Lead Story West Edition

Hillside property values on the rise

LOS ANGELES — For several years, the communities of Ladera Heights, View Park and Windsor Hills have been among the wealthiest enclaves for African Americans in the country.

At the same time, the communities have become popular in music, film and television. Rapper Kendrick Lamar filmed his music video for his single, “Poetic Justice” at the Liquor Bank located on the outskirts of View Park. Actress Issa Rae filmed a few scenes of her hit TV series, “Insecure,” in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza as well as Leimert Park.

These small communities have created a buzz from people all over the world curious to not only these filming locations but to where former Lakers’ player Michael Cooper, actress Loretta Devine and dancer/choreographer Debbie Allen call home.

According to the online real estate database company Zillow, View Park-Windsor Hills home value runs at $855,200, a 13.5 percent increase in one year and a forecast of a 3.7 percent change for next year. Ladera Heights’ home values are at $1.35 million with a 17.2 percent change in the past year and a forecast of 1.9 percent increase next year.

Most homeowners feel the property increase is a good thing. Drucilla Garcia-Richardson of Baldwin Hills is one of them.

“I have no plans of moving,” she said. “I have been here for 27 years. I’m happy our values are increasing like West L.A., Culver City, Westchester and others. It is about time. We are still a really good value.”

Carol White of View Park says housing is not limited and you pay for what you get.

“The fabulous weather in the state of California and a life style of options that Los Angeles affords makes things difficult. I have lived in View Park 10 years and consider myself and spouse as the ‘working rich,’” she said. “Basically, everything is relative. Living here was a great investment. At least the property taxes are reasonable and can still be written off on my taxes, at least for now. That’s what makes the trade off worth it.

“I believe the current property values will remain stable for the next several months. However, I do not see the home prices exceeding $2 million. There still remain some logistics in the area that limit the housing growth,” White added.

Shirley Worrels, a Baldwin Hills resident and former member of Baldwin Hills Estates board of directors thinks the property value increase in the area is a “Godsend.”

“I purchased here at the end of 2006 and by 2008 I was under water,” she said. “Things have gotten much better and the recent increase in property values has provided a huge relief. I happen to have one of the fantastic north facing views so that I can see the Hollywood Hills and my east facing view of downtown L.A is spectacular as well.

“Though I didn’t feel this way in 2008 — purchasing my house is one of the best decisions that I’ve ever — it’s great to wake up in the morning with literally hundreds of thousands of equity in my property,” Worrels said.

Cynthia Samuels of Baldwin Hills, who is also a realtor at Keller Williams, listed a property in Leimert Park, which is a short distance from View Park-Windsor Hills, and it sold for a substantial amount.

She listed the home for $649,000 and it was only on the market for one week before she opened escrow.

“I had young millennial families coming all the way from Santa Barbara to view the property,” Samuels said. “I closed escrow in less than 30 days.

“I recently talked to a buyer that bought around the same time on the same street as my listing. He informed me that he had already accumulated over $100,000 in equity,” Samuels adds.

While there are a number of people who are content with the price increase, John Gonzales says he knows a number of former residents of the area who have moved to Texas, Georgia and Palm Springs to escape the high prices.

“I know a number of local residents, mostly retired, who have chosen to sell, take the large amount of equity they have acquired and move to less expensive areas where they have family, etc. Places where they can purchase a slightly smaller home of high quality … and then they can utilize the capital for retirement or other uses,” Gonzales said.