Extensively Remodeled 1923 Cape Cod Style Home in Belmont Heights ...

Belmont Heights CraftsmanRemodeled, but with its original character. This is the home for you, just 12 lots from 2nd Street in Belmont Shore, shops and fun. This 1923 Cape Cod is in prime Belmont Heights on a northwest corner lot which offers morning, afternoon and evening light/sun. This home has all the character and charm that anyone could ever want, and can easily be used as a 4 bedroom 2.5 bath home.

The 3rd floor works beautifully as a large master with 3/4 bath, or guest suite, with expansive ocean/water views. As you enter the living room you will see the original hard wood floors with dark wood inlays, a Batchelder tile fireplace, and custom crown molding and plantation shutters covering the double paned windows. The large formal dining room has original inlays as well as original corner builtins. The kitchen also has a cozy fireplace,  granite counters and tons of storage. The 2nd floor offers 3 bedrooms, including an office with builtins, plus a large bath. The large master on the 2nd floor has dual closets and a features a sitting area. This home offers central heat updated electrical, copper plumbing, central heat. Also featured is a subterranean 15x140 garage so no land is wasted on driveway and garage.
Asking $1,099,999.  Click on link for more photos and floor plan.

For more information on availability of this property, please contact me soon! 562-896-2609


Are You Taking All Your Tax Deductions?

It's never too early to review what the tax advantages are for you as a homeowner or a future homeowner.

Homeownership comes with many benefits, including some sizeable tax deductions.

For more specific information, ask your accountant or tax professional about whether these deductions apply to you. Also, more information is available in the many publication published on the IRS and California FTB web sites.

  • Mortgage interest – You may be able to deduct all interest paid on your mortgage.
  • Mortgage insurance – Mortgage insurance on government-backed mortgages may be deductible in the same way as mortgage interest.
  • Local property tax – You may deduct property taxes paid to the county tax collector.
  • Points & prepaid interest – Points and charges paid to obtain a mortgage for a home purchase or improvements may be deductible.
  • Home office deduction – The portion of your home used exclusively and regularly as an office space is deductible from your taxable income.
  • Green energy tax credit – Installation of renewable energy systems may be eligible for deductions up to 30%.
  • Moving expenses – If you moved more than 50 miles for a job opportunity, you may be eligible for moving deductions.
  • Renovation/demolition salvage – If you donated construction materials or demolition waste to a qualified charity, you may deduct the value of the donated materials.
  • Improvements added to basis – Qualifying improvements added to your cost basis may reduce your capital gains tax owed if you later sell your home.
  • Withholding credit for investors – If you purchased or sold an income property and 3.33% was withheld, check out the Franchise Tax Board’s withholding criteria to ensure you receive credits.
Looking to buy or sell your home? Call me today or go to my website at www.juliahuntsman.com.


Some Types of Taxes When Selling Real Estate, and a 1031 Exchange May Save Money

There are certain differences between owner-occupied property and investor property (non-owner occupied) when it comes to selling--and buying, but here we are concerned more with selling.

Some owners who have rented out their residences and moved on to another location are surprised to find out when it comes time to sell that they may have lost their capital gains exclusion ($250,000, or $500,000 for married owners). On top of that, they may be paying the State of California 3-1/3% withholding tax upfront at the close of escrow.  Additionally, if you took depreciation on an income property you now own as an investor, you will have additional reckoning at tax time.  Please see IRS Publication 523 for specific information.

Depreciation is a method for matching the costs of acquiring property over the properties’ estimated
economic life.  The IRS requires that most properties be depreciated via the ‘straight-line’ depreciation method.  Using the straight-line method, residential income properties are depreciated over 27.5 years.  Commercial properties are depreciated over 39 years.

Depreciation Calculations
Land is not depreciable.  In order to properly calculate depreciation, the value of land must be excluded. For example, a $1MM duplex with land worth $300,000 has $700,000 worth of depreciable real estate.  Using the straight-line depreciation method, the annual depreciation amount is approximately $25,500 ($700,000/27.5)  NOTE: The IRS will typically not challenge the assessment of the land value if it is reasonable. A tax advisor, attorney or real estate agent should be able to provide guidance for what is reasonable based on the location and type of land.

Depreciation Benefits
Depreciation is an ‘intangible expense’ that will reduce the reportable taxable income from the property, and means less tax to the IRS.
Here’s how it works:
The yearly rental income from the example duplex is $36,000. At the end of the year, this will have to
be reported to the IRS. However, the IRS does not tax the entire $36,000. The taxable income from the property is calculated as follows:
  • Rental Income
  • (Expenses)
  • (Depreciation)
  • Taxable Rental Income
If the expenses of operating and managing the duplex are $5,000 for the year, the taxable rental
income is calculated as follows:
  • Rental Income $36,000
  • (Expenses) ($5,000)
  • (Depreciation) ($25,500)
  • Taxable Rental Income $5,500
NOTE: Please always seek the guidance of a tax advisor. Capital gains may or may not apply depending on how long you lived in the property, and depreciation items may be calculated on different schedules. To completely avoid last minute upsets and lose your deal, it's important to obtain your information before you sell--I once represented a buyer on a very nice fourplex where the seller finally obtained tax guidance after we opened escrow, only to be shocked by how much recapture tax had to be paid to the IRS since the property had been owned long enough to be fully depreciated.  The seller cancelled escrow, much to the buyer's disappointment.

Depreciation Tax
Upon the sale of an investment property, the IRS requires the payment of a depreciation re
tax, which means you have to "pay back" the money you were entitled to take previously. The tax rate is currently set at 25%. In the example above, if the duplex was owned for 10 years, the entire depreciation taken on the property would amount to $255,000 ($25,500 x 10).  The IRS requires a recapture tax on that entire amount. Hence, the sale of the duplex will result in a $63,750 depreciation recapture tax (255,000 x 25%). This is in addition to state and federal capital gains taxes. The depreciation recapture tax as well as any associated capital gains taxes can be deferred in full via a 1031 Exchange.

Of all the benefits of owning real estate, depreciation may be one of the most important. The tax advantage depreciation offers is powerful. The IRS will always assume that depreciation is taken and
will hold an investor liable for the deprecation recapture tax – even if the investor failed to take advantage of the depreciation. Bottom line: make sure you are taking advantage of this powerful tool.
Thanks to Asset Exchange Company for this sample.


Prices in Long Beach, Lakewood, Cerritos, Signal Hill

Home prices continue to rise in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, 6% to June of this year from June of last year according to the Los Angeles Times.  In the four cities below, the average days on market for a single family home in August ranges from 41 days (Lakewood) to 67 days (Signal Hill). Long Beach had total closings of 193 (not surprising since it's the largest city of the four), Signal Hill had 6 closed sales, Cerritos had 26 sales, and Lakewood had 72 sales.

Even though the National Association of Realtors® reported that sales in July were the highest since 2007, Long Beach and Cerritos sales volume decreased somewhat in August.

Housing inventory is still low, although a recent daily trend for the local market shows a higher number of new listings in the MLS than closed sales. For August, however, each of the four cities below shows a decrease in inventory supply from the prior month: 1.6 months (Lakewood) being the lowest, and 3.7 months (Signal Hill) being the highest. Long Beach had 2.2 months supply in August. The traditional norm for a normal market supply has been 6 months.  This is a long term trend: Prices go up while inventory remains low.

Condo prices, which are typically lower than single family home prices, also increased from the prior month: average prices in Lakewood -- $485,000; Signal Hill -- $379,000; Long Beach -- $362,000; Cerritos -- $392,000; all prices represent increases from prior month range from 2% (Signal Hill) to 60% (Lakewood).


Don't Overprice Your Home's Asking Price

When a willing buyer and a willing seller complete a home sale, they have just announced to the world what the value of that property is.  That home may now be used as a marker for other similar home sales, based on other factors:

Location - proximity to community attributes such as parks, schools, and job market usually has more desirability to the buyer.
Size - Larger homes and larger lots may sell for more, and comparing a home to one that is much larger or much smaller could lead to the wrong pricing.  A buyer's lender may have very specific criteria on size when it comes time for the appraisal.
Bedrooms and bathrooms - The most common request from buyers today is for a three-bedroom, two-bath home; families today want and expect more privacy than in prior eras. And, the difference between a two-bedroom vs. a three-bedroom home may be critical for the buyer.
Features - Luxury sells, and homes with newer flooring, newer counters and cabinets are perceived as more luxurious and appealing. Some features such as spas and pools may not be worth extra to the buyer, these are often market-led factors. Newer landscaping may be a comparison item depending on the area.
Condition - A newer home that is well-maintained retains more of its original value, as do updated older homes. Homes with deferred maintenance sell for less.
Appeal - A home that looks inviting on both the exterior and the interior may be able to compensate somewhat for a less desirable location, or some other condition the seller has no control over.

If your house looks like this . . .
Too often sellers based an asking price on their own perceived value, or because they are comparing their property to a recent sale that is not completely comparable to theirs. Understanding how the buyer views the property, using the proper sale comparables most likely to be used by an appraiser, and seeing how their property stacks up against the immediate competition in the local market are important tools for seller objectivity.

It cannot be compared to this.
The public online valuation systems may be very accessible and offer quick valuations, but the homeowner should keep in mind that these systems do not use software that can "see" the home the way the buyer or your REALTOR does.  They use the public tax records, and may include properties inappropriate for yours.  As an example, 9 recently sold SFRs or condo properties in the Long Beach 90803 zip code between February 25th and August 4th, 2015 varied as much as 68% between the actual sales price and the online value estimate by a popular website company.  (Many real estate data sources within the industry do use AVMs, but some are "closer" to value than others.)  In this particular instance with the 9 properties, 6 of the properties were overestimated in value, and 3 were underestimated.  Two of the underestimated were within 1.8% of the actual selling price, which is a realistic market difference, while the third underestimated value was 17% less, which is far outside of the average  list-to-sell price.  The condo that was overestimated in value by 68% at $572,000 actually sold at $339,000.  Other estimates ranged between 7% to 41% over selling price. 

Speaking of estimates, the value of an experienced real estate professional cannot be underestimated. A good market opinion and strategy can earn you more money at the close, and save unnecessary time on the market.  Please contact me, a professional with 20 years' of experience! 


Are Your Ceiling Fans Turning in the Right Direction?

Are you wondering what difference it makes to have your ceiling fans be in one direction or the other?  Make sure your ceiling fans are spinning in the right direction to move air around the room.

Most fans are reversible: One direction pushes air down, creating a nice summer breeze; the other direction sucks air up, helping you distribute heat in winter. There’s normally a switch on the motor to change the fan’s direction.

Is your fan turning in the right direction for summer?
  • Stand beneath the running fan, and if you feel a cooling breeze, it’s turning correctly.
  • If not, change directions, usually by flicking a switch on the fan’s base.

Typically, it’s counterclockwise or left for summer and clockwise for winter, but the best method is to follow the steps above.

This applies to fans in general, depending on which way you want the air to flow., i.e., into a garage or out of a garage.

More information is at EnergyStar.gov

In the summer, use the ceiling fan in the counterclockwise direction. While standing directly under the ceiling fan you should feel a cool breeze. The airflow produced creates a wind-chill effect, making you "feel" cooler. In the winter, reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan at low speed in the clockwise direction. This produces a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space. Remember to adjust your thermostat when using your ceiling fan — additional energy and dollar savings could be realized with this simple step!


Long Beach Area Hot Sheet Data Shows Trends Towards More Listings

Every day the MLS shows how many new listings, new escrows, or new sales in a given period of time.  Even though the market is still in a low inventory mode, there has been a trend lately of more new listings coming on the market vs. how many sold in a given period of time, i.e., 24 hours up to 7 days.  So for Long Beach, Lakewood, Signal Hill areas, there seems to be a "catch up" going on.  And even though you can read every day of the week in the Los Angeles Times about the latest multi-million dollar celebrity residence sale, recent sales in this area don't share that profile.  Between July 10th and July 13th, 27 houses or condos sold in these 3 areas, ranging from $235,000 (house)  to $1,070,000 (condo). These are represented by vastly different neighborhoods, and seeming show the far ends of the distribution curve for houses and condos. 
MLS Area Sold Stats for 7/10-7/13-2015

As showing at the right, the average price for these properties in this time period is $505,963.
While condos and houses are not normally used to compare with each other, this data is for trend purposes,.

New listings on the market for the same time and areas are 46, ranging from $175,000, to $3,450,000.   Three properties went into escrow right away, and 43 remain as active listings, with the average listing price being $628,072.  Whether this shows an upward trend in sales price remains to be seen, as the $3,450,000 property has been previously listed multiple times and not yet sold.
MLS Area New Listing/Active Stats for 7/10-7/13-2015

For buyers, this is a positive trend; for sellers, it's really nothing to get the least big panicked over, because over stats for June for Long Beach, for example, clearly show that there is less than 3 months of inventory for houses and condos.  This low level, which has been going on for very long periods of time, does not reflect a normal level of inventory, which traditionally means about 6 months, or perhaps double our current inventory.  Sellers often think that multiple bids due to housing shortage is favorable for them, which can be quite true, but not if you don't already have a home to move into after you sell.

If you are thinking of buying or selling, whether you have a house, condo or multiple units, give me a call for an evaluation of your selling position.


What Do Homesellers Really Want? Four Important Things

 Judge Judy, that icon of courtroom wisdom, says "Beauty fades, dumb is forever."

"The top four tasks that sellers want from their agent has remained consistent regardless of the housing market— sellers place the highest priority on: helping the seller market the home to potential buyers, help selling the home within a specific timeframe, help pricing the home competitively, and help finding a buyer for the home.  As many sellers use an agent that was recommended to them personally, it is not surprising that the reputation of the agent is the most important factor in choosing an agent to work with (36 percent). This is followed by the importance of the agent’s honesty and trustworthiness at 19 percent and the knowledge of the neighborhood at 15 percent."  Just a few more facts out of this 128 page report:  The typical age of the homeseller was 54, vs. 46 years in the 2009 report.  Married couples were 74% of the sellers, while single females accounted for 14% of sellers.

This report stems from an annual survey, the most recent being the  July 2014 127-question survey which was sent out by the National Association of REALTORS® with a response from 6,572 home buyers who had purchased a home during the prior year within one of the four U.S. regions.  There are many elements to this report - including agent efforts, problems buyers can have with financing, characteristics of homes sold and homes purchased, all of which is valuable profile information.

Ironically, buyers in this survey rated the top two valuable features of a real estate website as being 1) the photos of a property, and 2) detailed information about properties for sale.  Maps, tours and neighborhood information came next in importance, with videos of the property second to least most important.  I say ironically, because--and here is the unspoken elephant in the room not usually overtly addressed in these nice surveys--one of the most difficult aspects of selling for many sellers to grasp is the appearance and cosmetic condition of their home, yet most sellers always want their home marketed as much as possible.  A key factor in marketing a home is how it looks to the buyer, that means the buyer who is looking at those photographs.  The cereal box needs to get off the counter, the bed sheets need to hang evenly, because those photos are memorializing your home FOREVER on the internet.  And once the buyer gets inside the house, if only they could see past the catfood, and ignore how it smells on a 90 degree day, it would all be so much easier.  This is where the faded beauty and forever dumb enter the listing.  You would not buy a car like that off the showroom floor, not for full price.  And that's where your listing is, on the showroom floor.  But I digress.  Buyers are not always perfect either, but they do have a physical inspector and a 17-day contingency period, and a 21-day loan approval contingency period.

So to have it all come up roses, it pays to pay attention--on appearance, on disclosures, on price--so that the homeseller can get what he/she really wants -- a SOLD home. If you, however, are a seller who is marching to the right drumbeat on marketing your home, my sincere congratulations!

To find out competitive listings in your area, just go to www.juliahuntsman.com.


You Don't Have to Have a New Home to Have a SmartHome

The best part of home innovation is that it has little to do with the infrastructure in your house. So, even older homes can take advantage of the home innovation products on the market today. From wireless dimmers, to a home battery, chatting with your appliances to a speaker light bulb, new products do not require remodels of your home, but things that can be used now!

Here’s a look at the products featured and discussed by members of the Coldwell Banker Home Innovation Panel from April 2015:
1. Caséta Wireless Dimmers by Lutron. Control your lights, shades and temperature from anywhere, whether you’re home or away. Caséta Wireless dimmers and switches install in minutes, work with numerous bulb types – including dimmable LEDs and CFLs, and bring the convenience of a connected home to your fingertips. “Smart lighting may be special now, but it’s going to be part of a smart home going forward,” says Matt Swatsky,of Lutron Electronics product management director.
2. Tesla. We’re all enamored with Tesla Motors. Who doesn’t want a car that drives like a dream, runs on electricity and gets new features every time the system is updated? Now, the company is offering the TeslaPowerwall. It’s a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels, or when utility rates are low, and powers your home in the evening. It also fortifies your home against power outages by providing a backup electricity supply. Automated,compact and simple to install, Powerwall offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup.
3. LG HomeChat. Start chatting with your home appliances on your mobile messenger. Heading to the store but not sure if you need milk or not, text your refrigerator and it will tell you. What is your refrigerator doing right now? Is your washer not working properly? Isn’t it a hassle to have to find your audio and play music every time you come home? HomeChat will take care of everything. “HomeChat is a digital personal assistant that you can text and tell the refrigerator to make more ice or download new wash cycles on your LG washing machine,” says John Taylor, vice president
of public affairs and communications for LG.
4. Sengled PULSE speaker bulb. Each intelligent bulb has a JBL multi-channel stereo wireless speaker hidden within. You can simply screw the bulb into your existing lamp socket and pair with your Sengled PulseMaster bulb; download and install the app on your smart devices. Instantly stream music and regulate the lighting. They also have lights that offer wireless security cameras, so cool! Because you don’t need to buy or adapt infrastructure, said Robin Foreman, vice president of marketing and business development, “You can make an impact on day one with just one bulb.
5. Nest. “We transform unloved home products,” said Ben Bixby of NEST. The company offers a thermostat that can program itself. Most people leave the house at one temperature and forget to change it. So, the Nest Learning Thermostat learns your schedule, programs itself and can be controlled from your phone. Teach it well and the Nest Thermostat can lower your heating
and cooling bills up to 20 percent.


Long Beach 4th of July

Looking for July 4th activities in Long Beach?  Here are all-day
events in Long Beach: on the Queen Mary, a bike parade, barbecue at the Aquarium, and a party at the Belmont Pier. 

All-American 4th of July
Queen Mary / 12-11pm
(562) 499-1771 / www.queenmary.com

Kids’ July 4th Bike Parade
Granada Avenue / 9:15am

Big Bang on the Bay - July 3
Boathouse / 5:30-10pm
(562) 493-1100 / www.boathouseonthebay.com

Late Night & BBQ
Aquarium of the Pacific / 5-10pm
(562) 590-3100 / www.aquariumofpacific.org

Party on the Pier - July 4-5
Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier / 12-10pm
(562) 477-6820 / www.alfredosbeachclub.com

Please remember that fireworks are not allowed in the City of Long Beach, except as permitted for events. 


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