Find the Right Real Estate Agent: 5 Questions to Ask

Realtors ®, like with professionals in any field, come with different styles, attitudes and personalities. Real estate agents in Ventura County California are no different than those in Suffolk County in Massachusetts, Maricopa County in Arizona or any other area for that matter – fill in the blanks. Beyond the obvious—people obviously have different styles and personalities—every real estate agent has one commonality, a reputation in the community. Most agents place a great deal of value on reputation but don’t take that fact for granted. A recent article in theHuffington Post points out the importance of knowing as much as you can for several reasons:

The reputation of your Realtor® will either save you money, time, energy and stress — or cause tremendous aggravation and potentially ruin a deal for you.

In addition to reputation, personal style and approach is also important. Both reputation and personal style matter – some would say equally. For instance, the agent might be an aggressive bull dog in the home selling business, but unlikable. Don’t ever underestimate the importance of likeability. You will be spending a good amount of time with this person. And if you don’t like him or her, chances aren’t the only one. Here are some important questions to ask when choosing a real estate agent for your home sale or purchase.

  1. How Many Homes Did You Sell Last Year? At Asking Price?

Your Realtor® should be eager to answer this. If he or she bristles at the query, or the answer isn’t exactly what you’d hoped, it’s curious. Follow up. And if you’re still sold on working with this agent, ask for recent testimonials.

  1. In which neighborhoods do you work? And where do you live in relation to the neighborhoods?

This may seem a bit much but it’s important to know how familiar your agent is with the area. In some cases, the agent may live and work in the area, big plus signs and indicators of knowledge, reputation and success. Ask!

  1. How many other buyers are you representing? How many sellers?

An article in Forbes titled, How To Vet A Real Estate Agent: 10 Questions To Ask Before Hiringsuggests that there is bigger reason than simple statistics behind question three:

Hint: the busiest agents often are the most efficient.

  1. How long have you been in real estate? Is it your full-time job?

An article on RealtorMag says that while this is the determining factor, experience should hold some weight in your decision. And suggests the article…

While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate — like many other professions — is mostly learned on the job.[And ask] Could you please give me the names and phone numbers of your three most recent clients? Ask recent clients if they would work with this REALTOR® again. Find out whether they were pleased with the communication style, follow-up, and work ethic of the REALTOR®.

  1. What are your marketing techniques?

You can’t afford to hire an agent who is not utilizing the best marketing strategies. In an age where social media is everything, the Realtor® should have a mobile and online strategy in addition to signs and print ads.

An award-winning Realtor®, Lydia Gable has consistently been in the top two percent of Realtors® nationwide. With an emphasis on diligent communication with clients and the use of cutting-edge technology, she helps move the transaction process along in order to secure the best possible price.Lydia Gable lives and works in the community. If you are interested in buying or selling a home in and around Westlake Village,contact Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

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Buying a Home: A Social Activity?

Choosing A Neighborhood

Have you considered that buying a home may add or detract from your level of social interaction? While certainly not a first consideration for most, your social life as it relates to where you buy your next home, should indeed be a thought in choosing a neighborhood. After all, one’s state of happiness in a community is never just about the physical property. If you could just gauge by a home’s value or the amount of bedrooms and bathrooms it has, buying a new home would be simple. Certainly if you plan on raising children in the area—thinking long term as opposed to a quick flip—then you should really take a personal inventory and decide what kind of life you prefer to have outside of the home. Ultimately, is this new home and its surrounding community, a match for your needs? An article on Realtor.com says, people can get swept up in the perks of the home like a sweeping staircase or a breathtaking view, and forget about lifestyle, social life and the commute.

Is your potential new home well suited to getting where you need to go? … Do the rush-hour drive to check whether traffic flows smoothly. Daily two-hour traffic snarls can ruin your mood and your schedule … Both your home’s location and its setup will affect how you spend your time off. Do you enjoy the nightlife? Will you need to scale back your social life?

A Community that Feels Like Home

Most folks mistakenly think you have to compromise—if you want a good school for example, your social life will probably get pushed aside—but this just isn’t true in all cases. For instance in my stomping ground, Westlake Village, CA, a home owner here, is not only surrounded by one of the best school districts in the country, but s/he also has great access to top restaurants, outdoor activities like hiking, water sports on the lake, golf, shopping, and even an amazing theatre/concert venue. All this can be had when buying a home in the upscale community of Westlake Village. And to top it off, it’s only a short commute to Los Angeles and Malibu! So you can have the best of both worlds If you are thinking of buying here. Investopedia gives a nice, concise check list on things to consider when you buy your next new home. Here are a few of their best tips:

  • Who Lives Next Door?
    If you are an atheist, it’s probably best not move into the Bible belt. This is an extreme example but it actually makes a good point. If you are someone who keeps to yourself, ask yourself, ‘is this the kind of community where everyone is involved in everyone else’s business’ – Ask around.
  • Like Day and Night
    Make a visit at night to see if the area comes alive or totally changes. Do you feel safe? Are people out or do they retire early?
  • At Your Leisure
    What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Is this a community that will support that? And will others in the community be like-minded? If you like Bingo and you choose a community the demographic is 18-50 and everyone is out rock climbing – well you know the rest…

Home buying can be exciting, exhilarating and often times, stressful. Choose a realtor who you can trust to tell you the truth and one who will always honor your needs! In that way, you will make the best decision for your money and your life style!

Lydia Gable is a top ranked real estate agent in Westlake Village with over a decade of proven experience. She is also lives and works in the area – a definite bonus to which her satisfied clientswill attest. For more information on homes in Westlake Village or if you are ready to buy a new home today in and around the Conejo Valley, contact Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

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At Home: 2015 Interiors Trends

Often the path to a new home starts right where you are – at home. As we usher yet another fall season, as the leaves change and another year passes, renewal is right around the corner. It’s a good time to change, throw out the old, and find new ways to express yourself through your home design. So I thought it would be nice to share the home interior trends for 2015. Just a few ideas that you may not have thought of that could allow you to make some small changes in the home either to give you a boost of new or to prepare for a home sale in the near future. Last year we did a similar article which was well received. So once again, here are the thoughts of experts – a forecast of the trends in home interiors for 2015.

The Blues ‘with a Modern Twist’

Elle Décor says the colors for the season are blues and olive green. However it’s not the muted sea blue palette of 2014. This is a ‘Greek blue’ as described in the article titled, The 2015 Color Trends You NEED to Know Now, a cerulean blue says Alessandra Branca.

The combinations of greens, plums, cerulean blue, beiges and whites- and the mixing of patterns and textures, as seen in many Renaissance paintings.
Alessandra Branca, Branca Interiors

I’m seeing a lot of deep rich blues with a glossy finish—often paired with white for a surprisingly modern twist on a classic.
Susanna Salk, Elle Decor Magazine Interior Design Manager, Today Show contributor, Author

At Home: Where Classic Meets Retro

Lushome says the ‘7 Modern Interior Trends in 2015’ are about ‘Reinventing Classic Luxury and Versatile Functionality’ – old meets new, lots of bold modern textures with antique accents.

Modern interior trends 2015 reinvent classy luxury, serenity, creative recycling and versatility in furniture design and interior decorating. Classic, retro and contemporary design ideas, traditional and new materials, fresh colors, exotic motifs, and surprising blend of textures…

Nature: Inside-Out

One big trend, that all the experts agree upon, is the idea of bringing nature and natural elements indoors. This was a theme in the 2014 forecast and it looks like it’s even more in-vogue for the coming year. In fact, the news coming out of this year’s StockholmFurnitureLightFair which takes place in February is all about one word: Nature. In their article, The Interior Trends 2014/2015, they state:

Natural materials, such as stone, wood and glass, dominate this style. Natural elements, represents a contemporary feeling in design and form, with natural materials in furniture and permanent fittings. An exciting mix of wood, metal and leather … Basket weave and other plaited details on furniture… Natural colors … Cold shades of brown, in combination with granite, and with hints of leafy green in nature’s color scheme.

Inspiration to Hang Your Hat On

Are you inspired? Are you ready to redo your entrance way or spruce up your living room with natural elements? Whether you are staying put this year or plan on selling, it’s definitely fun to dream about a “new” home. Either way make your home your blissful place because there was never a truer statement that home—no matter where you hang your hat—is where the heart is.

If you like what you’ve read or you’re interested in viewing home listings or would like to list your home, contact Lydia Gable today at Westlake Village Real Estate. If you are ready buy a new home or to sell your home in and around the Westlake Village area, call Lydia Gable at (818) 934- 8902.

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Setting Your Home Price to Sell

Setting the home price for optimal sale is sometimes the most difficult part of the realtor-client relationship, but perhaps the most important. This is why you always choose a realtor with whom you feel comfortable and one who you absolutely trust with your business. It’s also the reason many of my clients become friends. The trust is paramount to the process. However if you are new to home selling or you aren’t sure what the price should be, it can be a difficult decision as of course you want to protect your investment. A recent The Wall Street Journal outlined several different points of view on setting the home price. I thought I would share some of their interesting insights.

Setting Your Home Price: Is it Subjective?

One popular opinion about home listing, but not necessarily a mode I subscribe to, is to lowball the when setting the price. Alex Hickman told The WSJ that he lowballed and it worked.

Hickman set his asking price below market asking price for his neighborhood and got six offers in four days. Said Hickman:

We strategically listed it under market and tried to create kind of a frenzy.

But it should be noted that he went against his Redfin real estate agent. His agent, Rebecca Walter had told him this was a bad idea, one she initially counseled against. Walter says:

It creates a havoc that doesn’t serve anyone well. A low asking price doesn’t necessarily increase what buyers offer since they are more willing to compete on other terms of the contract.

Was she wrong or did Hickman just get lucky?

Listing Your Home: The Whole Picture

How important is it really that the list price be on target?

The first few weeks are the most important part of the listing. When a home is “launched” all eyes are on the property-agents, buyers & investors. Pricing is something that can’t be taken lightly. My closed sales track record show a 98.5% to list price which means setting the price to sell is indeed very important.

As for my approach, I subscribe to a more “whole picture” approach when it comes to setting a home listing for sale. A combination of detailed marketing, current housing market research, and buyer psychology, is more in line with my home-listing price philosophy. But ultimately, it’s my relationship with the individual clients and assessing their needs that drives my approach.

Do You Like Your Real Estate Agent?

In the end, everyone has an opinion but the one constant that I think you can’t ignore is the client-agent relationship. Always, choose a realtor whom you trust. Choose someone with whom you would be comfortable having a conversation. Choose an agent who lives and works in the neighborhood. And finally, choose someone with a proven track record. With all of the volatile aspects present in any housing market, these factors are absolutely under your control.

If you are ready to sell your home, contact Lydia Gable today. A top ranked real estate agent in Westlake Village, she can help you determine what your home is worth and then work together to price and pitch your home competitively and attractively for today’s market. Call Lydia Gable today at (818) 934-8902.

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School’s Back in Session: Organize the Home Now!

It’s back to school time for many of us and the perfect time to reorganize the home. Whether you are sending your kids off to their first day of grade school or the first day of college, this is an ideal time to get your home organized for the fall season. If your kids are still little, then you know—or if you don’t, you soon will—the onslaught of activities, sleepovers, and piles of homework is about to become the norm. Get ready to go into over-drive – oh at least until June when you will finally be able to exhale again. And, if you’re last child has just left for college, you may be suffering a little bit from empty nest syndrome. But don’t drown your sorrows in an ice cream stupor for too long. Before you know it, Thanksgiving break will be upon us and Sally or Steve will be rushing home accompanied by a month’s worth of laundry, a gaggle of friends or perhaps a whole soccer team. So take advantage of this mini-respite to get the home in order or redesign it this, a new season in life. Here are some fantastic tips to organize for the school year, especially if you are in a new home and not quite organized yet.

Plan It: Home Central

Have a central calendar in the house that the whole family knows about. It does not have to be super sophisticated. A calendar on the refrigerator will suffice. In the age of smart-phones and iPads some families skip this step. But honestly, when your 10 year old is rushing out the door with a mouthful of cereal in order to catch the bus, it’s good to have a visual calendar that s/he can just glance at. Organized Home says:

Post the family event calendar in a public place near the telephone. Use magnets to attach the calendar to the refrigerator, or tack it to a bulletin board.

Mud Marks the Spot

A recent article in Family Circle suggests that planning for the clutter or muddy feet is the best defense to bring order before the mess. According to the article, “Every home needs a dumping ground…Whether it’s a mudroom, entryway or hall closet!” So instead of constantly following your kids with a mop, designate a central shoe basket at the door or implement a rule that all sports equipment gets dumped in a one bin in the garage. This way, they have a routine and your home still looks presentable.

A New Look for an Empty Nest

If you’re currently experiencing an empty nest, perhaps even considering selling the home, it may be time to upgrade the kid-spaces. Maybe take some time to make your son’s baseball-themed bedroom into a chic office or your daughter’s princess room into a garden room. An article in This Old House suggests that an upgrade in design might be the perfect first step to a ‘new’ home when your kids have left for college. Although it may not be the time to do go overboard, since you could still have four more years of the kids coming home for vacations, but it’s a first step to an upgrade and a sense of new. The article suggests, small upgrades, clean lines, or a simple elegant finish may be all that’s needed for a room refresh. In one example of a beautiful upgrade, the change involved:

…a pale palette and a smattering of contemporary items, like a chrome lamp and glass-top table, balancing them with soft draperies and cushy pillows.

Whether you are in the midst of college time or the early days of preschool, always make certain that you have your house in order. Just because it’s September, it doesn’t have to mean chaos. Make your home your castle, not clutter-central. With the help of a regular routine, some good organization strategies, and a few design tips, you’ll be at the top of the class!

An award-winning Realtor®, Lydia Gable has consistently been in the top two percent of Realtors® nationwide. If you are ready to buy or sell a home in and around Westlake Village, contact Lydia Gable today.

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