Home Buyers – Location, Location, Location

 

Home LocationWhen searching for a new home, keep in mind location. Most buyers usually consider the number of bathrooms and bedrooms, the lot size, but in the final analysis, location is everything. We’ve all seen mansion-sized homes that are listed for a low asking price and then seen the same size home listed somewhere else for three times the price. What is the differentiating factor? Usually, the location is prime for the higher-priced home. Once the thrill of finding your dream home is worn a bit and you realize the commute to work is awful or there are no schools in the immediate vicinity, having a game room and several acres will mean a lot less.

When searching for a home in a great location, do the following research.

  • Commute

How long is the commute to work? If you love the home, it’s not going to mean as much if you are grumpy every time you return home from work. Also sometimes it’s not always the length of the commute but rather, can you handle it every day. Some commutes are longer but easier because of the direction you drive at rush hour. So try making the commute – can you handle it?

  • Safety and Schools

Is the area safe? Safety is always important. You can look up any statistics on crime for a given area. Obviously a potential buyer views a home during the day, but a neighborhood can appear very differently at night. Also, if you have children, it’s important to research the good schools in the area. Keep in mind, you may stay long term. So don’t forget to study the school rankings. Your children’s education depends on it.

  • Entertainment and Activities

Does the area offer entertainment options, shopping and activities? No home is the final answer. We don’t spend all day inside. So explore the area for nightlife, activities and local shopping. Are there things to do? Is there any good shopping, coffee shops, restaurants and/or outdoor fun near-by?

  • A Home Investment

Don’t forget that when you buy a home, location is not only a huge advantage while you live there, but of paramount importance when you decide to sell it. You may start out thinking “this is the home. I’ll never leave.” But things happen like job relocation, promotion, or you may just change your mind. If you decide to sell, being in the ideal location gives you a much better shot at getting your asking price.

The Conejo Valley: Why the Location is Everything

The Conejo Valley in Southern California is the prime location for home buyers. For all the aforementioned reasons, I sometimes list and close a property faster than you can say, “This is my dream home.” Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Agoura Hills are consistently ranked high in safety and school scores. Just a short commute to Los Angeles, the location is perfect if you want to live in a luxury, resort type setting but work in the city. The weather is perfect and shopping, outdoor hiking trails, lakes and Malibu Beach are just a stone’s throw from your door step.

For more on home listings in the Conejo Calley, contact Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

 

 

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First Quarter Housing Market Update – 2015

 

R.E. Market Update – March 2015

Late 2014 and early 2015 saw some slowdown in the housing market, but it looks like hope springs eternal. April and May could bring much needed relief. Spring is typically a busy time anyway for home buying but we aren’t quite there yet, numbers-wise. In any event, as I have reported for the past few years, here is my housing market update for the first quarter of 2015.

The first quarter report, according to DataQuick saw a marginal improvement month to month –  “an estimated 25,585 new and existing houses and condos sold in California in February 2015, a one percent increase from January 2015.”  Although this percentage is not up or even close to the numbers from 2014, California Association of Realtors (C.A.R) President Chris Kutzkey, says there are encouraging signs. Krutzkey seems to be of the motto, improvement is improvement regardless if it’s year to year or a simple incline from a dip the previous month. He says:

While February’s statewide improvement in the housing market was moderate, it’s an encouraging sign, nevertheless, as we head into the spring home-buying season. On the supply side, housing inventory improved overall with active listings growing at a faster pace of 5.3 percent when compared to last February.  Regionally, both active listings in Southern California and Central Valley increased moderately from last year.

Home Sales in Ventura County

Regionally, in Ventura County the median sold price of existing single-family homes is up for the most part. While the number is not up from February in a month to month comparison, it’s up since last year and compares favorably to most of the counties in Southern California. See the numbers chart from C.A.R.

Los Angeles

$419,260

$441,610

$389,080

-5.1%

7.8%

-0.3%

-3.2%

Orange County

$680,290

$674,340

$677,700

0.9%

0.4%

10.9%

6.3%

Riverside County

$323,220

$306,060

$302,370

5.6%

6.9%

4.3%

-7.7%

San Bernardino

$213,930

$206,660

$186,440

r

3.5%

14.7%

-7.8%

-0.6%

San Diego

$499,000

$496,380

$476,780

0.5%

4.7%

14.8%

5.7%

Ventura

$568,840

$582,630

$558,490

-2.4%

1.9%

-1.7%

6.4%

CoreLogic analyst Andrew LePage told the Los Angeles Times last week in an article titled, Southern California home prices rise, sales fall in February, that Spring has not quite sprung yet for the housing market – the true tale will be in the inventory numbers. Said LePage:

This feels a lot like early 2014, with home sales off to a slow start. And just like a year ago, one of the big questions hanging over the market is whether we’ll see a sizable jump in inventory this spring and summer.

Says the Times, however, not to fret, C.A.R. reports that there is some good signs on the inventory front. On Monday, C.A.R. reported 5.8 months worth of homes unsold on the market in Southern California, just shy of the six months that economists consider “normal” supply.

The Times also reports the strongest growth is in Riverside County, not surprising since the Millennials have a great impact there and have started buying as I reported in an earlier article from my blog. Also, San Bernardino County hit yearly highs, as did Ventura County where sales grew by 9.8%. Yay us…

Spring Home Buying…

In Westlake Village, Agoura Hills and Thousand Oaks, there has definitely been a surge of activity in the housing market especially as spring approached. As early as March, we started experiencing multiple offers on well-priced updated homes.  Inventory is still low, but it is starting to increase slowly.  The interest rates are low – good homes are definitely moving quickly!

Spring has sprung! Typically a busy season, if you’re ready to buy or sell, there is no time like the present. Don’t wait for an analyst to say it’s time, jump in now. You could be in your dream house by summer! And no matter what the “numbers” say, there is no better feeling than coming home.

Lydia Gable is a 2015 Quality Service Certified® Platinum Realtor in Westlake Village. Her proven track record and satisfied clients make her Ventura County’s top ranked real estate agent. If you are interested in viewing properties or listing your home, contact Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

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The ‘Buffett’ Approach to Real Estate Investing

Warren Buffett recently penned a letter for the benefit of those who are interested in real estate investing. Of course I think anyone—not only real estate investors—could find value after reading it just by virtue of his expansive knowledge. Interestingly enough he refers to the experts, the pundits as offering nothing but impediments to success, mere chatter. He implies that you don’t need to be a real estate expert to invest well. The irony is, at least in my humble opinion, that he sounds every bit the expert—which obviously he is—in his attempt to make it accessible for every wo/man. As a realtor, I thought of course that I should share some of what Buffett believes are contributing factors to his own success. It’s an interesting read – I’m neither endorsing it nor refuting it. My aim: simply to share the information.

‘Expectations Proved Out’

As reported by Fortune Magazine, they state that in an “exclusive excerpt from his upcoming shareholder letter, Warren Buffett looks back at a pair of real estate purchases and the lessons they offer for equity investors.” In the letter, Buffett’s annual letter: What you can learn from my real estate investments, Buffett cites two of his early investments—a farm and an NYU property— which he describes as good lifetime investments and both of which he says in terms of the gains, “won’t be dramatic [but] will be solid and satisfactory holdings for my lifetime and, subsequently, for my children and grandchildren.”

Of the 400 acre farm investment which was made in 1986, he says that he had no unusual intelligence to conclude if it was a good or poor investment. He knew nothing about the industry. But he had a son who loved farming, and so he calculated some costs v. ROI numbers. He figured “both how many bushels of corn and soybeans the farm would produce and what the operating costs. Then he held these numbers up against a calculation of the normalized return from the farm which he figured at about 10%. He also thought productivity would improve over time. He says, ‘Both expectations proved out.”

‘Recognize Your Limitations’

Mainly Buffett cites these examples to show that he needed no unusual knowledge or intelligence to conclude that the investment had no downside and potentially had a substantial upside. Almost 30 years later the farm has tripled its earnings and is worth five times more than the original price. He stresses however it was based on his own analysis and business sense not so called fear chatter from experts which seems to be the big takeaway from the letter. Finally he offers these takeaways which I believe are very valuable for any real estate purchase:

  • You don’t need to be an expert. But if you aren’t, recognize your limitations and follow a course certain to work reasonably well. When promised quick profits, respond with a quick “no.”
  • Focus on the future productivity of the asset. If you don’t feel comfortable making a rough estimate of future earnings, forget it and move on.

Know Your Gut and Your Realtor!

Essentially it boils down to this: Do your homework, know what you like, trust your gut and don’t bail on an investment because you listened to other people’s fear. Before you bail, give it time, there will always be less than favorable markets, but trust your own sense and that the market will return.

Many real estate investors could have used his letter a couple years back. Of course it’s easy to have confidence in your investing decisions when your name is Warren Buffett. But none the less, we all have to start somewhere. But I would add one last small note to his infinite wisdom…find a Realtor that can help you figure out your gut!

For information on any information covered in this blog or list a home or view listings in the Conejo Valley, contact Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

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Crowdfunding in Real Estate: A New Era of Investing

The Emergence of Crowdfunding in Real Estate

The emergence of crowdfunding as an investment tool for serious real estate players is changing the housing market as we know it. As the market recovers, more investors are coming back but one probably could not have imagined crowdfunding as the next new trend. Crowdfunding has showed up with quite a presence and backing and its making quite the first impression! If you thought crowdfunding was only reserved for the creative inventor or out-of-money filmmaker, you’re a step behind. Quite frankly, admittedly I had not even heard of this very new trend until recently. If it catches on, it could be a game-changer for those investors currently controlling the investment markets in certain areas. It’ll be interesting to see how “at your fingertips” a trade is, but the social media possibilities are exciting for sure.

Not Your Grandmother’s Real Estate Pool

At the moment, most of the crowdfunding sites are reserved for high-stakes players only, but that’s not likely to last according to market experts. While it’s certainly a new arena—one that is evolving quite rapidly—some platforms are beginning to open up the playing field to small-money investors. Because of this, the ramifications in terms of who can invest and international investing possibilities could be enormous. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal profiled one successful entrepreneur—a real estate pioneer when it comes to crowdfunding— who is taking it to the next level. The article titled, Real-Estate Sector Moves Crowdfunding Beyond the Trinkets states that ‘sites have raised more than $135 million in debt and equity’. For the founders of RealtyMogul andEarlyShares, only accredited investors are accepted at this juncture but as the WSJ article points out, they are raising SERIOUS capital.

As with any trend, once it catches on, it’s everyone’s to claim and crowdfunding in real estate is no different. A recent article on Forbes highlights not only the serious money at play, but also the way this crowd funding platform is opening up real estate investing to the masses – globally. “Fundriselast week announced that they raised $31 million from Renren, a Chinese technology firm, Ackman-Ziff (Real Estate Group) and Silverstein Properties (owners of the World Trade Center Twin Towers)”.

The reporter also points out that the field is widening to include all investors. In the article titled,Real Estate Crowdfunding: Post-Valuations Of $100M for Series A?David Drake writes:

The Washington-based company, Fundrise, allows investors, for as little as $100 to as much as $10,000,000, to participate in deals. Until the emergence of crowdfunding, real estate projects, even the smaller ones, have been reserved for high net worth investors and private equity companies.

The Real Estate Fervor: Signs of Recovery?

Whether you are a big-time real estate investor, a market watcher, or a some-time dabbler in housing flips, the fact that new and innovative ways to invest in the housing market and thereby the economy have emerged, is a positive sign of market recovery – not to mention fun market-watching. However if your only goal is to own one property that you call your dream home for the next twenty years, there’s also a special place for you. And with signs of real recovery on the horizon, this is a great time to make the move. Every home purchase is an investment, but more importantly it’s an investment in your future! If you are interested in buying or selling a home in and around Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village or Calabasas, contact Lydia Gable today at Westlake Village Real Estate.

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Conejo Valley Real Estate Updates from Lydia Gable

5/16 – This information has recently been updated:

As somebody who likes to keep a pulse on what is going on in our lovely community, I wanted to share some exciting news about upcoming developments I recently received from my friend and trusted commercial Broker, David Massie, with DJM Commercial Real Estate.

Here is the update:

  • The Old Plug Nickel location (now a wine tasting bar called Cuvee Terrace) in Westlake Village is being sold and leased to a couple of very high-end successful Italian restaurants in other cities.
  • The vacant space in the same center as Lure Seafood just past The Counter location has signed a lease for a New Zeland Pacific Rim type restaurant called Aroha. In the old 9021Pho location in this center to the left of The Counter, a new restaurant called Kaze—which somehow fuses Japanese and Italian foods together—signed a lease.
  • In Agoura Hills, Vincitori Italian (owns Spumoni in NP also and replaced China Star here) just opened up recently in the Agoura Hills City Mall where the Agoura’s Famous Deli is and there will also be a new Kosher Israeli restaurant opening in the next couple of months just to the left of this Deli.
  • Padri’s will be opening up a high end Mexican restaurant in the Whizzins Center where Latigo Kid used to be in the next couple of months. Latigo relocated to the old Alamo location in the Vons anchored center at Kanan and Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Agoura Hills.
  • The old Red Robin in Calabasas is being leased by the Agoura Famous Deli owner and it’s yet to been seen what it will become.
  • The Gelsons/Sprouts/Vons center in WLV (all owned by one owner) is performing a 25 million dollar renovation and is going to not only remodel but also build new buildings in some of the parking areas as well as try to connect all 3 different plazas into one. New restaurants/food uses coming here are: Leilas (rumor only, not confirmed), Mendocino Farms, Pitfire Artisan Pizza, Le pain Quotidien, Pressed Juicery and Firefly. Target is under construction with a July 25, 2014, grand opening date and they own their land. The goal is to get all other Tenants open on or around this date, with the exception of buildings B and E, which will be later phases delivered in September. Here is a website link that will show you a site plan for each building so you can see where each tenant is going in this new center:http://www.shoppesatwestlakevillage.com/.

Building J – In N Out

Building G

– Suite A: Hook Burger

– Suite B: Negotiating with several food users

– Suite C: In Leases with a sit-down seafood restaurant

– Suite D: In Leases with a dessert tenant

Building F

– Suite A: In Leases with a sub sandwich tenant

– Suite B: Greens Up!

– Suite C: Olio E Limone Ristorante

– Suite D: Olio E Limone Pizzeria & Enoteca

Building C

– Suite G: Los Agaves

– Suite F: All Tressed Up (blow dry bar, also offers make-up application)

– Suite E: In Leases with a wireless tenant

– Suite D: Endless Beauty (high end beauty supply)

– Suite B & C: Salon suites tenant (haircut and color services)

– Suite A: BCBC Nail Salon

Building D

– Suite A: Negotiating with sushi concept

– Suite B: Negotiating with women’s apparel

– Suite C: Negotiating with a jewelry store

– Suite D: Negotiating with a home goods boutique

– Suite E & F: In leases with a men’s clothing store and children’s concept, but may relocate both users to accommodate a microbrewery we are negotiating with

– Suite G: Jeannine’s Marketplace

Building B (this is a second phase of the project, which will be delivered in September)

– Suite H: Tilly’s

– Suites A, B and a portion of C: Medical Use

Building E (this is a second phase of the project, which will be delivered in September)

– We have a lease out for signature with a 1,000 SF user, however. Will have several food and retail tenants.

Isn’t that exciting? These new developments will do wonderful things for Westlake Village Real Estate values and will certainly keep all of us entertained!

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