There are many challenges associated with luxury real estate. MDLNY’s Tyler Whitman and MDLLA’s David Parnes and James Harris share their best-kept secrets to creating balance against the chaos of selling America’s most expensive homes on camera.

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While we love to watch the optics and the drama of luxury real estate sales on television, it is easy to forget that behind the scenes is where the real action is happening. Working in the luxury real estate sphere has very real challenges that must be balanced with professionalism and fiduciary responsibility.  

So how do you balance the pressure to close while under the heat of the spotlight? We turned to the stars of Million Dollar Listing — Tyler Whitman, James Harris, and David Parnes — to discover the secret to staying on top while under the microscope of millions of viewers all while keeping their clients happy.

What are the difficulties of getting your team up to speed and scaling to keep up with the influx of demand once you’ve become a celebrity Realtor?

Tyler Whitman: The secret sauce of the success of my team is all in our systems and the support staff. One major issue with real estate is that most agents are required to wear every hat in business, and it is unrealistic to keep up with those demands.

 A goal that I have been tremendously successful at achieving is investing in a huge support staff on my team to manage all of the paperwork, marketing, processes and influx of leads so that the agents on my team can do what they do best: Sell. 

My overhead is certainly much higher than the average team, but that investment has paid off in dividends. My agents are always out with qualified prospects and sellers with strong motivations to move their properties. 

The client experience is amazing, and we have more data on our clientele and transaction history because we track everything. My Director of Operations, Bailey, is a business building goddess and worth her weight in gold. 

The systems we have not only allow us to close a tremendous number of transactions and grow continually through shifting markets, but they also afford everyone on the team a great work-life balance.

What are your best tips for managing a large social media presence?

Tyler Whitman: The best advice I have is consistency. I learned from a tough mistake that when I slowed down my social postings (admittedly due to burnout last year) that the audience will quickly move on and forget about you. 

It is so important to stay top of mind. My DMs are full of referrals and new opportunities, but when I’m quiet, so are they. 

Simply having a TV appearance is absolutely not enough to have the business opportunities flow in. It is a great hook, but you still have to tie it to a rod and go fishing every single day.

How do you figure out who’s reaching out just to talk to a TV celebrity and who actually has a transaction in the works?

Tyler Whitman: This is the biggest challenge. People are really good liars. I used to get really excited about these phone calls I would receive from people telling me they had these huge investment funds to buy tons of real estate and were only interested in working with me. 

I would think, “WOW… this is exactly what I thought would happen,” but 95 percent of those inquiries are bogus. I’ve learned that asking a few simple questions and analyzing their response will usually give me the indicators I need to be able to discern if this is a real opportunity or not. 

The sad part of this is that I love connecting with fans. It’s been my favorite part of the experience. And I do get calls sometimes from people who are very upfront and just say they wanted to talk because they love the show or my story or whatever it is. 

I always make time for those people when I have it. But when they start with a lie about fictional business opportunities, it makes it hard to reel it back and have that human connection they were wanting and that I gladly would have given if they were just upfront.

What is the biggest thing you’d like readers to take away from learning more about your experience on MDL?

Tyler Whitman: My favorite part of this entire experience is not the real estate. While obviously, my business has exploded through the opportunity of the TV show, the biggest gift has been sharing my story. 

From being an “up and coming” broker in a tough city with lots of self-doubt and self-worth issues to having a platform to share my weight loss journey and the impact it has had on my life, that’s the gift. 

Those are the connections and people that I get the most fulfillment out of. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world, and am looking for more ways to grow that platform. My podcast “Glitter and Gay” is my first soiree into this new adventure. I cohost it with my BFF and real estate TikTok celebrity, Glennda Baker

We get very real on this show. We talk all about our failures and comebacks and successes. We talk about our struggles in romances, finances, business, all through the lens of some good comedy. I’m beyond excited to have this new content out in the universe and am really hopeful that the audience continues to grow.

What are some of your best tips for coming up with fresh ideas to wow luxury clients and win their business?

James Harris: Once you secure a high-end listing, now you have to sell it, and sometimes that means getting creative! For us, the personal touch is everything. 

We always send personal emails to our prospects rounding up the best new listings and local market updates that highlight our listing as a top property. Our clients are our first priority, so we ensure these listings feature some of their must-haves and personal details and preferences they’ve mentioned to us. 

We also love to host events that go beyond the traditional open house. If budget allows, incorporating different experiential elements such as live music, refreshments, performers and other creative ideas like partnering with luxury brands to feature the latest cars, art or watches.  This can help catch prospective buyers’ eyes and bring new clients in the door.

How do you brief clients and colleagues before the cameras roll and help them to enjoy their 15 minutes of fame without going off the rails on their sale or purchase?

James Harris: We always recommend fellow agents and clients to put their best selves forward during filming. The media lives on forever, so we remind them of this, even during the most challenging scenarios. 

How do you manage to keep a professional presence while also maintaining and growing your brand and personality?

James Harris: Always take the high road. 

First and foremost, maintaining a positive reputation within the industry is paramount. This is something that will come easily to those who conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner, and it’s also something that is very difficult to be taught or learned. 

Who you see on the way up is who you will see on the way down. 

What should a real estate professional expect when appearing on a show such as yours, whether as a one-off guest or in a recurring role?

David Parnes: Be yourself and set a path for your career, whether on or off the camera. It is important to have a clear direction when approaching the real estate business, especially when you are in the limelight. 

If you bite off more than you can chew, you will dilute your efforts and impact your reputation. Be honest with yourself and stay true to your values. After all, mishaps and mistakes can feel even worse when under the microscope of the camera.

How do you relate to uber-upscale clients, even if you can’t quite identify with their lifestyle or experiences? 

David Parnes: We always treat our $1 million clients as we would our $50 million clients. Every single client is important to us, and the price point shouldn’t change your service level. 

The luxury space is incredibly competitive, and there’s only a tiny pool of agents who handle the majority of the business. Positioning yourself as an expert in the markets you want to serve is one of the most critical aspects of breaking into the luxury market.  

Luxury clients don’t want to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to research and market stats. Do your homework, and immerse yourself in the latest information, market trends and inventory on the market.

What is your best advice to someone who wants to launch a career specifically in the luxury category?

David Parnes: First and foremost, whether you are an agent starting out or one looking to enter the luxury space, maintaining a positive reputation within the industry is paramount.

Don’t ever forget, there is always tomorrow in business. For agents looking to land their first high-profile listing, I recommend becoming an expert in the market you serve. 

Once you’ve found your niche, showcase your skills, talent, and what sets you apart from your competitors. Exuding confidence and leading with knowledge and expertise will help prospective high-net-worth clients view you as a go-to source for their real estate needs.

What is the biggest thing you’d like readers to take away from learning more about your experience on MDL?

James Harris: If you had asked me eight years ago, I never would have imagined we’d become celebrity real estate agents. Looking back at those early days, we were fearless. We hit the streets of Bel Air and Beverly Hills, knocking on doors and ringing bells at the front gates of estates. 

David and I would sit in the car and play rock, paper, scissors to see who had to knock on the next door. We would ask if we could leave our business card because we had a client who would buy their home sight unseen. 

Many said, “No,” or didn’t answer, but others actually took our cards and called us back. Fast forward to today, we’ve loved our experience and feel very fortunate to work with Bravo and our Million Dollar Listing LA team. It has been a wild ride, with lots of fun, laughs, and some drama along the way. 

Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on TwitterInstagram and YouTube.

By day, Rachael Hite helps agents develop their business. By night, she’s tweeting and blogging. Feel free to tweet her @rachaelhite.

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