I Wanna Buy A House!

(c) Alan Weissman
I happened to be channel-surfing and landed on HGTV to get my “how-to fix.”  The show Selling LA had already started. I felt compelled to stay tuned because of what the featured real estate agent and owner of Steven Aaron Realtor Group, Steven Aaron, was saying. OK, I admit it wasn’t that at first. It was his vintage Cadillac that caught my eye, but, hey, whatever it takes for people to tune in, right?
The show covers properties in Los Angeles, but the information and principles that Steven brings forth apply to real estate across the country in any financial demographic. From selling to buying, decorating to renovating: he’s got it covered.
Viewers are taken through each episode on an adventure of sorts, each focusing on the sale process of his client’s home. Steven’s spiel of do’s and don’ts, along with a sales strategy and some psychology behind the buyers’ experiences, not only made sense, but also didn’t come across as typical sales hype.
I wanted to know more, sooo… I decided to grab an interview with this native Angeleno and expert in Southern California real estate for Cliché! I was also very curious to see if his on-screen persona of a straight-forward, focused, and warm personality matched in person. (OK it was on the phone, but the same “test” applied.) He not only passed my scrutiny, but displayed an easygoing sense of humor I didn’t get a chance to see on the show. BY MARINA ANDERSON
(c) Bradford Rogne Photography
Steven Aaron:  I don’t know that I can say there’s a specific formula to that. I think a lot of it depends on what’s going on in each city. When you’re talking about major cities, metropolis type of cities, then you’re dealing with a different animal than small towns because there’s so much demand for what’s going on to live in the big cities. Like right now, there’s a lot of building going on. I think that’s a really positive sign because that means investors are willing to spend money.
You’re talking about major companies and contractors who develop properties?
Yes.  What I think that’s really great about it is they see that there’s a need, there’s a demand, that there’s a shortage of housing in these big cities.
Would you say there’s an element of timing with real estate?
Everything in real estate is timing. Right now, we’re in an appreciating market. We have been the last 12-18 months. So what’s happened is investors, people who flip [homes], builders, developers, over the last 18 months, are grabbing properties because they see that that margin is there because properties are appreciating. To me, it’s an indication that the market has improved.
What price point properties are selling the fastest? 
They’re going to be “fixers.” They are blowing out! Eighteen offers, twenty-two offers…! These are fixers that the investors want to tear down and build. On top of that, the price points I think that are the absolute hottest are what I call “entry level” or lower price point levels in Los Angeles. (It was noted that “entry level” home prices vary per area. West side prices differ from the valley, etc. for “entry level.”) If the house is done, staged and beautiful, it will sell immediately.
Wow. So the real estate market in general is on the rebound?
What is staging a house?
Staging a property is where we bring in furniture, art, rugs, and accessories. It is marketing, it is set design. It creates the magic. The objective is for the buyer to have an emotional response to the home, to connect with it. Then it detracts from some of the negatives. It also has to be priced right.
What’s a good strategy or advice when placing a bid on a house you know already has offers? What components in an offer make it most appealing to the seller (i.e. more money down, all cash but offer less money)?
You must have the cleanest offer possible. This means that the seller is going to pick an offer that is the least likely to fall out of escrow and will close. Least number contingencies possible. Do your inspection up front. This will demonstrate to the seller you are serious! Get a formal approval with your lender so you do not have a loan contingency, if possible.
Do you ever do something like feng shui a home or if it isn’t selling, sage or other metaphysical “ceremonies”?   Other tips/things to do if a house isn’t selling? 
If a home is not selling, it is a price/value issue. You must listen to the market and make a price adjustment. I would also see if there is anything that can be done to improve the way the home shows, and minimize any negatives.
I noticed that for the broker viewings you serve food and… were those margaritas I saw on the show?  How important is it to do this? Not the margaritas (haha), but serving a party-like atmosphere?
It depends on the property. By serving food, people stay longer and get to experience the space as if they are a guest. Usually agents are in and out as they have many properties to view. This slows them down.
DANG! That’s clever! Tell me about your experience filming Selling LA.
Selling LA has been a great experience. I am very passionate about my work so it has been exciting to add television as one on the avenues of branding my business and show what we do for our clients.
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