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How stand-up comedy poised Gary Gold for the listing of a lifetime

He knows what his audience wants, and he delivers

Want to get better at marketing real estate? Try stand-up comedy.

Gary Gold, executive vice president of Hilton and Hyland, admits that he never made any money moonlighting as a stand-up comedian or writing screenplays — but the real payoff came during his real estate career.

“It upped my marketing chops fivefold,” he said. “In stand-up, you have five seconds to connect with someone or you get the hook. Marketing is the exact same.”

When it comes to MLS descriptions, Gold’s got it down. You won’t find funny, and you won’t find flowery.

What you’ll find is condensed and to-the-point. It’s aimed at drawing you in. He knows what his audience wants, and he delivers.

That’s been the story throughout his 25-year career in Los Angeles. What’s he’s found however, is that the audience has changed.

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“When I started, everyone was a guy from the Valley, someone in the entertainment industry, a doctor or an attorney,” Gold said. “Now, most buyers are U.S. citizens, but they were born in another country, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, even Africa.”

That shift has led to a subtle differences in the way deals are getting done.

Gold’s found that buyers from other parts of the world in general are more aggressive when it comes to negotiating prices.

Anyone is going to approach buying a home in a foreign country with caution, even if that country is the United States. And in most parts of the world, people negotiate for sport. 

“Americans are the easiest buyers on the planet,” Gold says.

The price still has to be right

A common misconception Gold sees in luxury is that buyers are so rich that they don’t care about the price, but that’s far from true.

“Most luxury buyers are not easily influenced; they are not rich for no reason,” Gold said. “When they are buying a house, they are making a prudent decision.”

Gold names pricing as one of the most important issues luxury agents need to be watching in the coming year.

“Asking prices are going down,” he said. “We are collectively in denial.”

His own denial seems to be tempered by the fact that when he started off in luxury real estate, he did so by closing two impossible deals — all before his 20th birthday.

The first was a complicated equity trade land contract in Tarzana (an L.A. neighborhood) in the early ’80s. The second was a $800,000 home that had $1.3 million still owed on it spread across 28 different investors. And this was before the term “underwater” was commonly used in real estate.

Yet Gold somehow managed to convince all 28 investors that they needed to take a 75 percent loss on the property, and he sold it.

Gold’s launchpad to the top

At 17, Gold was doing marketing for his brother, a real estate agent. They’d have late-night dinners at Tony Roma’s and Peppone Ristorante in Los Angeles.

And with each meal, he’d digest more and more of his sibling’s real estate knowledge. By 20, his brother went fully into commercial real estate and handed over the residential side to Gold.

Since then, he’s become widely recognized as a marketing and luxury real estate expert in Beverly Hills, Bel Air and the Sunset Strip.

You’re no doubt familiar with his most recent sale, the Playboy Mansion. Gold says it’s by far his favorite listing of his career.

“The house is on the best lot on the best street in the United States.”

Among its many virtues are the well-known pool, grotto area and zoo animals, but Gold also said what stood out to him on the five-acre parcel were the largest redwood forests in Los Angeles.

“The grounds were insane,” he said.

To hear more about how he landed the Playboy Mansion listing — and maybe even a little bit of his latest stand-up routine — don’t miss Luxury Connect in Beverly Hills October 19 and 20, where Gary Gold will be headlining.

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Email Kristy Hessman