If you’re looking to sell a luxury home and don’t know how to find an agent that’s up to the task— well then have we got an earful for you. Luxury real estate is a term that’s often overused, but let’s just keep it simple by saying we’re talking about homes that sell for over one million dollars. Depending on where you live, this might not even qualify as “luxury”, since many higher-end markets like those in New York and parts of California start luxury listings at four-million plus, according to this article by US News.
But even if you don’t know exactly how much your home will go for, finding the right luxury agent to sell your property is paramount in getting the job done. After all, this is one of the single-most important transactions you’ll ever make— and you want to be sure you’re working with someone who specializes in this type of marketplace. Read on for the three essential qualities you’ll want in the luxury real estate agent you choose to hire- and a few tips on how you can weed out the wannabes.
There’s just no way around it— real estate agents, and especially luxury agents, have to be strong marketers. With 90% of buyers finding prospective homes online, making sure your luxury agent knows how to market the home is going to be huge. What does that mean exactly? Top luxury real estate agent Pam Zaragoza of Burlingame, CA suggests finding someone who can create videos, photos, and even manage a customized website for your property listing. She also recommends finding someone who can create some really great drone content— an ever-growing trend in the field of home marketing. Have you ever seen a gorgeous bird’s eye clip of a house for sale? That’s why you need drone work.
But marketing a luxury property isn’t just about the images. When hiring an agent you should also ask where they intend to list your property (correct answer: In as many applicable channels as possible), and how much experience they have hosting upscale home-showing events— which is what your buyers will expect.
Zaragoza also brings up an interesting point as far as what differentiates a luxury agent from other agents. “You need to hire somebody that’s hyperlocal,” she says, “someone that really knows the local market.” For Zaragoza this includes someone that knows the schools, the local average commute times, and all the other little details your buyers may inquire after. Hiring an agent that’s hyperlocal means they have the capability to zero in on exactly what your buyers are looking for.
An Impressive Network
The part of real estate that isn’t marketing mostly consists of who you know, especially in the luxury homes market. Choose someone who already has a great network and you’re one step closer to getting your property sold. Luxury agent Olivier Mevellec of Dallas, TX was able to tap into his network of golf buddies to find potential buyers for his listings. Many luxury agents also find creative ways to immerse themselves in their target market, sometimes just by even setting up office in your local coffee shop once a week. Whatever your agent’s strategy for getting in touch with the right people— just make sure they have one.
While having direct client connections is great, it’s also important your agent works well with other luxury agents, especially the buyer agents. A smart seller agent has a network of connections on the other side of the industry, and ways of getting in touch with the people who have the clients looking to invest in properties like yours.
One way to figure out what circles your agent runs in is to ask if they belong to any notable organizations. Zaragoza, who is a member of both Top Agent Network and Sotheby’s International Realty uses her in-org connections to promote luxury listings, and often gets in touch with interested seller agents and their clients long before the house goes to market. Some of these organizations are so exclusive that they run on an invite-only basis, which is often determined by an agent’s number of successful sales. But beyond the numbers, it’s also a reassuring way for interested buyers to vet a selling agent’s credibility. Says Zaragoza, “brand recognition is important.” So while this isn’t the only way to determine an agent’s credibility, it’s definitely a question worth asking.
Luxury real estate really is a market of its own, which is why you want to be sure you’re hiring someone who knows the industry and will take the time to get to know your property as well. Says luxury agent Nancy Callahan of Maui, HI, “I have a sign on my desk that’s ‘Homes sell themselves. Brokers should have the best information.'”
Does The Homework
If an agent isn’t willing to take the time to get to know your property (and your values) then they probably aren’t going to be able to make you happy. Understanding the luxury market, and where your property fits into it, is a huge part of making a big sale like this happen. Make sure your agent understands you, your priorities, and the interests of your potential buyers. They should be fluent in current trends and wish-list items as well as knowledgeable on how to best highlight the most-desirable features of your home.
Homes really can sell themselves (to some extent), so be sure to find someone who is willing to do their homework on all the benefits and perks of your property. Great marketing skills mean nothing if an agent isn’t able to identify a home’s key features.
Understands The Etiquette
Just like every niche-market, luxury real estate has an entirely independent modus operandi. As previously mentioned, the agent you choose should be well-connected to other luxury agents in the industry— especially those with clients who are interested in homes like yours. Says Zaragoza of her marketing techniques, “I generally cast a wider net, but when its a speciality property, say [selling] for 10 million, I focus in on agents that I know have clients in that price range.”
Another point to be aware of is that many luxury homes are sold off-the-market, either by preference of the seller or the buyer. So you’ll want to make sure you find an agent that can handle this kind of discrete transaction and still close the deal. Sometimes this might even mean going the extra mile and throwing an invite-only open house. Zaragoza will often host what she calls a “Twilight Tour”- an evening invite-only event for top buyer agents to preview the home on behalf of their clients.
Everyone has to start somewhere, but that doesn’t mean you have to be the guinea pig client. Choose an agent who has a solid track record of closing on big sales, and it’s much more likely they’ll be able to make good on their promises to you. Certain certifications like Global Elite as well as the previously mentioned organizations like Top Agent Network or HomeLight.com make it easy to verify your agent’s sales history, but you can also always default on the time-old tradition of asking for references.