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The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing hosted its annual event, Leaders in Luxury, for members this month at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. An array of speakers, including leaders in luxury real estate, technology, marketing, economics and creative sales techniques, were on hand, addressing how agents can incorporate their insights effectively into their businesses.

In her opening statement, Institute President Diane Hartley addressed the concern of many participants that real estate is in a pattern of change. Hartley believes that 2019 will be a year of opportunity, and a defining moment for those with the agility to be innovative and adaptable to the market.

Marketing Award for Excellence

Diane Hartley, President, Institute for Luxury Home Marketing; and Jordan Ayan, of Keller Williams Sonoran Living, Marketing Award for Excellence Winner










At the event, The Institute awarded its Marketing Award for Excellence, which recognizes members who are raising the bar in the industry with innovative and effective marketing for luxury homes. This year, attendees submitted entries in the following categories:

  • Social Marketing
  • Personal Branding
  • Innovative Marketing

The finalists highlighted a sophisticated data-driven market report strategy; a focused approach to using a single social media platform; the journey of recognition that created an inspirational rebrand; and the risk and reward of leading the way for a new professional sports team to a market. All attendees voted on their choice for the winner. The finalists were: Lora Brumett, RE/MAX Ability Plus, Lafayette, Ind.; Herman Chan, Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, Berkeley, Calif.; and Zar Zangeneh, Luxe Estates & Lifestyles, Las Vegas, Nev.; and the winner was Jordan Ayan, Keller Williams Sonoran Living, Scottsdale, Ariz.

‘The Groundlings at Work’

Actors from The Groundlings Theatre & School host an improv workshop.











The event also included an afternoon workshop, led by experienced actors and instructors from The Groundlings Theatre & School, on the theatrical technique of improvisation.

“I have a new appreciation for improv—not just the professional acting talent, but what an important difference it can make in changing how we perceive and then react in immediate situations and moments of stress,” said Lisa Echea, an attendee from RE/MAX House of Real Estate in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Kofi Nartey, Institute Trainer

Ryan Serhant, a broker in New York City, former actor and current Million Dollar Listing New York star, featured the value of improv workshops as a sales training tool in his book “Sell It Like Serhant.” He explains how the art of improv adds value to a real estate transaction, because it teaches you to truly listen before reacting; learning “yes and,” rather than using “yes but;” and developing the ability to feel confident and comfortable in situations that are unexpected, or just plain difficult.

“The workshop with The Groundlings was invaluable,” said Kofi Nartey, of The Nartey Group at Compass in Beverly Hills, Calif., and an Institute Trainer. “In a shifting market, we must be able to shift. Improv teaches this; more importantly, it emphasizes listening, then responding.”

A Market Shift ‘From Great to Good’

Lesley Appleton-Young, chief economist for the California Association of REALTORS®, gave attendees a new view on the current real estate market. In a masterfully in-depth review, she highlighted the number of variables that impact a market, coining the current market as moving “from great to good.” She cautioned that “investment in real estate needs to be viewed over the long term, not just compared to the last month—and only then will a clearer story become obvious.”


The luxury market is often considered a barometer during times of change, but right now, only listing prices are decreasing, not the final selling price.


The dynamic Tony Giordano closed out the event with an insightful presentation about how to implement various social media platforms successfully to generate a new audience of affluent buyers and sellers. 

“Tony’s presentation was powerful and direct,” said Lucio Bernal of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury in Palm Springs, Calif., and an Institute Trainer. His book, “Social Agent 2.0,” is an effortless and straightforward read, with detailed reasons on the how and why agents can be more effective with social media platforms.”

For more information about becoming a member of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing and attending events such as Leaders in Luxury, please visit

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