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Los Angeles' white-hot luxury home market shows no signs of cooling. The average luxury home sales price in the city grew 10.5 percent — to $7.4 million — during the second quarter of 2015, while the average number of days on the market fell 11 percent (to 88 days), according to real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman. Witness record-setting sales in some of the hottest markets — with many buyers paying al cash. "It's a healthy market, and there's no better place to invest," says John Aaroe Group's Aaron Kirman, one of THR's top 25 agents — presented here in alphabetical order — selected for their client rosters and killer deals.
Read more Beverly Hills' $1 Billion "Vineyards": The Bizarre Saga Behind L.A.'s Last Real Estate Trophy
Josh and Matt Altman
The Million Dollar Listing stars moved their business to Douglas Elliman in February after nearly a decade with Hilton & Hyland. During the past 12 months, they have represented the unnamed buyer of Reba McEntire's Beverly Park home ($22.25 million) and Miley Cyrus in the purchase of her 5-acre vineyard estate in Hidden Hills ($5 million). Brothers Matt, a former talent agent, and Josh, who is writing a book about selling property, hold the listing for Denise Richards' nearly $8 million Hidden Hills home.
The Bolivia native, who moved to the U.S. short-term to learn English but decided to stay when he found his calling in real estate, was part of the team that sold author-screenwriter Victoria Foyt and director Henry Jaglom's Santa Monica home at 609 E. Channel Road — used in Beverly Hills Cop — in July for $23 million, one of the top sales to date in Santa Monica. "I'm definitely having the best year of my career by far," says Arana. He also represented the buyer of Michael Strahan's $21.5 million Brentwood home and sold Dan Romanelli's Malibu estate to Lady Gaga for $23 million.
The hottest type of home right now is a one-story house on a flat lot with a promontory view over the pool, says Babajian. "You would think it would be common, but it's not," he notes. "That's been the formula for getting the top dollar." This year, he sold such a house in Trousdale Estates (a co-sale with Rodeo's Josh Flagg) for $3,000 a square foot — a top price per square foot on the Westside. He has a piece of land in Beverly Hills with an asking price of $49 million in escrow, and he's listing Cheryl Tiegs' Bel Air home for $15 million. Previous sales also include Dean Martin's old home. "When I sold Nic Cage and Tom Jones' house owned before by Dean Martin, Nic walked through the house saying he had a vision of Dean in the house and that's why he wanted to buy it," Babajian recalls.
"What I'm seeing built back up is a very different mountain than I've seen in my 30 years of business," says Carswell of the current real estate cycle. "This is a mountain of cash, not loans." He is representing Katy Perry in her high-profile attempt to acquire a former Los Feliz convent for $14.5 million. He also has begun working with a developer on Della Reese's former Bel Air home, which she sold for $7.5 million in November. "Quickly built, fast money making doesn't interest me," Carswell notes. "Solid classics and something that will be here 100 years from now — that's what I want for me and what I want to represent when I represent someone else."
The Malibu dynamo, whose first client was Richard Gere, sold Gere's former $60 million Paradise Cove bluffs home to Jimmy Iovine in January. "That's a great way to start the year," jokes Cortazzo, adding that Malibu is only getting better: "Malibu is not at its peak, and I think there's room to grow." He sold a Frank Gehry-designed home owned by Patrick Dempsey for $15 million in June, and he's listing David and Yolanda Foster's Carbon Beach residence for $23.5 million.
Fenton, who has represented such clients as Christina Aguilera and the Osbournes, sold Calvin Klein a 9,350-square-foot view home in the Hollywood Hills for $25 million this summer. He also represented Nile Niami in his $9.5 million acquisition of Scooter Braun's Hollywood Hills home, and he's listing Simon Fuller's Beverly Hills house for nearly $19 million.
The Million Dollar Listing star says he has sold more than 20 homes at more than $5 million each this year. Among them is a Beverly Hills house on Tower Lane that he sold for $6 million — then sold again a month later for a million dollars more. Flagg, who remembers starting his career by putting together multimillion-dollar deals in his high school math class, also is preparing to list Andrew Getty's 8-acre estate in the Hollywood Hills.
Fridman, who has a law degree from Loyola Law School, says much of his business has revolved around gated communities. "I think there's been a huge trend by celebrity buyers because of the privacy factor and the lifestyle factor," he says. "Their kids can ride their bikes in the street without being harassed by paparazzi." Fridman recently handled the $20 million sale of a Hidden Hills home to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West and represented Justin Bieber in his $7.2 million Calabasas sale to West's sister-in-law Khloe Kardashian. On the future of the Los Angeles market, he notes, "We've always been focused on the entertainment industry clientele, but we're seeing foreign buyers and investors and the need to have good access to an international clientele. Los Angeles is turning into an international market. There's a lot of spectacular new construction."
James Harris and David Parnes
Harris and Parnes closed more than $200 million in sales during the past year, including a promontory view property in Beverly Hills to Kris Humphries for $6.2 million. The pair, now regulars on Million Dollar Listing, became friends in their native England before moving to the U.S.; they got their start in real estate by cold-knocking on doors nearly four years ago.
The Malibu specialist closed a deal for $10.3 million in seven days last year in the "most extraordinary moment of my life." He's listing two Edward Fickett-designed homes on Malibu Road for $11.5 million and $8 million. "He was the architect to the stars," says Hildebrand, whose clients have included Tori Spelling, Tyler Perry and Andre Carter.
Sally Forster Jones
In her second year as president of the luxury properties division at John Aaroe Group, Jones represented Minecraft creator Markus Persson in his acquisition of a $70 million home on Hillcrest Road in Trousdale Estates (edging out rumored bidders Beyonce and Jay Z). She is listing an $18.5 million property once owned by Oscar De La Hoya "that still has quite a bit of Oscar memorabilia, like boxing gloves" throughout the house.
President of international estates at his firm, Kirman has closed about $300 million in sales this year and has an estimated $600 million in listings. He's listing the Danny Thomas residence with 360-degree views atop Hillcrest in Trousdale Estates for a rumored $135 million. He also is co-listing Malibu developer and Sportsmen's Lodge owner Richard Weintraub's $60 million Malibu estate, La Villa Contenta.
Mills, whose clients have ranged from Lionel Richie to Jennifer Aniston, sold an off-market Spanish Mediterranean home in Bel Air for $38 million in March. "We've had quite a few sales in the $10 million range," says the former cocktail waitress, who has sold more than $3 billion worth of real estate during her career — starting with a $42,000 house in Van Nuys.
The housewife turned real estate powerhouse has run her brokerage for more than three decades. This year, she represented the buyer of Foyt and Jaglom's 609 E. Channel Road home in Santa Monica for $23 million and Gianni Nunnari's Bel Air home for nearly $16.6 million. In October, she sold Sheryl Crow's Hollywood Hills compound for $11.1 million. On what's changed about working in the industry from the '80s to present day, Nourmand says, "In 1989, we used to write offers on top of the roof of the car to see if we could run in and get it signed [by buyers]. It was crazy. … It's different now because now you just add a few zeros to everything. What was once $5 or $10 million is now $15 or $25 [million]. It's pretty amazing."
Offer has been the unofficial king of Brentwood for decades. This year, he handled the sale of Reese Witherspoon's estate for $10.5 million. He also has gotten into development on his own. Using his master's in architecture, Offer is working on his third Brentwood spec home, which he plans to list for $12 million to $13 million. The homes have been modern with a European twist, he says: "It's been really fulfilling financially and personally."
For the past five years, the former trial lawyer has been president of Oppenheim Group — a continuation of a five-generations-old family business. "This is what I'll do for the rest of my life," he says. This year, he represented Kris Humphries in his $6.2 million Beverly Hills acquisition, represented Taye Diggs in a West Hollywood lease this summer and helped Major League Baseball star Evan Longoria find his $2 million home in West Hollywood. He represented Diggs and Idina Menzel in the sale of their $2.6 million Studio City home in November.
With more than $2 billion in career sales, the 44-year-old founder of Pardee Properties is one of the nation's top agents. In 2014, she closed 152 deals with a total value of nearly $261 million. She sold Anjelica Huston's compound for $11.5 million and has worked with Mark Boal, Rosario Dawson, Matthew Modine and nearly every other Hollywood name who calls the trendy community home.
Peele sold a Mediterranean home on the Bel-Air Country Club golf course for $25 million this year before selling a Paul Williams-designed property in Beverly Hills for $12 million. The agent, who often can be found working and vacationing in the South of France, has been Madonna's realtor for ages and even photographed her tour and landed the cover shot on her 2006 CD/DVD I'm Going to Tell You a Secret.
After selling the landmark Fleur de Lys for $102 million in 2014, Rappaport continued to close some of L.A.'s most notable deals this year. He brokered the deal that allowed Steve Wynn to buy Guess jeans co-founder Maurice Marciano's nearly 3-acre Beverly Hills estate for an estimated $48 million. He also sold Bea Arthur's Brentwood estate to Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy for nearly $15 million in August and represented former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in his Hollywood Hills purchase.
Joyce Rey and Stacy Gottula
This year, the eight-year partners closed a lease for Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford's Hollywood Hills home and hold the $39 million listing for the Goldwyn estate in Beverly Hills. Gottula and Rey, whose rookie deal was Sonny and Cher's $4.2 million mansion in 1978, also are listing a 25-acre Beverly Hills vineyard estate for $149 million.
The president and co-founder of brokerage The Agency has worked with such clients as Kim Delaney and UTA chairman Jim Berkus this year. He sold Ryan Phillippe's 8,200-square-foot former home on Rising Glen Road for $15 million, a record-breaking price per square foot for the Sunset Park neighborhood.
One of the nation's top agents since the 1980s, the co-founder and partner of Westside Estate Agency says this year has been one of his best. In June, he sold Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli a Bel Air house that once belonged to Charles Bronson for $14 million. His "one-on-one formula" is the key, Shapiro says. "I don't operate like the other brokers, where I take dozens of listings. I just work with the clients I've had for years and their referrals." He adds, "The great thing is learning we are in a really envious position as successful real estate brokers because we're dealing with people who are far more successful than us. I use it as an opportunity to learn how these people operate and try to utilize that in my daily business deals."
Umansky, who's married to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Kyle Richards, does a huge volume of transactions in Beverly Park. He is listing Max Azria's $85 million Holmby Hills estate, Jeff Franklin's Richard Landry-designed spec home above the Sunset Strip for $32 million and Michael Jordan's personal residence in suburban Chicago for $14.9 million.
Branden Williams and Rayni Romito Williams
This husband-and-wife team remains among the top brokers in Beverly Hills. The pair sold the Hillcrest Road property to Persson for $70 million, the highest-ever sale price in Beverly Hills. They also sold the Beverly Crest home of former Sumner Redstone girlfriend Sydney Holland to Jennifer Lawrence for $8.2 million and Jeremy Renner and Kristoffer Winters' Hollywood flip for $4.3 million. The parents of a 1-year-old girl also represented the buyers of Jonathan Frakes and Genie Francis' Beverly Hills home for $12 million.
Wilson represented the buyer of Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith's Hancock Park home (reportedly Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos), which sold for nearly $16 million, a high for the neighborhood. Says the 25-year industry veteran, "It's nice to be able to sell homes that you love and that are beautiful and special."
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