by Mollee D. Harper, Senior Editor
Georgia Entertainment News sat down with Debra Johnston who serves as Realtor and Advisor for the Luxury Collection for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Metro Atlanta. During our one-on-one, Johnston shares insights from living and working in Atlanta’s high-end residential real estate market for the past 23 years, along with details about her exclusive focus in the film and entertainment industry.
Johnston’s now serves as a broker for entertainers who travel between Atlanta, Los Angeles and Miami and are in need of luxury rentals and home purchases, and even shoots. To that point, Johnston also gives us a special look at how her mid-century modern Ridgewood House has been used in numerous Georgia film and TV series productions, as well as served as home to some of Hollywood’s favorites while on set.
Debra Johnston serves as a top Luxury Collection Specialist representing both buyers and sellers for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in the Buckhead office, since November 2014. She has a long and distinguished career in the luxury real estate market in Atlanta, and was named #1 Individual Agent in Buckhead for 2014, 2015 and 2016. Before joining Berkshire Hathaway, Johnston served as a Realtor for Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty and Beacham & Company REALTORS. Johnston received her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Michigan Technological University, and holds her Atlanta Board of Realtors certification.
Johnston shared, “Growing up, we lived in a suburb of Detroit, near Cranbrook Art Museum, that was a real hotbed of great architecture and design and then later in Gaylord, Northern Michigan. When I graduated from college, I took a corporate job with KPMG in New York City in management consulting. I moved around a bit and ultimately accepted a position at The Coca-Cola Company, which brought me to Atlanta.”
“When I moved to Atlanta I found an original mid-century modern home designed by architect Jerry Cooper, FAIA, LEED AP and Founder and Chairman of Cooper Carry in Atlanta. I spent two years renovating it and then entered it in a home design contest. In 2000, it won ‘Metropolitan Magazine’s Home of the Year’. During that time, I was exposed to so many creative people coming in to write about and photograph my home. That experience was really a turning point for me. Since then, I have been involved supporting many productions from movies to scouting locations to finding the perfect homes for actors to stay during filming. My experience offering premium customer service in the luxury real estate market dovetails beautifully with the specific needs of the most exclusive and discerning clientele in the film industry.”
“Once in real estate, I very quickly got into the luxury market. Knowing how to project properties in videos and photography has really helped me differentiate myself. My niches are the luxury market (million dollar homes and up), as well as mid-century modern and modern architecture.”
“Real estate is a real passion for me. It gave me the forum to incorporate architecture, design and the creative world together with my business background. I decided to get my real estate license, and 14 years later, I am still loving it.”
Berkshire Hathaway Luxury Collection in Buckhead
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties is one of the largest and most reputable real estate organizations in the country with over 50 years of service. They have 23 locations and over 1,500 REALTORS® serving the Metro Atlanta real estate market with a full suite of real estate services.
Johnston continued, “When I joined Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices I had been with a few different brokerages. I really wanted to do something fresh and was really happy to join the talented team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in their Buckhead office.”
“Our Buckhead office has done phenomenally well year to date. I believe that is a result of our talent mix and the fact our agents really understand this market and can really be of assistance to folks coming in from out of town. I am just one of many talented agents in our office.”
“The super luxury market is over 5 million dollars; the luxury market is 1 to 5 million. I spend most of my time in the luxury market, although the first quarter of this year, I had two successful real estate transactions in the super luxury market and over 22 million in sales this year,” she said.
Johnston’s listings span all price points in Atlanta’s most prestigious neighborhoods, including: Buckhead, Tuxedo Park, Peachtree West, Chastain, Roswell, Johns Creek, East Cobb, Sandy Springs and Vinings.
The Ridgewood House
Johnston shared, “My connection with the film industry really started with my other business which is my home, also known as The Ridgewood House. I started using it for location shoots and as a rental years ago, when the film industry first came to Atlanta.”
“The Ridgewood House was Gabrielle Union’s home in the hit series BET’s Being Mary Jane. It was also featured on the USA Network’s show called Satisfaction. And, it was used in an Usher and Rick Ross video, to name a few. It was also used in an upcoming Mandy Moore production called the Darkest Minds.
Johnston added, “I also rented it to Ryan Gosling and Liam Hemsworth while they were working on productions here locally. It’s very private and has a look and feel of Palm Springs with an acre lot and a pool. It’s a mid-century modern style that better fits with today’s lifestyle for so many.”
Serving Georgia’s Entertainment Industry
Johnston described, “I market specifically with brokers in LA to better accommodate entertainment professionals that come here and have high end real estate needs. I have done some location scouting in the past, but my primary focus is in helping entertainers with rentals or home purchases that are working in Atlanta for long periods of time.”
“So many folks that come in from LA are so surprised at our luxury market here. Atlanta is such a beautiful community of trees, great restaurants and nightlife, and conveniences to take you anywhere in the world, from the Hartsfield Airport. I am starting to see more actual home purchases here for actors and entertainers that are consistently flying back and forth to work here, which is a good thing.”
Johnston concluded, “The market is very strong this year. There are a lot of people buying again. For people moving here from out of town, I would encourage them to call me. I’ve lived and worked in Buckhead for 23-years. This is a full-time career for me and I take it very seriously. I really have my own brand. I look at each client and their situation; I want to make sure they are making a choice that is right for them.”
To view Debra Johnston’s Atlanta promotional video, visit: https://www.facebook.com/DebraJohnstonRealtor/videos/1230532450317949/
For more information on the Ridgewood House for film or rentals, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyJ1ZqeVteA&feature=youtu.be
For more information on Berkshire Hathaway, visit their website at: http://www.bhhsgeorgia.com/.