Breaking into the multimillion-dollar luxury market can help raise your visibility and sales volume. But don’t jump in without solid preparation, says David Collins, founder/president of high-end marketing firm Real Estate Marketing.
Collins, who presented luxury sales tips at RE/MAX R4 earlier this month, shares these ideas for a strong start in the high-end arena:
1. Know every inch of your luxury listings. If you have a listing appointment on Thursday, ask to preview the property on Tuesday so you can get acquainted with the home’s unique features and other details you can’t gauge by phone. As you walk through properties, ask homeowners (or spouses), maids, groundskeepers and personal assistants for details about items like paintings or flooring that catch your eye. You want to walk into your presentation fully prepared to offer spot-on comps, as well as describe accurately the home’s key features.
2. Preview the competition. In the luxury arena, you must know what’s selling down the block. You also need to know other sellers’ names, if they’re people of influence and as much background as you can about other listings in the neighborhood. Luxury sellers are savvy about the market, and they will likely refer to other listings; be ready to answer their questions.
3. Use The RE/MAX Collection logo prominently on your marketing. It’s a simple way to stand out in the luxury market. Companies that consistently use high-end materials and branding present a more united front and are seen as more credible in the luxury arena. RE/MAX has a tremendous opportunity to show strength in numbers if all luxury agents use The RE/MAX Collection logo and materials.
4. Invest in your marketing. At high-end price points, agents will typically sell one of every two homes they list. Knowing that, it’s not wise to spend your entire budget on one property if it never sells. Create a pre-determined marketing plan, and look for the most effective ways (not the cheapest) to market luxury listings. Postcards have non-measurable response rates; property brochures, professional photography, virtual tours, magazine ads and catered broker preview events are the highest ROI ways to market in this niche.
5. Always ask for financials to qualify buyers before showings. This should be done for any listing but it’s especially critical for luxury properties. There are some lookie-loos who just want to see the inside of a $10 million home, and that wastes your time, your seller’s time and the buyer agent’s time. High-end sellers will want to know who’s looking at their home, and you should spend time showing the property only to serious buyers.
6. Get specialized training in listing luxury homes. The Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist and the International Real Estate Specialist designations are the best for learning the ropes of luxury listings. Also, create a marketing piece that explains what your luxury designations are, how they add value to transactions, and how working with a trained agent will make the process more efficient and effective.
7. Present yourself like a professional. This seems obvious, right? But some agents go on appointments with décolletage baring, disheveled clothes or gaudy jewelry. Even if you get the sense your clients are more on the casual side, it’s crucial to make a good first impression, so dress to impress in business attire and minimal jewelry and makeup.
8. Build local luxury alliances. In order to be seen by the upwardly mobile in your market, join forces with businesses that cater to high-net worth individuals. Fine restaurants, spas, exclusive jewelry stores, plastic surgeons, car dealerships and country clubs are just a few places to start. Offer advertising space in your monthly market reports to these businesses in exchange for permission to put your marketing materials in their lobbies. With restaurants, offer to sponsor their menus of the week, and offer to print valet parking tickets if you can put your logo on the back of the tear-off stub.
9. Attend charitable events. This is the easiest and best way to get in front of luxury homeowners and become a part of influential circles. Attend banquets, fundraisers and other events, and consider sponsoring some functions. Make sure you introduce yourself to people and that they know you work in luxury real estate.
10. Save up money. Most agents, unless they’re independently wealthy, need a mid-range community to support their high-end habit. Agents need to understand there are longer time frames involved with luxury homes; they can take months – even years – to sell. Partner with another luxury agent and learn how much it will cost per year to market in your area. Before diving in, start putting that money aside. Some agents don’t understand that they won’t get an instant return on luxury marketing expenses, and many of them run out of money before they see results. Plan wisely!
11. Don’t mix mid-range and high-end marketing. Your luxury clients want to know that you cater exclusively to high-end clientele. Likewise, clients in the mid-range price point want to feel like you understand their needs and motivations. That’s why it’s imperative to segregate your marketing and operations, and avoid cross-promoting a $400,000 property to a luxury buyer and vice versa.
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