Photo by Florian Schmidinger on Unsplash

Real estate agent Naomi Klein has never been busier. The day we spoke, the Estate Director for Compass Los Angeles’ Sports Division and founder of @sundaysinthecity_ was juggling two listings, had just submitted an offer on a property, and given a listing presentation to a prospective client. She’s also closed two deals since the statewide stay-at-home order was announced on March 19th.

“During the first three weeks, there wasn’t much competition at all,” said Klein. “Now, within the last seven days, it’s back to multiple offers. And I firmly believe buyers have another week or two to get the best price on a property.”

Here, Klein gives her take on the current state of the Los Angeles real estate market and shares advice for buyers and sellers who are looking to make money moves during this uncertain, but hopeful time.

Photo: sundaysinthecity_/Instagram

Serious buyers weren’t deterred by the initial market slowdown

“To be honest, buyers were so excited,” said Klein when reflecting on the early days of the pandemic. “They thought this was the price correction they wanted to see and had been hoping for all this time.” While some savvy buyers have been able to shave five to ten percent off the initial list price, across the board, there haven’t been steep declines in housing prices. In fact, the median home value in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metro increased 4.9 percent year-over-year during the month of March. “It separated the real active buyers from the ones who weren’t getting off the sidelines. When the market froze, real active buyers jumped on the opportunity,” she said.

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April 20th marked a turning point in market confidence

“I noticed an uptick starting Monday, April 20, and that’s probably not coincidental, as it was 4/20,” laughed Klein. “Buyers probably just relaxed a little bit — it’s legal in California!” A recent Zillow report confirms Klein’s observations, showing an increase in the number of new LA listings beginning the weekend of April 18-19. Klein spent that Sunday showing vacant homes to a client and encountered multiple-offer scenarios on several properties. 

“I think what caused a shift in buyer confidence is just human resiliency and short-term memory,” explained Klein. “I think we’re now understanding that we’re going to be able to make it through this.” As the panic that shrouded the early days of the pandemic subsides, buyers who are still in a financial position to purchase a home are throwing their hats back in the ring.

Buyers and sellers are turning to agents for advice now more than ever

“When this happened, for the first time, the value of a real estate agent’s expertise became very apparent,” said Klein. “Usually, the client is so Googled up that whatever we say doesn’t really click as strongly as it does now. And our expertise has become a lifeline to our clients and to each other in the agent community — it’s been really beautiful to see unfold.”

Klein advises that sellers listen to their agents, who are experts on their local markets, when it comes to deciding on the list price of their home. With historically low inventory levels, Los Angeles sellers may be inclined to overshoot the true value of their home, but that can cause the property to sit on the market for weeks and turn stale. “I think now more than ever, list price is imperative,” added Klein.

Photo by Daryn Stumbaugh on Unsplash

Sellers can stand to wait, but the clock is ticking for buyers

“I genuinely believe buyers have one or two more weeks to get the best value in a very long time,” said Klein. “Because when this order is lifted, you are going to have so many eager buyers — their fears are going to subside a little bit and they’re going to go full throttle.”

Klein doesn’t mince words when discussing wishy-washy, would-be buyers: “If you’re waiting to time the market perfectly, it’s never going to happen.”

For sellers, Klein explains that it’s perfectly fine to wait until the stay-at-home-order is lifted. Under the current rules, agents aren’t even allowed to show occupied homes, as it would pose a risk to the health of potential buyers and the people that live there. “But your property still needs to be in tip-top shape,” said Klein. “It needs to be painted, cleaned and staged. This is really about presenting your best foot forward the first time. Buyers just want to walk into a property and say, ‘This is home.’”

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