It’s no minor feat to remain among the handful of top real estate agents in the world. But with her unique blend of people skills, organization and management, longtime Top Agent Valerie Fitzgerald consistently holds onto her ranking. That’s because Valerie has cracked the code on real estate leadership and team building. Her daily habits provide the proof: she is an expert at motivating others. Valerie went skydiving with Kathy Villa, (picture showed on cover page) her friend and colleague who had it on her BUCKET LIST while she was sick with terminal cancer. Kathy passed away 2 years ago. She entrusts people to take charge, encouraging them to excel in their individual areas of expertise while contributing to the team. She ensures that each individual maintains the freedom to thrive in the specialized skills they bring to the whole. And she values numerous meaningful partnerships with other real estate agents. In doing all this, Valerie has built and sustained a luxury, Beverly Hills-based real estate empire with international production levels that are out of this world.
“I love new, fresh ideas and different eyes and opinions,” says Valerie. “When people come to the table, I make sure they know I want their opinion. I don’t want them just to think I’m in charge.” She actively pursues others’ input with the goal of learning how different people can improve on what the team is already doing. Marketing luxury properties and meeting the needs of their buyers and sellers, she says, is more fun and more successful when everyone contributes to making things more exciting, more visual and more effective.
Valerie knows the best way to reach genuinely interested luxury buyers from around the world is to incorporate the contemporary expertise of tech-savvy professionals. She therefore relies on her growing corps of emerging talent, whose skills and input boost her elite Coldwell Banker Previews International business. The group’s approach to real estate sales blends contemporary marketing tools with traditional approaches. “I learned years ago that you have to be as targeted in your marketing as possible,” she says. Though she appreciates the exposure to a combined 25,000 Facebook, Instagram and Twitter followers, Valerie knows that kind of exposure doesn’t sell $20 million homes.
After all, there is no shortage of pub-lic interest in the luxury real estate of Brentwood, Bel Air, Holmby Hills, Westwood, Miracle Mile and the Wilshire Corridor, Sunset Strip, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Venice and Malibu. But Valerie and team understand that the only way to sell premium luxury properties is to connect with the narrow pool of qualified buyers nationally and internationally. To do that, they conduct targeted online marketing campaigns and leverage their membership in the largest network of international property portals. As a result, they not only draw qualified borrowers from across the globe to their LA and Beverly Hills area listings, but they attract international listings in exotic corners of France, Italy, Monaco, Spain, Fiji, and more.
Each of these listings, says Valerie, receives the extraordinary quality of service, honesty, integrity, discretion and conscientious attention that Valerie’s clients deserve and expect. To reach this high service level, Valerie’s empowers team members each to contribute to her vision of unmatched homebuyer and seller experience. Staging and professional photography and video, for instance, are “musts” for every listing. “Buyers want to see lifestyle in every room of a house and you have to point it out to them,” says Valerie. While it’s generally assumed that the homes she lists will be staged, Valerie’s team is prepared to address sensitive issues with certain clients. “If someone’s house is not looking well, we might suggest that we move some of their things out and do some staging to make it look more look more ‘today’. But that’s where we have to be delicate,” she says. “The homeowner’s feelings may get hurt,” she says, adding that her team is ready for this. By sharing examples of un-staged listings that didn’t attracting buyers, most sellers will agree to high-end staging.
In a career that has included featured roles in HGTV’s “Selling LA” and high acclaim for her inspirational book, Heart and Sold, Valerie remains an unstoppable leader and mentor. The newest members of her team include her ace marketing director, a whiz with online and social media marketing. Two other rising stars just opened Valerie’s new office in Palm Springs. “These two agents are rocking it down there! They learned the market and just figured out how to make deals work. They’re doing some really innovative things online and at the personal level.” Valerie’s reputation for openness to emerging talent has even spread to college-age students from all over the world who apply for internships with her team.
Tapping still further into the savvy approaches of young professionals, Valerie has expanded into Eastern Europe. “We’re starting to see a lot of interest from Russia, so I’ve got a new Russian escrow coordinator on my team who also does the marketing there.” Valerie appreciates how much she, personally, is learning from her growing crop of talent. As she brings people into the team, however, she looks for strong personalities who can withstand the occasional tempers and anxiety of high-end buyers. “We move quickly and with clarity, creativity and ideas,” she says, adding that part and parcel to the success they create for clients and themselves is a network of strong relationships with other real estate agents.
By seeking out talented individuals to partner with throughout her career and by nurturing strong networks with other real estate agents, Valerie has deepened the solid foundation with which she built her real estate empire. “With the right people on any team, everything can – and does – flourish,” she says.