Friday, March 30, 2012

To Buy a Home or Rent: That is the Question

It’s a fact that many folks in Long Beach & Lakewood ask themselves, ‘do we buy or rent?’ and then decide not to buy a home. Aiming to save some cash, they rent instead. They may feel that it makes more sense to work on rebuilding their portfolios, put some extra cash into a rainy day fund, save for retirement, or for college -- for any number of worthy goals.
These would all be prudent financial maneuvers, but only if the original assumption is correct. But today’s environment is creating a new reality. It’s one where renting may not be as much of a cost saver as most people think. 
Since it is my profession to deal in real estate, you might think my answer to the question of whether to rent or to buy a home would be an automatic ‘buy!’ Not so. While I certainly do want to help arrange a sale whenever a Long Beach or Lakewood buyer and seller can agree on terms, I also want all my clients to make the financial decision that is right for them and their family.  And as we enter the  Spring and Summer selling season in the Long Beach & Lakewood areas, I’m pleased to be able to report on a piece of information that may be surprising. It’s one that comes from the latest Trulia Spring 2012 Rent versus Buy index.
This index is a widely watched calculation derived from data in the 100 major metro markets. A Price-to-Rent ratio of 15 or less means that any buyer who plans on living in his home for at least five years would be better off to buy a home than to rent it.
Bottom line: 98% of those 100 areas currently offer a cheaper environment in which to buy a home than to rent it! To make sense of the numbers, looked at the asking price of national rentals and homes for sale. It also included insurance, taxes and maintenance costs in the calculation. With low interest rates making the monthly mortgage cost lower, and high rental rates bringing the rental rate higher, many would-be renters might now find themselves looking at a surprising new reality -- affordable homeownership.
If you are currently considering renting or buying a home in Long Beach or Lakewood, why not sit down with me in Van Wig & Associates Long Beach office to run a few numbers first?  I am happy to schedule time to discuss your needs before you sign a lease.  Today it is entirely possible that for you, owning a home will just be cheaper than you think! Want to check out home prices in Long Beach and Lakewood? Here is access to the full MLS ... take a look and then call me with any of your questions ... 562-882-1581

Friday, March 23, 2012

What - Me Worry About Long Beach Housing? Maybe Not!

If you happened to be among the thousand or so consumers who got a telephone call in March from Fannie Mae, and if you took the time to answer the 100+ questions they were asking, on behalf of the rest of us I'd like to say 'thanks!'
You and your fellow survey subjects have sent a ray of light our way. You told us that you think things are finally looking up!

According to you and your 1,000 fellow respondents, homeowners who have been considering putting up their Long Beach home for sale might have reason to be more inclined to do so. On average, Americans expect home prices to increase over the next 12 months; the number of respondents who say it's a good time to sell rose to the highest level in over a year; and a solid 65% say they would buy rather than rent their next home if they were going to move.

Just 29% said they would prefer to rent -- even though 45% think home rental prices will go up. That is nearly ten times the number who think rents will fall.

Delving into personal financial expectations, only 12% think that their financial situation will worsen in the coming 12 months, representing the lowest value in over a year. Fewer believe their expenses have increased significantly in the last year;, and only one in seven report that their income is lower than it was a year ago.

Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey is a window into opinions about owning and renting homes, household finances, housing and the economy, etc. It is by far the most comprehensive measure of consumer attitudes toward the housing market; and since they keep at it every month, is a fair signal whether attitudes are beginning to turn up or down.

Local attitudes tend to echo their findings, if for no other reason than Fannie Mae's headline: “Consumer Attitudes about Personal Finances and Housing Stabilize Alongside Positive Economic News.” That may be a mouthful, but whenever you see 'Housing' and 'Positive' in the same headline, it has to make everybody a little cheerier.

If you're planning on your own Long Beach property purchase or sale, why not give my office a call? Allison Van Wig // 562-882-1581

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake

On Sunday night, March 18th we are celebrating three birthdays, so I have had this cake in mind for several weeks. I got the idea from Pinterest but instead of using fresh Rose Petals I used fresh Raspberries.
First I made six small nine inch round layers about half inch thick of chocolate cake. I made these from scratch, but you can use a mix if you like.
I then cut the rounded top off each layer so that they would lay flat against each other. First layer has chunky raspberry jam, second layer has a mix of chocolate frosting and raspberry jam. Rotate frosting and jam as you layer up then cover entire cake with chocolate frosting.
You will need several boxes of fresh raspberries. Wash them well and dry with paper towels. I then stuffed each one with a Ghirardelli dark chocolate chip. Stick raspberries into side of cake frosting. I went all the way up to the top.
This cake tasted great, and looked very pretty. With three layers this would make a great wedding cake that would look pretty without fondant.

I am making a cake in a couple of weeks for some clients that just got married and are closing on a home in a couple weeks. I think it would be great to hand them the keys for their new home and they go inside and find a wedding cake! I am thinking about bottom layer of cake will be chocolate with strawberries, and the top will be vanilla with strawberries. Each layer will have strawberry jam in the center. I will post pictures so you can all see it. Have a great week.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mortgage Rates: Getting Right to the Points of the Matter

The sub-prime mortgage crisis and the resulting chaos that it dealt the entire housing market has caused noticeable changes in how Long Beach and Lakewood homeowners look at mortgage rates and the loans they negotiate.The intense media focus on the residential financing industry has caused everyone to pay closer attention to the form of home loans they arrange. The truth is that borrowers are more wary about the loans they choose. They are insisting on clarity in how their choices will pencil out in dollars and cents in both near and long terms.
One decision that determines what mortgage rates wind up on the bottom line is whether to 'buy down' mortgage rates with points. Points represent interest that buyers pay up front to lower the rates on the remaining balance - the mortgage rates that show up at the bottom of our monthly statements.
Increasingly, local buyers are shunning the points option.
There are many reasons for the shift. Some are clearly related to the sub-prime mess, but others less so. Many of today's buyers are entering the market for the first time, and they are cash-strapped. They may find it a struggle to come up with money for the down payment and closing costs. Often, these new homeowners simply can't afford to pay points, even if they can be rolled into the loan.
Historically low interest rates are another reason Long Beach and Lakewood buyers at all levels are thinking harder about points vs. mortgage rates. Last week's national average on 30-year fixed mortgage rates (3.88%) was a full percentage point lower than a year ago - when it was already visiting the basement! Some buyers just don't see the value in making an advance interest payment - financed or otherwise - when it may only knock a fraction of a percent off an interest rate that's already at such low levels.
First-time home buyers can also see points as an unnecessary expense if they do not plan to stay in their homes long enough for the lower mortgage rates to return the investment. For them, it just doesn't pencil out.
With interest rates at historic lows and lenders competing for the same pieces of a smaller pie, it has never been more important for buyers to take a hard look at the pros and cons of the mortgage rates vs. points decision. If you are looking to buy in Long Beach or Lakewood and would like to discuss your options, visit my website and then give me a call. The time has never been better.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Allison Van Wig to Participate in Lakewood Community Run on Saturday, March 10th 2012

For those of you that know me, you know how passionate I am about hiking, skiing and biking … and of course my dedication to fundraising through my participation in events that support my love of running, hiking and such! This Saturday, March 10th I will be running a 10K in the Lakewood Sheriff’s Community Run

Take a quick peek at last year’s event and then come on out tomorrow and join us!

Running for a Good Cause

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rock N Roll Comes to Bixby Knolls in Long Beach

rocknrollThe Rock N Roll phenomenon comes to Bixby Knolls in Long Beach and is bringing the neighborhood together.

If you are out and about on Wednesday come join the Bixby Knolls Improvement Association as they host a party to welcome the “Rock” as it is parked in the middle of Atlantic Ave by 36th Street.

The Press Telegram reported that the event would feature food, live artists, river-rock demonstrations, photo ops and a DJ playing rock-related songs.

Check out this exciting YouTube video of the transport that is taking it through 22 cities to its final destination at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Exciting things are always happening here in the Long Beach & Lakewood areas.