Craig Strong of the Craig Strong Group is Toluca Lake’s foremost authority on the coveted properties lining the neighborhood’s secluded and serene namesake lake. “I can definitely say no one has sold more homes on the lake than myself,” Strong says. “There’s only a handful of homes out of the 33 on the lake that I haven’t seen yet.”
What draws people to the stately estates are not only the exclusive views of the lake — accessible only to those who live on it or are members of Lakeside Golf Club — but also the tight-knit community surrounding it. “You’re part of something special there; it’s a unique experience,” Strong notes. He also says the lake’s history as a hideaway for golden-age celebrities adds to its enduring charm. “Not one person I know who ended up buying on the lake has expressed to me that they have made a mistake. Once they buy on the lake, they’re on the lake for a long time. You don’t get a lot of turnover.”
Because of this, it’s a rare opportunity when a lakefront home becomes available. Currently, Strong is listing 10030 Toluca Lake Ave., a historic property designed by “architect to the stars” Paul Williams, and 10024 Toluca Lake Ave., one of the first homes built on the lake in the 1920s, whose current owner is Tina Simpson, mother of Jessica and Ashlee Simpson. “It’s always exciting when I get a listing on the lake, because there are only so many homes; it’s a very limited amount,” he says.
Strong says he’s equally thrilled to work with other homes in the neighborhood, especially discovering their place in the area’s past and sharing his findings with buyers. “I’m always excited to list a new home and get to know what the history was on the house; there’s always history on all these homes,” he says. “And it’s always interesting to learn about who lived where and how long and the history behind that.”
Strong is also proud to have been the go-to realtor for some of Toluca Lake’s highest-profile properties, such as the Hope Estate, which he names as one of his career highlights, and selling homes to celebrity clientele like Viola Davis, Sia and many more.
As a resident of the community for over two decades, Strong provides clients with unparalleled expertise on neighborhood life. “It’s not just that I’ve lived here, I’ve been so involved in everything that the community has to offer and have helped the community become a better place to live for everyone,” he says. Strong has been a member of numerous community organizations and the recipient of accolades for his work, most recently being recognized for his wide-ranging community service at the 2022 Toluca Lake Beautification Partners gala. He gets called “Mr. Toluca Lake” and couldn’t be prouder of the nickname.
Strong says he’s going to continue giving back to a community that has done so much for him. This year, he’s spearheading the effort to bring back the community’s Magical Holiday Parade, complete with the Christmas caroling truck. And professionally, he recently kicked off the brand-new Compass Mentorship Program, which was created to help new real estate licensees learn how to build a business from the ground up. (To learn more, visit compass.strongmentorship.com.)
“I’ll never stop doing what I can for the community. Even if one day I decide that I’ve had enough of real estate, I’ll always do things for this community,” he shares. “Even if I moved out of this community, I would still do things for this community. It’s been great for me personally, with all the great friends I have made, professionally, plus a truly amazing home for my kids, and I’ll always appreciate that. Thank you!”