REALTOR GIFTS – How do you compare?
Randy Gilbert, J.D.
Chief Happiness Officer
Florida’s Title Insurance Company
(954) 500-Title (8485)
Why do business gifts, these spontaneous tokens of unexpected affection work? Because they make someone feel good? Create bonds and stronger relationships? Drive loyalty? Boost reputations? Show appreciation? Reward? Encourage reciprocity? Planning and buying gifts is an endeavor. The true task is much more than choosing the right gift. I had the pleasure of interviewing 46 Realtors offering enlightening and creative ideas.
But before we dive in, I heard a lot of misinformation about the gift giving. According to tax expert Misty Weinger, CPA “Per tax law, business gifts to clients are only deductible up to $25.00 per client. Promotion and advertising expenses are not subject to the $25.00 gift limitation. It is important to review with your CPA to determine which category your expenses will qualify.” So, this does not mean that you cannot give gifts. The question simply is how much can be deducted as a business expense for tax purposes.
Adam Bursztein – Compass. Practical and kind, and all-around cool guy. Expect to have something thoughtful and useful from Adam. In addition to cigars and baskets, Adam has purchased washers and dryers for his clients. Just watch out you don’t find one of Adam’s pairs of underwear in there.
Adolfo Gil – Weichert, Miami. Adolfo runs a non-profit called “Selling Real Estate for a Cure.” Ten percent (10%) of his commission is donated to a client’s choice of charities. Certificates are prepared and personally addressed along with a lovely note stating, “If it wasn’t for your sale, this donation could not have happened.” It pays off because not only do the clients become more aware about the charity, but those at the charitable organizations have also referred clients. Additionally, he listens to buyers, picking up on what they love. For instance, for love of his wife, a relenting husband bought a house, despite concerns where he would put his beer with such a small fridge. A stack of cold beers were promptly delivered to the husband.
Audrey Muller – Keyes, Ft. Lauderdale. Audrey is an old sole. A merry old sole. Her go to gift re”treats” back in time, framing a historical map of the location, and a cutting board.
Barbara Shapiro – Coldwell Banker, Weston. The Elipse Vase is a stellar combination of smooth glass and a thin, elliptical shape gives a futuristic sense of style and provide countless decorative possibilities “I give it because everyone loves it and it displays magnificently, adding to the home.”
Ben Garcia – List Realty. Finds out what clients like throughout the deal. Nicaraguan Cigars and specifically tailored brands of liquor. If he hasn’t broken the ice, then edible arrangements or a basket.
Ben Moss – Compass. Compass’ boutique website, accessible exclusively to Compass agents, allows for the perfect array to select client gifts. Family engraved cutting boards made of cherry wood and marble.
Chip Falkanger – Compass. Many clients are transplants unfamiliar with the area. So why not show them a good time? Along with a gift basket, Chip has been known to give five (5) one hundred dollar ($100.00) gift cards to different restaurants. Ironically, he even saw a client eating at one of the restaurants, elated to see him, promptly displayed their gift card and said, “this one is on you Chip!”
Chris Brooks – Compass. In touch with the vibe and emotion of the family, personalizes each gift but for her Brazilian clients, edible arrangements is a completely new and unique concept. Children love the hand-dipped chocolate covered fruit which come in an assortment of shapes.
Chris Ricci – Re/Max Integrity, Davie. The Captain of this and President of that, this man is everywhere in the real estate world but is he spreading himself thin? Chris knows how to give impressionable gifts such as: a spreading knife which says, “Spread the Word;” or a Carving knife etched with “Cut above the Rest.”
Connie Cabral – BHHS EWM, Aventura. Connie is too hot in the real estate world. Be ready to soak in the tub with a fine bottle of wine etched with your family’s name on it, and then dry off in white embroidered Egyptian cotton towels and washcloths with your family’s initials. “Nothing with our company name on it, as I find that tacky.”
Connie Cooper – Connie Cooper Realty. First thing she does is build a rapport. Client loved a house but it had no outdoor kitchen. So Connie delivered a Bar-B-Que with “Willie’s BBQ” engraved on it. A woman loved to garden was surprised when Connie had a landscaper install a lemon tree in her yard. No the lemon tree was not engraved.
David Carrion-Levy – Compass, Roombas, the robotic vacuum cleaners. “People don’t realize how good they are until they actually have one and it is seen regularly.” Bottle of Dom Perignon and name engraved baccarat champagne flutes.
Debra Hilsenroth – Coral Shores Realty. Move over Etsy, Debra is blessed with the gift giving and creating talent. Making her own baskets better than professionals using shrink wrap and heat guns, you will love her love. Moscow mules, copper mugs, mint filled, limes, vodka, dog treats, crystal bowls, picture frames, who knows what goodies you will get?
Denise Rubin – Coldwell Banker, Aventura. Who does not know Denise? Well you also won’t be able to forget her, as she likes to give . Stylish and compact, welcome people over and show off your new home with a trillium engraved bamboo cutting board in the shape of a home, champagne with her logo, door knockers, and display books about Miami.
Desiree Avila – Charles Rutenberg Realty, Ft. Lauderdale. Care to share a pint at the local pub? In addition to receiving a photography session from a professional photographer of your new home and family, enjoy artesian spirits crafted by a local distillery right in Oakland Park from Chainbridge Distillery. Just make sure you take your photos before you partake in the spirits, or not.
Diana Escobar – United Realty, Plantation. Recalls placing golfers in a home located on a golf-course. A golf basket with balls, gloves, outfits, and an entire package was a natural fit for this couple.
Edward Boateng – Keller Williams, Coral Springs. Not everyone is fortuitous enough to have their own live-in gift designer and you will not find gifts like these anywhere else. Wife, Alicia Boateng, has been featured on Channel 7’s Deco Drive for her inspiring designs and gifts. Clients can expect inscribed bold and gold handmade keychains adorning the words, “It’s so good to be home.” “We want our clients to remember us as they enter and leave the home and we feel this keychain is a good reminder.” Tributing women as beautiful, strong, and influential, the “Afro Glam Series” is a collection of cups, mugs, tumblers and ornaments that pop and one-of-a-kind!
Emel Onur – Lead Realty, Boca Raton. Catering to international Turkish clients, blesses the home with protection from jealousy or bad feelings, by gifting a Nazarboncuk (evil eye in Turkish) but in the shape of a home. Meaningful to her clients, this gift cannot be duplicated here, as it is designed, crafted, and purchased by Emel on her regular visits to motherland Turkey.
Eric Manten – Silmar Realty, North Miami Beach. If I ever lit anything on fire this expensive, I would be arrested for arson. Who knew $400 candles existed? Eric’s response, “but they smell so good.” And it is understandable, we have all been swept back to a moment in our lives after perhaps smelling the nectar of a sweet perfume, the beach’s air, a campfire, popcorn, a sharpened pencil. Well Eric wants to be remembered and indelibly will be burned into his client’s brain. Check out Diptqyue’s French candles and home décor.
Erica Stowers – Florida Luxurious Properties. Picture this, No literally, a picture book of the house being sold was presented to a woman who was just emotionally detached from her home when it sold (albeit for a record price) after 30 years of memories.
Gina Tarr – One Sotheby’s, Las Olas. This I have never seen before, and it is so simple but so elegant, and all I can say is I want one. Pineapples appear on all sorts of décor, from door knockers to quilts. “The fruit symbolizes the intangible assets we appreciate in a home: warmth, welcome, friendship and hospitality,” says Gina. Champagne and chocolates are symbols of celebration, special occasions, love, and romance. Gina combines it by selecting the finest champagne, hot gluing Ferrero Rocher Chocolates around, fountain into a green stem. This is my kind of healthy fruit treat.
Ilana Gross – Level Realty Partners, Ft. Lauderdale. Artsy at heartsy, Ilana loves to present clients with art from Galleries. When people ask “Oh Wow! Where did you get that?” her clients naturally respond “Oh, my realtor.” A client who lost her cat received a portrait of the cat. A Jewish couple may receive a Mezuzah, Birkat Habayit ( A blessing over the house), and/or a Hanukkiah like none other. “They have to be conversation pieces.”
Jeanette Pressman – Dezer Platinum. A fish out of water, got her feet wet in real estate and now hosts open houses by stocking the pool with real-live mermaids. A creature of the sea, and a concerned for safety, gives swimming lessons to children in homes with a pool.
Joel Matus – William’s Island Realty, Aventura. Reminds us “Don’t think of giving a gift as a chore. And don’t get it done just for the sake of getting it done.” Whatever the gift may be, which her personalizes for every client, “the presentation of the gift together with the packaging is just as important.” Joel enjoys personally delivering each-and-every gift himself. If he is not at his exclusive brokerage inside William’s Island, or at the club, you will probably find him in Aventura Mall on the 3rd floor of Bloomingdales selecting just the right gift, tailored for each special client. He also likes to use Reservebar.com to engrave high end MacCallan, Tequila, or Champagne bottles, which hare enveloped in embroidered Williams Island: robes, slippers, and monogrammed soaps and bubble bath salts.
Kim Hackett – Compass. The best part of waking up is to a Kim Hackett present. Jura espresso machines, are the finest aromatic, fully automated, specialty coffee machine and are simply stunning. It is like parking a Ferrari (or cappuccino) in your garage, so make sure you have the home to match so Kim can freshly grind this luxury item for you.
Lara Orlanis – Exclusively Baronoff Realty, Sunny Isles Beach. Developer’s models look amazing because they are decorated with coffee table books. Depending on client interests, Lara buys Coffee table books about fashion, art, racing cars. “I think books are more valuable because, they are always out, and you have it forever.”
Larry Genet – CBRE, Las Olas. Winner of the legend & leaders community award, and seen on social media and video more than a George Foreman grill, he is everywhere. I bow to you sir. Expect a crystal award with a floating picture of the acquired building or shopping center. But the genius of Larry comes in when he hosts an annual dinner and allows all his high-net-worth clients to socialize, meet each other, and recapture some of that commission they paid him. I would love to get on that exclusive list; as soon as a I have $10M+ to buy commercial Larry.
Laurie Richter-Spector – Compass. Personally selects hand made cutting boards. A client liked sage so much, Laurie hand-created an entire sage basket dawning Sage: recipes, candles, aromas, herbs, soaps, syrup, swag, scrubs, infused honey, and oils. Somethings you just cannot buy off the shelf. Non-residents have also received gift certificates to great local restaurants allowing them to get to know the area.
Lenzel Davis – One Sotheby’s, Coral Gables. Always the stylish one who turns heads in a room, founded his own shoe company, Machiko, known for their bespoke Italian designs. Be prepared to step into your luxury home with your new hand crafted shoes, custom measured to your foot. This man is charming, so don’t be surprised when he also presents you with your favorite songs, on today’s equivalent of a mix-tape, as he harnesses his radio talents when he used to work as an electric engineering for some of our favorite radio stations.
Linda Seitel – One Sotheby’s, Las Olas. What resonates with clients is something personal to them. Recalling one especially strifeful transaction, and we have all had them, Linda hysterically assembled a basket of wines based on the wines’ names like: Tension; Conundrum; Freak Show; etc… She has the best smile, so I’m glad she could keep her sense of humor.
Lori St John – Keller Williams Partners, Plantation. Reminds us that it is not just a house that is being sold; but memories, which can be very emotional. Sometimes, I think that it may be even more emotional for Lori because she invests so much of herself into learning all about the house, down to the studs, and the accretion of the beaches. Lori featured a home on the cover of a magazine and had it framed, another was painted in watercolors by an artist, and the most unusual has to be the 3-D models replicating the home with a sterling silver tab identifying the family. Additionally, Lori listens to her clients and family is very important to her. So she has given fun gifts like private family trips or the Miami Zoo.
Lucy & Eduardo Cofresi – Dezer Platinum / Armani Residences, Sunny Isles Beach. This power couple have been my friends for almost 20 years, and rose to the top, being sought after by developers to sell out their buildings like the Porsche building and now the Armani. Armani has broadened their brand into home and décor under Armani/Casa. Expect to be presented with a unique accent piece from the designer. At the Porsche building it is Porsche glasses, belts, and other designer accoutrements. Brand names are collected by their clients so why not add to the collection? Open up a matching Gucci, Channel, LV, wallet and purse. If you don’t like it then you can easily exchange it. For that reason, they do not give spa certificates at the buildings because many of their clients have their own people, give the certificates away, or never use them.
Lysandra, Devona, and Romina Wu – Luxe, Coral Gables. Super as three (3), this family combines to give the ultimate attention to their clients and when gifting it is no different. Using a cricket machine they personalize pillows, portraits, and coasters, and capture that moment by chronicling the closing, familial surname, and address. “Ring doorbells have been given too, but where’s the fun in that?”
Matt Weiner – Laurie Finkelstein Reader Realty, Plantation. Just to say his name makes you smile and want to party, both of which I have done with this guy. I can’t keep up. So get ready to have fun, as Matt caters a house warming party for 20 of your closest friends and even handles the invite, and photographer of the party and even the family for a before and after party shoot.
Meryl Koslow – One Sotheby’s, Las Olas. Enough said when that impressionable “Tiffany Blue” box arrives at your door. Did you know that color was used on Tiffany’s Blue book first published in 1845? Toast your new purchase with Tiffany champagne flutes, and two (2) bottles of Napa Valley’s Caymus. Touched by a family member suffering with Alzheimer’s, and wanting to make a difference, Meryl made a sizeable charitable donation.
Michael & Wendy Ledwitz – Engel & Volkers, Boca Raton. Living in the Polo Club, Michael and Wendy have catapulted into being the number one (#1) realtors at Boca Raton’s Polo Club. But “the Club” is much more than their office. It is their community. “It is important to get to know clients, but it is even more important to make wonderful friends. Living at the Polo Club allows us to expand our friendships every day.” Michael and Wendy can be found dining with their new found friends, whether it be at the Club’s elegant Crown Room or SteepleChase.
Michele Tabb – Compass. Looking for that special something? Michele’s secret helper is Chef Mom, with an bevy of uniquely styled kitchenware, tableware, blankets, pillows, candles, totes, decor, and more. She has also found, what I call “Michele’s Picks,” that her laminated list of favorite restaurants and necessities have drawn the most attention and gratitude.
Nana Rezaie – Keller Williams, Wellington. One gift that never leaves your site, because it is too heavy, is the Breville Smart Oven Air, which includes 13 baking and roasting features including warming, dehydrating, air frying, and super convection. I don’t know how I ever lived without mine; this is truly a fantastic gift.
Nicki Riettie – Douglas Elliman, Las Olas. Known for being tres chic, after moving in a professional photographer will show at your home for a 2 hour session and present you with a large frameless photograph of the happy family in their new home.
Regina Vasquez – Coldwell Banker, Aventura. Stylish and compact, welcome people over and show off your new home with a trillium engraved bamboo cutting board, chocolates wrapped in gold, and an invaluable kitchen gadget like Cutco’s super shears.
Robyn Selner – Coldwell Banker, Weston. As a professional and a mom, Robyn has an eye for detail and will incorporate the playfulness of Romero Britto into your home. It could be his artwork of children playing, a colorful house, a functional lighting fixture, or something that just speaks to her client.
Scott Kaplan – Re/Max Realty Associates. Learned his lesson that oak cutting boards required too much maintenance and may only be brought out on special occasions, shifted his gift giving to practicality, with a reusable and recyclable publix bag, beach towels, turvis tumblers, golf sized umbrella, Chapstick, jar opener, and other everyday useable items.
Sherri Pfefer & Megan Pfefer – Coldwell Banker, Las Olas. Known for their humor and always keeping it “Pfresh,” especially in the kitchen. Prada and Gucci key chains help the clients arrive to their house. Home warranties, with notices from the warranty company, allow them to follow up and keep in touch with their clients should any appliance fail. And coasters designed on Shutterfly, transition images of old into the new house so, clients see where they came from and how far they’ve come.
William Webb III – Webb & Associates, Hollywood. Don’t mess with Bill. With him, your first cleaning from a maid service will be provided by him. And today, he has even added a COVID cleaning prior to moving in.
Zachary Oppenheim – Oppenheim Realty, Ft. Lauderdale. Every client comes with a story, and Zachary helps write it by adding in details. It could be a knife block for a couple that just got engaged yet to share the same last name, or a Publix card with a note to enjoy their first family meal courtesy of Oppenheim Realty. Ever so stylish, he has created a demand for his clothing, so coming soon is an online boutique where each client will be given a gift certificate to buy swag and merch.
DISCLAIMER: Topics discussed are general concepts, not intended to constitute legal advice, accuracy, nor completeness, and may not be relied upon as such; consult an attorney. FTIC is a national award winning title insurance company known for its white glove customer service and “No Junk Fee Guarantee.” ®