When property buyers and sellers turn to Tina Smith for their real estate needs, they’re choosing to work with someone who proudly describes herself as “the true definition of an area specialist.”
Indeed, Smith’s local ties to the community run deep. She is a San Fernando Valley native, is the product of local schools — Walter Reed Jr. High, North Hollywood High and Woodbury University — and has been a Toluca Lake resident since 2006. After a stint as an apparel entrepreneur, she also began her real estate career in the Burbank–Toluca Lake area. She worked for various real estate offices before landing at Wish Sotheby’s International Realty in 2015, where she is a residential and multi-residential specialist.
“It’s a two-block, two-minute walk to my Sotheby’s office on Riverside Drive, in the heart of Toluca Lake,” Smith says of her enviable commute. She works alongside eight agents, a full-time receptionist and a team of marketing directors and support staff. The office, she notes, has been temporarily closed and all staff have been working from home since the start of the pandemic.
Despite the restrictions and economic uncertainty, Smith says she has been busier than ever. “The local market has remained very strong, and the demand for larger properties and detached spaces to work from home have been in very high demand,” she explains. “Buyers are now looking for more space and less of an open floor plan, where families can separate a bit more and have some privacy to adjust to working and schooling from home — ‘Zoom rooms’ are a new addition to my buyers’ wish lists!”
Smith notes that while the local markets are moving and flourishing, it’s been a challenging time for buyers, who are contending with low inventory. “Serious buyers will need to be aggressive with their offers and be prepared to pay a premium, since they are often competing with cash investors and multiple offers in most cases where properties are priced correctly,” she says. She anticipates that this year will continue to be very strong for sellers and the market for buyers will remain competitive.
Smith says that during this time she has had to help buyers and sellers overcome new challenges brought by the pandemic, such as lenders scrutinizing loan applications due to income changes and job insecurity, and increased fear and anxiety, which have caused more sales to fall out of escrow than usual.
However, Smith assures buyers and sellers that they are in good hands with her and her team, as they give clients extensive counseling and keep them educated and informed every step of the way. “We cross-qualify buyers’ loan applications to make sure there are no surprises, and we leave no stone unturned to find the right property for our buyers,” she says. “This is an emotional ride for all parties, so our exceptional communication skills, along with our experience and knowledge, help to keep calm and confidence in the transaction until the closing.”
Smith says that when selecting a realtor, it’s important to choose someone who not only has a rapport with you, but also knows the territory and is preferably a local. For buyers, a reputable area specialist has access to off-market listings since inventory is low. For sellers, if the realtor lives in the area you’re looking to sell, “they have a better pulse on the local market, a more vested interest in the values and will work harder on your behalf to maintain their reputation for obtaining high sales prices.”
Having a local realtor also means working with someone who believes in and can share their own experiences with the community.
“I absolutely do not think there is a better place to live,” Smith says, adding that many clients become neighbors and friends. “It brings me so much joy to have new clients and friends to see around the neighborhood, to stop by my office to say hello or to pass by and wave to on walks!”