Rancho Santa Fe couple experiencing life in the spotlight
By Kathy Day
Stewart and Brenda Weissman have become quite well known around Rancho Santa Fe — and beyond.
The couple, who own a financial services firm — Wealth Preservation LLC — knew that when they agreed to have a home they built in the Covenant featured on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing” show, they’d get some attention. What they were hoping was that it would help sell the 9,300-square-foot Tuscan-style home.
What they’re getting is recognition wherever they go. From the bank in the Ranch, where a teller asked Brenda, “Were you on ‘Million Dollar Listing’? It is my favorite show” to the Internet where a woman Stewart hasn’t seen for 17 years found him, the attention almost seems endless.
There was even a young man entering the same business that contacted Stewart and said, “I want to be like you” and asked if he would mentor him. They have talked several times, with Stewart offering some advice and encouragement.
He got his own introduction to the business as a young man when he bumped into a friend in a bank.
“He was working for Prudential and I was selling carpeting and watching my paychecks bounce,” Stewart said.
So when his friend invited him upstairs to his office and “assured me my checks would never bounce,” his career path changed.
The Weismanns had lived in Hidden Hills near Calabasas and were hit hard by the Northridge earthquake in 1994.
They moved to Rancho Santa Fe in 1998 while waiting for their daughter to graduate from high school and the real estate market to come back after the quake, Stewart said.
Before relocating, Stewart worked in Beverly Hills for more than 20 years doing estate and financial planning for high net worth individuals, including an array of professional athletes, actors and entertainers and other successful individuals. From life insurance to trusts, the company does it all for their clients, “preserving wealth for generations.”
Fifteen years down the road, their clients are in the same realm, but now the family-owned business is located in downtown Encinitas in what was once an abandoned Bank of America building — the bank’s first in San Diego — at the corner of Second and E streets.
They bought the building 10 years ago, completely renovated it and then added another building on what was an adjacent parking lot.
For them, the key to their business and their world is family, Stewart said.
Their son Joe, 26, daughter Stacy Harris, 32, and her husband Dave all work for the family business – and they bring all four of their dogs to work every day. Every Sunday night they get together for dinner and they’re always together at the holidays.
“You can’t replace family. It’s our job to keep them together. … Life is so short,” Stewart said.
Working in an industry where you are dealing with family issues, he stressed the importance of planning.
“Our children never have the same opportunities as us,” he said.
But some people, even though they are conscious of planning are unable to do it – especially when it comes to retirement planning.
“Nobody plans to fail,” he added. “They fail to plan.”
As for their plans, when they decided to move to San Diego they fell in love with Rancho Santa Fe and its people.
“It’s really a different type of lifestyle,” Stewart said, noting that their first home was in Rancho La Cima.
Then they built two homes, the one on El Camino Real in the Covenant featured on the Bravo show that was built as a spec house before the market changed, and another in the Bridges where they live.
“It was like having fraternal twins that arrived six months apart,” said Brenda with a bright smile.
She’s the one responsible for getting the attention of the Bravo producers, her husband said.
The Covenant home was listed by Linda Sansone of Willis Allen and co-listed with Josh Flagg, one of the stars of Million Dollar Listing. Sansone also has a listing on their home in The Bridges.
(Coincidentally, as noted on the show, Stewart had helped the parents of Josh Altman, the other star of the show, with financial planning years ago.)
The home is a touch smaller than the one in the Bridges, but they mirror each other in their Tuscan influences, which according to Sansone’s website “marry casually elegant old world style, with the most modern and decadent amenities.”
Located on 2.87 acres, it has lush landscaping, outdoor living space and pool and grottos that many of the Weissmans’ friends have told them is the best they’ve ever seen.
The primary structural differences are that the Covenant home has the media room, bar and garage on a lower level and is smaller; the Bridges property is single level with oversized rooms and has nearly 1,000 more square feet.
The homes are built on a grand scale. Their home in The Bridges invites visitors in through the courtyard – complete with Stewart’s beloved koi, a couple of turtles, and even a nursery for breeding the fish – to the dramatic entryway, soaring ceilings and large oversized features and furnishings.
Both homes were built by Jim Sylvester of Sylvester Homes with “indulgent” baths, a chef’s kitchen, a game room. (Hanging well above the billiards table in both homes is a fully operational model railroad with tracks running in two directions.)
Attention to lifestyle details included a master suite that looks onto the backyard, which in the case of the Bridges home is adjacent to the golf course.
When the homes were completed the Covenant home sold right away, although they carried a loan on it for the buyer, Stewart said. “Two years down the road, we got the house back when the market changed.”
The Covenant house has a lease option for 18 months, with an option to buy as was noted on the season finale of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles – Episode 10.
It took nearly a year to get the details on being on the show together and almost four weeks to film. During filming, “whatever you said they could use,” Stewart said, noting there were a few things he wished he hadn’t said, but those comments weren’t used anyway.
Flagg and Altman and the production crew were all very professional, he added.
Part of the filming was done in the Weissmans’ Encinitas offices, much at the Covenant home and some at The Bridges.
It was in their own master bedroom that they filmed the segment where they got the news about a “terrible” offer. Listed in 2008 at about $9 million, the El Camino Real property sold that first time for about $8 million. Since then it was relisted at $6.9 million to $6.5 million.
At that time the “bottom-feeders” came out with offers around and under $4 million, Stewart said. “Ridiculous and a good reason to get the exposure it required on a show such as ‘Million Dollar Listing’ which is seen all over the world.”
That was more than a year ago when the show was filmed and the real estate market has really come back since then and market activity is getting better in general, he added.
While they wait for that right offer, they’ll continue enjoying their newfound celebrity status.
Learn about the Weissmans’ business at
See more photos and details on their Bravo ‘Million Dollar Listing’ at
and click on ‘Elegant and Private.’
Episode 9: Big Listings, Big Losses
Episode 10: Closing Deals and Opening Doors
Currently in reruns. Check your local listings for Bravo.