Real Estate

Kamran Zand’s high-powered, high-pressure life selling luxury real estate

He didn’t come from money, but Kamran Zand is tenacious, inventive and stylish, key ingredients for an agent who can sell the hell out of very, very expensive real estate.
Photo: Mikayla Whitmore
Andy Wang

When Kamran Zand rolls up to a multimillion-dollar home in his BMW 7 Series, rocking his Tom Ford threads and Hermès ties, he really does exude all kinds of luxury.

The 28-year-old Vegas real estate broker and founder of Luxury Estates International carries himself like a boss, a guy who not surprisingly goes to conferences in Beverly Hills and New York City and finds himself discussing potential deals, TV opportunities and wardrobe choices with Bravo regulars like the Altman brothers of Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles. It’s all part of a calculated business strategy for a shrewd young broker who knows that image means so much when it comes to unloading high-end real estate. It’s as much about selling a lifestyle as it is about selling Sub-Zero wine storage or Cararra marble.

Zand's highlight reel includes the sale of 9028 Players Club Drive to Rick Salomon for $3.8 million in 2014.

Zand's highlight reel includes the sale of 9028 Players Club Drive to Rick Salomon for $3.8 million in 2014.

Zand—whose highlight reel includes the $3.8 million sale of the mansion at 9028 Players Club Drive to Rick Salomon, Pamela Anderson’s husband, in 2014—is known for creating elaborate online videos to showcase properties. He uses aerial photography and drones, creates 3D tours and cinematic experiences complete with their own soundtracks, sometimes hiring actors or models to swim in a pool or hang out in a kitchen.

“There’s a new kind of real estate company,” Zand says. “It’s not about wearing a suit or a tie. I do it because I like it, but real estate is not what it used to be. For me it’s about doing innovative marketing that will create an emotional experience in the buyers and get them to pay that premium that sellers want.”

His marketing style also includes open houses with valet parking, catering and entertainment. For 9028 Players Club Drive, Zand spent $5,000 on direct mail to every wealthy local homeowner he could think of, and he worked the phones. “We had nearly 100 people, a lot of local celebrities and casino executives,” Zand says of the open house. It looked like a good party was underway, so UFC President Dana White came over. “He lives a street over, 10 doors away, and he still drove and valeted, and I think he gave the valet drivers a $100 tip.”

Beyond selling Vegas real estate, Zand realizes that there’s value in his URL, and he has big plans to turn that site into a global property powerhouse.

“What I want to create—actually, I will create the largest international luxury real estate network,” Zand says. “You’ve got Sotheby’s, you’ve got Christie’s, but we all know that it’s the boutique brokerages that run their cities.” Zand is reaching out to the “top boutique brokerages” all over the map as he builds a site that aspires to showcase listings in every major market. He wants to have at least 10 countries locked up in 2015. He says he’s already got Berlin and Paris firms and brokerages in Spain and Turkey ready to join.

It’s full-on expansion time for Zand, who launched Luxury Estates International in January 2014 and just opened a sleek office in a Sahara Avenue building where neighbors include restaurant mogul Elizabeth Blau and cosmetics brand Estee Lauder. He’s usually in that office by 7, always by 7:30. He made a bet with a friend that involves each party paying $500 if they show up to work any later. Once at his desk, Zand reaches clients in every possible way.

“For some brokers it’s just phone calls. Now there’s text, there’s Skype, there’s email, there’s WeChat, there’s WhatsApp, there’s Viber.”

But fancy tech and innovations mean nothing without a work ethic, and Zand’s greatest edge might be his refusal to give up on potential deals. Joseph Sacco of JS Interiors Group is a client who’s become friendly with the broker and even designed his office.

When Zand brokered the sale of 2616 Mystere Court in 2013, he set a milestone for the street at $1.1 million. In 2014, he sold it again, for $1.3 million.

When Zand brokered the sale of 2616 Mystere Court in 2013, he set a milestone for the street at $1.1 million. In 2014, he sold it again, for $1.3 million.

“My house wasn’t on the market,” Sacco recalls. “He sent me a letter, and I ignored him. He sent me another and I ignored him. Then he sent me another. I thought I should at least meet this guy, I knew he was persistent. He reminded me a lot of myself, because he’s very focused on his work and obviously enthusiastic.”

They agreed on an aggressive asking price, and Zand went to work. “I remember thinking he was crazy when we met,” Sacco says admiringly.

Zand closed on the $1.1 million sale of Sacco’s house at 2616 Mystere Court in April 2013, setting a new milestone for the street just four months after meeting with his latest client. Soon, neighbors wanted to see if Zand could work similar magic on their properties, in an area where previous sales were largely in the $600,000 range. Zand sold several more houses on the block for around $800,000 and then, most impressively, resold 2616 Mystere for $1.3 million in 2014.

Zand now regularly sells million-dollar-plus houses and condos, like a $1.63 million penthouse at CityCenter’s Veer Towers, where he himself rents a unit while also owning six Vegas investment properties.

He’s living the high life, but it wasn’t always like this. Growing up in Southern California with his single mother, brother and sister was “horrible; we didn’t have any money at all.” They moved and changed schools frequently while struggling to feed themselves. Zand remembers panhandling and being embarrassed about friends finding out.

At 17, he moved in with his grandparents in Vegas and started working for his grandfather’s landscaping business. “I finished my last year of high school at Durango while I was shoveling rocks, planting plants, doing really hard manual labor,” Zand says. “My grandfather helped me turn everything around, he helped me get my driver’s license, a bank account, taught me what was right and wrong, gave me something I always needed.”

Zand began moving up, driving landscaping trucks, then working as a foreman and later a salesman. “I was killing it, I was just knocking on every door in the neighborhood, signing up jobs,” he says.

By the time he was 19, he had saved $10,000 and, in a booming 2006 market with 100 percent financing available, he bought a $450,000 house. When he realized the broker made a $25,000 commission, he immediately went to real estate school.

“When I passed the test, I thought I was going to be a millionaire,” Zand says, but his struggles started anew. “It turns out I was eating Top Ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the first year.”

The bank foreclosed on his house, one he now realizes he “had no business at all buying.” But after being introduced to the Mike Ferry Organization, which offers real estate coaching services, Zand became a cold-calling machine.

“I learned scripts,” he says. “I was literally just calling out of the phone book. ‘Do you want to sell your house? How long have you lived here?’”

He started getting clients, but then the market collapsed. So Zand started calling banks and asset managers that took control of scores of homes in 2008. With eight brokers and at least that many assistants, Zand’s team started bringing in more than $1 million in commissions yearly by selling distressed properties.

Then the market changed again in 2010, and Zand realized that he had to focus on luxury homes to make the kind of money he was now accustomed to earning.

It took him more than three years before he started his own firm, and he continues to grind tirelessly to make sure he doesn’t lose momentum. He’s always learning new technologies, both to up his game and simplify his life. He works all the time, so living at CityCenter is a major convenience. He eats at Javier’s, Mastro’s and Lemongrass, and has reps at the Shops at Crystals contacting him about new items to keep his image sharp.

The high life doesn’t leave much room for play, but Zand’s one hobby is the salsa dancing he does at night. He’s part of a local team that travels for competitions. Like everything else, Zand takes it seriously. He’s a man who knows that sometimes you have to pivot and then pivot again, that you have to be ready when it’s time to make the next move.

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