Posted by & filed under News, Real Estate.

Los Angeles, and in particular, the San Fernando Valley, is notorious for its traffic. Right now, an estimated 86 percent of San Fernando Valley commuters drive to work. Most spend more than half an hour on each end of the commute. Some good news is coming, though. The San Fernando Valley may be getting a new subway line.

The Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association sent a letter to the Metro.

…The group expresses overall support for Metro’s East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor, which will link the Van Nuys Orange Line station to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station—about 9 miles to the north. The project won’t reach Sherman Oaks, but the group argues that it will have a potentially large impact on the neighborhood.

The letter also urges Metro to consider putting the line underground, maintaining that this option would be “faster and less intrusive on autos, pedestrians, and bikes.”

Source: LA Curbed

According to the environmental impact report, Metro is also considering a light rail line, two rapid bus options and a tram. Most of those would be at street level, with the exception of 2.5 underground miles between Panorama City and Van Nuys.

A subway would be much more expensive.

Putting the project underground would increase the projected cost of the project far beyond the $2.7 billion price tag Metro has estimated for the mostly above-ground light rail. Metro spokesperson Kimberly Upton tells Curbed the cost of an entirely subterranean line would likely be between $7 billion and $8 billion.

The homeowner’s association doesn’t care. They want the subway. About half the is already covered through Measure M, which raised sales tax last November. The rest, they say, can be raised by public-private partnerships.

What is your opinion on mass transit in the San Fernando Valley, and throughout the rest of the Los Angeles area?

Featured image via Wikimedia.

Posted by & filed under Home Buying, News.

Despite a median Los Angeles home value of $632,000, a new generation of home buyers has entered the Los Angeles housing market. Millennials are taking their earning power and buying homes.

It’s been a struggle for many.

The rate of first-time home buyers is still historically low, but it’s picking up, finally.

Nationally, first-time home buyers purchased 35% of previously owned houses and condos sold in the 12 months that ended in June 2016 — the latest data available — up from a near-record low of 32% in the previous 12-month period.

Still, that rate is well below the historical average of 40% over the last several decades, reflecting continuing obstacles, such as heavy personal debt loads and high home prices, that are preventing more young people from buying homes.

Source: Los Angeles Times

California still hasn’t caught up to the rest of the country, though. In the last quarter, 31.7 percent of home sales were to first-time buyers, but that’s up almost 10 percent from just a year ago.

Higher coastal prices are forcing some to move inland, often with long commutes. The further people move from Los Angeles, the more affordable homes become. Builders are following the demand.

In San Bernardino and Riverside counties, builders pulled permits for 9,269 new homes, most of which were houses, in the first seven months of this year, up 58% from a year earlier, according to data from the Census Bureau.

In more expensive Los Angeles and Orange counties, permits were down a combined 4%, a drop that came entirely from multifamily construction, which is typically built in expensive urban areas and faces more pushback from existing residents.

For people in the coastal areas, you can probably expect even higher home prices as high-paid millennials and those with parental help enter the market, driving down inventory and driving up home values.

Featured image via Mark Moz/Flickr.

Posted by & filed under Long-Distance Moving, Moving Estimates.

While walking our dogs, a good friend mentioned that she had chosen a moving company for her retired father who lives in the Midwest. I asked about the company and after hearing about them, I told her to cancel the move, immediately.

They pulled a sneaky trick

It all seemed innocent enough. The company had the same name as one of the major van lines. For my friend, this was a good thing. For me, it was a giant red flag, but I didn’t stop there. I pulled out my phone and looked at the company’s website. There were no pictures of their namesake’s very recognizable trucks.

How I figured it out

The first thing I did was look at their Yelp reviews. They had a whopping four. Two were five stars and two were one. The two five star reviews just seemed suspicious, but I didn’t end the research there.

I scrolled to the bottom of the site, where they posted their licensing information. That was good, at least until I looked. The company had been in business for just a few months. That’s bad. In that time, they had racked up a number of complaints with the Department of Transportation. That’s very bad. Most reputable companies have only a couple of complaints in years, if not decades, of service.

I checked their Better Business Bureau listing. While I don’t place a lot of stock in the Better Business Bureau (members can get more leeway), all of this combined was all I needed to know.

Complaints ranged from overcharging to not showing up to holding goods hostage, waiting for more money.

It gets worse

The company my friend had chosen required a hefty down payment with a strict 72 hour cancellation policy. The move is two months away, but any cancellation will result in the loss of her deposit, unless it’s within the first 72 hours.

Fortunately, she called within those 72 hours and if she doesn’t see the refund on her credit card, she has recourse through her credit card.

The lesson here is be wary. Just because a company has a recognizable name, it doesn’t mean they have anything at all to do with that company. Yes, the major van lines (and sometimes respected local companies) they have stolen the name from have recourse, but the dishonest companies are rarely in business long enough for that to matter.

My friend was lucky, simply because I know a lot about the moving industry. Hundreds of people are scammed every day by dishonest moving companies and with tricks like stealing names of legitimate companies, customers are finding it more difficult to figure out who’s good and who’s bad.

Featured image via TheMuuj/Flickr.

Posted by & filed under News.

At VIP Movers and Storage, our thoughts and prayers are with the millions of victims of Hurricane Harvey. Instead of our usual blog post, this week, we’ll post about the best ways to help:

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is the largest relief organization. You can donate on their website. You can also donate blood at a number of locations nationwide.

Charity Navigator recommends:

If you’re looking for a local charity to support in the wake of Hurricane Harvey please consider Houston Food Bank, Food Bank of Corpus Christi, Houston Humane Society, Houston SPCA, or San Antonio Humane Society. These highly-rated organizations are located in the most-affected areas and are providing support to individuals and animals.

Food Banks

NPR compiled a list of food banks. We will be working with the Houston Food Bank to deliver food.

Houston Food Bank

Galveston Food Bank

Food Bank of the Golden Crescent (Victoria)

Corpus Christi Food Bank

Southeast Texas Food Bank (Beaumont)

Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley (Pharr)

Brazos Valley Food Bank (Bryan)

Central Texas Food Bank (Austin)

San Antonio Food Bank

LGBTQ

You can also donate to the L.G.B.T.Q. Disaster Relief Fund, who helps “rebuild their lives through counseling, case management, direct assistance with shelf stable food, furniture, housing and more.”

Pets

If your heart is with the abandoned animals (as is ours), here are several optionsGoFundMe has several campaigns, including some for animals.

Organizations have nearly all requested that people donate cash rather than clothing or other goods, simply because cash is so much easier to distribute.

Unfortunately for the residents of the hurricane stricken areas, relief and recovery will be a long-term endeavor. Monthly donations are always welcome. If you aren’t in a position to donate right now, you can donate at a later time.

Featured image via Defense.gov.

 

Posted by & filed under News.

When Your House Is Filled With Adult Children

For many of us, milestones like our 18th birthday or college graduation meant it was time to move out of our childhood homes. For 34 percent of millennials (born between 1982 and 2004), college loans, a rising cost of living and poor starting wages are making it impossible to live on their own.

The number of young adults who live at home with their parents has skyrocketed, especially in the last decade, as college costs have soared and the great recession has hurt job prospects.

In 2005, only 25 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 lived with their parents; today, that number is 34 percent. The number of young Americans living independently of their parents stands at 40.7 percent, down more than 10 percentage points from a decade ago.

Source: The Hill

There’s hardly a parent alive who doesn’t adore their children, but after 20+ years, many yearn for their own independence. But about 2/3rds of parents of millennials feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. They want their children to be on their own but according to a recent study, the majority of moms don’t feel that their children are ready and they blame themselves.

“As a parent myself, I haven’t done the best job in preparing our children for the real world, let alone the responsibilities that go along with it,” says Brett Anderson, a financial planner in Hudson, WI. “We’ve helped too much, I think that’s where we’ve gone wrong. Many children are not capable of thinking or problem-solving for themselves.”

Source: Forbes

How To Encourage Adult Children

Forbes does have some tips, though. The first is to be realistic about the cost of living. How much is an apartment in the area? How much is a cell phone? Is there a car payment? How about food and utilities?

Forbes recommends charging rent and putting adult children in charge of some of their basic chores, like laundry and cooking.

You can even test your children by charging them what you think living on their own might cost, at least for a couple of months. If you’d like, you can put that money into a savings account. Give them a cushion for when they do move out.

Featured image via Wikimedia.

Posted by & filed under News, Real Estate.

Los Angeles will be the home to the Olympics in 2028. They will be one of only three cities, including Paris and London, who have hosted the Olympics three times. While 2028 is still a long time from now, the city has already begun preparing. As homeowners, or as potential homeowners, you will be affected, and mostly in good ways.

Not surprisingly, the Olympics will be great for the commercial real estate market and for jobs:

Los Angeles’s thriving commercial real estate market is leading to robust growth in infrastructure and office space, boosted by an infusion of tech, entertainment and other growing businesses. A decade of preparation for the 2028 Olympics, and the economic influx and added post-event revenue that this will likely bring, should catapult Los Angeles into a higher ranking of dominant world cities.

Source: National Real Estate Investor

But what about the residential market?

When the city spruces up for company, they’ll also make the city more livable and bring a huge influx of money. There will be improvements on roads, public transportation and other infrastructure that helps add value to everyone’s homes. That starts almost immediately

In the immediate future, preparation to host the Olympics will proliferate and hasten the influx of funding for commercial real estate and infrastructure, creating a boomerang effect on job creation. Accessibility of different neighborhoods will be aided by an aggressive 40-year plan to upgrade Los Angeles transit, including metro rail, buses, downtown streetcars and highways. Indeed, the Olympics may function as an important catalyst to expand commuting radius and set firm deadlines for construction and completion of projects.

The impact will be lasting, although, like the day after Christmas, there might be a bit of a let down after the event. Still, the world will be reminded of what a vibrant and influential city Los Angeles is, and that’s a win for almost everyone…except for traffic.

Featured image via Wikipedia.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

If you’re young and looking toward the future, it might be time to move to a city that matches your dream. The good news is that you don’t even have to leave the state of California to live in some of the cities deemed the top 25 in the world for the future. In fact, number one in the world is right in our home state.

While the listing is for the world, we will only focus on the United States for now.

The 25th city for the future is Los Angeles, mostly because of its booming tech industry.

Number 19 is Washington, D.C., for its business activity, human capital (educated and skilled workforce) and its political engagement, of course.

At number 17 is Atlanta, Georgia. The list noted that the city is inventive, as proven by its high number of patents per capita. It also noted private investments and university sponsored incubators.

Chicago hit the 15th spot. The list predicts that Chicago will be a future tech hub. It’s also home to a number of Fortune 500 companies.

Number eight is Houston, Texas. Houston is also a hub of innovation, as measured by its patents. It also has a relatively high gross domestic product, which means that people may not be struggling there as they may be in other cities.

Boston ranks number five, partly because it has some of the best institutions for higher learning in the world. The city also emphasizes the biotech industries.

New York is number two, for pretty self-explanatory reasons:

Considered a world center of fashion, finance, media, and technology, the city posted high scores in business activity, political engagement, and human capital. New York City also leads the pack in capital markets and local institutions with global reach.

The number one city on the list, anywhere in the world, is right here in California. It’s San Francisco. San Francisco is the high-tech capital of the world. It’s also the hub of great ideas. They did note, though, that it is very expensive.

If you notice, all of these cities are not just preparing for the future, they are powerful cities right now, and as always, very popular moving destinations.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.

Posted by & filed under Packing.

Moving is always a lot of work but it’s even more-so when you have children. Believe it or not, though, there are ways to encourage your children to help, and they might even have fun.

How to make moving fun for children

  1. Arm yourself with lots and lots of colorful sticky notes

    Ask your children what they love and don’t love about their current room, what are they too grown up for now? Ask them to color-code their items. Green could mean keep, red could mean donate and blue could mean not sure. let them pick the colors. You may find that they feel they are growing out of a lot of their toys, they just haven’t gotten around to telling you.

  2. Take pictures of their new rooms

    Have them make a drawing of where they would like to put their furniture and larger toys. Ask them where they would hang pictures. It will give them some ownership of the rooms before you even move in.

  3. Make a donation pile

    Even donating can be fun and interactive for children. Explain that their old toys and clothes will go to a younger child who can’t afford as many nice things. Take your children to the thrift store, if you drop off, and tell them you’ll go back after the move, to see what they might want.

  4. Let them pack

    While this might seem like a really bad idea, kids can’t go too wrong packing books, clothing and toys. All you need to do is put together the boxes, let them know what types of things go into what boxes (books in small, book boxes, clothing and toys in medium boxes). Even if they pack just one box a day each, they’ll take pride in the fact that they are helping.

  5. Take them shopping after the move

    We know that there are a lot of costs involved in moving, so major shopping sprees might be out, but you can still take them thrift shopping, or just let them pick out one small item for their new rooms.

Posted by & filed under Home Improvement.

You can add more than $5,000 in value to your home just by painting it.

As you look around your home, preparing to sell, it can be overwhelming. You want to get the most out of your home, but you don’t want to go broke getting it into selling shape. A new study by Zillow says you don’t have to. You can up your home’s value with a coat of paint, and one of the biggest differences can be made in one of the smallest rooms — the bathroom.

If you think your home has to be boring to be sellable, you’re wrong. According to the study, neutrals like beige and white aren’t the best selling colors. Light shades of blue and green are especially popular. They can increase your home’s value by as much as $5,440.00.

 

A new analysis by real estate site Zillow.com of more than 32,000 photos of sold homes finds that light shades of powder blue and periwinkle, especially in a bathroom, are correlated to an increase in home value of $5,440, on average. (If you were wondering what Home Depot’s top-selling blue interior paint hue is, it’s this soft blue-gray called “Siberian Ice.”)

On the other hand, homes with white or off-white bathrooms sold for an average of $4,035 less according to Zillow.

“Both kitchens and bathrooms are big focal points for home buyers. However, bathrooms are a bit more standardized than kitchens, so certain wall colors can really change the look and feel of the space,” says Kerrie Kelly, a home design expert at Zillow. “While wall colors in kitchens are also important, so are the kitchen appliances, countertop materials [and] layout.”

Source: Time

For dining rooms, you can even go bolder. Darker colors like blue-gray and navy blue, especially when paired with a distressed wood look, can net you nearly $2,000 more money at sale time.

Time to grab a paint brush and go to it. The days of boring homes and boring buyers are over.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Great moving companies are amazing. They can walk into a lived in house, and within hours, the home is packed into organized boxes and loaded onto a truck. For customers who can afford white glove service, there’s nothing better. Even when you pay for full service, though, there are some things that movers simply cannot move and you’ll need to throw them away, use them up or give them away.

  1. Perishables — Move time is time to empty out your fridge. Movers cannot move perishable items, and trust me when I say you don’t want them to. Imagine spilled sour milk contaminating all of your belongings. I’m sure I’ve said enough.
  2. Valuables — While high-quality movers specialize in high-value art and large things of value, you always want to take jewelry and important papers with you.
  3. Explosives — It is highly illegal for movers to transport explosives, especially across state lines. It’s best to leave your propane and oxygen tanks at home.
  4. Flammables — If it can possibly catch on fire, dispose of it. That includes the gasoline you have in your garage (empty it out of your lawnmower too), nail polish and nail polish remover, fertilizers, paint, etc.
  5. Corrosives — Leave your cleaning supplies and paint at home. You’ll need them anyway. They can leak and wreak havoc on all of your belongings.
  6. Plants — Moving trucks are hot, windowless and stuffy. They aren’t a good environment for plants. Not only that, they can’t be boxed efficiently, so they take up a lot of valuable space in the truck, and in many states (like California), they can’t cross state lines.
  7. Animals — As with plants, keeping animals healthy and alive in a moving truck is not easy. Please, arrange to take your four legged creatures yourself or send them with people who are qualified to move pets. As for fish, be sure to empty the fish tanks.

For a complete list of items that can’t be moved, check out Moving.com.

Featured image via Ian Collins/Flickr.