Sally Forster Jones is the President of Aaroe International Luxury Properties with John Aaroe Group in Beverly Hills.
Throughout her 35-year career, she has weathered fluctuations in the market and catered to a growing number of international clients. She closed the most expensive known sale in Beverly Hills, selling 1181 Hillcrest for $70 million to Markus Persson, the Swedish billionaire and creator of Minecraft.
She’s also represented well-known properties like the Spelling Manor and estates across Bel Air and West Los Angeles.
Sally will be speaking at Luxury Connect in Beverly Hills, October 19 through 20.
We caught up with her to ask about the changes she’s seen throughout her real estate career and the advice she gives to agents looking to break into luxury.
A significant portion of your career has been spent in the luxury market. What shifts have you seen over the years, and what issue(s) do you think others should be aware of in the coming year?
I have been in the real estate industry for more than 35 years, and I have seen many fluctuations in the market — from the rise to the height of the market in 2006-2007, through the major decline, and back out again.
We are operating on a much more global scale now. International buyers have played a large role in the luxury market over the past several years. Right now, the global landscape is shifting and we are seeing less international activity than in previous years.
There is more uncertainty now on both a domestic and a global scale about where the market is headed; however, from a global perspective — the U.S. is still seen as the safest place to invest.
I think we are in a good place, and although we can’t predict the future, we can identify that there does seem to be more apprehension in the market. We have to be mindful and pay attention to see where it will lead.
You have a background in psychology. Do you think that’s helped you in your current role?
Real estate is all about people, so having a background in psychology is definitely helpful. Whether you are working with a client and trying to help them find their dream home or you are negotiating a difficult offer for your seller, it’s important to be able to connect with all the parties to understand their motivations and their perspectives.
In this business, we don’t operate in a vacuum. We are always selling, negotiating, working with vendors or trying to generate new business. Residential real estate is also a very emotional business.
Buying or selling a home often signifies a major life change — a move, a new marriage, a new job, a growing family, a divorce, retirement, or the passing of a loved one. Being able to connect with people, listen to them, and understand their needs has been vital to my business.
If you were to give an agent trying to break into the luxury market one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be committed. No matter what direction you decide to take with your business, you need to make a commitment to that goal and affirm that commitment with your actions every single day.
If you make the decision to take your business into the luxury market, align your actions with that goal — elevate yourself and your marketing, be knowledgeable about the luxury market, and put yourself where luxury buyers and sellers are.
Whatever avenue you choose to pursue, commit yourself to it. It’s easy to get discouraged, especially when things don’t come together right away.
We all know real estate has many ups and downs, but knowing where you want to be and constantly working toward that goal is the only way to plant the seeds for your future success.