Short Summary: awesome realtor, nice guy, and super helpful guide to all things Malibu. I bought a $3+ million house through him, and so should you.
Longer Story: Sick of the city life and stupid LA traffic, I decided to move to Malibu from Beverly Hills. After getting many confusing realtor recommendations from friends, I cross-referenced five-star Yelp realtors and five-star Zillow realtors and found that only one qualified: Michael Gardner. (n.b. Zillow does a really poor job polluting the Malibu real estate network with San Fernando Valley-based dabblers). I went to Michael’s website, read his blog, watched his eight videos and decided he was my guy. One intro email and one quick phone conversation later I had 30 Malibu properties on a personalized website for me to post comments and ask follow-up questions. A week later he showed me my top three houses. 45 days later I am a happy homeowner and wake up to a sick ocean view every morning.
As a first-time home buyer (in confusing Malibu nonetheless) I had NO clue how to proceed. He walked me through the entire process and it was fairly easy. He referred me to great home inspectors, pool guys, landscaping guys, electricians, insurance agents, plumbers, geologists, and lawyers. (I ended up not hiring a lawyer because I think they all should eat arsenic—but more on that later). Because I work in the afternoons, he ended up babysitting most of these appointments on by behalf. He handled the insanely-complicated septic permitting process by himself. Michael is incredibly responsive: 80% of my almost-daily phone calls were picked up; 95% of my texts got returned within an hour. Emails were returned promptly. No dealing with an assistant. His attention to detail is impeccable and commitment to his client’s needs is admirable. He isn’t simply after his agent fee. For example AFTER I had closed escrow he was reviewing my closing documents and found that the sellers had overcharged me on the escrow fee (something that a lawyer would have discovered if I took his advice and hired one). Even though the deal was already technically done, he got me a $5,000 refund by arguing with the seller agents (from San Ferdando Valley nonetheless) over excessive escrow fees. He’s also a very nice guy. And just last weekend, after I had moved in, he came over and spent two hours fixing stuff that had broken during the month between my home inspection and final close (he fixed the sprinkler system that an animal had chewed up by splicing together wires and unclogged the pool drains by hand). Despite what your impressions from watching his videos, he has some blue-collar MacGyver in him. I’m glad to say that he’s the first friend I’ve made in Malibu.