, they can still sue you for unpaid rent.

The week also saw a brush fire in the hills below Griffith Observatory, which served as a vivid reminder that fire season has officially arrived. With that in mind, The Times looked into the vacation rental market and found that thousands of California Airbnbs operate in fire-prone areas. To help you, we have developed a guide on the risks of renting in a fire risk area.

On the celebrity side, one seller took a quick spin and another listed a longtime home.

The quick flipper, perhaps unsurprisingly, was Ellen DeGeneres, who sold a Beverly Crest mansion for $8.757 million less than a year after buying it. It was far from a success, however, as the selling price is only $257,000 more than she paid. Between taxes and agent fees, DeGeneres surely suffered a loss.

The other seller is Engelbert Humperdinck, the British pop singer whose international property portfolio includes homes in England, Mexico and Hawaii. He’s owned a quaint mansion on a ridge in Bel-Air since 2005, and he’s asking $6.2 million for the property.

While keeping up to date with the latest news, visit and like our Facebook page, where you can find real estate stories and updates throughout the week.

The rental market is brutal

Nick Garcia recently moved to Los Angeles from Arizona and found a reasonable apartment rental on May 9.

(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Bidding wars for homes are a common ordeal in Southern California, a kind of painful induction process that spits a now-diminishing number of winners into the ranks of homeowners.

But for an apartment to rent?

Apartment availability in Los Angeles and surrounding counties is so tight that some renters are paying above list price to secure a high-quality unit, while others are scrambling for remaining apartment inventory.

“Everyone is fighting for the same places,” said Anna Maciaszek, who moved to Los Angeles in January and is living in short-term rentals as she searches for a permanent apartment.

The number of apartments available for rent in LA County is the lowest in two decades, while listings in the Inland Empire and Orange County are below or near records set before the COVID-19 pandemic. 19.

In LA County, rent is up 16% from a year ago, and landlords have a strong hand in setting terms and pricing.

What protections do tenants still have?

Tenants and housing rights activists carry signs in protest

Tenants and housing rights activists protest for a halt to rent payments and mortgage debt during the COVID-19 pandemic in Los Angeles.

(Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Rental housing in Southern California has long been a landlord’s market, with demand for housing far outstripping supply. This is true today to an extreme degree, with the rarest units available in recent memory, writes Jon Healey.

The state has sought to make tenants and landlords whole by using federal assistance to pay rent debt accrued by pandemic-affected tenants. But payments have been delayed by months of arrears.

Some of the state’s restrictions on landlords have now expired, leaving eviction bans and rent deferrals in place only in Los Angeles and other select cities. The result is a patchwork of rules that vary depending on where you live, when you started renting your place, and when you missed your rent payments.

To help you navigate this landscape, here are answers to some of the big questions renters and landlords face today in Southern California.

Is your vacation rental safe from fires?

Firefighters respond to contain a blaze

Firefighters work to contain a fire from spreading to a house.

(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

Planning an idyllic vacation with your friends could include booking a vacation rental on a Malibu hill with ocean views or surrounded by pine trees at Lake Tahoe, writes Karen Garcia.

Analysis by the Los Angeles Times found that thousands of Airbnb rentals in California operate in high wildfire risk areas, so it’s worth researching where your rental is, where fires are happening, and where to entertain. evacuation notices.

Here’s how you can research the potential for disaster and what to do if it happens the next time you stay at a vacation rental.

Ellen flips a stylish mid-century

Built in 1961, the single-story home features mid-century charms such as a courtyard entrance and sky-lit hallways.

Built in 1961, the single-story home features mid-century charms such as a courtyard entryway, sky-lit hallways, and warm wood and glass living spaces.

(Juwan Li)

Less than a year after buying a mid-century home in Beverly Crest for $8.5 million, prolific palmists Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi have sold the spot in an off-market deal for $8,757. millions of dollars.

The profit margin of $257,000 is a little thinner than their usual plans. They made $6.3 million flipping a Montecito resort for $33.3 million in 2020, and last year they made $4.5 million selling a Beverly Hills mansion for $47 million of dollars.

Nestled in Hidden Valley Estates, the mid-century gem has been linked to notable names over the years. It was built in 1961 by architect Robert Skinner of Los Angeles, and the chic post-and-beam design was later featured in Julius Schulman’s book Modernism Rediscovered. In 2021, DeGeneres and De Rossi bought him from talent agent Greg Cavic.

The British pop singer lists Bel-Air as her home

The 1980s house spans four stories with five bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms, and balconies on either side.

The 1980s house spans four stories with five bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms, and balconies on either side.

(Noel Kleinman)

Engelbert Humperdinck, the British pop singer who has been releasing music since the 1960s, is shopping around his Mediterranean-style mansion in the hills of Bel-Air for $6.2 million.

He will double his money if he gets his prize. Records show he paid $3 million for the property in 2005.

Perched on a promontory overlooking Stone Canyon Reservoir, the 1980s haunt is just one part of Humperdinck’s international real estate portfolio. Over the years he has owned homes in England, Mexico and Hawaii; in the 1970s, he bought the Pink Palace, a bright pink estate once owned by late movie star Jayne Mansfield in Holmby Hills.

His latest listing is being marketed as a teardown or fixup, as the four-story residence stylistically shows its age. Orange walls fill the living areas and the kitchen is covered in stained glass.

What we read

The mansions in this newsletter are generally photogenic – glitzy and glamorous in hopes of attracting a deep-pocketed buyer. But what happens when we break down? This week, the New York Post hosted a tour of Diddy’s abandoned 20,000-square-foot mansion in Georgia, which was left halfway through a renovation and features graffiti-covered walls, an unfinished staircase and a swimming pool musty.

Check out this small community of homes nestled in Mount Laguna, a remote mountain community in San Diego County. A couple took a tour of their 250 square foot lot and the interdependent community of 25 houses that surrounds it, which has its own internal economy and a newly built dog park. Insider has the story.

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