It’s no secret that some markets are more expensive than others. Properties in New York or Los Angeles are less affordable than those located in, say, Des Moines, Iowa, or in Madison, Wis. Additionally, price variations exist even within the same metro area. Depending on various factors, neighboring submarkets might boast different average property values. It takes skill and experience to choose the best asset for your needs.
We wanted to fully understand the dynamic of the complex real estate scene in the U.S., so we launched our Expert Insights series. Through a set of Q&A interviews conducted with real estate professionals from different regions, we wished to discover what makes each market tick.
Is Long Beach One of the Last Affordable SoCal Markets?
Today, we’re turning our heads to Long Beach, Calif., the second-largest city in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and the third largest in Southern California. This charter city with a population of 470,000 citizens has several new developments underway, which are going to make it even more attractive to people searching for a new home.
Wishing to have a better overview of the real estate market in Long Beach, we reached out to Oriana Shea, president of The Oriana Shea Group. A realtor with over 15 years of experience in residential, luxury residential, probate, and trust sales, Shea gave us a few powerful insights regarding this city’s real estate scene.
Q: How did you end up working in this field and what drew you to it?
A: Like a lot of people that get into real estate, I liked the idea of working for myself, setting my own hours, and having the opportunity to make a lot of money. I didn’t realize what that really entailed. I also have a design background, so I loved the idea of helping people see the vision in a house or helping them get their home ready for the market. I quickly realized that if I was going to be successful, I had to learn how to treat this like a business and work really hard. What I love about this industry now is how satisfying it is to help my clients and earn their trust in the process. Building relationships is also important to me. This wasn’t something that I initially set out to do, but it is what drives me now.
Q: What does it take to be a successful broker in this highly competitive market?
A: You have to work really hard and learn how to leverage through others. I’m successful now because I have a great team. It is very difficult to do this by yourself. I realized this early on and took chances in hiring part-time people to start, and then built from there. You also need to set yourself apart from your competition and have a strong value proposition for potential clients.
Q: Describe your most challenging project so far. How did you deal with it?
A: I think one of my biggest challenges was helping a family that needed to sell two homes to buy one. They were basically moving a family member in with them, but to do that they needed to sell both properties. While this doesn’t sound all that hard, throw five young kids into the mix, together with putting up a plan that would allow them to make competitive offers that didn’t involve two contingent sales. It took a lot of planning, but we did it and sold both of their properties, while moving all eight of them into their new house concurrently, so they all only made one move. We have also encountered some challenging situations with trust and probate sales that we had to overcome. A probate last year took almost five months to close because the conservator died three weeks after we opened escrow.
Q: Are there any investment/development clusters/submarkets in Long Beach right now? Where is development focused and why?
A: There is a lot of development going on in Long Beach right now. One of the largest projects is the 2nd & PCH one. It has taken years to finally get this massive project underway, which will be a dining and shopping attraction that is going to draw a lot more people to the city. The other major projects are the Long Beach Exchange at Douglas Park and the Queen Mary dining and shopping development on the pier in front of the Queen Mary. Long Beach has been a well-kept secret for years, but the secret is out. While it has remained one of the last affordable places to live on the coast in Southern California, I feel that it’s all about to change.
Q: In your opinion, what are some of the strengths of the Long Beach real estate market, and what are the challenges? How do you deal with them?
A: I think the strengths are the price points, which are still relatively affordable when you compare Long Beach to other coastal cities in Southern California. The challenges are that homeowners constantly want to push the envelope, while buyers are very particular. It is a delicate balance to educate the consumers on how the values are set by what people are willing to pay and on supply and demand. You need to analyze the active competition, as well as what has recently sold.
Q: How do you think the Long Beach residential real estate market is faring compared to other bigger/more established markets?
A: I think Long Beach is an established market.
Q: How is commercial real estate changing residential housing in Long Beach?
A: I think whenever there is confidence building in the economy it’s a trickle-down effect. I believe that when there are large commercial investments made in any city to enhance the experience, that will only help drive the residential real estate market. More people are going to want to live in Long Beach because it is a growing location.
Q: Where do you think the Long Beach real estate market is heading in 2018? Are there any major/exciting developments scheduled for delivery this year?
A: As I said, there are a few large developments underway. The Long Beach Exchange is almost complete, and the others may take a year or two. I would be watching the areas at the beach near the 2nd & PCH development, as well as what is happening in East Long Beach, downtown Long Beach, and in the Queen Mary area.
If you want to see how the real estate scene of some other U.S. states looks like, you can read our Q&A interviews covering the Tallahassee, Pittsburgh, Honolulu, Tempe, Cincinnati, and Raleigh markets.