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Deep-Pocket Clients Expect a Superior Level of Service

VALLEY BUSINESS | MILLION-DOLLAR BABIES: CASHING IN
ON THE REAL ESTATE BOOM

Sales: Brokers say it takes more effort to sell luxury properties, doing everything from hiring a limousine to finding a dog kennel.

June 08, 1999|ROBERTA G. WAX | SPECIAL TO THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
 

It takes more than an Armani suit and a new Mercedes-Benz to be an estate broker wheeling and dealing million-dollar mansions. Appearances are important, but brokers say the real secret to success is going the extra mile for clients.

People with the money to buy a luxury home are often busy professionals who demand a high level of service, brokers say. And because a 5% or 6% commission on a multimillion-dollar sale is a handsome chunk of change, sellers expect to get their money's worth from a broker.

"It takes a high level of service," said Jim Pascucci, an Encino-based broker. "It's almost like being a concierge."

Pascucci and other brokers say extra services may include paying for a painter or landscaper to spruce up the mansion, arranging for a locksmith or finding a kennel to house the dogs when the home is being shown.

Other extra touches might include hand-delivering documents or hiring a limousine to view properties--offering champagne and hors d'oeuvres during the ride, of course.

"Clients at this level are very intelligent, educated and sophisticated," Diab said.

And picky, brokers said. Still, there is usually some wiggle room.

Maurice Kozak of Fred Sands Estates once had a client who said he wanted an estate with a tennis court. But the house Kozak showed him had only a small paddle tennis court.

"Have you ever tried paddle tennis?" Kozak asked. "It's fun."

The client hadn't, so Kozak took him onto the court. They played, it was fun, the client bought the house.

But it isn't always so easy.

"There is a tremendous amount of money, work, trust and responsibility involved with listing a multimillion-dollar property," Kozak said. "When you're dealing with millions of dollars, people really have to trust you. There's no room for mistakes. It can be very stressful.

"I work seven days a week," Kozak added. "You must return phone calls promptly. You must always be available. Everything has to be first-class."

That goes for marketing, too. Spending their own money, estate brokers hire professional photographers, buy photo ads in newspapers and upscale magazines, and even print and mail full-color brochures.

Realtors can easily spend $10,000 to $15,000 in promotions, said broker Alfie Shanfeld, who works with his wife, Myrna, in the Jon Douglas Coldwell Banker preview property division in Encino.

The Shanfelds recently spent $5,200 on a brochure for a $3.75-million estate.

"Sellers want to know they are getting the [marketing] quality and prestige to fit their house," said Shanfeld, who might send as many as 10,000 brochures to real estate agents every four or five weeks to alert them to specific listings and "reinforce that they should call us when it comes to estate property."

"We might spend $1,200 to $2,400 a month on [newspaper] ads with photos," Alfie Shanfeld said. "Buyers and sellers see our photos and know we are estate brokers. You can't hedge on [advertising] money."

The Diabs use a monthly newsletter to keep in touch with about 750 potential clients. They also advertise in daily newspapers and specialty markets, such as the Wall Street Journal, Daily Variety, even Prudential's own Dream House magazine, which goes to Fortune 500 executives.

Working in the million-dollar market also requires good contacts, and maybe a lucky break or two.

"Breaking into estate sales is extremely difficult because people [who buy million-dollar-plus property] go mostly on recommendations of friends or business acquaintances," Pascucci said.

It's kind of like breaking into Hollywood, he said.

Pascucci and his wife, Christel, got their big break 20 years ago while "door-knocking" in the Lake Encino housing tract. They met developer Gilbert Platt, who had just built two $2-million homes.

"He liked us, gave us a shot, and we sold both houses," Pascucci said. "It snowballed. The first one is always the hardest."

The duo works through Re / Max, concentrating on the west Valley, including Calabasas, Woodland Hills and Westlake Village.

Kozak also got his first million-dollar listing "by old-fashioned door-knocking," where he met a corporate vice president who liked Kozak's style and listed with him. "And then he sold me his huge, '78 silver Mercedes," Kozak recalled with a laugh.

That was 18 years ago, and he hasn't looked back. Today, Kozak sells mostly south of Ventura Boulevard from Studio City to Westlake.

The Shanfelds moved into the million-dollar market through contacts they made as investors in L.A. Weekly. One of their first clients was TV star Bob Saget, who bought a house in Sherman Oaks.

Soon, the Shanfelds were being brought on as estate experts by appraisers, probate attorneys and others. That's when they felt they had made it.

 

Attn. (1993)

Make a request for more information regarding your next real estate purchase or sale

Do you have an upcoming real estate transaction? Please fill out the brief form below and you will be contacted in a timely fashion. Thanks again and remember there is absolutely no obligation.

This section is designed to give you some ideas as to the level of service as a Encino Realtor that I provide. I service the communities of not only Encino, but also Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, Malibu, Studio City, Hidden Hills, and Calabasas, Agoura, Westlake as well as Los Angeles County, CA. Receiving thanks from clients who have had successful real estate purchases is largely due to the fact that I always assess the needs of my real estate clients and provide them with a level of service that is second to none.

My real estate services as a Realtor extend to the areas of Encino, Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, Malibu, Studio City, Hidden Hills, Calabasas, Agoura, Westlake and other areas here in Los Angeles County, CA. In this site you find real estate and homes for sale in Encino and all other Los Angeles County areas which include Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, Malibu, Studio City, Hidden Hills, and Calabasas, Agoura, Westlake. There is no doubt that providing the ideal level of real estate service will mean that you will be able to meet all of your real estate objectives.

Please also note that if you are interested in residential real estate services, condos, rentals, commercial real estate, Realtor referrals, investment properties, apartments, and all other real estate, I can help. Thanks again for visiting and be sure to contact me regarding any real estate buying or selling need, whether large or small.

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Maurice Kozak - Email Mauricekozak@gmail.com
16501 Ventura Blvd • Encino, CA 91436
Cell: (818) 612-0204 • DRE# 855948



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