TOP 1%



Work on what makes you happy

By |August 4th, 2021|From The Newsletter|

I received a rather irate phone call last month from a woman who refused to give her name but just wanted to tell me that she was sick and tired of reading about our family vacations. So, of course, my first instinct was to devote this entire column to sharing in great detail how much fun we had on two vacations this past July. We were lucky enough to return to our favorite UCLA family camp (Bruinwoods) after skipping it in 2020. Then, a week later, my wife and our Dodger obsessed son took a quick trip to Denver to catch the Homerun Derby. They flew from Denver to Palm Springs where our son Spencer and I met them along with a robust group of pals to celebrate our very good friends’ anniversary in the desert. Sharing these joyous tidbits from our lives is not meant to irritate anyone but instead to share the freedom and pleasure that comes from being vaccinated and getting to return to some of what we missed during that long year of lockdown. This summer our motto is: if we can, we do. Because we know life is short and we have to make up for a lot of lost time when we were stuck indoors.

But the other side to the coin when it comes to writing this newsletter is: I live and breathe Westside real estate for the majority of my waking hours. I am constantly juggling calls from clients or potential buyers/sellers, dissecting their needs and solving their problems. I am committing to memory the statistics and comparables of properties currently on the market or those that have recently sold. If you could get inside my brain for a bit (which I steadfastly do not recommend), you would see a flurry of numbers and data and square footage counts and lists of names and their home’s bedroom/bathroom counts swirling around like a kaleidoscope in vivid, maddening detail. The good news is this uncanny ability to fill my head with the intricacies of the business has just awarded me a nice distinction- I was ranked 6th out of over 94,000 Coldwell Banker sales associates in North America for 2020. So that felt really good! But in an effort to achieve some semblance of a work/life balance, I take a mental break from the business by writing about anything and everything but real estate in the pages of this newsletter. Now, if you see me walking the dogs or at the park with the kids and have questions about the market conditions in our neighborhood, BY ALL MEANS, ask away! I’m happy to share the information I have especially with people who care about it as much as I do. I just think that if I wrote about it every month, after 102 issues, we all would probably be bored to tears.

So it’s fun for me to focus on alternative subjects. One particularly nice event we enjoyed this month was a party we hosted to celebrate my father-in-law’s latest book: Westside Stories Too. If you are regular readers of this newsletter, you’ve seen the columns he has contributed every month that touch on the history of different landmarks around town. He has compiled those columns (plus more) into two books and is currently working on a third. It was so nice to have so many of you join the celebration at our home and it was particularly gratifying to overhear all of the well wishers congratulating Michael on a job well done. What really struck me was recognizing just how small a world it really is. So many people realized they were connected in interesting ways, figuring out which people they share in common. Whether it was from knowing relatives or from attending Hamilton High at the same time or just from being part of the shared community, it was great to have a gathering where the guests felt like they knew each other even if they only met for the first time that night.

The party was also a nice reminder to never give up on a dream and to see that it’s never too late to achieve your goals. My father-in-law has always been a brilliant guy and fantastic writer but put his efforts into his 60+ year law career instead of publishing books. He’s not yet retired from the law but decided there’s no time like the present to be an author, too. I couldn’t be more in awe of him and was so proud to be able to celebrate this particular dream coming true.

I hope you too can carve out some time in your day to work on what makes you happy- whether it’s writing or surfing or learning an instrument or traveling with your loved ones. Life is short and we’ve already lost over a year of it to Covid. Maybe one day I’ll follow in my father-in-law’s illustrious footsteps and write a book too. But for now, my goals are far less lofty. All I really want is to stay Delta variant free and simply make every day count. Hope you have a happy August and I’ll see you around the neighborhood!

Jesse Tyler Ferguson Sells To Leo DiCaprio For $7.1M (Los Feliz)

By |May 29th, 2021|Celebrity Real Estate|

Jesse Tyler Ferguson of “Modern Family” sold his Spanish-style home in Los Feliz to Leonardo DiCaprio for $7.1M.

Ferguson and his husband Justin Mikita bought the home in 2013 for $4.55 million. Before Ferguson and Mikita owned the home, Gwen Stefani at one point in time owned it as well (1998 to 2007).

Ferguson placed the home for sale last month for $6,995,000 and he attracted an offer a bit over ask by none other than Leo.

The four-bedroom home spans 5,000 square feet and is surrounding by private hedges. Nearly all rooms have access to outdoor space.

Take a look at the pictures

Image credits: Goodman



Westside Stories May 2021

By |May 28th, 2021|Uncategorized|

The Nethercutt is a wonderful example of what can happen when money, intelligence and a sense of civic duty converge. Established in 1971 by J.B. Nethercutt, one of the founders of Merle Norman Cosmetics, this complex has grown into one of the great collections of antique and classic automobiles in the world, more than 250 from 1898 onward. In addition, there is a world-class display of mechanical musical devices such as nickelodeons, music boxes and player pianos as well as a fully restored Canadian Pacific steam locomotive and private Pullman car.

The Museum, at 15151 Bledsoe Street in Sylmar, allows self-guided tours of historically noteworthy cars. The Collection, across the street at 15200 Bledsoe, gives guided tours of its most important old cars plus its famed Music Room collection. Admission to both facilities is free, but reservations are required for the Collection.

Some of the cars on display were once owned by movie stars, including a 1930 Rolls-Royce Brewster town car (below) that belonged to Constance Bennett, a big star of the 1920s and ‘30s. From time to time she rented it to studios, which used it in the 1937 classic The King and the Chorus Girl. Another car with a Hollywood pedigree on display is the 1931 Packard of Irene Dunne, a leading lady of the 1930s and ‘40s. Her many films include My Favorite Wife, Penny Serenade and Life with Father.

While currently closed due to the ongoing Covid 19 conditions, when it eventually reopens I recommend you visit this impressive museum and collection in person.


If you would like to read more of Michael Harris’s observations on Los Angeles and its environs, please order his new book, Westside Stories too, from his publisher at 310-476-6374 or from Amazon. His first book, Westside Stories, is available for purchase as well.


By |May 5th, 2021|Ben Lee Properties' News|

Happy May! I hope everyone is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with regards to this pandemic. It feels as though things are starting to get a little brighter and optimistic that life can soon inch toward returning to our version of normal. It seems like the vaccines have been easier to acquire (side note: my mother-in-law called to let me know that KNX news radio announced that Cheviot Hills was mentioned as one of the top three most vaccinated communities in Los Angeles County, so, well done neighbors!).If you are a regular reader of this publication, you’ll know that I snuck out of town last month with our eldest for a father/son get- away. We went to Hawaii for a week and, by the look of things, a large swath of vacationers trying to escape Los Angeles for a bit was there, too. But I’m pleased to report: the trip was extremely safe with regards to Covid protocols. We couldn’t even board the flight without proof of a negative test specifically sanctioned by Hawaii and we were tested again while there. Masks were required and just about every meal and activity was held outside while socially distant. We had such a phenomenal time there that as soon as we got home we started thinking about the next time we could go. Which, as it turns out, might be sooner than expected! While Mason and I were in Hawaii, we had the unexpected pleasure of spending the day with a colleague of mine. He used to be the top agent at Coldwell Banker, specializing in Malibu properties, until he left our company for another brokerage firm a little while ago. Our paths have crossed a handful of times over the years, starting in the early 1980’s when his family happened to live a few blocks away from mine in Malibu’s Point Dume neighborhood and our parents were friendly with one another. Who would’ve predicted way back then that decades later we would both enjoy successful careers in the same field at the same company? For years after becoming a real estate agent, I had looked up to him, admiring his professionalism, his drive and his impressive ascension to the top of business. And while we knew of each other and had a few email interactions, we never had the chance to hang out as friends until a few weeks ago when I knocked on the door of his home in Hawaii to say aloha. Chris Cortazzo has a second home there and he was generous enough to let Mason and me in to take a tour and get a feel for what it’s like to be on vacation in your own house. Needless to say, it was exquisite. Situated right on the beach with a host of luxurious amenities, he is for all intents and purposes, living the dream. It was nice to see the other side of someone who, given his level of success, I would have assumed would be a bit high strung or be in work mode all the time. Maybe it was the Hawaiian air or aloha spirit but the opposite was true: he was laid back, relaxed and nothing but a generous and congenial host for a leisurely, lazy afternoon. It was as if we had been buddies for years. Talked shop a bit, of course, but for the most part shared stories about fatherhood, the sheer bliss of travel after a year of lock down and agreed that the career accomplishments we’ve enjoyed doesn’t hold a candle to what gives us the greatest pleasure in life: taking a nice vacation with our kids.

It occurred to me while I was visiting that we are so lucky to live this close to actual paradise and a part of me wondered why go anywhere else? I was able to surf every day, eat delicious food, totally unplug from the digital landscape and soak up the natural beauty and tranquil, tropical surroundings that are sorely missing from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. This past year has taught me a lot about seizing the moment and not putting anything important off. You never know when the world can shift and uproot everything we once took for granted and I don’t want to regret missing out on a chance to do what I love. So, while my wife and two of our sons sat this last trip out, the next time we’re going everyone is coming along. I hope we’ll be able to take advantage of everything Hawaii has to offer including possibly looking up an old acquaintance turned work colleague turned friend. So, if you need me this summer, call a little later than you normally would because it’s three hours earlier on the island and I may be asleep. Or surfing. Or just kicking back on the lanai with a mai tai in one hand and residential listing agreement in the other. If the smart phone allows us to work from anywhere, then I pick Hawaii! And if you happen to find yourself there this summer, too, please pop by to say hello. Shave ice for everyone!

Michael Rapaport Sells His Hancock Park Home

By |April 19th, 2021|Celebrity Real Estate|

Michael Rapaport has sold his Hancock Park home for $3.57 million. Rapaport purchased the home in 2016 for $2.97 million. Hancock Park is full of homes that are 100 years old and very traditional looking, so to see a modern home like this in that area is very rare.

Rapaport’s home is made up of five-beds and six-baths. It is setup for entertaining with a beautiful inside and outside space. The kitchen features a quartz waterfall island.

No detail was spared in the design and construction of this home.

The home is very private as it has large security gates, walls and trees/hedges surrounding the property.

Image Credits: