Real estate newsletter: Where are all the refrigerators?

Welcome back to the real estate newsletter. This week, we tackle the tough questions.

The first question may seem like a joke, but to any battle-tested renter who has had to hop from place to place in the inhospitable L.A. market, it certainly isn’t: Why do so many Los Angeles apartments come without a refrigerator?

We’ve written over and over again about how tough Los Angeles’ single market for renters can be, but one of the strangest quirks—that many units don’t come with a refrigerator—needed to dive deeper. So Liam Dillon debunked stories of new tenants turning to Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Yellow Pages just to find something to keep their food cold.

The Long Answer to the Refrigerator Shortage explores the data, case law, and judgments of the courts of appeal. The short answer is that here in Los Angeles, owners don’t simply have to provide a refrigerator. We are lucky.

The other question is at the forefront of our minds as temperatures soar in June and the latest drought intensifies: Does California have enough water to build new homes?

Spoiler alert: We’ll have enough — at least if residents continue the good work of conserving water. Angelenos use 44% less water per person than they did 40 years ago, and experts say conservation leaves plenty available for those who move in.

Speaking of drought, Lisa Boone headed to Burbank for the Los Angeles Times’ botanical section, where she described a young author who ditched the lawn in favor of a low-water landscape with native plants bursting with color.

The effort took six months, but the owner was eventually rewarded with a $4,700 deduction from Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District which paid for nearly the entire project.

On the luxury side, we saw two very different custom decks for sale. The first is found in Hidden Hills, where NBA star Ben Simmons is asking for $23 million for a modern masculine farm.

The small complex is anchored on 12,000 square feet of exhibition space furnished with charcoal bricks, and there’s also a guesthouse, 65-foot pool, and plunge pool.

The second is a few miles east of Bel-Air Crest, where Grammy Award-winning R&B producer Babyface has listed the custom home he’s owned since 2004 for $8 million. He added quite a few amenities during his stay including a movie theater, music studio, gym, and brick wine cellar.

As always, while you’re up to date, visit and like our Facebook page, where you can find real estate stories and updates throughout the week.

LA refrigerators are missing

Josh Steichmann was photographed next to his fridge

The previous tenant left a refrigerator in his apartment, so Josh Steichmann was relieved that he didn’t have to look for one himself.

(Milcon/Los Angeles Times)

When Michael Maloney was looking to move into an apartment in Highland Park in May, he made a list of must-haves. He wanted to live a short distance from restaurants and cafes. Liam Dillon wrote that he needed an off-street parking space and affordable rent.

There was only one problem.

“Two of the best options I had was a refrigerator,” said Maloney, 43, who works in marketing for the beverage company. “It’s ridiculous. It’s the most backward thing I have ever heard of. I can’t get enough of it.”

Maloney was facing a cold reality common to many Southern California renters. Apartments here often lack refrigerators, prompting many tenants to delve into the underground economy of appliances that have cooled the sustenance of generations of Angelenos.

Does California have enough water to build new homes?

Aerial photo of several homes, some with outdoor swimming pools

California officials imposed stricter rules on water use during the recent drought. But they also have plans to allow more homes to be built.

(Brian van der Brugg/Los Angeles Times)

For some, it defies common sense. Once again, California is in the middle of a severe drought, with state leaders telling people to shower shorter and do fewer laundry loads to conserve water. But at the same time, many of the same elected officials, who have pledged to solve the housing crisis, are pushing for the construction of millions of new homes, writes Liam Dillon.

“That’s always the number one question I’ll ask,” said Jeffrey Keitlinger, who until last year ran Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District, the agency that supplies water that ultimately half the state’s population uses. “How are you agreeing to new housing when we run out of water?”

The answer, according to Kightlinger and other experts, is that there is plenty of water available to new Californians if the 60-year trend of residents using less continues and accelerates into the future.

Case in point: Angelenos use 44% less water per person per year than they did four decades ago, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Energy.

The author makes a drought tolerant oasis

Sarah LaRiver stands in her backyard filled with drought-friendly plants

Sarah LaRiver in her backyard in Burbank. Lariviere and her husband removed front and rear lawns and replaced them with drought-tolerant, low-water plants and desert gardens.

(Maria Toger/Los Angeles Times)

Long before Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District declared a water shortage emergency and ordered outdoor watering two days a week, Sarah LaRiver, an avid gardener, was thinking of ways to conserve water, writes Lisa Boone.

When Lariviere and her husband bought a Burbank bungalow last year, she set out to tear down the lawn and create a low-water landscape. its target? To increase biodiversity, conserve water, provide a habitat for butterflies and birds, and enjoy the scent and beauty of native plants, trees and flowers.

The project required removing 2,500 square feet of lawn, and the couple hired a sod cutter from Home Depot to finish the job.

But the ultimate reward was even bigger than the colorful new space filled with native plants: The couple got $4,700 in a lawn removal discount, which paid off for nearly the entire project.

Looks like the guard post is going through the Hidden Hills

House with swimming pool and guesthouse

Built in 2021, this bold black farmhouse features a pool and guest house with its own pool.

(Christopher Amitrano/CS8 Images/Noble Design)

NBA star Ben Simmons is busy with a real estate sale spree. Days after he emptied his New Jersey home for $4.55 million, Al Qaeda listed his Hidden Hills ranch home for $23 million.

Simmons, who traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Brooklyn Nets earlier this year, bought the brand-new mansion for $17.5 million last year and made no changes — not what he needed. Built in 2021, the dramatic home features a charcoal brick exterior and spacious, warm living spaces enhanced by wood, marble, and copper.

A floating fireplace is located in the center of the open floor plan, separating the living room with fireplace from the dining room with double chandeliers. A stone staircase leads to the upper floor, where wood-beamed ceilings crisscross across the platform.

The product offers customized accommodation in Bel Air

The three-story home includes a movie theater, gym, music studio, brick wine cellar, and waterfall-fed pool.

The three-story home, which can be navigated by lift, includes a movie theater, gym, music studio, brick wine cellar, and waterfall-fed pool.

(Ryan LaHive)

Kenneth Edmonds, the Grammy-winning producer known as Babyface, has been asking for $8 million for his Bel-Air home for nearly two decades.

Records show that’s nearly double the $4.1 million he paid for the property in 2004. The home has changed dramatically over the years, with Edmonds adding custom skylights and a handful of amenities including a gym, music studio, movie theater, and brick wine cellar. .

It sits on half an acre in Bel-Air Crest, a guarded enclave of nearly 200 homes. The Edmonds Place covers more than 7,500 square feet and opens through a pair of antique carved wood doors.

what we read

As the furious real estate market forces tenants into tricky situations, the New York Times profiles a group of fellow flatmates huddling in rent-saving spaces. The fixtures include a vegetarian cottage with seven people and three animals, three renters who met on TikTok and a pair of Ukrainian refugee siblings who live with a family on New York’s Upper West Side.

In our latest “Weird Amenities Of The Week,” we have an Arizona home with indoor green playgrounds. While most homeowners keep their golf game in their backyard, the $1.02 million listing features a living room and dining room converted into a course. Golf Digest has the story.