A Beverly Hills native, Michael Nourmand is a second-generation high-end broker. He serves on the board of the Beverly Hills Athletic Alumni Association, which raises money for Beverly Hills High School’s Athletic Department.
He is a member of the prestigious Beverly Hills Rotary Club, which raises money for both local and international causes. In addition, he regularly donates money to USC, Warner Avenue Elementary, AIPAC, JVS, Los Angeles LGBT Center and other worthy causes.
How did you get your start in real estate?
I was born in the business. When I was young, my parents talked about real estate at the dinner table, and I was hooked. I wanted to know how the deal was going to come together. My siblings thought it was boring, and they would chant, “Real estate, real estate, real estate. Why does it always have to be about real estate?!”
At that time, our company was small so we would have the holiday party at my parent’s house. I enjoyed socializing with our agents and staff. I remember my dad commenting at one of our parties that if I liked people, real estate would be a great business for me.
I started working in the office during the summer when I was at USC’s Marshall School of Business. I was doing staff work, which gave me the opportunity to spend time with our agents and learn the administrative jobs at our company.
During my last year of college, I started brokering deals, and I closed three deals before I graduated from USC. I was off to the races, and I felt proud to be part of the new movement in the industry, which was getting into the business as a first career rather than a second, third or fourth career.
How did you choose your brokerage?
It made sense for me to start at the family business because we had a great training program, and my parents could show me the ropes. Over time, I became the president of the company, so I could make the adjustments that I thought would help our agents thrive.
Even though our company has been in business for over 45 years and now two generations, we are extremely dynamic. We take great pride in our branding, culture and service offerings.
For agents getting into the business, I would recommend joining a company that has a great training program and a strong track record. This is your opportunity to learn, so you can have a long and fruitful career.
Joining a company because they offer the highest commission split is short-sighted, and you usually get what you pay for.
What do you wish more people knew about working in real estate?
It’s an extremely competitive business where successful agents make a great living, but most agents struggle. The hours are long, and we are on call every day.
I’ve had clients who’ve told me that their marriage depended on getting a certain house. And I’ve been in other situations where a client of mine was on the verge of having a nervous breakdown over his home sitting on the market. It’s a fun job where you meet interesting people, but it can be very stressful.
The other important thing that I want people to know is that finding the house is not our primary function anymore. The odds are over 90 percent that the property you buy will be on the market.
Therefore, we are explaining why you should buy this specific property, negotiating the best deal and terms possible, handling the paperwork, overseeing inspections and facilitating the process.
What’s something you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
In my opinion, this should start with your sphere of influence. If you are new to the area, try to focus on things you are passionate about, which could be activities like book club, sports, religion or philanthropy.
Nowadays, you must fish further upstream, so the lead time before you do business is longer. You need to talk about real estate with a prospective client before they are ready to transact. Once they are ready to do a deal, they’ve already picked an agent or are inclined to use someone.
When you are getting started, you should keep your expenses low and have some money set aside. It usually takes three to five years to get over the hump and start making good money.
I tell agents that their goal should be one sale in their first six months and three sales in their first year. These are good goals for luxury markets, and they should be adjusted higher for less expensive markets.
Tell us about an epic fail you’ve experienced since you’ve been a broker.
I had a close friend that I represented for 10 years. We’d done nine deals over that time period, and I’d done several deals with people that he referred me to. Besides making him money on every property he sold, there was a time when he was having a rough time financially. We flipped a home that he was going to move into, and he made well over $1 million on the deal.
In addition, he had a lease that he wanted to get out of early, so I worked like a dog to find a new tenant and was able to get the landlord to agree to assign the lease to a new tenant. The landlord thought I did such a great job that I now represent them. I was very hurt when my friend hired someone else to represent him on selling a condo that he owned with his brother, and then he sold his house without me.
This was a good wake-up call to me that even if you do a great job and stay in touch with your clients, no one retains 100 percent of their clients. Therefore, you must continuously prospect to keep your pipeline active. It took me at least one year to make up for the lost business from a close friend who I thought was loyal and would never buy or sell a property without me. Lesson learned.