PRIME AGENT SPOTLIGHT
With over 13 years experience in managing, developing, and selling luxury real estate in and around Beverly Hills, Michelle Oliver represents buyers and sellers as the estates director at luxury experts Douglas Elliman Real Estate. It's a high-profile environment unlike anywhere else in the world – including negotiations and transactions for high net worth individuals as well as actors and celebrities.
Although bound by client discretion, Michelle allows that her milestone projects in luxury real estate – achieving record-setting prices per square foot – include some buzz-worthy "homes of the stars." But that's as far as it goes, as privacy is everything in this exclusive marketplace– a marketplace about to raise the bar for luxury real estate in the following years according to Michelle Oliver. In this issue’s Agent Spotlight, the customer-focused professional shares her perspective on the latest trends and developments in LA luxury real estate with Prime.
Was there a specific moment or experience that attracted you to the luxury real estate segment?
I was drawn to the luxury segment the moment I became the manager of a gated community called North Beverly Park. It's one of most exclusive gated communities in the world and among the areas with the highest density of billionaires. I knew this was the kind of clientele and product I wanted to work with, and my first listing as an agent was a luxury property at $25 million dollars. Talk about starting at the top!
You also chose the perfect area. The luxury homes market in Los Angeles, and the Beverly Hills area in particular, is in a league of its own. What makes it so unique?
I honestly think that it's the best place to live in our country, if not the world. From a lifestyle perspective, being located between Malibu and Beverly Hills is the ultimate, and it's drawing an increasingly international crowd – either for a second home or permanent residence.
Speaking of international clients, what are the strengths and synergies resulting from Douglas Elliman's partnership with Knight Frank?
Douglas Elliman has the edge of being the leader in new development, and we're one of the only firms in luxury real estate who can make this claim. Thanks to the partnership with the largest international residential company Knight Frank, we have offices and feet on the ground in over 58 countries. So we are part of a direct and powerful network that works seamlessly with our international clientele.
You mentioned new developments – what are some upcoming projects in Los Angeles you can share with us?
We are about to show Los Angeles what vertical living with a luxury component is all about. It's a new approach here in Los Angeles. Since Douglas Elliman is already a leader with New York and Miami, this gives us the edge to make LA a destination for vertical living, with exciting new products about to come on the market from Downtown to Beverly Hills, and Century City, to name but a few.
That sounds like a new approach. Which other trends are you seeing in luxury real estate at the moment?
I really think that high-end buyers are extremely savvy these days and have been exposed to levels of luxury that we have yet to see in Southern California. The question is being answered as we speak with a new level of spectacular developments in luxury residential and commercial. There are residential properties coming on the market at supersonic levels starting at $150,000,000 and soon we will be seeing numbers at $500,000,000. Commercial developments are also changing the LA market and demographic by introducing hotel/luxury condos such as the West Hollywood Ian Schrager Edition and the new Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts coming to Beverly Hills in 2017.
So the bar is about to be raised all across the board?
Pricing is a really fascinating question here. Compared to the rest of the world, Los Angeles is still really underpriced. Only about five years ago, a $20 million luxury property was almost unheard of. Now $20 million is the low-end of the high-end! The value of LA will continue to increase as we catch up with the other major markets.
With that said, what are ultra-affluent buyers demanding from luxury homes in Beverly Hills these days?
I think it’s all about the experience a property creates for the client. The ultra-affluent buyers are leaning towards properties that are curated to a particular lifestyle and are ready to pay top dollar for the “best in class.” These buyers want an opportunity to acquire something that no one else can acquire.
And finally, what is the#1 reason for purchasing luxury real estate in to Los Angeles?
Being born and raised in LA, I get asked this question a lot. I seriously think LA is one of the best places in the world to live. My great uncle, Julius Shulman, couldn’t agree more. His iconic photographs of the 1960s Case Study homes by architects like Pierre Koenig and Frank Lloyd Wright sold Los Angeles to the rest of the world as the best place to live. You have the beaches, the mountains, the desert, rivers, all within reach to your busy lifestyle whether you are a mega celebrity, captain of industry, international mogul, ora college student. You feel surrounded by the luxury of the weather and the beauty of Southern California.