Photograph: Michael Ostuni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Picture
Kelly Killoren Bensimon, previous product, Authentic Housewife of New York Town, and writer of Assouline guides about bikinis and the Hamptons, has expended the earlier number of a long time carving out a career as a actual-estate agent. As it turns out, she’s rather fantastic at it. Bensimon offered $110 million in real estate very last yr, which incorporated a $41 million off-marketplace deal, and was declared Douglas Elliman’s Rookie of the 12 months. Now Bensimon, who joined Douglas Elliman’s Holly Parker group in 2019, is launching her have six-human being staff. Where did she arrive from, how did she increase in the serious-estate business, and what (and how) is she selling?
Why was Bensimon on the Real Housewives? Bensimon, whose initially modeling occupation as a teen was for Tyson chicken, arrived from a affluent midwestern spouse and children. Soon after shifting to New York, she worked as a residence design for Donna Karan, as a reporter for superior-close life-style publications such as Gotham and Hamptons, edited Elle Extras, and in 1997 married Elle photographer–creative director Gilles Bensimon the couple divorced a decade later on. “As a jet-set power pair, the Bensimons traveled involving the capitals of trend, in between a loft in Soho and a Hamptons unfold on Further Lane overflowing with Hermès beach towels,” in accordance to a New York Periods article about their breakup. A handful of many years after the divorce, Bensimon appeared as a solid member on two seasons of The Real Housewives of New York City, on which she famously and epically clashed with Bethenny Frankel, culminating in the “Terrifying Island” episode. Bensimon joined immediately after only just one period of the demonstrate, before it became a enormous, multicity franchise identified for its spectacularly messy fights, but it was continue to crystal clear at the time that anyone presenting up their lifestyle to a truth-Television set clearly show was cannon fodder. Why indication up for that? “I wanted to place my identify up there,” she explained to Harper’s Bazaar (which pointed out that her sofa was cluttered with pillows designed from Hermès scarves) in 2009. “I was like, it’s not adequate for New York to know me. I needed the rest of The united states to know me. I have a excellent existence. I have a great deal of pleasurable. I’ve finished remarkable guides.”
How did she conclusion up as a real-estate agent? She decided to get her authentic-estate license in 2017, immediately after her mother became ill and they made the decision to promote the family’s dwelling in Rockford, Illinois. “I preferred to oversee points. When I marketed my residence in the Hamptons, I wasn’t actually satisfied with the way the sale was managed,” she informed me, but she wouldn’t go into the details about what she wasn’t happy with. (Maybe it was the cost: The 6,000-square-foot More Lane home outlined for $12 million in January 2012 but went into contract for significantly less than half of that in Oct.) Bensimon put in about two weeks finding her true-estate license as a result of an accelerated study course. “Usually, it normally takes a good deal lengthier than that, but it’s a testomony to how I do the job,” she stated. “Go in and get it.” She commenced with Dolly Lenz Serious Estate that exact calendar year. She then went on to do the job at Warburg Realty, but in social media, not profits. “I didn’t seriously make the most of my license right until Douglas Elliman,” she explained. “And then my 1st 7 days at Douglas Elliman, I marketed [an apartment at] 11 Seaside for $8 million. It appears like bragging, but it is staying at the appropriate put. They fully grasp my brand name, how to optimize and make the most of my contacts. Just like how I know who my customers are and speak their language.”
Who are her consumers? “Titans of the world.” That is, people Bensimon appreciates from her “multi-hyphenate” job and lifestyle. “My customers have regard for me. They belief me I secure them. They’ve recognized me for so prolonged, have found how hard I’ve labored throughout my life.”
What sort of listings does Bensimon have? So far, Bensimon has mostly focused on New York Metropolis, the Hamptons, and South Florida. “I consider to concentrate on locations I know properly. I quarantined in Palm Beach, and I invested hours going for walks by means of West Palm Seashore, so I know it seriously effectively. I’ve spent a good deal of time in Miami due to the fact I was a model in the Ice Age. The Hamptons, I have been heading there due to the fact I was 15. New York, of course,” she mentioned. “Understanding the life-style is truly, actually vital. Anyone is not heading to fall $40 million if they do not know the place they’re going.” By means of Douglas Elliman’s Knight Frank community, she also has a listing in Paris and one more in London.
Her team’s latest listings on the Douglas Elliman website array from a $7.75 million townhouse in Brooklyn Heights to a $530,000 two-bed room on Beekman Spot. (Which would seem to be an unbelievably fantastic offer, but the $4,795 every month upkeep clarifies it.) There are also a number of two-bedrooms in Prolonged Island Town. But individuals are not the genuine off-market whales or, in the Bensimon–team terminology, portion of the “KKB reserve” listings — not for general public use — that look to make up a important chunk of her sales. Final 12 months, she brokered a $41 million deal at 150 Charles Road, connecting a shopper with a pal who determined to sell his five-bed room apartment there.
How does she provide it? “I smile a lot, and I have a large amount of vitality, and I believe that ideally my enthusiasm will be contagious and people will respond to how significantly I adore New York,” Bensimon advised the True Deal in 2019. Also, like numerous successful real-estate brokers, she has a great deal of loaded good friends: “She’s really nicely related, and she understands New York,” Fredrik Eklund mentioned in a Bravo interview. “Superhard employee and has crazy connections,” yet another real-estate insider wrote to me. “I’m employed to advertising the greatest of the greatest, and that’s what I’m doing,” Bensimon reported. “I’m also a truly very good listener. I pay attention to what my shoppers want and what my sellers will need.”
She claims persons also obtain her by social media. “I do the job with a great deal of persons from Instagram. Glance, Instagram is serious. At 1 level, I place up a pair of mink slippers — it was for an occasion at my daughter’s university I wanted to make one thing for the other mothers and wives that was fun — and I bought a thousand pairs in a number of weeks,” she explained. (The slippers had been produced by Pologeorgis.) “Four a long time later on, I have a shearling outerwear line with them. It is about mining your databases, being connected with men and women you know, informing them they are wonderful, and congratulating them on issues they do that are great. I commit a good deal of time on Instagram liking what individuals do, because I seriously like what they do.”
Homes she specializes in: Bensimon claims not to have a area of interest, despite the fact that naturally serving to the titans of the earth store for properties in New York, the Hamptons, and Palm Beach front is its individual specialized niche. “If I have a shopper that has a million-dollar condominium for the reason that her grandmother handed absent, I’ll support them. I like it all,” she stated. “I’m not a single of those people individuals who say, ‘I only perform with the finest of the finest.’ I go in there and do every thing. I have broken fingernails, I have cleaned bathrooms, I stage, I perform with photographers. The planet of authentic estate is not like Tv set it’s a really grueling company. You really don’t have your weekends. Touring all about the earth, having the proper deal for your consumer — it is truly complicated. You feel some thing is going to happen, the purchaser will come up, but then the seller does not want to go, the board does not want to settle for them. There are so quite a few dynamics.”