Few real estate agents attain – or rather, toil for – the chance to represent some of the country’s most iconic properties. Lisa Optican is among them. Her masterful representation and sale of Marilyn Monroe’s former house lunged not only the property in the spotlight, but also Optican. And yet, the deal is a single coup in her stellar career, which now occupies the position of Luxury Estates Director with forward-thinking real estate company Compass in Los Angeles.
Haute Residence chatted with Optican to learn more about her ascent into real estate from property development and law, her ability to do it all and her insights into the city she has always called home.
You were a property developer before going into real estate brokering. How did you make the switch and what insights from property development you took with you?
Developing properties allows you to see a deal from all perspectives. I understand what developers are assessing when looking at a property and I understand the concepts and terms of construction and building because I have been through it.
I actually stopped developing properties when the market/economy took a downturn in 2008/2009 and I went back to practice law until I had children. I was always looking at properties and giving friends and family advice about purchases/sales so I decided when my oldest child turned one to make it official and get my real estate license.
How does your background as a lawyer inform your real estate career?
It’s invaluable. I have a true understanding of contracts and a comprehension of confidentiality and ethics that I find put clients at ease. Also being a litigator, I know how to do research, comprehend voluminous data quickly, and negotiate really well.
You sold Marilyn Monroe’s former residence in Brentwood, which received world-wide coverage. Tell us more about how you came to represent the property, the sale and its impact on your career?
The Marilyn Monroe house is a special property and I was honored to represent it. I had to be incredibly strategic with how I brought that property to market (in terms of marketing, pricing, etc.). I knew that there would be global interest in the property because I recalled when it was on the market many years earlier. I also knew that my client was very protective of the property and did not want the coverage to be salacious in any way. I created a strategy, executed it, and we had three offers within a few days. The property ultimately sold for $350,000 over the asking price.
What is the most important lesson you have learned in real estate?
What are some of your duties as a Luxury Estates Director with Compass? What are your secrets of juggling a busy schedule?
Compass is an incredible company and collectively we are in the process of working on how to make a bigger impact in the luxury market in Los Angeles. We have some of the best resources any real estate company has and we have exceptional staff and agents.
As for juggling a busy schedule, I have no secrets at all. I have no assistants, no team, and two kids. I just have to be incredibly organized about my day!
LA is a coveted, global market with strong luxury real estate. What sets the city apart from other major destinations like New York and Miami, for instance?
Los Angeles is an incredible destination for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, its location and terrain allow someone to be close to the ocean or up in the hills and you can have land or you can have views. If you want both, you can have that too. Secondly, Los Angeles attracts people from all industries. We are not a city that is solely dependent on one type of industry. Any given day I will interact with clients who are in finance, fashion, entertainment, law, medicine, public relations, etc. Thirdly, the weather. Let’s not forget that we in Los Angeles are blessed with beautiful weather all year round.
You are an LA native. How has the LA real estate market changed over the years?
The actual look of L.A. has changed dramatically in terms of all the development in the past few decades. Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills, Brentwood and the Palisades have all really changed in terms of their aesthetic. It has actually become difficult to find some of the older, large estates as most of them have been purchased and torn down to build bigger homes.
What are your expectations for this year? Are there any trends you are paying close attention to?
I think the market will continue to be strong for the year but I do think some sellers might need to be a bit more realistic in terms of their pricing. I have noticed a lot of properties that were priced too high to begin with and are starting to either reduce or the properties are selling for way less than the ask price. I also really listen to buyers. For so many years it seemed everyone wanted a view. Now every call I get is about wanting more land.
Lisa Optican is the real estate professional exclusively representing the Pacific Palisades, California real estate market as a part of the Haute Residence real estate network. View all of her listings here.
Image courtesy of Lisa Optican