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This story first appeared in the Dec. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
SANTIAGO ARANA, The Agency
Arana is only 33, but he is fast-tracking to the top of the Westside real estate market. This year, he sold the highest per-foot price ever in Pacific Palisades with a $15.35 million newly constructed home and scored Larry David‘s Palisades listing. In October, the Bolivia-born Arana joined the ranks of high-flying brokerage The Agency as principal to open all of its future offices west of the 405.
JOE BABAJIAN, Rodeo Realty
Specializing in Beverly Hills and Bel Air and working frequently with Million Dollar Listing‘s Josh Flagg, Babajian has been in the business for 30 years but always shows his listings himself. “There’s no magic bullet,” says Babajian, whose clients include Beyonce, Nicolas Cage and Jack Nicholson. “It’s about working hard and having the right types of market exposure.”
STORY: Hollywood’s 3 Biggest Real Estate Sales of 2013
FRED BERNSTEIN, Westside Estate Agency
In January, Bernstein set a record for the highest price paid for a residential property in Malibu when he sold money manager Howard Marks‘ beachside compound for nearly $75 million. He also repped the buyers, a Russian billionaire couple. Claims Bernstein, “I have more clients on the Forbes 400 list than any other broker in the city.”
BLAIR CHANG, The Agency
One of the founders of The Agency, Chang has become the go-to agent for architecturally significant L.A. homes. Stints in fashion and advertising honed his eye before he found his design fix trading in A-list architecture. That would include a bevy of Trousdale estates: Current listings include midcentury gems owned by hairstylist Sally Hershberger and photographer Steven Meisel. Says Chang, “I want to see L.A. architecture restored to its prominence.”
STORY: How New York City Realtors Keep Hollywood Clients Happy
CHRIS CORTAZZO, Coldwell Banker Previews Int’l
A gig behind the camera with iconic photographer Herb Ritts introduced Malibu native Cortazzo to his first client, Richard Gere, to whom he sold a $5 million estate in 1994. With $312 million in sales under his belt for 2013 and $1.8 billion since 2000, Cortazzo practices what he sells: He owns four homes in the area, too.
HUGH EVANS, Partners Trust
A Santa Monica native and one of the founding partners of Partners Trust, Evans skips the helicopter tours and midnight showings and relies on relationships to land his kind of numbers: more than $94 million for this year and upward of $2.5 billion since 1990. “My clients are comfortable that I am going to put them first,” he says. His most epic real estate moment? Evans once simultaneously negotiated a transaction between three clients who all purchased one another’s homes.
DREW FENTON, Hilton & Hyland
Fenton has amassed more than $1.25 billion in sales since 2007, but his stats aren’t his only impressive number: At 30, he’s the hands-down wunderkind of L.A. luxury real estate. Sure, there are clients like the Beckhams, but more important to his monster deals, he’s tapped in to the international market, where clients snap up his listings.
VALERIE FITZGERALD, Coldwell Banker Previews Int’l
During the past 20 years, Fitzgerald has parlayed what’s regarded as one of the Westside’s best Rolodexes into more than $1 billion in sales from a Beverly Hills office staffed seven days a week. Even so, Fitzgerald — who stars on the HGTV reality show Selling LA — says it’s “not about the money, though that’s nice to have. At the end of the day, it’s really about matching the right buyer to the right seller. We’re matchmakers — real estate matchmakers.”
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SALLY FORSTER JONES, Coldwell Banker Previews Int’l
Although the New York native can boast $202 million in sales in 2013, Forster Jones prides herself on client interaction, the reason she switched exclusively to the residential market in 1998. “It is a much more emotional part of real estate,” she says. “For the seller, they’re giving up their home, where they have all these attachments. And for the buyer, it’s about painting a picture of their new lives and then carrying them through the whole process to a positive result.”
DAVID PARNES and JAMES HARRIS
Bond Street Partners
The British childhood friends learned the real estate ropes in Europe, where they amassed a global network of high-net-worth home buyers. With Bond Street Partners of Partners Trust established in 2011, Parnes and Harris have skyrocketed to the top, closing deals in some of L.A.’s most prime patches. In 2013, their $120 million in sales includes sprawling spec-home properties and a cluster of shops on Melrose Place, where the Olsen twins will open their flagship clothing store.
MADISON HILDEBRAND, JOSH FLAGG & JOSH ALTMAN
Coldwell Banker Previews Int’l, Rodeo Reality and Hilton & Hyland, respectively
Competing brokerages make nice as their top talent stars in Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. Hildebrand topped $120 million in real estate before age 30. Flagg, 28, has sold more than $1 billion throughout his career, with plans to hit $200 million this year alone. Altman, 34, and his brother/partner, Matt (who comprise the Altman Brothers), have sold $183 million for the year to date and more than a half-billion dollars during their careers. Not that they’re interested in one and done: “It’s not so much chasing a commission on a one-time deal as keeping a happy client for a lifetime,” says Hildebrand.
PHOTOS: ‘Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles’: Inside the Stars’ Homes
RICK HILTON & JEFF HYLAND, Hilton & Hyland
Hilton and Hyland have been at the top end of the luxury market before reality TV and Beverly Park ever existed. But the duo — Rick is the son of Conrad Hilton and dad of Paris; Jeff is the author of three architectural books — constantly is reinventing the concept of selling prime properties. Up next? They’re developing what Hyland calls “the last great parcel of land in Beverly Hills,” a 157-acre parcel behind the Beverly Hills Hotel for six 40,000-square-foot estates.
AARON KIRMAN, John Aaroe Group
Three lunches a day are normal for Kirman, as he crisscrosses the city to wine and dine clients. Kirman, who is on track to sell $200 million of inventory this year, specializes in pedigreed architecture. “It’s one of my passions,” says Kirman, who stumbled into his specialty when he took a call from a client looking for a Neutra: “I found him one.”
PETER MAURICE, Rodeo Realty
Maurice spent four years as vp legal affairs at 20th Century Fox before becoming a realtor in 1992. “Real estate allowed me to blend my background as a transaction lawyer with my interest in residential property architecture and construction,” says Maurice, whose clients includes many top studio players. This year sales will top off at $100 million.
JADE MILLS, Coldwell Banker Previews Int’l
One of L.A.’s real-estate record shatterers, Mills last year racked up more than $300 million in sales; this year, she’s in line to beat that number for total lifetime sales that would better the $3 billion mark. Clients have been known to ride in the backseat of her car, where she will occasionally put cardboard on the windows for homemade paparazzi proofing. However, Mills’ unaffected attitude might be her ultimate selling tool, despite the consistent mega deals: “For clients who don’t want to stop for lunch, I’ll just pack sandwiches and drinks in the car so that we keep going all day.”
STORY: Leonardo DiCaprio, Deepak Chopra and Hollywood’s Push Into Healthy Real Estate
MYRA NOURMAND, Nourmand & Associates
Her clients may be David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Sheryl Crow, but Nourmand is all about old-school networking: Fellow Beverly Hills public school moms were her first clients in the late ’80s, and now her kids’ friends and colleagues are A-listers in their own right. “At this point, I’ve sold some clients six or seven homes over the decades,” she says. “The ball keeps getting bigger and the dollar signs better.”
DAVID OFFER, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Specializing in Brentwood, Santa Monica and the Palisades for more than two decades, Offer was perfectly positioned to ride the area’s influx of celebrities and industry insiders. Not that he’s about chasing the big names. “If you do a good job, word gets out and people tell their friends,” says the realtor, whose career sales total more than $1.8 billion. Offer looks to finish the year with $225 million in sales.
STORY: Real Housewife Marisa Zanuck Opens Beverly Hills Real Estate Firm (Exclusive)
TAMI PARDEE, Pardee Properties
In tight-knit Venice, where local status is everything, Pardee reigns practically unrivaled. With Abbott Kinney offices for her 20-plus agents and a staggering 128 transactions in 2013 (totaling $195 million), she has crested the area’s wild real estate boom as people like Zach Galifianakis and CAA agent Roeg Sutherland have flocked to the area for its high-low boho appeal.
KURT RAPPAPORT, Westside Estate Agency
As co-founder of Westside Estate, Rappaport handles some of the highest-profile home sales in L.A. for celebrity clients like Madonna and Ellen DeGeneres. “Shopping for real estate in a helicopter is par for the course,” says the realtor, whose firm handles more than $2 billion in annual sales. Rappaport himself has owned and remodeled more than 15 homes, but one of his favorites might be his current home: a newly constructed Scott Mitchell-designed spread on a 6-acre Malibu bluff that houses his art collection consisting of work by Sterling Ruby, Oscar Murillo and Richard Prince.
RAYNI ROMITO & BRANDEN WILLIAMS, Hilton & Hyland
Real estate team and romantic partners Romito and Williams’ yin-yang energy (he’s a former actor who worked at The Ivy as a teenager; she’s a fashionista from an East Coast real estate family) has earned them clients like Jeremy Renner as well as a slew of deals in prime view areas that have sent their 2013 numbers soaring north of $300 million. “We live what we sell,” says Williams, referring to their Trousdale home, which is being decorated by none other than Lenny Kravitz. “We’re three doors down from Ellen [DeGeneres] and have sold six estates on our street alone.”
JOYCE REY, Coldwell Banker Previews Int’l
In 30 years, Rey has sold more than $2 billion in luxury property to the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Sherry Lansing and Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford. In 2010 she sold what was then the nation’s most expensive home, Bel Air’s 48,000-square-foot Le Belvedere, listed at $72 million. So far this year, Rey has racked up additional sales worth $206 million.
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BILLY ROSE, The Agency
As co-founder of one of the city’s hottest brokerages, Rose found his background as an entertainment lawyer turned movie agent to be invaluable in moving mega properties. “Selling at this level is a science and an art, and we’re reinventing how business is done,” says Rose, citing the company’s proprietary software that helps match global clients with L.A. estates. But it’s not all psychographics: “My most satisfying sale of the year was a Bel Air house that had sat on the market for years,” he says. “We came in and sold it right away to Heidi Klum.”
NICK SEGAL, Partners Trust
When the owner of Partners Trust (and nephew of actor George Segal) set about opening a brokerage in 2009, the emphasis was on doing it right. This means all 120 of his agents have an ownership interest in the company, and all are vetted for “integrity and a fire in their belly,” says Segal, whose agency stands out as one of the few without camera crews in its offices. Says Segal: “We don’t do gaudy self-promotion.”
STORY: Why Century City Ranks Among the Worst Real Estate Deals in Hollywood History
STEPHEN SHAPIRO, Westside Estate Agency
Shapiro has represented Hollywood heavies such as Nicolas Cage and talent manager Shep Gordon — a far cry from his first gig: “I managed the car wash of an auto rental company at the airport,” he says. After moving to L.A. and starting an apartment rental company (where he once leased a former convent in the Hollywood Hills to a tenant who transformed it into a brothel), Shapiro transitioned to the luxury market more than 30 years ago. Today he represents Paramount chairman Brad Grey‘s $27.5 million Bel Air estate and producer Brian Grazer‘s $18.95 million Malibu Colony house. Like his clients, Shapiro enjoys the art of negotiation: “The rest of our field are order-takers. We’re dealmakers.”
MAURICIO UMANSKY, The Agency
Cornering all aspects of the tippy-top of the L.A. market, Umansky has a claim on King of the Hills bragging rights, from the Bird Streets to Bel Air. As co-owner of L.A.’s white-hot brokerage The Agency, the Mexico City-born agent has the looks, mega listings like The Carolwood Estate and even a TV presence as the husband of Real Housewife of Beverly Hills‘ Kyle Richards.
By Alexandria Abramian, Tina Daunt, Marissa Gluck, Brandon Kirby, Lesley McKenzie, Kimberly Nordyke and Rebecca Sun.
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