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You hear it in their voices, in the measured words that THR's top real estate agents use to describe the shift in L.A.'s gravity-defying market. It's not that the party is over, but the lights are being turned on — slowly. The median sales price of an L.A. home was down 5 percent compared to the same period last year, according to an Elliman report. In Bel Air and Holmby Hills, it dipped 10 percent. The luxury market (the top 10 percent) hasn't seen a turndown — it was up 5 percent in that same period — but growth has slowed thanks to factors from rising interest rates to President Donald Trump's tax bill, which limits real estate deductions. "We've had a great run-up in values over the past several years but we're at the top," says Douglas Elliman's Ernie Carswell. "It's time for the buyers to get some of the goodies now." And these 30 market stars — chosen for their sales volume, headline-making deals and clout with entertainment clients — will be the ones helping Hollywood home-seekers capitalize.
Matt and Josh Altman
The brothers have notched more than $400 million in 2017 sales, including the Bradbury Estates property for $24.4 million, and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's Bel Air Crest mansion for $17.8 million. The duo also set a Redondo Beach record with a $22.65 million sale. Instagram marketing and "realistic pricing" are their special sauce. "We don't say no, we just figure out a way to make it work," says Matt. "We break records, we break molds and we make it happen."
Arana had a major role in the arrival of the new king of L.A.: He was not only the listing agent on LeBron James' Brentwood home, but also developed the $23 million new build. The Bolivia native, who came to the U.S. in 2003 with $120, uses his Horatio Alger story to inspire others via seminars at the Skirball Cultural Center. "People always ask, 'How do you get so many great listings? What's the secret?'" he says. "It's not really about the secret — it's about the execution."
"I got hundreds of emails within an hour from all over the world. It was a wild ride," says Carswell of listing the Brady Bunch house in Encino. The iconic home sold for $3.5 million — above the $1.85 million asking price but not a huge number for Carswell, whose biggest moment of 2018 was the sale of Teles, his former firm, to Douglas Elliman earlier this year. "They assumed that they could just crack the L.A. market after two years but found it was much more complex and layered," he says. "We were very proud when they bought us."
Cortazzo, who passed the $600 million mark in 2017, helped sell investor Richard Weintraub's 6.3-acre compound above the Malibu Colony (once rented by Beyonce and Jay-Z) for $50 million. He also has the off-market listing for NBCU vice chairman Ron Meyer's Malibu home, quietly offered for $125 million in June.
"Our niche and specialty is architectural and historic gems. We get just as excited over a $300,000 Harwell Harris home as we do by a $30 million house," says Deasy, a former urban planner whose 87-agent firm is low-key, familial and eschews flashiness — but still draws clients like Jerry Bruckheimer. Deasy sold the producer's Brentwood Case Study home for $11.5 million in June.
Fenton holds the $350 million listing on Chartwood, the late Jerry Perenchio's estate, and next year will have the One development by Nile Niami, expected to hit the market for $500 million. At the other end of his versatile range, last month he sold a Sierra Towers condo for $6.5 million to former Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman.
Flagg notched more than $170 million in sales in 2017 and scored a per-square-foot record in Little Holmby Hills with the $12.9 million sale in June of Anders Eisner's (son of former Disney CEO Michael) Spanish-style home. But the longest-running castmember of Bravo's Million Dollar Listing specializes in another exclusive nabe. "I can tell you going back 50 years who has owned any property in Beverly Hills," Flagg boasts.
The king of Calabasas, who's worked with nearly ever Kardashian, is broadening his range. "I see the luxury market moving farther east," he says, adding that he has picked up eight-figure listings in the Bird Streets, Bel Air and Hollywood Hills (including Megan Ellison's former home). But Fridman is keeping one foot firmly in his old territory: He has one of Kylie Jenner's properties in Hidden Hills on the market for $5.5 million and just closed on the sale of NBA star Chris Paul's Calabasas home for $11.05 million.
Sally Forster Jones
Forster Jones, who left Pacific Union for Compass in February, has taken her marketing game to new heights. In June, she hosted an event for a $25 million listing on Thrasher Avenue that featured an opera singer belting Puccini and a sunset ceremony where guests released butterflies from jars. She sold Billie Burke's Brentwood home for $3.5 million in May, and is listing producer Craig Huxley's Sherman Oaks house and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss' pad in Playa Vista.
Loyalty was the key to Glass' $171 million in 2017 sales. "There were clients I had 10 years ago circling back and rewarding me with referrals or listings," she says. Now she has a career-making $135 million Beverly Crest listing in the works: 2571 Wallingford Drive sits on roughly 5 acres and features a 155-foot-long infinity pool, two tennis courts and parking for 80 cars. (Its developer, Gala Asher, sold his last project to Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores for $100 million.)
James Harris and David Parnes
"Right now we have over a billion dollars in signed listings," says Harris, who with fellow Million Dollar Listing star Parnes pushed past the $500 million sales mark in 2017. The duo helped sell Le Belvedere (once owned by Mohamed Hadid) for $56 million. They also sold 900 Stradella Road in January for $41 million and in April brokered the $12.1 million sale of a Malibu home to Kevin Durant.
A month after Kirman announced he was listing a billion-dollar property known as the Mountain of Beverly Hills, he was in Europe meeting with potential buyers. "More billionaires have come out of the woodwork than normal," he says by phone from Amsterdam. This year he moved his team of 50 into new offices on Canon Drive, where they are managing more than $2 billion in active listings.
With her sweet spot in the $5 million to $15 million range ("It's better than waiting for those huge deals to come along," she says), Leigh did make some monster off-market sales to foreign buyers in 2017, which pushed her volume above $183 million. Up next is Nicole Richie's $11 million former home in Beverly Hills.
Tracy Tutor Maltas
Maltas was drawn into the #MeToo movement when she helped Rose McGowan sell her Hollywood Hills home — for $1.9 million — along with the star's furniture to raise legal funds for her fight against Harvey Weinstein. "She walked away with a suitcase and a pile of money," says Maltas, who's busy marketing and selling the 20 residential units at West Hollywood's Edition Hotel, designed by John Pawson in partnership with Ian Schrager.
"The marketing is changing, the game's changing, and I'm embracing it," says Maize, who incorporates virtual reality and Instagram to close deals like the $3 million listing she recently sold to AMC/SundanceTV exec Kristin Jones. But the Beverly Hills-based agent's most exciting listing hits the market in September: an 8,200-square-foot beachfront Santa Monica penthouse that was formerly owned by William Holden.
"It was really bittersweet," says May of the $68.8 million sale of the late Brad Grey's Holmby Hills house (she repped the buyer, reportedly Bruce Karsh of Oaktree Capital Management). "It was a masterpiece." Her current marquee listing is Johnny Carson's $65.2 million former Point Dume estate, owned by Sidney Kimmel.
Eighty percent of his brokerage business derives from his development projects (Beyonce and Jay-Z purchased one of his homes in Bel Air last year for $90 million). So it helps that McKillen has almost 60 going, including 908 Bel Air Road, recently listed for $180 million.
Having topped $143 million in sales in 2017, Miller says the Westside is her sweet spot, and she recently sold actor-producer Lucas Akoskin and actress Leonor Varela a Brentwood property. The vice chair of the California Association of Realtors' professional standards committee is proud of new rules protecting homeowners, like a requirement that agents must submit all offers to the seller. "We were really able to make an impact this year," she says.
Mills credits the involvement of her two daughters in her business with helping her find "balance," she says, adding, "The listings I have are with people that I care about and that I feel care about me." Those listings include John Barrymore's former Bella Vista estate ($19.5 million) and a $9.5 million beachfront compound in Santa Monica once owned by Cary Grant. She's also rumored to be one of several agents bringing the Owlwood estate back to market for $135 million.
It's been a meteoric rise for Noah, a first-timer on THR's list who got into the brokerage game five years ago after more than a decade as a lender. His first break came at The Century, where he brokered the sale of a $4 million condo at the tower where Rihanna and Matthew Perry own flats. "Less than 40 days after I got my license with Sotheby's, I had closed $15 million," says Noah, who last year sold his first $20 million-plus property, representing the buyer and seller of Coca-Cola bottling billionaire Alkiviades David's house on Summit Drive.
"In a time where fluff and smoke and mirrors are becoming increasingly commonplace, I doubled down on my old-fashioned approach of providing sound advice and excellent service," says Offer of yet another year in which he nearly hit the $200 million mark. He's set to announce a $31 million Brentwood listing on a home and neighboring property owned by screenwriter Lona Williams and her husband, former chief executive of Madison Square Garden David "Doc" O'Connor.
"I'm representing the buyer and seller of a $22 million house, I got another $25 million listing and a $43 million listing. It all leads to more volume," says Oppenheim, who in August ventured south and brought the Hacienda de la Paz estate in Rolling Hills to auction; it sold for north of $22 million, a new record for the area. Over in Beverly Hills, he sold 807 N. Crescent Drive for $17 million in February — marking the second time he helped sell that home since 2016.
The abrupt and scandal-tinged closure of her former employer — Mercer Vine — didn't stop Optican from having a banner year. She sold Marilyn Monroe's former Brentwood house for $7.25 million and represented Megan Ellison in the $35.7 million sale of 1 Electra Court above the Sunset Strip. "Luxury buyers have always been the most discerning," says Optican. "They didn't get there by not being smart about their choices."
Tami Halton Pardee
The "queen" of Venice, who recently sold properties to singer Rachel Platten and former Spotify executive Rob Harvey, has a unique perspective on her community's issues with homelessness. After one of her listings was broken into by a homeless person (he was even wearing clothes that had been placed in a closet to stage the home), Pardee launched Life Change Warriors, which has so far helped 30 formerly homeless women. Says Pardee, "We help create a road map."
In the past year, Rappaport was on every end of every facet of the market — selling Max Mutchnick's home to Adam Levine for $33 million and Levine's home to John Mayer for $16 million; helping David Geffen shed his Malibu house for $85 million; selling a 4.6-acre estate owned by the daughter of Seagram heir Charles Bronfman for $85 million and selling his own Malibu spread for $120 million. He's now selling the famed Beverly House, once owned by Marion Davies, for $135 million.
When Rey sold Bel Air's Le Belvedere estate in May for a record $56 million, it was deja vu. Back in 2010, she sold the chateau-inspired mansion — originally built for developer Mohamed Hadid — for $50 million, then the largest-ever sale in the U.S. "The market has changed tremendously in those seven years," says the seasoned broker, who considers the sale of the Goldwyn family estate to Taylor Swift a career highlight and last year sold several properties to Kendall Jenner, including a home in the Bird Streets.
He sold Brad Grey's 2.2-acre estate in May for $68.8 million and currently has the $33.8 million listing on producer Roger Birnbaum's single-story Skouras residence in Trousdale. "Many of my clients become my friends," Shapiro says of his three decades of success. "The higher the price range, the faster you get to know somebody. It's a very intimate process."
The Toluca Lake resident brokered the June sale of Bob Hope's 5.2-acre estate to Ron Burkle for $15 million, setting a new record for the area. Strong says new A-list residents — Meghan Trainor, Viola Davis, Melissa McCarthy and Steve Carell — have spotlighted his nabe, but notes it still has "that feeling of community."
Like his partner Arana, Umansky — who sold a home to Eva Longoria this year, and recently listed Madonna's former Beverly Hills estate for $35 million — enjoys his elder statesman role. "One of my goals is to improve the real estate industry," says the husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Kyle Richards, "to make agents understand the art of collaboration instead of the cutthroat bullshit."
Branden and Rayni Williams
Hours before boarding a flight for an "epic" helicopter snowboarding trip in the Andes with Laird Hamilton, Branden was recounting his epic year: He and wife Rayni were agents on the $110 million sale of Peter Morton's Carbon Beach home — L.A. County's largest-ever sale. They also developed and sold (for $38 million) the Lenny Kravitz-designed Stanley House. "In between those big sales we'd constantly gauge things, wondering if it was slowing," says Rayni, "and then something big would pop."
Joelle Goldstein, Brian Porreca and Lindsay Weinberg contributed to this report.
This story first appeared in the Sept. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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