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Arts and Entertainment

When Rich People Shop For Mansions, They Get Free Sushi And Helicopter Rides

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The best way to get a lot of free swag be rich already. When really, really rich people buy houses, they get helicopter rides, catered parties, 'lifestyle' films and books made with real animal skin.

Rayni and Branden Williams, luxury real estate agents, told the L.A. Times about how they market multi-million dollar estates to the super wealthy.

Most people in Los Angeles use their friend's brother's hairdresser's petsitter's Westside Rentals password, make a list of three or four apartments, and then poke around those apartments while the landlord stands awkwardly in the corner. The Williamses, however, dress to the nines to meet their clients, and they spare no expense cultivating an atmosphere of effortless luxury.

For a $33-million mansion in the Hollywood Hills, they produced a film that depicted a woman and her friends enjoying the mansion's many amenities—a massage room, an infinity pool with a sweeping view—while her husband is out on a business trip. He guns his Corvette outta there, and she opens the door for her friends—all of them are super hot, clearly do a lot of squats at the gym and have great hair. The short film cost $40,000 to produce. It's worth it to the Williamses, though, because their commission is somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million. Plus, because many buyers live in other countries, a website with a video and numerous staged, professional photos can help them decide if it's worth a private showing or not.

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Thousands are also spent on advertising in luxury publications like Yacht Magazine, or on billboards in pricey areas, like on Sunset Boulevard. Potential clients are sent gift bags that may contain chocolates, champagne and books about the home that are bound with crocodile skin. Yes, PETA, reptiles die to sell rich people mansions.

Once, the Williamses said they served lamb chops to a buyer who said he'd rather have sushi and instead of telling him that they spent $5,000 on those lamb chops so eat up, they rushed to get a renowned sushi chef to make the guy his sushi—and they had gorgeous models serve it to him. It was worth it to them, though, because that picky eater—Markus Persson, a video game programmer from Sweden—paid $70 million for the house, in cash.

Other tactics include showing shoppers what the house looks like from overhead via a helicopter, or throwing elaborate, catered pool parties. At Sotheby's International Realty's Brentwood officer, buyers can take virtual reality tours of available homes.

The people who get this five-star home shopping treatment are carefully vetted by these realtors. Stacey Gottula and Joyce Rey at Caldwell Banker Previews International, for instance, are selling the most expensive house in the country. It's $195 million and has a garage with room for 27 cars. It has 23 bathrooms. It has space for over 13,000 bottles of wine. The realtors don't want just anybody checking this house out—Gottula said they get a lot of "lookie-loos"—so they either privately invite people to come see the home, or they put interested parties through a vetting process to determine if they really have that kind of money. "If you can't buy it in cash, you can't buy it," Rayni Williams told the Times.

David Kramer of Hilton & Hyland, an affiliate of Christie's International Real Estate, said that when you're in the business of selling multi-million estates "what [clients] are looking for is lifestyle, not specific. We're in the want business, not the need business."

Meanwhile, the rest of Los Angeles in experiencing a housing crunch, and the rent is pretty high for the average not-a-billionaire.