Entrepreneur: WHAT ENTREPRENEURS CAN LEARN FROM THE COUPLE WHO USES STORYTELLING SKILLS TO SELL DREAM HOMES

By: LINDSAY FRIEDMAN

When creative couple Janus Cercone, a former screenwriter, and Michael Manheim, an ex-producer, decided they had enough of the Hollywood-film world, they turned their attention to an unlikely market: real estate.

Opening California real-estate development company Jaman Properties in 2003, the pair  buys forgotten homes -- usually in Malibu, Bel Air, Brentwood and Pacific Palisade -- and gives them a new life using the biography of a fictional character to lead the way. So, rather than creating for someone else or a big wig, it’s left purely to their own imaginations.

“These homes are our vision and so far we’ve been very lucky,” Cercone says.

For instance, an old beaten down house at the end of a dirt road may present itself to the possibility of becoming an escape for a successful woman in the media industry. The large dumpy house becomes a small cottage with blue walls, white furniture and large windows looking over the beach, as the “character” is looking for a place to escape, relax and enjoy nature. With more land than house, the property offers her a chance to wander in silence, contemplating her successes and planning her next project. The home ended up selling to Barbara Walters.

This sort of approach -- focusing more on the type of person and life a specific home is meant for -- has buyers flocking to them, typically matching their fictional profile with an iry amount of accuracy.

With a reputation for creating exclusive boutique homes from the studs to the furniture, high-end luxury real-estate agents and their high-profile clients are already on the look out for their next project.

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