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Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

Equity Union Busy with Expansion

Newly formed Sherman Oaks-based commercial real estate brokerage Equity Union Real Estate has signed five leases across five markets in Southern California — including three in North Los Angeles — in the past six months. 

Sherman Oaks-based Lee & Associates L.A. North/Ventura’s principal/managing director Scott Romick negotiated the transactions, which totaled approximately 21,000 square feet; the properties are located in Woodland Hills, Toluca Lake and Valencia, as well as in Brentwood and Palm Desert. 

Additionally, Equity Union purchased a building in Palm Springs.

Harma Hartouni

“In the ever-changing market, opportunity arises for talented people and hardworking companies,” said Harma Hartouni, chief executive officer of Equity Union. “Time and time again that has proven to be true in climates such as this one. Equity Union has been a beacon for success and I could not be more proud of our team. We’re grateful for Scott and his expertise, and glad to be working with such a visionary.” 

Working with Equity Union’s ownership and leadership has been a good experience for Romick. 

“He’s a fantastic client,” Romick said of Hartouni. “He’s honest, and I respect what he’s done with his team.”

Hartouni’s choice of such markets as Woodland Hills, Toluca Lake and Valencia were carefully considered.

“These were communities that he thought he could do well in,” Romick said. “There were no requirements other than signage. The bigger, the better. And ease to move in. He wanted to be up and running as fast as possible.”

Two of the sites were prior real estate companies.

“It took a while because he had a certain vision,” Romick said. “We started in March, and the last one we signed in Santa Clarita last month.”

Hartouni, who used to own Keller Williams offices in Encino and Sherman Oaks, founded Equity Union Real Estate in March.

Building: Equity Union’s Toluca Lake location. (Photo courtesy of Equity Union)

In choosing locations for his offices in such communities as Brentwood and Woodland Hills, Hartouni said he selected locations where commercial real estate representation wasn’t as strong as it is in places such as Beverly Hills. 

Hartouni sought out the services of Romick, as he has now for almost seven years, during which time Romick helped Hartouni purchase a Studio City building at 3349 Cahuenga Blvd. in 2018 and then with the sale of that building a year later. Romick also assisted Hartouni in a pair of transactions, leasing 13400 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks and then purchasing 13412 Ventura Blvd. to serve as Equity Union’s corporate headquarters.

“He’s extremely responsive and knowledgeable,” Hartouni said of Romick. “I have a thick accent, I’m a complicated man and he gets me. He goes there and hunts and he gets it done.”

Hartouni found that his business was growing quickly.

“We had agents knocking at our door asking if we’ll have an office for them,” Hartouni said. “In Brentwood, I was on the street looking with my agent and Scott. We want to have agents be part of the process, we include them. They chose the Toluca Lake location. My team has been extremely important and they were part of (the process).”

Hartouni’s agent base has grown to 600, and he has an additional support staff of 40 employees.

“Just the month of September, we recruited 51 people,” Hartouni said. “In any changing market, opportunity rises for hardworking, talented people. It’s been refreshing. I have been preparing for a changing market.”

Hartouni felt that this was the right time to open more offices. 

“We’re not just opening anywhere, we’re opening where we have producers,” Hartouni said.

He said that the possibility of a recession doesn’t make him flinch.

“Because most people withdraw, they get scared,” Hartouni said. “It creates more opportunity. Being a higher interest rate doesn’t scare me, but allows me to pick the right building in the right location.”

Thanks to Romick’s services helping identify the right buildings, Hartouni is able to create the infrastructure for his company.

“What agents need is support,” Hartouni said. “We’re focusing on what skill set we can offer to our agents.”

Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk is Interim Editor at the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Inside The Valley. She previously covered real estate for the Los Angeles Business Journal. She has done work with publications including The Orange County Register, The Real Deal and doityourself.com.

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