I was once hired to sell a breathtaking property in Oyster Bay Cove, New York, with 63 acres of private parkland. While beautiful, the listing was also a challenge: I had a very motivated seller, a multimillion-dollar home, and a property the size of a golf course. So I got creative.
It just so happened that the Sotheby’s auction house was curating a new collection of diamonds, and I asked whether they would be willing to display them in this stunning mansion and host an exclusive, invitation-only evening for elite clientele. The event was a fabulous success — for Sotheby’s, for our clients, and for my seller. Word of the party traveled all the way to London, where it found the property’s future buyer. I’d lined up a deal with the North Shore Land Alliance for half of the property’s acreage, and so we were able to sell the remaining home and grounds for close to the asking price.
The moral of the story? In the luxury real estate market, an agent’s job is much more than simply assisting with the sale or purchase of properties. At Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty on Long Island, we’re trusted consultants and experienced guides, and the white-glove services we provide are what ultimately set us apart. Here are a few of my favorite ways to add value for my clients.
1. Advise on upgrades, and have troubleshooters on speed dial
Every property comes with its own challenges — in the case of the Oyster Bay Cove estate, there was a lot of land. But most problems you encounter aren’t quite so extravagant. In historic New England homes, it’s often removing asbestos, repairing leaky roofs, extracting abandoned oil tanks, or resurfacing pools and tennis courts that can make the difference in whether or not a home sells. I do a walkthrough with all of my sellers to identify necessary structural repairs and upgrades.
For whatever the situation, I have several trusted contacts who I know can handle the job. I make sure that I’m a resource for getting things done at a variety of price points — I have three fence people, three roofers, three painters. By being knowledgeable and responsive, I ensure that I’m providing my sellers with the full-service restorations they need to make their homes market-ready, from providing initial estimates to executing the repairs. I’m also happy to share my contacts with people who aren’t even my clients or want to do the jobs on their own. I see that as part of my role.
You can also get accredited for services beyond real estate. For example, I’ve taken the time to become an expert on New York’s Tax Grievance policies, and that’s an extra benefit I can now provide to my clients.
2. Bring your listings into the present
Thanks to social media, the look of a home is more important than ever, and a home’s style can make or break a sale. It’s helpful to have a roster of professional contacts who can help improve a home’s interior décor as well as its exterior, whether it’s clearing clutter or hanging new wallpaper. Keep in mind that design suggestions need to be made sensitively: some clients may be resistant to change. My approach is to make it about the ROI, and not personal taste. I often show clients pictures of what their homes could look like and properties in a similar style that have sold quickly in the past.
Think about the design trends and visual styles that will appeal to your target buyers. In my case, it’s easy to create an elevated vintage atmosphere in older estates by mixing in modern furnishings, adding plenty of Instagrammable value to an otherwise dated property. Whether via décor or photography, I’m on hand to make sure my clients’ homes show to the best of their potential.
There are other ways to enhance the viewing experience with creative ideas — consider collaborating with local artists, curators, and private collectors.
3. Ensure each client receives personalized service
Every agent knows that referrals are the heart and soul of the real estate business: when you provide exceptional service for someone, they’ll remember, and tell other people. Recently, a seller contacted me with a new business opportunity because he had been impressed by a sale I handled 17 years ago. I wasn’t even the main broker on the sale, and I hadn’t been in touch with him in the interim, but because of how I made him feel all those years ago, he reached out with more business. I never underestimate the power of connecting with people.
As I walk around a client’s house for the first time, I ask a million questions. I’m looking for common ground — maybe we both love to ride horses, or have large families. Find ways to relate from your heart to help your clients feel more at ease.
Know your market, and be willing and eager to share that knowledge with others. Remember that when you have an open house, some people come to see the property, but others are hoping to meet an experienced, trustworthy real estate agent that can provide value-added service in their own acquisition or sale.
Margaret Trautmann is an Associate Real Estate Broker with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty on Long Island, New York. Margaret is in the top 1% of residential brokers in the North Shore, Gold Coast area and offers over 26 years of real estate expertise. She is often interviewed by Newsday for their Real Estate section, and she has appeared twice on NBC’s “Open House New York”. Margaret is an invaluable resource for buyers and sellers looking to successfully meet their real estate goals.
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 www.sothebysrealty.com.
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.