Marketing, Realtor Advice

How to Break into the Luxury Home Market

A View from the Beach

I recently read an article written by a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS designation offered by NAR), and I wanted to share some tips with you on how to break into the luxury home market.

In addition, consider studying the lifestyles and habits of the rich. A great book to read is The Millionaire Next Door, which debunks the theory that the truly rich are not who you think they are.

Get familiar with the luxury lifestyle.

  • Visit luxury homes and get familiar with the types of upgrades included—especially kitchens, baths, and landscaping.
  • Check out the garages – usually 5 to 10 stalls; finished walls and tile floors. A bathroom. Maybe even a high-end toolshed.
  • Learn the luxury brands of cars/antique cars and know what they cost to acquire.
  • Visit showrooms where high-end home finishes and décor can be found. Learn the prices and what sets them apart from standard finishes.
  • Attend high-end antique auctions. The rich look for unique items that nobody else has.
  • Attend the theatre. Join a country club. Join a boat club. Go to high-end restaurants.

Learn the luxury buyer profile.

  • Read magazines. Yachting. Car & Driver. Luxury Home Magazines. Jet Set Magazine. (Find them in your library.)
  • Read books about wealth or famous people.
  • Learn about how they acquired their wealth.

Develop excellent manners.

  • Take a course on social manners.
  • Learn table manners. How a table should be set. What silverware to use.
  • Know what food courses are in a 7-course meal.

The rich are different. Read. Listen. Learn how they think. Why they make the choices that they do. Why some like to display their wealth while others don’t.

You don’t have to be wealthy to work with rich clients as long as you can “talk their language”.

What else would you add to this list?

Realtor Advice

Questions to Ask the Seller About the Neighborhood

So, you’ve listed a home in a great neighborhood.

Have you ever thought about putting together a questionnaire for your sellers entitled:

“What’s So Great About Your Neighborhood?” 

When buyers view a home, they often ask about the neighborhood. This is a great tool that you can provide to the buyer’s agent when they request a showing.

Here are some of the questions to ask your seller. Ask them to complete.

They may not be able to answer all of them, but they can leave some blank.

  1. What would you say about your neighbors?
  2. What community events occur throughout the year?
  3. What local shopping is available nearby?
  4. What are the schools in your neighborhood area?
  5. What are some of the best restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
  6. Is there access to public transportation?
  7. Is there a local park, playground or dog park?
  8. Is there a community pool or fitness facility?
  9. What is the crime rate in your neighborhood?
  10. Where are the medical clinics and hospitals located?
  11. What’s available nearby for entertainment (movie theaters, nightlife, children activities)?
  12. What other towns are nearby?

Remember that buyers are not just buying a home. They are buying into a lifestyle and a neighborhood.

It’s one of the keys to getting your listings sold.

So, what else would you add to this list?

Realtor Advice

Who Are the Seven People Every Realtor Should Know?

Here’s the thing.

Home buyers and sellers don’t do what you do every day.

They will be looking for suggestions from you regarding a mortgage, insurance, repairs, etc.

It’s important that you vet out a great support team by interviewing them and building relationships with those people you are confident will get the job done.

When it comes to closing a real estate transaction, successful real estate agents never go it alone.

So, who are the 7 people who should be on your team?

Mortgage Loan Officer & Staff

    Not only is it important to find a loan officer who will pre-qualify your clients, it’s important that you get to know the processor and closer. Interview them and ask about hours available. Turnaround times. Loan programs. What kind of service you expect when working with them.

Home Inspector

    Home inspections can make or break a deal. Having a home inspector that is extremely thorough is important, but it’s also important that they are personable, patient and can explain things in plain language if there are questions.

Appraiser

    While you have no control over who performs the mortgage appraisal, it’s a good idea to cultivate a friendship with an appraiser if you have general questions about a listing that you are about to sign. For example, if the home is located near high-tension wires, you could ask how it affects the value of the home. This could help you price the home accordingly.

Home Stager

    Not all sellers are keen on the idea of having their home staged before it’s been listed. Find a home stager who will provide different “levels” of advice — from a few tips to a massive overhaul. Another person to add to this list might be a “De-Clutter Coach”. Most homes have too much clutter, and that might be all it takes to make the home more presentable.

Insurance Agent

    Many clients will already have an insurance agent that they work with, but consider recommending them to an “independent” insurance agent to compare prices and shop for the best coverage. Also ask how quickly they can obtain an insurance policy in case the buyer forgets to shop before the closing.

Escrow Officer/Title Rep

    Interview other agents to determine who they would recommend as an escrow agent. Find out how many transactions the escrow agent has closed and the variety of loans, cash deals, trade equities they have handled. A great escrow agent can help you get the deal closed.

General Contractor/Repair People

    These are the hardest people to find to join your referral team. A general contractor. Plumbing, heating, electrical experts. Make sure they have been in business for a long time. Make sure they are licensed. They are busy, so make sure that they will respond to your requests within a certain timeframe. Ask for referrals.

Who you recommend reflects directly on you and the way you conduct your business. It’s not always about what you know, but WHO you know.

Have their business cards available to hand out to buyers and sellers. And consider having a backup person in case they are too busy or on vacation.

Consumer Advice, Realtor Advice

Don’t Give Up on Internet Leads

Now, I’m not talking about the leads you get from Zillow or lead-generation websites.

Internet marketers will tell you that when you buy leads, be prepared to call them within 3 minutes (yes, minutes) of getting the lead. And, most of the time, those leads are either poor leads or the information is “sold” multiple times to other real estate agents.

I’m talking about self-generated leads. Leads from your website. An unsolicited email. A Google search by the client. Phone calls.

The beauty of self-generated leads is:

  • They are contacting you because they really don’t have a connection with another real estate agent.
  • If you can convey that you are “the expert” and you can build trust right away, they will be loyal to you.
  • Rarely do you have an argument about commission rates.
  • They have usually researched info about you ahead of time and that’s why they decided to contact you.
  • Consider it a long-term lead and keep in touch on a regular basis
  • They are not always 6 to 12 to 18 months out from buying or selling

When they contact you by email, your contact form from your website, a phone call — interview them!

In addition to the normal questions regarding the type of property, the dollar amount, if they need a mortgage, have they been pre-approved, ask them these questions:

  • Why did you choose to contact me?
  • What type of service do you expect from a real estate agent?
  • What type of information are you “specifically” looking for?

Set up your database. Don’t ask them how often they would like you to keep in touch with them. TELL THEM how often they can expect to hear from you.

And most importantly, call or email them when you say you are going to!

Realtor Advice

Creative Ways to Get an Offer Accepted when there are Plenty of Buyers but No Homes for Sale

It’s called “Thinventory”:  Plenty of home buyers but very few listings to choose from.

Oh, and when a home is listed, there is a mad rush to set up showings and tons of multiple offers.

So, here are some creative ways to help your buyers GET the place that want to call home.

Pre-Approval Letter:  While you may already require your buyers to get a pre-approval letter before you show them homes, there is actually more to it!

Make sure that the pre-approval letter is REAL — meaning that the lender has entered the buyer’s information into the loan approval system that is connected to Fannie, Freddie, FHA, VA or USDA.

When showing them homes, make sure the lender is available during that time to answer any questions the buyer may have regarding down payment or monthly payments.

Make sure that the pre-approval letter is from a recognized lender — and not from the Bank of the Internet. If the listing agent/seller does not readily recognize the lender, your buyer’s offer may not be accepted.

Get a pre-approval letter for MORE than they want to qualify for. When making an offer, they may have to pay more than the listing price, and if the pre-approval letter is for a lessor amount, the offer may not be accepted either.

Earnest Money: In times of stiff competition, have the buyer write out an earnest money check (even though it won’t be deposited until the offer is accepted) and present it with the offer.

Increase the dollar amount of the earnest money over and above the standard percentage to show that your buyers are very serious buyers.

Buyers’ Letter: While this may be standard practice, here are some tips to kick it up a notch.

  • Include a photo of the entire family.
  • Ask each member of the family to write something about why they want to buy that home. For children who are not able to write, get their verbal reasons and ask the mother/father to put it in writing for them.
  • Not everyone is a “writer”. Help them write/re-write the letter if you don’t feel that they have emotionally expressed the reasons the home would be a perfect fit for them.

I would love to be your lender and start out by making sure your buyers qualify for a mortgage loan.

Please share other ways that you have used to get your client’s offer accepted when there are multiple offers.