By Stephanie Sims
High-end, luxury clients, and especially celebrity clients, require time and effort – not just in terms of customer service, but to keep a deal from falling through, too.
“It is so hard these days to do just that – to get the deal to go through,” says Janelle Gordon, an agent with Koenig & Strey who represented Rosie O’Donnell when she both bought and sold her Lakeview home. “It’s a lot more complicated than it used to be.”
An example of complications gone awry happened earlier this year, when Jennifer Hudson almost bought a mansion in Burr Ridge. Unfortunately, that deal fell through. Husband and wife team Chuck and Diana Ivas of RE/MAX Elite represented the seller, and when Hudson was interested in the home, both Ivas and Hudson’s agent agreed to keep the deal quiet, but that didn’t exactly happen.
“When the papers called and the radio shows called, we kept quiet, not only out of respect but also because (Hudson) wasn’t our client,” says Diana Ivas. “Jennifer probably didn’t realize what a big name she was, especially because she was a Chicagoan.”
Unfortunately, neighbors caught wind that Hudson was looking at the house, and the rumor mill started. Even though everyone was secretive (no agents spoke to the media and Hudson never looked at the Burr Ridge home with an extensive entourage), eventually, the media speculation caused Hudson to look for a home elsewhere.
“In hindsight, it’s hard to control something like that, because you have to caution everyone to keep things quiet,” Ivas says. “You have to manage the deal with lots of caution, with paperwork, with working with others, even cautioning the seller, too. It could be weeks or months that this person keeps looking at homes, so you have to keep it quiet so the deal goes through. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, really, to keep a deal together with any client – you have to do due diligence no matter what the purchase price is.”
Besides keeping details quiet, there is one major component that is imperative when it comes to closing luxury deals: communication. The client, the client’s attorney, both agents and, in some cases, the client’s assistants and media teams, need to all be looped in constantly about the current state and any changes with the deal.
“High net worth clients, even ones who are not celebrities, need to be treated as any other client, but with them, you need to have a good trust and network of communication,” Gordon says. “Not only do you need to ask if you can divulge information or make certain things public, like if I could put her home on the MLS, you also need to show them what they want and not what they don’t want, and always have that be communicated. Let the client tell you what to do.”