Wilson’s roster has significantly expanded since then, and now includes Courteney Cox and David Arquette, Stephen Dorff, Anthony Kiedis, Adam Duritz, and Jonathan Davis of Korn, among many others. The agent’s specific charm rests in a teddy-bear cuddliness more often associated with kindergarten teachers than salesmen.
“I’m a pretty mellow person for this career,” Wilson admits. “A lot of agents are hustlers and movers and shakers. I can turn that on when I need to, but my nature isn’t like that.” Wilson sold roughly 30 houses last year, totaling approximately $45 million.
“Some real-estate brokers are very cocky, but Jonah’s someone I want to spend time with past the signing on the dotted line,” says Courteney Cox, who has done five deals through him. “He’s patient, he’s fun to hang out with, and he’s got fantastic taste: He can just pinpoint what people want.”
Wilson’s style is far more casual than that of one of L.A.’s other celebrity brokers, Brett Lawyer. The two actually came up together, first at Prudential and then at the boutique agency Nourmand & Associates. But where Wilson is the go-to guy for the Grammy set, Lawyer, 43, has cornered the market on hipster Young Hollywood: His clients include Leo, Tobey, Keanu, Cameron, Ben, J. Lo, and many other pretty young millionaires, as well as Barry Manilow, Mel Gibson, Ricki Lake, and Al Pacino.
Originally from southern Ohio, Lawyer came out to L.A. one summer to be an actor. Despite a run on the eighties soap Capitol, he soon realized that a lifestyle charted on Entertainment Tonight wasn’t in his future, and he signed on to become photographer Greg Gorman’s assistant. When he made the jump to real estate, famous referrals from Gorman, like Raquel Welch, put Lawyer on the money train. But despite long-running relationships with his clientshe and Welch have done seven deals togetherLawyer, who now works at Sotheby’s International Realty, mostly keeps his personal and professional lives separate.
“I think part of the key to my success is that I’m not that close to my clients, and have no desire to be,” he says, gazing out at the city from the pool deck of a $7 million Hollywood Hills house he’s listing. “I’m not out there working the scene.”
The discretion that Lawyer practices on behalf of his clients is one reason that he sold 26 homes, worth nearly $80 million, last year. Real estate is a spectator sport in Hollywood, and transactions serve as tea leaves in which to read the rise and fall of personal fortunes. Consider also that buying or selling a home frequently accompanies a sensitive life transition like a divorce, and you can see how a trustworthy broker moves to the top of your wish list, even before a Bird Street address or an infinity pool. For Lawyer, this means carefully tailoring his approach to each client, right down to his physical appearance. “Younger people don’t necessarily relate to a suit,” he says, “but I’ll turn up the volume for their business managers and attorneys.”