Being a luxury real estate agent can be incredibly rewarding. Commissions are substantial, you rub shoulders with wealthy and influential people such as celebrities, high-profile entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 CXOs, and you make a name for yourself in the industry.
This is why so many real estate professionals ask the question: How can I sell luxury real estate? This week we look at the strategies successful agents use on the luxury side of the market.
Breaking into the luxury real estate market is far from easy. However, if you take the right tactical steps, you can certainly gain a foothold. Here are 8 Key Tips for Succeeding in Luxury Real Estate.
Know your Audience like the Back of your Hand
This is probably the most difficult part of being a successful luxury real estate agent. The demographic with which you deal is very different to the average buyer. Someone looking for a $5,000,000 home in the Bay Area has a lifestyle, preferences and habits that are starkly different from those of a person looking for a $500,000 apartment in Los Angeles.
Unless you have an excellent understanding of what that lifestyle involves and what those preferences are, you have little chance of succeeding as a luxury real estate agent.
In other words, you need to think how rich people think!
The RE/MAX website says it perfectly – “Great Agents Get You.”
Source: RE/MAX website
Successful people won’t take the trouble of explicitly telling real estate agents everything that they want. They expect you to know. If you don’t, they won’t work with you. Period.
“A good realtor will find a property that suits not just what a client wants, but who a client is. It’s not unlike introducing people.” – Justin Fichelson, luxury real estate expert and star of Million Dollar Listing San Francisco.
Knowing about their lifestyles will also allow you to build rapport by talking about the things that matter to them.
But if you aren’t wealthy yourself, how will you “get them”?
It’s hard, but not impossible. Successful luxury real estate agents recommend the following:
- Read luxury magazines and blogs on topics like travel, food, wine and of course – real estate!
- Read business publications such as The Wall Street Journal or Businessweek.
- Go to events that wealthy people attend such as charity events, equestrian events, fashion shows and auto shows.
- Read autobiographies of successful people.
- Visit upscale bars and restaurants during happy hours.
- Learn to play golf.
- Visit art galleries and high-end shopping malls, even if you don’t buy anything.
- Stay at luxury resorts for a night or two during off-seasons.
- Keep following the latest luxury technology products.
- Study luxury market statistics and trends to grasp shifts in buyer sentiments and propensity to spend. Check out this Bain and Company Report on the worldwide luxury goods market.
Source: Bain and Company
You will naturally have to invest some money in these activities. But it will be absolutely worthwhile because it will help you personally experience the lifestyle wealthy people live.
Only when you start speaking their language will they begin to trust you with their business.
Respect Their Time
Wealthy people hate having their time wasted. Real estate agents should take up as little of their time as possible. Here are a few ways to do that:
Choose WiselyOnly give them options of homes that you think are a great fit. Avoid experimenting with options that they might dislike.
Virtual ToursBefore asking them to visit a property, first give them virtual tours by showing them detailed videos of the home.
Keep RecordsClearly remember the tiniest of details of their preferences. They won’t tell you every aspect about what they want during the first interaction. Pay attention to their comments as you show them videos or brochures and while you show them around homes.
A great way to capture all these details is with the iovox app, a really useful tool for realtors in luxury property sales.
Whenever you are on a call with a client, you can simultaneously take notes with the app, saving you the trouble of trying to remember everything the client told you during a call.
You can take voice notes too. After every call, you can quickly record all the details and they will automatically get transcribed into text.
Collaborate with other Realtors
It’s nearly impossible to become a successful luxury real estate agent entirely on your own. In the beginning, you will only be able to acquire business by collaborating with other realtors. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Gain ExperienceWork for an established luxury real estate agency. This is the quickest and most reliable way to learn the business and build valuable connections in the luxury market.
Being associated with such agencies isn’t easy because they prefer to work with someone who’s already a luxury home specialist. Therefore, it’s best to get a few years of basic residential real estate experience first, a certification in the luxury real estate niche and demonstrate your market expertise by investing in the activities we spoke about in Step 1.
Co-listCo-list and co-market properties with other agents and brokers. Opportunities in luxury real estate are very few and one way to get enough leads to run a profitable business is by co-listing. As the saying goes, 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.
Have Robust ProcessesTo work efficiently with other realtors and their team members you need to make sure that you have efficient communication channels and clear processes. The absence of these two things often leads to:
- Colleagues passing incomplete or incorrect information amongst themselves.
- Lack of clarity about exactly what actions have to be taken and specifically who should take those actions.
Both the above problems set the stage for goofs like missed or delayed follow-ups, incorrect information passed on to a client, delays in contracts and so on. All of these could spell disaster in transactions where a client would expect extremely high standards of professionalism.
We believe the iovox app can help with these problems. Here’s how.
Share Call DetailsYou can share all the details about your clients with your associates and your own team members. Share the details of a call, its associated notes, contact information and so on. You can also create specific groups of people and share information with them too.
The app also allows you to share all details in the form of an email with non-iovox users. No need to take the trouble of writing and sending a separate email.
Assign TasksNeed a partner to take a specific action? Just use the flag button to create a task for them and they will get notified. The app keeps you in the loop automatically by notifying you when they have completed the task.
Have DiscussionsThe app has a Slack-like chat feature. Your colleagues can start discussion threads by replying to your notes and asking follow-up questions. No need to have a messy back and forth over email.
Invest in Marketing
Selling millions of dollars of real estate is hardly possible without investing in marketing. You shouldn’t expect simple listings with just a few photos of your homes to generate any leads.
Moreover, your marketing collateral has to truly stand out. Arthur Sharif, San Francisco based luxury realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty says that it’s vital to pay attention to detail with every aspect of photography, text and so on.
Multiple ListingsAdvertise the property with local, national and international listings.
Luxury MagazinesAdvertise in magazines read by the wealthy such as luxury home magazines and private jet magazines. Here’s a selection of luxury magazines that target an affluent demographic, which are a great fit for luxury home marketing.
Create VideosCreate professional, quality videos of the property, not just something shot with an iPhone.
Check out this example video of the famous La Villa Contenta in Malibu by Chris Cortazzo at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.
Personal BrandingInvest in building your personal brand. Maintain a blog or a podcast and speak at real estate conferences like the upcoming Inman Luxury Connect in Beverly Hills.
Invest in establishing a presence on social media – especially Instagram. Top realtors like Jordan Cohen have massive followings on Instagram, which goes a long way in making them highly sought after in the luxury homes market.
Building a personal brand is a long-term game, but over time, it will play a valuable role in getting you the attention of successful people looking to buy or sell.
Qualify Your Leads
Many of the inbound leads that you get for luxury properties would be from people who have no intent or capacity to make a purchase. They would either be calling out of aspirational reasons or because they are curious about visiting a luxury property.
That’s one reason why a luxury real estate company would usually not organize open houses. They would mostly attract people who just want to view a luxury home.
Productive real estate sales agents know that if they don’t have a system in place to qualify leads, they will end up wasting valuable time interacting with leads who will never buy. Even within the pool of serious inquiries, there will be leads that should be given priority because of the estimated transaction value or whether someone has referred them to you.
During the CallStart by qualifying leads during the call by asking a few questions about their current home and lifestyle, and what they do for a living, etc. Watch out for substantial discrepancies between where they currently are vs. what they are seeking.
If the initial call is being taken by a junior colleague, make sure they are trained well enough in the art of asking subtle questions.
Again, here’s where the iovox app can be handy. You can tag your calls with qualifying criteria such as:
- Referred by
After the CallAfter the call, look up their backgrounds online.
You can’t qualify every single lead just from an initial interaction. Keep adding qualifying tags at every stage as they move through the funnel. If you get the feeling that someone isn’t going to close, avoid spending time and your marketing dollars on them. The easiest way to have these leads drop off is to not follow up with them.
There are three groups of people you should network with:
- Other real estate professionals that might be good partnering candidates.
- Entrepreneurs and professionals who are not in real estate, but who can refer you to their clients.
- Prospective clients.
Real Estate ProfessionalsMake sure you visit important real estate events such as Inman Connect. You will have the opportunity to meet some of the most successful people in real estate. This is one event that professional from every real estate brokerage should attend. The next one is in New York City in January 2019.
Source: Inman Website
Try to network with realtors in commercial real estate too. They might end up connecting you with CXOs of large corporations looking for luxury homes.
Entrepreneurs and ProfessionalsYour most valuable leads will come from your network. Referral leads will be far more qualified and they will also trust you more readily.
Network with people like successful CPAs, bankers and private lenders who have wealthy clients. An effective way is to join referral groups such as a local Business Networking International (BNI) chapter. Additionally, you should regularly attend entrepreneur meetups in your city.
Prospective CustomersFinally, many of the activities we mentioned in point 1 such as going to luxury events will give you plenty of opportunities to network with prospective clients – both buyers and sellers. You will also be able to connect with people who can refer you to their clients.
Be Superbly Well-Informed
Successful people will have lots of questions, and they expect you to know the answers. Here are a few things you should be extremely well informed about:
- The Property
Learn as much about the property as you can from the present owners. Wealthy buyers will expect you to know small details, from which region the bathroom tiles are sourced, to the names of all the flowering plants in the gardens.
- The Neighborhood
Who are the neighbors? What’s the name of the President of the closest country club? What are the best jogging routes in the neighborhood? What sort of charity and community events are held in the area? Which boulangerie bakes the best croissants?
These are details that will allow you to present to buyers a vivid picture of what life would be like in the neighborhood.
- The Housing Market
Sellers will expect you to fetch them the best price, and buyers will expect you to show them the most suitable options with the best value. To accomplish both, you need to know details about the housing market, prices, available listings and unlisted properties in the area as well as additional information about the regional real estate industry and sales trends.
- International Realty
A little bit of knowledge about international realty will also be helpful if you are working with buyers from abroad. They will tend to draw comparisons with systems and prices in their own country. So if you are an agent dealing in Malibu luxury real estate with clients from Italy, be prepared with the basics of how luxury real estate markets in their country work.
Having these details at your fingertips is part of providing the exceptional service that a wealthy client would expect while buying luxurious real estate.
Learn from Successful Real Estate Agents
Last but not least, study the best. This is true in any professional endeavor from sports to teaching to business. If you want to be at the top of your game, then study what those who are already there do every day.
Marianne Curan, Real Estate Coach at Tom Ferry International, says that it’s important to follow and study top luxury real estate agents. Follow the most successful luxury real estate agents and try to replicate what you can in your business. Study their marketing collateral, their social media activity, the way they dress and talk, the events they are going to and so on.
That will give you invaluable information about what you need to do to grow your business.
ConclusionBecoming a luxury real estate agent isn’t easy and isn’t for everyone. If exploring a future in luxury real estate is something you’re passionate about, you’ll find the inner motivation to work hard, keep learning and investing your time and money to do good work for your clients and in turn, do well financially.
Stay focused on the customer not just the cash rewards.
Like Gary Vaynerchuk has said “When you chase money, you’re going to lose. You’re just going to. Even if you get the money, you’re not going to be happy.”
May your passion for luxury real estate drive you to success. We hope these tips help you along in your journey.