A Strong Percentage of Homes Are Selling Above Asking Price

In January, 2021, over 56% of homes statewide sold over the asking price.  This is according to a Southern California April presentation by a California Association of Realtors economist as shown in the slides to the right.

The over-asking statistics may vary in areas, so for example, in a combined look at 180 sales of condos and houses between 4/8 and 4/15 in the 10 cities of Bellflower, Cypress, Harbor City, Long Beach, Carson, Torrance, Lakewood, Lomita, San Pedro, and Signal Hill*:

71% (approx.) or 127 homes out of 180 sold over asking.  

7% (approx.) or 12 homes sold at original list price.

19% (approx.) or 35 homes sold under original list price.

In lower prices starting at $300,000, the increase may be $900 to $15,000; in the $500,000 range the increase in closing price grew in some cases to over $50,000 higher, and in the $1,000,000+ category it may $150,000 higher.  However, one single family home listed in Long Beach for $595,000 recently closed at $700,000. 

For sellers such overbids may help them more easily into their next purchase, but for the huge number of first time buyers looking for opportunity with very low interest rates, there is much frustration. On many properties, multiple offers abound, often 15-20 offers from which the seller may pick, sometimes outright, sometimes countering back to a select group of buyers.

In a March 2021 Google Consumer poll, 64% of sellers thought it was a good time to  sell, while 28% of buyers thought it was a good time to buy. In 2020 however, 44% of buyers had more than a 20% down payment, and obviously many of them have the ability to bid some much higher prices to beat out the competition.  This leads to another issue:  appraisals.  Not all overbid prices are appraising, leading buyers to come up with more money, and how some are doing this is detailed in this article about the appraisal gap.

Who's not buying so much? Rental property investors, as COVID issues came to the frontline.

What will make the situation easier in the future?  Rising interest rates, more housing inventory, and an ongoing improving economy.

*as reported in CRMLS 

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


Housing Supply Stats for Los Angeles County, as of February 2021

LA County 2/21 Housing Supply

This graphic for Los Angeles County quickly shows a 27% decrease in listings compared to February of 2020.  This is a theme repeated over and over throughout other cities and the state. The top right bar graphs show in green where listings are this year compared to last year in red.  Last year's Time Trend show the huge dip as the pandemic conditions were being dealt with, and then an increase above the line  for 2021, but no where near the activity for 2020, shown in green bars. 

The pricing on Active Listings demonstrates the under-$200,000 market is very slim, with approximately one-third of the market priced between $300,000-$750,000, another (approximately) one-third between $1.0 million to $1.5 million, and the remaining third priced over $2,000,000.  All price ranges see a decrease in numbers of listings, but the largest deficit is in the lowest end of the market.



In the Home Price Interactive, the bottom right graph

Income vs. loan payment, LA County
shows how income has risen in Los Angeles County since before 2000, from $35,000 annually, up to the present $75,000 annual income.  But the payment line (green) has dipped up and down over time, reflecting the downtimes of the Great Recession and foreclosures after 2007, and  recovery period after that.  But according to this graph, the difference between current mortgage payment levels and annual income is at a midpoint, similar to the loan payment-annual income scenario prior to 2000.





 For a home valuation, please go to my website for an automated valuation, or contact me directly for a comparative market analysis.

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


Fire Protection: Home Hardening Law for 2021 in California

Are you a property owner who's considered fire resistant materials for your home? If you already have made certain changes, you're probably closer to protecting your property in case of wildfire. Wildfires are not just in a certain part of the state, for instance, they could happen anywhere you live near brush and vegetation. A new law came into effect January 1, 2021 that requires a disclosure for properties that are:
• Within high or very high fire hazard zones 
• Built before 2010 
• Residential one to four properties; condominiums or other common interest development units; or manufactured homes    

The fire zones are disclosed in the natural hazard disclosure statements required in property transactions, where the box is checked on the form for which zone(s) the property is in.  Natural Hazard Disclosure reports and statements, required in California, are most often completed by professional sources which assume the liability for and have access to statewide reports concerning the hazard zones and required disclosures in California law.  California Association of Realtors now includes a disclosure form for sellers as part of their transactional documentation in a sale to cover requirements under the new law.

Fire hardening measures include Class A fire rate roofing materials (composition, tiles, steel), using 1/8" mesh at chimneys and vents, using screens over rain gutters, keeping vegetation at least 5 feet from the property, and multi-paned tempered glass.  

Parts of Los Angeles and Orange Counties may be significant for taking measures, but even in non-high-fire zones, they are a good idea for overall home maintenance and protection.

CalFire's website https://www.readyforwildfire.org/ contains this agency's advice on preparing for wildfire.

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


2020 Single Family Review for Los Angeles County

LA County House Snapshot for 2020
Last year saw a  consistent dip in all housing metrics after the beginning of the pandemic shutdown, but then a recovery began mid-year that hasn't stopped since.  The current market is marked with multiple offers and prices shooting upward since the end of January 2021.  The close of February showed an average house price for the County sitting at $1,232,890, an increase of 23% over one year ago, while the median price was $830,000.  February's average County-wide home price of $1,232,890 exceeds any average home price since 2008 and before. Some of the properties are seeing an increase of $50,000 sale price over list price, while others are  selling at or just above list price; one property in California Heights in Long Beach was listed at $699,000 and sold for $850,000.  It's not unusual for 15-20 offers or more, for houses that are move-in ready and partially or fully upgraded.  Months inventory, meaning how many houses are actually available for sale, is critically low, and it is this low inventory that fuels the upward price surge.  For January and February, months supply is 1.8 months (normal inventory supply is 6 months, but that's been gone since 2012).  Interest rates have been well below 3%, but with a recent increase in rates, mortgage applications have slowed. 

If you would like a market evaluation for your home or condominium, please contact me.  It's an ideal time to sell.

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


How Is Housing So Strong Right Now?

If you're a potential buyer or seller sometime in the past year, you've had some experience with Property Entry and Advisory Declaration (PEAD) forms, required for all prospective buyers to sign before entering a listed home on the market. 


To backtrack a little, both the national and California economies have recovered, and COVID figures are on the decrease at this time.  Looking back to Feb.-April of 2020, earning data shows that job losses for people earning over $100,000 annually were at 12%; job losses for earners under $100,000 annually were at 88% -- the retail, food industry and other service jobs were the hardest hit, while the other job categories over $100,000 income were not hit nearly as hard.  Interest rates are at historic lows and are likely to stay that way for sometime to come.  Mortgage applications dipped last Spring, but climbed way up in January 2021, all of which is fueling home sales in 2021.  California saw a 22% increase over last year in number of homes sold, over 484,000 in one month (but compare to January of 2005 when over 600,000 sold).  

In December, 2020, total California home price rose to $717,930 (+16.8% from last year); fueled also by low inventory (-48%), leading to median of 11 days on market and a list-to-sales-price ratio of  100.1% (+1.9%). 

Southern California home prices have increased to $650,000, overall, over 16% since one year ago,  and sales have increased 13% year over year: By county, OC at $971,000; LA at $697,660; Riverside $495,500; San Bernardino $390,000; San Diego $730,000; Ventura $776,000.

This is the strongest growth in California in 7 years.

Only 5% of sales are all cash, but two of five homes were sold to first time homebuyers.  And 33% of those 1st timers had more than 20% down payment!!  Yes, parents, friends and family are helping them out. 

So as the charts above show, showing traffic shows the homebuying momentum as the PEAD forms are tracked in various counties.  Lately the showing pattern is: put home on market mid-week, showings take place at 15 minute intervals Friday, Saturday, Sunday, offers are due in Sunday or Monday, by Wednesday of the following week, the buyer is found.  Needless to say, winning offers are completely documented with solid loan pre-approvals and proofs of funds.  This is a hectic time for buyers who must compete and be prepared (on some properties) to overbid. 

With the lowest housing supply in years, most sellers who can think about making a change will get showing activity.  If you're wanting a home value estimate, this is a good time to contact a Realtor.

See the complete housing report here


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


Long Beach Sales Volume and Price Comparisons in 2020

2019-2020 Sales Volume Comparison, Long Beach

As broken down by area, the highest number of sales for 2019 and 2020 took place in the North Long Beach area, followed by the Bixby area and Lakewood Plaza.   Most areas had fewer sales in 2020, but Belmont Shore/Naples areas actually had higher sales volume in 2020 compared to 2019.

See how average Long Beach single family home price (blue) rose in 2020 compared to 2019 with lower inventory (green) for single family homes! The top average in 2019 was under $800,000, whereas the top average in 2020 was just under $1,000,000. The Corona virus and the restrictions placed on how homes were to be shown (for the really motivated buyers and sellers) the market prices continued upward, fueled by the lowest inventory and lowest rates seen in recent times.


2020 Average sales price Long Beach

2019 Average sales price Long Beach

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


New Real Estate Laws Which Might Affect You in 2021

 Condominium or other homeowner association homeowners may be accustomed to establishing the number of rentals allowed in the association, but under AB 3182, the common interested development must now allow at
Happy 2021!
least 25 percent of owners to rent or lease out their units starting January 1, 2021, regardless of whether the HOA has formally amended their governing documents. This also includes ADUs related to the property:  if the owner occupies his own unit then renting out a space within the unit, an ADU or junior ADU must be permitted. No matter what, the existing rights that owners currently enjoy to rent out their units cannot be changed. Thus in a 30 unit building, 25% of the units is 8 (rounded up from 7.5) which may now be allowed to rent out, regardless of what current rules or CCRs state.

 Rent moratorium and other state and local laws affecting landlords and tenants are in effect, or may soon expire.  They are numerous and complex, so without mentioning them further here (AB3088 and SB 1079 would be two of those laws), any landlord or tenant is advised to consult with their local city and/or county, and/or apartment association attorney, before selling, renting, raising rents, or evicting concerning his/her property.

The law authorizing the revocable transfer on death deed which allows a transfer of property by deed to a named beneficiary has been extended for another year.  (SB1305). This is another legal instrument which the property owner is wise to seek some legal advice about before making such a transfer.

Home hardening disclosure which requires a seller of a home built before 2010 in a designated high or very high fire area to povide a buyer with documentation that it is in compliance with local laws about vegetation management and defensible spaces. Look for more information here from Cal Fire https://www.readyforwildfire.org/.

 AB1885 increases the homestead exemption to $300,000 or the countywide median sale price of a single family home, whichever is greater, not to exceed $600,000.  In Los Angeles County, that would be $600,000.  Existing law exempted $75000 to $175,000 (depending on residents' situation) of a home's equity from a judgment debt.  The new law increases this equity exemption amount to the higher levels, and will be adjusted annually for inflation.

AB2463 prevents foreclosure of a principal place of residence based on a judgment lien if it was based on consumer debt. 

This is only a portion of new laws affecting California property owners, for instance the new laws passed under Proposition 19 have been discussed in 2 earlier posts.  For a complete list and more explanation of new laws concerning renting and rent control, consumer privacy act, foreclosure forbearance, exemption from reassessment after a declared disaster, and more, please contact me for a digital copy.


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


Cost vs Value 2020 from Remodeling Magazine

This annual report from Remodeling Magazine covers 12 project areas, broken into different levels of job costs, resale value, and cost recouped.  This is usually an interesting and viable resource for homeowners who are contemplating a remodel, or for those who already have completed one this year.  Resale value, in my opinion, is always a good thing for the remodeler (homeowner) to consider, as sometimes what will boost the value of a home is sometimes overestimated.  The reader may go online and download a full report for his or her area, see link below.  This report is based on the Los Angeles area.

There are five projects covered in this post, chosen according to highest return on value, regardless of the original investment amount.  Many times homeowners can maximize their sale price without plunking down a huge investment.  

Second highest return on cost:  As in past several years, garage door replacement brings in over 100% of investment (106.6%). The replacement is a four-section steel door with foam insulation and windows in the top panel, insulated glass. The motorized door opener was not replaced.  Cost:  $3,956.

Highest return on cost:  manufactured stone veneer with a return of 120.2%, which involved removing a 300-square-foot of vinyl siding from front of property, and replacing with manufactured stone veneer.   Additional installation included two separate layers of water-resistive barrier over bare sheathing.  Total cost: $9,699.

Minor kitchen remodel: 95.1% return on value. This involved replacing cabinet fronts on original cabinetry with new wood panels and drawer fronts, including new hardware. Replace cooktop/oven range and refrigerator with new energy-efficient models. Replace laminate countertops; install sink and faucet and new flooring, new painted walls, trim, and ceiling. Cost $26,993.

Entry Steel Door Replacement: 91.2%, cost $2,119. This is a factory finished door with same color on both sides, lockset replaced, included dual-pane glass panel.

Composite Deck addition;  84.4%, 16x20-foot deck composite material in a simple linear pattern. Include built-in bench and planter, stairs, assuming three steps, railing using a matching system made of the same composite. Cost $23,911.

Surprisingly, bath remodels or additions, which vary in cost, did not recoup as much as  the kitchen mentioned above.  Roofing and siding replacements fared higher in return than bathrooms.  For more complete cost comparisons, and costs in different regions, please review a download of the Remodeling article.

All project information in this post is from: Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com) ©2020 Hanley Wood Media Inc. Complete data from the Remodeling
2020 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at www.costvsvalue.com

 For a market estimate of your property, and to find out what recently remodeled properties in your area have sold for, please contact me for a professional valuation.

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


The Change to "Green" -- Why Does This Matter?


In geographic areas where the homes are commonly 50-plus years old, and the most recent tracts were built up in the 1970s, the push for retooling may just feel like an uphill push only.  But in these times of need to financially conserve, there are ways to get your foot in the door towards more sustainable housing and lower expenses. To completely retrofit an older home may not bring a good cost-benefit return financially, but may other steps can be taken to improve a home's efficiency.

California has already passed laws concerning implementation of low-flow appliances, so if your living quarters haven't been changed out yet, they should be. And if you're not using light bulbs that save electricity, you're spending unnecessary money.

If a property owner is doing a major remodel on an older home or rental property, then he or she may be looking at retrofitting costs.  Part of that cost is estimating the time period to recoup the original investment.  According to some sources, adding low flow showerheads, installing LED lights and adding home insulation bring the fastest payback period for the lowest costs, most within a one year period or less

Ways to Save:

There are advanced green certifications as LEED or ENERGY STAR, which require following many steps towards certification.  But the average homeowner wishing to enhance features can do certain things that will build towards energy efficiency and more comfort without costing a lot:  

  • window retrofits (more expensive but will save over time) which will also enhance the value of a home to a prospective buyer;  
  • Replacing all the interior and exterior light bulbs with LEDs which use 25% of the energy of an incandescent bulb and may last up to 25 times longer, and save $75 or more each year.
  • Efficient refrigerators may be 20% more energy efficient, and EE ceiling fans may be 50% more efficient. 
  • Using weather sealant for doors and decks, and check insulation for proper "R" values, and wrap your old water heater to save up to 10%.
  • Waterproofing paint generally leads to a longer lasting, more sustainable building. 
  • Using renewably sourced construction material such as engineered woods, recycled woods, bamboo construction.
  • Caulking, weatherstripping, sealing air ducts, installing a fireplace flue plug are additional ways to prevent air from escaping.  Thirty percent of energy in a California home is for heating and cooling, and these measures will help to reduce escaping air.
  • A Smart Thermostat allows for programmable hours for work and vacations, another way to control home expenses up to 10% annually.  Find more energy management tools (EMTs) to save money.
  • Xeriscaping, which calls for water conservation through low maintenance landscaping, can save over 50% of residential water use.  It's not necessary that your home look like a desert in order to achieve this, but planning with the right plants will reduce the amount of water on your grass lawn.
  • Greywater is repurposed water for outdoor irrigation, and may involve a small filtration unit to direct water from the house to the outside.   
  • Unplugging home printers and computers when not in use may save up to $200 annually in electricity costs!  

Buildings in the U.S. produce about 40% of the overall CO2 emissions, and scientists are expecting the world to need 40%-70% less CO2 emissions by 2050 to counteract the worst of climate change.  So energy efficiency is not just fashionable, it's important.  An energy efficient home is estimated to produce 2.5 fewer tons of CO2 each year! And an energy efficient home is less costly and more comfortable to live in.

For more information, check with your local city for incentive programs in place.

Further resources:










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


Luxury Market is Active, Long Beach Quarter Ending September 2020

The luxury market in many areas has taken a surprising jump up, Long Beach included.  In fact, Los Angeles County for the quarter ending September, 2020, has had the most sales over $1,000,000 compared to the rest of the state, including the Bay Area. 

In Long Beach 90803 zip code alone, there were 52 residential sales over the $1 million mark ending in the 3rd quarter, and the average of the median price was over $1.382 million.  That was up 4% from the prior quarter.  Bixby Knolls was up 325% from the prior quarter, with 17 sales with median average price at $1.370 million.  Zip code 90808 (east Long Beach) had 11 sales averaging over $1 million, and 83% increase over the prior quarter.   The most expensive home sold in the last quarter was over $4 million.

The graphic shows more detail about Long Beach luxury sales.


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


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