MY WORK­ING LIFE

When the se­ri­ously wealthy want to buy prop­erty, they call Brigitte Ten­ber­gen. Here, she tells us about pri­vate el­e­va­tors, clients’ pets and how ul­tra-high net worth in­di­vid­u­als like a bar­gain, too

Friday - - Contents -

Brigitte Ten­ber­gen on what the ul­tra-rich look for in a home.

When ul­tra-high net worth in­di­vid­u­als (UHNWIs) buy prop­erty, what do they do dif­fer­ently from reg­u­lar Joes? Usu­ally, a UHNWI does not ap­proach us di­rectly but through their per­sonal as­sis­tant, their rep­re­sen­ta­tive or their lawyer, and they only ap­pear on stage later on when suit­able prop­er­ties have been short­listed by their rep. Other than that, UHNWIs value their pri­vacy a lot, but are usu­ally very hum­ble and easy to deal with. Most of them have worked very hard to reach where they are to­day.

What’s a typ­i­cal day for you? Ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent. I get up quite early in the morn­ing and go to yoga class, then I go to the of­fice and I fol­low up on my en­quiries and my to-do list. Of­ten I have meet­ings with a po­ten­tial seller to look at a new prop­erty and dis­cuss their ex­pec­ta­tions. I also have view­ings and fol­low-ups. I meet with de­vel­op­ers, fol­low up on com­mis­sion pay­ments, screen the mar­ket and stay on top of any real es­tate news.

Can you tell us about an un­usual day at work? This didn’t hap­pen to me, but a col­league of mine was in­vited to his client’s lux­u­ri­ous pent­house to fi­nalise a deal. Af­ter be­ing greeted by the client’s staff and sit­ting on the liv­ing room sofa wait­ing for his tea, a lion cub ran into the room and jumped with the speed of light right onto his lap.

A lion? Yes! And be­cause it was a wild an­i­mal, he had to stop him­self from scream­ing. Af­ter a few min­utes, his client non­cha­lantly walked in and asked him to re­lax as this was her cute lit­tle baby lion and would not harm him. The ne­go­ti­a­tions took over an hour and when he came out, my col­league was sweat­ing all over.

What’s the big­gest bud­get you were ever given by a client? Well, there are many fake clients giv­ing bud­gets of $60mil­lion, for ex­am­ple, but we know right away that they are fake.

Why would some­one do that? It’s a ques­tion I’ve asked my­self many times. The truth is that so many peo­ple love to pre­tend that they are wealthy. The big­gest gen­uine bud­get I have worked on is around $10 mil­lion, but a col­league of mine has re­cently sold a pent­house for $16 mil­lion and an­other, a villa on the Palm for about $19 mil­lion.

What are the big­gest must-haves for the se­ri­ously wealthy when it comes to prop­erty? They def­i­nitely want pri­vacy, se­cu­rity, com­fort, space and great ameni­ties that could in­clude a pri­vate pool and/or beach ac­cess. If they choose to live in a tower, for ex­am­ple in a pent­house, then ac­cess with a pri­vate el­e­va­tor to their flat is a must, as well as sev­eral maids’ rooms and a driver’s room.

Do they like to strike a bar­gain or do they typ­i­cally pay the ask­ing price? Ev­ery­body loves a bar­gain, in­clud­ing an UHNWI. Ev­ery client wants to ne­go­ti­ate, what­ever the price might be – they will never set­tle for the ask­ing price un­less it is a fixed price from the de­vel­oper and not ne­go­tiable. Oth­er­wise there is al­ways ne­go­ti­a­tion, and the client likes to feel that he got a dis­count and a good deal.

What’s ‘in’ right now? We’ve sold many high-end branded prop­er­ties in ex­clu­sive de­vel­op­ments, such as the Palazzo Ver­sace or the Kempin­ski

Res­i­dences on the Palm Jumeirah; what are pop­u­lar are pent­houses and beach­front prop­er­ties that carry a con­tem­po­rary de­sign. The de­signer tag is huge for real es­tate at the mo­ment and th­ese prop­er­ties carry a sig­nif­i­cant pre­mium, but clients love them as they come with a cer­tain stan­dard. There’s also a de­mand for lush new com­mu­ni­ties with mas­sive vil­las; clients def­i­nitely want con­tem­po­rary mod­ern right now, of­ten­times ready to move in and fur­nished. The over­all qual­ity of many new projects is im­prov­ing in re­sponse to the mar­ket.

What was your best day at work? This ac­tu­ally hap­pened a few months back. I had just one view­ing with a client in an apart­ment I had listed for over one-and-ahalf years. The buyer re­turned to Dubai af­ter a month, put in an of­fer, did not even want to re­visit the prop­erty and the of­fer got ac­cepted. We signed the pa­pers and ev­ery­thing hap­pened very smoothly. Buyer happy, seller happy: What can be more re­ward­ing for a real es­tate agent?

Have you ever had some­one spend tens of mil­lions of dol­lars with­out even see­ing the prop­erty? Not per­son­ally, but I have re­ceived of­fers made from clients abroad. In th­ese cases, how­ever, we know right away that they are not se­ri­ous and it is peo­ple pre­tend­ing to be some­thing they are not. We’ve even had cases where clients al­most get to the point of fi­nal­is­ing the pur­chase and pull out – we think it’s a trick to try and gain credit else­where, such as: ‘Look, I am buy­ing this $10m prop­erty.’ When peo­ple re­ally do buy at th­ese prices, they al­ways want to see the prop­erty, es­pe­cially if they want to live in it. Hav­ing said that, we had a cou­ple of cases of off-plan prop­er­ties where the client has bought a bulk amount of apart­ments with­out hav­ing phys­i­cally seen the project.

Any jaw-drop­ping mo­ments where you were in­vited to visit a prop­erty in a he­li­copter? To be hon­est, UHNWIs th­ese days are not in­clined to show­case their wealth. We can see this even in the lat­est prop­er­ties com­ing to mar­ket; they value ‘un­der­stated lux­ury’. Hav­ing said that, they might at­tend the view­ings in very lux­u­ri­ous cars and wear the most ex­pen­sive brands and watches, but there are few other dis­plays of ex­trav­a­gance.

If you were al­lowed to spend a month liv­ing in any prop­erty you’d ever had on your

UHNWIs th­ese days are not in­clined to SHOW­CASE their wealth. We can see this even in the LAT­EST PROP­ER­TIES com­ing to mar­ket; they value ‘UN­DER­STATED LUX­URY’

books, what would you have cho­sen? Prob­a­bly a villa on the Palm Jumeirah where I could sit out­side near the beach and en­joy the si­lence and the beau­ti­ful views of the Ma­rina sky­line at night.

Where do you per­son­ally think is the best place to live in Dubai? I love to be close to the sea, so def­i­nitely ei­ther on the Palm Jumeirah or Jumeirah Bay.

Fi­nally, they say that it is the wife that chooses the prop­erty – is that true? Ha-ha, yes, to an ex­tent. But the hus­band also needs to like the prop­erty as he’s the main pur­chaser. Even the chil­dren have a say in the pur­chase. Let me re­phrase: If the wife does not like the prop­erty, there is no way the fam­ily will go for it.

Part of Lux­habi­tat’s sales spe­cial­ist Brigitte’s role in­volves know­ing who’s a gen­uine client – and who’s fak­ing

Se­cure and pri­vate prop­er­ties – whether a Palm villa or a ser­viced res­i­dence – fit the su­per-rich’s cri­te­ria

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