On the new Netflix hit “Selling the OC,” it’s customary to see uncannily attractive real estate agents touring stunning luxury homes. But it’s not every episode you get to observe them actually making a sale.
In the episode “A Not So Happy Hour,” agent Alex Hall gets to ring the famed deal bell in the Oppenheim Group‘s opulent Newport Beach office. She has just orchestrated a closing on a $3.2 million ocean-view home in Laguna Beach!
And that’s not the only drama in this episode. Agent Kayla Cardona has just secured her first listing, a $4.5 million luxury home that could earn her a hefty commission. But until that sale happens, she’s still tending bar at night to make ends meet.
Meanwhile, agent and former model Austin Victoria is worried that he won’t be able to afford a home on the water and a nanny for his adorable twin daughters, all while still keeping his smoking-hot wife happy.
It might be difficult to feel any sympathy for these physically and surgically gifted agents, but what we can be grateful to them for is showing us tons of clever ways to get top dollar for the homes we’re selling, and to get the best deal on the homes we’re buying.
Lots of bedrooms = homebuyers with kids
Hall and Cardona first meet at the $4.5 million listing in Laguna Beach to discuss the staging strategy.
“With five bedrooms, it’s going to be a family who buys the house,” says Hall. “We’ve got to get staging on point if we’re going to try to sell it.”
By “on point,” she means using family-friendly features. You don’t have to paint cartoon characters and primary colors on the bedroom walls. But the house does have to appear inviting, without intimidating angles or stark, formal furniture.
The stager suggests a coastal modern style, and Hall comes back with “coastal modern but comfy for a family. I want this to look like a family lives here.”
She says inviting sofas and rugs, informal but stylish bar stools—the kind of atmosphere where a family could easily live, laugh, and love, and not have to tiptoe around or worry about breaking things.
Even comfortable homes need ‘aspirational’ staging
When perusing the kitchen, Hall says, “obviously we would have to declutter.” Wait, what?
There are no cereal boxes or dish drying racks, no crumbs—it looks pretty good as is to most people.
But Hall suggests removing all the existing dishes, vitamins, food items, etc. from the glass-front cabinets and replacing them with all-black dishes. She also suggests boxing up the mismatched drinking glasses and putting something more sophisticated in their place.
Even though you want the home to look comfortable and family-friendly, you still want it to feel special, Hall implies.
“Aspirational” is a term that gets thrown around a lot here, and it’s not a bad way of looking at things.
Highlight a home’s view
For all their staging tricks, and for all of the home’s other virtues, the grand vista, if there is one, takes precedence.
“The view is obviously the selling point,” says Hall. “The water.”
But just because you can’t see the Pacific Ocean from your home doesn’t mean the view is not infinitely valuable. If you have a view of the city lights, mountains, a lake, or just about anything but telephone wires, all staging should point toward the windows.
Cardona is miffed that her idea of a pub table and chairs on the balcony is rejected. But Hall explains that a high table would block the views, and Cardona gets it.
A ‘double-end deal’ can benefit agents and sellers
This is the first time this season that we hear the office bell, announcing Hall’s success selling the two-bedroom, three-bath, 1,659-square-foot Laguna Beach home. Since the buyer paid $3,239,000, Hall gets a $247,500 commission.
If that commission sounds a little high, it is. Hall explains it was a “double-end deal,” which means she represented both the buyer and the seller, so she (and the Oppenheim Group) gets the full 6% commission.
Such dual agency deals aren’t allowed in all states, and some see them as controversial due to the potential conflict of interest in one agent representing both sides at the negotiation table. Still, it can benefit a seller to negotiate the commission in advance, stipulating that if the listing agent represents both the buyer and the seller, the seller will trim the commission by, say, half a percentage point, to 5.5% instead.
Don’t count your chickens before closing day
“The day you close escrow, it’s kind of a surreal moment,” says Hall. “You’re always sitting on the edge of your seat, refreshing the emails constantly, waiting for the confirmation to come in.”
The waiting period is tense because any number of things could happen before the ink dries on the contract, so to speak. The bank could change its mind on the lending requirements, the buyer could back out, something catastrophic could happen to any of the parties involved. Hall had good reason to be on edge.
But once she gets the all-clear from the escrow company, buyers, sellers, and agents can rejoice.
“This is my biggest commission to date, and it’s literally a life-changing check for me and my kids,” says Hall. Congrats! She’s certainly earned it.