For out latest Expert Interview, we shifted our focus a bit beyond NYC real estate to the west coast, specifically California. We had the opportunity of talking to Erin Alls, founder and president of Silicon Beach Homes. Erin moved from NYC to Marina del Rey, CA along with her husband well over 8 years ago. Since then, she started to focus on the newest tech hub in Los Angeles – Silicon Beach – and founded her own real estate company, serving numerous clients including tech-giants such as Google and Facebook, but also helped growing start-ups with their Los Angeles real estate needs.
We asked Erin to tell us about her experience moving from one big real estate market to another, how it changed over the years and also what it was like for her to work with a more tech-oriented clientele. Read on to find out more.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background and why you chose a career in real estate.
The last thing I wanted to do when I grew up was become a real estate broker. You see my father is a Real Estate Investor and my mother is a Real Estate Broker. My weekend chores included upkeep and maintenance on the rental properties, helping my mother stuff mailer envelopes, and taking phone messages for the family real estate business.
So off I flew to film school in NYC. Shortly after film school was over there was the tragedy of 9/11. I was not ready to leave the city I had grown to love. yet nobody was getting film jobs in New York City. We were all still healing. I came to the conclusion that the only way I could survive in the City was to return to the business I knew so well growing up in Virginia.
Q: Since you’ve worked both in NYC and LA, could you tell us the main difference between the two markets?
While both New York and California have become global real estate markets there are currently two main differences when it comes to purchasing a home. One big difference would be the property types. In NYC it’s mainly co-ops and condos that are driving the market while in LA it’s single family homes and some condos.
The other difference has to do with taxes which in many New York buyers’ eyes favor California in certain localities. Be sure to check with a great accountant. We often scout out homes for New York City buyers looking to relocate to California.
Q: How has the California real estate market evolved since you moved to Marina del Rey?
Prices. Not long ago we sold the highest priced home in the history of Marina del Rey at $7,350,000. While I’ll not mention the celebrities’ names that were involved, I can tell you that we see an increased curiosity and desire to live near both technology companies and the beach.
Q: You’ve worked with some big names in the tech industry. Are there any particular challenges when working with tech companies or start-ups compared to the regular renter/buyer?
There are minimal challenges while working with people in the tech industry. What we have found is people want instant results. Many of them prefer communication via text or video email rather than phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
To maintain our edge we hired a technology systems coach that helps us offer website, database, marketing, advertising, and customer follow-up systems that all communicate with our customers from the palms of our hands.
Q: How do you see the Southern California real estate climate changing in the coming years?
I believe very much like the rest of the country the real estate game is changing. Agents are going to have to evolve to become more technologically inclined. With tools that meet tech-driven buyers. AI and other tech tools will be at the forefront of real estate and how agents implement that tech will be very interesting.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone looking to buy in Silicon Beach or Silicon Valley?
It is important to work with an agent you trust that is Silicon Beach and/or Silicon Valley savvy. Working with someone who knows the specific area can make the difference in having a successful transaction or not. At the end of the day, it is about relationships. If your agent knows the inventory, and other agents that represent that inventory, it will give you a leg up on the process.