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For the luxury buyer, investing in a second property is an act of pure wish fulfillment. A secondary home is about more than just necessity, it’s about the opportunity to live one’s best life — which is why being an agent in a second-home market is such a pleasure.
Demand for these properties is high and our clients are discerning, making second-home markets both hectic and thrilling for agents. Here in Greece, the past decade has been rife with economic uncertainty, yet the market for second homes has remained strong. Even during the recent global health crisis, we witnessed unprecedented spikes in activity — qualified leads were up 145% in April and 55% in May compared to last year.
This demand is being driven by two trends:
- Successful business owners and executives have had to shift to working remotely. They’ve realized that it’s possible to now live and work in their dream holiday home as often as they want.
- Older affluent buyers, in light of the health crisis, have had a carpe diem moment: there’s no time like the present to invest in the second home they’ve spent their lives dreaming about.
It’s exciting being able to connect with international clientele who are buying real estate not because they have to, but because they want to — they’ve arrived at a moment in their lives where they’re ready to execute on a long-held desire and discover what truly makes them happy.
Choose your channels
With that in mind, connecting with second-home buyers means identifying them and reaching out through the right mediums. Today, my team and I concentrate about 75% of our efforts on digital touchpoints, 20% on editorial, and 5% on experiential opportunities and events. Here’s why you should be focusing on each of these channels.
A powerful website is the keystone of a holistic marketing strategy: and for second-home markets, it’s your online office. To make the most of this space, provide content that meaningfully addresses your out-of-town clients’ most common questions in order to optimize your site for search engine inquiries. Leverage analytics to measure and quantify the success of your international marketing campaigns: it’s essential for agents to know how effective we are. Lastly, ensure your site is connected with your social media channels, such as Instagram and even TikTok. These are critical to reaching a wider cross section of today’s affluent buyers anywhere in the world.
Travel and lifestyle publications are constantly looking to second-home markets to provide inspiring editorial for their audience — which happens to be our audience as well. Never shy away from this publicity. Have a beautiful catalog on-hand, keep track of your available inventory at all times, and be prepared to embrace international media exposure when it comes your way — or when you spot an opportunity to pitch and promote your market.
Supporting events is another strategy my team and I invest in. It sends a visible message about our values and culture: we show that being involved with our community is part of our brand’s DNA, while also positioning ourselves as active participants in the luxury lifestyle scene. Classical music events and regattas are a few examples of the events my firm often supports, largely because these are things we’re personally interested in. While many larger events are currently postponed, participating in webinars and other digital initiatives can give you similar access to your colleagues and industry peers.
Hone your approach
Beyond choosing the right channels for reaching out to your target buyers, there are three additional tactics I like to adhere to when assisting my clients in a second-home market.
1. Consider the cultural context
English is the universal language for our marketing. We do this to ensure we have full insight into the quality of the content we’re producing, as well as the interactions we have with our clients. Inviting in translation services is a massive investment for any firm.
Even though English may be our chosen bridge to our clients, we remain sensitive to the language barriers that exist. In your communications, use terms that are easy to understand, and be sensitive to the fact that cultural norms and communication styles differ between countries and continents; Americans and Scandinavians won’t necessarily express themselves in the same way, and agents need to actively decode their questions, concerns, demands, and desires.
2. Provide the complete picture
When you work with a global clientele, there will always be gaps in your buyers’ knowledge when it comes to technicalities like local bylaws and taxation. Agents are their trusted source of information on the ground; it’s our job to tell them what they need to know, without negatively impacting the sale. My approach is to always explain, then relate: different jurisdictions often have equivalent rules and regulations for homeowners, so understand where your buyers are based, and continually reference the systems they’re used to.
3. Exhibit honesty and humility
Of course, there will be cases where you don’t have all the answers. When that happens, simply admit that you’re not sure, but will research and report back as soon as possible. Never underestimate the knowledge of your buyers, especially in second-home luxury markets. We are working with savvy, sophisticated individuals based all over the world, who are often highly educated and well-informed. They’re entitled to their opinions; our job is to hear them out and respond intelligently, transparently, and non-defensively with insights and data we know to be true.
Much like in the primary-home market, selling properties in a second-home market comes down to ensuring you provide exceptional service as an agent, a partner, and an advisor. You are the touchpoint for buyers who may be on the other side of the world, so the breadth and depth of your real estate knowledge are going to be the differentiator that drives your success.
Savvas Savvaidis, CEO at Greece Sotheby’s International Realty, is a seasoned real estate professional with over 20 years experience in luxury residential real estate. His real estate sales record in Greece has earned him the title of Best Estate Agent in Greece every year since 2003. He is the founder of the Hellenic Association of Realtors and his articles and interviews are frequently featured in national and international media. Savvas holds a degree in Economics from the University of Bologna and has participated in numerous executive courses in luxury real estate marketing and negotiations at Harvard Business School, the MIT Sloan School of Management and Bocconi University.
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.