The Million Dollar Listing agents sell some of the most extravagant and exclusive homes in the United States. But high-value properties are at the mercy of mother nature, just like anywhere else.
James Harris and David Parnes faced one of the most challenging situations of their professional careers when a wildfire burned down their client’s house on Tigertail Road. The 2019 Getty Fire scorched more than 700 acres in Brentwood and forced thousands of people to evacuate.
As Harris explained to Heavy over the phone, the impact of the wildfire was more than just financial because as an agent, he’s invested in his client’s well-being. “We really care. This isn’t always just about making money,” Harris said. “This is about relationships. That’s what this entire business is about.”
Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles airs at 9pm ET/PT Tuesdays on Bravo.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Tigertail Road Property Was Still Smoking When James Harris First Saw It
The Getty wildfire burned for more than a week before firefighters had it 100 percent contained. According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, the fire started during the early morning hours of October 28, 2019, after strong winds ripped a tree branch from its base. The branch landed on powerlines and the spark spread to nearby brush.
The flames spread westward incredibly fast. By the time the sun came up on October 28, the fire had engulfed more than 400 acres. By the end of that first day, more than 600 acres had burned and the fire was only five percent contained. Tigertail Road was within the mandatory evacuation zone, which included approximately 10,000 residential and commercial properties. Thousands of families were forced to flee as the flames spread.
The Los Angeles Fire Department shared that by the time it was over, the Getty Fire had burned about 745 acres, destroyed 10 homes and damaged at least 15 more. Five firefighters had been hurt but luckily the injuries were not life-threatening. Evacuation orders were lifted by November 1.
James Harris was able to inspect the property at 1104 North Tigertail Road after the evacuation order had been lifted. He told Heavy that they had a police escort up to the lot. “When I drove up there, there was still smoke coming off the property. It was insane.” We asked what went through his mind when he first the damage. Harris responded that his immediate thought had been, “Holy s***. Did anyone get hurt in these fires? Are they going to get 100% contained?”
On the damage, Harris added, “It’s even crazier when you actually see it in-person. I drove by it, right as it was Halloween. The whole neighborhood had been evacuated. There were all these Halloween decorations left up and it was just super eerie and strange.”
Harris On the Risk of Wildfires: ‘It’s Part of Living Here’
In the preview clip promoted before the August 25 episode, Harris explained to the Bravo camera crew: “Living through these fires, sadly, has become a normality. It’s not really ‘if,’ its a matter of ‘when’ because you don’t know where they’re going to come up, how bad they’re going to be and how quickly they’re going to be put out.”
Harris reiterated that stark statement during the phone call with Heavy. “It’s part of living here. It’s absolutely crazy,” Harris said. “But I suppose it’s no different to all of us living here and being part of potential earthquakes or in other states, tornadoes or hurricanes. It’s just par for the course.”
Harris said the Tigertail listing posed a new challenge because up to this point, he has never represented a property that has burned down. “This is a really unique situation, one that you never expect you’ll have to deal with. And quite frankly, when you think about fires, you just never really think they’re going to happen so close to home. It’s a really scary thought. And then when it happens and you experience it and you see it first-hand, it’s just crazy.”
Heavy asked Harris how an agent goes about trying to sell a property recently impacted by fire. He bluntly answered, “It’s really, really difficult, to be honest. It doesn’t look good. It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t give that buyer the warm fuzzy feeling that they’re looking for. It honestly makes life incredibly difficult. It’s not ideal.”
The Developer May Rebuild On the Property or Sell the Land
The Tigertail Road property, as of this writing, was not actively for sale. Harris listed the property for $4.495 million in December 2019 but according to records on Redfin, it was taken back off the market in February.
The house that originally sat on the property was built in 1951. The single-level home had three bedrooms and two bathrooms. But the true value was in the land itself. The house sat on more than an acre of secluded land with stunning views of the canyons, the city and the Getty Center. The property, which is located a few minutes away from Sunset Boulevard, was marketed as a “developer’s dream.”
The Tigertail property last sold in September 2017 for $3.4 million. The developer reimagined a brand new, modern two-story house for the property, outfitted with floor-to-ceiling windows, an infinity pool and massive deck space overlooking the hillside. Harris confirmed to Heavy that as of this writing, the developer was still deciding whether to build this dream house or just sell the land and move on. Harris added that the Agency plans to stay involved with the project and relist the property once the developer makes a decision about what he wants to do with it.