Top Agents Trade Jabs Over $23.5M Newport Beach Home Sale

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Agent rivalry in the Orange County coastal market has gone public with two high-powered brokers trading jabs over what put a deal over the finish line for a $23.5 million mansion in Newport Beach’s exclusive Pelican Crest neighborhood.

Josh Altman, star of “Million Dollar Listing” and co-founder of The Altman Brothers at Douglas Elliman, posted Friday that the sale of 1 Island Vista on Aug. 4 was a case of city agents using their savvy to close a deal. 

“OC/Newport Beach takeover continues,” Altman posted, referring to his group opening an office in Corona del Mar earlier this year. “If a local reach can’t get it done, and you need to bring in the big reach and global marketing machine, we got you covered.” 

The Altman Brothers represented the sellers in a $55 million deal for Chateau Dubrow, a Newport Coast home located at 2 Coral Ridge, which was the priciest Orange County deal in 2022.

Also on Friday, Paul Daftarian, co- founder of the self-named Daftarian Group at Luxe Real Estate, made a post with a different viewpoint. 

“Congratulations to our entire team for once again delivering market-leading results with the sale of 1 Island Vista in Pelican Crest,” Daftarian posted. “Local expert representation makes all the difference.” 

In April, Daftarian represented the buyer and seller for the $34 million deal for a 12,000-square-foot estate located at 1 Shoreridge. It currently holds the record for the priciest deal in Pelican Crest, as well as the priciest Orange County deal to date in 2023.

In recent years, top agents from Beverly Hills and Malibu have looked for action in the increasingly prominent Orange County’s luxury market. In addition to Altman, the list of star agents opening offices in OC includes The Oppenheim Group and Fredrik Eklund.

In an interview with TRD, Newport Beach-based Daftarian said most of the out-of-town agents have worked well with the locals. But there have been clashes of style. Daftarian said Altman has a pattern of cutting into deals by offering to work for lower commissions.

“This is not a city-slicker, made-for-TV reality series,” Daftarian said of Orange County agent culture. “We have a set of ethics that these guys do not follow. This is not a cutthroat, break the rules free-for-all.”

Altman said no ethical boundaries were crossed. “I am an aggressive real estate agent.  That is why I’m the No. 1 agent in California. People say, ‘our rules,’” Altman said, referring to his team’s style. “The only rules I care about are the California real estate law and getting my clients the best deal.” 

Altman’s recent rankings include being among The Real Deal’s top 5 Los Angeles brokers in 2022.

Altman’s marketing services for 1 Island Vista included producing and posting a video promoting the house. He said that the video caught the attention of the undisclosed buyer. The video was posted in June and received more than 181,000 hits.

The agents also have a difference of opinion on who deserves credit for the deal. Altman said that Rossette Winkler of the McClure Team at eXp in Irvine worked as a buying agent in the first stages of the deal. Daftarian said that Winkler only served as a referral for the buyer. The unidentified buyer had decided to work with her after randomly picking her from a page on Realtor.com. 

Daftarian and associate Sam Zargari represented the buyer and closed the deal for the home. Daftarian said that the deal had almost collapsed twice before closing. Winkler received a $25,000 referral fee, both agents confirmed. Winkler declined to comment for this story.

The mansion was sold by a trust linked to developer Michael Gerro.

Built in 1999 and located on a half-acre lot, the three-level house at 1 Island Vista is a short drive away from The Resort at Pelican Hill country club and Crystal Cove State Park. The home’s initial ask was for about $27 million.

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