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A top agent at Douglas Elliman Beverly Hills specializing in luxury, Tracy Tutor found herself in the national spotlight when she became the first female cast member of the Bravo reality show Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. She sold nearly $200 million in 2021, and set a new record for price per square foot in Los Angeles.
Inman caught up with Tutor over the phone ahead of her appearance at Inman Connect New York to talk about the importance of confidence and how she broke into the luxury market. What follows is a version of the conversation, edited for brevity and clarity.
Inman: You recently published a book that touches on the importance of confidence. Why do you think confidence is such an important trait for getting ahead in real estate?
Tracy Tutor: There are so many people that are brilliant minds, [but] they don’t necessarily have that connectivity to the person sitting across from them. I think the confidence piece has to come first when you walk into a room and you’re able to sit across from someone and not be fumbling, not be nervous about whether or not you’re going to land a listing or connect with the person on the other side of the table, and you’re thinking about all of the things you’re supposed to be talking about and you want to make sure you’re hitting all the points. You can be the most brilliant human in the industry, but if you’re not going to connect with the person sitting across from you you’re not going to be successful. It’s really the work that you do on yourself to remind yourself that you’re good enough; that how you dress, how you present yourself, how you feel about yourself is going to be the first thing they see when they walk in the room.
Do you think you would be where you are today without that level of confidence?
Absolutely not. I mean, I went to USC theatre school, I was by no means a business major. Real estate happened to me. It was definitely a part of my family being in construction so it came a little more naturally to me, just sort of understanding how to build and do design and architecture was just ingrained in me. But outside of that I don’t really have a business mind. I wasn’t born with that skill, it’s something that I have to work on every single day.
But the confidence piece, I always believed in growing up and being an actress and going to theatre school and studying drama. That was a big piece in learning how to be confident because I had to get up in front of people and perform every single day. I remember I used to feel like I was going to throw up before I’d go out on stage and do a dance routine or whatever, and that in itself really became a big part of why I was successful in this industry probably earlier than some — and why I’ve lasted.
How did you make the transition from a theater background to luxury real estate?
Let’s be honest: for every 1,000 girls that want to grow up and be an actress, maybe three make it. Even though I grew up dancing and singing and acting and that’s all I lived for outside of riding horses on the side, I got into theater school and after it was all over, I had this degree and … I was all of a sudden waiting tables and going on auditions. I was never the prettiest girl in the room and I wasn’t the funniest girl in the room; I sort of didn’t have a niche. I remember sitting in my dad’s office one day. I said, ‘I just can’t wait tables anymore, can I come work for you part-time when I don’t have auditions?’
I was working in human resources going, ‘This blows. I don’t want to do this until I’m 40 years old. I don’t want to wake up waiting for someone to approve of me for the part that may or may not be canceled in a year. I don’t want to audition for the rest of my life.’ So a friend said to me that day, ‘Why don’t we get into real estate? You know a lot of people,’ and I said ‘You know what, I did grow up here and that doesn’t require any kind of school, you just have to take some kind of test right?’ and that truly is how it happened.
What’s your advice to agents looking to break into the luxury market in Los Angeles?
Good luck. It’s definitely a shark tank out here. It’s 10 percent of people doing 90 percent of the business, and that top 10 percent are very, very good at what they do. It takes time and effort. As much as we see people becoming [successful] overnight, I don’t know anyone that’s had overnight success. Most people, and particularly my generation, have put in years of hard work, dedication. That to me is sort of across the board with all the people I know that are doing that top 10 percent — they all work incredibly hard. So breaking into the luxury market if you’re in your 20s or early 30s and you’ve been in the business for five or 10 years and you’re just trying to get to that $20 million price point where maybe you’re doing less deals but at higher price points, I’d say surround yourself with people that are doing it.