While many methodologies are used to close a sale, there is perhaps no more valuable tool than personal experience—-it’s much easier to speak to a product’s strengths if one has an intimate knowledge of it. That’s why car salespeople are encouraged to take what’s on the lot out for a test drive or why sommeliers ought to have tried every wine on the menu.
But for luxury real estate agents, especially those with listings in neighborhoods like Holmby Hills or Bel-Air, where mega-mansions can go for upwards of $50 million, firsthand experience is not exactly an option. That’s unless you’re Sam Palmer.
Palmer, who recently joined Beverly Hills-based luxury brokerage Hilton & Hyland as a first time agent, is perhaps the only real estate agent in the world whose experience with $100-million listings goes beyond the professional and into the personal. He and his fiancé, Formula One Racing heiress Petra Ecclestone, lived for several years in Bel-Air’s famous Spelling Manor, a 56,500-square-foot estate that sold in 2019 for $119.7 million.
The couple is now living in Brentwood—their neighbor is Lebron James. This will be Palmer’s first official posting in real estate after amassing a resume that includes in high-end car sales, recruitment and art gallery direction, as well as founding Staffing Properties, an agency that recruits domestic staffing for luxury estates, something Palmer is very familiar with.
I recently spoke with Palmer to discuss his new venture into the world of luxury real estate after living in one of Los Angeles’ most luxurious mansions. His comments have been edited for clarity.
SE: What about real estate interested you?
SP: Getting into real estate has always been a part of my longer-term project but I think living in the Manor really showed me that I have a massive passion for homes. I want to put the right buyer in the right home—to advise people and give them a clearer point of view of what it’s like to live in these properties and make sure that all their needs are met.
SE: How do you think your past work experience will translate to real estate?
SP: I’ve worked in sales my whole life, whether that be art or cars, and then I’ve worked in recruitment—which is a people business—so I believe I’ve got a well-rounded scope on what’s needed to be a successful agent because real estate is really about advising people and creating long-lasting relationships.
SE: Why Hilton & Hyland?
SP: I met with a lot of great brokerages but it really came down to who shares my values and could share my vision. I knew that if I wanted to be in the luxury real estate market there was really only one choice—and that’s Hilton & Hyland.
SE: Do you think your experience living in luxury mansions will give you a unique edge over the competition?
SP: Yes, I really do. I’m probably the only agent on the planet that’s lived in three $100-million-plus residences—so I truly understand. Some agents might be really impressed by the gimmicks of the house—the movie theaters with a giant screen, the bowling alleys—and those are the sort of things that I can look past. For me, I’ve been on the grounds, I know how everything works, and that’s been the best apprenticeship because I’ve lived it. But I still have real-world experience, too. I know the value of something and I know that just because you may have lots of money doesn’t mean you need to spend an exorbitant amount to get the same product.
SE: What do you hope to achieve at Hilton & Hyland?
SP: I always set the bar high—and obviously putting this in the press puts a bit of fire on me—but I want to be the top-selling agent in Los Angeles, if not America.