11 Questions with Dynamic LA Real Estate Duo James Harris and David Parnes

11 Questions With Dynamic La Real Estate Duo James Harris And David Parnes Both

David Parnes (left) and James Harris (right). Photograph courtesy of The Agency

The Los Angeles luxury market sees many celebrity deals and incredible homes being bought and sold. To navigate this exclusive terrain, and climb to the top, takes finesse and perseverance.

Million Dollar Listing LA stars James Harris and David Parnes came from England to the City of Angels over a decade ago and have built their real estate careers here. The dynamic duo, who are principals at The Agency, have set numerous records including the highest sale ever in Holmby Hills. That was when they represented the seller in the $120 million sale of 594 South Mapleton Drive, otherwise known as The Manor.

Recently, we caught up with the accomplished, British-born business partners and friends to get a peek into their world. They’re also sharing what celebs are looking for, what it takes to land a huge listing, and more.

11 Questions With Dynamic Duo James Harris And David Parnes Exterior

This Bird Streets beauty at 9344 Nightingale Drive is listed with Harris, Parnes, and Mauricio Umanksy. Photograph by Jim Bartsch

How did you meet and decide to start your real estate team, Bond Street Partners?

David and James: We have been friends since childhood and have been working in the real estate business for almost three decades. Interestingly enough, our mothers were partners in a London interior design firm. In 2009, we moved to California to feed our entrepreneurial spirit and pursue a career in real estate.

We learned early on how to make it in Los Angeles. We arrived in Los Angeles without any contacts, but we were determined to work within the luxury market. It was quite the challenge, but we’re so proud of the journey that got us to where we are today.

11 Questions With Dynamic La Real Estate Duo James Harris And David Parnes Both C

Photograph courtesy of The Agency

Did you ever think you would be reality TV stars? What has the experience of being on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing LA for the past eight years been like?

James: If you had asked me eight years ago, I never would have imagined we’d become celebrity real estate agents. Looking back at those early days, we were fearless. We hit the streets of Bel Air and Beverly Hills, knocking on doors and ringing bells at the front gates of estates. David and I would sit in the car and play rock, paper, scissors to see who had to knock on the next door. We would ask if we could leave our business card because we had a client who would buy their home sight unseen. Many said, ‘No,’ or didn’t answer, but others actually took our cards and called us back. Fast forward to today, we’ve loved our experience and feel very fortunate to work with Bravo and our Million Dollar Listing LA team. It has been a wild ride, with lots of fun, laughs, and some drama along the way.

David: It’s an absolute joy to be on Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. We have such a fantastic team we have worked with for many years that helps keep us organized and on task business-wise during filming. And the cast and crew are lovely and are very respectful that we work in the high-end real estate business that is fast-moving, and client service is paramount.

11 Questions With Dynamic Duo James Harris And David Parnes Kitchen

Photograph by Jim Bartsch

What’s the funniest or most memorable story of life as an agent that you can share with us?

James: When I started in the industry at 16, I was doing my 3rd or 4th ever showing and as I was walking back to the office with the client I walked right into a lamp post. The client was slightly ahead of me so didn’t see anything. I kept quiet about it even though I was in pain. When we got to the top of the street the client looked at me and said “Are you OK mate?” I responded “Yes I’m fine. Why do you ask?” At which point they pointed out that my entire forehead was bleeding. To this day, I can’t help but crack up laughing remembering this story and then having to explain to them what actually happened!

David: I was going into a house to do a showing and as I left my car I walked past a tree and suddenly a small bird started chasing me around the street. I was running away from it but it kept launching itself at me. This went on for a good five minutes, which is actually a long time when you’re being attacked by a bird however small. When it calmed down and finally returned to its nest in the tree, I turned around and the clients were sitting in their car and had witnessed the entire thing. Rather embarrassing to say the least, as I hardly stood my ground with the small bird. The showing actually did end up being very good surprisingly!

11 Questions With Dynamic La Real Estate Duo James Harris And David Parnes Party

Photograph courtesy of The Agency

You’re both originally from England, what made you choose Los Angeles of all US cities as the place to build your careers and plant your lives?

David: Aside from enjoying the beautiful California lifestyle and climate compared to London, moving to Los Angeles was literally starting a new life. I have never looked back and when I visit London I realize that LA is my true home and I almost get homesick I miss it so much.

James: I’ve always been infatuated with Los Angeles. In 2008, I came to LA for three months to travel and as a sort of “gap year” experience. When I landed, in my first week, I met a man who offered me a job in commodities. I immediately fell in love with California and never went back. David and I eventually set up our real estate business and the rest is history.

11 Questions With Dynamic Duo James Harris And David Parnes View

Photograph by Jim Bartsch

Now, more than a month into 2022, tell us about the state of the LA luxury market.

David: Since the pandemic, LA has experienced record-level market activity and a total lack of supply to keep up with this demand. Last year alone, Los Angeles saw 20 sales over the $50M range. That is remarkable! We also have noticed that the demand for turnkey homes has surged, primarily due to the supply chain, construction costs, and inflation. This year, we anticipate home values throughout the city to remain steady and possibly appreciate due to the ongoing lack of inventory. As for bidding wars, we expect these to continue as buyers may face more competition from returning global investors and those relocating across the country due to the appeal of SoCal living.

James: The demand remains high in LA’s most coveted neighborhoods, such as Bel Air, Beverly Hills, and Holmby Hills. Interestingly enough, this past year, we saw more local buyers scooping up primary residences and fewer international buyers investing in secondary homes. That said, we anticipate the return of international buyers this year. We are already seeing them enter the marketplace and looking for high-end trophy properties throughout the most sought-after neighborhoods in the city.

11 Questions With Dynamic Duo James Harris And David Parnes Interior

Photograph by Jim Bartsch

Which LA neighborhoods are trending with affluent buyers and which areas are slower these days?

James: All in all, every area in the city has been experiencing high levels of buyer demand. From the Platinum Triangle down to Venice, luxury buyers are drawn to each area depending on what they are looking for in a home and neighborhood.

David: Coastal neighborhoods such as Malibu have continued to boom, with demand being highest for beachfront homes, and off-beach homes with views going just as quickly. Additionally, the Valley continues to surge. For years, buyers from around Los Angeles have been relocating to the Valley for more land, space, privacy, and value, a trend that became more pronounced in 2021 and will continue this year.

Celebrities are always making moves in this glamorous city. What do celebrity sellers ask you or care about most when discussing bringing you on for a listing?

David: Views. You can’t put a price on a view. Celebrity buyers seek a quintessential California lifestyle where their home’s interior seamlessly extends out to their beautiful pool deck that overlooks views spanning from downtown to the Pacific.

James: Privacy is key. Celebrities are willing to pay a premium for absolute privacy. Many look to our guidance to identify their dream property that also provides a level of security and (paparazzi-free) enclaves to retreat.

11 Questions With Dynamic Duo James Harris And David Parnes Terrace

Photograph by Jim Bartsch

It’s competitive out there. Can you share some tips for agents looking to land their first luxury or high-profile listing?

James: First and foremost, whether you are an agent starting out or one looking to enter the luxury space, maintaining a positive reputation within the industry is paramount. Don’t ever forget, there is always tomorrow in business. For agents looking to land their first high-profile listing, I recommend becoming an expert in the market you serve. Once you’ve found your niche, showcase your skills and talent and what sets you apart from your competitors.

David: It is crucial to have a clear direction when approaching the luxury real estate business. If you bite off more than you can chew, you will dilute your efforts and impact, and it will become easy to stray off your path to success. I recommend having a clear focus and a well-laid-out path to success. Develop a business model that is relevant, attainable, and easy to naturally scale.

11 Questions With Dynamic Duo James Harris And David Parneslounge

Photograph by Jim Bartsch

Over the past two years, we’ve seen more people moving out of California and less people than usual moving in. What’s your take on this and how do you see it playing out?

David: While people leave the state for tax or political reasons, buyers, especially in the ultra-high-end, will always desire to have a property in Los Angeles. There is no other city in the world like Los Angeles, and that will continue to draw buyers from around the country and world. Also, compared to the cost of living and space in cities like New York and London, Los Angeles offers a lot of value.

James: We’ve seen a lot of buyer movement within California itself. From both the north and south, local California buyers are shifting their primary residences to Los Angeles. They are all seeking pandemic-related shifts in living, such as guest houses, office areas, and home gyms. We also see buyers from cities like New York, Chicago, and Texas competing for primary, secondary, and vacation homes more than ever.

11 Questions With Dynamic Duo James Harris And David Parnes Newsletter Promo

Courtesy of The Blueprint

What’s next for Bond Street Partners and your partnership in general?

James and David: We’re thrilled to share we recently launched a newsletter, The Blueprint, which is an honest, straight-to-the-point newsletter that breaks down the most important residential real estate need-to-know stories and insights. And all in under 5 minutes. You can subscribe here and it’s free.

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Photograph courtesy of The Agency

Lastly, lots of people toy with the idea of taking a chance and moving across the world, toward the exciting but away from the familiar, their friends, and family. What would you say to those on the cusp of making a life change like this?

James: Looking back, it has been an incredible journey, to say the least, and we are so proud to have sold more than $3 billion of real estate during our partnership. We have worked with amazing clients and broken a few records along the way. For those looking to make a significant life change, I’d say invest in yourself. When we started, we never gave up, and we dedicated time for personal and professional growth. Becoming successful is a lot of hard work, but if you are willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears, whatever you choose will be the best job in the world.

David: It’s really wonderful to look back and think of when we first met as children to where we are today. For anyone who wants to follow a dream and move across the world to pursue it as we did, I’d say it is important to give it 100%. There is no other choice than to work really, really hard if you want to be successful. In addition to working hard, you need to be creative. One way we have been very creative is by elevating our social and digital presence, especially as more people are searching and touring homes online than ever before. From high-quality listing videos to launching new platforms such as our newsletter, we’re constantly looking for new and innovative ways to connect with new and existing clients.