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As interest in urban condos fluctuates and suburban mansions see multiple offers, the shift to decentralized work is disrupting both buying and selling trends across luxury markets. Buyers are adjusting how — and where — they’re opting to live.
It’s up to luxury agents to help clients list and acquire properties amid all the uncertainty of remote work. That means having informed conversations that will help them make the best decisions for both their current and future needs. In this transformed landscape, there are three things that agents need to keep in mind in order to deliver the best service to their buyers and sellers at all times, across all markets.
1. Respond to uncertainty with expertise
Whether your clients are searching for an ideal home in a completely new location, or settling into an unfamiliar neighborhood, these times of transition and adjustment can be disorienting.
“Some of your new clients may seem unfocused because they don’t know exactly what they want — they only know they want something different than what they currently have,” says Eleanor Heyrich, Real Estate Broker with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “Take the time to go deep with them so they understand what your market has to offer and how often what they are looking for actually comes onto market so that you can set proper expectations from the beginning.”
And when they’ve made the move, be there to lend support. “The transition to suburbia and a more relaxed way of life can be a drastic change from the dense urban environment they’re used to,” notes Herman Chan, Real Estate Broker with Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty. “Be prepared to rattle off the local amenities, things to do, and shops and dining so that they feel at ease. Don’t assume they know anything about your area. Some of these buyers have never even left the city. Now all of a sudden, the world is their oyster and they are exploring.”
2. Don’t assume decentralization is permanent
Chan has seen the effects of remote work on San Francisco, as condos are staying on the market longer than before. But he advises his clients to take a long view of the current circumstances. “Don’t make any drastic moves until you check with your company’s long-term policy,” says Chan. “Just because your friend’s employer went 100% remote, doesn’t mean yours will. And there is no telling if companies will revert back one day.”
Judge Moss, Senior Global Real Estate Advisor at Sotheby’s International Realty’s Palm Beach Brokerage, has been hearing a similar theme surface in his market. His clients have told him that they see this disruption as a temporary situation and look forward to the day they return to their offices. “I believe that many people envision having a blended office situation — where the week consists of working remotely for a few days and going into the office for a few days,” he says. “Many of the out-of-state buyers who can now work remotely still recognize that they will eventually need to travel for business, so proximity to an airport is often still a demand.”
3. Share often and expand your scope
While buyers are searching further afield for homes as a result of their more flexible work environments, that larger net can result in more time taken in deliberation.
“Send buyers a number of potential properties to look through and be sure that they are not focused on only one property,” advises Moss. “Often, by the time a current buyer is serious about making a purchase, the house they have their heart set on is sold. Be sure to send your buyers updates on properties that have sold so they can see price points as well as how quickly the market is moving.”
Because out-of-state buyers will want to familiarize themselves with prospective properties before boarding a plane to see them in person, Moss recommends not only having floor plans with room dimensions on the listing, but leveraging videos and virtual tours as well.
“Another piece of advice for urban agents is to enlarge your radius,” says Chan. “If your clients are looking to buy property elsewhere, follow them as they widen their search, within reason. Working remotely has forced them to expand their world, and so should you!”
In spite of the challenges, the decentralization of work presents some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities — for buyers, sellers, and the agents that represent them. “In the end, my advice to clients is that 2020 has been one giant neon sign telling us that now is the time to be leading the lives we’ve been working so hard to achieve,” says Heyrich. In changing and trying times, it’s rewarding to give clients something they can look forward to.
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.