The People Lover
How Glen Coutinho conquered Beverly Hills
Anyone who knows real estate in Melbourne knows Glen Coutinho – the people lover. Nobody would have thought that the Melbourne institution would ever leave his beloved office of RT Edgar Hawthorn. But he did. Glen and his wife Simonne made a big change this year – they decided to add another chapter to their story.
To help their talented young sons Mason and Julez live their musical dream in Los Angeles, they sold out of their renowned Melbourne business, unloaded their house and cars, moved to Beverly Hills and basically started again. And of course, the story is incredible. In less than a year, Glen is already making his mark in one of the biggest real estate markets in the world. The People Lover is a hit in the United States – (which is no surprise to anyone who knows him).
After buying the Harcourts Beverly Hills office, starting from zero – Glen did what he always does – he started talking to people. Unsure of how he would go in a new country, he went back to how he started in 1985 – pounding the pavement and keeping his confidence in check. He says, “I couldn’t tell you land per square foot, I couldn’t tell you one street from the other. I really had to step up fast and learn my game. But once you understand that – you don’t get ahead of yourself because if you get ahead of yourself in real estate you’re done. Before you start – you’re done. You can’t be overconfident in what you do.”
He hunted every day and spoiled people everywhere he went. He got face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball with people on Hollywood Boulevard and Rodeo Drive. He says, “The power of human connection is the greatest asset you’ve got.” Human communication has always been and will be the most powerful tool for any real estate agent. Glen adds, “I’m not about houses and people’s property, I like people. That’s what’s made my business enjoyable and it’s taken my business to another level.”
He says, “Since I’ve got here for probably five months, all suited up, I stepped into every café, restaurant, lawyers offices, bankers office, hairdresser to shake hands, kiss babies.” His ability to connect with people overrode his lack of local knowledge. He says, “I’m great with people, I just love people. Getting to know them, getting to know their life story. Nobody ever asks you know. People would say, you know what you’re the most efficient agent we’ve ever met; we want you to handle our house. Okay, Glen, we understand you don’t even know where the beach is, but we still want you to handle our house.”
From there he rapidly built a successful business again – just like he did in Melbourne. The people of Beverly Hills have loved his personalised approach. He says, “When I took over the Harcourts Beverly Hills business, which I bought in January, we had two brokers, we now have 42. We’ve got six little Mini Coopers with Harcourts on the side. We’ve got 42 people walking around Beverly Hills in blue suits with the blue scarves or the blue ties. We’re the only branded agent in Beverly Hills. The challenge is good. We’re not going away. We’re here to stay.”
Initially, he toned himself down. He says, “I thought, I’ll just go under the radar for the minute, but Thanksgiving just came up here and we sent out ten chocolate towers to our best bankers and clients in the area. And they didn’t receive anything from other agents that they’d known here for twenty years. So, those little things make such a difference.”
Word of mouth is spreading and the referrals are starting to roll in. He goes an extra mile. All of his years in Melbourne prepared him well. He says, “The Melbourne market is ten years, fifteen years ahead of what they do here. Phone calls, follow up, nice to meet you texts, acknowledging client birthdays – nobody does that here For example nobody here does a follow up letter, which I do straight after a presentation.” This kind of follow up is appreciated and shows a unique point of difference.
He has also mastered social media. He says, “In LA unless you’re big on social media you get cleaned up. People always check your Instagram before they employ you. I had to work that out fast, so now I make sure that I work my Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, every morning. Ten minutes and I am done. Without fail, one post. It builds your brand. My social media has gone from 10,000 to nearly 100,000 people in LA already. So, that’s built a strong following. I can put my name in front of 100,000 people in a second. I make sure that I always walk around with a Harcourts bag, a Harcourts car, Harcourts tie and just hustle all day.”
He loves living in California. He says, “There’s so much opportunity here to make an income and build a brand. Sending out things to customers is totally unheard of. Keeping in touch with a client for a long period of time – is pretty rare. In Melbourne, there are lots of us that do it, but here there’s very, very few that do it. When I came here I thought, “Geez, I’m going to be miles behind the top agents in town but I’m not.” Further, the fees are more generous than Australia. He says, “The fees are great – between five and a half and six per cent. There is no fee discounting here. And you represent both sides. So, I’ll represent the seller at three per cent and the buyer at three per cent. Agents don’t necessarily work for the vendor, they work for themselves because they’re getting paid by both parties. That’s an interesting thing. We offer three per cent to every other agent, so when you list a house every agent in LA will come through, so you have to have great relationships with your competitors, which I’ve always done anyway.”
The People Lover has struck again and having just signed a contract with a big American publisher, the story is not over.