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Baking and Breaking Bread – 4/24/2020 Update

Baking and Breaking Bread – 4/24/2020 Update

According to the media, America is short on yeast because Americans are baking bread like never before.  Reportedly all over the world people staying at home are baking bread.  At my house we’re trying all different versions of No Knead Bread.  So far, the classic NY times original by Jim Leahy is reliable, consistently delicious, and has the best texture – crunchy on the outside and airy on the inside.  I like a little extra salt.  We’ve tried a version with Spelt flour and lots of seeds – pumpkin, poppy, sesame, flax, oats.  We’ve tried whole wheat.  And white whole wheat.  I find that the best place to find ingredients that are sold out in big box grocery stores and online is at the small local mom and pop local Jewish grocery stores.  Ariel Market on La Brea and Beverly still has yeast.

I got very sad this week when a tenant called me that he will need to break his lease because he’s in the hospitality industry and he doesn’t see restaurants and catering going back to regular capacity for a  long time.  To be responsible, he said he needs to downsize and move to a smaller space.   Not long after that call, a second call came from a talented choreographer tenant with a similar story – she choreographs sets for performances at events like Coachella, and with large events not happening for a long time she’s downsizing too.

There are 71 properties for lease in our 90036 zip code.  As rent prices creeped higher in the last few years, properties that rented for a very high lease price tended to have tenants who stayed a shorter term – at a high lease price the tenants have strong incentive to buy instead of stay.   Toward the end of last year, low interest rates gave tenants stronger incentive to buy.

There are many units for rent now. Landlords whose previous tenant paid a high rent want the same high rent or even higher and they’re holding out for the higher rent.   There are tenants who are moving out to buy a place or to downsize and pay less rent so units are coming on market.   Tenants aren’t moving around and into new places right now as they ordinarily would so units are staying on the market.

With landlords giving tenants rent breaks to incentivize them to stay instead of move out, and some landlords who want a tenant sooner than later dropping their price to attract a tenant now, in the short term at least, rent amounts in the area might be undergoing a price correction.

As for houses for sale, most single family houses for sale in the area have still not dropped in price because there’s limited supply and enough demand to keep prices stable.   In every market,  houses that are super attractive will command a high  price.  Features that make a house super attractive and set to command top dollar value are:  floor plan, curb appeal, outdoor space, condition, location, sunlight, windows, ceiling height, decorative details.  The more attractive features a house has, the less subject to price volatility it will be in any market.  Houses that have less attractive features get less demand and therefore are more subject to price drops.  Buyers who are buying now are facing less competition from other buyers because many are sitting this time out.  But sellers who are selling now are in the same position – less competition from other sellers because many sellers are sitting this time out.  The limited competition among sellers is keeping prices stable at the moment.

As the weeks go on, there’s a sense of restlessness and an eagerness to get back to regular life.  And then there are some cool parts – walking in the streets while there are no cars, the quiet all around us, interesting birds all over the place – my favorites were the green parrots with red beaks outside Wattles mansion gardens and the woodpeckers in Hancock Park, experimenting in the kitchen, the family time, and my favorite of all…time to reflect.

Here’s to hopes that one day (sooner than later) we look back at this time and we remember the fresh bread – the smells and the tastes and the memories and all the ways we grew from this time in our lives…


Lots of love!


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