Realtor Lin Vlacich shares the features buyers want in a home
By Kamala Kirk
Photo by Chris Mortenson
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the real estate industry has been going strong. There has continued to be a high demand for homes, especially those with desirable features that appeal to many buyers.
“People are looking for a lot of the same things that they were at the beginning of the pandemic,” says Lin Vlacich, a real estate agent at Sotheby’s International Realty in Pasadena.
“A lot of people have transitioned to working entirely from home now. I have clients who are lawyers and researchers working at home, and professors who haven’t been in a classroom in several years.”
A veteran of the real estate industry, Vlacich specializes in the greater Pasadena real estate market along with South Pasadena, San Marino, San Gabriel and Altadena, although her experience extends to multiple markets across Los Angeles and Southern California. Vlacich has also been named top salesperson and top 100 sales agent in California and was a recipient of South Pasadena’s Distinguished Citizen Award for outstanding service in the community.
“I was born and raised in South Pasadena, and I know the area like the back of my hand, although I work throughout San Gabriel Valley and other parts of LA,” Vlacich says. “I’m licensed in the state of California, and I’ve had many sellers and buyers who want me to negotiate the sale where they are moving to. I’ve also teamed up with agents across the country.”
Buyers tend to want extra rooms that can be used in a variety of ways, according to Vlacich.
“People want an unnamed space that can be transformed into anything such as an exercise room or yoga studio, art studio, office or work room, etc.,” Vlacich says. “Some homeowners have converted their garages into bonus rooms. There’s a lot of demand for that extra room.”
Vlacich says having ample storage in a home is also important to buyers, and some would prefer to use the garage for extra storage instead of as a bonus room. Having a designated laundry room or area is appealing to Vlacich’s clients, too.
“Something that a lot of people ask me when they see a house is, ‘Where’s the laundry room?’” Vlacich says. “It’s important to think about how people function in a house. Families especially want a space where they can fold clothes, not just stackable washers and dryers that are tucked into a closet in a hallway.”
While two-story homes continue to be popular, Vlacich says one-story homes are in particularly high demand among older clients. Young families love them as well.
“People love the big open family kitchen and living room,” Vlacich says. “And the fewer walls the better. When I interview my buyers, I always ask them what the most important room in their home is, and 99.9% of the time it will be the kitchen. It doesn’t have to be fancy with all the bells and whistles, but having a user-friendly kitchen is a very important feature in a home.”
Vlacich always conducts an initial interview with buyers to assess their needs so that she can help them find exactly what they are looking for.
“I spend a lot of time finding out what the buyers’ needs are so that we can focus more on those things,” Vlacich says. “I like to make things simple for them. What I’m really looking for is their spirit and what I can do to help them find the perfect home that matches their lifestyle and needs. While a lot of people may want similar things in a home, different things drive people’s needs, from young professionals who are very busy to families who are caring for older relatives, to senior citizens who are still part of the workforce.”
Interestingly, Vlacich noted among some clients is generational house swapping within families, often between parents or grandparents who are looking to downsize and their grown children or grandchildren who need a bigger home.
“I’ve done quite a few house swaps within families over my career,” Vlacich says. “It’s a unique opportunity that not a lot of people seem to think about. We work with the families’ attorneys and their trusts. It’s not for everyone, but it works really well for some people. I’m not a tax adviser or CPA, but there can be financial advantages to keeping a home in the family that would be beneficial to both parties.”
In addition to financial and familial benefits, house swapping removes the competition that many buyers have to face in today’s market with limited inventory, multiple bids and often having to pay above listing price for a house.
“In South Pasadena there are usually 10 to 20 properties on the market at any given time, and currently there are only 11, with three of those being single-family residences,” Vlacich says. “People do need to realize that this isn’t the norm, even though it may feel normal to them. The interest rates are going to go back up, and the length of time it takes to find a house will even out eventually.”
Vlacich finds great joy in being able to negotiate to get the best deal for her clients and helping them find the perfect home that suits all of their needs and desires.
“I love the negotiations. That’s where I feel I shine,” Vlacich says. “The part that really moves me and has kept me in this industry for so long is knowing that not only did I do a good job but that my clients are happy. Recently I helped a young woman and her teenage daughter get a home in South Pasadena, and my client said to me, ‘I had no idea what this was going to be like, but you made me pay attention and you made me be responsible.’ Educating my clients is joyful to me, and I appreciate the referrals. About 90% of my business has been referrals, and that really sets the tone, because your clients already believe in you.”