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“I trained to be an opera singer but didn’t have the performing gene,” says Juliette Hohnen in her rich Chelsea accent. It seems an odd admission from the former debutante, considering she ended up as an on-air personality at MTV for nearly a decade. But it was her foray into print journalism after her departure from MTV at age 30 — when she worked as a freelancer and West Coast editor for such titles as Tatler, Jane and InStyle — that she finally saw the writing on the wall. “It paid absolute peanuts,” says the 51-year-old mother of two teenage sons (with ex-husband Steven Weber).
So she tapped into a childhood knack for real estate (she used to hunt the London streets for office space for her mother’s Montessori Center business). Around 2001, “I started buying and flipping houses for myself,” she says. “It really wasn’t a job, but the minute I’d finish them I would think, ‘I could make a shitload of money.’ “
In 2007, she secured her brokerage license and then embarked on a rather meteoric rise within an industry that, with a few exceptions, is dominated by men. “When you are a realtor you are a business person. I was a television producer so I was able to organize people, but I wasn’t good at advocating for myself and especially as a woman that is very difficult,” she says.
So far in 2016: 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. She has previously sold homes to actress Charlize Theron and photographer Mario Testino.
Unlike many top brokers who focus on one ritzy zip code, Hohnen has listings that span from Pasadena to Malibu.”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.”
Hohnen (left) with Madonna in 1998.
This story first appeared in the Sept. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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