Oct. 17, 2008

Pasadena Real Estate: Opportunity Knocks

Another great article by my friend Joanna Dehn Beresford in the Best Of Pasadena issue of Pasadena Weekly this week. Granted, it mentions yours truly, but it also gives some sound advice on what to look for in a Pasadena Real Estate Agent.

Buyers and sellers have good reason for hope in economic crisis

By Joanna Beresford 10/16/2008

"These are the best and worst of times for real estate," says my favorite real estate agent, Irina-the-Tsarina Netchaev. "The worst is uncertainty. Buyers wonder if it's the right time to buy.

Sellers don't know if they should sell, rent or hold. And agents have to keep up with constant changes in the industry, work a lot harder to make the same number of sales and serve their clients in the same way that they did in the past."

But even during economic tumult, Irina is no pessimist. Her family struggled to reach America, a country that her grandmother had dreamed of for years; when they arrived in the United States, Irina and her parents had left fear and despair behind them in Kiev.

"The best thing about the era we're in right now is the opportunity!" Irina says. "Opportunity for buyers to get into a home at a more affordable price. Opportunity for sellers who want to move or trade up, to exchange their present home for the home of their dreams. It's also an opportunity for savvy and creative agents who want to build their business, and position themselves for developments in the market."

I can't claim unequivocally that Irina is the best real estate agent in the San Gabriel region, because there are so many realtors in the area. Many of them are terrific, and most of them I've never even met. But I do know that Irina is among the best. I know that she delights in the artistry of her craft. I know that she's learned a great deal from her corporate experience, and also from her experience as mother to teenage children. I know that she's an avid student of life, real estate and human nature - and I know that she's not perfect.

"It's really important to have a consultation before making any decisions or commitments," says Irina, alluding to the chemistry and compatibility involved in the agent-client relationship. "I can't help everyone."

The best Pasadena real estate agent will demonstrate several, fundamental characteristics. Some of these are self evident. Like, if you're selling a home, you don't want to hire an agent who's going to nosh on your leftovers, drink out of the milk carton and indulge in a shower in the master bath during a lull in open house activity.

Second, don't mistake "top producer" for "best agent." The truly gifted agent may spend more time, therefore earning less money, to properly serve a client, than the agent who maintains a madcap momentum of million-dollar home sales and massive commissions. Often snubbing other agents in the process, which is another thing you should consider if you want the best agent in the business; find someone who cultivates friendly, supportive relationships within the real estate community.

Now more than ever, we all need each other in the course of buying, selling and living in our homes.

Most experts caution against working with a part-time agent. The full-time agent tends to be more focused, informed and dedicated than the guy who's still hanging onto his day-job.

Also, among other things, the best agent knows how to take a decent photo, write a decent description and return calls in a decent amount of time. It also helps if your realtor knows how much it costs to replace a 50-year-old furnace or rewire a converted garage.

The best real estate agent will provide you with references and comprehensive market analysis. He will negotiate effectively on your behalf. He will, according to real estate coach, broker and author Jennifer Allan, put your needs above his/her "need for a paycheck."

Obviously your agent should know the region intimately. And who wouldn't want to know Pasadena intimately?

"Where else can you find a sunny, 76-degree climate?" asks Irina. "Where can you be an hour away from skiing, 40 minutes from the ocean, surrounded by chic boutiques, theater, museums, culinary schools, academia, upscale restaurants and amazing hole-in-the-wall dives - all within a few mile radius of tree-lined streets and quiet neighborhoods? It's an amazing place to live and work!"

The thing is, the beauty of Pasadena persists through good times and bad, and the pleasures of living and working here make our community shine among the best-of-the-best idyllic regions in the world. The best real estate agents share our passion for the landscape, climate and community and their passion creates productivity.

"The example of my grandma following her dream," Irina says, "the courage that it took for my parents to leave their homeland with almost nothing and make a life in this country has instilled in me the idea that anything can be accomplished if you just dedicate yourself and are clear about your goals and passions."

Contact Joanna Dehn Beresford at truewrite@yahoo.com.

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