You probably know him best as Kyle Richards’ tall, dark and handsome husband of nearly two decades (the two share three daughters), and you’ve probably seen him calming nerves on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Fine. But the guy really is a real estate celebrity, even when the cameras aren’t around.
Umansky is the founder and CEO of Beverly Hills–based the Agency and, as such, claims to have been behind $2 billion worth of property transactions in his 20-year career. Given the astronomical prices of the kind of Golden Triangle homes he handles, that almost seems a modest sum. His latest headline-making offering, the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills, has a reported asking price of $200 million. It comes with Hugh Hefner, until he dies.
“We haven’t sold it yet,” Umansky says. “But it’s a fun house to show.”
We can imagine.
Another property, 1201 Laurel Way near Beverly Hills’ Benedict Canyon, offers views from downtown to Catalina Island. Umansky says it’s “one of the most viewed properties on the Internet.” It’s yours for only $42 million. He’s also helping with the sale of the Michael Jordan estate in Chicago. The property, including a number “23” front gate, will set you back about $15 million (shoes not included).
Umansky’s listings do more than outline amenities. They turn plaster and wood into narratives.
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“If these walls could talk, the stories they would tell would be incredible,” the Agency says of the Jordan estate. “Hands of poker were played late into the night in the card room, while Jordan and friends smoked his favorite cigars from his humidor. He and his family watched movies on his huge video screen that descends from the ceiling, or swam in the infinity pool, with its central platform like a ball swishing into the net. The ‘Breakfast Club,’ a core group of talented Bulls players, worked out in Jordan’s fitness center, and strategized on future games over breakfasts made by his private chef.”
Umansky, who describes himself as a reform Jew whose family hails from Mexico City, says his work is more about marketing than real estate transactions. “We’ve been successful at selling these more unique properties,” he says. “They’re hiring us to market their homes.”
Asked if being part of a reality television franchise was a distraction for what is a very high-stakes game — high-end real estate — he replies: “I think I’m extremely lucky in the reality TV that I do, because the real star is my wife and not me. I get the best of both worlds. I can take advantage of the marketability, but I don’t actually have to show up.”