Armen Minissian is a licensed real estate agent and mortgage broker with Huntington Group who has 20 years of experience in the industry. He prides himself on the level of personal service he gives his clients.
Experts predict that rising mortgage rates may force some buyers out of the market. What’s your take on that?
I think the rising rates are having the reverse effect at the moment, especially in L.A. I am seeing multiple offers on all my listings currently. I think anyone who has been in the market looking for some time is still making strong offers for two reasons: they are tired of getting outbid and they want to lock in a rate on the low end of this upswing before rates possibly go even higher. Of course, eventually the rise in rates for some will mean less flexibility in their budget, but for those who can afford to push forward, it could mean a little less competition. So far in L.A., I have not seen buyers back down yet; we are still in a highly competitive market.
What are some important considerations people should make before buying a house in this market?
Buyers need to act fast. My first and most important piece of advice is to get prequalified. Get an approval letter, know what you can afford and from there you can make strong offers without loan contingencies. Buyers need to know exactly what they want to be able to make a quick decision. Properties are getting into escrow within one week of showings, and some don’t even make it to the market.
What about selling?
Sellers have a lot of choices these days. There are a lot of new agents who are hoping to ride this real estate boom with little to no experience. Sellers need to choose an agent who is an expert, with years of experience and knowledge in the area. I’ve been in the industry for over 15 years. My team and I have sold over 40 properties in the last couple of years in Toluca Lake; some properties I’ve sold two or three times over. It’s this kind of experience that will get you top dollar for your property.
What are some helpful tools and resources you recommend to people who are new to navigating the real estate landscape?
The top tool I recommend to all my buyers is to talk to a local expert. An agent in the area can get you familiar with the neighborhoods, streets and houses that you might be interested in. Next would be to get all your finances in order. Clear up anything that will slow down the process of getting approved and buying a home. Really narrow down your search in terms of square footage, location, bedroom/bathroom count, yard, pool, etc. Being all over the place confuses the buyer and hinders the process. Once we narrow it down, we can go in with laser focus and get something in hand. Lastly, know your budget. It is a hot market, and there are going to be properties that we miss. It is important not to get discouraged; it’s not always necessarily about having to increase your budget.
How does being a mortgage broker help you as a real estate agent?
My background as a mortgage broker helps both my buyers and sellers. Most real estate agents will refer you to a loan officer; however, my team and I can get you an approval from a direct lender as opposed to the generic prequalification letter most people get from a loan officer. This helps the buyer make a more aggressive offer and even compete with cash offers by eliminating the loan contingency and shortening time of escrow. On the selling side, I am able to cross-qualify a potential buyer’s ability to obtain financing before accepting an offer. In a competitive market, it is important to distinguish the offers that have the greatest chance of closing, especially financed offers.
In your opinion, what’s key to building a successful relationship with clients?
Honesty, transparency and clear communication. I walk my clients through every step, discuss and lay out a detailed plan, and put them at ease whether they are buying or selling a home. We really try to go above and beyond what is expected of us as brokers. If I can hire a contractor or electrician to save you the time and trouble, I will set that up for you. There have been many clients I have helped long after closing. Anything that a client needs help with to easily transition into a new home or to do what needs to be done to sell their home, I can put them in touch with the right people to get the job done.
Is there any recent news about your realty business that you would like to share?
We have a beautiful brand-new construction project on the market right now. The Toluca Lake Villas are seven single-family homes on Bloomfield Street in the heart of Toluca Lake. Our team is also growing. We have team members dedicated to our developers, from finding and acquiring properties all the way up to the promotion, marketing and sale of the new developments. We have new constructions coming up in Silver Lake, Lake Hollywood and Studio City. Aside from our developments, we still highly pride ourselves in helping people buy or sell their homes. Our growing team means we have that much more time, energy and eyes looking out for your specific needs. Ultimately, our goal has always been to find our clients their dream homes. Those are the most satisfying transactions. Growing into different sectors of the real estate market helps us achieve our goals, whether it be with a first-time home buyer, a family selling their home or our new construction developers.