Agents Annoyed by Buyers Wanting Celebrity Treatment

June 20, 2019

Celebrities try to keep their house hunts private, possibly using disguises, fake names, and nondisclosure agreements to maintain their privacy. But some real estate professionals are fielding requests for that same level of discretion among seemingly everyday buyers.

For some well-known celebrities who are carefully followed in the public eye, the secrecy makes sense. “Everything is so trackable online—it’s so much easier to find where someone lives,” Ian Slater, a real estate pro in New York City, told The Wall Street Journal.

But other buyers who are asking for that same treatment is puzzling some real estate pros.

“Sometimes I want to say, ‘Nobody cares!’” Cindy Scholz, a Compass real estate pro in New York, told WSJ.

Florian Jouin, a real estate pro in Florida, told WSJ that his client asked him to call them by a different name to try to keep their purchase secret during one of his showings. Jouin also recalls an incident at his former job at Miami’s Residences at W Hotel South Beach, a condo-hotel, where a couple purchased a unit and would not let anyone in their room. They placed invisible tape on the front door.

“I said, ‘Why did you buy in a condo-hotel where everybody can enter the room?’” Jouin recalled. “They said, ‘We like the pool.’”

Some pros say they’ve had obscure wealthy clients demand a nondisclosure agreement on their sale. Slater remembers one buyer client who brought her driver and bodyguard to view an apartment she was considering in downtown Manhattan. The bodyguard had to scan the neighborhood before allowing the woman to enter the building.

Real estate pro James Swierczewski told WSJ that a client quizzed him about his online security in the transaction. The client wouldn’t send his financial documents because of Swierczewski’s laptop software. “He hated Windows,” Swierczewski says. So Swierczewksi agreed to install a Linux operating system, which he says took two days to get it working properly. “I almost threw my computer at the wall,” he said. “We weren’t dealing with government secrets here. I tried to tell him that at one point, but it was lost on him.”

“‘Nobody Cares!’ Rich Unknowns Try Celebrity Tricks to Hide House Hunting,” The Wall Street Journal (June 17, 2019)