What does Moby know about Silver Lake real estate?

In his new Los Angeles architecture blog, Moby features a photo of a lemon-yellow Silver Lake bungalow (pictured at top) to illustrate a post about how affordable L.A. is for working artists compared to New York, London and San Francisco. The electronic music star tells of how a friend recently purchased  a two-bedroom condo “in a pretty nice part of l.a.” for $250,000 that would probably fetch $1 million in New York.  The result, he said,  is a “brain-drain” of artistic talent from those high prices cities to Los Angeles. Said Moby:

I know nothing about the [Silver Lake] house in this picture except that: a-it’s kind of beat up. b-it has spectacular views of griffith park and huge swathes of l.a. c-it probably costs 1/10th as much as it would cost in any other big, western city.

But what if Moby’s friend had gone house hunting in Silver Lake?  That friend and any other working artist would find very little to buy for $250,000, based on what’s currently on the market.  In fact, according to Redfin, only three of the Silver Lake homes now on the market are priced below $250,000, and one of those is in escrow.

What’s available includes a  $149,000, 572-square-foot house – located near the 101 Freeway – that has been vacant for several years and is “in extremely poor condition,” according to the listing. There is also a  two-bedroom condo priced at $239,000 located inside a sad-looking box of a building on Fletcher Drive halfway between the Astro coffee shop and Rick’s Drive In and Out.

Even that beaten up bungalow Moby took a photo of is probably a budget-buster for a working artist with $250,000 budget.  The county assessor, according to City-Data.com, valued the 1,344-square-foot home on and lot on Lucile Avenue at $269,000.


  1. The house on Lucile was last sold in ’93. The county assessor’s value means nothing if it were put on the market today. It would probably fetch an easy $500K and thats low-balling it. So Moby knows squat.

  2. I love Moby’s music, but I don’t think he knows what he is talking about with regards to Real Estate. Hew wrote that the bungalow would “costs 1/10th as much as it would cost in any other big, western city.” What big “western” City would Moby use for comparables? Las Vegas? Phoenix? Sacramento? San Bernardino? Fresno? Those are far cheaper. Even Portland, Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake would be a little bit cheaper. San Diego is only marginally more expensive. Oh, he means San Francisco. He just say, San Francisco. That still would not make his statement true, but at least we could just accuse him of exaggerating and not of being completely ignorant of the entire “West.”

    • I think Moby means “big, western” in the global sense (London, NYC), not the American sense (Denver, Phoenix).

      • Oh, that makes it worst. He excludes the entire Western Hemisphere: Mexico City, Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires, Lima — all far, far cheaper than Los Angeles. If he means, NYC and London, he should say so. He is a sophisticated-provincial.

  3. What he doesn’t know is that artist who wants to buy that house would need the full $250,000 to even have a shot at closing on it.

  4. Well, what should be obvious form the two cities being compares is that Moby is comparing apples and oranges.

    First, he is considering merely the small island of Manhattan, not the metropolitan area generally. Manhattan is not on the same planet as everyone else. Manhattan is not all of News York City. Nor is it all of the metropolitan area. It is on small spot of extreme prices not seen throughout the rest of the area. So is Beverly Hills and Bel Air one spot of extreme prices.

    Neighborhoods back there that are a mere 11 miles outside of Times Square have beautiful, large houses that here would sell of $1.2 million to $1.5 million even NOW, but there go for around $400,000 to $500,000 now. Frankly, until this past decade of housing mania, the houses in those neighborhoods used to sell at the same price as the typical lower priced place in Silver Lake — so you can see how overpriced our housing really is as compared to back there — that is, the houses here are overpriced by at least $200,000 even now. Of course, those $400,000 houses are paying about $11,000 a year in property taxes, compared to the about $5,000 it would be here — but that was always the case, even when housing here was the same price as hosing there.

    That 11 miles would be similar to living in South Pasadena, or North Hollywood.

    Moby just suffers the ailment common back there: an inability to see across the Hudson or East rivers. A mere 5 minute subway ride across the Hudson will drop your housing prices dramatically — and all but he richest people have now made that train ride. Another 20 minutes on the train, and you are in the $400,000 to $500,000 neighborhood of big, beautiful houses.

    If Moby were to open his eyes, he would see he actually has it very backward.

    • To be fair, if M has it wrong, then so does the sizable group of artists flocking to LA. He’s only calling it as he sees it.

      As I see it, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island, or even Jersey just doesn’t cut it for the young upstart. Brooklyn maybe, but compared to much cheaper enclaves with equally or more vibrant scenes like Silver Lake, Echo Park, or Atwater Village the benefits skew to the Left Coast.

  5. He’s just trying to make the point that NY loses creative minds to LA for a cheaper quality of life. That’s absolutely (at least anecdotally) true. I left NY twice with a bunch of artists/musicians/writers for the cheaper shore, lured by the promise of a used car, bougainvillea, and cheap burritos.

  6. I think he might mean western as in western hemisphere. E.g. not London.

    • Last time I checked, all of Latin America is in the Western Hemisphere. None of those cities are more expensive than Los Angeles. In fact, they are all far, far cheaper. And, so is most of Canada with maybe one or two exceptions.

  7. While Moby’s specifics are off, his larger point is true: a young person without a lot of money has a shot at finding a reasonably cheap and decent place here. In New York, this really isn’t possible — the people I know there without much money live far out in the boroughs or Jew Jersey, way more than a short subway ride into town, and often living with many other people crammed into small spaces.

  8. The guy who lives there is awesome! He sells vitamins out of his house (there’s an ad on his car), posts huge seasonal banners and posters of Liz Taylor outside, and there are a minimum of two cats chilling on the porch at any given time. Also, he’s very friendly and always waves. Old guard for sure.

  9. As much as I’d like to dogpile on Moby, I think he’s generally correct. You can have a better quality of life for cheaper in L.A. than N.Y. I say that as someone who grew up in “Jew Jersey” –which, by the way lisa, you are a creep and should go to Hell.

  10. @Lisa is that just really bad luck at a typo? I mean, J and N are right next to each other so I guess it’s possible. I’m from New Jersey but I’m Presbyterian.

  11. Yeah, could do without the anti-semitic remarks, particularly after the bombing of synagogues in north Jersey. Pretty ignorant.

  12. The house goes up at foreclosure auction on the 17th. The owner owes over 800k on the house so he was treating it like a piggy bank.

  13. At $250k in Silver Lake, you might as well troll down to Hollywood and live in a old loft with 10 other waiters and druggies, I mean actors/artists trying to make it.

    Mr. Moby, for $250k in SL, your cozy artist retreat would be habitable, at best. Filthy for sure…

  14. Lisa, if what you say is true then your keyboard is an anti-semite and needs help, but I guess you don’t have to go to Hell.

  15. So typical of any New York artist living in California. Always comparing LA to New York. Hey New Yorkers, if you have a problem here, go the hell back. I’m sick of hearing the constant comparisons.

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