- In a crowded market, find out what extra service you can deliver to help your client's pain points.
- This extra service may prove a good way to stay in touch with your clients between deals.
- If you are a buyer's agent and a listing agent, only take on listings you really rate.
Are the clients of New York agent Gennady Perepada billionaires or just millionaires? He doesn’t think this question is relevant. When you are dealing with the wealthy, money is not mentioned until absolutely necessary.
Let’s assume the New York luxury agent‘s clients have plenty of money. They are having no trouble buying new multi-million dollar apartments in America’s most expensive city — sometimes over the phone — for their international property portfolios.
But they don’t necessarily have plenty of time, and that’s why Perepada steps in and offers them a wide-ranging VIP concierge service, doing tasks for them after they have purchased that you wouldn’t necessarily consider the natural duty of a real estate agent.
“When I started to work in real estate, I had to do something different from the others — so I decided to save time for my clients,” said Perepada.
Going above and beyond
This may include something quite small, such as organizing for a TV to be hooked up to cable — or something rather larger, such as helping arrange a knee surgery.
During the holidays, the agent’s inbox is filled with requests asking him to buy jewelry for assorted wives, girlfriends and daughters.
Recently, one of his clients who lives in New York decided to go to Miami and asked for ideas. Knowing Miami well, Perepada was happy to oblige.
“I got her a nice hotel in Miami, gave her a list of restaurants, suggestions for trips to go on. It was an Asian family — they were looking for a summer vacation and asked what I recommended.”
The broker draws the line at helping clients find a plastic surgeon.
“How could I recommend something when I have not had it done myself?” he said.
A concierge service to clients keeps you top-of-mind
Although it can be quite a bit of work, the VIP concierge service is an excellent way to keep top-of-mind with clients who may not actually spend a lot of time in New York.
“Luxury clientele like service; they look for service. And it’s a good way of keeping in touch,” said Perepada.
The agent does offer some more real estate-related tasks. He will often be given the responsibility of furnishing an apartment or organizing any alterations that need doing.
“After you buy an apartment, you need to buy furniture, you need to connect up to the internet — it’s a headache,” he said. “You need a recommendation for a blinds company. It’s a big job, but this is the service that I provide.”
Being a luxury agent means never turning off your phone
The agent never turns his phone off. He is available “24/7,” he said.
“You never say no to your clients.”
He doesn’t seem to begrudge them the time.
“I don’t like real estate; I love it!” he said.
This kind of attitude has taken him far. The Ukrainian-born broker is living the American dream, arriving in New York in 1990 as a young man and a trained chef.
He worked a variety of jobs — as a chef in a summer camp, a taxi driver, in a flea market, among other things.
He moved on to real estate 15 years ago, having tried everything and found that he had a gift for sales. And today, he has built a significant boutique agency in the Manhattan luxury real estate market with his company, One and Only Realty.
He doesn’t take anything for granted.
“The buyer starts being a client when they come back to me for the second deal — before that, they are not a client,” he said.
After 26 years in New York, he feels he knows Manhattan and its buildings and developers well.
The intricacies of the New York market
“What you need to understand is that New York City is not like the U.S., and Manhattan is not like New York,” he said.
Manhattan has a completely different price level compared with other New York boroughs, he explained. The same apartment that in Brooklyn would sells for $750,000 will sell in Manhattan for around $2.5 million.
Perepada’s sales figures give him some authority. Last year, he did $200 million-plus in sales volume — typically apartments priced over $3 million — with his team of 10 to 12 agents.
To keep in touch and build on his strong international client base — 65 percent of his buyers are from overseas — Perepada has marketing representatives working for him around the world in places such as Shanghai, Moscow and Monte Carlo.
His team in New York and overseas speak Russian, Ukrainian, Mandarin, Spanish, Korean, Italian, German, French and English, of course.
The entrepreneurial agent has a commercial side to his company, which sold more than double the sales volume of the residential sales last year. He also manages 19 of his clients’ units, collecting rent and paying bills.
Working for buyers is more of a challenge
His favorite part of the business is advising homebuyers on the New York real estate market, spending around 90 percent of his time on this.
He see it as more of a challenge.
“Being a listing agent is very easy. You list the apartment and everybody comes,” he said.
The One and Only Realty broker sometimes take on exclusive listing contracts with developers he likes. He has done six deals over six months at Zeckendorf Development’s 50 United Nations Plaza, four to overseas clients and two local.
He acted on both sides of the transactions. The apartments range from $5 million to $7 million.
Perepada is a big fan of Zeckendorf Development, the property company also behind such high-profile Manhattan buildings as 15 Central Park West and 520 Park Avenue.
“It’s easy for me because we work together like a team,” he said. “I like what they have built. If you love somebody, it’s to represent them.
“They are the best. They build amazing properties, and buyers feel completely different with each property.”
Only accept listing of properties you respect
Perepada does not take property listings from other property developers — even if offered them exclusively — if he doesn’t like the building.
“I don’t want to disappoint clients,” he said.
His buyers are relying on him for detailed, professional advice, he said.
“It’s easy to go through different websites and find a property,” he noted. “But before that you need to know why it should be this building versus that building.”
Luxury buyers need to understand three things when buying, said Perepada.
“One — the location. Two — the quality of the property. Three — who is the developer. If you have all three, then it is easy to sell the buyer on a property.”
And the American dream continues. Perepada’s son has grown up to be an ICU physician — “one of the best in the U.S,” according to his proud father.