House Hunting By Plane Taking Off In Bay Area Luxury Real Estate Market

ATHERTON (KPIX 5) — The high-priced, luxury Bay Area real estate market is soaring for some Bay Area realtors… literally.

They give many of their foreign buyers an aerial view of their most exclusive properties, from 2,500 feet above the ground in a Cirrus SR20 plane.

Michael Repka, CEO and General Counsel of DeLeon Realty, says the view from above is a valuable tool, especially for buyers who live abroad.

“They don’t know if they want to be in L.A. or the San Francisco Bay Area, or elsewhere — we really are selling the area, not just the home,” he says.

DeLeon Realty bought a brand new, half-million dollar plane to cater to big spenders mostly from China, India and Dubai. It’s the first Bay Area real estate company to do so.

House hunting by plane has taken off particularly in Asia in the last few years. Here in the Bay Area, business has been so big, CEO Michael Repka uses the plane almost weekly.

He’s even getting his pilot’s license.

“It will make it even more intimate experience for our clients because I’ll be able to do the narration with them while I’m flying the plane at the same time,” he says.

On KPIX 5’s tour over the posh mansions on the Peninsula, we spotted endless tennis courts, glitzy pools and vineyards.

One of the highlights was seeing Bay Area landmarks. Flying toward the San Francisco skyline gives a picture perfect view of Bay Bridge.

San Francisco luxury realtor and Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing star Justin Fichelson recently added helicopter tours to his complimentary services.

“Especially with luxury real estate there is no end to what you can do,” says Fichelson. “You constantly want to be innovative and creative in new services, especially because it’s a competitive industry.”

For example, a 23,000-square foot Atherton Avenue home sits on 2.5 acres is for sale for $39 million. Prospective buyers Ed Baalbaki and Susan Dahi from Hillsborough are looking for a grand estate with privacy. They’re taking the full tour so they can see it from all vantage points.

“By being in the air you get to see pretty much everything around you which normally you don’t get to see it when you just walk into a house like this and you don’t know. So I think it was a big, big help to do that,” says Baalbaki.

“We want to make sure that the location of the house, that it’s in a good location, considering how close we are to El Camino or the freeway and also how the neighboring houses, if they are well taken care of” adds Dahi.

The home boasts a theater room, a high-end wine cellar, pools, a guest house, state-of-the-art kitchens, and a walk-in closet that’s bigger than some studio apartments.

So how does it look from the air?

“You suddenly see a whole other world,” says Fichelson. “Everyone has these big lots and backyards that you just can’t see from the street. Frankly, on Atherton Avenue a lot of the houses you can’t even see from the street so seeing it from the air it really puts it into perspective.”

It also saves time, when it comes to narrowing down where clients will drop their cash.

Baalbaki agrees.

“I think that’s probably the best way to put it. You want to see 10 homes and sometimes you just waste your time driving all the way there and you really didn’t like the area. Versus in a helicopter you can see it in a few minutes.”


One Comment

  1. C Wright says:

    You’ll need more than a private pilot’s license to fly clients as part of a business. I hope he realizes that.

  2. Narvel Fartman says:

    Piloting a small aircraft in this area while conducting an aerial home tour? As a pilot (~400 hours PIC) of a single engine airplane IMHO this is a profoundly bad and dangerous idea especially for an inexperienced pilot. How do you deal with the potential liability if, heaven forbid, there is an accident? This might sound like a leading edge, “gee whiz” idea but in practice it is fraught with peril. A helicopter tour with a professional pilot at the controls, OK.

  3. Robert Borlick says:

    I hope the guy isn’t flying his clients today as the PIC! LOL.

  4. Toodie Marshall says:

    Sorry, this is not new, Realtors who own planes and pilot licenses have been taking pictures and flying clients too. Lots of luck keeping eye out for traffic and talking to clients. Bay Area is noted for high volume. Best to take an assistant along, and practice this type of flying before taking any clients. Just how does the insurance work for you?
    Retired Realtor, Truckee CA

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