Selling Luxury Real Estate
“The rich are different from you and me,” F. Scott Fitzgerald reportedly said to Ernest Hemingway. “Yes, they have more money,” came the reply. The story is apocryphal—it’s an amalgamation of a couple of their stories and a remark literary critic Mary Colum once made—but when it comes to selling luxury real estate, the sentiment is true. The luxury property market is a world unto its own. Whether you’re selling a New York luxury condo or a resplendent Silicon Valley estate, we have some ideas to help form a strategy.
You Probably Need a Realtor
The luxury market is esoteric. While buyers of moderately-priced real estate can easily find what they want because of multiple listing services and online platforms, luxury home shoppers may not have that option. Many high-priced homes never make it to the full listing stage, and it’s not uncommon for luxury real estate brokers to stay within their private referral networks . Moreover, sellers of high-end real estate sometimes don’t want the publicity from a public listing.
The world of luxury real estate brokers is a small one made up of well-educated, experienced people who likely have various industry certifications. That’s good, because the world of buyer is likewise small. Prospective buyers need to be screened even before showing the home, and those who emerge will be just as educated, financially successful, sometimes demanding, and sometimes impatient as the sellers. Such the luxury brokers’ universe.
Some sellers will go it alone. For most, though, the key is locating a broker whose talent and personality matches the sellers’ and understands the home. Some real estate consultants meet with sellers and match them with compatible professionals. Similar consultancies may exist in other locales, but no matter how the seller finds referrals, the most important task early on is to interview several before making a selection.
Follow the Money
It’s easy to say potential buyers should be screened, but how to do it is challenging. Many buyers come from thousands of miles away and very often are foreign nationals. Wherever they live, their assets need to be verified, even if they’re overseas. And what if they take title through a corporation or limited liability company to preserve privacy? Seeing through the veil is critical.
Knowing who buyers are likely to be is important. They’re not just Wall Street tycoons anymore. They could be children of some Russian Oligarch, a Hong Kong billionaire stashing wealth, or a kid in torn jeans and a hoodie who figured out the next innovation in high tech.
Staging and Marketing
The first impression the property makes on buyers is critical, and sellers need to consider not just staging, but highly professional staging. The interior presentation can’t look homemade or in any way amateurish. Buyers are looking to be not just impressed, but blown away the minute they walk in the door. It’s a high-stakes transaction with millions of dollars up for discussion, and making sure the multi-million dollar home looks like one can’t be overstated.
Moreover, the entire marketing plan must be professional and sophisticated, making use of professional photography, videography, an even drones where appropriate. The plan should include glossy advertisements in upper-crust magazines, such as The Robb Report, Saveur, Unique Homes, and Upscale Living, to name just a few. Yachting, aircraft, and fine automotive magazines should also be in the mix. And it’s not at all uncommon to load all of a property’s marketing information onto a disk or thumb drive and overnight it to a foreign buyer’s country.
Patience, Patience, Patience
Sellers of all properties, not just luxury homes, have usually been out of the market for a number of years. To some extent, however, their mindset is not all that different from the time they originally bought the home. It’s a perfectly normal circumstance, but markets are dynamic and ever-changing. Sellers who themselves are savvy and financially successful can find themselves becoming impatient with a process that feels slow and sometimes not all that logical.
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