Jordan Cohen is quite possibly the most ebullient person you will ever talk to. His sunny attitude comes through the minute he picks up the phone to talk about his new book. It’s perhaps the key reason he’s become the no. 1 RE/MAX real estate agent in the world and a go-to agent who sells some $300 million in residential real estate a year to top athletes, music stars and actors alike. “His enthusiastic energy could easily light up the entire state,” says his client Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the book’s forward.
But that doesn’t mean Cohen — who concentrates on celeb-heavy areas near Los Angeles like Hidden Hills and Westlake Village — doesn’t get an attack of nerves once in a while. The worst? When he was going to meet Stallone, his film idol, in person about selling a house for him. As he recounts in his new book, The Agent’s Edge: Secret Strategies to Win Listings and Make Your Fortune Selling Real Estate (HarperCollins Leadership, $28), his stomach started churning so much on his way to the appointment that he had to pull over to the side of the road and throw up. He never made it to the meeting. “I called [his wife] Jennifer [Flavin Stallone] to say I had stomach flu — I couldn’t handle it,” he recalls. The Stallones graciously rescheduled and he won the listing.
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The Agent’s Edge by Jordan Cohen
The crux of the book, though, isn’t Hollywood anecdotes, and Cohen repeatedly asks in an interview that the focus not be on his star clients, adding that he doesn’t see himself as a celebrity agent. “I’ve never done anything like this,” he says of writing his first book. “I’m not on TV. I’m not an egomaniac kind of guy. I don’t think I’m something I’m not. I don’t think I am something bigger than I am.”
Instead, he says he wanted to write the book to share his tips of the trade with other real estate agents and help them do a better job at landing listings and selling houses. “My book is a pure playbook for the more than two million real estate agents out there [in the U.S.] and the millions that want to be a real estate agent,” he says. The profession has lately become increasingly attractive, Cohen says, in part due to higher visibility in pop culture (“The reality TV shows like Million Dollar Listing made selling real estate a very glamorous occupation,” he notes) and that the bar for entry is not as high as some other jobs. “It doesn’t take a degree to get your license and you can have unlimited income potential. It’s a really hot profession,” says Cohen, who’s previously made THR’s annual list of the top Hollywood real estate agents.
Yet recent numbers show that there’s a shakeout afoot in the residential real estate biz as high interest rates have led to a market slump. In May, according to National Association of Realtors data as analyzed by Reventure Consulting, upwards of 60,000 agents had left the profession in the previous six months.
Across six chapters of the book, Cohen — who recently sold Poison singer Bret Michaels’ home in Calabasas, California, for $6.25 million — shares the talking points he uses when he goes in for a listing interview. “I built my business through listings,” he writes. “But to win listings, you have to win that interview.” He stresses the importance in interviews of “connecting with the seller with confidence and sincerity” while at the same time being humble. He says he never tells potential clients he’s excited to work with them; instead he pointedly tells them he’s honored to work for them. He underlines to clients that he doesn’t get paid when he lists their homes; he only gets paid when he sells it.
And in that listing interview, he trumpets the ways he will market the property, including “epic photography shot at dusk,” social media, print ads, just-listed mailers. However, he doesn’t put his own photo on ads for home listings because, he says, he wants the house to be the star. “I do everything I can to get the attention on the home,” he says. “All my print ads, all my mailers, everything is about the house.”
He’s also not a believer in 3D video tours — “In my experience, 3D tours and posting online floor plans of homes actual deter people from coming and seeing a listing in person,” he says — and he’s not a fan of open houses. “They can actually hurt our chances for a successful sale,” he writes. “The odds are very good that we will miss out on a sale because a potential buyer did not get the proper tour of your home with me that they deserve. All the benefits of me personally showing your home are then lost. Not only do I lose the chance to point out the best features of your home, I also miss out on the opportunity to answer their questions and address any concerns they may have.”
Cohen, who started out selling houses in the San Fernando Valley, says that the idea for the book came about after he sold a house a few years back to an agent, WME’s Elan Ruspoli, who was then at CAA. “I sold Elan a magnificent home in Westlake and sold his Hollywood Hills home for him,” recalls Cohen. “He said, ‘Jordan, you are so good at this. You ever thought about writing a book?’ What’s funny is I have, for 20 years. [But] I didn’t want to be a self-published guy. That’s something I never wanted to do.” Ruspoli in turned connected him with a literary agent, CAA’s Anthony Mattero. Cohen wrote a treatment for The Agent’s Edge and soon enough, “I had multiple offers on it, which was mind-boggling.”
Cohen’s humble protests notwithstanding, the book does include a few more celebrity anecdotes beyond ralphing on the way to meet Stallone, including how he sold a house in Westlake Village to The Miz after the pro wrestler saw a listing on Cohen’s Instagram. “I’ve sold homes from TMZ. I’ve sold homes from Instagram,” says Cohen. “My job as a realtor is to really maximize the exposure of the home. It’s to get people aware of the properties that they might not become aware of otherwise. A good realtor is going to try and get you aware of their listings through social media, print, all the hustle. That’s what happened with The Miz. He wasn’t even looking in Westlake. He was looking in West Calabasas. But because of my listings from Instagram he said, ‘Whoa, where is Westlake? It’s 10 minutes from Calabasas. Let’s go check that out.’ If it wasn’t for Instagram, he wouldn’t have found that because it wouldn’t have popped up on his Zillow search.” The house made prominent appearances on the USA Network reality series Miz and Mrs.
Cohen did hold back a few of his secrets from his book. “I still have some tricks under my sleeve,” says the agent, who adds that he’s gained the most satisfaction in writing the book from the number of fellow realtors who say its advice has helped them.
“I’ve gotten thousands of direct messages: Things like, ‘You’ve changed my career’ or ‘Jordan, I used to lose half my listings. Now I’m winning five out of six. I’m winning 90 percent since I read your book.’ It makes me feel good that I’m helping people who have read it make more money and become better.”
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