As an agent works with a variety of clients, so does their understanding of people, asset management, and how families and individuals define and redefine the word wealth. Nataliya Makhonina-Byrdan has built a comprehensive process for making her clients feel seen, heard, and truly connected. She appreciates every step along the journey – which she views as being non-linear. With a background in asset management and finance, she brings a lot to the table, and sees Real Estate as a bigger picture than just property sales and purchases. She is a searcher of opportunity, and we wanted to understand more of her process and how she builds relationships.
In this article, we will take a deep dive into how Nataliya sets her own standard of service to her clients. We will explore what changes and what potentially stays the same as an agent evolves their business.
Let’s start with how you see the business.
It’s been a rollercoaster road. In a way there is no wrong or right answer, but I have learned to do things my own way. One of the main things for me is to keep my integrity. It is not just the clients choosing us. As their preferred advisor, it’s us. We are also responsible for choosing our own clients. By forming relationships with my clients, I emphasize that we are becoming partners. I started in the industry of wealth management in 2013, and joined Keller Williams in 2020.
In 2020, did you have a team or were you just a single agent?
I was a single agent. I had a virtual assistant by that time, but I was still very much a single agent that was trying to conquer the London market. It was very interesting at that time because I thought I had a sizeable business, but actually I was self-employed. That was the biggest shift that came with Keller Williams, learning the models and understanding that I needed to build the team. At the time, the way that I dealt with things was to make myself solely available to the clients. Time proves that now, with the team, I am able to leverage and grow.
Before we get into how you go about getting your business, how much effort do you put into your conversations, your language, and your questions since you started?
Since I started, I needed to become more skillful in directing conversations in a way where I could understand the strategy of the clients. When I meet a client, I am not trying to pitch them or get them to allow me to sell their property. I am trying to understand the goals of the family and their assets, specifically where they are in their investment journey. This is the key for understanding where we are heading with them. What really helped me, when I was working with the multi-family office, was to realize that in every business there is a reliance put upon key individuals. Property was one of the divisions of the company, and it allowed me to liaison with and understand the families that were relocating to London. As I was able to learn different services that the company was offering, I became the point of contact for getting the client everything they needed to enter the U.K. jurisdiction. That was an invaluable experience.
What is the main reason your top clients pick you?
I am looking at the whole picture – not just from an estate agency point of view. When I’m advising clients, I’m looking into the taxes, all the costs of the purchase, the summary of holding the asset and what the cost will be. We are very specific, up to 1000 pounds. It is all based on the current legislation at that time. If they decide to sell this property at some point in the future, we know what their selling price will be. This gives the clients full confidence when entering into the transaction, especially international clients. They are in control and they know what they are purchasing.
Today, for example, I had a meeting with a new introducer. I was referred to them by my existing introducer, and they brought to my office the portfolio of various properties in various parts of London – very much in our core area. They are suggesting that they have access to those properties and I was very clear that upon working with these properties, we needed to be introduced to those vendors directly.
If the person doesn’t trust me then there is no possibility in me bringing that person an opportunity. I am not expecting that trust to be built in one day. Your entry point is not from the street, but rather someone who has already recommended you. If you can think in terms of your circle of influence, that helps. I looked through all of my contacts and selected people that could potentially be connected to the high net worth individuals. I started to work with them.
How do you not get distracted by chasing the golden opportunity?
My attitude is absolutely the same, whether this is a client that will be purchasing a property at 500,000 pounds or whether this will be a 30 million pound transaction. My attitude towards people is absolutely the same because the process is the same. Yes, the high end transactions are much more involved when it comes to requiring in-depth knowledge. You need to also understand a little bit of corporate structure. That’s why my previous experience working in the multi-family office can be of value. It allowed me to place emphasis on structuring the deals. The most important thing for me is understanding how the clients think. My clients do not call me an estate agent as much as they do a wealth advisor.
Recently I started to sell the new builds, simply based on the demand of my international clientele. They were considering these as passive investments. When we began to manage those properties we learned specifics on how to do that. When I began to learn how to invest myself, I learned how to build the portfolio folder and make investment-based decisions. I started to have conversations that were geared around investments. We all grew together. One of the things that was quite important, and is still quite important to me is that – in my daily life – I do not see the separation of me being an estate agent and my dreams. I’m genuinely interested in wealth management and how to grow wealth. I truly believe that wealth is a mindset.
Do You Door Knock?
Yes, sometimes I do if it means I can find new properties. I will chat to the building managers in a specific area that I want to work in and build a relationship with them. I find that if you come from contribution and help people, they will in turn help you. If they are able to introduce me to the residents of those buildings, that’s great and I’ll take it from there. In my early days, I was trying to do some deals without actually meeting the client. I can categorically say that it didn’t work. Transactions of this caliber are difficult enough even when you actually know both sides directly, they are impossible when you don’t, in my opinion. The whole referral, buying and selling process is more efficient when people trust me enough to introduce me to their contact directly. They know that they’re always part of the deal. Trust is the most important thing here. People know that when I close the deal, they will be remunerated. Rewarding referrals helps to have a constant flow of introductions which I can then work with to provide me with new opportunities.
What does that conversation look like when it’s a high value property, and you’re talking to a seller about your fees. How are you explaining your fees and your charges because obviously that is a challenge to most people. How are you doing that?
I’m thinking about the fee as the budget. If every property owner there is interested in selling their property for the best possible price, I will need the fee to be shared with the people who will be introducing me to the buyers, so that is why I am always generous. I always make sure that everyone is looked after and, during the last year, I even had one transaction when I had to look after four people because I was the person who was able to corroborate and give a level of confidence to all parties involved. I was even able to negotiate a higher fee after the agreement was signed. The client agreed on the higher fee to make sure that the deal would go forward. I am not afraid of asking the client because I always have it make economic sense. The one thing the client doesn’t want to feel like is that someone is trying to get the highest fee, but they are not going to deliver the price that they are interested in.
I had a situation where I did not list a property on an off market basis because the client was so stuck with the one percent fee. I knew that it would eliminate us from being able to work with the family offices and the bankers and the introducers because I will not be able to share the required amount with them. So, in that way I’m also assessing and being realistic with what I’m taking on board. If there is not enough budget, I don’t want to just have this listing off market or on market. The reason I want to have a fee is because I want to have the best chance of selling this property at the best price.
It would not be right for me to tell the client otherwise just because I am not comfortable to face this conversation. A lot of people, I can see, are not comfortable discussing this topic with the client because they might be rejected. I’m not afraid of rejection. I want to make sure that the client completely understands how I work. For example, we have people that are based internationally. The commissions in the U.K. are in general quite low, so that’s why I explain that a proper fee will make this property interesting for U.S. buyers. We need to have something in the game to market to international clients.
It’s a complete partnership. Many of my clients I am so grateful for because I am learning from them. I am interested in their life story and how they build themselves. When I learn about their story, I understand that there is nothing that separates us. I don’t feel any difference based on the zeroes in a bank account because I’m very keen and interested in learning their mindset. In many cases I can see huge generosity.
What are the pluses and minuses of having a property be off market versus having it be on market?
I know quite a lot of families that will not consider any actual properties that have any footprint on the market. One example is the floor plans. If they have been anywhere online – for the reason of security we cannot see that property. Even if the property meets their criteria, sometimes it has a footprint online. In this case, they will just not even consider it. For the off-market properties, there may be a reason why the family doesn’t want to put it on the market to sell. Usually, it is due to a family situation. They may not want other family members knowing they are considering selling, or it could be due to the fact that they just do not want the traffic of people coming in and out of the property. They just want only specific buyers to see this property. On these occasions, you have to be very, very clear in terms of which kind of buyer we are looking for.
When you’re dealing with off market, you should have a network of people. In many cases, it really depends on the size of your network because if you don’t have a big circle of individuals, it still is preferred to put those properties on the market. It will help you to get more people into your database of the right caliber. A high net worth individual will need a property to be seen by their trusted advisor to be shown to them, rather than them searching themselves.
Some of the families prefer the off market properties because they want to make sure that what they are purchasing is never disclosed to the public. This kind of confidentiality is a must sometimes. When you’re representing a family with a well-known profile, they want to make sure that the price will not increase for them just because they have a certain amount of wealth. It can be checked because of their name. That’s why they are represented by their trusted advisors to be able to negotiate the deal first and then they will be represented to purchase the property at the right price.
You recently mentioned you were using questions that we practice every Tuesday and Thursday. What was that interaction like?
The interesting thing is that leads can come from everyday interactions. This particular person was introduced to me by his driver. The way I got to know his driver is because his friend is working for one of the properties we manage. I built a relationship with that person, and he was talking about me to his friend, and they thought it would be good for me to be introduced to this specific individual. The introduction meeting went very well. It was purely to gain an understanding of where the client is in his mindset, his family situation, and their specific strategy at this point in time as well as their vision of the future. I wasn’t selling anything, proposing anything, or asking him to give me anything.
I’m trying to understand how they think and see their world from their eyes. There is no point in me pitching anything until really understanding the specifics of their search. It’s an amazing opportunity for me to be instructed and to do my work properly. I always say that I will be able to search for you, but the first thing we need to do is make sure that I am your representative.
Sometimes we seek the shiny object, and we chase it because we want it. What Nataliya does is be quite clear in her value proposition. She values her time so much that she is willing to walk away from something that will not work, and stick up for something that will. At the end of the day, success will come from being very specific in what you take on. If there is a chance to actually sell the property at a desired price, champion it.
What we love about Nataliya’s business is that she has developed a system where wealth is completely a mindset. Most of us will bow down to someone who has more money in the bank and say yes we can when we’re not even sure if it makes sense based on our expertise and the market. Nataliya is very strong and rooted in the help that she can bring to the table. Confidentiality has become a value proposition and an opportunity to build clients with off market properties. She’s so resilient in her mindset that she’s willing to stand her ground and not just say yes to everything someone says. You can both learn from someone and help them, but we love how Nataliya says it. Put simply – it’s a partnership.
Our Next MasterChat is…
On the 19th July Our guest is Global Real Estate Agent and Social Media Strategist Lucy J Parker.
Lucy’s client base is extensive and her successes are many! She’s famous in the Real Estate world for being a great networker amongst other agents from around the world, referring business and getting deals done both ways!
Having lived and worked all over the world, join us to find out WHY Lucy LOVES Dubai and is raving about the opportunities that Global Real Estate and in particular Dubai has to offer! Can’t wait! We look forward to seeing you on the call.
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