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 ... www.SuperBroker.com ... 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