For more than four decades, I’ve been a top-performing real estate professional. For the last 25 years, I have specialized in luxury resort properties on the Big Island of Hawaii. And since 2013, I have owned and operated my own firm, specializing in beach, oceanfront, ocean view, resort and golf properties.
What I’ve learned over the years about how to find and connect with luxury clients could probably fill a book, but here are three key points agents looking to expand their reach in this segment can consider.
1. Viva la internet
Hawaii is documented as the most isolated population in the world, which means I won’t easily connect in person with potential clients. That’s why leveraging the internet is essential. While 90 percent of my business is driven by repeat buyers and referrals, I have to prospect for the remaining 10 percent. The majority of my clients are based on the West Coast, predominantly in Silicon Valley and Seattle. Using Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate’s proprietary PinPointSM direct marketing tool, I can access a database of 175M+ consumers, segment audiences by demographics and life stages, and market directly to consumers in targeted neighborhoods of my existing clients — places that similarly affluent people live.
In addition, I make sure my listings stand out online with pristine professional photography as well as high-end technology like 3-D video tours and drone footage. I promote the 3-D video tours on social media, tapping into the available targeting filters.
I also conduct online research on tax records for homes on the island to see where people’s primary residences are, since that’s where the tax bill for their second home is sent. For example, a recent foray into owners of lots in a high-end ranch resort revealed that buyers were coming from Montana, providing a new place for me to prospect. Another way to hone in on potential clients is to see where my online viewers are located through a service called Listrak.
2. But don’t forget walk-ins
Despite being isolated as an island, Hawaii has some areas that receive a lot of foot traffic. Our office is located in a high-end shopping area in one of the resorts and receives a significant amount of walk-in traffic. In fact, agents jockey for floor time. In order to best accommodate the number of walk-ins and provide agents with the opportunity to capitalize on potential business, the office is open seven days a week, 12 hours a day with four, three-hour shifts. I’ve learned that when high-end properties are involved, having a strong in-person presence is just as important as a prominent online presence.
3. Deliver value well after the transaction
All of my clients are second home buyers, which means they don’t live in Hawaii full time. Tapping into all of the information that comes from having “boots on the ground,” I send out twice weekly video messages to my database with community updates so people can stay current on local happenings.
In addition, I have been entrusted by many of my clients to provide on the ground services at their homes when they aren’t there. I’ve put cases of wine in coolers prior to clients’ arrivals, provided referrals for housekeepers and plumbers, and dropped off cars at the airport. This extra level of service as an onsite personal assistant goes beyond the definition of a real estate broker, but this higher level of service has really differentiated me and served me well: when my clients meet new people at the beach, on the golf course or at the tennis club who are looking to buy, they always mention me. Going above and beyond has other perks as well: I once enjoyed “carpooling” with a client on their private plane!
At the end of the day, strong relationships are foundational to my continued success, but it’s so important to be able to prospect and create initial connections in order to stand out.