When you are selling your luxury home, there are certain nuances to the listing process that may not be present when selling a more traditional home. Here are 12 secrets the best luxury agents know and tasks they complete to get a high-end home sold.
1. Craft a Highly-Customized, Comprehensive Marketing Plan.
A top luxury agent will have a marketing plan that is specific and customized for every home.
Most luxury agents will have a boilerplate marketing plan – the services they always provide — but there should also be some aspects that are unique to your property and your home’s overall story and theme.
A luxury home calls for a unique and exclusive level of marketing. Chances are, the buyers who are qualified to purchase your luxury property are not wandering aimlessly into open houses or mindlessly flipping through the real estate classifieds. The most well-suited prospective buyers for your luxury home or luxury condo may not even reside in your community, or they may visit only seasonally, and that means your luxury Realtor will need to employ a variety of innovative strategies to make sure as many prospective buyers as possible are able to see the home and the precise way its purchase would enrich their lives.
Fortunately, the online marketplace has made this easier than ever. The online marketplace for luxury homes and properties has made it vastly easier for homes to gain exposure to a nationwide and worldwide audience. But we are talking about far more than the standard listings on Trulia, Zillow, Homes.com, and Realtor.com. These websites are important, but they should be only the starting point for your luxury home Realtor.
Your luxury Realtor should have a web presence all her own, and she should employ cutting-edge promotional techniques. Studies show that 88% of buyers search online for a new home. (Compare that to the 21% who rely on print newspaper ads.) The best luxury real estate agents have the best internet strategies to promote the sale of your home.
These more innovative marketing techniques are exclusive to luxury realtors with a particular skill set. They require a keen eye, and, often, a background rich in marketing. These agents have a way with words and with visual imagery. They also have good working relationships with photographers and videographers who are the top in the unique industry of real estate photography, and they are willing to pay top dollar for their exceptional services.
2. Listen Well – and Often
When a good agent begins the conversation about potentially marketing and selling your home, she will ask a variety of questions about your interests as well as the aspects of your home that truly set it apart. She will then use this information as a springboard to come up with effective marketing ideas that go above and beyond the competition.
A good luxury agent will craft an entire campaign around your home. This campaign will likely have a clear theme, which ties into those aspects that set it apart. This theme will be consistent among brochures, mailers, and the customized website the agent creates about your property. Of course, the entire campaign should be designed to appeal to the luxury buyer.
Many of the large custom homes in my marketplace have been given unique and individual names for marketing purposes. Recently, in our marketplace, we had the Shock Hill masterpiece, Le Chatel de Breckenridge and Sunrise Point’s L’Aubaine.
Regardless of whether your luxury home has an official title, make sure your agent highlights each feature of the property – and has committed each to memory. If someone calls your agent on the phone and asks what kind of icemaker the listing has, she should know and be able to rattle off its characteristics.This is the service you should demand from the luxury agent.
3. Sell More Than the Home
The best luxury realtors know that they aren’t selling simply a home. They are selling a lifestyle. The theme your agent chooses for the campaign should emphasize this lifestyle. In our Colorado resort market, many times it centers on alpine skiing, but some homes are more suited for avid Nordic skiiers, others for golfers, others for equestrians… or people who love their cars and want space to work on them, oenophiles who dream of an expansive wine cellars, grandmothers who dream of multiple bunk rooms, history buffs who dream of a historic home. Perhaps your home is perfect for entertaining. Again, these special features should be obvious in your agent’s marketing of the home.
A great luxury agent uses the special features of your home to find potential buyers… to reach the proper group of prospects. The modern world is ripe with opportunities to target specific, niche groups more than ever before. Offline, an agent can advertise in niche-specific magazines. A luxury historic home may find its buyer in the pages of the Smithsonian, or the National Trust for Historic Preservation, for example. A home with lavish gardens in Fine Gardening. A home for with particular architectural grandeur in Luxe Interiors + Design Magazine.
The online ad space is perfectly suited for this type of highly targeted advertising. There is a particular type of advertising, for example, that allows you to control the demographic your ad will show to the finest, most granular level. You can set the ad to show only to those people with a certain annual gross income in a certain zip code with an interest in a particular hobby and in a particular region. For example: car collectors in a suburb of Houston, Texas, who earn upwards of $400K per year and like to ski. Your luxury agent should know which online advertising venue this is, and they should be well versed in how to use it.
A top luxury agent will also know where the luxury buyers are hailing from, in your marketplace. If your market has a number of second home purchases, are there particular zip codes where these buyers tend to come from? In our market, second home owners come primarily from a single place, followed closely by two others. Knowing this makes it even easier to offer highly targeted – and very effective – niche advertising.
Top luxury agents learn a product’s special features and design the marketing around those special features. They determine which demographic could be most interested in the home, and they advertise accordingly. This is the fundamental basis of good marketing, and a good luxury agent will be employing this as a fundamental strategy.
Your agent may also have special luxury advertising opportunities that are unique to agents in their particular brokerage. In markets like mine, it makes sense to choose a luxury agent with the power (and referral network) of a large multinational brand. RE/MAX, for example, has a huge global presence, and online and offline marketing pieces set up for you to easily target these luxury buyers. The RE/MAX Collection is a luxury magazine distributed regionally. The brokerage also offers exposure at global.remax.com and offers exclusive advertising discounts for its brokers in The Wall Street Journal, duPont Registry and Unique Homes.
Top luxury agents are also accustomed to pitching stories to media for additional exposure. Press releases, local and national, can be very helpful in getting the word out about special homes. In order to do this, the agent must discover the story in the home. The agent must discover the unique hook and create a story that is truly newsworthy.
4. Know How to Tell a Good Story
Stories are powerful. A top luxury agent knows not only how to use them, but how to discover them.
Marketing truly is about storytelling. It’s about evoking a particular feeling for a particular product, and nowhere is that more important, impactful and effective as in the marketing of fine luxury homes.
The best luxury agents know how to capture the attention of the people who feel the home was built just for them and their needs – and the people with the means to purchase such an exquisite property.
To do this, they must, once again, find the hook. What is the story of the home? To do this, top agents might ask you to take them on a detailed room by room showing of the home, asking for details and even stories about the construction of the home or special memories created there. Top agents will reach out to the builder and to the architect. They might solicit stories about how the home was created and aspects of the home that they personally love the best.
My husband is a fine custom home builder. For one property, it became necessary for him to meld the look of antiqued reclaimed timbers with the clean lines of a contemporary style. In short, he needed beams with an old-world appearance that were entirely straight and that maintained complete structural integrity. The antique reclaimed wood he was accustomed to using simply wouldn’t work in this application. So he began with a series of new Douglas Fir beams and, using an innovative, artistic process – he successfully replicated the appearance of reclaimed, distressed timbers. Not only that, to ensure the highest accuracy, he located an antique photograph of a newly constructed bridge, circa 1848. He posted the photograph in the home and instructed his crew of carpenters to create timbers that resembled various and specific timbers from this bridge.
During the Parade of Homes that year, I watched as he led prospective buyers through the home, and there were oohs and aahs throughout, but it was this story that had their complete attention. It was this story that stopped them and made them feel like they owned a piece of this home, because they knew a secret about it. They knew, in part, the degree of thought, care, and craftsmanship that had gone into the home. And this has a striking effect. In some small way, they each had a little bit of ownership in the home. They had a little stake in it. They watched others point upwards and say, how did the carpenters do this? Where on earth did they get this wood?
In another instance, Ty was called upon to install a sculptural stair, imported from an artist in Switzerland. The stair led to a tiny crow’s nest, and the obvious question was frequently asked: How did the builder get this set of stairs in here, surrounded by all the masonry and glass? The answer is a good one. It’s a story, involving danger, intrigue, a little mystery (and more than a little Swiss chocolate).
People love stories. Agents can choose to relate them to clients during the showings, and listing agents can write a narrative – made available to all showing agents – that perfectly encapsulates the home.
5. Get Professional Staging Help, if Necessary
Many luxury homes have interiors that have been professionally and artfully designed. A top luxury Realtor will provide ideas on what your prospective buyers will expect to see, paying particular attention to outdoor areas, formal dining areas, as well as the kitchen and great room. Again, the goal is for the buyers to imagine themselves becoming part of the story of the home, imagining themselves eating Thanksgiving dinner at the table and summer picnics in the garden.
6. Know Every Inch of Your Property
The best luxury agents know each of the features, benefits, and selling points of the property. They have them committed to memory and available to all who visit the property in the form of a bound property brochure book. The agent should also have full color brochures, a well-crafted narrative about the home, supporting documents such as an ILC or survey, and bulleted lists of special features. Make sure your agent has these available in PDF form, as well, for easy distribution via the MLS.
7. Know How to Attract Online and Social Media Exposure.
Most Realtors can easily make sure your home appears on Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Homes.com and Realtor.com, but today’s high end properties should also be featured online, in a featured listing on the agent’s website and blog, for example, as well as in social media.
Once the luxury agent has a good understanding of what sets your property apart from all the rest, this information can be used in social media to drive additional traffic. Your property should be a featured listing on your agent’s website and blog, as well as on your agent’s social media sites, with the proper use of keywords and hashtags to effectively reach the luxury market.
8. Provide Global Exposure.
International buyers routinely browse luxury property in the United States. Some brokerages, such as RE/MAX, have a significant online presence and agents and brokers who love to refer clients within the firm. Global.remax.com, for example, has listings from across the world and translates into 57 different currencies.
9. Utilize Print Advertising & Direct Mail
Even in this digital age, direct mail and print advertising remain integral to reaching particular demographics. A top luxury agent will create high-quality marketing brochures to highlight the features and benefits of your home, both for cooperating agents and potential buyers. The agent will also send direct mail postcards for select neighborhoods and target areas, and will provide you with email brochures for you to share with friends & family or post on social media. The agent will also consult with you regarding print campaigns, as discussed above.
10. Host the Right Kind of Open Houses & Broker Events
Whether your luxury home is best marketed through open houses is something that will depend on your market and your comfort in having the public in your home. Some realtors will say that open houses don’t sell luxury homes. Many times, you’ll get a lot of visitors who just want to look at your fine furnishings and finishes, like a home tour. Talk to your realtor about her recommendations regarding whether an open house can help to sell your property. One thing is true: open houses often get neighbors to come through, and neighbors might have friends or relatives they’d like to share information about the home with. Realtors know that is not just the people who come in to the open house, it’s the people they know.
One type of open house that is vital in all markets: the Broker Open House. These events are designed for real estate agents to preview your home, ask questions and provide feedback. Top luxury agents will make sure a broker open house is scheduled as soon as possible after listing, to create buzz in the broker community. These events may take the form of an afternoon luncheon, a private cocktail party, or an educational event, depending on the home, the hook, and the creativity of your luxury agent.
11. Always Use Professional Photography and Videography
To properly showcase a luxury home, a top luxury agent engages the services of a professional photographer. This photographer can not only showcase your home in the best light (literally) – but can and should also provide a quality video tour.
With Internet exposure so critical to the sale of your home, quality photographs are simply more important than ever before. They are essential. Clients will judge whether they want to look at your home based on the photos they can click from their laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The best luxury agents use the services of a top professoinal real estate photography, and they are present during the photography session to ensure that the proper amenities and features are showcased. Video tours are also very helpful in the promotion of luxury real estate. There is often a limit to the number of photographs that can be included in an online listing (for our MLS, that number is 25), but we can link to a video, which can show the entire property as well as the flow from room to room.
12. Ensure that the Pricing is Right.
Make sure your luxury agent provides data to back up any pricing recommendations. It should be apparent in your realtor’s Comparative Market Analysis that a great deal of time when in to getting to your luxury home and the surrounding market. The pricing report should, ideally, discuss such details and statistics as absorption rate in the area as well as in the price range so you can get a sense ofr how long homes in this price range reasonably take to sell.
Make sure your realtor has taken into account all of the features so important in the luxury market, from smart home features, to the gourmet kitchen, to outdoor entertaining spaces, steam showers, spa baths, hot tubs, water features, landscaping…. Your agent might solicit the services of an appraiser who specializes in luxury or custom homes simply to get a gauge or touchstone for pricing.
As with all homes, if a luxury home isn’t priced right from the beginning, it can be detrimental not only to the timing of the sale, but to the overall price.
Check to see if your Realtor is a certified Pricing Strategy Advisor. This designation, earned by the National Association of Realtors, allows your agent to draw on enhanced tools, education and expertise to help her clients with what can be one of the most difficult pieces of the real estate process – properly determining the accurate value for a home. You’ll gain the confidence that you house is presented and sold at the most accurate price, which will help you get the most for your home, while minimizing time and hassle.
Learn more from other Realtors nationwide who understand the intricacies of the luxury home market:
- Improvements that Help Sell Your Luxury Home, by Debbie Drummond
- Creative Real Estate Marketing to Help Sell a Home by Bill Gassett
- 8 Tips that Must be Considered with Selling a Luxury Home, by Kyle Hiscock
- Learn more about Susie’s designations: Resort and Second Home Property Specialist and Pricing Strategy Advisor
- Learn more about Susie and how she works with Sellers
- Browse today’s Luxury Homes for Sale
- If you are selling a luxury home in another area, contact Susie for a referral to a top luxury home Realtor in your area.