May marks the start of the home selling season. In Los Angeles, that means many renters and prospective home buyers are looking to make a move in time for some summer grilling and patio chilling.

“Buyers are looking for great outdoor space,” says agent Tami Pardee of Pardee Properties in Venice, California. “Especially in Los Angeles, outdoor living is really part of the lifestyle. Buyers want to feel that their outdoor space is really an extension of the home.”

These days, home sellers are competing with lots of new multi-unit construction, which can be an easier buy for first-time homeowners. New condos and townhome developments have popped up all over the city. Although single-family homes are always popular, the rapid price appreciation in the Los Angeles real estate market since the 2010 recovery means that condos are becoming more attractive.

"You can put yourself in a reasonable area with dramatically more square footage for a lot less money,” says Richard Schulman of Keller Williams Realty, who sees a lot of condo buyers on the Westside.

If you want to get in on the action, you’d better act fast, says Orange County sales agent Sean Stanfield, of the Stanfield Group in Huntington Beach.

“After 28 years in the business, I can tell you that election years can be a bit choppy. As we get closer to November, there’s going to be a little hesitation on the part of the buyers," Stanfield said. "But right now, the market is strong and interest rates are low.”

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We rounded up five tips from top Los Angeles real estate agents. Follow the advice below to get your house going, going and gone.

Sell a turnkey property. Gone are the days when buyers loved the period details of Los Angeles’ 1920s and 1930s Craftsman and Spanish-style houses. Now, new construction is selling just as fast as older homes, and the modern details are even more attractive. “Buyers’ eyes are tuned to more finished products,” says Tracy Do, a Compass real estate agent in the Eastside. Tear out the carpets, upgrade the kitchen and make the bathroom look spic-and-span. Whether you do an honest deep cleaning or some minor upgrades and repairs, making your home move-in ready and modern will lead to the quickest sale.

“Buyers these days don’t have a lot of time and don’t want to think about design,” Pardee says. “They want a property that looks like it’s a high-end hotel already so they can move in and bring nothing but their toothbrush. They don’t want to do any remodeling.”

Make a great first impression. Even if you’re not planning to do a lot of remodeling, a new coat of paint and some proper staging will go a long way to set you up for a quick sale. A top Los Angeles real estate agent can recommend either re-arrangements of existing furnishings or a complete staging that replaces all the furniture. “It’s all about perception," Stanfield says. "Buyers looking at an old home want to feel like it’s newer and more contemporary. That perception is all in the staging and it weighs heavily on sales.”

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Zeroscape your landscape. Something more and more Angeleno home buyers are thinking about is California’s multiple-year drought. While it was once desirable to have a bright patch of green lawn and a new sprinkler system, buyers are now more impressed by a drought-tolerant outdoor landscape. “They call it zeroscaping,” says Schulman, who works with buyers and sellers in the San Fernando Valley and on the Westside. “Mulch, decomposed granite, succulents – landscaping in an environmentally green way rather than a visually green way can be done fairly inexpensively, and buyers are happier about it than if they had new sprinklers and new sod. After all, they don’t even know if they’ll have water in two years.”

Price low to sell high. Want to start a bidding war on your property? Price it on the low end of the spectrum to get multiple offers quickly. With inventory down, the market is very competitive for buyers, and the more reasonably-priced your property, the more offers you will end up fielding. “The more aggressively you price your house, the less likely you are to get multiple and higher offers,” warns Schulman.

Be a spokesperson for your neighborhood. With the constantly rising prices of Los Angeles real estate, many buyers are priced out of their preferred neighborhoods and need to explore somewhere new. Make sure your online listings and open house materials offer your buyers insight into the locals' experience so they know everything that you do about your neighborhood.

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Public transportation is an increasingly important selling point to young home buyers, so be sure to mention your nearest transit link – like the new Expo line between Downtown and Santa Monica and the ever-popular Gold line to Boyle Heights, Northeast Los Angeles and Pasadena. "A lot of clients are looking to live near the Expo line or a transportation corridor in general, so letting buyers know these facts about your neighborhood is crucial," Schulman says. Area schools, walkable urban streets, bike lanes, freeway access and convenient coffee shops are all worth mentioning, too. And don’t forget to point out your favorite taco truck.

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


Emily Manthei is a freelance journalist who spent 14 years as a screenwriter and filmmaker in Los Angeles. She has covered travel, culture, business and real estate for eight years. In addition to U.S. News, her work has appeared in Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Deutsche Welle and Los Angeles Downtown News, among others. She holds a Master's degree in Theology from the University of Edinburgh. Manthei, who now lives in Berlin, Germany, has been a finalist in Bluecat, Oaxaca and Beverly Hills screenplay competitions. Many of her scripts have been turned into short films, including "Voice Over," which won audience awards at festivals in Germany and Italy in 2019. You can follow her work on Twitter, LinkedIn or at www.emilymanthei.com.