Aaron Kirman knows how to close a deal: He's sold roughly $6 billion worth of real estate over his 25-year career, making him the No. 1 agent in Los Angeles and among the top in the country.
Aaron routinely sells multimillion-dollar properties, including one estate for a whopping $65 million, and on his new CNBC show, "Listing Impossible," he helps homeowners sell their luxury real estate. He also runs the Aaron Kirman Group (AKG), a real estate team he started in 2017 that's grown from seven agents at its inception to nearly 70 today.
As a top realtor, Aaron makes seven figures, but not all real estate agents earn a ton of money — and that's one of the biggest misconceptions of the job. Most bring home less than $50,000 a year, Aaron estimates, while a top producer will make between $200,000 and $500,000. "Then you have the very, very, very top — a select few who make more than a million," he says, adding: "And then there's one level up, which is big, mega brokers. I'm pretty lucky to consider myself one of those."
To experience a sliver of what it's like to be the top realtor in the City of Angels, I spent a day with Aaron, meeting clients and looking at listings in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in LA.
It's a brisk Monday in October. I leave my apartment around 6 a.m. to give myself plenty of time to navigate LA traffic and make it to Aaron's home in Beverly Hills on time. His two dogs, Jack and Lucy, greet me at the front door.
Aaron just moved in three weeks ago, but you can't tell. The three-bedroom home is immaculate. It has a mid-century vibe, tons of natural light and the walls are covered in funky art pieces.
"There is no typical day in real estate," he warns me when I arrive. "When we think we have a schedule, it changes. At the level that we do, people need you when they need you and they want you when they want you."
True to his word, our schedule changes multiple times over the next 12 hours. Here's how the day unfolds.
Aaron can't function without his Starbucks. "It's my addiction," he tells me. "No matter where I am, in any given city, I can't get up without it."
By the time I show up, he already has a triple soy cappuccino — his typical order — in hand. His personal assistant picked it up on her way to his house.
Most days, like this one, start between 7 and 7:30 a.m. "A lot of people start at like 5 or 6 — it's just not in my nature to do that," he says. A later start does typically means a longer day: "We sometimes work until 10 p.m. When I don't have dinners or events, it's more like 8:30 to 9."
Aaron has a detailed and time-consuming morning routine that, even on the busiest days, he refuses to cut short. "I'm very careful with self-care," he says. "I notice if I don't take care of myself in the morning, I'm in a bad mood. I'm crotchety."
After his coffee, he meditates for five to six minutes by his outdoor pool. For him, that's a long time: "In the past, meditation was almost impossible for me. I move really fast, so I've had to work on that part of me. But I've noticed that I'm now much more creative, innovative, calm and centered."
He then swims a few laps and reads the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to catch up on the news before getting ready for the day. He throws on some exercise clothes and packs his work outfit, as he won't come back home after going to the gym.
He used to get dressed up, but now that he's established himself, he can get away with a more casual look. Plus, he's learned that "the more comfortable you are in life, the better you'll do. My competition gets dressed to the nines. They wear suits, they wear ties, they wear $5,000 clothes every day. I'm a T-shirt and jeans guy."
He hasn't yet eaten — "breakfast is not my meal," he tells me — but grabs a protein shake for the road.
Just before 10 a.m., we head to the gym. Today, we're taking Aaron's Bentley instead of his Porsche.
Since we're already behind schedule, he does an efficient, 20-minute circuit with one of his personal trainers (he has two). He aims to exercise at least 40 minutes a day — on a jam-packed day like today, he'll do the second half of his workout at night.
His morning routine pushes back the start of his work day quite a bit, something he's fully aware of: "Our schedule is insane, and it doesn't help that I have this morning routine that probably drives everyone crazy.
"My staff is like, Would you mind skipping the gym? Would you mind not swimming? Would you mind not meditating? And my answer is, no. I have to protect my time. My performance is much better when I'm happy, healthy and living the way I choose to, which means being semi-selfish in the morning."
While our work day doesn't officially start until 11 a.m., Aaron has been taking phone calls all morning, from home and the car.
Most of the calls concern a listing party he's hosting tonight at a $65 million mansion. His team has put a lot of time and money into the event and 200 people are expected to come, but there's a fire in the area that's already closed down major roads. Aaron's trying to decide whether it's appropriate to host the party and is having his team monitor the situation throughout the morning so he can make a final call by 1 p.m.
He puts the decision on hold during his appointments. The first is with a property developer who's interested in hiring Aaron to sell a multimillion-dollar home he and his brother built. It's their first time meeting and they'll have a few more walk-throughs before deciding whether to move forward.
Aaron has a lot of meetings like this, in which sellers are "interviewing" him to sell their property. It's a two-way street, though: Aaron is also interviewing the seller to make sure they'll be a good match.
We're already running late for several appointments, but it doesn't phase Aaron. He simply makes a few phone calls to his assistants, who will push back his schedule.
Our next two meetings are with clients whose homes are nearly ready to put on the market — one will be listed for about $20 million and the other for about $33 million. Aaron does a walk-through of both to assess the staging.
He's very pleased with some design aspects and highly unimpressed with others — and he doesn't hold back when offering feedback. His commentary ranges from "Love, love, love, love." to "Hate the chandelier. We gotta get this down." to "Everything is disgusting," which was his gut reaction to one particular home theater.
Besides helping stage the home, another important part of his job is advising the seller on how to pick a fair price for the property.
"In today's market, we really want to price houses exactly where they should be because that's how we get the highest number," he tells me. "If a seller prices too high, it sits on the market and we have to go to them and ask for a reduction. We don't want that. We want to sell the house for what it's worth and get them on their way."
While Aaron can make price suggestions, at the end of the day, it's the seller who makes the final call.
Between meetings, we're in the car, which acts as Aaron's second office. "My car time is my work time," he tells me. "It's the only time we can really catch up on phone calls because we're usually so back-to-back on appointments."
Our final two appointments are in Bel Air — specifically, at the Bel Air Golf Club. "This is where the big money LA is," Aaron tells me. "Houses are huge. The biggest sales we have in LA are here."
We spend just 20 minutes at the first property. It's still under construction and the seller has a lot of work to do, but just seeing the view from the infinity pool is enough to tell that this home will eventually come with a fat sticker price.
The last appointment of the day is with a potential buyer: He's a billionaire interested in a $65 million mansion. It's the home where Aaron's listing party was supposed to take place. He made the decision to cancel it because he felt it would be insensitive to host a fun event while neighboring communities were dealing with a destructive fire. Additionally, the theme of the event was fire and water and there were supposed to be fire dancers performing. "That would have been a PR nightmare," he says. "In real estate, when you're at the top of the game like we are, people like to talk and read and write and so we have to be very cautious with our approach. Anything we do can make the news."
Working with the super rich is part of Aaron's day-to-day. Surprisingly, they're also some of his more frugal clients, he tells me: "Ironically, I've noticed that sometimes the more money people have, the less they want to spend it, so getting these deals through can be a challenge."
I can't tag along to meet the billionaire buyer because NDAs have been signed, but Aaron shows me the property after they chat. It's a 28,000-square-foot masterpiece with nine beds, 17 baths, a moat and 160-foot swimming pool.
It even has a full-service hair and nail salon in the master suite.
Our last stop of the day is Aaron's office, where his entire AKG team is based. It's in Beverly Hills, not too far from his home where we began the day. "The secret of Los Angeles is working close to where you live," he tells me. "That way you're not stuck in traffic for hours and hours."
He has a brief moment to eat his first real meal of the day (pasta and chicken) before stepping into a tech meeting. Finally, around 5:30 p.m., he can check in face-to-face with his assistants and office manager, who help run his business and life.
"People don't realize that behind every person who's very successful there's a team of people who drive that support system," he tells me. "I wouldn't survive day in and day out if I didn't have somebody doing my emails, my calendar, my marketing, my advertising, my technology."
Aaron has a personal assistant, whose day starts when his does. After delivering his morning coffee to his home, she'll do everything from feeding and walking his dogs to restocking his fridge to filling up his gas tank. Other assistants handle the phone calls that come into his office, the hundreds of emails he gets a day and all of his schedule changes.
It's already been a full day, but he hasn't done any "actual work," he says.
"This is where the business is actually going to get done," Aaron tells me from his corner office. Before diving into the financials of the company and other business tasks with his office manager, he grabs a bag of Pirate's Booty for a snack. An assistant brings him an English tea, which is a new part of his evening routine. "At the end of the day my voice sounds like my Grandma and it sounds like I have nodules even though I don't," says Aaron. He's hoping the tea helps with that.
Aaron heads home around 7 p.m., which is earlier than expected because the party was canceled. Most days end between 9 and 10 p.m.
He doesn't mind the long hours, though. For one, "I don't sit at a desk or in an office. I'm out and about."
Second, to reach his level of success in the real estate world, you have to put in the work, he says. It also takes "patience, innovation, creativity and a lot of understanding of what people want," he adds. "My secret has always been to connect to my clients, understand what it is that they want and what they don't want.
"I consider myself to be a master salesman, but that doesn't mean I sell — it just means I know human character, and understanding human character usually leads to success."
"Listing Impossible" premieres on CNBC tonight at 10 p.m. ET
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