Netflix’s “Selling Sunset” spinoff “Selling the OC” is turning out to be just as over-the-top as we’d expected. And now that rumors are flying that those catty female cast members sparked the recent breakup between real estate agent Tyler Stanaland and his actress wife, Brittany Snow, fans are scrutinizing each episode more closely than ever.
Amid all this interpersonal drama, of course, there’s also plenty of wheeling and dealing over luxurious beachfront real estate. And though most of us could never afford these posh properties, these negotiations nonetheless represent the bleeding edge of what it takes to secure a swift and profitable sale today.
Here are just a few pearls of real estate wisdom that fall from these agents’ lips that could teach us all a thing or two about buying or selling real estate today.
Always make a counteroffer—even to a lowballer
In the episode “Testing the Waters,” agents Brandi Marshall and Lauren Shortt appear to be working together to sell a humble (by their standards) home in Lake Forest, CA, for $900,000.
One buyer offered $830,000 before the home even went on the market. But the seller dismissed the offer without even responding, and instead started going through the process of preparing the house to go on the market at $900,000.
Both agent Gio Helou and corporate head Jason Oppenheim are surprised that Marshall and Shortt didn’t encourage the seller to make a counteroffer.
“Even give a full-price counteroffer, give them something,” advises Helou.
After all, many buyers start with a lowball offer just to test the waters, and are willing to come up to full price or higher if they really like the house. Marshall and Shortt’s client might have been able to avoid the time, money, and hassle of putting their house on the market. But they’ll never know, because they didn’t counter.
“I’m going to be very skeptical about writing an offer on one of your two listings, that’s all I’m saying,” Helou says, closing the discussion and digging the knife in at the same time.
Today, it pays to make an effort with marketing
As recently as six months ago, the housing market was so hot that sellers could put their homes on the market without cleaning it up for showings or doing any advertising—and they’d still end up with bidding wars.
Today, though, even the fanciest homes need some marketing effort to show them in their best light.
Ask your listing agent to do some staging
Meanwhile, Kayla Cardona is trying to get her first listing. She visits an impressive four-story, ocean-view home in Laguna Beach in hopes of enticing the seller to let her represent his $4.5 million listing.
Doug, the seller, drives a shrewd bargain and brings up staging. Cardona tells Doug about the agency’s concierge service, which will front the cost of staging and repairs, and the seller can pay it back when the home sells.
But Doug takes it a step further: “I would need you guys to pick up the staging. There’s not much to do, it’s pretty pristine.”
All agree that his home needs only about $5,000 worth of staging, and Doug asks if the agency will cover that. Oppenheim happily agrees. After all, $5,000 is peanuts compared with their potential six-figure commission.
The take-home lesson: If your listing agent says your house needs staging, you may not need to run out and hire someone to style your house at great personal expense. Ask your agent about options. You’d be surprised by how many agents are willing to help with staging. Some will even provide you with household items they have on hand. It never hurts to ask.
A little prep work goes a long way
Not so long ago, sellers were discouraged from doing too much work to their homes, because they figured the buyers would come in and make their own improvements.
But with rising interest rates, fewer buyers can afford the higher payments, and those who can are more discerning.
Marshall won’t even put a client’s house on the market until she repaints the whole place and puts in new flooring throughout. The seller happily arranges for this quickly.
“So that’s good,” says Marshall, knowing that, in this market, the sooner a seller puts an attractive, well-maintained home on the market, the better.
If you renovate, allow extra time for permits
Meanwhile, agents Alexandra Rose and Alexandra Jarvis come across a seller who has rebuilt a small home into a stunning mansion worth eight figures.
The problem, though, is that he had to wait an entire year before he could get the permits to even start construction. In the meantime, he figures he spent about $100,000 per month for three years before the mansion was finished.
This seller’s story serves as a reminder that homeowners should always find out how long permitting may take if they plan to renovate. The wait can be substantial, and can end up costing a bundle—in remodeling fees, interest, and taxes—before you sell (and hopefully still see a profit).