Jory Burton

Variety Article: The (Open) House Party

Drinking on the Job

From Variety; February 6th

Two weeks ago, nine Westside brokers laid down their rivalries for a block party.

It was all in the name of sales, of course. Faced with a spate of big-ticket Venice properties, they decided to pool their efforts by advertising and hosting a progressive lunch that took brokers through all nine open houses.

Realtors’ catering bills may be the best new indicator of a cooling real estate market. While inflated housing prices are keeping inventory tight, brokers are discovering that moving pricey properties can mean digging deep into their bag of tricks – and sometimes inventing new ones.

“I’m not just going to throw an assistant in an open house,” says Jory Burton, an agent in Sotheby’s Rodeo Drive office. “I’m going to make it an extravaganza.” His tactics have included omelet and waffle stations, as well as Dom Perignon door prizes.

These lavish presentations aren’t meant to lure weekend looky-loos. Most brokers save the action for Tuesdays, when hundreds of listings appear in two trade publications, Caravan Express and the MLS Guide to Open Houses.

That’s because their intended audience is not so much buyers as other brokers.

A single broker can represent dozens of house-hunters. And once a Realtor is enjoying a flute of Champagne by the pool, the odds are good that they’ll take time to visualize clients in the property.

Prem Joshi, a broker with Mossler & Doe in Beverly Hills, took it a step further last fall when he advertised a Saturday night party in Caravan Express, inviting brokers to bring their friends.

The location: an early 1960’s ranch house owned by a pair of nightclub designers. The Los Feliz Oaks listing had steel floors and an outdoor “martini deck,” so the broker threw a party befitting the space. An amateur DJ, Joshi spun tunes all night; his brother, who is also his assistant, mixed drinks for nearly 100 people over the course of the night.

“I figured the typical Sunday open-house (crowd) weren’t the people who were going to buy a house like that,” Joshi says, and he was right. The 1,795-square foot property sold for $2 million, a record price for the area per square foot.

Who bit? A rock musician/producer – no stranger to the fact that partying can make good business sense.