David Emanuel at Compass locates the houses; Jacob Levy at Concept Renovation flips them. Since 2018, real estate agent Emanuel and builder Levy have selectively found and curated houses for buyers throughout the greater L.A. market with a high-mark-up finish. Projects include homes in the Valley’s toniest neighborhoods: Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Woodland Hills and Calabasas.
“He’s got a very good eye from a design perspective,” Emanuel said of Levy before explaining that their average collaboration takes about 12 to 18 months to accomplish. They tackle about two residences per year.
“We’d rather do quality over quantity,” Emanuel said.
Because their flips sell to such moneyed buyers as actors, rappers, basketball players and successful bitcoin investors, “some of these projects have been rehabbed,” Emanuel explained. “He’ll lift the ceiling height to make basketball players feel more comfortable, so they don’t have to bend their heads down to go through the doorways.”
One property that showcases the pair’s style is 11288 Dona Lisa Drive in Studio City. The house required a total turnaround in which Levy took down the old house to the studs.
“The Donas are a very desired area,” said broker Emanuel. “A lot of the homes have architecture elements that he will work off of.”
“This home had some really great original architecture,” said Levy. “We wanted to maintain the mid-century modern aesthetic of the home and develop something that would still complement the architecture of the neighborhood.”
In particular, Levy wanted to customize the patio for maximum effect. “Entertaining in the backyard was a big priority, so we took out the old pool and reconfigured the layout to maximize space,” Levy noted. Also, Levy did not like the shape of the pool so he rebuilt it from scratch.
Emanuel said that this 3,041-square-foot residence ultimately fetched the highest price per square foot in the submarket for 2019. A family with older children moved after paying $3 million, or nearly $987 per square foot. Another prime project was 3546 Crownridge Drive in Sherman Oaks. Emanuel said Levy took what he had done at Dona Lisa and stepped it up to the next level. This gut-the-house renovation included a scrapped swimming pool, which was replaced with a completely different style of swimming pool. Add-ons included a horseshoe driveway perfect for car collectors, a tricked-out master bathroom and outdoor cabana space.
“We built a really great home that embraced California living and pushed the envelope with highest price per square foot in Sherman oaks, west of the 405, once we sold,” Levy said.
The 4,096-square-foot Sherman Oaks smart home, which includes remote audio and lighting systems and a shower which fogs up at the press of a button, ultimately sold to a young couple for $3.6 million, or about $867 per square foot. In the case of the residence at 5107 Gaynor Ave. in Encino, this project had personal meaning for Levy.
“This one was the first project that I built, and it was intended for me to live in,” said Levy, although he ultimately did not move into the house. “Knowing this was going to be where I would live really changed my perspective on how I approached the construction. I took my time with selecting timeless finishes, putting in new fixtures that were custom-made, and making sure the materials had a warm and inviting feel to them. Being my own client was definitely the hardest obstacle.”
The Gaynor house was also a gut renovation, Emanuel said. The 3,537-square-foot home, located north of the 101 as opposed to the more desirable south of the 101 section of Encino, ultimately sold for $2 million or $749 per square foot. Emanuel said that on this project, Levy installed “a lot of indoor/outdoor living space, sliding doors and warm contemporary (flourishes).” Emanuel and Levy – who met each other through mutual friends a couple years before their professional collaboration commenced – said that they have ideas as to why they feel their joint ventures turn out so well.
“He trusts me and I think that’s very important,” Emanuel said. “It’s really hard with others that I’ve dealt with taking opinions from a real estate agent. We complement each other.”
“David and I work really well together as a team because of how we balance each other out,” Levy added. “I love to get things done quickly and move onto the next project and appreciate the fast pace of construction. David tends to take more time to analyze everything, do a lot of research and weigh all of the pros and cons before making a big decision regarding a project. He also always appreciates when I bring new ideas to the project and design a home with beautiful features.”