- Marketing property at the highest level can be done with a powerhouse team, the right technology, perfect photography and by telling the story of the home.
Nestled in the cliffs of Lake Tahoe’s glistening north shore is Crystal Pointe, a 5.14-acre legacy estate boasting 16,232 square feet of living space that includes the main residence, beach house, guesthouse and caretaker’s apartment.
This hillside haven is sprawled across 525 feet of Tahoe’s scenic lakefront and features two glass funiculars, eight bedrooms and 13 fireplaces in a hidden gem that can only be described as the epitome of luxury.
And on top of that, all of it for sale.
What exactly does it take to sell this $75 million dollar Nevadan palace and attract the rarest of buyers?
A genie has his lamp; a wizard has his wand — but for listing agent Shari Chase, the magic is in the marketing.
Attracting luxury clientele
When it came time to sell their beloved property, Stuart and Geri Yount sought someone who would share their enthusiasm and passion for the land, architecture and unique features that come seamlessly together in their home — Tahoe’s most expensive listing.
That someone was Shari Chase, founder, president and CEO of Chase International Real Estate.
Agents can scour the internet for every trick and read every helpful book on the market, but a laudable reputation will do more to catapult and perpetuate a lucrative real estate career than anything else.
Chase has spent over three decades establishing and maintaining a reputation for being the region’s top luxury real estate expert, and it’s that reputation, she says, that got her the listing.
Chase has been working with top luxury clientele for over 30 years. “We sold the highest priced property at Lake Tahoe in 1998 for $50 million … and at that point I don’t think there was any residential sale in New York that was over $12 million,” Chase said. “So the [team has] been groomed to really have that feel and passion for luxury.”
A unique approach
Crystal Pointe is the first listing of its kind in the area, which prompted an entirely new course of action for the luxury real estate veteran: “What we decided to do was create something that was for the next generation of uber-luxury properties at Lake Tahoe,” Chase said.
“These properties are going to be off the Richter scale … and we wanted to provide a strategy to be able to market and sell those properties.”
What does this strategy entail?
For Chase, it all started with the initial meeting. Rather than prepping an elaborate presentation, she and her team of agents went to see the property and meet the owners. While a sales pitch was off the table, Chase and her team — agents Susan Lowe, Kerry Donovan and Mike Dunn of Chase International — brought the energy and expertise required to engage the sellers.
That meeting was followed by a second gathering, this time with the addition of “a secondary group of people that were highly inspirational in their marketplaces as well,” Shari recalled. “That meeting took about four hours.”
Chase stressed the value of that time and the idea that you shouldn’t initiate a meeting to present sales ideas, but rather to get a feel for the sellers and their property: “It was about reading the sellers — feeling the energy of what they were about and what the property was about — and I think that was the key component right there … reading the energy of everything that the property and the sellers offered.
“We took that energy and then we put it together. After that, we created a powerhouse of luxury associates to be able to address everything that this property commands,” she said.
Sometimes sellers already have an idea of who they want to work with. In this case, the Younts knew Chase was the person for the job, but she visualized a team for this property from the start. Fortunately, the sellers quickly saw value in the team’s dynamic.
Every associate involved in the marketing and sale of this property brings a unique library of know-how and resources. Chase says “each person has a different generational network. They’re highly energetic — very dynamic — and we’re using this collective mind power to have this energetic space that really is huge; and we embraced the sellers with this energy.”
When building a team, Chase says to look for members who can appeal to different generations. How does each team member attract their network? What do they say? What words do they use to articulate their thoughts?
The answers to those questions will also determine who will mesh well in a team, Chase said.
Another important thing to observe is whether the sellers are comfortable with everyone on the team. Chase quickly saw enthusiasm and trust among everyone in the group. Working with the Younts — sellers who are highly tuned into real estate and know the market — required that Chase take things “above and beyond what has ever been created for a presentation of a property of this caliber.”
The marketing web: from local to regional to national to global
For many agents, the secret to quick sales includes a combination of phenomenal staging, leveraging spheres of influence and blasting real estate eye candy on social media. While the same usually holds true for Chase, Crystal Pointe commanded another level of marketing.
“We created a strategy for the sellers so that they could actually present the property to their network of highly influential people,” said Chase. “Everything we did was highly strategic and beautifully orchestrated so that there was nothing that wasn’t covered in any way, from the presentation of the property — or the launch of the property — to the media.
“We have been working very [closely] with the Wall Street Journal, so that was a huge launch for us; and then from there it’s like dominoes — everything is falling into place.”
Chase described it as a “web” that started spinning locally, then around the West Coast, nationally and — finally — globally. The team reached out to every resource, including former clientele, who happily served as ambassadors for the luxury property. The many brokers that Chase has been associated with over the years have been supportive as well and were happy to provide the team with what they needed to market.
Chase said it’s crucial to express everything about the property to those helping you. Sharing marketing information and providing any photos and literature you may have can help them bring a buyer your way.
Don’t forget the gadgets
The ubiquity of tablets, convenient software and other tech tools has made the use of technology a requirement in real estate, but it’s not enough to show off something shiny; you must have the right technology and know how to leverage it.
“We’re using technology to the highest level. We’re using iPads and drones and different software and techniques that make this not just an ordinary listing,” Chase said.
“The one thing — and I’m not at liberty to say because we created it — is a software that updates on the seller’s iPad,” Chase said. The software allows the team to input data and automatically syncs that data to the client’s iPad in real time.
“We have four core expert luxury brokers and everyone is having something to say, and [the sellers] get to see that [on the iPad], which is great,” Chase explained. “It’s all about what we’ve done, too … our thoughts, our words, our actions. Everything is really coordinated and orchestrated between all of us, so it’s not four people working individually.
“This is a collaborative collective, and it’s like we’re all thinking, being, doing the same. I mean different areas of expertise, but it’s all flowing together” in this software where the clients can view every step of the process, she said.
Telling Crystal Pointe’s story
The necessity of professional photography is inarguable — you can’t sell luxury real estate without it. But be a little persnickety about the photographer you choose; he or she will be creating the ultimate portfolio of images for you.
While Chase has been dazzled by many talented photographers, Jeff Dow’s artistry added something extra. His exquisite photography captured the property perfectly, and Chase commends his professionalism and creative methods.
Dow spent two and a half days studying the estate before moving forward. He didn’t just come with his camera and start snapping photos: “He made a special trip — before he even brought his camera equipment — to look at the property, to feel it, to see what [it was about],” she said.
Not only did Dow capture stunning imagery, he produced a “dramatic little short movie,” Chase said.
What some agents might not consider is that photos and videos aren’t only made to be featured in articles and advertisements. They aren’t just meant to awe potential buyers, either. They have another meaningful purpose: to tell the story of what it’s like to live in the estate.
“Sometimes brokers miss the [point] … they’re all about the bricks and mortar,” Chase said.
Help people visualize how they would be living there. “Lifestyle is everything; if you can’t live the lifestyle, then it doesn’t matter what the bricks and mortar are like,” she added.
Another must? A single-property website. Check out Crystal Pointe’s here.
How does the housing market affect luxury?
The market is always on every agent’s radar, but does it really have an impact on a luxury listing?
“In our region, it seems to go in waves,” Chase explained. “All of a sudden, it’s very quiet. It’s like it’s hibernating in winter and then all of a sudden spring comes and — boom!
“In some years, it seems to hibernate — for the most part — all year. Right now, this is the start of the wave and this is a beautiful thing because we’re finding that it isn’t about [speed] … it takes forever to build something,” Chase said, also noting that permitting restrictions make it difficult and expensive to build in Tahoe.
The Younts purchased the land in 1994 and spent five years building the main house. The estate’s peculiar locale demanded construction supplies be brought in by helicopter or barge, and the process of area permitting created a lengthy 10-year buildout for the beach house, which was completed last year.
“The cost of building, yes, is up,” she continued. “Does that affect a property of this nature? I don’t think so. And I think these are discretionary purchases — they’re not primary residences, so people are looking for a quality of life as opposed to a have-to-be-somewhere.
“And they’re willing to spend. Many times they’re spending more money on this type of property than they are on their own primary residence.”
Of course, each area is different. California’s luxury market, for instance, might not take the seasonal snooze that Tahoe does. And New York might have too much traffic all year to take a real estate catnap.
Chase said spring and summer have always been the most prosperous times to show property at Lake Tahoe. Winter still exudes luxury, but it’s different. Photographing and touring the property with flourishing greenery and blooms makes a huge difference. The weather, vibe and visuals of the warmer seasons are enchanting.
Chase expects a quick sale for the property because amid all the glamour it also offers something rare for Lake Tahoe: privacy.
The property is hidden on a hillside, but you can still toss a stone into the lake, Chase said.
Moving forward with ‘uber’ luxury
After all the work put into listing this luxurious waterfront estate, would Chase consult the Crystal Pointe game plan again? Yes, but only for “uber” luxury listings, she said.
The amount of effort it takes to put something like this together is huge, and it takes a very special group of people. The whole team should “have a mindset that is one,” Chase said. “You have to have the same goals, the same vision, the same mission.
“Our approach is for the next generation of properties that are going to pop on the market that we haven’t even heard about yet.”
Chase said agents should be ready for this shift toward mega luxury and recognize the opportunity to collaborate with other creative, impassioned and like-minded people to get the job done.
“It’s not just about one company at all,” Chase said. “It’s about all of the companies pulling together to be able to create a great effort for these uber luxury properties that are now [emerging] all over the place.”