The real estate industry in Palm Springs is broken. At least that’s the fervent belief of Harout Keuroghlian, CEO, founder, and principal broker of JohnHart Real Estate whose Palm Springs branch on Palm Canyon Drive has set its Grand Opening for October 13. The company’s agents have been helping clients buy and sell homes all across the Coachella Valley for years, but the opening of a dedicated Palm Springs office shows a more concerted focus on the area’s housing market. It may seem like a strange decision in a city without much hope for future residential development. But Keuroghlian points to homes stagnating on the Palm Springs market for 90 days as proof that the people aren’t getting the service they deserve.
The Unique Challenges of Real Estate in a Getaway Town
“Properties are in demand in Palm Springs,” Keuroghlian declares with a terseness that betrays a resounding confidence in spite of the town’s languishing listings. “Yes, properties are sitting on the market for 60 days… 90 days even. But there’s no reason for it.” So, if inventory isn’t quite as high as claimed and the demand is there, what’s the problem?
“A lot of agents move to Palm Springs to semi-retire,” Keuroghlian explains. “They do between two and three transactions a year and they’re satisfied. This puts their clients at a disadvantage, because they’re not working with experienced agents who can walk them from A to Z in a transaction.” Keuroghlian sees Palm Springs as a land of opportunity… and he thinks others are beginning to realize it too.
Bringing Los Angeles to Palm Springs
In 2022, the town voted to institute a 20% cap on short-term rentals. Suddenly, investors, many of whom lived outside the city or even the state, found themselves holding properties that they felt were more effort than they were worth. As they began dumping these quality properties onto the market, housing inventory rose and value dropped. Keuroghlian believes the inventory is being exaggerated and that the drop in value is temporary.
“People in Los Angeles are looking for getaway properties,” he continues. “And what better place for Angelenos to get away than Palm Springs? Suddenly, a brokerage like JohnHart comes to town with hundreds and thousands of clients in our database looking for affordable investment properties and starter homes. With the right agents listing these Palm Springs homes, they’d sell at an accelerated rate.”
But the right agent isn’t that easy to come by, especially in a place where people go to retire. It’s this challenge that serves as the nucleus for JohnHart’s Palm Springs office. “Initially, we began considering a Palms Springs location when one of our very talented Marketing Managers moved there,” explains Keuroghlian. “He opened my eyes to the fact that a lot of our LA agents were getting frustrated with their Palm Springs listings after having to drive back and forth several times.”
It’s More Than a Matter of Time
Time mismanagement is a cardinal sin at JohnHart, where the company’s unique structure provides a support team of experts to serve their roster of agents in an effort to allow them more time. Time for what? Time to connect with clients, to network, to do all of the things real estate agents do best. And, of course, to do more transactions a year. When Keuroghlian realized how much time his agents were losing on Palm Springs listings, he began to recognize an even bigger problem.
“We adhere to a certain philosophy at JohnHart,” he explains. “Our agents don’t want to refer our clients to just anyone. They need to know they’re handing a client over to someone they implicitly trust. Someone who understands JohnHart’s systems, protocols, and ethics. Without a Palm Springs branch populated by JohnHart agents, our LA agents just weren’t confident passing on these referrals.” While the brick-and-mortar office may be established, the search for the right Palm Springs-area agents continues. Keuroghlian mentions signing one earlier in the week, but his regional managers are still looking for 12 to 15 quality agents to call their Palm Springs office home.
Refusing to Settle for Average
Specifically, Keuroghlian is scouring the Coachella Valley for agents who recognize the importance of educating their clients on investment. A lot of that begins back at JohnHart’s myriad locations in the Greater Los Angeles area. He points out that Angelenos looking for investment properties for themselves or a starter home for the kids may be better off searching the Palm Springs listings. “When the choice is between a beautiful two-bedroom starter home in Palm Springs or a one-bedroom condo in the worst part of LA, maybe Palm Springs is the way to go,” he laughs.
But education on investment opportunities isn’t the only benefit JohnHart is planning to bring to the people of Palm Springs. With their support team augmenting agents, including any new recruits, they’re providing a consistency of quality and a wealth of information Keuroghlian believes transcends the standard agent-client experience. JohnHart’s interconnected network, simplified by the company’s proprietary CRM software, also allows those trying to get in or out of the Coachella Valley exposure they wouldn’t normally have when working with many other area brokerages. “Palm Springs property owners don’t need to settle for average,” he vows. “We’ll provide them an agent who’s much more disciplined and motivated than what they’re accustomed to. A professional who understands systems, how to properly market a property to today’s standards, how to represent a seller, and how to reach beyond the Coachella Valley.”
Becoming Palm Springs
While the grandiose awning at 310 N Palm Canyon Drive is already acting as a billboard for JohnHart Real Estate, the company isn’t planning on hosting its grand opening celebration until October 13. The location wasn’t simply chosen out of opportunity. Rather, it comes from Keuroghlian’s personal history with the Palm Springs community and his vision of the town’s essence. “I’ve been visiting Palm Springs with my family all my life,” he reminisces. “These days, I try to make it out at least twice a year since I’ve got property here. I always make it a point to eat at Le Vallauris when we visit. Palm Springs is also home to one of my favorite hotels: the Parker Palm Springs.”
JohnHart Palm Springs is sandwiched between the new Kimpton Rowan Hotel and the Thompson Hotel, slated to open its first phase in November. While Palm Canyon Drive is recognized as the beating heart of the town, this particularly stretch has been quiet for some time. It seems that’s about to change, and Keuroghlian couldn’t be happier. “I want walk-ins,” he proclaims. “Our office looks more like a cozy living room than anything. I want people to come in and have a seat while I offer them a glass of champagne. I want to be Palm Springs.” For Keuroghlian, an integral part of being Palm Springs means an office on Palm Canyon Drive; not just near it. “Opening up an office like this on a side street wouldn’t have the same feel,” he admits.
Integrating Into the Palm Springs Community
October 13 will also present an opportunity for JohnHart’s agents to build the trust crucial to passing the baton off to their new Palm Springs recruits. Amidst flowing champagne and hors d’oeuvres and backdropped by a ribbon cutting ceremony, a cadre of JohnHart’s LA agents will be present at the grand opening festivities to meet their Palm Springs comrades. Keuroghlian is hoping it will be fertile ground for relationships so his LA professionals will feel confident in handing off long-time clients to Palm Springs-area agents.
Eventually, Keuroghlian even plans to open his offices to small Palm Springs businesses. Need a meeting space but don’t have a conference room? Working from home? He sees the easy accessibility and comfortable design of the chic space as the perfect platform for business meetings, not to mention a way for him to contribute to the friendly Palm Springs community he loves.
But first, Keuroghlian has a promise to the people of Palm Springs he needs to keep: to bring a higher quality of agents to serve them. “We’re just starting,” he states, unable to hide his determination. “Soon, Palm Springs will realize we’re a different kind of brokerage; one that never stops pushing until we’ve helped every client achieve their goals.”