The Hollywood Reporter Honors L.A.’s Top Real Estate Agents at Inaugural Power Broker Awards

Though L.A.’s highest-level real estate scene is notorious for its hyper-competitiveness and even a few long-running feuds, good feeling and camaraderie reigned at The Hollywood Reporter’s inaugural Power Broker Awards, presented by The Society Group. Held as a private event at Soho House in West Hollywood on Wednesday night, the honors were held in conjunction with the magazine’s 2021 list of Hollywood’s Top 30 Real Estate Agents, which honors top sellers in the greater L.A. area based on overall deal volume, MLS-listed sales to Hollywood clients and media visibility.

Many of the agents on this year’s list attended the boisterous cocktail party and dinner, where Selling Sunset‘sJason Oppenheim andMillion Dollar Listing‘s Matt Altman of Douglas Elliman engaged in some friendly back-and-forth ribbing.

“We love The Hollywood Reporter. We love the way they treat agents, and their lists are valid and important,” Altman said.

“But we don’t like how they list alphabetically,” Oppenheim interjected. “Because Matt Altman comes first every time!”

Throughout the night, though, there was also a sense that L.A.’s elite agents are all in it together. “We’re the best,” said Sally Forster Jones of Compass while accepting the award for The Agent of Historic Architecture. “All of you are the best, and knowing you and being with you, and learning from you and respecting all of you has been amazing.”

Even Fredrik Eklund, star of Million Dollar Listing and one of the U.S. real estate industry’s most nationally known agents due to his TV presence, was a little starstruck by the sight of so many of L.A.’s power brokers all in one room. He moved to L.A. just two years ago.

“There’s so many big, huge personalities that I have been reading about for a lifetime as an outsider coming into L.A., so it felt really like a family affair,” he says. “It felt like there was a friendly competition in that room, and despite all the trillions of dollars that we sell competitively, it seemed like everyone was really happy to see each other.”

Attendees included THR Top 30 Agents list makers Juliette Hohnen of Douglas Elliman, Eric Lavey of Sotheby’s International Realty, Rochelle Atlas Maize of Nourmand & Associates, Cindy Ambuehl and Carl Gambino of Compass, Josh Myler of The Agency and Ikem Chukumerije of Million Dollar Living.

After dinner and cocktails in a private dining room, brokers filled the seats in the private screening room of Soho House, where the awards were given out for exceptional work in an unprecedented year. (Many agents recently told The Hollywood Reporter that they are doing record sales in 2021 as many L.A. homeowners have looked to trade up to bigger places amid the pandemic.)

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Kurt Rappaport, the co-founder of Westside Estate Agency, won the award for Celebrity Property Portfolio, which honors the agent whose transactions for Hollywood’s elite garnered consistent headlines in real-estate media in the last 12 months. Among his big sales of 2020 and 2021, according to public records, were transactions for such clients as Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum. “This is unexpected,” he said. “We get to work in a business where we pick and choose who we work with, and sometimes we take that for granted, talk about what a grind it is, and it is a distinct pleasure, and I thank you very much.”

Santiago Arana of The Agency was recognized with the Philanthropic Impact award and, with his children in attendance made a touching speech about the nature of giving back. “There’s no more rewarding thing than helping organizations or people that want to make the world a better world,” said Arana, who supports such organizations as Union Rescue Mission, Synergy International School and Give Back Homes, which works with established charity partners to organize home-building projects across the globe.

Forster Jones, Tomer Fridman and Tyrone McKillen of Compass and Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland received The Agent of Historic Architecture award for their sale of the historic Owlwood Estate for $88 million (a grand 1930s Holmby Hills mansion whose former owners include Cher, Tony Curtis and late 20th Century Fox chairman Joseph Schenck). During her acceptance speech, Forster Jones recounted the lengths they went to sell the home, showcasing its Hollywood history and making many TV appearances. “We were on Japanese television, and we were dubbed!” she said.

In recognition of the way television and social media is changing the real estate world and amplifying its players, THR presented Oppenheim, co-founder of the Oppenheim Group, with The Media Maverick award. “I guess I got lucky with the Netflix show, and it has certainly helped,” said Oppenheim of Selling Sunset, which was renewed earlier this year for fourth and fifth seasons. “I have to say that I’ve had a few jobs in my life, an attorney, everything really, but I have to say this is the job I’ve loved the most. I think it’s because of you guys. Even as an attorney, I got to work with great people, but it was not nearly as fun as the people that I get to work with now.” Also in attendance was Oppenheim’s girlfriend, and fellow Selling Sunset star, Chrishell Stause.

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For Stratospheric Sale award winners Angel Salvador and Branden and Rayni Williams, all of The Beverly Hills Estates —  who were honored for the $70 million sale of a nine-bedroom Bel Air estate this past August to superstar singer The Weeknd — the THR award felt like sweet recognition. “I’ve been saying this forever, us realtors bust our balls seven days a week, 24/7, and there’s no awards. We finally got it right here in Hollywood!” Branden enthused on the podium.

Angel Salvador agreed. “We get no recognition,” he said. “I remember going to change batteries of a smoke detector for a client at midnight. And you don’t get kudos for that. Obviously, you get the referrals — but to get the recognition amongst your peers is special.”

The awards portion of the evening also took time to recognize agents who were named in its real-estate coverage as being Rising Stars in the L.A. industry, including attendees Heather T. Roy and Learka Bosnak of Douglas Elliman, Lily Harfouche of Compass and Cooper Mount of The Agency. Dalton Gomez of Compass, who could not make the event, was honored with the award for Rising Star.

Rayni Williams hopes this will be just the first of many THR awards celebrating real estate in Los Angeles. “I think that it is just the beginning,” she said. “I think we will look back and be like, ‘Remember the first Power Brokers Awards?'”

But more important than the awards was the chance for agents to reconnect after over a year and half of lockdown, and virtual selling. “We really love how you get all of us friends together — it’s a great event. All of us are very close and we never get a chance to see each other,” Oppenheim said.

Later, guests continued the festivities at an afterparty held at a house in Outpost Estates, the ASH Staging Concept House, hosted by ASH Staging, where Branden Williams added a splash of reality: “Well, this is only for one night, you know,” he said. “Then we have to wake up tomorrow and get back to going after each other in the real estate wars.”

This event was put on by The Hollywood Reporter in conjunction with a paid brand partnership with The Society Group.

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