1.) My $1 million+ property has been on the market for more than a year now. What can I do to increase the likelihood of it selling?
Review your agent’s marketing strategy and price evaluation for your property. Remember, real estate agents are service providers. It’s our job to make sure that the properties we list are marketed in places where qualified buyers are most likely to be exposed to them. Unfortunately, many agents have cut way back on their willingness to spend marketing dollars—even though this is precisely the time when we need to dramatically increase our marketing efforts. The days of just placing a property in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and waiting for someone to call are long gone. Your agent should be presenting your luxury property to potential buyers in places where they may or may not be looking for them. Most luxury buyers are not from the local area, yet I’m still surprised how many agents spend most of their marketing efforts on local penny shoppers and newspapers. Many also “sell” the fact that your property will be listed on multiple web sites—without offering proof that luxury buyers are viewing those sites. If your agent is not marketing beyond this, you should consider finding one who will.
2.) What should I look for in a luxury real estate agent?
Look for an agent who specializes in the type of property you are seeking or selling. The more specialized an agent is, the more in-depth he or she knows that type of property, what buyers are looking for, and how and where to present your property in the market. Too many agents are generalists—representing land, commercial property, city homes, condos, etc. It’s like medicine and law—you need a specialist who has the expertise, experience and skill required for your unique situation. I only represent lakeshore properties. That means that everything I do, from marketing to research to networking to spending time at my own lake home on the weekends, revolves around the lakeshore lifestyle. My clients get the full advantage of this.
3.) The accepted thinking out there is that nothing is selling. Is this true?
Not true at all. During the real estate boom, many people bought luxury property who really couldn’t afford it. The economy has now taken those people out of the luxury market. What we are seeing is a return to the exclusivity of true luxury purchases. So, while there are less buyers out there today, there are more buyers who are truly qualified. There is also a lot of inventory, which means you need an agent who will make sure your property stands out from the crowd—or who will take the time to sit down with you and really get to know what you are looking for in a property and what experience you want the property to provide in your life.
4.) What can an agent do to make my property stand out in this market?
An agent should spend the money it takes to present your property in places that offer the maximum chance of having qualified buyers be exposed to it. The majority of luxury buyers are not actively looking for property; instead, when they see a property presented to them in a way that looks inviting and promises them the emotional fulfillment of the lakeshore lifestyle, they become interested. So it’s making sure that your property is showcased in its best light—with professional photography—and marketed in national publications and locations that reach your target buyer.
5.) I’m frustrated with my experience with agents, what are you offering that’s different?
The time and attention you’d expect from a luxury service provider. It’s always been common for agents to play the numbers game—listing as many properties as possible, selling a few, and basically using the volume of listings as a way to promote themselves to new sellers. I don’t work that way. I find that by being far more selective about the properties I list, taking the time to really get to know the story behind the property, and focusing my attention on making sure each property is marketed in the best possible manner—is how I am most successful. Real estate has to return to a service mindset—to that of being a marketing professional, not just someone who lists property on the MLS and then shows it when someone inquires. Today’s luxury properties have to be uniquely and carefully marketed—and that takes time, attention, sound business sense and devotion to professional service and results.
6.) If we work with you, what can we expect in terms of service and marketing?
The kind of professional marketing that you’d expect from a marketing executive. I create a strategic plan for selling your home. I’m willing to invest the time, effort and money to make sure your home is positioned competitively in the marketplace. If you’re a buyer, I’ll take the time to truly get to know your vision for the lakeshore lifestyle and what will best suite you. I have had the advantage of living the lakeshore lifestyle all of my life—as a former business owner and executive, I understand the intangible value that spending time away from the office and city provides. The lakeshore lifestyle is unique, but it’s not for everyone. If it’s not going to provide you with the experience you are looking for, I’m going to let you know.
7.) With the current economy, luxury buyers seem to be holding back on major investment purchases. Do you believe this is still a wise time to invest in or sell luxury property?
According to my research, lakes homes over the $500,000 range have held or increased their value during the last five years. Remember, true luxury buyers are never out of the market. But luxury homes are just that—a luxury! They’re not a necessity and that’s why how your home is marketed by your agent is so important. It needs to be presented in places that will catch buyers at the right time, mood and place. You’re selling a lifestyle, an experience, emotional comfort and freedom—not the actual property itself. It takes an agent with insight into the luxury mindset and experience in relating to luxury buyers to accomplish that.