The Top 10 Real Estate Power Players in L.A.

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THESE TOP 10 L.A. POWER PLAYERS TALK INDUSTRY TRENDS, HOT AMENITIES AND THE RITZIEST RESIDENCES THEY REPRESENT

aaron kirman

AARON KIRMAN
JOHN AAROE GROUP

Aaron Kirman is President of the International Estates Division at John Aaroe Group, selling over $3.5 billion in real estate to heads of industry, celebrities, foreign investors and even royalty.

How did you make it in the real estate industry?
It is important to say upfront that there is no ticket to success— [mine] has come primarily from hard work, strategy, connecting with the right people and staying outside the box. Creating unique business strategies… keeps you ahead of the curve. There is also a little bit of making your own luck.

What are the rewards of selling residential L.A. real estate?
This is one of the only industries in the world where we get to interact so closely with our clients on a product that means so much. [I like] helping my clients live the life they have always wanted.

What are your predictions for luxury real estate in L.A.?
Often, I tell clients that I don’t have a crystal ball and, if I did, I promise I would use it. But that is simply not the case. This puts a premium on [having] a solid sales strategy [by pricing] correctly for the market.

What has been your most significant home sale?
One of my proudest moments was when I sold the Oscar Ne Mayer home in Santa Monica to a developer for the land value. It became clear that [he] planned on tearing down the house to build some- thing that would greatly increase the value and I convinced him to instead sell [it] to a buyer that, in turn, wanted to restore the home to its original grandeur.

adam rosenfeld

ADAM ROSENFELD
MERCER VINE

Adam Rosenfeld is the founder of Mercer Vine, aimed at redefining the experience of buying and selling luxury real estate.

What has been the ticket to your success?
People talk so often about understanding the marketplace and the economy—and while those are paramount, success comes with building relationships and understanding what your client wants and needs. In addition, advising them on the best possible outcome [is important], so their expectations are in line with what we can deliver.

If you could own any estate, what would it be?
I fell in love with 800 Stradella Road a year ago when I represented the buyer in an off-market sale. This piece of land has complete unobstructed views stretching from Downtown L.A. to Catalina Island to the Griffith Observatory.

What has been your most significant home sale?
I represented the buyer in the purchase of The Owlwood Estate for $90 million. It wasn’t just the price tag—the history and sheer size of the estate are what made it so significant to me.

Describe the hottest property you represent.
The hottest home we represent is 627 N. Palm Drive in Beverly Hills, which just hit the market for $15.995 million. There’s nothing else like it in the city. Everything about this property is a beautiful fusion of Spanish Colonial architecture and modern design.

What is the key to sealing the deal with any real estate transaction?
A good real estate deal starts with identifying the areas where your clients on both sides of the
negotiation are willing to compromise. From Mercer Vine’s standpoint, that means having a deep understanding of which deal elements are negotiable and which are not, and then continually advocating for those items throughout the process. If both sides truly understand their clients, there is almost always a way to ensure that everyone walks away happy with the sale.

linda may

LINDA MAY
HILTON & HYLAND

Linda May has made a name for herself working with A-listers and the world’s most elite business leaders in luxury Los Angeles residential real estate for over three decades.

What has been your ticket to success?
I was immediately drawn to the luxury marketplace over 30-plus years ago. My time in the industry has been defined through my persistent hard work, complete authenticity and integrity. I also have a passion for art and architecture, which has led me to be immersed in the fabulous classic architectural homes that Los Angeles has to offer. Last, but certainly not least, I am backed by an incredible team!

What advice would you give an agent who is just start- ing out?
Get yourself a mentor, learn the inventory and start to understand values! These are key fundamentals of being a successful agent.

What do you see as the most desirable selling point of a residence that buyers look for in your market?
Today, the most desired selling point of a residence to my clientele is the master suite. It must be sumptuous, boast overgenerous closets, separate his/hers bathrooms and evoke a true feeling of relaxation.

What has been your most significant home sale?
My most recent significant estate sale was the iconic 300 Delfern Drive, The Edie Goetz Estate. Out of the 13-plus estates I have sold in Holmby Hills, this was one of the best residential estates in the city with its classic Hollywood history, stunning architecture and classic elements. It is a rare trophy estate that I was proud to represent.

Are there recurring trends that you’ve seen in the past year?
In the last several years, the modern white box home has been a very strong trend, However, classical architectural homes with pedigree, history and the touch of distinction by masterful architects continue to endure and prevail throughout the decades.

myra nourmand

MYRA NOURMAND
NOURMAND & ASSOCIATES

Known as the First Lady of Real Estate, Myra Nourmand has a reputation for excellence in the listing, marketing and selling of high-end residences across L.A.

What has been your ticket to success?
My ability to develop strong relationships in the community, my dedication to my craft, my drive and adapting to change in today’s cutting age technology. The home is where your heart is, so this is one of the most gratifying services that I can provide to a client.

What are some common challenges and rewards you experience selling residential real estate in L.A.?
There’s only one way to thrive in the fiercely competitive L.A. market: work non-stop. You have to be accessible to your clients nearly 24/7 and you have to work at lightning-fast speed. Amazing listings [that are] priced right fly off the market because everyone is looking to purchase the same sought-after property.

Have you seen recurring trends in luxury real estate?
Views have taken on a greater importance than ever before. Buyers who seek an amazing L.A. view are entering a hyper-competitive market. Many have to adjust their budgets and be willing to pay more than they expected.

What is the key to sealing the deal on any real estate transaction?
In the high-end [subsector], you’re dealing with multiple players: buyers and sellers and their team of business managers, accountants, agents and lawyers. Putting together a multimillion- dollar deal under these circumstances is full of challenges. Effectively navigating through inevitable obstacles is what separates the elite agents from their less successful counterparts.

What advice would you give an agent who is just starting out?
Tenacity is key. I started out after being a homemaker who had stopped working to raise my kids. I told myself failure was not an option and, when I encountered roadblock after roadblock, I kept pushing forward. There’s a lot of disappointment in this business: sellers change their minds and pull their homes off the market, and buyers back out of deals. But around every corner is a new deal. As the saying goes, “When a door closes, a window opens.”

What do you see as the most desirable amenity or selling point of a residence that buyers look for in your market?
The most desirable amenities for my clients are location, property size and architecture.

Joyce Rey

JOYCE REY
COLDWELL BANKER

Joyce Rey has dedicated more than four decades to selling the country’s most extravagant residences, setting numerous records throughout her career and acquiring over $3 billion in sales.

As one of the top sellers of luxury real estate, how did you make it in the industry?
[There were] a number of factors—starting with a great educational background, a passion for the business itself, long hours of hard work, and putting my clients’ best interests first.

What is the key or secret to sealing the deal on any transaction?
Extensive follow-up.

Describe the hottest home in L.A. that you currently represent.
72 Beverly Park—this property offers more than any other! With Richard Landry’s outstanding architecture, six prime acres in the exclusive guard-gated Beverly Park [and] fabulous entertaining areas with high ceilings, nothing compares. If you move outside of L.A., the Sycamore Valley Ranch (formerly known as ‘Neverland’) is not only a piece of history, but an absolute paradise.

What are some common challenges and rewards you experience selling residential real estate in Los Angeles?
It is always difficult to find the perfect house for a buyer. Sellers typically want to price their property above actual market value. The rewards are many—the most important is the respect of your colleagues and the appreciation of your clients.

What do you see as the most desirable amenity or selling point of a residence that buyers look for in your market?
I think they look for outstanding architecture; city, ocean or pastoral views; and [for a home to be] move-in ready.

What advice would you give an agent who is just starting out?
Have a good savings account so you don’t have to worry about finances as you learn the business, work with a top company that focuses on the area that is of interest, choose a company that
has a strong training program, consider specializing in a certain neighborhood and utilize as many educational programs as possible.

What has been your most significant home sale?
There have been many, including Owlwood, Pickfair, the Harold Lloyd Estate; however, Le Belvedere in Bel Air, which was the highest sale for the U.S. for an entire year, was very exciting!

Are there recurring trends that you’ve seen in high-end homes in the past year?
There has been a high demand for contemporary architecture and developers are catering to that preference. Land and privacy are always requested, and our buying market tends to be younger and younger and always filled with celebrities.

What do you predict for luxury real estate over the next year?
At the moment, the market is stronger than it has ever been—there have been 24 sales of [over $20 million] so far this year, and there were only eight at this time last year. And of those 24 sales, 11 were over $30 million and there was only one… at this time last year.

Chris Cortazzo

CHRIS CORTAZZO
COLDWELL BANKER

Chris Cortazzo has been named Coldwell Banker’s number one real estate agent in Malibu for the past decade, earning over $4 billion in sales since 2000.

As one of the top sellers of luxury real estate, how did you make it in the industry? What has been your ticket to success?
Passion, passion, passion. I realized early in my career that, to be successful, it’s a 24/7 job.

What is the key to sealing the deal with any real estate transaction?
Having the confidence, knowing the property, knowing the neighborhood, and know- ing what the buyer is looking for.

Describe the hottest home in L.A. that you currently represent. What distinguishes it from other residences on the market?
There’s a $60 million estate that’s located on PCH that is absolute perfection. It’s Tuscany, it’s the French Riviera and it’s three acres located in Malibu on a low bluff, with direct beach access to a perfect surf break and a beautiful sandy cove.

What are some common challenges and rewards you experience selling residential real estate in L.A.?
It’s always a voyage of discovery trying to match the vision of the buyer with the properties on the market; the reward is when you achieve that.

What do you see as the most desirable amenity or selling point of a residence that buyers look for in your market?
Ocean views, with the ultimate [amenity] being beach access.

What has been your most significant home sale?
My first home sale in 1994 for $5 million, which I sold a few years ago for $60 million. This defined my career in real estate.

Are there recurring trends that you’ve seen in high-end homes in the past year?
It’s always the sifting sands of the beach in terms of what buyers are looking for. International buyers tend to be more traditional, where domestic buyers tend to be more architectural.

What advice would you give an agent who is just starting out?
Know your area, know your inventory, know your buyer, know your sellers, and then walk out the door with confidence that you can sell anything.

What are your predictions for the luxury real estate sector in L.A. over the next year?
It’s hard to predict L.A. in general, but… I anticipate [Malibu] to be very strong. More and more people are drawn to the beach lifestyle and, as such, Malibu has become an international destination.

Jeff Hyland

JEFF HYLAND
HILTON & HYLAND

As Co-founder and President of Hilton & Hyland, Jeff Hyland has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Beverly Hills Greater Los Angeles Association of Realtors for representing some of the most expensive and prestigious properties in L.A.

How did you make it in the industry?
I originally wanted to be an architect, but couldn’t do the math. I figured since I couldn’t design them, the next best thing was to sell them. Being raised in Little Holmby and spending my childhood around Bel-Air and Beverly Hills, I developed a fond love for and knowledge of the market. As in any profession, one word can spell success―and it’s so apropos for our industry: integrity.

What is the key to sealing the deal on any real estate transaction?
Bonding with the client through your knowledge and professionalism is the key to sealing the deal.

Describe the hottest home in L.A. that you currently represent. What distinguishes it from other residences on the market?
613 N. Canon Drive is one of the most exciting opportunities on the market. Maison 613 sets a new standard of elegance, beauty and sophistication in the residential landscape of Beverly Hills. Conceived and executed by yacht architect Roy Sklarin, [it] boasts over 21,000 square feet of ultra-luxe amenities, including a paneled library, a state- of-the-art theater with a star roof, an indoor basketball court, a beauty salon, a Qubica AMF two-lane bowling alley, a fitness center, a resort- size swimming pool and spa, a commercial elevator, and much more. Needless to say, the property is unrivaled in its opulence.

What are some common challenges and rewards you experience selling residential real estate in L.A.?
In this hot market, the challenge lies in knowing the off-market properties and convincing sellers to sell off-market. Aside from the financial reward, which brings great pleasure, I relish in matching clients to the perfect property. Since our office sells one-third of our high-end properties in-house and off-market, it creates great fun in matching people to people and lifestyles to lifestyles through their future luxury home.

If you could own any estate currently on or off the market, which would it be?
My favorite estate in the entire city would have to be the estate owned by my partner’s late grandfather, Conrad Hilton. Sitting on over eight flat acres on Bel-Air Country Club, this exceptional property has no neighbors, providing the utmost privacy and intimacy. I don’t think there’s another home like it. It’s the best estate in the city, if not in the country—truly
magnificent.

What do you see as the most desirable amen- ity or selling point of a residence?
Privacy, privacy, privacy. It wasn’t always such an issue, but privacy has come to be highly sought after and highly coveted. Buyers want their home to be a safe haven, a sanctuary.

Are there recurring trends that you’ve seen in high-end homes?
There is a fantastic long-term appreciation in Los Angeles with bumps that come along once or twice every decade. We happen to be in a wonderful growth period and, hopefully, we can defy the normal ups and downs we’ve seen before. It may not happen, as everyone wishes to live in Southern California because we have everything―from impeccable weather to business growth to exceptional architecture to theater.

What advice would you give an agent who is just starting out?
Make as many mistakes as you possibly can early on; they will serve you well as you climb the ladder.

What are your predictions for the luxury real estate sector in Los Angeles over the next year?
I foresee a ten percent increase in L.A.’s luxury real estate sector. In the city, where you have to tear down to build something new, there’s something to be said about the finite supply that gives the market stability and long-term growth.

MAURICIO UMANSKY

MAURICIO UMANSKY
THE AGENCY

Mauricio Umansky, Founder and CEO of The Agency, has been named the top-producing real estate agent in California for representing record-breaking properties, including the Playboy Mansion and the Carolwood Estate.

What has been your ticket to success?
When we started The Agency, we wanted to redefine the real estate industry, and that meant changing the brokerage model for the benefit of our clients. I believe we have succeeded in doing just that, and our focus is always on our clients. Whether [they are the] buyer or seller, we make sure their needs come first. Satisfied clients mean success.

If you could own any estate, what would it be?
David Geffen’s Jack L. Warner Estate on Angelo Drive in Beverly Hills.

What are some common challenges and rewards you experience selling residential real estate in L.A.?
Buying and selling is an emotional experience, so you have to fully understand the dynamics, relationships and underlying issues, and act as a translator between parties. The reward is the satisfaction of a happy client, finding them what they’ve been looking for, making the deal and achieving their goals.

Are there recurring trends that you’ve seen in the past year?
We are seeing an importance placed on high-tech offerings in high-end homes, stackable car garages to make the most of space, premier movie theaters and advanced security features and property monitoring. More buyers in Los Angeles are working in tech, so we can expect to see the smart home concept taken to the next level.

SUZANNE PERKINS

SUZANNE PERKINS
SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY

Suzanne Perkins has represented both buyers and sellers in many of Santa Barbara’s priciest residential real estate transactions.

What is the secret to sealing the deal on any transaction?
Complete honesty and always making sure that your clients come first.

What has been your most significant home sale?
My most important sale occurred in January 2007, when I represented the sellers of Bixby Company’s,
El Cojo and Jalama Ranches. It was the largest non-commercial transaction in California history—the combined listing value of the two properties was an astounding $155 million. Buyers had to agree to charter helicopters in order to view the property. Since most of the ranch was covered with a no-fly zone, we had to work with Vandenberg AFB to allow showings.

Describe the hottest home that you currently represent.
The Villa Santa Barbara—it’s owned by Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi [and] is listed for $45 million. There’s nothing that has ever been on the market that can compare to this property in any way. It has history, privacy, views and fabulous architecture. When you’re on the property, you feel like you’ve been transported to Italy or the South of France.

What are your predictions for the luxury real estate sector in your market over the next year?
Santa Barbara is unique because we have the mountains to the north and the ocean to the south, so our growth is restricted. We also have very little inventory on the market, so the good properties in the luxury real estate sector are going to continue to demand good prices.

Are there recurring trends you’ve seen in high-end homes over the course of the last year?
Buyers are taking a lot more time to make up their minds. No one seems to be in a hurry.

What do you see as the most desirable amenity of a residence?
Right now, the most desirable amenity in our area is a really large, zero-edge pool. Buyers are also looking for clean lines, high ceilings, open spaces, and a clean and simple design with a more contemporary feel.

Randy Solakian

RANDY SOLAKIAN
COLDWELL BANKER

One of the Santa Barbara region’s most esteemed leaders in real estate, Randy Solakian has amassed an exceptional sales history that includes several legendary estates.

As one of the top sellers of luxury real estate, how did you make it in the industry? What has been your ticket to success?
I have been very fortunate to enjoy success beyond my imagination over the decades; however, success comes with a constant process of deliberate focus, effort and strategy. It starts with a basic prerequisite for knowledge and expertise, honesty and placing the clients’ best interest as top priority. Success is mostly the delayed result of long- term commitment to deliver quality results to the marketplace.

What is the key to sealing the deal on any real estate transaction?
To foresee potential problems in advance and move to resolve and eliminate issues early in the transaction process.

What are your predictions for the luxury real estate sector in the L.A. area over the next year?
In my marketplace, which includes Montecito and the South Coast of Santa Barbara County, we enjoy what is arguably the best real estate in the world, a world-class culture center disguised as a sleepy coastal town, and mostly excellent weather year-round. There will always be a strong demand for property here!

What advice would you give an agent who is just starting out?
There’s no easy ticket to success. Be prepared for a long-term commitment of service to your clientele, and do not let your personal life get lost in the process. Remember what drives your efforts.

What do you see as the most desirable amenity or selling point of a residence that buyers look for in your market?
Although this varies with the individual buyers, in our market, capable buyers typically ask for views, privacy, gardens, architecture and, of course, a desirable location.

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