Fascinating Real Estate Stories: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly With Philip Boroda

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Fascinating Real Estate Stories: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly With Philip Boroda

There is no one experience when it comes to the real estate industry. The beauty in that is how it offers us an abundance of insights, not to mention some good laughs, on navigating our journeys—be it the good, the bad, or the ugly. Joining Valerie Fitzgerald and Bob Hurwitz to share his very own interesting real estate stories is top real estate agent Philip Boroda. From the craziest listings to billionaire clients and everything in between, they serve us both wisdom and laughter that give us a glimpse of the variety of experiences in real estate. And if there is one thing that stands out, it is that there is never a dull day in this industry! So listen in as Valerie, Bob, and Philip entertain us with their stories.

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Fascinating Real Estate Stories: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly With Philip Boroda

I am thrilled to have our guest on the show, my friend and our colleague, Philip Boroda. Philip sells residential luxury and distressed properties all over Southern California. He's the top 1% of agents in the US for over twenty years and has sold over $10 billion in career sales. Welcome, Philip.

You're too kind. I'm trying to keep up with you and Bob if you want to know the truth. It's been hard because you guys are always in the lead, but thank you for the nice compliments.

Philip's got some good humility. It's funny because although this is the first time we've met, we have known each other for decades. It's interesting because his business model has evolved and so has mine since the late '80s and early '90s. We used to go head-to-head on expired listings. It's great to finally meet you. You're a creative guy. I remember back in the day, I would strategize, "Philip is doing this. I'm going to do this." Welcome to the show.

Tell him something about our show, Bob.

The show is we pull back the curtain. Have fun and tell stories unscripted or whatever. We talk about everything. We never know what we're going to talk about. Valerie and I have a long history like you. There's a myriad of interesting people we've met and experiences we've had. Just go with the flow. I know you would be great extemporaneous just like we are.

Thank you.

Phil, you must have had some wild experiences. Bob and I love to talk about our wild experiences. The things you've walked into.

I don't think that I can go to the extreme wild stuff because those are a little X-rated.

We like X-rated.

You do?

We've got tons of X-rated.

No names and no addresses. That's all.

Do you want to hear a funny one?

Yes, definitely.

Someone asked me the other day, "What is the craziest listing appointment experience you ever had?" This was in the '80s. I went with my partner to look at a house. I won't tell you the street, but it was in BHPO. A lady answered the door in a bathrobe. She was a little older than us. She said, "You guys look at the house and everything, I'll be out by the pool. When you look at it, come out and let me know what you thought."

Sure enough, we went and looked at the house. We went out by the pool and she was laying down and took off her robe. All she had on was her birthday suit. We were looking at her like we couldn't believe what we were seeing. That was a great listing appointment. We didn't get the listing but we did get other things. When you're 24 years old, that's pretty exciting.

It is. Bob and I had talked about walking on people doing crazy things. We've seen people with crazy pets. We've seen crazy agents. The stories go on and on.

Also a fair amount of nudity and that type of thing.

Let's be honest. If people ask all the time on a caravan or an open house, "Have you ever had sex in an open house or a vacant house?" Everybody says, "Yes." There are no noes in that response.

It's the staging in all the houses. There's always an available bed somewhere, I suppose. I haven't done that.

That's not what I've heard, Valerie.

To actually end up broke when you've got that much money, you either have to be incredibly greedy or incredibly stupid.

Thanks. Very nice.

I gave you my story, Bob. Your turn, what was your craziest listing?

I've had multiple situations like that. I remember I might have probably talked about this on a different show. I walked in to do a showing on a house on Shady Brook and there's a woman on StairMaster. She wasn't the owner of the house. I walked in and she was shocked and scared. I go, "I'm here to show the property. She was like, "No worries." It's fine. I had to usher her out briefly. I do bump into that occasionally and more than once. Valerie, I was joking, by the way.

I've had so many, people with crazy pets. One of those big lizard things come lopping by that was a pet. I had one big rocker who had wall-to-wall cages of snakes in his house, and there I was for a listing appointment. I've had to go for another big rocker to one of his concerts in Sacramento one time with all those t-shirts. They have the hat on with the beer and the straw that goes into their mouth. There I am in my little suit at this wild concert. I've done all kinds of crazy things going on listing appointments, but you got inspections too. You walk in on people with pets and kids. There are always a zillion stories. You of all people with all those foreclosures must bump into some crazy situations.

Do you want to know a bad one?


At these conferences that we do, we go on these panels and everyone talks about their craziest REO experiences that they've had running into a home. Mine always wins, believe it or not. This is one that you can't make this thing up over here. We went to a house. It was in Panorama City back in 2004, and it was one of those old estate lots that's a little over an acre that was all overgrown. It was like a one-story Spanish house. The pool and the tennis court were overgrown and they had been vacant for fifteen years. It’s one of those homes.

It was a government home. We get there and it's all boarded up. We open it up to see it. All of a sudden, out the back door, there are 30 people that scamper out the back door. We get in into the house. There's no water and no power. There was nothing in there. There are rats that are going everywhere on the ground. This is not Holmby Hills by the way. There are rats, spiderwebs and everything. There's this one lady that's laying in on a mattress that she's been using for her bed and her bathroom. I can't even begin to tell you. She's pregnant and has a needle in her arm.

She couldn't move. She looked like her eyeballs were coming out. We called 911 and they came. They took her away. It was beyond sad and everything because everybody left her there. This is the stuff that we experienced at the time. Never did my heart ever go out to someone who was on drugs, homeless, in a bed with a needle in her arm. This is what we saw.

It's amazing. In a lot of these foreclosure scenarios, you’ll find the homes usually in bad condition. Is that correct?

Once in a while, you get ones that are okay. Some people are so mean that they sledgehammer toilets and countertops. Bob, you've had a few bit luxury ones. I won't mention the client, but I know who you have. I follow yours also. Sometimes people are vicious and mean. We don't talk politics, but our elected officials let squatters get the upper hand. We have to go through the court systems to get them out and they know it. They go ahead and they take advantage of what our officials let them do. That's also a little bit discouraging. Once in a while, you do get home in good condition, but that's not par for the course.

I have a question because as you said, I've had plenty of foreclosures and bankruptcies. I always tell people that just because someone has a big house that's worth a lot of money doesn't mean they're not dead broke or underwater. At least, in my experience, because I don't have a lot of experience doing that. They get very vicious. They'll steal everything out of the house.

It's because they were rich and now they're not, why should somebody else benefit because they couldn't make their payment? In a limited level that I've had that, I can imagine, you must see that a lot. Have you seen where people refused to move and have to be paid or whatever? What's your experience with that? How do you do it?

I hate to say this but it is LA. When the money is gone, so is the wife usually. Those shopping sprees and everything. It's like onto the next one. The man is usually the last guy standing. I've seen people that have lost everything that has committed suicide. I walked into homes where they've blown their heads off. When you have a lot and then you don't have much or anything anymore, some people do strategic foreclosures to go ahead and do loan workouts with the banks and this and that. They do it on purpose. Other people do lose everything. They're involved in Ponzi schemes or they were White-collared criminals or different things like that. They get pinched. They then have to start over again.

When you hit a certain age, it's hard to start over again. They're embarrassed in front of their family members and friends. They were always the ones picking up the tab, fancy vacations, and yachts and boats, now they're trying to borrow money from their nieces and nephews to go to Taco Bell. It's a very big realization to a lot of people. It's very hard. It's sad. Unless they were a criminal and they deserve it. If their business went south or had all their money in crypto and lost it, there are a lot of things that happened for unforeseen reasons.

What blows me away is I've had this happen a number of times in some pretty famous sales where some were extremely wealthy and legit billionaires. This couple were legit billionaires from overseas. They owned 18 to 19 different homes and they ended up broke. I would think if you got $1 billion, why wouldn't you at least put maybe $75 million or $80 million somewhere that's safe? They think it's going to go on and on forever. To end up broke when you've got that much money, you either have to be incredibly greedy or incredibly stupid.

A lot of times people have that kind of money and they say they have no more money because they don't want to pay people back. They’re hiding it somewhere too. They play possum for a couple of years, and then the next thing you know, they're back at Gucci or Chanel and that Rolls-Royce but this time in West Palm Beach, not in Beverly Hills. It’s a new crowd.

Some do end up broke. There's one guy who wrote me a bad check for $2,500. We've done verification of funds. We sold him the biggest and most expensive house in LA in '92. He ended up broke and divorced. I switched checks with him for $2,500 and he bounced him to me so that he could get a rental with his girlfriend. First of all, people that are sharp can hide money and end up back living the life.

I wish I was on your side of the fence so much more, dealing with those expensive $20 million to $30 million sales all the time. I got to sell 100 of them to get to your one. It's a steady paycheck. I used to always say that I never met a commission check I didn't like but I like yours more.

Have you ever had somebody do kooky things like they had Feng Shui or Ghostbusters come into the house? Have you ever dealt with kooky people?

Yes. I was ready to close an escrow on a house and there was a dead fish in a fish bowl, and the people backed out of the house. You guys have had that stuff before, right? There were superstitious. They thought it was a dead animal. It was like the house had a kibosh on it. The deal had been funded and they canceled. They thought the house was hexed because there was a dead fish. Some people are very superstitious.

RERL 20 | Real Estate Stories

Real Estate Stories: Sometimes, people are vicious and mean, but once in a while, you get a home in good condition, but that's not par for the course.


Is that like a mafia thing? They put a dead fish on your doorstep.

I think it's more of a Chinese thing. Maybe the Chinese mafia. Who knows?

It's so interesting because of all the different types of people we deal with. All the different nationalities we have to adjust and understand their cultures, things that bother them and look for. Do you run into that as well?

I do. What about you, Bob?

All the time. First of all, you used to deal with the high-end on the West Side.

I still do with Valerie, Sally or Jade every now and then. I sell maybe about 5 to 10 expensive homes a year at the most. My price point is up to $2 million. I'm good at that point.

You used to crush it. I know because I used to go against you. My question is this, are you dealing now? You've segued into a lot of the foreclosure-type market. Are you dealing with banks first? You then have to interact with people who maybe are still in the house. How do you manage that paradigm?

Most of the deals that I'm getting now, because of the interest rates that have gone up, are the fixed and flip lenders, the portfolio lenders, the bridge loans, and the hard money loans. They don't have to oblige by the different laws that California forbearance and all those different laws that are out there for Fannie, Freddie, and all the regular Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo types of loans. They march to the beat of their own drum.

Those people that are finding themselves at 12%, 13%, 14% rates, they mail the keys back in and they want out. We're not dealing with more emotions. They don't want to throw good money after bad money. A lot of the properties that we have that are not out yet are homes or new constructions that are not even completed yet. People are walking away. You're going to see more and more of those. I saw that there were like 790 homes being built between the valley and the city in the middle of 2021.

A lot of them are selling obviously, but a lot of the people are finding themselves with the red tape in LA that we have as you know with the Department of Building and Safety and all the different laws and the hoops you have to jump through. People bit off a lot more than they can chew. They are like, "I don't want to deal with it." Although with an adjusting market, have you guys noticed that the market had slowed down in the last 90 days, but the market is hot again? Isn’t that weird?

It's because the stock market is better. That's what I know. They say inflation has backed off, but you can't feel it. That's what we do. We sell during good, bad and ugly, and navigate through all of that. Do you have direct buyers for your properties?

Pretty much like investors, a lot of times people are on the sidelines with the interest rates going up if it's 2% or 12%. If it's an all-cash buyer at 0%, then they don't care what the interest rates are, up or down. In your price points, I'm sure it's pretty much all cash anyways.

Pretty much. I still see loans. Even if it's a 5% loan or a 4.5% percent loan, they'll take the loan and refi when the rates drop.

I'm finding the most qualified buyers now are having problems getting loans for the red tape is unbelievable to some of these people. These underwriters are asking for everything, it looks like to me. Have you seen that or not?

Yes. It's much more difficult.

I got a question for you because since you're dealing with foreclosure stuff, I know even in the regular market, my own agents are dealing with stuff in the price range or higher. A lot of them are $1 million to $2.5 million. There was somebody who had 20 or 30 offers on a property with no contingency, etc. It made it super competitive. Imagine as a listing agent, since you're the listing agent on most of these things, you get agents trying to work with you to try and find out what deal is going to take it. That type of thing. Did you run into that?

It depends on what she looks like. If it's from Valerie's gorgeous team, then they'll always know the answer ahead of time. You get people that always try and go ahead. You got to be super careful because, in my business, these lenders have what's called a secret shopper. You have to treat everybody like completely 100% Phi Beta Kappa because you never know who's on the other line. You have to be respectful of the person. Even if they barely speak English or they're talking very slowly, you have to go through the motions because it could be a secret shopper testing that you're representing their product correctly and fairly.

That's interesting.

Regular sellers could do that too, but banks do that more often than not. Especially if it's a government loan like a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or HUD, they have secret shoppers all the time. You have a report card that you get every month. It's like we're in third grade almost. They give you a report card on your VPO value, broker-price opinion value, time on the market, was the house cleaned and checked. The secret shopper grades you on that too. You think they have better things to do. There's war in Ukraine and people are starving. There are homeless people.

It's how you're representing the property.

They represent whether the oven was a free-range oven or not.

Don't throw good money after bad money.

It might be a mind field between a seller that's being booted out and the lender that's selling the property. Do you have to deal with that at all and strategize? It's like dealing with a divorced couple. I always pride myself that I deal a lot with divorces. Both the husband and the wife, I'll always find a way to get along and make sure they both know I'm there for both of them. Do you have to deal with that at all in the sense of the lender and the disgruntled person that's getting tossed?

First of all, foreclosure is the very last resort for lenders. They'll try a forbearance agreement, loan workout, or payment plan. When someone goes ahead and defaults on every different avenue that they've had, then they don't have a choice and it's the borrower's fault. People always try and do an 11th-hour tap dance like bankruptcy or deed the property to a third-party entity. I have properties where people have lived for free for fifteen years. They know how to play the game.

That big one that sold up on Beverly Drive for $63 million in court, that was the case. They had been living there for 12 to 15 years.

Which one was that?

Valerie's ex-boyfriend.

Thanks. That's crazy because they know all the tricks.

That wasn't the African guy?


We can't mention names, but did you see The Godfather? I'm kidding.

Did you see The Offer? That's a great show. You should see it if you haven't. It's about the making of The Godfather. It's incredible. You got to check it. It's unbelievable.

That house, he lived there for about 25 years for free.

How does someone pull that off?

They know how to get around things.

For that long? Do you know how it was done?

A lot of these people have skeletons in their closets. I've always had the philosophy of, "I will never do anything illegal in my life." In the first place, I don't look at stripes. It's so easy to make money legally that I don't understand why anybody would ever try and do something illegally. It doesn't make sense to me. I never grasped that. My parents always taught me, "There's no such thing as a quick buck." If someone could go ahead and stay in a $100 million house for 25 years for free, more power to them if they can get away with it, but every dog has its day.

That's for sure.

While they're staying there, the payments are accruing. It's not like the payments don't stop. They're accruing and that's less equity for them at the end of the day. They're not going to get all the money that they could have gotten.

In this one particular case, there were over $60 million in loans. There was another one in Belaire not too long ago. It had another over $60 million in loans. The interesting thing is that people think that foreclosures and all these REOs only happen on the lower end. They happen in the higher-end often as well.

They're happening a lot more right now too. There are so many properties in default right now in the areas of Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Belaire, Malibu and Santa Monica. The notice of defaults has gone up to 650% in the last few months. There will be ways for them to go ahead and not lose their home because as you mentioned, you found it surprising that people would be in default with all this equity, which is true. There is plenty of equity. They have plan B and C to get rid of it, but they got to put it up for sale. The big ones, we'll list them together because there's equity. There is a buyer for the property or everything if it's priced correctly in any market. Don't you agree? Even if it's at the end of a runway or a railroad or next to a freeway, there's a buyer for the right price.

Tell me the worst location property you've ever had.

Do you know how some baseball players lead the league in home runs? Some lead the league in RBIs. I lead the league in freeway homes. I have had probably a few hundred homes right on a sound wall because those are the first ones that people lose. A home that I own in Sherman Oaks right behind my office on Sutton is a block and a half from the freeway. I had to rent it out. I can't live there because, in the backyard, you hear the incline of the 405 Freeway. You can't lay out by the pool and talk. It's so loud back there. It's not my home. You sold a home six doors away from me, Valerie. That house has the same noise. It does because it's six doors away from my house. You got $9 million for it or something, right?

RERL 20 | Real Estate Stories

Real Estate Stories: There's no such thing as a quick buck.



In all the homes in this area, even Royal Oaks or whatever, you get a hum or a freeway noise. The San Fernando Valley was here before the 101 Freeway. In the '50s and '60s, they got the 134 and 101 and went right through the valley. All those homes in Toluca Lake, Valley Village, Sherman Oaks, and Studio City that are near the sound wall, first of all, it's unhealthy because of all the fumes. Secondly, it's embarrassing to have a party in your backyard when you can't even hear somebody. The kid's trying to hit a pinata. The next thing he knows is going to hit his friend in the nose because he can't hear what's going on.

Do you know what is the message or the lesson from that story? It's apropos to some of the major properties we've sold on major streets like Sunset or Benedict Canyon or Coldwater Canyon. Every single one of those houses next to the freeway, somebody lives in and it's their home. As you said, it's a function of price. At a certain price, someone is going to buy something. If it's not selling, no matter what you're doing, the price is too high, bottom line.

You can get a deaf person to pay top dollar.

What's interesting is I had a listing that runs along with 405 at Thurston.

It is roaring on that street.

It was funny because a buddy of mine in the business got a listing there. I said, "Good luck, brother," because I had two there. I had my assistant seek out and source people that were deaf to try and buy the property. You might as well think outside the box because they don't care and get a better house for the price. I did source that but I wasn't able to sell it. You may want to pick up the expired ones.

How do you qualify them to be deaf and qualified?

I had her source that. I don't even know how she did it. Maybe deaf organizations and whatnot. Some of them would have enough money to buy one of these properties. I had two of them. One was on Thurston. It didn't work but I figured that's a negative to people that can hear, but to people that can't, they get a much better house and it doesn't affect them.

Valerie, you sold all those streets in the past.

It's true. I know which side now and which side not to show and all that.

What about if you have a house on Sunset and you have to go west and get out of your driveway and you live on the south side of the street? You can't make a left on Sunset.

You can't make a left.

It's the same thing if you live on Coldwater, Laurel or Benedict, you're taking your life in your hands if you want to get out of your driveway.

You can't also park.

How do you have valet parking for your guests when they come in at a party?

You can't have any parking. Nobody can come over. You have to have no friends.

That's true.

That has been a deal killer on some of the properties I've had. I'm sure you guys had the same thing because it's too dangerous to get out of the house.

I'm sure that there must have been some crazy accidents over the years. I know you've sold those big homes on Sunset, but you can only go right and make a U-turn, right?

That's exactly right.

There is a buyer for a property for everything if it's priced correctly in any market.

That would be a deal breaker for a lot of people to live on Sunset, but then again some of the most beautiful properties are on Sunset.

I had this one lady when I had a big house on Sunset. She said, "I want my nanny to be able to walk the baby in the stroller," because it was close to Brentwood. I said, "Let me show you how." We walked out there and we were navigating our way with the stroller on the shoulder that was on the dirt in between the trees up to the light. When there's a will, there's a way. The buyer didn't like that. She wasn't happy with my resolve.

The interesting thing is the deal I talked about in the show with Mike Tyson was a property on Sunset Boulevard. He wanted it because people couldn't park in front of his place. It was big. The reality is Sunset Boulevard has a cache overseas. Everybody has heard of Sunset Boulevard, it's a double-edged sword. It's a busy street and some of the most iconic and epic properties are on Sunset Boulevard.

It's true. It’s the same thing on PCH. When you're in your home and you're looking at the water, you don't feel the PCH. It's a little bit different over there. I know busy streets and people buy them, but I've had some of the worst locations. There's no realtor that has had worse location properties than me, end of runways in Westchester and LAX, across the street from a railroad station, in front of a homeless encampment.

Everything sells, right?

At the right price, everything sells.

Have you ever been scared walking into any one of these places?

Yes. I'm not scared of homeless people and gang members. I'm scared of snakes. It's the weirdest thing. I've walked into a vacant home. Luckily, Larry Green was with me, the termite guy and our contractors. This was in the early 2000s and the house was vacant. In those days, you just have to get your contractor bids, do your photos and everything, and send the package all at once in a piece of mail. I opened up a closet and there was a fucking rattlesnake in there. I fucking shit because that's the one thing I'm scared of.

This thing was sitting there and that rattle thing was going. It's like a little kid playing with a rattler. I heard this thing and everybody was like, "Don't move." I was the closest one to the door because I'm the one that opened it. These things could jump at you. Have I ever been scared that time? I probably lost 20 pounds on that appointment because I shit my pants. It was weird.

How did you get rid of the snake?

Did you slam the door?

No, I didn't. I got the hell out of there. I didn't care what happened. Larry went ahead and called a snake removal company. These guys come in and they are so professional. It's insane. They go up to a rattlesnake with their little wand thing. They put the little wand on the neck and hold the stake down and they pick up the snake. They're walking with it and putting it in the cage. They're not even scared. These guys are so pro at it that they know how to do it. We don't but they do.

You would've died had you walked into this listing appointment that I went to in Beverly Hills. It was no furniture, floor to ceiling, and every room was lined with three rows of snakes. There were over 300 snakes in the house in cages.

Cages are different. This was not in a cage. It was in a closet like on the ground. Cages, I can deal with but if it's right in front of you, no. Rattlesnakes can kill a person. It's poison.

They just killed the number one rattlesnake person, I just read. The guy was 80 years old. He was the famous rattlesnake guy who finally died from a rattlesnake bite. I'm with you, Phil. As long as it's in a cage, who cares?

It's still alarming to see.

It was a house that had 300 snakes in it.

Yes, three rows. They're stacked on top of each other, wall to wall, floor to ceiling, dining room, living room, family room, no furniture, wall to wall, snakes. I was walking out of that little white truck and a guy was coming out with a big box. I go, "What's in the box." It was these little just born mice to feed them. They were all wiggling around in this little box.

How did you end up selling the house?

I said I can't. Can I show the house in Beverly Hills flats to the buyers with all these snakes? You have to remove them. It was a well-known singer. He said to me, "This is my family." I go, "You're going to have to relocate your family in order to sell this house." It was on Walden. You never know what happens behind closed doors.

Was it Alice Cooper?

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Real Estate Stories: Some of the most beautiful properties are in the Sunset.



He used to have a snake around.

I can't tell you who it is because that person is still alive and well-known. Phil, thanks so much for joining us. If people want to reach out to you maybe for foreclosures and sales, what's the best way to reach you?

Always call cell, (310) 968-3844. I’m happy to chat any time. You can always find me at any post office. My picture should be on the wall. You can always find me there as well. I'm pretty easy to be reached. Thank you, guys, so much for your time.

We love having you. Thanks for joining us.


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About Philip Boroda

RERL 20 | Real Estate Stories With more than 30 years as a real estate professional and signature award-winning service, Philip Boroda is a respected name in Southern California. Before joining Coldwell Banker, he opened his own real estate firm with over 240 agents who specialized in residential, commercial and income properties. Becoming one of the highest-producing offices at that time. Over the years his close networking relationships with builders, contractors and developers is why these groups continue to reach out to him for his expert opinion and trust his judgement on ideas that they continue to implement in the luxury homes they build. As an expert in luxury properties in the city’s most prestigious neighborhoods he serves as a Global Luxury specialist.

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