In partnership withThe National Association of REALTORS®

A Los Angeles Ranch with Mid-Century Charm and Miles of Color

published Oct 22, 2020
Credit: Jess Isaac
1 / 7
"The living room is our favorite room in the house and what drew us in. It’s large yet cozy. The giant window is our favorite part of the house."

Name: Samantha Klein and Aaron Klein
Location: Glendale, CA
Size: 1480 square feet
Type of home: Spanish ranch

After an unhappy stint in the Bay Area, creative professionals Samantha and Aaron couldn’t wait to get back to Sam’s native LA, with its beautiful beaches and warmer weather. They were devoted Los Angelenos—and Sam’s colorful, playful style is 100-percent SoCal—but they thought that buying a home was a few more years down the line. Then Aaron talked to his friend Peter Lorimer, a real estate agent and a REALTOR®, a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. Peter’s advice was clear: Don’t wait.

Peter told the couple that the LA market is brutally competitive, and housing prices were trending up. With packed open houses and fast-paced bidding wars, buyers have to be aggressive. “He was really proactive,” Sam says. “Once something came up, he’d schedule it for the same day.”

Credit: Jess Isaac

Sam and Aaron jumped in, but it was overwhelming and exhausting. Peter had urged the couple to put in offers just to get experience, and some weren’t even acknowledged. Then they had an offer accepted that fell through. But Peter was undaunted: “It isn’t how fast we sell them a house, it’s that we sell them the right house, no matter how hard it is.” He was a guiding light and a source of positivity—and not just for Sam and Aaron.

Finding the Right House

With 16 years in the LA real estate industry—and, in true La La Land fashion, a Netflix show, Stay Here, under his belt—Peter was also a VIP on the local scene. “Nobody looked twice at us when we were going to open houses alone,” Sam remembers. “Then Peter came and the selling agent was like, ‘PETER!’ Having him was a huge bonus, not just because he’s charismatic but also because he’s extremely knowledgeable.” 

Credit: Jess Isaac

That expertise would come in handy again to narrow Sam and Aaron’s search perimeters: They’d looked at everything from condos to renovated retro homes in and around the city’s hip, arty East Side. “We honestly didn’t know what we were looking for,” Sam says. “It’s like dating: You don’t know what you want until you know what you don’t want.”

Peter relied on his experience to read between the lines. “Buyers often give you well-intentioned but incorrect information,” he said. “They make requests, then you use your skills to see what’s really important to them.” Peter suggested they look in Glendale, which he had a hunch was about to explode in popularity. (Spoiler alert: He was right.) And he urged them to look for houses that still needed elbow grease. “Don’t pay for other people’s renovations,” Peter advises. “Get a break on the house, then spend that money to make it how you want it.” 

Credit: Jess Isaac

There was no danger of paying for other people’s renovations on the 1920s Spanish ranch house that Sam and Aaron would buy: It’d been a rental for the past 30 years and had dated furnishings like brown carpeting and wall-to-wall mirrors in the dining room. But it also had the lived-in charm and character the couple wanted, including curved ceilings, exposed beams, and a totally unique teardrop window.

Out of character for the LA market, there was no open house. In fact, they had to hound the selling agent just to get the keys for a viewing. But Peter’s proactive moves paid off. And, because viewings had been hard to organize, there were only two other offers.

Drawing on his years of experience, Peter told Sam and Aaron to lead with their best offer. “Try not to look at what you can save,” Peter says. Instead, he asks clients: “What number would you be heartbroken if someone else paid and got the house because you would have paid that same number?”

A Sunny Ending

After their offer was accepted, Peter walked them through the inspection process and was even able to negotiate some money back when larger repairs were needed. (Peter cautions buyers not to nickel-and-dime after inspection: “In my experience, when you send a list as long as your arm, sellers are going to shut it down.”)

Credit: Jess Isaac

Now, mirrored walls and dated carpeting have been replaced by exuberant wallpaper and restored hardwood, and Sam is busy stamping every room with her flair for color and quirk—including a heart-shaped purple headboard and statement mid-century furniture. They agree that they couldn’t have done it without Peter coaching them through the process.

“I really feel the gravity of everyone’s journey from their current house to their next,” Peter says. “We don’t sell houses, we sell trust.”

Credit: Jess Isaac

Sam and Aaron’s Survey

  • My style: Bright, airy, colorful, clean maximalist.
  • Favorite element: The giant arched window in the living room.
  • Biggest challenge: One of the two bedrooms is a strange shape due to an add-on that was done in the ’70s, making it hard to plan and design. It ended up as an office/guest room/closet/exercise room. 
  • Best thing about being a homeowner: Getting to do whatever we want, including making mistakes.
  • Advice for someone buying their first home: Take your time (if you can!).
  • What was one frustration in your home-buying process, and how did you overcome it? Getting rejected offers pretty regularly. You just have to keep going and know that you will find the right house and you’ll forget all the others you loved before!
  • Favorite part of Glendale: I’ve enjoyed the calm and quiet of our neighborhood quite a bit over the last 6 months especially. I also like how central we are to most other places we go!
  • Why did you choose Glendale? Just happened to be where the house was that we fell in love with!

Thanks, Sam and Aaron!