7/15/2014

New Listing: Long Beach, 7027 E Keynote St., Carson Park, Large Single Family House!

7027 E Keynote, Long Beach CA
7027 E Keynote, Long Beach CA
Just Listed -

Here is a spacious 4 bedroom home in East Long Beach with 2 baths and a large family room at 7027 E Keynote St, Long Beach 90808.

With two bedrooms and one bath downstairs, this could be ideal for an extended family or one with older children staying at home.

Low maintenance rear area is great for a spa addition, and side yard could easily be fully enclosed for a pet area.

This home shows as 2402 sq.ft per the tax assessor, features forced air heating, wet bar and large brick fireplace in the family room, an inside storage area, and a remodeled kitchen enlarged from the original 1953 floor plan; it also includes cable TV and FiOS wiring. The inside laundry room includes the washer and dryer.

The quieter interior block location is off the busy streets, yet not too far from freeway access.  Two schools are just a few blocks away and within walking distance.  A great neighborhood for walking and bicycling.  See more at www.juliahuntsman.com "Featured Properties".

As of July 15, 2014, offer price is $575,000.

7/11/2014

Maternity Leave is NOT a Reason to Not Get Your Mortgage


Every day we are hearing that many buyers are having a tough time getting a mortgage, and there are real reasons lenders are not giving out loans to certain buyers. But one thing that's not supposed to be happening is discrimination:

Several banks, including Bank of America, PNC Mortgage, Cornerstone Mortgage, and at least one insurer, MGIC, have been found guilty have been penalized for delaying or denying applicants because of pregnancy and/or upcoming maternity leave. We thought such discrimination was behind us, but apparently not.

Lenders see a time of reduced income, and assuming this, have been denying mortgage approvals.  Apparently quite a few women have complained, because the insurer MGIC was guilty of denials for at least 70 women.  Mountain America Credit Union, based in Utah, was also found guilty, in addition to other mortgage insurers.

In spite of the numbers of working mothers in this country, some lenders still believe that a woman's commitment to the workplace diminishes after having a child.  According to MomsRising, a  national advocacy group, three quarters of all mothers are working women.

However, federal law assures an applicant: “Any denial or delay of a mortgage application, according to fair lending regulations, violates the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits any form of unequal treatment based on gender or familial status”. 

HUD and the Department of Justice have levied monetary penalties against the offenders, even though they say they are following underwriting guidelines and have done nothing wrong.

Ironically, lenders DO NOT accept the birth of a child as a reason for reduced income or any other financial impact when a distressed borrower applies for a short sale from a lender , so why is it being given as a reason for denial of loan approval?

See this article by Ken Harney: http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-harney-20140706-story.html 

7/01/2014

Long Beach Concerts in the Park for 2014

Long Beach Concerts in the Park for 2014 begins this week in various locations in the City. Please check the link below for complete information.


Week 1 - July 1 through July 4
LET FREEDOM RING



Week 2 - July 8 through July 11
BROADWAY SPECTACULARS

Week 3 - July 15 through July 18
DIXIELAND JAM AND RAGTIME REVIEW 

Week 4 - July 22 through July 25
VIVA LA FIESTA

Week 5 - July 29 through August 1
GERSHWIN!


http://www.longbeach.gov/park/recreation/lb_municipal_band.asp

6/30/2014

So Cal Cities Update - Long Beach Region

Happy 4th of July!
 




Average single family home prices in May, 2014, and increase/decrease from one year ago (prices may differ from overall annualized price):

Cerritos:                 $644,036, +9%
Lakewood:             $479,462, +10%
Long Beach:           $534,617, +4%
Los Alamitos:         $641,000, -16%
Seal Beach:             $989,577, +20%
Signal Hill:              $630,500, -10%
Huntington Beach:  $849,050, +2%
Norwalk:                 $362,598, +12%
Downey:                 $476,152, +19%
Garden Grove:        $495,475, 14%


Financing Options in Southern California

About 25% of buyers, especially first time buyers, are reporting in a recent survey by HSH.com that they are having trouble with accumulating funds for mortgage down payment.  Another 25% say the price of the housing market is slowing them down, keeping them from buying.
The actual breakdown as to the biggest hurdles to home ownership in this survey where the respondents were given these choices: here is how they responded:
  • Credit score: 12.8 percent
  • Home prices: 23.5 percent
  • Property taxes: 7.3 percent
  • Down payment: 22.9 percent
  • Interest rates: 12.6 percent
  • No issues: 20.9 percent
(The last category is interesting, because it's made up of predominantly female respondents who said they had no problems at all, and 29% of this category were also older buyers over 60.)

What is often not in the minds of people is how they can eliminate some problems with saving money for down payment if they're willing to eliminate expenses in their lifestyle.  This may be unthinkable, but yes, it should be done.  Why should a very well-off national/international coffee franchise be continually supported by you when it is not returning the favor by contributing to your down payment?  The point being that the daily disappearance of a few dollars is not thought of on an annual scale, but it makes a difference.   For instance, Chipotle is a place I love for lunch.  Even if I just buy my favorite steak bowl there, with no drinks or chips, it's now $8.07 including tax because they just had another price increase.  Let's say I go there 5 times a week:  $40.35 x 4 = $161.40 month x 12 = $1936.80 a year!  Just do that same calculation with your favorite lunch place and see what it adds up to.  You can do the same with weekend food, breakfast restaurants, or whatever. I love to select restaurant/dining out food as an item for economizing, because there's more opportunity to control it by eating at home more often.

If you are approved to buy a $450,000 home, your FHA downpayment will be at the rate of 3.5% (plus upfront MIP costs which can be folded into your loan amount).  That's $15,750 for the down payment.  Could you get there faster by figuring out where to economize?  This is the part where you priorities get prioritized if you want to buy.  Gas prices and student loan payments are non-negotiable areas, but there are many personal choices which can be changed and deposited into an interest-bearing account for the future!

6/27/2014

REALTORS® vs Real Estate Data and Your Home

Real estate data on the internet exists in multiple forms and multiple places.  I think the paradox is  that with all the available sources of data, many people are actually less knowledgeable about real estate "facts" due to the growing number of multiple choices to view real estate listings on the internet.

Issues:
  • Non-REALTOR® internet sources are not obligated by a code of ethics, and are not required to be licensed real estate professionals. Commercial sites obtain permission (in most cases) from MLS (multiple listing service used by REALTORS®) sources which contain the original listing information, and then publish it on their sites. Active listings syndicated from MLSs are not "public information" similar to what could be found in a search of property tax records for sold properties, but are the result of listing contracts signed between sellers and their licensed brokers which are then published on other commercial sites. Not all sellers want their addresses published this way, and some refuse to do so.  The National Association of Realtor code of ethics not only requires certain higher professional standards of REALTOR® members, they also may have a legal impact as well. For instance, in California an agent, governed by state law and by a code of ethics, may represent both buyer and seller in single transaction with the parties' agreement, but dual agency is a violation of the law in Colorado and Florida.
  • Skews data--i.e., days on market is undetermined when "pre-listed" as a "coming soon" listing on the internet that is not yet in the MLS . The number of days on market in the MLS is significant for seeing a trend between demand and supply--the more days on market may indicate more properties for buyers to choose from, or there may be a seasonal effect such as cold weather where showings are slow, or there may be more buyers have financial qualification problems so that properties are falling out of escrow and properties are coming back on the market. This information is just one fact not available when properties are sold off the MLS, and is not available for analysis by the many legitimate providers of real estate analysis, such as real estate appraisers, who utilize MLS information.  This is just one of factors in off-MLS listings.
  • Are off-MLS listings getting, you the seller, the best price and the most money for your property?  Off-MLS listings are may also be known as "pocket listings" or may be listed on specific non-MLS sites for individual sale.  Generally, a seller can be more assured of receiving a fair market price when his/her property is exposed to a broad market of potential buyers.  Since the MLSs exist nationwide as cooperative organizations composed of over one million REALTORS® each with their own database of clients, please see this article about determining what is in a client's best interest when choosing a private venue in which to sell property:  http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2014/06/coming-soon-properties-can-create-consumer-confusion.
The internet, and competing housing data sites, is here to stay.  Buyers have become accustomed to searching online before even finding a REALTOR® to work with, and there may be certain advantages to that if the buyer is prepared with some prior market knowledge by the time a REALTOR is selected. 

For sellers who want to get market value, there are sites offering an "instantaneous" home evaluation price, based on property tax sales data and certain other measurements built into various proprietary software.  The software does not do what a human does, however, which is go inside the property for sale and develop human judgment about it.  Such software can be wildly inaccurate on price -- Zillow by its own admission can be as much as 30% away from actual sale price.  Companies such as CoreLogic may be a little more accurate, but no one should pinpoint the value of their property based on a software system alone. The illustration at right is from the Realtors Property Resource program and is an actual estimated 2014 value for a Long Beach property, showing an extremely large range with two stars for its level of confidence.  In an area of fewer matching comparables based on the data available to the software, it's tougher to come up with a tighter price estimate.  Don't you think the buyer would choose the lower price, and the seller wants the higher price?  A further illustration of comparisons of sold price vs. Zillow's Zestimate for actual Long Beach properties sold in 2014--due to CRMLS policies only the sold addresses can be sold--as provided by CRMLS.

Online source for housing values:

Metropolitan Sales Areas - Housing Data and Map--National Association of REALTORS®.

6/16/2014

Long Beach Homeownership Fair, June 28th!

Find a Homeownership Fair near you. 

Pacific West Association of REALTORs and California Association of REALTORs are hosting one this weekend at the Museum of Latin American Art on Saturday, June 28, 9:00 am to 4 pm, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach.  This event is for both buyers and sellers:

A message from California Association of REALTORs:  "The Homeownership Fair promises to be a great resource for anyone interested in purchasing or selling a home whether you’re looking to re-enter the market or this is your first time purchasing or selling a home – we have the resources for you! Exhibitors will be on hand to provide you information and answer any questions you might have.  We’ll also have workshops sessions throughout the day on the wealth development, what is a REALTOR®?, How to get your offer  accepted? Down Payment Assistance programs, plus free giveaways throughout the day and much, much, more."

There are numerous 30-minute presentations throughout the day on topics including: the current state of the real estate market, buyer assistance loans and grants in California, successfully purchasing HUD homes in California,  building positive credit and credit repair.

Other fairs are being scheduled for  San Gabriel, East Bay, Fresno, and Sacramento

Don't miss this opportunity!

6/12/2014

California Smoke Detectors Requirements on July 1, 2014

Are you concerned about your smoke alarms? You should be.  The law is changing as of July 1, 2014 in California.   According to CA's Health and Safety Code, all smoke alarms installed after July 1 must have none-replaceable battery with a 10-year battery life.  If you have currently have smoke alarms installed, you are not required to replace it until you replace it with a new smoke alarm.


Also,beginning January 1, 2015, the State Fire Marshal will require all smoke alarms to:
  • display the date of manufacture;
  • provide a place where the date of installation can be written; and
  • incorporate a hush feature.
Landlords should be careful to note rules regarding their rental units/properties, and though there is no time schedule for inspections of smoke alarms," if a smoke alarm defect can be reasonably ascertained visually during a landlord’s visit to the unit, the landlord needs to repair or replace the device."  This also includes notifications by tenants of any problems.

Property owners applying for building permits will also have to review their smoke alarms when there is more than $1,000 of work to be done.

Sellers of property will be required to make all disclosures on their Transfer Disclosure Statement concerning the status of smoke alarms.  See the full article.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2007-2011, the leading cause of  non-fatal home fires was cooking equipment.  The leading cause of home deaths by fire were smoking materials.  One-quarter of all fire deaths were caused by fires started in the bedroom. See full article.


5/23/2014

Are Flipped Properties Always a Good Deal?

While many buyers these days have gained more knowledge about obtaining disclosures when buying a property, they don't always know what to ask for.

Walking in to a clean, newly painted home with brand new flooring and granite counters in the kitchen and bathrooms is often a time of easy decision-making, largely because of the assumptions made by buyers and oftentimes their agents. 

The buyer is urged however, to look more closely, because many flipped properties were bought out o foreclosure by an investor.  Investors are just that--they are looking for ways to maximize profit by buying homes they can realize a profit on, so if they buy a "fixer", they are usually experienced in knowing how much money to spend in that local market in order to come away with cash after the sale.

In some cases, property enhancements are reasonably good quality, after all, no one can expect an investor to fix up a property with the most expensive custom  features available.  However, buyers need to still take a careful look, and ask for as much information as possible from the seller.  Just because it's an investor doesn't mean he/she is exempt from disclosure.  One of the fastest ways to find the prior condition of the property is to look for the previous listing's photographs (but many times there is only one exterior photograph, the required minimum for the MLS) and property remarks, which may be revealing.

There is not necessarily a horror story behind every foreclosed property, but more commonly there may be prior deferred maintenance because the prior owner could not keep up a property due to long-term financial problems which led to the foreclosure.  And, the prior owner may have blown his/her budget and spent a lot of money upgrading the house, and then ran out of money.  Either way, the current buyer should go to some effort to find out as much history as possible on a flipped property.

Barbara Nichols, owner of a general contracting firm in Beverly Hills and an expert witness for real estate lawsuits, advises buyers to ask such questions as:
  • What was the property's condition when it was taken back in foreclosure?
  • Are there receipts from licensed contractors for work performed by seller?
  • Is there written documentation on what was done to correct defective conditions?
  • Were there unrepaired defects?
  • What work was done by a handyman? 
  • What work was done with permits, and what work was done without permits?
Finding out if work was done by a licensed contractor is significant, because if the seller is claiming that thousands of dollars of improvements were made, it should be done with permits and not by a handyman.

Will all flippers be able to answer these questions to the buyer's satisfaction? The buyer will have the chance to find out, and then decide if he/she wishes to go forward with the sale by the time their contract contingencies are acted upon.



See the story here.

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