9/24/2022

Just Listed, South Wrigley Charmer in Long Beach

Best of this Wrigley neighborhood in Long Beach, this lovely home at 861 W 21st St is ideally located for those who need to commute to Los Angeles areas for work, or just want a very comfortable two-bedroom home.  Spacious back yard patio and gazebo with yard is ideal for entertainers or gardeners. Front xeroscaping is suitable for the environment, new driveway gate offers privacy and security. Art Deco styling is typical of the 1935 era, and newer plumbing is a maintenance asset. See it all at the MLS listing. Contact listing agent for more information, or visit my website below to see "featured properties" or open houses tab. List price at $750,000.

 

Julia Huntsman, REALTOR, Broker | http://www.juliahuntsman.com | 562-896-2609 | California Lic. #01188996

9/16/2022

August 2022 State and Los Angeles County Market Reports


Calif August sales and price report

Statewide, California inventory reached highest level since 2019, but at 2.9 months of supply is still well under the norm of 6 months.  Both time on market and median price of a single family home were up, making some sellers who only knew the previous pandemic market ask why it was taking "so long" to sell?  Well, there's nothing wrong with being on the market 19 days before selling. It actually is good to give both buyers and sellers time to think about choice of property and for sellers to review an offer.

Los Angeles County Market Update

 

For the County of Los Angeles, inventory in August was at 3.1 months, with the median price of a single family home at $854,960, a 1% increase from the prior month, and a 3% increase from one year prior.  But total home sales in the County decreased over 29% from this time last year, although they increased about 1% from the previous month.   Median time on market for the County was 16 days, a 77% increase from this time last year.

Interest rate volatility, and upward jumps, have had an impact for many buyers, and with conventional rates around or above the 6% level now, although still low by historical standards, will continue to impact buyers dependent on mortgage financing.  From California Association of Realtors:

“It’s encouraging to see that August’s sales pace rebounded above an annualized 300,000 units sold,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Jordan Levine. “Although we do not expect a rapid bounce-back because the Fed is expected to continue raising interest rates to get inflation under control, the monthly increase in closed and pending sales suggests that the market may have already priced in most of the rate increases to date. Still, buyers will continue to grapple with rising costs of borrowing, which will keep home sales below the 350,000 annualized pace for the remainder of the year.”

 

Julia Huntsman, REALTOR, Broker | http://www.juliahuntsman.com | 562-896-2609 | California Lic. #01188996

8/17/2022

How Much Froth in the Housing Market is There?

Mortgage interest rates have been volatile, going up and down on a daily basis--today's rate (August 17) is at 5.22% per https://thefinancials.com for a 30-year mortgage, but recently it was up past 6%.  This has been affecting buyer behavior a lot for the purchase market, and has been slowing the sales volume for sellers.  However, while market time is longer than it was in the crazy pandemic purchase market, it is still not a buyer's market, just a somewhat longer selling time for sellers. 

Credit: Steven Thomas--Housing Reports
Price reductions in Los Angeles County equals 35% of market listings as of last week; Orange County reductions at 39% of market listings last week, and so on for Southern California counties. 

What counts right now for sellers is really taking stock of how you as a seller compare to your nearby home sales in terms of curb appeal, views, upgrades, remodels, and showing condition, on a more specific level than has been happening since before the pandemic price surge.  There are more listings on the market, but still not at the "normal" 6 month inventory level, and in fact, the Long Beach inventory level for July single family homes and condominiums was still only 1.9 months! On a national basis, it's more like 3 months--so in spite of the media attention given to some kind of housing debacle, there is in fact still a demand for inventory.  Increased interest rates have definitely affected buyers--the super low rates are not around, and the higher rates have pushed up monthly mortgage costs that many people cannot absorb.

 For a more complete weekly analysis of the Southern California real estate market, visit Orange County economist Steven Thomas at his weekly show.

Local market update for average single family home prices in July by zip code: 

Long Beach

90803 - $1,665,375

90815 - $1,008,650

90808 - $1,093,065

90806 - $728,800

Lakewood 

90712 - $817,938 

90713 - $855,535 

Signal Hill

$1,170,000 

Cerritos

$1,022,733

If you are thinking of selling, or would just like to know the market pricing for your home in the next 30-60 days, please contact me, I will be happy to assist you in person or online.  

 

Julia Huntsman, REALTOR, Broker | http://www.juliahuntsman.com | 562-896-2609 | California Lic. #01188996

8/08/2022

Do You Own a California Vacant Home? It Might Be a Housing Crisis Issue.

Should empty homes be taxed?

The City of Los Angeles, and many other cities, have been looking into this issue for years. The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) issued a report stating the City has more than 46,000 units in "non-market vacancy".  In 2020 another report said there were between 80,000 to 100,000 empty units throughout the city.  Housing advocates are often interested in the issue in order to house the homeless or "unhoused", but regardless of the target market, having so many units off the open market and unavailable to potentially qualified lessees/residents is a housing problem. And now many cities are thinking of taxing those properties. And, the California Association of Realtors estimated that around 1.2 million units, apartments and single-family homes may sit vacant around California. 

This is a kind of proposition that is usually easier said than done, but San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Berkeley have all worked towards a ballot proposition, while West Hollywood may discuss it next year. 

Also, Kate Harrison, Berkeley Vice Mayor, "cited a report in San Francisco finding vacancies are disproportionately in multi-family apartment complexes and in areas with older housing stock and higher rates of new construction. She said this suggests property owners are holding older units vacant to capitalize on new construction, and she wants a tax to send a message to these owners and “out of towners” who let property sit empty in a city they may not live in."

And, "The extraordinary gap between the housing needs of residents and the availability of housing can only be bridged through the use of numerous policy interventions, including a vacancy tax intended to incentivize owners of housing property to bring units back on the market and discourage speculation," Berkeley city staff wrote.

Vacant properties attract nuisance as well. It's better for cities and neighborhoods to have occupied homes, but is forcing property owners via a tax going to achieve the desired result?  In San Francisco, it could bring 4500 units back on the market with their proposed tax scheduled to launch in 2024. If it's successful, it would continue to pave the way for other cities.
 

Julia Huntsman, REALTOR, Broker | http://www.juliahuntsman.com | 562-896-2609 | California Lic. #01188996

8/05/2022

Where is Market Pricing for last 90 days in Long Beach, Cypress, Lakewood?

View toward downtown Long Beach

The following cities sold statistics for single family homes for the last 90 days:

Cypress, average sale price of 56 homes: $1,055,946, 15 days on market.

Long Beach, average sale price of 446 homes:  $1,052,166, 15 days on market

Lakewood, average sale price of 176 homes: $830,722, 14 days on market



Julia Huntsman, REALTOR, Broker | http://www.juliahuntsman.com | 562-896-2609 | California Lic. #01188996

Housing Update in Los Angeles County and Southern California

Interest rates and inflation are issues right now, not just here but globally.  Older populations in some other countries are problematic, without replacement population the consumer consumption is less. 

In the U.S., the Fed is trying to slow down inflation with rate hikes on many instruments, such as credit cards, but the Fed doesn't control the mortgage interest rates, per se.  Mortgage interest rates were over 6% in June, but are now down to just over 5%, with it being an extremely volatile market.  6.5% is a slight buyer's market, 4.5% is a slight seller's market. 

Do two negative quarters of the GDP indicate a recession?  The National Bureau of Economic Research calls the recession, and doesn't use the model of two negative quarters, but uses several other combined market indicators which it says are not yet flashing red. The jobs statistics came out very strong, and with current consumer consumption, which accounts for 70% of the U.S. economy, keep from calling a complete recession.  And recession doesn't equal a housing crisis, with interest rates going lower there is an increasing demand for housing.

Inventory in Southern California has climbed from 10,000 listings in January to over 30,000 listings in August.  The peak is projected to be in September, which means we are not yet back to pre-COVID market norms. In Los Angeles County, 31% of inventory has reduced its price, due to the current market shift and slow down.   Last year time on market was 33 days, today it's 77 days in Los Angeles County, which is still considered a seller's market, 90-120 days on market is considered a balanced market, and above that is more of a buyer's market.

Sellers:  Rather than reduce your price, offer the buyers a rate buy down.


Thanks to Steven Thomas for his excellent Housing Market Report.

Julia Huntsman, REALTOR, Broker | http://www.juliahuntsman.com | 562-896-2609 | California Lic. #01188996

6/27/2022

National Existing Home Sales Snapshot by National and California Association of Realtors May 2022


According to market research by National Association of Realtors, on a national level May 2022 brought 5.41 million in sales, a median sales price of $407,600, and 2.6 months of inventory. The median sales price is up 14.8% year-over-year, and inventory was up 0.1 months from May 2021.

Existing Home Sales May 2022

 

 California Association Realtors snapshot of the Long Beach housing market graphic shows a 14% decrease in existing home sales at a $940,000 median price for single family homes, with only a median 8 days on market overall.


Long Beach May 2022 Report

Per Altos Research:  More inventory now than any time last year. Still 50-70% fewer than normal.

 

Julia Huntsman, REALTOR, Broker | http://www.juliahuntsman.com | 562-896-2609 | California Lic. #01188996

6/03/2022

Profile of Home Sellers in 2021 - How Did They Sell a Home?

The 2021 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers is the 40th anniversary of the first National Association of Realtors report. The 2021 report is unusual because it is the first full year in which buyers and sellers purchased or sold during the COVID-19 pandemic, in what turned out to be a record setting year.

Long Beach Spanish bungalow

As discussed in the buyer post, this was based on a survey of homesellers' experience.

The median stay in a home in 1985 was just five years, in 2021 the tenure in a home decreased to eight years (from previous year high of ten years).  (This is based on national data, some areas such as Southern California have been more than 8 and 10 years).  Tightened inventory saw sellers getting 100% of their asking price (and more) in one week or less.  Nationally, the median home equity at time of sale was $85,000 in 2021, compared to $66,000 in 2020, a significant increase.

  • The typical homeseller age was 56.
  • Of all homes sold, 69 percent did not have children under 18 residing in the home. 
  • Eight-nine percent of sellers identified as White or Caucasian, 
  • The share of first time homesellers was 32 percent, and only 6 percent of all sellers did not plan to sell the previous home.
  • Thirty-eight percent of the homes sold in 2021 were located in the South region, 24 percent were in the Midwest region, 22 percent were in the West region, and 15 percent were
    in the Northeast.
  • The majority of homes sold were single family homes (78 percent).
  • Forty-six percent of sellers traded up to a larger size home, and a majority of sellers purchased a home in the same state.
  • The over 65 age range downsized to a home 100 square feet smaller.
  • Buyers (former sellers) in the 35-44 age group bought the most expensive trade-ups by an increase of $101,000.
  • Sellers said they wanted to move closer to family, especially those who moved the greatest distance.
  • Time on Market - Sales vs. List Price
    Ninety percent of all sellers worked with a real estate agent, while FSBO sales were below the historic norm at 7 percent.
  • Less than 1 percent of sellers used an iBuyer program to sell their home.
  • Ninety-six percent of sellers working with an agent did not know the buyer.
  • Across all regions, the final sales price was a median 100 percent of the final listing price, the highest recorded median since 2002.
  • Sellers in home 21+ years had 162 percent equity.
  • Client referrals and repeat business were the ways seller found their real estate agent.

For a more extensive review of selling and marketing your home, please contact me -- I'm a broker with more than 25 years in the real estate business of helping buyers and sellers.

Julia Huntsman, REALTOR, Broker | http://www.juliahuntsman.com | 562-896-2609 | California Lic. #01188996

6/02/2022

Profile of Homebuyers in 2021: How Did They Buy a Home?

Buyers in 1981 vs. 2021
The 2021 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers is the 40th anniversary of the first National Association of Realtors report. The 2021 report is unusual because it is the first full year in which buyers and sellers purchased or sold during the COVID-19 pandemic, in what turned out to be a record setting year.

Based on data collected nationwide between July 2020 and June 2021, the survey consisted of 129 questions via paper or online in both English and Spanish.  Consumer names were obtained from Experian which maintains an extensive database of recent homebuyers derived from county records (which are public). The entire report is 164 pages with multiple graphics covering aspects of buyers and sellers experiences, and information about working with their agents. 

This post will be about the buyer experience section, and will primarily be hitting the highlights. 

First time homebuyers grew to 34 percent, greatly helped by the low interest rates but then challenged by a housing market with lowered inventory, rising prices and much competition from other buyers. Buyers reported the most difficult task was finding the right home to purchase, and the time spent in a home search was only eight weeks.  Eight-eight percent (88%) of buyers used a real estate agent to help them purchase.  

The typical first time buyer was 33 years old, repeat buyers were up to an all time high of 56 years.  Sixty percent were married couples, 19 percent were single females, nine percent single males, and nine percent unmarried couples. The largest share of buyers were in the 25 to 34 age group, and the median income was $102,000,

First Step in Homebuying for all Buyers

 

The majority of buyers either began their search online or contacted a real estate agent as a first step in the home search. Few people read books about the homebuying process or attended a home buying seminar--even visiting open houses was lower in activity as an initial step in  the home search.


 

 

Information sources used in home search

For information, all age groups primarily turned to an agent and then to an internet device , and then visited open houses.

But where the buyer found the home they actually purchased was on the internet for 51% of buyers, through their agent for 28% of buyers, with much smaller percentages for yard signs, personal contacts, homebuilders or the sellers themselves.  This is a complete contract to 2001 when 8% of buyers found their home on the internet and 48% through their agent.

This is only a partial representation of buyer characteristics in the Report for 2021, for a complete copy of this study, please contact me via phone or email. 

And for help in buying a home, I can work with you with my 25+ years of experience.

Julia Huntsman, REALTOR, Broker | http://www.juliahuntsman.com | 562-896-2609 | California Lic. #01188996

5/31/2022

Why Shouldn't the Buyer Write a "Buyer Love Letter" to the Seller?


Fair housing issues are coming to the forefront of the real estate profession and being addressed at all national, state and local levels of the industry for REALTORS.  Problems with race, color, ancestry, gender, marital status, military affiliation, plus other groups of the legally protected classes continue to exist for many buyers and sellers in real estate transactions. Even appraisals have come under review.

One of the mechanisms by which discrimination may arise has been called the "buyer love letter" -- it arrives with the buyers' offer to a seller because it has been traditionally thought to help positively influence the seller into accepting an offer. They are often accompanied with photos, background stories about the buyer, and other personal history disclosed willingly by buyers who want to appear sympathetic to the seller, people who would love their new home just as much as the seller has, all designed to create a connection in order to get chosen for the contract.

This tactic has been addressed in the past, yet agents and their clients continue to submit such letters.  In one state, it is now outlawed.  In California they are not illegal, but agents are cautioned to advise their clients of the negative potential of this practice.  If a buyer insists on submitting such a letter, they are advised to eliminate personal information (but that's what some people hope will gain traction with the seller).  

Buyer Interest Letters, as they are official referred to, are considered a legal risk for unconscious or implicit bias. The buyer cannot really know what is in the seller's mind or background, and sometimes the seller doesn't either until the selection time comes, or the seller may not consciously be aware of their reasons for certain choices. Photos meant to present the buyer in a positive light may instead do the opposite, or personal buyer stories such as "I grew up in the neighborhood", "I have kids", or "my church is nearby" may elicit a negative reaction from the seller, or a favorable reaction towards a buyer but which excludes other buyers who do not have kids, a church or grew up in another state and thus cannot make any of those claims, and which in fact may violate one of the federal or state protected classes mentioned above.  So this is where Fair Housing issues come into the transaction.

The only information that I advise my clients to submit with an offer is the financial qualification dealing with price and terms of the offer, which in fact is required in the contract terms anyway, because the ability and motivation to buy are the actual buyer requirements. I do not advise my buyers to write any other personal information, and in fact, the seller may have actually instructed his/her agent to not accept any offers accompanied by a Buyer Interest Letter.

So please be aware that while a listing agent must notify the seller of all offers received, per California Association of Realtors: 

 "Even if the agent is following the seller’s instruction, the agent should disclose to the seller that an offer was received with a buyer letter and returned to buyer or agent per the seller’s instruction. Paragraph 10C(2)(A) of the C.A.R. Residential Listing Agreement, C.A.R. Form RLA, contains a seller instruction not to present buyer letters.  Only if the alternate paragraph 10C(2)(B) is checked is broker authorized to present such letters."

By carefully considering potential Fair Housing guidance, the parties will not be subject to doubts about their participation in the contract process.

Julia Huntsman, REALTOR, Broker | http://www.juliahuntsman.com | 562-896-2609 | California Lic. #01188996

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