The following information is provided by the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD).
Real estate professionals who work with affluent buyers and luxury homes attest that serving this market niche requires an adjustment in both business methods and mindset. Affluent clients and their advisors are often pressed for time and expect a high level of service on their time schedule. Many buyers and sellers in the luxury market are successful business people. About one in five has achieved recent career success. They expect a real estate professional to conduct business with a level of professionalism commensurate with their own. In-depth knowledge of the market, organization, and preparation will demonstrate your professionalism.
- Join the Team
In some cases, the real estate practitioner may never meet the buyer or seller face-to-face. Instead, a cadre of managers, accountants, attorneys, assistants, and others will be the “face” of the client. Therefore, it is important to become comfortable working at arm’s length from the client. The client’s team will likely be the gatekeepers on communication and negotiations, but not the final decision-makers. It would be a mistake, though, to regard this group of people as mere information channels. Their opinions and evaluations influence the client. The real estate practitioner who can demonstrate the ability to become the real estate expert for the team can gain a client for life, plus a stream of referrals.
- Customize Communication and Materials
You will likely need to adjust your communication styles for the luxury market. For example, don’t do a listing presentation; do a listing proposal. Don’t say “We will try it at that price;” say “Let’s develop a pricing strategy.” Don’t say “Let’s look at similar homes;” say “Let’s take a look at buyer behavior in our marketplace.” Customized marketing materials that appeal to a client’s interests will have more impact. Is the client’s interest in golf, water sports, or a family-friendly getaway? Marketing materials should feature the lifestyle or attraction of foremost importance to the client. Marketing methods and materials must be commensurate with the property. You should expect to invest in professional photography and glossy, professionally designed and printed property marketing materials. Advertising for high-end and unique properties should be placed in publications that prospective buyers are likely to read, such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Unique Homes Magazine, and specialty websites.
- Step Up Your Presentation Skills
Prepare a portfolio for each property that you will show to a prospective buyer. Compile a summary of how the property will meet the buyer’s objectives. Affluent buyers, particularly successful business people, are accustomed to reviewing business proposals and will expect information about the property to be presented in an organized manner. It is important to pre-qualify those who ask to see the property. There are the curious who try to use the listing as an opportunity to take a tour of a unique property or a celebrity’s home. It should be obvious that lockboxes are seldom used with these types of properties.
- Pay Attention to Confidentiality
In the luxury market, real estate professionals must maintain confidentiality and demonstrate trustworthiness. These are important issues for all buyers and sellers, but even more so for celebrities and the very wealthy. Their wealth and status makes them the target, too often, of opportunists who put their own interests first. Confidentiality involves not only protecting a client’s privacy, but also the security and safety of the family. Furthermore, disclosing the client’s identity could compromise successful negotiations. If sellers know that celebrity or wealthy buyers are interested in their property, they may raise the price. Adhering to the REALTORS® Code of Ethics, scrupulously guarding clients’ privacy, and providing objective information helps to establish the real estate professional’s trustworthiness.
For more education about serving the luxury market, check out this month’s featured online course at the Center for REALTOR® Development, Home Sweet (Second) Home: Vacation, Investment, Luxury Properties, which is the educational requirement for NAR’s Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS) certification.
For more information, please visit onlinelearning.realtor.
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