Pictured are Brant Didden (left to right), Danielle Dutcher, Eytan Levin and Bobby Lehmkuhl, who will merge their real estate groups on Nov. 1 to create the new 4 Malibu Real Estate Partners. Photo: Ashleigh Fryer
On Nov. 1, two of Malibu’s largest independently owned realty groups, the Levin Group and 4 Malibu Real Estate Partners, will join forces under the collective name 4 Malibu Real Estate Partners. The merger was spearheaded by Eytan Levin, Bobby Lehmkuhl, Brant Didden and Danielle Dutcher, who aim to blend the specialities of both offices in creating a company that they think will best serve the real estate needs of the Malibu community.
“All of us are entrepreneurial and we’re all very creative,” Didden said. “It was sort of a natural progression that we all ended up at the same place, almost a cross-roads that was meant to be.
“We’ve all done the same thing; started out working for other companies but then realized that we wanted to run our own businesses. We don’t necessarily follow that corporate mentality.”
Didden, Lehmkuhl and Levin began their real estate careers at the same company, where they fostered a relationship of mutual respect. That respect has remained a constant, following each of them through their various business ventures and eventually drawing them together to create the upcoming merger.
“Eytan is no joke; whatever he puts his mind to, he’s going to do it,” Lehmkuhl said. “We watched him come into the business and grow his brand and make his ventures successful.
“When he approached us, in my mind, it was a no-brainer that we would come together. We didn’t even know what they were bringing to the table as far as inventory or agents. But we felt so strongly about it that it didn’t matter.”
In a town full of real estate agencies, Didden, Lehmkuhl, Dutcher and Levin believe it is the combination of both sets of brokers from both offices that will make their company great. The group plans to train their office in such a way that every person’s strengths will become an asset to the team, driving the success of the whole instead of create an environment of resentment. The company hosts weekly networking events where they invite agents from other companies and create a professional atmosphere where they can all work together and share knowledge about the properties around town.
“We want to foster this community type of business situation, where other brokers or agents who may choose to come and work here are going to find a place that’s based around helping everyone in the company,” Didden said.
The new company is also cognizant of the strength there is in remaining local and truly emphasizing their Malibu clientele. The new 4 Malibu Real Estate Partners will put the community first, according to the brokers.
“We are about Malibu because we’re all locals,” Lehmkuhl said. “We love this community and we’re trying to sell our own inventory. We’re passionate about what we do and we take it personal when it doesn’t work out.
“If someone puts their home with us, we’re legitimately trying to make that happen for them and trying to satisfy their needs and wants. Because if we don’t, they’re going to go next door. It’ll happen that quick.”
And, although they plan to focus their commitment on local real estate, the group has not forgotten the need to be indispensable to their clients in every way. The new 4 Malibu Real Estate Partners, with the international experience of Levin, will be well equipped to handle anything thrown their way, according to the brokers.
“Being that I am from another country and have properties in several other countries, there is definitely a global mindset with the company,” Levin said. “We are not blind to the importance of the global market.”
In addition, Didden and Lehmkuhl are experienced in short sales and cash deals, Dutcher is a licensed notary public and Levin has personally participated in numerous luxury remodels of client’s home. Their diversity, according to the brokers, allows them to handle more than high-end deals in a town full of multi-million dollar properties and more than enough agents to list them.
“If we see distressed properties, we’ll try to get them and build that property up so we can keep the value of the neighborhood up,” Lehmkuhl said. “I firmly believe that there are canyons in Malibu where we’ve helped preserve the value for the neighbors because it’s disheartening to them when this guy paid $2.5 million and the guy next door is for sale for $995,000.”
The two groups realize that blending their companies will be an undertaking, but with the respect and mutual admiration fostered by years of competing in the same environment, the Levin Group and 4 Malibu Real Estate hope the merger will be a success.
“The big thing is we trust each other when we do business,” Lehmkuhl said. “We wouldn’t have entertained this idea with many other people. We say this all the time — the power of trust. But it goes with business partners and clients. If they don’t trust you, they’re not going to let you handle the largest investment of their lives. It’s a fact.”
– Article written October 29, 2013 by Ashleigh Fryer in the Malibu Surfside News.