Housing trade | Manna Satuli brokers the most expensive apartments in Finland and knows what the elite want

Private screen has just ended in an apartment worth over one and a half million euros in a fairytale castle-like building on Tähtitorninkatu in Ullanlinna.

Real estate agent Manna Satuli shows brochures on the dining table about the objects he cares about. There is a silky soft carpet underfoot, a chandelier costing thousands of euros on the ceiling and next to it is a kitchen with a marble pattern on the wall.

Satuli specializes especially in valuable apartments located in the center of Helsinki.

He says that, based on price monitoring statistics, he sold almost 40 percent of all apartments worth more than three million euros in Finland in 2020–2022, and in the last month alone, five apartments worth about two million euros.

“These are basic oats for me, easy and nice to sell.”

Satuli is currently brokering, among other things, one of Finland’s most expensive properties for public sale at the moment: a small house in Kuusisaari worth more than nine million euros.

Now he tells who the buyers of luxury apartments are and how selling luxury properties differs from selling apartments for ordinary working people.

Image of the brokers is like a mirror image: million-dollar apartments are sought for sale with cars worth hundreds of thousands of euros and watches of tens of thousands of euros on their wrists.

In reality, few real estate agents reach top incomes and a luxurious life, says the chairman of the board of the Finnish Real Estate Agency Federation (KVKL) Marina Salenius.

In the field there is a lot of competition. It is particularly strict in million-dollar apartments, whose buyer base is more limited than in ordinary homes.

The average annual income in the real estate brokerage industry was a good 53,000 euros in 2020, according to a survey conducted by the Real Estate Education Center Kiinko.

A large part, i.e. almost 60 percent, of the brokers earned something between 20,000 and 60,000 euros. Eight percent of both earned more than 100,000 euros and less than 20,000 euros.

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Satuli says he belongs to the minority of brokers who earn very well. According to him, expensive cars and jewelry are part of the job. They add credibility.

“I can’t drive an old Mazda to a nine million euro destination and say buy this.”

Satuli has outsourced the paperwork and the styling of the apartments to her assistant and daughter, Hilda Kallio-Mannila.

Job is still not as glamorous as many people think, Satuli claims. You don’t drink champagne or eat cocktail bars at apartment presentations. For lunch, he enjoys a micro meal in the break room in the basement of the office.

“Homemade anyway.”

According to the broker, the work requires patience and takes a lot of time. In 2020, the average working time in the industry was 47 hours a week, i.e. more than nine hours a day.

Satuli tries to have one day off a week, usually Saturday. Vacations are short, and working days get longer – so much so that important celebrations of loved ones sometimes have to be missed.

“For me, a day off means that I don’t get ready and go to show apartments. That I can only be at home in sweatpants.”

Customers expect that the agent can be reached at almost any time. Only at dinner with her children, at night and in meetings Satuli silences the phone.

As a counterweight, work is rewarding. One customer takes you to a nice restaurant to eat.

“Even in a nice apartment, the towels can be orange, pink, blue, green and even have patterns on them. They can’t be in the pictures.”

The broker the working day starts at seven in the morning and ends at eleven in the evening. At the beginning and end of the day, Satuli reads the messages received on the phone. After they are taken care of, he goes through the newspapers.

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“You have to know what the customers are talking about. They are highly educated and cultured.”

Satuli’s background also helps. He has a master’s degree in economics. In addition, he has completed a licensed real estate broker’s degree and studied to become an interior designer.

Before becoming a broker, he worked in real estate investment and as an asset manager.

In principle, anyone can become a broker, and the industry partly suffers from a bad reputation. Therefore, KVKL’s Marina Salenius would like to get a university of applied sciences degree for brokers.

According to him, it would reduce disputes related to housing sales and increase the appreciation of the industry.

“Finland is the only Nordic country where there is no such mandatory education requirement.”

The saddle gets energy from, among other things, positivity. He says he has weeded out negative people from his close circle. “Fortunately, both children are very positive.”

The rest of the day Satuli visits apartment screens and finds out the answers to her customers’ most pressing questions and special wishes. In addition to the apartment, one had to find a relaxation capsule where you can swim in the water in the dark.

“There is some demand for Japanese toilets, thousands of euros per toilet. They have showers, music and heating, of course.”

Satuli says that the clients include the top management of listed companies, former athletes, entrepreneurs and foreigners.

According to his findings, the easing of the coronavirus pandemic and Finland’s application to become a NATO member has again increased the interest of foreigners in Helsinki’s luxury apartments. Many of them come from Central Europe or the United States.

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Satul’s employer, Snellman Sotheby’s International Realty, had a lot of foreign clients even before the pandemic. The company is the only international chain focused on value apartments in Finland.

Out of the ordinary Wealthy buyers differ from people who trade in housing especially in that they don’t ask about loan matters, says Satuli.

“And if there are any worries, they don’t worry about them with me. They ask me for contacts: experts in international taxation and lawyers.”

Some of the apartments never end up for public sale, but Satuli is tasked with finding a buyer. Referrals and an established customer base are of great importance to the broker here.

Often the wealthy also buy a new apartment before selling the old one. The transaction may take months.

In one respect, however, the elite does not always differ from the masses.

“Even in a nice apartment, the towels can be orange, pink, blue, green and even have patterns on them. They can’t be in the pictures, the apartment has to be styled,” says Satuli.

As the interview draws to a close, he digs out his phone. Twenty unread messages have arrived. There you can also find the reason why the broker loves his job.

“When the phone rings, the caller can be anyone.”

Read more: One of the most expensive apartments in the history of Finland in terms of price per square meter went up for sale in Helsinki – “It will definitely go”

Read more: A million euros for an apartment in Helsinki is no longer an impossible price for an ordinary resident – An expert tells you in what situation you can get such a home painlessly

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