The mothers of invention

Desperate brokers will do and say (almost) anything to get a listing

Los Angeles real estate agents don’t worry about the declining market. They’re too busy fighting each other for listings.

“It’s really a struggle,” says Joan Sather of Sotheby’s Intl. Realty in Pacific Palisades. “There’s always a shortage of inventory.”

It’s not supposed to be this way. On Wednesday, the Commerce Dept. reported slowing sales nationwide; new home sales in March dropped 7.2% from a year ago.

L.A. didn’t get the memo. Agents still face a surplus of eager buyers and not enough houses to sell. The result is a battery of marketing ploys and there’s not a bus ad among them.

Got a Jewish seller on the hook? Out comes a Star of David. He’s gay? Hide the girlfriend. Want to impress the eco-conscious crowd? Drive potential clients in an all-electric vehicle, paint it chartreuse and dub it the “Abbot Kinney mobile.”

Sather prefers a more low-key approach, albeit one that keeps her on the job 24/7. “I have secured clients in the hot tubs of ski areas, in yoga classes at the gym and in the ‘dog world’ I sometimes inhabit with my two Labrador Retrievers,” she says.

Even the world’s most remote locales aren’t outside her territory: Sather once secured a Santa Monica client while hiking the mountains of Patagonia.

One well-groomed Beverly Hills broker, who asked that he not be named, says he’s done a number of deals with gay sellers who think he’s gay as well.

“I don’t correct them,” he says, noting that referring to a girlfriend as a “partner” isn’t much of a white lie when there’s a $3.5 million Trousdale fixer at stake.

Another Westside broker embraced a new faith in pursuit of a choice Mar Vista listing, participating in Buddhist chanting sessions with her seller and a co-broker.

The co-broker, she says, had successfully chanted for a Cadillac Escalade and was now counting on Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to help sell the house.

Several chanting sessions and two price reductions later, it’s in escrow.

816 Venezia Ave., Venice
Pictured above
Four-bedroom, 2-bath cottage. Private gardens with flagstone patio and custom landscaping. Wood-burning fireplace, built-in bookshelves, recessed lighting and custom tile.
Listing price: $2.295 million
Contact: Suzy Frank, Abbot-Kinney Real Estate, (310) 396-2600

504 Montana Ave., Santa Monica
Two-bedroom, 2.5-bath townhome four blocks from the beach. Renovated kitchen, Brazilian hardwood floors, Travertine floor in master bath.
Listing price: TBD
Contact: Joan Sather, Sotheby’s Intl. Realty, Pacific Palisades, (310) 255-5450