Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Buyers’ Agent, Selling Agent, Sellers' Agent – What’s the Difference?


AVWs SuperBroker LOGO Distinguished Marketing GrpBuyers’ agent, sellers’ agent, selling agent. In every Long Beach & Lakewood real estate transaction, the differences are easy to understand, right?

Not quite. A potential linguistic trapdoor can lie right around the corner.

For openers, that sellers' agent may also be called the ‘listing agent’ – both mean the same thing. The ‘trapdoor’ is a further complication that comes into play once a contract is in place -- after which the buyer’s agent may also properly be called the ‘selling’ agent!

The potential confusion between seller’s agent and selling agent doesn’t usually have much practical significance: after all, by then, everyone should know the cast of characters and who represents whom. But it can come into play if buyer or seller are not actually present here in Long Beach or Lakewood to keep the names and duties sorted out -- but that’s rarely the case.

What is significant is how the duties of each designated Long Beach & Lakewood agent differ in their obligation to you the seller (or you the buyer). Briefly, the buyers' agent helps prospective buyers find properties for sale, and the listing agent helps their home owning clients sell their Long Beach or Lakewood homes at the most favorable price as quickly as possible.

Both agents have a fiduciary duty to represent their clients’ best interests, which can differ markedly. Nonetheless, in transaction broker states, it is also possible for an individual agent to represent both sides, which carries a special designation known as ‘dual agency.’

Personally, I have found that being a listing agent in Long Beach and Lakewood brings me many calls from future buyers who later become clients -- at which point I turn into a buyer’s agent, and after a contract is opened, the “selling agent”! Should you ever become confused (and now you can see how!), just ask me or …  your own agent to go over the differences for you. When you pick an agent whose knowledge and integrity are beyond question, he or she will be able to quickly clarify the representation.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Profit from Early Decisions When Selling a House in Long Beach

Home Improvement for Long Beach Homes


According to a recent survey, nine out of ten REALTORS® believe that clients who make improvements before selling a house in Long Beach are more likely to secure a successful sale.

Why, you may wonder, would anyone take the trouble to run a survey to discover anything that obvious? Possibly because of a follow-up question Realty Times came up with: 65.9% of real estate agents – virtually two out of three – agree that a common mistake among homeowners is not making "the right" home improvements for the local market.

Uh-oh! Remodeling in the wrong direction can cost you twice! If it’s such a common mistake, it’s safe to say it might be best to consult an agent before rolling up your sleeves (or opening your checkbook). Active Long Beach agents are constantly noting what features are popular with prospective buyers and which improvements are making a difference in today’s market. Knowing what sells -- and why -- is fundamental information when home improvement decisions are about to be made.

Also important is the changing nature of an effective marketing roll out. Yesterday’s sign on the front lawn and paragraph in the newspaper are no longer sufficient. Pocket listings, preview open houses, and social media promotion are all elements that now can be brought into a multi-tiered marketing plan geared to create awareness (“buzz”) around a property’s debut.

Yet, the new market retains at least one unchanging fundamental. To achieve the highest return when selling a house in Long Beach or Lakewood, it has to be priced right. Real estate commentator Barbara Corcoran puts it succinctly:You could spend all the money in the world fixing up and marketing your house,” she says, “but the wrong price on the right house guarantees no sale.”

If you are thinking of selling a house in Long Beach or Lakewood this winter, I’m here to help you meet that goal. Contact me and I would be happy to give you the information that you need to get started on a marketing plan. 562-882-1581

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Home Value Checklist to Use When Shopping for a Property in Long Beach California

LB Pic for edge sitesWhen you search through the latest listings of Long Beach homes, you first find those that fit your top-line needs. Then you narrow down that list. Some of the candidates will seem more appealing than others; and some will seem to be over- or underpriced. Use this home value check list to use when shopping for a property in Long Beach.

Before making a final judgment on which homes bear a closer look, the most successful homebuyers also factor in qualities that may not be at the top of their own personal priorities list, yet which make a difference to the majority of homebuyers. In other words, they keep in mind the most important qualities that add value in market terms – that add investment value to Long Beach homes that are principally your personal residential choice.

Some of the more important ones are:

 Location has a huge impact on a property's long-term price. Are amenities close by? Close enough to walk. Are homes in the immediate area well maintained? Is the property on a desirable block, or located next to a busy road?

 Taxes impact the overall cost of long-term cost – and when homes are listed, those figures are significantly displayed. Also important is whether there are any pending issues you should be aware of -- like a sewer bond or other pending taxes.

 Condition will become a major factor in years to come -- forward thinking will pay off in terms of overall value. A 20-year-old water heater, for example, is going to cost sooner rather than later. Homes with excellent roof and foundation condition can add exceptional long-term value.

Long Beach homes with potential are homes with unrealized value. With smaller properties, it’s worthwhile to consider how doable it would be to add rooms or expand its square footage. Even if you don’t end up adding square footage, if homes are small for the neighborhood, a future buyer might.

This November’s historically low mortgage rates make it a terrific time to give me a call … 562-882-1581. Together, we’ll find the Long Beach homes that are good fits for your family – as well as great long-term values. Also, take a look at my on-line digital magazine and feel free to search for homes on the MLS.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Allison Van Wig Presents 5011 Gundry Ave in Long Beach California List Price $499,900 MLS# P839289

Front of 5011 Gundry

5011 Gundry in Long Beach is

3 bedrooms and 2 baths with

2,465 of living space on HUGE lot.

Great Ridgewood Heights area in Long Beach … Newly built in 1995, this beautiful home has vaulted ceilings and is sunny, bright and very open.Central Air and Heat.

Front Porch of 5011 Gundry 2Living Room of 5011 Gundry


Livingroom going into dining room of 5011 GundryKitchen of 5011 Gundry

Kitchen is a cooks dream with lots of cabinet and counter space. Kitchen nook and a formal dining room.

Large living room and separate family room that has French doors leading to backyard deck with spa.

Two upstairs bedrooms and one down. Large backyard, lot size of over 7,000 square feet. Wide and long driveway with two car garage in back.

Back of 5011 Gundry

For more information of a private showing call …

Allison Van Wig … 562-882-1581

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Smart Long Beach Sellers Give Appliances a Starring Role

RefrigeratorSuccess in selling Long Beach homes can depend on being able to distinguish what is important to buyers from what is not. Proactive homeowners know that one room usually gets more attention than does any other: the kitchen.

There are many good reasons why this is so (we have discussed them before) -- but one kitchen detail in particular can have a disproportionate impact. It’s a detail that is all too easy to overlook: the condition of the appliances.

Realty Times declares, “Sellers should update their appliances." I don’t think I would go quite that far, but the gist is right. When the appliances look like they deserve their starring role in the main act -- the kitchen -- it indicates a homeowner who has taken pride in their property. To a prospective buyer choosing whether or not to write an offer, it can be decisive.

If you are selling a Long Beach home this fall, it will definitely pay to take a critical look at your kitchen’s appliances, and then taking action!

Of course, begin by deep-cleaning them thoroughly. Potential buyers often look inside appliances…and the last thing you want them to find is a crusty oven or rusty dishwasher. It’s true that after a few years of wear and tear, most kitchens don’t look like they belong on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens. But before you commit to wholesale appliance replacement, first see if some light cosmetic action might make that unnecessary.

Check your appliances for scratches, and if they are prominent enough, do something about them. For surface scratches, get a bottle of matching-color appliance paint (available at local Long Beach hardware stores), then dot or stipple the smallest amount possible onto the scratch. For deeper scratches, fill first with a filler material you’ll find in one of the do-it-yourself scratch repair kits offered by auto parts stores. After it has had time to dry, step back and inspect. If you have to know where to look to notice anything: Good job! That was certainly a lot more economical than buying a new appliance.

When all else fails, replacements may be necessary. If you go this route, make sure you go color- and tone-neutral. Remember that many homes will undergo remodeling by their new owners, and their taste may be different from yours. Don’t be tempted to blow the budget by buying appliances that outclass the rest of the property, but also be careful to select appliances that don't look cheap, outdated or out of place where they will be sited in the kitchen.

If you are one of those preparing to sell your Long Beach or Lakewood home this fall, I offer complimentary consultations prior to listing. We can go over big and small changes that will help maximize your return! Give me a call and we can sit down together and brain-storm what would be your best options … Until Next Time!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Would a White Picket Fence Help Sell Your Home Faster?

What was your dream when you were growing up? Did you hope that one day you would own the perfect American suburban dream, a home with a white picket fence?  Do you think that a white picket fence would sell a home faster in Long Beach and Lakewood California?

There is a certain charm and warmth that comes with a house lined with pickets. However, when you look at fencing today and the options available for your home, there is a lot more to choose from and so you can and should shop around!

First of all your fencing should be determined by your lifestyle needs in addition to all the other homes in your neighborhood and the surrounding area. Are you located on a sprawling ranch or nestled between lofts in the city? Is your home located on a corner lot? Is there a practical reason for your home to have a fence? Your fencing may need to be dictated by those factors to bring the most curb appeal and value. Do you have a need to keep animals in or out? If so, there is a wide variety of fencing solutions available to you.

Next, you should consider the overall look and feel of your home and landscaping. Your fencing should blend with your existing structure, unless you purposely choose a more distinctive look. Keep in mind that the height of your fence will matter, as well ... plus don't forget that Long Beach and Lakewood California may have certain building codes that you need to be mindful of. Remember, that fencing is more than just a barrier against the outside world; it also sets the tone for the look and feel of your home.

Take the time to carefully evaluate local resources such as your neighbor’s fencing choices and your local home improvement store to gain a good understanding of what is available to you before making your decision. Sometimes a combination of fencing types is the best way to ally all your concerns and create beauty in the fencing of your home. For more homeowner, seller and buying tips visit my other blogs where you will find a lot of helpful information.

Friday, September 28, 2012

6017 Walnut in Long Beach is Perfect for the First Time Home Buyer

When searching for a home to buy in Long Beach or Lakewood, one of the best buys in Long Beach is 6017 Walnut in Long Beach ... This home is what they call "TURN KEY" because it is move in ready. The only thing you will need a hammer for is to hang your pictures on the wall.

I took the time the other day to shoot a video home tour ... take a look to see all that this home has to offer ... 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, fabulous kitchen, a wonderful backyard and best of all ... a very, very long driveway ...

If you would like more information about this home or to find out more about Long Beach

Friday, August 31, 2012

What's Happening in Long Beach this Labor Day Weekend?


If you are looking for some fun activities to do this Labor Day Weekend here is a link to a lot of local activities here in Long Beach and our surrounding communities. Keep safe and have FUN!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What’s Ahead for Home Prices? Using Multiple Data Sources to Find Out.

For everyone who is wondering if ... WE ARE AT THE BOTTOM of home values ... this article from the Research Economist of the National Association of Realtors may provide some clues!

What’s Ahead for Home Prices? Using Multiple Data Sources to Find Out

Friday, August 17, 2012

MLS Listings Tell Shift in Long Beach & Lakewood Homebuyer Values

The latest indications that we have seen the end of the sagging real estate market has started many Long Beach & Lakewood homeowners thinking it may be time to sell.

For those who are wondering if the long recession has altered how people look for homes – and if so, in what ways  – I have noticed a couple of new trends.

As before, the first stop for most potential buyers is the Long Beach & Lakewood MLS listings. When you compare the language and features most prominent there, huge changes do not leap out. But a comparison with former language does reveal something of a shift in emphasis: many details that highlight opulence (to some, excess) are being replaced by features much more in tune with practicality and efficiency (to some, frugality). You would expect that, since consumer confidence is still less than robust.
The trend to open floor plans is nothing new: fewer walls; more living is an idea many buyers embrace. The more casual “great room” is almost always more desirable to today’s buyer than the formal living and dining rooms of 30 years ago. 

As the baby-boomer generation grows older, issues of accessibility and mobility become more important.  Long Beach & Lakewood MLS listings that boast easy-access showers, baths, bedrooms and kitchens are highly desired and sought after by buyers in that populous group. Such listings signal a home already equipped for easy access -- meaning no extra dollars will be needed for retrofitting the property. Even for those who have no immediate need for those features, eliminating a future expense (even if it seems a distant concern) can be attractive.

Prominence is growing for features that relate to extra living space. The demographic reasons are clear: in-law apartments or bachelor studios have added value for families whose children may have to move back in with them (the “boomerang” effect).  Since such units may be rented for extra income in tough times, they bring an added element of financial security.  Large garages fall into this category as well (but no longer for that brand-new Hummer!)  Today’s MLS listings featuring an extra large garage are viewed as desirable by Long Beach & Lakewood buyers looking to convert it into extra usable space: man-cave, gym, extra storage, or, increasingly, home office space.

Today’s home buyer seems considerably more environmentally conscious than before; homes that feature solar panels, green toilets or other water-efficient plumbing, and radiant light windows are increasingly desirable. This may be due to a growing social responsibility ... but I’d be willing to bet that reduced utility bills can’t be far behind. As a result, green technology features are working their way up in the MLS listings.

If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Long Beach or Lakewood ... and would like to see for yourself where the latest trends are pointing, just give me a call!
As always, I’m here for all your real estate needs.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Long Beach Homes Need a Summer Time Once-Over

July and August tend to be busy months in most Long Beach homes. If you have kids who are out of school, it’s up to you to dream up new ways to keep them out of trouble (and away from non-stop video gaming). Even if kids are not at homes, you probably have to get twice as much done anyway – you want to be ahead at work and around the house so you can relax and enjoy your vacation or … recover from it.

And then there is the likelihood that in the back of your mind is the knowledge that you’ve been putting off what should be an annual home maintenance once-over. All homes have areas that need looking after, and July and August are the best time to get at them. On dry days that are not too blisteringly hot to work it’s a prime time to fix areas that the wear and tear of the past year may be turning into a big future problems.

Warm weather is also perfect for conducting a timely energy audit. Any gaps or cracks around doors or windows - the likely culprits if heat leakage raised last winter’s energy bills - can most easily be filled in warm weather.
Other possible spots where heat can leak are the junction between different materials, and around fireplace dampers. If you’re a dedicated do it your-selfer grab some caulk or other professional-grade material and get filling.

If you’re less handy, the energy audit may suggest a call to an appropriate professional. A review of the year’s energy bills will tell you whether that makes dollars and sense. Many websites allow you to log on and review your energy usage over a certain period of time.

This is also the time to pay attention to the big one: the foundation. It’s prudent in all Long Beach homes to clean visible concrete surfaces. Sidewalks and steps can be cleaned very effectively with the same pressure washer you use to clean your car. When it comes to the foundation, be sure to check for cracks, water or mold. If mold or water is present, a trusted contractor or structural engineer will be able to recommend a solution that prevents real trouble later.

Summer is also a good time to take a look at your home’s deck or patios. Standing water rots wood. The solution can be as simple as slipping planter "feet" beneath outdoor flower pots. As long as water is able to flow around or under stationary objects, the underlying wood will benefit.

These are only a few examples of what you can make part of your summer home maintenance checklist. Call me anytime with home and maintenance-related questions, if you need a recommendation for a reliable local contractor or service provider, or if you want to check on the status of what is happening in the Long Beach or Lakewood real estate market for YOUR neighborhood. Until next time ... Allison Van Wig 562-882-1581

Monday, July 16, 2012

Long Beach & Lakewood Property Searchers Have High-Tech Expectations

We all know that many Long Beach & Lakewood property searchers are looking for homes using websites and also searching out agents who are offering high tech-compatible features for those home searches. But something that is also interesting is evidence that this trend has broadened to include retirees who are in a downsizing, property-searching frame of mind.

 From wireless availability to health monitoring systems, technology is one of the key hot buttons in the senior housing industry. "Many people are trading older houses for new properties that offer energy efficiency, great rooms, and open floor plans,” according to Jane O'Connor, a specialist who studies trends in the 55-plus population. 

Although earlier studies found that most baby boomers preferred to stay in their current home as long as possible, ‘those times they are a-changin’. That attitude may have been typical for most of the last 50 or 60 years, but perhaps due to skyrocketing energy prices over the past few years, willingness to downsize and move is growing among retirement-aged advocates.

As the publisher of Mature Living Choices magazine, O’Connor suggests other contributing reasons. “Boomers were the first generation to question authority.  They changed everything they touched, from the creation of suburbs to mini-mansions.” Today’s retirees are also strong entrants into the virtual communities that the social networking explosion has created. They are using e-book readers, tablets, and other digital technology -- including online services like Skype and other video chat enablers.

A decade ago, members of the senior sector were generally considered to be interested in (but in need of instruction regarding) the latest electronic communication devices … this is no longer the case. Especially given how particularly useful the new gizmos are for keeping in touch with children and relatives in other states, more tech-savvy seniors consider strong cable and Internet access to be absolute necessities.

It seems like just yesterday when it was principally the “20-somethings” that were the ones who were wired. The senior population today can be nearly as high-tech as their offspring, and  … when the time arrives to begin a Long Beach or Lakewood property search, they expect to continue using all the high-tech features they have become accustomed to.

Whether you are a member of the retiree generation just setting out on your own property search, or a homeowner preparing to sell in this ever changing real estate market, I’m here to assist in your plans. Give me a call anytime! 562-882-1581

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Control the Timing for Your Long Beach or Lakewood House Sale

Every homeowner can have all sorts of reasons for selling their Long Beach or Lakewood house. Those in the boomer generation can be in one of the traditional phases of retirement (planning, transitioning, initiating) or perhaps in one of the newly-popular phases (postponing, rejecting).

For them and everyone else, the decision about whether to sell the house falls into one of two categories: those triggered by economic pressures -- or all the other reasons. In all cases, being in control of the timing of your house sale will put you in control of the process … a process that pays off!

Even if the money factor doesn’t rule, it’s vital to first do some hard-nosed dollars-and-cents calculations before putting your house on the market. Find out what a realistic listing price range will be. My expertise and skill as an experienced real estate professional can be a major asset in establishing this: you can count on a complimentary consultation that will offer you comparable current values for Long Beach and Lakewood home sales.

Then consider current rental rates for a house like yours. Sometimes you will be surprised to find that the most beneficial course would be to rent your house for an interim period, of course taking into consideration any movement in the market prices for the Long Beach or Lakewood areas. When you are penciling out these factors, be sure to include realistic maintenance expenses and, if you are moving out of the area, property management fees. I can help with some advice here, too.

If financial pressure is the key motivating factor, make sure you have weighed the alternatives before sealing the decision to sell your house. If you haven’t done so already, find out if refinancing is an option. The first answer isn’t necessarily the final one: check with other financial sources as well as your current mortgage holder. Mortgage rates are lower than ever, and if unmanageable mortgage payments are at issue, this could be the most direct route to reducing that outflow and giving you time to sell on your own timetable.

Being methodical and patient when deciding about any house sale can make a big difference in the bottom line. I’m here to provide current information and guidance about the Long Beach and Lakewood real estate market that will help make that possible. I would be happy to sit down with you and help you discover your options, feel free to contact me anytime!

Friday, July 6, 2012


Should Bathroom Design Matter to Homebuyers?

bathroom colors and design

If you are anything like the average homebuyer, when touring a house for sale your focus will be on the kitchen and bathroom. While the design of other rooms is also important, kitchen and bathroom designs are tied directly to their function. A well-designed bathroom can be a place to relax and pamper yourself, in addition to its more practical functions.

You most likely have your own ideas of what sort of bathroom colors and design you would like in your new house, but there are other, more practical considerations when looking at a bathroom.

Beware of Leaky Plumbing

You don't need to be a plumber to discern leaks in a bathroom. Sometimes, bathroom floors tell the whole story. Look for stained, raised or bubbled vinyl flooring. Use the toe of your shoe to press on the flooring around the toilet. If it feels spongy, the toilet may be leaking.

If the home is two stories, check the ceiling in the room beneath the tub. Water stains there are an indication that the tub may be leaking.

Plumbing leaks may be expensive to repair, so it's a job many homeowners put off as long as possible. Unfortunately, the leak may cause structural damage to the home, so order further inspections if you notice leaking plumbing in the bathroom.

Bathroom Design Considerations

Pretty bathrooms are distracting. Smart homeowners and their real estate agents understand this concept and use it to their advantage. Learn to look beyond the wall color, the new flooring and fixtures to determine if the bathroom's design works for you.

  • Bathroom fixtures: Do the faucets turn easily? Do they drip? When you run water, does the water run fast or slow?
  • Lighting: Is there sufficient light in the bathroom? Lighting around mirrors should be bright and clear, while softer, warmer lighting may be used to set a relaxing mood in the rest of the room.
  • Plumbing access: If there is a plumbing problem, how easily can the plumbing be accessed? Do storage, vanities and other items block access to plumbing? Do pipes have shut-off valves?
  • Storage: People sometimes overlook the oh-so-important aspect of bathroom storage, especially in small bathroom design. Check that there's enough space to store toiletries, bath supplies, towels and other essentials.
  • Ventilation: Is the bathroom adequately ventilated? A bathroom designed without a ceiling fan could be a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Make sure the ceiling fan vents outside the house, and test it to make sure it works.

How Many Bathrooms do You Need?

While it's always a good idea to remain flexible enough to allow compromises when house hunting, the number of bathrooms your family requires is typically not negotiable. Any family member that knows what it's like to stand outside a bathroom door, waiting her turn in the morning, will fight for more bathrooms. So, even if a home is perfect in every other way, or a smokin' hot deal, think twice about compromising on the number of bathrooms you need. Besides, a home with more than one bathroom has better resale value than a single bath home.

For more information about finding just the right home, just let me know.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Homes for The First Time Home Buyer Are Selling Fast!

The real estate market is really busy in Long Beach California ... one of my new listings at 909 Luray in the California Heights area of Long Beach California is a perfect example of what is available for the first time home buyer.

Two bedrooms and 1 bath on a lot that is over 8,000 square feet offers any first time buyer the perfect spot to put down roots ... with lots of room to spare. Here is a video taped home tour  ... if you would like a private tour ... just let me know ...

To learn how one first time home buyer feels after her purchase, watch the video on Allison Van Wig 562-882-1581

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

First-Time Buyers & the Recovering Long Beach & Lakewood Home Market

Many eager first-time homebuyers were sidelined by the worldwide economic recession. It’s hard to commit to a major decision such as a home purchase when you read almost daily that the market is falling or downward pressure continues.

So it’s not surprising that, after such an exceptionally lengthy period of down or nearly flat economic expansion, the optimism that drives sales of all kind has been slow to reappear. But, for the home buying public, and especially for first-timers, that hesitation could prove costly if, as it now seems likely, the market is entering its recovery phase.

So just what does a ‘recovering market’ mean for today’s buyers?  

How does this affect first-time buyers in a recovering Long Beach & Lakewood home market?

The first sign will be a wakeup call: buyers will no longer find a market filled with purely bargain homes.  Already, foreclosures and short sales are selling above the asking price in some areas, with multiple and all-cash offers beginning to reappear. 

Veteran observers in a few areas report that it even eerily begins to feel like the old pre-crash days. Published reports remain mixed, but as with the stock market, by the time you are reading headlines confirming a certain trend (i.e. “the bottom”), you’ve already missed it. 

This is not to say that home buying is already a missed opportunity in the Long Beach & Lakewood home market.  ‘Market recovery’ is a phrase that only signifies that movement and that prices are on their way up. For today’s potential buyers, it does mean that it is time to get serious about investigating what is being offered … what’s out there.

Financing remains an issue.  Home buying candidates hoping to take advantage of the historically low interest rate & loan programs may still be able to do so, but fees and insurance costs for the smaller down payment packages are on the rise. In any case, first-timers who encounter bank caution due to their inexperience with home buying will do well to seek help from an experienced real estate professional. 

Every recovery is different, and the good news now is the presence of both the historically low interest rates and the survival – for the moment – of some bargain listing prices. Together they mean that regardless of any Long Beach & Lakewood resident’s buyer status, many can wind up paying less for more. 

By seeking expert advice, it’s possible to take advantage of the benefits that our changing market has created. With the assistance of a great agent, you can arm yourself with that kind of market knowledge.  

Whether you are buying or … selling … if you are interested in learning what I can do for you during the home buying/selling process in Long Beach & Lakewood?  Call me! Allison Van Wig ... 562-882-1581

Monday, June 18, 2012

Swimming Pools How Do They Affect Long Beach & Lakewood Home Listings?

At last! To the joy of every child (and most adults) that you know, your Long Beach & Lakewood home has a swimming pool!  Whether you just bought the property or have recently installed a pool yourself, this is a feature that’s not only a pleasure to look at, but also a true centerpiece … a magnet for socializing and relaxing throughout the hot summer months.

Also true: that swimming pool might carry a few drawbacks, as well. You should consider them when it comes to writing an offer or selling a home with a pool. Also, how do swimming pools affect home listings in Long Beach & Lakewood?

Pro 1: Boost Your Property's Value
In today's super-competitive housing market, it’s good to stand out from the crowd. Whether you add your property to the Long Beach & Lakewood home listings next week or plan to do so in the future, a pool will boost its overall value. My summer buyers’ ears always perk up when I mention the next home listing we will visit has a pool. 

Pro 2: You (and Future Buyers) Will Enjoy Your Pool
We’ve all had the blissful summer afternoon experience – floating around, colorful beverage of choice in hand.  The truth is you will enjoy your pool: friends will come over, you’ll host great BBQs, and you’ll look forward to unwinding after difficult workdays. It’s hard to put a price on any of that.  Buyers influenced by the summer heat will have the same vision of entertaining and relaxing with friends and family. And the extra attention drawn by Long Beach & Lakewood home listings that mention a pool is unquestionable. 

Con: Not all buyers want a pool. While some may avoid them because of small children, dogs, and generalized safety concerns, others may shy away from extra maintenance issues, both real and imagined. Monthly pool service, higher water bills, higher electricity and gas bills, potential for repair of pool mechanical equipment, pool re-surfacing, pool leaks, replacing diving boards, pool covers … if they have had a pool before, or are merely responding to second-hand tales, the unknowns can seem daunting.  The brave do-it-yourselfers who choose to monitor a pool on their own will be taking on the task of checking chlorine levels, watching algae, measuring chemicals and above all else keeping that pool blue! 

Nevertheless, the truth is that pros and cons accompany all Long Beach & Lakewood home listings. Every household is unique --the balance between challenges and rewards is what makes it so. If you’re having that “colorful-beverage-in-hand” vision and relish the idea of making it a reality, I’m always happy to show you the home listings that best fit your specifications.  You can even ask me what to do if the water turns green! Allison Van Wig ... ... 562-882-1581

Monday, June 11, 2012

Long Beach & Lakewood Listing Agent Sets the Stage

Deciding to put your house on the market? Recruiting an experienced Long Beach & Lakewood listing agent will give you a leg up on the competition.  An experienced agent will know where you need to spend money and more importantly … where you don’t.  This is a huge savings right at the very beginning of your home selling experience.

A good example is dealing with staging – the ‘show biz’ of the real estate world.  Complete staging is expensive and sometimes just is not practical.  A great listing agent will help you decide whether staging is imperative for your home – and if it is not, will offer some basic fixes to help you work with what you have. 

1. The first stage to set? Take the front yard for instance, if the street view is untidy or the yard overgrown, you can lose your audience before the performance even begins. Of course, you will keep the lawn cut and fix the fences and gates – but also think creatively. People’s eyes are drawn to color, so adding a few cheerful annuals in pots and hanging baskets and placing them strategically can do wonders. If the front or garage doors are even a little bit chipped or flaking, sand and paint them. If trees or bushes are blocking sunlight from the front windows, take the trimming shears to them. All of this should take no longer than a weekend (and cost less than $150).

2. Buyers are not really just an audience: you want them to be participants. You want them to be able to visualize their furnishings in your space. Professional stagers have a simple arithmetic rule: 

Subtracting Furniture = Adding Space

You add space by removing bulky, old or mismatched furniture. As your listing agent, I can help you walk through the house and decide what should stay and what should go into storage. Moving them can take about a weekend; cost will be the price of storage (or half of your garage – the next best option).

3. Have you ever walked into an expertly staged home and found dirty socks hanging out in the bedroom?  Nothing is quite as off-putting as evidence of personal hygiene.  Kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms need special hospital-clean sparkle. Do laundry frequently, and why not use a stagers’ extra?  Light candles, set air fresheners -- and open windows wherever you can.

The market has begun to show signs of new activity, but even so, similar homes are still competing for the same group of buyers. That’s why it is vital that you present your home as favorably as possible.  Staging decisions are a good example of how I, as a listing agent with comprehensive knowledge of our Long Beach and Lakewood markets can help you maximize your home's potential. It is one of the ways I work hard for you - - just part of the complete service I am proud to offer.

If you are considering listing a home in Long Beach or Lakewood, call me anytime for a consultation! 
Allison Van Wig // 562-882-1581

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Home Prices Climb in Metropolitan Areas which Includes Long Beach and Lakewood Calfornia

According to the National Association of Realtors®, first quarter statistics again point to better home sales figures. This time it was the prices of single family homes that rose in half of the major cities in the United States. Because of the wide differences between regional and state conditions, these figures are never in 100% lockstep, but Long Beach homeowners should be encouraged by the report’s breadth: prices rose in more than twice as many cities as fell.
Of course, rising prices are always good news for homeowners who want to sell their homes; but beyond that, the effect of movement in that direction is welcome throughout the economy. Consumer confidence is strongly influenced when home sales prices stabilize (just as it is rocked when prices fall).

There are a multiple reasons for the upswing in prices for home sales:

Employment Rates Improve

Although unemployment rates are still relatively high, the U.S. Bureau of Labor reported that the overall rate fell to 8.1 percent in April. Even for those who are currently employed, the knowledge that more jobs are out there is encouraging. When the specter of prolonged joblessness recedes, financial confidence rises and home sales can be expected to follow.

Low Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates are still at historical lows -- and the effect on affordability is dramatic. Currently the national 30-year fixed rate is at 3.97% according As I have discussed before, although lenders have raised the requirements to quality for a loan, such low interest rates make a mortgage more affordable for eligible home buyers.

Fewer Homes Available

Despite the inventory of foreclosed properties, fewer homes were available for sale this year than during the same period in 2011. Nearly always, home sales register higher prices when the housing market tightens – and that did seem to be happening in a growing number of metropolitan areas.

 Higher prices for single family homes are a strong indicator of an improving economy: one that bodes well for everyone in the housing market.  Statistics do vary by neighborhood, so if you are considering selling your Long Beach home this summer and want up-to-date, personalized information, please just contact me for a market update.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dogs in Long Beach!

If you love your "fur babies" as much as I do ... you might ask what is it like having a dog in Long Beach? Well, I have two and I think they really like living here ... read on to find out why!

Rosie's Dog Beach is a great place to go, check out this fun video of the dogs on the beach. Doesn't this video just makes you want to take your pup to the beach?

I also like Recreation Dog Park just off  7th street. Two areas that are fenced one for smaller dogs, and another larger area for the bigger dogs.

We have some great patio restaurants on second street in the Belmont Shore area that allow dogs to sit next to their owners while they enjoy their meal.

Parker's Lighthouse is another one where the Queen Mary is in view from the pet-friendly outdoor seating. Locals applaud the seafood fare here as well.

Cafe Sevilla in Long Beach serves up tapas to the young crowd and will welcome your pup to its patio.

Ambrosia Cafe is a great place for breakfast and lunch with an extensive menu and bar; plus their garden patio has a fireplace and welcomes dogs.

Frosted Cupcakery makes amazing sweets for both you and your favorite pooch and ... what dog wouldn't love a Pup-cake?

Schooner or Later has a large outdoor dog friendly patio. It is best to come early in the morning with your dog on weekends. FYI, this place is know for it's good breakfasts.

Georges Cafe in the Bixby area has a great outdoor patio and my dog Raeggie loves the steak salad, he most especially likes the steak part!

We also have numerous Starbucks and other coffee places with outside patios.

Long Beach is a very park friendly city and pets can walk the parks with leashes on. A sunny Sunday afternoon can be a great time to take a walk at El Dorado Park and watch the ducks.

Of course we also have all the great bike trails. Some people have a bike trailer and Fido rides in the back. Lots of exercise for everyone! For more information on living in Long Beach just let me know, I have lots of ideas I can tell you about!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Taking Stock of Your Long Beach Home’s Value

Figuring out home values when the market is in flux is truly a job for experts. We have seen the national real estate market begin to rebound, and expect Long Beach home values to soon start to reflect movement as well. Most local homeowners are in the habit of keeping an eye on area home values. But especially for anyone considering buying or selling this spring or summer, estimating their home’s value is one of the first items on the agenda.

To get you started, there are a couple of different methods to help establish a ballpark estimate of what your home may currently be worth.

Certainly the quickest and easiest tool is the calculator on Bank of America’s website, at  This free online calculator uses accumulated public record data joined with other factors to produce an estimate of home values. All you need to do is enter your address and wait for the magic.

I do have to put in a word of caution, though. Like any computer program, it’s fast and precise --but also maddeningly capable of disregarding what we humans think of as ‘common sense.’ So, while it is fun and interesting to get this kind of readout, it’s at best a ballpark estimate (and at worst, downright misleading!).

There are many other sites boasting similar tools -- variations of the same idea and pulling from slightly different data sets -- but the approach they use to calculate home values stays the pretty much the same. You only need to enter your address and there you go: instant estimate.

While these calculators are great at aggregating data, nothing replaces human input.  Real estate is, after all, the very definition of a local occurrence, so if you’re looking for more than an estimate, it’s time to call the pros in.

When an experienced agent (someone like yours truly) creates their professional estimate, it not only takes into account the trends for properties closest to yours, but also incorporates real life features -- such as the curb appeal your home and garden offers right now. The better kept your property is at any given time, the greater its estimated value should be. An agent can also suggest the small changes that work best to enhance a property’s value.

If you have been considering selling a home and are curious about today’s Long Beach home values, call me anytime for a complimentary (and 100% human) consultation! 
Allison Van Wig 562-882-1581 ... or visit ...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Changed Lending Guidelines Make Long-Term Sense

Buying a House in Today's Mortgage Market ... Fair or Not, Logic Dictates New Long Beach and Lakewood Mortgage Rules

Changed Lending Guidelines Make Long-Term Sense and anyone interested in buying a house in Long Beach and Lakewood today has heard that they should expect to find tougher mortgage rules and lending requirements. Sometimes that can seem arbitrary -- or just plain unfair; but unfair or not, the new lending reality is probably here to stay for a while, and the causes are understandable.

The mortgage industry learned a powerful lesson from the past, when it pretty much gave anyone who applied a generous loan - sometimes with practically no questions asked. But this “generosity” created financial problems for both the banking industry and the country as a whole. It's not hard to understand why lending guidelines are stricter.

Reducing Loan Defaults

The overriding reason for tougher lending policies is to reduce the number of loan defaults. In order to qualify for a mortgage, borrowers are finding that lenders now look more closely, may require a higher annual income, better credit score, or a larger down payment. Their high-priority goal is preventing any foreclosure situation where the bank owns a property it has to sell or rent itself.

Questioning Future Value

For many years, home buyers never questioned the investment value that seemed to automatically accompany any piece of real estate. Buying a house was like investing in a blue chip stock: certain to rise. The advent of a shrinking Dow Jones Average preceded the phenomenon of 'upside down' homeowner equity. But in both cases, long gone is the idea that everyone should expect to find
no-brainer investment opportunities. When buying a house can mean exposing the lender to a future where more is owed than a house is worth, they naturally seek a safer place for their money. Since a smaller loan or larger down payment achieves that goal, that's what lenders tend to offer.

Lowering Consumer Debt

During 2010, the nation's ten largest mortgage lenders turned down about 26% of all applications (according to the Wall Street Journal). In many cases, that could be attributed to lowered credit scores - due in turn to increased debts from credit cards or unpaid student loans. In fact, those heavy debt loads are part of what got homeowners into financial trouble and helped to fuel the housing market crisis.

In the short term, home buyers denied a loan can't help but be keenly disappointed. But it can ultimately provide time to let them raise their credit scores, increase their savings, and get their financial affairs onto firm ground. The ultimate effect should be to put the whole housing market there, too.

If you're considering buying a house in the Long Beach and Lakewood, I'd like to help you get pre-qualified under the current mortgage guidelines. Once you see what real values are out there and available to you, I think you'll be glad you called!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

In the Magazine that I send to all my clients,  I wrote about about living in Long Beach and Lakewood and the wonderful selection of produce and products that are available to us year round through our local farmers markets. I also blogged about this at the beginning of 2011, for the complete read, go find it from 2/1/2011 ... 

I wrote about why I personally love going to the farmers market and how It gives me a grounded feeling … how it makes me feel like I am on vacation with a renewed feeling. There is nothing better than heading out on my bike on a Sunday morning and biking over to the market.

So where are a few of the farmer’s markets in and around your area?

Alamitos Bay Marina - 9 to 2 pm
6470 E. Marina Drive, Long Beach, CA
Old McDonald’s Giant Farmers Market – 8:30 to 2 pm
Family Friendly with Pony Rides and Petting Zoo
Corner of Spring St and Clark Ave, Long Beach, CA

Bellflower 9 to 1 pm
Simms Park, 16614 S Clark Avenue

Seal Beach - 9 to 1 pm
Seal Beach Village Shopping Center

Long Beach Uptown/Bixby Knolls - 3 to 6:30 pm
600-698 E 46th St, Long Beach

City Place - 10 to 4 pm
5th  and The Promenade

Cerritos - 8 to Noon
Cerritos Towne Center - 12833 Park Plaza Drive

Make sure you try and visit one of these farmer markets and let me know what you think.
When I am not shopping the farmers markets I am busy finding homes for my real estate buyers and buyers for my real estate sellers. If you want update to date info on properties and the real estate market check out

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Saturday May 5th, 2012 I Will Be Riding in the Bike Festival Tour of Long Beach

Last year I had so much fun and received such a sense of accomplishment during my ride in the 2011 Tour of Long Beach bike tour that I decided to contribute my time and join again in this wonderful fundraising event.

As a full time Realtor® in Long Beach and Lakewood I am quite proud of the fact that Long Beach is striving to be ‘the most bicycle friendly city in the U.S.’ … this can be evidenced by all the new bike paths and bike lanes throughout the city.

Whether you are a riding participant or just want to cheer us all on, you can join in the fun by participating in the Tour of Long Beach’s 4-mile Family Fun Ride, or a picturesque 31 or 62-mile course on the bike paths and streets of Long Beach or the 100-mile Cruz Gran Fondo which loops twice through Long Beach, Cypress, Seal Beach and Signal Hill.

All paths lead to a full-day festival with live entertainment, a vendor fair, craft beer garden and much more cycling-focused fun. Proceeds will support pediatric cancer research at Miller Children’s Hospital of Long Beach.

To see a video of some of the expected festivities and a look back at last years ride … take a peek at this video.

Look to find out what Allison Van Wig is Doing on May 5th.

Want to know even more things about how great it is to live in Long Beach or to look for homes in Long Beach and Lakewood

Just give me a call! Allison Van Wig … 562-882-1581