Aaron Kirman, President of Aaroe Estates at John Aaroe Group, is one of the leading real estate agents in the USA and has repeatedly been named Top Agent in Los Angeles. With over 3 Billion in sales, Kirman represents the finest estates across the globe and was ranked #13 in the USA by the Wall Street Journal. He has an extensive client base featuring those who seek the luxury lifestyle including heads of industry, celebrities, royalty, major lending institutions and foreign investors. As a prominent figure in the luxury real estate market, Kirman has received international acclaim from the Architectural and Estate communities and represents some of the most exclusive residences across the globe including: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann Residence, Frank Gehry’s Schnabel House, Lions Gate by Paul Williams and the only Oscar Niemeyer in North America. Aaron’s vast knowledge and expertise in selling exclusive properties has helped him to procure some of the highest prices in Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills and Malibu. Kirman attributes his success to his vast marketing and advertising strategies, partners, market knowledge, exclusive contact base and true love of luxury sales. He is sought by many developers to sell multi-unit projects including a private island in the Pacific, Turks and Caicos, and the W Hotels. Many developers, architects and designers contact him prior to construction and completion of their projects to take advantage of his long track record of success to insure the design, architecture and plan would appeal to the right high end buyers. Kirman is often featured in various media outlets including CNBC, The New York Times, CNN. The Los Angeles Times, Variety, the London Times, E! Entertainment and CBS. Media sources often call for information and quotes as he is a go to source for current real estate insight. The oh so handsome real estate mogul talks to our Editor -in- Chief about life, love, business and how to invest in Real Estate.
BWI: How did you start in Real Estate business?
AK: I started when I really young, when I was about 18. It has always been a passion of mine, ever since I was a little kid. Now, everyone wants to be an agent, with so many of us on TV. People see the glitz and glamour, so many beautiful houses and the money, but when I started it wasn’t as hip as it is now. Real Estate has always been something I wanted to do. I always loved houses, architecture and design since I was about 8 years old.
BWI: Where did that come from? Is anyone in your family in the Real Estate business?
AK: No, in fact I used to drive my parents crazy because they had no intention of moving whatsoever and I would make them stop at open houses with me.
BWI: Where did you grow up? Tell more about what your childhood looked like.
AK: I grew up in very much middle class family right here in the Valley (California). I definitely didn’t enjoy the luxury lifestyle I have now and the wows of financial success as I do now, but I certainly had an amazing childhood with the best parents. I grew up with a learning disability and I also knew I was gay from a very young age, so I was a little bit of an outsider. I was also socially awkward and didn’t have the confidence I have now. My family has always been very supportive and my parents did everything they could to get me to where I am today. My mom took some time off to help me learn how to read. Apparently it took a really long time for me to learn how to speak and she was able to help me. I really credit her for it. My mom and I traveled a lot growing up, even though we weren’t wealthy. She was on a quest to learn Spanish so we would always go to Mexico City, El Salvador, Guatemala and traveled the world. I think that opened my eyes to how the world is, the mix of rich and poor but ultimately I saw people in general were happy. Understanding that sometimes the little things in life are what makes someone happy was a very valuable lesson for me.
BWI: Do you think having your learning disabilities helped drive you to be so successful? Did you feel you had to prove yourself ?
AK: Yeah, you know…the saying is true, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I truly believe that. Ultimately, everything someone goes through contributes to who they become. I don’t know if it was a factor, but I know Real Estate was what I was good at and I was blessed to find out at a very young age. That also helped me to become successful because I knew what I wanted to do. I was consistent and I stayed focused at it.
BWI: So, was it your ability to sell or to connect with people that made you good at Real Estate?
AK: Like anything in life it takes practice. More than practice this business takes confidence. Now I think what makes me good at what I do is the fact that I can connect with people, so I’m able to figure out who someone is and be comfortable. I go to meetings and lunches all the time with different people and what ends up happening is a deeper human connection. I just went to lunch with someone yesterday whom I didn’t know and we talked about everything, just about life and where his daughter may go to school, investments, music, just everything but real estate. In the end we closed a sale on a $40 million property. Im a very well rounded person, I read a lot, I travel a lot and I have a lot of hobbies so when I meet someone I can see what they are all about. It takes time and it takes practice to build your own authentic self.
BWI: Besides extremely successful, you are very handsome. How is your love life fitting into business life?
AK: Well, to be honest my love life is….I’m single (laughs). I ended my last relationship a little over a year ago. I’m single again and mostly having fun right now but open to finding the one. I trust the universe will give that to me when the time is right.
BWI: Part of your portfolio is the only Oscar Niemeyer USA building, perhaps the last of the real modernist architects. How does this factor affect the pricing and significance of a property?
AK: The story with that was someone bought that property to tear it down and the city of Santa Monica gave them a real hard time. So they contacted me and said they wanted to be respectful of the property and asked for my help. I found a buyer who restored the place. Honestly, a piece of property like that is priceless and a true piece of art. It’s a real trophy and it can never be replicated again, much like a painting. I consider that property to be like a Picasso. It’s very difficult to put a value on that but it would a very premium price for sure, if it were to go on the market today.
BWI: We are seeing more and more price negotiations and savvy luxury buyers in the Real Estate space, how has this affected the market?
AK: We are definitely seeing a softening in the luxury market right now. Our first quarter was a little bit slow but it’s picking up now, so looks like there is some life coming back. We need to be more conscious of our pricing. We need to be right on track with our prices. If we are too high it will not sell, it has to be right. If the price is right, then it moves fast. Everyone works hard for their money and wants to get the best deals they can and so do sellers. This is the challenge of my job, to make it work for both buyers and sellers, and to make sure everyone is comfortable.
BWI: What is the best advice you can give someone looking to buy investment properties?
AK: Really do your homework. Really know what you are buying and getting yourself into. Don’t just talk to one person, talk to two or three and don’t just talk to brokers. Talk to the store owners, talk to the neighbors, get a good feel for the area. Also, understand that Real Estate is a good long term investment, but make sure you’re getting a great deal.
BWI: What are some of the trends you are seeing now in the luxury real estate market?
AK: Like anything else, Real Estate is cyclical. Price negotiation is more prominent now and we are also seeing a larger inventory, so people are more confident to negotiate more.
BWI: You are now expending internationally, why Asia and why now?
AK: Asia is the fastest growing luxury market. There is so much money being invested in Asia right now and the population is so large that we are just starting to scratch the surface. If you go to China, you see luxury brands on every corner. A lot of what I have to do is focus my energy in targeting wealth. East Asia has a lot of money and developments happening now in Hong Kong, Singapore. All those places are big money markets. Even Brazil despite all its political turbulence, still has a huge potential, specially now with the currency being so low. We will see a huge market drive for Real Estate because it will be cheaper. My job is to follow the path of wealth and this takes me all over the world.