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Archive for the ‘Buy’ Category

Arguement

“To each his own,” I say. Your perfect house is not mine, and vice versa. Now that the real estate market has shifted slightly to the buyer’s advantage in Southern California, I’m finding more buyers are dead-set on finding the “perfect house.” As house inventories rise in many states and communities across the country, buyers are now reciprocating what they went through in the past, when it was a seller’s market. They’re passing up the “less-than-perfect” homes and continuing to look for the ever-elusive “home of their dreams.”

When the slight number of homes on the open market was at a dirth in the 2003 – 2006 market, buyers were often left hanging out in left field as sellers were combing through multiple offers on their freshly listed homes. “You don’t have substantial dollars to shell out for a down payment? You’re not waiving the loan, appriasal  and home inspection contingency? Sorry Mr. or Mrs. buyer, you’re not even in the running for purchasing my home.”

Skip forward one year. Ah, yes.The tide has turned! Buyers are not settling for anything that is even romotely close to what their dream home is in their minds. That is, unless the price is considerably lower than what the home needs to “meet their standards.”

Sellers, forget about listing your home for higher than what you think it’s worth, just for negotiating sake! Buyers are walking right by homes that are over-priced. They won’t even go to see them let alone consider making a lower offer than the asking price. Hello! There is too much inventory on the market. They move on to the next home that is closer to their price-point and nearer to what their dream home would look like.

The way I see it, we’re at a stand-off between buyers and sellers in the So Cal real estate market today. Some sellers are not willing to be realistic with the price that their home should be marketed at. They’re still thinking that their home is special and stands out above the competition in the neighborhood. “We have to at least try to get our price,” they say.

This is the wrong approach to marketing a home in today’s market. In order to get top dollar in our current market, the seller(s) must be willing to do the following:

  1. Make all repairs that are known to you and man.
  2. Creat great curb appeal by planting seasonal flowers, have GREEN grass, and give your house punch to make it stand out from the rest on the block and your competition.
  3. Pack up all personal photos and items that clutter shelving, table-tops and counter space.
  4. Neutralize paint colors that may not appeal to the masses.
  5. Get rid of pet paraphenalia and pet odors.
  6. Maximize outdoor views and outdoor spaces to add the feeling of more living space.
  7. Make the entire home spotless, including: washing windows, scrubbing out the tub, power-washing decks, siding, etc.
  8. Remove excess furniture in every room to show the actual living space and size of each room.
  9. Return rooms that have been used for their purposes to the intended purpose of the room; ie. dining room used as an office.
  10. Clean up the yard; no toys, yard ornaments, or dead anything left hanging around to turn-off buyers.

Buyers, on the other hand, have to be able to look past some one else’s faux pas. In the beach areas of Southern California, there isn’t much new construction. Many areas, such as Long Beach, are land-locked. There is so little “new construction” unless it is going “up,”  as in high-rise condo projects.  It’s more of a reality than not, that buyers wanting to live in beach communities will have to consider purchasing  homes that were been built between 1920 – 1955. Some up-grades my have been made, but not chances are,  the entire home has not been completely refurbished. Buyers should be asking themselves these questions:

  1. Does the neighborhood and floorplan of the home suite my needs?
  2. With some paint and minor cosmetinc alterations, will this home suit my/the family’s needs?
  3. Is the price of the home comensurate with the condition and alterations that I would like to make?
  4. Is the yard the type of landscaping that I can realistically live with and keep up with?
  5. Can I offer less than the asking price and hopefully come to an agreement with the seller and feel good about my purchase?
  6. Can I realistically afford to make the improvements in the time-frame that is completely necessary for me to live in the home?

The big “Ah Hah!” is that, there is no PERFECT home. Not  with newly constructed homes or with existing homes. Period! There is always something that the you would change; do different; get rid of; turn into something else, if you could, once you’ve lived in the home for a while. That’s just the nature of our beings.  We live with something for a while, evaulate it, and then re-invent it.

My best advice is to work with a seasoned real estate agent, evaluate each home on the criteria above, and then have your agent explain the most recent, comparable sales (comps) to you. After that, make an offer that is best suited to the seller’s criteria for an acceptance with your goals in mind. (An experienced agent representing you will call the listing agent and discuss the details of the offer, including a lot of the fine points that the seller is going to be very picky about.) It doesn’t take much sometimes, to get sellers to see the light and for them to lower their price to accommodate an offer. If you, as a buyer, don’t put pencil to paper and write an offer, you’ll never know what the seller may have conceeded.

Cant find what you’re looking for in the neighborhood that you’re smitten with? I am somewhat of an Home & .Garden T.V.  junkie in the late evenings and on weekends. There is an excellent show on the H.G. network called “Hidden Potential.”  The show highlights 3 different homes that are not up to the buyer’s standards, but are below their price-point. The designer/architect shows buyer’s how they can re-create the space to make it their own, while staying within their budget. Great show! Too many buyers don’t have enough vision as to what the home ccould actually become when they put their own stamp on it. I say, GET CREATIVE! Look outside the box! Or at least learn to look for the “potential” of a home.

To buyers: There are so many fantastic homes for sale from many different eras. What would happen to these landmarks and historic mavens if nobody had vision to turn them into their own “perfect house?”  Look for the home’s best attributes where your criteria is concerned and figure out, with the help of your experienced agent, what you can negotiate on the price with the seller.

Sellers: Put your absolute best foot forward from day 1! The day your house goes active in the Multiple Listing Service (on the open market,) your home should be in primo condition. You want to WOW! buyers and leave them with the impression that they can move right in without doing anything to the home.

Everybody, can we just learn to get along in this housing market?

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downtown-offshore.jpgI have moved across the country more times than I can count on one hand. I’ve always gravitated back to Long Beach and all that it has to offer. I’ve spent a lot of my adult life here and have decided to share my “Top Ten Reasons to Move to Long Beach.”  There are many reasons, but here is the short list, not in any particular order:

  1.  GREEN SPACE and Lots of It!!! Everyone is talking “green” now, from the Al Gore to Congress and the Sundance Channel’s, Robert Redford. Well, Long Beach has the most recreational park space per capita than any other city in California. The city has more golf courses, nature trails, dog parks, beach parks, open green space than any other city in the state of California! Want to enjoy GREEN? Move to Long Beach!!!
  2. Average Year-Round, Balmy Temperature is a WONDERFUL 77 Degrees!  Who can dispute that it’s pretty pleasant! If you study the coastline of California, Long Beach is tucked inland. The beaches run east and west. This dissimilarity puts us in the high 70’s for an average temperature. Most other beach cities in So Cal are several degrees colder in the winter months .
  3. Diversity is the Name of the Game! With so many diverse activities and events going on at all times in the city of Long Beach, it’s hard to just name a few. Culture is a prized focus of this great city. For openers Long Beach offers the LB Civic Orchestra, Ballet, Opera, the Museum of Latin Art (MOLA,) Long Beach Art Museum and Cafe, just to name a few. On the hipper/cheekier side of things, there is the LB Grand Prix, Sea Festival, LB Aquarium, Haute Dog Parade (Easter and Halloween,) Long Beach Marathon, Belmont Shore Car Show, Chocolate Festival, Chili Cook-off, Taste of Belmont Shore, Vault 350 for great music entertainment, etc…
  4. Great proximity to Freeways and Public Transportation –  You have to have a car to get around the L.A. area.  Long Beach is centrally located to the freeways,  the 405, 605, 710N, 22 E.  Long Beach is also a hub for the Blueline mass transit train that draws people to ride the rails instead of driving cars to Los Angeles. The Blueline connects with the Redline, Goldline and Greenline, all within a few mile in the downtown quarter of Los Angeles.  I’ve taken my kids to Dim Sum in China Town without getting into my car.
  5. SHOPPING! Did we mention the SHOPPING?– Sorry guys! If you’re into shopping then the multitude of shopping districts have it all for you! You can start with the Pine Ave. shopping district that includes Seaport Village shops, The Pike stores to the great used book store on Pine Ave. and everything  in between; boutiques of every kind on 2nd St. in Belmont Shore. (Take the little Red Bus (called the Passport) to the Belmont Shore Area and back, if you’re staying in downtown Long Beach; The Long Beach Towne Center, Marina Pacifica Mall, Bixby Village Shopping District, Los Altos Shopping Center and on and on. Not to mention the fantastic outdoor Farmer’s Market and other wares every Friday downtown and on Sundays at the Marina near 2nd St. and Marina Drive.
  6. Great Neighbors & Communities!– Long Beach has several Historic neighborhoods and many others that are noticeably well cared for and show a wonderful pride of ownership. Many have active community organizations that meet on a regular basis to discuss improvements or concerns.  It’s easy to meet your neighbors because most people spend a good amount of time outdoors and are accessible to engage in friendly conversation.
  7. Schools, Schools, Schools!…..Long Beach schools have a long-standing history of excellence. Long Beach Unified School District has just been awarded recognition for the “Most Improved” school district in the State of CA.
  8. The BEACHES! Kite-boarding, sandcastle-building, volleyball, concerts in the park, a rowing club, sailing club, kayaking, what else? Can’t forget the dog beach in Belmont Shore between Granada and Roycroft where dogs are allowed off-leash. It’s fun to watch the dogs even if you don’t have one.
  9. 5th Largest City in CA- Moving in the right direction…very forward thinking…Tons of re-development projects on the books and in the planning stages, Historic preservation, tourist attractions, and a balance between industry and residential property.
  10. The Last AFFORDABLE Beach City in So Cal – The median price for a home is less than every other beach city in Los Angeles County and Orange County.  That means that there is a distinct opportunity to realise an excellent return on investment as compared to other beach cities in So Cal!  

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kitchen-scales.jpgI came across this very unique Renting vs. Buying interactive graphing tool today on the New York Times news blog and thought I would share it with you. You can plug in your current rent along with the property appreciation statistics for the area that you’re thinking about purchasing in, the purchase price and interest rate on the mortgage loan,  and this tool will graph out how many years it will take for you to benefit from buying vs. renting. Way cool! So cool, in fact, that I’m going to make a permanent link to it on this blog.

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In the midst of the sub-prime loan debacle, Inman News reports that the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has put before Congress a plan for modernizing FHA loans. In recent years FHA loans have been all but extinct in states with high housing costs, due to their maximum loan limits. Buyers turned to riskier adjustable-rate loans as a means to get into home ownership without, in some cases, as illustrated by the increase of mortgage defaults, full knowledge of how high their payments could reach when the loan adjusted.The proposed plan would allow for higher loan amounts, eliminate the mandatory 3% down-payment and would be flexible with more options. Californians looking to purchase a home with little or no down-payment would certainly benefit from this new FHA loan over-haul; as would home-sellers by having a bigger pool of qualified buyers that are able to purchase their homes.

This important update to FHA home loans, could be a very vital component in keeping our housing market healthy by allowing more buyers safer loans that they can afford. Let your CA State Senator know that you think this is of importance to you. Look for updates in future posts.

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