Every once in a while, a property is put on the market that is so exceptional in its luxury, history, or setting that it surpasses other high-end offerings by leagues. These superlative listings are commonly referred to as trophy properties — and throughout my career, I have had the privilege of showing and selling a number of them.
As a real estate agent, representing a trophy property is hugely exciting, challenging, and rewarding. It’s also a constant learning experience. When it comes to selling top homes on the market, here are three lessons that have served me well.
1. Education through experience makes you a trusted advisor
When you find yourself in the position of handling a trophy property, your first priority should be learning everything you can about it. What is unique about its heritage, features, and previous owners? Why does it deserve its place in the upper echelons of the already exclusive luxury market? What made the property special and unique to the homeowner?
Much of my ability to serve the luxury buyer comes from my years of experience facilitating and advising sales of this caliber. The expert agent remains vital to the sales process: in a landscape where the options for buying are more numerous than ever, there’s simply no replacement for the 30+ years of knowledge I’ve accumulated. I understand the neighborhoods in Greenwich, Connecticut, the nuances, the subtle differences between streets, and the property histories. These subtleties, whether you’re representing the seller or buyer, are truly priceless.
At the end of the day, as agents, we’re on call. We’re the concierge our clients can contact for anything, whether it’s recommendations for a good restaurant or a top school, or the many fantastic amenities that our town offers. When clients call me, they know that they can trust me to be a valuable resource. I act with integrity and prioritize service with the client’s best interest at heart. My business is largely based on prior client recommendations because of my knowledge of the market conditions at the top levels of real estate.
Clients trust you with part of their family business. If you’re managing wealth, for example, you’re going to put it with a trusted advisor that treats the transaction like it’s their own and really has your back. The same goes for real estate. I care about the small details because at the end of the day, we are the educators. What we sell is not just the house. It’s the whole lifestyle package that people choose when they buy in Greenwich. These buyers can buy anywhere, but they choose Greenwich because of the proximity to the city, the safety, and the amenities.
2. On sales this prestigious, it helps to have a global brand and network behind you
Trophy property sales are larger, and that means the stakes are higher. Establishing a network of trusted fellow agents gives you the opportunity to both share your own knowledge, and build on the insights of other experts within the Sotheby’s International Realty network of agents.
A vibrant network is part of an agent’s arsenal that clients don’t always see. It’s the classic duck on the pond metaphor: serene on the surface, paddling away underneath. Today I walked through the office for 15 minutes and four people came by and asked for advice and recommendations. Other agents call me in for information, and I do the same with them. An experienced agent knows they bring not just their own insights, but that of an entire network to bear on every interaction and transaction.
Your network also ensures you have the inside track on the kinds of properties that aren’t listed publicly — which, in the case of trophy properties, are the majority. That’s the benefit of establishing a global network, and joining with a brand like Sotheby’s International Realty: we have access to other agents around the world that I can rely on when I need to find a specific buyer or sell a unique home. I recently had an event at a $12-million property, and I had associates fly in from Florida, Texas, North Carolina, California, and Illinois to attend — not only to provide me with their perspectives on the home but to spread the word to their own clients and networks about the Greenwich market.
These sorts of referrals are crucial when a luxury property comes onto the market. You need to cast a wider net — without drawing too much attention. Maintaining client privacy is always a crucial component of selling a luxury property: the owners are often high profile, high-net-worth individuals who prefer to keep their addresses out of the public eye. Word-of-mouth thus becomes the main means by which potential buyers will hear about an available property.
3. Offer your clients your utmost discretion
The need for tact and confidentiality will have an impact on how you promote trophy properties. You need to strike a particular balance: creating beautiful marketing materials that will intrigue and attract the most discerning buyers, for instance, while being comfortable with the knowledge that these materials will not be widely seen. The investment will pay dividends when your sale is successful.
The discretion you offer your buyers and sellers is critical to the success of your relationships. When people entrust me with their homes, especially in the luxury market, it’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. From the reduced exposure to how we treat people’s houses, we’re always thinking about the client experience: our relationship guarantees their privacy. The value of a top agent comes in their ability to sell a home or find the perfect listing without ever trespassing on the client’s goals for their own anonymity.
When it comes to upholding discretion, I appreciate having marketing support from Sotheby’s International Realty who can combine the stunning images we shoot with valuable information to reach our target prospects. They offer multiple marketing platforms specific to luxury properties. This targeted approach is imperative: we often build password-protected websites for our marketing materials, where login credentials are given out on a case-by-case basis.
Every real estate agent knows that integrity and respect are essential. This is especially true with iconic properties, where prices are notable and confidentiality is critical. To represent a trophy home is to take on a massive challenge — one that must be handled with kid gloves at every step. Todays’ buyers and sellers are more educated and sophisticated consumers than ever before due to their access to information. Respecting their time, we help them navigate the data and get them to achieve their goals. I take the privilege of representing trophy homes very seriously, and I bring my experience to the table so that my clients feel supported at every step of the journey.
Steve Archino is one of the most sought-after real estate agents in Greenwich. His experience in the market spans two decades, and he has represented more than a few of the finest properties ever offered in Greenwich, including the Linen Estate, the site of lavish galas attended by the Who’s Who of the 1950s and featured in Life magazine; the Home of William H. Pitt, founder of William Pitt Real Estate, the firm Steve was affiliated with prior to its acquisition by Sotheby’s International Realty; and most recently, Nipowin Island, the family paradise of a former Chief of Protocol during the Nixon administration and America’s Cup champion. Steve has proudly rented and sold homes on every level and continues to educate each and every client, no matter the price range.
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.