The fashion industry and real estate have a lot in common: constantly changing inventory, emotional impulses from buyers, and tough numbers-driven deals. No one understands this better than Michelle Oliver of Douglas Elliman whose career has straddled both industries. A former fashion photographer and editor (Hearst Publications, O Magazine), Michelle transitioned to real estate in 2002 and quickly established herself as a top agent at Elliman's Beverly Hills flagship. "Working in the Fashion industry was an incredible experience and many of its lessons have given me an edge in the real estate business," says Oliver.
So what does every style-savvy business person need to know about finding, buying and selling that perfect place to call home? We sat down with Michelle for the insider's scoop:
FINDING: Most people know what they want, right?
Yes. Until they see something new! Whether shopping for that hot runway look or your dream home, style and functionality both play a major role, but stress and emotions can throw even the best judgement off track. I like to have a knowledge-base and a "style profile" of my clients so I can keep the process focused and build them a portfolio of viable options. It's always the property I bring them that they didn't expect that seems to be the most intriguing! I liken the experience to working with a stylist who curates options you probably wouldn't have found or thought of on your own. There's nothing more rewarding for me than seeing that lit-up expression that says, "This is perfect!"
BUYING: Shop 'til you drop?
Not if you don't have to. One of the best lessons I learned from working with Oprah Winfrey is to understand your true goals early on and to work with the people who will help you achieve them. Otherwise, you're exhausting yourself and those around you. So why would I waste my client's time? My goal is to elevate the process of home buying to a client-centered experience that responds to their dreams, practical criteria and their time. Recently, I had a showing with a client who wanted to see a home that was still in the construction phase -- which can be tricky because there are many unanswered questions. Instead of letting them get lost in the drywall and unfinished floors, I brought in my friend Nicole Fuller, a renowned interior designer, to help facilitate my client's vision of a beautifully designed, finished home that directly spoke to their buying agenda. This was only the third home they saw, and in case you're wondering...yes, they bought it!
SELLING: Save or splurge?
Selling your home might seem simple in an up-market. But the truth is, you need to know when to hold off and when to go for it. It has to be the right deal for you. Do you take the lower offer because it's all cash? Or do you hold off for a higher price with the caveat of financing? These days such questions are asked at every level of the market! In fashion and real estate, nobody enjoys the pangs of buyer's remorse. I like to discuss offer strategies in advance with my client (whether buyer or seller) so we can negotiate effectively when the time comes. Having this talk before the heat of the moment keeps people collected so they can make smart decisions and successfully close the deal.