Monday, January 14, 2008

Uncharted Territory

After reading informative, entertaining real estate blogs such as the Irvine Housing Blog and South OC Tracker, I discovered that there wasn’t anything dedicated to the city I wanted to live in: Long Beach, CA.

I graduated from CSULB and lived in LB--in nice neighborhoods and terrible neighborhoods--for years. My time living in LB were some of the best years of my life. Although I work in Orange County, I fully intend to buy property here in Long Beach.

For those of you that don’t know, Long Beach, CA is right between Los Angeles and Orange County. It has been known as a “less expensive” choice to LA and (especially) OC, and offers close access to freeways to make commuting alternative in the face of inflated housing costs in those areas. However, if you search real estate listing websites, you’ll quickly notice that Long Beach real estate is no longer “cheap” by comparison. In fact, although rents are still reasonable compared to LA and OC, housing prices still remain inflated and in some cases delusional, despite clear evidence of a severe housing downturn.

As far as I know, there are few blogs or information sources (just check out the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Real Estate section online. Now compare it to the OC Register's site) intended to help people understand the intricacies of the Long Beach market and comprehend the challenges posed to sellers, speculators who got in at the peak, and prospective buyers during the upcoming years.

As a consequence, many people I talk to really seem to have no idea what’s going on around them, and what is likely in store as no (or low) money down and non-conforming loans (those more than $417,000) disappear, high down payment requirements return, and buyers evaporate.

As I browse Redfin, it becomes readily apparent that Long Beach residents are oblivious to what’s happening in Orange, Riverside, and San Diego counties, as asking prices in Long Beach are in some cases far higher than nicer properties in vaunted communities such as Irvine, Tustin, and Huntington Beach. I love Long Beach, but it doesn’t have the schools, low crime, clean streets, jobs, or incomes of Orange County. Realtors and loan brokers on commission might tell you now is a great time to buy, but the unbiased fundamental economic factors say we're in for a rude awakening similar to the 90s.

So, this website is intended to discuss the housing situation in Long Beach and to help people, including myself, understand the severity of the upcoming changes in the real estate landscape and ensure their biggest single financial investment is a sound one.

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