Prices for lemons have risen due to inflation in recent months, but it is rare for lemons to fetch $170,000.
That’s what happened when The Agency’s New York City broker, Tyler Whitman, bought a 2023 Mercedes S580. Equipped with heated, reclining massaging seats and 12-inch screens on the front seatbacks, the car was designed to resonate with his premium clientele.
“When I bought it, I thought I had hit the car jackpot,” said Whitman, who also hired a driver.
It didn’t turn out the way the former “Million Dollar Listing: New York” star expected, as his new ride sparked some surprising reactions.
“People were very interested, but they said ‘oh, I found out that business was doing well at the time, huh, huh,'” he said. “It worked because I tried so hard and I did more than was expected.”
Despite potential pitfalls, expensive cars and drivers can be invaluable investments in a broker’s personal brand, brokers say real deal. Taking the back seat of a nice car offers an agent the perfect opportunity to make an impression in a one-on-one setting. Hiring drivers means more opportunities for freelance work, and sometimes more comfort with non-disclosure agreements.
Ideally, the car should connect with customers without distracting them or their searches, brokers said.
Lindsay Barton Barrett, agent of Douglas Elliman, whose team is No. TRDBrokers with the highest output in 2022 say there may be value in taking a more low-key approach.
“If your life is that good, you’re not going to resonate with your clients,” she said. “I used to have to move the car seat and swipe off the cereal when my clients sat in the back of my car, and they got it. Not everyone was looking for that experience.”
Nest Seekers agent Mike Fabbri tries to match customers with cars.
“If the client prefers a car,” Fabbri has a vintage Land Rover. “I [also] Own a Tesla, so if they seem more tech-focused and green, I’ll use that. “
Regardless of the make and model, owning a car and paying a driver isn’t cheap: Hiring a driver can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 an hour, and driving full-time means taking on additional costs on top of gas and garage costs. a salary.
But for some brokers, the numbers work in their favor.
“By investing in a driver, I need to be confident that I’m going to add $30 million to $40 million in sales a year,” Whitman said. “That’s really the case because not only does it free up your time, but it also allows you to have detailed and powerful conversations.”
His former “Million Dollar Listing” co-star Ryan Serhant made the same decision before he could actually afford it.
“Initially I didn’t buy a car and driver to take clients out,” said Serhant, explaining that he has been using a car and driver for the past 12 years. “I need to find a way to buy my time back.”
His main motivation was to give himself more time to work and free himself from the steering wheel by avoiding the usual reception gaps when riding the subway. He recently traded in his longtime Cadillac Escalade for a Range Rover painted in “Serhant blue” to promote his eponymous agency.
“I go from home office to mobile office to office,” he said, explaining that he sometimes books meetings in the back of his car that are already on their way to another appointment.
Yuriy, a longtime Serhant driver who responded to the broker’s Craigslist ads 10 years ago, is now part of the pitch by entertaining clients with stories. He’s a minor celebrity himself, with 15,000 followers on Instagram.
Not only did Whitman’s Mercedes fail to impress customers, but it was also flawed in a few key features.
Due to frequent breakdowns, he returned the car after taking it to the dealership seven times in two months in favor of a Range Rover. Mercedes’ successor brings a lesson in how to strike the right strings for a mobile office.
“Thank God I didn’t buy a Maybach,” he said.