On a warm spring afternoon, in the illustrious Hollywood Hills of California, David Parnes lays easefully on his back, touting off witty remarks from a contemporary-styled white couch. His light-hearted English sarcasm and down to earth personality puts one instantly at ease and makes them almost feel as if they’re at home in this multi-million dollar mansion. Well, almost. The celebrity list of homeowners is star-dazzling with names like Britney Spears and Brittany Murphy being among some of its previous occupants. However, amongst all its stunning features and fascinating history, the most impressive part about this million dollar listing, is the view, portraying an almost dream-like-scene straight out of LA-LA-Land.
International Association of Real Estate Professionals’ (IARP) global interview campaign, Journey to the Top, takes an in-depth look at some of the top real estate professionals across the world. This series of interviews highlight some of the top professionals’ success stories, struggles, best advice and ultimately their journey to the top of the real estate industry. The first stop along this global campaign trail is in Los Angeles, California with David Parnes of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles.
As we begin to unload and set up for our interview, Parnes begins asking us questions about our lives with natural confidence. His English charm and genuine interest, beyond surface level pleasantries, makes it easy to see why he has become such a success. Parnes is originally from London, England, where his love of houses and the real estate industry truly began. Moving around a lot when he was young, Parnes witnessed his parents renovating houses which first ignited his obsession with the entire building process. He explains, “I’ve always loved houses, it’s been there since I can remember, from day one. So to be able to sell them is great because I get to sell what I love and do what I love.”
Parnes has come a long way from his humble beginnings of admiring floorboards and crown moldings. He now holds the title of #12 top residential real estate agent in Los Angeles, CA bringing in $2 billion + in career sales. He is also the co-founder of the Bond Street Partners, along with James Harris, who specializes in high-end residential real estate and investment properties in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills, Sunset Strip, Hollywood Hills, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, and the greater Los Angeles region. You might also recognize him as one of the stars of the hit Bravo TV show, Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. Beyond all the accolades and successes though, he also happens to be a man of integrity and real intention when it comes to his business practices. Parnes further explains, “My philosophy when I’m representing a client is I treat their money like it’s my own. I will only advise them as if I were in their position. It’s not just about making a commission; it’s about doing right by my client.”
Parnes describes in detail his work ethics and strategies, “I’m not becoming a rocket scientist. I’m not reinventing the wheel. I’m not setting up some new profession. I’m entering a proven industry, one that’s been around for many years with many successful people in it. It’s about focus. It’s about commitment. It’s about never giving up because it is a sales job and it doesn’t always go to plan. But, I noticed when I’m in a dry period, that’s when I’m effectively building up my pipeline without realizing it.” He further explains, however, that “There are always going to be challenges, the biggest challenge for us was trying to get those first deals, in the beginning, without having a track record. We knew we had to get creative in order to get our foot in the door, and our name on the map. It’s a very competitive industry because frankly, anyone can get a license and anyone can become a real estate agent; it’s not difficult. The difficult part is getting established.” Parnes and Harris knew they had to come up with a solution to their problem of being relatively unheard of at the time. Parnes lightly smirks as he recalls their plan to door knock in the most expensive neighborhood in Los Angeles, “ We knew some developers that were looking for a tear down deal. So we decided to door knock in Bel Air, we went straight to the top, which paid back more than I could ever have imagined because our first deal was a six and a half million dollar tear down. Door knocking in Bel Air attributed to our huge listing inventory right now, as a result of that. It’s always about just finding a solution in the problem.”
Parnes philosophy when representing a client is to treat his client’s interests and money as though they were his own. “I think clients appreciate it,” says Parnes, “They know that you’re not just trying to pull a fast one or make a commission. It’s bigger than that. There’s more to it. It’s a business that needs to build over a long term, and you’re only as good as your name at the end of the day. It’s not about making a quick buck; it’s about really serving clients correctly. It’s about doing right by your clients because not only is being ethical the right way to behave, but it’s also a long term play.” When working with each client Parnes wants to be involved from the get-go, “I’ve been heavily involved in the entire process from start to finish, from recommending an architect to recommending general contractors, a floor plan, design landscape, hardscape contractors. I want to make sure that I do as much as I can when advising my clients. They’re expecting me to know the facts, the answers, they’re relying on me. If I don’t know the answers about their home or neighborhood, well that’s not really serving their best interests, is it?”
Parnes affirms that the idea or notion of success is a broader term than just financial gain to him by explaining “Success to me is being the best person I can be while being true to myself and those around me. It’s also about being able to do something that I love and enjoy. To be the best I can and know that I’m not falling short of my ability. That extends into my family life as well. I have an 11-month-old daughter, and I have a beautiful wife. I’m also a son and a brother. So being a good father, being a good husband, being a good brother, being a good son is important to me. Not allowing the workload to take over my home life or my family life, to find that balance is crucial. Ultimately, success is serving my clients correctly, but at the same time serving my family correctly as well.”
The whole process of interviewing and filming with David was beyond enjoyable. He was supportive and respectful, and he never tried to hurry us up. Once we packed up all of our equipment and headed down the stairs of the multi-million dollar listing, with David in tow, we all shared a few more laughs. He humbly thanked us for taking the time to feature him in Journey to the Top and we parted ways as he announced he was on his way to Vegas to “sleep and relax,” as you naturally do in Vegas, of course!
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