As the director of the Sports & Entertainment Division at The Agency, I have the pleasure of working with celebrities from the world of TV, film, music and professional sports. It’s an extremely rewarding yet challenging niche, as celebrities have very unique real estate needs and concerns when it comes to such things as privacy, location and amenities. While there are numerous things to know about working with the A-list set — indeed it’s an ongoing learning process that’s impossible to master overnight — here are 10 quick “best practices” to consider when working with celebrity real estate clients.
Be an expert
This is No.1 on the list for a reason. Celebrities want to know they are working with an expert. You should know your market and your industry but also know about regulations that may be relevant to the celebrity’s lifestyle. How high can the privacy walls or hedges be? Can they put a gate around the property? Are there building restrictions for the area? Also, be sure to understand contracts and negotiations.
Keep your client’s name and personal information confidential. You will have access to a part of your client’s personal business, and people will even ask you what it’s like to work with them. Keep it to yourself. Don’t brag or boast about who you are working with.
Be on time. Be responsive. Be proactive. The bottom line: Be a professional, not a fan. I have been invited to numerous concerts, games and events of my celebrity clients, but only because I’ve never asked.
Celebrities’ schedules change faster than the weather. Be ready for last-minute showings, cancellations, rescheduling and explaining to other agents why your client is running “a few minutes behind.” Being flexible will make it a more enjoyable experience for you and your client.
Identify all of the decision makers
Whether it’s a business manager, agent, friend or relative, find out who will be influencing the celebrity’s decision to buy or sell. It might even be a pet. (Candy Spelling had her dog Madison help her pick her real estate agent.) Work closely and professionally with these key contacts. Treat them like the celebrity.
Have a reliable network of vendor referrals
You may be called on to refer anything from an interior designer to a company that installs tennis courts. Have trusted, professional vendors with a track record of working with high-profile clientele in your rolodex (by rolodex, I mean iPhone).
Be mindful of their time
Celebrities are busy people and don’t have time to waste. Preview properties whenever possible. Don’t waste time on properties that don’t fit their criteria. Again, be on time. They can be late, but you can’t.
When selling a celebrity home
There are numerous things to consider, but here are a few key points. Decide up front whether or not to disclose the celebrity status of the property. If it is inevitable that the owner’s identity will come out, it can be better to embrace it. Also, keep lookie-loos out of the property. Celebrity homes can attract unwanted prospects who just want a peek into the celebrity’s life. Screen all prospects (even those with agents). Unfortunately, we cannot always rely on the other agents to verify that their client is qualified and serious.
When working with a celebrity buyer
Respect their budget. Listen to what they want to spend and stay within that range. Also, keep their identity private until it is necessary to disclose it. This may help during negotiations. Finally, try to include all decision makers at the showings when possible. Be prepared to show properties to an assistant, agent or business manager who has been instructed on what to look for. They have trusted this person to preview the homes and should trust the feedback they provide.
Working with celebrity buyers and sellers can produce the same stressful moments as a regular transaction, so enjoy the parts you can. If you are like me, you enjoy your job. When you truly enjoy your job, your clients pick up on that, and it can be a more enjoyable experience for them, too. Celebrities can be demanding, but they can also be a lot of fun. As always, FOCUS & FINISH!