The properties of Bel Air often surpass Beverly Hills in terms of scale, opulence, and value. While parts of Bel Air have more typical Los Angeles high end homes, palatial estates are plentiful, making this one of the most expensive postal codes in the country. Business moguls, leading business executives, billionaires, and royalty from around the globe call Bel Air home. The estates are grand, ambitious, and extremely private. The portion of Bel Air north of Sunset boulevard enjoys a natural elevation at a critical geography within the city. The location brings privacy, tranquility and views with line of sight to the ocean, and the downtown Los Angeles skyline. The elevation has also encouraged architects to create unique lines, terraces, and features. One of the joys of this neighbourhood is how each property uniquely interprets its space and enjoys its surroundings.
Near Sunset Blvd is a small community known as Holmby Hills. While technical part of the business and university district of Westwood, its proximity to Bel Air, allows it to enjoy some of the features and wealth. Lower down on the Hillside, the lots are flatter and more regular, forcing a more traditional estate layout. The world renowned Playboy Mansion of late Hugh Hefner resides in Holmby Hills, Bel Air adjacent.
The community was founded in 1923 by Alphonzo Bell. Bell owned farm property in Santa Fe Springs, California, where oil was discovered. He bought a large ranch with a home on what is now Bel Air Road.
He subdivided and developed the property with large residential lots, with work on the master plan led by the landscape architect Mark Daniels. He also built the Bel-Air Beach Club in Santa Monica and the Bel-Air Country Club. His wife chose Italian names for the streets. She also founded the Bel-Air Garden Club in 1931. Notable residents include Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Elon Musk.
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Neil Rain Persad, a British ex-pat is the acting broker and owner. He was born and raised in London with parents of Caribbean descent. His parents emigrated from Trinidad, and found themselves as young adults in a harsh reality of a not so welcoming London in the 1970’s. From very humble beginnings, his Mum was an emergency room nurse, while his Dad worked his way from a nurse to a respected position at the United Nations.
By advice of his primary school headmistress, he sat the entrance exam to Emanuel Secondary School, one of the top private schools in England. Receiving a half-scholarship to attend, he found himself surrounded by everyone from the affluent and notable, to royalty. At the end of every day, he would join a small group of outsiders at the train station who went home south of the river Thames, while the others went home to central London mansions and affluent lifestyles. Americans tend to pool all Brits into the same category, but the reality is that this was a clear illustration of the British class system. This contrast and unique ability to exist in both worlds was the unexpected honing of a skillset that would be invaluable in a later real estate career.
After graduating, he had a falling out with his parents. Initially he stayed with a very talented and handy uncle who taught him carpentry and remodeling, and an aunt that put 3 meals on the table every day. A short-lived return to his parents ended horribly. Without their support, he related to life more as an artist, with an interest in art, architecture, decor, and music. After exhausting the aide of charitable friends and their families, he eventually found himself homeless at 16, living on the streets of London for an entire year while waiting for help from local assistance programs. His only belongings were two guitars; a Les Paul, and an Epiphone, along with a backpack holding a few clothes.
After working odd jobs, including pizza delivery, he was taken in by a Venezuelan and Spanish Taekwondo champion Elias Biescas Rue, who taught him Taekwondo free of charge, and became a big brother and mentor to him. Under this guidance and training, he excelled at Taekwondo, and went on to compete at the national level, often knocking out opponents with Elias’ signature hook kick. In one sparring session, he regrettably broke the skull of the national champion at that time, with the same kick. This surprising education, life experience, training, and discipline would go on to shape his ethics and rules towards life, and ultimately his real estate practise.
Slowly rebuilding his life, he worked at a sound production company loading trucks for events, with the promise to be trained as a sound engineer. During this time, he rekindled his relationship with his parents. 5 years had passed since the last time he had seen them. His Dad encouraged him to use his dual citizenship status and make a go of a life in the United States. Something he had wanted to do for himself, but had been unable to.
Knowing there was a looming move to Los Angeles, he spent some time travelling and living around Europe, working odd jobs, and experiencing architecture and design around Europe first hand.
He moved to Los Angeles in 1998, initially staying with welcoming family, and subsequently set out on his own to begin the next chapter. He didn’t know anyone outside of a few family members. Returning to education while working 3 jobs, his first job was loading trucks at a Robinsons May distribution center. Later, while renting a small room in the hood, he taught Taekwondo where one of his students Wayne Chen, won an Olympic medal. Wayne gave one of his medals to him as a sign of appreciation.
After graduating university with a bachelor’s in business management, he began a 15-year corporate career working at fortune 100 companies such as Disney, Sony, Goodrich, and eventually ended up in investment banking at Merrill Lynch during its golden years. During that time, he bought his first house and was misrepresented on the purchase. He learned everything a real estate agent shouldn’t be from this experience.
Unexpectedly, just after rebuilding their relationship, his Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 Pancreatic cancer. Pulling the equity out of his home to pay for his father’s medical bills and to fund a life-saving surgery, his father didn’t survive, and passed away at 52 years old. Neil was 25, almost $1m in debt, and back to rock bottom. Fortunately, a successful career unfolded, but the death of his father encouraged him to later walk away from it to begin following his love for art, interiors, property and décor.
Upon being told that the Beverly Hills market was tough to penetrate and that he should think about suburban areas, his first deal was for $1m in the Hollywood Hills. Over 12 years, he has built a client base of celebrities, business personalities, several billionaires, and royalty from 3 nations.
After migrating between all the top firms in Los Angeles, he eventually realised that all of the above, gave him a very unique perspective on life and business. He also identified that all the top players and firms in LA were wholly focused on sales and numbers. Behind closed doors, everyone was the same, but sadly no one really seemed to care about their clients. This became the epicenter of Kensington & Beverly, his own firm that would focus on taking care of clients, their welfare, habitat, assets, and ultimately well-being of their family.
“After my experiences, disappointments, failures and minute successes; I unequivocally understand the needs of my clients. I will never do anything to comprise that. This is my one gift. My mission is to use this, to protect them, but get them what they need.”
Upon rescuing his dog, Nala, a Boxer-Ridgeback mix, Neil became best friends with Marc Ching, the pet wellness and animal welfare advocate. They quickly bonded due to their unique life experiences. They had major influences in each other’s lives and Neil became a board member and ambassador for Marc’s small rescue that housed only the worst-off dogs. This later became The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation. In 2018, he split his time between real estate, and restructuring and re-staffing the foundation. In the same year, they wrote the bill to ban fur in Los Angeles, which was passed in 2019. Today, you can find Neil training at Lb4lb boxing gym, Rey Diogo Jiu-Jitsu, and playing one of his “3” guitars.
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