Yawar Charlie has made his mark in two different careers: as an actor and a real estate agent. He combined those two on the CNBC show Listing Impossible, where agents work to convince clients to follow their plan to make difficult million-dollar properties sell.
Charlie is the grandson of Noor Mohammed Charlie, a Bollywood pioneer and film legend. After dozens of movie and television roles, the younger Charlie turned his focus to real estate and now is with the Aaron Kirman Group.
Below, he shares insight about how he makes it all work and what he sees in the real estate market around him.
So, what do you like better: acting or real estate? Be honest! And tell us why.
I fell in love with real estate as a long-term career after buying my first home and thinking of ways to make the process better. I was getting typecast in stereotypical TV roles because of my ethnicity, so after helping friends with their real estate needs as a hobby, I decided to become a licensed Realtor.
I was lucky enough to have found a second career in real estate where I was able to use my creative communication skills. I used my entertainment connections and started a very successful career. Now I’m really in charge of my own destiny.
As I like to joke around and tell my clients and friends, my acting degree did not go to waste because I use those skills every day in real estate! You always must be on, focused, and ready to roll with the punches no matter what stands in your way. Much like acting!
What was your favorite role as an actor, and why?
I would say my favorite role as an actor was one of the last theater tours that I did where I played Romeo in a production of Romeo and Juliet with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Often when you look how I look, you get typecast as the villain, and this was one of the first opportunities I had to show the romantic leading man side of my personality.
What was your favorite transaction as a Realtor, and why?
That would be my first deal. I sold my best friend’s parents a home, and let’s just say my friend’s father was less than pleasant to work with. He put me through the paces, and the transaction was a court-approval probate transaction, and I had never done a deal before. So not only was it educational, but I had to be on my toes because I had a very difficult client to deal with. But I’m happy to say that I got the deal done, got him a great deal, and even got some referral business after it. I told myself if I can do this, I can do any transaction!
When did you buy your first home for yourself, and when did you buy or sell your first home as a Realtor? How do you compare the experiences?
I bought my first home after I had just appeared on a soap opera and saved up enough money for a down payment. I used a casual friend who happened to be a real estate agent and unfortunately, he was bad at his job. I found that I was doing a lot of the research on my own, and that’s where I developed my interest for real estate.
Once that transaction was over, I realized that this would be a great supplemental career to my acting. But within a year, the real estate took over and I’ve been doing it full time ever since. I remember how hard it was as an artist to save up my money for my first down payment, and I’ve never lost that feeling. I try to carry that feeling forward to every transaction, so when I hand my clients the keys to their new home, I know the thrill they must be experiencing, and I’m very thankful to have been part of the experience.
When I sold my first property, I remember again being so aware that this was a very personal experience for the seller, and I wanted to respect their space. I wanted to find them a good client to take over the home that they showed so much love to. Overall, the experiences are very similar because at the end of the day, if you’re trying to create abundance for your clients, your approach to buying and selling are the same.
Do you do more work with sellers or buyers?
I feel like organically it comes in waves. There are times of the year I have nothing but buyers, and then suddenly I’ll have multiple listings going at the same time. There’s no rhyme or reason, but I will tell you that right now with interest rates so low, I do have a lot of buyers trying to get into the market.
How does the work you do on camera with Listing Impossible reflect real-life real estate agent work? Be honest! Do you have to redo takes, for instance? And is it hard to get clients and others to agree to be on the air?
The great thing about working on Listing Impossible is that it’s a very accurate portrayal of what it takes to sell real estate in Los Angeles. When you work in the ultra-luxury market, inevitably there’s going to be challenges with selling that home. Our show accurately depicts the challenges of selling homes that have been sitting on the market or are problematic in other ways.
It’s called Listing Impossible for a reason. Everything you see on screen happened, and the personalities you see are exactly how they are in real life. The production company handled the coordination of the clients and houses that you see on TV, but each of us had personal relationships with the people that we represented on the show.
We’re giving our clients the opportunity to appear on camera. Some of them opted to do it, and obviously some opted not to. But again, what you see is what you got.
Has your work on Listing Impossible gotten you listings you might not have gotten otherwise? How has it helped your business or perhaps made things more challenging in some ways?
My goal for doing Listing Impossible was very simple, I wanted to present myself in a positive, professional manner, so the greater public could see how I do business. I feel like I was accurately depicted on the TV show, and I’ve gotten business inquiries from being on the show. I think when you associate yourself with an established brand, like Aaron Kirman, it shows you’re a professional. I found that people like the fact that I have that experience but aren’t necessarily working with me because I was on a TV show. But it does add a level of cachet working in the luxury market.
What is the average price for homes you’re working with now, and how would you describe the market you’re working in?
I sell everything from $500,000 homes to $15 million mansions. But as with most Realtors, I have what I call my “bread and butter listings,” which for me are homes under $2 million. We tend to do a large quantity of those types of homes. In the Los Angeles area that’s considered to be in the first-time homebuyer price point. As part of the Aaron Kirman Group, we are the top sales team in California and the number 10 ranked team in the country. We have very high sales volume, and as such we tend to have a large level of luxury listings as well.
Are homes selling faster than they used to? More slowly? How long does one of your listings typically take to sell?
Depending on the price point, homes are selling rapidly right now. Interest rates are at historic lows, and I’m finding clients who generally would pay cash for homes taking out loans because money is so cheap. Demand has grown, and the housing market is very hot.
Typically, it takes 30 to 60 days to sell. However, between your offer, loan approval, and escrow, there are a lot of events and contingencies that could occur to disrupt this time frame.
How do you market? What works best for you? MLS? Word-of-mouth? Something else?
Right now, digital marketing is king. We post our homes on the MLS, and that gets them distributed to Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) (NASDAQ: ZG), Realtor.com, and other user-driven real estate websites. We also have an extensive email list of the top producing agents in the area. When I have a listing about to come on the market, the agents are the first people I reach out to. With the low level of inventory and interest rates being at a historic low, homes tend to sell very quickly, with most homes not being on the market for more than a month.
The homes you buy and sell with clients are far from standard, suburban homes with very similar layouts, features, etc. Does that make your job more difficult? Easier? More fun?
I work in the greater Los Angeles area and see a variety of architecture and layouts. I think it makes my job more fun, because you’re always on your toes. No two properties are the same, so it’s always an adventure.
What are some of the more interesting and/or unusual features of homes you’ve bought or sold that you can share?
Often, the higher the price point, the more unique and specific the home can be. I have seen stripper/cabaret rooms and even two large photo studios in my listings. In each of these cases, the homeowner built the house specifically for their needs, but what was challenging was to turn around and sell it to the public. Turns out, not everyone needs a stripper pole in their home. Who knew?
Are there any famous people you can name who you’ve worked with as a Realtor? How does working with these clients compare with working with people who aren’t recognizable or otherwise famous?
I have worked with many famous/high-net-worth individuals. Oftentimes when I work with a certain level of clients, we sign a nondisclosure agreement, so I am not allowed to talk about them. Most of our clients appreciate this because they need a certain level of anonymity when buying and selling real estate, for privacy and security reasons. So unfortunately, I’m not able to disclose my client list, but let’s just say I’ve worked with Grammy, Oscar, Tony, and Emmy award winners. You name the reality show, and they’ve probably been on one!
What do you enjoy most about being a Realtor? Your greatest satisfaction?
My greatest satisfaction in being a real estate agent is and always has been creating abundance and doing the right thing for my client. At the end of the day that’s my goal, and when you look at that as your end goal, everything else falls in place. It’s not about me; it’s about creating a beautiful, special situation for my clients each and every time.
How does what you do in your market and what you’ve learned translate to the average Realtor working in a typical market in, say, the Midwest somewhere?
What’s interesting is that I’ve had real estate agents all around the country who have watched Listing Impossible and sent me an email saying they go through the same struggles with their clients. At the end of the day, basic human tendencies when it comes to real estate, when it comes to challenges of the heart, are universal. Buying and selling a home is a very personal, intimate experience which transcends geography.
How do you see the future of your market in, say, the next year or two?
The real estate market in Los Angeles is on fire. We’re seeing a lot of people buy and hold real estate; a lot of everyday people are finding they can create enormous amounts of wealth by flipping homes or buying income properties. These people are looking at real estate as a long-term game for them to get to a certain level in life that they want. That’s the direction I see real estate going. As we move more toward a digital environment, marketing properties all over the world has become a lot easier. I’ve been getting inquiries from all over the world from people looking for properties in Los Angeles. That’s something that might not have happened 10 or 15 years ago.
Realtors I’ve worked with over the years have told me that the showing is the easiest part. The selling or buying and getting a contract follows. Then getting it to close is the toughest part. Does that resonate with you?
I like to say the real estate process is like telling your family that you’re pregnant. You always want to wait till after the first trimester to tell everybody that you’re expecting. In real estate, it’s the same thing. You could find the house, make the offer, open escrow, start your inspections, but still, you don’t want to tell anybody about it because it’s not 100%. Only until you have removed all contingencies and it’s looking like the property is going to close can you start to celebrate, but again, until the baby is born — until escrow closes — you don’t want to pop the champagne, because there could always be complications in the end.
What can you tell us about your personal life that people might not know?
I’m very fortunate to have a very diverse background. I come from a long line of famous actors from South Asia, but I was lucky enough to be raised in the United States. I was also fortunate enough to be a working actor, I was blessed enough to get into the real estate profession and have a successful career for over 13 years, and I was able to marry the person of my dreams on the Grammy Awards in front of 150 million people. I think that’s a unique experience! If people want to know about my personal life, my work philosophy, or meet my beautiful dogs, I really encourage them to follow me on Instagram @yawarcharlie.