The Wallstreet Journal Features 1471 Forest Knoll

  • 07/18/20

Coronavirus Isn’t Stopping Some Wealthy Homeowners From Listing Their Luxury Properties

Back last fall, when Los Angeles real-estate agent Tomer Fridman began thinking about launching his newest listing, a $32 million contemporary home perched above the Sunset Strip, he envisioned an elaborate Champagne-fueled soiree to mark the occasion, High-end brokers, wealth managers, and their well-heeled clients would wander through the property's three farmhouse-style pavilions, through its 11,000 square feet and gaze at the views of downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean through the 32-foot-tall windows. The coronavirus pandemic meant nixing those plans.

Now, Mr. Fridman and his fellow agents are trying what they hope is the next best thing, In May, they are hosting a VIP open house party on Zoom designed to help a group of about 25 would-be buyers and their agents experience the house the way they would in person­ through all five senses, along with their invitation to the live tour, invitees will receive a 4-inch tall olive tree to mimic the larger ones at the entrance to the house. They'll get a hand-stained roughly10- inch by 6-inch box with small cuttings of the same travertine stone used for the floors and a slab of the white oak from the wall paneling to touch and feel as they explore the property There will be a Tom Dixon candle to provide the scent of rose petal garlands, cinnamon, and a Chinese herbal market.

The tour will be conducted by the three agents representing the listing, who will lead guests from room to room, using cell phone video, In the foyer, they will unite for a toast. The gift pack contains a box of Beverly Hills Teuscher Champagne truffles and a small bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne for guests to pop at that time, There may also be a celebrity guest, Mr. Fridman teased, "This will completely reinvent the virtual tour for 2020," said Alexander Ali of the Society Group, the marketing firm that devised the concept, as the pandemic has spread across the country, many home sellers, spooked by the uncertainty of the economy or by the idea of buyers traipsing germs through their homes, have taken their properties off the market. But at the highest end of the spectrum, where homes price in the millions to hundreds of millions, some continue to list properties, despite citywide shutdowns, limited showing abilities, and widespread fear of infection. In New York, for instance, showings are completely banned, while in Los Angeles they are permitted for vacant properties. Some are listed by necessity-spec builders may simply need to sell to pay back lenders, for instance-while others say it is strategic. Across the country, 642 homes priced at $10 million and above were listed between March 1 and April 22, according to Zillow.

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