By SARAH SHMERLING | Managing Editor
Dynamic duo Liz Keenan and Lexie Brew are the top two agents at Coldwell Banker, Pacific Palisades, as well as in the top 100 in Southern California. They pride themselves on providing highly personalized, first-rate service to every client.
The pair shared with the Palisadian-Post how they do it.
Shmerling: Tell me about your childhoods. Where were you born and where did you grow up? What were some of your hobbies and interests as a child and teenager?
Liz and Lexie: Lexie grew up in Santa Monica and Liz grew up in Chicago. Both come from families that valued hard work and both had jobs even before becoming teenagers.
Among other things, Lexie had a paper route delivering the Evening Outlook, and started babysitting Gwyneth Paltrow and her younger brother, who lived across the street. She bought the Nancy Drew series with her earnings at the toy store in the Brentwood County Mart.
Liz: I come from a family of eight kids, also babysat and organized neighborhood car washes. One time I found a $10 bill on my front lawn and bought a pair of metal roller skates. It was the best day of my life!
Shmerling: Where did you go to college and what did you study?
Lexie: Marymount High School, Georgetown University, NYU School of Law.
Liz: Loyola University – Chicago, communications and marketing degree.
Shmerling: What was your first job out of college? What led you to choose a career in real estate?
Lexie: I worked as an associate at Dewey Ballentine in downtown LA out of law school. I started in litigation and moved to advising trustees of large estates and handling probate matters for some of the wealthiest heirs, entertainers and developers in the country.
I come from a real estate family and was always interested in the business. My dad was a developer in Santa Monica, so I always understood the business and thought it was exciting. I liked the high stakes. Two of my three siblings also ended up on real estate.
After 15 years of practicing law I decided to pursue my passion and combine all of my skills to buying and selling real estate.
Liz: I worked in film production in Chicago. I started as a production assistant and worked my way up to an executive producer position for a top film company with a global reach.
While living in Chicago and LA I have enjoyed buying and remodeling several properties. When I moved to Los Angeles, I just naturally fell into real estate. The skill set needed to succeed in the film business is similar to the skills needed to succeed in real estate.
Lexie and I just clicked as partners. Our combined skill set really spoke and served the community well and we have been busy since the day we joined forces. I am very grateful for that.
Shmerling: Do you live in the Palisades and, if so, in which neighborhoods? What brought you here and why do you stay?
Liz: Lexie moved to the Palisades in 1993 and bought her first house in 1997 because it was more affordable and quieter than Santa Monica at the time. We both live in El Medio Bluffs and we both live on Arbramar Avenue.
I relocated to the Palisades for work from Chicago in 1998. We met each other when we both moved to Arbramar Avenue in June 2000.
My first home in Pacific Palisades was in the Marquez Knolls neighborhood. The view was stunning. My next two Palisades homes were both on Arbramar Avenue, which is where I will be staying for a long, long time. I love it here.
Shmerling: How does your background help you when working with clients to buy or sell a home?
Lexie: Obviously it helps to have a law background to better understand contracts and deal with the many legal issues that can arise during a transaction, including boundary disputes, faulty construction, title issues, inheritances, distress sales, landlord/tenant issues, tax consequences, divorce etc. Clients love the free legal counsel.
Liz: I love getting a house ready for sale—in fact, the more cluttered the better. I can’t wait to get in and strategize with the homeowner to help him put his best foot forward. I have terrific resources to help with every step of the way from decluttering to staging.
We sometimes have to get a house ready in a few days. That’s when my background in film production really comes in handy. I set a goal and coordinate and supervise the crews to get the work done. A lot of people come to our open houses and say, “You always get the nicest listings.” I think to myself, “You should have seen it a week ago.”
Shmerling: Do you represent homes in all neighborhoods of the Palisades?
Liz and Lexie: Yes. We also represent homes in Brentwood, Santa Monica and Bel-Air, and have worked as far as east as Highland Park. We currently have a charming beach house listing in Manhattan Beach.
Shmerling: Tell me about how you approach new clients who are aiming to buy or sell a home.
Liz and Lexie: No one is better prepared or more available than we are in running a deal. We are also discrete and trustworthy. Many of our clients are high net worth individuals who are very busy and value their privacy. They don’t want us talking about their financial situation at a cocktail party.
We know the market better than anyone else and are able to negotiate and market at the top of our game. When you work with us, you get a team of two elite agents, not a team with a pool of inexperienced assistants.
Buyers and sellers are very sophisticated today, and have access to extensive internet information, which requires us to stay way ahead of the game.
Shmerling: What are some of the most memorable homes you have sold or helped a client purchase?
Liz and Lexie: Our most memorable listings have been when we have supervised a mini extreme house makeover in a matter of days or weeks. We thrive under pressure.
One was a $5 million listing where the owners had to abruptly move out of state. They packed their suitcases, tossed us the keys and gave us a $200,000 budget to restore the house and get it ready for sale. We hired movers, packers, estate sellers, cleaners, stagers, landscapers, haulers, charities and photographers, and got to work.
The house needed a complete cosmetic redo—floors needed to be sanded and stained, the entire house painted inside and out, new carpeting and landscaping. We finished it off with exquisite staging and sold the house in multiple offers.
Of course we’ve worked on many other homes with no budget, and those were just as satisfying. Whatever the budget, we figure out how to make the most impact to get the best result.
Shmerling: What are some current trends in real estate?
Liz and Lexie: The most obvious trend in the Palisades is rising prices. It’s common sense the Palisades is one of the most desired places to live in the world. The climate, high-paying jobs, interesting geography, lifestyle and recreation make the Palisades a magnet for people.
It’s unlikely we will see prices come down short of another market crash. Even then prices will likely recover after only a few years.
Regarding design, we are seeing more architectural modern influences in new homes and remodels both inside and out. Modern farmhouse style, artisan fixtures, natural elements, richer color palettes, brass decor and concrete accents are trending, as well as low-water succulent filled gardens.
Shmerling: Thoughts on Caruso’s Palisades Village project?
Liz and Lexie: Change is always hard but one thing we’ve learned from living in the Palisades these past 20-plus years is to be flexible. We are hoping that the entire Village enjoys great success with this new development. So far it’s had a very positive effect on home values.
Shmerling: What do you and your family like to do for fun?
Liz: Lexie lives with her three children and dog Charlie, who she got from one of her favorite clients. Her oldest son Jack is in college. She has a daughter who will be a senior at Palisades Charter High School next fall, and her youngest son will be in eighth grade at Paul Revere Charter Middle School. They love to go to the beach and Dodgers games together.
My husband, Peter, and I love to entertain and spending time at Will Rogers State Beach and hiking the local trails. We’ve been married for 32 years and have two grown children, Harry and Grace.