Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mid-Century Modern Homes in Long Beach holding strong

Cliff May Homes Mid-century modern homes can be found throughout Long Beach. Probably the greatest density of these homes is an area near El Dorado park that was designed by Cliff May. This neighborhood has over 400 homes, however, at any given point you may find fewer than 6 homes available.



Mid-century modern homes were built dominantly in the 1950's. They were pioneered by architects and designers like Cliff May and Joseph Eichler. These homes, although built in large tracts, where designed to break away from the norm of traditional "tract" housing. These homes were designed to embrace light and the nature of living in southern California.

Some of the characteristics of these homes that attract many are:
  • Open floor plans


  • High open beamed ceilings


  • Floor to ceiling windows


  • Floor plan centered around a the outdoors

The desire to embrace this architectural style and tradition has enabled these homes to hold strong values throughout the changing real estate market. The Cliff May neighborhood in Long Beach still has only limited inventory and values are fairing far better than other areas. Whether it be a fixer or a property in pristine condition there is quite a following for these architecturally distinct homes.

If you want to have the opportunity to own a mid-century modern home use the Long Beach MLS to find the one that is right for you.

Related Posts and Information:

Find your Cliff May in Long Beach

Cliff May Floor Plans

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Belmont Shore Stays at 2 Stories

Belmont Shore, the coveted beach community next to Naples Island has had quite a bit of discussion regarding zoning this past week. The City Council, along with the Planning Department, put in a temporary ordinance that will maintain a building height limit of 2 stories or 25 feet.

With many people desiring to upgrade homes in this beach community this ordinance has some far reaching effects. The traditional homes in this area were built in the 1940's and 1950's so many are single story spanish style or traditional homes. As these homes may not always meet the goals of today's beach buyer it certainly is important that the building codes support modern upgrades and still take into account important features like adequate parking.

Unlike areas like Manhattan Beach, Long Beach still has allowed roof top decks which gives a nice way to enjoy the weather and feel like you almost have a 3rd story. If you are interested in renovating your home in Belmont Shore make sure you check with the Planning Department so you can be sure to comply with the latest building codes.

Monday, April 28, 2008

44th annual Congressional Cup here in Long Beach

The 44th annual Congressional Cup will be here this week in Long Beach. This event brings some of the top sailors from around the world to race here and the Long Beach Yacht club is the club that puts on the event.


The racing will take place just off of the Belmont Pier allowing spectators to easily catch the action. This event is held over a number of days from April 28 - May 3 , giving visitors a chance to see some of the racing on 1 day or many days.

The Long Beach Yacht club is located at the far east of Naples Island and if you check the Long Beach MLS there might even be a home available that looks to the shore and the Yacht Club. Homes here are in high demand and many take advantage of homes that have not been updated in years by tearing them down to build their own dream home.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Where have all the short sales gone?

Short sales were the only thing that people could talk about in 2007 and it seemed like that was going to continue in 2008. But truly what has happened to all of the short sales? First there are plenty of short sales available on the market in Long Beach. Some areas of the city have more to choose from than others. It is quite easy to find a short sale in north long beach or in the westside of long beach. If you were looking for an amazing short sale deal in belmont shore you will be pretty much out of luck. So what has changed this year compared to last? Well let's take a look at a few items that have changed.


  • Passing of the Mortgage relief act - this allowed consumers to complete a short sale without the tax ramifications that used to exist.

  • More short sales - there are more short sales on the market this year compared to last year. While the statistics are difficult to come by a sampling of different areas has shown an increase on a percentage of available properties.

  • Some banks have stopped doing short sales - countrywide has recently stopped approving short sales for investment properties. Some banks are deciding that foreclosure for them is a better option.

  • Consumers have become frustrated with the process of short sales - consumers and real estate professionals have found it difficult to work with banks on short sales and found it easier on REO (real estate owned) or bank owned properties.

What does this all mean? It means that one needs to know all of the facts prior to going after a short sale. You need to know the experience of the agent helping you, the agent on the other side, how many banks, and to have a high level of patience. Know the facts about the short sale process.


Related Posts:



  • Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act

  • 5 Ways to Protect Yourself in a Short Sale

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is the worst they can say really "NO"?

In today's market there seems to be some "revenge" offers going on. Way back in the day (3 years ago), there were multiple offers on properties and the offers would soar above the list price, anywhere from 5,7, or maybe even more than 10% above the original list. Buyers would be truly thankful if they just had the opportunity to purchase a property.

Now, the dust has settled, and the shoe is on the other foot. So now it is time to get those seller's back and write an offer that is 20% less than the list price, right? I know many buyers are saying, "hey, it doesn't hurt to ask, I mean the worst they can say is no". As I represent buyers here in Long Beach I can certainly understand this perspective.

Although the worst that can happen is that they say "no" to your offer, let's consider some of the other implications.

  1. Bank Owned Properties - These are often referred to as "REO's" and are controlled by just a few listing agents. If you offer an extreme low ball offer (read 20-50% below list price) they more than likely will tell you NO. They also may not consider your offers to be serious on any of their listings. As many of these agents control 200-300 listings across different cities you may have just put yourself in a bad position to get a "deal" on any of that listing agents properties.
  2. You Miss Out - If you like the Long Beach home or condo you are writing an offer on, but you just want a better "deal" on it be careful. If they say "no" to your low ball offer they may then receive a better offer and take it, or just not accept your additional higher offers because they doubt your level of interest. Seller's often view low offers as someone just fishing for a deal and they just don't want to deal with it. So asking for that lower price may cause you to miss out on the home you had your heart set on.
  3. Loans Change - In today's mortgage industry loans are changing weekly. If you spend too much time writing offers trying to get that "perfect" deal, then the loan program you had planned to use may disappear. Getting the property you want under contract can enable your lender to reserve funds and lock your rate so you can be prepared to close on the home you want with the loan you want.

Am I saying not to ask for a discount? Of course not!

If you are buying a home or condo for to live in as your personal residence then the decision is much more than a financial one. If you got the greatest deal on a property you didn't like it wouldn't make much sense, would it? So even though the market has changed and there are deals to be had, make sure you take into consideration why you really are deciding to make an offer on the property. Have your Long Beach real estate agent advise you on recent sales (and what is in escrow) so you can see what discounts are possible.

Have a great time shopping out there and if you want to see the latest Long Beach homes and condos available throughout the city please feel free to use our FREE Long Beach MLS.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

3 Items you Need to know about today's Home Loans

Loan programs have been changing rapidly over the past few weeks. I don't think this is a cause for concern, as the banks are still lending money, just want to ensure they are lending to families and individuals that are truly ready for home ownership. In the banks case this means you will have to provide a bit more documentation that in years past :). As you know I am on the real estate side of the business, but in helping buyers find the Long Beach real estate that is right for them I am often required to review the loans that people are using. Here are some items you need to be aware of in today's climate to be insured you have a great loan in place.

  1. Pre-Approval - Take the time to get pre-approved instead of just pre-qualified. Pre-approved means you submit your tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, FICO scores etc. This helps the lender have a complete package that they can have an underwriter evaluate to ensure there is a good loan for you. The old days of having your credit checked and telling them your annual income is no longer a good idea to ensure you have a loan.
  2. Money Down - I know it's crazy to think that 100% financing may be gone. Don't worry it is still available although the loan programs are different. Make sure you lender explains to you how they are putting together your 100% loan (hint it's not going to involve an 80/20 option anymore)
  3. Reserves - You used to be able to purchase a property with $500 in your account. Now many lenders want 3-6 months of reserve (money you would have available to pay your mortgage). Never fear as they can use a % of your 401k to satisfy the requirement. Check with your lender.

Knowing what type of loan you will have (in addition to your payments and rate) is essential to a good home buying experience. It is the practice of myself and my team to not even take a buyer out until they know what their loan is. That way there isn't any confusion on anyone's part. Even if you are sure that you can "afford it" take the time to speak with a lender so you can know the type of loan you are getting.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

GOING GREEN AT HOME

The GREEN movement is something that everyone is talking about. With Earth Day coming up on Tuesday, April 22nd, the media is flooded with information on how each of us can reduce our carbon footprint, or consciously track how our personal daily decisions impact the environment and therefore the future of our planet. Particularly, people are beginning to examine their personal impact on the environment by making their homes more eco-consicous. Becoming eco-aware at home can start with embarking on small projects such as recycling, composting, using sustainable and organic household products, changing to more energy efficient appliances or just incorporating a green mentality into regular everyday activities. There are wonderful websites that help cosumers begin to understand ways to lower their impact on the enviroment such as http://www.lowimpactliving.com/ and http://www.thedailygreen.com/.

In particular, I help educate buyers by discussing my personal commitment at home to improving the future of our environment . I've outlined some suggestions that are a starting point for people who want to make a difference by starting in their own home.

1. Paint - you can cover your walls with paints low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are harmful chemicals found in many paints. (to find out more go to: http://www.bioshieldpaint.com/)

2. Replace with Energy Efficient Appliances - You can research models by manufacturers at http://www.energystar.gov/

3. Replace faucet attachments and fixtures - use less water by installing a water aerator which pumps air into the water and reduces water waste. Also, install a recirculating water pump that delivers hot water instantly. (go to: www.energyfederation.org and www.gothotwater.com for more info)

4. Recycle and compost - many of us already recycle paper, aluminum, and glass products, but another way we can reduce the amount of trash that goes to the landfill each week is to compost. Place a pail in your kitchen for organic food scraps that you later use to fertilize trees and plants.

5. Use compostible or biodegradeable bags for your trash - since plastic takes a lifetime to break down, there are bags available that will biodegrade within three months. (for more: http://www.biobagusa.com/)

6. Install floor coverings and furnish with materials that are all natural, free of synthetic dyes, recycleable and biodegradeable - This can mean replacing bedding, towels, rugs, furniture. You name it! Many stores now offer these options and they look great too. (for some ideas visit www.eco-terric.com)

7. Use hand me downs and used or repurposed furniture - We all know that they just don't make flatware or furniture like the kind grandma may be willing to hand down. Used furniture can be of extremely high quality, and sometimes just needs a little TLC.

Living a green lifestyle at home can dramatically improve health and will even benefit your pocketbook in the long run. By taking a few small steps at a time, we can preserve the environment, without sacrificing comfort or style. Stay tuned for more ideas on how to set up your home to make a difference in the future of our beautiful earth.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Shred Your Documents and Help Others at the Same Time

Do you have sensitive documents that are taking up room and gathering dust in your home? Do you need to shred these documents so they don't make it into the wrong hand? Are you just not sure where to go to make all this happen? You are in luck because there is an event coming up this Saturday that will allow you to shred all of those documents and you get to help others at the same time.

This Saturday April 19Th from 9:00 am-1:00pm at the Keller Williams Coastal Properties office in Long Beach a professional document shredding company is showing up with their mobile shredding truck to take your sensitive documents and destroy them.

You can shred any documents even if they have staples or paperclips and even if they are in boxes. The mobile shredding company will securely take your documents and shred them for you on the spot. The best part is this is all FREE! That's right completely free. Keller Williams is accepting donations for the event where 100% of the money will go to KW Cares which is the Keller Williams charity that helps numerous causes and has $0 for operating costs so 100% of funds raise go to people who need assistance. You can find out more information at http://www.kwcares.org/ about the charity.

So the details of the event are as follows:
When: April 19Th, 2008
Time: 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
Cost: FREE but you can donate to KW Cares if you would like
Where:
Keller Williams Coastal Properties
6621 E Pacific Coast Hwy #150
Long Beach, CA 90803

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Race into Long Beach by the Ocean

Have you heard that there is a race in Long Beach this weekend? If you haven't heard the famous Long Beach Grand Prix is in town this weekend and this is truly an event that you can't miss out on. So what kind of long beach real estate will you be able to see as you go to the races? The beauty of this race is not only is it fun but you get to see some of the finest real estate in Long Beach.

The race is held in downtown Long Beach and is viewable from buildings such as the International Towers, Harbor Place Towers, Villa Rivera, and Aqua. These builds have units that can see most of the entire race course which takes place on shoreline drive and is adjacent to the long beach acquarium and pine st. This event is truly a must see.

You can check out all of the details abou the Long Beach Grand Prix at the official website http://www.gplb.com/.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Do I need a buyer's agent for new construction?

Ahh, new construction! The smell of new paint, gleamig counter tops, and knowing you are the first to live there. What a feeling! And since everything is new, and you are going directly to the builder, you don't need a real estate agent, right? Maybe but could a Long Beach real estate agent actually help you with the builder? Let's see.

Here are some of the common ideas that I have heard of why you would not use a buyer's agent because you are purchasing from the builder:

  1. Since I am dealing with the builder directly they can just reduce the price because I don't have an agent
  2. I don't have to worry about anything because it's all new so what would the real estate agent do anyway
  3. Isn't the sales rep at the builder going to watch out for me anyway?

I definitely feel all of those are valid as I have personally spoken to buyers who have said them. Let's take each one so you can see if you really do need a buyer's agent to help you.

  1. The builders now have factored in the buyer agent commission into their pricing and if they don't have to pay a buyer's agent then they get to keep a little extra money for themselves, but they don't reduce the price. Large builders like Lennar and Olson Company have great standards in place and recognize that the real estate agents bring great buyers and they don't like to "step on their toes" by telling people "if you just didn't have an agent we could save you 3%" because then agents wouldn't want to bring buyers by. Smaller builders (like those who do condo conversions) might reduce the price if you don't have an agent so you could save there, but be warry :)
  2. Even those it's all new you might want an extra pair of eyes to look at the property you are purchasing so you can get flaws corrected. A buyer's agent can also help you determine which floor plan is best and might have the best re-sale based off of location in the building. It may not always be the most expensive unit that is the best as usually if you walk through some units you can find some great values by checking out some of the different floor plans. A buyer's agent can give you the experience of walking through thousands of properties to help you choose the one that is the best fit for you and long term value.
  3. There are some wonderful builder sales representatives out there who do a great job helping buyers at their developments. They are though contracted by the builder so their primary duty belongs to the builder, not to the prospective buyer. In fact their contracts often state that the buyer does not have a representative so the buyer is reponsible for their own due diligence.

So you don't really have to have a buyer's agent, but they can help you over come some hurdles. I just recently helped a buyer purchase in a new development here in Long Beach and I corrected 3 mistakes on the builder contract prior to him signing.

Whatever you decide make sure you get the help you need as purchasing a new property isn't free of challenges, but rest assured you will be the first one who gets to live there!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Long Beach Real Estate Market...What A Ride!

Ah...yes! This video was sent to me by my father and it completely reminded me of how I've sometimes felt the past seven months. I truly believe we've hit very close to bottom here in Southern California with regards to Real Estate. When you can reach up and touch bottom you know there's only one way to go and that's up.

Sellers should keep in mind there's a lot of smart money waiting on the sidelines ready to step into Real Estate right now. Summer months are ahead and for buyers the interest rates are still at 40 year lows and there are great buys to be had.

Real Estate Professionals should stay positive because there are really no more reasons to be negative. If your listing agent hasn't recreated their business and adapted to the market dump them NOW! Check back here frequently for the latest tips and if you need some help give us a call at (866) 469-8485!

This is a six minute video and by the end your stomach will be close to flying out of your mouth and your nerves will be a bit tight. What a ride we've experienced and will continue to experience through 2008. Enjoy life for what it is and remember you're exactly where you're suppose to be right here and now. Learn, grow and achieve!

Happy Hunting to all.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Belmont Shore & Naples Real Estate in Long Beach

Have you ever heard the phrase that "Real Estate is local"? I have heard it so many times it isn't even funny yet it doesn't make sense until you start to look at what is actually happening. As part of my Saturday morning running club someone mentioned that property values were down by 35% and that they were falling at a rate of 1%! They asked if this was true from my brother and I. I mentioned to him that it really depended on the area of Long Beach that you were in. So let's take a look at two areas of the city that have not seen massive damage to their values. We are going to look at the areas of Belmont Shore and Naples. The data below is for single family homes in Belmont Shore and Naples in Long Beach.

Belmont Shore & Naples Real Estate Report in Long Beach
  • Active Homes for Sale: 129
  • Properties in Escrow: 26 (15 in Pending, 11 in escrow)
  • Average list price of homes currently for sale: 1,354,000
  • Average Configuration: 3 bedrooms, 2.75 bathrooms and just over 2,200 sqft

So this means what exactly? Well it means that we have a 4.96 month supply of homes in Naples and Belmont Shore. Anthing under 6 months is considered a sellers market. In this area of Long Beach you don't really have many homes to choose from. Buyers can be selective but they will not be negotiating large discounts on properties unless their is some overriding factors wrong with the property.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Los Angeles County Home Sales for February 2008


Sales in Los Angeles County were not easy to come by in February of 2008. The chart to the left shows the sales from this February in Los Angeles to last February.
So what does all of this mean? Sales in Los Angeles County are off just over 46%! Now 2007 was done from the previous year but in all fairness that year was a record year for real estate.
Does this mean that the real estate marketing in Los Angeles is falling apart? I hardly think so. While the transaction volume continues to decrease the prices of the homes is not falling at the same rate. While the data on this is more difficult to come by I can tell you that homes in the Los Angeles County town of Lakewood, CA that were selling for $500,000 are not selling for $270,000. Real estate in southern California is a solid long term investment. While sales volume is down the prices are not down the same amount which is a good thing for all home owners. There are still properties to buy for the buyers and sellers can find willing buyers if they are willing to work things out!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Home Warranty for your Rental/Investment Properties

Being a landlord has many benefits, but it is also has many challenges. One of the most time-consuming challenges can be taking care of malfunctions and breakdowns at the property.

In a perfect world, the only time you would hear from your tenant is when they send the rent check. In the real world, you hear from them, probably more than you would like. And at the same time, you want to make sure that the property is well maintained while keeping the tenants happy.

How would you like to avoid those middle-of-the-night phone calls when the plumbing backs up? Wouldn’t it be great to only pay a small service fee, instead of the whole bill? Well, you can make managing your rental properties easier when you use home warranties.

Just a few of the benefits of using home warranties on your rental properties:
• Less hassle – you call the warranty company and they take it from there
• Cost savings when a problem occurs – the warranty pays the bill for covered items
• Your Tenant can call the warranty company directly for service, especially in an emergency – just let the company know that is OK and they’ll add the tenant to your home warranty plan

Because all home warranty companies are not created equal, be sure to check coverage (standard and optional), price, exclusions and limits when selecting the company to best service your property.

By the way, if you get a call from your tenant asking you to send a plumber to fix the garbage disposal, try the following:

If the disposal won’t turn on:
• Press the reset button, usually located on the bottom or side of the unit.
• Verify the unit is plugged in and the outlet is receiving power (you can plug a hair dryer or other small appliance in to test the outlet).
• Check for a tripped GFI and push the reset button.
• Re-set the circuit breaker at the panel box.

If the unit only “hums”:
• Use an allen wrench to un-jam the unit. Insert it into the bottom of the disposal with the unit turned off. Turn clockwise and counter-clockwise to loosen the jammed item. This tool costs $2-$3 at your local hardware store. Ask for the garbage disposal allen wrench (the standard size is ¼ inch.)

For limited time, Old Republic Home Protection is offering a special price on the Ultimate_Protection_Plan which includes the Silver, Gold and Platinum Upgrades along with Air Conditioning!! This Home Warranty Plan offers coverage on many items that had been denied on “traditional” home warranty coverage.

March 2008 Home Statistics for Long Beach CA



So March has come and gone and what do we have to show for it? Well we still have a few properties on the market and some buyers and sellers still made things happen for themselves.

Let's take a look at the long beach real estate market and see exactly what happened.

Before we get into the actual numbers I thought I would give everyone a few points about what is happening out on the streets with real estate. These things are happening in Long Beach and around so they are affecting the long beach real estate market as well as those of surrounding cities.

  • Multiple offers on properties - that's right even in "this" market multiple offers are coming in. It just depends on the price and condition of the property.
  • Multiple counters - sellers and buyers are working together to find terms that work for both parties.

These are signs of a very active real estate market in long beach even if the data doesn't show it.

What do the numbers tell us:

  • 141 Properties Sold - At this pace we have a 13 month supply of residential properties. This would put us in a "buyers market". Not all areas of Long Beach are a buyers market as we will cover in upcoming posts.
  • 404 new listings - a large number of properties are being listed so sellers are out there working to get a buyer for their properties.

The market is tough but doable. There are still properties being sold. You just have to get a little creative with things so keep a watch on the prices in your neighborhood. You can always use the Free MLS tool on this blog to see what is available in your neighborhood.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Stalemate in Long Beach Real Estate?

With 358 sales year to date for the first quarter of Long Beach you may wonder what is going on here in the 5th Largest city in California. The reality is that properties are still moving (although volume is obviously less) but why is the volume different? There seems to be a sort of stalemate out there occuring and it seems that often it doesn't really have to happen!

After speaking with many real estate agents throughout the city and speaking with many different buyers I thought it would be helpful if I provided some of the feedback from all sides involved (buyers, sellers, and agents).

Buyers are saying:

  • The prices will continue to come down

  • I will wait until they do another price reduction

  • There are foreclosures selling at 50 cents on the dollar

Reality

  • Maybe prices will come down, maybe they won't, it all depends on the level of motivation of the seller. Inventory levels aren't as high as the early 1990's so I wouldn't hold your breath

  • Why not write the price you want for the Long Beach home or condo you have your eye on? If you wait for a price reduction someone else might get it :)

  • Really? Look at the stats. Foreclosures are generally listed at about 10% below retail and if the area is super popular they often get multiple offers. Also, they acount for less than 5% of total inventory.

Sellers are saying:

  • I won't lower my price
  • Do more marketing to bring the buyers to my property
  • Let's wait and see

Reality

  • If you don't price your home or condo at the last sale (or below) you probably won't see activity. "Testing the waters" these days to see if you can get your price is a waste of time. If you want to sell price it in the top 1% of your area.
  • The fanciest flyers, websites, or blog, can't sell an overpriced home. I mean, would you pay $250,000 for a Toyota Camry? Of course not, so just because you put granite on your counter tops doesn't mean cool pictures of it will make the buyers will over pay for your home.
  • If you want to "wait and see" if the market gets better you might be in for the long haul. The market is now a much more "normal" market so you better be prepared to price your home well and make sure it is in excellent condition IF you actually want to sell.

Long Beach Agents are saying:

  • There aren't any qualified buyers out there
  • "No one" is buying
  • My seller is unreasonable

Reality

  • Ok, so the loan programs have changed. There are still great loan programs where buyers can get closing costs and purchase a property for as little as 1% out of their own pocket, they are out there, you just have to find them.
  • People are buying! Everyday people relocate or decide it's their time for their first purchase. Help them with information and confidence.
  • Really? Maybe your seller doesn't have the information they need to make an informed decision. Give them the stats so they can see if they want to sell it's possible, they just can't get 9 offers if their home is overpriced.

So, long and short, if you want a property and it seems overpriced, write the price you want a see what happens! Be prepared for rejection or going through many counters offers, that's ok, it's part of the game. There are some great choices of real estate throughout Long Beach if you take the time to look. Have fun and happy hunting!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Year to Date Home Sales for Long Beach CA


March has come and gone and we are in to April. So did March bring us a windfall or a shortfall for sales? Were sales up or down? Well we won't know till we look at the data. So let's take a look at the number of properties sold year to date in Long Beach. I have included all residential sales reported as closed through the MLS. The chart does not reflect sales of properties over 4 units.

Remember that numbers can be made to confess to anything so let's see what they are willing to tell us today.

  1. Total Sales Year to Date: 358 (January 1st 2008 to March 31st 2008)
  2. Last Years Sales to Date: 813 for the same period.

So the number of sales that took place was over 50% less than the same period as the year before. There are several reasons for this.

  • First, the impression has been that it is not a good time to buy real estate which has scared some buyers. Rates are still extremely low when you look at history.
  • Loan guidelines have adjusted. This means that while first time home buyers were still able to get homes many move up buyers were not able to as mortgage companies changed the requirements for loans.
  • Sellers had not adjusted their prices to reflect the market conditions.

While sales are down the price of residential properties is not down 50%. Certain areas of the city have had pricing pressure but homes are not 50% of what they used to be. We will be covering what else the numbers are telling us in this first week of April.