Get Expert Home Buying and Selling Tips From the Pros
Written By: Nanda Dyssou
Photographed By: Bianca Simonian Dean Sipe
Expert: Dean Sipe
Credentials: Realtor for HÔM Sotheby’s International Realty
Taught: ESL to corporate clients in Luxembourg
Dean Sipe has an MBA in Marketing, as well as 12 years of sales and marketing experience in the telecommunications industry, real estate, and other fields. He has lived in nine cities in 10 years including Boston, New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Luxembourg–before sunny Palm Springs irrevocably stole his heart. As a realtor with HÔM Sotheby’s International Realty, he enjoys helping buyers and sellers find their dream homes in the Palm Springs area.
Q: How did you choose Palm Springs as your home?
Dean Sipe: Like many of my clients, I was drawn to the area because of its wonderful climate, diverse community, and beautiful architecture. I moved here full time in 2005. I owned a second home here, a midcentury Alexander, and then I moved to a gated community in Seven Lakes Country Club, also because of the midcentury architecture.
Q: What attracted you to the real estate business?
DS: I have always been in sales selling global telecommunications. I also liked architecture, especially that of midcentury homes, so real estate seemed like a natural choice. After talking to several agents, it became clear that I couldn’t continue moving as much as I did earlier, and that I would need to establish roots, live in the community I am representing. Palm Springs has everything I was looking for in a community, so I took an opportunity with Pacific Union, and then joined Sotheby’s International Realty. I have been with them for seven years.
Q: What kind of real estate do you specialize in?
DS: I specialize in residential real estate, and my focus is on midcentury, modern and contemporary homes. In my opinion, a true salesperson can sell anything, yet it helps to have an affinity for the product which they are selling. As I have an affinity for contemporary, modern and midcentury architecture, the greater Palm Springs area was a natural fit for me.
Q: What cities do you cover?
DS: My representation spans the entirety of Coachella Valley. I believe for any real estate agent the primary focus tends to be where they live. My focus is in Palm Springs because I live in the city and because I am a midcentury and modern architecture connoisseur.
Q: What is your take on the current state of US real estate?
DS: So far, 2017 has been a great year for real estate. We are all working with the new value propositions, keeping in mind that buyers are looking for value, not fluff. I’m coaching my sellers to focus on the value through buyers’ perspectives and their sold home is proof of success.
Q: What changes have you witnessed in the Palm Springs market?
DS: When I started nine years ago, most people were looking to Palm Springs as a retirement community, where they could just relax and enjoy the sunshine. They are still doing that, yet I think the recession caused people to reassess their lives and priorities. Now, many people are not looking to retire in the true sense of the word. Palm Springs is attracting a more active audience who enjoy museums, golf, hiking, biking and other sports in better weather. Palm Springs offers that with its downtown, country clubs, outdoor living and shopping. It’s the perfect area to switch from city to resort lifestyle.
Q: What are the most desirable locations in the desert right now?
DS: It is hard to narrow it down as this depends on personal preferences, however, the city of Palm Springs is attracting a lot of attention due to the investments that have happened over the last few years. Downtown is being rebuilt, and people are very attracted to the energy brought by such investment. It’s also driving in a younger – 20s, 30s, 40s – generation, too. Palm Springs continues to grow as a home and destination for a truly diverse group of people.
Q: Do you see many first-time homebuyers?
DS: First-time buyers dropped off a little after the recession, yet we’re starting to see more first-time buyers recently. Still, most of our clients are looking for vacation properties to use part-time. Since it is so easy to get to Palm Springs from San Francisco or LA or Seattle, we are getting more and more clients from there.
Q: What are buyers looking for in a Palm Springs vacation home?
DS: Currently, people are looking for a finished product to go with a specific lifestyle. For example, the true midcentury enthusiast wants to see architectural authenticity and Palm Springs has a wonderful concentration of midcentury architecture. Also, most home buyers want three to four bedrooms. As many buyers are still working, an office or den is desired while still having enough bedrooms because people enjoy having friends and family visit. Open floor plans are hot on people’s list, and they also like modern appliances and upgraded bathrooms.
Q: Would you suggest upgrading all homes before putting them up for sale?
DS: To a certain extent. What I would suggest to sellers above all is to stay true to the architectural style of their homes. If you have an old Spanish property, don’t try to make it contemporary. Be authentic to the property you are in. Also, buyers are looking for features that add value not only to their homes but to their lives, too. Value can be added by defining spaces for life…work space, eating space, entertainment and lounging spaces are key. And outdoor space is key!
Q: What are some of these features?
DS: People are interested in low-maintenance curb appeal. You don’t need to get rid of your grass and have only desertscape. You can do a lot with plants and artificial turf that give a resort feel and are also easy to maintain. Other things people love are pockets or areas of lifestyle. Whether it’s a courtyard with a firepit or a side patio for a conversational area, a BBQ or cocktail area, those things are always of interest to buyers because they can see themselves and their friends in the home having various types of fun events.
Q: What else should sellers do before putting their homes on the market?
DS: If we get down to the basics, clean your carpet, clean your tile, and paint your house. A lot of people don’t like to do those things because they are an effort, and we want to present the home in the best condition. Most buyers cannot see themselves in a home that’s dirty and dated, so cleaning and painting are very cost-effective ways to make your home appeal to them. After that, staging is extremely valuable. Then we get into the more costly steps, like upgrading appliances, adding solar panels, and other steps, which a seller may or may not want to do.
Q: Do you suggest taking these steps despite the costs?
DS: I do. As my father used to say, everyone is willing to do 99 percent, yet very few will go the extra one percent. What I would suggest to sellers is to go the extra percent. I guarantee your property will sell a lot faster and at a lot higher price if you are willing to do that. Also, buyers are a lot more sophisticated and knowledgeable now than they were before because of all the information they can find online. It is important for sellers to keep up with the market as well, and listen to their realtor.
Dean’s Top 3 Tips for a Quick Home Sale:
- Clean and paint your home
- Staging makes or breaks the sale
- New appliances, solar panels, and low-maintenance landscaping can really sell a home
World Traveler: Sipe got his first passport at age 29 and shortly filled two of them by traveling around the world.
HÔM Sotheby’s International Realty
500 S. Palm Dr, Ste 101
Palm Springs, CA 92264
38220 Via Roberta
Palm Springs, CA 92264
The Dean Sipe Group
Meet Dean Sipe: An Expert on All Things Home
Nanda Dyssou is a journalist and writer of Hungarian and Congolese origin. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of California in Riverside with a BA in Creative Writing, and is currently a 2018 MFA candidate in Fiction at UCR. Nanda enjoys working in a variety of writing fields, and is currently at work on a novel, a short story cycle, and several essays.