REAL ESTATE MOGUL
Real Estate Moguls | Developer Jay Belson Tours His $12,995,000 Sunset Strip Pad | Part 1
LA Home Magazine presents Real Estate Moguls with Christopher Damon in a personal home tour with Jay Belson, the luxury real estate mogul who developed this sleek pad above Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, CA.
Real Estate Moguls | Interview with Developer Jay Belson | Part 2
LA Home Magazine presents Real Estate Moguls with Christopher Damon in an interview with Jay Belson, the luxury real estate mogul who developed this sleek luxury pad above Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, CA.
LA HOME article written by Alicia Damon
As the summer of 2015 came to its finale, real estate agent, Christopher Damon, sat down with Jay Belson, the new power-player in Los Angeles luxury residential development. “New” is a misnomer. Jay has been developing real estate since he was an 18-year-old living in Philadelphia, “I was remodeling 100 year-old row houses and adding all the modern necessities”. But it was in 2010, after selling his 500 agent Remax brokerage, that Jay moved into development in one of the most exclusive markets in the country – Bel Air, Beverly Hills and the jetliner view properties of the Sunset Strip.
Jay did not come from wealth nor could he have imagined that one day he would develop properties like the anticipated $100,000,000 mega estate on Tione Rd in Bel Air.
When meeting Jay, his sunny energy and genuine kindness are the real thing. In a business enormously dependent upon capital, it’s no wonder that he has investors lined up months in advance.
Jay credits instinct as an essential part of his success. “I got married at nineteen, had two sons by the time I was 21. I was a young guy with a lot going on...It was 1986, we went on vacation to LA and I fell in love with the place, I said ‘Let’s move.’ Once in L.A., I became the top agent in my marketplace and didn’t like the deal my broker offered me so I started my own real estate company. Built that into a big operation with in-house mortgage and escrow, and kept developing property along the way. The way I do things, if it feels right and it attracts me, I go for it. You’ve got to listen to your instinct. It’s been my best tool for success.”
Instinct is essential in developing luxury residential real estate because what you’re selling is not just a property, it’s a feeling. When a potential buyer steps across the threshold, they ask themselves, “How does this experience make me feel?”.
The same inner compass is helpful to understanding the market and knowing when to push hard and when to sit back. Jay is bullish on the market and forecasts that Los Angeles will remain strong for the next few years. Like most successful real estate professionals, Jay has experienced a serious market downturn. He is a preservationist for his investors, “The number one requirement of any investor is security...as much as they want to make money, not losing money always takes the top spot... capital preservation is my number one priority.”
Surprisingly, Jay says the risk can be more mitigated at the high level. “Risk is everywhere. It’s how you manage the risk and understand the current market as well as the future market. In the lower priced market - $2.5-$8 million, the risks include heavy inventory, lots of players, skinny profit margin. The high end of $8 million plus, bought at the right price, is attractive because the margins are bigger, inventory is lower, the product can be more breathtaking...if you get it right.” So how easy is it to get it right? It isn’t. And that’s why there are very few developers purchasing 8 figure tear downs.
Los Angeles, compared to New York, London, Paris and Hong Kong, is a bargain. Los Angeles, it seems, has plenty of room to climb, “What’s happening right now with property values, both nationally and internationally, makes our market extremely strong. L.A. developers are upping the ante because we are seeing condo space in Miami and New York sell for $4,000 a square foot. You can buy platinum properties in Los Angeles for $3,000 a square foot. All signals point toward additional growth which is why luxury developers continue to spend money.”
Despite the seriousness of his business, Jay prefers to stay light-hearted and open to new ideas. “Ego can get you into trouble. Sometimes a developer is so sure about his vision that he won’t listen to sound advice, and on a $50 million dollar build, that can be dangerous and expensive.”
Jay has several projects under development that are redefining the contemporary estate “We call it the disappearing act, where all the aspects of the house that make it function are hidden. It’s very difficult to achieve but visually stunning”. With appearances on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, CNBC and as a frequent speaker, Jay is often approached on the street. Everyone has one thing on their mind – “It’s just incredible how much people love to talk about real estate. From your first home to mega-mansions, it’s always a great discussion.”
If he were to look in the rear view mirror and give his younger self advice, it would be one word, “Relax.”
If that isn’t LA, I don’t know what is.
To learn more about Jay Belson, watch his in-depth video interview with Christopher Damon. Visit lahomemag.com/Damon_BelsonTour and lahomemag.com/Damon_BelsonInterview, and visit JayBelson.com.
Written by Alicia Damon, The Damon Group specializes in residential real estate sales throughout Los Angeles. thedamongroup.com