Yesterday, the temperature hit 87 degrees on this side of the hill while the rest of the nation was freezing. It’s really a strain on the residents here in L.A. – tops down on convertibles, tank tops and shorts diverting drivers’ eyes to the stall in the endless traffic at mid-day.
It’s the perfect weather that puts people in the mood to buy houses. Everything looks so beautiful. The sky is so blue – you can almost touch it. It is with great reluctance that my husband lets me go out on a day like today. It’s Broker’s Open here in L.A. Nothing but trouble. All those open houses just crying out to me as I run my errands at lunchtime.
“Did you call your client about the ‘Spanish’ in Outpost?” I call him from my cell after a “pop in” visit.
“You mean the one with the camper in the driveway at $1.6 million?” he replies.
“It really has potential inside,” I continue. “For the price.”
“I can’t even get my client to get out of the car,” he continues. “The description on the MLS sounded great, but they think it has no curb appeal.”
Ah, curb appeal. The very words add hundreds of thousands of dollars to any listing here in Los Angeles where grandeur and charm are hard to come by, especially in areas like the Hollywood Hills where shared driveways and funky easements abound.
Some even have “curbs” as their front door. It’s the wackiest real estate on the planet.
Curb appeal means different things to different people. To a seller, it’s the chance to woo a perspective buyer – lure them in – let them overlook the other shortcomings of the house because of the wonderful frontage or beautiful landscaping. To a buyer – love at first sight. They picture themselves living there even before they’ve walked in the door. Imagine what their friends will say when they see them living there! And if there’s room for extra cars – they’ve hit the lottery.
Recently, friends told me of a buying trip to Portland, Ore., for mature trees to line the “lane” that leads to their home. “Very California,” I said to them.
“Actually, we were hoping very Tuscany,” was their response. Only in Hollywood.
So what is a seller to do whose house is short on sex appeal to get those buyers in the door?
“Truth in advertising,” says one friend who has remodeled several “dogs” over the last few years. “Tell the truth in the listing so that the buyer isn’t disappointed when they pull up to the house and aren’t wowed immediately.”
Truth in advertising. Now there’s a laugh. I think that more MLS descriptions were probably written with a glass of wine in hand. They’re all so soothing and smooth when it comes to describing a house that may be a little rough around the edges.
And what about those selective photos? It’s a sure sign that something’s amiss when there’s no shot of the front of the house or the kitchen. Does the listing agent really think that a prospective buyer will be fooled by one photo of the best angle of the house taken from the rear? What’s wrong with a little…”don’t curb appraise. Bring your client who has imagination and a paintbrush…”
I, for one, would rather be prepared that there’s some major shortcoming versus getting to the house and being disappointed because the description in the MLS sounds nothing like the property in question.
“I’m too honest,” my husband declares when his clients have finally decided that they can’t “win” by remodeling a house that should be torn down and isn’t worth the lot value. “I just can’t encourage them to buy something that they will have to sink a lot of money into, only to discover that they probably should have just kept looking while things in their price range are few and far between.”
“You’re going to have your license taken away,” I pipe back. “Remember that old rule of sales. If you only have green carpet then you have to sell green carpet.”
Julie Brosterman is a consultant to the real estate technology, mortgage and servicing industries. She lives in Los Angeles and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.