Hollywood's Favorite Realtor Becomes Billion-Dollar Icon
Aaron Kirman lights a candle and waits for the black currant fragrance to fill the room. Surprisingly simple for one of the biggest celebrity real estate agents in the country, his office is sleek and minimalist, as Kirman prefers few visual distractions. The only visible decorative pieces in his office are crystals; a large citrine geode sits in a corner, and several smaller crystals rest on a tray next to his desk. According to Kirman, the citrine geode brings in energy for abundance. He contends that it's the money-making stone.
"It helps to bring luck, energy, and karma," he said. "I can’t tell if it’s helped, but I can tell you I’m doing well, and I wouldn’t dare to not have it in my office."
Kirman, a Los Angeles native, is a big believer in spirituality. In fact, he brings in an expert to crystallize his office for energy. "There's a whole formula to it," says Kirman. "All of my homes that are anywhere between $100 and $150 million have crystals and stones in them. People spend up to $80,000 on crystals. After one of my clients crystallized her home, she ended up with five offers."
It may be from the crystals, or his remarkable talent, but Kirman's success hasn't slowed down. The new year's just begun, and Kirman has already sold a $75 million penthouse in London.
Kirman’s projects include a private island in the Pacific, Turks and Caicos, and The W Hotels, with $600 million in active inventory and more than $3 billion in sales. He has also represented unique southern California estates and renowned architectural properties such as Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House, Richard Neutra's Kaufmann Residence, and Frank Gehry's Schnabel House.
Keeping close ties with his clientele is time-consuming for Kirman, who is the president of Aaroe Estates in Beverly Hills.
"Luxury real estate is unique because of the people," says Kirman, who frequently travels to keep up with his rolodex of existing and potential clients.
Kirman, who recently sold his house and moved into a West Hollywood high rise, admits to loving "the full-service lifestyle."
Including his 3 to 5 assistants, Kirman's team is comprised of about twenty people, most of them junior and senior agents who work under his guidance. Additionally, agents from all over the world rely heavily on Kirman to market their properties to his well-established wealthy global database.
When he's not at home or at his office, you can find him socializing and networking with his clients at Cecconi's, The Polo Lounge, Mastro's, Sushi Park, or Nobu Malibu in Los Angeles.
As he strolls gracefully through the hallways of his office, Kirman's Havanese dog, Lucy, follows him, along with one of his assistants who prepares to take Lucy for a walk.
Including phone calls, Kirman says he talks to around 200 people per day. On a typical weekday, his inbox is inundated with hundreds of laudatory e-mails from agents eager to work for him.
Despite the exhausting nature of his work, Kirman remains focused on his clients. Curious, intent, and thoughtful, his capacity to listen intently to each of his clients can be likened to that of a college student who has consumed enough Adderall XR to study for an entrance exam.
The demands are high for Kirman and his team of assistants: "Sometimes my international clients need more help from me, and it can be a full time situation. I work as a concierge, selling and finding bizarre things that people request.
"Selling multi-million dollar homes is dramatic for a lot of reasons. There's a lot of emotions on both sides. A lot of our job is managing the customers' emotions."
Kirman is, by his own admission, a magnet for the rich and famous: "I never get shy around wealthy people or celebrities." In fact, he becomes more open. "Sometimes my own candor shocks me." And that's exactly why people gravitate toward Kirman.
"If I don't think the property would be the right fit, I'm not afraid to be honest with my clients. For me the relationship and the friendship is more important," he assured. "Sure, I could lose a million-dollar commission, but it's better than losing the client, their friendship, and their trust by selling them an overpriced home."
Kirman's exclusive client list includes heads of industry, A-list celebrities, royalty from the Middle East, leading lending institutions, and foreign investors.
Just last year, Kirman was named Brand Ambassador for China's most popular real estate search engine, Juwai.com, enabling him to reach even more potential clients beyond his existing list.
In social settings, real estate becomes a tertiary concern for Kirman who makes human connections a priority, but "of course it comes up, but it's not the first thing we talk about."
"When I meet somebody from China or Paris, it's important for me to know the best restaurants, clubs, and schools in existing neighborhoods," he said.
Kirman attributes some of his success to the influence of his life coach, Andrea Quinn. "I think she’s changed my life in a lot of ways. I've been going to her for 10 or 12 years now. It's always so helpful because she has such a different perspective and intuition," Kirman said. "She taught me that generosity brings generosity—that the more money you split and give, the better you will feel. Helping people brings better energy into your life."
Though he did not always have the help of a life coach, Kirman knew from a young age that he was meant to tackle the world of real estate. "I took my parents to open houses when I was 9 and pretended to be a real estate agent as a game."
But along his path, he faced several roadblocks that could have potentially deterred him from pursuing his bigger goals.
"When I was in college, I got fired from my first internship because I couldn’t even deliver the mail," said Kirman, who later climbed the rungs of luxury real estate.
He often has to remind his disciples that there are a number of misconceptions about the industry. "People look at real estate agents and think it’s such an easy job because of the reality shows. It's a tough job and a really competitive industry."
Yet, in this exceedingly competitive field, Kirman has earned a reputation for signing deals on $50 million dollar homes within minutes to virtual strangers.
"The reality is, I make money off most of my friends," says Kirman, who is known for his great connections and networking practices.
"If I know billionaires are going to be at events in a different city, when I’m invited, I’ll be there."
"I’ve seen it all," says Kirman, who is no longer surprised by luxury lifestyles. He is constantly exposed to lavish spending and extreme budgets; some of his foreign clients have spent up to $5 million on a night out with Kirman.
Kirman, who grew up in a middle-class family, has "experienced the lives of people you'd never imagine—people who I could never figure out how they made their billions, and I never will."
Having watched and studied others in the business, he tailors his approach frequently and masterfully. "I watch what people do and say. I watch their advertising carefully. I see what works and what doesn't work, and then apply the lessons to my own system."
Beyond his perspicacity and skill, Kirman can't help but acknowledge that there is something unique about him.
"I think I can get away with being more sincere and honest than most because people don't take it in a hostile or competitive way," said Kirman, referring to his quintessential charm as a gay man.
Kirman, who is now reaching beyond real estate to pursue new ventures, recently partnered with actress Jessica Biel to open up Au Fudge, a kid-friendly restaurant in West Hollywood.
"I only invest in businesses when I know I can add value, and when I know it circles back to my main business," Kirman alluded to his real estate ventures.
For Kirman, who sees himself as a figurative director and producer of his life, his primary concerns are balance and living out his dream.
"We’re the producers of our own movies," he said. "For me, it's about living the way I want to live. I do what I want to do, I travel where I want to travel, I dine where I want to dine. When I do all those things, business comes easy, the money is flowing, and I'm selling so many houses. If something is a little off, it can throw off everything. My take on life is this: I'm doing my best to make it right for myself."