A conversation with Tracy Tutor Maltas, the newest star of “Million Dollar Listing LA”
The Douglas Elliman broker talks aspirational pricing, being the first female cast member and more
From TRD LA: In May, Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan lamented the lack of female brokers on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing” franchise in an op-ed for Inman News.
“[C]an’t Million Dollar Listing New York or Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles feature at least one female agent?” the Stribling & Associates president wrote.
It appears, at long last, they can.
Along with the usual dose of deals and drama, viewers who tune into tomorrow night’s premiere of MDLLA will also be treated to a fresh face face: Douglas Elliman broker Tracy Tutor Maltas.
The Real Deal recently caught up with Maltas, who’s one of the firm’s top-producing agents in Beverly Hills. She discussed aspirational pricing in the L.A. market, what it’s like being the first woman on the show and more.
(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
How’d you get your start in the business? I came out of USC as a theater major. I was waiting tables and auditioning and decided that wasn’t for me anymore. I went to work for my dad in the construction business and I realized I didn’t really like it as much as I liked sales. A friend of mine got into real estate and I ended up sitting down with the manager at Sotheby’s and said to myself, ‘I think I can do this.’ We met for lunch and that’s where it began. I kind of fell into it, to be honest.
Million Dollar Listing is entering its tenth season. How did you get connected to the show? Organically, actually. I was on an episode last season with Josh Altman. He had a property in the Hollywood Hills and I showed it on camera. [Bravo] ended up getting in touch with me and said, ‘You know, we had a really good time shooting with you, would you be interested in sitting down with us?’
Was it intimidating to join a cast that’s so used to the camera and have been working together for so long? It was intimidating. But it was exciting at the same time. It took me a minute to get used to a camera following me around in my professional life but eventually I made the adjustment. We’ve been shooting for nearly 10 months, and right around month three or four I became more used to it. It’s been a blast ever since.
Is it hard to work with sellers when there’s a camera in your face? I’ll tell you this — a lot of my clientele would not be interested in participating in the show. But the clients that have wanted to participate have really enjoyed it. Some of them started out a little skeptical, but once the cameras were on, they began to have a little more fun. I was surprised by how many people came forward and said ‘You know? Let’s do this.’
Were you ever concerned about the reality TV stigma? Every single broker that has had the opportunity to be on “Million Dollar Listing” has had an enormously successful career. I think it’s an incredible opportunity I’ve been given and I don’t intend on wasting it.
Do you think it’ll have much of an impact on your business? That’s exactly why I’m doing it. I’m at a point in my life — I’ve worked really hard to get where I am. My kids are old enough now and I’m ready to hunker down and take my business to the next level. The show can have a very positive effect on your business. It’s proven. Look at these guys’ careers, they’re all flourishing and have been able to manage it, why can’t I?
Douglas Elliman has a big presence on the show, with the Altman brothers in Los Angeles and Fredrik Eklund in New York. Do you get a bigger commission split for appearing on television? Absolutely not. Howard [Lorber] and Dottie [Herman] very much support our decision to participate on the show. But we don’t get treated any differently than any other broker that’s closing deals for the company.
In ten seasons at “Million Dollar Listing LA,” you are the first female cast member. How does it feel to be a pioneer for women on the show? It’s a shame that I’m the first woman to appear on a show that’s been on for 10 years. Women dominate real estate across the country. So for me to be the first woman to appear on the show says a lot about where we still are today. That said, I’m very proud and excited to be the first. And I hope I’m not the last.
You’ve been open about the difficulties of striking a balance between home and work life. Has the show added to that struggle? The show has added another 15 hours a week of shooting, of extra time that’s away from home. It’s definitely been a struggle and it takes an extraordinary amount of organization to make sure that my calendar makes sense so I can get home to my family at a reasonable hour. You will see on the show what I go through trying to negotiate my way through being a good wife, a good mom and a good real estate agent.
We’ve seen an uptick in aspirational pricing recently in L.A., with the Chartwell estate asking $350 million and Nile Niami’s spec mansion set to list for $500 million. Will we see more of it or is it bound to end? There’s a market for these insane spec mansions, and that’s really what Los Angeles real estate is all about. We’re pushing the envelope in terms of building 55,000-square-foot houses. The bigger the better, the more amenities the better. Once you get $200 million and $300 million, you may as well go to $500 million. The numbers become inconsequential. It’s what they end up selling for that matters most, but I think we’ll continue to see these asking prices rise.
Is that reasonable though? Do brokers really think these homes will sell for those prices? I’ll never say never. Just when I thought we’d never reach a $100 million sale, we did.
A recent report found that luxury homes are spending twice as long on the market than they did during the same period last year. Any concerns about that?
[The market] fluctuates. It depends on the inventory that’s coming to the market. In the third quarter, we’ve seen an influx of $40 million, $50 million, $60 million homes and they don’t sell overnight. The higher these prices get, the longer it’s going to take to sell them. There aren’t a lot of buyers in the $200 million market. We’re going to see longer days on market, but it’s not affecting where these homes are trading. They’re just sitting on the market longer.
To wrap us up, describe Season 10 in one word. Drama!