The Los Angeles Business Journal just published its list of the top residential real estate brokerages in L.A. County for 2018. In a Top 10 heavy with national companies, Pacific Union International Los Angeles was the #1 independent and #2 overall. Quite an accomplishment for a firm that entered the market just over a year ago.
The week before, entertainment trade magazine Variety named its annual Showbiz Real Estate Elite: power brokers who work with high profile clients not only in Hollywood but far beyond. Of the unprecedented nine Pacific Union LA professionals on the list, one is a household name in Toluca Lake: Craig Strong. He handles over $100 million in sales and 70 to 80 properties a year. “It takes a lot out of me,” he says. “But I have amazing clients, and I don’t want to let them down.”
‘Each year, I dedicate myself to Toluca Lake more than the year before…’
Celebrities make up a portion of his clientele, though he often deals primarily with their business managers and attorneys. “I find most celebrities are just as excited about buying a new home as anyone else,” he says. Some memorable moments were selling to Viola Davis shortly after her winning an Oscar. Or selling to Megan Fox then the same house to Meghan Trainor. (What are the odds?) Craig still enjoys representing clients from some of his favorite shows in the late ‘80s early ‘90s like Jason Priestley of Beverly Hills 90210. Craig currently has the Bob Hope Estate listed for $22 million.
What draws so many people to Toluca Lake? “Many things,” says Strong. “The small village feel. The great community. The history. Lately they’re either in the industry and love the proximity to the studios, or want to be closer to our private schools. With L.A. traffic, living nearby makes life much easier.” While some are drawn to new construction because they don’t have to do any work, Strong still encounters many who appreciate a 1935 Spanish or a Paul Williams home. “Finding the right buyer to upgrade and enhance an historic home is a plus for the neighborhood,” he says.
Sellers rely heavily on Strong’s expertise. “I know all the homes in Toluca Lake,” he says. “I know when we’re priced right and when we’re reaching. I review all recent sales plus what’s just about to hit the market in order to determine true market value.”
After 15 years of living and working here, what’s next? “Each year, I dedicate myself to Toluca Lake more than the year before, deepening my involvement in community services and events and meeting more people,” Strong says. Opening my office here five years ago was the best thing I ever did. I’m closer to home. My family constantly pops in. I see all my friends and neighbors walking by. I wouldn’t trade it for any other city.”