Paparazzi, glitzy parties, your name in the newspapers…
For most, it’s not.
In fact, for most luxury real estate professionals who are lucky enough to break into celebrity real estate, it’s rare for some of their biggest deals to go public.
The reality is, working with celebrity clients is less glitz and glam and more privacy and discretion than most people think.
That’s why we spoke to Kofi Nartey, celebrity real estate agent and instructor for The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing (The Institute), about what it really takes to become a celebrity real estate agent—and why working with celebrities can be one of the most demanding roles a luxury real estate professional can take on.
How Do You Become a Celebrity Real Estate Agent?
When it comes to figuring out how to work with luxury clients, everyone will have a unique story about how and why they chose their path. Working with celebrities is no different.
For Nartey, he knew both traditional and luxury real estate were saturated markets and wanted a niche that made it easy to stand out.
While most novice real estate professionals might shy away from becoming a celebrity real estate agent, Nartey knew he had something to offer those clientele.
He says, “Initially I started focusing on condos and townhomes, but I had also played sports and worked in entertainment for over 10 years. So I knew I understood that world better than other people in my industry—I wanted to service that niche with that increased understanding.”
And frankly, this point alone is worth marinating on.
Nartey knew he had something special to offer these clients—not the other way around.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to assume working with celebrities will offer more money, more notoriety and more connections. But that’s not the case if you’re not well-equipped to offer referral-worthy service and establish a solid foundation of mutual trust.
Again, it’s not all parties and glamour.
And while it’s not entirely necessary to have existing connections to this world of clientele to break into their circles, it’s critical for luxury professionals to ask themselves if they truly feel aligned with serving this particular market before taking the plunge.
What About Overcoming Intimidation and Limiting Beliefs?
Like starting any new business, it’s normal for fear, doubt and limiting beliefs to creep in. The sweaty palms before calls, checking your texts and emails every five minutes for a response from a new prospect—it’s all part of the game for a new celebrity real estate agent.
At the same time, working with the rich and famous can reveal an extra layer of intimidation.
To combat that fear? Nartey says what you do with the information we all have access to will determine your success.
That means how you use The Institute’s done-for-you Luxury Market Reports, your Online Wealth Lookup tool, and even the more experienced luxury professionals around you in your network can make or break your foray into celebrity real estate.
The key, as always, is to provide more value than your competitors.
That’s why Nartey also advises luxury real estate professionals to check in with themselves and honestly evaluate if it’s the right time in their career to jump into the celebrity real estate space—or if they need a little help during the process.
He says, “The first biggest mistake is trying too early in your career, the second is trying to do it alone. For me, I made the second mistake…I would have taken on a mentor, I would have taken on some co-listings with agents who had more experience in the space already.”
He goes on to explain, “With the bigger luxury or celebrity clients, you usually get that one shot. You get one chance. If you blow it because you’re inexperienced, you may never get another at bat.”
Too shy to call up a more experienced agent to ask for some guidance or to co-list?
Nartey says the key is to make sure there’s something in it for them, too. Asking to co-list means they’ll get to share the commission with you, and in turn, you get to see the process of listing a celebrity listing from start to finish.
Nartey says he recently agreed to this after getting a call from an agent he had never met before—his point being that you really never know until you ask, and a phone call won’t hurt.
Kofi’s Secret to Keeping ‘Lifetime’ Clients as a Celebrity Real Estate Agent
At their core, celebrities are just people, and people don’t like to be “sold.” They want to know their luxury real estate professional has their best interests at heart.
Nartey says, “Come from a place of giving. You should be giving from your gifts, your talents and your resources. If you’re giving from those places, it’s more authentic and more genuine, and clients understand that. Sometimes you’ll tell them no, that they shouldn’t take a deal or agree to certain conditions—even if that means no commission for you. But that’s how they become a lifetime client.”
He says a big part of the trust needed to establish mutually-beneficial relationships with celebrity clients is for them to quite literally trust that you know what you’re doing.
Nartey reiterates that if you don’t feel confident that you know the process from start to finish, it’s okay to “lock arms” with someone who does to get you through your first few deals.
He says, “Again, something I would have done differently early on is take on a mentor. And The Institute is like a mentor to a lot of agents. When you have that level of resources, scripts, marketing materials, ideas, understanding luxury clientele…that’s the kind of learning curve you have to get past to then service this industry. Attending the events, listening to the podcast, doing the trainings, even just being a member of The Institute is a continuous value-add for agents in the industry.”
Want to Have an Absolute Advantage in the Luxury Real Estate Space?
Becoming a member of The Institute gives you access to some of the top producers in the industry and done-for-you marketing tools that give you an unfair advantage.
The Institute also offers a wide range of resources for you to invest in yourself at any stage in your luxury real estate career—even if it hasn’t begun yet.
– Visit your Membership Portal for brand-new training sessions, and check out our book, Rich Buyer Rich Seller: The Real Estate Agents’ Guide to Marketing Luxury Homes, which is available for free to all members of The Institute and also available on Amazon.
Diane Hartley is the president of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, a premier independent authority in training and designation for real estate agents working in the upper-tier residential market. Hartley brings her passion for luxury marketing and more than 20 years of experience growing and leading businesses to her role as president of the Institute.