Incorporated in 1984, the year of the Olympics in Los Angeles, and during the original residence of the Los Angeles Rams in the city. A special year to be in Los Angeles. The world famous Sunset Strip can be found in West Hollywood, or WeHo as its known colloquially. This city is so special and influential, I have to spend more time telling you about it.
Today, it’s one of the most progressive cities in the world. It leads the charge for the LBGT community, and created a safe haven during decades of fear for so many. WEHO was the first city in the county of Los Angeles to ban fur in 2013. As a board member for the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, we created the bill, campaigned, fought, and won to ban fur for the rest of LA in 2018. The city is renowned for its cleanliness, flamboyant and creative night-life, festive annual parades, high-profile restaurants, and of course incredible homes.
While L.A.’s history is only a couple hundred years old, that history is condensed, and mostly centered around entertainment. So much of that history was born on the Sunset Strip. Iconic landmarks and buildings fill the strip with memories. A-list hotpots have come and gone over the years, some reinterpreted, some remembered only by photograph or story. It’s not just the establishments however. Trends were, and still are set here. Legends and myths are born here.
1930’s- Ciros nightclub once frequented by Frank Cinatra and Marilyn Monroe, is now the site for the world famous Comedy Store where Richard Pyror and other comedic legends performed.
1940’s- Garden of Alla Hotel, a short and long stay hotel that catered to celebrity and literary figures by creating a shielded and private environment away from the public. Greta Garbo, Errol Flyn and Ronald Regan called here home at one time of another. The list of A-list visitors was endless. This location is now home to a shopping center that will soon be demolished for Frank Gehry’s upcoming commercial and residential project.
1960-1990’s- The music scene exploded and transcended every corner of the world. Iconic venues included The Roxy, Whiskey A Go Go, Rainbow Room, and Pandoras Box. Led Zepplin, The Doors, Guns and Roses Donna Summer, and Motley Crue performed to sold out crowds.
Such stories are plentiful, with the entertainers of the respective decades gracing the grounds and immortalizing them. The story continues into the homes of the area. After the strip, and the numerous hotels, many of which still remain, the parties would continue to the private residences. They still do today. Above the Sunset Strip, the homes north of Sunset Blvd may be some of the most impressive hillside structures in the country. From the original mid-century homes, to the sprawling glass-walled modern new constructions, the views are breath-taking, unforgettable, and quintessentially, unmistakably; Los Angeles.
The West Hollywood Bird Streets, “The Bird Streets” or “The Doheny Bird Streets” as they’re known, are synonymous with some of the best real estate offerings in the country. The hillside is comprised of mostly modern new constructions, or the original traditional homes. The land is valuable as it has a high elevation, head-on and breath-taking panoramic views of the entire city, and flatter lots which allow architects more creative freedom during the design phase. Prices in this pocket can go up to $40m, and an average property price of $7m. In the flats and other parts of WeHo, the average property prices range from $2-5m and offer a variety of styles and interpretations.
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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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