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Home to Many of Hollywood’s Elite

By admin
At Jul 25, 2017

In the 1930’s, the Great Depression had hit the country hard. Even the most affluent families lost money as banks failed across the nation. In Los Angeles, Holmby Hills, Bel-Air and Beverly Hills, the construction of extravagant estates continued and was perhaps the biggest anomaly in the country at the time. Land on prestigious Sunset Boulevard and Carolwood Drive was still being purchased by those looking to find a prominent place among the Hollywood elite, and no price was too high.

Making the headlines in 1932 was Charles and Florence Quinn. Florence was the wife of the late Arthur Letts Sr., founder of the Broadway department stores. Florence and Letts had already purchased a magnificent thirty-acre estate in Hollywood, but after his death and her subsequent re-marriage, Florence decided to sell and move to Sunset Boulevard with her new husband. Florence chose a parcel of land situated between the homes of her three children, who by this time were married and established on their own. The Quinn’s astounded their neighbors and all of Los Angles when it was leaked that their construction budget for their new home was estimated at $150,000. While this amount is not much in today’s standards, during the Depression, it was a phenomenal price.

The couple hired Robert Farquhar to design their 12,600-square-foot Italian Renaissance style home. Farquhar designed the home to include eight bedrooms and seven full bathrooms, along with a dining room, living area and a grand entryway. The home was fashioned with only the finest marble and rarest woods to give the Quinn’s an extraordinary finished product. Florence loved antiques and art and filled her home with both. During her time at what would later be named “Owlwood,” she decorated the rooms in her home with a variety of timeless pieces including an entire 18th century drawing room that she purchased from the famous Castle Hill in Devonshire, England. She also included rare pieces from the Ming Dynasty as well as English and French silver and fine china.

After Florence’s death, many prominent men and women were interested in the property. It was well known that the Quinn’s home was the largest in the area at that time and it was the definition of classic beauty and grandeur. In 1944, the home was sold to Joseph Drown, the founder of The Hotel Bel-Air, and then shortly after was sold once again to 20th Century Fox Co-Founder, Joe Schenck. It was during his time at Owlwood that Schenck discovered one of the greatest actresses known in Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe. Monroe lived at the Owlwood estate in the pool house until she hit it big and was able to move out on her own. After Schenck, the home went through several more prestigious owners, including Superior Oil Founder William Keck, actor Tony Curtis and the beloved duo, Sonny and Cher. In 1976, Cher sold the property to Ralph and Chase Mishkin, where it finally got its name “Owlwood.” The home has stayed much the same, gaining additional acres over the years and was recently the second highest selling estate in Los Angles.

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Real estate agents lay out strategies on how to bring home residential deals.

By admin
At May 11, 2017

Going To War’

By Helen Zhao

Friday, April 21, 2017

The competition is heating up for homes priced for less than $3 million in Los Angeles County. The number of properties sold at that price point rose by 1.4 percent last year, while the average number of monthly active listings declined by 12.2 percent, according to the California Association of Realtors.

As a result, agents said they typically expect anywhere between four and eight offers for a desirable property, something agent David Kramer of Hilton & Hyland in Beverly Hills refers to as “going to war.”

Winning a high-pressure bid battle can often come down to nuance. Agents on both the buy and sell sides of the deal shared their winning strategies for coming out ahead in the ultracompetitive L.A. home market.


1. Confidence.

A buyer has to be prepared to make the strongest possible offer. That means being certain it’s the right house for them. Kramer makes sure his clients view a home more than once. “What I find is hesitation often comes from not remembering the house. You see it once, get excited, and write the offer,” he said. Confidence also comes from being informed about comparable sales in the area and what it takes to sweeten a deal in a bidding war, like shortening or waiving contingencies.

2. First impression.

“When your client walks into the open house, this is an interview,” said Michael Nourmand, president of L.A.’s Nourmand & Associates. “The agent is watching your client – what they say, how they appear, if they seem easygoing. Do they really like the house?” In a hot market, Nourmand tells his clients to “be very complimentary about the house because you want to sell to the listing agent that you really want the house and that your buyer is going to close.”

3. Escalation clause.

Some might view it as an unfair tactic, but adding an escalation clause helped one Nourmand buyer win a bidding war for a home that sold for just less than $1 million in Studio City with six offers, he said. “What it means is that I will pay (for example) $5,000 more than the highest written verifiable offer, purchase price not to exceed $1.5 million.” Nourmand suggests calling the listing agent to see if he or she is OK with the escalation clause first.

4. Level the playing field.

Kramer suggests asking the listing agent if any of their own clients are submitting bids. If so, “they’re going to pick that person.” If that’s the case, then ask to bring the selling broker’s manager in. But don’t stop there, he said. “Another thing I ask – Is there anything special that is nonfinancial that will make this seller happy?” Learning about a seller’s specific needs and addressing them means that even if you don’t have the highest offer, the seller might tell you what the highest offer is and give you a chance to match it.


5. Emotional connection.

Agent Dennis Hsii of Playa Vista Premiere saw just how effective this tactic can be when his buyer won a bidding war with 13 others on a $1.1 million Santa Monica home in November. Hsii’s buyer, who took out a loan, beat out five all-cash offers and others worth more money. Hsii said it all came down to an initial meeting with the listing agent, homeowners, and neighbors. Then he hand-delivered the offer in a gift-wrapped package, with a bow on top, that included a personal letter to the seller explaining why the buyer loved the home and how it would be perfect for the family.


1. Price right.

Price the home in a manner that invites multiple offers. That can drive the price of the home up. “Let’s say the magic number for your house is $2 million, and you price at $2.3 million. You’re going to get $1.95 million. If you price it at $1.95, you might get $2.5 million,” said Jeffrey Saad, an agent at Compass in Beverly Hills. “You can make an extra $100,000 just by pricing for multiples versus pricing too high and slowly reducing over a few months.”

2. Highest doesn’t mean best.

An offer that comes in a lot higher than the others could be cause for concern. Carrie Rollings Meynet of Gibson International in Brentwood said she learned that the hard way while selling a $1.5 million condo last year that received eight offers. Her client accepted the highest offer, which was well-above asking price. “Some agents will represent buyers who throw in an unbelievable price point just to secure their position in a multiple,” she said. Then they ask for large concessions. During her inspection, the buyer asked for extremely high credits – or monetary deductions – based on perceived flaws with the unit. The deal fell out of escrow because an agreement couldn’t be reached.

3. Have a backup.

In the case of the condo with multiple offers, Rollings Meynet had secured a backup offer in writing. “As an agent, it’s important to maintain communication with backups, making sure the backup position is still a viable offer,” she said. “If you don’t have a backup, you may have to show the house in open house again.”

4. Plan for a low appraisal.

Banks will typically lend 80 percent of a home’s appraised value, so if a property appraises for less than the purchase price, the buyer will have to come up with more cash. Anticipating a lower appraisal, Saad and his wife, Nadia, also an agent with Compass, chose a buyer with a down payment higher than 20 percent, for a $900,000 condo in Westwood. “The buyer stayed because they had a higher down payment. If we had gone with a lower down payment, the deal wouldn’t have closed,” he said.

5. Evaluate emotional commitment.

“When I see that a buyer is truly emotionally married to that property, they want to stick through the hard stuff during escrow,” said Rollings Meynet. “Like (if) your plumbing is shot in the house – this is overwhelming to the buyer. Is it so overwhelming that they’ll walk?”


Original Article 

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An Architectural Masterpiece on Carolwood Drive

By admin
At May 09, 2017

There were plenty of available architects in the early 1920s, each with their own style and theory about what grandeur and elegance looked like. This was especially true for George Washington Smith, a lover of the simple yet magnificent look of Spanish Colonial Revival style homes. He was a rarity among other Los Angeles architects who chose more ornate styles such as English Tudor, Italian or Mediterranean for their clients. Smith began his architectural career by building a home for his own family. Located in Santa Barbara, the Smith home brought in many clients from the surrounding areas. He hadn’t ventured far past his hometown until 1925, when he designed and built the Kerns home on Carolwood Drive. It would be his first and last house built in Los Angeles.

Carolwood Drive is located in prestigious Holmby Hills and was the perfect location for Henry and Elsa Mary Kern, a retired couple who loved the serenity of the area. They bought a 2.2-acre lot and hired Smith immediately to begin designing their home. Up until this point, Smith had remained steadfast in his Spanish Colonial Revival designs, but Kern had a different idea for his new home. His request was a toned-down version of an Italian Renaissance, not the type of house that was Smith’s specialty. Smith continued to work with Kern, making multiple changes to his design at the owner’s request.

Once a final design had been approved, Smith began working on what would be his greatest accomplishment. Adding the small ornate details that Kern wanted to the simplistic, elegance of Smith’s design created an unusual but equally beautiful home. In 1927, the Kerns moved into their spacious 5-bedroom home situated on a knoll, surrounded by pristine landscape and a crystal-clear view. An impressive two-story entryway, dining room, living room, kitchen and servant’s quarters made up the downstairs with the upstairs containing a master suite with a sitting room, dressing room and bedroom fit for royalty.

The crowning glory of the Kern estate was thanks to A.E. Hanson, a landscape artist known for his skill of working with hills and ravines that were a part of the terrain in Holmby Hills. Hanson contacted Kern to offer his expertise, not waiting for Smith or Kern to contact him. Hanson kept with the clean, simple design in the backyard which led to the deep ravine. There he built a show-stopping feature: a beautiful fountain that fed into a waterfall, cascading down the ravine into a pool at the bottom. The stairs that led down the ravine to the pool were lined with clamshells for a unique display for visitors.

The Kerns estate is still in pristine condition today. The current owners purchased the estate in the 1990s and decided to restore the home to its original state. They also bought the neighboring estate and added another three acres to their two-acre estate, making it one of the largest estates in Holmby Hills.








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