Getting to Know the Area Part II

Written by jordan on . Posted in Blog

Again we look at the surrounding areas of greater Los Angeles, and hopefully become aware of all the different neighborhoods found in our megalopolis of Souther California. While there can be found only rich celebrity houses lining up the streets of these areas, there are also many apartment complexes needed for the students living in LA and thriving artists and professionals that live in West LA. Most of these cities are located in our Western LA (zone 3) magazine. This info can be found on frommers.com.

Beverly Hills is politically distinct from the rest of Los Angeles — a famous enclave best known for its palm tree lined streets of palatial homes, famous residents (Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Annette Bening), and high-priced shops. But it’s not all glitz and glamour; the healthy mix of filthy rich, wannabes, and tourists that peoples downtown Beverly Hills creates a unique — and often snobby-surreal — atmosphere.

West Hollywood is a key-shape community whose epicenter is the intersection of Santa Monica and La Cienega boulevards. Nestled between Beverly Hills and Hollywood, this politically independent — and blissfully fast-food-free — town is home to some of the area’s best restaurants, clubs, shops, and art galleries. WeHo, as it’s come to be known, is also the center of L.A.’s gay community — you’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the risqué billboards. Encompassing about 2 square miles, it’s a pedestrian-friendly place with plenty of metered parking. Highlights include the 1 1/2 miles of Sunset Boulevard known as Sunset Strip, the chic Sunset Plaza retail strip, and the liveliest stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard.

Bel Air and Holmby Hills, located in the hills north of Westwood and west of Beverly Hills, are old-money residential areas featured prominently on most maps to the stars’ homes.

Brentwood is best known as the famous backdrop to the O. J. Simpson melodrama. If Starbucks ever designed a neighborhood, this is what it would look like — a generic, relatively upscale mix of track homes, restaurants, and strip malls. The Getty Center looms over Brentwood from its hilltop perch next to I-405.

Westwood, an urban village founded in 1929 and home to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), used to be a hot destination for a night on the town, but it lost much of its appeal in the past decade due to overcrowding and even some minor street violence. Although Westwood is unlikely to regain its old charm, the vibrant new culinary scene has brought new life to the village. Combined with the high concentration of movie theaters, it’s now the premier L.A. destination for dinner and a flick.

Century City is a compact and rather bland high-rise area sandwiched between West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. The primary draws here are the 20th Century Fox studios, Shubert Theatre, and the Westside Pavilion, a huge open-air shopping mall. Century City’s three main thoroughfares are Century Park East, Avenue of the Stars, and Century Park West.

West Los Angeles is a label that generally applies to everything that isn’t one of the other Westside neighborhoods. It’s basically the area south of Santa Monica Boulevard, north of Venice Boulevard, east of Santa Monica and Venice, and west and south of Century City.

Special Promotion from Apartment Management

Written by jordan on . Posted in Blog

We want to hear stories from you, our readers, and we’ll pay you to tell them. All you have to do is write a 1,500 word or less story about your personal apartment management experience.

We want to hear from anyone who can tell us about their experiences in the apartment industry; whether it was a first-time purchase night or a spur-of-the-moment purchase that changed your life. If you have a WWII era story, either from your own experience or parents, let us know.

We will be looking at all the stories sent in and choose one to be our Featured Article of the month. The winner will also receive a $100 American Express gift card for their submission.

Mortgage Frauds

Written by jordan on . Posted in Blog

In a recent article published in the LA Times by Lew Sichelmen, he paints a distressing picture of the ways white-collar, and now blue-collar, thieves steal millions of dollars from home buyers and investors who are unaware of the scams. Lately the FBI has reported a sharp increase in the reports of suspicious activity in the real estate market.

“The bureau will get more than 60,000 suspicious-activity reports this year, he said at a recent conference in Chicago. By comparison, it received a record 46,700 reports of suspicious activity in fiscal 2007, up from 35,600 in 2006.” That is quite a great leap in the two years.

It is important to look at the details, and to watch for some of these cons. One is the old trick of an inflated appraisal to pay for the “incentives” that home builders are giving to buyers. These incentives are build into the appraisal without the notice of the appraisers. Also many are using con men to have the home buyers pay, and in the end the con man does not make the payments and the house ends up in foreclosure. Never be too careful who you trust with your home, especially in these crunching times.

“Broshears, the FBI’s point man on mortgage fraud, estimated that the feds’ investigation is likely to uncover $3 billion in mortgage losses.”

Forbes "Boost Your Business" Contest

Written by jordan on . Posted in Blog

Forbes is hosting their annual “Boost Your Business” Contest for small business’ across the country. They are giving away 100,000 to the best business pitch. So start writing down your plans and go over to their website to check it out here. Hurry because May 31 is the deadline for submissions.

Here are some of the requirements:
1. have at least one salaried employee, aside from the owner
2. be incorporated for less than five (5) years (at the time of entry)
3. be a for-profit entity
4. have annual revenues between $0 and $5,000,000

The Inland Empire

Written by jordan on . Posted in Blog

We are excited to inform everybody that we are now going to reach the Inland Empire. This upcoming June, we will be finally getting our 6th zone published. Recently it has only been able to viewed online as a pdf.

If you are interested in getting a copy of the June issue for the Inland Empire, or wish to advertise in the new zone, give us a call at (714) 893-3971 or email me at js@aptmags.com.

Car Wash Apartment Combo

Written by jordan on . Posted in Blog

Driving down PCH, around Sunset Beach, I never noticed this odd apartment building. Yet while taking pictures of the surrounding area, I caught glimpse of this car wash plus apartment complex combination. I was truly in awe of it, and wondered if this was successful; and if the residents enjoyed living here?

Living in a wide open, traffic congested, commuter, never know your neighbor environment, I never looked at this type of building suitable for southern California. I have been recently been hearing about residential plus commercial, tight night communities making a comeback. If that is so, and why not in Southern California, it might be important to start researching.

Slow Growth

Written by jordan on . Posted in Blog

Southern California is still hurting from the credit crunch, and DataQuick has produced some stats that do not show promise for the market. There are spikes in the market between months, but overall the median prices have fallen dramatically over the past year. Yet foreclosures are at an all-time high.

“Indicators of market distress continue to move in different directions. Foreclosure activity is at record levels, financing with adjustable-rate mortgages is at a six-year low. Down payment sizes and flipping rates are stable, non-owner occupied buying activity is increasing, DataQuick reported. “

All Homes #Sold Feb-07 #Sold Feb-08 Pct. Chng $Median Feb-07 $Median Feb-08 Pct. Chng
Los Angeles 6,300 3,468 -45.0% $528,000 $460,000 -12.90%
Orange 2,449 1,471 -39.9% $620,000 $520,000 -16.10%
Riverside 3,057 2,147 -29.8% $410,000 $325,000 -20.70%
San Bernardino 2,274 1,242 -45.4% $368,750 $290,000 -21.40%
San Diego 2,863 1,954 -31.7% $480,000 $415,000 -13.50%
Ventura 737 495 -32.8% $584,000 $445,000 -23.80%
SoCal 17,680 10,777 -39.0% $495,000 $408,000 -17.60%

Keeping Updated

Written by jordan on . Posted in Blog

In today’s world, it is important to stay up to date with everything that is happening around you. Yet there is so much being thrown at you, it is hard to pin down what is information gold or garbage.

If you are like us, and are running a business in Orange County, you want to know all that is going down in the business sector of the OC. That’s when I turn to Jan Norman’s blog for the OC Register.

You can find it at http://jan.freedomblogging.com/. It provides a lot of new and insightful tips that can help you boost your business.

Updates

Written by jordan on . Posted in Blog

Just posted a new article on how to get and keep long-term capital for your small business on this blog, provided by courtesy of our friend Robert L. Breen; and the article can also be found in our new April issue.

Also just added on our website is our featured article of the month, which is an article on how to maximize your insurance spending to find the best deal with the best coverage. Each month we will post our featured article in a word doc so that way you can easily find it and store it.

Featured articles can be found at www.aptmags.com/featured

Long-Term Capital Planning for Small-Business Owners

Written by jordan on . Posted in Blog

Small-business owners need a financial strategy that supports a flourishing business and provides for a satisfying retirement.

Running a small business can be more than a full-time job. In the beginning, you typically have to spend tremendous amounts of cash for equipment and marketing while working many hours a day building your operation. Once your business is established, maintaining and building cash flow becomes the main priority. But meanwhile, business owners must also see to the financial needs of their families.

Creating a capital plan that keeps your business operating — and flourishing — while giving you the personal financial flexibility to send your children to college and retire comfortably is paramount. “How much business owners pay themselves depends on a number of considerations,” says Carlton Brown, an Estate Planning Specialist with Wachovia Securities. “It depends on the stage their business is in, what the person’s lifestyle is and, most importantly, how close they are to retirement.”

Depending on personal considerations, owners can structure their business in a way that helps them meet their own financial goals. Factors that influence a small-business owner’s capital strategy should include:

The company’s legal structure.

The business’s capacity to borrow for growth.

The owner’s ability to take money out of the company to invest in a retirement plan.

Legal Structures for Small Businesses

“Deciding what kind of legal structure you have and how it affects the business’s capital strategy depends on the kind of business you are running and how much flexibility you need,” says Martin Scoll, Vice President of Life Event Services for Wachovia Securities. Small businesses typically fall under two types of legal structures: sole proprietorships and incorporated businesses.

In a sole proprietorship, the company’s assets, liabilities and risks belong to the owner. Sole proprietors report and pay business taxes as part of their own IRS return. If you are a sole proprietor, you have much more flexibility with the business’s finances and cash, making it a lot easier to pay yourself and invest the money.

However, as a sole proprietor, you may find it harder to borrow money for your business, because your personal credit becomes a factor. Sole proprietorships are great for small retail or food operations that will have predictable, non-cyclical revenues and expenses and are less prone to lawsuits.

C corporations are the most common type of incorporated businesses. A C corporation’s income is legally separate from the owner’s personal finances. If the company is sued, the individual owner’s assets cannot be touched. With a C corporation, owners must receive a salary or a dividend as income. Dividends are taxed both at the corporate level and on your personal income tax return as capital gains, whereas your salary would only be taxed as personal income. Also, if you need to borrow a tremendous amount of money to grow, running an incorporated business is usually the best option.

Other incorporated business choices include a limited liability company and an S corporation. Both of these options give you the flexibility to take business profits out of the company without being taxed by the federal government (and usually the state, too); you only have to pay taxes on the 1040 you personally file with the IRS. While both structures help you to avoid double taxation, they also come with strict management and tax rules.

To fully understand the pros and cons of your business’s legal structure and to decide which works best for your own needs, talk to your accountant, your lawyer and your Wachovia Securities/Wachovia Securities Financial Network Financial Advisor.

Borrowing Versus Reinvesting Profits

“Different businesses have different needs at various stages,” says Scoll. “At the beginning of the business, you will likely need to borrow money from a bank for start-up costs and reinvest all your profits in order for it to grow.”

Once a business becomes profitable, it will need a fixed amount of capital to continue growing. You can address these costs by either borrowing the money or reinvesting the profits back into the company. If interest rates are high and it costs you more to borrow than you could earn reinvesting the profits outside the company, it would be wise to reinvest most of your profits back into the company’s operation. If the opposite is true, borrowing from a bank to fuel your company’s growth while taking profits out to invest in your personal portfolio may be a smarter choice.

According to Brown, it is wise to take some money out when you can afford to do so. “Plowing all your profits back into your company rather than taking them out and reinvesting them is similar to buying one stock rather than a diversified portfolio,” he says. “That can be dangerous. If your company goes out of business, all of your resources are gone. If you have reinvested some of the profits elsewhere, you have some ground to stand on.”

Saving for Retirement

Once you’ve decided how you want to spend your retirement, you can begin crafting a retirement plan that suits your needs with the help of your Financial Advisor and your accountant. “Being in constant contact with your accountant is time well spent,” says Brown. “A good accountant can help you know when and how much money to take out of your business so you can reinvest it for your retirement or personal needs.”

Once you have determined how much you can take out of your business, there are a multitude of savings and retirement options available to small-business owners, including:

IRA accounts specifically created for self-employed individuals or small-business owners. These often have flexible annual funding requirements with a full range of investment choices.

Unique 401(k) plans that work just like the 401(k) plans of larger corporations, but have potentially higher contribution limits than self-employed IRAs.

A SEP, or Simplified Employee Pension Plan, which has been crafted specifically for small businesses.

Remember that small-business owners should also tap into asset classes available to the average nine-to-five worker. Consider putting money into mutual funds to diversify risk, 529 savings plans for your child’s college tuition and expenses, or alternative investments to add opportunities not available in regular equities.

No matter how large or small your business is, adopting a sound capital strategy is a smart way to ensure that you have a successful operation at work and a comfortable lifestyle at home.

Together, we can discuss:

The stage your business is in, as well as coordinating with your legal/tax advisors to discuss which legal structure best meets your needs.

How to maximize the money you are able to take out of your business to meet your current cash needs.

Setting overall retirement goals — and crafting a plan to achieve them.

Wachovia Securities/Wachovia Securities Financial Network does not render legal or tax advice.

1206-42027

Wachovia Securities is the trade name used by two separate, registered broker-dealers and nonbank affiliates of Wachovia Corporation providing certain retail securities brokerage services: Wachovia Securities, LLC Member, NYSE/SIPC, and Wachovia Securities Financial Network, LLC (WSFN), Member FINRA/SIPC.

The accuracy and completeness of this article are not guaranteed. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Wachovia Securities/Wachovia Securities Financial Network or its affiliates. The material is distributed solely for information purposes and is not a solicitation or an offer to buy any security or instrument or to participate in any trading strategy. Provided by courtesy of Robert L. Breen, a Senior Vice President-Investments with Wachovia Securities in Anaheim. For more information, please call Robert at (800) 300-4428 or visit his website at www.breen.wbsec.com. Wachovia Securities/Wachovia Securities Financial Network, LLC, member FINRA and SIPC, is a separate nonbank affiliate of Wachovia Corporation. ©2008 Wachovia Securities, LLC.

Investments in securities and insurance products: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE

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