Breaking into the luxury property market takes a lot of money, but one marketing factor that may be overlooked is this: be memorable.
That’s according to Ben Bacal, founder of Revel Real Estate, who spoke at Inman Connect New York on Tuesday in a session called “Marketing Mega Listings vs. Mid-Market Listings.”
Bacal speaks from experience. He hosted a “Cannabis Open House Party” at his $3.4 million listing last year to launch his own real estate search app Rila.
“Luxury homes take longer to sell so you have to make them easy to remember,” such as by hosting “really cool events,” Bacal told attendees.
“Can you be remembered after a cannabis event?” joked panel moderator Marnie Blanco, vice president of industry relations at dotloop.
Bacal also suggested giving properties a title to make them stand out, like “Billionaire” — the name of a Bel Air spec mansion he sold for $94 million.
Fellow panelist Luciane Serifovic, CEO and founder of Luxian International Realty, quipped that she couldn’t hold cannabis open house events in New York (where the drug is illegal), but agreed events are key to marketing luxury listings — though not necessarily open events.
“People want exclusivity and when you say it’s open for everyone it’s not special,” she said.
So she recently held an event and said it was “by invitation only” and had a chef, an artist and a singer present. She also invited the media. She acknowledged it “was a very expensive event,” but noted that “every listing is a representation of your brand.”
That’s why she said she’s never understood why some agents use iPhone photos to market a property.
She recommended aspiring luxury agents hire a public relations company to help them develop their luxury brand.
Serifovic also noted that about 20 percent of her clients come from outside the country, but that building that business was not easy or cheap. It took her about two years of building relationships with international brokers and traveling to different countries to create alliance partnerships in which her firm and their firms market each other’s listings and send each other referrals.
“It works, but it takes a lot of time [and] it’s expensive to travel and stay in hotels,” she said.
People with “ultra high net worth” are very private and “only trust certain people,” according to Bacal.
“They’re not going to trust me unless I’m referred by their friends, their agent in London or Dubai,” he said.
Serifovic agreed. “The best way is personal introductions. The trust is immediate as opposed to me trying to sell myself,” she said.
But if you’re not able to travel the world, one way to stand out is through listing videos and targeted Facebook and YouTube ads, the panelists said. Bacal noted he got himself a billionaire client by targeting a video to specific countries on YouTube — Sweden, in that case.
Serifovic recently created a video of her daughter running around one of her high-end listings and featured the video in a targeted Facebook ad. A wealthy buyer with kids saw it and now the home is under contract.
“He would have never lived there if he hadn’t seen that,” Serifovic said.