Keeping up with Coldwell Banker’s Jade Mills

Grande dame of the LA luxury market takes TRD along for a ride

Q&A with Coldwell Banker’s Jade Mills
(Left to Right) Tiffany Mills. Jade Mills and Alexis LaMontagna (Photo by Michael Allen)

“This is what my children call me ‘kidnapping them,’” Jade Mills tells the passenger beside her as she backs out of the driveway at her Trousdale Estates home.  

The joke stems from the days when her kids tagged along with her to work. “If you get in the car with her, you’re just stuck all day going from one appointment to the next,” daughter Tiffany Mills later explained.

It’s 9:30 a.m. on a weekday and Mills has already hit the gym, checked her emails and thumbed through new and pending listings. There’s a lot to do before she hops a plane to the Cayman Islands the next morning for son Zach Quittman’s wedding.

“I’m in the car so much, but I love what I do,” the Coldwell Banker agent said, navigating her way along Sunset Boulevard en route to an open house. “I love, love, love what I do.”

Mills has closed more than $8 billion in home sales since the start of her career more than 30 years ago. Her name is synonymous with some of the market’s buzziest deals: $100 million sale of the Playboy mansion in 2016, or the $150 million sale of the Chartwell Estate (seen in “The Beverly Hillbillies”) and the $120 million Spelling Manor in 2019. 

The days of her children getting stuck in the car with her clearly rubbed off. Three of them also sell real estate, sometimes co-listing with Mills. Tiffany sells in the Santa Ynez Valley; Quittman focuses on Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Venice; and Alexis LaMontagna has Calabasas thanks to connections from her kids’ private school. Even the youngest, Austin Mills, a video content creator, often refers NBA friends to his mom.

The Real Deal tagged along for the ride earlier this month, as Mills visited a new listing in the Malibu Colony Estates; shot an Instagram video; and talked about Measure ULA, reality TV and why she doesn’t work on a team. Her thoughts were often punctuated by a steady stream of incoming calls from her office, Coldwell executives and clients.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

Did you always hope that at least one of your kids would sell real estate?

All of them. Now I’m working on my grandchildren. It’s amazing. It’s taken my children a long time because it’s a lot of work.

I think a lot of younger people today want the easy way out. I’ll hire someone and they’ll say, “Well, do I have to work on Saturday? Can I work from 9 to 5? Can I…?” It’s like, “No, no. This isn’t that kind of job.”

What was a deal that got away or was particularly challenging and you learned from it?

We are real estate agents. Many times, we shouldn’t be handling the legal part and we had really technical legal issues with one deal. The owners had passed away. There were trustees. There was a lot going on.

I represented the seller. There was a three-page addendum that the seller gave the buyer. It was all legal verbiage. I had a co-listing agent, so we gave the addendum to the buyer without really understanding what it was all about. The buyer wanted to know what it was all about and I tried to explain.

I learned a huge point of doing business: If an attorney writes an addendum, or if an attorney is involved on one side, you have to advise the other person’s client to get an attorney. I never would have suggested that they both get attorneys before this. Now, I just say, “This is beyond me. This is out of my wheelhouse. You need to get an attorney.”

So that’s what I learned from this big deal. And we did close.

You started your career at Prudential California Realty [bought by Jon Douglas Company, which Coldwell later acquired]. You’re technically at the same agency you started at. . How often do you get offers to join other agencies?  

When everybody knew that my contract was up, I had a lot of people saying “This is your chance. This is your chance.”

Coldwell Banker is amazing. I’ve been asked by every other company to leave Coldwell Banker. I’m a loyal old dog.

You don’t have a team. Why?

I never want to appear negative, but I think the best thing that I can say about teams is I’m very, very particular about how my business is run. We have hired probably seven different people that tried to train for both assisting and selling.

Everybody’s been really great in their own way. It’s just that they don’t do business exactly like [Managing Director] Stephanie [Zebik] and I and my children. It’s a little more work. And it’s going out of your way to make it happen.


Q&A with Coldwell Banker’s Jade Mills
(Left to right): Zach Quittman and Jade Mills creating an Instagram video inside the kitchen of the Malibu Colony Estates home they’re co-listing with Alexia Assouline (far right) of The Beverly Hills Estates. (Photo by Kari Hamanaka) 

I was doing emails at 11:30 at night. I had 500 emails, and I was just sitting there at my desk and this email came in: “I live in Northern California, but I want to see property in Malibu. I’m not really ready yet, but I’ll call you when I am.” I got back to him at 11:30 and he said, “Wow, that’s really great that you respond so quickly.” And so, it ends up they came, looked at property for $6 [million] to $8 million and ended up buying something for $55 million because I was on that email. And then they sold it with me.

What’s the impact of the NAR settlement and new rules on your business?

When we go on listing appointments, one of the things [sellers] say is, “We no longer have to pay the buyer’s agent.” And I will say, “Well, if you want to sell your house, you do because if there’s no commission to the buyer’s agent, and the buyer’s broker has to fight for a commission, they’re going to show everything else before they show your house. So, the best thing you can possibly do is offer a buyer commission. And not only that, maybe you want to even offer more because this is a time when brokers don’t want to have to fight for their commission.”

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In the very upper end [of the market], I don’t think it’s going to change too much. I think that they know that we have access to the bigger buyers, and we have access to them listening to what we have to say.

What about Measure ULA?

I’ve had 10 people call me wanting to know what they can do to reverse ULA.

Ten clients?

Two clients that have not wanted to pay the tax and then we have people who paid it and want to know how to get it back if it’s overturned.

So, this is something that we’ve been talking about having a meeting with the office. Then we’ll appoint people to go out and reach all the other agents and all the other offices and talk about how important it is to get this [repeal] on the ballot. [Gov. Gavin] Newsom wants it off the ballot. He wants the ULA tax, but it is hurting us.

When it’s called a “mansion tax,” people think it’s only for the rich, so they say, “We want to keep it.”

At this point, we just need to stick together and make sure that we get everyone to vote.

What do you think will happen with deals as the election approaches?

The sellers are all asking. Some people are saying the only reason they want Trump is because the economy will be better. And then I have people who say, “I don’t care about myself. I care about our world and keeping our world a democracy, and so we want Biden.”

A lot of my clients are saying, “Do we wait until closer to the election to sell? Do you think there’ll be a last-minute boom at the end? Or do you think it’s going to be slower?” I mean, I read almost everything and there’s really nothing for sure.

There are so many TV shows about selling real estate. How have they impacted the profession, and would you ever consider being on a show yourself?

My son is in the business. He does his own show online and so we did talk to someone about doing a show, but it really wasn’t real estate. We did a pilot and they wanted us to do a real estate succession show, which we did not want to do.

I wanted to do something nice and show our family in the proper light and the way we really are. That’s not what they wanted.

Q&A with Coldwell Banker’s Jade Mills
The Jade Mills Family

As far as the regular TV shows, it hasn’t been good for the business because it makes us look like we just make a deal for money.

The shows are fun; because they are fun, but they’re not always real. It’s not that easy to make a deal. And we work really, really hard for our clients.

Why was the show about succession? Is that something you’re thinking about?

No, all those shows are scripted, and this would have been scripted.

What they said to us is “No one’s going to watch a nice family doing everyday real estate. There’s no draw.” And I wasn’t willing to do the succession and have the kids fighting with me over who’s going to be taking over. That’s not us. We don’t do that, and I don’t want anyone to ever think we do.

So, they said, “Well, give us some other drama that we can use. How about the kids fighting?” And I was like, “No. No fighting. No fighting.”

Tomorrow you head to the airport — do you put your work away on vacation?

I’m on my phone all the time. The only thing that really stresses me out is not being in town. I have hired two people to do showings that have worked for me in the past. But, still, I’m not here.

People always talk about work-life balance.

I don’t have any.

How do you manage all the stress of your work — L.A. traffic, showings, meetings, calls, clients?

It is very stressful. I had the most amazing mother. I grew up as a Christian Scientist, so we love everyone. We treated everyone with respect. There’s a lot that people don’t know about the Christian Science religion, but my mother was so great at saying, “OK, once you work on an issue, you put it aside and you go on to the next. And, at the end of the day, when you go to bed at night, you’re at total peace.”

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