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Selling LA, Episode 203: The Challenge of Making Decisions

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It's another episode and maybe another season of HGTV's Selling LA. It looks like we made it to Season 2 as this episode is labeled Episode 203. So let's just dispense with our numbering system because nothing makes sense anymore. This week we're following agents Katy Landrum and Steven Aaron. Let's begin. (*By the way, a recap of last week's ridiculous episode was delayed, but is still on the way, don't worry!)

We begin with Katy Landrum of the Valerie Fitzgerald Group, who is working with her client Spencer Hill, a Kansas transplant with a penchant for showing pretty face to the camera. Spencer is looking for a Venice Beach-adjacent location so he can be closer to his bros. The first stop on the tour is the Latitude 33 condos in Marina del Rey.

Following a brief sit down with the Valerie Fitzgerald to understand what Spencer is looking for (something between $750k and $1 million), Katy and Spencer start their tour in Latitude's townhouse style Boardwalk Collection. The unit they look at is listed at $815k and includes two bedrooms and two and one-half baths. Spencer likes the layout and the closets. Since it's a relatively new building, everything sort of sparkles with freshness.

They next look at Unit 404 in Latitude's nine-story Sky Collection building, located at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Via Dolce. The unit features 1,825 square feet, two bedrooms and two and one-half bathrooms. It's a corner unit with views of the south and the east, so it may be possible to see the beach if you crane your neck around. It's being listed at $930k. The layout is nice and there's a lot of light.

After the tours, Spencer tells Katy that he liked the townhouse style unit more, but before he puts in an offer he wants to do his due diligence and see what else is out there. Katy warns Spencer that the units are selling fast, so although she understands his need for time to do some "due diligence," she warns him to hurry his ass up before the thing sells out.

After giving Spencer some time to ponder his future life in Marina del Rey (Venice-adjacent), Katy takes Spencer to view a condo directly off of Venice Beach. The unit is in an older beige-y looking building located at 18 North Venice Boulevard. The two bedroom, two bathroom unit is being listed for $855k (Redfin says it sold for $727,000 on January 11) and is within spitting distance of the boardwalk full of tourists and teenagers. The interior is a lot nicer than what we would have expected, but Spencer isn't thrilled about the location and the long, skinny closets. After deciding to pass on the unit, he tells Katy he may be getting closer to putting in an offer on one of the units in Latitude 33.

In a desperate bid to make a sale, or just for shits and giggles, Katy ropes in Spencer's friend Brian Smith (aka BS) to help seal the deal. BS, who happens to be a mutual friend of the two, joins them for a tour of Venice while driving around in Katy's jeep. It's a total bro tour with lots of hat-wearing, nicknames, hand slaps, and we're sure there was some "woo woo"-ing involved, too.

After the Venice tour, the group sits for a drink and reminisces about their awesome time in the Jeep. Spencer tells Katy that he has some serious thinking to do. Dropping close to a million dollars on a first home is tough for a bro and definitely not a decision to be taken lightly.

Weeks or days later, Spencer and Katy go back to Latitude to have a second look. Good times were remembered. Spencer likes the spot for the location and the size and finally after much pensiveness he tells Katy that he wants to put an offer on the $815k townhouse unit. But he wants to be aggressive with an offer of only $780k. Katy plainly states that she doubts it will be accepted, but whatever. The postscript tells us that Spencer decided to withdraw the offer and save up a bit more for a down payment. No sale.

In the other segment, homeowners/sellers Jeff and Esther meet with their agent Steven Aaron of Keller Williams. Steven is helping them sell their home in Hancock Park located at 137 S. McCadden Place, after previously helping them to purchase a mid-century house in Mar Vista. The home features 5,051 square feet, six bedrooms, and five bathrooms. Steven brings in Michael Berman, an interior architect/designer, to get an idea of the cost to renovate the badly outdated house.

Walking through the house, they identify a variety of hideous spaces, including the kitchen, a bathroom (w/ Smurf blue tile!), and a poorly lit dining room. Based on the walk around, Michael estimates improvement costs of around $500k. Based on that estimate, they agree to list the house for $2.5 million, understanding that the asking price is lower than what it should be due to the improvements required. (Although, if you look at recently sold houses of similar size in the neighborhood, they seem to be right in the middle in terms of pricing).

Steven's next step is to make the inside of the house look a little bit less terrible. He meets with flamboyant stager Mathew Finlason, who has grand ideas for the space. Matthew snaps his fingers, says "boom" and "drama" at the placement of furniture, and is a general whirlwind of throws and cushions. Dude is so angling for his own show. Oh, wait, he already had a show on HGTV. Is The Stagers still on? After unloading a truckload of new furniture into the house, Steven is very pleased at the outcome. Everything looks comfortable and well-proportioned.

Later, at the open house, Steven proudly shows off the newly-staged home. Some things apparently just couldn't be fixed--like that "No Parking" sign above the toilet? Burn that! Steven says that the open house attracted 70 agents and things are looking good for a quick sale. We cross our fingers.

And in fact, shortly thereafter, Steven and Keller Williams team leader Rob Aigner show up to Jeff and Esther's new house. Steven giddily tells them that they have three offers on the house. Two are full price offers (one with 50% down) and the third offer is all cash, but $250k below the asking price. Amazing. With the owner's blessing, Rob and Steven decide that the appropriate way to respond is to send back a counter of "best and final" with no actual counter price. That way they create a bidding war. It seems like a plan destined to fail, but that shows what we know. The postscript tells us that the house sold with a final sale price $5k above asking. Well done Steven.

And Season 2 is off to a good start.
· Selling LA Archives [Curbed LA]