How luxury agents earn long-term business? By shooting straight

Publish Date: August 07, 2023

Written by Taylor Anderson

- Originally published at Inman News - Taylor Anderson

In a down market, clients might not like what agents have to say. But they need to hear it anyway, Frances Katzen of Douglas Elliman and Rachel King of SERHANT. agreed at Inman Luxury Connect.

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Luxury sellers today need to hear the truth about their listings, even if it’s not what they want to hear. When they don’t like the truth, it can set up a tightrope for high-end agents to walk.

When Rachel King of SERHANT. made a recent pitch to represent the seller, she knew the property was worth significantly less than the seller wanted, she told an audience at Inman Luxury Connect on Monday.

King wasn’t specific about which property she was talking about, but she made headlines recently when she listed a New York mansion for $45 million.

“When I went on the pitch I told the seller what I thought it was worth and it didn’t matter — this is the price that they wanted to put it on the market at,” King told the audience. “I decided to take it because it would draw so much attention and it would be a big press piece.”

Rachel King, of SERHANT., speaks at Inman Luxury Connect in Las Vegas on Monday, Aug. 7. Photo by AJ Canaria.

King said she needed to balance the benefits from exposure through news coverage with the reality that homes priced too high today aren’t selling easily.

The New York listing was taken off the market without selling.

“When that listing doesn’t sell that is also very public,” King said. “The higher price the listing, the more exposure it definitely gets, whether that’s good or bad. So keep that in mind when you’re committing yourself and your reputation to align with that listing.”

Now is the time for luxury agents to shoot straight with their high net worth clients, King and Frances Katzen, an associate broker with Douglas Elliman, told the crowd.

Being transparent when a seller has unrealistic expectations might actually help earn their business over the long run, Katzen said.

Frances Katzen, of Douglas Elliman, talks about her journey in luxury real estate at Inman Luxury Connect on Monday, Aug. 7. Photo by AJ Canaria.

“I’m a big believer in honesty is the best policy. Say what you think, not what they want to hear,” Katzen said. “When you do that, even if you don’t get it the first time they come back and say, ‘You told me that price and I didn’t want to hear it. I’m now ready.’”

“That goes a long way for people,” she added. “Tell the truth, no matter what.”

Katzen focuses on New York and Florida with plans to expand into Texas and the South Hamptons.

She became a professional ballet dancer straight out of high school. An injury in 2006 left her at a crossroads: Try to find a job without a college degree or try something else. She chose real estate.

Within four years, she said, she was among the top 10 highest-grossing commission earners in the company, a spot she’s held.

“I think it comes down to just being nice. It’s not hard. It’s free. And it goes a long way,” Katzen said. “It really does. Especially in an environment that is so fast-paced and aggressive. People are unarmed by it and don’t forget it.”

King said she’s been intentional about who she affiliates with. It’s led to a network of clients with high-end listings in the rental and for-sale markets.

“I pitched…67 luxury units starting at $3 million all the way up to $10 million,” she said. “I didn’t know the developer. I got that because I know the closet designer.”

“What I like to do is just align myself with people who share like-minded clients,” King said.

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