When attending red-carpet affairs such as award shows and premieres, celebrity realty agents are likely to don Jimmy Choo heels or a Tom Ford tux. You’ll spot Yawar Charlie, however, in a traditional Pakistani kurta.
“I always try to wear South Asian clothes — to represent a part of the world we don’t get to see much in a positive light,” said the Karachi, Pakistan, native. But making such a bold fashion statement can be too risky when selling pricey homes — a dictum that Charlie and his fellow agents with Compass’ Aaron Kirman Group advise their clients on CNBC’s “Listing Impossible,” which premiered in January.
On the show, Kirman and crew deliver tough love — along with some staggering staging budgets — to owners of hot-mess mansions that won’t bust out of listings. Those jumbo acrylic animal statues that make a Laguna Niguel home resemble the set for “Wild Kingdom”? They’ve gotta go — along with millions off the asking price.
To sell such untamed listings, Charlie uses “active listening” skills drawn from his former acting career — his grandfather was India’s famed Noor Mohammed Charlie, a pioneer of the Bollywood film industry. The elder star played comic hero roles, and as a fan and mimic of Charlie Chaplin, he took “Charlie” as his surname and copied Chaplin’s trademark toothbrush ’stache.
We chatted with Yawar Charlie from his Los Angeles duplex, shared with husband Jason Miller. Queen Latifah married the pair during the 2014 Grammy telecast, one of 33 couples who tied the knot in a ceremony soundtracked by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Madonna.
Q: “Listing Impossible” often treads into the ever-juicy realm of homeowners’ questionable taste. How do you tell sellers that their lousy decor is stalling a sale?
A: I always, always tell sellers, “Look, this is not a commentary on how you live, or your taste level,” even though it might be, right? I had a client — it literally looked like Liberace threw up everywhere. I said, “You have to let me do my job. I’m going to paint everything beige and we need to stage this house as simply as possible.” We sold it in two days.
Q: Do you think sellers of multimillion-dollar homes easily misjudge the value of their homes, given the myriad emotions that are tied up in such properties?
A: People don’t pay attention to negative market trends, right? You only hear the news that you want to hear. Sellers will latch on to some positive news saying, “Hey, I had an appraisal from two years ago and it’s at this.” Well, that was two years ago and the market is very different; the market is different than it was three months ago. And we’re here to tell you that your house is no longer worth that. It’s a challenge when you have a seller who feels that they know the market better than you do.
Q: On the show, your client attempts to unload a 6,200-square-foot Lake Hollywood property that has a choppy floor plan and a concrete-laden industrial look. How do you deal?
A: We come in and repackage, relaunch and also retool expectations. We had to warm it up; it was very cold. It’s kind of this unicorn in a neighborhood where it doesn’t necessarily belong. The lesson learned is when you build your dream home, it may not be everyone’s dream home.
Q: How can homeowners avoid owning such white elephants — for example, avoid fake grass?
A: Astroturf can be beautiful but you have to get the right kind. Fixtures, flooring, marble — all of it can be beautiful and all of it can be gaudy. I always look at homes as investments and, what is the next person going to see and do here? I’ve had situations where there’s $250,000 worth of beautiful marble just installed and the buyer was going to tear it out because it was just not their style. The bleeding heart in me always feels bad when people, no matter how much money they have, sort of waste it on certain things.
Q: To keep the mojo flowing, an agent on your team cleanses his cellphone with lighted sage, and while driving affirms, “I am one contact away from an explosion of success.” What’s your go-to ritual?
A: I have a business coach who literally changed my life. She always said, “Be happy for other people’s success, because when other people succeed that gives you the permission to succeed.” And I do a really wonderful visualization every morning about how I want to see my day go. That puts a smile on my face.