Lee Mintz wants you to know that she’ll always pick up the phone.
The Partners Trust agent — whose rolodex ranges from Rihanna to NBA superstars to their masseuses — told The Real Deal her one true secret to success: Always be available.
She also gave us the lowdown on the next big neighborhoods for professional athletes, why leasing pays off, and the Calabasas-Kardashian connection. Read on for the full interview.
Are you experiencing the holiday season slump right now?
Not at all! We’re gearing up for the NFL off-season, and off-season is always busy. I just booked leases for three NFL players yesterday. The playoffs are in January but the guys who won’t be playing are already planning their vacations. During the off-season is when they look for houses to buy.
Do you have certain teams you’re especially close to?
I have at least one guy on every team: Bears, Jaguars, Dolphins, Titans, Steelers, Seahawks, Broncos…And they’re all referrals. I’ve been doing this for 16 years. I have a great relationships with my clients. And when it’s time for them to buy, I deliver.
What’s your trick for maintaining these relationships?
My career is like a conveyer belt: I plan my vacations around my clients. I talk to their financial advisors, sports agents, their wives. Everyday, I’m in the sports pages seeing who got fired, who got cut. Divorces are crucial and pregnancies are great. I breathe, live, eat, sleep real estate. It’s a lifestyle.
Are you friends with your clients?
These guys are 23 to 27, but I relate to them. They think I’m their age, but I’m really not. I try to befriend them — with an arm’s distance, of course. If they need me to pick them up when they’re landing at LAX, I’ll be there. I’ll find them a car, housekeepers, dry cleaning. They call me for everything and I always pick up the phone. And then they start trusting me.
How do you split your business between leases and sales?
About 30 percent for both, and I also do investment sales on multifamily properties. I represent apartment developers and get some of my clients to invest in these properties.
Why do you stick with leases even though sales are more lucrative?
Leasing turns into sales, if you build a relationship. It’s all about the relationship, and I push it. If my client is renting for $9,000 a month, I tell him that’s a mortgage on a $1.8 million house. They’re young, they’re new money, and all of a sudden, they’ve got millions. I can show them the numbers, and they listen. One of my clients, a Knicks player, I’ve been housing for five years. Now he’s looking to buy In the $5 million range.
You told us in January that the Rams’ move could bring $200M to $400M to the LA housing market. Are we seeing progress in this?
I’m surprised by the number of sales we’ve seen. I thought for sure the first year they wouldn’t be buying as much as they are, since the stadium hasn’t even been built. I’ve seen $10 million, $20 million houses, which is higher than I anticipated. Jeff Fisher just got fired this week and he already bought a house. And next year is going to be even better for real estate, because they’ll know the area, they’ll know where they want to live. Some guys are still in hotels right now.
What neighborhoods are the players flocking to?
Mostly out in Thousand Oaks, Agoura and Calabasas, [as well as] Woodland Hills and Sherman Oaks. Most of them are all Valley. Once the stadium gets built, they’re going to buy Downtown luxury condos. It’s a great place for guys to live. They pull up to the lobby, someone hands them a bottle of water and parks their car — the whole highrise luxury experience for bachelors.
Do you think this “metropolitan living” trend is here to stay in L.A.?
I’m surprised it’s not all the way here yet. You look at the Wilshire Corridor — a great area to live. You get a sunset view, but there’s nothing to walk around over there. But this is where we’re going. We’re gonna be the next Manhattan.
What are some of the trendiest neighborhoods right now?
The Oaks in Calabasas is where every retired athlete lives. Hidden Hills too. Drake, J. Lo are there. For the younger generation, it’s going to be Downtown: big lofts, open space, lots of luxury. And Beverly Hills will always be the favorite for family-oriented clients of mine.
The Kardashians love Calabasas too…
Yes, but it was hot before some Kardashians were even born.
Do you have any funny stories about some of your celebrity clients?
One of the stranger requests I got was from Ty Lawson, of the the Sacramento Kings. He’s the best point guard in the league, and he’s been a client of mine for years and years and years. Some time ago, he was staying on Mulholland Drive with his brother, and I got a call in the middle of the night. He said, “Lee, there’s a seven-foot snake in front of my house, what do I do?” and I said, “You need to hang up the phone right now and call the police,” and then I hear this dup-dup-dup sound, and it turned out that they started shooting at the snake with a gun.
Was that the strangest request?
I get all kinds of stupid stuff. I get, “Lee, there’s something dripping under my sink!” at 2 in the morning. “Lee, my girlfriend left, I need you to pack up the house.” The scariest was the call I got from Rihanna about the stalker. This was at like 5 a.m. I jumped in the car, and drove to the house, where the alarm was going off and the SWAT team had come.
Having to deal with all of that sounds pretty terrible.
It’s not the most glamorous part of the job, when they call you for maintainence and snakes and coyotes. It’s very annoying and stressful, but at the end of the day, it pays off. A lot of agents won’t pick up the phone. But that’s where they go wrong. They’ll lose the relationship.
How did you get your start in real estate?
It fell in my lap. I had no desire to sell houses. I wanted to go into the FBI, actually. I worked as a P.I. when I was younger. When I was looking for a new job, my friend told me to call a landlord she knew, this chauvinist pig. So I faxed him my resume. For two weeks straight, I called him. And then finally he called me back, and hired me. I worked with him for eight years. Then I got into resi and leasing. [NBA player] Brandon Rush was my first client.