Beverly Hills · Malibu


Beverly Hills · Malibu

WEA in Haute Living

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The young guns, power brokers and Southern California’s real estate all star’s all came together for the Zenith-presented Los Angeles launch of Hauteresidence.com on October 6. The elite event kicked off HauteResidence.com’s month-long global launch as an exclusive, membership-driven luxury real estate portal, featuring one leading real estate agent in each top market across the globe. Offering clients a unique convenience, the newly revamped site provides homebuyers the opportunity to find their dream havens with the help of some of the world’s leading real estate professionals.

The event was moderated by Zillow.com’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Chris Crocker, Frank Symons,Executive Vice President and Managing Broker of the Sotheby’s International Realty Beverly Hills and Malibu offices, andTim Lappen, a partner at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell; it was hosted by Haute Living and Haute Time publisher Seth Semilof.

The first panel focused on the “Next Generation,” featuring Million Dollar Listing stars Matthew Altman and Josh Flaggas well as Aaron Kirman of the John Aaroe Group and Randy Solakian of Coldwell Banker, who filled in for daughterDeanna.

The conversation was lively thanks to the panelist’s opposing viewpoints: while Altman and Flagg were all for the exposure of television, Solakian maintained that his clientele wanted their listings kept private. “I’m not a star or an entertainer,” he said. “Deanna and I try to create a strong balance building our brand with ultra confidentiality and ultra professionalism. We don’t want to be part of the entertainment business. A very small percentage of people can afford the places we sell, and we don’t want to expose our clients: we shield them from overexposure. We offer minimum exposure for maximum results.”

Countered Altman, “[TV] is an incredible opportunity. It’s the best way to get our names out, period. [But think about it]—if you were taped for eight months every two days, you’re going to do something stupid. My brother is the villain on the show, but the business we get [makes it] all worth it. You have to take a step back and see the bigger picture. Our first year we sold one house for $5 million, the second year we sold $30 million and the third year $80 million. Thanks to the show we’re making $250 million a year. You take the good with the bad.”

After a lunch catered by Mr. C Beverly Hills, the power brokers took their place at the podium. The group included Rob Giem of Sotheby’s International Realty in Orange County, Suzanne Perkins of Sotheby’s International Realty in Santa Barbara, Stephen Shapiro of Westside Estate Agency, Myra Nourmand of Nourmand & Associates, Joyce Rey of Coldwell Banker and Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland.

These power players have been in the game for a long time and know all the tricks and trades. Though they all offered similar advice (have a mentor and start small), some folks did disagree about their motivation for getting into the business.

Said Hyland, “It’s safe to say that everyone is not in for the money. It’s a passion, and we all have our reasons for that passion—it’s why we love what we’re doing. If you love what you’re doing it shows.”

Countered Shapiro, “Unlike Jeff, I’m still doing it for the money! The money is the end result; you don’t look to the money first. We’re lucky that our job is different every day. Everyone has different clients and different transactions. It’s invigorating, exciting, and rewarding.”

Finally, the Southern California All-Stars closed out the day, who included Linda May of Coldwell Banker Previews International, Irene Dazzan-Palmer, also of Coldwell Banker Previews International, Marcy Weinstein of Surterre Properties, Drew Mandile of Sotheby’s International Realty, Tami Pardee of Pardee Properties and Tim Smith of Smith Group Real Estate.

Pardee was in favor of giving back, noting that the high-priced housing market was driving residents towards east LA, while May noted that Holmby Hills is the hautest up and coming neighborhood. “One of the things that we’re seeing on the Westside is that sales in Holmby have doubled in the last 18 months. Six years ago, I was showing listings in Holmby Hills [to Chinese buyers] and they had never heard of it and wanted to leave. That has completely changed. The brand of Beverly hills and the name of Bel-Air [are still there], but Holmby is our most exclusive neighborhood on the Westside. Values have accelerated tremendously. Downtown is hot. The city has a lot more growth to it. Residential, compositional change.”

Added Weinstein, ” Land is going to be your biggest motivator for the future. People on the Newport coast should be looking at older homes in custom neighborhoods. We’re already having tear downs In Pelican Hill, and it’s only a 20-year-old neighborhood.”

Read on for a snippet of the enthralling discussion helmed by Frank Symons, the executive vice president and COO of Sotheby’s International Realty, and Chris Crocker, the vice president of strategic partnerships at Zillow).

“This is an amazing panel,” said Symons. “The wealth of experience and knowledge here is amazing.”

Crocker: You guys have been doing this for quite awhile, and you still come fired up, and you still bring that passion in your belly. Why is that, and why have you kept in the game and kept current?

Rey: Each day is always a challenge. Making that deal is always so exciting; nothing replaces that.

Hyland: It’s a passion. We all have our reasons for that passion—why we love what we’re doing. If you don’t have it—when you get to the point where we are, you might want to rethink what you’re doing.

Suzanne Perkins: It’s about putting the deal together, figuring out what you’re doing—about figuring out what your clients want.

Myra Nourmand: You need to go out and see the properties; don’t rely just on sitting in your office and looking at pictures and scrolling down, and seeing what houses look good on the computer. Because you might get some big surprises when you take a client out and he says, “Well didn’t you come and preview it or see that it was next to a water tower?” Then [it seems like] you’re not the expert. You need to be the expert.

Hyland: You enjoy watching the bubbles: knowing when to pounce or not to pounce; what to tell your client, depending on whether it’s a buyer or seller. But what’s unique now is that you find so many of the listings that you do—the sales are off market, something we never had before, and fear of something like Chris Crocker’s involvement with Zillow—well half of us were going to be out of business five years ago, and we’re still here. So you listen to your instinct, and you disregard what you read in the newspapers.

Nourmand: You need to have time to recharge, because you become a better person—a better sales person.

Stephen Shapiro: It’s important to spend time with your family; it’s important to recharge; otherwise, you’re going to get worn out. Set that time or day aside and try to keep it that way unless something compelling causes you to change.

Crocker: Most of you have global outreach—Joyce, you’ve done lots of physical outreach to the Asian markets; talk about what you have and the effort you’ve put into reaching buyers in Asia, so you can accommodate that placement of dollars in the U.S.

Hyland: With the Chinese, it is 101% building trust; that’s more important than your expertise.

Joyce Rey: The whole foreign market is huge, particularly in the very high-end.

Nourmand: The international buyer still wants that brand of Beverly Hills. I don’t see a lot of international buyers going to Brentwood; I see them in Bel-Air, Holmby Hills, and Beverly Hills—those are the niches that they really seem to embrace.

Crocker: We still have a really heavy reliance on print; I’m still a big fan of print. How do you use print? How does it impact your marketing plan? How do your sellers view it right now?

Perkins: I know people say that everything is about the Internet, and everything is about the Internet. But the print advertising is what sends them to the Internet. I love Haute Living; it’s done a great job for me, and it gets [my listings] out there. It’s a classy magazine. I feel you’ve got to pick the print ad you’re going to do and stay with it—do it month after month, year after year, and it will pay great dividends.

Rey: That first impression is so important, and the truth is Haute Living gets to our buyers.

Symons: How do you reach out to the other panelists and people in the audience to find out about inventory that is not actively on the market?

Rey: It’s a really important thing that brokers today work hard to get their listings on the MLS, and convince their sellers that that it’s in their best interest.

Shapiro: I had a listing in Malibu for $30 million on Carbon Beach, and my client didn’t want it on the MLS. I think he was somewhat embarrassed of the house—I don’t why he didn’t want it on the MLS. I convinced him to put it on the MLS, and I wound up selling it to Paul Allen, [who was represented by a] broker who had never sold a house over $2 million before. She had Paul Allen—I would have never called her; she would have never called me—the sale wouldn’t have taken place. That’s the value of a listing.

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