Beyond price: 4 things that matter to luxury buyers

Broker Associate Joe Cilic on what matters more than cost for high-net-worth homebuyers

Luxury buyers may have numerous options when it comes to choosing a home, but that doesn’t make their search any simpler. In my professional career as a real estate agent with The Cilic Group, Sotheby’s International Realty Pacific Palisades, I’ve sold or supervised over $5 billion in real estate — and learned firsthand how high-end clients weigh their property options.

When working with high-net-worth buyers, look beyond price to these four key value drivers.

1. Privacy and anonymity

Sotheby’s International Realty – Pacific Palisades Brokerage

Luxury buyers don’t want strangers clamoring for details about their home. In cities, that might mean purchasing a condo with a direct elevator entrance. Suburban buyers may seek acres of space or gates and hedges.

But guaranteeing privacy goes far beyond the property’s features. For high-profile clients, anonymity is a treasured amenity. In order to shield our celebrity clients, we’ve gone so far as to send fake moving trucks to a fake location and real moving trucks from the current residence to the new home. We’ll set up trusts without client names on the public record to try and protect their confidentiality. A lot of our clients don’t care to draw attention to the major purchases they make.

Prioritize anonymity by seeking out off-market properties. Through my network of agents and knowledge of the market, I find high-end buyers unique properties before they’re officially listed. Not only do my clients find a home they adore, but their purchase is more private, too.

New agents may struggle to find those prime, off-the-market listings. When you’re starting out, team up with a top agent, or consider sharing the client. By establishing relationships with other agents, you’ll soon create a bespoke network that lands your luxury buyers the perfect property every time.

2. Location

Every homebuyer cares about location — that’s not unique to high-end buyers. But larger budgets allow these buyers to prioritize location over price.

Look for A+ locations for your high-end buyers. Throw the old real estate maxim “Don’t buy the best house in the worst neighborhood” out the window. They want the best house — in the best neighborhood.

Some clients fixate on specifics: maybe they dream of a certain street or a waterfront lot. I had a client couple who wanted a jaw-dropping view. I sent them a gorgeous property, but they still said, “You know what? The view’s not good enough.” Meeting high standards can be a challenge — but the work is always fun.

3. The unanticipated

Sotheby’s International Realty – Pacific Palisades Brokerage

Even luxury buyers fall head-over-heels for unexpected properties. That same client requesting a to-die-for view? Ultimately, they purchased a home with no view whatsoever. Just like with other buyers, high-end clients’ plans change quickly when they find a space that speaks to them emotionally — even if it doesn’t check off every item on their wishlist.

Think outside the box. I never disregard my client’s requirements, but if I see a truly special property, I’ll consider sending it.

4. The possibilities for improvement

Your customers may have a large budget — or no cap on budget at all — but value still reigns supreme. No one buys a $100 million property simply because they can. They want to know they’re making a smart purchase that suits their needs and satisfies their wants.

We help our clients see that vision and eliminate any headaches that might crop up between house-hunting and success. Working with luxury buyers requires creativity and a strong vision for a property’s possibilities. Could the finishes be upgraded? Would a row of high hedges make an open property feel like a private oasis? Understand the advantages afforded by renovation, and recommend these to your clients.

If you’ve owned and renovated your own home, buyers will feel more comfortable listening to your suggestions. I’ve renovated and sold several properties, and my personal experience informs my client’s decisions. Of course, not every agent can buy and renovate a home — but, at a minimum, ensure you understand the process and can provide your buyers with creative suggestions.

Above all, luxury buyers want to fall in love with the perfect home. As an agent, your confidence, knowledge, and resources make that spark possible.

Joe Cilic

As a licensed attorney and real estate broker, Joe Cilic has sold, supervised or participated in over 4,000 residential real estate transactions totaling over 5 billion dollars in volume. A Broker Associate with The Cilic Group at Sotheby’s International Realty in Los Angeles, Joe has a true passion for real estate and has extensive personal experience buying, renovating and selling homes for a profit. His clients often leverage his keen eye for design, whether it is to prepare their home for sale or envision the possibilities with a home that they are considering for purchase. When he isn’t working or volunteering, Joe can be found spending time with his wife and two young children in Pacific Palisades.


About Sotheby’s International Realty

Sotheby’s International Realty was founded in 1976 as a real estate service for discerning clients of Sotheby’s auction house. Today, the company’s global footprint spans 990 offices located in 72 countries and territories worldwide, including 43 company-owned brokerage offices in key metropolitan and resort markets. In February 2004, Realogy entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby’s International Realty name and the development of a franchise system. The franchise system is comprised of an affiliate network, where each office is independently owned and operated. Sotheby’s International Realty supports its affiliates and agents with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Affiliates and agents also benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby’s auction house, established in 1744. For more information, visit

The affiliate network is operated by Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, and the company owned brokerages are operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Both entities are subsidiaries of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY) a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC and Sotheby’s International Realty Inc., both fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act.