Haute Residence’s first groundbreaking real estate summit—which took place at Mr. C’s Beverly Hills in Los Angeles last month—was an enormous success.
The first distinguished panel featured Million Dollar Listing stars Matthew Altman of Hilton & Hyland and Josh Flagg of Rodeo Realty, along with Aaron Kirman, president of the Estates division of the John Aaroe Group, and Randy Solakian of Coldwell Banker Previews International, who filled in for daughter Deanna.
The lively discussion was moderated by Chris Crocker, Zillow.com’s vice president of strategic partnerships, and Tim Lappen, a partner at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell.
“I’m honored to be here at Haute Living’s real estate summit,” said Aaron Kirman. “I think it’s really important for top producing agents—and agents in general—to gather information and meet each other.”
Read on for a snippet of the riveting talk, which revealed the panelists’ motivations for doing what they do best.
Tim Lappen: When the internet was in its infancy, it was predicted that it would put an end to travel agents, lawyers, accountants, Realtors… we all know that’s not the truth, but do you think we’ll get to the point where we’ll become marginalized, the service providers, because there is so much information now?
Randy Solakian: Cars and boats and trains are mass produced; homes are not. Homes are specific, individual, and distinct. A high network buyer especially really appreciates an expert consultant who’s advising them on with all of these distinctions—”How do I decipher fair value? How do I arrive at what’s a fair value?”—for sellers and buyers both. I don’t think there’s any technology that can replace that personal advisor.
Aaron Kirman: The more information we have, the better it’s going to be. I think our role has also changed; I find myself every day in design meetings with designers, and architects, and developers… and I’ve never had an interest in construction, but frankly I know more about construction now than I ever had before, because part of the game is: you have a developer who wants to develop and build, and the difference between selling it for 20 and selling it for 50… there’s a lot that comes into that, and those buyers who are looking at it are going to appreciate the differences.
Lappen: Zillow is a phenomenal first look. You get some basic parameters, you have something about square feet, but you still need the information. The difference between information and wisdom—the wisdom of an agent who can help somebody based on what he knows about that person what would be the right house.
Kirman: At the end of the day, this is a brick-and-mortar business: it’s [about] who you know, who knows you, and who you have contacts to.
Solakian: Building our brand to be recognized—but that recognition should be derived from ultra-professionalism, ultra-confidentiality, and a track record of success to very discerning—many times, low-key clientele who don’t want to be a party of the entertainment business… who really just want their houses sold at the highest price, with the minimum amount of exposure.
Josh Flagg: We like to be a little bit more on hand. That means getting on the phone and actually speaking to a human being.
Matt Altman: I’ve been in the business for about ten years; my brother and I—Josh Altman—have sold about $250 million a year during the past few years.
Chris Crocker: Where’s does the drive come from in your belly, that makes you want to do this next year?
Solakian: There’s a tremendous reward and satisfaction in getting that fit. There’s two sides to it: obviously, buyer and seller. For the seller, that challenge of selling a very expensive property and finding that needle-in-a-haystack buyer who’s willing to pay the premium that the seller demands… when you pull that off, when you close that sale, not only is it financially rewarding, but it’s also personally rewarding.
Altman: Our business never stops, and we just take it incredibly seriously, but we enjoy every moment of what we do.
Kirman: I don’t consider it a job because every time I travel, every time I go to a restaurant, every time I go to a party… every time I go to breakfast or walk my dog… that is an opportunity to meet a buyer and a seller. We get to show the most fabulous houses, hang out with the most awesome clients, and the aspects of the job that can be tricky can also be rewarding.