Broker's Tips for Hollywood Hills Buyers
Hilton & Hyland's Susan Andrews shares tips for buying in the Hollywood Hills.
April 09, 2012
The Hollywood Hills is one of the most sought-after areas to buy real estate, and rightly so. But as beautiful as that area is, it can be complex to navigate when buying a home.
When you finally identify the house you want to buy, the first order of business is deciding on a price, which includes many variables to take into account. Determining the value of a property there can be challenging due to the diversity of views, infrastructure, usable flat land, and access.
Once you're in escrow, investigating the condition of the property is critical. Consider a geological inspection for hillside stability, a drainage inspection to control hillside erosion, and a boundary survey to clarify property lines. The shapes of Hills lots are often irregular, causing neighbors to unknowingly encroach on each other's properties, which can lead to costly litigation—and worse, living next door to your enemy! I currently represent the buyers of a Sunset Strip-area house where the previous sellers were forced to rescind the home in a down market and ordered to pay almost $1 million in damages due to an encroachment on a neighboring property they failed to disclose.
To make sure my clients weren't buying a house next to a litigious neighbor, I decided to knock on the door, introduce myself, and get the whole story. The neighbors couldn't have been lovelier, and my clients got along swimmingly with them. Surprisingly, that was the least of our problems.
After performing our own boundary survey, we found two more encroachments with the neighbor on the other side of the property. Even though a seller provides you with reports, it is always wise to conduct your own inspections. Using a knowledgeable Hollywood Hills agent is essential to protecting your most valuable asset—your sanity! luxurylahomes.com
Plush Private Jet Service: Elite Aviation
An inside look at the exclusive private jet service from the woman at the helm of it all.
March 13, 2012
Known for its attention to detail, high-profile clients, and ultimate discretion, private jet company Elite Aviation recently launched Elite Attaché, a program that provides guests with even more amenities and attention. We spoke with president and CEO Chris Holifield to learn more about her stable of jets and the creature comforts her clientele has become accustomed to.
Elite describes itself as “a woman-owned global premier private jet company.” What led you to the helm of the company?
CHRIS HOLIFIELD: I acquired Elite Aviation out of my own personal need to not be sitting in airports. Many of the people that I transport are in media and entertainment—Fortune 500 people whose time is at a premium. I found myself in that same situation. I got to a point where sitting in an airport was a waste of my time and a waste of money. I had the opportunity of buying Elite Aviation and thought, I can be really good at this, because all I need to do is treat everybody the way I want to be treated!
There are a lot of private jet and private charter companies out there. How does Elite stand out?
CH: The first thing [...] is that I am the president and CEO, and I'm also the client. I have not been on a commercial aircraft for 15 years. So, because I have flown all of my competitors and I am also a successful business person, I know exactly what not to do. The other component that makes us very different is obviously Elite Attaché, and our meticulous attention to detail.
Tell us about service on the planes.
CH: The service on the plane would be comparable to sitting in the lounge of a five-star hotel. My aircrafts are beautifully appointed with the finest leather and the finest wood finishings. Dining on my aircraft would be like dining at a five-star restaurant. I can get you any kind of food you want.
What's next on the horizon for Elite?
CH: I'm in the process of negotiations to expand abroad, and I'm in the process of negotiations to expand to Long Beach. We would cover all of Orange County and California.
The Prince of Prints
Illustrious abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly may hail from New York, but he’s having a major LA moment.
March 05, 2012
Ellsworth Kelly’s 1976 work Colors on a Grid.
It’s spring. Love is in the air. In particular, love for Ellsworth Kelly seems to be everywhere in LA, bursting like one of his bright, monochromatic prints.
The giant of American abstraction—who turns 89 in May—is being celebrated with a three-month retrospective of his lithograph prints, paintings, and sculpture at LACMA and also with an exhibit at the new Matthew Marks Gallery in LA, the façade of which he also designed. And to top off this Ellsworth extravaganza, the French fashion label Kenzo is releasing a Spring/Summer 2012 collection inspired by his bold mastery of shapes and colors.
“I’m very happy with the show at LACMA,” says Kelly, calling it “the best show of my prints I have seen.” As for the exterior of the Matthew Marks Gallery, the artist says, “When I saw the model of the building, it just came to me in a flash. It had to have a black bar. Since then I have thought a lot about the fact that more than a quarter of my paintings are in black and white.”
Although Kelly was born in Newburgh, NY, grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in Spencertown, NY, he has a special affinity for the City of Angels and its art community. The exhibit at Matthew Marks Gallery, for instance, marks his 15th solo exhibition here since 1992. “I have represented Ellsworth Kelly for more than 20 years,” says the gallerist. “I opened my first space in Chelsea in 1994 with a show of new paintings [by him]. It means a lot to me to inaugurate another gallery with an Ellsworth Kelly exhibition.”
Marks continues, “[The show at LACMA] includes more than half the prints he has made. These two shows underscore the nearly 50-year relationship Ellsworth has had with Los Angeles [since] he first showed here in 1965 at the Ferus Gallery.” Stephanie Barron, senior curator of modern art at LACMA, says she’s thrilled to have the Kelly retrospective under the museum’s roof—and the Left Coast is an especially appropriate place for many of these works. “Particularly with this body of prints, most of them were made here in Los Angeles at Gemini G.E.L. [studio],” she says. “It’s a wonderful homecoming.”
Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings is on display at LACMA through April 22. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., LA, 323-857-6000. Ellsworth Kelly: Los Angeles is on display at Matthew Marks Gallery through April 7. 1062 N. Orange Grove Dr., LA, 323-654-1830.
Home Gym Staple: An Elliptical Cruiser
ElliptiGo releases its most innovative elliptical bicycle yet.
February 07, 2012
The ElliptiGo 11R
ElliptiGo, the makers of the world’s first elliptical bicycle, has released its highest-performing bike yet, the Elliptigo 11R ($3,500). Designed with 11 gears for racers and high-endurance cyclers, the new stationary beach cruiser provides a high-intensity, low-impact workout, much like jogging—minus the joint pressure. A plethora of gears enable steep mountain climbs, high speeds (up to 30 mph), descents, and marathon rides, while a lightweight design and ergonomic grips offer smooth, controlled movement. Interested in a test run? ElliptiGo bikes are currently being rented at Hermosa Cyclery. 20 13th St., Hermosa Beach, 310-374-7816; hermosacyclery.com
Home Accessory Picks
Haus Interior's Nina Freudenberger shares her favorite home finds.
February 07, 2012
1. Lawson-Fenning’s Thin Frame Cabinet ($4,415) is a favorite of mine. The modern cubist base contrasts with the figurative wood burl doors, which are so delicate and beautiful. Lawson-Fenning East, 1618 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake; 323-660-1500
2. I am really drawn to faded colors and watercolor palettes this season. The Ikat Design Rug Berja Ivory from Mehraban (price upon request) is a perfect example of a piece that can transition between the modern and the traditional. Mehraban, 545 N. La Cienga Blvd., LA, 310-657-4400
3. I love this Trapos Llama Throw by Pehuen Patagonia Designs ($575). It looks a little hand-knitted, but is still geometric. Calypso St. Barth, 225 26th St., Brentwood, 310-434-9601
4. Kelly Wearstler’s Mini Brass Bauble Box ($150) adds a little glamour to a coffee table or a dressing table. Kelly Wearstler Boutique, 8440 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323-895-7880
5. The Maze Lidded Box by Plantation ($195) is a great desk organizer that doubles as a piece of art. Plantation,144 South La Brea Ave, LA, 3233-932-0511
6. This Black & Gold Glass/Chrome Lamp ($322) gives an incredible glow. I love it so much that I’m selling [it] at my shop. Haus Interior LA, 8211 West 3rd St., LA, 323-951-0151
Tech Gift Idea: Nintendo Pearl Pink 3DS
The gaming powerhouse launches a pink hand-held for Valentine’s Day.
February 01, 2012
The new Nintendo Pearl Pink 3DS ($170) is the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the gadget gal. Available February 10, the hand-held system includes a built-in 3D camera, video recorder and games, as well as advanced social features and national Wi-Fi access. Even better, the 3D technology can be viewed sans glasses to keep you looking fashionable.
Jonathan Adler for Your Powder Room
The designer teams up with Cottonelle to create happy chic tissue roll covers.
January 26, 2012
Designer Jonathan Alder has put his colorful stamp on everything from modern furniture to artful wallpaper to decorative home accessories. In his latest venture, Adler has been hired by Cottonelle to design a Spring line of toilet paper roll covers—part of the company’s “Respect the Roll” campaign. The pairing couldn’t be a better fit according to Alder: “Part of my passion for design is taking everyday objects and turning them into eye-catching conversation pieces and, until now, toilet paper has been a relatively untouched canvas.” Adler’s three cheery patterns—chevron pink, clover green and barjello blue—can be purchased at respectthetrool.com.
Jonah Wilson: Confessions of a Power Broker
Hilton & Hyland’s Jonah Wilson shares three simple but essential rules for buying real estate in LA.
January 09, 2012
|Jonah Wilson knows the ins and outs of LA real estate|
As a real estate agent with 20-plus years of experience, I’m often asked if I have any trade secrets the average buyer should know. I find it’s sometimes the obvious items that get overlooked.
The first thing on my list is to find an agent with good local knowledge. An agent truly plugged into a geographic location will know all the particulars of that region. He or she will know neighborhoods in detail, when prices in certain areas have gone up or suddenly come down, and, just as important, why. A competent agent will also have a good working relationship with other agents in the area and know, for instance, about pocket—or quiet—listings, properties that have yet to officially come on the market.
Once you’ve a found a property worth making an offer on, do your due diligence. Don’t underestimate the importance of multiple inspections; one general residential inspection is never enough. Even exquisitely maintained older homes can have hidden—and costly—problems. For newer properties, my suggestion would be four to five inspections. Yes, it will mean more money spent up front, but this is not a time to be penny-wise and poundfoolish. It’s important to know if you’re making a sound investment.
Third, don’t forget about the ins and outs of appraisals. It’s very important your agent has the ability to establish a good working relationship with the appraiser. In effect, the agent is your lobbyist, pointing out to the appraiser details about a home that might not be readily apparent. Those could be that an owner has spent $500 a square foot on custom finishes during a remodel rather than $200 a foot, or that a home has an important architectural pedigree that justifies a premium over other houses in the neighborhood. A savvy agent will also know what comparable properties—both on and off the market—have sold for in the area and will share that information with the appraiser.
While these may not be insider’s secrets, they are common-sense moves that are more important than ever in the new reality of a postbust real estate marketplace.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ULRICA WHILBORG
Making A House A Home
Catching up with Rachel Ashwell of Shabby Chic, who knows how to make a home decidedly beautiful.
October 25, 2011
Dionne Warwick crooned to the top of the Billboard charts in 1964 with a song called “A House Is Not a Home”—and no one knows the difference between a house and a well-appointed home better than Rachel Ashwell, founder of Shabby Chic. From her latest book, Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Inspirations and Beautiful Spaces, to her work with QVC, Ashwell is a pro. I chatted with her about the keys to her success, her new ventures and how all pinks are not created equal.
How important is a person’s home environment?
RACHEL ASHWELL: I feel a home grounds us both literally and figuratively. The world is growing and moving at such a fast and furious pace that we need our homes to help us to reconnect. It’s about balance, it’s about luxury, it’s about color and comfort and how all those pieces and parts help us to feel human and alive.
What is it about revitalizing beauty that attracts you?
RA: My dear mother passed away three years ago, and I think that the time I spent with her going to the flea markets had a huge impact on me. Watching her go through the tattered ribbons and lace and being privy to how much she loved the restoration process instilled a sense of awe [in me], a respect for the beauty of imperfection and a desire to find my own way along a similar path.
You were once quoted as having an “affinity for ruffles and pleats…” Is this true?
RA: That’s interesting because I believe strongly in a less is more approach. I do have a weakness for pink, but not all pinks are created equal.
What new projects are you focusing on now?
RA: My line with QVC has allowed me to find my way back to television and I love it! My hope is that the product line, Treasures by Shabby Chic, will connect viewers with my passion for flea marketing while keeping it affordable and accessible. The pieces I have chosen are some of my very favorite and they act as the core aesthetic to ground a design. You can expect things like side tables, occasional tables and the kind of things you will simply fall in love with and come to treasure as I do.
I am known for this next question so please indulge me. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?
RA: For some reason I think people are under the impression I have “it” all worked out. I am not exactly sure what “it” is, but I assure you my life is a journey and I too have bumps in the road.
Read more from Joshua Estrin at popmuncher.com.
Get a Taste of The Taste
The Taste, sponsored by the Los Angeles Times and Food & Wine, cooks up a storm this Labor Day weekend.
August 31, 2011
Giada De Laurentiis
Celebrate Labor Day weekend (September 2–5) at The Taste, an inaugural foodie extravaganza sponsored by the Los Angeles Times and Food & Wine. The event takes over the streets of Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Downtown and is the largest LA happening of its kind showcasing the city’s diverse culinary scene and hosting celebrity chefs like Giada De Laurentiis, Michael Voltaggio, Claire Robinson and Scott Conant. Comprised of nine signature events, the features include tastings from the best local restaurants, wine tastings with the world's top vintners, mixology demonstrations and live musical performances.
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.