HOUSING & REAL ESTATE
In Ventura County
A beautiful coastline, temperate climate, vibrant arts scene and abundance of year-round recreation in Ventura County contribute to a high quality of life not found in other metropolitan areas. In 2014, 846,178 people called Ventura County home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Naval Base Ventura County, which lies along the Pacific coastline in southwestern Ventura County, is adjacent to Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Camarillo. NB Ventura County employs more than 11,000 military and 9,000 civilian personnel, according to the 2015 U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Market. Additionally, nearly 47,000 veterans live in the area, according to the U.S. Census.
Newcomers have plenty of choices when selecting a home. Enlist the help of a reputable real estate agent to help you sort through the area’s home options. The California Association of Realtors is a central source of local real estate information and services. Visit www.car.org to find expertise and professional services for those interested in purchasing a new home.
Lying along 43 miles of Southern California coastline, Ventura County is situated between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties. Early Spanish settlers described it as the “land of everlasting summers,” or San Buenaventura, which means “good fortune.” Covering 1,873 square miles, Ventura County is flanked by rugged mountains to the north and east, and lies in a coastal plain and valley. The Pacific Ocean extends south and west and provides access to the Channel Islands, also part of
Ventura County was settled atop the highly fertile soil of the Santa Clara River Valley, where the best citrus groves in the state are produced, spawning the Sunkist Growers organization.
Ventura is a major transportation hub for the region. U.S. 101 offers Ventura County easy access to Los Angeles and San Francisco. State Route 118 connects to the San Fernando Valley on the east, and State Route 126 connects to Interstate 5. Metrolink and Amtrak serve commuters from six stations in the region. The Port of Hueneme is a deep-water port, providing Ventura County with port of entry and foreign trade zone status.
At the north end of the county, the Los Padres National Forest comprises 46 percent of the region’s land mass. Agriculture is a thriving billion-dollar industry, contributing to an overall pastoral ambience. As the gateway to Channel Islands National Park, Ventura County extends its open space to this 250,000-acre wilderness preserve and marine sanctuary.
FBI rankings consistently rate Ventura County cities as some of the safest in the country. In this outdoor-oriented community, Ventura County residents enjoy year-round walks on the beach, surfing, hiking, biking, camping, fishing and golfing.
Ventura County Community College District is composed of three two-year community colleges
in Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura. California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo and California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks offer four-year and graduate programs. The county’s public schools are among the best in the state.
Ventura County offers a Mediterranean climate with low humidity and near-perfect average temperatures in the mid-70s. Some areas enjoy more than 300 sunny days annually. Ranging from sea level to the 8,831-foot peak of Mount Pinos, the mountains, valleys and coastal plains give the region a unique variety of six microclimates.
Communities near Naval Base Ventura County include Ventura, Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Camarillo.
601 Carmen Drive
Camarillo, CA 93010
Lying along U.S. 101, Camarillo is midway between Los Angeles to the south and Santa Barbara to the north, ideal for families who want to take advantage of the region’s amenities while living in a prospering small community. Camarillo has 67,608 people, according to the 2015 U.S. Census. The median household income is $87,120.
Situated north of the Santa Monica Mountains and about a 20-minute drive from the Pacific Ocean, Camarillo offers a vibrant lifestyle. The city’s downtown area, known as Old Town, has been revitalized and features a mixture of chain stores, restaurants and locally owned businesses. Like many cities in Ventura County, Camarillo has not seen much new construction, so while homes here are available, they often sell quickly.
Located on the Oxnard Plain just 9 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Camarillo offers a mixture of rural and suburban lifestyles. With more than 300 sunny days annually and an average temperature in the low 70s, Camarillo’s climate is hard to beat.
Camarillo has a strong economic base of high-tech, retail and specialty businesses, supported by a highly educated workforce, modern industrial buildings and a strong relationship with local businesses. The Ventura Freeway is the city’s primary thoroughfare.
Camarillo was named for Adolfo and Juan Camarillo, two of the few Californios (pre-1848 California natives of Hispanic ancestry) who preserved the city’s heritage after the arrival of Anglo settlers. The railroad coastal route came through in 1898, and a station was built. Adolfo Camarillo eventually employed 700 workers growing mainly lima beans. Walnuts and citrus were also grown on the ranch. Adolfo bred Camarillo white horses from the 1920s through the 1960s, riding them in parades such as the Fiesta of Santa Barbara in his colorful
The city developed slowly before World War II but grew after the construction of the Oxnard Army Air Field (now Camarillo Airport) west of town. Nearby Naval Air Station Point Mugu and a Seabee base at Port Hueneme brought many workers and their families to the area. The grounds of Camarillo State Hospital, which opened in 1936 south of town, are now occupied by the campus of California State University Channel Islands.
Apartment rents range from $850 to $2,000 a month for one- and two-bedroom apartments. Mean travel time to work is 22 minutes. Median rent is $1,658, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $2,542.
City of Port Hueneme
250 N. Ventura Road
Port Hueneme, CA 93041
The city of Port Hueneme (pronounced “Why-nee-mee”) is a small beach community along Ventura County’s Gold Coast just south of the Oxnard and Channel Islands Harbor. Port Hueneme has a population of 22,423, according to the 2015 U.S. Census estimate.
Port Hueneme has a rich history and culture dating to the Chumash Indians who made their home here for centuries. The name comes from the Spanish spelling of the Chumash “wene me,” meaning “resting place.” Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo explored this area and the adjacent Channel Islands in October 1542. The town’s name was officially changed to Port Hueneme in 1939, and it was incorporated in 1948. The city maintains a close relationship with the U.S. Navy’s Port Hueneme and Point Mugu
Port Hueneme is geographically small, with a total land area of only 4.5 square miles. But the city makes up for it in immense pride in its small-town atmosphere, diverse economy, temperate climate, clean air, low-crime rate, quality education and plentiful recreation. The climate is ideal, with mild winter temperatures and cooling midsummer sea breezes that typify Port Hueneme’s subtropical temperate climate. The average annual low temperature is 52 degrees, and the average annual high is 66 degrees. Rainfall averages about 13 inches per year.
Residents of Port Hueneme enjoy quality, coastal-community living for a reasonable cost, with a choice of beachfront condominiums, contemporary single-family residences and low-rise apartments. Since about half of residential property is rental, housing is readily available to buyers and renters alike. Apartment rent ranges from $1,250 for a small one-bedroom to $2,100 for a two-bedroom town house just two blocks from the beach. Median rent for the area is $1,457. Selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,907.
The median household income is $52,826. The city is served by Gold Coast Transit and Vista bus lines. Mean travel time to work is 24 minutes.
300 W. Third St.
Oxnard, CA 93030
Oxnard lies on the Pacific Coast in Southern California about 62 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles and 35 miles south of Santa Barbara. With 207,254 residents estimated in 2015, it is the largest city in Ventura County. Oxnard has a mild climate with an average high of 73 degrees. The weather is so pleasant that most homes do not have air conditioning.
Oxnard, just west of the San Fernando Valley, is known for its uncrowded beaches and the easy access it and neighboring Ventura provide to Channel Islands National Park. Oxnard has 20 miles of shoreline, the sand is soft and the surf is excellent; the wildest breaks are accessible only to members of Point Mugu’s Navy base.
Oxnard was incorporated in 1903 and sits at the western edge of the fertile Oxnard Plain, which is adjacent to an agricultural center of strawberries and lima beans. This is the lima bean and strawberry capital of the world; the California Strawberry Festival is celebrated here in the summer. Oxnard also has a strong arts community with the excellent New West Symphony and the Elite Theatre Company and thriving punk and hip-hop scenes.
Oxnard is a major transportation hub in Southern California, with Amtrak, Union Pacific, Metrolink and Greyhound stopping there, as well as having a small regional airport. The city is named after the family that developed a sugar beet factory — the first major industry — in the 1890s.
Oxnard is the most populous city in the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is one of the nation’s wealthiest areas. Its economy is driven by international trade, agriculture, manufacturing, defense and tourism. The Port of Hueneme is the best and only deep-harbor commercial port between Los Angeles and San Francisco and is vital to trade with Pacific Rim economies. Other key industries include finance, transportation, technology and oil.
Oxnard is subject to earthquakes because of its location near the San Andreas Fault. The city is 27 square miles. Mean travel time to work is 23.6 minutes. Median rent for a three-bedroom, single-family house is $2,150 and $1,740 for a two-bedroom apartment. Median rent is $1,332, and monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $2,157.
420 E. Santa Clara St.
Ventura, CA 93001
Ventura lies 60 miles northwest of coastal Los Angeles along U.S. 101. Officially San Buenaventura, most people refer to the city as Ventura. The city provides a unique historic and small-town appeal just an hour’s drive from the massive sprawl of Los Angeles. The city’s 1,843 square miles are home to 109,708 residents, according to the 2015 U.S. Census. It remained a somewhat isolated and rural community for much of the 20th century until the 1960s, when the four-lane Ventura Highway (U.S. 101) was completed and expanded.
Beaches abound in Ventura, which is known as one of the best surfing destinations in California. Rincon Point is one of the more popular and crowded surfing areas in the state but makes for a lively sunbathing and observation area. Ventura also provides access to excellent fishing, camping, whale watching, harbor cruises, island exploring, golfing and many other recreational activities.
Downtown Ventura has more than 400 shops and restaurants including high-end retailers, boutiques and vintage shops, bookstores, coffee shops, galleries, museums, theaters and historic sites. San Buenaventura Mission, founded in 1782, is downtown and offers a glimpse into California’s frontier past. The Majestic Theatre is another historic landmark, built in 1928 and decades later converted into a venue that frequently hosts concerts by national performers. Ventura Harbor Village offers additional shopping, dining and seaside activities including boating, kayaking and a harbor as a launching point to explore Channel Islands National Park.
Homes range from established neighborhoods to new housing developments. Median rent for the area is $1,391. Monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $2,270. Mean travel time to work is 23 minutes.
Planning Your Move
Relocating to a new home can be one of the most stressful situations in life. Whether moving across town or across the nation, preparation and organization can make all the difference. First, decide whether to use a professional moving company or make it a do-it-yourself (DIY) operation.
For a DIY move, consider distance, labor help and the costs to rent the moving van, gas, lodging during the move and insurance. A transportable storage unit service can bridge a professional and DIY move. When the unit is delivered to your residence, you load and secure it for transport and then unload it when delivered to your new residence.
Whatever the method, be sure to obtain as many quotes as possible from professional movers, as well as cost estimates for a DIY move. Next, compare the costs for each type of move, factoring in the stress and physical exertion involved. Ask any company you are interested in for references and use them to inquire about reliability and customer service.
Regardless of which method you choose, the first step should be to inventory your personal belongings. The list, with photographs of any valuables, will be important for both insurance purposes and to help keep you organized during transit.
Plan for one full day to pack each room — though the kitchen and garage may take longer. Make a rough estimate of your packing schedule and then add 50 percent more time. It always takes longer than predicted to pack. Toss or donate unused items to lighten your load. Visit www.goodwill.org, www.salvationarmyusa.org or www.clothingdonations.org for locations near you or to arrange a pickup.
Pack for success:
- Consider what you’re packing and control box weight. Books should go in small boxes while bedding can easily fill a larger box.
- Wrap fragile items with cardboard dividers, tissue paper or air bubble wrapping.
- Use bright colors when wrapping small items so they don’t get thrown out accidentally.
- Use crumpled paper or newspaper to line the top and bottom of boxes.
- Tape a copy of your inventory list to boxes to identify what’s inside and where it
Buying Versus Renting
The decision to buy or rent is the most important step in your relocation process. Purchasing a home entails a long-term emotional and financial commitment with various pluses and minuses attached. Advantages include the possibility of building equity and the freedom to design and decorate your property or landscape. And don’t forget the tax benefits. Disadvantages include upkeep, property taxes and fluctuating property value.
Renting, on the other hand, makes moving easier and someone else maintains the property. Amenities such as laundry rooms, exercise rooms, swimming pools and tennis courts vary from one rental complex to another. The main disadvantage is loss of control over the residence. Some complexes, for example, restrict or prohibit pets and personal touches such as painting. And the landlord or property managers can also raise the rent with
Before determining your best option, account for all of your needs, review your financial situation and research your options thoroughly.
Finding an Apartment
Find local apartments listed in chamber of commerce membership directories, local newspaper classifieds, online or through referrals from family or friends. “California Tenants: A Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities” can be downloaded at www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/catenant.pdf.
Be prepared when you meet with the leasing agent, property manager or owner. Bring a list of what you are looking for in a rental; it is important to be clear about your needs and to get all of your questions answered. You will also need to provide information and verification about your job, your income and your past rental history. Dress to make a good impression and treat the meeting as though it is a job interview — be polite and arrive on time.
Before you decide to rent, inspect the apartment with the landlord. Look for the following problems:
- Cracks, holes or damage in the floor, walls or ceiling.
- Signs of leaking water, leaky fixtures or water damage.
- Any signs of mold or pests.
- Lack of hot water.
- Inadequate heating or air conditioning.
Use a written checklist with the landlord to document the condition of the rental before you move in, and keep a copy of the completed checklist to use when you move out.
Buying a Home
Buying a home is a complex process and, as the recent housing crisis demonstrated, requires a thorough education on the part of the buyer. First, fully understand your financial position — credit score, available savings, monthly income and expenditures. Subtracting your expenditures from your income, for instance, will yield the amount you can afford for housing.
Be sure to account for all insurance costs associated with owning a home, possible homeowner association fees and property taxes in your monthly expenditures. Overall, loan rules changed in 2015, but according to www.ginniemae.gov (Government National Mortgage Association) and www.homebuyinginstitute.com (the Homebuying Institute) loan programs continue to vary on the percentage of your income that can be used for housing-related expenses. Lenders balance debt against income to decide if an applicant will be able to repay a loan. Most conventional loans require borrowers to have no more than 43 percent total monthly debt versus their total monthly income, though there are exceptions, such as for those with significant savings. The Federal Housing Administration has a two-tier qualifying system: FHA sets its top thresholds at 31 percent front-end debt (housing expenses as a percentage of income) and 43 percent back-end debt (all debt as a percentage of income) for a 31/43 qualifying ratio. Like commercial lenders, Veterans Affairs combines front-end and back-end debt for a 41 percent limit against income.
Next, research the different types of home loans to determine the right fit for your financial situation and discuss your options with a lending professional. Lenders are diverse today, and not all homebuyers obtain their mortgage loans through their banks and credit unions. For example, you may choose to work with an internet lender, a mortgage broker, a homebuilder or a real estate agency lender. To determine which lender is best for you, get recommendations from friends and family members and check credentials as well as Better Business Bureau ratings.
A preapproved loan before starting your search for a home can determine your spending limits and signal any potential issues in the way of receiving a loan. For any home loan application, the mortgage company will order a credit report, so it may be good to get a free report in advance to determine your credit status and make sure the report contains no erroneous information.
To order your free annual report from one or all of the national consumer reporting companies, visit www.annualcreditreport.com, call toll free 877-322-8228, or download and complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to Central Source LLC, P.O. Box 105283, Atlanta, GA 30348-5283. For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission site at www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/credit-and-loans.
Knowing your monthly budget and the amount of your loan are invaluable during the next phase, especially finding the answers to questions before the hunt for a home begins.
First, determine your home preferences. Does a single-family house, condo, town house or duplex best fit your needs and budget? Do you prefer a new home, an existing home or to build one? Though new homes generally cost more, existing homes may come with maintenance issues and renovation costs. How many bedrooms and bathrooms would you like? Do you want an attached garage? Will you live in the city, a suburb or in the country? How close to work, school, shopping or public transportation do you want to be? Answers to these questions will greatly assist your search and the next stage — hiring a real estate agent.
The ideal agent will help find your ideal home and guide you through the purchase process. First, interview potential candidates to ensure they understand your needs, know your homebuying and neighborhood preferences, and are readily accessible.
Good luck and happy hunting!
Ventura County Programs
Ventura County Community Development Corporation (VCCDC) is a private, nonprofit community economic development group. VCCDC assists low- and moderate-income families with purchasing affordable homes in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The nonprofit supplies the education and coaching necessary to provide its clients with a clear pathway for financial stability and acquiring long-term assets. When homeownership is still not a possibility, VCCDC helps these families find affordable rental units. For more information, visit http://vccdc.org or call 805-273-7800.
California provides housing programs and incentives to help residents with home ownership. For more information, visit http://portal.hud.gov and select California from the “State Info” drop-down menu.
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