Local Realtor Craig Knizek Sells the Valley Neighborhoods That He Knows and Loves

Valley luxury market.

The San Fernando Valley is in the midst of an influx of high-profile celebrities and athletes paying unprecedented prices for luxury real estate. Craig Knizek, managing partner for the Valley offices of Beverly Hills firm The Agency, has been steadily shepherding A-listers to our community’s best neighborhoods—well aware of this area’s charms. We sat down with Craig to explore this trend.

You’ve sold some of the most expensive homes here in the Valley, recently getting $20 million for an Encino luxury estate. What is going on? Double-digit prices for homes in our sleepy suburb?

Craig Knizek: It’s incredible, right? The Valley has always been home to celebrities. They’re people with families, just like us, and they recognize the allure of what the Valley offers, which is large lots, privacy, ease of life, and access to great schools and the studios. You’re right, though—now we are getting huge sale prices, shrinking the discrepancy in valuations and gross acquisition prices to our Brentwood/Bel Air and even Beverly Hills neighbors. By the way, a colleague and I have an Encino listing that will exceed the $20 million mark soon.

What’s changed? What’s driving this?

CK: Some of it is attributable to our city’s evolutionary growth. We’re no longer just a vacation city for visiting the beach and Disneyland. We are among the top cities in the world—financially, creatively and culturally. Los Angeles has evolved into a global epicenter of art, cuisine, technology and innovation, also boasting some of the best weather in the world. Silicon Valley has migrated here, as L.A. has become an essential location to own a home for the world’s millionaires and billionaires.

As the city’s prices have risen, our Valley benefits from the overflow. It’s supply and demand. If an international buyer has a secondary home in the city, the local TV studio executive gets priced out of that area. They may work at the studios or their children probably attend one of our Valley schools. Why not have a great house on a better lot with a less congested commute here in the Valley? It becomes a no-brainer.

The press reports that Nick Jonas bought on Rancho for $20 million, his brother Joe Jonas bought in Royal Oaks for $14 million, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton bought for almost $14 million, NBA star Chris Paul bought in the hills for $11 million, and Selena Gomez also bought the former Tom Petty estate.

CK: The overwhelming amount of luxury purchases are for new homes. The large lots provide privacy, which is a priceless commodity. We don’t have Hollywood tour buses or people selling maps to the stars’ homes. Celebrities can shop at the local Gelson’s or take their kids to the park and people leave them alone. Everything here is more relaxed.

Of course, you get more house for your money here in the Valley, but I contend that it’s not just the value proposition that is driving this movement. Many of these buyers can buy anywhere in the city they want; they choose the Valley because it’s a better way of life. There’s less traffic, great restaurants, incredible hiking trails and a lovely sense of community. Any celebrity or affluent executive with kids appreciates the incredible choices for exemplary schools with a wide breadth of student and family dynamics.

3703 Alomar Dr., Sherman Oaks, $12,000,000

Is it true that there is also a new crop of younger stars moving here?

CK: That’s right. Internet stars are participating in this luxury market here in the Valley. The larger lots allow them the space and privacy to film their videos from homes, and they appreciate the proximity to the Burbank and Van Nuys airports.

The Valley is changing from the 3-bedroom, 2-bath, postwar era homes in many neighborhoods. Are there any negatives?

CK: There certainly is a lot of construction happening, and living next door to that can be disruptive in the short term. Yes, neighborhoods are changing, but that’s inevitable. I don’t agree with the naysayers who decry the new construction of bigger homes.

COVID-19 has certainly illustrated and magnified a trend that people want to nest and be in their homes with their families and friends. We now have home gyms, home theatres and home offices. We are home now more than ever—and for the foreseeable future. We need bigger houses and we want nicer houses, but we don’t need greater density. The premise of collecting people into tighter spaces seems to be dangerously out of touch in this COVID-19 environment.

The Valley’s larger lots and trademark single-family residences are why people move here. Let Wilshire or Sunset boulevards be congested. Let New York have the high-rises.

By the way, these bigger houses are a prime generator of revenue for the city. The square footage of every new house generates money for public schools. Every sale of every house generates massive funds for the city and county. The housing market with all this new construction is a key economic driver for the region.

3703 Alomar Dr., Sherman Oaks, $12,000,000

What is your favorite sexy new home that you’ve sold or represent?

CK: They’re all my favorites! My two newest listings on Royal Oak and Alomar are beyond incredible.

What has catapulted you to the forefront of the Valley’s luxury housing boom?

CK: I’m incredibly fortunate to have been with Billy Rose and Mauricio Umansky, founders of The Agency, since its inception in 2011. I absolutely know that my success and the success of our Valley offices in Calabasas, Sherman Oaks and the upcoming Studio City office is tied inextricably to their success in the city. I’ve been able to shepherd that migration of city buyers to the Valley because of my relationships with my Beverly Hills/Bel Air/Brentwood colleagues. They’ve actively relied upon me and our Valley agents to share our expertise.

The Agency has assembled a dynamic array of industry-leading professionals—from marketing and PR to compliance and contracts. I’m so proud of how we’ve elevated the practice of serving clients in representing their most valuable asset. Our constant collaboration enables me to learn and adopt my outstanding colleagues’ best practices. I know that our brand, like the best law firms, indicates to all clients that they’re receiving a uniquely high level of service.

We live here, we know the streets, we know the dry cleaners, we know the parks, we know the Little League coaches and the dance teachers. We sell the Valley so well because we love the Valley so much.

3951 Royal Oak Place, Encino, $11,995,000

Craig Knizek  |  The Agency

14140 Ventura Blvd., Suite 101 Sherman Oaks  |  818-618-1006  |  theagencyre.com