Next Level Luxury

Luxury Connect: Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan on long-term success

What does the road map of success in becoming a luxury agent look like?

Last call for tickets! Limited hotel rooms still available. This summer we’re looking at the state of the luxury agent & broker in today’s increasingly complex real estate market. In October, we’ll gather in Beverly Hills at Luxury Connect to share best practices, network, and create blueprint for the luxury agent/broker of tomorrow. Don’t miss it.

Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan is a fifth-generation New Yorker — so to say she knows her own particular luxury market is in many ways a huge understatement. “I’m in a market where our entry point can be considered luxury just because of the high cost of living in New York,” she points out. And she’s been successfully selling real estate to movers-and-shakers in the Big Apple for years, so she knows what it takes to elevate your game to a luxury level.

Stribling-Kivlan will be one of the luxury real estate insiders you can sit down and chat with exclusively at Luxury Connect, October 16 through 18 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

 

“The first thing you have to think about when you’re moving into the luxury market is going back to basics,” she explains. “How do I become the best agent I can be? That’s fundamental. You need to work really hard and educate yourself on the market and on trends. If you’re in Austin, Texas, you have to be cognizant of different facets of the market — why people want to enter it, why they trade up, what the draws are culturally. And once you solidify yourself as a smart, hardworking agent, that’s when you can start thinking about how to segment yourself and take your career to the next level.

Careers aren’t an escalator, they’re a staircase,” she adds. “You have to take it one step at a time. Start off by being a really productive agent, work really hard, pay your dues, and then think about how to tackle little bits and chunks of moving up the staircase at a time. Nobody got to be a luxury agent overnight.”

Stribling-Kivlan will be available to attendees at Luxury Connect, October 16 through 18, who can sit down with her and learn more about how she got where she is (and how you can, too).

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What do you think the luxury agent of the future looks like?

I love technology, but I don’t think so much changes in some ways. There are different facets to get you there. I think the luxury agent of the future is part of an overall holistic team for the client. You have to look at yourself — when you talk so much about wellness, it’s not about going to the gym or to Soulcycle; it’s about creating home or familial wealth. I think that the real estate agent more and more will become part of an overall team, and that’s something people will have to work as an entire unit.

As people get wealthier and wealthier in this country and globally, they have a trusted team of advisors whose mission is to make their lives better. And I think that’s a really big part of it — how do I work with the financial planner? When I first got into real estate, there was a time your stockbroker would be like, “Only buy blue-chip stocks; don’t buy an apartment,” but now the financial advisors suggest maybe putting some of your investment into a property. The most successful agents listen, anticipate your needs and try to find something that suits you.

 

 

What do you feel are the challenges facing the luxury market this year?

I think you have to look at where you’re living. We have to look at correct pricing — it’s a hard question because you have to look at a 10,000-foot view. You have to look at the implications of the tax plan and how that plays in depending on what state you’re in, where housing prices are going depending on what market you’re in. For New York, it’s proper pricing, inventory, what types of housing you’re looking at, the implications of the tax plan, and I think people have concerns about geopolitical issues.

But I’ve also seen exceptional success in the luxury market. Uncertainty can often lead to money being pulled out of other countries and coming to the U.S., and that can be a catalyst for the luxury market here. And then there are certain parts of the country where there’s just too much building and there are some real aspirational prices being asked.

What are some of the biggest problems you’ve faced in growing your business?

For me — people often when they grow businesses, they take all this praise and they’re really motivated by that. I’m actually really motivated by problems and criticism. When there’s a problem, I have to react and think about how I can be proactive about it. I think the hardest thing when you’re growing your business is realizing how to take rejection, learning how to manage that and realizing it can be a positive thing. That was a lesson for me — when I grew my business it was the hardest lesson for me to learn.

We’re so used as agents to saying “yes” all the time, but you’re told no a lot. So how do I learn how not to take that personally? For me that was a big step to overcome; every day there are challenges and people who claim to be disrupting their business, but it’s realizing how do you take the heritage you have. I’ve made conscientious decisions over the years to be more fiscally conservative, to not expand at an exceptionally rapid rate. I’ve been calculated about that, and whether you’re an owner or an agent — markets ebb and flow, and recessions reset economies. It comes back to having some kind of fiscal practicality.

Markets crash but they will come back up, so how do you motivate? How do you manage and look at the psychological side of it? Around 2011, we were still not in a great market, and I said “I think we need to rebrand the whole company.” Where’s the moment where you can jump and just take an opportunity? We’re in a moment where you have the opportunity to try to prove yourself. Maybe you’ve been fiscally practical, but just because a market’s down doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities.

 

 

How has technology changed your business, and what are you most intrigued by that you’re not currently using?

I think it’s done really incredible wonders, it’s made life more efficient. You’re able to do things faster so you’re not stuck in the minutiae. You can create marketing materials and do comp reports on the fly — that’s incredible, you’re saving all this time.

I always say to my agents “what we do is really important but we are not saving lives or curing cancer,” and it’s really important to have boundaries. You can’t always answer right away or be on call. This smart world we live in, you have to be quick to answer and have an answer at hand, but it doesn’t mean the answer is always right. Just because some algorithm will spit out the answer doesn’t mean it’s right. Just because a comp report spit something out doesn’t meant the data makes sense.

I’m not using AI, and I don’t think anyone is really using it properly yet; I don’t think it’s gotten to a point where it can be utilized for real estate. I think that’s going to be really interesting. Predictive models are going to be really interesting. I don’t think anyone has figured that out yet — obviously Amazon looks at my predictive buying, but it can’t figure out my real estate needs.

I booked a hotel recently, and it keeps telling me I should book at this hotel, and I can’t think of what this hotel must be spending to tell me to book there — but I’ve already booked two rooms! And there’s an opportunity out there for that. It’s not necessarily going to say “this is a house you’re going to buy,” but there’s something there and I don’t think it’s been figured out, and we also don’t fully understand how the human brain fully works. When you buy a house people say “you’re overspending by $10,000” but that $10,000 on an emotional level can mean a lot. Those are things we don’t know how to quantify.

What’s the question you hear most from your clients? And what’s your answer to them?

“Do you think the market’s going down?” That’s the question I think we’re asked the most. My answer is always, “What is the purpose of buying this house? What are your long-term goals? What do you need for yourself and your spouse and family and puppies? What is the end game here?” Let’s look at the numbers — if things go up or down X percent or you’re looking at depreciation, what’s the best thing to do? Sometimes the answer is, “maybe you should wait,” and sometimes the answer is, “if you know you’ll have stability for a few years, maybe you should buy.”

Thinking of bringing your team? There are special onsite perks and discounts when you buy those tickets together too. Just contact us to find out more.