With multiple top producer awards from Keller Williams, YouTube views galore, and a strong social following, one thing is clear – Ivan Estrada knows real estate. The Los Angeles resident and native hosts the monthly video series The Real Estate Minute, where he gives viewers the lowdown on real estate trends, and updates on the celebrity home news that we just can’t seem to get enough of. Here, Estrada talks about his love for houses, house hunting tips, home renovation, ROI, and just how close we are to having Jetsons-worthy futuristic homes (self-cleaning countertops, anyone?).
This month’s installment of The Real Estate Minute talks about some innovative, technology-laden upgrades for homes. What do you think homes of the future will look like?
Homes of the future will be homes that will be able to take care of themselves, let’s just put it that way. Now, we have sprinkler systems that take care of your lawn, or an oven that takes care of the cooking for you, or a refrigerator that keeps things cool, but having a home that takes care of itself — like [with] self-cleaning countertops, which are already becoming a reality – […] that’s what the home of the future is going to do, and [it will] make our lives a lot easier.
Do you have a favorite celebrity home?
One of my favorite homes that I went to go see was Heidi Klum’s house, just because I have such tremendous respect for her as a businesswoman. She had the most gorgeous home when she was married to Seal in Beverly Hills. It was French and done up to the nines, it had a pool, it had tennis courts, it was super warm and inviting. That was the first celebrity home that I’d ever seen, so I think that’s why it’s always going to stand out as my favorite.
You were born and raised in Los Angeles. Have you seen the housing landscape change in that area, and if so, how?
I grew up in the suburbs, and I feel like things haven’t changed there as much as they have in the city. For example, downtown, West Hollywood, Hollywood, we’re seeing a lot of high-rise construction, 40- to 45-story condo towers, because there’s just so many people here and investors from around the world are looking to invest, so they’re building these gorgeous glass condominiums. It’s creating more high-rise living, like New York City, whereas before it was more like suburbia, small townhomes, and your downtown with your office buildings, and you’d have your couple of high-rise condos here and there. But now it feels like high-rise condo living is going to become more of the future here in Los Angeles.
When did you first become interested in real estate?
I first became interested in real estate when I saw the show Million Dollar Listing. I saw the show, and I saw myself doing that. I’ve always loved homes, architecture, and design. I love construction as well, how you can turn nothing into something.
How did The Real Estate Minute come about?
I wanted to differentiate myself from every other real estate agent out there, and I’m not afraid of a camera. I thought, “What if I was to put something on video?” YouTube was becoming such a huge thing, and there are newsletters and postcards that we send out as agents, but how could I send out a mass message to people in the quickest amount of time, and be top of mind for them when they’re looking for a real estate professional? I was running and got the idea, and I had a picture in my head of a clock ticking down to a minute.
What experience have you had with home renovation?
I love fixer-uppers. I love going into a home with a client and having a vision of “this is what we can do with this space.” I’m not a contractor, and I’m not a designer, but I know the people who can make these dreams a reality.
How do you handle listings that need a little TLC, or an in-depth remodel?
There are two ways to deal with them. Number one, the seller has to know that whoever buys [the home] is going to have to put money into it, so the pricing is going to have to match that. There’s the option of pricing it well, and letting someone else have the creativity to come in and make the home look the way they want it to look. The other option is, I’ll say to clients, “What if you were to spend $150,000 or $200,000 (depending on the size of the home), and spend a couple months on this, and instead of listing it for $1 million, spend $200,000 and list it for $1.5 million? Would that be worth three months of your time to get an extra $300,000?” Those are the two options that I provide my clients.
What renovation projects would you suggest to homeowners concerned with ROI and getting the most money from their homes?
I would say the kitchens, the bathrooms, and the backyards here in Los Angeles. I feel the kitchen really is the heart of the home. My family and I used to gather in the kitchen for breakfasts or conversations or whenever we’d have family bonding time. The kitchen really brings people together. I tell clients not to be too specific … and [to put] something in that’s neutral if they’re going to sell anytime soon, so that the next [home buyer] isn’t going to just come in and tear it apart again.
Do you have a favorite renovation that you’ve seen?
There are a lot of tudor homes here in LA, a lot of old ranch homes built in the 1930s and 40s that still have that character, but have been remodeled to “now.” They have those beautiful kitchens, those beautiful bathrooms, but the arches are still intact and the hardwood floors are original. All that character and history remains in the home, but it feels new. It feels warm. It feels comfortable. It feels clean. It’s all of those amazing feelings that you get when you walk into a new-construction home, but with all of that character and history.
What advice would you give to potential homebuyers who are thinking of renovating, but struggle to see beyond cosmetic things, such as paint color or an outdated kitchen?
Seek the advice of a professional. People who are not in this field of contracting or design or whatnot, we always think “oh, it’s so easy, I’ll just pop in a new countertop and new cabinets and this and that,” and they run numbers according to what they found on Google, and then they find out that it’s going to cost a lot more than what they thought, and that’s a letdown.
What advice would you give to fellow real estate agents who have a listing that will likely need some remodeling?
It’s all in the listing price. You have to price the property according to what it needs. That way, you’re not doing a disservice to your client. It can make them happy and ultimately sell [the home] as quickly as possible.
What are some of the reasons that potential homebuyers shouldn’t rule out properties that need a little remodeling?
I always tell my clients, “You have to keep an open mind. Forget about the paint color, forget about the tile. We’re looking at the bones here; making sure the bones are there so that we can make your dream home a reality.”