This summer we’re looking at the state of the luxury agent and 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 a blueprint for the luxury agent/broker of tomorrow. Don’t miss it.
The standards of service in luxury real estate tend to match the very homes that are being bought and sold.
A mentor of mine once told me that the only difference between a $1 million deal and a $100,000 deal is “just one zero,” but we have grown to a place of differing opinions on the matter. The devil is in the details as it were.
For agents, there is a certain finesse that accompanies being highly successful in buying and selling at the upper price points. That finesse, or “X factor,” can be the difference between a single transaction and an entire career in luxury real estate.
The good news is that this finesse can be learned. It’s a skill that develops by working with clients of a certain lifestyle and expectation. There is a lot more to consider when working with high-end clients than just the number on the page. Below, we’ll go over what it takes to provide excellent client care for luxury clients.
Attracting and keeping luxury clients
The best way to stand out and make a real difference in luxury real estate is by knowing your clients’ psychology. Most have purchased property prior to meeting you. Most have a financial person in their life. Most will not be impressed by your listing presentation or buyers guide.
The things that will impress them is your personal brand, your savvy with the numbers and your understanding of their expectations.
The old adage that no one hires a brokerage, but they hire an agent has never been more accurate. This is anchored in the fact that luxury brands exist in large companies that are not known exclusively for high-end real estate.
The personal brand of an agent in the luxury sector looks, at first glance, like it fits in with the lifestyle of the people they serve. Think of it as the noticeable differences when driving onto a Rolls Royce car lot versus a local used car lot. There is an immediate and distinct difference between the two. That is brand power.
While that is a drastic exaggeration, it is also very true. Judgements will be made on your brand when it comes to attracting and keeping high-end clients. Font, pictures, colors, core values, placements and association are all things that are, consciously or subconsciously, considered when clients choose a luxury agent.
Deals at the higher levels are interesting. They allow agents to realize the difference between the price and the cost. Meaning, money doesn’t just buy the house in the luxury sector. It can buy time, convenience, better rates or desires.
Knowing your numbers is good in any real estate deal, but especially at higher levels. Price-per-square-foot, comps, upgrade expenses, options and fees are all good to know going into a luxury deal.
The bottom line is that you have to know your numbers and any variable that may come your way within reason. The more you know about the lifestyle needs and wants of the luxury client, the better prepared you will be in tracking down the bottom line.
The expectations of luxury clients are a little different. In their life, they are likely to hire people to handle certain things so they don’t have to spend their time on those things. Like shopping for a house. They would rather get a list of 5 perfect matches than drive around looking at all the options. They hire people to do the leg work and show up when it is decision time.
I think of it as being a concierge for the client. Regardless of the question, having an answer or option is vital. This mentality reduces the work done by the client and puts the savvy agent in a position of high value. Find your place in catering to their lifestyle while you are working on their home solution.
Client care and service standards
There are certain unspoken standards when it comes to luxury real estate. They are simple to understand and almost completely opposite of a traditional real estate interaction.
Preferred style of communication
When you call someone, it sends the message that what you need is more important than what the other person is doing. Even more true when the person calling is a real estate agent.
Ask for a preferred type of communication. Some people will like text first. Others like email. There is a myriad of options today to give and receive information. The courteous habit is to ask the client how they want to be reached.
Anticipate questions and unspoken needs
Being proactive is never a bad thing — in luxury real estate, it is expected. In order to know the answers to the questions, you have to know the questions. Understanding the lifestyle and needs of high-end clients will set you apart from other agents.
Do they need reasonable access to a major airport? Are there upscale social clubs such as golf, tennis, beach or business organizations that would be attractive to the client? Is there access to a recreational water source? Is it a gated community?
It’s not enough to just know what they want in a home. You have to know what they want in a lifestyle.
Anticipation is a key skill required to raise the service level for luxury clients. It creates the sense that you know their needs, pay attention to them and have served people with similar expectations. It builds trust.
Patience is not a strong suit for most agents. Granted the risk of losing a client, losing a deal or just falling out of grace increases as time goes by. However, luxury clients don’t always rush to the contract table. They have options, they want what they want, and they usually come from abundance.
Working at their pace and being in line with their perception of the process will help you serve instead of sell. No one likes to be pushed into a deal, especially in the higher-end homes. Remain focused, ask the right questions, and educate with valuable information that creates a no-brainer decision.
The best practice in displaying patience is to just be calm. Don’t over communicate, bombard them with emails or push the process on them. Be a guiding force that helps them make a life decision.
Privacy and security
Possibly the biggest concern for luxury buyers and sellers is privacy and security. Protecting their personal belongings, identity and financial information is often a huge factor in the agent search. It is not a conversation to shy away from if you have a process in place.
Things like anonymity on the listing, using an attorney or just being present at all showings can create a sense of well-being for these clients. The fact of the matter is that all clients need to feel as if the things they want protected are being protected by you, the agent.
It is easy to pawn this duty off on the brokerage or local association when in fact it sits directly in the hands of the agent.
There is a masterful process in the way great agents handle their luxury clients. The client care operates at elevated standards much like that of the five-star concierge. Understanding the intricacies of lifestyle, importance and process for these clients makes all the difference.
For most, it is easy to get a luxury client, but much more difficult to serve them on a level that transcends filling out contracts and opening doors. Remember, the magic is in the details.
Thinking of bringing your team to Luxury Connect? There are special onsite perks and discounts when you buy those tickets together too. Just contact us to find out more.