Hollywood's Top 25 Real Estate Agents

6:15 AM 9/16/2016

by Peter Kiefer

From selling Jerry Weintraub's estate to showing the house that had Adele saying "Hello": These pros aren't feeling a SoCal market slowdown (yet) as buyers demand ever-pricier (and bizarre) amenities and eight-figure sales on L.A.'s Westside defy gravity.

After five years of scorching-hot growth for Los Angeles' residential market, a few August reports showed signs of cooling — but the city still is outpacing other metropolitan areas (including New York and San Francisco), with the median home price tracking 7 percent above 2015's average. And an explosive new listing — the $195 million Beverly House, an estate once owned by William Randolph Hearst — hit the market only weeks after the Playboy Mansion closed for a record $100 million. Such eye-popping properties are all in a day's work for THR's top agents, who tout the Teflon markets they dominate — from the Westside to Hidden Hills — where no client request is too outrageous (marijuana dispensary, please!), as two agency upstarts look to shake up the L.A. "knife fight."

  • Josh and Matt Altman

    Douglas Elliman

    For most broker teams, clearing $300 million in sales in a year would be an achievement in and of itself. But for Douglas Elliman’s Josh and Matt Altman it’s just one more thing on a list. The Million Dollar Listing brothers, published a best-selling book and launched a commercial division — "another aspect of the Altman brothers handling our clients' needs from A to Z," says Josh. Top current listing: a $45 million compound at 72 Beverly Park in Beverly Hills.

    MOST OVER-THE-TOP CLIENT REQUEST Only houses with no potential sniper vantage points nearby.

  • Santiago Arana

    The Agency

    With more than $300 million in sales this year, Arana has doubled his 2015 output. "I think it is a synergy of experience, time and knowledge, my contacts that I built up through the years and being a managing partner in one of the best agencies,” he says. Eventful achievements? The sale of a $20 million Brentwood home to Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff and a $23 million sale on East Channel Road in Santa Monica to Vice founder and CEO Shane Smith.

    $9M: This four-bedroom gated Malibu estate is listed by Arana.

  • Joe Babajian

    Rodeo Realty

    "I still get very excited about certain listings, but the celebrity thing doesn't excite me all that much," says Babajian, who during his 30-year career has sold two houses for Barbra Streisand, a house to Tom Petty and recently sold Marlon Brando's former pad for $2.73 million. “It’s not really like we become best friends, and I prefer it that way,” he says. The listing he's excited about now is a $25 million spread on Beverly Hills' Summitridge Drive with promontory city views: "It's where I sold John Fogerty a house!"

  • Ben Bacal

    Rodeo Realty

    "I look at myself as a media company," says Bacal, who credits his time as an assistant at Warner Bros. and Sony for his innovative sales techniques. He claims to be the first broker to have used drone video to market a listing — for a house in the Bird Streets that sold for $19 million. In addition to a current batch of stellar listings (including another Bird Streets perch for $18.4 million), Bacal is prepping the launch of his Roofshoot app, which will allow agents to create high-quality marketing videos with their iPhones: "I'm always pushing my peers to enter the digital realm."

  • Fred Bernstein

    Westside Estate Agency

    "What still surprises me is that shift in the mentality of the buyer, where they feel comfortable enough pulling the trigger on a $20 million asset purchase," says Bernstein, a 12-year veteran. "I'm always interested in that something that gets them excited enough to make a move." Last year, Bernstein sold the late Kirk Kekorian's home for $19 million and in June sold Tom Cruise's Beverly Hills home for $39 million. He is currently shopping Jerry Weintraub's Beverly Hills estate for $25 million: "You can feel the old Hollywood there and the vibe of when Sinatra partied there."

    MOST OVER-THE-TOP CLIENT REQUEST A sealed-off bedroom with zero light.

  • Ernie Carswell

    Teles Properties

    Carswell recently represented Regis and Joy Philbin in their purchase of a $2.5 million condo and sold designer Barbara Barry's home, both in Beverly Hills. "If you want insurance against the cycles, buy a single-family home on the west side of L.A.," he says. "The Westside will downturn, but it will hold its value the longest. It's gold territory."

  • Chris Cortazzo

    Coldwell Banker

    The new Soho House outpost in Malibu has only further boosted interest in the scorching residential market there, says Cortazzo, who has maintained his perch as the king of Malibu with more than $370 million in sales this year. Beachside born and bred, he sees a clear advantage over his competitors: "I know Malibu inside and out, from the public-school systems to the surf breaks to the hiking trails, and I like to educate my buyers." The fine dining offered at both Soho House and Nobu have also added a positive new dimension. "It used to be we had to leave Malibu for a good meal but now everyone comes here to dine."

    MOST OVER-THE-TOP CLIENT REQUEST A helicopter pad.

  • Hugh Evans

    Partners Trust

    In an industry dominated by brokers who tend to outshine their star clients when it comes to self-promotion, "I work pretty hard to stay somewhat in the background," says Evans, a Santa Monica native who stood out by setting a price-per-square-foot record in Pacific Palisades ($1,673) with the $14 million sale of the California Modern home at 748 Amalfi Drive — the talk of the Westside real estate community for weeks. He currently has an $11 million listing at 16242 Shadow Mountain Drive in Pacific Palisades.

  • Drew Fenton

    Hilton & Hyland

    Fenton added another gilded feather to his cap with the $100 million sale of Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion. That was a Los Angeles County record, but it might not last long in light of his other mind-boggling listing: the $500 million One Bel Air. Under construction by developer Nile Niami, the 74,000-square-foot main home will have 20 bedrooms, a 30-car garage and a 180-foot infinity pool.

  • Josh Flagg

    Rodeo Realty

    The Million Dollar Listing star is recording his best year to date — already at $200 million as of August — and has room to grow. "I currently have two listings over $50 million," he says, "and this year I sold four homes that I then sold again within one to three months. I didn't do anything to them, and they all sold for $1 million more." The L.A. native's current listings include Hollywood architect John Woolf's original Beverly Hills home, now owned by J Brand Jeans founder Jeff Rudes, for $8 million.

  • Tomer Fridman

    Sotheby's

    Last year's spike in Beverly Hills and Bel Air prices was a boon for Calabasas/Hidden Hills specialist Fridman, who says luxury buyers headed north, where the dollar goes a lot further. "Out here, a $14 million house is 15,000 square feet on 1 to 3 acres," says the 40-year-old agent, poised to end 2016 in the "high-$100 million range." Chalk it up to "element K": Fridman works with nearly every Kardashian and brokered Kylie Jenner's $4.5 million purchase of a 5,000-square-foot home this summer. He is also currently selling Jennifer Lopez’s three-acre Hidden Hills estate for $12.5 million. 

  • Madison Hildebrand

    Partners Trust

    Hildebrand is preparing to list a $100 million Malibu ranch that includes not only a beach house but also private planes, a business that operates luxury aircraft and an operational hangar. "We're doing this in a way that has never really been done before," he says. In addition to managing more than 30 active listings, the Malibu native will rejoin Million Dollar Listing full time this season.

    MOST OVER-THE-TOP CLIENT REQUEST "Sell a house without showing one of the bedrooms, which had been turned into a sex dungeon."

  • Juliette Hohnen

    Douglas Elliman

    Amanda Friedman

    So far in 2016: Hohnen made more than $100 million in volume, including the sale of Don Mischer's Beverly Hills home to Adele for $9.5 million and a house in Venice to Emilia Clarke. "I told myself, 'If I am going to be a Realtor, then I am going to be one of the top Realtors, and I am going to be ethical about it,' " she says. "And I have to put my kids through private school."

    Read more on Hohnen here.

  • Sally Forster Jones

    John Aaroe Group

    What SoCal market slowdown? Jones recently listed, opened and closed a $16.9 million Malibu property within 22 days. "We've had international buyers who feel that the U.S. is the safest market, particularly L.A.," she says. She currently is receiving calls from around the globe for baseball star Coco Crisp's $10 million Rancho Mirage home and is selling a $15 million Broad Beach house owned by Robb Report vice chairman Bill Curtis.

    $11M: Jones listed this Brentwood spread on Oakmont on Sept. 4.

  • Aaron Kirman

    John Aaroe Group

    Within months, Kirman closed on both an $18 million Bel Air estate — sold to Epic Records CEO L.A. Reid — and the $8 million John Lautner-designed Elrod House in Palm Springs (featured in the 1971 James Bond classic Diamonds Are Forever). He credits his time selling architectural homes earlier in his career for fostering an appreciation for all types of homes. "I am a traveler and a creative person, and I am drawn to those same types of people," he says. "And they, in turn, are drawn to the houses I am selling."

    MOST OVER-THE-TOP CLIENT REQUEST A sex swing.

  • Rochelle Maize

    Nourmand & Associates

    The highlight of Maize's year: selling the 112-acre Robert Taylor Ranch in Brentwood without her client stepping foot on it. "For eight hours we droned the property from all angles," she says. "After I sent that footage, we wrote an offer the next day." Maize also set a price-per-square-foot record in the Beverly Hills flats ($2,453) and secured director James Wan's home for a buyer when it wasn't on the market: "This client wanted a very specific view in the Hollywood Hills. I went through expired listings, found his agent and convinced them."

    MOST OVER-THE-TOP CLIENT REQUEST A home surgery center.

  • Jade Mills

    Coldwell Banker

    "Twenty-five years ago a big listing was $3 [million] or $5 million," says Mills, who passed the $4 billion career mark during a year when she had five listings that sold for more than $20 million, including 1012 N. Hillcrest Road ($22.5 million) and the $100 million Playboy Mansion (where she represented buyer Daren Metropoulos). The daughter of a dairy farmer, she says service remains at the heart of her business. "After 25 years you know people's hot buttons, but your word is your bond, and at the end of the day I just love what I do and doing it ethically."

  • David Offer

    Berkshire Hathaway

    "I'm not the Million Dollar Listing type," says Offer, though one of his recent listings — a pair of neighboring Palisades Riviera estates on the market for a combined $18 million — is owned by Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. Another big-ticket listing: a $42 million Georgian-style Pacific Palisades estate built for the late Michael King of syndicator King World Productions (which distributed The Oprah Winfrey Show and Jeopardy!).


    $42M: Offer calls King’s Palisades estate “one of the most extraordinary properties in the city.”

  • Jason and Brett Oppenheim

    The Oppenheim Group

    "Last year we did 55 deals and $150 million in sales; this year we're on pace for close to 85 sales and $250 million," says Jason Oppenheim (pictured left), who credits his twin brother, Brett (who joined the company in 2015), for much of the growth. In June, the duo represented former MGM exec Chris McGurk in the $16 million sale of his Beverly Hills home. "I'm 39 and consider myself young and hip; a majority of my clients are, too," says Oppenheim. "We're putting a billboard up on Sunset Boulevard."

  • Tami Halton Pardee

    Halton Pardee+Partners

    "Our whole thing this year is peace and good love and looking at the world through a better and bigger place," says Pardee, the queen of L.A.'s Westside real estate scene. But don't be fooled: She rules red-hot Venice with listings including the newest home ($4.775 million) from award-winning architects Marmol Radziner. Pardee also recently closed on a $9.8 million property on Rockingham in Brentwood: "Everyone quoted it at $9 million, and we got $9.8. I absolutely love it when that happens."

    Award-winning architects Marmol Radziner's newest collaboration with Halton Pardee is this $4.775 million listing at 613 Santa Clara in Venice.$9.8M: The storybook garden house of a Brentwood spread Pardee sold in April.

  • Kurt Rappaport

    Westside Estate Agency

    The influx of foreign wealth pouring into Los Angeles’ high-end real estate market over the past few years hasn’t altered the strategy of WEA’s Kurt Rappaport. “It’s actually an easier strategy: The higher the price the smaller the world,” says Rappaport, whose portfolio includes Ronald Reagan's $26 million Pacific Palisades estate at the top of Amalfi Drive. He also is the listing agent on developer Domvs London's plan to turn a strip of land on Tortuoso Way in Bel Air, previously owned by real estate heir Steve Bing, into the three lots listed for more than $100 million each. He'll be honored by New York's Friars Club on Sept. 21 — alongside Martin Scorsese.

    $26M: Rappaport holds the listing on this seven-bedroom in the Palisades.

  • Joyce Rey

    Coldwell Banker

    A 30 percent year-over-year drop in L.A. homes sold for more than $20 million isn't fazing Rey: "People like certainty, and there isn't a lot of that right now. After the election, however, there will be quite a bit of pent-up demand." Her 2016 sales include Robin Williams' Napa Valley home, which sold in January for $18 million. Rey also holds the listing on the eye-popping $149 million Palazzo di Amore in Beverly Hills (first listed in 2014 at $195 million).

  • Billy Rose

    The Agency

    During Labor Day weekend, Rose and his partners hosted 400 guests at a 20,000-square-foot Malibu mansion to celebrate five years of The Agency. "If you had told me five years ago, "You guys will be opening five offices this year including one in Turks and Caicos, dominating market share and have all these great agents,' I would have laughed," says Rose, who eclipsed $200 million in sales volume this year. He currently holds the recent pocket listing on veteran music exec Ron Fair's $15.5 million gated Brentwood spread.

    MOST OVER-THE-TOP CLIENT REQUEST "A room where he could grow and display marijuana for guests."

    $15.5M: Rose has the listing on this 1940 Brentwood nine-bedroom.

  • Mauricio Umansky

    The Agency

    The co-founder of The Agency is celebrating another dominant year — "My motivation is competitiveness. I cannot stand losing, period." — highlighted by the $100 million sale of the Playboy Mansion, which he co-listed with Hilton & Hyland's Fenton. He has cleared well over $400 million in sales volume this year and currently holds the $195 million listing on the Beverly House, Hearst's former grand estate.

    $30M: This Beverly Hills chateau listed by Umansky comes with a 1,500-bottle wine cellar.

  • Branden Williams and Rayni Romito Williams

    Hilton & Hyland

    The husband-wife team is searching for a buyer for a $250 million pocket listing — "the most gorgeous Modern you've ever seen in the best part of Bel Air," says Branden. In addition to $60 million in other pocket listings this past year, the duo sold Sela Ward's Bel Air compound to Jennifer Lopez for $28 million and the Frank Zappa estate for $5.5 million.

    MOST OVER-THE-TOP CLIENT REQUEST "After closing, a buyer called and said: 'Can you come over? There's 100 percent a ghost in this house, and she's nasty. You've got to help me,' " says Rayni. "I didn't have an exorcist in my Rolodex. Now I do."

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