Go ahead and watch Kofi Natei Nartey sell a house to former NFL star Marcellus Wiley, and you’ll quickly get why the real estate industry in southern California is buzzing about one of its up and coming stars. Mr. Nartey is an agent at The Agency RE, in Beverly Hills (he leads its sports and entertainment division), and his experience is primarily in Los Angeles’s booming luxury market. He is also a featured agent on HGTV’s Selling LA. We talked to him about his goals, professionalism and one very common misperception about the luxury market in L.A.
BlackEnterprise.com: People who have worked with you rave about your professionalism. Talk to us about what they’re referring to.
Kofi Natei Nartey: A professional is a person who is committed to learning and training at a specific craft, and consistently executes at a high level. My clients appreciate my command of the real estate industry, and my ability to bring a level of calm to what can be a highly emotional transaction. Also, I am extremely responsive to my clients’ needs.
Simply stated, people like to know they are in good hands. I have been in this business for over ten years, have closed millions of dollars in transactions, and have trained hundreds of agents. I put every bit of this experience to work for my clients. Also, the majority of my clients come from the sports and entertainment industries and I have had experience in both. That helps me relate to their lifestyles. I understand things like the need for taller doorways or countertops for my NBA clients, or a screening room for my actors, directors, and producers.
What is different about working with celebrity clients and do you have a preference?
Privacy and trust become more critical when working with celebrity clients. Once that trust is established, however, it is a more complete trust. They want to find the best person for the job, turn the work over to that person, and focus on what they do best. Working with my team allows them to stay focused on their craft, while we take care of their real estate needs.
Also, we often work with a representative for the celebrity for a large part of the transaction. Most celebrity clients have managers, agents, and assistants that become an integral part of the buying or selling process. We work with them as a team to take care of the client’s needs. When the celebrity is available, flexibility and agility are important to make everything work with their schedule. I once received a call that one of my celebrity clients was arriving in town in two hours and wanted to see homes that day. We made it happen.
As for a preference, I truly enjoy working with both celebrity and non-celebrity clients because I enjoy working with people. It is very rewarding helping clients with the major transition that real estate can be. It can be just as exciting to help the newly signed athlete find a hip/modern pad as it is to help first time parents find the right family home.
What are your first questions to a high profile client? You seem rather comfortable with former NFL player Marcellus Wiley. How do you establish that relationship with your clients? Is it a balance?
Understanding my client’s motivation for buying or selling a home is most important. Their “Big Why” is what will drive many aspects of their real estate decisions. It is also important to assess their needs as thoroughly as possible up front. That way, I don’t have to waste their time with properties or issues that can be handled by me and my team. Understanding the client’s needs helps me service them better and make the most of my time with them.
There is definitely a careful balance between the business and personal relationship. I get along well with almost all of my clients, but what is most important is finding or selling their home. Closing the deal is usually a prerequisite for any relationship beyond the transaction. I have been invited to movie premieres, concerts, sporting events, and parties. These invites may have come because I was likeable, but more importantly, I delivered on my professional promise and took care of their real estate needs.
What’s the one or two things about luxury real estate people only slightly familiar with the marketplace would be surprised to know?
I sometimes speak at national real estate conventions, and those audiences are always shocked to hear what is NOT considered luxury in the Los Angeles market. I have sold $1M and $2M properties that were not considered luxury homes in Los Angeles. It really depends on the size and location of the property.
People are also surprised to hear stories about clients paying millions of dollars for a property, only to completely remodel it or even tear it down. At the higher price points, people are used to getting exactly what they want. This is the case with their properties as well. One of my colleagues sold a $17M house to a gentleman who bought it to live in while his primary residence was remodeled.
Also, I am often asked what particular celebrities are like to work with. Unfortunately, I can’t always say. It does not pay to kiss and tell in this business.
What are your plans for the future?
I believe we all have a responsibility to discover all of our gifts and talents and share them with the world. We must work to realize our potential in whatever field we are in, and I want to seize all of the opportunities that real estate has placed in front of me.
Ultimately, I will continue to build my team of agents as I pursue my goal of becoming the top sports and entertainment real estate broker in the country. Along the way, I hope to assist and inspire other young agents to have the courage to blaze a path where one never existed.