Hollywood, California, represents one of the most diverse housing markets within all of Los Angeles. Located in the central-north area of the city, Hollywood comprises a number of different neighborhoods and districts, each of them having distinctive qualities.

The Hollywood Hills, with picture-window views overlooking Runyon Canyon and Griffith Park, wind their way through the north side of Hollywood. Below the hills, the central region of Hollywood is the commercial district, where movie theaters and the Hollywood Walk of Fame make up a tourist district interspersed with condos and small houses. On the east side of Hollywood, between movie studios, are more condensed city lots. And the west side, near the Sunset Strip, is the trendy area adjacent to West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. The area's diversity means home prices area all over the map, with some areas featuring multi-million dollar mansions and others consisting of homes selling for $700,000.

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Curious on how you can find a home in this star-studded Los Angeles neighborhood at the right price? To help answer that question, we've consulted some of Hollywood's top-performing real estate agents. Here are some of the tips those agents had to share.

See the potential. In this high-cost real estate market, most buyers are looking for turn-key properties. However, Richard Schulman of Keller Williams Realty says that buying a move-in-ready property isn't always a smart idea. "Rather than trying to get value by outfoxing other bidders, we encourage buyers to find value in an underappreciated property," he says.

The truth is, many of these properties are not as expensive to remodel as buyers may think. Schulman's team helps buyers find properties at good price and with potential. These properties, located throughout Hollywood, often come at a discount.

Put together a buyer's package. Sellers are impressed by solid, stable buyers who they can be confident will close on the house. The best way for a buyer to demonstrate stability is by building a relationship with them. Valerie Talbert of Partners Trust helps her buyers put together a package of materials before they even start looking. This includes a pre-approval letter from the bank, proof of funds and a copy of their credit score. She even has them write a letter about themselves that they can personalize and send to each seller, which has been known to help.

"If you already have that all together, you can be ready to look at a house immediately when it hits the market and put an offer down right away," Talbert says.

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Consider a condo. Hollywood experienced commercial redevelopment in the early 2000s that has led to a spate of new multifamily housing developments opening in the past few years. Now, with public transportation and safe, walkable streets with trendy shops and restaurants, Hollywood's central district has become home to a variety of luxury condominium complexes at a much more affordable price point that traditional houses.

"You can be in a really nice condo for $600,000. You'll even find one-bedrooms in the high 400s," says Schulman. That's a pretty steep discount from the $800,000, 1,000-square-foot entry level home.

Jump the gun. Buyers should be ready to look at homes the moment they hit the market. Since it doesn't take long for a seller to see offers on a property (most have multiple offers in a week or two), buyers should bid early. Sellers are encouraged not to keep their houses on the market for very long in such a hot market, so an early offer will assure that the prompt buyer will be considered.

It's easier for buyers to do this if they're well prepared and know their limits and criteria ahead of time. "Buyers have to know their market and their price point before they start looking," Talbert says. "It's less about finding a certain area, and more about being prepared and knowing what they want."

[See: The 20 Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.]

Go out of the way. Since most Hollywood house hunters these days are concerned with finding a convenient, walkable location, a savvy buyer might want to step just outside the fray. Schulman finds that the more out-of-the-way houses tend to be a better value. "If you go up into the hills, prices peak where you see the first city views. But the hills keep going," he says. "As you keep going up the hill, farther away from the Sunset Strip and everything that's going on in Hollywood, homes get less expensive."

A little counterintuitive? Maybe. But convenience has its value. "The top of Mulholland is actually a pretty good deal," Schulman says.

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Tags: real estate, housing market, home prices, Los Angeles, housing


Emily Manthei is a freelance travel and real estate writer for U.S. News and an international short filmmaker. She has contributed travel, lifestyle and film review pieces to USA Today, SF Gate, eHow, Trip101, Los Angeles Downtown News, Entertainment Voice and brand new parenting site Opeeqo. Her screenwriting and filmmaking have taken her on documentary and narrative projects in Romania, El Salvador, Bangladesh and London, to name just a few. She currently splits her time between Berlin and Los Angeles. Find more of her work on her website or on Twitter.