Housing Market Hits Record Highs

HomeBuyersFirst Time Home Sales Surge

In May, home sales surged to a 5 ½-year high. This is good news for the market indeed, as more first-time home buyers including the millennials, finally took the plunge going from rental homes to marriage and first homes. Additionally real estate stocks hit a huge multiyear new level high leaving traders to say invest, invest, invest.

As reported by The Business Journals, The National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun, said that the increase in new home buyers flooding the market, could signal more recovery on the horizon. He added that:

The return of first-time buyers in May is an encouraging sign and is the result of multiple factors, including strong job gains among young adults, less expensive mortgage insurance and lenders offering low down payment programs.

Existing Home Sales Also Hit New Highs

Then just after NARS reported the flood of first time home buyers into the housing market, Reuters reported that ‘sales of existing homes hit their highest level since 2009’. Yun said this was promising although the supply is still short of the demand keeping prices on the higher end.

With all this talk of recovery, if you were one of the cautious hold-outs, now may be the time to buy. If you are considering a new home purchase or perhaps considering buying your first home, think about starting the search now. You could be in a new home just in time for the leaves to change and children to return to school.  If you still aren’t sure but you are at least thinking of buying a home, take a cue from the market numbers. Look at the stock – if you have doubts. The economy is in recovery—it is. It’s not a fluke. A majority of economists agree even while cautious that it’s no longer speculation, we are in the midst of economic recovery. Investors know it, existing home owners know it as they begin to list their homes now increasingly. But where is the best place to hang your hat and call home?

Buy Well, Luxury Living in Ventura County

One of the best recovering areas, not to mention one of most luxurious places to live in the country, is Ventura County. Home sales have been steadily climbing and existing home values have continued to appreciate. In fact the Ventura County Star reported this month that the median home price and value in Ventura County:

…climbed to $500,000 last month, the highest value in eight years, according to data reported Wednesday by the real estate information service CoreLogic.

So if you are young and plan on moving onward and upward, Ventura County is not only a wonderful place to live but also a sound investment for home buyers. More than the investment though, you will be living in an area with a year round perfect climate, beaches and canyon trails nearby, lakes and country clubs only a stone’s throw from your front door, and the best schools, shopping and restaurants in Southern California. What more could you ask for? Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks and Calabasas – it’s the privilege that comes with working hard and coming home to luxury.

For more information on viewing homes in Ventura County, contact Lydia Gable today. Stay tuned for the next blog which will be posted soon. Feel free to weigh in with your comments here if you live in Westlake Village or surrounding areas and you want to share more about the best area to live work and play.

 

 

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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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Try and Buy – New Trend in Home Buying?

LYDIAPIC‘Fly and Buy’

The home buying process hasn’t changed in many years – find a home, make an offer, close. But according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, some people are doing a sort of test drive of the neighborhood before purchasing a home. Some realtors are even adding this type of incentive into their business. According to the WSJ feature, while it is still rare in most areas for buyers to request a test drive of a home or community before buying, it is becoming more prevalent in some luxury markets. And says the article:

Toll Brothers, one of the country’s largest home builders, has a Fly and Buy program for buyers who want to travel to a new town to check it out. Travel costs can then be put toward a purchase contract.

While in some areas the trend is growing, especially with motivated sellers, many real estate agents disagree with a ‘try and buy’ approach. Says Kimberly Dixon, a Houston based real estate agent, “it clouds judgment.” In an article titled Test Drive Your Home on HSH.com, Dixon weighs in on the new fad in home buying:

For the most part, the client will likely make more emotional decisions and pick apart a property’s minor attributes, while overlooking major value — such as a good price. It is my opinion that a logical and economic approach is the best way to undertake such large personal investments.

I agree with Dixon for the most part, but mainly because the area where I live and sell homes, Westlake Village, CA, is already an undisputed, highly sought-after location known for its luxury resort lifestyle, warm West Coast temperatures and top school rankings. Unless you are moving from another state, Westlake Village and its surrounding community is lucky enough to have its reputation precede most buyers’ interest. Quite frankly, I’m listing and closing, in some cases, faster than you can say, “Make an offer.”

Westlake Village – A Nice Place to Work, Live and Play…

If you’re in the Southern California area and thinking of making a home purchase in the near future, check out Westlake Village in the Conejo Valley. Spend a day hiking at Triunfo Creek Park in its 600 acres of trails, or visit Sherwood Country Club and its famed golf course at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains. Have dinner at one of the beautiful restaurants at the Promenade after a full day of shopping at the most exclusive shops in the area. If I can suggest any kind of “test drive”, I’d day, take a drive from Westlake Village to Malibu or into the city of Los Angeles, and experience for yourself, if you were to move to the area, how close you would be to everything while still enjoying a vacation resort quality of life. For that matter, I suggest you take the day and do all of these things just because – even you aren’t moving to Westlake Village – it’s the nicest place in the nation to work, live and play – if I do say so myself.

For more on home listings in 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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Drones in Real Estate Marketing

Dronepic‘Drones Set to Flood the Skies…’

As a Realtor and marketing professional, of course I understand the value of crystal sharp images as a tool in real estate marketing. If anyone had told me ten years ago that in just a mere decade, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would approve the use of drones in real estate marketing by allowing the use of aerial photography for real estate, I certainly would have doubted the sanity of the source. However, here we are a decade later and the FAA has approved (with restrictions) the use of drone photography for commercial users which includes Realtor. But before you go rent a drone for your next hot property, currently there are a litany of restrictions, enough paperwork to keep most newbies out of the friendly skies…at least for now. Not for long I predict—as with any trend this one is building speed quickly—and it’s a competitive industry.

In a recent article titled, Drones set to flood the skies of America under new FAA rules, the reporter claims that these remote controlled robotic quad-copters are set to become common sightings within the next two years. And judging by their popularity for commercial use, it’s likely be less than two years although challenges regarding privacy laws are already be waged in California. Says the article…

Mickey Lindsay, vice president of Oregon First, Realtors, said she is certain that pilotless aircraft “will become a standard tool in property marketing.” While real estate agents and prospective buyers already have access to satellite and street view images, drones may be the best way to capture an overall view of some properties, she noted.

Jackson: ‘Aerial Invasions of Privacy’

As the real estate market continues to rebound and investors flood the California market to scoop up properties, the addition of drone use definitely brings with it a newness and enthusiasm to an industry which has suffered in past years. And this recent ruling over the weekend is exciting to say the least. However, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, says essentially, not so fast. Jackson is proposing stiff privacy regulation following the recent FAA ruling. According to a report by KCRA news, “Jackson has introduced SB 142, which she said would protect people from aerial invasions of privacy.” She told the station:

Suddenly a drone was about 15 feet away, hovering about eyeball to eyeball. If you were to jump over your neighbor’s fence and stand in their yard recording what they had to say, that’s a trespass, Why should it be any different with a drone?

The Final Word on Drones in Real Estate…

As the final word, while the final book on commercial drone use has not been written, I cannot predict with accuracy the future prevalence of drone photography use in the housing market. However, until then, here’s what I do know –

With or without aerial drone photography, I bring 15 years of experience as a business executive in marketing and management and over a decade of real estate experience to all my Westlake Village real estate clients.  If you are interested in purchasing a luxury property in Ventura County, I promise to provide the most up to date, tech-savvy marketing, excellent satellite images, crystal clear professional photos, and a virtually unsurpassed track record of award winning experience. Where are the drones, you ask? Let me get back to you on that…

If you are a prospective home seller and you’re ready to list your home, or you are looking to view homes in and around Westlake Village contact Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

 

 

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Homes – Hidden Hills and Calabasas

Hidden Hills and Calabasas

In our spotlight on home series which has become quite popular, this article focuses on luxury homes in Hidden Hills and Calabasas. The swank Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas, California, has an ever expanding roster of past and present celebrities. Most known for its celebutantes like the Biebs, his on-again off-again love, Selena Gomez, and of course the Kardashians, this community is home to a myriad of TV and film stars. While there are some more moderately priced neighborhoods in this suburb, what you see in the media is typically the lavish homes located in Hidden Hills.

As part of the San Fernando Valley, Calabasas is part of the West Valley and is considered one of the more wealthy suburbs located about 30 minutes from Los Angeles – although it feels like a hidden enclave a million miles away from L.A..  A little history, according to Grantland.com, reveals:

Calabasas was originally home to the Chumash people, the area “discovered” by Spanish explorers in 1776. And…Most of the public idea of Calabasas comes from the gated community of Hidden Hills, which is actually considered its own municipality (California is the only place in the U.S. where gated communities have been legally categorized as separate cities).

Hidden Hills is an area in Calabasas made famous by wealthy bad boys and reality stars but the truth is that it is a gorgeous, affluent, gated community. Hidden Hills is the second-wealthiest neighborhood in Los Angeles County.

Hidden Hills: More Bang for Your Buck?

Although Hidden Hills is rife with mansions and wealth, your money is quite frankly, well spent on homes here. In the valley there is more land for your dollar especially in the West Valley. The weather is a little warmer so you give up a bit of the ocean breeze and lower temps, but you are still a stone’s throw from Malibu. If you choose to venture out. Malibu is just over the hill.

In addition to its glitz, if you are starting a family, Hidden Hills is home to the Round Meadow Elementary School, one of the highest rated in the community – take a look at what parents say about this gem in the “hills”.  Also, you are adjacent to the very high rated school districts of Oak Park and Malibu.

Dining, Shopping and Leisure in Calabasas…

For leisure, shopping and dining in Calabasas is not to be outdone. Residents here enjoy the famed outdoor promenade known as The Commons – designed by the same developer Rick Caruso of Caruso Real Estate who designed Los Angeles’ The Grove. As with The Grove, it’s just as lavish and has become as much of a tourist attraction. According to The Commons Web Site:

With its elegant open air layout, distinctive Mediterranean architecture, lavish landscaping and fountain areas, The Commons is the ultimate in shopping, dining and entertainment

Outdoor Activities: Golf, Hiking and Surf…

Activities in Calabasas abound – home to the Calabasas Country Club, the city boasts a championship golf course.  If you enjoy hiking, you are steps away from some of the best Southern California hiking trails as you will live nearby to Saddle Creek which is in the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu Creek State Park. And if you want to get your surf on at the beach, hop in the car and head to Malibu Beach.

Undoubtedly, Hidden Hills in Calabasas is the place to live in Los Angeles County and obviously the reason so many celebrities and business magnates flock to buy estates in the West Valley. If you are looking for your dream home and the ultimate in luxury and quality of life, consider a home in Hidden Hills.

For more information on viewing homes in Hidden Hills or in the surrounding communities, contact Lydia Gable today. And stay tuned for the next spotlight which will be on Westlake Village, a dream community and my very own town for home, work and play.

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