Each Friday, the executives of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty write about luxury, trends, business and more in the advertising pages of the Mansion section of The Wall Street Journal. Below is CEO Robbie Briggs' letter of August 25, 2023.
FROM MY PERSPECTIVE
“Loose lips sink ships.”
My father taught me that famous phrase when I joined him in the real estate business. The idiom comes from a headline on U.S. propaganda posters during World War II — a catchy way of stressing that unguarded talk could give all kinds of useful information to the enemy.
In our business, when you are working on a deal, the less said outside the transaction the better. At our brokerage, our agents take this very seriously. Our clients do not want what they are doing to be public — why they’re selling, why they’re buying, what they’re paying or where they’re moving. It’s no one’s business but theirs.
I will never forget when one of today’s biggest Hollywood stars — you’ve seen his movies — came to Dallas to shoot a film. He wanted to rent a home that was very secluded. He first worked with one of our competitors, who doesn’t understand the importance of discretion and quickly broke the news. The star’s manager fired the broker immediately and contacted me to help. We found the star a great home at the end of a cul-de-sac. No one knew where he rented. (That is, until Halloween, when little trick-or-treaters were shocked when the star and his wife, also a famous actor, answered the door. But, no one heard it from us.)
Every year, our agents are involved in some of the largest transactions in North Texas. They occur without fanfare or disclosure of any information that isn’t required by law or the Multiple Listing Service system here. If we do market a home publicly, it is only with our client’s permission that we say it has a notable owner. In fact, we treat all our clients as celebrities. And, we don’t talk.
A dear friend used to sell fine jewelry at the Neiman Marcus store in downtown Dallas. Her clientele included movie stars, moguls and the movers and shakers of the city. You could never get a peep out of her about her business. In my opinion, that is the way business should be done.
Thanks, Dad, and the tight-lipped lady, for teaching us all this very important lesson. Because of you, I watch what I say. As do the nearly 400 agents at our brokerage.