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