Veteran realtor Tina Smith of Sotheby’s International Realty has garnered acclaim for her ability to cultivate direct, personal connections with her clients, which she achieves by keeping her business medium-sized and personally handling day-to-day operations, property showings, open houses and more alongside a three-member team. “My business is extremely hands-on,” she says. “I typically work seven days a week with very long hours to ensure my clients are getting my 20 years of real estate experience at all times.”
This year, Smith has been using her expertise to guide clients in a local market with low inventory. “Most property owners with a mortgage refinanced when rates were below 3%, and losing that rate now to one that has doubled definitely hurts,” she explains. Thus, sellers have been staying put unless need surpasses want. While low inventory is typically good for sellers, buyers are weary of the economic data, bank issues and high interest rates, so the market has slowed this past year. “Buyers asking sellers to buy down their interest rate was the first I had ever seen that; this market shift happened very fast,” she adds. Although the number of sales and sale prices are slightly down since last year, she has seen a minor uptick in buyer activity in 2023. “I think buyers have accepted that the bottom is not falling out, and higher interest rates will likely remain for some time.”
Smith notes that in the first week of spring, she sold a well-priced property with multiple offers at more than 10% over the list price. Despite the slowdown, “there is still demand in our local market if you are listing with and taking the advice of an experienced agent like myself.”
Among the recent notable properties Smith has sold is one of Burbank’s oldest and most unique: a woodsy storybook perched atop a hill at the base of the mountains, at the end of a long, winding road. Apart from aesthetics and location, Smith says it was the history of the property that was “truly mind-blowing.” “A Burbank historian reached out to me after the property was sold and told me it was once a mob headquarters; the living room was a speakeasy and the basement was a Prohibition distillery,” she shares.
Although she works with all types of properties, Smith says her passion is “rescuing” homes that need love. “While it is cheaper to demolish and rebuild, to see a home rehabbed with new life restored brings me great satisfaction,” she says. “I love the history and intrigue behind what those walls have experienced through the decades!”
A recent example was a property near and dear to Smith. She sold her 1965 mid-century modern post-and-beam childhood home — which had been in her family since 1983 — off-market in Studio City. “A high-end boutique builder restored and reimagined it, landing it in countless design/architectural magazines and blogs,” she shares. “Seeing the life brought back into an original, classic home, particularly one that held my childhood memories, is the ultimate example of what I love most about being in real estate!”
Smith’s passion for her job, her clients and Toluca Lake shines through in every transaction she has handled in the neighborhood throughout her career. “I can proudly say I have never had one client lose a home, or sell at a loss,” she shares. “I guide my clients with knowledge and statistics that have proven to be profitable investments, which is an aspect of my job I take great pride in! The relationships I have built along the way would probably be my proudest accomplishment.”