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In the vaunted world of Beverly Hills, two of the hottest topics are entertainment and real estate, so when someone asks a question about the latter, be ready and be honest.
That’s according to top agents Jade Mills and Joyce Rey of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Beverly Hills who spoke at Inman Connect Now on Tuesday in a session titled “How To Get To The Top.” If someone wants to increase their average list price, the most important thing they can do is increase their knowledge of the real estate market, according to Mills.
“You need one special listing to propel you into that market. But what has been the most important thing for me is knowledge. When we used to go to dinner parties or charity events, people always want to sit next to the real estate agent because they want information on their neighborhood, on the biggest sale, on what’s happening in Malibu, what’s happening in Los Angeles. You need to know your business, and you need to be more knowledgeable than anyone else,” Mills said.
“For any agent that wants to take that next step up, you need to know more than any other agent, so it’s so important that you study the market, you study who lived there, what the last sale was, how much it sold for, what the neighbors’ houses are selling for. That is what propels you to the next step because you never know who’s gonna ask you a question.”
Rey agreed. “Absolutely. You can never know enough. Every detail, every statistic. Real estate and entertainment are the two hot topics in this town. Even the people in the entertainment business, they want to know about our business.”
Of course, networking and nurturing relationships also helps. Both Mills and Rey keep up with clients through Christmas or New Year cards, in addition to other efforts.
“I always tell new agents the best way to connect is through something that you do every single year. I know that a lot of people send a little gift,” Mills said.
“But this Christmas card and watching my family grow — I have four children, I now have seven grandchildren — and everybody after they received that card, people will call me and say, ‘Oh my gosh, your family has grown again.’ I think that that is my best way of connection.”
It was Mills’ personal connections that both got her through a tough time in her life and spurred her to success in real estate. When Mills’ children were still in school, her husband passed away. She had gotten her license before she met him but hadn’t sold real estate for about six years at the time. She had been very involved in her children’s school and people she met there took a chance on her.
“When I listed my first five houses in the Beverly Hills flats, that was really all I needed. Most of those people were people that I met from the children’s school. Whether it’s a school or a charity or synagogue or church, wherever you have a connection and wherever the people [are] who really want to see you successful and who care about you,” Mills said.
“And, of course, you care about them. So you’re going to do the best possible job for them and that in itself is so important. Do the right thing, always do the right thing. If you don’t think that this house is right for your client who wants this house, tell them: ‘This house is too close to the freeway.’ ‘This house isn’t for you — the floors slope.’ Whatever it may be, be honest. They will refer you 15 people for you doing the right thing and telling them the truth.”
Mills and Rey also emphasized that agents should know how to take on a sense of urgency and close a deal.
“If you do not have a sense of urgency in your dealings, that is critical to getting the job done, immediately. When somebody asks you something, snap, your response and you’re back to them, you’ve got the job done,” Rey said.
“That sense of urgency spills over into your ability to close. You want to make that happen and you’re focused on making that happen. So whether it’s getting the listing, closing the listing, leasing the house, whatever it is, that is a priority, and you’re on it.”
Rey remembered when she was a new, young Realtor and actress Shelley Winters, a big star at the time, was a client. Rey showed her a house listed for $295,000 and Winters said she wanted to write an offer, but for $250,000.
“I said, ‘Okay, well, that’s really low, but we’ll try it,” Rey said. Later, Rey was in the office and a more experienced co-worker told her that Winters is “the biggest lookie-loo in the business” and has been looking for a house for 30 years. At that moment, Winters called, uncertain about whether to make the offer.
“I said, ‘Shelley, you know, it’s so low, they probably won’t take it anyway. Let’s give it a try.’ She says, ‘Okay,’ so I go over to her house quick, get it signed, run to the business manager of the guy that owns the house, sit there with the offer. He says, ‘This is really low, I don’t know what to do.’ I said, ‘Listen, if you want to sell this house to Shelley Winters, you better sign this offer because if you counter, she’s out.’ They signed the offer and I made the deal.”
Six or seven years later, Winters calls Rey and gives her a copy of her autobiography. It’s signed with a note: “To Joyce who sold me the house that gave me the peace of mind that enabled me to write this book.”