Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Benefits of Bottom Buying

Address: 1334 E 1st St #1, 90802
Asking Price: $349,000
Year Built: 1955
Size: 2 bed, 2 bath, 1,030 sq. ft.
$/Sq. Ft.: $339
HOA: $226
Purchase Price: $70,000
Purchase Date: 5/1996
MLS#: P691855
On Redfin: 5 days
Down Payment: $70,000
Monthly Payment: $2,100
Income Requirement: $100,000
Description: Absolutely stunning Alamitos Beach home located just 1 block from the sand!This incredibly remodeled home offers a gorgeous new kitchen w/ granite counter tops,stainless gas appliances,new dark wood cabinetry w/custom pulls,recessed lighting,new tiled kitchen floors and more!The rest of the home offers impeccable upgrades that include remodeled bathrooms with granite counter top and custom bowl sink,crown molding,recessed lighting,designer paint,newer carpet,wood floors in the dining rooom,dual paned vinyl windows,tiled bathroom floors, all of which are immaculately maintained!This corner unit has walls of windows and only 1 common wall with oversized bedrooms and a nice sized living room to entertain.With low HOA's,direct access from your private garage with additional parking space and a newly remodeled complex with new roof,electric,dual paned vinyl windows,new light fixtures,new front doors,new paint and redone plumbing this is sure to impress and will not last long at this price!

Man, they were so close! If you ignore the lack of spaces after each puncuation mark (quite a challenge, mind you), there is only one typo: "rooom." Ah well.

But the realtor knows a little something about marketing because the kitchen shot is the main photo in the listing, as opposed to, say, this shot of the exterior:

Oofa. Mudfence ugly if you ask me, but eye of the beholder and all of that, right?

This seller bought at the bottom of the last housing downturn and held througout the duration of the Great Housing Bubble. For once, the sales history doesn't document the irrational exuberance of the bubble. Just the opposite: it provides an interesting (and likely prescient) illustration of a bubble bust! Check it:

Sep 25, 1990 - Sold $125,000 PEAK
May 27, 1993 - Sold $114,177 LOSS -3.3%/yr
Oct 20, 1993 - Sold $90,000 LOSS -44.9%/yr
Oct 25, 1995 - Sold $82,248 LOSS -4.4%/yr
May 08, 1996 - Sold $70,000 BOTTOM -26.0%/yr (ouch)
Jun 19, 2009 - Listed $349,000 OH, HI!

Crazy, right? That's probably how sales histories are going to look for the next 5-10 years if the government keeps the misguided "soft landing" policy intact. A slow ride to the inevitable return to basic fundamentals.

Anyhow, the real question is: does this guy deserve a $290,000 windfall for holding this property for 13 years?

That's up to the market to decide, but one look at the Median Condo Values and it doesn't look likely:

Alamitos Beach: $220,000; $265 per square
Downtown: $239,999; $304 per square
90802: $259,000; $322 per square
Long Beach: $234,950; $261 per square

This seller, by asking $339 per square, isn't that far off. Given the quality of the interior and proximity to the ocean, a 10% reduction might be enough to be competitive with nearby sellers and find an impatient Super Summer Selling Season chump. He obviously has a big enough profit cushion to do it.

Unfortunately, looking at recent sales, there doesn't appear to be a big market for $350,000 condos in this 'hood:

$230,000 1273 E 1st St Apt 1E Sold on Apr 10, 2009
0.07 miles 2 bd / 1 ba 878 Sq. Ft.

$217,611 1250 E Ocean Blvd Apt 406 Sold on Jun 02, 2009
0.12 miles 2 bd / 2 ba 1,103 Sq. Ft.

$307,500 1605 E 2nd St Apt 306 Sold on Jun 09, 2009
0.17 miles 2 bd / 2 ba 800 Sq. Ft.

$305,000 1605 E 2nd St Apt 305 Sold on May 29, 2009
0.17 miles 2 bd / 2 ba 800 Sq. Ft.

$299,000 1200 E Ocean Blvd Apt 78 Sold on Feb 27, 2009
0.17 miles 2 bd / 2 ba 1,202 Sq. Ft.

$260,000 275 Esperanza Ave Apt 301 Sold on Jun 09, 2009
0.24 miles 2 bd / 2 ba 1,073 Sq. Ft.

I removed properties that were too small or lacked a second bath, as well as a few Ocean Blvd. luxury units that are obviously not comparables, but it's easy to see that NOTHING has sold for $350,000 this year.

Hey guy, you made a wise move by buying at the bottom of the last bubble, but don't start thinking you're some real estate impresario. After all, if you were truly a savvy investor, you would have jumped ship in 2007 when the market started to turn.

Two years, as many bullet-sweating sellers will tell you, has changed everything. If you, like most Long Beach sellers, coddle the misguided belief that your place is "special," you're going to learn quite quickly how easy it can be to have your profit margin cut in half by a thousand market-chasing cuts.

My fear is you will hold out for the price you "deserve" rather than accept whatever price you can get. Come on, dude! I'm pulling for you! Smarten up and do whatever it takes to get this thing sold (and enjoy your pallet of cold, hard cash).

UPDATE: "Accepting Backup Offers." That was fast. It will be interesting to see what he accepted.


  1. Carl,

    Wouldn't surprise me. I think it's a nice place (inside) and it's only 500 feet from the sand.

  2. Anybody that's spending that kind of money for that kind of place is a fool, IMHO.

    That street is anything but peaceful. It's overdevelopment city! Every single property is a multi-unit building, with units coming out of everywhere.

    It'd be different if it was like Belmont Shores, where the close units are actually nice.

    Then again, those units aren't on top of each other, and every single backyard having another. Those are just one unit next to another.

    To each his own, but the buyer on this one is just not that bright, in my opinion.

    Which begs the question, how all these idiots get all this money?!?!!

  3. Oh yeah, and let's not leave out that in between that mere 500 feet between you and the sand, is BUSY ass Ocean Blvd, which is PACKED with traffic noise 24/7.

    Come on.

    It ain't like this is Naples or someplace, where you're gonna have a nice little walk, to a nice little beach, maybe crossing a duck path, while listening to the birds chirp.

    You're gonna have to walk AROUND your block, to get to a crossing, then cross a NASTY major thoroughfare (too lazy to look up the spelling, sorry El Bee), to then get to a very unimpressive "beach".

    But hey, go for it dude.

    Surfs up!

    Oh wait, there's no waves at Long Beach.

  4. Mike in LBC, do you like any affordable and fun neighborhood anywhere in Long Beach? Did you ever live on Ocean Blvd, so you have actual experience about the conditions? Do you think the LB coast is the home of the morons? Sorry buddy, you're dead wrong.


  5. olaj, that's great. How bout you explain HOW I'm wrong exactly???

    I'm open minded, so try me.

    By the way, I live not far from Ocean blvd (10th and Termino area), and have lived in the LBC since 76. I think I might know just a THING or two, but hey maybe not right?

    Oh yeah, and my mother lives on Ocean blvd. That's how I know about the traffic noise. I used to think about how nice SOME of the places on Ocean blvd look, but then once you open up the windows??? Fuggedaboutit.

    I guess YOU might think it's real relaxing, sittin out on that patio, with all that loud traffic noise blowing through your head.

    I actually like the Ocean blvd area better than many others though, besides downtown, but unless it's the part of 1st or 2nd with a lot of houses, then you're basically moving where you have an EXTREME abundance of people.

    Instead of where normally ONE house would be, you have multi unit dwellings with anywhere from 4 to 20 or more units. (and that's not even including the backyard addons)

    I don't know about YOU, but personally I don't like the whole "Japan" feel. I don't wanna live where I have people above me, below me, across from me, etc.....

    How the heck could you ever get any peace, with that many people around?!!

    And the answer is that you can't.

    I know, I'm there all the time.

    So instead of getting defensive, feel free to share your opinion! Maybe then what you said might actually mean something!! (imagine that)

    I don't know, just a thought.

    To answer your other question, there are a FEW places in Long Beach, where you can "get away" from the hustle and bustle, of all the overdevelopments, and all the excess people.

    OR you can live urban style, in the downtown, in a condo.

  6. It's wrong to call thousands and thousands of successful people fools and idiots, just because they prefer to live on the Long Beach coast. Yes, most of them are higher income professionals, business owners, so they can easily afford the cost of a more expensive lifestyle. We can argue what gives more "peace", a quiet, but generally boring neighborhood or the presence of the ocean spiced up with noise and action. We humans are different, with different preferences. My wife and I moved to the even number side of Ocean Blvd more then twelve years ago after raising two boys in Cerritos. Our windows are always open, and yes, we hear the street noise, the noise of our neighbors, then on the evenings, as the street noise fading away the pleasent sound of crashing waves. Yes, there are waves (and sound of waves) in Long Beach. For me and thousands of others the sound of crashing waves means the ultimate peace. I sleep like a baby for seven hours every night. No Harley Davidson, cop car, helicopter or stupid car alarm wakes me up. To live here is awesome. It's convenient, 15 minutes drive for me, 20 for my wife to get to our work places, close to every attraction, stores, restaurants and pubs. I can walk to Yardhouse, then walk home (it takes a little longer because of the strange shape change (zig-zag) of walking path). Again, some of us prefer silence, others prefer action, the noise of life. We don't call others fools and idiots for having different preferences. We call someone fool, when the person thinks he is smarter than others based on his own, self justified logic.


  7. olaj, you seem to have this hangup about defining people. You get defensive when you feel someone is defining you, but then in the next breath, you do the exact same thing that you complain about. Makes it seem, well FOOLISH!! hahahaha

    Seriously tho, please don't feel the need to be defensive with me. This is just a blog, and although we may like to voice opinions, and be sarcastic, trust me that it's NOTHING personal. After all, I don't even know you right?

    But yeah, it seems to have struck a sensitive chord with you, what I said about the Ocean blvd area....

    If you are so content tho, why are you being so sensitive? That's the real question ain't it?

    Again, my mom lives on Ocean blvd. In one of the big condo buildings on the beach side. Her unit is not facing the beach tho. And from what you said, it sounds like you are not facing the beach either.... and if you aren't facing the beach, then it sucks.

    You can't tell me you PREFER traffic noise. Whether you wanna call it "the noise of life", or whatever.

    You may be convincing your self of that, but I'm not buying.

    And I don't care how late it is, you can't come with that BS about "ocean waves", when cars are constantly whizzing by. (and they do NOT stop at night, so come on now)

    I guess in a sense, the cars whizzing by may sound similar to the ocean waves, but come on now dude. You are deluding yourself.

    Guess what, right now I don't live on Ocean blvd? But on MY street, at night, it is dead quiet. (I'm on a street with all houses)

    You might not be able to imagine that anymore, but I'm telling you, it's pretty fuckin sweet.

    And if I wanna hear some ocean waves? If I want to delude myself, I can pop in a nature sounds cd.

    See that's my whole point. You are DELUDING YOUR SELF. You are not on a quiet relaxing beach property. You are in the middle of an EXTREMELY over-developed and ghetto-ish hood, that happens to be a block from the beach.

    That's great if you want to ride your bike or rollerblade along the beach, but come on now, it's not like Huntington or Bolsa Chica, where you're gonna run across the street to surf... nor is it like Seal Beach, where it's actually beautifully quiet at night.

    So I'm really sorry if my comments bothered you out of your delusion/fantasy a little bit, but after hearing what you shared, I still stand firmly convicted that people who spend extra to live in the Ocean blvd area, are indeed fools, unless they are either facing the beach, or are on one of the blocks with mostly houses.

    And while some of you may be able to AFFORD a "more expensive lifestyle", the thing that makes it so foolish, is that while it is indeed MORE EXPENSIVE, you aren't getting anything in return for all that extra expense.

  8. Mike in LBC,
    I'm too old and stubborn. Just too hard to change, I'm stuck. But after reading your very well thought thru, extremely convincing, brilliant argument, I'm sure your next real estate purchase will take place in a peaceful, quiet and obviously convenient and affordable neighborhood, far away from that miserable, noisy, crowded, overdeveloped coastal community I had to struggle for more than a dozen years. I wish you good luck and success with your new challenge.


  9. Olaj, don't surrender.

    You know why? Cause this ain't a battle.

    All I'm doing is stating the obvious reality, about the area. You can get mad at the messenger, but it's obvious you cannot deny the message.... and that is because the message is the truth.

    Unless you are a serious rollerblader or bicyclist, there is no advantage to living close to Ocean blvd, and certainly nothing to justify paying any premium.

    I mean, it's great that you can "afford a more expensive lifestyle", but why not get something for your money?

    And yes, if you didn't notice, the "coastal community" is overdeveloped. EXTREMELY overdeveloped.

    Sorry to point that out to ya.

  10. LOL. If Ocean Blvd is your baseline for "over-developed" and "ghetto-ish," you might wanna re-evaluate buying in Long Beach--unless you have the cash for Naples. :)

  11. Believe me if I had the money, I would buy in a place like Redondo/Manhattan Beach, or maybe Huntington (or Naples)!

    Sad reality is that this is a fallen/imperfect world, and as such, you sometimes have to take what you can get.

    I am not one of those so privileged to be "able to afford a more expensive lifestyle".

    Question for YOU though anonymous - What place in Southern California is more overdeveloped than Long Beach???

    I'd really like to know.

  12. That's exactly my point: there probably isn't a more overdeveloped place in SoCal than Long Beach. And unfortunately overdeveloped and ghettoish seem to be inversely related here. The houses they've crammed onto postage size lots in the nicest area of Belmont Shore are practically condos--you're six inches from your neighbor. When you can't find street parking at 3 pm on a weekday, you're in overdevelopment central. When you finally do get out to a lot of the areas with nice houses with yards, like Signal Hill and Bixby Knolls, you're in spitting distance from neighborhoods where I won't get out of the car in broad daylight.

    There are those of us who grew up in urban centers and can't imagine life without being walking distance to both the grocery store and our favorite bar--with those priorities, Long Beach makes sense and has the added benefit of letting you live near a beach (but a crappy one, as you've pointed out) without being a gazillionaire. But if the idyllic peace that comes with big lots and low population was my priority, I don't think I'd be trying to find it in the non-existent zoning, laughable building code/deed restriction enforcement, distressed tax base infrastructural nightmare that is the LBC--especially not with prices falling like they are in the inland OC (places like Cypress and La Palma are getting hit really hard--and probably aren't done yet).

    That was my only point--if Ocean Blvd drives you crazy because it's overdeveloped (and it certainly does do that to a lot of people), I can't see what appeal LB would have for you as a buyer.

  13. I don't understand what "overdeveloped" exactly means. I think it's not measurable. The closest statistical term explaining that, is population density. The problem is, Long Beach is not even close to the usual (and a few surprise) suspects. Obviously the East L.A. cities enjoy about double population density, but many small coastal communities are substantially more crowded than Long Beach. Just one for fun: Hermosa Beach...
    Do the search, and you'll be pleased being the resident of our spacious city...


  14. Anon, thanks for sharing that!

    I may just have to take a look at Cypress and La Palma (though it might make my commute impossible, as I'm already commuting to Santa Monica).

    It's funny, and even my mom laughs now, because NOW I've become quite critical of Long Beach, but before I never noticed it as much... it's because I've been in the same rental for a LONG time, and I'm on a street with all houses, in the nice section of Belmont Heights.

    My rent is ridiculously cheap (I don't want to say it, for fear of someone hunting me down).

    But ever since I started looking at potentially buying, I've taken notice of the faults of the city, and it's different areas.

    Personally speaking, I mostly am interested in the downtown area, and I'd CONSIDER a condo around the Ocean blvd area - BUT NOT FOR A PREMIUM.

    Why pay a premium for something that doesn't give you more?

    That's like paying more for organic ice cream, but it really isn't organic, the label just SAYS it is.

    But thank you for your sane thoughts. I agree with you on all points.

    And yes, I've grown up in Long Beach, so I can definitely handle the "hood" element... but at the same time, as a home-owner, you want to try to avoid that as much as possible.

    It's funny, cause I had this dream that Long Beach was gonna "come up", and it was going to get cleaned up and evolve.

    I now realize that with all the over-development, that will NEVER happen.

    With all the extra units, there will always be cheap rentals, and with the cheap rentals, you will always have the share of "losers", who make things miserable for the rest of everyone else.

  15. Olaj, if you want to continue down Fantasy Lane, in deluding yourself, I don't want to stop you.

    Even though we might be "quipping" on this blog, I have NOTHING against you. :-)

    But come on now dude, get your mind out the box, with all that PC garbage.

    You don't need "figures", to look out your effin door, and see, just as Anon just posted, that you can't even find parking at 3pm on a weekday.

    And bro man, it's ONE thing to have some over-development right by the shore... but when the ENTIRE EASTSIDE OF LONG BEACH is like that?!?!?!?!


    "Olaj hunny, time to wake up now"

    Dude seriously, it's pretty sad seeing you pathetically trying to defend Long Beach. You must have really bought into the hype mentally.

    I leave you with an outsider's comment made about Long Beach, which I read on another real estate blog -

    "it's Pomona by the ocean"


  16. And dude, you aren't SERIOUSLY comparing Long Beach to Hermosa are you???

    Oh my.

  17. No, I'm not comparing anything. Just sharing some facts. The population density of Hermosa Beach is higher than Long Beach. It's a fact.


  18. And Olaj, that's a GREAT example of why you don't go strictly by "stats" in life.

    Have a great Fourth!