This summer we’re looking at the state of the luxury agent & broker in today’s increasingly complex real estate market. In October, we’ll gather in Beverly Hills at Luxury Connect to share best practices, network, and create blueprint for the luxury agent/broker of tomorrow. Don’t miss it.
As the chairman and CEO of Halstead Real Estate, Diane Ramirez is used to helping her high-end clients answer broader financial questions. “Wealthy clients aren’t buying their one and only home,” she noted. “Sometimes it’s the fifth or sixth.” And although a luxurious home might be appealing to these clients, they’re also “very astute” and want to make sure their money is being spent well.
Ramirez will take the stage at Luxury Connect, October 16 through 18 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, to talk about how she’s established herself as a luxury wealth advisor.
To help serve her clients at this level, Ramirez has to stay on top of all the latest home listings and developments available. When a high-end client is buying a home in a brand-new building, for example, “you have to make sure you’ve been to the sales office and have a sense of how close it is to the actual property. Sometimes the sales office is three to four blocks away, so you need to make sure your clients understand where the building itself is.”
She also takes time to understand the security needs of her clients, so they can be picked up and dropped off without compromising their personal safety. And sometimes she gives them pointers on neighborhoods that might be better suited to their needs than the current “hot” locations.
“For instance, in Manhattan, our downtown market is the hot market, and clients may come thinking they want to be in this trendy area,” she explained. “But the reality is, they might be better suited in Midtown along Billionaire’s Row, where they’ll be around people who live the lifestyle they live.”
More from Ramirez is below; in the meantime, get tickets now to come and see her live and in person at Luxury Connect.
What will the luxury agent of the future look like?
The luxury agent of the future will have to know absolutely everything there is to know about luxury. What is their lifestyle, what are the brands that they wear — you just recognize things. You have to have a sense of their culture. You need to do a lot of research, even down to how you are supposed to greet them. It’s not just opening doors.
If you think about what was an agent of the past — what did they look like? Really, what they focused on, they were “people” people who were comfortable in conversation, and they knew their product. Years ago when our New York inventory was mostly co-op, you’d have to know how to navigate that process. Today our luxury buyers are almost never buying the co-ops because many of them are international. The product they’re looking for is different.
It really is a very different skillset than it was even 10 years ago, and a lot of that is because of the new product, the condo, and that’s all about lifestyle.
What do you feel are the challenges facing the luxury market this year?
The biggest challenge is that we do have a good deal of product, and it’s all in uber-luxury-priced levels. Whenever you have choice, you’re going to have hesitancy. Often a very high-end buyer wants the latest and greatest — not only do they know what’s there today, but we have some properties still under construction, and they’ll also say “I want to know what’s coming next.” Getting them to focus on what they want to buy is so much easier when there’s only two or three jewels to look at, but when you have an array of jewels, it’s more difficult.
What are some of the biggest problems you’ve faced in growing your business?
Staying extremely relevant. We as a brand must be a brand that resonates with the luxury buyer as well as our agents. We have to be certain to stay very meaningful to our agents in communicating to them the importance of the firm, our culture, why we are very relevant in the luxury arena. To me it’s very important to be very connected to your agents and be there for them so they understand how you can support their role with their clients.
How has technology changed your business, and what are you most intrigued by that you’re not currently using?
We’re really very in tune in what’s coming and are always keeping our eye out. From my standpoint, what has really changed is that technology used to be one-size-fits-all and there is such a full suite of tools out there that are helpful both for our agents and the consumer that you really have to stay on top of it. It will make our agents and the consumers much more efficient and much more valuable, and vice verse.
One of the ones I like the most is market analytics. It never stops getting more and more interesting and more delving into what you can analyze, so we’ve been very involved in that and we keep our eyes on that often. And then the collaborative platforms I find very exciting, where the agents can collaborate directly with the client. They love it, being able to comment, and things are much more fine-tuned to what their needs are. It’s no longer just “three-bedroom, three-baths, upper floor, high ceiling.” You can ascertain even in that set of parameters what resonates with them. It may fit what they asked for, but it helps you drill down to what is exciting them. So you’re not just peeling off properties, you’re really helping them fine-tune what they’re looking for.
And take it to the next level on that, because you’re seeing what they’re liking, sometimes they veer off into something they didn’t articulate, and you can see they’ve veered off. If you were just doing that verbally, they might forget to say “I looked at something a little off from what I said I wanted, but it intrigued me.”
What’s the question you hear most from your clients? And what’s your answer to them?
It’s always, especially now, the state of the market. And for sellers definitely, what price can I sell at? That answer I have actually changed my mindset on. Everything I was saying for the last 5 years was “price it right,” but that’s not good enough anymore. You’ve got to price it to be sold as quickly as possible, because that gets your best value. You’ve got to price it to win the race. It’s like that Belmont race, where you see these horses and there are three definite contenders, and then you have this cluster of horses that are $1 million-plus each and they’re all in a cluster — I feel like agents price it to be in the cluster, and that is not working today, you have to price it to win.
What we tell our sellers is, when you price it to be sold quickly, you’re getting your best possible price because the market will bring it up if you’ve underpriced it. Once it’s stale, it’s only going to go down in value. You’re only getting your best price coming out of the gate, that’s when you have the most interested buyers, and that’s a mindset people have forgotten. I talked to a seller last week. We’re seeing properties come on and sell quickly and others are taking 500 days, and it’s about price. It’s all great product, but the ones that sell immediately come out the gate to be sold. It’s a hard message to deliver to sellers.
Thinking of bringing your team? There are special onsite perks and discounts when you buy those tickets together too. Just contact us to find out more.