Investing in Real Estate Stardom

Learn how Yvonne Arias' PR background and passion for real estate got her where she is today, representing her home town in the HGTV show "Selling L.A."

July 30, 2012

Despite owning her first investment property back when she was in college, Yvonne Arias never really thought she’d go into real estate. Then, she was hit with an “epiphany.”

“When I thought of my five-year or 10-year plan, it always involved buying real estate. I just feel so passionate about investing. And I thought, ‘You know what? I really should look more into this as a career,’” she said in a recent phone interview with REALTOR® Magazine.

Not that she wasn’t already on her way. After college, Arias went into public relations, where she learned the power of earned media – how to deliver the “wow” factor that garners enough attention from the public that negates the need for paid advertising. She took that lesson to heart in marketing properties, as well as when offering herself as a new real estate practitioner.

“Every single client wants something different for PR. And that’s the really cool thing about it,” she said. “I don’t think of just traditional ways of advertising or marketing. I try to do things to get myself more in the spotlight without having to pay for it.”

For her break-out deal, she was tasked with leasing one of the Ritz-Carlton residences in downtown L.A. She knew she needed to impress the developers, but she wasn’t sure how to get the right kind of attention.

“I thought, ‘Jeez, no one knows they’re even selling condos, let alone leasing them. What can I do?’” she recalled. “So I catered a broker event and invited some artists to show their work.”

Two weeks later, she had her lease. That first big deal snowballed into others, and almost two years later, the Ritz-Carlton still refers investors to her.

Even as her real estate career gained momentum, Arias thought back on her work in public relations and the power of earned media. Just like her former clients, she wanted a unique marketing opportunity. And preferably something she didn’t have to pay for.

Through a developer she’d been working with, Arias heard about Josh Altman and Heather Bilyeu from the show “Million Dollar Listing.” Her experience in PR allowed her to see how getting on TV could be a boon to her burgeoning business. But she also felt “Million Dollar Listing” was a little too “reality show” for her.

“I thought, ‘Well, I don’t want to be on a show like that, because it focuses too much on their personal lives.’ But HGTV’s ‘Selling L.A.’ — when that came out, I thought, ‘That’s a great show to be on. Very professional and polished, and it’s serious. But it still has that interesting vibe to it, where it’s not too stuffy and boring,’” she recalled.

After being recommended to the show’s producers by two separate clients, she was asked to film an episode for the upcoming third season, in which she helps a celebrity find a home. She had another episode planned for this season, but it fell through. Thankfully, interest in the show and Arias are both unflagging, so she’s bringing another high-profile home seeker on to start filming an episode for the fourth season in a few weeks. She can’t dish on who her clients are because the episodes haven’t aired yet. But she’s especially looking forward to this next one.

“That’s actually going to be a really, really exciting one. It’s a great person for the show,” she said.

But celebrity isn’t the main thing Arias brings to the table. She warns that selling is different when you’re on camera, because you need to engage the audience.

“You have to have that energy going. If it’s just dead and boring, no one’s going to want to watch,” she said.

Over the phone, Arias’ energy is most evident when she talks about her passion for her profession. Though she’s diverged with PR and staging careers in the past, she’s fully invested in real estate, and currently working toward getting her broker’s license.

“I’m obsessed with real estate,” she said. “It’s not a fit for everyone. Investing and being an agent are so different. And I feel like a lot of people don’t get that. So, if you’re thinking about getting a real estate license and starting a business, you really have to love real estate.”

Meg White

Meg White is the former managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.