March 2, 2023
House Hunting in West Los Angeles? Meet Native L.A. Realtor Steffanie Cohen
Jim Gladstone READ TIME: 5 MIN. SPONSORED
The corner of Beverly Boulevard and La Cienega Avenue has played host to businesses far more intriguing than today's gleaming, generic Beverly Center.
From 1945 to 1979, it was home to Leo and Viva Murphy's dusty, noisy, now-near-mythical Ponyland, where the children of Los Angeles gleefully saddled up to ride the horsies around a small dirt track.
"My favorite pony was Pickles," recalls realtor and native Angeleno Steffanie Cohen with a grin. "I'm still in love with West Los Angeles, but boy, have there been changes over the years."
Staying on top of those changes – from major new building projects to small shifts in zoning that can affect the quality of life for homeowners – is a passion for Cohen.
The one-time film student – "Classic LA, I know!" she laughs – says she finds it incredibly rewarding to help clients find houses they love in the very neighborhoods that she's called home for most of her life.
With the kind of deep knowledge only a longtime area resident can have, Cohen insightfully introduces potential clients to the hugely diverse range of residential enclaves found within a relatively small geographic radius.
Having previously worked under an independent broker, she has recently joined the powerhouse Keller-Williams organization, gaining significant resources and priority access to more properties.
"West L.A. has so much variety to consider," she notes. "Even at similar price points, there are so many architectural styles and lifestyle preferences to take into account.
"Of course, in L.A., for many of us, choosing exactly where to live is also about the commute. Nobody wants to be right next to a freeway, but they still want easy access. That usually plays into what I'll show a prospective buyer."
While Cohen loves being able to show her clients a diverse range of locations and styles, having a diverse client base is also a point of pride for her.
"I love working with first-time buyers," she says. "Their enthusiasm is energizing, but I also understand how emotional and intimidating the process can be and I feel like I can help them manage those aspects of it. I also find it really gratifying to help people assess their choices in terms of building generational wealth."
"I also have a special designation qualifying me to work with senior citizens, who have unique considerations: They need to think about what will let them stay in a home as they get older. And they need to think about capital gains differently than younger buyers."
Additionally, Cohen is a member of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals. A queer ally, she says, "I feel really strongly that LGBTQ families need to be supported. I'm a single mom by choice, with a son who is 18 now, and I've seen the discrimination people can face; I know what it's like to have people treat you like you're not a so-called 'real family.' "
Cohen's turf ranges from traditional Cheviot Hills, which was first developed in the 1920s and boasts a mix of grand Tudor homes, mid-century modern single-stories, and old shade trees; to the hot Sawtelle neighborhood, where residents enjoy sleek modern architecture, top-rated public schools, and an embarrassment of excellent, affordable Japanese cuisine (Cohen recommends Hide Sushi at 2040 Sawtelle Blvd.); to Culver City ,"which is getting more and more vibrant" (not to mention boasting an outpost of one of Cohen's guilty pleasure eatery, Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken).
Of course, Cohen represents buyers as well as sellers, and she prides herself on building long-term relationships with residents of the neighborhoods she works in.
"I'll knock on doors and introduce myself to people, and sure, if they happen to be thinking of selling, then that's great, but I'll ask them for their thoughts about the neighborhood, how its changing, if there are any challenges – that's good information for my buyer clients.
"And if they need roofing work, or a contractor or a plumber, I'll give them recommendations of good service people who are familiar with their area. They can take my number and call me anytime. Maybe eventually, when they're selling, they'll think of me. I'm happy to play the long game. I want to represent clients who genuinely want to work with me."
Cohen says she tends to develop strong relationships with the buyers she represents, too. "I've shown a single client over two dozen properties. I can help you think your choices through, but I'm never going to push you to make a decision you don't feel great about."
When clients are willing, Cohen says she loves to have them give her a tour of their current homes: "You can learn so much by seeing first-hand what makes people happy and what they find lacking where they live now."
Asked to share one of her most memorable moments as an agent, Cohen smiles and recalls meeting clients with a five-year-old son at their new home to hand over the keys. "I was getting ready to leave, and the little boy got a bit agitated. He'd been with us on some many tours and open houses he thought I came with the new home."
Maybe she should take that kid for a pony ride!
Jim Gladstone is a San Francisco-based writer and creative strategist.