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Branden and Rayni Williams are some of the most successful real estate brokers in the country — but unlike many of their peers at the upper echelons of luxury real estate in Los Angeles, reality TV isn’t in the cards.
In the past year, the dynamic duo of The Beverly Hills Estates helped sell “The One,” Nile Niami’s $126 million mega-mansion with Aaron Kirman, and was the top-selling small team by sales volume, according to RealTrends’ latest The Thousand data at $1.13 billion sold in 2021.
But despite those bonafides, they’ve turned down offers to star in a reality TV show of their own and pledged never to do a reality show of their own, the duo told Katie Kossev of the Kossev Group during a panel at Inman Connect Now.
“For our clientele and what we do, we’re too busy making real deals and not playing pretend,” Branden said.
“It’s true, we don’t watch it at home,” Rayni added. “We don’t believe in reality TV.”
Branden did actually begin his professional career as an actor but switched to real estate early on. Occasionally he has done one-off jobs — like stints on Entourage — when a friend or client is involved and he’s been promised the filming can wrap quickly, but he’s not aspiring to be an actor or reality TV star, he said.
Outside of avoiding reality TV, the couple’s advice boiled down to some surprisingly simple tenets: Work hard, stay honest and give back.
“I tell everybody there are three types of markets,” Branden said. “There’s a buyer’s market, there’s a seller’s market and there’s a salesperson’s market. And I believe this is when the all-stars really come to play.”
Even though the market hasn’t been as hot this year as in years past, the couple said they’ve just stuck to their business basics as always.
“We’re selling the one thing everybody needs: A place to live,” Branden said.
The couple said they’ve stayed relevant in the industry for so many years by sticking to selling homes and by not getting caught up in the trends of the moment.
“I think there’s only really one way to stay relevant,” Rayni said. “To stay selling … The real gravitas is in the numbers, it’s in the data.”
Some of the most important qualities for their business include honesty and acting as a sound adviser, Branden said — not drumming up publicity.
In addition to their busy careers, the couple also juggles raising two young kids.
“We really teach our kids respect, humility, humbleness and being compassionate to others,” he said. “And I think being good people more than anything else is really the key. And it’s the same with being a salesman. The best salesmen are people that really truly want to help you and guide you in the right way and are not having an ulterior motive and going ‘Me me me me!’ ”
“A lot of times the best move is don’t sell,” he added.
“Or don’t buy,” Rayni chimed in.
For the couple, quality of life is priceless. And if a client finds a home they absolutely love, it shouldn’t matter what’s happening in the market.
Looking toward 2023, Branden said his first business strategy is to work on himself and then help others.
“To me, strategy is first of all about self,” he said. “How do we stay more connected to our inner selves, inner peace, self-love, help, and then how do we share that with others? And [stick] to the basics.”
In the wake of some recent public opinions floating around about Compass’ business strategy, Branden also weighed in.
“I really think Compass tried to come up with the algorithm and kind of I saw their future as phasing the brokers out — I don’t know, that was my take on it,” he said. “We are the algorithm. The human connection, the sixth sense, is the ultimate algorithm. And those are the people that are going to reign supreme in difficult markets. And being realistic. In harder markets, you have to be realistic and you have to give people the truth.”
With their careers and their children, Kossev wondered, how do they balance it all?
Rayni admitted that their lives aren’t necessarily balanced between life and work, but that they find ways to make moments with their kids really count.
“When we’re in it, we’re in it,” she said. “When we’re with our children, we make the moments count. We make the connection with them, we get on their level, we look deeply at them, we talk to them, we continually ask questions — it’s like an onion. And then we take them with us everywhere. Next week we have to go to New York to look at one of these penthouses, the tallest building in the world. Our children will come with us.
“It’s a $250 million penthouse. We’ll make an experience out of it, we’ll go ice skating, we’ll go to Rockefeller Center, we’ll see the tree, we’ll go to great restaurants, we’ll go to a show. That’s an experience. We don’t have every minute in the world to give to them, but we have these extremely deep moments and I feel like the quality of our moments is better.”
Although it would be great if the kids picked up on their affinity for real estate, Branden said, “I don’t want to steer them into one direction. I just want them to be happy, and if they come into the business, sure that’s great.”
The couple started their relationship as business partners and quickly realized that their interests in design, architecture, fashion and what kind of lifestyles they envisioned for themselves overlapped considerably.
Rayni said when they first began dating, they felt like they should try to establish some kinds of boundaries between their work and personal lives, but then realized that was completely unrealistic and that melding the two worked well for them.
“We eat, breathe and sleep real estate, and that’s part of our magic,” Rayni said. “It’s a value add when you have like minds.”
“I say, ‘Be obsessed or be average,’ ” she continued. “And I tell my agents that — if you’re not obsessed, if you’re not eating, breathing and sleeping it, then you’re not going to be in that 1 percent. And that’s ok because some people just want to do a couple of deals a year.”
In their closing advice, Branden said agents should remember to be of service and learn everything they can and share everything they can with other people in the industry.
“I think the first is being of service and really truly knowing what you’re talking about and sharing the information and putting it out there with a goal of obviously selling a property,” Branden said. “But if not, all good. Nobody wants that pushy salesman where they’re living or dying on the deal. It’s like, I’ll sell it to somebody else. I truly believe in a higher power and I know if I show up and do all the things I’m supposed to do and put it all together, I will be rewarded … And you gotta have fun.”
“Go talk to everybody,” Branden continued. “Learn everything you can about real estate, architecture, design, how people live, and share the information with them and the sales will come and the lifestyle will come.”
Rayni added that staying organized is key to being happy and successful.
“When you declutter your closet when you declutter your house, you purge things, you make space, and making space and honing space are great things,” she said. “It’s for me how I keep my sanity and how I’m able to stay organized and compartmentalized and also really be operating at my highest level.”
“I keep a task and daily organizer,” she added. “Your daily business plan, to your one-year plan, to your five-year plan in any business is highly effective.”