6 Pro Tips for Giving Your Luxury Client a Luxury Experience
August 30, 2018
for Hondros Education Group
Entire sites, publications, Pinterest boards, Instagram feeds, and reality shows are devoted to luxury homes. The überwealthy collect them, and even average buyers dream of them. Obviously, we all know there’s something special about the luxury real estate market. But what about the luxury buyer and seller? Is marketing to them — like the homes themselves — a cut above?
We spoke to several Arizona-based luxury real estate professionals about this very subject. Our question: How do you give luxury home buyers a luxury experience? Here are their top tips.
- Understand how luxury buyers think.
Unlike the newlywed couple buying their first home, luxury buyers and sellers have been through this before. “They are not as concerned with the contract, because they’ve been through it time and time again,” says Jeff Sibbach, team leader at the Sibbach Team at Realty One Group, the No. 1 agent in Scottsdale luxury homes with an annual team sales volume of over $230 million.
“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Nobody ever has to do anything,’” says Joan Levinson, of Joan Levinson Realty Group at Realty One Group, named 2018’s No. 1 luxury agent by sales volume in Arizona by REAL Trends. She also recently represented the most expensive home ever sold in the state.
“They do it because they want to,” says Levinson. “In another price range, they are moving and they’ve got to find a house. In the wealthier market, it may be their second home; they don’t have to move here.”
Bring your A game.
Wealthy buyers didn’t get where they are without developing a sixth sense about people. If you’re not genuine, they’ll know it.
“Work within your own personality,” says Levinson. “Be who it is you are. Don’t try to be somebody you’re not.”
Self-confidence (not to be confused with boasting) is another hallmark of successful luxury home representation.
“When you talk to somebody, if you’re well-spoken and you understand the market, and you listen to them and you’re able to contribute, you’ll do well,” says Levinson.
“You’ve got to have your game on,” says Sibbach. “When you’re talking to the luxury buyer and you don’t know your stuff, it’s like going out for a team and just showing up at training camp having never played football before. You’ll get squished.”
Spyro Kemble, a real estate agent with Surterre Properties/Relegance Group in Orange County, Calif., and a cast member on Bravo’s “Real Estate Wars,” draws parallels between the relationship between a real estate agent and luxury buyers to a first date: you’ve got to put your best foot forward. “When you have a luxury property listing, you must look the part,” he says in an opinion piece for Inman, the leading real estate news source for real estate agents. “You must be well-dressed and display an attitude of confidence and professionalism.”
Take technology personally.
Despite their wealth, luxury buyers begin their search for homes the same way most of us do — online. Unfortunately, many real estate agents have outdated websites and social media profiles.
“Be careful of your social image,” says Sibbach.
Also, be sure your social media profiles are up to date. This includes platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and your own website. Most agents don’t update their information, said Aaron Woodman in a recent Inman article. Woodman, who has sold over $200 million in real estate, suggests regularly replacing nonworking phone numbers, old addresses, and outdated profile photos as part of your personal brand, with a complete overhaul every January.
And as for content, consider reflecting the luxury buyer’s world.
“In addition to listings, recent sales, and bios, I share photos on my website of the five-star hotels and designer shops around Paradise Valley,” says Levinson. “This showcases my knowledge and specialization in the luxury market.”
“We’re reaching luxury buyers through Instagram by showing ourselves in luxury environments,” Sibbach says, referring to posts about luxury-related goods (such as top-end automobiles), interior design, and other wealth-related experiences.
However, don’t confuse luxury with technology. “Technology doesn’t equal luxury,” said Anthony Hitt, president and CEO of Engel & Völkers, in a recent Inman article. “It’s a tool to deliver luxury experiences, but no more critical to luxury than great marketing materials, timely, clear communication and friendly manner.”
Find your circle.
How do you find luxury clients? Realty Executives’ Thomas Osterman, who has personally closed nearly $90 million in sales and has a unique background across all aspects of the real estate business, says his luxury buyers typically come from online searches. “Even if they have an agent, most buyers these days will search on the internet for homes at the same time their agent is sending them properties,” he says.
“You have to be in the circles that they’re in,” says Sibbach. “Belong to the country club, or maybe give your time to an organization. You have to be where they’re at and then you have to talk the way they want to be talked to. If you’re a new agent marketing to them, it’s shopping at the right places and becoming friends with them.”
“If you think you know a couple of wealthy people, don’t just keep calling them,” Levinson says. “If there’s a property you know about, keep them interested that way. When I call somebody and I tell them I think I have something for them to see, 95 percent of the time they’re going to come out and look because they know I’m not going to call them unless I have something truly worthwhile. It’s a concierge level of service.”
Know your stuff.
Phil Sexton, co-owner of the Sibbach Team at Realty One Group, quotes his father, an avid fisherman: “‘When you want to go after bigger fish, you have to use bigger bait.’” He continues, “With a luxury buyer, you need two things: a luxury presence and in-depth knowledge of the neighborhoods they’re interest in.”
This means more than just knowing the comps. Levinson has files on Paradise Valley homes dating back over 30 years. She knows which homes have the best views and why, which is important to the luxury buyer.
“You’ve got to actually know information about their area that they don’t know,” says Sexton. “If you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’ll lose that luxury buyer in the first 15 seconds.”
“Don’t speak to wealthy clients until and unless you have a thorough knowledge of the market because they’ll eat you alive,” says Levinson. “They got where they are because they’re generally articulate and, many times, if they’re in the same area, they know more about the area than you may know. Knowledge is king.”
Osterman adds that the details of the actual house are just as important. “You have to use a lot of care, especially with more expensive homes,” he says. Osterman recommends investing in specialized inspections from professionals like roofers and HVAC experts. “I’m very customer-oriented and I have a fiduciary responsibility to my customer,” he says. “I want to make sure my buyer is being properly represented and they know exactly what they’re buying.”
Be a good sharer.
The most important thing to consider if you’re representing your first luxury buyer or seller is the possibility of calling in an expert.
“The team model is very successful,” says Sibbach. “We team up all the time.”
As Andrew Greenwell, a successful luxury real estate agent and former star of “Million Dollar Listing San Francisco,” said in a RESAAS blog post: “Half of a lot is more than a lot of nothing.”
“We all work together really well,” adds Levinson. “They need me to sell their houses, and I need them to sell my houses. If you’re young and energetic, you will do great. There’s room for everybody.”