Fredrik Eklund - Getting REAL With Your Property
It used to be that you saved your pennies, worked hard, got married, bought a house, had kids, lived in that same house for many years, sent your kids off to school, retired and lived out your golden years in the same property (or at the very least the same locale) and then after your passing, your children did what they did with the land/real estate you had probably paid off completely. That's why a 30-year mortgage was the standard, a home was thought of as a long-term process and the financing reflected that.
Not so in this day and age. The real estate market is a challenge for most; even the rules for the professionals have changed in this volatile, ever-changing merry-go-round of homeownership.
There is much to learn and so many ways to get help, so I sought out the advice of a professional: Fredrik Eklund of Bravo's Million Dollar Listing New York took some time to talk about the ins and outs of the market, his show and the life that brought him to America.
We talked about the volatility of the market and what he feels some of the biggest pitfalls are for homeowners/ buyers: "Everyone is trying to catch the bottom of the market-no one can-only in the rear-view mirror." In other words the old adage of "patience being a virtue" still holds true-there is a time and place for everything and for many a decision has to be made about what your home really is. Is it a home, or is it simply an investment? He agreed, "So the biggest pitfall is when buyers (or sellers) don't see the bigger picture. You are buying a home and you will live there for a few years or many. Don't try to comp out your new home with what the neighbor did two weeks ago, take a breath and see it long term."
There also seems to be a change in the way properties are being moved in particular, the listing process has become so much more competitive.
I have several friends that are in the real estate business and in our discussions; I have come to understand that the process is completely altered. They say that they have to "go after" their clients much more aggressively now, much more forceful marketing is involved. Ecklund agrees, "There is a new guard of super agents taking over, using technology, social media, public relations and television to create a following. The days of merely opening the door to the buyers are over. The real estate market is going to change completely because of the availability of data, which will make the big agents bigger and vet out others not using the tools the right way or quickly enough."
Achievements go to those who work the system hardest, integrating the many avenues available for getting properties out there-finding and matching clients skillfully and making sure to know what their goals are. Like most things in life, there seems to be one commonality in his business life, HARD WORK. His answer when I asked him to what he attributes his success: "I told the New York Times this for an interview they did in their Style section last year: 'The unglamorous answer is that I work harder than most-first in the office in the morning, last to leave."' There is another commonality in much of his life, taking risks, and working hard, things that set the most success- ful people apart. It proves the idea that if you do something you love well, success is inevitable and the money will come. His ability to focus and push himself while keeping things in perspective shows in his humorous take on all of it. "The goal was never money, but to be the best I could, set records and try to put my own Fredrik-ism on the things I do. With my signature high- kick when things go well!"(Laughs)
Working with Bravo ended up being a natural transition because he is no stranger to a camera. But reality television? I was fascinated by his decision to enter into a relationship with the show on top of an extremely busy existing career. I couldn't quite see what the connection was and where it would lead because so many who get involved descend into a myriad of dramatic sound bits and bitchy fights that can make them come off as supercilious. For him the bottom line comes down do risks and exposure. "I knew it would be fun and good for business. I have been following that voice within my whole life and I'm not afraid to try what it says." Who could argue his next point either,"The power of TV is unparalleled; I mean what real estate agents in N.Y.C. are known in London, Hong Kong or Stockholm? Bravo is huge, and the show is aired in 150 countries." Talk about advertising savvy and worldwide exposure, I think he's hit the penthouse suite with this new show.
I wondered how the personalities play out on the show and if we can expect fireworks with the cast, based on the traditions of reality programming. It would seem to me that the stakes are pretty high when it comes to buying and selling properties at the level at which they are playing. Definitely he says, "It is the most competitive real estate market in the world-big deals, big commissions, big egos. That's why I think it will be a hit show. Not only will people get a chance to see the multi- million dollar homes, but the people buying and selling them and then us brokers fighting over the deals."
A native of Sweden, his reach is international with his company Eklund Stockholm New York-the comparison was inevitable as to how the markets are there vs here. He is gratified by his company's reach and the caliber of properties they show; "Sweden is very strong, and we sell the most expensive homes there. The average apartment we sell is at $1,000 per square foot, just below the Manhattan average. I'm proud that my company in just two years now has more listings over $1 million than any other brokerage in all of Scandinavia."
He has been a busy man over the years and has dabbled in many different careers, a newspaperman, club owner, Internet guru, music producer, actor, and banker and now success in real estate, I wondered how he decided that New York was his home? "I was always drawn to N.Y.C., even before visiting, as a child growing up in Sweden. I had posters of Times Square in my room and when my Dad finally brought me to the Big Apple in 1984, we climbed the Statue of Liberty in the rain and I knew I had to call it home. Real estate was a natural way of getting to know the city. Most people know the city from the street; I learned it vertically as well from above all the apartments and penthouses I sold."
It led me to wonder about his life there compared to the U.S. and whether he has much of a following in the gay community-and in which place is he more recognized. Are there differences in how he is viewed in either? "I've always been open with who I am and what I do. I do get emails from young gays, especially in Europe, who admire that. When it comes to the gay scene in New York City, I'm pretty boring these days because I work and travel so much. Maybe this show will make me a bit cooler."(Laughs)
All in all a pretty cool guy with loads of stories to tell.
HIS TOP 5 TIPS FOR SELLING A PROPERTY:
• Listing photos need to be perfect.
• Take out all clutter and items that are too personal.
• Clean thoroughly and repaint the entire space.
• Pick a broker with a broad outreach.
• Being a broker is about energy: if your agent doesn't have the right energy, the property will not sell.
Catch the premiere of Bravo's Million Dollar Listing: New York on March 7, 10/9c. For more information go to; bravotv.com