Thursday, April 30, 2015

Understanding Condo Fees 101


001Buying a condo is a lot like purchasing a house. You are paying for property that you own and can potentially live in. However they often have a hidden price that can drive up monthly costs considerably

Condo fees are used to pay for the maintenance, care, and safety of the complex you live in. Unfortunately, many people do not take these into consideration during the purchase process – don’t get caught unaware! This guide will help you understand your condo fees so you have more time (and money) to spend enjoying your new home. 

Depending on where you live and how property rates are structured, the exact condo fees that are charged and what you will get for your money will vary. Generally they work on a sliding scale, with larger spaces paying more and smaller ones shouldering less of the burden. The exact cost of these fees, and the services that they pay for, will vary greatly between different locations, and often you end up getting what you pay for.
Fees will tend to vary year by year, depending on the value of the property itself. In most cases they will go up slightly on an annual basis, though it is possible that they could go down if there is a surplus or a reduction in utilities and services offered. However this is not supposed to be a profit based item, and is instead compensation for services rendered to the residents of the complex.

Condo Fees Cover Many Different Services

There are a number of different services that can be provided in return for condo fees. The most basic include general maintenance of the complex, including the repair of plumbing, heat, and electrical issues. They also help with cosmetic maintenance such as fresh coats of paint on a regular basis, and the repair of minor damage to fixtures and major appliances in each unit. These are simple things that will need to be done often just to maintain the integrity of the building that you are living in.
In some cases these fees will also include exterior care and upkeep including landscaping, and maintenance of the lawns, trees, and other vegetation in the area. That helps to keep the entire community looking pleasant, without forcing the residents to actually take on these tasks themselves. It also maintains the value of the condo that you purchased, so that it does not depreciate due to untended care.
Another common use for condo fees is to pay for monthly utilities such as heat and electricity. It will usually include trash pick up as well. In some upscale locations, free high speed Internet, cable, and other luxury services may also be included in this package.
Some fancier amenities that can be included may be the maintenance of a pool, a garden, a small park, or even access to a rooftop patio. Many condos also offer washer and dryers in each unit and a full service gym in a common area. In some cases you can even get concierge service, making your home feel like an upscale hotel, with all costs covered by your monthly condo fees.

Not All Condo Fees Go To Pay For Large-Scale Disasters

The fees that you pay are supposed to go directly towards the maintenance of the buildings and amenities in the unit, but sometimes large-scale disasters can occur such as fires, floods, and weather events. Some condo associations set aside a portion of all income in a contingency fund to help pay for such situations. However others do not, and in those cases an assessment fee may be charged to residents to help repair the damage. This can be a significant cost, and should also be part of your budget and saving plan for your financial future when moving into your condo.

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One of the greatest drawbacks to condo fees is that they can significantly drive up the cost of living in a condo, even if you have purchased it outright. In general the extra monthly bill can actually increase the price of living there to the point where it equals a single-family home of the same size. You may also end up paying fees for services and or amenities that you do not use. If you don’t drive, then maintenance on a parking place will be wasted on you. If you can’t swim, then paying extra for pool cleaning is a waste as well. That is why you should evaluate the entire fee structure before deciding on the condo community that you would like to reside in.

On the other hand, not all condo fees are bad. These payments go towards the maintenance of your home and neighborhood. In some cases it may even be desirable to have higher condo fees assessed monthly, as that should reflect in the amenities and level of service that you receive. However this is a personal choice that you have to make before purchasing a condo. Make sure that you read the agreement carefully in order to ascertain exactly what you will be getting for your money.

When you are deciding whether you want to purchase a condo it is important that you factor these fees into the monthly price that you will be paying. Many people fail to notice these costs, and end up in a situation where they are paying far more than they expected.

The best way to evaluate whether a real estate purchase is a good idea is to look at it from a long term perspective, understanding what your goals are for the future, while remaining bound to a strict budget that you can afford right now.

If you are thinking of buying a condo, visit our property search website to find condos in your area.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

House Hunting Checklist: Your A-Z Guide To Finding The Perfect Home

The Basic Elements You Need To Find The Best Home For Your Situation

There are a number of things that every buyer should keep in mind when buying a home. Having an A-Z checklist will help you to remember all of the things that you are looking for in your new property.

A: An Experienced Real Estate Agent: You need to find an agent who will work FOR YOU and provide you with the best possible service. Do they know the area; will they preview property for you to save you time? Do they return your phone calls; do they listen to you when you give them feedback on properties that you have seen? Are you confident that they understand what your needs are? Buying a home can be very stressful and a professional agent prevent problems and make your home buying experience a GOOD THING! Van Wig & Associates and Agents have sold over 1,000 homes! Experience matters when it comes to purchasing a home – hire them!

B: Basements: Depending on the the area and if homes in your chosen neighborhood has basements; you should always evaluate the basement of a home to determine whether there may be water or flooding issues. These spaces are often prone to mold. However a finished basement can be an attractive feature that can exponentially increase the size and function of your home.

C. Ceilings: A higher ceiling on the interior of a home will make the space feel larger, and more expansive. However they will also be harder to clean.

D. Dining Rooms: Not every property will have a full room set aside for dining. Some will have a dinette area, and others will require you to eat in the kitchen. If the kitchen is too small then you may not have a place to put a table for gathering and eating at all.

E. Environmental Concerns: Is the property that you are purchasing ecologically friendly? There are a number of large appliances and features that can save energy, generate energy naturally, and keep your comfortable with green practices.

F. Flooring: The type of floors that exist in a space will have a dramatic effect on how it will feel, and how it can be used. Some materials will require constant maintenance, while others may be easy to keep clean.

G. Garage: If you have a car then a garage can be a luxury, as well as a safety element when purchasing a home. Placing your vehicle in an enclosed building will keep it safe from both burglary and the elements.

H. Housing Needs: How many people will be living in this space? You need to match the size and number of rooms to the population of your family in order to ensure you have enough room for everyone. If there are children involved then it will be necessary to decide whether they will have to share a bedroom.

I. Investment Potential: Real estate is not just a place to live, it is also one of the best investments that you can make. However some properties will increase and hold value better than others. Researching the relative value of different homes in the area over time can give you an idea of the potential profit you might stand to make.

J. Justification: You need to make sure that your goals are clear before purchasing a home. This will depend on whether you want to start a family, as well as your projected career path. Only by looking at all of the different aspects of your life can you determine if it is time to purchase a home, and what kind of property it should be.

K. Kitchen: This is often the most important room in the house. It can act as a social center for the entire family, as well as a source of nourishment, and warmth. The features in this space such as refrigerators, ovens, counters, and cabinets can all be quite expensive, and the style of these pieces can effect the price of a home dramatically. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen then it is important for you to choose one that you feel comfortable, and at ease in.

L. Living Room: This room is also vital as it is the space that will most often bring friends and family together. It is also very visible to guests as it will be the environment where you’ll be most likely to interact with them. That is why it is important for this space to have a relaxed feel that helps promote a sense of social flow.

M. Mortgage: Home’s are generally too expensive to purchase outright, requiring a loan known as a mortgage to be taken out in order to pay for them over time. The monthly payments as well as the interest should be calculated carefully so that you don’t go over budget.

N. Neighborhood: Before you purchase a home it is often useful to spend some time in the neighborhood, getting to know the feel and flow of the environment to ensure that you actually want to live there.

O. Opportunities: Some cities offer more of a specific job then others. That causes many people to move to those locations in order to pursue further employment opportunities.

P. Parking: If the house being purchased is in a crowded neighborhood or city then having a dedicated parking spot can be a vital element to a home.

Q. Quantity: The more rooms you have the more upkeep will be required to maintain the look of the home. At the same time you want to ensure that there is plenty of space for everyone who will be living there to have their own privacy.

R. Return On Investment: If you are purchasing a house as an investment it is always important to look at the key factors that will influence its short-term value. This can involve the popularity of the neighborhood and the quality of the property.

S. Stairs: Older people, or those who have small children, might want to stay away from purchasing homes that have stairs. Those can be dangerous obstacles that may lead to serious accidental injuries.

T. Time: You should know what your long term goals are so that you can pick a house that will fit your needs.

U. Underlayment: During your home inspection, you will have a professional check the padding or material underneath the floor for the possible presence of mold, mildew, or other harmful microorganisms.

V. Viability: Some houses are very private, fenced in and nestled away in neighborhoods. Others are out right on the edge of street corners. This can raise important safety concerns for families.

W. Water: If there are water features nearby such as lakes, rivers, or an ocean, then the home may be prone to flooding.

X. The X Factor: Sometimes you just fall in love with a house. While it is best to let logic rule your decision, you also have to live in this place so you need to at least enjoy it a little on a personal level.

Y. Yard: A yard is great if you have children, or pets, but can be a problem to care for over time.

Z. Zeal: At the end of the day,  you have to be excited about the property. If you find that you’re taking a lackluster approach to the process then you may be looking at the wrong home and opportunity.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when house-hunting … for even more ideas on how to select your perfect home … just give me a call. 562-882-1581

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How A Home Inspection Can Lower The Purchase Price Of Your Dream Home in Lakewood


HS01P019This involves having a trained professional go in and evaluate the structure of the building according to a wide variety of criteria which includes safety and structural issues, as well as potential water damage, plumbing, electrical issues, and even minor issues that can affect the value of a property.

What Are Some Of The Potential Problems?

Home inspections can make you aware of any potentially dangerous, or life threatening issues that might exist. Bad wiring can lead to fires, rotting walls can lead to collapses, and decaying floors can turn into sink holes that can physically harm your family.

There are also more subtle problems such as the presence of mold, which can be less dangerous immediately, but which can cause long-term health problems for you and your family. All of these factors are important for determining whether it is a good and safe idea to purchase a particular house.

At the same time they can also be used as a negotiating tool in order to try and drive down the price of your dream home. Every problem that turns up and every potential issue that is uncovered is another bargaining chip that can be put in to play to try and achieve more favorable terms with the seller.

Any contract that is signed between a seller and buyer should include an inspection contingency, allowing for negotiations to take place if problems are discovered after the process has started. This will allow the buyer to either ask that the issues be repaired, or alternatively receive a credit so that they can undertake that work themselves. In some cases they will agree on a combination of those two possibilities.

Sometimes buyers think that the home is inspected by the termite company or by the appraiser; neither is true. The termite company is only paid to check termite and dry rot. The appraiser is checking general sales in the area and looks at the home for livability. The appraiser is visiting the home for less then 30 minutes. When you are purchasing a home in the Lakewood area the inspector will look under the home and in the attic. A general inspection usually takes a minimum of two hours.

Negotiating Price

One thing that is important to keep in mind when you go into any negotiation over the price of a home is the psychology of the person on the other side of the table. The seller doesn’t want to have to drive down the price, or pay for costly repairs that can eat up even more of their profit margin. But the buyer wants to make sure that they aren’t being taken advantage of either. In other words, both parties want to ‘win’ the negotiation.

Understanding this fact will make it easier for you to come to an amicable arrangement when trying to work a price down due to inspection issues. Sometimes instead of doing the repairs the buyer can ask for a price reduction or money towards repairs.

A good Realtor can guide you through the process of how to do this type of request. Remember in the Lakewood and Long Beach area, 90% of the homes are over 50 years old with some items like ungrounded outlets being very common while other items like leaks under the home should definitely be called out and therefore repaired.

For more information on how to turn a home inspection into a "win-win" ... please give me a call,  I would love the opportunity to speak with you!

My Direct Phone is 562-882-1581

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fabulous home with lots of room!



This home is perfect for the growing family.

Four big bedrooms, two downstairs and two upstairs.  Large living room in the front of the home and spacious family room with fireplace in the rear.


Open and airy kitchen with formal dining room


Newer dual pane windows, central air and heat, newer roof, copper plumbing and fresh exterior paint.

Backyard oasis with patio and cabana area.



Two car garage and a long driveway perfect for R.V parking. Floor plans show main floor level and upstairs.


Great circle area with only three entrances. Ridgewood Heights area of Bixby.

For more information on this home, please call 562-882-1581 or email

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pricing your home in Lakewood California

How do you price your home correctly in today's market?
The most common answer you will hear from most other real estate agents, is that you look at the comparable sales and judge from there, making adjustments accordingly.
Yes, that's a good start ... but what about the overall market supply? Often I see agents completely forgetting to factor in market supply.
A good agent looks at supply, square footage, floor plan, ambiance, upgrades and backyard design.
Long Beach has been experiencing a shortage of listings for some time now and a skilled agent knows how to capitalize on this low supply situation. This translates into thousands of extra dollars for you.
If you are thinking of moving, please give me a call ... I would love the opportunity of speaking with you.
The first step in setting a record price! 562-882-1581

Monday, February 23, 2015

Make Your Kitchen Look Like A Million Dollars

Staging a home is one of the services I always offer my clients ... Here is some information on what it is, how it affects the sale and various tips on how to make your home look as inviting and cozy as possible.

This Kitchen Invites The Buyer
So what is staging?
It is the process of specifically decorating a room, or home, in order to make it more attractive to buyers. One of the most popular places to engage in staging is the kitchen, which is often a deciding factor in whether someone ends up purchasing a home.

Why does Staging affect the sale of a home?
The reason that staging works is because it plays on subtle, subconscious, psychological factors that control human behavior. When a person looks at a home and evaluates it they do so through an emotional filter, that is based on their cognitive perception of reality. By making changes that automatically trigger feelings of comfort, joy, beauty, and hope it is possible to make a space seem more intriguing, and attractive, making a person more likely to fall in love with it.

What Should You Do First?
The first thing that you want to do when staging a kitchen is to make sure that it is completely neat, tidy, and orderly. The surfaces should all be free of stains, grime, and muck, and all of the utensils showing should be brightly washed and shimmering.

Here is an example of an un-staged kitchen vs. one that is staged.

It is also important to minimize the number of features and items that are on display in the kitchen. Barb Schwarz, also said, “Staging does not require lots of expensive furniture; in fact good stagers will limit the amount of furniture to keep the space open.” That means getting rid of superfluous appliances and storing any items that don’t directly add to the decorative beauty of the space. It may even be necessary to purchase a storage unit to hold your kitchen tools until the home is sold.

Be Yourself But Keep Buyers In Mind Too
As far as style, you need to walk a fine line between being generic and unique. You want the space to stand out in people’s minds, but at the same time you also want it to be accessible to the widest audience possible. Making it feel family oriented may chase off a couple without kids, or single people. On the other hand strange, modern, and eclectic items can be a problem for more conservative potential buyers. Finding the right balance will give your kitchen a great look that will have a broad reaching appeal.
Eliminate Clutter And Emphasize Cleanliness
In general you want to avoid storage accessories such as boxes, bins, and trays. If you want to display a few attractive pieces these should be immaculate, with the rest stored away out of sight until you are ready to use them in your new home.

If you have a kitchen table that centerpiece to should get extra attention. Make sure that there are not too many chairs crowding around it making it look cluttered. Table runners and tablecloths should generally be avoided, as they can quickly grow dingy if not constantly cleaned.

In some extreme situations it may be necessary to effect minor repairs in order to get a kitchen looking perfect for staging and sale. Staging is generally different from actually renovating and is more on the decorative side of the visual arts. However minor repairs can do a lot to make the space seem more desirable.
Remember, staging a kitchen is a great and inexpensive way to make a home much more desirable to prospective buyers. It allows you to put your best face forward, creating an illusion of possibility, which people can then fill in using their own hopes, aspirations, and imaginations. If you would like more information on how I would suggest how staging a home, just give me a call ... 562-882-1581.



Friday, January 16, 2015


525 Seaside Way Unit # 304 Harbor Place Tower is for sale!

Stunning ocean front condominium in prestigious Harbor Place Tower.

One of the best floor plans available, only two of these in the building. Two master suites each with their own sitting areas.

Over 1300 square feet of living space. Gorgeous hardwood floors, custom built storage cabinets, open kitchen with breakfast bar and dining area.

Nice large patio that can accommodate a table and chairs.

Walk to downtown restaurants and shops. Building has 24 hour security, pool that you can swim laps in, spa, fitness center, sauna, and beautiful interior sitting areas. Unit includes two parking spaces.

Harbor Place Tower is one of the most sought-after residences in Long Beach. This ivory hi-tech, 22 story building s at the corner of Linden and Ocean Blvd. Constructed in September of 1992, it offers 220 residential units, one commercial unit plus several office spaces.

Allison Van Wig has listed unit #304 and this unique floor plan is one of only two in the entire building ... take a look at this breath-taking property ... take a virtual tour of this home and then call Allison Van Wig for a private viewing ... 562-882-1581