Choosing the Best Realtor

What differentiates an “OK” realtor from one who is worthy of your highest referral? Well, there are questions to ask and a guide to determine the best from the rest. A great realtor has an important set of skills and traits which when combined make all the difference. A great realtor has not only the ability to navigate the marketplace—even in a down market — but the intuitive ability to tailor-fit the experience for each client’s specific needs. First and foremost, besides the obvious credentials, a realtor must be a good listener. If not, the partnership with the client is ultimately doomed. Below are several questions to ask as a well as guideline of must-haves so you choose the right realtor for you.

  1. A REAL-ly Great Communicator
    A realtor must be a great communicator – a people person. Communication skills and an affable personality will go a long way. More importantly in terms of communication, your realtor should have the knack for really listening. A great realtor will meet with you, know the right questions to ask and then really listen! This skill allows the client/broker relationship to flourish. The realtor will drive the entire process from soup to nuts which can include finding the right home to buy, staging a home for sale, or matching the right buyer to the home. There’s a lot to do well, from the start to close and the results can all teeter on one thing: did the realtor listen well?
  2. A Side Gig or Career: Who Is Your Realtor?
    Find a realtor who has lived, bought and sold in your community for enough time that you can assess his or her track record. If this simply happens to be a side gig for someone, your results are going to reflect that minimal effort. You should seek out a realtor who has lengthy experience and who lives and works in the community. Says an article on MSN, 7 ways to avoid a crummy real-estate agent, this step is incumbent on the potential buyer/seller to determine at the first consultation. Pat Vredevoogd Combs of Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt in Grand Rapids, Mich. tells MSN:

You really need to ask them where they work most of the time: Where do you live? Where do you work? What area of town are most of your transactions in? Consumers should look for agents with extensive experience in the area where their transaction is taking place.

  1. A GREAT Realtor Knows the Market
    A great realtor knows how to navigate the market – any market. How do you find this? Simple: choose experience every time. Author and CNN financial editor and author of Home Rich, Gerri Willis sat down with Robyn Moreno of Howdini.com. She says choose a realtor with at least 8 years of experience to offer. In this way you are guaranteed that they have learned to navigate in a down market. Who would you rather represent you, one that just became a realtor during a housing market boom or one who has weathered all kinds of markets and is still successful? Willis tells Moreno in the informative video interview:

I think right now you should be looking for someone who has been in the marketplace for at least 8 years. That means they have experience in a down market so they know what to expect right now.

  1. Web Savvy
    Last but not least, don’t forget the importance of technology. A top real estate agent must be on the cutting edge of web marketing technology. Newspaper ads are good but they won’t do the entire job in today’s technology-driven market. A realtor who’s not technologically-savvy, simply can’t compete today. Ask about this. S/he should be very good with photo listings – presenting the “best” online photos is crucial for a sale. S/he must be good “on the go” which requires web-savvy skills, answering emails, using the Ipad for meetings on the fly, Skyping if necessary – whatever it takes!

There are a lot of good real estate agents out there and a few really great ones. It’s all about asking the right questions to find the perfect one for you! Whether you are selling or buying, educate yourself, ask for references and ultimately, make the right decision for your needs.

Lydia Gable was ranked 2nd in Keller Williams in 2013 as a Top Performing Individual Agent, with high customer satisfaction. She lives, works and plays in the Conejo Valley. If you want to keep up with what’s happening in real estate and around Conejo, contact Lydia Gable today!

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Must Move in a Hurry: Tips to Ease the Process

I Have to Sell a Home in a Hurry!

You’ve only recently settled into a new home, you’re acclimating to the new neighborhood and suddenly your spouse comes home and says the dreaded, “I’ve been transferred. We have to move in two weeks!”

Before you panic, take it in stride – others have successfully navigated this scenario, so it can be done. With a little help from an experienced realtor and a good plan, you can move with ease through a difficult transition. As a realtor, I’ve worked with many professional athletes, film industry professionals, and corporate executives – hurried moves come with the territory.

Tips to Move in a Hurry

First and foremost, choose a realtor who has navigated this tricky terrain before. First decide if you will be renting the home out for a bit when you move or if you plan on selling your current home right away and buying in the new neighborhood. If you can rent or have one spouse stay behind while your home is on the market, this is the easiest choice. However, if that’s just not possible, you will need a very trusted agent that you trust to communicate long distance. Here are some tried and true tips that will help guide you through the process.

  • A Realtor You Trust

An article on Realty Times recommends that you stay in touch with your realtor and get constant updates. How is the sale price faring? How many people viewed?

Also the right realtor will assist you in hastening the paperwork process, completing all the necessary documents such as disclosure forms, and listing your home the minute you give him or her permission. For my clients I will go one step further. I have been known to check in on the home regularly, remove mail, let the house cleaners in so the home stays dusted and pristine, make sure the gardeners take care of the grass and flowers, and even open the windows or turn on the air conditioning when necessary. These are steps that, while not standard, are not out of the realm when you partner with a good realtor. It’s the best way to ensure that buyers will view the home comfortably.

  • Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is still important and may be even more so if you are vacating while the home is listed. You may have to hire landscapers and workers to up keep the house while you are trying to sell. Ideally it sells and closes quickly—back to step one: choose your realtor well—but in case there are hiccups, you need to maintain the curb appeal. Says the Realty Times feature:

Make sure the curb appeal lasts. That means you’ll need to hire someone to mow your lawn, rake the leaves, or shovel the snow.

  • Price Your Home Correctly

Price your home correctly. Your experienced realtor should guide you here. It’s not the best idea to attempt to sell the home on your own when you’re under the gun for time. Says an article in TheWall Street Journal:

Consider paying for an independent real-estate appraisal or do a survey of the actual prices comparable homes.

Buying a home is a big moment in every homeowner’s life. Whether you are a potential home seller, a seasoned seller, or up against a deadline. If you’re ready to sell your home, you know that the realtor you choose could be a deciding factor in how quickly and successfully your property moves through the market. If you need to sell your home in a hurry, call Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

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How Much ‘Home’ Will $1 Million Buy in Southern California?

‘The Bedroom Could Fit Inside a Walk-In Closet’

How much home will a million dollars buy in Southern California? In certain coastal areas of Southern California, prepare to appreciate the beach location over the size of the home. Unlike other parts of the country, $1 million in Malibu for instance, won’t buy you a mansion – a quaint cottage home maybe. And in Orange County for example, the home of the famed Real Housewives of OC, whose lifestyle we’ve all become privy to, $1 million doesn’t stretch as far as you might think.

A recent article in the Orange County Register, highlights just how little home $1 million will buy in the OC. Paul Crane, consultant to a group of investors who bought a 1930s era home in Newport Beach says when he stood in the bedroom doorway of a home for lease one block from Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula – an exclusive part of Orange County—it was abundantly clear that the buyer was paying for the location not necessarily the home. The price tag: $1 million. His conclusion:

The bedroom could easily fit inside a typical walk-in closet in this city. The residence itself is only 534 square feet. What we would consider a bedroom is maybe not what they considered a bedroom when (the home) was built.

And, points out the author, Marilyn Kalfus:

Twenty six miles inland, $1 million could fetch a ‘highly upgraded,’ 2,800-square-foot, five-bedroom home on half an acre in Fullerton… with a swimming pool and spa – plus a private tennis court.

The Median Home Value in Westlake Village: $847,400′

If you prefer instead that the price match the luxury surroundings and home size, don’t be disheartened quite yet. Travel a bit north of the OC and there are still very exclusive areas in Southern California where $1 million can buy you a beautiful home – quite possibly a beautiful home in a gated community surrounded by lake views, mountain ranges and just minutes from the Pacific Ocean.

Wikipedia describes it well saying, Westlake Village “borders the Malibu hills, and is nine miles inland from the Pacific Ocean.” What else could you want? But that’s only he cherry on the proverbial cake. For $1 million or less, you will live in a gated community among professionals and celebrities alike, just a short ride to Los Angeles and in one of the best school districts in Southern California. In Westlake Village, you can buy a home for less than $1 million and currently the home prices are on the rise. It’s a good time to dip your toe in the market. If you buy now, the valuation—if the market continues to rebound as it’s predicted—should appreciate in a few years if you plan to invest and sell. Of course there are many homes—as is true of any luxury community—in the area that list above $1 million, however there are just as many properties where $1 million will be buy you a luxury home and I promise, your bedroom will be bigger than a closet! Zillow writes, regarding home prices in Westlake Village:

The median home value in Westlake Village is $847,400. Westlake Village home values have gone up 4.9% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 1.8% within the next year. The median price of homes currently listed in Westlake Village is $835,000 while the median price of homes that sold is $894,750.

You Can’t Put a Price Tag on Quality of Life

If you’re curiosity is piqued about what a $1 million looks like in the Westlake Village area, come take a tour of the community. A drive through the neighborhood, the surrounding exquisite scenic views, and the prime location, will leave you wanting more. Take it from me – I not only sell homes in Westlake Village, but I live in the area. My point of view after living in the Conejo Valley for many years: you can’t put a price tag on quality of life!

If you are a potential home buyer, our team will find the right fit for your lifestyle and needs. Lydia Gable specializes in the finest real estate and luxury properties. She is a permanent resident of Conejo Valley who lives and plays where she works. Contact Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

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Turnkey Homes: ‘Turning’ Up the Dial on Conejo Valley Home Sales

“Turnkey” home listings have experienced a recent jump in popularity specifically on the West Coast. The term “turnkey” refers to those properties which require no renovations or repairs. The house is ready to move in – everything inside it is part of the asking price. West Coast realtors, including yours truly, have found when it comes to home sales, these types of homes are ‘turning’ home listings into fast closings. As a realtor, I thought you’d find it interesting to hear my unique perspective on turnkey homes. While in years past, the trend leaned more toward building a home to exact specifications, now as the market finds a new resurgence, turnkey homes are indeed ‘in’ again.

What Realtors Say About Buying Turnkey

Although turnkey listings tend to be a bit more expensive than traditional home listings, buyers like this option because once you close on the home your expenses are essentially complete. A recent article on MSNBC says that there has been an increase in popularity—mainly on the West Coast and in vacation communities—for turnkey properties. In the article titled, Where to Find Turnkey Homes, Susie Nancarrow, broker and owner of Nancarrow Realty Group in San Diego County is quick to point out though that turnkey “isn’t necessarily synonymous with move-in ready.” She says:

… a 1970s-style house in great condition isn’t turnkey because it’s dated. I usually use ‘turnkey’ when the house is up-to-date with today’s buyers’ expectations.

At the end of the day, the process is much simpler. There’s no need to imagine where the children’s room will go, how you will renovate. View real estate listings, choose the home you fall in love with, make an offer, close and the best part awaits. Put the key in the lock, turn it and voila, you are home.

The Benefits of Buying Turnkey Real Estate

The real reason a buyer wants turnkey-ready is two-fold. The buyer may be a very busy executive with very little time to remodel. With interest rates at an all-time low– the prices while a little higher than traditional home sales are still very low. The buyer is then more willing to pay a premium for this type of home.

Home buyers understand that to remodel a home they will need a minimum of 20 percent down to purchase it in addition to the money it will cost to then do the remodel. So the idea of only paying for the home with no additional costs can be attractive. If a kitchen needs a remodel for example, this could cost the home owner another $50,000 to $75,000.00. To redo windows for example, it could cost $20,000. To upgrade to central heating/air, it could be another $15,000.00. If a buyer only remodels the bathroom, it could cost upwards of $10,000 and $25,000.00 just to remodel the master bedroom. These are estimates of course, depending on the size of the home, but one can clearly see the benefit and savings based on these examples, in choosing a turnkey home.

Is there a down-side to buying a turnkey home? Not really – if there is, maybe one could say “it doesn’t have my personality stamp”. But the truth is, if you fell in love with the home in the first place, it does – it must speak to some aspect of your personality and personal taste! And there is no saying down the line, you can’t make changes or add special touches. But truly, if you’re buying a vacation or a holiday home or even buying your first home, this is a good move. I think especially if you must move in a hurry for a job change, a turnkey home can be the perfect alternative to a traditional option. So there you have it –just one realtors perspective. Good luck on your home search whether it’s for a turnkey home in Westlake Village, a mansion in Calabasas or a condo in Thousand Oaks, your home is wherever your heart is!

For more on “turnkey homes” or to view property listings in the Conejo Valley, contact Lydia Gable today.

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Conejo Valley Real Estate Updates from Lydia Gable

5/16 – This information has recently been updated:

As somebody who likes to keep a pulse on what is going on in our lovely community, I wanted to share some exciting news about upcoming developments I recently received from my friend and trusted commercial Broker, David Massie, with DJM Commercial Real Estate.

Here is the update:

  • The Old Plug Nickel location (now a wine tasting bar called Cuvee Terrace) in Westlake Village is being sold and leased to a couple of very high-end successful Italian restaurants in other cities.
  • The vacant space in the same center as Lure Seafood just past The Counter location has signed a lease for a New Zeland Pacific Rim type restaurant called Aroha. In the old 9021Pho location in this center to the left of The Counter, a new restaurant called Kaze—which somehow fuses Japanese and Italian foods together—signed a lease.
  • In Agoura Hills, Vincitori Italian (owns Spumoni in NP also and replaced China Star here) just opened up recently in the Agoura Hills City Mall where the Agoura’s Famous Deli is and there will also be a new Kosher Israeli restaurant opening in the next couple of months just to the left of this Deli.
  • Padri’s will be opening up a high end Mexican restaurant in the Whizzins Center where Latigo Kid used to be in the next couple of months. Latigo relocated to the old Alamo location in the Vons anchored center at Kanan and Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Agoura Hills.
  • The old Red Robin in Calabasas is being leased by the Agoura Famous Deli owner and it’s yet to been seen what it will become.
  • The Gelsons/Sprouts/Vons center in WLV (all owned by one owner) is performing a 25 million dollar renovation and is going to not only remodel but also build new buildings in some of the parking areas as well as try to connect all 3 different plazas into one. New restaurants/food uses coming here are: Leilas (rumor only, not confirmed), Mendocino Farms, Pitfire Artisan Pizza, Le pain Quotidien, Pressed Juicery and Firefly. Target is under construction with a July 25, 2014, grand opening date and they own their land. The goal is to get all other Tenants open on or around this date, with the exception of buildings B and E, which will be later phases delivered in September. Here is a website link that will show you a site plan for each building so you can see where each tenant is going in this new center:http://www.shoppesatwestlakevillage.com/.

Building J – In N Out

Building G

– Suite A: Hook Burger

– Suite B: Negotiating with several food users

– Suite C: In Leases with a sit-down seafood restaurant

– Suite D: In Leases with a dessert tenant

Building F

– Suite A: In Leases with a sub sandwich tenant

– Suite B: Greens Up!

– Suite C: Olio E Limone Ristorante

– Suite D: Olio E Limone Pizzeria & Enoteca

Building C

– Suite G: Los Agaves

– Suite F: All Tressed Up (blow dry bar, also offers make-up application)

– Suite E: In Leases with a wireless tenant

– Suite D: Endless Beauty (high end beauty supply)

– Suite B & C: Salon suites tenant (haircut and color services)

– Suite A: BCBC Nail Salon

Building D

– Suite A: Negotiating with sushi concept

– Suite B: Negotiating with women’s apparel

– Suite C: Negotiating with a jewelry store

– Suite D: Negotiating with a home goods boutique

– Suite E & F: In leases with a men’s clothing store and children’s concept, but may relocate both users to accommodate a microbrewery we are negotiating with

– Suite G: Jeannine’s Marketplace

Building B (this is a second phase of the project, which will be delivered in September)

– Suite H: Tilly’s

– Suites A, B and a portion of C: Medical Use

Building E (this is a second phase of the project, which will be delivered in September)

– We have a lease out for signature with a 1,000 SF user, however. Will have several food and retail tenants.

Isn’t that exciting? These new developments will do wonderful things for Westlake Village Real Estate values and will certainly keep all of us entertained!

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