Last year was the best 12 months ever for some of Los Angeles’ top residential real estate agents. The top 5 agents based on sales volume in Los Angeles have each completed over $1 billion in real estate transactions.
Kurt Rappaport of Beverly Hills-based Westside Estate Agency Inc. retained the top spot with $1.6 billion sold. The Altman Brothers team, led by Josh Altman, took second place with $1.5 billion in sales.
The husband-and-wife team of Rayni Williams and Branden Williams and Aaron Kirman of Compass Inc. tied for third place with $1.2 billion in sales. Rounding out the Top 5 was Chris Cortazzo from Compass. The Malibu specialist has made $1 billion in transactions.
“In 2020 and 2021, we saw demand for the upscale, full-service family home/resort,” Rayni Williams said. She added that buyers are thinking about what they really need in a home and what makes a home a sanctuary.
Kirman called 2021 a “record year.”
“We’ve sold a lot of amazing homes. The luxury market was so on fire. Who expected him to go on for so long? It’s been an amazing year,” he said. “It’s a combination of things. Obviously Covid was the precipice for residential markets to take off and people realized how important home was and were willing to spend money. Money was flowing freely, but with all this stuff going on and interest rates as low as they were, it led to a really buoyant market.
It was a big year across the board with 14 agents or teams reporting over $500,000 in sales volume in Los Angeles, compared to just nine the previous year.
“It was the best year I’ve ever had. It’s been the best year many agents have ever had, and in some ways by far,” said David Kramer of Hilton & Hyland Real Estate Inc., who claimed 34th place on the list with $308 million in Sales.
Mauricio Umansky, founder and CEO of The Agency, based in Beverly Hills, agreed. It ranked No. 37 on the list with $298 million in sales.
“We had an incredible year both (me personally and) at the Agency, we exceeded our projections and estimates by a significant amount. We estimated $200 million in revenue and reached approximately $227 (million) It was a really good year for us. Personally, the same. I crushed it, developed a bunch of franchises and it was a really good year for sales,” Umansky said.
Tami Pardee, founder and managing director of Venice-based Pardee Properties, said her business had also had a great year and sold 30-35% more than usual. She ranked #7 on the list with $812 million in sales.
Experts agree that everyone in Los Angeles is currently experiencing high demand.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest across the board,” said Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Mills was No. 26 on the list with $351 million in Los Angeles sales.
Kirman said that instead of just focusing on a small area, some buyers have looked to the San Fernando Valley and even Orange County.
“We’re definitely seeing more people moving to the Valley,” Umansky said. “There’s definitely a value game there.”
He added that despite rising house prices, the Valley still represented a “big discount” to other Los Angeles neighborhoods.
Kramer said west of the 405 Freeway was seeing “record sales.”
And experts agree that Malibu in particular is attracting incredibly high interest.
“It’s still crazy. Lack of inventory, huge price increases, Malibu is up about 35%,” Kirman said.
“We’re getting a lot of attention everywhere, but along the Malibu coast it’s very, very loud, so prices have gone up dramatically. If a property comes on the market, it gets a lot of attention and sells very quickly,” said Sally Forster Jones of Compass, No. 8 on the list with $737 million in Los Angeles home sales in 2021. .
She added that buyer interest in areas such as the Valley and Malibu is a result of people wanting more outdoor living space and being less concerned about being in the heart of Los Angeles, because more and more work is being done remotely.
Outdoor space and a home office are now top of the list for buyers, experts agree.
Pardee said the office space could come in the form of a secondary suite, a finished garage or an additional bedroom, but privacy is paramount.
And today’s buyer wants land.
“The trend has definitely changed. Before Covid we saw people who really liked amazing views and houses with pools. Today’s buyer still likes a view, but they’re really looking for land, privacy and security,” Kirman said.
Mills agreed that “complete privacy” and “perfect move-in” homes were expected by buyers.
Another thing that is now in demand is furnished and organized homes.
“When I started in the business, I was selling homes ‘as is’… today’s seller can’t get away with it,” Kirman said. “Buyers expect curated lifestyles, they expect curated furniture and artwork and even curated cars and everything in between.”
Williams added that many high-end houses are now associated with designers who run the house.
Mills added that due to shipping delays, furniture can take a long time to arrive, which is part of why so many buyers want furnished homes.
Demand for housing exceeds supply, agents agree, leading to an increasingly competitive market.
“It’s been a very, very intense and exciting year for real estate,” Jones said. “The market was so strong at all price points, but in particular the luxury market was very, very strong – multiple offers on virtually every property and there were more buyers than sellers.”
She added that homes were selling quickly and those under construction were often sold before they were completed. Some homes, she said, have seen as many as 20 offers.
Kramer said he sees more bidding wars in the $1-2 million price range in particular.
Kirman said it can be difficult for buyers to compete. There are “tons of bidding wars at all price points. If you have a house, whether it’s a good house or a bad house, we see multiple offers,” he said.
Umansky added that he saw buyers “who were determined to buy a house. If they lost a multiple (bid situation) on one, they would move on to another.
Big sales in prospect
Agents see a bright future ahead of them for residential real estate sales in Los Angeles.
“I see another year like we had in ’21. I see the market continuing,” Kramer said.
“The market this year has been very, very strong; 2022 has been a continuation of 2021 and I anticipate a very strong market,” Jones agreed.
And while rising interest rates may be a concern for some, especially at low prices, agents are largely indifferent.
“In the lower markets, you had about 25 buyers for every house,” Umansky said. “Now if you have 12, you still have more buyers than supply.”
Experts agree, however, that this can create some urgency for buyers looking to close quickly before rates rise.
“There is a big push right now before they get up even more. People are worried they’ll go higher, so there’s always a push to buy,” Pardee said.
And even though interest rates are rising, they are still historically low.
The biggest concern, experts say, is the uncertainty about what is happening in Russia and Ukraine. This could make some buyers reluctant to spend a lot of money or drive more to park their money in Los Angeles real estate, which is considered a safe investment.
And some trophy sales are expected as homes like The Manor are expected to sell this year and The One recently received a closing offer of $141 million.
“There’s still a lot of money out there,” Umansky said. “I expect to see quite a few $100 million sales.”
The mansion is listed for the modest sum of 165 million dollars.
“Honestly, I feel like the price of the mansion is pretty fair, it’s a huge piece of land and a huge house,” Mills said, adding that she expects a number of high-priced sales. This year.
“It’s been very busy. It’s hard to keep up,” Mills said of the current sales pace. “2021 has been amazing but I have to say not as amazing as the start of this year.”
“Last year was great, but this year will hopefully double that. It’s crazy, everyone wants to buy,” she added.
“There is a lot of energy in the market. It’s an exciting time to be in Los Angeles and it’s an exciting time in the real estate industry. Buyers seem very optimistic overall,” she said.