Today we are here with President of the International Estates Division of John Aaroe Group, Aaron Kirman. He 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 #12 in the U.S by the Wall Street Journal, up one slot from last year. He 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, Liongate by Paul Williams and the only Oscar Niemeyer in North America.
Q: Aaron, can you tell me what lead you to the niche of elite luxury real estate?
A: While I don’t limit myself to luxury real estate exclusively, the $5M + properties certainly account for a significant portion of my portfolio. If you’re going to be a leader in this industry, you need to know how the low and high markets are performing at any given time, and in comparison to one another. The process of selling residential real estate, whether it’s a high or low priced property are very similar, you will spend the same amount of time and energy often selling a $1 M beach getaway as you would a $90 M penthouse.
I’ve always enjoyed the luxury market, however, and have appreciated beautiful homes since the time I was six years old. One my most memorable pastimes is attending open houses with my parents, it became an obsessive hobby even as young child. As I got older, I came to appreciate the incredible architecture and unique composition of the luxury homes. It’s very much like dealing in art, these trophy properties are truly masterpieces. A $40 M home is priced accordingly, no detail goes unnoticed, you can expect world class details and features floor to ceiling, wall to wall. What may seem to be minor details can alter the price tag of a home by millions of dollars.
As I grew in my career and developed a deep understanding of real estate and its variables, I became better positioned to work with higher net worth individuals and major real estate developers and investors, today my clients include members of royal families, prominent political figures, A-list celebrities, and Fortune 100 CEOs.
Q: What has been a key element of your success?
A: Life balance. There is this preconceived notion that we have to sacrifice our personal interests and relationships to be successful, but that’s neither fulfilling nor sustainable. I believe if you live your life to the fullest, successful business will follow. For me, this means taking time to meditate, go for hikes and travel with my family and friends. It’s these experiences and interests that make me a more dynamic person which is what attracts clients. I am also able to deliver more for others when I make myself a priority.
I have achieved this type of balance because I am so passionate about what I do. My personal and professional interests naturally align so I am able to translate value from all aspects of my life into success.
Q: Every successful entrepreneur has encountered failure. Can you give me an example of a failure earlier in your life that became a life lesson leading you to success later in your career?
A: I did not start out on a conventional path towards success. From early childhood, I suffered from visual and speech impairments as well as a learning disability which deeply impacted my academic performance and overall confidence. I learned that where there’s a will, there’s a way. I worked around my disabilities and ultimately overcome them.
That said, I believe we need to stop avoiding the idea of failure. Success and failure are not mutually exclusive. Every day, you are faced with challenges, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, it’s simply part of the process. It’s important to internalize this notion so you can keep your perception of yourself positive. Don’t put too much weight on any given success or failure, rather celebrate your wins but learn from your losses.
Q: What has been the most interesting property you have listed to date?
A: I had the only Oscar Niemeyer in North America. The city of Santa Monica actually reached out to me to help save the house. Since the land was more expensive than the house, they were planning to tear it down. I found a buyer that was willing to pay a premium price so it could be properly restored. This house is like a Picasso and should be preserved and protected for future generations.
Q: What trends have you seen in the luxury home market? What’s happening now?
A: The market is incredibly schizophrenic. Changes in the global economy and the fluctuating exchange rates are definitely affecting foreign buyers. As a result, the US is currently the safest place to park your money. I think high net worth Europeans will continue looking to escape the current turmoil and put roots down in the US. Additionally, the Chinese are still heavily invested in buying here. I go to China every two months and the momentum of interest has not weakened despite their economic struggles.
Q: When a client has a large list of wants and you know from the start that it will be impossible to meet them all, how do you approach a compromise?
A: Transparency is key and I always try to manage expectations from the get-go. I never want to string people along because I know that will lead to disappointment and a loss of trust. With that said, every client has a large list of wants when you’re dealing in luxury real estate. These are high-net-worth individuals who don’t compromise in life, and I always try to help them get what they really want. It’s up to me to properly advise them while finding creative ways to reach their vision.