Two Top Realtor Tell How They Do It, and Disagree
Jackson Hole News & Guide | Business Section
By Mark Huffman
Two top real estate agents from radically different markets told Jackson Realtors on Saturday how they became successful.
They told different stories.
Bernard Uechtritz is a native Australian who “graduated early” at age 17 and managed a palm oil plantation in New Guinea before coming to the United States.
He’s the top-selling Sotheby’s agent in the world and in 2016 led a team that sold the Waggoner Ranch in Texas, which had been listed for $725 million.
Richard Ziegelasch is a New Orleans native who graduated from the University of Georgia and now sells real estate from a Park Avenue address.
He has been in the real estate business only a little more than three years after an investment banking career at Credit Suisse and UBS.
Ziegelasch is the guy who treats clients as if they were neighbors, learning their interests and “fawning over their dogs.”
Uechtritz is a hard-driving man with a plan who picks his clients, tells them how their property will be marketed and doesn’t put up with backtalk.
“I turn things around. I’m a can-do kind of guy,” he said.
Uechtritz sits his potential clients down, outlines a plan to move their property on a tight schedule and lets them know that “I’m the guy who leads the effort.”
It’s business, not personal, he said.
There’s a lot of “competence, trust” involved, but “I don’t want to know about your family or your kids — I’m like your lawyer.”
If people don’t like Uechtritz’s way of doing things, he said, he lets them know “I’m not your guy.” He doesn’t have to take business he doesn’t like: “I’m not a starving broker,” he said.
Calling himself an “anti-broker,” Uechtritz explained that “I’m not really in the real estate business, I’m in the marketing business.”
It’s worked. Uechtritz said he and his people sold about $1 billion worth of property last year and aim to finish this month with $100 million in sales on their way to a predicted $1.2 billion 2019. That’s close to what more than 500 real estate license holders in Teton County sold last year.
Ziegelasch takes a different view and told Realtors at the Global Networking Event put on by Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates that his deal-making involves a lot of friend-making.
Know your business and be at every showing, Ziegelasch said, but also research your clients, know their schools and charities and hobbies, send friendly messages and have friendly conversations that tell you what they want. Be ready to make a connection or offer help, he said.
“Once you’ve helped their children, you’re in for good,” Ziegelasch said.
The personal touch is in keeping with his personality and also has moved some property, he said.
“Everybody knows a broker, and you have to be able to add something,” he said. “We’re selling ourselves, and we have to be trusted.”
He told of negotiating between an out-of-town man who wanted to buy in Greenwich Village and his wife, who preferred the upper East Side, two widely different ways of life in New York.
“She had a rescue dog, I had a rescue dog, we bonded,” Ziegelasch said. “I talked about dogs, showed her where to walk her dog.”
Ziegelasch’s combination of selling real estate, dog gossip and marriage counseling led the wife to give up her dream of the East Side and accept a Greenwich Village place that was better suited for her pup. The husband got to live where he wanted but paid a lot more.
The New York agent said he had just closed a deal for a $53 million condo, and though he he couldn’t give details he said the buyer is “a person we all know, it’ll be in the Wall Street Journal.”
Though the two top Realtors often disagreed, they also recognized the other’s way of working.
“We’re completely different, but we’re both successful,” Ziegelasch said.
One thing they agreed on was knowing the past of the property you are trying to sell. People in New York City love to hear that the place they’re looking at — even if they plan to tear it down to the studs — was the home of an ambassador or that Nancy Reagan was a visitor, Ziegelasch said.
Uechtritz said that in his early years working in Los Angeles he found that even ugly history intrigued shoppers: In 1994 he sold the house where celebrity murderers Lyle and Erik Melendez killed their parents, Jose and Kitty. He appraised houses owned by OJ Simpson and his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.
“Every property has a story or stories to tell, so tell them,” he said. “Human interest sells property.”
The brokers were in Jackson Hole to attend the annual Global Networking Event, held this year at the Four Seasons Resort in Teton Village. Other speakers over the weekend were skier and filmmaker Jimmy Chin, filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (see today’s Scene section for a story about their Oscar nomination) and Thom Gruhler, a former Microsoft exec and founder of Fjuri, a marketing consulting firm.
Read more coverage from the Global Networking Event here.