Lisa James Otto, broker and owner of Lisa James Otto Country Properties, shares how she got her start in the real estate industry and what makes her boutique real estate firm so successful. Lisa serves on the Luxury Real Estate Board of Regents, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2014.
How did you get your start in real estate?
Actually, it is an interesting story how I got involved in real estate. I am a third generation Realtor. I went to the University of Vienna in Austria and then worked in Paris, France at Hermès. I speak French and German and became one of the top sales associates at Hermès. I did not want to go into real estate, but my parents both missed me and asked if I would come home. They were divorced and each had a company. I very reluctantly came back and went to work in my mother’s real estate company called Elizabeth James Real Estate. I immediately loved it. I had always been a little shy and found it very easy to talk to people about the country properties they were buying. In fact, I learned that listening was probably one of the most important skills in selling properties.
After my mother passed away, two very wealthy clients asked me to open up a real estate company with them. I quit my family firm and then the two clients changed their mind and I was all alone in an office space I had rented. I advertised a lot in New York.
One day, I got a call from a man named Bob Kelsey from Leading Estates of the World in California. He said he loved my writing and wanted to interview me. He immediately liked me and asked me to become a member of Leading Estates of the World. I went to my first meeting in California. In the meeting, I had to introduce myself and I said Bob taught me what it meant to be a boutique real estate firm and everyone laughed. That is actually the meeting in which I met John Brian Losh.
What path has your career taken?
My path in real estate has taken a nice direction. I became a member of F.I.A.B.C.I. and was the president of the New York Board for three years. I have made so many friends around the world and my membership in the Who’s Who and Luxury Real Estate network and all the wonderful conferences that I attend has expanded my real estate network. I have sold two houses in Italy and listed two in France.
Why is your company successful?
I think the reason my company is successful is because it is truly a boutique firm. I am always on hand to help my agents. Clients are thrilled to know that there really is a Lisa James Otto. I have my own photographers and graphic designers so that my advertising is very carefully designed. I now have two offices. I opened a second one in New Jersey because of the number of horse farms and country properties I was selling in New Jersey. I just recently got my New York license and have hired a man from China to work with the strong Chinese clients who are buying in Philadelphia, New York and Bucks County. There is a wonderful feeling of family in my firm.
What are your favorite parts of your job?
My favorite part of my job is meeting people and helping them to find a wonderful country property. I meet so many amazing people that I would never meet if they were not looking to buy or sell properties. I find that very exciting.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
My favorite things to do are to go sailing and to travel.
For more information on Lisa James Otto Country Properties, please visit http://lisajamesotto.com.