Q&A: Michael Edlen

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

The six-person Edlen team, which was built over the course of 10 years, helps clients buy and sell homes throughout the Palisades. Find out here what Edlen thinks about the current market, what the current challenges are in real estate and three things people should consider when selecting a Realtor. 

Shmerling: How does your background help when it comes to working with clients?

Edlen: I learned the lesson of being of service to others from age 13 when I began earning my own money mowing lawns and delivering newspapers. Working in many employment contexts helped me develop understanding and empathy for people with diverse backgrounds.

After receiving a degree in psychology and an M.B.A. with honors at UCLA, I worked on two social science research projects where I learned the logic and procedures of statistical analysis. Having a strong interest in positive thinking since college has been of immeasurable value to clients I work with, whether buying or selling.

Lessons learned through many years in a family business and in investment analysis have benefitted clients. I’ve gained a broader understanding of how best to serve clients through two mastermind groups of other top agents from all over the country.

Shmerling: How many people are part of the Edlen team and what makes it special?

Edlen: The Edlen team is unique for the Palisades in its composition and systems. Rather than being a loose-knit collection of individual licensed agents, as are most other teams, I gradually built the team concept over a 10-year period modeled after medical or legal offices with specialists in each function necessary to provide all services.

With a background in business rather than sales, I wanted to have clearly defined roles with detailed systems and procedures that would assure the highest level of service. There are now six of us, each experienced and licensed, and two of us also have full broker’s licenses.

I am the primary lead-generator and negotiator. We have an Operations & Escrow Manager (Tatiana Weiss), Listing, Preparations & Marketing Manager (Christina Wagner), Buyer’s Agent (Jolie Hernandez), Team Executive Assistant & Notary (Monica Miranda), and our recent addition (Keith Craven) is working with many of our lease clients as well as numerous buyers and potential sellers.

Shmerling: What are some of the ongoing challenges of working in real estate?

Edlen: The ongoing challenges in real estate today include understanding and working with the greatest generational diversity in history. It can be difficult for many agents to learn how to effectively relate with the millennials (now ages 22-37) and to also be able to provide the tremendous support and empathy so vital to the rapidly growing number of seniors who need special counseling regarding needs and alternative solutions to their own challenges.

Shmerling: How have things changed in the Palisades in the last 10 years?

Edlen: Speaking from a real estate perspective, historically buyers would close escrow and simply move into their home and make plans to slowly improve it over time and make it their own.

The last 10 years have seen a different kind of buyer—one that has a separate budget to make many substantial changes to a home immediately following the close of escrow and before they even move in. In some cases, this even occurs with new construction.

Shmerling: Do you think the market is slowing down?

Edlen: I know that it has slowed down, as was expected since we noticed leading indicators of a market correction starting by June. As of now, we have had 20 percent fewer sales than we had last year at this time. As the cost of money slowly creeps up and prices likely to inch even higher for some months, homes here are, once again, becoming increasingly unaffordable.

Shmerling: Now that the Palisades Village is open, how do you think it will affect the local housing market?

Edlen: The local market has anticipated the Caruso project beginning two years ago, which led to an extremely strong demand for homes within walking distance of the Village. I expect a continuing strong demand for at least several months more as the desirability continues to grow.

Shmerling: What are three things people should consider when selecting a Realtor?

Edlen: Local experience in both up and down markets. Strong ability to help anticipate and resolve potential and actual problems that can come up during the sale or purchase process. Their ability to genuinely strive to understand people’s wants, needs and desires, and then to effectively communicate and help clients to achieve their goals.

Shmerling: What are some of the organizations you were able to give back to this year?

Edlen: The Palisades Woman’s Club, which in turn distributes funds raised to dozens of local groups and organizations; Chrysalis street maintenance, without which the village streets would quickly again become littered with trash, leaves, etc.; Donorschoose, through which we were able to support thousands of kids in hundreds of classrooms in providing books, materials and health aids for which no other funds were available. We also contribute to many other organizations, including Orbis, Heifer, Windows Between Worlds, Meals On Wheels and Smile Train.

Shmerling: What neighborhood of the Palisades would you recommend for a family with young children and why?

Edlen: That’s a difficult question to answer simply because it depends on so many factors in addition to being a young family. I recommend they start out by meeting with a skillful and experienced agent who has successfully represented at least five such families in the last couple of years. That agent should ask a series of questions to fully understand the clients’ preferences, reasoning, needs, resources and values.

Only after that process could recommendations be made. For example, while the Village seems to have gained in popularity over the last few years due to its walkable lifestyle, other neighborhoods, such as the El Medio Bluffs and Marquez Knolls areas have attracted those who prefer to be slightly removed from the action of being in the center of town.

Shmerling: Is there anything else you’d like the community to know about you and your work?

Edlen: I enjoy the continuous opportunities to be of service, learning how to continually improve our team’s skill sets, and being able to inspire others to pursue their dreams and aspirations.