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