Savvy Property Buyers from China are Targeting Los Angeles

chinese_money_AFTER_3.jpg

These savvy buyers see both an investment opportunity and/or a second home to live in for part of the year.

Chinese buyers are purchasing both residential and commercial properties.

Due to the mania of the Chinese real-estate market in China, these people,no longer see the numbers there making sense. They have seen the American real-estate market bottom out and want to get in, on a 'ground floor' opportunity.

Many want to immigrate to the U.S. and Southern California, is a very desirable place due to the weather and just as important, the good schools. Education is very important to the Chinese culture and many of the top universities are in the Southland.

There are four distinct types of Chinese buyers.

Firstly, the buyer who has no immediate intention of living in the U.S.,but rather sees the residential market for an income opportunity as a rental property. Due to the foreclosure crisis and the high prices(by American standards) to own a home in Southern California,there is no shortage of tenants. While the investor is earning monthly income on the house as a rental, they're also seeing property appreciation. Since most Chinese investors are all cash buyers, the return on investment is far superior to any yield they would get in the money market,due to very low interest rates.

The second type of buyer that was referred to earlier,I call a hybrid buyer. They occupy the property for part of the year for a variety of reasons,such as starting a business here,sending their children to school or for lifestyle reasons.

The third type of Chinese buyer is purchasing commercial real-estate These type of properties are office buildings,shopping centers, industrial buildings and apartment buildings, All of these properties provide a good return on equity compared with other types of investment. Due to the much higher prices of commercial real-estate,these are not typically all cash transactions, but their typically large down payment is sufficient to earn a yield in the high single digits.

The fourth type of buyer is a land buyer. This is basically a buy and hold investment in real-estate,with potential huge appreciation,but there is no income until the land is developed.

In the commercial real estate sector, you have both wealthy individual investors and Chinese institutional investors.

Chinese buyers are not restricting their buying power to just Southern California, they are also active in San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Houston, just to name a few. They have always liked the Canadian cities of Toronto and Vancouver, as well.

But for the factors mentioned earlier, Southern California is preferred and in addition the Los Angeles region is seen as a Pacific Rim area.

Four questions to ask me on the listing appointment for your property

 I know, I look pretty comfy in here, but this is my home – I promise I won’t take off my shoes & kick up my feet on your furniture

I know, I look pretty comfy in here, but this is my home – I promise I won’t take off my shoes & kick up my feet on your furniture

When you are ready to place your home on the market, you want to ensure your have the expertise of an experienced realtor. This means that you must know the right questions to ask, to ensure your goals are met. I realize that I may not be the only realtor you interview, so I have compiled a list of questions to help you in your decision making process. By asking me the 4 vital questions below during your home listing appointment, you will walk away knowing that your listing is in good hands.

Question #1 What Is My Listing Price vs. Selling Price Ratio?

Placing your home on the market for $500,000 is one thing, but actually selling a home for the asking price is another. The ability to sell a home for its listing price is what sets a stellar realtor apart from an average realtor. During our home listing appointment we will not only discuss my LP:SP ratio, but also:

·      {C}The percentage of my listings that sell for more than the initial listing price.

·      {C}The percentage of my listings that sell for more than the average industry listing prices.

Question #2 What Are My Listings Average Days On The Market?

Often referred to as the DOM, it is important to understand how quickly your realtor can secure a sale. Even if you do not have a strict deadline you are trying to achieve, you most likely would prefer for your home to sell sooner rather than later. The DOM is also of great importance for individuals who are still living in the home they are selling, as it will affect how long they will have to manage their personal lives around showings.

Question #3 How Many Offers Do My Average Listings Receive?

While any offer is exciting, it is even more exciting to have options. In fact, the more offers you have increases the likelihood of your home selling for higher than your listing price. It also shows how successfully your realtor is at attracting attention to your home. During our home listing appointment we will discuss my average number of offers the homes I sell receive, and how I will generate attention to your listing.

Question #4 What Percentage Of My Homes Close?

Any realtor can list a home on the market, but that does not guarantee it will result in a sale. As a seller you don’t want to ensure you have an agent that is well-versed in developing marketing strategies that lead to a sale.

By asking the questions above you will walk out of our home listing appointment knowledgeable about my industry expertise, and confident in our partnership. 

Green living is easier than you think

greenliving2_AFTER3.jpg

Make It Fun—Find activities that will involve multiple people.  Consider things like a “Tags Still On” clothing swap, community garden, or community clean up.

It’s Not a Competition—If you make green living changes sincerely it won’t feel like work.  The habits you bring inside your homes will teach your family to be green for years to come.

Don’t Under Estimate Youth—What we are really finding in the community is that the youth are a sponge.  You give them a simple idea, and they find their own ways to take it further. 

How To Start The Change in Your Community

One idea that came up  is to make changes together.  For example, changing from chemical cleaners to green cleaners takes some adjustment.  You have to retrain yourself as to what new cleaners work well.  So share your knowledge.  Did you find a great new green cleaner to replace bleach?  If so, share your green living find.

Here is a list of 25 simple changes you can make in your homes and neighborhood.   Challenge everyone in your family to make one change per month.  With this simple change a family of 4 could make up to 48 changes per year!

  1. Start a compost pile.  You can purchase a composter or compost in an unused area of your yard.  A large composter can be placed centrally and used by many families.
  2. Switch to cloth napkins.  If you have a large family you will need a lot.  A trick is to purchase them all in complimentary color themes so that if they don’t all match they still work.  *Keep some paper napkins around for those extra messy meals and guests that prefer paper.
  3. Eliminate paper towel.  Purchase more cloth towels.  This creates a bit more laundry but is still an effective green living exchange.
  4. Switch to paperless billing.  Some companies even offer you small discounts for doing this.
  5. Skip the ATM receipt.  Unless you are doing a deposit you probably don’t need it. We usually just toss them anyway.
  6. Print on both sides of computer paper OR use the backside of your paper as a notepad.  *if you choose this option make sure you immediate shred any that might have account numbers or other sensitive info.
  7. Use your shredded paper to pack fragile items for shipping.
  8. Walk, bike, or carpool 1 or more days a week.
  9. Buy locally.  This requires less shipping, reduces fuel costs, and supports local vendors.
  10. Use refillable water bottles instead of plastic.
  11. Use cloth bags instead of plastic.  The best part here is that they are cute and easier to carry than plastic.
  12. Change to power strips and/or “Smart Strips” to conserve energy OR if you aren’t using something, unplug it.  You’ll be surprised how much this will reduce your monthly energy bill.
  13. Adjust your thermostat down just one degree.
  14. Add one plant to every room.  This will give you cleaner air to breath and add beauty to your rooms.
  15. Plant a garden.  If you don’t have a yard to do this in.  You will be surprised by what you can grow in large pots—tomatoes, strawberries, green beans on your porch. 
  16. Grow an indoor garden.  You can find windowsill gardens for things like fresh herbs and aloe.
  17. Plant an outdoor tree.
  18. Replace appliances with energy efficient options.
  19. Replace your light bulbs with energy efficient ones.
  20. Move to all or mostly non-chemical cleaners.  You can even find recipes to make your own.
  21. Cook and bake more—the more you make from scratch the less packaging you use.  This also tends to be healthier for you too!
  22. Maintain proper air pressure in your tires.  If your pressure is too low, you decrease your gas mileage.
  23. Eliminate sandwich bags and plastic wrap.  You will find containers on the market of all shapes and sizes that can replace both of these products.
  24. Change to a natural or washable cat liter.  These products have really improved over the years.
  25. Make sure you replace washers on all dripping faucets.  One dripping faucet can waist gallons of water per day.

See—you don’t need an expert to make green living changes.  You can start with your family and in your neighborhood today!

My Top 10 Tips for Home Staging

new1.jpg

The competition is fierce in today’s real estate market, meaning that to successfully sell your home you must recognize the role home staging places in marking your real estate. Below are 10 tips to help you create a competitive home staging plan of action.

Tip #1 Check Out Other Homes In Your Market

Before you begin planning, you need to see what you are up against. In order to do this attend a few open houses for similar homes in your area playing close attention to:

The overall condition of the property.

How move-in ready each home is.

The primary features each home owner highlights.

Areas where their home staging lacks, in which you can improve.

Tip #2 Create A Room-By-Room Checklist

Once you have a good idea of what your local competition looks like, it is time to create a solid plan of action. You can do this by creating a checklist for all repairs and maintenance that need to be performed in each area of your home. Also, add the furniture and wall coverings you would like to invest in for each area—and don’t forget your garage, exterior features when creating you plan of action.

Tip #3 Seek Out A Professional

Whether you turn to a professional stager or your real estate agent, it is important to seek out professional guidance to ensure that your home staging tactics are in line with the goals of your real estate team.

Tip #4 Clear The Clutter

Clearing the clutter is a must in order to sell your home. Buyers prefer homes that are a fairly clean slate in which they can easily identify ways to make it their own. If they are too distracted from your excess, it will limit their creativity.

Tip #5 Depersonalize

As difficult as it may be to do, depersonalizing your home during the home staging process is vital. Remember that your goal of staging is to create a home potential buyers can imagine as their own—not yours.

Tip #6 Minimize Décor And Countertop Appliances

Only a minimal amount of home and kitchen accents should be present once you have performed your home staging. Stick to the basics such as a vase of flowers, a decorative bowl, or a countertop coffee maker.

Tip #7 Deep Clean

Even if you keep your home clean, home staging will require your home to be deep cleaned. This could include shampooing your carpets, refinishing your wood floors, and detail cleaning your home from wall to ceiling.

Tip #8 Don’t Forget The Details

It is easy to focus on the large projects that need to be complete—however, it can be the small things that really make the most impact. Pay special attention to things such as baseboards, trim, locks, doors, and outdoor accents to ensure they look crisp and clean, and that they are operating properly.

Tip #9 Get An Honest Opinion

Once you have completed your home staging, it is time to do a walk-through and get an honest opinion from your real estate agent. Remember not to take any feedback personally, as your realtor wants you to sell your home just as much as you do.

Tip #10 Ensure Your Photos Are Picture Perfect

Most house hunters will be searching for their new home on the Internet via their computer or mobile devices. Even the most detailed home staging plan will fall short if the pictures are not shot well. Before your listing goes live, ensure you are pleased with the images of your home.

By focusing on the home staging tips above you can ensure your home is ready when it is place on the market!

 

2013 Real Estate Trends, Point Toward A Booming 2014

When thinking of real estate, many prospective buyers are so focused on the accessibility to credit, that they forget to look at the current trends in their market. There is no doubt about it, the past few years have brought about many changes to the real estate industry—for renters, buyers, and sellers alike—but 2013 trends point in the direction of change.

During the peak of the recession many buyers experienced a vast decrease in the equity of their home, which has significantly decreased the dollar for dollar sales amount, and volume of sales in many markets across the nation. This combined with the increase in foreclosures and short sales, the real estate market took a big hit.

However, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel! As 2013 comes to an end, nationwide real estate calculations and trends gathered in a study by the Census Bureau show that real estate prices are steadily on the rise, and that the numbers of vacancies is drastically decreasing—which means Americans are once again able to afford to buy.

Many homeowners who have been interested in selling their home, but have been holding off on putting it on the market in hopes of being able to list and sell for higher price, chose 2013 as the year to finally sell. This is evidence in the drastic increase of new inventory being listed on popular sites such as Realtor.com that show both a seasonal increase in sales, and that 100 of their 146 markets have significantly more homes listed (and selling) today than they did even as of February 2013.

Economists believe this increase in both sellers and buyers is a direct reflection of employer wages being on the rise, and individuals who previously choose to rent out homes they did not feel they could get a lucrative selling price for—now feeling confident to sell.

The 2013 real estate market trends show that more Americans are able to achieve their dream of homeownership, and that sellers are able to sell at prices they are comfortable with. The improving trends also provide current homeowners who have no plans to sell, a significant boost in the equity of their home.

While the real estate industry in many markets around the nation has been struggling since the recession hit, 2013 trends show that real estate nationwide is regaining momentum—leaving many speculating that 2014 will be the start to a once again booming marketplace.

5 Unexpected Upsides to Purchasing a Home in the Off-Season

poinsettia_wreath_After2.jpg

General real estate knowledge tells buyers not to expect any closing to be completed from Thanksgiving until after New Years. However, there are 5 upsides to purchasing a home in the off-season.

1.)    Less Competition

In most areas of the Los Angeles real estate market, particularly those in desirable neighborhoods like Studio City, Downtown LA, Toluca Lake, Sherman Oaks, Pacific Palisades, the Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Venice and Santa Monica, the spring and summer months are the most popular months for homebuyers. By house shopping during the holidays when most people are otherwise distracted, you can lessen the competition, reduce multiple offer scenarios, and reduce the likelihood of being outbidding on your dream house.

2.)    Highly Motivated Sellers

Even though there tends to be fewer home sellers during the winter months, they tend to be highly motivated to sell their homes. Even banks and asset managers may consider giving you a better deal on a home in order to get any foreclosures or other properties off of their books, with a closed sale before the end of the year.

3.)    Can’t Miss Properties (You Don’t Want to Miss)

Despite there being fewer homes listed during the off-season, this is the best time to find a diamond in the rough. Many times sellers list their homes for sale around their personal needs, which may result in the house being listed during the off-season when work, school, and many businesses slow down.

4.)    Keep a Grasp on the Cash

If you wait until after the holiday to continue your house search, you run the risk of over spending holiday shopping, which could delay you house hunting even longer.  By continuing your house hunt during the off-season, it will help you keep focused on your budget, and prevent over spending.

5.)    House Problems are More Visible

Home buyers depend on home inspectors to find and disclose any housing defects. However, during the summer months, when the weather is nice, some hidden home defects will go undetected.  House hunting during the winder or off-season months, is often the time when more defects may be detected. Weather conditions such as rain, sleet, snow, and wind allow a house inspector to see how the house holds up to the weather. The drain system, any slopes, the foundation, and so forth can be inspected more thoroughly during the less favorable condition, helping a potential homebuyer avoid a nasty surprise come spring time when the weather begins to clear up.

 

Think about it.  You may get more consideration, more responses, speedier transaction time, and a slightly better deal is you consider purchasing when the rest of Los Angeles has either left town or is distracted by the holidays.

 

My thoughts from a recent speech by Barbara Corcoran

While attending the California Association of Realtors meetings last month I had the pleasure of hearing a speech from Real Estate powerhouse, and Founder of the Corcoran Group, Barbara Corcoran. While I have enjoyed much success in the Los Angeles Real Estate industry, I understand the value of continuing my training and development to ensure that I stay competitive. Listening to Barbara was inspirational—and here are the key points and knowledge that I gained from hearing her speak:

Flaunt What You’ve Got

Per the title of her best-selling book, Barbara shared one of the more poignant pieces of advice her mother passed along to her “If you don’t have big breasts, put ribbons on your pigtails.” She spoke about how we each have unique traits and unique skillsets that we need to learn how to maximize to our full potential. Too often we look at others and are envious of what they do well, and try to figure out how to replicate their success. Instead we should focus on how to identify where we excel that others don’t—and to capitalize on that.

Your Response To Failure Can Define Your Success

I was surprised to learn that Barbara Corcoran was a D high school student, and had 20 jobs by the time she was 23 years old. However, her determination to succeed is what propelled her forward—and inspired her to become one of the most successful Real Estate Agents in the world.

This got me thinking about how quickly my team and I bounce back from setbacks. While it is easy to let a setback or failure consume your next few days (or months), the longer you dwell—the longer it takes to recover and find the new areas of opportunity.

Surround Yourself With Those Who Excel In Your Weaknesses

A successful Real Estate Agency needs to have a solid team of power sellers, however not all of the members on your team—or your non-sales team members, need to be power sellers. Barbara discussed how while sales are her strong suit, daily paperwork and attention to detail are not. In order to achieve success you must surround yourself with power players, but also with other vital key players that specialize in the areas of Real Estate, or skillsets you do not. This will not only give you a well balanced team, but allow you to be more versatile.

While none of the concepts above are new to me, they are a great refresher—and great to share with my team members who have not yet been introduced to similar concepts. By investing in the ongoing training and development for both myself and my team—we will continue to be competitive, and to achieve success.

5 Advantages Of Working With An Experienced Real Estate Agent

realestate.jpg

When selecting a Real Estate Agent to sell your home, you not only want your home to sell—but in a timely manner and for a price you are pleased with. While everyone starts out as a rookie and you may find a newbie Real Estate Agent who you feel a strong connection with, working with an experience agent can increase your selling price by an average of $25,000 per home. A study published in the Journal of Housing Research in of May 2012 shows that not only do Real Estate Agents with 10 or more years of experience sell their homes for a higher price point, but they sell a significantly higher volume of homes, and sell their homes much faster than Real Estate Agents with less than 10 years of experience. Below are 5 of the top advantages of working with a well-established and experience Real Estate Agent.

Reason #1 Practice Makes Perfect

Like anything new, practice not only makes perfect, but practice increases your speed and efficiency. An experienced Real Estate Agent has learned the tricks of the trade and knows what areas of opportunity to look for, and what industry pitfalls to avoid. As an agent matures professionally their confidence grows, meaning they are best able to deliver the sellers desired results.

Reason #2 Experienced Agents Sell More Homes

Not only are seasoned Real Estate Agents more knowledgeable and confident, but they sell more homes. Statistics show that agents with 10 or more years of sales, sell two-thirds of the homes they list, opposed to only one-half of the homes a rookie lists.

Reason #3 A Larger Network

An established agent has a larger network of clients, vendors, and professional contacts. This will be beneficial both when marketing your home and when preparing your home for sale. Whether your home is in need of staging, updates, or a refresh to make it more saleable, an experience Real Estate Agent knows who to call.

Reason #4 Stronger Negotiation Skills

As mentioned above an experienced Real Estate Agent sells their homes for an average of $25,000 more than a rookie agent. This is because they have had the time to perfect their negotiation skills to best meet your expectations as a client. They are also less focused on simply making a sale, and more on delivering your desired results.

Reason #5 They Will Be Honest With You

A rookie agent is often so eager to establish themselves that their desire to build their client base may blind them from being completely honest with their clients. This could be in terms of selling price, needs for updated landscaping, repairs, or in regards to the best ways to market your home. While are rookie may not want to offend you by disagreeing with your plan of action, an experience agent will listen to your ideas and concerns and respectfully give you their honest professional opinion. This lack of honesty can be the difference between your home being on the market for 6 months, or for over 1 year.

While your desire to give a rookie a chance, it is not in your best financial interest when it comes to selling your home. If the Real Estate Agent you are considering has less than 2 year’s experience, odds are that they will not be able to meet your expectations. When you rely on an established Real Estate Agent with 10 or more years in the industry your home will sell significantly faster, for a much higher price, and with a much smoother overall experience.

 

Forget about Multitasking - it's all about Monotasking

Screen shot 2013-10-25 at 1.39.45 PM.png

Being able to do three things at once gives you the ability to get more done in a day—or does it?  While multitasking has been a buzz word for the last few decades, it has been taken to a whole new level with our new era of electronic communication.  If you look at your day you are likely talking on the phone while, while IMing with a colleague, while checking your email.

While you are “getting” a lot done, none of these items are receiving your full and undivided attention, meaning your attention to detail is lost, and opportunities for improvement are being passes over in your desire to get more done at once.

The Goal Of Multitasking

In its essence multitasking was designed to think big picture, and to organize and complete tasks that support a common goal—to simultaneously link together tasks that are related.  Or to maximize time by doubling up.  While checking your email while standing in line for your morning coffee is one thing, responding to emails while in a face-to-face meeting with your colleague is another.

Studies have actually found that while you might feel as if you are getting more done when multitasking, quality suffers and details fall through the cracks.  Not only that, it takes 98% of people longer to do two tasks at once, then two tasks individually.  So if multitasking is not a way to improve productivity, what is the alternative to multitasking?  Monotasking!

The Art Of Monotasking

Monotasking is the art of compiling your daily or weekly “to-do” list, and scheduling out designated blocks of time for pertinent tasks.  The key to successful monotasking is to reduce the amount of “switching” from multiple tasks to another—which adds to higher levels of stress and anxiety.

By giving the task at hand your undivided attention you will increase your efficiency and zone in on areas of opportunity.  You will instantly begin to see the quality of your work, and quality of your interactions shift in a positive direction.

The most difficult thing about monotasking will be avoiding the temptation to check your email, social media, and text messages—but after a few weeks of productive monotasking you will see the benefits of scheduling blocks of time for your pertinent tasks.

Of course you still need to check your emails and texts as part of your personal and professional life, but schedule those in in blocks of time too.  This can be difficult because you feel as if you might be missing something—but the likelihood of missing something important by responding to constant distraction is far more likely.

Schedule Your Electronic Responses

Think about the last time you accidentally left your phone at home, or at your desk while you went to a meeting—you probably felt anxiety about leaving your phone, and it likely distracted  you from your meeting and other tasks at hand—but it’s just a phone, and it has voicemail, caller ID, and multiple messaging tools.  Why have such anxiety when you will have a clear record of all that occurred when you see it again?  Do you really not have the attention span to give a 1 hour meeting your full attention?  The truth is our electronic devices have taken multitasking to a whole new level and are wreaking havoc on our productivity.

Instead of responding to every email and text message alert the instant they come in, silence your alters and focus solely on the task at hand.  Schedule your time to check emails and text—even once per hour, is better than 30-40 times per hour (and let’s be honest for many of us that 30-40 times per hour is drastically low). 

While our computers, notebooks, iPads, and smartphones offer a vast amount of flexibility and freedom, they are designed for convenience not for constant distraction.  If you find it increasingly difficult to disconnect, and are feeling overwhelmed by the commitments on you plate—implement monotasking into your daily routine and watch as your productivity increases, your anxiety and stress fall by the wayside, and your connections with clients, colleagues, family, and friends improve and strengthen.

Young Buyers in the High-End Real Estate Market

new_listing_malibu_AFTER.jpg

Although baby boomers make up most of the population that owns luxury homes in the United States, it has become increasingly popular for younger generations to invest in luxury real estate as an alternative to investing in the stock market.  This movement has been influenced by a combination of factors including low interest rates, lower real estate prices, tax write-offs, and the state of the stock market when the younger generation entered the workforce.  Young people have begun to skip the purchase of a starter home entirely, instead opting to buy high-end real estate immediately and often in the most expensive neighborhoods available.  Even while homeowner rates have decreased rapidly for the middle-aged in the past year,  it has risen for the 25- to 34-year-old population.  

Parents are purchasing homes for their children now more than ever because bonds and money-market accounts for retirement funds are yielding lower returns.  For the first time since before the Depression era, the younger generation is inheriting a great deal of money from the older generation. By purchasing homes for their children, parents are giving the younger generation the opportunity to resell houses for profit later on, thereby giving them a strong start, a great place to live, and financial options.   Parents will often do this to celebrate a child's college graduation or first career-related job.  Because so many younger people are buying luxury homes, marketing strategies have shifted to social media options.  Amenities such as gyms, pools and spas have served well in attracting the younger crowd as well.

In areas like Los Angeles, where sandy beaches, beautiful mountain ranges, and an upscale lifestyle attract many young buyers, luxury home prices have risen by 5% within the span of a year because of the increased demand.  In turn, the high demand has encouraged investors to take risks in high-end real estate by purchasing, rehabilitating and reselling luxury homes for higher prices.  In 2012, the average luxury home in Los Angeles was worth $1.96 million dollars.  Because the challenges of flipping a high-end home can be steep and include factors like renovation costs and the time it takes to sell, many flippers have lost money in the process.  Others, however, have seen jaw-dropping profits that encourage them to continue flipping homes for a living.

Luxury homes are enjoyed by homeowners of every age because they offer a wide range of architectural styles and beautiful communities in which to live.  A large percent of luxury homeowners even own or have considered owning a second luxury home.  While high-end real estate might in fact provide large profits and financial sense, it is plain to see that owning a luxury home has also become one of the hottest trends of our time.

How to negotiate for everything you want

selfimprovementadvice_After6.jpg

Every day someone asks me, “How can I get what I want out of this?” “How can I negotiate the right price?” “How can I talk them into selling me the (whatever it is that I want)?”

First, figure out what you want.  

Seems obvious right? I can't tell you how many times someone has said, “I want to negotiate a better price.” Then, when I ask them what price they want to pay, their next sentence starts with, “I don't know. Better.”

Don't even enter into a negotiation until you know exactly what you want and what that's worth to you.

Know exactly the price you want to pay and what you want from it. If it's a house you are looking at, know what you want to pay, what you are willing to pay and what you are willing to sacrifice to do that.

Let's detail an example. Since buying a home is one the biggest negotiations you will ever do, it makes a perfect example.

You want to buy 123 Main St. in Santa Monica. It's listed for $1,500,000. You want to pay $1,350,000. You are willing to give up the contingency that they replace the gutters (which will only cost you $3000 to have done).

Rule #1: Know exactly what you want.

Rule #2: Know exactly what you are willing to pay for it.

Rule #3: Know exactly what you are willing to give up to get it.

Now for the actual negotiations. How will you handle yourself? What should you say? What should you not say?

The first thing to do is tell the other person that you would like to negotiate. Don't invite them to coffee and then spring on them that you are trying to get a lower price on the car they are selling. Make sure they know what they are going to be doing when you show up. In home buying, this isn't usually an issue.

The next step is to be concise. This doesn't mean that you should bark your demands as they get out of the car. Be polite and pleasant, but after you have said “Hi,” shook hands and know how they are doing today, get to the point.

Finally, and obviously, follow through. If you promised cash, have the cash ready for closing. 

Rule #4: Be concise and direct, but don't be unpleasant.

Rule #5: Stay within the boundaries you set for yourself.

Rule #6: Be prepared to follow through right away.

Six simple rules that will allow you to negotiate anything in your life. Be open and honest, follow these rules and you will be just fine.


The Questions You Must Ask Prior to Choosing an Offer Price on a Home

questionkey_After2.jpg

In today’s interconnected world, complete with the Internet and mobile phones, finding information about potential homes that you would like to own is actually at your fingertips. The difficulty is that, instead of there being not enough information, you can actually go into overload looking at all of the comparables, information on neighborhoods and schools, not to mention available mortgage rates that you may or may not qualify for. The biggest decision, however, is making that final choice to actually buy a home, a financial commitment that is absolutely enormous. To help you out, here are five easy questions that you should ask yourself to help you deal with all of the information, and also to help you make the right decision when purchasing a piece of real estate.

What Is the Quality of the Home?

More than likely, you will be able to get a better deal on homes that need a little bit of work. When talking with your mortgage broker, they will provide you with several options in regard to financing. If it is in great condition, then regular financing will probably not be a problem. However, if it does need some work, the way to buy is to have a sizable amount of cash to work with; or get a rehabilitation loan with a large down payment. It all depends upon your finances, how much money you have to work with, and the quality of the home itself when it comes to getting the financing that you need.

Is It Really the Home of Your Dreams?

Many people will see a home either online, or pay a visit to the actual residence, and absolutely fall in love with what they see. You need to make sure that you are not making an emotional decision, one that could actually harm your personal finances as a result of having to pay a sizable mortgage payment. It is important that you always consider how much you can afford prior to making any type of offer. If the offer is out of your range, and out of your budget, then you need to counter offer, making sure to never go after something that could hurt you financially.

Can You Afford It?

In relation to the prior statement, if it truly is the home that you want to spend your remaining years in, or if it is something that you have always dreamed of having, it must fit your budget, or it could become the nightmare that you never wanted. Go over your finances carefully, and try to make sure that it will not cause financial hardship for you and your family. The mortgage broker can work with you trying to find lower rates for financing, or perhaps by making a counter offer, with a larger down payment, you can get the monthly amount to an affordable rate that everyone will be comfortable with. In essence, you don’t want what may be the most important investment of your life to actually become the worst mistake that you will ever make.

What Do the Comps Say?

One of your best friends, when it comes to making offers, is to look at recent or similar housing comps in order to determine a final price. The seller may want a certain amount for the property, and may not be comfortable with a lower amount, until they understand that houses that are similar to theirs are actually going for a lower price. Using all of the information in the comps, including size of the home, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and available living space, you can make a good case for the amount that you are offering. In the end, this will help you secure a lower purchase price, and a more affordable mortgage payment that will allow you to stay within your budget and also get the home that you actually want.

Is There Competition for the Home?

Make sure you hire are dealing with at a realtor who will tell you if there is a lot of competition for the home at which you are looking. A good realtor will know the market and will know if the listing agent is being honest about the competition for the home.  You can use this to your advantage, especially if you are dealing with a property that is not in the best location and that needs a little work. If the competition is not that fierce, you can make an offer that is much lower than the asking price, hedging your bet on the seller fearing that your offer may be the only one.

If you are currently searching for real estate in the Studio City, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, the Hollywood Hills or the Downtown LA area, I can certainly help you find homes that will not only be appealing to you, but also affordable. There is something for everyone if you know where to look, and if you have the right information, you can undoubtedly find the home of your dreams in no time at all.

 

Buying and selling in the luxury real estate market

content_CherMalibuEstate_After (1).jpg

Being a go-to expert for buying and selling in the Luxury Real Estate Market is a feat that few realtors are able to achieve.  Living in Southern California there are many high-end markets throughout Los Angeles the Hollywood Hills (you can add other areas if you want), but as you might imagine the competitions if fierce.  Below are the methods I rely on to maintain a powerful presence in the elusive Southern California Luxury Market:

Global Reach

In order to be successful in the Luxury Market obtaining global reach is a must.  Buyers and sellers of standard homes often live in the general area the home is listed in, however in the Luxury Market buyers and sellers often live outside of the state and even outside of the country.  A luxury home is often a part-time home, a vacation home, or a short-term investment while living conducting business in the area.

To be successful in the Luxury Market you must understand how to reach prospective buyers and sellers from across the globe.  This means I invest a good portion of my time to worldwide marketing and outreach.  If someone in China is searching for a realtor in the LA area I want to be at the top of their list.

Multimedia Access

Multimedia access goes hand-in-hand with global reach.  Since many of my clients live in different time zones they need to be able to reach me in a manner that best fits their schedules.  Some of my clients prefer email, some prefer the phone, and some like to meet in person.  My luxury clients have demanding schedules and will squeeze in their communication while on the go—it is my job to make sure they can reach me quickly and easily with the communication methods they prefer.

Luxury Amenities Expert

Homes in the Luxury Market come with a multitude of extravagant amenities that average buyers have no need for.  If your luxury buyer wants a home with a full-sized basketball court, an infinity pool, and an in-home movie theater that is precisely what I must find for them.  If I can’t find the exact fit I must find a home that has an ideal space to do a quick remodel to produce the amenities they desire.  I also have a list of reputable contractors and vendors that specialize in adding the luxury amenities my buyer’s desire.  This way I am prepared with a solution to fit all of my clients needs. 

Presentation

Staging is just as important in the Luxury Market as it is in the standard market, if not more so.  However the staging budget for luxury homes can quickly reach the low to mid five digits.  Understanding the process of staging a 25,000 square foot home is a whole other ballgame than staging an average 3,000 square foot home.  While I may not stage every room in a 6 bedroom home there needs to be enough visual appeal in place that the prospective buyers can envision what to do with their expansive rooms. 

Presentation also includes dressing to impress and having extensive knowledge of the homes I am showing.  It’s true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression so I ensure that every detail is covered from staging, to history of the home, to noteworthy neighborhood features, to a clear and concise showing, and a professional and polished appearance.

To win the Luxury Market it is not enough to be just an expert in your industry.  You have to market, network, and understand the unique needs of your luxury clientele.

 

Self-improvement for Business Leaders

self_improvement_After.jpg

Are you a business owner, or do you desire to own your own business?  Even if you don’t, you might find these self-improvement leadership-for-business-success tips to be quite helpful.

Even though life is often a highly challenging experience, it should NEVER become the cause of regret. Nearly every human being undergoes unexpected troubles or encounters hidden obstacles in the quest for ordinary, daily happiness.

Yet, what if there were a reliable set of instructions you could utilize to remove such difficulties completely, or at least, handle them in the best ways possible?

Today, you can uncover such a simplistic yet monumentally powerful treasure chest; in just a few easy to read sentences lies a virtual “blueprint” for inner happiness plus maximized business and personal performance.

Self-improvement and leadership-for-business-success tend to form a dynamic duo for achievement on practically every level of your involvement. Yet, even individually, you profit from mastery of these unique concepts and skills.

For instance, what is self-improvement, really? The answer is that it reflects the whole set of emotional, intellectual, psychological, and even economic actions you purposely choose to embrace.

On this basis, you can assemble your own choice of individual talents, consistently develop yourself, and basically always be ready to display your capabilities at will.

Then, too, how about leadership-for-business-success? That is, do you really need it even when you are not the head of a company or firm?

The fact is that business leadership success skills can allow you to impact the long-term viability of almost any circumstances.  

5 Tips to Avoid Family and Work Burnout

debbie pisaro burnout.jpg

As a busy mom working in the largest real estate market in the country, while raining two tween kids, I am on the go constantly. Running your own business generally takes an average of 60-70 hours a week of pure dedication in order to help it thrive and grow. Despite the amount of hours involved for a business to thrive, with some planning, there are several ways you can avoid work and family burn out, something I have personally encountered more than once in my life.

Here are 5 tips that can help you learn to balance your family life and work life whether you are a working girl like me, or not…..

1.  Focus on being present, despite the location or vast amount of distractions floating around your mind.  Frequently, entrepreneurs appear to be distracted, and in some cases disrespectful or rude. To avoid giving off these impressions, only take phone calls when you know you will not be distracted, and do not need to tend your children – lock the door to your office!  Remember, the minute you get on the phone is the minute your child needs you beyond desperation.

2.  Apply the “5 before 11am” principle, and tackle or accomplish 5 things you need to get done, before 11 A.M. In order to make this technique work for you, write a list of things you need to accomplish the night before – I have a tack of cards next to my desk and every night I decide what my “big rocks” for the next day will be.   This way when I wake up in the morning, I can begin tackling the list without hesitation or need to prioritize the tasks to be accomplished that day.

3.  Always treat you family as though they are your number one client. As a busy real estate agent, my schedule can become rather hectic and things always pop up at the last minute. In order to be sure there is plenty of time with my family, I try doing a couple of these things: first turn your cell phone off when your children or family members are in the car; return home from work at a couple nights a week at a reasonable time; and set a night each week to spend time with your significant other. These three simple steps are essential to reminding your family that they are your number one priority. The last thing I want to happen is to make my family feel as though my work is more important than they are my work is incredibly important to me, but I am proud to share that with my children when it is appropriate.

4. Do something special with your spouse or children during work time. Being able to leverage your work and family time means more to your family than you know. Try doing something such as meeting your spouse for lunch, or if you will be travelling out of town, take your family with you for a couple of days. By taking your family with you, you can create the feel of a mini-vacation for them when you are not working, especially if you need to travel out of your local area. Since I sell homes in Malibu and Pacific Palisades, often times I take my kids out there with me and after the home showings are finished, we take a walk on the beach, have a sunset dinner, or spend the night in one of our favorite hotel.

5.  Engage your family in your business. By finding age appropriate jobs for your children, you allow them to feel like they are a big part of your business. Plus you have the opportunity to spend more time with them, while making them feel important. The more you reach out for help and assistance from your family, the more they will appreciate what you are doing, plus they are less likely to develop feelings of resentment. A small example of a task I gave my children to do for me recently, was helping me sort through the mounds of unfiled paperwork from a busy year in real estate. When my tweens helped me stuff and seal the envelopes, they felt as though they were playing a big part to the success of my real estate career.

Working hard and raising a family is a difficult task that can easily lead to burning yourself out. However, by following the simple steps mentioned above, you will be able to create a balance between your work and family life that will prevent burning out and family resentment.

 

5 Simple Ways to Respond to Negative People

thumbs down.jpg

Many of the most valuable lessons I have learned have come from people I most definitely do not want to be like. You know the type.

For example, I have a co-worker who is the embodiment of cynicism, doom and gloom. He rarely has anything positive to say and his dark jokes revolve around someone else’s misfortune.

Whenever asked, “How’s it going?” he details his latest job woes in a manner that reflects his view that the world is out to get him. He can also talk for hours about his dark conspiracy theories.

Being around him can be draining, to say the least. Most of our co-workers suffer in silent resignation, head for another room, or step out into the garden for some fresh air to get away.

I often do the same. At other times, I feel compassion and attempt to share the benefits of seeing life from a more elevated perspective while also hinting at the importance of taking ownership of one’s shadow.

There are also times when, if I am not careful, I find myself getting drawn into the gravitational pull of his dark energy. When this happens, he unloads his grievances and walks away with a light spring in his step while I am left feeling like I need a shower.

In other words: this man is a fantastic ally. He has taught me incredible lessons about where and why I allow myself to be pulled off center and out of my heart. Through him, I have woken up to when this happens.

As a form of protection, I have created an internal checklist to respond to people both at work and at home who are negative or stuck in a dark mood. The checklist goes like this:

1. What does this person need?

Is there a chance that a positive input is being sought? If the answer is yes, then share something to lift the mood. If the answer is no, keep the interaction brief and walk away.

2. Are they acting as a mirror?

The answer is yes if we are being sucked in. When there is a pull, there is a resonance. Someone or something “out there” shows us where we are resisting the flow of life. When this is the case, we canbreathe in deeply and accept what is.

3. This too will pass.

While we can offer compassion and point to other alternatives, we are not responsible. Suffering is a choice. When we maintain our state, we are part of the solution rather than adding to the illusion. In this way, we create space for an opening of awareness to happen, which is more than enough.

4. Avoidance is O.K.

We can protect and safeguard the sanctity of our internal state by making sure we are with people who nurture us. On other occasions, when we have no alternative as a consequence of work or family obligations, we can remain upbeat and keep turning every negative comment into a positive. Do it for long enough and it works wonders. If the other person cannot get you on his or her negative side, they will eventually give up.

5. Love really is the answer.

Everything always comes down to love. If we love and respect ourselves, we do not give ourselves away so cheaply. We do not come down from our state. We do not concede who we are for the sake of someone’s need to off-load. We can listen with love. We only get dumped on when we allow ourselves to become part of the drama.

**

The next time that person comes your way, be grateful. No matter how mean, dark-spirited or negative they may be, they are here to teach us how to love, honor and respect who we are and what we have to offer the world.

I would say that is an invaluable gift wouldn’t you?

 

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent

5 Quick Tips For Selecting Your Next Real Estate Agent

right agent master.jpg

When you have saved enough money for a down payment and have qualified for a secured loan your next step is to find a real estate agent who will create a solid plan of action to help you find the home of your dreams.

While all agents have access to the same listings not all have the attention of detail needed when it comes to finding homes that meet your criteria and not all agents have what it takes to support you from start to closing.  The 5 tips below will help you in identifying the agent that is right for you:

Tip #1 Ask Friend and Family

If you have any friends, family, or collegues who have recently bought or sold their home inquire about who they used and what their strengths and weakness are.  Ask specific questions that require more than a yes or no response.  While the perfect agent for your friends or family may not be the perfect agent for you this process will help you to narrow down your list of options.

Tip #2  Pound the Pavement

Drive around some of the neighborhoods you are interested in living in and see if there are any trends.  Is their one realtor that dominates the area?  Take a look at any available marketing materials they leave out for display and look for signs of recent activity.

Tip#3 Check Out Their Ratings

With the accessibility of online community forums an easy way to get first impression of a realtor is to see what their clients have had to say about them.  While you don’t know the personalities of the people who have left reviews you can get a general feel for the agent’s demeanor and work ethics.  Zillow is a perfect place to find realtor reviews.

Tip #4 Attend Open Houses

Once you have narrowed down your list of potential agents attend one of their open houses, even if it is for a house you are not interested in.  This will give you a feel for how they operate and how they interact with their clients.

Tip #5 Interview Your Prospective Agents

Once you have 2 or 3 agents left on your list set up an interview with them.  Meeting an agent in person allows you the ability to determine if their personality traits are what you are looking for and gives you the opportunity to ask questions that showcase their expertise.  During your interview focus on the areas below:

  If you are a first time buyer make sure they are someone patient enough to walk you through the process and technicalities that pop up along the way.

  Also find out what their turnaround time for response is—same day or next business day.

  A new agent does not mean they are not skilled as long as they are well versed with their current markets trends.  An advantage of new agents is that their schedules are mostly likely lighter meaning they have more time to commit to helping you find your new home.

  Are they organized or cluttered?  Is it welcoming or chaotic? 

  A broker has licensing and more education.  This does not mean that an agent can fill your needs it just gives you an idea of their level of training.  Inquire about any specialized and ongoing training and certifications they have received.

Once you have interviewed your agents you can select the one that best meets your needs.  If you are having a hard time deciding between 2 agents avoid the temptation to hire them both.  While multiple agents might sound like a dream, it actually causes chaos, confusion, and experienced agents will not work with clients that are using more than one agent.

 

Success in Leadership

peguin  leaders success.jpg

  To be a successful leader, you must be real and accessible.  If you are fake and unavailable you will inspire no one and your team will suffer.  Below are 5 tips to help you achieve success as a leader:

1.     Be Relateable

This is a balance that a true leader learns how to successfully master.

  If you lead from a place in which you become untouchable your team will have no connection to you.  If your team has no connection to you, there level of loyalty and dedication will be lacking.  A staff that is unconnected will not work as hard, and is more likely to move onto other organizations in which they can be part of something bigger.

“You manage things; you lead people.” Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

2.     Be Yourself

It is easy to get caught up in all of the things a leader “should and shouldn’t be”.  Instead take a long hard look at yourself.  Who are you?  What are the skills, characteristics, and traits that got you where you are as a leader today?  Not that you don’t need to grow and adapt to changing times, but you need to be confident in who you are.  In your integrity, in your passion, and in your self-determination—don’t change who you are at the core because it’s what got you where you are today.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John Maxwell

3.     Learn Effective Communication

Learn how to listen—it is the most significant thing you can do as a leader.  Listen with your full attention—ears, eyes, and no peaking at your cell phone.  Listening will allow you to learn how your team thinks and it gives value to their hard work and dedication.  Even if a presentation needs work, taking the time to listen and give feedback will encourage growth and your team will know they are supported and truly part of something bigger.

“Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead.” —Ross Perot

4.     Celebrate The Successes

Celebrate your team—not just the big wins, but the lesser details too.  Too many leaders are so focused on what needs to be improved that they do not take enough time to celebrate what is well done.  Motivating your team to succeed is not just about pointing out flaws, it is about pointing out where people shine and taking the time to celebrate.  Remember everyone in your team—from the front desk, to the top executives, play a vital role in success.

“True leadership lies in guiding others to success. In ensuring that everyone is performing at their best, doing the work they are pledged to do and doing it well.”  Bill Owens

5.     Believe In Your Team

If you don’t believe in your team then who will?  If you don’t believe in your team how will anything get done?  If you don’t believe in your team—you are not a leader.  Learn your team’s strengths, weakness, and learn how to communicate with them both as a team and as individuals.  If you don’t believe your lack of faith will shine through and the entire team will fall short.

As a leader you must look at the individual and the team, think short-term and long-term, you must be able to hold firm in your values, but adapt to changing environments.  As a leader you have big shoes to fill—but you shoes will walk no distance without a team who gives you somewhere to go.

"Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it."  Dwight Eisenhower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Striving to be the Picasso of the Real Estate World

picasso.jpg

Trying to compare a real estate broker to an artistic genius such as Picasso may seem a bit crazy. In reality, it makes perfect sense. Take a look at this short story…….

One day, a lady asked Picasso to sketch a picture for her while she was dining at a restaurant. Picasso agreed, and quickly drew a sketch for the woman. When he handed her the sketch, he told her the charge would be $10,000. The woman found this price to outrageous and fought back by telling Picasso he only spent a few minutes on the sketch. Picasso responded to woman, “No madam, it took me 50 years.”

To Do a Job Well, You Must Invest Time

No matter what the profession, it takes time to develop skills that may appear to be simple to people who don’t have experience in the field. Take a house showing for example. It seems easy to show a home to a potential buyer, however it takes a professional in the real estate industry to point out the right details to a potential buyer to help the buyer make the best decision for their financial investment.

Understanding the Market Requires Experience

A professional real estate agent is there to help home buyers avoid common mistakes a novice, solo home buyer is likely to make. When shopping for a home, the last thing a new buyer needs is to make a poor decision based upon bad timing or lack of knowledge.

The First Impression Maybe the Last

Your first impression is the lasting impression, especially in the real estate world. More often than not, your first impression will be your last. In order to make the best first and last impression, follow an expert’s advice on staging, photography, and marketing. Be sure to use professional signage and utilize the Internet to the fullest to gain more exposure.

For the best results throughout Los Angeles, and particularly Pacific Palisades, DTLA, Malibu, Studio City, and the Hollywood Hills, be sure to use a true real estate professional.

 

 

The Value of Walk-able Neighborhoods

walkable neighborhood.jpg

With the high gasoline prices, people are looking to cut back on their driving. Making homes that are close to shopping plazas, restaurants, and community parks highly desirable for the modern day home buyer.

Urban areas offer the strongest housing market, especially since urban areas such as Studio City, Downtown LA, Toluca Lake, Sherman Oaks, Pacific Palisades, West Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Venice and Santa Monica, make it possible for residents to work and live in the city and not need a vehicle. Making the homebuyer’s ability to walk the streets a driving factor in buyer’s interest.

A prominent feature on many real estate listings nowadays is a “Walk Score.” The “Walk Sore” rates how easy it is to navigate through the neighborhood on foot. Often time’s information such as the home’s proximity to any shops or restaurants that are within walking distance is highlighted.

The types of retail establishments in the area are what make the location more appealing than suburban areas where a car is needed. Today, walk-able urban areas should feature grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants museums, libraries, offices, and various types of housing. These features help make the areas engaging and lively.

As healthy living trends become more and more popular, so does the idea of walk-able neighborhoods. Whether walking or bicycling to work or other locations, technology makes navigating through the neighborhoods a breeze. An app on a smart phones nowadays help a person find a store on an alternative route home, or to work.

When looking to purchase any sort of real estate or a new home, determine how important the walking score of the neighborhood is. Does your lifestyle suite a walk-able neighborhood better or a non-walk-able neighborhood?