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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Residential Broker’s Side Hustle: Insurance

Out of their Canoga Avenue offices in Woodland Hills under the umbrella Peak Entities, Eli Tene and his partner Gil Priel operate four Century 21 Peak residential real estate brokerage franchises as well as Interserv, a renovation company that refurbishes sites such as hotels and restaurants.Now add insurance to Peak Entities’ growing portfolio of businesses.Tene recently joined forces with Sharon Ezra, who launched Grand Mutual Insurance 13 years ago.“Sharon had her own company and, at that point, we joined forces and took it to the next level,” Tene said of Grand Mutual, which sells life insurance, health insurance, disability, fire, earthquake, commercial and policies related to business coverage.The incorporation of an insurance company into Peak headquarters at 5900 Canoga Ave., where the real estate brokerage and renovation businesses are also based, makes sense, according to Tene.“We’re a one-stop shop from A to Z,” he said. “It’s a natural add-on service (to the Century 21 business). People are buying homes, getting mortgages. Now they’re going to have access to the service of insurance.”Ezra said that, in just the last year alone, the insurance game has morphed substantially.“There are so many changes happening in our industry,” Ezra said. “Everything for us is paperless. (Millennials and younger) want to get everything online. They don’t even want to call you. We’re moving ahead online to meet our clients.”Of course, many industry changes have been pandemic-accelerated. For example, employees who shed the office to work remotely could alter their insurance plans.“We reduce the mileage, save you money on your premiums,” Ezra said. “But we let the clients know it’s temporary until the market goes back.”“A lot of people who died during the COVID didn’t have life insurance,” she continued. “The whole COVID has brought life insurance back to the table. They don’t understand how cheap it is to buy life insurance when you’re a young. If you buy before you’re 30, it’s going to cost you $20 or $30 for every $1 million.”Added Tene: “We wanted to save our clients money. Right now, if you have two cars at home and now you don’t drive (because of working from home), we can reduce car mileage and save you money on insurance. It’s a proactive way of business, the DNA of how we do business. We’re trying to customize to our client.”The partners noted how most people purchase insurance and then file away the contract. That could lead to homeowners losing money.“We tell people all the time, ‘You need to look at it,’” Tene said. “Times change, you may need the proper insurance. You need to check all of the time.”While Grand Mutual works in concert with Century 21, Tene said that there are no obligations for homeowners whom Century 21’s brokers to use Grand Mutual home insurance.“We send a bid,” Tene said. “The homeowner will have the freedom to decide if it’s good for them.”Added Ezra: “We don’t (automatically) get the business. We have to earn the business.”Peak Entities also owns an escrow company, a constrcution supply outfit and various real estate investment firms

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.

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