Home News In L.A., hidden armies of workers keep mega-mansions on the market

In L.A., hidden armies of workers keep mega-mansions on the market

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Aracely Ramirez cleans up before a pop-up event on Melrose Avenue on Friday. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

In Southern California, mansions are the microeconomy.

Every luxury property has a developer who envisioned it, an architect who built it, an agent who sold it, and a hefty buyer who had to get it.

To run the place – greet guests, pour drinks, polish floors, wash windows, put things in cupboards, secure perimeter, cook meals, organize children, tend lawns. , flushing the pond with algae – typically requiring a staff similar to modern Downton Abbey.

And every time these prized properties come up for sale, dozens of workers join the fray. Our mission is to enhance homes in their most beautiful condition, keep them in pristine condition, and attract buyers willing to pay big bucks to buy them.

They include maids, gardeners, handymen, pool technicians, interior designers, limestone experts, and aquarium cleaners. They work behind the scenes, sweating through the hot summer months to ensure that every crack is cleaned, every leaf is trimmed, and every pool has the perfect PH balance.

In the end, the developer gets the profit, the agent gets the TV show, and the rich get the house. But these workers — key cogs in Southern California’s tenuous lifestyle and extraordinary real estate market — make it all happen.

“I am proud to be a part of this project,” said Deisy Flores, maid and owner of Casa Fantastic Cleaning Services. “Architects, contractors, directors and us. We are part of it.”

Portrait of Daisy Flores, owner of Casa Fantastic Cleaning Service

“I am proud to be a part of this project,” says Deisy Flores, owner of Casa Fantastic Cleaning Services. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

With the help of her mother, Flores founded the company in 2013, and the work has grown from cleaning a modest home in West Covina to a mansion on the West Side. She employs her 15 professional cleaning technicians. She prefers that term to maid. Because the company also deals with commercial projects, I feel limited. A small project only needs one girlfriend or two, but a large project needs a whole team.

On a hectic day like this, Flores oversees everything like a quarterback running a well-oiled offense. She liaises with homeowners and dispatches teams around the house to assign any number of ladders, sponges, and buckets to help complete the task. Specific towels are used for delicate surfaces such as marble and glass chandeliers. Wheeled vacuums can scratch floors, so backpack vacuums often make cameos.

Her team takes on anything from a tiny house that takes hours to a hillside castle that takes days. They are often not the only ones there.

“We’re always working around people: contractors, floor polishers, furniture movers, stagers, appliance installers. There’s a lot of traffic,” she said.

It’s hard work, and Flores doesn’t allow his team to work more than eight hours at a time. But at the top of the market, cleaning deals are lucrative.

Her crew is currently cleaning a 20,000-square-foot mansion in Bel Air that hit the market two months ago. Agents schedule screenings weekly and on weekends, so Flores’ team has cleared the place three times a week since it first went on sale.

The current tab is $17,000 and is rising with each visit.

Erika Mijangos cleans mirrors at a commercial facility

Erika Mijangos cleans mirrors at a commercial establishment. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

for the owner, These bills can add up quickly, especially if the property has been on the market for months or years. Southern California is one of the few markets in the nation where he regularly sees properties worth $100 million or more, and with a property of that size, potential buyers with the means are out in the world. There may only be a few dozen. If one of these buyers doesn’t show up, the owner could spend millions of dollars trying to keep the place in sellable shape.

Former Disney Chief Michael Eisner in April Offered his Malibu compound for $225 million However, no buyer has been found yet. Once owned by Aaron and Candy Spelling, his famous 123-room Holmby Hills mansion, The Manor, featured a room dedicated to gift wrapping and flower cutting. It hit the market in February for $165 million. No takers. Beverly Crest has a $100 million mansion listed since January 2021.

To show off such luxurious properties, some sellers hire a marketing team to guestlist other agents and potential buyers and throw wild parties at their homes. You should add caterers, cooks, entertainers and influencers to your staff. Also, like most jobs in the service industry, jobs can evolve beyond their original description.

A dozen young women in golden dresses served champagne at an event at a luxury condo in Pasadena. Towards the end of the night, the host took everyone outside and distributed small envelopes full of butterflies. When opened, it was supposed to fly off over a fountain, showcasing the beauty of the property and the possibilities of a new life there.

The “butterfly release” is sometimes incorporated into weddings and funerals, signifying hope for the future and perpetuity of life. Only this time, most of the butterflies were dead inside the envelope by the time the guest opened it, and the few that survived jumped into the fountain.

For the next 30 minutes, the women in golden dresses had to open the remaining envelopes, search for survivors, and then manually bury the rest in shallow, makeshift graves in the garden outside the building. did. In a complex as luxurious as this, the soil was well groomed and soft enough for even the most sophisticated fingers—not brick-hard Southern California clay.

Everything gets bigger in a mansion: not just the cost, but the cost of selling it.

Kevin Stein is the District Director of LA Elite Window Cleaning, which cleans about 1,000 home windows each year. Stein and his team often work with high-end clients, especially when he’s an agent for The One, 105,000 Square Feet Behemoth It traded for $141 million earlier this year. A small apartment job can cost as little as $250, while cleaning a glass mansion like The One costs about $10,000.

“It’s numb right now, but it’s crazy to see the opulence and insane wealth that surrounds us in this city,” Stein said. and staffing are always shocking.”

Equipped with a squeegee and mop, or a water pole (a 60-foot-long device that uses deionized water to clean dirt from glass), Stein keeps your property spotless. Although this is a less common service than a maid, he said he typically services his home twice a year (in coastal areas such as Malibu and Laguna Beach, the Marine Air Force owner has a biweekly service). unless you are seeking his services at

“I’m always working on homes that are on the market,” he said. “Realtors always want their windows clean for potential buyers, and they want their windows clean when they take pictures of their homes.”

Like Flores, he is one of dozens of workers at home every day.

“We go to establishments that have 30 to 40 landscapers tending gardens like Buckingham Palace,” he said, adding that there is a pecking order for the largest establishments. Not to mention the internal hierarchies between homeowners, homeowner’s assistants, property managers, property manager’s assistants-maids, landscapers, and other service staff.

“Some of these places have full hotel staff,” he said.

And that’s just when the house is on the market. When it is occupied, another or additional workers fill the hall: nanny, chef, butler. A person who serves a bowling alley. Someone who replenishes sweets in the sweets room.

Some facilities require so many bodies that they have attached “staff quarters,” ie, room-filled guest houses where full-time workers can stay. Beneath the glitz and glamor of The One are the entire staff bedrooms, a distinctly lower level of luxury than other properties.

Steve Sheftel works in these types of homes all the time. As the founder of Beverly West Pool Co., he and his two employees service 170 pools a week, handling everything from repairs to upgrades to general maintenance.

He works with all kinds of pools. These include a kidney-shaped installation behind a bungalow and a gorgeous oasis with caves and fountains in the hills. Needless to say, these require a little more work.

“With a pool on a hillside, you can double or triple the cost because you have all the foundations and beams. increase.

He’s not a big fan of the infinity pool that most developers have been claiming to add these days. The water running off the edge creates a beautiful sight, but behind the façade lies an intricate system of sump, water level controllers, filters and pumps. They are attractive in theory and are in vogue right now, but if not built properly, ongoing repairs will cost the owner a small amount of money.

Taking the aforementioned One example, which takes the concept of a residential pool and transforms it into something resembling a planned community, this property includes a pool at the back, a pool at the inside, and a floating pool at the outside. There are 5 pools. Upstairs bedrooms and a moat-like pool outside the nightclub complete with lounges and fire pits.

They look stark white from a distance, but a closer look reveals that some already have cracked foundations. According to Ted Lannes, who acted as trustee, three or four pool representatives came to the service each week.

The pool staff was one team among many. The house was vacant, but the service staff included a full-time handyman, two security guards who patrol the facility 24/7, and she cleans once a week. It included four housekeepers.

For these services, our monthly bill was approximately $40,000.

Netflix’s ‘Selling Sunset’ Star Jason Oppenheim Now Listed 20,000 square foot mansion $40 million in the Hollywood Hills. He split the monthly cost to keep the place pristine.

Full-time property manager: $8,000 per month.

General maintenance: $10,000/month.

Staging: $5,000/month.

Artwork: $2,500/month.

Cleaner: $3,500/month.

Poolman, a 175-foot pool overlooking the city and cascading into an atrium garden: $1,500 per month.

Gardener (not only for landscaping, but also for green “living walls” along driveways): $2,500 per month.

Specialists to process wood and clean 20,000 square feet of limestone throughout the property: $7,000 per month.

Total cost: $40,000. Also, this does not include mortgages, property taxes, insurance, and utilities for houses the seller does not live in, so his monthly expenses are well over his $100,000.

“Some sellers try to save money when preparing to list their home. “I’ll keep my furniture,” he said.

This story originally appeared los angeles times.

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