Celeb client privacy: Confidential checklist with luxurious house in background
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

‘No selfies’ is celebrity agent’s No. 1 tip for working with the stars 

A Florida real estate agent who works with high-profile buyers and sellers offers five tips for maintaining client security and privacy.

December 29, 2022
5 minutes

Key points:

  • Enhanced security and privacy are essential for celebrity clients, said South Florida real estate agent Holly Meyer Lucas.
  • “One of the top needs of this group is working with a real estate professional who knows the technicalities involved in a discrete transaction,” she said.
  • At a minimum, agents need to show respect by putting their phones away and working with the client's representatives.

High-profile athletes and celebrities who routinely play or perform before thousands of fans have unique needs for privacy and security, and that extends to real estate transactions.

Holly Meyer Lucas, principal and founding agent of the Meyer Lucas Team at Compass in South Florida, regularly represents clients who are household names. She understands the extensive measures public figures often take to maintain their privacy, especially when it comes to buying or selling a home.

Holly Meyer Lucas (Compass)

Her real estate agency is based in Jupiter, a beachfront community and warm-weather haven for superstars like Tiger Woods, Celine Dion and Michael Jordan.

"Public figures value privacy on another level compared to everyday people," Meyer Lucas told Real Estate News. 

"With extremely high profile celebrities, their whereabouts are often known all over the internet. For that reason, having a property manager, on-site security and top-notch AV and security systems are important," she said, to name some of the measures taken to ensure privacy.

"One of the top needs of this group of home buyers is working with a real estate professional who knows the technicalities involved in a discrete transaction," Meyer Lucas said. 

That knowledge goes beyond signing confidentiality agreements and NDAs. It often involves keeping a property off the MLS — known as a pocket listing — so the general public never has access to it. 

Compass is among the national real estate companies that offer "exclusive privates," a special set of off-the-market properties that let the sellers control information shared while receiving attention from select agents.

Meyer Lucas estimates she has handled about 100 real estate transactions involving professional athletes who maintain residences in greater Palm Beach and the oceanfront communities along Florida's Treasure Coast. 

For agents who want to work with celebrity clients, Meyer Lucas offers these important tips.

1. Put your phone away

"Keep your phone out of your hand if you can. Public figures are wary of being recorded or having photos taken in a sneaky way. Just keep your phone in your pocket — and don't sneak a picture of them." Enough said.

2. Work with the client's representatives

Agents, financial advisors and others help manage the day-to-day for celebrities, who rely on the decisions and judgment of a close network of professional associates, friends and family members, Meyer Lucas said.

"The biggest mistake that realtors can make is dismissing the financial advisor or agent and focusing on buying lunch for the athlete. That's a fatal mistake. Your first call when working with a celebrity should be with their representation," she said.

3. Know which locations appeal to stars

Celebrity sightings are an everyday occurrence in Jupiter, where Meyer Lucas runs her agency. Other popular locations for celebrity homebuyers are the Hamptons, Nashville and Palm Beach.

Spotting celebrities going about their regular lives is not a big deal in cities where many other pro-athletes or entertainers live, she said, which is why high-profile buyers often choose those communities. "Nobody bats an eye or asks for an autograph or picture. Nobody is calling out your kids at school for having a dad that plays professional basketball or shaming you for flying private," Meyer Lucas said.

4. Prioritize properties that enhance security

Finding a home in a gated community or at the end of a cul-de-sac to minimize neighbors is just the beginning when considering logistics to keep celebrities at a safe distance from the prying public.

Prospective buyers often appreciate having basic infrastructure in place for a security network with both cameras and personnel. It makes the move that much easier and offers the new homeowner a greater sense of safety at the outset. 

"Often our professional athletes here in the Jupiter area opt for gated communities because it puts them around other people who value safety, security and privacy. For those buyers, having a guest house for an on-site property manager can be invaluable," Meyer Lucas said. 

5. Know the challenges of keeping life normal

The old adage, "walk a mile in my shoes," even if they are Drake's golden Air Jordans, applies to this select group of buyers and sellers. "It can be exhausting to live in an environment where seeing a celebrity is exciting and the highlight of someone's day," Meyer Lucas said. 

Meyer Lucas knows about the stress and pressure. She is the wife of retired professional baseball player Ed Lucas, who played for 14 seasons and is a coach for the San Francisco Giants. She uses her firsthand knowledge and background as a selling point in her South Florida real estate business.

Even in this age of online transparency, Meyer Lucas said it is possible for celebrity clients to keep a lower profile when buying and selling a home.

"There are many ways to keep a buyer's identity safe and protected, and it all boils down to an agent's knowledge of how their local records work and finessing contracts, for example, that protect a person's identity."

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