(This is Part 2 of a four-part series. See Part 1.)
What can you learn from the agents who sell the ultra high-end? Plenty, if you are willing to go the extra mile to be different.
Last week’s article looked at two of the best practices for selling the ultra high-end. The first was knowledge of the inventory and being a conduit of information about all aspects of the lifestyle of the area. The second best practice is keeping information about your clients, their lifestyle, and other personal issues completely confidential. Privacy, security, and trust are issues in all price ranges. Today’s article looks at two additional best practices from the ultra high-end.
3.) I make introductions–I don’t do referrals
Donna Lee Laue, one of the founders of www.UniqueGlobalEstates.com, has a long, successful history working with ultra high-end sellers and buyers. UGE is a free multiple listing service for properties priced at $1 million or more. They currently have over 20,000 listings worldwide. Donna shared one of her major secrets in terms of courting the luxury market:
“I make introductions. I don’t make referrals,” she said. “I like to think of our company as the Match.com for the top 5 percent of the wealth of the world. When I introduce an agent to one of our buyers or sellers, we have a relationship. I know the intent, financial capacity, and the needs of the clients. We want to introduce the wealth of the world to their new best friend.”
Prior to founding UGE, Donna was a very successful estates agent due to the high level of customer service she provided. For example, many ultra high-end buyers do not want their property marketed on the MLS and prefer to sell through “private channels.” When Donna obtained a listing on a property in Redmond, Wash., with breathtaking grounds, she took extensive photos of the grounds. Since her clients wanted their privacy, the only interior photo that she took was of the great room. She then worked with her contacts to have the listing posted on the Microsoft intranet where she obtained the buyer. Donna’s contacts allowed her to introduce the property in the one place where there were multiple potential buyers for this multi-million dollar estate.
There are several important lessons from this example. First, “making introductions” is much more attractive to clients than being “referred out.” Second, Donna identified the strengths of the property and carefully targeted her marketing efforts. She did not take the listing and hope that somehow the correct buyer would come based upon a newspaper ad or some other type of passive marketing. Agents at all levels need to be proactive in finding buyers for their listings. Creating an ideal buyer profile and marketing to that profile is much more effective than using a shotgun approach to marketing.
4.) Knowledge of market statistics
Most high-end sellers and buyers have a business manager, tax lawyer, or other financial advisor who handles their investments. The clients decide what they want, but one of their representatives will handle the negotiating and closing of the transaction. In some cases, this person may even have a power of attorney. The client’s “numbers person” is usually a pretty tough negotiator and will, in most cases, recommend what the clients should offer or ask for their property. These people generally expect a detailed price-per-square-foot analysis, information on whether values are increasing or decreasing, and any other detailed documentation relevant to the purchase. Expect them to go through your comparable sales data with a fine-tooth comb.
Several years ago I was doing an “up-or-out” training for the company I worked for in Los Angeles. This was an agent’s last chance to get on track before he or she was asked to leave the company due to lack of production. One of the agents had a listing lead for a multimillion-dollar property in Malibu Colony, Calif. Her primary competition was the estates director from Beverly Hills, Calif., and the estates director for Malibu. How did this low-performing agent ace out such heavy competition? She used the market statistics approach (i.e. “The Rate of Absorption”) to illustrate how long expensive property was taking to sell in conjunction with a written 90-day marketing plan that targeted the high probability buyers for the property. Her commissions that year went from zero to $73,000 in just one closed transaction. The key point to remember is that many buyers want an agent who understands the market and can accurately document the correct sales price for a property. They also want a written plan that demonstrates how you will market their property.
Interested in learning more tips for your business from agents who market luxury properties? Look for next week’s article, “Living the Luxury Lifestyle.”