Reality stars and Douglas Elliman agents Lisa Simonsen and Kelly Bensimon shared tips at Inman Luxury Connect, that allowed them to build careers on the screen and in home sales.

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Over the last two decades two things have converged: Reality TV and real estate.

The list of shows featuring agents is long but  Douglas Elliman agents Lisa Simonsen and Kelly Bensimon have had a front-row seat; Simonsen has appeared in two seasons of Kendra Sells Hollywood on Discovery+, while Bensimon was a regular cast member of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City for three seasons.

As a result, the two women’s careers have not necessarily followed a traditional trajectory. But on stage at Inman Luxury Connect Tuesday, they both said that along the way they’ve learned a multitude of lessons about how to succeed in the competitive world of home sales.

Here are the tips they shared:

Find the right brokerage

Both Simonsen and Bensimon work for Douglas Elliman and they both repeatedly said their brokerage has been a key to their success.

Bensimon even went so far as to say that on her first day she did a $7 million deal and by the end of her first week she had generated $15 million in sales volume. And finding the right company to work with was a key to having that kind of success.

“I really feel lucky,” she said.

Pictured from left are moderator Gary Gold, Lisa Simonsen and Kelly Bensimon at Inman Luxury Connect Tuesday. Credit: AJ Canaria of Moxiworks

Optics matter

Simonsen joked during the session that “everyone in New York has their broker’s license.” It’s an exaggeration, but the point is that there is an immense amount of competition in real estate and those who succeed have to stand out.

For a small group of agents that might mean appearing in reality TV shows. But even for agents who aren’t on screen, it has to mean being smart about public-facing things, such as social media.

“I think especially in this day and age, where media is so important, optics are so important,” Bensimon said, adding later that “at the end of the day you have to leverage your own networks.”

Don’t be afraid to say no

Bensimon and Simonsen both work with high-end clients and they both said those clients can be demanding. But occasionally it’s important to tell clients that they can’t have exactly what they want at all times.

“Sometimes clients need to hear no because they’ll trust you more,” Bensimon said.

Simonsen agreed saying it’s not necessary to be present 24 hours a day, seven days a week for clients. Doing so may be tempting, especially when working with clients at the high end of the price spectrum, but at a certain point, it ceases to add value.

“There have to be boundaries,” she added.

Bensimon added that learning to set boundaries is part of working smarter, not harder.

“Working smart,” she said, “is really really important.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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