Armando Rodríguez, Zen Studios LA
Top real estate agents Brent Watson and Marco Salari, founders of the Watson Salari Group at Coldwell Banker’s Beverly Hills office, are moving to a new home: Official.
The duo, who have amassed more than $2.75 billion in professional sales, have closed deals over the years for names like Milla Jovovich, Katey Sagal and Kurt Sutter, athlete Pete Sampras, screenwriter Jhoni Marchinko, designer Brunello Cucinelli and designers Nate Berkus and Jeremías Brent.
watson has been an agent for three decades, while salary – who was named one of The Hollywood ReporterS, a rising star in real estate under the age of 35 in 2022, obtained his license in 2018. The couple joined forces in 2019 and founded the two-person Watson Salari Group in 2022.
They join as founding agents of Official In Los Angeles. Agent Tyrone McKillen, also a home developer whose projects include a home in the Hollywood Hills that lists Bono as an investor, opened Official’s Los Angeles office in January 2023.
Watson and Salari tell THR that an official approached them a year ago to ask them to make a move. Watson’s initial reaction was to stay at Coldwell Banker.
“My thing is, if it’s not broken, why fix it?” she says, noting that Watson Salari Group has been “the number one small team at Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills for the past three years.”
A Zoom call, plus lunch in Miami at Pura Vida (between Salari and Official co-founder Oren Alexander) and breakfast in New York (between Watson and Official co-founders Nicole Ogle and Richard Jordan), finally sealed the deal. deal. Watson and Salari also noted that having McKillen as a founding running back in Los Angeles was a big selling point. “Tyrone and I have done several deals together, and they have all been very successful,” Watson says.
“I could see how aligned we were on everything,” Watson continues, “I’m really looking forward to moving forward and I want to get into something new and fresh. “I see the drive in Official and the energy he conveys.” Salari, who previously played professional basketball in Italy before moving into real estate, adds: “This career move is a perfect match for our network, experience and what we hope to achieve in the luxury market.”
Armando Rodríguez, Zen Studios LA
McKillen said in a statement: “I look forward to collaborating with the powerful Watson Salari team. “I have worked closely with Brent and Marco on major transactions in the past and admire their impressive work ethic and professional success, and now we will join forces at Official in the Los Angeles market to reach an even larger network of luxury buyers and sellers.” .
Official, whose co-founders also include Tal Alexander and Andrew Wachtfogel, only works with agents who have more than $1 billion in professional sales or who have been identified in their Prodigy program as a future billion-dollar producer. Since its founding in 2022, The official has expanded. to include six markets: Los Angeles, Orange County, Miami, New York, The Hamptons and The Bahamas.
Watson and Salari spoke further with THR about the state of the market in Los Angeles; how the controversial mansion tax is affecting where some potential buyers look (such as Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, which as independent cities in Los Angeles County are not subject to the city of Los Angeles transfer tax); and if they see that entertainment buyers will return to the market after the 2023 strikes.
2023 was a tough year in real estate in Los Angeles, with a slowdown amid high interest rates and the much-maligned mansion tax. How does 2024 start for you?
SALARY We opened escrow on a property the first day we joined Official, which was a good sign. We both feel like it’s going to be a great year, hopefully.
WATSON It’s going to be a huge year. Yesterday we opened another escrow. We have three offers on different properties with different clients. We feel that it has just arrived. And we haven’t reached the sales season yet. The other thing that’s happening this year is the election and I know a lot of people during the presidential election who back off a little bit. We’ll see. Although in reality it is about interest rates.
To that point, some agents in Los Angeles are strongly recommending buyers to finally pull out and buy now before interest rates drop later this year as expected, which will then skyrocket prices. They can also refinance later. Are you seeing that?
SALARY I think the smartest thing you can do now is buy something if you’re in the market and in a year or two when interest rates go down, you’ll just get a refinance. But in the meantime, you can get a very good purchase on a property in this market.
Armando Rodríguez, Zen Studios LA
WATSON One [client] You are getting a loan through your financial investment officer for five and a half percent. I don’t think it’s a horrible price. When I got into the business, the rates were 17 percent; that’s where they were in the mid 90’s. It was expensive but then again the price of a really decent house was $500,000. [then]. Prices have gone crazy and obviously [today’s rates] It seems much more expensive.
Do you think people in the entertainment industry are returning to the market after the strikes?
WATSON They are definitely making moves. The strikes had a really big effect not only on housing, but in a lot of restaurants it really slowed down a lot. I think they’re spending money, but right now people are looking for deals.
SALARY A salesman today is a salesman. If you put a property on the market, you are considering any type of offers. A big problem occurred in Beverly Hills, a property on La Altura Road. The asking price was $13 million. It was sold for 50 percent below the question, which was crazy. So I think whoever sells today is a real seller.
Do you have buyers who say they only want to look in, say, Beverly Hills, because of the mansion tax? [which levies a 4 percent transfer tax paid by sellers on deals of more than $5 million and a 5.5 percent tax on deals above $10 million]?
SALARY Yes, we have a buyer from Europe who really just wants to buy a property in Beverly Hills. He won’t look at Bel-Air. He won’t look at the Beverly Hills Post Office. He’s only going to look at Beverly Hills because he’s like, “I’m going to buy a house here and what if I have to sell the house in 2025 next year? “I don’t want to have to pay that tax.” So it’s complicated. We have people who are just looking in West Hollywood; They’re not going to Beverly Grove. It is affecting the market.
WATSON And by the way, the other day we showed a house whose price is around five years old. [millions] and the agent said, “You know, the only way the seller is going to close a deal is if we get a price of 4.9.” [million] agreement and at least $400,000 in cash is paid for equipment or furniture.” And that’s happening a lot. So people who price their homes at five or even around six, the deal is they don’t want to pay that tax. They are creative. So there are more deals happening in that four and a half to just under five range because then you could pay money for furniture, art and equipment. We were literally going to write an offer on something and this is how the agent wanted it to be structured.
SALARY It has affected the value of competitions in the area.
WATSON It’s such a ridiculous situation we’re in with that tax.
Are you seeing any trends as to who the buyers are in the Los Angeles pool right now?
WATSON We’re seeing a lot of people coming from San Francisco. In fact, we just entered into an escrow agreement with a tech lawyer who is moving here with his wife because he just doesn’t want to be in San Francisco. I’ve seen a lot of people move down south, if not out of state.
SALARY But we don’t have a big inventory yet. [in L.A.]. People who have two or three percent mortgages have no reason to sell.