Friday, November 21, 2014

My Own Home Buying Experience: Part 4

So I am at the end of my transaction in buying my own home and here is what I will take with me from my experience to help guide my own clients during their process:

1. Keep an open mind when looking for a home. Make a list of a few "Must Haves" and be flexible with the rest. You may miss out on a great home if you don't open your options.

2. The amount of paper work is mind boggling. As a buyer, when your lender is calling and needing something out of the blue at the last minute or escrow is asking the same thing, it can be very stressful and I can see how a buyer may just lump the lender, escrow officer and realtor into one and get frustrated at everyone. I have always tried to prepare my buyers of what is to come and potential outcomes but no one can predict all the odd scenarios that can arise when buying a home so I will continue to work hard at communicating with my clients about being as proactive as we can possibly be.

3. I've said it and written about it but it is so important that when buying a home, that you over-inflate the amount of cash out-of-pocket that it will take. Between all the inspections, appraisal, lender fees, escrow fees, moving fees and other things here and there, you will need much more than just your down payment to make it through the home buying process. So when looking over your numbers, give yourself lots of cushion room for anything you may not be thinking about when buying.

4. And last but not least, work with a great agent that is open to answering all your questions and someone that you feel comfortable talking with about any and all concerns. If you don't fully trust your agent, you aren't going to get the most from them and you really need to be as open with them as possible. So find someone you feel very comfortable with and are able to ask questions, get answers and trust that they are doing the best they can to help you in the process. I try to start every relationship with my clients by letting them know that I am aware how confusing the process may be and that no question is "dumb" or unimportant and I am happy to go over everything with them till they completely understand what is going on.

Friday, November 14, 2014

I Help Buy and Sell Homes, Not Just Houses

I just heard someone that is having an emotional time selling their home, and I'm reminded of selling my first home.  We spent countless hours making a wine cellar area at the bottom of the staircase near the garage. We lived there when we got married and the house was filled with wedding dresses and photos.  We adopted our dog and that was her first home as well.  My husband and I brought our daughter home from the hospital there. We spent days painting and decorating her nursery which we thought was the most beautiful room ever.  And we sold the home to a young bachelor who would probably only appreciate the wine cellar. And the nursery will be painted over for a guest room or office, most likely.  And that closet downstairs will only hold coats for him and not the memory of our dog hiding in there the first day we brought her home.  But we were a growing family and needed to sell.  We moved into a rental since we wanted the next house we bought to be a long term home and we didn't know what our needs were at the time. I think moving into a rental made the sale a bit harder since I knew I wouldn't be able to personalize this new house the way I wanted.  But I reminded myself that the nursery we painted would someday be painted anyway with our daughter growing up and that my kids now have a nice yard they play around in now and we have great times here as well...cause this is where we live now and we are together.  And while we were out looking for a new home recently, my husband had a hard time looking at other people's houses and having it feel like home when it was obviously decorated with other people's things and family photos.  And I just had to remind him that paint and photos are just what hang on the walls and that a house is a home after you move in and start to make memories.  And as a realtor, I really try to let my clients know that I understand the ties that bind them to their home...cause it's never just a house.  And while my job is to get inspections done, and fill out mounts of paper work and help them understand the process, it's also my job to make it more than just transaction and also make it a move forward in their lives. So if you are out looking to buy a home, or thinking of selling yours, I am always here. 


Friday, November 7, 2014

Opened Escrow!

I know that some people shy away from buying or selling a home during the holidays but I think this is a great time to make a move.  Less competition around this time can make for a better search or sale on both sides.  I just opened escrow on this beautiful home that was only on the market for 2 days.  If you or anyone you know is wanting to make a move this holiday season, please consider me in your real estate needs.  I am always here for you.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Buying An Updated Home VS One That Could Use Some Remodeling

I'm in the middle of buying a home myself and it's always on my clients checklist as to whether to buy a home that is already updated, or do the work someday themselves.  And here's what I think, sometimes you can look at a home that has recently been remodeled and it seems appealing to just move in and do no work.  But sometimes these homes are, what I like to call "Lipstick on a pig".  Trust me when I say that granite counter tops and new floors does not improve a home that was not previously taken care of and well maintained.  So new counter tops and floors are going to mean nothing to an owner if they have to put holes into walls to fix bad wiring or rip up the shower since the plumbing is old and there is moisture in the wood underneath.  The thing is, any home can have an array of issues.  A home has many different parts that need to be taken care of and maintained throughout the years and even sometimes when they are, they can still go bad and you may not know till it's too late.  But I've seen many remodeled homes that look as if they've just tried to distract a buyer from really looking at the home and its condition...and it works. These can wind up being a real big money pit.  But if you have a home that is older and hasn't been remodeled, I personally feel that you may get a better idea of how the home itself was taken care of by looking at how the floors, counter tops and how other parts were maintained.  There is nothing that makes me more confident about a home purchase than looking at the condition of the carpet, and windows and bathtubs when they have been around for many years and seeing that they are still in great condition.  So, that is my thought for the week....and if you are looking to buy or sell a home, please consider me with your real estate needs.  I am always here for you. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Did You Receive A Super High DWP Bill Too?

If so, you're not alone.  I'm hearing it from everyone lately that they have gotten bills in the thousands from DWP here in Los Angeles.  I also got one of these bills in March after moving in December and was SHOCKED at how much my bill was.  After calling LADWP (and of course sitting on hold forever before speaking with someone) it was explained to me by an employee that DWP changed the way in which they read the meters and bill their customers.  With this new change came a "back up" in their system and some customers, like myself, received bills that were for 4 or 5 months worth of bills all in one. So, here is my warning to everyone out there who uses LADWP, keep track of when you are receiving your bills and if you don't receive one for quite some time, then save up the money you would be using to pay it normally because you may get hit with a large bill where they have added a number of months together all on one bill.  For further information and reviews from customers, you can visit the Consumer Affairs website below or go directly to LADWP website.

And as always, if you have any real estate needs please call me.  I am always here to help!
Amber Dolle

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ohio In The House!

Just an odd coincidence or not but I leased a home to a great girl and her kids just a while ago and they were from Ohio.  Then I sold a condo to a really cool girl a couple months ago, who also, is from Ohio.  And now, I have this great couple who is looking to buy their first home together and low-and-behold, she is from Ohio.  So...I guess if you are from Ohio and looking for a home, I'm your go-to girl in LA.  Call me


My Own Home Buying Experince: Part 3

Well, if you read My Home Buying Experience: part 2 you know that I put an offer in on a home where they were asking $60,000 more than the home across the street that had a huge view and sold just a few months ago (pretty much the same house in all regards). They decided not to respond to my offer which they felt was low but I felt was more in line with the comps and what it was really worth.  Well, this realtor came back to me and asked me to resubmit my offer a few weeks later.  He said they had already had an offer that was near the asking price a few weeks back and that is why they would not consider my first offer.  So, I resubmitted the same offer as before. And as I wrote in my last blog, the home across the street sold for $60k less than what this home we were interested in was asking.  And according to the photos of that house that sold, it looked very nice and was completely remodeled. While this home we put an offer on and remodeled their downstairs but nothing upstairs. After speaking with the listing agent, he asked me if I had personally walked through the house that sold and I told him I had not.  He told me that the house had renters in it before it sold and that the photos were extremely deceiving, that the renters had really left the house in poor shape and that is why it sold at the price it did.  So I did my homework and called the agents that sold that home across the street and asked them about the house and the condition that it was in when it sold.  I was told that there were renters in the home but that they moved out and that is when the owner spent a lot of money to remodel the home then sell it.  I was extremely disappointed in this listing agent...I feel it is people like him that give good realtors a bad name.  And I know that there are many many more great realtors out there than the slimy ones but unfortunately, there are still some.  My husband and I were firm with our original offer which was more reflective of what the home's value would be at but again, they decided not to take the offer.  So, that just tells me that this is not the right home for us and that the right one will come up soon.  Moving on.....

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Price vs Value: An Understanding of The Real Estate Market Everyone Should Know About

Anyone who is looking to buy a home or sell theirs should know about Price vs Value. There is what a home is priced at, and what a house is valued at, and those are two very different things. Anyone can list their home for any price they want, but they may not get it. Or they may get more that what they were asking.  I'm currently working with a client who had to come face to face with this last week, as many of my past clients have when they have been in multiple offers.  The agent working for the seller sent us back a counter offer that was $35,000 over the asking price.  My client couldn't wrap his head around going that far above the asking price, which I understand 100% what he was feeling.  And while I won't argue a with a client, because ultimately, every client has to do what they are comfortable with, I can at least write about to try to put perspective on it. 
For one reason or another, some homes can get multiple offers on it.  Maybe they priced it low, maybe there aren't a lot of homes out there to choose from, or perhaps everyone just really likes the front porch swing and wants to call this home.  Whatever the reason, going up against another offer can feel stressful.  Some people have felt that once their offer was accepted, that maybe they were paying too much...because their offer was the highest.  Other people have looked back and regretted not going higher on their offer when they didn't get them the home. But there is something that everyone should try to understand...there is an appraiser that will come by the house you have an offer on and tell you whether or not you are paying too much.  The appraiser's job is to tell you the Value of the home.  And just because the seller of the home is asking a certain amount for his place, that does not necessarily represent the Value. So if you find yourself up against multiple offers, and you choose to go forward and your offer is accepted, there is a portion of your contract that allows you to get an appraiser in the home to verify that you are indeed paying the value of the home at that time.  So yes, some of my client's have had to go over the asking price to get a home.  But then they got a home and they were happy to know that they paid for the value of the home, and not more. 

Joan's On Third in Studio City

I'm sure I'm not the only one living in the valley that originated from "The other side of the hill".  This is where we came for less expensive rents, more parking and less traffic (if that is possible).  But what we left behind on the other side of the hill was Joan's On Third.  Well, now they have taken the plunge and moved here with us.  Well, not really moved here but they've made a second home right here in Studio City.  And we couldn't be happier to have them. So stop by and welcome them to the neighborhood and see what all the fuss is about. You can find them at 12059 Ventura Place, Studio City along that little triangle street that starts at Trader Joes and ends at the entrance to the Vons parking lot. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Top 8 Tips For Showing Your Home To Potential Buyers

Here are my best tips for showing your home to potential buyers

1. Put the lights on in every room including the closets and bathrooms
  Even if your home has a lot of natural light, it's better for a buyer to want to turn a light off than turn a light on to see the room better.

2. Add some plants or flowers to some rooms in your home
 There is something about a tree, potted plant and flowers that just bring life to a room and give it a warm feeling. 
3. Before buyers arrive, have a light scented candle lit for a while in the main area
 (I don't suggest leaving the candle lit when you aren't home for safety reasons) 

4. Take down or box up the extra personal items you have on tables, mantels and shelves
 Although these things may bring good memories to you, to others, they may just feel like clutter and the less cluttered your home seems to others, the better it shows. 

5. Have some very light music playing. Something like Bossa Nova or jazz and play it at a level that you can barely hear
 There is a reason restaurants and stores play gives a lovely ambiance to a room and make people feel welcomed.

6. Make sure the temperature in your home feels nice
Some people are naturally hotter or colder than others and keep their home at a temperature that suits them best.  And then some days are just very hot or very cold so go ahead a spend a little extra energy making your home feel comfortable to others. 
7. Put your personal toiletries away
It can make a guest in your home feel uncomfortable when they see toothpaste, deodorant, or perfumes laying about so tuck them away in your cabinets for the time being. 

8. Take the pets with you
If at all possible, take the four-legged family members with you.  Not everyone is as in love with our pets as we are and pets can cause smells and allergies that turn potential buyers away.  If it's not possible to take the pets, put them somewhere out of the way and leave a very visible sign that the pets are there.

And maybe think of showing your home to buyers as if the most important person you can think of is coming for dinner and do the things you would do for them to make them feel welcomed.

New Law For Off Leash Dogs In Los Angeles

Even though we have always suppose to have kept our dogs on a leash while in public, LA will now be handing our stiff fines for those who don't.  Police will now be on the lookout for people who don't have their pooch leashed under an umbrella of a crime considered to be disruptive to the "quality of life".  You can read more about this in the LA Times with their article entitled "Walking The Dog Off Leash? You Could Be Fined $100 Or More"


Monday, September 15, 2014

The Top 9 Sites Everyone in LA Should Be Following

Anyone who lives in LA knows there isn't enough time to do and see everything that LA has to offer.  Not only is this city larger than some states, but it's filled with museums, farmer's markets, outdoor movie nights, live music, art walks, restaurant special events and much much more. But like myself, most Angelenos are always looking for something new and fun to do.  And along with wanting to know what we can do around town, we also like to know what's happening in the news and hot topics here in LA.  Below, you will find a list of the Top 9 sites to follow to get all the information you need while discovering LA.

#1 Experience LA
Experience LA brings you a calendar of events happening all around LA and surrounding areas. If you are looking to head out with some friends or perhaps you need an idea for something different to check out on your date this weekend, this is the site to go to.  From theater shows to happy hours and Greek Festivals, Experience LA is a wealth of things-to-do.  Check out their website and follow them on twitter to get updates on everything fun!
Experience LA
Experience LA onTwitter

#2 Curbed LA
Curbed LA is one of the most fun sites to follow.  If you want to know that one of the apartments Marilyn Monroe once lived in is up for rent, or see some of the homes that Wyatt Earp lived in here in LA, you must follow these guys! They also bring us great information about upcoming commercial sites that developers are planning all around town and fun residential real estate homes that are for sale.
Curbed LA on Facebook
Curbed LA on Twitter

#3 Our Ventura Blvd
If you have lived in LA for a long time like I have, you know there are certain areas that are up and coming, or changing in a big way. One of the areas that is undergoing some changes is the San Fernando Valley.  Just a little over 10 years ago, the valley was mostly known for being the suburbs of LA.  A place where you went off to raise a family or maybe lived in to be close to your job at the studios.  But now-a-days people are coming to the valley for restaurants, bars and other fun attractions. And because of that, Our Ventura Blvd is a great site to follow to find out what is going on the valley. 
 Our Ventura Blvd on Facebook

#4 All About Conjeo
Conjeo Valley is an area of LA that includes Calabasas, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills and a few other neighboring towns.  And if you've never been to these areas or think they are too far from where you are, you should visit them at least once. It's one of those parts of LA that when you are driving through it, you think to yourself  "This can't be part of LA. It's so nice and full of nature." But don't be fooled by the scenery because just by spending part of a day out here, you will see that many of the rich and famous have flocked to this area to call it home to get away from that "LA feeling"  And All About Conjeo will keep you up to speed on all the trending restaurants and new businesses popping up around town as more people call Conjeo Valley their home.
All About Conjeo on Facebook

#5 LA Times
I don't know about you but I'm one of those people who has very little extra time on my hands so watching the news is not something I can do often.  But I don't really think about it much because I follow the LA Times on twitter along with some other twitter sites they have for real estate, business and so forth.  So I get to keep up with the good, the bad and the ugly by reading articles they post to twitter.  This is one site everyone should be on.
LA Times on Twitter

...or DTLA as we call it here.  This is one of those areas that is very up and coming.  DTLA has brought in many high-end businesses as well as local hotspots, massive commercial renovations and real estate galore.  So get on subway (because you do know we have a subway, right?) and head downtown to see what all the fuss is about. And find out where to go when you are follwoing Downtown LA on facebook and twitter. on Facebook on twitter

#7 Dine LA
I have a hard time leaving LA and going to smaller cities sometimes and the number one reason for that is that smaller cities don't have the vast amount of restaurants that LA does.  There is nothing we don't have here and no time of day or night you can't have it.  But one of the best ways to find your new favorite spot or share your old favorite spot with friends is to find out about restaurant week and join in on what so many of us look forward to each time it comes around.  Restaurants all around LA participate in restaurant week by offering a pre-set menu at a fixed price so that you can come and try some of their prized dishes.  If you haven't joined the bandwagon, then jump on and you'll see why it is a very popular thing happening around town.
Dine LA
Dine LA on Facebook

#8 Discover LA
I know what you folks from NYC say about us...we have no culture here in LA, right?  Well New York, think again. Discover LA is here to prove you wrong.  With a list of the top things to do while in LA, and a guide to help learn about areas all over this huge city, along with so many resources of what we have to offer here in this SoCal city, Discover LA has it all!  So when your family comes to visit you here and you want to show them some of the hot spots around town, use this site to navigate your tour bus for the fam.
 Discover LA
Discover LA on twitter

#9 Amber Dolle
Am I self promoting? Yup! But just as I bring you the best sites to follow in LA, I also give you information about all your local farmer's markets times and locations, as well as hot properties for sale, events to check out during the holidays, and massive amount of information for you when you are looking to sell or buy a home. So follow me as I continue to be a great source of information about Los Angeles.
Amber Dolle on Twitter
Amber Dolle on facebook


Use A Well Known Lender When Making An Offer

I'm doing it again...putting in an offer on a place that already has 5 offers. So if you have found yourself up against multiple offers, there are a lot of different strategies you and your agent can try to work with in being the offer that is chosen but there is one very important key element... your lender.  The agent reviewing offers wants to know the home will sell and close and if you are using one of these lending companies you see on TV at 3am, chances are they will go with another offer.  So please get a local, well-known, trustworthy lender to help you with your loan.  And if you don't know of one, ask me for a few references when you call me to help you buy your home. Cheers!

Friday, September 12, 2014

My Home Buying Experience: Part 2

If you've read my previous blog My Own Home Buying Experience: Part 1 then you know we've been pre approved and I have a list of things I would like in a home.  So now we've started touring some houses a couple weeks ago and found that we weren't able to get the things we need in a home in our price range in the areas we began to look in.  So just like trying a new food, I kept my mind open and went to look at some homes in a different area and found that not only did I like the feel of the neighborhoods, but that we would be able to get a lot on our check lists in this area.  And while I thought I would be a hard customer to please since I'm in the business, come to find out, it's my husband who embodies a number of traits of a buyers that keep me on my toes as a realtor. There have been too many times I've come home and the table talk at dinner revolves me sounding like a broken record booo-ing about the fact that my clients try to find the value of a home based on a certain popular real estate website that may rhyme with pillow. That is the last place you should look to try and find the value of a home or base any offer or listing price from. But yet the other night, my husband says..."but I looked on this site and found the home should be worth blah blah blah".  This must be karma for something I've done, I'm sure of it..haha.  But we found a home we really liked this last weekend.  The downside to the home was that the kitchen was super small and so was one of the bedrooms.  The kitchen was updated and I could tell the home owners spent a lot of money since the cabinetry and finishes were top notch...but again, the kitchen was very very small.   The house across the street, which had been updated in the past 5 years and had a terrific view just sold 4 months ago for $60k less than what this home was listed for which had no view.  So we put in an offer that I felt was more appropriate to what the home was really worth without trying to offend the sellers at the same time (but even so, an appraiser would very likely take the sale of the home across the street and use it to value this home). But the according to the realtor of the home for sale, the sellers put a lot of money into the kitchen and downstairs floors and would not budge on the price regardless of the home across the street with the terrific view.  And my husband and I were not willing to budge on the offer we put in so moving on.....more to come soon.

Are We In A Buyer's Market Again?

Here in LA the real estate market has been as crazy as drivers on the 405.  It has definitely kept me on my toes the past couple years.  And here we go again...according the LA Times, we are headed back to being a "buyer's market".  So not only are the interest rates incredibly low but now buyer's may have some cards to play with when looking for a home and negotiating a better price and terms. Here is the article that LA Times wrote about it Housing Price Cuts Point To A Shift In Southland Market

Monday, August 18, 2014

LA May Be Handing Out Stiff Fines Soon If You Are Too Noisy

Wow...I don't know about you but I lived in LA for about 14 years and I've just gotten use to how noisy it can be around town. Not that I like it, mind you, but it just seems to be something I've put up with living here. Back when I lived in an apartment, it was common for someone to throw a party till all hours of the night, screaming and smoking and what-not.  Once, I called the police to come quite them down but the police couldn't even show up for hours after I called them know...they are busy with all the other problems LA has to offer on a Friday night.  So I just stopped calling.  But now there may be fines attached to a police visit if you happen to be a social host, or have a noisy dog or even if you are using one of those leaf blowers (don't start me on that topic...see previous rant of a blog from early this year).  Curbed LA wrote an article on these new fines that may be in the works if your neighbor is a noisy one.  What do you think?  To fine or not to fine? LA Going To Start Fining People For Fun Parties and Cute Dogs


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Own Home Buying Experience: Part 1

I've been working in real estate for years helping people buy and sell their homes.  And I really try to stand in their shoes when they have questions or have to make hard decisions and let them know I truly care for them and their outcome and work hard to be a great realtor.  I'm now about to start looking to buy a home again and I hope my experience can help me to continue to give great expertise advise to my clients.  So it is now August and I hope to buy something sometime from October to December.  But I'm already starting to prepare and here are 4 things I've done before I've started to go out and look at homes:

1. I reached out to my loan officer to get an idea of what we can afford. It is never a good idea to start looking at homes until you have your loan officer go over your financials to know what your price range is.  You will be shooting yourself in the foot if you look at homes in the $800k range only to find out you can afford $650k.  Then everything you look at will disappoint you from there on.  And no matter how much money you make, there are many factors that qualify you for a loan so don't assume that just because you are bringing in "x" amount of money per month, that you can spend it on a mortgage.   

2. I've already narrowed down the areas we will be looking. And don't think that just because I work in real estate that I should know the exact area I want to buy.  Like everyone else, I have a budget and I have a list of things I would like in a home and they don't necessarily work together in unison.  I will have to make sacrifices on somethings so I'm keeping an open mind regarding certain parts of town.

3. I've written down 2 lists of things that are important to me in a home.  One list includes "deal breakers" which are things that I can not compromise on.  The other is a list of things we would like, starting from most important to least. Below is what I've come up with:

Deal Breakers
1.  Must be in a good school district
2. Can not have a pool that takes up entire yard or is so close to the back of the house, there is little room to walk out the back door before falling in
3. Can not need major repair work if the home is close to our budget (i.e new roof or chimney is falling away from house.....)
4.  Can not be located on a major street with traffic
5.  Must be at least 1,600 sqft with 3-4 bedrooms and at least 2 full baths
6. Can not have crazy add on space or rooms that are nonfunctional or give the layout of the house a bad flow.  (being a realtor, not only are add-ons hard to work with if not done well, but they can make the resale of a home very bad)
Things we would like in our home (starting with most important)  
1.  Great location.  We are looking at a few neighborhoods in Encino that we really love, or Burbank would be nice and Woodland Hills as well.
2. Attached 2 car garage or at least a detached garage
3. Good yard space that is fenced in for the kiddos and dog
4. Open living/kitchen concept or the option to open it up (if budget allows)
5. Closets!!! I've lived in a home with little itty bitty closets...I don't need walk-ins but I need good space.
6. Good neighbors. I bet your asking "How would you know if they are good or not?" Well, you can ask questions like: Do you know if they smoke? Do you know them and can you tell me about them? You can also call the police station to find out if their have been any reports taken recently. And you can just look around and see how their home and yard are taken care of.  Listen for a loud dog in the yard.
6.  Don't want master bedroom to be adjacent to other bedrooms
7. Good laundry area not next to bedrooms
8. Some updating would be nice but if not, then the counters and floors need to look as if they've been well taken care of
9.  Would prefer no pool 
10. Would love trees in the back yard or shade coverage of a sort
11. Walkable to a park or some shops or restaurants

4.  And I've already got a automated reminder set up on my MLS that sends me new homes that come on the market so I can get an idea of what we will be looking at starting in October.

So I am still a few months away, and these are the things I've already done and if you are looking to buy a home, start doing these things as well! Keep reading my blog to find out how my home buying process is going and learn about things you should be doing when looking for a home yourself.  And call me....I can help you find a great home and we can swap home-buying stories while we are working together. 


Saturday, May 24, 2014

3 Things You Should Be Doing To Sell Your Home In Today's Market

It's May 2014 and the market is lighting up again.  Not only is this a big time for home owners to start listing homes with the summer approaching but interest rates are going down and this makes for a great time to position yourself to sell your home. So here are a few tips to get the best price and buyer for your home. 

First, if you haven't listed yet, you should talk with your realtor about stirring some buzz among other brokers before your house hits the market.  They should be talking about and pitching your home before it hits the MLS.  They should be talking about your home on all social media as well.  There is something about being able to get something that isn't available to the public that creates a great excitement with buyers which can lend some people to go ahead and put their best foot forward in terms of an offer right off the bat which can benefit you, the seller.

Second (and I've preached this one before but I find it so important, I have to say it again) Don't over price your home when selling it. In fact, pricing it just under the value will do you a world of good in the market.  And here is are likely to get multiple offers when people see your home and it's priced lower than the competition.  This will not only drive up the price when buyers compete for your home, but you will also have a selection of buyers to choose from which is good for you in terms of finding the most qualified one for your home. So price is strategically and not emotionally!

And lastly,  go ahead and get it ready to be shown today.  Don't wait. Go ahead and get the landscapping done, clean the inside and get the photos taken.  The rates have dropped again and buyers are eager to make a move so you should be ready to make yours today too.

While your are thinking about buying or selling, think about this...The LA Times has turned to me time and time again for my expert option on our Real Estate market.  They know I work hard and I am the go-to person when it comes to buying and selling homes, and so should you.  Read the latest article from today's paper where I am quoted again New Home Single-Family Homes Jump 6.4% In April  And when you have any real estate needs, whether you are buying, selling or leasing, call me.  I am always here for you.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Social Media And Your Real Estate Agent

How relevant do you think social media is when it comes to buying and selling your home? Do you think your agent should be an active participant on certain sites? The age group which is currently buying the most homes is somewhere between 30 and 50.  While 16-24 year old age group is still the largest social media users according to, 25-34 and 35-44 are a huge force as well.  And even more interesting, if you are 45-54 years of age, you are the largest growing users of social media.  And social media covers a wide range of can connect with people within your own industry, you can advertise your services or products, it allows you to reach out to people you would otherwise not have contact with, you can search for services and products, view people's opinions on them and put out your own opinion on anything you want.  Social media is faster and more accessible that a newspaper, is used by everyone from your neighbor to Target stores, your local police station and even the president of the United States. So, I'll ask you think your Realtor should be on social media?  I sure do.  Because even if it's something you don't personally use, it is all around you.  I write blogs so that people can hopefully find answers to questions they may have regarding real estate.  But I also want to have a good "online footprint".  I'm on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Blogger, LinkedIn, Youtube, Google + and a few more.  I also use QR codes, mobile apps, Yelp, my own personal website and many other tools.  Doing all these things allows me to network with other Realtors, meet new clients, attract attention from people that can help my business grow, advertise your home and search for homes that may not be advertised for sale on the MLS.  You want your Realtor to have as many reaches as they can in their local community as well as online.  And social media is one of the strongest ways to do this.  So, next time you meet with a Realtor regarding buying or selling your home, try searching them online first and see what they are already doing for their business in terms of social can really make a difference.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Do Realtors Try Working In A Certain Price Range Of Homes?

One of the great things about Los Angeles is that you can drive down many areas and have multi-million dollar homes on one block, then a minute later you could be in a neighborhood where the homes are closer to $600k. Some of these homes were built in the 1940's where others are less than 5 years old.  And we have our traditional Ranch style homes mixed with Tudor houses that can be right next to Spanish Revival homes.  That being the case, most of us work with an array of different home prices.  It is not uncommon for me, as well as most realtors, to sell anything from a first-time buyer's condos to estates and everything in between.  And for a realtor to say they only work with certain priced homes is, in my opinion, not a great way to work.  See, my ultimate goal as a realtor is to make my clients happy.  Nothing brings me more business than referrals and word-of-mouth from people I know and past clients. And if I do a great job for a first time buyer on their condo, then maybe they're family that has owned their home in the hills for many years will want to work with me too.  And it goes the other was as well...if I sell an estate to someone and they mention me as a terrific realtor to work with at a dinner party, then maybe someone there is ready to move from their first home into a neighborhood fit for their growing family. And I want to make everyone I work with feel as if they are just as important as the next, because ultimately...they are.  Everyone's money and investments are very important to them no matter what price range they are in.  Their questions about the market, or disclosures they are given, are all very pertinent to each person.  And making sure that each client can reach me, get answers to questions they have, and feel safe about asking me whatever they need answered, is my goal whether your home is $2,000,000 or $300,000.  Because I want the same result from each client I work with, and that is more clients I can do a great job for in the future. It all comes back to referrals...and that is how I stay successful as a realtor.  Now, there are some realtors that generally stick in very high-markets, but chances are that if you are working with someone on your million dollar home, that they have also recently sold one for less than half of that as well...and you always want someone who gives the same quality of their attention to both. 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

When Buying A Home-The Selection Of Inspections

When your offer is accepted on a home, one of the next steps you need to take is to get that home inspected.  Being that there is a limited time frame on the purchase contract to have inspections done in, I suggest to my clients to get the general inspection done right away just in case the inspector recommends having further inspections done. If the home is a single family residence (not a condo) then I tell them they may want to get a sewer inspection, especially if the front yard has a lot of trees or shrubbery.  And if the house has chimney's, I always suggest getting a chimney inspection (even though these can be a double edged sword).  There are a number of other types of inspections you may want to get as well including roof, HVAC, pool, geology, mold and other hazardous materials, structural or foundation, pluming, and the list goes on.  In most cases, the general inspector will go over as much as they can and point out the areas where a specialist may be needed to do further inspections (although most general inspection reports say you should have a specialist check out every area that can be looked at)  But two of the more common inspections I see that can be big red flags, and you should pay close attention to, are the sewer and chimney.  First off, I think every real estate agent should prepare their clients if the home they are looking to buy has a chimney.  Most chimneys here in SoCal, should just be considered decoration and not meant for real firewood or even gas logs usage. There are so many homes here that were built over 50 years ago and most chimneys have not been maintain or repaired over the years.  And on top of that, we have earthquakes here which always wreak havock on those.  So most chimneys need a good amount of repair which can run in ranges from $1,000 to $20,000 and upward in order to be in proper working condition.  Unless the chimney can do structural damage to the house (as in fall away from the house) then repairs may not be necessary and you may just have a nice mantel with a great location for a candle collection.  And to top that off, I run across chimney inspectors as well as sewer inspectors all the time that seem to give an extreme, over-exaggerated diagnosis of issues that may or may not be there.  Another good thing to look into is getting a chimney inspection done by someone who does not do the repairs as well so there is no conflict of interest. And on a sewer inspection, make sure you see the video camera go through the pipes and have the inspector go over what they see so you can see it as well.  As for any other inspection you may have, if an inspector gives you alarming news that seems to coincide with putting a big dent in your wallet, consider getting a 2nd or 3rd inspection.  Unfortunately, some of these inspectors are more out for work for themselves rather than giving proper diagnosis. So while it may cost you an extra $300 to get another inspection, it may save you thousands in the end if you can avoid getting unnecessary work done.  And as always, you may want to get recommendations from your realtor on who to call for these inspections and services since we may have some insider knowledge on whether they are on the up and up or just out for some extra $$. 


Sold! Porter Ranch Gated Community

Congratulations to my client Mike who can now call SoCal home.  He bought a lovely home in a highly desired gated community of Porter Ranch.  Welcome to the town that is known for only having two seasons: Summer and Awards season.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Why Are "All Cash" Offers Considered Better Than Ones With Loans?

This is a very important topic if you are looking to buy a home so read on...
Have you ever wondered why offers that are using all cash are viewed as a better choice than ones that are taking out loans?  Doesn't the seller get their "cash" in the end once the house is bought whether it comes from under someone's mattress or a bank?  The answer is yes. Once the deal is done, the seller will get their proceeds whether you got a loan or paid all cash.  But an all-cash offer is better for one Big don't need a loan to buy the house.  Okay...well that is an obvious statement, but so what? Right? are very hard to get these days and just because a loan officer pre-qualifies you to get one, doesn't mean that you will.  And it happens All the time! I can't tell you how many people I have seen go to some bank or online loan place and get qualified only to be knee-deep into buying a house then get denied.  Or better yet, all the sudden the loan people want 'this', 'that', and 'the other' from the buyer to get them the loan and it puts a tremendous stress on the sale process which can either delay the sale, cost the buyer money because now they have to pay a per-diem to the seller because they aren't closing on time, or even worse, loose the buyer's deposit.  And some of the things I've heard from loan officers that they need in order to proceed with the loan can be things like a receipt showing where the money for $400 cash deposit into your bank two month ago came from, or asking the buyer or seller to fix the cosmetic crack in the ceiling before proceeding and prove it is fixed by having someone come out and check it, or removing a 6'x6' wooden platformed deck in the back yard and getting city permits to do so, before the end of the sale.  Or then they can always simply say you don't make enough money, even though everything seemed fine a month ago when you got pre-qualified.  The list goes on with the number of things that can happen with a loan in the middle of a deal.  So not having to bother with a loan can be a much better choice. But if your agent conveys to the selling agent that the loan officer being used is a good/trusted source, or the selling agent happens to know them (and we use some of the same guys around town because we know they are good) then your offer will stand a better chance if you are up against an all-cash offer.  And even if you aren't competing with all-cash, get a good loan officer just for your own good.

So, the lesson here for all the buyers out there looking to buy is, get a loan officer that is recommended to you or is connected somehow with your agent.  I have a few that I always recommend to my clients and I know people have to be thinking "What do I get from recommending these loan officers?" I'm sure some people think we get money or something from it, right?  Well, I don't think the loan officers I've recommended for years have even bought me so much as a cup of coffee.  But what they do for me is get the loan done.  And if things get harry in the middle of a transaction, I can just pick up the phone and talk to them and get answers.  This isn't the case with some of the random loan officers some of my clients are using.  I've called some of these guys for days with no return phone call or email which makes me nuts because these are my clients and their money is on the line and its my job to try to make sure things don't get scary.  But with a loan officer I know who I've seen get the job done time and time again, not only can I easily reach them for answers, I can also hold their feet to the fire to get things done being that I bring them business.  So, find a good loan officer.  Call a friend, ask your agent, but don't just find a place online or walk into a bank and grab one.  It is really in your best interest to have someone who truly cares about your best interest working for you. 


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What Is The #1 Thing An Agent Will Say To Get Your Listing? Watch Out, This Could Cost You

It happens way too often that when sellers are talking to agents and trying to figure out who to use, that their judgement becomes clouded by hopes of a over-inflated selling price of their home promised by an agent.  I have lost listings to agents that have promised super high selling prices to get the listing and just about every agent out there has been through the same thing.  But the market doesn't lie....and when homes that are similar to yours are selling at a certain price, don't be fooled that yours may be able to sell for a much higher amount.  As a seller, you should do your own home work and find out what the last 2-3 houses in your neighborhood sold for in the past 4 months.  Look at the photos online and compare the size of the home, the upgrades and amenities.  Now, let's say I tell you your home's true value is about $1 Million.  And you have another agent that comes in to meet with you and tells you your home is worth $1.3 million dollars (even though you've seen the sales nearby and they are closer to my estimate)  If you choose to list your home at $1.3 million there are a number of things that could cost you big time and here are just a few:
   First and foremost, you've chosen to work with an agent that isn't upfront with from the start and that is just a sign of where things may go as they move further along. And you have just signed a contract under this agent that is binding you to them for months.
   Next, if your house is prices too high, the initial boom of interest in a home that just hits the market, will sail right past yours.  Other brokers will know before even seeing your house that it is over priced and most won't even bother to come to the broker's open for that reason alone.  And as for buyers, you will probably get an open house or two where people stop by to see the home, but buyers will be looking for similarly priced homes in your area and quickly see that yours does not compare.  The lack of interest will either keep your home on the market at this high price for a long period of time, or the agent that you signed with will then convince you to drastically lower the price to attract offers.  Either of these are not in your best interest.  See, when a home first hits the market, if it is priced and marketed well, it should attract a good amount of attention.  This is the best time for your agent to do their job and try to get a flurry of buyer's and buyer's agents interested enough to make offers...and hopefully you will get a great one quickly, if not more than one.  If you pass this initial excitement phase, you may be expecting low offers, even after you lower your price because sellers will see how long your home has been there and they will come in low, knowing they are probably the only interested party actually writing an offer.
Lastly, unless someone is willing to pay all cash for your home, your home can only be sold at a certain price that an appraiser working for the buyer's loan officer says it is worth.  It is not uncommon that a buyer will put an offer on a house of $1.1 million knowing full well that the house will appraise closer to $1 million.  And when that appraisal comes in, the buyer will have kept your home off the market for a couple weeks at that point, then ask you to lower the price so that they can get the loan to buy it.  Some sellers won't do this and put their home back on the market, which then makes the next buyers ask what happened with the first buyer.  Or, the sellers feel that is their best option to lower the price and get the home sold...which to a seller can feel like a defeat after being promised by their agent they would be able to sell it for a much higher price.

So, when thinking about listing your home, ask it worth it to gamble with an agent who sounds to good to be true, or are you serious about selling your home and doing it well with the right agent?


Monday, March 3, 2014

When Dealing With Multiple Offers, Is The Other Agent Being Honest?

If you have been in a multiple offer situation before, I'm sure you have asked whether the other agent is being honest with you and your agent.  Maybe you've heard things such as "You need to be at "this" price to get the home" or "You will have to put shorter contingencies in your offer".  Things like this, and other things, can be suggested by the listing agent in order to get your offer accepted.  So, is that agent being truthful or are they yanking your chain to get a really high offer?  Well, let's sit in the listing agents' shoes for a minute.  Chances are, yes, they have another offer, if not a few.  Let's say they have 3 offers and the offers are like this:
Bob offered $500k
Sally offered $515K
John offered $499K
Then your offer comes in at $510K
Since your offer is in an acceptable price (and lets say all other things on the offer are similar or the same) they will take your offer into consideration.  Now, while looking at this from the listing agent's POV, in order to get the best price for the client, they could call you and Bob and say that $520K is the price that will get the offer accepted, which would be higher than Sally's offer. Saying this to you and Bob gives you guys the chance to raise your offers and get the house.  If neither of you choose to do this, they will most likely accept Sally's offers since this is still the highest.  But I know what you are is possible that they have 2 offers and it goes like this:
Bob offered $500K
You offered $510K
And are you thinking that the listing agent calls and tells us that they have multiple offers and in order to get our offer accepted, you must come up to an offer of $520K (which would be pitting your against yourself)?  Chances are they are not doing this...and here is why:  If I were the listing agent, my job is to get the best and highest offer accepted to my client.  Having 2 (or even 3) good offers on the table is better than one, just in case something happens to my first chosen offer, I can have another as back-up.  If I were to tell the highest offer that they need to come up in price (which is playing a game of sorts), there is a chance the highest offer could walk away all together.  Then, not only have I lost my client's highest offer, but now we only have one offer to work with and if something goes wrong with this one offer, we will have to put the house back on the market, taking up more time and money from everyone involved. So, it would not be wise for an agent to gamble like this and in my opinion, I would not think this to be something a good agent would do.  So, if you ever find yourself in multiple offers wondering if someone is yanking your chain, try to think about what the other agent maybe be thinking and what risks would be involved if they were not being honest...chances are, they are just trying to get the best deal for their client and what you are hearing, is the truth.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Multiple Offers Are Back Again

The title says it all...we are starting to see multiple offers back again.  And while we all thought that investment purchases were starting to fade away, we have seen a come back with those as well.  Just to clarify what an "investment purchase" just boils down to the fact that they typically purchase homes using all cash so being in competition with them when you put an offer on a house can be more difficult that being up against another purchaser that is using a loan.  So, what does this mean and where is it going to go in the near future with the real estate market?  Well, it means if you are thinking about selling and your home is at or under the 800k-900k and priced well, this will be a good time to sell.  This also means that, once again, if you are looking to make a purchase of a home within that same price range, you don't want to wait.  This time last year I was preaching to people to go ahead and buy...well just one year later and the average home around my area of LA (which is the valley) is now priced 20-30% higher.  I know that may be a hard pill to swallow for people who were looking last year but didn't buy, but I'll say it again...don't wait to buy if you are able to do so now. While I do not believe prices will take a steep upward turn the way the did last year, I do believe they will be on a slow but steady incline and there is no arguing that the loan interest rates are still at a fantastic low and they will also continue to rise in time. And if you read my articles regularly, you know that I always like to make a prediction of where the market is headed...and you will also know that I have yet to be wrong (yes, I'm blowing my own horn there) But you will see again, I predicted that February would be the time we would start to see some good action in the market again (refer to my article from January ) So, my professional opinion is that the market will continue to stay strong this year and prices will be on the rise, although nothing as dramatic as last year. I think now is the best time to buy and waiting till the summer will put you up against multiple offers.  This coming summer will be a busy one.  Procrastination will not be your friend in the market this year so, jump on it! And if you are thinking about selling or buying, give me a call.  I am always here for you.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Remodeling Cost VS Value in 2014

I posted about this last year and had a ton of people read this article and visited this site.  It really is a great tool to be able to get a feel for whether you want to spend your money on a certain project in your home or maybe go for a different one if you are concerned about a return on your investment.  This site details down to the city you live in so for those of us who live in pricey Los Angeles, it will be different from other parts of the US.  Check it out Remodeling Cost VS Value in 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

Laurel Plaza: Finally To Be Developed

I've been keeping my ear close to the ground for years in hopes to hear that this area of North Hollywood would be developed back to it's originally intended site that use to bring shoppers from all around to this area.  About 50 years ago, this use to be a thriving mall...considered to be one of the best in the country.  You wouldn't even believe this if you drove through this area today.  The run-down shops, broken windows and boarded up stores are a grave site to see.  And it's really too bad because there are some terrific neighborhoods and homes close to this area that have been effected by the sad appearance of this once-lively-mall and it has also brought some of the other downfalls that run-down areas tend to attract.  But North Hollywood, and it's people, are bursting at the seams to give this lovely town a makeover.  And so the news is finally in....Laurel Plaza (where the Macy's is located) is finally sold and plans for development of a mixed-used plaza is now underway.  And I say, cheers to that!! There have been rumors for years that a developer such as Rick Caruso (of the Grove and Americana) would take on this project, but it never took hold I guess till now...and I wish this developer all the best in their efforts to come.  The Northridge earthquake damaged these buildings and it's been a downward spiral ever since for this commercial space.  But now we can finally look forward to new shops, new jobs, and hopefully a wonderful new look.  Now keep in mind, this does not include the development of the shops across the street on Laurel from Erwin to the Victory intersections but hopefully this will be a domino effect and those will soon get a face lift as well.  To read more about this, LA Times writer, Roger Vincent posted an article in last week's paper and you can find it here "Laurel Plaza Shopping Center in North Hollywood is Sold"


Friday, January 24, 2014

Leaf Blowing In Los Angeles

I've written a lot of articles on Los Angeles real estate and things regarding our community.  Anything from "What Does an Escrow Company Do?" to "What is going on with the construction at Ventura and Hazeltine?" can be found here on my blog.  I really try to keep all my articles very informative for people wanting to know about the market or happenings in the area.  But this article is really my soapbox about something that I have a personal interest in (or disinterest to be more fair).  I have a strong dislike for leaf blowers and have had it for a very long time.  From the years when I was in my early twenties living in Hollywood and they would wake me up at 7am to now-a-days where I am in a home in a quiet residential area of the valley and I have to close my windows so they don't wake up my baby.  For those of you who may read this and live elsewhere in an area where they are not used, they can be as loud as a chainsaw, they do absolutely no improvement to the area since all they do is blow leaves and dust everywhere but the immediate area, and the gas ones are bad for breathing and the air.  For those of us who live in LA, we are pretty use to all the noises of the city, the air pollution but also, the wonderful weather we are blessed with here.  But the amount of times that I have to quickly roll my car windows up as I come upon a thick cloud of dust and debris being blown into the streets by a leaf blower, or I have to close my home's windows during certain times of day because of the leaf blowers' noise in the neighborhood, is just uncountable. And for those of us already concerned about the air we breath here with the strong amount of pollution, we just intensify this pollution by kicking up all this dust everywhere we go.  We actually have city ordinances here in LA that not only prohibit gas blowers in a lot of areas, but also prohibit the noise any blower creates. You can find this here on the Los Angeles Police Department website Gas Powered Leaf Blowers Enforcement and Noise Ordinances   Look for Los Angeles Municipal (LAMC) Section 112. 04 (c)  You will find some departments and their phone numbers on that website as well as at the bottom of this article.  But of course this is a double edged sword isn't it?  Because for a very large amount of residents here in LA, most people hire gardeners that use these.  And if they didn't use these, we assume they would charge more for the labor involved in raking the leaves and sweeping, right?  I don't know but I do know that I am not alone when it comes to my extreme dislike of these machines. So while there may not be an easy solution, I believe it is something worth while discussing. Okay, I'm going to breath out now that I have written my frustrations down and feel free to leave your thoughts below. 

Air Quality Management District
800-288-7664 or 800-288-7664
(Emission problems, smoking vehicles, air health hazards)

Leaf Blower Hotline (City of LA)

The number to call when you don't know what number to call--- 311


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On The Fence About Who Pays For The Repair Of A Neighboring Fence?

So your fence is in need of repair and you start to wonder, "Do I pay for this or is this something I split with the neighbor who's property shares this fence?"  We call this the "California Good Neighbor Fence Law" or aka California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 841.  Of course this question is asked all the time because, well.... it's a good question.  If this fence divides the area between you and your neighbor, then who is responsible for the upkeep?  Well, the simple answer is both of you.  If your neighbor also has a fence on another area that border's their land, then you two together are responsible for the section that is between your properties. I guess we would all hope that when our fence is looking worse-for-wear we could just stop by our neighbor's houses with a plate of cookies and talk over the cost for the fence repair and agree to an even split.  It's not always that easy though.  So, if you need a little fuel for your conversation with the neighbor, refer to the California Civil Code 841 and maybe still bring the cookies just as a good gesture.

Friday, January 10, 2014

What Is The Market Doing With The $1Million-Plus Homes Right Now?

This past holiday season was a slow one for homes around $1-2 million here in the Valley.  While we typically see a shortage of homes for sale starting around October going through December, that doesn't necessarily mean that buyers aren't still out there.  In fact, because there are less homes on the market, the ones that are out usually still sell in a good time.  But this year didn't seem to go that was for this price range.  There are many homes above $1 million that have been on the market now for a few months and it's looking slow for them being sold.  So, what is this telling us?  My honest guess is that starting in February we will see the market for these homes at this price start to flourish again.  Last year's market looked something like a high speed race and a lot of people bought homes.  The market took a steep climb up and the other people that weren't ready to buy last year may still be holding onto hopes that there may be a dip.  But come February I think we will all see that these values that were brought to us thanks to last year's market will be holding strong and we will be back to a good market for both buyers and sellers.  I've said it before and I'll say it again...don't look back in a year from now and wish you had made a move. Sitting back and watching the market go by is not going to do you any favors. Hindsight is 20/20.  So if you are looking to buy or sell, give me a call and lets talk about getting it done!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Which Projects Are Worth Your Money When Trying To Sell Your House?

There are a lot of people that ask what they should do with their home when getting it ready to sell.  Some things are DIY (do it yourself) and cost no, or very little money.  But there are other things that could..and should be done that cost money.  So, of these projects that cost money, which ones are worth it and which ones can you skip?
Exterior Painting:  If the outside of your home has a good amount of chipped and pealing paints, but the inside of your home is in good, move-in condition, then you should consider having this done before selling.  I know this is a large expense, but unless you have people lining up to buy houses in your area, this could be an instant turn-off for potential buyers. The only time I would recommend leaving that pealing paint alone is if your house is in a condition that would most likely attract investors who can fix it up or want to flip it.
Interior Painting:  Most of the time, I say leave this one for a buyer to do. Unless you have a room that may have a wild paint job or color or there are marks covering the wall that make a room seem "dirty" then let the next person put their own personalization on their new home.
Fixtures:  There are a number of homes that have older lights or things like bathroom fixtures.  This one depends on how the rest of your home looks. If you have updated things like flooring, appliances, and counter tops but you still have brass lighting fixtures, then change them out.  But if your home hasn't been updated in a longer amount of time, then leave it for the buyer.
Appliances:  This is on the list as one of my personal least favorite things to see in a home...mix matched appliances. If you have a stainless steel stove and dishwasher but a white refrigerator, buy a new one so they are all of the same look. I can even say from personal experience, I did this when I sold my own home. 
Carpeting:  Don't assume that everyone hates carpeting...this isn't true. So if your carpet is still in good condition, keep it.  And on the other hand, if it's not in great condition, maybe still consider leaving it.  This is a larger expense and flooring is a person to person preference.  Some like dark wood floors, others prefer laminate wood-like floors, and others may go for a stone. But very often when showing houses I hear that people either do or do not like a certain flooring, no matter what the condition.  It seems to be such a strong like or dislike at times that it would be a pity to spend a lot of money putting down wood flooring that just might turn off a potential buyer. This being said...if your house is in a very nice condition and has been updated in recent years but your carpet is in question, then perhaps throw in the incentive to buyers that you will credit them a certain amount of money at the close of the sale toward new flooring and let them choose their own.
Landscaping:  Yes, yes and more yes! Curb appeal is high on the list of what you should do to make your home marketable for buyers.  Don't go over board and make it seem as if it is a yard that only a professional gardener could manage, but do spend the money cutting the weeds, trimming the bushes and planting some nice flowers. 
Professional Staging: I would rely on what your realtor says about this one. If your home is larger and empty, then this would most likely be a good idea. But it really is a case-to-case decision based on a number of different factors.

So when you are selling, I know you will add these costs up in your head and think things like "well a new refrigerator would be about $1500, that is a lot of money and I may not make that money back in the price." And you may be right....that is a lot of money.  But believe it or not, unless it is a hot seller's market, your house could loose out on offers because of something like that so you may want to think of these expenses in terms of selling vs not selling or having your house sit on the market for a long time. I hope this helps and if you have any real estate needs in the Los Angeles area, feel free to call me.  I am always here.