Advertisement
Share

It can take superhero powers to execute a celebrity deal

Don't expect "for sale" signs at such homes as this Hidden Hills estate bought by Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne from Jessica Simpson in 2013.

Don’t expect “for sale” signs at such homes as this Hidden Hills estate bought by Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne from Jessica Simpson in 2013.

(John Turner)

You’ve read about multimillion-dollar listings. But how do those deals go down?

Olympian home deals require more than mere mortals to execute them. When brokering estates, agents have to navigate the labyrinthine teams that orbit elite clients and squeeze in meetings around their tightly packed schedules. Their task is downright herculean.

Here’s a look at the many moving parts involved in a blockbuster real estate transaction.

Mega marketing campaigns

Advertisement

Don’t even think about staking a yard sign. Instead, aerial photography (used both inside and outside via drones), lavish photo books and viral lifestyle videos are common marketing devices. The cost of staging a trophy property may top $50,000. Conversely, celebrity pedigree homes “can be so special that the marketing becomes automatic,” said Joyce Rey, an executive director at Coldwell Banker.

Such homes are coveted for being lifestyle-ready, with home automation systems, room-size closets and theaters. Rey’s example: Her current $25.5-million listing of a 1941 compound (with staff quarters and wine cellar) designed for Bert Lahr and later owned by Betty Grable and Paul McCartney, among other notables.

Justin Bieber sold his Calabasas home to Khloe Kardashian for $7.2 million in an off-market deal. These photos show the house in 2008, when earlier owner Nicole Murphy was selling the property.

Justin Bieber sold his Calabasas home to Khloe Kardashian for $7.2 million in an off-market deal. These photos show the house in 2008, when earlier owner Nicole Murphy was selling the property.

(Doyle Terry Photography / Hurwitz James Co.)

Discretion

Privacy is paramount when brokering some deals. Discretion is sometimes achieved via pocket listings hidden from the Multiple Listing Service and use of LLCs and trusts to purchase homes. Business managers often sign contracts to keep boldface names off documents. Nondisclosure agreements are common.

Still, in today’s TMZ-happy world, those with stratospheric wealth have few places to hide.

“It shocks me how much information goes public and how accurate it is,” said Hilton & Hyland Realtor Jonah Wilson. “The truth is, the real estate blogs know so much that keeping a deal out of the MLS no longer makes a big difference.”

The potential for leaks is rife — coming from a client’s housekeeper and friends, title and escrow staff, or herds of paparazzi. “During the last five years, it’s been out of control,” he said.

Stunning photos, celebrity homes: Get the free weekly Hot Property newsletter >>

Personalities and insane schedules

Not surprisingly, A-list celebrities are “ridiculously busy,” said Tomer Fridman, partner and executive vice president of Ewing & Associates Sotheby’s International.

And there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen.

“You’re dealing with lots of handlers, and there’s an art to handling the handlers,” Wilson said.

“The personalities, the team’s organizational skills — they all differ with each celebrity deal. You have to be flexible.”

Showings and various meetings are “always a moving target, ever-changing,” he added, “and you have to know how to roll with that.”

The dynamic duo

Business managers and lawyers are pivotal players. Business managers train eagle eyes on clients’ finances: cash flow, debt structuring, tax planning and investments, to start the list. Lawyers back them up and scrutinize reams of legal paperwork. The pair’s singular goal? To keep clients (especially the newly rich) from going broke.

The bookish pair often collide with a buyer’s ardent attachment to a property, “and you’re in the middle,” Fridman said. “The buyer and business manager are not always on the same page.” Effective agents broker not only deals but also cerebral interests versus “must-have” demands.

Exhaustive inspections

“With celebrity deals, you have really heavy-duty inspections,” Wilson said. “As the price goes up, the stakes go up.” Arborists and geologists are sometimes necessary, as well as inspections of fireplaces, sewer lines and drainage systems.

The entourage

Once a property has entered escrow, a buyer’s entourage will often launch an invasion.

Topping the list are designers and house managers (think a 21st century Carson from “Downton Abbey”). “The sky’s the limit,” Wilson said.

“I’ve had clients bring in a feng shui expert, a company that allergy-proofs a house and a person who does energy clearings. It’s endless.”

hotproperty@latimes.com


Advertisement