Connecting with the perfect broker, scheduling showings, finding a pad that meets all your criteria within your price point: Real estate in this town is not for the weak or the impatient.
Now, try adding a flock of fans and a herd of paparazzi to the mix.
Celebs are unable to have a cup of coffee in peace, let alone traipse around Manhattan looking for a new pad. And while they may be used to attention wherever they go, the brokers that deal with them are often not.
On the more moderate side, Paris Hilton paid $5 million earlier this year for a Noho penthouse big enough for her 13 dogs, in a deal brokered by Douglas Elliman’s Raphael De Niro. And “Mad Men” actress Christina Hendricks picked up a $1.2 Million Condo On West 56th Street earlier this year.
The Real Deal spoke with some of the city’s celeb-friendly brokers about the challenges of representing the famous.
On the special skills needed
Raphael De Niro, Douglas Elliman: You have to be ready and able to deal with a lot of handlers, such as assistants, friends and business managers. That is the main difference between dealing with celebrities and non-celebrities. There have been a couple of situations where you have a friend who is thrown into the mix for advice and they have a tendency to send you places that aren’t really aligned with what the client needs and it confuses things. You have to be super-patient and able to do double and triple the work.
Fredrik Eklund, Douglas Elliman: My role as a broker is the same. I need to try to direct them as much as I can. The search, the appointments, putting in an offer: that’s all the same. But the process can be a bit different.
Jason Haber, Warburg Realty: Scheduling can be chaotic. Schedules change at the last minute. The general perception is that a lot of celebrities are late. I haven’t found that to be true. They’re often more on time than other people.
Jared Seligman, Douglas Elliman: Our biggest issue is that our clients don’t have a lot of time. We have a small window to look for something. What will take months for others, we have to pull together in a day or a couple of hours. There’s zero room for error.
De Niro: There’s more work involved. They can be away for long periods of time, or shoot on location for a few months. Whereas someone in finance, often they’re here in New York, which makes the process a lot simpler.
Seligman: We have to be ready on a whim’s notice to change what we’ve been working on. I have a team of ten people who help me. It takes an army to make sure these clients are taken care of 24/7. We don’t turn off.
On privacy and the paparazzi
Jared Seligman, Douglas Elliman: A person’s high-profile nature sometimes dictates what they end up looking for. The level of security and privacy can be very important. A driveway into the building is a deal breaker for some people. Often, they want multiple exits and underground parking.
Eklund: When you’re searching, privacy is very important. Outdoor space in New York is mostly not private. How do you work with that?
Richard Orenstein, Halstead Property: I never sell and tell.
Seligman: Discretion is key. Our office is like a vault. We make sure to keep as much information confidential as humanly possible.
De Niro: Being followed by paparazzi, that’s a nightmare. Because of the last name that I have, I get a little bit of that whether I want it or not. There was a time when I took someone out, where we were being chased by paparazzi. We couldn’t just show up to a showing; we were late for every appointment, because we could not get out of the car. That was with a well-known female celebrity.
Eklund: We did a showing with Kim Kardashian, I’ve never seen anything like it. Literally, thousands of people everywhere.
Seligman: About two years ago, we were chased and my driver was basically rear-ended. So we had a minor collision with paparazzi between appointments. We continued. Luckily the car was OK. If it wasn’t I would’ve had a new car there in five minutes. Paparazzi collisison or not, this job is not for the weak-hearted.
On price point
Seligman: We have people in entertainment looking for units that are less than $5 million to more than $20 million sometimes.
De Niro: Celebrities aren’t the buyers of the biggest apartments in New York. A lot don’t know how long they’re going to be in town. They’re not committed to huge purchases.
On being starstruck
Haber: You’re not there to be a fanboy. This isn’t an opportunity for fandom. You have a job to do whether or not your client is a celebrity or not. When I don’t have a relationship with the listing broker, I’ll make an appointment for my famous client under the name Herb Charles.
Eklund: The first time I showed a celebrity I was really nervous. I locked myself up. I wasn’t the Fredrik I am today. I have shown a lot of celebrities. I’ve shown Leonardo DiCaprio, J.Lo, Daniel Craig, John Legend, Britney Spears, Cameron Diaz. A lot.
Haber: I’ve never shown an apartment to Springsteen, if that happened I don’t know what I would do. Short of that, I wouldn’t be starstruck by anyone. There’s everyone and then there’s Springsteen.
Eklund: I would love to show listings to the Swedish prince. That’d be great.