Luxury Lessons with Joyce Rey


"The Golden Rule," proclaims Joyce Rey, the veteran Beverly Hills-based luxury real estate agent whose legendary career spans five decades, billions of dollars in sales, plus hundreds of awards and accolades. This core principle, she emphasizes, is one of her secrets to success: "If you are treating others as you would want to be treated by them, you cannot go wrong in any business. You must always put your client's best interests first."

Rey celebrates 50 years in real estate this year — a milestone deserving of its own award. Nicknamed the "First Lady of Luxury Real Estate," the "Billionaire's Broker," and the "Grand Dame of Real Estate," she is a true industry titan. Her client roster includes numerous Fortune 500 and celebrity personalities, with transactions involving Cher, Lionel Richie, Taylor Swift, Taylor Hackford and Helen Mirren, Kendall Jenner, and the Goldwyn family. Her impressive tenure selling some of L.A.’s most expensive and iconic estates began when she sold her first luxury home that was owned by heiress Christina Onassis, the only daughter of Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. Since then, her list of bona fides reads like a who's who of luxury real estate history: Pickfair, Owlwood, Green Acres, Le Belvedere, and the $195 million Chartwell estate — the current record-setter in Bel Air. 

Rey's impact extends far beyond the world of luxury properties. A champion for social good, she actively supports causes close to her heart, including women's empowerment, children's welfare, and affordable housing initiatives. She's also a revered mentor, having nurtured the careers of hundreds of real estate professionals, most notably Jason Oppenheim, who went on to open his own brokerage and star in Netflix’s "Selling Sunset." Her eye for spotting talent ensures her nine-member team comprises the industry’s rising stars. 

Join us for an exclusive interview as she reflects on her extraordinary legacy and reveals the secrets to her enduring success in luxury.

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryHow do you feel about being called a “legend”?

Joyce ReyI have mixed feelings about it! To be called a legend, you have to be older which means a fair amount of experience. On the other hand, it’s a tremendous honor to be that well-known for positive reasons, to be described in that way.

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryYou're known for selling some of the most expensive estates in L.A.. But a lesser recognized part of your legacy is that you've also mentored agents who have gone on to become some of real estate's major power players. What's been the most rewarding part about mentoring the next generation of real estate agents.

Joyce ReyWatching them succeed. That’s the raison d’etre.  

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryWhat knowledge do you think is important to pass down to the next generation of luxury real estate agents? 

Joyce ReyYou can never know enough. I tell my team all of the time, “You have to know the properties.” I’ve seen the same properties come up on the market two and three times. I’m familiar with them. I’m constantly learning and networking about properties on and off the market. That’s what makes you valuable to your clients. Knowledge is number one. If you are not holding an open house on Sunday, you should be out looking at other open houses. You must make sure that you know more than your competitors. Make every minute of your day count!

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryWhat do you think sets your mentorship style apart, and why do you believe it has been so effective in shaping the careers of your team members?

Joyce ReyMy team is my family and I care about each of them. It’s not a typical mentorship situation.  

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryYour dedication to philanthropy is another noteworthy aspect of your legacy. Can you tell us more about your charity work?

Joyce ReyI learned very early in college and my early years as a business law teacher at Dorsey High School that helping others is one of the greatest satisfactions in life! 

As a young agent, I was startled to learn that so many people were homeless even back then, and the first charitable event that I ever held in my home was to benefit the St. Joseph’s Center for the Homeless in Venice thanks to one of my partners who introduced me to this wonderful organization. 

Throughout my career, I have committed myself to so many events and organizations. I co-chaired the real estate support group for Cedars-Sinai Hospital, the Noël Foundation. I was given the Deborah Award by the Anti-Defamation League and I worked for many years supporting the American Cancer Society and its California Spirit event. I volunteered at the Venice Art Walk benefiting the amazing Venice Family Clinic. I have served on the Coldwell Banker Foundation Board and the auction committee for the Race to Erase MS for many years. I’ve also been on the LA Alive! event committee and in The Blue Ribbon organization, both supporting The Music Center.  

I am also dedicated to our public library system, which is one of the few free things in our society! I have been involved for many years with the Library Foundation and organizing fundraising events to support our fantastic Los Angeles Public Library! One of my most worthwhile experiences was mentoring a foster child for eight years through the Children Uniting Nations organization. Today, I’m happy to be part of the executive leaders of Visionary Women, a community that supports women and helps them soar. 

In the last 15 years, I have served on the Southern California Board of Directors of UNICEF and also served as its co-chair. I had the opportunity to travel to Nepal and Montenegro to see UNICEF’s work on the ground and it was overwhelming to witness the commitment and difference that our organization makes in the lives of children around the world. I can’t work hard enough on behalf of this amazing organization.  

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryHow can you run your team, do all this charity work, and still find time to service your clients?

Joyce ReyThe philanthropic work that I talked about spans a lifetime! One of the things that I love most about real estate is that every day is challenging and so different, but each day always starts quite early with a very lengthy commitment to work! I normally have a to-do list each morning which multiplies very quickly. I have a great support staff that helps me handle my day, comprised of a personal assistant who has worked for me several years handling my personal affairs and household organization, a licensed and experienced director of operations who manages my team and handles everything real-estate related, a wonderful marketing director who oversees all of my advertising and marketing channels plus brainstorms with me for innovative new ideas, and an administrative assistant who handles my business and social calendar and organizes my office and philanthropic affairs. I could never accomplish my goals without the support and talent of my incredible staff!

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryWhat's been the most important lesson you've ever learned? 

Joyce ReyThere are three: the importance of growing and learning in every area of my life, keeping a positive attitude is crucial, and the number one spiritual principle is forgiveness!

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryAfter 50 years in real estate, what do you consider to be your greatest achievement? 

Joyce ReyIt's difficult to name a singular accomplishment but upon reflecting on my many decades, establishing the first-ever company in the world to only handle million-dollar homes certainly tops the list. But representing and selling the most expensive home in the United States (on several occasions) is a close second — the most exciting recent sale being my $195 million listing, the famed Chartwell Estate.

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryAnd your greatest regret? 

Joyce ReyThat I didn’t spend more time with my son.  

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryWhat was the biggest challenge that your business ever faced? 

Joyce ReyThe toughest time in real estate for me was the Savings and Loan Crisis of the 1990s.  That period highlights the cyclical nature of the market. There are always ups and downs tied to the economy and interest rates. The key is to be prepared for those rainy days. Fortunately, I managed to close a deal that kept me afloat during that challenging time. It's a reminder that good luck often follows hard work and perseverance.

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryHow do you stay up-to-date on industry trends and keep your knowledge relevant, when the real estate business is constantly evolving? 

Constant communication. I read widely. I read multiple news sources. Plus, Coldwell Banker is always on the cutting edge of every trend!

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryI'm specifically thinking about the recent bombshell NAR settlement ruling, which eliminated the organization's guidance around commissions. How is your team planning to adjust to the new rules?

Joyce ReyThe NAR settlement has not been formally approved as of yet, but we’ve held thorough presentations and are dedicating a special team meeting to ensure everyone understands the possible new landscape. I think it's important to note that our contracts have stated for many years — in bold print — that commissions are negotiable. The probable difference would be that the MLS cannot list the commission that's offered. The process may change somewhat, but it all boils down to negotiation and that’s always been the case.

It complicates the process we had before, but we want fairness and transparency for all parties involved. We will likely have another document to execute with a buyer before we start showing them houses, which have been used in many markets in the past.

It’s crucial, now more than ever, that we communicate our value proposition to clients, who may not be aware of all of the things we do in the background as a buyer’s or seller’s agent.    

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryYou were selling luxury real estate long before personal branding played a major role in an agent's career. How did you differentiate yourself and build a strong reputation in this market when you were first starting out?

Joyce ReyHARD WORK! There was literally no personal branding back then. Property marketing wasn’t what it is now, either. We didn’t even photograph our listings. We could only publish a short two-line description in the classified section! When an agent submitted a listing to the MLS, the MLS would send a photographer to the property to take a quick snapshot that might only have been of the front gate! Real estate agents would get a piece of paper with basic information and that simple black-and-white photo of the property. Agents did not take out ads. If you were a serious buyer, you called an agent.

That’s why connections were so important and still are today, especially for sellers who don’t want to be in the MLS. The more high-profile you are, the more you are concerned with your privacy. 

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryWhat's your advice for agents starting out today?

Joyce ReyWhen you first start out, it’s important that you have a savings account so you are not financially pressured. Immerse yourself in everything you can learn: recent sales, property details, neighborhoods, and most importantly, building connections with fellow agents through networking. There’s a big learning curve. Larger companies like Coldwell Banker have excellent training programs that are very helpful. A team association can also be very beneficial. You learn by doing.  

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryWhat’s the most important quality for a luxury real estate professional to have if they want to succeed in this business today? 

Joyce ReyYou have to LOVE your business. When you're genuinely enthusiastic, it shows. People can sense your passion and excitement about representing their property. This principle applies no matter your profession — waitress, plumber, or CEO. When you have a burning passion for your work, it ceases to be work. 

Coldwell Banker Global LuxuryIs there anything else that a real estate agent might need to succeed in luxury? 

Joyce ReyA good deal of luck! My very first big deal came about unexpectedly at a BBQ. I found myself chatting with a lovely couple who mentioned they were looking to buy a house. I said “Fantastic! I just got my real estate license!” I offered to show them properties. As fate would have it, they turned out to be friends of the hostess and ended up becoming my first major clients — the buyers of none other than Cher’s beautiful house on Carolwood! Of course, back then I never imagined they'd be buying a home for over a million dollars! You never know where a single interaction might lead.

Ever wonder what it's like to work alongside a real estate legend like Joyce Rey? Her team spills the tea and reveals their favorite "Joyce-isms" over the years. Read more here to find out what's inspired them most. 


Related Posts