Haute Residence’s Third Annual L.A. Luxury Real Estate Summit Recap: ‘$100 Million Club’ Panel Discussion

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Taking place March 16 in the Kensington Ballroom at The London West Hollywood, Haute Residence’s third annual Los Angeles Luxury Real Estate Summit featured three panels, which brought the biggest names in luxury real estate together for discussions on the current trends in luxury real estate, personal success stories, and what’s next for California’s booming real estate market.

Moderated by Seth Semilof, co-founder and publisher of luxury publications Haute Living, Haute Residence, and Haute Time, the “$100 Million Club” panel concluded the summit and featured Josh and Matt Altman of Douglas Elliman, Ben Bacal of Rodeo Realty, Aaron Kirman of the John Aaroe Group, Joyce Rey of Coldwell Banker, Randy Solakian of Coldwell Banker, and Branden and Rayni Williams of Hilton & Hyland.

Moderated by Seth Semilof, co-founder and publisher of luxury publications Haute Living, Haute Residence, and Haute Time, the “$100 Million Club” panel concluded the summit and featured Josh and Matt Altman of Douglas Elliman, Ben Bacal of Rodeo Realty, Aaron Kirman of the John Aaroe Group, Joyce Rey of Coldwell Banker, Randy Solakian of Coldwell Banker, and Branden and Rayni Williams of Hilton & Hyland.

Pictured: (from left to right) Josh Altman, Ben Bacal, Aaron Kirman, Matt Altman, Seth Semilof, Joyce Rey, Rayni Williams, Branden Williams, and Randy Solakian
Pictured: (from left to right) Josh Altman, Ben Bacal, Aaron Kirman, Matt Altman, Seth Semilof, Joyce Rey, Rayni Williams, Branden Williams, and Randy Solakian

Seth Semilof: What is the secret to your continuing success?

Josh Altman: I think it’s very simple for me. I love what I do. You have to love what you do in order to be successful at it. Every morning that I wake up, I am excited to sell real estate.

Ben Bacal: You have to promote yourself, and promote your sales, your accolades, and your success. You have to spend money on marketing yourself and saying you’re the area expert. You also have to hustle, hit those buyers and sellers, and do a face-to-face or a phone call or whatever it takes. You have to make those connections every single day from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep.

"I study the world essentially on a daily basis, I study what’s going on, I study trends, I study what’s happening in different countries, and I do my best to really be ahead of the curve, and not behind it." – Aaron Kirman
“I study the world essentially on a daily basis, I study what’s going on, I study trends, I study what’s happening in different countries, and I do my best to really be ahead of the curve, and not behind it.” – Aaron Kirman

Aaron Kirman: I study the world essentially on a daily basis, I study what’s going on, I study trends, I study what’s happening in different countries, and I do my best to really be ahead of the curve, and not behind it.

Joyce Rey: I’d like to relate my success to a number of reasons, and I think it starts out with an intense commitment to what I do. It is my real top priority in life, and it’s been a good one.

 

Seth Semilof: How is the rate of the U.S. dollar affecting your business on a global scale?

Rayni Williams: It’s kind of all over the board, but the big money is coming from the United States. Americans are buying big time. Most of our $20 million and above this year and last were American.

"People are always saying that the stock market is an indication what’s going to happen, but it doesn’t dictate what our economy is for real estate. It’s only a small portion of it." – Ben Bacal
“People are always saying that the stock market is an indication what’s going to happen, but it doesn’t dictate what our economy is for real estate. It’s only a small portion of it.” – Ben Bacal

Ben Bacal: I think there was $104 billion of luxury real estate that was sold last year, and high-net-worth individuals has gone up two percent, so I do think America is obviously the safe bet as the last panels were saying. People are always saying that the stock market is an indication what’s going to happen, but it doesn’t dictate what our economy is for real estate. It’s only a small portion of it.

Joyce Rey: The only big difference in the market this year over last for the first quarter, I would say, is in the sales over $20 million. Those have diminished quite a bit. Last year at this time I believe we had nine sales over $20 million, and I think seven of them were $30 million and above. This year I think we only have a couple of closed sales in the 20s, so that’s a significant difference in the very high-end.

Pictured: (from left to right) Josh and Matt Altman, Ben Bacal, Aaron Kirman, Joyce Rey, Randy Solakian, Branden Williams, and Rayni Williams
Pictured: (from left to right) Josh and Matt Altman, Ben Bacal, Aaron Kirman, Joyce Rey, Randy Solakian, Branden Williams, and Rayni Williams

Seth Semilof: What markets are you tapping into currently for new buyers? Where are you seeing the most growth? What are your predictions for the remainder of this year and next year?

Branden Williams: We are living in one of the best cities in the world. We have the best weather. We’re in the entertainment capital of the world. Now, we are becoming the content capital of the world. Companies like Facebook and Google are moving here. Areas from Playa Vista and downtown Los Angeles––I think they are booming all over. What excites me is finding those new pockets.

 

Seth Semilof: What types of property characteristics do you think buyers are looking for today?

Ben Bacal: Views have been a big part of my inventory, but recently people have just wanted land. They want a backyard to play with their kids.

Joyce Rey: A house in move-in condition is, particularly with the foreign audience, the number one thing. They don’t want to remodel, so when you have a house that is ready to go, it’s imminently salable for that reason, because remodeling is time-consuming and particularly difficult in some of these cities that we deal with.

"A house in move-in condition is, particularly with the foreign audience, the number one thing. They don’t want to remodel, so when you have a house that is ready to go, it’s imminently salable for that reason..." – Joyce Rey
“A house in move-in condition is, particularly with the foreign audience, the number one thing. They don’t want to remodel, so when you have a house that is ready to go, it’s imminently salable for that reason…” – Joyce Rey

Randy Solakian: In the past, everybody wanted two-stories, stature, European––but the one-level house now has become very popular.

 

Seth Semilof: What are your clients expecting from you?

Matt Altman: They want events and silly things that usually don’t have an impact on the sale. The pictures and the videos––those are the most important things…Their expectations, I think, have become a little more fantasized. That’s what they think will sell the house, but at the end of the day, it’s your broker, it’s your pictures, it’s your videos, and the contacts. That’s it.

Branden Williams: I think your presentation is everything. I think your first impression is everything, so I edit and I re-edit. If I have to photoshop out a house that’s behind and ugly and that I don’t want to see, then that’s what I’ll do.

Randy Solakian: I’ve never had anyone ask me if I’m going to put their home on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or even on TV [laughs]. But they all want to know that you are going to leave no stone unturned, and that you are not going to leave out a demographic or a geographic area. That one-in-a-million buyer may come from some other country, and so they want to know that you have the resources and mechanisms in place to make sure we don’t miss anybody.

Photos by Tommaso Boddi

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