Special Report: Residential Real Estate Agents – Agent of Change – Los Angeles Business Journal

Brokerage: AKG | Christie’s International Real Estate
Total Career Sales: $12 billion 
List Ranking: 1
Notable: Recently left Compass for Christie’s.
Aaron Kirman had a busy 2022. He was one of the agents behind the sale of The One, a Bel Air mansion that sold for $141 million at auction, shattering the previous record for a home sold at auction.
Then, at the end of the year, he left brokerage Compass for Christie’s International Real Estate.
He spoke with the Business Journal about his record-breaking year, new brokerage and thoughts on the industry.
How was 2022 for you? How did it compare to other years?
Last year was absolutely incredible. We had a record-breaking year. We sold about $1.4 billion, so as you can tell, we had a record-breaking year with some of the most significant luxury sales in the nation, including the sale of the famous “The One,” at $141 million. We represented a ton of celebrity clients, including Robby and Ida Williams, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. We also represented the Sugar Ray Leonard house. A highlight for sure was when we opened up our own brokerage with Christie’s International Real Estate to make the leading luxury brokerage in the country.
Has leaving Compass for a new home impacted your business?
Yes, leaving Compass was an incredible decision for us. We opened our own brokerage in partnership with Christie’s International Real Estate, which has been unbelievable. Oftentimes, when you open a new company it’s slow, but not with Christie’s. We’ve had buyers, sellers and agents from around the globe wanting to be part of our new brokerage. Since launching, we’ve listed some of the most amazing estate and architectural homes across the country, including Stradella Court for $150 million, the Davis Castle for $87 million, and some of the most significant architectural properties around the globe, including the Invisible House and the Garcia House.
Was 2022 a buyer’s or a seller’s market?
It depends on the timing of 2022. The first two-and-a-half quarters were definitely a seller’s market, with the last two quarters transitioning into a complicated market, which leaned into a buyer’s market. However, there were variations to the rule based on neighborhood, house, location, etc. We saw the uber-high end was relatively unaffected.
What was the most challenging aspect for you as an agent this past year?
It was such a weird year. It was so powerful in the beginning, and then it changed so quickly. We’ve never seen a real estate market change so fast. Going from the hottest market in the world to what became quite soft very quickly. The biggest challenge was inventory. We did not have a lot of inventory, and still do not. The second biggest challenge is having the demands of sellers and buyers met because the buyer expectation and the seller expectation is on a very different plane. 
Has Measure ULA, also known as the mansion tax, impacted the way people are viewing real estate? Do you anticipate it doing so this year?
I think Measure ULA caught a lot of people off guard, and it feels like a very unfair measure that never should have passed. It’s written terribly and does not account for variations between commercial and residential properties, wins, and losses, and it will absolutely have an effect on the Los Angeles marketplace and should be repealed immediately.
What kinds of property are buyers investing in in 2023 and beyond?
Currently, it’s a bit all over the place. We are still seeing a remarkable demand for vacation destinations. We’re also seeing a lot of foreign money come back into the space, while also noticing a lot of stateside money being spent abroad. 
What is ‘hot’ right now and selling well?
In the luxury real estate market, the hottest properties right now are the ones that are either done, newly constructed or have been newly remodeled. People are still feeling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a result they are valuing their space, privacy, security  and the ability to work from home. 
What is the outlook for first-time buyers?
With interest rates as high as they are now and with the lack of inventory, a lot of first-time buyers will likely be on the sidelines until interest rates begin to come down. 
What is your outlook for the rest of the year?
I am cautiously optimistic about the outlook this year. The big challenge this year will be inventory, which I think will stay low. However, I am remaining hopeful that in Q3 interest rates will decrease, driving movements back up again.
— Hannah Madans Welk
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