Selling luxury homes presents a unique challenge. These homes typically appeal to a narrower pool of buyers, include specialized décor and amenities that call for a certain marketing flair, and can sit on the market for a while without the right strategy. Here are our expert tips for selling luxury homes to fetch the price you seek in less time.
1. Know what you’re up against
The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing of Dallas, Texas, which since 2003 has trained real estate agents to better serve affluent buyers and sellers, said that luxury single-family homes spent a median 54 days on the market in August. (These homes had a median sale price of about $1.4 million and an average size of about 3,700 square feet.)
Compare that to the housing market nationwide during the same month, where properties had a median price of $278,200 and remained on the market for 31 days, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Luxury homes also can undergo significant price drops. Andre Young, the 54-year-old businessman and rapper known as Dr. Dre, sold his longtime Los Angeles home in August for $4.5 million after asking for $5.25 million, according to the luxury property news site Mansion Global.
Fortunately, you can get the exclusivity of this market to work in your favor. Potential luxury homebuyers know just what they want in their price range, so selling to them means being as specific as possible.
“They come in knowing that’s the price point they’re looking for… It’s just a matter of walking into the home in their taste and the location,” said Ida Schwartz, a top selling agent in Miami Beach, Florida with 18 years of experience. Schwartz, a luxury specialist, said about 70 percent of her sales are $1 million and up.
2. Work with a real estate agent who has experience in the luxury market
Having an experienced agent by your side is always a huge advantage in a real estate transaction, but for luxury clientele, the stakes are even higher.
Affluent home buyers occupy a particular niche. In 2018, 13% of homebuyers purchased homes priced at $500,000 or more; 9 percent bought homes with 3,501 square feet or more, NAR statistics show.
These sellers and buyers expect “white glove service”, Schwartz said.
“When the phone rings, they want to get a call back as soon as possible or even a pickup. They know what they’re looking for, and they know what they want. … With a high-end buyer, you really have to make sure you’re listening.”
3. Use quality photos—and tell a story
Top-notch photos can make your house sell 32% faster than a house with low-quality or average pictures because they grab buyers’ attention. “The pictures are the number one thing,” said Schwartz, who noted that many potential buyers online don’t read the listing as much as look at the visuals. “We also do a video as well, so they can kind of feel the home through a story.”
A professional real estate photographer knows just where to place the camera and what lenses to use to show off your property at its best.
4. Point out high-end features
A luxury home isn’t defined just by price. It has a prime location, such as these power markets where homes are priced at $1 million and higher, as reported in Housing Wire in February 2019:
- Maui, Hawaii
- Palm Beach, Florida
- Washington, D.C.
- Kauai, Hawaii
- Brooklyn, New York
- LA Valley, California
- Detroit, Michigan
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Boulder, Colorado
- Raleigh, North Carolina
Luxury homes might be in an exclusive or gated community or chic neighborhood, like this one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in New York City’s Murray Hill. Being designed by a well-known architect is a selling point, as are top-notch amenities and high-end finishes, which may vary by where you live.
In Miami, for instance, Schwartz touts modern clean lines or Art Deco architecture, along with brand-name appliances, tub and Jacuzzi with jets in the master bath, and lush landscaping that offers privacy luxury buyers want.
Luxury Home Digest listed several other trends for luxury homes this year, such as smart security features, smaller swimming pools (allowing for more backyard entertaining space), guest suites, pocket doors, imported design elements, and pairs of stoves, dishwashers, and washers and dryers.
Bear in mind that luxury features also are relative. Having a wine cellar, a home theater, a private elevator, a library, and heated floors are all good to advertise. But just as vital are items considered a premium in your area. For instance, in the Murray Hill apartment, having “custom closets with plenty of storage” is as much of a draw as a 24-hour doorman, laundry facility, courtyard, garage, and “roof deck with great river and city views.”
5. Check out that view!
Speaking of views, luxury buyers love a view. In Miami Beach, Surfside, Bal Harbour, and Coral Gables, it pays to mention beach and ocean views immediately. “The first thing when they walk into a high-end luxury condo is the view,” Schwartz said. “They step out to the balcony, and then they come back in and go around inside.”
When actress and singer Jennifer Lopez and ballplayer Alex Rodriguez put their 4,000-square-foot New York City condo on the market earlier this year for $17.5 million, their listing mentioned “northern and eastern exposures with Central Park and city views” within the first three lines. The condo sold in 5 months (that’s fast in the luxury world) for full asking price.
6. Measure up right
Letting in lots of natural light boosts any resale value, as does an unobstructed view. But in the luxury market, high ceilings (up to about 14 feet, compared with the more common 8.5 feet) increase your returns. Advertise not only your square footage but cubic footage as well.
7. Say if the home is move-in ready
Schwartz’s average price point is $971,000, which includes turnkey homes at $1 million and higher, and others that are considered starter homes at about $600,000 to $700,000. If you have potential buyers interested in custom finishes and fixtures, you can advertise your home as someplace they can improve little by little while living there.
However, luxury buyers typically aren’t looking for a project, so if your luxury home is “move-in ready” be sure to highlight its turnkey condition as a big selling point, especially if a big-name developer or interior designer has already worked on your home.
8. Show off the lifestyle
Florida is one of the few states with no state income tax, which entices wealthy homebuyers from other states. “We’re getting a lot of people coming in from the Northeast because of the tax advantages here,” Schwartz said.
Even if your home doesn’t have that financial allure, note points of interest nearby so that newcomers can see how swiftly they can find the high-end restaurants, shopping, and entertainment to which they’re accustomed. “So they feel like they’re part of a community,” Schwartz said. “It’s in a good area, and it’s easy to get to if they wanted to step away from the comfort of their home and discover new areas.”
9. Focus on Instagram, old school newspapers, and open houses for your marketing
Your luxury listing should make it onto all of the standard real estate listing websites and get blasted across social media…but “We do a lot of Instagram,” Schwartz said.
Instagram, which has more than 1 billion users worldwide, has become a key tool in home sales, along with Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat, according to Adweek. Instagram, with its unique focus on gorgeous photography, serves the luxury real estate market especially well. With its Carousel feature, you can post up to ten images in a single post and show the ins and outs of an entire property.
Pro tip for Instagram: your first photo should be an exterior shot of the property unless the home has some other out of this world feature like a balcony overlooking a waterfall. When in doubt, use the Clarendon filter… it’s the most popular!
Schwartz also mixes marketing on social media with advertising in publications such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, along with open houses. She’s found that potential luxury buyers like to drop in with “a little more free rein, and they can check out what they like.”
10. Speak to the market
Luxury homes aren’t just about private estates and mega-mansions anymore. As millennials become prime consumers, they tend to focus on eco-friendly products and “discreet wealth.” Other affluent buyers are looking to diversify by purchasing several smaller residences instead of a labor-intensive large one, according to the Luxury Market Report.
Promote the experience that your property can offer as opposed to just the square footage. Does it have community amenities, such as a spa? A great Walk Score placing it near cultural attractions and trendy hotspots?
11. Stage your luxury property with high-end touches
Staging can bring in an extra 5% on a modest home and up to 25% more on million-dollar luxury homes. Even if your home is neat and pristine, hiring a professional stager who can offer advice on decluttering, as well as enhancing the property with appropriate furnishings and artwork really helps to sell the luxury lifestyle.
Talk to your real estate agent about other luxury homes in your area and how yours compares on various features. Selling your luxury home might take more preparations and marketing, but under the current conditions, you shouldn’t have to wait too long to find someone whose vision aligns with your price point.
Header Image Source: (Julia Kuzenkov/ Pexels)