Tina Smith is a residential and multi-residential real estate specialist with Sotheby’s International Realty who lives and works in Toluca Lake. When she’s not helping her clients find their dream homes, she’s volunteering with and contributing to charities focused on cancer research and animal welfare.
What are your real estate market predictions for our area this year?
The combination of increased interest rates and low inventory have continued to fuel this strong sellers’ market, resulting in multiple offers, bidding wars and continued record-breaking purchase prices. Buyers are desperately trying to lock in low fixed rates sooner than later, as they have already increased significantly. Rates on a 30-year fixed just hit 5%, which is the highest they have been in a decade. The Fed has embarked on a series of aggressive rate increases to cool inflation and the sluggish economy for the next several months, so I see no end in sight to this truly fascinating time in the industry. In my 20 years of real estate, I have not seen a market this challenging for buyers and this lucrative for sellers!
What lasting effects has the pandemic had on the real estate industry? Has it changed how people buy and sell homes?
People are looking for longer-term purchases where they can stay longer than seven years, which used to be the average time in a home. The pandemic truly influenced buyers to settle into homes they can be comfortable living and working in. The pandemic also made work commutes less of a priority, since much of the workforce is still at least partially virtual. This has opened up farther locations that would not have been considered pre-pandemic.
Is there still a high demand for larger properties with detached spaces that allow people to work from home?
The pandemic has shown that people can successfully work from home, and many of my clients have continued to do so permanently or at least on a hybrid schedule. As a result, home office space, detached dwellings, garage conversions and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are still in very high demand. If you are considering adding value to your home, legally converting a garage to an ADU adds significant value because you are adding legal living space (an average of 400 square feet). Since your value is heavily based on your price per square foot, increasing your square footage will add a lot of value to your investment.
Should buyers consider their pets’ needs when shopping for homes?
Pets should absolutely be considered when house hunting, as they truly are part of the family! I have a disabled senior dog named Vinny who had to have his left front leg amputated due to bone cancer in 2019. I was so fortunate to live in Toluca Lake, which is the absolute best walking area for people and pets! Had I lived in the hills or in an area without sidewalks, the adjustment for him would have had a larger impact on his recovery, and I may have considered a move to accommodate his needs and quality of life.
What do you love most about your job?
Just recently I had a client send me a gorgeous flower arrangement after we closed escrow, with a note saying that I made their dreams come true. Homeownership truly is a dream, and while I think that note was overly generous, it truly is a gift to help a client achieve the American dream, which is a goal most of us strived for from a young age. I also enjoy getting to meet so many new people I would have never met without my job. I have had many clients turn into lifelong friends, which is truly a gift!
Is there any recent news you would like to share?
Our local Toluca Lake Sotheby’s office was just acquired to be part of the larger Sotheby’s corporate umbrella, expanding our local footprint from the ocean to the Valley! This is exciting because a large number of buyers looking in Toluca Lake are relocating from Los Angeles and the Westside since you get so much more for your money here. Relatively speaking, Toluca Lake seems like a bargain compared to areas like Beverly Hills and Brentwood, so this merger will give your home even better exposure in this marketplace, not to mention the international reach we have always had marketing your home to foreign buyers.