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Selling LA, Episode 9: Little Costs

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It's Episode 9 of Selling LA. Technically, it's actually Episode 10, since there was a preview episode run over the summer. For those who are interested, that preview episode runs again today at 4:30 PM on HGTV. It even features a cameo by infamous Downtown LA developer Barry Shy! This week we're reunited with Valerie Fitzgerald and we meet broker Lee Ziff for the first time. Let's make him feel welcome by excoriating him in the comment section.

We begin with Valerie Fitzgerald of the Valerie Fitzgerald Group. Good news for those of you who were worried about never seeing Valerie Fitzgerald on TV ever again. Like Nicole Contreras last week, Valerie has issued a press release saying she will be in Season 2 of Selling LA . Set your DVRs now.

This episode, Valerie is listing a home in the Mulholland Estates (the Real Estalker gives an excellent rundown of the current tenants in that hood). The 14,000 square foot house located at 13964 Aubrey Rd is listed at $13.995 million and is ready to jump on the market, except for one tiny detail. The massive house (feat. seven bedrooms and eight and one-half baths) is empty and needs to be staged. So Valerie joins professional stager Meredith Baer for a tour of the house. After quick introductions to William Lim and his brother, the pair responsible for constructing the house, Valerie takes Meredith through an ooh- and ahh-filled tour of the empty mansion.

Valerie and Meredith sit down to discuss the costs of staging the house. Meredith offers a price of $65k just to stage the public rooms and the master bedroom. That's easy enough. Good times. Let's get going. Oh, but wait. If, per Meredith's suggestion, we do the house right--with all custom furnishings--the cost is actually $600,000. Somebody please slap a baby. That is crazy talk!

After hitting Valerie with the outlandish total, Meredith is able to give her an equally absurd total of $300k for staging using a combination of custom pieces and set pieces. See how that worked? Hit em high early, so that when you give the real number it doesn't seem so bad in comparison. Valerie tells Meredith she'll need to talk to William to see what he wants to do.

Later, Valerie takes William to Meredith's warehouse of wonderful furniture pieces. She tells Meredith that William has decided to spend $300k on the home staging. Poor William. It looks like all the blood drained from his face as he realized how much money he's laying out. However, Meredith literally jumps for joy after hearing he's agreed to spend the money.

During the tour of the warehouse, which includes lovely art pieces, mirrors, chairs, and a mounted bear head (that has either its tongue or a price tag hanging out of its mouth), Valerie tells Meredith that she has decided to throw a fashion party at the house for ladies in the area. Hopefully, having the housewife and clotheshorse contingent of the Westside into the house will lead to a potential buyer. Poor William is dubious about this idea, but he continues to be steamrolled by Valerie.

Meredith finally presents the staged home to Valerie and William. They both love what she's done, and for $300k they should. The home now has some life to it. Valerie quickly hosts her fashion party/open house, with local ladies looking at clothes while also touring the house and eating tiny sandwiches. The general feedback is positive and Valerie is able to tell William that things are looking up. One of these rich ladies may be a potential buyer!

At episode's end, we rejoin Valerie at another listing where she is showing a fellow broker, Tania Ferris, a comparable house located at 904 Hartford Way in Beverly Hills. She wants Tania to compare the house on Hartford with the Mulholland Estates house. Tania agrees that the Mulholland Estates house is far superior and her celebrity clients would probably like that house better. She also compliments Valerie on the staging job that was done. Valerie nods her head in agreement. However, (stop us if you've heard this one before), the postscript says that although the home has received some looks, they have not received an offer yet.

In the second storyline, Keller Williams agent Lee Ziff explains to us that he is going to visit his clients, Scott and Rachelle, in Brentwood. They live in a multi-million dollar home located at 1305 Allenford Ave. overlooking the Riviera Golf Course, and they are ready to sell. The house features five bedrooms, seven and one-half baths, a screening room with a stage, and wood beam ceilings and is being listed at $8.495 million. Lee explains that, although the home is great, it holds a deep, dark secret. Apprently, the house next door slightly overlooks the backyard. Therefore, the house is a disaster and only poor people will want to live there. Or something like that.

During a tour of the house, Lee explains to Scott and Rachelle that investing in some landscaping to block the neighbor's view could result in a half-million to million dollar difference in the sale price. At Lee's urging, they agree to look into the screening idea, but only if it doesn't cost too much.

Lee meets with Eyal Zuker, who is described as one of LA's finest landscapers. In order to create the privacy barrier Lee believes is needed to sell the house, they're going to need to find some plant material that is thick and tall. Eyal suggests bamboo. But in order to get the 30 to 40 foot tall bamboo plants into place on the property, they will need to use a crane to lift them in. Eyal estimates a price of $35k to get the crane and plant materials. Seriously? That's all? You can't even furnish the dining room in that other house for that amount. Scott and Rachelle need to suck it up and spend the dollars to keep their neighboring Gladys Kravitz at bay.

Lee brings Eyal to meet with Scott to discuss the plan to put in the big bamboo privacy wall along the property line. Scott isn't pleased with the $35k price tag, but admits that he has to trust Lee's expertise on what will get top dollar for the house.

The crane and the workers arrive tout de suite and all goes according to plan. The bamboo is lifted into place with only a few wobbles and what we're left with is an impenetrable bamboo wall. Now Scott and Rachelle can do what they want to do without their neighbors peeking in.

At episode's end, Lee brings other brokers through house, where he proudly points out the big bamboo screening, which everyone seems to like. Based on the reaction, he anticipates that a seller is just around the corner. Sadly, the postscript at the end says that the house did not sell, and in fact has been pulled off the market by Scott and Rachelle. And so ends another episode.
· Selling LA Archives [Curbed LA]