Feb. 22, 2019

Modern Spanish Bungalow for $600,000 in Los Angeles

Wait, what? $600,000? You can buy a house for $600,000 in Los Angeles? In an are that has massive growth and potential  increased property value coming due to the stadium and metro line construction? Best of all, there's a 3.51% loan that it's eligible for, with up to $7,000 in closing costs paid! By a very reputable bank  - message me at for more info.

Yes! And it's open Saturday February 23th 1-3 pm and Sunday February 24th 1-4 pm.

Come see what it's like to live in an Instagram dream house! An affordable one! More details at






Photography by S/wiley interior photography - Stephanie Wiley

Oct. 13, 2018

Simplicity and Grit : Buying and Renovating Your First Home on a Budget

Bootstrapping your first home renovation:

Start by trading perfection for progress, and trading your dream home for the home you'll build your dreams in. Invest in real estate, and start living!

Almost 10 years ago I missed out on this house.

What I ended up with was far better than I could have dreamt, but I had to take a leap of faith to get there.

I've been in your shoes.

I've made those compromises.

I'm here to say... it was worth it.

Back in 2008, I was very much inspired by a friend who had purchased a simple bungalow in Eagle Rock, just steps from Occidental College. The house needed some work, but the bones were good: Simple white paint and floor refinishing changed the house so much!

Having long pored over the huge renos trumpeted in Dwell and Domino magazines, this simple renovation, that created a very livable space, opened my eyes.

I saw the possibilities offered by doing the bare minimum, moving in, then approaching the home as a living, breathing design-in-progress experiment.

The approachability of this technique blew my mind. I could buy a house that was affordable at the moment and save up to fix it up, little by little. As the property value and my income went up over the years, I could do more, and eventually use a home equity line to do major renovations.

It was a few years before I could embark on my own home search, but when the opportunity came, it came fast and furious. My best friend had found out and gotten pre approved for a renovation loan and the monthly payment seemed infinitely affordable -- and just a little more than my rent! Those torn out magazine decor ideas could actually come to fruition!

I found the home pictured above and drove by - it was PERFECT. I got pre-approved as fast as my little hands could send those documents to the mortgage broker. Sadly, the house went pending before I had the pre-approval in my hands. I did find another home, but by then, the commute to Highland Park seemed like too much of a trek from my job in West LA. I focused my search closer to the Mid-Wilshire area.

When a foreclosure out of my price range hit the market just a week later, I drove by before work and set up a showing later that day. The bones were great, but the inside was a mess: The kitchen had been inexplicably cut in half, with walls were missing drywall and wires hanging freely to the ground. A toilet was sitting in the middle of the bathroom.

Knowing the potential even basic renovations offered, I was inspired. The floors could be refinished, the walls repaired & given a fresh coat of white paint, and, the kitchen replaced. The rest could wait until I had the budget.

The day I closed on the property, I headed to the house and started pulling up the ugly scalloped garden stones. I finally owned my own little piece of real estate, and the possibilities were endless!

My first six months after closing were exhausting, exhilarating and enlightening. I had to give up my apartment after a month in order to have more money for the renovation; the next few months were spent either sleeping on my boyfriend's mom's living room floor, then in the one livable room in the house while the rest of it was torn up. There was a two week period spent showering at the gym while my bathroom was unusable. There may even have been a time I took an impromptu ice cold shower with the garden hose behind my car in the driveway. It was tiring, but absolutely worth it to have my own home.

My tight budget forced me to be creative with my designs and figure out how to make things happen. When money wouldn’t stretch to a full kitchen renovation, I figured out that lower cabinets from Ikea would look great with simple shelving to hold my plates and glasses. I found a vendor on craigslist who had Caesarstone remnants, and got the countertops done for $1,200. IKEA Billy shelving sufficed as pantry shelving until I had more savings (and a generous gift from my folks!) the following year. Furniture was thrifted and painted to make it serviceable. I found some great low cost ideas at open houses for chic flipped properties, such as drilling wood onto my existing wrought iron fencing instead of starting from scratch.

Slowly, this house became my home

It's now been almost a decade, and my home is worth over three times what I bought and renovated it for. There are still some projects I would love to get to, but my family wholeheartedly enjoys living here. This is the house I brought my daughter home from the hospital to. This is the house where I brought our first dog home to, and also the place he passed away in, in my arms. This is the house where so many dreams came true and where even more dreams were formed. It's not perfect. It's not huge. But it's ours.

I would love to work with you to find your first home and give you the benefit of my experience and creative design ideas. In this age of Instagram and Pinterest-perfect properties, please give the house that needs a little love a chance, and I’m happy to help.

Consider the ugly duckling property, and imagine the difference some paint and simple cosmetic changes can make:


  1. Look into a rehab loan to fund the majority of your renovation. Learn how I did it.
  2. Set some money aside for a cool-yet-affordable IKEA kitchen (I'm a wizard at manipulating their kitchen design tool!).
  3. Look at open box items at appliance stores to save money.
  4. Hunt for Amazon Warehouse deals for faucets, light fixtures, door handles and more
  5. Browse Craigslist for budget and remnant building materials.
  6. Visit Habitat for Humanity (Re)Stores for furniture, tile, bathroom fixtures, and more.

In the startup world, we call this:

Bootstrapping: Starting a business (a dream!) with very little money and resources, focusing on simplicity and function.

Such successfully launched startups are characterized by the tenacity and grit of their founders. The same can be said of a simple, bootstrapped renovation,  making a house livable with the bare minimum and using that foundation to keep building on your dream.

Think about the equity you're building and what your end goal is. Know that this may not be your forever home, but it is nonetheless a valuable stepping stone.

We can make this happen. Together.


P.S. I'll be writing an article soon on how Real Estate Entrepreneurs have taken over Start-up Founders as the new rockstars. Watch this space for more details!

Sept. 29, 2018

Coming soon : Longwood Highlands 1936 Spanish Art Deco Duplex


Step back into 1936 and experience a bygone era

6 BED | 4 BATH | 3,699 SQ FT | 5,920 SQ FT LOT

Offered at $1,850,000

The year is 1936 and you've stepped into a stunning Spanish Art Deco masterpiece. The ornate arches beckon you to explore further, along peg hardwood floors into the gracious living room with bow window, high tray ceilings and fireplace. The breakfast area features charming built-ins and a view that spans to the hills. The vintage tiled bathrooms are unique beyond compare.  Two double garages and backyard entertaining space. Period details and updated copper plumbing, roof and foundation plus central heating/air - what a find! The lower unit is equally as charming.

Head over to Memorial Library to enjoy books and sunshine in the playground and park. Or enjoy the tennis courts at Queen Anne Park. Coffee, lunch, grocery shopping, Ulta and Lowes are just blocks away, with the new Sprouts/Target on La Brea coming soon. The incomparable location south of Hancock Park sets you 10 minutes from the Beverly Center, 7 minutes from the Grove and in the middle of everything fun!  

Open houses :

Sunday October 7 : 2-5 pm

Tuesday October 9: 11-2 pm

Sunday October 14 : 2-5 pm

Refreshments served.

Sept. 4, 2018

Gorgeous Spanish style near View Park-Windsor Hills

4345 W 59th Place

Los Angeles CA 90043

Offered at $750,000


3 bedrooms | 2 bathrooms | 1,346 sq ft | 5,430 sq ft lot


Open houses:

Sunday September 9th 2 pm - 5 pm - Refreshments served

Tuesday September 11th 11 am - 2 pm - Lunch served


Imagine a neighborhood with wide tree-lined streets, undulating hills and friendly neighbors. Enjoy the bike trail (soon to the beach!) or hike your dog along the lake in hilly 400 acre Kenneth Hahn Park. Stroll to hip local Hilltop Coffee, restaurants and shops just three blocks north in View Park-Windsor Hills. Or hop over to blocks-away Googie architecture landmark Simply Wholesome to pick up salads and entertain in your spacious backyard. Best of all, you're only 20 min from Playa Vista, 15 min from Trader Joe's/Sprouts and 17 min from LAX, with quick access via the 90/405.


This remodeled 1929 Spanish style home has charming original features such as beautiful windows, coved ceilings and hardwood floors. Updated systems, foundation bolting and newer kitchen/bathrooms complete this home. Storage space galore, with the large garage having ADU potential. This home is ready to enjoy on day one! With one neighbor to the east, the large lot is a relaxing private sanctuary. Welcome home.






There's even a bonus room to use as your heart desires!


Interested? If you're an unrepresented buyer, I would love to help you see this home and make an offer if you love it!

Call me at 310-299-2110 or email me at

May 24, 2018

Where to buy your house to get into a good school

Interested in buying a house in West Adams, Leimert Park, View Park, Windsor Hills, Highland Park, El Sereno or other Los Angeles areas but worried about schools? One of the first questions I get from new househunters is asking where to buy a house in order to get their child (or future child) into a "good" school. While many may limit their definition of a "good" school to one with a high Great Schools rating, doing your research may show that you have many more options than you think, which opens you up to more neighborhoods. 

Let's go through the main options so that you understand the basics when you research public schools in your target area.

1. Your home school

Each Los Angeles neighborhood has it's home school that your child is assigned to. Tanya Anton from encouraged us to visit our local schools to see how our child would fit into that environment. Perhaps that Great Schools 10-rated school drills the kids to boost test scores and your child would not respond to such tactics. Look into the students learning English stat on Great Schools, are there a majority of students learning English? This may account for the low test scores, as language learning may affect all subject matter.

On a personal note, I volunteered in LAUSD Schools for many years with my certified therapy dog Chili to work with kids to improve their reading skills. Improving reading skills gives children confidence and increases their performance across all subjects. While some of these schools may have had Great Schools 2 ratings at the time, the teachers and staff were incredibly engaged and supportive of all of the children.

Go visit your local school and then form an opinion. Talk to local parents who send their kids there - online reviews may not tell the whole story and may be missing nuances. Discount the "hearsay" of local parents who have not personally visited the school. In the group Tanya Anton was advised, the mom that mentioned the local school was "awful" actually had never visited the school, didn't understand the rating program and had indeed spoken with a local parent who's child loves it there. Dig deeper when you get information.

Also understand that parents may have different expectations and needs, so a school that work for someone else, may not work for your child. Tanya Anton from Gomama advised our group that at the very least you know your home schools and what it's like if you have to use it as a home base for one year before you switch to one of the other schools you applied for.

Unhappy with the performance of your local school? A group of local moms has banded together to send all of their kids to the local school and volunteer in order to help the school improve their programs. How great to get involved in your community in order to improve it!

2. Magnet Schools

Magnet schools are public schools that were established to promote diversity in areas where there was none. It was intended to be a program where kids were "bussed" in from other areas to achieve this result. In order to attract those kids and parents, various interesting programs were started. Many specialize in STEAM (science, tech, engineering, art and math), dramatic arts or other speciality programs. Perhaps your child has a talent that would be perfect for a magnet school with that speciality?

Magnet schools do have that points system for entry into the lottery to admit students into the school, and the book from Gomama takes you through it in very clear detail. The author advised us to enter even if we weren't interested at the time, since circumstances may change and then we have some points as a basis. You cannot accumulate points prior to just before the kindergarten year and only a handful of magnet schools in LA have kindergarten. For the others, you may need to be in your home school for kindergarten and then transfer.

3. Charter Schools

Charter schools are a public school alternative that is paid for with public funds. The "charter" is an actual document that lists out the school's mission, information about the program they will offer, how they will figure out performance and how they will assess it. Think of it as a way that a school can use newer philosophies without the overhead of the usual bureaucracy. Charter schools may have a bad rep from some folks since they think it's taking away money from other public schools or have taken classrooms away since schools are obligated to share empty spaces. It all makes sense when you realize that LAUSD is the second largest school system in the country and has an $8 billion dollar budget. That's a lot to fight over!

Many of them have great reputations and therefore there may be a lottery to get your child into the school. 

4. Intra-district permit

This option gives you the ability to transfer to a school that has open spots. Perhaps a school near your office has a majority of residents sending their kids to private schools? Then you may have the option of sending your child to that school through an intra-district permit. has been invaluable resource in figuring out our own options, as our toddler starts growing up.

Bottom line: Even if you are currently pregnant, you have more than 5 years to figure out your plans. Schools can change a lot in 5 years. You have options, don't worry!

Now that you have a good understanding of your school options, let's jump into how to find the best values in housing by discovering new neighborhoods!


Disclaimer: my information is based on my personal experience, information from the amazing author Tanya Anton and her book and research on various websites such as Information may change, so please do your own research and visit these resources.

Posted in Buying a Home
March 12, 2018

Silver Lake Mid-century Duplex with Views

2331 & 2333 Teviot St Los Angeles CA 90039

Gorgeous Silver Lake duplex with massive amounts of storage space underneath, allowing you to possibly build out a third unit on the LAR2 zoned lot or expand each unit to almost double their sizes. The yard even has room for a pool, or create a deck to take advantage of that stunning view. Or do both!

Each oversize unit has original hardwood floors, very large windows to take advantage of those views and many original features that add to the charm of these homes. Live in one and rent the other one, what a great opportunity to have a built-in retirement fund on your property.

Offered at $1,350,000. More at :

Open house Sunday March 25th 2-5 pm



Feb. 16, 2018

West Adams Craftsman Renovation

I love talking to both buyers and sellers about fixing up their houses, and love to share my own experiences. It gives me a perspective on difficulty level, cost and what gives you the most bang for your buck. I've renovated my own home, other investment properties and now this home for my mom. You can read more about how we purchased this home in probate sale here. Enjoy these beautiful photos from the amazing Stephanie Wiley.

Imagine a home that had once been loved but more recently had a lot of deferred maintenance. Sam had lived here since his grandmother had purchased the property and the property transferred to him in the 1970s.

The home had suffered tremendous damage during the Northridge earthquake and was renovated in 1994. The house had fallen off the foundation, so a new foundation was poured and the house was bolted onto the new foundation. The garage had collapsed, so a new one was built in it's place. Sadly, all of the original features of the house had been stripped out during the 90s renovation and all that remained was the original wood plank exterior. 

By the time we got it, the property was in rough shape since it had sat empty for more than a year after Sam was moved into a care facility. There was extensive termite damage to the flooring and some joists, plus there was a water leak around a rear light fixture.

We worked with a local architect and engineer to draw up plans to change around walls in order to make this 2 bedroom and 1 bath home into a comfortable 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom open concept bungalow, all within the existing square footage.

We were lucky that a large back laundry room gave us additional space to work with. Design took about a month, with about three weeks for the permitting process. Sadly the original flooring was damaged behind repair, with extensive water and termite damage throughout most of the main rooms. The joist under the main damaged portion was rotted through, and it was replaced during renovation.

Stove: vintage O'keefe and Merritt from craigslist. Faucet: Delta Trinsic, Amazon open box item.

Kitchen : Ikea, custom sprayed Bjorket doors. Liz's Hardware handles. White Quartz counters : MSI


Guest bedroom

Master bedroom

Master bedroom with ensuite bathroom and closet (closet is behind the door)

Third Bedroom

Main bathroom with washer dryer

Master bathroom with pocket door


Love the house? Best of all, you can rent it when you're in Los Angeles. It's available for short and long term stays. Click here to find out more.

Before you go off into the internet to watch cat videos, please enjoy this potato quality photo collage of the before pictures.

West Adams renovation

Photo credit for all beautiful photos: Stephanie Wiley Interior Photography

List of sources:


Living Room
Black round chair - vintage, thrifted
Black wassily chair - Scandinavian Designs
Cane chairs - vintage, thrifted
Coffee table - Ikea, Stockholm collection
Rug - Home Goods
Pillows on sofa - West Elm
Throws -Target, TJ Maxx
Sofa - Ikea
Gold side table - Target
Green side table - Target
Wood side table - Blueprint, LA
Table lamp - came with the house! Shade from Home Goods
Bar cart - Target
Sconces - Amazon
Artwork above side table - came with the house
Gold plant holder on fireplace - Urban Outfitters
Entry dresser - vintage, thrifted
Dining Room
Table - vintage, thrifted
Chairs - vintage, thrifted
Painting - vintage, thrifted
Stools - Target
Light - West Elm
Cabinets and Island - Ikea Bjorket, custom sprayed Benjamin Moore Black, in satin
Cabinet Handles - Liz's Antique Hardware, LA
Stools - Blue Dot
Stove - vintage O'Keefe and Merritt, Craigslist score
Faucet - Delta Trinsic in Champagne Gold
Shelving - Wood from House of Hardwood in LA - custom cut; Brackets from Home Depot
Light - Target
Bedroom 1
Bed - Amazon
Carpet - Home Goods
Bench - Target
Bedside lamps - Target
Nightstands - Target
Artwork - my own photography
Pillows - Target
Bedroom 2
Headboard - Amazon
Bed base - Tempur-pedic
Carpet - Home goods
Nightstands - Target
Bedside lamps - Target
Dresser - vintage, thrifted
Gold Metal Wall Art - Target
Shell chair - vintage, thrifted
Pillows - Home Goods
Bedroom 3
Bed - Amazon
Pillows - Target, TJ Maxx, Home Goods
Nightstands - Target
Bedside Lamps - Target
Wall art - Target
Closet - Ikea, Target handles
Mirror - Home Goods
Sitting chairs - Orchard Supply Hardware
Dining table/chairs - IKEA

Firepit - Lowe's 

Feb. 16, 2018

Moving to Los Angeles

"I was so fortunate to find Samira! Not only was she a great realtor, but she is so incredibly knowledgeable about the ins and outs of living in Los Angeles--something that has been totally invaluable to me as a transplant from the east coast. I would absolutely recommend her without hesitation.  She's the best!" - Y. Cardinal, buyer in Hollywood Hills.

If you're moving to Los Angeles, I would love to welcome you to this city and find you the best place for you to buy your new home. I know this city better than any native Angeleno, yet have the perspective of moving here about 20 years ago. Los Angeles is a city made up of small neighborhoods and it can be overwhelming navigating the pros and cons of each area.

While you set up your new life here, I can provide recommendations on restaurants, shopping, vendors for your new home and anything else that you need. Clients consider me a mix of a real estate life coach and an incredibly connected concierge, making your move here smooth and rewarding.

And if you decide to move out of Los Angeles, I also have an incredibly connected network of amazing Realtors in other parts of the country.

Let's talk about how I can help you find your new home in the sun.

Jan. 25, 2018

Is it the right time to buy in Los Angeles?

Is now a good time to buy a house in Los Angeles? And I know what you're thinking...she's a Realtor! Of course she's going to say yes! I'm also a real estate investor that knows the market really well, so I'm going to give you some background on why it's a good time to buy (unless you have a time machine, in which case I will tell you to go back to 2012 and buy up all the Highland Park real estate you can. Trust me.)

Are we in a bubble? The short answer is no. And the long answer is no, so let's examine it from quotes by people far better at math than I am:

As per the LA Times: "Economists have said today's upswing is more sustainable, driven not by risky lending but by an improving economy, historically low mortgage rates and a shortage of homes for sale. Adjusted for inflation, prices in all counties are under their 2007 peaks; the Southern California median is about 13% below its peak.

In addition, it's not expected to get better "Economists generally agree that's because developers for decades have built too few homes for population and job growth. Experts have cited a variety of reasons for the slow pace of construction, with neighborhood opposition and tight environmental regulations among the major factors.

To help address that problem, Gov. Jerry Brown this year signed a handful of housing-related bills, including ones that would ease some development restrictions and raise money for below-market housing.

However, housing groups and state officials noted the proposals were modest compared with the scope of the housing shortage, and hardly a cure."

A little more analysis echoes that it's a supply issue.

"If you are looking to buy a home – but you’re worried that the housing market is “in a bubble” – then please, stop worrying. That “excuse” is no good with me.

There is no bubble. And because the current supply of homes can’t meet the demand, prices can go dramatically higher from here. Now is still a great time to buy a house in America! With low interest rates, and no supply, prices can still go a lot higher. Don’t hesitate. Take advantage of it!!! Good investing."

Ok, so you're reassured that you won't be massively overpaying for a house and you're wondering what to do next? There are still deals to be had and there are still houses sitting on the market. From deep in the trenches, I have advice for those looking for a home they can afford:

1. Keep an open mind about location.
This is your first home, not your forever home. On average, homeowners move every 5-7 years. This is your way to get into a market that has people moving to this city every year, with a hot tech industry spurring even more migration and wealth. In a city with limited land and a system that makes it difficult to develop more density, you need to get into the market as soon as you can. Prices will be on an upward trajectory, no matter the short term ups and downs.

While you do want to be relatively close to work to avoid a painful commute, start exploring neighborhoods you may have written off. Fear keeps a lot of people from exploring really fun, vibrant parts of this city. Volunteering in and being part of the community go a long way towards alleviating fear of the unknown - look for opportunities to volunteer in a target neighborhood.

Believe it or not, you can still buy a house for under $650,000 in the Los Angeles area. Some areas to look at are : Reseda, North Hollywood, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, Altadena, Tujunga and parts of South LA such as Hyde Park. I wrote a little more about undiscovered Los Angeles neighborhoods here.

2. Be willing to do a little work.
If you only put offers on the pretty places that are completely fixed up, be prepared to pay significantly more than comparable properties and prepare to be outbid. Often.

Some houses require a lot of work, but many others are simply outdated and are in need of a coat of paint, floor refinishing and a new kitchen. I have worked on numerous kitchens myself and can reassure you that it's one of the easiest rooms to remodel. Keep the existing layout, and you can demo a kitchen in one day and assemble/install the new kitchen the next weekend. Many designers rave about IKEA cabinets, and I still love the ones we installed 8 years ago. Stick with lower cabinets and use upper open shelving to keep the costs down.

You know those teen movies where the gorgeous model wears glasses and everyone seems to not recognize how beautiful she is until she takes them off and shakes out her hair? That's how I feel about these outdated houses - look behind the glasses and see the beauty! Many of them are priced SLIGHTLY too high for flippers, so take that advantage and flip your own house! I even have lenders who can give you a mortgage that can fold in the costs of your renovation with as little as 5% down. I did it myself - you can check out my experience with a rehab loan here.

Remember, it doesn't have to be instagram-worthy on day one. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You have plenty of time to fix up your house as you build back your reserves.

3. Understand your school options.
Don't feel like you are limited by school districts. You have many school choices in Los Angeles, so you may want to research target areas and understand your options. Each Los Angeles neighborhood has it's home school that your child is assigned to, but you also have magnet schools, charter schools and the option to transfer to a school that has open spots. Perhaps a school near your office has a majority of residents sending their kids to private schools? Then you may have the option of sending your child to that school through an intra-district permit. has been invaluable resource in figuring out our own options, as our toddler starts growing up.

On a personal note, I volunteered in LAUSD Schools for many years with my certified therapy dog Chili. While some of these schools may have had Great Schools 2 ratings, the teachers and staff were incredibly engaged and supportive of all of the children. Tanya Anton from Gomamaguide encouraged us to visit our local schools to see how our child would fit into that environment. Perhaps that Great Schools 10-rated school drills the kids to boost test scores and your child would not respond to such tactics. Perhaps your child has a talent that would be perfect for a magnet school with that speciality. Unhappy with the performance of your local school? A group of local moms has banded together to send all of their kids to the local school and volunteer in order to help the school improve their programs. How great to get involved in your community in order to improve it!

Bottom line: Even if you are currently pregnant, you have more than 5 years to figure out your plans. Schools can change a lot in 5 years. You have options, don't worry!

4. Have a rock solid offer plan.
I'm going to give away one of my secrets to getting offers accepted: get pre-approved with a direct lender that can give you a loan commitment.

This means that the underwriting department goes through all of your financials BEFORE you are in escrow. But Samira, wait - isn't that what a pre-approval is? The dirty little secret of the financial world is that many pre-approvals are generated by a system and not by an underwriter that has personally combed through your financials. They could miss that you had some blips in your finances a few years ago. A pre-approval is not a guarantee, and YES, loans have been denied to folks with pre-approvals. Imagine being 21 days into escrow, having given notice your landlord and all of a sudden losing your loan AND your earnest money deposit.

By getting pre-approved by a direct lender who has underwriting review your financials before giving you a pre-approval, I make sure that you 1. are completely underwritten and that no surprises pop up during the escrow process and 2. it allows you to waive your loan contingency in order to compete with cash offers. Now we're talking, right? I'm happy to walk you through the process, as I know it can sound overwhelming.

As you can tell, I am incredibly passionate about real estate and I love to talk about this stuff. Thinking about buying or selling? I would love to chat with you. No pressure. Promise! Message me to set up a time.

Posted in Uncategorized
Dec. 5, 2017


The busy fall season continues with the Verdugo condo selling for way above asking after multiple strong offers, and my Riverton seller's closing on their new Altadena dream home with a huuuuge yard! So happy for all of my clients.

Posted in Uncategorized