Real estate is cutthroat. In June 2017 it was reported that nearly 300,000 agents and brokers actively operated in California alone. The competition is tougher than ever, yet many not only succeed but flourish—like superstar agent James Harris.
You may know Harris from Bravo’s popular Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, which follows the day-to-day lives of several leading LA real estate agents. But Harris has far more on his resume than just appearing on TV. Together with childhood friend and fellow real estate guru David Parnes, he co-founded Bond Street Partners in 2001, specializing in high-end residential real estate throughout the greater Los Angeles area. In 2015 they sold over $250 million in real estate and in 2016 over $300 million, earning Harris a spot among “Hollywood’s Top 25 Real Estate Agents” according to The Hollywood Reporter. He’s also listed as one of the top agents in America by The Wall Street Journal.
Securing rockstar agent status takes passion, perseverance, and a relentless pursuit for information. “Don’t just educate yourself on your local market,” says Harris. “Research and learn about national and international markets. The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Forbes, Inman, The International Business Times, and major market trades such as The Real Deal should be on your daily reading list.”
What prompted Harris to leap into the shark-infested waters of real estate and chomp the competition? An entrepreneurial spirit that manifested itself at a young age.
Harris, born and raised in London, was so hungry to enter the workforce that he passed on attending university and instead stepped onto the real estate scene at just 16 years old.
To kick things off right, he went out and bought the best suit he could and took some pictures of himself in a phone booth pretending to do a deal. He then attached the photos to cover letters and delivered them to real estate agencies around London. “Thinking creatively and outside the box distinguishes yourself from the competition,” says Harris. The bold tactic worked: A family-run agency ended up hiring him and with that his career took off.
Over the next four years, Harris successfully sold residential and commercial properties throughout London. Before turning 21, he broadened his horizons further by moving to Los Angeles.
Standing out in an oversaturated industry demands discipline. “Develop a daily routine and schedule that allows time for family, working out, and sleep—you’ll need a healthy mind, body, and soul to effectively multitask and handle the workload,” says Harris. “Network all day everyday, respond to emails and phone calls at lightning speed, and never burn a bridge,” he adds. “If people like you, they’ll continue working with you and refer more business. Excellent client service is key, and a happy client is a return client.”
And when the competition gets extra fierce, do what Harris does and use it to grow even stronger. Says Harris: “Stay in your lane, keep your eye on the prize, and ignore haters because success is the best revenge.” Boom.