afternoon, Councilmembers. I am Dr. Charlotte Laws, member of the Greater Valley
Glen Council. I have been a Los Angeles real estate agent for the past 19 years.
should reconsider putting time and resources into “buying programs”
associated with density bonuses, inclusionary zoning or below market rate
housing. These programs are detrimental for many buyers they purport to help. In
fact, an LA City Planner told me on the phone recently, “Density bonus
programs are not for those who want to build wealth.”
months ago, I came across a condominium complex in Woodland Hills, which was
selling below market rate units to those with moderate income. The condos were
offered for $200,000 while the market rate units in the complex were selling for
first thought was… maybe I should get my 19-year old daughter into one of
these units. But that thought quickly vanished when I learned more about the
program. I was told it was a density bonus program and that after my daughter
bought the place, she would need to hold it for 10 years in order to get all the
equity out. If she were to upgrade, it would be questionable whether she could
recoup her costs. If she moved, she would have to transfer the unit and the
profit to another buyer.
more I learned, the more I knew I did not want any member of my family to
participate in one of these programs. I want my daughter to become financially
stable, even wealthy, not trapped in a property prison for years unable to build
equity like a market-rate buyer. I know these paternalistic, density bonus
programs can vary; in fact, some impose 45-year restrictions.
programs require fully qualifying loans. Probably 90% of the buyers who work
with Realtors I know obtain “no qualifying” loans. Last week I talked to a
lender who told me that my daughter would have difficulty qualifying for the
$200,000 condo. Yet he said she could buy up to $550,000 with a no qualifying
loan. Many people have a false perception about their ability to buy and housing
encourage you to ask Realtor boards, Realtors and lenders to come together, to
form an advisory panel and to develop solutions for potential buyers. Some ideas
include creative financing, buying partnerships, soft seconds, credit repair
programs. New buyers can rent out a room or guest house to help cover costs.
Villaraigosa says only 12% of Angelenos can afford to buy. I respectfully
disagree. My clients are police officers, teachers, construction workers, and
they buy market-rate property all day long without a problem.
have never personally qualified for any house I have ever bought. I bought a
house four months ago. It is rented to a tenant for no money out of my pocket
each month. Any middle-income person could have done what I did.
Los Angeles, according to CRA, shockingly a family can earn $97,000 a year and
qualify for one of these programs. In Marin County, it is $126,000. In Atherton
California, it is $240,000.
In closing, I want to mention… there are quality of life and density-related issues that I am not addressing today, but they are very real concerns for the stakeholders in my community. Los Angeles is the densest city with over 7000 people per square mile.
I understand Los Angeles must comply with SB 1818. But I encourage you not to make rash decisions, to explore all options and consult with experts. Thank you for your time.