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Without question, Jade Mills is one of the real estate industry’s luxury titans.
The broker and president of Jade Mills Estates at Coldwell Banker in Beverly Hills has been in real estate for more than three decades — and she has the business down to a science.
Mills is the No. 1 agent worldwide for Coldwell Banker, according to her website, and clocks in at No. 38 by sales volume in RealTrends’ latest The Thousand rankings after netting $351.3 million in sales volume across 2021. In October 2021, she was inducted into Inman’s Golden I Club.
She’s had a big year so far, tallying $58 million, $70 million and $100 million sales in her roster since January (to name a few), and the year isn’t even over yet.
Inman spoke with Mills about her secrets to success and advice for new agents, luxury agents, homebuyers and homesellers grappling with a shifting market. Here’s what she had to say.
Inman: You’ve closed several big deals in the last year, including a $100 million mansion in Malibu and a $70 million estate in Beverly Hills in just the past few months. What’s your secret to landing these really big listings?
Jade Mills: All the younger agents ask what the secret is to doing high-end and the secret is a lot of hard work and loyalty to your clients and being ethical. I think that’s what this is all about. All four of my children now have real estate licenses, and so they all have amazing friends and parents of friends and contacts. Along with a lot of fabulous agents that I work with from all over the world, my children are now referring me. So this year has been really, really great for referral business.
And I must say it for the new agents, because the new agents are always asking that question, ‘What’s the secret?’ You know how do I do this quickly? There’s no secret. If you do a great job, you’re going to be referred and if you do a great job, the attorney that you’re working with and the business manager that you’re working with, everyone is going to refer you because the most important thing in our business is to do a great job. And be honest.
At this point in your career, is most of your business referral-based?
I would say a lot of my business is referral, but it’s not always referral from a client. Many times it can be a referral from a business manager or an attorney or someone that that I have worked with — not the immediate client, but somebody that I’ve worked with along the way.
And everybody wants to know [about my] first big break. I think my first big break was when maybe 25 years ago, I got a call and this was from my one of my children’s friend’s parents in Beverly Hills. And they asked me to list their house for $7 million, and I was not in that price range — I was in the $1 to $2 million price range. And from that listing, I actually sold that listing from a sign call. And when people ask you, ‘How important is it to have a sign in front of the house?’ That’s how important it was. That was the highest sale of the year in Beverly Hills that year, around $7 million. From there, both the buyer and seller of that home has referred me many times. So it’s very, very important.
Good to know. With some of the higher-end homes you’ve sold so far this year — I’m thinking of the ones in the eight and nine-figure price ranges — were there any specific challenges in getting those properties sold?
Always. There’s always a challenge to get everything sold. [In] higher price ranges, you definitely don’t get multiple offers. But again, with the home in Malibu [a property that media mogul Byron Allen bought for $100 million], the son of the seller was a very good friend of my son, Austin. And so that was in a way a referral. And then for Beverly Park, I was on that with other agents who referred me to be on the listing. So that in a way was also a referral. And I do work with other agents and other agents who bring me in for listings to work with buyers.
So it is very important in our industry to have a great relationship with other agents because other agents are the ones who show your listings. And other agents are the ones who might say to you, I want to work with you because I know you’re going to make it a smooth process for my buyer. So you need to keep a great relationship with other agents.
That’s great advice. Do you do anything differently in your marketing for a $100 million home like that one versus a $50 million home?
We have a group, International Luxury Alliance (ILA), that Coldwell Banker started with me, I guess it’s been eight, nine years ago now. We have two meetings a year [in locations across the U.S. and the globe] with the top agents in the world. And we refer each other and this has been in the upper-end. This has really been major for these agents that are in ILA. So I would say that that is my secret weapon. And when we get a major listing, these people are the first ones to see the listing. And there have been a few times when someone has referred a client to me from this group, and we ended up selling the house. So it’s a great group of agents.
Other than that, in advertising, [I’m making sure] information, in the very beginning, goes out properly. A lot of times, I’ll work with my seller to put the first piece into the media so that we get a great run, from the very beginning, to promote the property. We have to have the right message, and that’s huge for us.
I’m sure that gives you a huge advantage, having that international network. So, as you know, we’ve seen the market shift significantly in the last several months. What do you think is the most important thing luxury agents need to do now as the market continues to shift?
The most important thing for luxury agents today is to know your market, to know how to answer these questions that all buyers and sellers are asking, because the stock market goes up and down. You can invest in all kinds of different businesses, but real estate overall has never gone down.
The first house I ever purchased I think was $42,000 and sold for like $2.9 million in Beverly Hills. But, real estate does not go down. And if you’re buying and selling, you can wait — you don’t need to time the market. You can wait until the market goes up. So I’m telling all the young kids, buy — buy a condo, buy a duplex and never sell, just hold on to that. The wealthiest people in Los Angeles are real estate owners. So if anybody is asking why they should buy now, it’s because there are some opportunities now. Buy now and hold. Don’t sell it. Sometimes people will say to me, well, that’s not what real estate agents are supposed to say, ‘Hold it forever.’ That is the way that I feel that we have accumulated a little bit of wealth, because we don’t sell, we try to always buy and not sell.
So when you say “hold,” how many years are we talking, at a minimum?
Ever. Forever and ever. Those properties become income properties, and when you end up one day retiring, you can live off of those properties. So I’m saying, and I tell my children’s friends, buy, buy, buy, lease it out and keep it, don’t sell.
Good to know. So, we’re now almost to mid-November, and the year is coming to a close. What are you doing to prepare for 2023?
I’m not a good preparer. I always feel that you give, you receive. And I believe in abundance, and I’m very grateful. I know a lot of people, and admire people, who [prepare] in the month of January, in the month of February. I do not do that.
People say, ‘How much have you made this year? How much have you sold?’ I need to ask my office. I never ever know that because I just sort of keep my head down and keep pushing. And it’s what I love to do. And the other thing that young people ask is, ‘How much do I have to work?’ And if you don’t love this business, if you don’t love people, it’s probably not the right business for you. And, you know, my children say, ‘Don’t you want to work less, Mom?’ No, I love it. I absolutely love it. And I think part of the business, in any business, is loving what you’re doing and especially in real estate.
Very true. So for other agents looking ahead to 2023, do you have any advice for them? Keep working like you are?
Definitely. My advice [for now is], everybody is talking recession, recession. From now until we feel the interest rates might ease up and the stock market is better, for now, get listings. Listings is what is going to be the future when things start to turn around a little bit. The agents that have the listings are going to be in the driver’s seat. Right now, stock up on your listings, do whatever you can to get those listings.
Any other advice?
Stay true to who you are. And always be ethical. I know my kids are sick of hearing that, but that is how you are going to stay in the business for many, many, many years. Do the right thing.