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’sinaugural Power Broker Awards, presented by The Society Group. Held as a private event 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’s Jason Oppenheim and Million 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 The Ikem Company.
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.)
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.