Try and Buy – New Trend in Home Buying?

LYDIAPIC‘Fly and Buy’

The home buying process hasn’t changed in many years – find a home, make an offer, close. But according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, some people are doing a sort of test drive of the neighborhood before purchasing a home. Some realtors are even adding this type of incentive into their business. According to the WSJ feature, while it is still rare in most areas for buyers to request a test drive of a home or community before buying, it is becoming more prevalent in some luxury markets. And says the article:

Toll Brothers, one of the country’s largest home builders, has a Fly and Buy program for buyers who want to travel to a new town to check it out. Travel costs can then be put toward a purchase contract.

While in some areas the trend is growing, especially with motivated sellers, many real estate agents disagree with a ‘try and buy’ approach. Says Kimberly Dixon, a Houston based real estate agent, “it clouds judgment.” In an article titled Test Drive Your Home on HSH.com, Dixon weighs in on the new fad in home buying:

For the most part, the client will likely make more emotional decisions and pick apart a property’s minor attributes, while overlooking major value — such as a good price. It is my opinion that a logical and economic approach is the best way to undertake such large personal investments.

I agree with Dixon for the most part, but mainly because the area where I live and sell homes, Westlake Village, CA, is already an undisputed, highly sought-after location known for its luxury resort lifestyle, warm West Coast temperatures and top school rankings. Unless you are moving from another state, Westlake Village and its surrounding community is lucky enough to have its reputation precede most buyers’ interest. Quite frankly, I’m listing and closing, in some cases, faster than you can say, “Make an offer.”

Westlake Village – A Nice Place to Work, Live and Play…

If you’re in the Southern California area and thinking of making a home purchase in the near future, check out Westlake Village in the Conejo Valley. Spend a day hiking at Triunfo Creek Park in its 600 acres of trails, or visit Sherwood Country Club and its famed golf course at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains. Have dinner at one of the beautiful restaurants at the Promenade after a full day of shopping at the most exclusive shops in the area. If I can suggest any kind of “test drive”, I’d day, take a drive from Westlake Village to Malibu or into the city of Los Angeles, and experience for yourself, if you were to move to the area, how close you would be to everything while still enjoying a vacation resort quality of life. For that matter, I suggest you take the day and do all of these things just because – even you aren’t moving to Westlake Village – it’s the nicest place in the nation to work, live and play – if I do say so myself.

For more on home listings in Conejo Calley, contact Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

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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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Summer 2014: The Secret to the Home Sale

In light of my recent article, Summer SoCal Housing Market Update: ‘Normal’, and after readingThe Huffington Post piece titled, 6 Seller Secrets for This Summer’s Real Estate Market, I thought it was the perfect time for a Part 2 to my summer update.

The Huffington Post article points out in part:

Right Now = A Great Time To Sell…Mortgage rates are still at historic lows, so buyers ARE poised to buy and ready to hit the streets.

It’s true – we are now in a very specific seller’s market and it’s likely to turn soon into a buyer’s market. So what are some seller secrets to optimize your listing, get your asking price, and close quickly… especially if you need to move before the kid’s return to school? Skipping the obvious— partner with a very experienced Realtor who knows the area and the market—here are a few tips from experts that I find highly beneficial if you’re ready to sell now.

The Price is Right! Come on Home!

Price your home right. This is such a key factor to a successful home sale and it all rests on choosing the right real estate agent. If you price your home too high or low it’s akin to building a home on quick sand. Says author, Michael Corbett, Trulia’s real estate and lifestyle expert, in TheHuffington Post piece:

This last quarter, prices started to slow nationally — and pricing is a critical component to getting your house sold. With this fluctuating market, you need to look at comps of similar homes in your area.

The Selling Season

Since it is summer, take advantage of that “given”. First, most people are probably hoping to move before the fall season. Also it’s the season to enjoy the outdoors so people are likely to pay more attention to local activities and outdoor fun in the prospective area. If it were Christmas you might have a Poinsettia plant in the foyer. It’s summer so highlight the activities near you – maybe the great schools and camps for children since they will be returning soon or the parks and nature trails surrounding the neighborhood. Take a look at my recent article on Westlake Village, Summer in Westlake Village is Hot, Hot Hot!. As you can see, this area would be irresistible to an nature-lover so you would highlight that in the sale. But no matter where you live, highlight the season. An article on BadgerRealty.com, quotes Karla Badger and suggests this important ‘summer selling tool’.

Just walking into a home with plenty of sunlight and plant-life brings a smile to my face. It allows the home to breath better and can freshen up the home [especially] if it’s been buttoned up all winter.’ Freshly cut grass give a better presentation for drive-bys and adding some flowers or flowering shrubs can complete the look to attract more buyers.

Drive Traffic To Your Open House Not the Beach…

Although this is a prime summer seller’s market, it also presents its challenges. Families have plans that don’t make searching for a home seem like a fun option. The weather is great so when it comes to choosing between the open house or the pool BBQ down the street, the temptation can lean toward relaxation and fun. So how do you ensure the open house is packed? Your realtor must have great online photos, real estate apps, and top marketing skills. Make certain to view your agent’s online listings and ask how they would market the home. Most home buyers now search with home buyer mobile apps. The listings should look stellar whether on iphone or on your computer.

Lydia Gable: Experience Counts

In this summer selling season, choose your realtor well, prepare the home, and just as important, the listing so you can be assured of an optimal sale. If all is done well, you should be ready to settle into your new dream home by the fall just in time for hot chocolate and lovely nights by the fire. Lastly, enjoy the summer and stay safe! Remember, if you need a realtor, choose one who lives and works in the area. Lydia Gable has over a decade of experience in real estate including in a volatile market. Contact Lydia Gable today. If you are searching for a luxury home in the Conejo Valley area, Lydia Gable is the smart choice. Read more here.

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Crowdfunding in Real Estate: A New Era of Investing

The Emergence of Crowdfunding in Real Estate

The emergence of crowdfunding as an investment tool for serious real estate players is changing the housing market as we know it. As the market recovers, more investors are coming back but one probably could not have imagined crowdfunding as the next new trend. Crowdfunding has showed up with quite a presence and backing and its making quite the first impression! If you thought crowdfunding was only reserved for the creative inventor or out-of-money filmmaker, you’re a step behind. Quite frankly, admittedly I had not even heard of this very new trend until recently. If it catches on, it could be a game-changer for those investors currently controlling the investment markets in certain areas. It’ll be interesting to see how “at your fingertips” a trade is, but the social media possibilities are exciting for sure.

Not Your Grandmother’s Real Estate Pool

At the moment, most of the crowdfunding sites are reserved for high-stakes players only, but that’s not likely to last according to market experts. While it’s certainly a new arena—one that is evolving quite rapidly—some platforms are beginning to open up the playing field to small-money investors. Because of this, the ramifications in terms of who can invest and international investing possibilities could be enormous. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal profiled one successful entrepreneur—a real estate pioneer when it comes to crowdfunding— who is taking it to the next level. The article titled, Real-Estate Sector Moves Crowdfunding Beyond the Trinkets states that ‘sites have raised more than $135 million in debt and equity’. For the founders of RealtyMogul andEarlyShares, only accredited investors are accepted at this juncture but as the WSJ article points out, they are raising SERIOUS capital.

As with any trend, once it catches on, it’s everyone’s to claim and crowdfunding in real estate is no different. A recent article on Forbes highlights not only the serious money at play, but also the way this crowd funding platform is opening up real estate investing to the masses – globally. “Fundriselast week announced that they raised $31 million from Renren, a Chinese technology firm, Ackman-Ziff (Real Estate Group) and Silverstein Properties (owners of the World Trade Center Twin Towers)”.

The reporter also points out that the field is widening to include all investors. In the article titled,Real Estate Crowdfunding: Post-Valuations Of $100M for Series A?David Drake writes:

The Washington-based company, Fundrise, allows investors, for as little as $100 to as much as $10,000,000, to participate in deals. Until the emergence of crowdfunding, real estate projects, even the smaller ones, have been reserved for high net worth investors and private equity companies.

The Real Estate Fervor: Signs of Recovery?

Whether you are a big-time real estate investor, a market watcher, or a some-time dabbler in housing flips, the fact that new and innovative ways to invest in the housing market and thereby the economy have emerged, is a positive sign of market recovery – not to mention fun market-watching. However if your only goal is to own one property that you call your dream home for the next twenty years, there’s also a special place for you. And with signs of real recovery on the horizon, this is a great time to make the move. Every home purchase is an investment, but more importantly it’s an investment in your future! If you are interested in buying or selling a home in and around Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village or Calabasas, contact Lydia Gable today at Westlake Village Real Estate.

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Equity Check: Is it Time to Sell?

Selling A Home: A Personal Decision

The decision to sell a home is a highly individualized and personal one. But there are signs to watch out for that may signal when it’s a good time to sell your home at least in terms of yielding the best profits. Ask yourself: would you know if your neighborhood property values were suddenly dipping because of a neighborhood decline? Or if your neighborhood is now showing signs of being on the upswing, how do you know when the right time is to list it or stay put?

Although not all of the experts agree on watching the overall neighborhood red flags as indicators of your home value decline or upswing, most do agree that there are signs to watch when making the decision to sell. Here are a few notes compiled by my fellow home experts that you might find useful as a guide post for knowing the right time to list. Ultimately, deciding to sell a home is based on a whole multitude of factors that might include, empty nest syndrome, a job move, loss of income, taking care of an elderly family member, needing a new start or any number of reasons. But if making the right move for investment purposes is your concern, then here are some good tips.

· Is Your Neighborhood on the Upswing

Many neighborhoods took a hit over the past few years causing either mass exodus or mass fear to make a move. As the signs and waves of recovery have slowly moved over the country, people are asking, “Do I sell now or do I wait for my housing value to go up?” Says an article on MSN titled, 8 signs your neighborhood is on the upswing, a good way to spot signs of a real-estate recovery in your community is to begin watching for improvements in the areas near you hardest hit by the downturn. If you start to see improvements in neighboring communities that were hardest hit, your neighborhood is likely on the upswing as well. If this is the case, you may want to start paying special attention. Watch the market and other home sales so you know when to jump in and list your home. Says the article:

Frequent purchases made by investors and first-time homebuyers are good signs. Watch for an increase in the sales of newly built homes versus discounted foreclosed properties; better sales will increase housing construction.

· Time to Sell: Your Neighborhood is in Decline

On the flip side of the equation, in a volatile housing market, a neighborhood can also take a downturn that may affect your home value. In this example, you might want to consider selling sooner than waiting for recovery. Says an article in Business Insider titled, 10 Signs That Your Neighborhood’s Property Value Is Declining, there are tell-tale signs to look for here. Faith Consolo, commercial real estate expert with Prudential Douglas Elliman says in the piece, a closing chain store should be a huge-tip off. She says:

They’re doing musical chairs to capture a whole new demographic. By divesting themselves of the larger location, they’re still keeping a presence but seeking out greener pastures.

· Crunch the Numbers – The Time is Right

Lastly, when in doubt, the numbers don’t lie. Says Michelle Lerner on ealtor.com in an article titled,When Is the Right Time to Sell Your Home? Do your research. Know your payoff amount versus profit and then find out the recent sales price of comparable homes in your community. Says Lerner:

Interview several REALTORS® and consult with them about current market conditions to estimate a listing price and how long it may take for your home to sell. Many sellers opt to put their homes on the market in the spring because that’s when more buyers are looking, but you can choose to sell at any time of year.

‘I’m Ready to Sell My House’

In the end, the decision to sell your home is one that only you can make by weighing all the pros and cons. But if and when you do get close to deciding, isn’t a sale that yields the biggest profit and closes at or close to asking price – shouldn’t that also be part of the decision? So, while it’s always a bit unpredictable and there may never be a perfect time, hopefully armed with the right information and a well-informed, experienced realtor, the decision as to the right time to sell will be as effortless as saying: “I’m ready to sell my house.”

Lydia Gable is a realtor in the Conejo Valley. She specializes in Westlake Village and Agoura Hills real estate. Years of working in both a thriving and a down real estate climate make her experience invaluable to a seller in a volatile market. If you have questions about listing your home or would like more information on anything covered in the article, please 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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