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The Agency’s Kofi Natei Nartey, Director of the Sports & Entertainment Division and regular on HGTV’s Selling LA, recently spoke about cultural diversity in real estate on a panel at the Beverly Hills Board of Realtors. Kofi was one of five industry leaders who spoke to an engaged crowd of real estate agents, lenders and other real estate professionals.

During the discussion, Kofi noted that while it’s important to understand different cultures, we shouldn’t always assume a connection. “Knowing how to say hello in someone’s language does not always mean you should engage them that way,” said Kofi. “Making assumptions about how to connect culturally can sometimes come across as disingenuous.” He went on to explain the importance of communication and an ability to mirror and match your clients’ style.

Kofi also discussed the importance of creating opportunities where they don’t currently exist. “It is not enough to say the industry as a whole should be diverse,” he shared. “There are not many barriers to entry to getting into real estate. We have to make sure agents can break into the different types of real estate they are interested in. This can include luxury, commercial, new development, or any area that may not already be culturally diverse.”

Finally, Kofi pointed out that culture also goes beyond racial backgrounds.

“In real estate and with dealing with other agents and clients, each region has its own culture,” said Kofi. “There is a beach culture in Malibu or Manhattan Beach that is different from Beverly Hills. There is a sports and entertainment culture that involves dealing with business managers, agents, and family members.” The key, he said, is to have a basic understanding of the cultures you aim to serve, and focus on the individual client needs versus general assumptions.

For more on the discussion, engage with Kofi on Twitter (@kofisellingLA).