Monthly Archives: February 2014

How to Get Top Dollar for a Luxury Home in Southern California – Starting in the Kitchen

Getting top dollar for a luxury home for sale in Southern California depends primarily on the appeal of the home’s amenities and enhancements. And the top draws are kitchens, bathrooms, eco-friendly green features, and smart technology throughout the home. Arguably, the most important luxury draw is the kitchen.

Savvy sellers know that the kitchen is considered the most important room in the house. It’s the room we cook and often dine in. The room where family activities – and more and more entertaining activities – take place. In short, the kitchen holds top place for the most coveted luxury home improvement today.

So what should a luxury kitchen contain? Superior cabinets, kitchen islands, Energy Star appliances, natural stone, glass, granite, and even concrete counter tops – these are all key elements of a sumptious kitchen’s appeal.

No matter what the actual features, the main goal is to increase comfort by installing items like wood, cork, bamboo, or custom tile flooring, hand-crafted fine wood cabinet doors, or cabinets crafted from stainless steel or bamboo – all heavily sought materials. The over all idea is to create striking design elements throughout the kitchen, from unique counter top surfaces to cabinet designs that reflect a chosen theme, whether rustic or ultra-modern. Apron front sinks, and tiled back splashes are strongly coveted design elements.

Luxury kitchen design should also include plenty of storage such as a walk-in pantry. You’ll also want pull-out drawers for pots and pans, cabinets with glass fronts to display dish and glassware, and built-in, recessed lighting for cabinets and shelves.

Today’s appliances may be called upon to be energy efficient, programmable and smart, and to serve a multitude of uses. For example, many refrigerators include built-in deep freezers. Built-in, temperature controlled wine cellars are another frequently sought-after touch. As for the oven, smart controls allow users to set an oven’s temperature, mode, and timer from phone or computer, and include quick self cleaning features, such as a steam option. Precisely controlled induction heat cook tops, ultra-quiet dishwashers with integrated water softeners, pot fillers to save carrying heavy pots to and from the sink are additional appliances that a well-appointed kitchen should include.

Entertainment systems such as flat screen TV’s or music systems are also considered must-haves in today’s most upscale kitchens.

While the kitchen may very well be the most sellable feature of any luxury home, we’ll look at other features that enhance high end home selling price in upcoming articles.

Co-Authored with Genie Davis.

Homes for Sale Los Angeles

homes-for-sale-los-angelesOur data feed is now coming in for all of Los Angeles. You can see all houses for sale in Los Angeles with beautiful photos and key information. In our view, its all the about the listings. Why? Because that is what you want. From West LA to Hollywood and beyond, the listings are here for you.

If searching for homes for sale in Los Angeles is what you are looking for without the hassle, we hope you have come to the right place. You can find homes for sale, homes that have recently been sold, homes for lease and homes that have just been rented as you can do your homework and start planning your next move.

Homes for Sale in Beverly Hills

Homes-for-Sale-In-Beverly-HillsEverybody wants to know about Houses for sale in Beverly Hills. Some people can even afford to live there. Click on this Search Map and you can peruse to your hearts desire and gaze at homes for sale in Beverly Hills beyond $50,000,000. 

Some these listings have very famous owners of course. Some you may have seen as sets in movies. It’s fun to see this world from a bird’s eye view. Check it out. 


“Selling My Home and I want a Great Agent” — Communication seems to be Paramount

Selling my homeselling-my-home

“I and selling my home and I want a great agent”. But after the sale the seller is not satisfied.

Here is a fact that always surprises young real estate agents when they learn it. 

When home sellers are surveyed by the California Association of Realtors and asked about their biggest complaints that they have about their real estate agent after the home has sold, what do you think that might be?

Invariably most agents say price when trying to guess the answer to this question. That is the obvious answer. Of course homeowners wish the home had sold for more money. Right? 

Wrong. Time and time again when home sellers are surveyed, their number one complaint is that their agent did not communicate well enough or often enough with them during the home selling process. 

Wow. I have always found this fact interesting. But when I think about it, I know why. Many times agents list a house, through it on the MLS, put on the key box, through together a flyer to place in the home and get on with other things. They wait for the offer to come. They do not follow up well or sometimes not at all with showings and the buyer’s agents. 

If the house does not sell, the listing agent avoids the seller like the plague because they don’t know what to tell the seller except lower the price. And they avoid the call because they fear the seller will tell him or her that they not doing his or her job well enough. Many time sellers have to chase down the listing agent to get updates. 

When I observe this type of poor customer service, it is no wonder why the survey reveals these frustrations so many sellers have. 

So what’s the solution for sellers? Find an agent that has communication systems. A listing agent/client communications system. This system should include a follow up system for every showing to obtain feedback. It should also include a communications schedule with the seller to provide critical market feedback among other things. 

We have a training session in our agent online university devoted to teaching these systems. 

We like to think of the relationship with our sellers as a partnership, not a potential Selling my homeconfrontation.   So we train our agents, when you hear “Selling My Home” turn on the customer service and communication systems. 


MLS Listings and MLS Search

Search the MLSMLS Listings, MLS Search which site? I just want to see great photos… 

What is the best way for consumers to search for real estate?

On occasion our clients ask us how they can search the MLS. Other clients ask us what does MLS mean? That is Major League Soccer right? We too often use our acronyms and industry lingo thinking everybody knows that the heck we are talking about.

What is a comp? I have to do my AVID. You have to fill out this TDS. By the way would you mind signing the AD form? The HVAC works well. Do you want ALTA title insurance? I have to do a BPO (this is not a body function), Did you read the CCRs? I am going to double side this one. He’s going FSBO. They are chasing the market down. What’s the LVR on that loan? You need PMI on that deal. Did you pay your CAR dues (nothing to do with automobiles). That is owned by a REIT. It just needs a little TLC. It’s a dog with fleas (OK not this one).

What language is all this? Sorry everybody. We will try to speak English from now on.

The MLS means the multiple listing service of course. I guess that means some kind of service that provides at least more than one listing. Most of these MLS’s have a public portal where you can search even if you are not a real estate agent or Realtor (there I go again with an acronym again. Sorry.

By the way, a Realtor is just an agent that has joined a board of .. Realtors. But that is another blog I may never write because that is boring. Anyway back to the MLS thing.

Most of these MLS consumer portals are very clunky. That is being kind to them. Many of these portals work in quirky ways which makes searching confusing to consumers.

You think it is confusing just for you on occasion? The Ventura County MLS for agents has a commonly used search feature by tract code which all agents use all the time but in reality there are listings in those tract searches that don’t show up if those listings where inputted by agents out of the immediate area. Here is the acronym for that glitch. Search Sucks. That means that agents think they are seeing all the listings that could interest their buyer but they are not. There is a way around it if you know about this glitch, which most agents do not. You can’t rely on the integrity of their data when you are searching for a buyer. Nice going MLS. A shot and a goal!!! Not.

As most of you know the MLS is the exchange where agents upload their new listings and buyer’s search for homes for their clients. It is how real estate sells for the most part.

So where do Trulia, Zillow and fit in exactly you ask? They are aggregators of MLS listings for the most part. And they sell a lot of ads to make money … and not so much in some cases. They will even give you an estimate of value. Cool huh? Not really. See for the scoop on that deal.

Home buyers and sellers should not really be concerned about an “MLS Search” per se, they just want to easily see all the homes on the market and look at lots of photographs and know the most important details. So after many years doing real estate transactions we went off an a mission to create a more pure search experience for you; clean, simple, map based with great photos. Not much else is needed. Maybe we will add a feature or two in the future but not too much. Less is more in my view. Maybe you agree.

How much is my house worth?

That is a great question.

In today’s digital world there are many ways to search for that answer. Big sites like Trulia and Zillow use tax data and algorithms to determine value. These robots can be very misleading to home owners.

An example could be two very different tracts on homes right next to each other, the same age but one has a freeway right next to it. The robots look at factors like square footage, proximity, number of bedrooms and other data and then average them without any intelligence to differentiate these micro neighborhoods.

Take for example the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. Two houses can be right next door to each other and both 4,000 square feet and the same age. One sells for $4,000,000, because Action Film Al has decked it out to the nines and the other for sells for $1,500,000 because it is a tear down. These two transactions make the robot go blue screen on you and spit out useless data.

Many years ago I partnered with some friends and bought a tear down in California for $800,000 and built a large spec that sold for close to $3,000.000. Robots cannot see the reality of these situations. The more eclectic the neighborhood the harder it is to figure out home much is my house worth.

You can use a search site and analyze the solds and try to do your own comparative market analysis but that has limitations as well.

Here is another situation. Lets say you have been in your home quite a while and your neighbor sells his house and the buyer does a massive upgrade and adds footage. The neighborhood is on the upswing big time so you ask what is my home worth now? Good question. Your neighborhood is a hot ticket now and your robot is a cold machine. “Open the pod door Hal”.

While technology is great, the best way is the old fashioned way. Find a true neighborhood expert that is a full time Realtor, sans the nametag and gold jacket. Then ask him or her to do a market analysis without cost of obligation. We love to do them and if the relationship blossoms over the time, all the better.

Find an agent that knows the minute details of every deal sold in the area. That’s the ticket. The truth will set you free… to do the right deal.