Just the facts about Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles — please! Reality TV is often filled with shows about sharply dressed real estate agents cruising around swanky neighborhoods, wheeling and dealing with wealthy homebuyers and sellers. But have you ever wondered how much of what you see on TV is for real?
To spill the tea on the facts about Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, ReallyRather Editor-in-Chief Lisa Johnson Mandell spent the day with two guys who could set the record straight: the show’s most convivial duo, David Parnes and James Harris.
On this series, now in its 13th season, these co-partners of the luxury real estate brokerage The Agency work with their staff in an ongoing quest to buy and sell some of the most glamorous, luxurious, over-the-top real estate in the world.
Curious to take a peek inside these jaw-dropping properties and the big personalities that represent these listings, she spent the day cruising around L.A. with Parnes and Harris to see if their day-to-day lives are truly as fantastic as they seem on screen. And in doing so, she found quite a few surprises along the way that might surprise you, too.
5 Fabulous Facts About Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles
1. They don’t cruise around L.A. together all day
Watching the show, you’d think Parnes and Harris spend their days cruising around L.A. together in their ultraluxe Rolls-Royce, riffing and bickering nonstop. But this myth was quickly dispelled when Parnes alone greeted Johnson Mandell at The Agency’s bright, white, ultramodern office.
“I’ll show you around some of our favorite listings in the morning, then I’ll drop you off for lunch with James, and he’ll show you some of his favorite listings in the afternoon,” Parnes explained. “We do drive around together sometimes, but we believe we’re more productive if we divide and conquer.”
Yet one aspect of the show is true when they drive around together has to do with how Harris constantly ribs Parnes for his (to put it lightly) “distracted driving” skills.
“I’m not the best driver,” Parnes confessed as he swerved to narrowly miss an oncoming Range Rover. “That would have been an expensive accident!”
“I drive the Mini [Cooper] most of the time,” he explained as he precariously maneuvered over narrow Beverly Hills roads. “This one’s more for client comfort.”
2. These stars have been friends since they were kids
While many reality TV stars get thrown together during casting and have never met before Parnes and Harris have a rapport that seems real, because it is.
“Our moms were close friends for a long time, so we’ve known each other almost since we were born,” Parnes recounted.
Both grew up in England and ran separate real estate businesses there before moving to Los Angeles—Harris in 2004, followed by Parnes five years later. That’s when they decided to join forces.
“We started together at The Agency in 2017, and our partnership couldn’t have been better for us both,” Parnes says.
3. They use extremely creative sales tactics
Inside the gleaming, four-bedroom, six-bath house, Parnes showed me all sorts of fabulous features, including a 24-foot glass waterfall cascading down three floors; a see-through wine room; and a multilevel infinity pool with a lounges in the pool.
The best feature: the floor-to-ceiling windows spotlighting a breathtaking view.
“It’s hard to find homes with completely unobstructed views of the city in this part of the Hollywood Hills,” adds Parnes.
Parnes presented more gummy bears inside, including a pricey NFT collection by WhIsBe. (Nonfungible tokens are unique digital artwork that are collected and traded, a little like baseball cards.)
“These are not meant to be sold with the house,” Parnes explains. “They’re meant to catch the attention of the kinds of people who would appreciate living here, like crypto traders.”
Sure enough, this marketing tactic worked: Weeks later, this property was sold for $14.9 million—gummy bears not included.
4. They represent some unusual rentals, too
It’s surprising how being chauffeured around to the poshest properties in L.A. works up an appetite: Johnson Mandell was more than ready for lunch when Parnes dropped her off at the Beverly Hills Hotel’s legendary Polo Lounge to meet with Harris.
While Parnes and Harris often wine and dine their clients here, it turns out that they also represent real estate at the hotel. The Agency is contracted to lease the posh Presidential Suites for longer-term stays.
After lunch, Harris ushered her through several of these suites, whose past inhabitants have ranged from royalty to movie stars, including Prince Charles, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Jimmy Stewart.
“But they’re not just for the rich and famous,” Harris says of the suites. “My family has a great time staying here when we need a little getaway but don’t have time to travel far. And some of our out-of-town clients stay here while they’re waiting for their new homes to be ready.”
Prices for these rentals range from $7,400 to $12,000 a month. But the most expensive rental that Harris represents—and likely the most expensive in all of L.A.—is the Bel-Air Hotel’s new 2,265-square-foot Presidential Suite compound, which goes for a whopping $300,000 a month.
For that, you get a separate hotel entrance, private dining for 10, a chef-caliber kitchen, an elegant great room with a grand piano, and a private courtyard with its own pool, spa, and fireplace.
“It really doesn’t get more luxurious than this,” Harris says.
5. Despite the pricey properties they see all day, the agents say there’s no place like home
There’s more to life than selling high-stakes properties and shooting a hit Bravo show
When Harris and Johnson Mandell parted ways at the end of the day, he was itching to get home to his family. He couldn’t wait to hear how his pre-teen daughter fared on her first day of school, and if his “chaperone” services for her that morning were up to snuff.
“I wanted to be the cool dad,” says Harris, who has two daughters, aged 8 and 12. “So I looked up all the music 12-year-olds are listening to, and I played it in the car.”
Parnes, another doting dad, felt he was one of the few who actually enjoyed staying home with his wife and 3-year-old daughter during the pandemic.