I haven’t been hanging around the real estate universe these past few months but have to admit that I still keep my eye on the local MLS for sales in the neighborhood and read Inman News every day. Just when I think we’ve seen it all, Los Angeles has another surprise for me and it’s a real estate story.
The culture of life in Los Angeles is to be first, best, thinnest, fabulous looking, rich, richer, and richest.
So in recent months, it’s not really a surprise that more than one luxury magazine has sprung up – and several more to be launched – to compete for the attention of the residents of Los Angeles and Orange County (more specifically, coastal Orange County), coastal San Diego, Santa Barbara, etc.
They’re beautiful books with gorgeous pictures, gorgeous people, gorgeous homes and interiors, and lots of shiny ads for lots of shiny toys.
And now, feature stories about the “flippers” of Los Angeles: Those talented (both physically and architecturally) dynamos who can take any piece of god forsaken real estate and turn it into a palace fit for a sitcom star (or at least an up-and-coming one). They work their magic and now instead of being touted as “fools” they’re being revered as “kings.” They work the market – and work it well – and have profited from the fruits of their labor handsomely.
These are our new stars, our icons, our heroes. Who can believe that in publication after publication the “flipper” is the new “it” profession?
And there’s the celebrity flipper, too. Actors and actresses are spending less time in the movie business and more time remodeling on a regular basis. They should keep score like they do with box office results. Diane Keaton: $20 million, Madonna: $17 million, Brad Pitt: $30 million. (Note: These are observations of the stars’ profits, not exact figures.)
Now I’m not one of those people who walk around with a lot of envy. I don’t drive a fancy car or wear flashy clothes or even own a groovy watch. I don’t carry a blackberry or have the latest cell phone. But I have to tell you – looking at those absolutely delicious (yes, delicious!) pages of those beautiful homes I get a little pang of envy.
Ah, the smell of new paint, the palate du jour, the latest tile, fixtures, kitchen gadgets, landscaping. And it’s all done with the utmost of taste and persistence that the market will hold for them to get in and get out as quickly as possible. Or it’s done with an eye to that wonderful tax benefit that comes from owning your personal residence for the minimum of two years.
So I asked my nearest and dearest who’ve recently done remodels from hell whether they would throw it all in and start flipping real estate for a profession, and every last one of them said yes. Everyone except, of course, my own dear husband who describes our last remodel as his “Abbey Road.”
The way I explain our last remodel is “worse than a root canal.” Yes, it’s beautiful and yes, I love it – but was the emotional turmoil that it caused in our lives something I would repeat again – and do it “professionally?” I don’t think so. I just don’t have the stomach for all the delays, excuses and potential unexpected “bumps” that made remodeling such a pain in the neck.
Sure, I’d love the profits: All the beautiful residences that I could potentially live in, all of the excitement and adventure at seeing your creation come to life in a matter of months (or in some cases years). It’s something that you can really point to and call your own.
But right now I’d rather bake a cake.
Julie Brosterman has spent the past 15 years in the real estate and mortgage technology industry and is on hiatus in her new life as founder and owner of Women & Wine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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