Rory Posin on mansionization restrictions and Ari Emanuel

Broker tells us everything we need to know about Cheviot Hills

Apr.April 07, 2016 01:00 PM

Rory Posin is a man of no regrets, but he does recognize that one time he overlooked a big opportunity. A top producer at RE/MAX Estate Properties in West Los Angeles, and the head of Results Real Estate Group, the broker nicknamed the “King of Cheviot Hills” nearly left his real estate career behind to work with a scrappy Hollywood agent by the name of Emanuel. Yes, Ari Emanuel.

“About 20 years ago, I sold a duplex to a fellow who was a new agent in Hollywood, a baby agent at a thing called InterTalent,” Posin told The Real Deal. “He encouraged me to come work for him. But I thought, I don’t know, he doesn’t look like he’s doing that great. As he became who he is, I realized…maybe I let that one get away. But there isn’t a day that I’m not raring to go with real estate.”

We chatted with Posin about the career he did decide to stick with. While his personality hasn’t yet inspired a character on a TV series like “Entourage,” if you check the signage around the coveted West L.A. neighborhood of Cheviot Hills, situated between Fox and Sony Studios and attractive to finance and entertainment executives, you will see he’s quite the bankable real estate star himself. 

How did you get into real estate?

Since I was a little boy I liked to sell. Friends’ parents often remind me that I still, even today, hold the record for selling candy bars. I chose homes.

Why did you choose Cheviot Hills?

I grew up there. But growing up there wasn’t a benefit. People knew me as that little kid, Rory, so that wasn’t easy. I had to convince them that I was Rory the real estate professional vs. Rory the kid. Now, we have really specialized in that area. About half of our business is not even on the market.  It’s quiet deals. We sell about 40 houses a year, and those houses really range. They’re as little as $1.3 million up to about $7 million.

But only Cheviot?

That’s been our focus. I have three associate agents for our clients that buy and sell outside of our focus area. I refer all of our outside-Cheviot (business) to them.

Are there any notable residents in Cheviot?

We have some celebrities in the neighborhood: Travis Barker and Marianne Jean-Baptiste. Andrew Roddick and his wife Brooklyn Decker sold their home a couple of months ago. I sold a home to and for Rod Stewart’s ex-girlfriend, Kelly Emberg. The mother from “Bewitched”, Agnes Moorehead, had a place here. Lucille Ball had a place here. William Shatner currently owns homes in the area. Jonah Hill, too.

Aside from celebrities, what kinds of people buy here?

People tend to move around and within Cheviot. There is barely any turnover here because once they move, they tend to stay in the neighborhood. They will literally move a couple of blocks to be on a street that they really like. It’s the guy taking his dog for a walk who calls me while on the walk because he sees a sign. Most people are conservative and can buy their home several times over. They don’t sell in order to buy. They are just waiting for their next place to open in the hood to either relocate within or to add onto what they are already have.

You mean people are buying up blocks?

It’s not uncommon for someone to start acquiring properties around them. Someone might buy a house and then they own the lot next door and behind them.

What’s the story behind Cheviot?

It was originally built in the 1920s and developed for different levels of studio people. It was upper middle class. That has really changed over the years. It’s high-end.

How do you describe Cheviot Hills to outsiders?

Family oriented, conservative, not flashy. It’s kind of a below-the-radar neighborhood, not a Ferrari or Lamborghini-driving neighborhood. It’s more Lexus. If you don’t want to know your neighbors, then it’s not the neighborhood for you.

Why isn’t everyone moving there?

Here’s the reality. Outside of Cheviot, people don’t know anything about the neighborhood, and inside people know everything and they keep watch so there’s not much opportunity for outsiders. Once, I listed a cul-de-sac. I pulled the sign from my car and by the time I was back in my office, before I had a chance to put it out there, I had a neighbor already on the phone ready with cash who wanted it. There are never overlooked homes.

Do you still live there?

I own a home in Cheviot, but I live in Sherman Oaks. I moved five years ago when my mom died. That was the catalyst for me moving outside of Cheviot. I love that I can have separation from where I work and live. I get to go home at night.

Have the borders of the neighborhood changed?

The original boundaries were determined by a ladies group, a tea club that no longer exists. They drew out the boundaries, for example Butterfield Road (is one of the southwest borders). The south side was Cheviot and the north side was Rancho Park.  A real estate agent was sued and either lost or settled years ago for advertising a home as Cheviot, but it was really Rancho Park.

How much power do neighborhood associations have here?

There are two homeowner associations here. One is voluntary, you don’t have to pay, and the other is mandatory. That is the California Country Club Homeowner Association. They have the power (to affect approvals for) building a new home or allowing an add-on. Old Cheviot has heavy building restriction codes, and the Country Club Association was smart and didn’t get on board so the values (on newer homes) go up.

So old Cheviot homes aren’t increasing in value?

It’s hard with those restrictions. You used to be able to build a much bigger home than you can today. That has affected values negatively on the smaller lots where there are more senior people. It’s hard to break the news to them, that because of the restrictions in building, their value has been diminished.

How did this happen?

It’s the anti-mansionization restrictions. There were these Westsiders who went over the top with their homes and now it’s those few bad apples that killed the whole bunch. I had someone who bought as a single guy in 2000, then met his wife and they had a couple of kids. They loved their block and neighbors so they wanted to build a new home for his current family and their different needs on the lot. When the architect spoke to him, he learned he had these restrictions. Basically, he’s going to have to sell in order to build the home he wants.

How much do buyers care about the ability to build more?

Where there’s restrictions, for homes that would have 10 offers, seven of those 10 would be from people who want to build. When you take that 70 percent away from the owner selling, they make 10 percent less. On the newer side, where there aren’t restrictions, larger lots have sales that are 10 percent up and more. The newer part of the neighborhood was built on tracts so it was initially less desirable, while the old side has these individual lots with these amazing curvy streets. Because of those restrictions, it’s all flipped.

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