LA luxury residential agents party like it’s 2021
Festivities reflect more “the culture of the brokerage than the health of the market”
Many of the L.A. market’s boutique brokerages staged holiday parties like it was the bonanza year of 2021.
Some agents for luxe firms danced and drank in nightclubs while others attended unassuming office potlucks. Whatever the format, rallying the spirits of agents in a tough market emerged as a major theme this year, with events pretty much following the same script that these offices used in previous years when Los Angeles residential deals were more abundant, agency chiefs reported.
Jason Oppenheim, president of The Oppenheim Group, said that there was no denying the slow sales of the past year.
“(Holiday parties) are more of a reflection of the culture of the brokerage than the health of the market,” Oppenheim said. “We had a relatively slow year as did probably every brokerage in the country. No one is jumping up and down about 2023. That said, we’re not going to pass up the opportunity for a good party.”
The Oppenheim Group’s get-together took place Dec. 3 at the firm’s Corona Del Mar office. It was a casual event for The Oppenheim Group, which has produced black-tie events in the past.
This season, the firm’s party budget was spent on food, a tequila bar and a DJ. However, about 900 people — including agents, their friends and clients — attended this year’s holiday party, more than the 2022 Oppenheim Group party in West Hollywood.
AKG Christie’s International Real Estate also produced a bigger party this year compared to last, when it had its former name of Aaron Kirman Group. Kirman estimated about 300 people attended the 2023 party, held Dec. 8 at West Hollywood nightclub Hyde, compared to the 150 people at the previous year’s fete.
“There have been years where I have thought ‘Do we need to have a party?’” Kirman said. “Every year I came to the conclusion that it is a must and it is really important.”
When asked if a gala holiday party also serves as a vehicle to demonstrate to the outside world that the firm’s business is good, Kirman said holiday parties relay a more important message to agents.
“When you have a yearly holiday party, it’s a way for everyone to let loose, have fun, enjoy, drink the big drink and let all of the stresses of the year go. It makes our agents realize how grateful we are to have them at this firm. It’s great for bonding and building the right culture,” he said.
Branden and Rayni Williams, co-founders of The Beverly Hills Estates boutique firm, wanted to send the same message.
The firm’s Dec. 8 party at the Californication House, an ultra luxe mansion the couple developed, also served as a platform for agent appreciation. A Bulgari watch was given to Lea Porter, who was honored with the firm’s agent of the year award. A vintage 1980s Rolex watch was given to the firm’s highest grossing agents of the year, Jack Harris and Michael Fahimina. TBHE agents, clad in tuxes and cocktail dresses, danced up a storm to hip-hop music deejayed by one of Branden Williams’ friends.
Not all holiday parties fit the gala model. Coldwell Banker Realty Beverly Hills recently hosted a party where agents put together a potluck dinner with home-cooked pasta and turkey dishes, said veteran agent Joyce Rey. A holiday potluck has been the office’s tradition for the past few years.
In a repeat performance, Nourmand & Associates put together a holiday luncheon Dec. 6 at Boa Steakhouse in West Hollywood. About 135 agents ate the restaurant’s Boa burgers, salmon entrees and vegan cauliflower Milanese. They also heard from agency President Michael Nourmand, who talked about business in the past 12 months.
“I think we did a good job collectively. Agents did a good job focusing on people who had a compelling reason to transact. So you had first-time buyers, relocations, divorce, people passing away, and lots of lots and lots of leases. I think that we did more than one lease a day,” he said.
Leases were up 40 percent compared to the previous year, he noted.
Brokerage parties in L.A. seem to dovetail with the mood in the wider economy.
On Dec. 13, outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas released a survey that noted about 64 percent of companies confirmed they were producing an in-person holiday party this season. That’s up from 57 percent in the 2022 holiday season, but it didn’t match the pre-pandemic number of 75 percent of companies that produced an in-person event in 2019. Of the companies surveyed, only 8 percent said they were going to spend less on holiday celebrations in 2023.