Craig Strong knows a thing or two about location. The Toluca Lake–based real estate agent has been providing his expertise in finding the perfect homes for people throughout the Greater Los Angeles area for nearly two decades. And with each closing, he has taken great care to make sure his clients not only love their new property, but also feel at home in their new community.
So it’s no surprise that when it came to finding his own dream home 17 years ago, Strong knew exactly what to look for. He had lived just about everywhere in Los Angeles, but nothing compared to the small-town feeling he experienced while exploring the historic, tranquil neighborhood and bustling businesses along Riverside Drive.
“When I got to Toluca Lake, I knew, ‘This is the place I’m going to stay and this is where I’m going to get involved in the community,’” he says. “More than for love of the community, I wanted it for my family.”
The New York native had moved to Los Angeles in 1997 to start his career in residential real estate, first as a property investor and then as a real estate agent. His career soon took off, and he found himself working with high-profile clients throughout Los Angeles. These connections helped him build the successful foundation for his real estate business, which he decided to center in Toluca Lake. Located a stone’s throw from his home, the office occupies the corner of Riverside Drive and Forman Avenue, and is the base for Craig Strong Luxury Homes, where he currently works with three employees and manages nine agents.
Strong remembers that as soon as he and his wife, voice actor Tara Strong, settled in Toluca Lake, he immediately hit the ground running, marketing himself as a realtor and becoming as civically engaged as possible. He took up positions in the Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council, the Toluca Lake Homeowners Association, the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Toluca Lake Neighborhood Watch. His involvement “wasn’t part of real estate,” he says, but his way of contributing to the community and helping to make it “a better place for all of us to live and an amazing area for my two sons to grow up in.”
However, it’s this community connection and firsthand knowledge gained from living and working in Toluca Lake that has made Strong such an authoritative voice in real estate. “That’s the one thing I truly offer people who are coming in or going: a knowledge of the community, a knowledge of the area and a trust that when you raise your family here, people know they are talking to the right person,” he says.
While he considers all Toluca Lake properties to be incredibly special, among his favorite local homes he’s sold are the Bob and Dolores Hope Estate, the Bing Crosby carriage house on Camarillo Street and a few houses designed by architect Paul Williams, including a property on the lake that was owned by Bob Wian, the original owner of Bob’s Big Boy, and the home on Sancola Avenue once owned by William Holden and Denzel Washington, where Ron and Nancy Reagan held their wedding reception.
Strong also spends time taking in the charms of the neighborhood. “I live in Toluca Lake, I work in Toluca Lake and I love going to a lot of businesses in Toluca Lake,” he says. “My wife works locally, my kids’ school is very local, everything is so close, which is amazing.”
He and his family love frequenting Lakeside Golf Club, especially during its annual Independence Day fireworks show, and dining at Sushi Yuzu, Prosecco, Forman’s, Malbec, Le Pain Quotidien and Sweetsalt; he also “grabs Coffee Bean on a daily basis.” He adds, “My wife has no shortage of a wish list for jewelry at Generales & Generales and cool items from Pergolina.” Lastly, he enjoys being active in many community events, including the annual Holiday Open House and the Earth Day Celebration and Taste of Toluca.
This love of community is why, to Strong, real estate is “never about just closing.” He says, “Especially the homes in Toluca Lake, I just truly care about the sellers, I care about the buyers, I care about the integrity of the home.”