Just one sale transacted with a high-net-worth (HNW) or ultra-high-net-worth client (UHNW) can equate to dozens of smaller deals, which is why most real estate agents dream of working with these individuals — but doing so is no small feat, and managing relationships with these clients is no easy task.
If you want to make that task a bit easier, you must ingrain within yourself the attributes these clients value most.
HNW and UHNW individuals value their privacy, and for good reason. When they’re not targets for rampant fraud and other crimes, they’re being harassed by people and companies in search of financing or other favors.
In a world made more complicated by their wealth, it has been my experience that HNW and UHNW people value the discretion of those around them more than anything. These individuals shouldn’t need to worry about family secrets or financial details spilling out because their agent was gossiping at a cocktail party.
To build up your reputation for discretion, be discreet. When interacting with a potential HNW client, refrain from speaking too openly about other clients. This will have the subliminal effect of ensuring your new potential clients that you’ll protect their privacy and interests similarly in front of other people. And it will allay many fears these potential clients may have about working with you.
Discretion naturally leads to another attribute HNW individuals value: trustworthiness. Your dependability and reliability are keys to building and maintaining your clients’ trust. When you make a promise, keep it; and when there is a deliverable, deliver it.
From a purely practical standpoint, always bear in mind that HNW individuals have resources, and as a result, there are plenty of other agents who would gladly take their business from you.
Do not give your client any reason to doubt your reliability and dependability.
Loyalty is of paramount importance to many HNW individuals. There are always people looking to take advantage of their wealth and good nature, so it can be difficult for them to trust many people. Never give them a reason to doubt your loyalty, and you’ll likely maintain their trust.
Show your loyalty by being open and honest about how you are working on their behalf, and when the opportunity arises, fight hard for their interests. Your loyalty to them also builds loyalty in your direction.
Numerous business relationships have been saved after an agent made a terrible mistake, but the client forgave them because he or she knew the agent had the best intentions and the client’s interest in mind.
But loyalty can only go so far. Ultimately, HNW individuals are looking for the most competent people to represent them. Keep in mind many of these individuals rose to the top of their field because of their own competence — so they definitely appreciate yours.
Make them understand that you know what it takes to know the market better than anyone else, that you’re able to market and negotiate at the top of your game. Show them your unique set of high-level and competent skills. Do this, and they’ll want to work with you.
Few will accept a fool negotiating at the table for them — despite how loyal that fool may be — when they can have the best in the business working for them instead. If you are not confident in your competence, then keep learning, seek out a mentor, and do not stop until you have mastered your market.
HNW individuals have more going on in their lives than most. More meetings. More bills. More travel. More work. More fun. This means they have more things, and people vying for their attention.
This is where communication becomes crucial. While your HNW clients may seem too busy for you, the real estate transaction will likely be important to them (no matter how wealthy they are). You must communicate frequently, concisely and clearly. Do not mince words, but don’t cut yourself off at the knees either.
If you are in tough negotiations and seem to be at a stalemate with the other side, be honest about it with your clients. But also tell them your plan for getting the deal done. It is wise to tell them when there’s a problem, and wiser yet to offer your solution promptly.
Chadwick Ciocci is the founder and CEO of Chilton & Chadwick – Global Real Estate Concierge. He is also the vice president of Culture Home, a real estate development company in Greenwich, Connecticut.