Long before Josh Altman or Roh Habibi were holding open houses in their Ermenegildo Zegna suits, Joel Goodrich was selling million-dollar homes in Versace suits and Pucci pocket squares. Instead of Beverly Hills, he lives in San Francisco’s Nob Hill and works from the Pacific Heights office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. The veteran luxury real estate agent—who has 23 years under his Hermès belt to be exact—has sold some of the most expensive homes in America, including the historic 35,000 square-foot Tobin Clark Estate in Hillsborough.
While Goodrich is certainly not an unknown in the luxury real estate world (he is often sought-out by CNBC, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes for his market insights), he made several cameos on Bravo TV’s premiere season of “Million Dollar Listing San Francisco” (MDLSF) on July 8 as Roh Habibi’s senior partner. The Twitterverse has gone wild for the wildly fashionable real estate star. We recently caught up with him to ask about everything from his wardrobe choices to the show and its potential as a disruptor for San Francisco real estate.
You’ve been one of the Bay Area’s top luxury real estate agents for two decades—what’s been the secret to your success?
Two words: business planning. When I got into this business in 1992, I wrote a two-page business plan. It covered my whole business—from marketing to client relationships—and I would often refer back to it whenever I encountered a challenge. As my business grew, so did my plan. It’s now 35 pages! I’ve been asked to speak about business planning at commerce events and sales events for various real estate companies—people realize how important it is to have a plan.
You sold the Tobin Clark Estate last year. What did you learn from that experience?
Persistence. There’s the old real estate saying that, “It’s better to be the first-born son, the second trophy wife or the third listing agent.”
What was your reaction when they approached you to be on the show? Did you have any hesitation about appearing?
My partnership with Roh has come about organically, and when he asked me to appear on the show with him, I had absolutely no hesitation. It’s incredible exposure for our listings, developer clients and good for business. It was an incredible amount of extra work, in addition to our normal business—but well worth it and super exciting.
Had you seen past seasons of “Million Dollar Listing” before you were approached? What did you think of it?
Absolutely. Being in the business, I think it’s important to watch these shows. Plus Josh and Matt Altman are friends and we’ve done some business together. I love the other shows. I’ve met Ryan Searhant from MDLNY and really liked him. He seems like a very hard-working guy.
In the premiere episode, there’s a moment when Roh asks, “What would Joel do?” Are you often asked for advice in your office?
So many issues come up and it’s always something different—from a problem closing a deal, to getting new business, to selling a listing and a myriad of others. I always advise agents to follow basic fundamental principals and success will follow: work hard, have a plan and treat everyone fairly. And of course, don’t forget the old real estate motto: “Why push when you can shove!” (In a gentlemanly or ladylike way, of course!) [laughing]
You had to give some tough love in Episode Two. What was that like?
I like to say I’m an ‘equal opportunity tough love guy’ in my office. I have really high standards as to how our clients are being represented. If I feel myself or Roh are not living up to these standards, I will say something. People always look at me and say, “Oh, he’s such a nice guy.” But I turn into a tiger when it comes to representing our clients’ interests. And Roh, too, has a passion for real estate, for representing the client’s interests and getting the deal done, which comes through on camera. It’s going to make him a superstar agent.
Lots of viewers are calling for more airtime for you. How does that feel?
I’m very flattered, of course. It’s been an honor to be on the show.
Your reputation precedes you when it comes to your fashion sense. What’s your style motto?
You know, I’ve been on a few Best Dressed Lists, and this is what I always say: ‘My style is Very PC—Versace, Pucci and Chanel.’
Your pocket squares, in particular, seem to garner a lot of attention.
Yes. [laughing] I have over 350 ties and 250 pocket squares. Outside of real estate, fashion and interior design are my great passions.
Pocket squares aside, what are the current tech status symbols in San Francisco?
Well, certainly owning a Tesla car, and a limited edition iWatch. When it comes to real estate, it’s all about the wiring. A lot of people here have servers in their homes, so it’s a plus if the house is server-ready. Many buyers expect a home automation system that controls security, temperature, audio and visual, lighting and shading from their smart devices. Aesthetically, it’s about ultra modern minimalist right now.
Is the Bay Area gearing up for a slowdown like everyone seems to be predicting?
That’s a very interesting question. Last year, I was interviewed about the future of San Francisco, and I traced eight mega trends shaping the city from several economic forecasts. In The Wall Street Journal’s survey of Top 50 economists, their predictions were for 3.5% in 2015 and growth continuing in 2016 at 2.6%. The International Monetary Fund also came out with their economic outlook, forecasting that globally we would not reach full employment until 2017. So, my prediction: San Francisco is headed for moderate growth with a gentler downturn.
An interesting trend that you hit on in your last newsletter was the influx of tech millionaires buying second homes in LA. What do you think about this?
There is more crossover than ever before between the two cities with the convergence of the tech, entertainment and media industries. In some ways, I would say Silicon Valley is the new Hollywood.
Who knows—maybe Roh and the San Francisco cast will be eventually doing deals with Josh Altman and team.
I could definitely see the SF agents doing deals in LA, as we saw with one of the New York agents.
What has been the most important takeaway from the first season of MDLSF so far?
In the last few years, we have seen an increase in media attention on San Francisco. TV shows like MDLSF shine an even bigger spotlight on the city, putting it in front of home collectors around the world. So, to me, I see the show as a disruptor in the San Francisco real estate industry. It will be great for real estate values.
Any last words for us as we watch the next few episodes?
Fasten your seatbelts!