Janette Monfared TITLE: Senior Vice President Investments and Senior Director of National Multi-Housing Group COMPANY: Marcus & Millichap Inc. EDUCATION: Master’s degree in real estate finance, USC PERSONAL: Children: Michael, 29; Sascha, 27; and Sydney, 22 HOBBIES: Traveling to Asia and Europe; reading; watching world history documentaries Janette Monfared built her career as high-volume deal-closer for the sale of apartment buildings. For 2017-2018, the broker at Marcus & Millichap Inc. completed more than 50 transactions worth more than $200 million. The senior director of national multi-housing group also has the distinction of being the firm’s top female earner nationwide in 2018 in a company of more than 1,800 agents.“I often refer to her as the hardest working agent in commercial real estate,” said Monfared’s boss, Marcus & Millichap Regional Manager James Markel. “She is tireless in her care for her clients.” Creativity runs in the Sherman Oaks resident’s blood: her sister happens to be award-winning novelist Gina Nahai (“Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith”). After previous professional lives at Sotheby and Coldwell Banker, both in Beverly Hills, Monfared joined the Marcus team at their Encino headquarters. She spoke with the Business Journal from her Encino office. Question: Why do you think you’re a successful broker? Answer: We deal with business people who respond to honest professionals. If you know what you’re saying and it checks with what they know, they respect that. How did you make the jump from your previous employers? This business is all about communicating. I have a master’s in real estate finance from USC. I was a commercial real estate development consultant at Kenneth Leventhal & Co. (a boutique accounting firm in Century City that is now Arthur Young & Co.) In 2011, I started as an associate (at Marcus & Millichap) and I was Rookie of the Year. How did you achieve that status? I worked 12-hour days, high volume of sales. I sold 18 units on the 1400 block of Magnolia in Sherman Oaks in the first two months after I was at the company. What about now? I work 10 to 12 hours, six days a week. That’s all I do. It’s a disease, it’s a passion, it’s a challenge that I enjoy every day. What is the hardest part of the job? The cold-call market (to find new clients). People hate it. What do you love about your job? I enjoy meeting or speaking to new clients. I gain new clients by being dedicating to them full time, by being honest, by being available 24/7. Where is most of your business? Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Valley Village and Toluca Lake. There’s been a tremendous appreciation of rents. Why? They’re a good over-the-hill option to Westside renters who can’t afford the Westside. Rents went up tremendously in 2016 and 2017 but now there’s vacancy. There’s a lot of young professionals moving all over the state to California. I see it in rentals of apartments. It’s helpful in selling high-priced properties that local buyers don’t like to pay. Mostly, it’s the Hollywood crowd because of the proximity to Burbank and Hollywood. What are some of the hot multifamily markets in the Valley? Back in 2016 and 2017, anything in the Toluca, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Valley Village were flying off. It still sells but not like before. How is business now? We are still doing a lot of business with our stronger buyers and exchange buyers. The average buyer is still waiting to buy for a price reduction. So they’re on the sidelines. But sellers now with prime properties are getting historic prices. Where’s the market in the economic cycle? The market slowdown started a couple months from Prop 10 (last fall’s initiative on rent control); that was the beginning of the slowdown. It’s a psycological thing because interest rates with some financing are even lower than last year, but the general psychology is the market is slower so let’s wait. What about Woodland Hills and Warner Center? Woodland Hills (is not ideal). There’s a lot of new construction. People talk about it, but we don’t trade in there. We’ve heard about the drop in Chinese investment in California. Have you crossed paths with Asian investors? I just put a contract with a foreign buyer who did not speak a word of English. I sold a large property to a gentleman from China sight unseen and a construction company in Japan. Those are probably mom-and-pop Chinese buyers in East L.A.; we don’t have a lot of that in our market. What are the most difficult properties to sell? I sold a few properties that were in REAP (Rent Escrow Account Program), in which the government takes over and takes half the rents until the owner fixes everything. It’s extremely hard to sell but in the last couple of years, I sold three properties that have been in REAP. It’s just hard to find a buyer because the buyer today doesn’t want half the rent and sometimes it’s hard to get it out of the program so the average buyer is not going to go near that. How do you approach such properties? I work with the sellers to get them out of REAP and then I get strong buyers. These are usually large properties. I work a little bit more but it’s worth it at the end. Can you share some of your recent transactional highlights? The Shops at Concert Park (in Playa Vista), I sold that to a Chinese buyer (for $16.9 million). I sold a building, 64 units, in Chatsworth on De Soto Avenue. I sold a $20 million property in Sherman Oaks for a local owner and transitioned him into the Smart and Final in Westlake Village with a triple net exchange. I sold a 29-unit building in Sylmar and another in Sherman Oaks as part of a trust sale to a local buyer for approximately $9 million. We sold a brand-new construction at Laurel Canyon close to Ventura Boulevard, 12 units, for $7.7 million. I’m closing three in Tarzana right now.