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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Day in the life of: Jeff Hyland

The Hilton & Hyland co-founder on starting his day with Gyrotonics, why buyers are like butterflies and never ever being late for anything
By Natalie Hoberman | January 19, 2018 09:00AM

Jeff Hyland (Photo by Adam Southard)

The eponymous co-founder and president of Beverly Hills-based luxe residential brokerage Hilton & Hyland is currently celebrating his 40th year on North Canon Drive. Jeff Hyland has worked on the prestigious strip for Coldwell Banker, late “Realtor to the stars” Mike Silverman and now his own firm, which he shares with businessman Rick Hilton.

Hyland said he has inked deals with 44 individuals on the Forbes 400 List. The broker also said his firm has annual sales tallying upwards of $3 billion and that it currently holds the listings for the five most expensive homes in the country. As would be expected at the highest end of the market, Hyland estimated that about a third of the brokerage’s deals are off-market. In our 2016 ranking of the top luxury brokerages, which only counted transactions over $5 million listed on the MLS, the firm came in first with $895 million in sales between August 2015 and July 2016.

The 70-year-old is a born-and-bred type of Los Angeles resident: the son of an esteemed screenplay writer who introduced him to the great mansions of sunny Southern California from an early age (one of three books he has authored is named “The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills”). He briefly attended the Cornell school of hotel administration, only to return after a short time because he couldn’t stand the cold. After graduating from United States International University in San Diego and spending five postgrad years surfing the Pacific, Hyland co-founded a residential brokerage firm Alvarez, Hyland & Young, which operated for about 15 years. Eventually Hyland landed at Coldwell Banker, in the ’80s. The job didn’t last long after he overheard a bookkeeper saying the top-producing agent had only made $70,000 that year. Then, one fateful day, he stumbled into Mike Silverman’s office down the street because it happened to be next door to his favorite restaurant at the time, the legendary Bistro. Silverman’s old office has since become the sole headquarters of his empire, where roughly 140 agents work. Amid celebrations of its “silver year” — Hilton & Hyland was founded in 1993 — the company is in the process of moving offices across the street into a single floor spanning 15,000 square feet.

Hyland now lives in the Trousdale Estates neighborhood in Beverly Hills with his wife of 40 years.

7:00 a.m.  I’ll get up, then I usually walk downstairs to my gym, where I do both Pilates and Gyrotonics. I work out every morning and have an instructor who comes twice a week just to make sure I’m on the right track.

8:30 a.m.  I go to the kitchen and have breakfast — a huge bowl of fruit and a glass of juice that my wife has helped prepare, with all the antioxidants.

9:00 a.m.  I read the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. I read all three papers in the morning.

10:00 a.m.  I’m either in the office or at appointments in the morning. I’ll often run over and meet some people for 15 minutes. You always want to be flexible. I’ve had people tell me, “My god, you’re always on time, how do you do it?” Maybe it’s in my DNA, but I’m never late.

11:00 a.m.  Every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. is open house day for brokers. It’s the day that we run around and see each other’s new listings. I have a visual memory. I never forget a house that I’ve been in, even if it was 20 years ago, so I usually don’t run out and expand my vocabulary of real estate unless the house has been redone since the last time I saw it.

Hilton and Hyland’s office of 25 years)

12:00 p.m.  I’m almost always near the office at lunchtime because I get a lot of work done across the street — whether it’s the Palm or Spago — whatever restaurant on Restaurant Row, I’m there. I’ll meet a client or an agent, and we get a lot accomplished. I find a power lunch to be really helpful and useful because the environment is better.

1:30 p.m.  I’m out after lunch showing properties. The key to my success is loving what I’m doing, and I’ve reached the point where I can pick and choose the clients that I want to work with, and that’s what’s fun. I spend a lot more time on the listing side than the buying side because I love the architecture and the houses. But buyers come and go. You capture them like butterflies when you can.

3:00 p.m.  I work with a lot of clients on their remodels and advising them. I always tell them: “You’re building this as a tenant, you’re not going to live there for the rest of your life. You’re going to come to me in five to 10 years and say you want to sell it, and I don’t want to have to tell you that the master bedroom suite should have been 20 percent of the whole house and you only made it 15 percent.”

4:30 p.m.  I’m usually back in the office, either going over contracts or assisting other agents who come into the office. One of the nice things about Hilton & Hyland is that we have an open-door policy: My door is always open — and people always walk in.

5:30 p.m.  I like to have small talk with the agents. It’s very important because you’re going to learn so much. I’ll learn more in the five minutes I’m talking to an agent than I will spending 30 minutes online, emailing or texting back and forth.

6:00 p.m.  Usually everyone is out of the office by now, and so I like to take this time to review contracts and get letters out.

7:00 p.m.  I’m having dinner with my wife. We like to eat out two or three nights a week, and we’ll often have somebody over one of the nights that we’re in.

8:00 p.m.  I’ll spend two hours a night reading. I read 50 books a year. I try to eat a few hours before I crash because I’ve got half a dozen books on the nightstand. It also gives me time to play with my two dogs and two cats. I have a rescue greyhound and a poodle — Max is the poodle, and Lola is the rescue.

10:00 p.m.  I’m working on my new book whenever I find the time. I’ve written three books on architecture and the history of these great estates, co-authoring two others and working on half a dozen. Some people joke that if I write a book, I’ll have to retire because the stories I’ll tell will never let me eat lunch in this town again.

11:00 p.m.  I’m asleep before midnight. I get a good seven to eight hours. I’m lucky — I go to sleep and I’m out. I don’t get up.