Real estate agent Bijan Saadati speaks with CELEB about the current state of the California real estate market. With the turbulence of the pandemic, and influx of homelessness, the market, especially in Southern California, is experiencing quite a shift. Saadati—who is with Keller Williams—answers questions about the perils and uncertainties of real estate right now and offers advice for both buyers and sellers 

Who is Luxury Real Estate Agent, Bijan Saadati?

Real Estate Bijan Saadati

Saadati is one of L.A. and O.C.’s top luxury agents. He grew up in Orange County with a background in finance and banking, until he realized he wanted to do something new. He had a desire to do high-end real estate, so he moved to Los Angeles and started his career from there.

Saadati cultivated relationships with hundreds of clients. His office is located in the prime part of L.A., in the HBO building in West Hollywood. Saadati focuses on single family residences, as well as investment properties. His expertise is the luxury areas; the upper echelon of L.A., such locations include Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and parts of the Valley. 

“I’ve been through the ’08 recession, I remember that almost like it was yesterday,” Saadati tells CELEB. “Between banking and real estate, I will probably put it at 13 years between the two. That’s my background.” Bijan currently works as an agent for Keller-Williams, a major real estate company.

How COVID Has Affected The Real Estate Market

The pandemic put the world on a standstill, and closed the doors of many businesses. It hit real estate pretty hard too, shaking up the dynamic of the market as well as the ways in which people living. Some people were lucky enough, however, to continue their businesses from home, and that’s where Saadati shares some insights. 

“You have a lot of families, a lot of people in working industries and businesses that have changed their entire lifestyle and their models. Now houses are being used, essentially, for their businesses. Many of my wealthy clients who had retail office space, shut it down, but got a bigger house and started to use that for business and started working from home.”

The downside of the pandemic for real estate is the influx of homelessness. Just in L.A. alone, homeless encampments and tents surround even the most luxurious parts of the city.

“L.A. is going through a drastic change” Saadati says. “A lot of the actual city of Los Angeles—Hollywood parts of Beverly Hills, Sunset Plaza—are shifting. I’ve never seen this since I’ve been here, a lot of people who have lived here have never experienced it like this. They’re leaving the city and going to the outskirts so they’re going toward Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Calabasas, larger homes, nicer areas. Very similar to what’s going on in Manhattan, but I’d argue with anyone that California has been hit harder.”

Celebrity Listings and California’s Mass Exodus

Real Estate Bijan Saadati

Certain neighborhoods in the valley are getting a lot of traction as of now, since many people are migrating towards these cities. Saadati mentions Studio City, Sherman Oaks, and Calabasas as the hottest cities, followed by certain parts of Encino and Reseda. “Even if you look at a lot of actors, actresses, famous people who lived in Los Angeles, Sunset Plaza, a lot of them shifted over to the valley,” says Saadat. “This is because the valley is a nice area, with bigger homes, and it’s going toward Calabasas.”

Saadati mentions the celebrity listings attached to his career. He describes that about 75 percent of the time, you won’t know if a celebrity has lived in a home. “Most celebrities/successful people have a business manager who sets them up for an LLC for privacy reasons, and tax reasons. Most of the properties, when you do a search, you’ll notice some titles under an LLC, or under a corporation. You have to be in the industry to uncover those things. You’re not going to see Brad Pitt‘s house here in the Hills, you won’t see Keanu Reeves, you won’t see Rihanna. Most of them are pretty discreet about it.” 

The crime rates and spike in homelessness have some people leaving L.A., but also leaving the state. “There is a mass exodus from California in general. I’ve been here for about 6,7 years now. Overall, the entire vibe in California has shifted. So that has changed for a lot of wealthy people in California who wanted to move to places like Texas, Nevada and Florida.

Industry Insights and Takeaways

Saadati mentions that before the pandemic, there were a lot of cash buyers from Asia. Then when they started the restrictions on wire transferring from foreign companies, the cash buyers decreased. “I see more lending right now,” says Saadat. “I see a stability and availability for lending. Someone who makes X amount of money is literally getting approved for the highest amount that they’ve been able to be approved because the loan programs are still flexible. That, with inflated home prices, with minimal interest rates, these are all the recipes that happened in ’08.” 

What can buyers do to make sure they’re setting themselves up for success? How can people make sure they’re not getting into a loan that they can’t afford? Saadat offers his knowledge and advice for these types of concerns.

“Don’t overextend yourself. Legitimately, the best thing to do is get approved on a traditional 30-year fixed rate loan, and see if that payment makes sense to you, based off your financial situation. Don’t get tricked into different types of programs. Try to avoid interest only, because that’s fool’s gold, in a sense. The problem is that people are not making the money yet they’re buying these houses that are a bit overwhelming of what they can actually afford.”