With housing prices in the Los Angeles metro area hitting historic highs, now might be time to make a move and sell your home. But in order to sell quickly and for the best price, take a minute to learn about what's going on in the market so you'll have a firm grasp of what needs to be done.
We consulted with some of the top real estate agents in Los Angeles as identified by OpenHouse Realty (U.S. News' real estate agent recommendation partner) who shared what they felt were the most important trends for sellers to know before putting their homes on the market.
The market is strong. "We've been in an appreciating market since 2012," says Tracy Do of Compass Real Estate, who focuses on the Eastside of Los Angeles. "And with the strong spring we've seen, inventory has shrunk."
This is good news for sellers who decide to enter the marketplace. "If a property is priced well, there will be multiple offers," says Sally Forster Jones of Beverly Hills' Sally Forster Jones group. She expects to see several offers on homes all over the central city and coastal communities within 10 days of listing, if they are priced well. "If something is effectively priced, we can see a lot of momentum and a lot of action."
But that doesn't mean sellers should get greedy. Although buyers will fight for a well-priced home, there are not enough of them out there to price unfairly. Forster Jones warns: "If something is mispriced, it can sit for three or four months, and then it's hard to get back that momentum."
[See: 10 Tips to Sell Your Home Fast.]
Turnkey properties are hot sellers. Since prices in the market have increased so significantly, buyers are more likely to bid on a turnkey home than a fixer-upper. "Once upon a time people wanted the character details of older homes, but now buyers want new products that are move-in ready," Do says. Sellers would be wise to consider new flooring, a fresh coat of paint and some fresh cosmetic upgrades before listing a property.
For the same reason, new construction is also immensely popular at the moment. But Forster Jones has witnessed a shift in buyer tastes away from the stark modernism that was favored a few years ago. "People built all of these big, modern, white boxes. Now, buyers find that they look too similar and they want something more individual," she notes. "Even modern homes need some character."
Sellers with this stark, simple style of home can add character in their own way. "Buyers want a warm feeling inside the house, instead of a cold, modern concrete feel," notes Tami Pardee of Pardee Properties. "Buyers want the house to feel designed and intelligent, with an eclectic vibe. Something old and new, entwined together."
Forster Jones says modern farmhouse and contemporized Spanish styles often sell well.
Alternative neighborhoods are the new destinations. As prices climb, buyers are turning their attention to neighborhoods they wouldn't have considered a few years ago. "Because prices have gone up significantly on the Westside, a lot of the areas that were not in demand are now getting more attention," Forster Jones says.
With Westside neighborhoods, such as Marina Del Rey and Inglewood, pricing out entry-level buyers, the market has been heating up on the Eastside for some time. If your home is in a hot Eastside or Southside neighborhood, you might be able to list your home today and make a healthy profit. "We used to see these places as alternative neighborhoods, but now the Eastside has turned into destination neighborhoods, like Silver Lake, which is really the crown jewel," Do says.
Community is big among Angelenos. Forster Jones finds that these days, "People are really looking for neighborhoods: Places with sidewalks, families, restaurants, coffee shops and a sense of community."
This means that condos in walkable Downtown and other small, more densely-packed neighborhoods are getting more traction than they have in the past. "People are having to consider condos because of their price range, yes, but I'm seeing buyers who want to be closer to the urban center just as much. Part of this new, denser style of living just gets everyone closer to where they want to be," says Stephanie Younger, who sells for Teles Properties.
Tap into this trend by touting your access to Metro rail lines and tell buyers what they can do within walking distance of the property to get them excited about the neighborhood.
The market's high end is slowing down. If you're listing a home above $5 million, you will see markedly different trends than you would if you started with a lower asking price. "In the multi-million dollar market, people are nervous about high prices and the economy," says Shulman.
Sean Stanfield, of Huntington Beach's Stanfield Group, agrees. "We always see a slowdown in election years, especially at the high end," he says. "The closer we get to November, the more we'll see things get a little choppier." Sellers at the top end of the market should list now and list low, before their window on a great sale begins to close.
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