Russ Filice, the poster boy for celebrity real estate, offers insight into his career within the ever-blossoming luxury market.
By Jennifer Seligman
The fact that Filice is based in Los Angeles does not deter clients from wanting his help with both national and international properties.
Russ Filice has been attracted to the world of real estate from a very young age. Growing up, he would draw houses, thoughtfully outlining walls, doors, and windows with his colored crayons. Filice sold his first house at the age of 18, and hasn’t looked back since. “I have a penchant for real estate,” admits Filice. All those years of dreaming and coloring have certainly paid off, as Filice now sells homes to the rich and famous and is one of the most highly referred realtors in southern California.
Celebrating his 25th year in the business, Russ began his career while attending the University of Santa Clarita in Silicon Valley where he earned degrees in accounting and finance as well as a minor in marketing. After graduation, Russ began a career in real estate taxation, but soon decided his heart wasn’t in it so he dove into residential real estate. With his financial background and the connections made from his former career, Russ quickly became one of Silicon Valley’s top residential real estate agents.
In 2001, Filice packed his bags and moved to Los Angeles with the intentions of retiring, only to join forces with one of the biggest and most prestigious brands in international real estate sales, Sotheby’s International Realty. Here, he was able to make use of his personal touch with his group of realtors that he currently leads under The Filice Group banner within Sotheby’s. He and his team of professional realtors broker deals by constantly speaking to their clients on the phone and online, always current in disseminating information to their “sphere of clients.” Over the years, Filice has given lectures to the California Association of Realtors, the National Association of Realtors, mentored new agents, and appeared on Extra, VH1, The Style Network, and Kimora Lee Simmons’ Life in the Fab Lane.
Filice has an eye for detail and often points out small ways for his clients to improve upon the appearance of their home, leaving the buyer and the seller equally happy. He does not always believe in marketing through traditional industry channels, often opting for online resources and blogs in order to reach out to a broader community. Some of Filice’s properties sell for exorbitant prices, although his clients are more than willing to pay for some of the most spectacular homes in the world, sometimes even offering above the sticker price. “I had a property in northern California that was listed at $25 million and sold for $55 million,” says Filice. “It brought billionaires in from around the country to bid on it.”
Filice also represents many celebrities, some that he has befriended over the years. “There were several international celebrities I represented; they were people I idolized as a child,” admits Filice. “One of them, I’m repping as we speak for the second home they will buy through me.”
The fact that Filice is based in Los Angeles does not deter clients from wanting his help with both national and international properties. Filice has a growing contingent in Palm Springs, where he regularly builds new homes. He also gets the complete star treatment when he deals with some of his wealthier international clients. “One client picked me up in a plane-his Gulfstream-to fly me to New York to look at a penthouse apartment. I’ve had calls from royal families outside the country.”
Filice is currently showing comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s old home on Sierra Mar, as well as a beautiful architectural home on Mockingbird Place created by famed design firm Buff & Hensman. But one of his largest accomplishments was Sierra Towers in Los Angeles. Filice breathed life back into this property, transforming it from a forgotten 1964 modernist building to the hottest place to purchase in Los Angeles. Although Sierra Towers had a grand history of residents-from old Hollywood to prominent politicians-the building had fallen into neglect and was grossly undervalued until Filice came to the scene, re-branding it to its current status of “sexy, chic, and fashion-forward.” The units in Sierra Towers range from $2 million to more than $6 million and are inhabited by celebrities and some of the world’s most well-known names as well as many children of prominent families.
Filice certainly has the tools to succeed in the Los Angeles real estate market. He has carefully positioned himself with what he believes is the top Los Angeles real estate firm, Sotheby’s International Realty. He listens to his covetable clientele’s needs, always anticipating their questions, from the grandest to the most minute. And Filice never feels like he has to make a deal; he wants to.