Armed with 35-plus years of combined experience in the real estate field, The DOMO Group continues to make its mark on the South Bay by inventing new and innovative initiatives to elevate its team of professionals in the community. Through the forward-thinking vision of founders Greg Geilman and Rob Freedman, the firm not only prides itself on offering world-class customer service to clients seeking to buy, sell, build and invest in real estate, but also with a passion for supporting the community via the DOMO Gives Project.
The goal? To help local residents with anonymous, one-time urgent needs, from victims of domestic violence and who need a hotel room for a week to a family who loses its main income producer and needs basic groceries or medical bills and more.
“When we were thinking of a name for our communitywide effort, we wanted to come up with something that was memorable, clean, easy to pronounce and could withstand the test of time,” says Greg Geilman, managing partner and listing specialist of The Domo Group, RE/MAX Estate Properties. “DOMO means ‘Thank You’ in Japanese, and it tells the story about our group’s culture and what we believe in: being extra helpful, accountable and resourceful, and giving thanks.”
Adding value to everything they touch is paramount to The DOMO Group, from helping individuals find the home of their dreams and handing them a set of keys to their random acts of kindness via DOMO Gives. “We celebrating our best year ever as a team,” says Rob Freedman, the firm’s senior partner and listing specialist. “So far this year, we have helped 68 families with their real estate needs.
We are proud to be the No. 1 team in the Beach Cities (Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach) for RE/MAX Estate Properties. We have aggressive goals for the future and are always looking for new and innovative ways to help more people in the South Bay.”
As far as touching people’s lives in a deeper and more meaningful way, the DOMO Gives Project recently helped a local mom whose children were sleeping on the floor. “One of her friends submitted an anonymous need request to us and we responded,” says Geilman. “We sent her an unmarked check for $450 to go buy her family a bunkbed…her friend said she was thrilled.”
Pacific Union Commercial Brokerage was established in 1974 as a complement to the residential side of business. More than 40 years later—and on the heels of merger with local powerhouse brokerages John Aaroe Group, Partners Trust and Gibson International—the firm has officially launched its Commercial Brokerage in L.A. with a team of 40 professionals headed by President Stephen Pugh, plus the ability to tap in to 50 offices and 1,700 real estate agents statewide. Here, the new entity’s operations manager, Robert Fitzgerald, discusses the move, along with his take on L.A.’s up-and-coming commercial areas and more.
Why is it the right time to bring a new commercial brokerage to L.A.? The commercial real estate market is booming. The region is gaining traction in a variety of areas, from business expansion and low office-vacancy rates to an increase in land sales and strong activity at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Where is the new brokerage located, and why did you choose this area? We’re centrally headquartered in Beverly Hills. The real market advantage for Pacific Union is that we have 22 offices spread out over L.A., and with a commercial team member in every office; Pacific Union Commercial is very neighborhood-centric. We’re able to have a presence in well-established areas such as Venice and Pasadena and in up-and-coming areas such as Highland Park, Baldwin Hills and View Park.
What is the mission of the new brokerage? We have a unique opportunity to leverage the largest independent real estate brokerage in California to help advise and facilitate commercial sales, acquisitions and leasing services, as well as tenant and landlord representation, to our clients’ advantage. We want to provide a value-added service for our buyers and developers; a world-class platform to showcase our sellers’ properties; and expert local deal knowledge in all transactions.
What types of services will you offer? The brokerage will focus on investment sales and leasing, with an emphasis on commercial land development, and apartment and commercial sales. We can provide a property or portfolio analysis that focuses on increasing cash flow and value appreciation. Then we can advise on ways to enhance the value of the assets and provide other investment opportunities.
Tell me a little bit about the team. With my background in hospitality and mixed-use development, I will be point of contact for all commercial agents and staff in the region, and also will direct brand development and marketing. Our executive vice presidents and regional directors include Tim Byrne, an L.A. native who comes from the real estate pension fund advisory field, and Dario Svilder, an expert in the construction and real estate business.
What types of clients are you targeting? Private and institutional clients and developers who are looking for new, ground-up construction opportunities for apartments, mixed-use and hospitality-related uses. We’re looking for investors who are seeking advice on how to increase their property value in this quickly evolving market. With the influx of Silicon Valley tech companies and the ever-expanding entertainment industry seeking new commercial space, we can advise on how to monetize these new opportunities. We also specialize in 1031 transactions, helping those investors to complete the up-leg of their transaction for stabilized, tax-deferred investment properties.
What types of properties will you handle? We are a full-service commercial real estate brokerage and have strong representation in all commercial property types, including multifamily, office, retail, industrial, land and development investments. We specialize in development opportunities and apartment and commercial properties.
What are some of your current top listings? We have 679 N. Spring St. in Chinatown, which offers 5,700 square feet and is a great land opportunity for mixed-use or hotel development [price undisclosed], as well as an 11-unit Beverly Hills offering for $7.775 million. There’s also 6345 Primrose Ave. (10 units in Hollywood Dell for $4.5 million); 409 & 512 S. Rampart Blvd. (77 low-income housing units for $7.35 million); 8301 Santa Monica Blvd. (a three-tenant retail development/redevelopment site for $13 million); 130-6-1316 S. Glendale Ave. (37, 486 square feet of land zoned C3 for $5.5 million); 7038 Sunset Blvd. (33,520 square feet of land zoned C4 for $20.8 million); and 6908 Knowlton Ave. in Westchester (18 newly constructed units for $11 million).
What’s your take on L.A.’s commercial real estate market right now? The commercial real estate market is really moving, and we anticipate this will continue for the foreseeable future. The hottest commercial development areas right now are Atwater Village, the Frogtown arts district, Highland Park, Chinatown, Boyle Heights, Silicon Beach (which recently welcomed Snapchat) and Playa Vista (where Google recently landed).
What does the new commercial brokerage entity mean for Pacific Union International and L.A.? Expanding the Pacific Union Commercial Brokerage means that we can further serve our clients, and the larger L.A. community, by leveraging the company’s vast residential network to bring our clients’ largest investments—their homes and their commercial assets—under one roof supported by the strong pillars of teamwork, trust and integrity.
Photograph: courtesy of Anthony Barcelo
VITA Planning and Landscape Architecture has been envisioning and creating luxury resorts and residential communities for almost 17 years. Among the number of high-end projects in Hawaii in the global firm’s portfolio include a duo of private beach and golf club communities on the Big Island, as well as a redo of a longtime Maui resort—all boasting classic and traditional cultural elements combined with a modern aesthetic. Think natural and site-appropriate environments dotted with touches of artistic expression.
“We’re extremely sensitive to the social, cultural and environmental scenario of every project,” says Nick Vita, who works alongside his father and founder, Don Vita, as chief operating officer of the San Francisco-based firm, which also completes projects throughout the Continental U.S. and Caribbean islands.
“What we shoot for, and feel is important, is that the landscape and the community doesn’t feel like it’s been designed, but it feels like it’s always been there. We have a passion for place and community and a reverence for the environment.”
Case in point: a pair of Big Island developments, where the firm is creating new environments to blend with the existing natural lava fields and shoreline, all while remaining sensitive to the fabric of the community. Hallmarks of the 700-acre Kukio Beach and Golf Club on the North Kona Coast include preserved shoreline ponds, archaeological sites and parks, and a pedestrian/golf cart trail network that allows homeowners to walk barefoot from their backyards to the beach area.
Meanwhile, at the 450-acre private resort of Kohanaiki, VITA has been working to deliver the Rees Jones golf course, public park along the 1.5-mile shoreline and private Beach Club nestled among natural anchialine ponds and historic beach-front sites. The firm also recently completed work on downtown Honolulu’s Park Lane Ala Moana—a 7.3-acre community featuring eight residential buildings enveloped by lush, tropical landscaping and courtyards—and currently is helping revamp the popular Makena resort in Maui, complete with a 72,000-square-foot Beach Club organized around a central courtyard water garden.
“We’re well-known for bringing the most to any given project based on the natural limits we have to work with,” says Vita. “In addition to that, we have a very sound and holistic understanding of the real estate business and a passion for art. When you marry these four aspects together—culture, art, environment and business—we’ve found a community endures. In doing this, we’ve strived to help the luxury market experience the soul of Hawaii in an authentic way.”
Written by Wendy Bowman
Photographs: courtesy of VITA Planning and Landscape Architecture
[cs_dropcap column_size=”1/1″ dropcap_style=”box” dropcap_size=”0″ dropcap_color=”#fff” dropcap_bg_color=”#d7df21″]Architects M. Brian Tichenor and Raun Thorp are the quintessential team—reciprocal thinkers, simpatico in intelligences and appreciations, and nothing if not prolific, having completed more than 350 residential and commercial projects nationwide since launching their eponymous L.A. practice Tichenor & Thorp in 1990.[/cs_dropcap]
“We have a kind of way of working together; we collaborate on everything,” says Tichenor. Which explains the simultaneity, the seamlessness, the suggestion of exchange and interchangeability in their work. Each has a primary sphere of influence—Tichenor, exteriors; Thorp, interiors—but neither is shy about “playing professor,” a kind of big-picture shakedown between principals, a “what’s the story?” moment.
Story, they say, is everything—the ne plus ultra of good design and a principal tenet of their practice. Views are an absolute too, harmony and cohesiveness, light and palette, the cultivation of a whole, dimensional environment with interacting elements and a well-ordered elegance specific to the architect’s lens.
“It’s all really the architecture,” explains Thorp. “Because everything has a concept; everything has to perform a function, everything has to hopefully be pretty, and everything has to be detailed in a way that’s possible to actually create it. Design is a set of instructions for how to create something, but it comes together in the architecture.”
With work published in shelter magazines from Architectural Digest to World of Interiors, Tichenor and Thorp are deft in all architectural styles and have carved a particular niche in historic restoration, contributing to what they call the “big, beautiful narrative continuum” in Los Angeles, where they completed a series of projects at Capitol Records (executive office space; a commissary; lobby; new rear entrance, and more) and spent two decades restoring Cecil B. DeMille’s house with a clarified, simple version of what was appropriate to make it feel fresh and of this era. Clearly they were successful—Angelina Jolie is the current owner.
Tichenor and Thorp work coast to coast but have flourished in their native California, which they appreciate for its cultural legacy and accumulation of styles, from early Spanish to Mid-century Modernism. It’s the land of architects and dreamers; and in a sense, they’re both.
“The degree of richness and nuance and inclusivity and freedom to try things here is really quite different than anywhere else,” says Tichenor. “There’s a kind of willingness to go into something with more thoroughness here, there is more support for odder ideas.”
Adds Thorp: “Everyone was coming out here to find a dream or to try an experiment. People weren’t constrained by the kind of conservative trappings and expectations of older cities. There are a lot of factors that make L.A. special.”
Their recently released monograph Outside In: The Garden and Houses of Tichenor & Thorp (Vendome) showcases some of the duo’s finest designs, each an elaboration of their ideas, illustrating the depths of their architectural fluency. There are examples of rich, historic buildings; more modern structures; and gardens so lush they are hardly to be believed.
It’s a testament to Tichenor and Thorp that when asked about some of their current projects, they take a long, nearly paralytic pause, as if catching their breath. The abridged version would be an entire career for a lot of folks: eight beach houses from Laguna Beach to Pebble Beach, master landscape planning for three hospitals (one in Downtown Los Angeles) and, in a solid measurement of their métier, design architects of the new Los Angeles Times building. Expect headlines. tichenorandthorp.com
[cs_dropcap column_size=”1/1″ dropcap_style=”box” dropcap_size=”0″ dropcap_color=”#fff” dropcap_bg_color=”#d7df21″]Real estate developer Jonathan Genton has worked on large-scale master communities throughout California and Hawaii. Most recently, he’s joined with a management team from the Four Seasons Private Residences, global architecture firm Callison RTKL and Webcor Builders on the rise of the Four Seasons Private Residences Los Angeles, a 12-story luxury condo development set to begin welcoming residents in mid-2019. DIGS talked with the founder and CEO of L.A.-based Genton Property Group (gentonproperty.com) to discover more about this high-profile project, what prompted his real estate direction, and other developments.[/cs_dropcap]
How did you decide on a career in real estate development?
JG: Growing up in L.A., I was always fascinated by architecture and planning. At the time, I didn’t understand what a developer was, so I was naturally drawn to the architecture, urban-planning and finance aspects of real estate. I pursued these disciplines while at UCLA and saw them all come together in development. I haven’t looked back since.
What does it take to bring a property such as the Four Seasons Private Residences to market for the first time?
JG: This is a world-class property surrounded by the low-profile neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and the fashionable North Robertson District, where the views are nothing short of spectacular. Bringing a property of this caliber to market for the first time takes an enormous amount of patience and dedication. To have a vision with a team and partners for this type of development is of utmost importance, and it takes intent, focus and passion to pull off this sort of project. Every day is a surreal moment for our team—seeing our vision come to life.
What’s significant about the development?
JG: The coveted, 12-story tower comprises 59 custom for-sale homes crafted by the world’s most iconic hospitality brand. Offering dramatic views of Beverly Hills and Hollywood Hills, exclusive amenities include a sensual pool, spa and chic lounge, a sprawling indoor-outdoor fitness center, a spacious IMAX private theater and screening room, and dining experiences by Four Seasons. A penthouse sits at the very top, taking up the entire top floor and top roof terrace. This property is extremely private and rare for a location like this in L.A.
You talk about setting a new standard for luxury living in Southern California. What does that look like to you?
JG: Providing a service-rich environment in a dedicated residential tower. The Four Seasons Private Residences brings the best-in-class brand to curate the daily art of living by creating a private enclave where services are catered to the individual without sharing services or amenities with a public-facing commercial property.
What makes for the perfect residential condo space?
JG: A private and service-rich environment that takes advantage of light, air and space in the simplest of forms.
Describe your dream residential project.
JG: The Four Seasons Private Residences is my ship in a bottle. This development takes everything—from my earliest memories of seeing beautiful architecture, to what I’ve learned throughout my career—and puts them together, ultimately creating this masterpiece.
What was your first residential development and what made it successful?
JG: Years ago in Westlake Village, I was the development manager on Lake Sherwood and was exposed to a variety of buyers who, in the end, sought an experience and a special place. Throughout my career I have tried my best to accomplish the same sought-out-feeling, only now I do it from an urban context.
Tell us about current and future events and trends in L.A.’s luxury marketplace?
JG: I think L.A.’s luxury marketplace will see a greater adoption of condominiums in general. Living in vertical buildings is not what L.A. is known for, but we will see a trend and then a wave of vertical living experiences across all levels. I think the expectation for taller, more elegant and distinctive buildings is coming too.
If you weren’t working as a developer, what would you like to be doing?
JG: I am a builder at heart and have always been fascinated by functional and mechanical design. So, something in industrial design would probably be my next industry of choice.
What is forthcoming for you and GPG?
JG: fter the Four Seasons Private Residences Los Angeles project, my team and I will be exploring the opportunity to create housing for everyone. We’ll be taking the experiences of the luxury product and applying its essence to all projects across the demand spectrum.
As told to Wendy Bowman | Photography Courtesy of Paul Jonason
If you were to tally up time spent in the residential real estate industry by seasoned agents Ron Wynn, Steve Sawaii and Fiora Aston of WSA-Coldwell Banker, Santa Monica, you would have a combined total of 100 years. Add to that their constant collaboration and expert research skills—not to mention the support of Coldwell Banker’s vast network of resources—and you have a team that is ready and able to provide their clients with the most accurate information available when it comes to making the proper decisions about buying and selling a luxury home on the Westside.
“We are confident that our brand—WSA and Coldwell Banker Previews—provides our clients with the most superior representation without exception,” says Aston.
And that’s proven: These respected and savvy partners are consistently ranked in the top 1 percent nationwide as part of Coldwell Banker’s Elite designation known as Society of Excellence, and among the company’s top-100 producing agents in Southern California. The Wall Street Journal also has named them among the top 100 agents in California. Here, the esteemed trio speaks with DIGS about working together, the Westside luxury market and more.
Fiora: In 2011, I was approached by Steve and Ron asking if I would like to form a partnership with them. At first it came as a big shock. All three of us had been in the business for a long time, all top producers of the company. Ron and Steve are icons in the business, and I always had a lot of respect for them. Following our invigorating meeting, I had one sleepless night and then woke up in the morning and knew this was a perfect opportunity. During the past few years, we have all gained so much from each other. We complement each other immensely. Each of us has our own unique strengths. I am very creative and artistic, particularly when it comes to marketing. We are fortunate to have our own boutique private office across the street from Coldwell Banker’s Montana Avenue office.
Steve: I had the opportunity to partner with a major real estate company on the Westside. However, when I was approached at the same time by one of the top producers in the country—Ron Wynn—I knew we would have something very special. The three of us have been able to collaborate on many issues and have created an amazing brand within the Coldwell Banker brand.
Ron: For years, the three of us have collaborated to the benefit of our clients, always believing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We mutually agreed to give this marriage a try, and the honeymoon has been going on for years. It is the best thing we have ever done, for ourselves and for our clients.
Fiora: Throughout the years, we each have built a reputation for excellence in service and integrity. By joining forces, we were confident that our combined efforts would ultimately create more fruitful results for our clients. That is summed up in our mission statement: “Solutions by Collaboration.” Our mission is to serve our clients as their trusted advisers, committed to the highest standards of integrity, confidentiality, performance and accountability.
Ron: Our goal is to provide the best service, marketing and networking, implementing the finest strategies for our buyers and sellers to achieve their goals, all while actively participating in our local community on a daily basis. We are all about community.
Ron: Each of us has worked all over the Westside. Many of my sales are in Brentwood and Santa Monica, but I’m in Cheviot Hills, Westwood, Mar Vista and Beverlywood as well. I guess you’d say I’m everywhere!
Steve: From Beverly Hills to Santa Monica and from Malibu to Westchester.
Fiora: I go wherever my clients look for my guidance.
Steve: The biggest changes we have seen are with the cities’ restrictions on growth and over-building. However, with the beautiful climate conditions and cultural diversity, this coastal town has been, and will continue to be, one of the most desirable locations to live and work.
Fiora: We have a complete understanding of the Westside, constantly monitoring inventory and conducting research to best serve our clients in a changing and challenging market. As a Previews area director, I bring to the partnership the latest micro and macro market information.
Steve: I have always been, and remain, totally hands on at all times. I attend every inspection and personally host open houses almost every Sunday.
Ron: Each of us is different in our approach and in our personal lives. We complement each other in an almost magical way. I am a great negotiator. My passion is to work with attorneys and business managers, with whom I have immediate chemistry.
Ron: We don’t think there is such a thing as the ultimate luxury real estate broker. Understanding our clients and their goals is a function of good listening, knowledge, excellent skills and technology. All three of us are blessed with a superb network of loyal and diverse high-net-worth clients.
Ron: Before even meeting us, our clients look to our combined 100 years of success and testimonials from friends and colleagues as the ground from where to start. Our WSA and Coldwell Banker Previews platform consistently supports our solid foundation characterized by integrity for decades, with thousands of satisfied past sellers and buyers as proof.
Steve: My clients know that I will go above and beyond for them. I am happy to help them with any problem that may arise during the process of selling and buying a home. They know I will always help them find a solution.
Fiora: I have been involved with Team In Training for many years. It is an amazing organization that helps train you for triathlons, while saving the lives of people with leukemia and lymphoma. WSA has also been active in the fight against crime in Santa Monica. I also donate funds to Westside Children’s Center, another unique organization that serves the needs of children and their families in L.A.
Steve: One of my philanthropic involvements is with Lighthouse Medical Missions’ Walk to Africa. We raise funds to send teams of doctors with medical supplies to the families in need in Africa, as well as to other underdeveloped countries.
Ron: We all believe in giving back. We support many local, national and international charities, including participating in more than 30 local school fundraisers every year. We often donate a portion of our commission to the charity of our client’s choice.
“Our mission is to serve our clients as their trusted advisers, committed to the highest standards of integrity, confidentiality, performance and accountability.” —WSA Team
Ron: WSA is a brand within a brand. No other team can offer the services that WSA can provide. Each of us brings our own special qualities to the brand, giving a complete spectrum of benefits to our clients.
Fiora: We plan to keep collaborating, helping many clients and having an outstanding outcome as always.
Steve: I see us growing as a team and in our ability to help people achieve their dreams.
I came into the real estate business after a successful 15-year career in wealth management. I was Senior Vice President of a well-known investment firm and advised many high-net-worth clients, helping them with their investment needs. When I realized I was ready for a new challenge, real estate piqued my interest, and as a real estate investor myself, I had over a decade of experience buying and selling properties. Transitioning into the real estate industry was relatively easy, and from the start people were impressed with my wealth management background and how I approached the market. The decision to brand myself as a luxury market specialist was an obvious one, and Rochelle Maize Luxury Estates was born.
To me, it has always been about the service I give to my clients, always providing them with my 100 percent undivided attention. I have an unparalleled and extensive knowledge of the Southern California real estate market, including Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Bel Air, Hollywood Hills, Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu, Laguna Beach and Newport Coast. In today’s world, anyone can be a real estate agent. What sets me apart from my competitors is my service and unrelenting work ethic, which drives me to do whatever it takes to get my clients the home of their dreams. While clients appreciate my expertise and professionalism, the core of my professional values are integrity and honesty.
My career in wealth management has given me extra insight in the business world. There is an immediate comfort level when working with me because of my financial acumen.
Throughout the process, I view real estate from a financial perspective and I strive to find my clients properties that will prove to be fruitful investments. My ability to compute very extensive valuations has become invaluable in this process. This strong financial skill set coupled with my experience in the marketplace, ensure the success of my clients’ investments. They find this trait invaluable, as I am able to provide them with sound advice about their real estate investments.
I think it’s all about sticking to what works best for you. I have always had a client-centered perspective and am willing to do whatever it takes to secure my clients the property of their dreams. My diligence and dedication stand out, and my clients recognize and appreciate this; that’s what keeps them coming back to me.
I’ve never been one to stay inside the box. I was one of the first realtors to hire food trucks for open houses. In fact, I own my own Food Truck, RICHEEZE, a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich truck that has won over the hearts and stomachs of many agents in our city. Smile and say “Richeeze!”
I feel like it’s a natural fit for me. Finding the perfect home is the most important investment in my clients’ lives and I can’t stop until I know it’s the perfect fit! It is so exciting to be a part of that process; to know that I made such a difference in their lives, that means everything to me.
This is a tough question, as there have been many. One standout has to be my recent sale of The Robert Taylor Ranch in Brentwood, the largest property in Los Angeles—112 acres. It holds a special place in my heart because I spent many years attending major charitable functions on the ranch as a young adult. When it came on the market last year, I knew first-hand what a special property it was. At the time, I was looking for a very large private parcel for a client of mine, so it seemed to be the perfect fit. Unfortunately, my client did not live locally, and I needed to secure the property because I knew it would not sit on the market long. I spent days with a drone company documenting every angle of the ranch, its setting and the surroundings. I was passionate about this property and the deal, and my client heard that in my voice. Luckily, the client went with my instinct and secured the property without ever physically seeing it.
I’ve always thought it was really important to you’re in a successful career. I founded Green Youth Movement (GYM) with my youngest daughter, Ally, in 2005. We decided to pursue this philanthropic endeavor when Ally noticed a void in environmental education in grade-level schools. One of GYM’s biggest accomplishments has been its successful implementation of environmental awareness into elementary school curriculums across classrooms in California.
I am also a strong advocate of several charitable organizations in my community. I am currently a board member of the Friends of Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles. My engagements also extend to the Director’s Circle at LACMA, Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, Cedars- Sinai Board of Governors, Jewish Federation, Giveback Homes, and Creative Bridge Coalition. I am always looking for philanthropic ways to give back and donate a percentage of each transaction to a charitable cause.
I really value my time with my family and feel grateful to have a wonderful husband and two grown daughters. My husband, Richard, holds nearly three decades of finance, marketing, and real estate experience under his belt: He has a bit of an addiction to complex business puzzles. My younger daughter, Ally, is following in my footsteps as an analyst at Barclays Bank in New York City, and my oldest daughter, Michele, spearheads the human resources department at a public relations firm in New York City.
As told to Danielle Accovelli | Photography by Paul Jonason
I have always loved what my parents do for a living. Initially my father was a real estate developer, and my mother an interior designer; in 1993, they began Klein Real Estate brokerage. My original goal was to go into real estate upon completing college. However, during my first year of college, I discovered another area that I wanted to explore first—entertainment marketing and advertising, a career I thoroughly enjoyed for 12 years. Once I got that out of my system, I dove into real estate and have not looked back since. I am currently enjoying my 12th year in real estate.
Klein Real Estate is unique because we are an independent full-service brokerage that offers a complete portfolio of services—buying, selling, leasing, investment and property management. We personally handle each of these services for our clients. Additionally, the Klein Real Estate team of experts includes certified negotiators, luxury home marketing specialists, buyer specialists, general contractors, property management specialists, technology experts and design consultants. Because Klein Real Estate is independent, we are able to provide one-on-one client interaction and personally handle every aspect of each transaction, from beginning to end. We believe the result is greater client satisfaction and a high percentage of returning clients. Klein Real Estate has been established on the Westside for over 23 years, and has developed strong relationships with industry professionals, national brokerages and a global client base. Klein Real Estate integrates technology to facilitate and maintain local, regional, national and international relationships and globally market our listings. Yet, Klein Real Estate is able to maintain a one-on-one relationship approach. We are truly the local broker with a global reach!
Our philosophy is simple: Client satisfaction is No. 1! To achieve this, we work one-on-one with clients to achieve their goals, and obtain the highest result.
Perhaps what appeals to me most about the Westside are the personalities and lifestyles, which influence the diverse architecture of each community. There is a real sense of community and pride of ownership throughout the Westside. Additionally, the surrounding natural landscape cannot be surpassed. The Westside is truly one of the most beautiful areas in the world. Whether you are hiking around Pacific Palisades, strolling along the beach in Santa Monica or having dinner at one of the great restaurants around town, the beauty is intoxicating.
My past experience in marketing and advertising helped me learn and hone what I consider to be the most important elements of being a real estate agent: listen and be an effective communicator, be flexible, gain knowledge of a situation, achieve 100 percent client satisfaction, create effective advertising and marketing strategies and, of course—the power of negotiation.
Many things can happen along the various phases of a real estate transaction. From the commencement of a transaction to the closing of a transaction, I have found communication, prior experience, creativity, and flexibility to be essential elements and key to success.
Because each client is different, with different needs, I listen to my clients carefully, examine the financial parameters that may affect the situation, and take into consideration their future needs. All of this is necessary to select the best properties for my clients.
The best feeling in the world!
Have a successful buyer strategy. This is a very important step in the property buying process,and we work with each of our buyers upfront to create their own personal strategy.
Professionally, we are always seeking to expand and extend our real estate services, and also to grow our network of professional relationships. Additionally, as a lifelong member of the Westside community, ‘giving back’ is always a component of Klein Real Estate. There are a handful of organizations that we feel strongly about and participate in, and we are always open to deepening and widening our community reach.
I am a native of the Westside, having grown up in Sunset Mesa. I attended Malibu and Santa Monica schools, and have lived in the Palisades Highlands for 20 years. I have so many go-to local spots and some of my favorites are Happy L.A., Casa Nostra, Will Rogers Beach, Santa Monica Mountains, Susie Cakes, Santa Monica Seafood and Trader Joe’s.
As Told To Amy Adams | Photos Courtesy of samidrasin.com
I got started in 2006 as a loan officer for a mortgage brokerage. I was prospecting for new clients and helped them refinance their existing loans, and financed their new home purchases. I was working directly with the largest financial institutions in the country and it taught me a lot about the back end of the real estate deal. In 2008, when the market crashed, I started a residential real estate brokerage that later merged with Coldwell Banker in Beverly Hills.
Compass is a technology company that specializes in real estate. It’s that approach to the product and user experience that has made Compass into the success it is today. The engineers and support staff on the tech side make everything from listing presentations to marketing personalized, at the click of a button. What they can do is quite amazing; it also provides me the time to concentrate on the fundamentals of networking to find the right buyers for my clients’ properties.
Property is the building block, literally and figuratively, of our whole economy. Luxury real estate is the pinnacle of that system. Everything else, from your Valentino suit to the Ferrari Cabriolet that you dream of buying, is stored on a property. Luxury real estate is more than bricks and mortar; it’s brick, mortar and everything else that goes into the home.
I owe most of my success to my wife, for allowing me to continue to aim high and go after my targets. I would imagine most partners would not want to be around for the roller coaster I’ve continued to put us through. She has, and I’m very grateful for it.
Strike while the iron is hot. Remember that everything is about momentum, and if you don’t use it while it’s on your side, it will slowly fade away, and it’s very challenging to bring back.
The most exciting change is the global view of Los Angeles as a premier location for real estate. Before, we experienced a second class or backseat to attention given to markets like New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, London, Paris, etc. Los Angeles has now established itself as one of those markets.
The Brent Shapiro Foundation was created by Robert, Linell and Grant Shapiro after Brent’s parents lost their son, and my best friend, to a drug overdose. The Foundation is committed to helping save potential lost lives due to drug and alcohol-related causes. A saved life is priceless.
I worked with a series of startups between 2011 and 2015, and I feel like that experience was like earning a PhD in real world marketing, organization and innovation. While I was still brokering deals during that time, those startups gave me the opportunity to work side by side with graphic designers, computer scientists and engineers. So now, working with a tech-driven brokerage like Compass is the perfect fit because it’s like I have lived through the rough draft of that process. Everything from 3D models, mobile-friendly websites, custom listing presentations and internal organization feels like second nature to me now
As told to Danielle Accovelli
Inspired by his father, a real estate acionado, Giovanni Altamura developed a passion for the business early in life. After earning a degree in planning and development from USC, Altamura applied the values he learned from participating in college sports to his work at the family rm. Soon, with his extensive area knowledge and dedication to delivering premium client satisfaction, Altamura became a top-producing agent.
Here, Altamura shares with DIGS his passion for Manhattan Beach, why an area’s school system is crucial to home sales, and the many benefits of working with family.
I feel that growing up in Manhattan Beach and watching my dad practice real estate sparked my interest in the industry and, over the years, as I learned the nuances of it and knew I wanted to live in Manhattan after college, real estate was something that made sense as a profession.
I am one of the few who has lived in every section of Manhattan, from East, to the Sand, to the Trees and now the Hill. Manhattan is very unique in its sub-areas, and that knowledge is key to separating myself from the next realtor. Being a lifelong resident, I have the sort of information a buyer can’t find online.
Why do you consider an area’s school system the single most important factor in determining a home’s value?
When my father started back in the late 1980s, the land and beaches were the driving force for our real estate market. Flash forward 20 years, and the inclusion of Prop 13 has really transformed Manhattan Beach real estate to where the schools are no. 1, then the land, then the beach. The reason is that you are starting to see new money come down this way from the Westside and outlying areas, where parents want to keep their children in public schools and let them play with their classmates, rather than trek them hours each way. You can also give credit to the expansion of the 105 freeway. This allowed businessmen to work downtown and still live here by cutting down their commute 30- plus minutes each way. In addition, the schools have become such a hot commodity here, that they are restricting the amount of permits issued to account for all residents.
Whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market, or it’s in an upswing or downswing, there’s no denying that location is key. If the market trends up, it’s the first to profit, if the market starts to trend down, it’s the last to take a hit. Another factor is timing. You can’t predict it and some owners have really profited from making a move and not hanging on the fence since 2010. Premiums are also a big factor in determining value. If a home or lot has something unique to it, an unobstructed view, or it’s oversized or on a corner, something that separates it from others in the area, that will affect it in a positive way. There are plenty of buyers who are willing to pay extra for something that no one else has.
I was taught this at an early age, but sports really do shape who you are in your growth and development as an adult. I feel that playing team sports taught me core values and life skills, like communicating with peers, time management, dedication and accountability. No matter what job you have, these skills are a part of it and are essential to succeeding in life.
Selling real estate isn’t for everyone. If you can’t talk to strangers, this isn’t the job for you. It’s a people-person job, and you have to be able to talk and convince your clients why properties are worth ‘x,’ using experience and knowledge to back it up. I was captain of all of my teams and leadership was something that I developed and try and use to assert myself in this field. I also enjoy meeting new people through work and the same went with playing sports. You develop friendships from team to team.
My emphasis in college was planning and development, and the LA Live project downtown was just getting underway during my junior and senior years at USC. Following my father, my brother and I now are into the development game, whether building SFRs and townhouses or multiple townhouses. We currently have 20 townhouses being built in Redondo Beach, two in Manhattan, four SFRs in Manhattan and three more townhouses in Hermosa.
Our group consists of my father and brother. My father has been here since 1967 and my brother and I were born and raised here. We are not a fly-by-night brokerage. This is our only job and we only sell what we know! In a market like we are currently in, buyers need agents who are dealmakers and can get them properties others can’t. Relationships with other agents and overall knowledge are crucial in achieving this. We belong to the best networking group in all of the South Bay and that alone sets us apart from everyone else.
My father has been my role model since I was a little kid. I see how much fun he had and still has coming to work every day. Being able to work where you live and meet new people is also a perk that you just don’t find with many other jobs. He taught me that work should be hard but fun, and if you cant have that balance or achieve both, then you should be doing something else.
Real value in real estate is a tricky concept. To me, knowing value is putting a client into a property where they have the best chance at acquiring equity without having to do anything. Letting the land appreciate where they can depreciate the home, making their home purchase one of their biggest vehicles of equity. To achieve this, you need a little luck with market conditions, but it’s also determining what is a good buy or when it is the right time to sell. Top agents can sell in any market and sustain through the rough ones, like 2008-09. I am very fortunate to have learned from my father and through my networking group.
My father’s famous quote: ‘My knowledge is my only source of income.’ I guess that would be a good start!
As told to Danielle Accovelli
Pacic Palisades native Kimberly Gold, representing mother-daughter real estate duo Properties by Gold, part of Gibson International, left an early and promising career in radio to return to her beloved hometown, where she entered real estate with a erce commitment to her clients. Now, 20 years later, the one-time protégé of her partner, mother Beverly, Gold is at the top of her game.
Here, the driven, consistently client-focused Gold shares the industry acumen of a born producer with DIGS.
After graduating college I became a top account executive, selling advertising and writing commercials for a radio station in San Diego. I really enjoyed my years in radio and loved living in San Diego, but in 1995 I was ready to move back to my hometown of Pacific Palisades. I knew that I wanted to continue with a career in sales and my mother approached me and said she was going to list a new home development in the Palisades Highlands and was looking for agents to become part of her sales team. She thought I would be a perfect fit. I jumped at the opportunity. In radio I was essentially selling air, so the idea of selling something tangible was certainly more appealing. I moved back to L.A. and got my real estate license to head up the on-site sales team at the Alta Mira development in the Summit. After selling all 56 homes, my mom and I represented another new, gated development in the Palisades Highlands, The Peninsula, which consisted of 49 homes. During this time I was also representing buyers and sellers of other properties, but it was selling these 105 homes in a four-year period that helped me gain my expertise in real estate. Many of the clients I have continued to represent over the years are those I met selling these developments.
I was so excited about working in a profession that I loved and working alongside one of the people I admire most in life, my mother. She was so incredibly knowledgeable about real estate that I looked to her for guidance so I, too, could become a successful agent. She was always so confident in my ability to ‘do the job,’ that I knew my goal was reachable. After selling out the Alta Mira and Peninsula developments, I continued to represent buyers and sellers in Pacific Palisades and on the Westside. Oftentimes, my mom and I would help each other out when our days got busy. This worked well for us because we always knew our clients were well taken care of when the other wasn’t available. We spend a lot of time together socially, outside of work, and developed wonderful relationships with many of the same people over the years. Everyone always asked us why we don’t form a partnership since we worked together so often. So that’s exactly what we did!
In 2008, we decided to form an exclusive real estate partnership, Properties By Gold. We both had a similar approach to working with clients and they loved knowing they could call either one of us and we would always be available. We were representing more buyers and sellers than any individual agent could handle, so it made sense to join forces. Officially becoming a team allowed for us to expand our business and better serve our clients. With the personalized level of service our clients deserve and appreciate, we felt there was no other company better suited to partner with than Gibson International. It was an honor when Scott Gibson asked us two years ago to open the new Pacific Palisades office. Forming Properties By Gold and becoming a part of the Gibson International family was the best decision we ever made.
We work so well together and there’s nobody I can trust more than my mom to give our clients the service they deserve. We share in all the responsibilities and decision-making, from marketing to negotiating, and we love working together; even our most challenging days end with a smile. We consult with each other prior to making any decisions, which is easy for us because 99.9-percent of the time we agree on the approach to take throughout the entire transaction. Our clients love having dual representation and they know that one of us will always be there to answer any questions.
Having grown up in Pacific Palisades, I can tell you all you need to know, as I’ve seen this town through the eyes of a young child, teenager and now parent. I attended Palisades Elementary, Paul Revere Middle School and graduated from Palisades High School. This year my oldest daughter, Chloe, is graduating from Palisades High School, and my youngest daughter, Lauren, is graduating from Paul Revere Middle School. Over the years, I have volunteered my time at their schools and learned a great deal about Palisades’ public schools. Many of our clients are relocating to the area and don’t know much about the schools, and the knowledge I gained through my involvement allows me to educate them about all the schools have to offer. I have created an extensive list of referrals for my clients over the years, from pediatricians, after-school enrichment, veterinarians, or where to get the best frozen yogurt! While attending Palisades High I worked after school and on weekends [as a receptionist] in the local Jon Douglas office. Little did I imagine I would be working with these very same agents seven years later… selling real estate myself. Getting to know these local seasoned agents at a young age was beneficial when I became an agent presenting offers to them. They developed a level of trust in me as an agent that goes a long way in my business.
I am a third-generation Palisadian. Having lived here since 1970, I have come to know my community and its history quite well. My grandparents are some founding members of Kehillat Israel (KI), a congregation my family is still very much a part of. My involvement with KI and the local schools has afforded me the opportunity to meet many wonderful families that have trusted me to represent them on the purchase or sale of their home. I am also involved with the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and their Teen Impact Program. It brings me such joy bringing happiness to these children, as they are our future. We have found that most of our clients are also very involved in philanthropy, which is why we will donate 10-percent of our commission to any Palisades school for any closed sale referred by a family of that particular school. This is one way we strive to improve our community.
We are dedicated to providing exceptional service and getting results for our clients. We know the market, we excel in marketing and promoting our properties, and we have proven experience in negotiating successful deals in even the most difficult transactions. We love what we do, which makes it easy to bring energy and enthusiasm into every one of our transactions. We pride ourselves on always being accessible to our clients, treating them with care and respect as we guide them through every aspect of the transaction. Our clients can trust us to do the right thing for their needs. We personally show all our own listings, sit our open houses, and are the voice on the other end of the line when clients call us. I have a strong work ethic and fully commit myself to every client we represent, no matter their level of affordability. As a result, many of these clients are now some of my closest friends. We’ve sold some homes in the Palisades three, four or even five times and represented the same clients on several sales. It warms my heart to have watched some of our clients start their families in the Palisades and to continue my relationship with them as they go on to become empty nesters. I loved going to work every day when I began selling real estate, and I love it just as much 20 years later.
As told to Danielle Accovelli
ROB: I have been with RE/MAX since 1984. At the time, RE/MAX was by far the most innovative real estate company in the world. The concept was to make each agent a small company unto themselves, charging a desk rent fee rather than taking a large percentage of the agent’s commission. Agents were responsible for their own success with the company as a diligent partner in helping them achieve their goals. This brought only the most productive and professional agents together under one roof. Other companies followed with their own version of this concept, but RE/MAX was the innovator and helped push the real estate community to a new level.
GREG: I moved to RE/MAX because they had the strongest presence in the areas where I wanted to grow my business. We have 18 offices along the beach from Palos Verdes to Santa Monica. Plus, our international reach is unmatched.
Having both lived and worked in the South Bay for some time, why has this area continued to be such a covetable market?
ROB: I have lived in Redondo Beach, Torrance, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach. Each city has its own unique character and personality, but all share a connection to the beach lifestyle and are convenient to Los Angeles. There is no more land to build homes and nowhere to expand, so these cities continue to gentrify in a positive way. Limited inventory is a hallmark of the cities, which always seems to put upward pressure on prices and desirability. Moreover, the families that live in these areas have put a lot of their personal time and energy into local schools, which has made schools throughout the South Bay a big draw.
GREG: Great people in a great place will always create a covetable place to live. The South Bay just has the perfect blend of beach and luxury and great weather.
Although I really enjoy the ‘game’ aspect of Monopoly, I definitely don’t treat people’s real estate deals lightly. I love coming up with creative solutions to problems. Every deal is so unique and often requires us to think on our feet to keep things moving in the right direction.
GREG: I’m always thinking, ‘How can we do things better? How can we improve the status quo for the customer?’ Sometimes technology provides that solution. I love how technology and the Internet have dramatically changed our entire industry. People are always asking if I’m afraid of the big third party websites taking over, and I say, ‘No!’ Zillow hasn’t been in every house that’s sold in the last three years. Trulia doesn’t know the floor-plan or the quality upgrades of a remodel. That’s part of the value our team brings to clients.
I like streamlining and efficiencies. I also enjoy volunteering to give back to our community. I was on the Board of Directors for the last three years and was able to help Leadership Manhattan Beach become paperless and build their digital archive.
Goethe once said that architecture is frozen music. I also believe the contrary is true— music is melted architecture. I have been blessed with a balanced left and right brain; I enjoy the creative and the analytical aspects of this business. Being creative with the knowledge to back it up has literally made and saved my clients millions of dollars throughout the years.
Clearly, my architectural background from the top architecture school in the country provides benefits every day to my clients. I can help them visualize the possibilities in spaces that seem limited.
A natural outcropping of my background in architecture is development. I have been building and assisting others in building high-end homes in the Beach Cities since 1986. My wife and I founded Villa d’Arte Development in 2003 to continue this legacy. We are proud of the homes we have built and lives we have touched. Most of these homes broke price point records for the areas in which they were located. More recently, we expanded the company and became general contractors with some amazing building partners, forming First Light Development in 2012. We currently have some 14 projects in various stages of development. Greg and I are pleased tobe able to complement our cutting-edge brokerage with all of these varied value added services under one roof. This is entirely unique in our business. Buy. Sell. Build. Manage. Invest. This is our manifest.
ROB: Our business is quite simply based on the concept of trying to help the greatest number of people possible achieve their piece of the American Dream. We hire, train and teach our team members to think about their actions this way. We seek to make our customers’ experience superior. A very wise real estate trainer once told me that if you want to make more money as an agent, just be worth it. I think about that every day. I want to be better every day, learn and teach every day, provide superior service to our customers and clients, and help other real estate agents elevate our role as professionals.
I have worked diligently over the past 35 years building a business of which I can be proud. I have achieved every award RE/MAX has to offer with uncompromising dedication to my clients’ interests, and an ability to achieve their objectives. I realized long ago that if agents bring nothing more to the table than listings from multiple listing services, they better find something else to do. We are consultants for our clients… We edify, and help them make the best decisions under a specific set of circumstances. We continue to be innovative in the negotiation process, creating wins for our clients without causing others to lose. The two reasons why Greg and I make such good partners is we complement, but do not duplicate, one another, and we always try to help.