OpinionInvesting

First-time buyers in LA altering criteria to achieve homeownership

Smaller lots and communities further away from the city are becoming a reality for new homebuyers
  • L.A. is adapting to the changing landscape and increase in population, acclimating to a smarter and denser style of living that includes small-lot subdivisions.
  • First-time homebuyers are also heading further away from the city towards communities such as Beverlywood, the Grove, Mar Vista, Culver City, Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Westchester.
  • Regardless of L.A.’s shift to accommodate its residents’ desires to own a home, tips to buying any home remain consistent.

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ROCHELLE-HEADSHOT

Rochelle Maize is the executive director of the luxury estate division at Nourmand & Associates.

The city of Los Angeles has been a haven for many to obtain the American Dream — a place where one can buy land, build a home and start a family. But today, over 90 percent of the city is taken up and housing is too expensive to accommodate the majority of its residents.

A Zillow survey in January estimated nearly 5 million Americans are interested in buying a home in the next 12 months, but where are they going to go? The market is extremely competitive, requiring buyers to get more creative and alter their desired criteria, especially for first-time buyers looking in the $700,000 to $1 million range.

L.A. is now shifting people’s perception of what it means to own your first home, adapting to the changing landscape and market and increase in population. The city is now acclimating to a smarter and denser style of living, including small-lot subdivisions.

These small-lot developments are essentially detached townhouses that are built on multi-family zoned properties, because they would otherwise not be allowed in single-family zoned areas. For those unwilling to let go of the dream to own their first home, this is L.A.’s solution, and it’s growing in popularity.

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Another way to keep this dream alive is to start looking in alternative areas of L.A. According to a Trulia study in March, only about 27 percent of L.A. County households can afford to buy a median-priced house. Since this is the case for the majority of L.A.’s residents, these once undesirable towns are now hitting the scene as up-and-coming places to be.

First-time homebuyers are heading towards communities like Beverlywood, the Grove, Mar Vista, Culver City, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and my personal favorite, Westchester. These areas have become increasingly popular for young millennials looking for a starter home in L.A. they can actually afford.

Regardless of L.A.’s shift to accommodate its residents’ desires to own a home, tips to buying any home remain consistent. If you’re planning to buy a house in the next year, prepare for an uphill battle.

Having the right bid is still important, but there is a supplemental component to buying a home that is often overlooked: There is an emotional value for the seller to sell to the right person. I always provide a family picture, bio and a statement on why my buyer wants the property.

In a market that’s competitive, you have to think outside the box. You must be ready and willing at any moment to do what it takes to win over the seller and be prepared. Not only is the seller important, but so is the agent on the other side of the transaction. If the deal feels right for all parties involved, you will close. 

Although first-time homebuyers have some alternative thinking and creativity to undertake, all hope is not lost.