Agents Roll Out Red Carpet for House-Hunting Celebs

Agents Roll Out Red Carpet House-Hunting
Hawk Krall for Variety

Few showbiz insiders could (or maybe should) argue that famous people, at least those who operate at or near the rarefied peaks of the Hollywood heap, aren’t some seriously pampered individuals. Designers lend them one-of-a-kind couture gowns for red carpet events, and jewelers loan out piles of preposterously expensive sparkly things for every televised awards ceremony. Stars are often upgraded without charge, and it’s not unheard of for an A-lister to have an entire store cleared for a private shopping excursion or, as Mariah Carey did in May 2013, shut down all of Disneyland so she and her now ex-husband Nick Cannon could renew their marriage vows for the fifth time.

Given our own obsessions related to real estate, this property gossip wondered if Tinseltown cynosures are as mollycoddled when buying or selling homes as they seem to be in other aspects of their public and private lives. So, we quietly queried a slew of high-powered real estate agents who do deals with celebs and other high-profile industry types. A few ignored our advances, several politely declined, and many of those who did respond requested anonymity since, as every property agent we talked with agreed, discretion is paramount when dealing with famous folk and/or their influential retinue of representatives.

The agents all said they treat their not-famous clients with the same level of service afforded their famous clientele but, even still, several admitted they will sometimes roll out a bit of real estate red carpet for Hollywood heavyweights: A fancy car and driver might be sent to schlep an out-of-town celeb around to showings, and helicopters are occasionally hired for aerial tours. Champagne is always appreciated during private showings with public figures, say Michelle Oliver and Connie Blankenship of Douglas Elliman, and it’s not unheard of for a listing agent to engage a private chef for a catered showing.

According to a very big fish in the Platinum Triangle real estate pond — let’s call him Agent 42 — one of the most considerate and important things an agent can do for high-profile buyers is both easy and absolutely free: Make sure the property’s driveway gates are open upon the celeb’s arrival and closed immediately upon their entry so as to thwart tabloid photographers … and property gossip columnists.

Every agent we chatted up told us celebrities — both veterans and the newly minted — are, by and large, exceedingly polite and friendly. Several agents did, however, snitch that they’ve had celebs introduce themselves with a fake name during a showing. None would so much as whisper the name of a celeb who’s taken on a nom de real estate, but one agent who requested anonymity told us it’s usually the biggest and most universally recognized stars who will use a fake name.
A surprising number of famous people show up for showings with only their real estate agent and maybe one assistant or manager in tow, while others roll almost comically deep. Agent 42 told us Michael Jackson once showed up to tour a BevHills manse in “full regalia with three carloads of people,” and Partners Trust dynamo Darlene Hutton told us she once squired a professional athlete with an entourage that filled three Hummers. Another agent who we’ve long called Our Fairy Godmother in Bel Air swears she showed an internationally recognized pop star a Beverly Hills house where she and her two children jumped into the pool while the nanny stayed dry on deck.

At least in celebrity hot spots like Los Angeles, one of the ugly by-products of fame is that a recognizable star can’t stop in at their local 7-Eleven for a Big Gulp, pop by their local nail salon for a mani-pedi, pick popcorn out of their teeth at the movie theater or pump some iron at a gym lest they be marauded by ardent fans and/or photographed by the paps. When their pocketbook allows and as an understandable escape from the constant public scrutiny of their professional and personal lives, famous folk frequently seek private and self-contained residential environments.

Every agent agreed that electronic gates, a kick-ass security system and a gym/yoga room are all but mandatory nowadays. “Million Dollar Listing” star and top producer Josh Altman says he finds a lot of younger celebs want “big parking areas because a lot of them collect cars” and that “industry bigwigs want theaters that rival a multiplex.” Agent 42 told us hair and makeup stations as well as boutique-style dressing rooms are increasingly popular with those in the public eye, as are extensive office suites. “It takes a lot of people to prop up a celebrity,” says Agent 42, so a place where the house manager, the personal assistant, the assistant’s assistant, the on-call makeup guy and the full-time stylist, etc., can hunker down and do the work required to keep the life of said famous person sailing smoothly is greatly prized.

If anyone were to ask this property gossip — and nobody did — we’d say that based on our entirely unscientific research, we are 100% certain celebs are indeed every bit as indulged in their real estate doings as they are in so many other aspects of their lives and yet — here’s the important part —they don’t actually seem any more indulged than any other individual with the financial wherewithal to spend many and sometimes tens of millions of dollars on a single dwelling. When it comes to real estate, it seems, the privileges of fame are complimentary, although secondary, to those of wealth.

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  1. I guess overall celebs want to feel comfortable and safe in their houses.

  2. Harriet says:

    I can’t imagine through what the celebrities should go in order to find a quite place to live! For them it is easy to afford a house but they are dealing with other problems! Very interesting post! Thanks!

  3. lil' gay boy says:

    The statement about the driveway gates puts me in mind of what I experience working in midtown Manhattan — no matter what famous personage you might spot on the street, there seems to be an unspoken rule that even tourists & out-of-owners follow, i.e., one does not stalk them on the street.

    I’m sure there are exceptions to this, but by and large the streets of New York are probably one of the unique places where celebrities are afforded at least some anonymity…and in return, are free to interact with their fans (selfies, autographs, photobombs, etc.) without fear of being mobbed, for the most part.

    Curious, really.

  4. Jamiekins says:

    That last comment is NOT TRUE…. you are a wonderful writer and I love reading everything you write.
    Your adroit and eloquent ramblings are divinely inspired and I enjoy everyday checking in and reading what you have to say. Your vocabulary is exemplary and your wit and sarcasm are much appreciated by
    all of your followers on a daily basis. You are much loved MAMA ! :-)

    And about the article. It revealed nothing that I didn’t already think was going on. Of course they are catered to and why not, The commissions on a $ home are astronomical so why not
    pamper the buyers a little. Seems perfectly normal to me. Although I can’t imagine wanting to take anyone with me if I were looking at a home. It would be a more private situation for me.
    Would that it were possible and who knows it could happen.

  5. Cameron says:

    You are the worst writer. On your own blog it was alright, but Variety? Have some class. Unbearable.

  6. Sandpiper says:

    Mama, interesting aside to your usual missives. Oh, and you get extra points today for finding that crazy spot-on image!

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