Every Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., is “caravan” in Los Angeles, during which about 500 to 600 houses open their doors for real estate agents to come preview and determine whether any would be right to show their clients. During this three-hour window, an incredible mix of estates, condos, fixers, specs, rentals, income properties and raw land — from Malibu to Santa Monica, from Brentwood to Beverly Hills, in and above the Sunset Strip, down by the Grove and over to Los Feliz and downtown LA — can be visited.
The most important three-hour window of the week
To me, caravan is the most important three hours of the week. Unfortunately, too many agents look at it as just an opportunity to see the few things that might be of interest to their buyer client(s). I look at caravan differently; it’s a chance to get to know the market. Very often, properties I see on caravan serve as “comps” for a future listing or a buy. From time to time, I come across an inspired design idea. Homes for which I have no buyer can often inspire me to reach out to my “sphere of influence” and find a buyer. And it’s always helpful to see the house that goes into escrow in the first week with 14 offers.
As they say, “knowledge is power.” Caravan is crammed full of information; information that agents need to absorb, process and utilize. I’m always amazed when an agent tells me that they are doing something not time-sensitive during caravan, instead of going out, seeing the product and getting their fingers on the pulse of the market.
To make my three-hour window as productive as possible, I take a fair amount of time to plan my attack. The night before caravan, I go on to our MLS and search what’s open the following day. I also read through the paper edition of what’s open and see if something was advertised as open in the paper edition, but not online. I then plot the properties linearly across town (usually, I will start in Malibu or the Palisades and make my way toward downtown). By plotting this way, I save time figuring out which house I’m going to next or the most expedient way to do so.
I nearly always have more properties on my list than I can possibly make. This can serve two purposes: it inspires me to keep going and, when I’m nearing the final hour or so, I can determine if I want to push for that jewel across town or, instead, pick up the four that are clustered together closer by.
I always try to be at my first house 15 minutes before the start of caravan; I am often helping the listing agent turn on lights and plant flags, and, in return, I get one house under my belt before the three-hour window even starts! On a good day, I see 17-18 properties during caravan. My personal best is 23 (twice). If caravan were an Olympic sport, I think I might be the world (or at least LA) record holder.