Long Beach Housing Inventory

 We're hearing more talk about market slowing, a little early for this time of year.

There's still far less than the traditional months of inventory on the market, i.e., 6 months meaning how long it would take to sell what's currently for sale.  In Long Beach, it's almost the same for both single family homes and for condos:  2.4-2.7 months of inventory. 

And yet, the number of sales compared to June of last year is down about 28%, while the average sales price for houses and condos are UP!  This is also true on the state level, according to California Association of Realtors: "June marked the fifth consecutive month that prices increased by more than 8 percent annually, indicating that price appreciation remains robust and is not showing any signs of leveling off."  But Orange County experienced one of the biggest declines in number of sales, all counties experienced a decline however, possibly due to buyer fatigue at rising prices.

Many younger buyers are able to get some financial help from families who may aid with down payments, which is a great help for them. One surprising fact is that single women over 55 are a growing segment of buyers, citing rising rent costs as a reason, not for the purpose of purchasing multigenerational housing.

Interest rates are remaining the same for right now, but a possible increase is hinted at in September. The mortgage lenders and banks, however, usually anticipate an increase in advance and build it into their scenarios in advance, but other global market effects come into play also, and there can even be a decrease in rates!

Currently, the average days on market for all 228 Long Beach single family homes currently in escrow is 45 days. It's a very good time to sell and find a new home.

For more information about selling, please contact me!

Julia Huntsman, REALTOR, Broker | www.juliahuntsman.com | 562-896-2609 | California Lic. #01188996, representing buyers and sellers since 1994.


Luxury Homes in Signal Hill

Crescent Square Homes have room for everyone, 4 bedroom homes--3.5 baths--designed for multigenerational living.They are three stories, with an option for an elevator.  There's room for 3 cars. Fully equipped kitchens include a kitchen island, but there's a formal dining room too! The upper level even has a kitchenette in Model 2.

In keeping with the City of Signal Hill's past, the exteriors blend with Spanish, Craftsman, Colonial or Monterey styles of architecture.

Currently, there are still several homes available ranging from approximately $941,000 to $1,028,647 (the average price of a single family home in last 90 days is $911,718). More features include large walk-in closet, outdoor covered balconies, tankless water heater, private master suites. Located adjacent to Long Beach, a new homeowner can take advantage of local Signal Hill shopping and restaurants (including Costco and Mother's Kitchen), but also a quick drive to the beach, classes at Cal State Long Beach, or dining in Belmont Shore.

To take advantage of this new home opportunity please contact me right away!

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


Dear Buyer: Did Your Offer Get Presented to the Seller?

In the current climate of multiple offers submitted by anxious buyers, circumstances on some properties may lead a buyer to wonder if the seller was ever made aware of his or her offer.

First of all, unless the seller has waived in writing, all offers are supposed to be presented to the seller--this is the listing agent's fiduciary duty to the client--whether verbally, in writing, or in person by the listing agent or in person by the buyer's agent.  But in today's world, the buyer's agent does not usually personally present to the seller, and the buyer relies on the listing agent's word that their offer was presented.  Through the end of 2018, there is no ethical or legal requirement for a listing agent or the seller to respond in writing or otherwise to a buyer's offer. It is regarded as a courtesy.

But starting January 1, 2019, there is a new requirement. Per a new Code of Ethics requirement by National Association of Realtors, " a listing broker or agent is required to confirm in writing that an offer was submitted to the seller if the cooperating broker who submitted the offer so requests. The listing broker or agent must provide the written affirmative unless the seller has waived  the obligation to have the offer presented."  So, 1) the buyer broker must request confirmation (there are several ways to do this), as long as 2) the seller has not already waived the obligation to have the offer presented.  The seller does have the option of waiving offers (best put in writing with the listing agent) if the seller wishes to avoid offers under a certain price, or with certain conditions he/she does not want to meet, i.e., a longer escrow period.  Sometimes under these circumstances, the buyer may decide to rewrite an offer in order to get the seller's attention.  Otherwise, if the buyer's agent requests it, the listing broker, or listing agent, will be required to submit confirmation in writing that the offer was presented, and this is most often done by checking and signing for a box on the offer form.

If you would like to know more about making an offer to a seller, please contact me!  There are many aspects to the offer forms via the California Association of Realtors, and early familiarity with them will make your transaction easier and smoother.

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


California Homeowner Associations Are An Owner Option for Many

Homeowner associations continue to be a popular form of ownership for all age groups.  In 2006, there were 43,000 homeowner associations in California, housing between 8.5 million to 10 million people.*  The Aliso Viejo Community Association in Orange County alone had about 15,300 units at that time. Such associations are favored by cities because HOA members help shoulder the newer infrastructure costs through their dues paid to maintain their common areas.

So a 2018 survey conducted by Community Associations Institute demonstrating owner satisfaction in these communities might also be a reflection of what today's housing choices are in many areas, including Orange County where HOAs are prevalent.

But in spite of that, many people do see advantages: affordability, convenience, safety, uniformity, shared responsibility in costs and maintenance, and association recreation features.

Common complaints are rising HOA dues (or having to pay any at all), architectural standards which may seem restrictive, unpopular rules, complaints about the Board of Directors, and lack of rules enforcement, to name a few.

But as the graphic shows, the CAI survey results show:

 When it comes to fees that are assessed monthly but often paid quarterly, prospective buyers or current homeowners should remember that these amounts cover certain basic services such as insurance premiums for the common area services such as roads, pools, and tennis courts, maintenance for these features, certain utilities such as water and trash service for each unit, BBQs and recreation rooms, which they might otherwise have to pay for if they owned a non-HOA home, or might otherwise not have some of those facilities at all.  And such costs continue to rise in California as insurance risks also rise.  However, for many people, multi-family style condominiums are an ideal entree to homeownership in certain areas, much more affordable than buying a single family home in the same neighborhood.
A well-managed association can be a blessing for some, but if not well-managed, or with Directors who do not enforce the CCRs or understand them very well, there can be challenges.  CCRs, voted into existence by the owners after initial setup by developers, are a contract between the owners and the Board of Directors.  They are the underlying foundation of operation in the community, along with the By-Laws and the Rules and Regulations.  Very important to follow them!

If you are interested in a condominium, townhome or house in a homeowner association or PUD, please contact me.  I have experience with this type of property and can help you navigate your way into your next home!

Julia Huntsman, REALTOR since 1994, Broker | www.juliahuntsman.com | 562-896-2609 | CA Lic. #01188996

* https://www.ocregister.com/2006/11/12/educating-hoas/ 


Where are California's Foreign Buyers Coming From?

Foreign buyers in California
Here is a question recently posed to CALMatters, a website dealing in housing data for California, "How much are foreign buyers and investment firms—two of the most common sources of all-cash transactions—impacting the average California family’s ability to buy a home?"

All cash sales have been the nemesis of buyers for over a decade.  As prices rise, many lower priced homes get snapped up by investors wanting to build a rental portfolio, investors who want to flip properties, or buyers who, if not paying all cash, have a 50% down or more down payment.  International buyer numbers have grown, especially on the West Coast, especially in areas such as San Gabriel Valley, Arcadia, San Marino, Newport Beach and Irvine, where buyers from China gained a foothold in the past and have increasingly congregated over time.  For Chinese buyers in particular real estate investment is a good strategy, they view American properties as "cheap" compared to what investments cost them in the city/country of origin.   While China has been eyed as the competition by buyers here, the fact is that "As recently as 2014, Canadians purchased more U.S. homes than Chinese buyers, according to the National Realtors Association.  But right now foreign investors are also favored by the EB-5 visas which grant green cards to large investors.

But the truth is that citizenship or national origin is not specifically a part of any real estate transaction, so there are assumptions made based by tracking the cash transaction statistics, because it is believed such foreign buyers are one of the impacts on prices here.  The British Columbia government levied a 15% sales tax on foreign home buyers to curtail the market impact in areas such as Vancouver, but prices are still out of reach of the average family there. Another rule limiting Chinese buyers from taking more than $50,000 to bring here has had some impact, but there may still be ways for purchases to be accomplished.  There are arguments over the impact of foreign buyers on statewide pricing, as they tend to target certain properties in some areas.  Obviously, there are other things having an impact, such as all the properties bought in the down market by investors which are still off the market and held for rentals, and the fact that fewer housing units are built to keep up with demand. 

So how many properties have been cash transactions in Southern California?   Go to this interactive map to find your area.  Overall, since 2013, percentages range from 13% to over 30%.  Long Beach 90803 zip code is 21%; 90802 is 28%, Newport Coast 33%, Signal Hill 13%,  whereas Malibu is 38% cash sales.

Some information is available here for foreign investors. If you wish to buy in Los Angeles or Orange Counties, please contact me for a comprehensive look at the market, referrals to financing, and details on properties currently on the market.  I am a Realtor with over 22 years of experience, and a Southern California native.


Average Selling Prices in Long Beach, Cerritos, Lakewood, and Local Counties, April 2018

For a single family detached home, the average prices for the cities and counties below range from $381,718  to $1,141,966, the low price being in
San Bernardino County.

Overall the Los Angeles County average price for single family home is $992,808, a small increase from the previous month of $969,831, and now exceeding the high of July 2017.

All these prices are for the month of April, 2018, based on data from CRMLS Infosparks.

Long Beach average price is slightly decreased from the prior month, but Orange County has surpassed the high of May, 2017, while Los Angeles County as a whole is now above the high of $955,973 in July 2017.  San Bernardino County's averages also exceed the earlier highs of $360,000, and is now at the the highest point in the last 5 years.
Average single family home Pprices are varying according to area, and here's what they look like locally.

April 2018
Long Beach
$685,445 | -4.1%
$600,580 | +8.2%
859,816 | +5.2%
Los Angeles County
$992,808 | +9.0%
San Bernardino County
$381,718 | +11.2%
Orange County
$1,141,966 | +14.2%

These statistics show a mix of pricing, with Long Beach at an average days on market at 28 days, Lakewood at 24 days on market, and Cerritos at 34 days on the market on average.  Inventory is still at 2 months or less in all 3 cities, and closing prices continue within 1.5% over or under the original price.  In other words, since the last analysis in November 2017, houses are still selling within 2% of original list price, with less time on the market, and a low housing inventory from which to choose.   
Briefly, Long Beach condo average price is $395,639, a decrease from $437,000 last month. The condo average for Los Angeles County is $602,193, a slight decrease from last month. Other local city condo prices: Cerritos: $370,000;  Monterey Park, $439,500; Pasadena, $715,634; Whittier, $353,692.
 It’s a tight market right now!
For an online and automated home valuation, try my site at http://www.juliahuntsman.com/home-evaluation.  It probably works more accurately for single family homes than condos in some areas, depending on what properties lie within about a one-mile radius.  Try it!  And I am always happy to do a more customized report to send out via e-mail.  If you're thinking about making a move, do it! It pays to keep an eye on things.

P.S. The photo is a door in Dublin, Ireland, where the housing market is pretty similar to our West Coast!
Julia Huntsman
Lic. 01188996


Signal Hill View Home, Promontory Crest

 Beautiful luxury home in Signal Hill offers panoramic views in Promontory Crest, offered at $1,148,000.
This exceptional two-story home offers three bedrooms PLUS a large office, beautiful kitchen, dining area.  Maple hardwood floors, granite in the kitchen, plantation shutters, and wired sound are just some of the extras in this home.
The views are extraordinary and the location is ideal in one of Signal Hill's nicest developments.
Promontory Crest offers its members a pool, spa, barbecue, outdoor cooking area, playground, and hiking trails.
Open house this weekend on Sunday April 29th, please contact me for more information, easy access through HOA's gated entry.
Lic #01188996

 See more at http://www.juliahuntsman.com/open-houses.html

Listing Broker:  Time Realty


New Measure on Ballot for Nov. 6th--Get Rid of the "Moving Penalty"

California portability taxThe Property Tax Fairness Initiative (Portability) has obtained enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot in California.  This is good news, because now owners over 55 years of age could have the opportunity to take their Proposition 13 tax base anywhere in the state, not just select counties, and be able to use it more than once.  The campaign to gather signatures has been successful through the efforts of the California Association of Realtors, and the many Realtors who helped to get the word out and obtain signatures.

If passed, this Initiative would allow homeowners 55 and over to transfer their Prop. 13 tax base to a home of any price (current limitation is a sale price equal or lesser than sale price of original residence), to any county in the state.  Currently, there are only a minority of counties (as per Prop. 60 and Prop. 90) which participate in this plan, creating geographic disincentives to move since moving to a non-participating county could cause a huge increase in property taxes for those in fixed-income retirement or nearing retirement mode.   Currently, a homeowner living in Los Angeles County can benefit from current Prop. 13 tax base if they sell and stay within L.A. County, or sell and go to Orange County, Riverside County, and numerous others in the group--but with the passage of the new tax portability, a homeowner would still be paying a Prop. 13 fair share tax, but would be given the benefit of moving to any county and not lose their base.

The passage of this initiative would benefit a lot of people beyond the 55+ age group, it also applies to people who are disabled and those who have lost their homes to a natural disaster.  Additionally, more movement would be created in the residential real estate market, potentially creating a lot of economic benefit to move-up and first time buyers in what has been a very tight inventory.

Sample scenarios from the California Association of Realtors:

"Buy Up Example 
Original Purchase Price: $100k Estimated
Property Taxes: $1k/annually
Existing Home Sale Price: $300k
New Home Price: $400k
New Property Taxes: $2k/annually.
The $100k difference between the $300k sales price and the $400k purchase price is added to the original Prop. 13 property tax base of $100k for a new Prop. 13 tax base of $200k.

"Buy Down Example
Original Purchase Price: $100k
Estimated Property Taxes: $1k/annually
Existing Home Sale Price: $300k
New Home Price: $200k
New Property Taxes: 1/3 of $200k = $67k or $670/year for property taxes
If a homeowner buys a less expensive home, the property taxes will be proportionally the same as for the original home. In other words, if the tax base was one-third of the sale price, the new property tax would be one-third of the new sale price."

Please follow this issue as the year progresses!!
I am available for home value information at my phone contact information, or through my website.

Update: May 8:  At their recent meetings (Sacramento, May 2 -- 5), California Association of Realtors directors voted to pursue an alternative to the ballot initiative... It would be to seek support to have the legislature place the issue on the ballot in 2020. By seeking such legislative support, CAR would be able to free up resources to address other crucial issues in 2018. Whether this alternative will be possible won't be known until late June.


What California's Homeowners Should Know about Taxes After the 2017 Reform Act

  • The limit on deductible mortgage debt was reduced.
  • Mortgage debt may be refinanced up to $1 million and deduct interest if not higher than original mortgage.
  • Equity loan interest is deductible if proceeds improve the residence.
  • Second home mortgage interest deductible subject to limits.
  • Itemized returns may deduct up to $10,000 on applicable taxes.
  • Capital gains exclusions remain the same-$250,000 for single and $500,000 for married filers.
  • The California housing market may see a 2018 decline in inventory as owners stay put, but an increase in home prices.
  • Please contact your tax professional for your particular tax situation.


Two New California Landlord/Tenant Laws for 2018

Numerous laws have been passed or updated in recent years dealing with and regulating landlord/tenant relationships, which should be of interest to all property owners who lease or rent out property.

Flood Disclosure - Effective July 1, 2018, a new law requires a landlord (or the agent) to disclose in writing in every written agreement entered into on or after 7/1/2018 information about flood hazards, including the landlord's "actual knowledge".  This disclosure consists of pre-printed language about floods, services, and renter's insurance, and 2) the owner's knowledge if the property is located within a flood zone.
Special hazard areas in which flood insurance is required and flood inundation areas from dams are included in this disclosure.  If the owner has or is currently carrying flood insurance or received public notice concerning being in such an area means the owner has "actual knowledge".  Should the landlord use a Realtor for a lease/rental after this date, this law will be complied with through a Realtor form available starting in June, 2018.

Protection of Immigrants in Residential Housing - A new law concerning residential housing, part of a group of 11 new laws protecting immigrants, prohibits any threat to disclose information relating to immigration status with the intent of "harassing, intimidating or retaliating, or influencing a tenant to vacate".   This new law explicitly states that the landlord may disclose information as part of complying with legal obligations under federal law. Landlords  are advised to understand and comply the new definition of immigration and citizenship status in order to avoid the monetary penalties which could be imposed by this law, which are in addition to all other damages. Landlords, as a best practice, should verify all financial qualifications and necessary identity of a prospective tenant before approving a tenant to take occupancy.

If you would like to know more about this and other landlord/tenant requirements, please contact me for more complete information as provided through the California Association of Realtors
, or contact your legal advisor.


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