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Hot Brokers Round 1, Heat 4: Keith Scaduto vs. Justin Alexander

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Welcome to Hottest Week 2012, that magical time in August when we pit local brokers against each other to determine once and for all (for this year) who's the hottest of the hot. Stay tuned this week and next as the tournament unfolds. And let the games begin!

Here's heat two for the menfolk--today we have Keith Scaduto of Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills North, who used to work with designer Michael Lee (some of his current listings here), and Justin Alexander of the John Aaroe Group, who's worked as a snowboard instructor in Big Bear and as a loan officer. In keeping with our New Year's resolution to be a little less shallow, we asked all the contestants a few questions about their lives before real estate, their advice for buyers and sellers, and more. Check those out below:

Keith Scaduto

What did you do before you became a real estate agent? How did you get into the real estate game?
Looking back, a career in real estate seemed set in stone! After graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I moved to Los Angeles in 2005. I worked with one of Architectural Digests top 100 designers Michael Lee based out of Malibu. Anyone lucky enough to know his work understands what an amazing opportunity it was to be influenced by him. I then worked as Operations Manager traveling the world for the most unbelievable event production company: Bourgeois Productions. We produced events for the Louvre Museum, LACMA, Louis Vuitton, Ferrari, and any other high end event that took place in Los Angeles or abroad. All the while, I was very lucky to be surrounded by some of the world’s top brokers who kept telling me that with my work ethic, personality, and network of friends, that I should consider a career in real estate. My good friend Chris Cortazzo, was the #1 Producing real estate agent in the world with over 1.5 Billion in sales out of Malibu. I figured he must know what he was talking about. He guided, coached and mentored me for the first few years as I transitioned into real estate as my full time career. Ron de Salvo, and Peter Whyte have also been very strong influences for me along the way.

What's the most memorable property you ever helped buy or sell?
For all my clients, and especially when my celebrity and high end clients in the luxury market buy or sell their homes there is a level of confidentiality and respect that I adhere to. One should always beware when the picture of the real estate agent is bigger than the picture of your living room.

What's the biggest mistake made by either buyers or sellers?
#1. Not working with me! I sincerely believe that there is no one that is more passionate, and will work harder to sell or buy a client’s home than myself. I understand that my future, reputation, and success depend on fulfilling my clients every real estate need. My goal is to exceed their expectations and earn their referrals. The most important resource available in affecting the sale or purchase of a home is selecting the right Realtor to represent them.

#2. Sellers overpricing and therefore de-valuing their home. If a home does not have multiple offers in the first two weeks there is a problem. The bottom line is that a home is going to sell for a certain price in a certain market. The only possible way to get more money is to create an “auction mentality” from the buyer pool and use multiple offers to bump up the price. Otherwise people start to wonder what is wrong with your house and why it’s been sitting on the market.

#3. Buyers not getting pre-approved for a loan before they start looking for a house. Many first time home buyers, try to find a home before they get pre-approved only to find out they have just wasted months of their time. Pre-approval is critical. It is the first step which will tell a buyer exactly what their price point and loan structure will be. Without this information buyers are wasting their time.

#4 Buyers relying only on real estate websites rather than working with agents. The MLS is the most up to date, accurate, and powerful web-based tool that we have. I pay *hundreds of dollars a year to be a member and utilize these tools. I am glad to set my clients up with specific search criteria and there are options for them to be as “hands on” or “hands off” as they want with that process. Many people leave old information up on real estate websites to field calls. I’d say 60% of the time a buyer inquires about something its bogus information. Its sad because it really misrepresents the market.

#5 Buyers only looking at short sales and foreclosures. If you want to avoid heartbreak, aggravation, and months and months of waiting around with no answers or updates, only to have your deal fall through.. Avoid short sales and foreclosures, and focus on standard sales. With most of these deals you might as well send your offer to outer space. Even if you put up the cash, it seems as though the bank wants you to structure your deal in such a way that leaves you as the buyer very vulnerable. They would rather not see any contingencies that would give the buyer an option to back out of the deal. Unless your all cash and you are indifferent to the outcome it’s a usually a huge waste of time.

Why do you think real estate agents are, on the whole, so damn attractive?
Botox and Silicone.

Justin Alexander

What did you do before you became a real estate agent? How did you get into the real estate game?
Before I was a Real Estate Agent, I was a Snowboard Instructor at Big Bear Mountain as well as a marketing rep for the nation's largest student travel company. Then, my senior year of high school, I was approached by a family friend to transfer my sales experience into a lifelong career... real estate. I worked for the top producing team in Fallbrook, CA which is where I grew up. In 2003, I transitioned into residential finance and was an A-paper Loan Officer in Orange County for 7 years. After the triumphs and downfalls of the mortgage business, I decided to venture out to the "big city" and pursued Beverly Hills real estate coming up on 3 years ago. I must say, it was the best move I ever made!

What's the most memorable property you ever helped buy or sell?
The most memorable house I helped purchase was actually a lease on a magnificent mansion on La Collina in Beverly Hills. My client was an A-list celeb, Marc Anthony, and I had to find him something QUICK due to the life change he had with his marriage last year. The house was truly a rare gem. An Italian inspired, 10,000sqft, 3 structure estate which was previously occupied by Courtney Love. Not only was the house a true treat, working the deal over was extremely complicated and took some extreme negotiating. Along with getting my client a great deal, I was able to convince the owners to instal a $75,000 security wall and gate to provide privacy for Mr. Anthony as well as enhance the overall appeal of the property. Marc didn't retain this property for his permanent residence due to the owners not disclosing long term mold infestation which was discovered two weeks after lease execution. I worked vigorously with Attorney's to get Marc out of the lease, and the Listing Brokerage absorbed all of the damages. Obviously, this is an experience that I will NEVER forget!!!

What's the biggest mistake made by either buyers or sellers?
The biggest mistake I see made by buyers in today's market is passing up a great deal due to thinking something better will come along. Inventory is scare and when a great deal is presented that offers all or most of a buyers wants and needs, the time to make an offer is NOW. As far as sellers, the most common mistake today is pricing themselves too high, and then having to chase the market down until they find a new market of interest which could be weeks or months. If you price right in this competitive market, which is in my opinion 5 to 10% less than the going market value, you could find yourself in multiple offers within the first 48 hours of your property hitting the market.

Why do you think real estate agents are, on the whole, so damn attractive?
On the whole, real estate agents are so damn attractive because we have personalities that are one of a kind. We are outgoing, funny, personable, and have no problem exuding confidence and poise. Not everyone has those qualities however, and some just have a pretty face to work off of with no substance underneath. Those are agents I consider unattractive, the truly attractive ones have much more to offer than simply a head-shot worthy face!

Vote below--poll closes at 3 pm PDT on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.
Poll results

· Hottest Week 2012 [Curbed LA]