The duel for most expensive US home sale (and biggest commission) is underway

Inman News

Teke Wiggin
July 25, 2018

Husband-and-wife duo Branden and Rayni Williams, of Hilton & Hyland, represent dueling Bel Air mansions

Real estate broker Shawn Elliott says the $188 million listing he’s trying to sell is like a Bugatti, a sports car with a top speed of over 250 miles per hour.

So what about the $180 million property that’s coming to market next door? You know, the other listing angling to become the most expensive home ever sold in the U.S?

Well, that home is more like a Prius, Elliott says: “low key and terrific,” but “not a piece of art.”

In a rivalry marked by coincidence, playful rhetoric and arguable contradictions, two neighboring mega-mansions in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles are dueling for billionaire buyers and a page in the record books. They’re also each dangling more than $3.5 million in commission to brokers for bringing billionaire buyers to a sale.

Adding a wrinkle to the contest is the fact that both the $188 million listing and the $180 million property are represented by the same husband-and-wife team, Branden and Rayni Williams, of Hilton & Hyland.

Elliott — who works at a different brokerage, Nest Seekers International — is also co-representing the $188 million property with the couple, and he says he’s underwhelmed by the $180 million home that his co-representatives are trying to sell — without him — next door.

Named “Billionaire,” the $188 million listing that Elliott co-represents, boasts 38,000 square feet, 10 VIP guest suites, three gourmet kitchens, five bars and an 85-foot infinity pool — among many, many other amenities.

“This enclave is home to the most affluent people in the world, from Captains of industry to the Hollywood elite,” writes Bruce Makowsky, a luxury handbag magnate who built the home on spec.

For more than a year, the listing has been looking to fetch the highest home price ever in the U.S. – a record currently held by a Hamptons estate that sold for $137 million in 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The $188 million listing has received three offers and would have sold to one high-net-worth individual if not for a divorce settlement, Branden Williams said.

Elliott, who said he previously sold a $10 million estate for Makowsky on Long Island, said he was originally tasked with ensuring that the husband-and-wife team “were doing their job.” Only recently did he formally join the Williams’ as a third representative for the listing.

“We’re the only agents that I know from two different companies that speak everyday,” Elliott said.

Complicating this dynamic, the two Williams are also representing the neighboring property that’s dancing onto the market to the tune of $180 million.

“Because they represent both properties, they have a fiduciary duty to both,” while Elliott’s only loyalty is to the $188 million listing, he noted.

Elliott said he has faith that his two colleagues can simultaneously represent the interests of two competing owners trying to sell bordering properties to billionaires.

Branden Williams also thinks he and his wife are up to the task.

Agents like himself often represent two or more ultra-luxury listings that closely compete with each other on price and location, according to Williams. It’s also common, he said, for agents at different brokerages to co-list luxury properties, as he and his wife have with Elliott.

Williams says comparing the $188 million home to the $180 million home is like comparing a Bentley to a Rolls-Royce, two types of luxury cars: they are both awesome, and whichever you prefer comes down to personal taste.

Elliott — who co-represents the $188 million home with Williams, but unlike Williams, does not also represent the $180 million listing — strongly disagrees.

The 34,000 square-foot $180 million listing may have a floating staircase, wall-to-wall glass doors, a wellness center and a “Portugese limestone façade,” as The Wall Street Journal reported.

But it “unfortunately doesn’t even hold a candle” to the $188 million listing, according to Elliott.

“We have a lower level, they have a basement; they’ve got one wine cellar, we have two,” he said, referring to the purported inferiority of the $180 million listing.

He added: “I’m not saying that because I’m the listing broker … I’m saying because I’ve been doing this for years … there are very few people like me.”

Inman asked Williams for his reaction to Elliott’s view of the $180 million property.

“Well, to each his own,” he said.

While Williams and Elliott may not see eye to eye on the two homes, they seem to agree on the question of how much commission listing brokers should share with buyer’s brokers in the $180 million-ish range.

While they wouldn’t disclose the total commission rates that they are charging, they said both listings are offering a 2 percent commission to brokers for representing a buyer.

That means the $188 million listing would pay out $3.76 million in buy-side commission if it sold at list price, while the $180 million property would yield $3.6 million.

Williams and Elliott both noted that their take-home pay for selling these luxury listings would be significantly less than the commission income they receive, partly since their marketing costs will run into the hundreds of thousands.

“You come out a lot of your pocket to get these listings and for all the marketing and all the expenses it takes for these listings and then you don’t get paid until you sell it; it’s high risk; it’s not as easy as everybody thinks,” Williams said.

Nonetheless, Williams said he stands to earn a “great commission.”

Might he retire if he succeeds in pulling off the two biggest American home sales of all time?

“Man, I hope so,” he said. “The phone never stops with residential real estate.”



The 8th Wonder of the World | 924 Bel Air Rd. The 8th Wonder of the World | 924 Bel Air Rd.
$188,000,000
Shawn Elliott Shawn Elliott
Managing Director of the Ultra Luxury Division