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Century 21 With Sabrina Soto; Discussing Fall home Buying Season and The Current Trends In Home Buyi

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Sabrina Soto, mom and designer known from HGTV’s The High Low Project. She is remarkable, talented and real, that's what I loved about her. She spoke the truth, she's exactly what you wish to have in a friend. If you are looking to renovate your home or in the market for a new home, I hope you find the answers you're looking for below. Thank you Century 21 for putting together such an informative Q&A with Sabrina. You'll find highlights of our conversation in this article and the video is the full interview, unfiltered, raw and get ready to laugh.

What trends are you seeing here in LA:

· Geo Kirakossian (Agent, CENTURY 21 Peak): a lot of people are including their animals during the home buying decision process. When they go to look at a home, they’re looking at the backyard to see if their animals could have a nice life.

What are people seeing style-wise?

· Sabrina: wood floors are getting a lot lighter for design trends – blond wood and grey wood are making a comeback. Light grey is also a very popular color right now. Brass and copper are hot, but I don’t think copper is going to translate into hardware as much as brass has – it’s more about accents.

· I’m also seeing tuxedo kitchens where people have lighter upper cabinets and different colored bottom cabinets.

· I love marble, but it’s so high maintenance. That said, it’s making a comeback for wallpaper.

· The stainless steel that’s easily cleaned is a must-have. I also love the way black matte appliances look.

· Similar to marble – dark wood is really hard, especially if you have clients with children or dogs. It also shows every dusty bunny you could imagine.

On design trends:

· Sabrina: I don’t like to follow trends, especially for kitchens because they’re such a huge investment and they’re not something you’re going to redo every 10 years, but you’re never going to get sick of a classic white kitchen. If you want to have little touches, then do it on hardware or something that’s easy to switch out.

What advice do you have for people who are on a lower budget and can’t afford a full renovation?

  • Sabrina: Find places where you can save money – like tile. Or consider keeping your existing cabinets and refinishing them yourself. It is a little more tedious than what people see on TV – you have to remove the hinges and hardware, and then sand it down.

· On the flipside, I’d recommend splurging on a countertop.

How does renovation help when trying to sell someone’s home?

  • Geo: People pay attention to kitchens and bathrooms – those are the two most important places of a home that people look at from beginning and then they start looking elsewhere. People aren’t looking as much at laundry rooms or garages.

  • Sabrina: and at least have matching appliances!

On her own home:

  • Sabrina: Every designer feels like their house is never going to be done or perfect. My taste evolves all the time. I felt like I wasn’t making the right decisions because I was hurried, and in every renovation process, the worst thing to do is rush. Looking back now, I don’t think our house is perfect, but I love it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with our floors or the molding, so I did those first.

When you go into a room where do you start?

  • Sabrina: it really depends on your lifestyle – are you single and like to entertain? That style will look very different from a family of four’s style. I think you first need to figure out the style – are you going for casual, comfy or elegant and modern. Then get the couch and the area rug. For me, I start with the couch because it’s the biggest piece in the family room. People think paint comes first, but for me it comes last. It’s the biggest mistake because then you’re constantly trying to match that paint color.

How do you balance peoples’ personal touches with resale value?

  • Sabrina: I always ask clients if they are planning on staying in a house for a while. If they’re going to stay for 20 years, I don’t worry as much about resale value. I also think people overthink resale value when they’re renovating. It’s your home, your home should tell your story and show your personality.

On new families in LA:

  • Geo: Right now, the most asked question is what are the school districts like?

  • Sabrina: that’s why I bought our home – you have to plan for the future of your children!

Tips for families who are first time homebuyers:

  • Geo: definitely get pre-approved and know what you can realistically afford.

  • Sabrina: I think too what people don’t realize are that there’s insurance, taxes, utilities, etc. Be realistic about what you get pre-approved for with all those things in mind. First time homebuyers always make that mistake because they get so excited. And always find a kick-butt inspector that’s going to find anything wrong with the house.

Are there up and coming neighborhoods that people may not know about?

  • Geo: homes in Porter Ranch have a lot more privacy and you get more bang for your buck.

· Highland Park, Los Feliz and Eagle Rock are already growing too. Inglewood is booming because of the arenas – the property value is going to go up tremendously. It’s also supposed to be the best area to live in LA because you’re 15 minutes away from everything. Westchester is great because you have access to the beach, LAX and downtown – though it’s doubled in price.

What advice do you have for people who don’t have an open floor plan but are trying to sell?

  • Sabrina: if it’s a home with a lot of small rooms, I take a lot of furniture out. Furniture makes small rooms look a lot smaller.

If you’re designing a new space, how do you avoid overdoing it?

  • Sabrina: I just feel that if you love all of those things and they’re things that you’ve collected, it’s okay. Your home should reflect your personality. If you come home and you say I love it here, then it’s okay! One pet peeve is when people hang art way too high or way too low – it has got to be eye level!

On high impact, low budget design:

  • Sabrina: in the bedroom, you can easily make your own headboard. In the living room, invest in a good couch and piece of art, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money on pillows, frames and lamps.

On design advice for families:

  • Sabrina: Splurge on upholstery and outdoor fabric. There’s actually a new fabric that was used in hospitals, so it’s super easy to clean. Splurge on paints that have a flat finish buy you can scrub them. Just yesterday, I was scrubbing Olivia’s paw prints off the walls. It’s important to get higher quality paint so you can clean it constantly. Do not splurge on little accessories, they’re going to be ruined.

  • Geo: from a real estate perspective, I’d say nice new windows and recess lighting are important – kids can’t get up there and it looks lice.

  • Sabrina: but make sure the recess lighting is LED lights. You have to be careful that they’re not too blue.

What advice do you have for people whose taste is completely different from their partner?

  • Sabrina: Steve and I couldn’t be more different, but there are always places to compromise. Give your partner 1 space that can be more of their style, but the kitchen and living room have to be a merge because both people need to be happy there.

Any tips for people who want to stage a home themselves?

  • Sabrina: spend a weekend and go to every open house in your neighborhood. See what your neighbors are up to. Try to exceed the other houses on your block, but just a smidge. You don’t want to be the most expensive house on the block, but you want to exceed peoples’ expectations.

· On Get It Sold, I was shocked at what a mess homes were! At the very least, decluttering and personalizing go a long way. After all these TV shows, I can’t believe people don’t understand staging! We bought our house 2 years ago – and you’d think it would be a lot easier to find a house, but I went through about 40 or 50 homes before I found one. I felt like saying, “I can stage your home!”

Make sure to catch Sabrina show, it's amazing. I love seeing how she gets a room ready for under $2000! Her tips were priceless, thank you Sabrina.

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