Friday, August 31, 2007

West Ocean LB - Resales Already on the Market!

The long awaited delivery of West Ocean LB is now quickly approaching. This prime location on Ocean Blvd will make it stand out as another prime high rise.

The sales by the developer went well, and now we are starting to see resales before delivery is taken. Currently 10 units are listed for resale prior to individuals even taking possession. This could be a sign that this is the last bit of speculation from the previous hot market. Will this influx of resales prior to all units being delivered put pricing pressure on the Downtown Long Beach Real Estate market?

Luxury Condos Hit

Luxury condos have taken a bit of a hit from their previous highs of a year ago. Adding more inventory now in the luxury market may put additional pressure on pricing. The entry level units (under $600,000) will probably see less pressure, but with a high HOA the more expensive units may see some price reductions. Watch the inventory using the Long Beach MLS so you can see which model is right for you!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

16 Lofts Left, Now More Affordable Than Ever!

If you have been waiting for a deal on a Loft in Long Beach, your wait is over! Although not listed on the Long Beach MLS, City Place Lofts, has some of the best pricing for Lofts for the entire city!


As of August 22nd they had a release of just 16 units remaining. Here is a sampling of some of the prices that are and floor plans that are available:


  • 1414 sq ft, Plan 7 - $419,990!

  • 1,788 sq, Plan 1 - 1 bedroom and 1.5 bathrooms - $495,990!

  • 2085 sq ft, Plan 4R - 2 Story Loft with 1 bedroom and 2 bathroos for $659,990

Can't Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!


We have been asked if the buyers incentives still exist. With the price options that are now available, that reflect sometimes a 10% decrease in previous listed price, the builder is not offering major incentives anymore, although with strong offers, something may be possible!


Prime Location


The CityPlace Lofts project still reflects a prime location that is just a few blocks from Ocean Blvd. There are still other new developments occuring nearby so this is a great opportunity to get the Loft you wanted for less!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Not all Long Beach Condo Conversions are created Equal!

Condo conversions in Long Beach have been all over the Long Beach MLS, but many buyers have concerns about purchasing one. Let's first address, what is a condo conversion?

What is a Condo Conversion?

A condo conversion is the process of taking a former apartment building and updating the title to convert it to saleable condos. Each city (See Long Beach Guidelines) can have specific guidelines on what must be done to take an income property and covert it to condos. The builder's also have quite a bit of lattitude on what they MUST do to create these new condos.

Not All are Created the Same!

Some builders that create these condo conversions really take the extra effort to create a product that buyers can be happy with while other developers do mere lipstick jobs. The developer behind the project Casa Del Sol(pictured right), took the extra effort to replace plumbing, electrical, and put in new dry wall. They did this in addition to upgrading all of the units! Wow!

So how do you spot a prime Condo Conversion project from an average one? Here are a few questions to ask the developer or the listing agent so you can find out more about your new Condo.

  • Besides the upgrades that I see, what was done to the property (plumbing, electrical, etc)?
  • Were any common areas upgraded (roofing, parking areas, etc.)?
  • How many condo conversions has this developer completed?
  • Has this developer set up any relationships with banks to ensure available financing?

Asking these questions will help you to learn more about the condo conversion that you are considering. There are truly some wonderful condo conversions throughout the city, just have a careful eye so you can pick the one that is right for you!Digg!

4 Tips on How to Choose a Escrow Company

Independent, licensed escrow companies are the first line of defense for homebuyers and property owners. Savvy real estate consumers know that buying or selling property doesn't stop with finding the right buyer or the right investment. And yet, escrow remains one of the least understood elements of the real estate process.

Licensed escrow companies are consumers best bet for safeguarding their funds. That's why it's so important to work with an escrow officer who has met strict licensing requirements of the California Department of Corporations and has undergone a background check and fingerprinting by the Department of Justice.

Accountability

  • Licensed escrow companies are required to complete a financial audit every year to ensure compliance with California regulations, and all licensees are subject to random, surprise examinations by the Dept. of Corporations.
Security
  • The Dept. of Corporations scrupulously regulates licensed escrow companies. Each licensee is required by law to be a member of the Escrow Agents Fidelity Corporation, which provides fidelity coverage for member trust accounts in the amount of $5 million. This fidelity bond guarantees that, in the event of theft of trust accounts, consumer funds are protected.
Safety
  • All employees must submit to California Department of Justice fingerprinting and criminal background checks.
Here's a checklist to help you choose the right escrow office for your real estate purchase:
  1. Ask your realty agent to make three recommendations for both escrow service and title insurance, and ask why the agent likes these companies.
  2. For escrow, determine whether a company is truly acting as a neutral party, or is under the control of a realty agent or mortgage broker.
  3. Remember that price is not the only consideration, attention to your specific needs and good service can and in most cases should be more important.
  4. Contact the state agency that regulates a company to determine if there are any pending complaints or disciplinary actions.

Hope these tips help you on your next real estate transaction!!!





Sunday, August 26, 2007

Queen Mary Sailing Again?

No, the Queen Mary is not actually sailing on open waters, but it has new life in it with a lease that has now been agreed upon. The investment group, named Save the Queen, has won the lease for the Queen Mary and the surrounding land. Although the sale is not final, the escrow is now open on this historic property at the price tag of $43 million. The Press Telegram provides a great run down of some of the details that are part of this offer and how the City of Long Beach will receive some of the payout should the sale close.


The Queen Mary is a truly remarkable entertainment area and landmark for the city so it would be great to see a greater use of the land to maximize the attraction. The Queen Mary recently took out a large billboard on the 405 which advertises the Queen Mary Experience which hosts some special events. In fact, just last night they had a UFC viewing party so they are constantly working on bringing new events to the area.
With all of the Downtown Long Beach high rise developments that face the Queen Mary and the restaurants at the Pike, we hope that they can continue some of the great tradition of this property. It's definitely a popular tourist destination and one can only hope that it gets even better!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Top 5 Things to Consider when Renting in Long Beach

There are some wonderful areas to rent within Long Beach. With so many great neighborhoods in Long Beach to choose from, you will be able to pick from park like settings to the Ocean! If you are renting though you need to know that each city has it's own rules. Here are some items to be aware of:

  1. Rent Control - Long Beach has no rent control, like portions of Los Angeles so your rent can get raised more than you might expect. Rent can be increased up to 10% every 60 days.
  2. Housing Authority - Long Beach does have a local office to support Section 8 renting here in teh city. There are income limits and currently a waiting list, but they have some great resources on their website.
  3. Notice to Vacate - Long Beach updated it's rental policy this year in support of renters. Tenants must now be given 60 days notice to vacate their properties.
  4. Rental Resources - Although your local Long Beach realtor, can provide you with rental resources, we have found that if you want to do some leg work, you can find some places that might not me listed in the Long Beach MLS. Try CraigsList , Grunion Gazette, and Press Telegram to find those rentals listed by owners.
  5. Rental Deposits - Rental deposits can be a maximum of 2 months of the rent if the unit is unfurnished. 3 months maximum of the unit is furnished.

Consider these items when renting in Long Beach. There are so many great areas to choose from pick the right neighborhood for you. Whether it is Bixby Knolls or in Alamitos Beach there are some wonderful locations to rent throughout the city.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Long Beach Event You Can't Miss

An event that is coming up shortly is the Long Beach Triathlon. There will be over 1,300 athletes participating in this event. It raises money for aids education. So why are we telling you about this event now when it is not until September? Well so you have time to sign up. So let's go over a few details about this event.

  1. The bike distance is 11 miles
  2. The running distance is 3 miles
  3. The mile swim is a half mile

Now before anyone gets scared this is all very doable. If you start walking or even jogging today you will be just fine. Remember it is not about how fast you finish(for some it is) but it is the fact that you do it and finish. We have already signed up and hope others do as well. This will only be the second one of these events that I have done so we will see what happens. More information can be found at http://www.pacificsportsllc.com/LongBeach/LBAthleteInfo.html. We hope that you sign up and let us know if you are going to be there!

One last thing there is a great site www.Active.com. You can literally find hundreds of great events in the area and out of the area to choose from.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Construction in Long Beach - 5 Builders to Watch

New construction is popular to look for throughout the rest of the country, but sometimes hard to find in cities that are well developed, like the city of Long Beach. Have no fear as nation wide builders still like to develop in southern California. Here are some of the builders that are currently developing projects here.

  • Lennar - One of the nations largest builders. They chose downtown Long Beach as the spot to build their project, Pacifica. This project of 62 units provides retail on the first floor and condos and townhomes on floors 2-5.
  • West Millenium - They have been a large builder in California for 25 years. Their City Place Loft project provides a location nearby the City Place mall and just blocks from the Ocean. You will find large 1 bedroom models over 1,000 sq ft and townhome models over 1,600 sq ft.
  • Standard Pacific Homes - This builder is putting together a project right next door to City Place. Little is known about this development, but as soon as more information is released we will be happy to update you on the project.
  • The Olson Company - The Olson Company created the development of 133 Promenade. They are in the final stages of closing out their development as they have just about 20% of their inventory left. With a prime location on the Promenade the development provides easy access to great restaurants on pine like Kings Fish House and of course you are a quick jump to the freeway. With a total of 97 units (some live-work spaces) these lofts, condos and townhomes have been in high demand.
  • October Five Development - This group is developing the much anticipated Press Telegram Lofts. Named after the newspaper that used to occupy the great location on Pine St, this upcoming development of over 500 untis promises to be a great building in Downtown Long Beach.

With some of these developments well under way you will want to check them out so you can pick the best location and floor plan for you in the building. If these are sold out, there are still some great resale Long Beach Condos throughout the city.

Title Insurance for Buyers & Sellers

For the Seller

The purchase of a home is one of the most expensive and important purchases most of us ever make. Your buyer will want to make sure that the property is indeed yours to sell and that there are no unknown liens, claims, or encumbrances held against the property. Your buyer chose your property for its features and amenities. Enhancing these amenities with an Owner’s Policy of title insurance from a Title Company is just as important as the work you put into maintaining and improving your property.

According to real estate custom and practice the seller pays a one-time premium for the new buyer’s Owner’s Policy based on the sales price of the property. The Title company searches the public records to identify and eliminate title risks. The new buyer’s policy indemnifies the buyer against loss and provides a defense in the event of claims against the title according to the terms of the policy. For a one time charge, the buyer’s policy protects the buyer for as long as the buyer owns the property, and under enhanced Homeowner’s Policy (HOP),forever.

You will feel confident that your buyer is receiving quality protection. You should also feel secure that your buyer will not return years later to make claims against you based on title risks which you knew nothing about at the time of sale.

Far into the future, the Title Insurance Policy will be one of the most enduring benefits of this transaction—for you and your buyer.


For the Buyer

For most of us, buying a home requires help with financing the purchase price. Your purchase loan is secured by the new home you are buying. Your lender will want to insure that the security for their loan is protected by title insurance and that you are the owner of record. The Lenders Policy of title insurance insures your lender and any purchasers of assigns of the loan, that its lien has priority over other liens not shown in the policy. Many lenders condition their loans upon the purchase of a lenders Policy.

According to real estate custom and practice you, as the buyer, will be responsible for paying the title insurance premium for the lenders policy on your home loan. Title companies give you a big break on the cost for this important coverage.

First, the premium is calculated on the loan amount, not the sales price of the property. Second, because the seller is providing you with an Owners Policy, the title company can give you a concurrent rate which results in a significant discount on the lenders policy.

In the simplest terms, the Title Company’s Insurance Policy does say to you as the buyer “you own it”.

5 Tips to Make Sure Your Offer Stands Out!

Even though the scales have tipped to be in favor of the buyers here in Long Beach, the well priced properties are still moving and often even have multiple offers. So, how can you stand out in this market to get a GREAT deal on your purchase? Here are 5 ways to make sure that your offer stands out and to ensure you get the best possible price.

  1. Pre-Approval Letter- It sounds obvious, but many buyers want to see a property before they finish understanding what loan they will have. Take the time to meet with a lender so you can understand what type of loan you have and what the costs will be to get that loan.
  2. Cover Letter - It may sound corny, but letting the seller understand that you are more than just numbers on a piece of paper will help them to connect with you. This is particularly important if you are asking for a discount or more than 1 offer is on the table. Tell them who you are, why you like the house, what you do, even where you went to college because you never know what will connect with them :)
  3. FICO Scores - Show the first page of your FICO scores that show all 3 bureaus (make sure to mark out your SSN if it is displayed). This will show the seller that your pre-approval is not hiding anything and that you are well prepared.
  4. Proof of Funds - Whether you are buying with a 100% loan program like CalHFA, or are putting 20% down, show a bank statement that shows you have funds available. This gives the seller and the listing agent confidence that you have funds for reserve requirements or that you really do have the money to put down.
  5. Printed Offer - Ensure that youre agent has printed out the offer from a nice printer instead of using carbon forms. Your offer will look cleaner and rise to the top :)

Try preparing your offer with these 5 tips in mind so you can get the Long Beach Home or Long Beach Condo that is right for you. These will help you to get a discount on a property or just make sure that you get that HOT property for less.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Top 4 Reasons to Ask for A Short Sale

When things get tough, as they are now, in the long beach real estate market some home owners find themselves getting behind in payments. Often through no fault of their own home owners have lost jobs, health reasons, helping family, and rising rates make it difficult to pay the mortgage on their piece of long beach real estate. So what is a short sale and why should you ask your bank for one if you get behind? Well let's get into this.

  1. The bank doesn't want to foreclose - Truly banks like to lend money. They have no desire to actually be property owners.
  2. It is bad for business - It costs the bank a tremendous amount of time and effort to foreclose on a piece of property and long beach real estate is no different. The average cost of a foreclosure is over $42,356!
  3. The number one reason for foreclosure is the bank can't speak with the home owner - That's right lack of communication is the reason behind the majority of foreclosures. So speaking with the bank and asking them to work with you is highly in your benefit.
  4. It is better for your credit - Getting a short sale where the bank works with you to sell a property is better for your credit than a foreclosure. The bank has more options on how to report it to the credit agencies.

Remember a short sale is when you are selling a property for less than it is owed. In future posts we will talk about how this can affect you. For now if you are behind on payments, can't refinance, and just need out consider a short sale instead of letting the property foreclosure.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

How many California Foreclosures will there be?

The news has spread there will be foreclosures in the state of California. First of all foreclosures happen in any market. There have been many news reports that California foreclosures are up 200%. Well what they fail to mention in that amazing headline is the fact that they have been extremely low in the last several years as a result of the market that existed here. So just how many California foreclosures will there be? Well that is the millionaire dollar question. We will try to answer it as best we can.

First what we believe won't happen:

  • Foreclosures will not be 50% of the overall market - Unemployment is still very low and the government seems to be doing an adequate job to assist the lending institutions.
  • Homes will not sell for 50 cents on the dollar - Let's be clear about this. If you were thinking that you were going to pick up the million dollar ocean front home for 50 cents on the dollar please know that just isn't going to happen. The economy is still going forward and certain areas are still selling within days and that includes the ocean front properties.

What probably will happen

  • Foreclosures and/or short sales will make up at least 5% of the market - now that is still a large number of homes.
  • 10% off of what the bank owns will be common - let's be clear we don't mean that the market will fall 10%. What we do mean is some people were able to finance their homes above the actual value of the property and the banks will be taking less than they financed for. In some cases the value will be far greater than 10%.

So just how many California foreclosures will there be? Well there will be a few. If you are serious about buying you can find a deal besides a foreclosure. If you still would like to sell you can still do that as well it just means you have to make sure to understand what is happening in your neighborhood.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

California Home Loans - Know What You are Getting

A component that will affect the housing market is the stability of the lending environment. Last week on August 10th Home Banc Corp filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection. They will no longer be taking mortgage applications or funding loans that were previously. This means if you were using them for your california home loan then they will not be able to assist you. So if you were not getting a loan from them then how does this affect you? Well this company was on Fortune Magaznines top 100 places to work for four years in a row! First of all as a result of this filing I am sure that people are going to be losing their jobs and that is never good. Second we hope that people understaned the difference between banks who are lenders, direct lenders, and mortgage brokers. So how does undertsanding these three differences help you when you are looking for your next california home loan? The answers may surprise you.

  • Banks who are lenders - These are your Bank of America, WAMU, and other large banks. They actually take people's deposits and operate like a bank but also happen to lender money so you can purchase a home. They may or may not lend in all 50 states but usually lend in all states they do business in.
  • Direct Lenders - These are like American Home Mortgage which also filed for Chapter 11 a little over a week ago. They borrowed money from banks like BofA or WAMU and then lent the money out to consumers. They need these lines of credit from other banks in order to be able to lender money.
  • Mortgage Broker - These may be companies or individuals. They shop 100's of banks, lenders, etc and give you a choice among those banks products. They do not use their own money but only let you know about these products.

So which is the best for you when you are looking for a loan? Well that is for you to decide. Each one has their pros and cons which we can cover in future posts. I will tell you I have had people get great and bad service from all of the above. I personally have received loans at different times from each of the above. In light of the market conditions make sure that the lender you select to do your california home loan will be around to fund it. Check out there website and filings to make sure you won't be left behind!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Bixby Knolls Realestate - What happened in July 2007?



If you own a bixby knolls home or condo and had it on the market for sale it appeared to be a slower month than normal. Things aren't always what they seem if you look at the number of homes and condos in bixby knolls that went into escrow. It wasn't the best month of the year though. If it makes you feel any better it was a slow month for most of the city of Long Beach. If you haven't had the chance to see homes or condos in bixby knolls you are missing out on a wonderful area of Long Beach. Bixby Knolls has a variety of homes that range in size from below 1,000 square feet to well over 3,000 square feet at the Country Club.
Today we are going to let everyone know the sales figures for the month of July in Bixby Knolls.

As usual all sales figures come from the MLS and represent residential sales only.

Bixby Knolls Real Estate Values for July 2007

  • Active (as of the end of July) -111
  • In Escrow ( Pending & Backup) - 24 (12 pending & 12 backup)
  • Closed - 1
  • Expired - 18

When you look at it it was a decent month in comparison to the rest of Long Beach it was a pretty good month. Let us know how things are going with your sale in Bixby Knolls.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Sales Statistics for July 2007 for Eastside & Circle Area

As we mentioned in our last post we are going to continue to post the stats for the different areas of Long Beach. Today we thought we would cover the East Side and Circle Area of Long Beach. We have actually identified the area that real estate professionals and the MLS define the East Side and Circle area. You can visit it over at www.LovelyLongBeachHomes.com.

So what did July look like for this area? Well here we go.

  • Active Properties - 151
  • In Escrow (Pending & Backup) - 41 (31 pending & 10 backup)
  • Closed - 3
  • Expired 16

So when you look at it this area did better than many areas of Long Beach for the month of July. Long Beach California real estate is moving well in certain areas of the city. While other areas only had 10% of their properties go into escrow this area of the city had nearly 30% of the properties into escrow and only about 10% of the market expired. More posts to follow on what is happening on long beach California real estate.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Long Beach CA Downtown Sales in July


So in our last entry we noted what the sales were for the entire city of Long Beach CA. We hope everyone found this useful However since no one lives in the entire city it is useful to know what is going on in your area or part of the city. So today we thought we could go over Downtown Long Beach.


The sales stats below are from the MLS and for all residential properties in the Downtown area. If someone has accidentally put a property in the wrong area we of course won't pick that up. So here we go with our downtown long beach sales information! This is a picture of a fantastic building in downtown that has been affected by the increase in choices that are now available to consumers.


July Sales Statistics


  • New Listings - 123

  • Active Properties - 437

  • In Escrow Properties - 36 (Pending - 28, 8 closed)

  • Expired 41

So what does this all mean for our properties that everyone owns in Downtown Long Beach? It means we have just over 12 months of inventory. Over 12 months is definitely not preferred. In fact there is more than 12 months because new builder inventory is not included in the figures above because they tend to not put their properties on the MLS. This does mean that sellers are going to have to be even more creative. Be prepared to lower your price and accomodate buyers to help them achieve their goal of buying so it will achieve your goal of selling.



Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Long Beach Sales Statistics for July 2007

Often times we aren't sure what is going on. So we have to see what is actually happening in the long beach real estate market to get an idea. With real estate being all over the news for the wrong reasons it is a good idea to make sure you have all the facts that you need in order to make an informed decision about your share of long beach real estate. If you own a home and are thinking of selling or you are looking to purchase your first piece of long beach real estate this stastics combined with advice from a local professional will help you make the decision that is best for you. So here we go!


As we do every month the stastics reported are from the SoCalMLS system which covers the city of Long Beach. Sales made outside the system will not be included and this only represents residential sales.


July 2007


  • New Listings for the month - 586

  • Active Properties at the end of the month - 2065

  • Properties going into escrow (Pending & Backup) - 240 (Pending -159, Backup 81)

  • Closed Sales - 207

  • Expired 164

So the statistic that is most often quoted which is months supply of property is calculated as number of homes available divided by closed sales. Using that measure we have 9.97 months of properties available. That is stil misleading as some areas of the city are better than others. The graph below illustrates how things have been going for the last several months. We welcome the comments.