Real estate agents who excel in luxury property sales abide by many of the same tenets as their mainstream colleagues. But selling high-end homes to celebrities and the richest of the rich takes those tried-and-true selling strategies to higher levels.
Native San Franciscan Justin Fichelson has carved his niche in San Francisco’s luxury real estate market. A star on Bravo’s former reality show Million Dollar Listing San Francisco, Fichelson’s bio boasts a roster of exclusive clients, including founders of Silicon Valley’s top companies. He credits that success to having unparalleled knowledge of the Bay Area’s market and being a master networker who not only knows the movers and shakers but who also is “personally friends with them,” according to his bio on BravoTV.com. Real estate is about relationships, according to Fichelson, who is immersed in the Bay Area lifestyle. He’s a constant on local society pages, attends charity galas and serves on committee boards. A luxury real estate agent is a matchmaker, matching properties to buyers’ personalities and styles.
That’s only possible when the agent understands everything about a city, town or area. In an interview with Forbes.com, Fichelson said every neighborhood in San Francisco has a distinct character and people often like to be among their peers. Athletes are drawn to Marina, hipsters to Mission in a couple of such matches. Successful real estate careers aren’t built on selling as much as on agents’ ability to advise clients, according to Fichelson. He knows who lives where, about the properties and how to get in touch with people and make connections even if properties aren’t formally on the market, according to the interview. Excelling in high-end real estate also developing expertise in that area, according to Danny Hertzberg, JD, MBA, of the luxury real estate sales team The Jills.
Understand luxury market nuances, influences In real estate in general, younger buyers have different real estate needs than their older counterparts. The same is true in the high-end market. Agents need to keep up with market influences and how different luxury buyer types have different needs, according to Vivien Snyder, residential broker associate at Beverly-Hanks and Associates Realtors, Asheville, N.C. Snyder said there has been a big change in the luxury second-home market because of the influence of short-term rental (sites such as VRBO and HomeAway. “The younger generation wants instant gratification and [doesn’t] want to spend money on something that is not being used,” Snyder said. “The more mature luxury buyers are looking for homes that their family will want to come visit, so they are looking for amenities or locations that will attract the children and grandchildren.”
“A good REALTOR® will find a property that suits not just what a client wants, but who a client is.” — Justin Fichelson
"The more mature luxury buyer…still wants it to be a personal experience with phone calls, face-to-face and even personal introductions into the new community…,” — Vivien Snyder
Younger buyers, according to Snyder, want a lot of communication with their agents, and the response time should be immediate. “They want to control the decisions but want the agent to keep them informed immediately on all things, including reassurance that they are making wise decisions,” Snyder said. “Most of them are high tech, and their communication style is electronic and texting.” The more mature luxury buyer, on the other hand, still wants it to be a personal experience with phone calls, face-to-face and even personal introductions into the new community through club memberships, introducing neighbors and assistance with new doctors and other professionals, Snyder said. “I find the key is to be a good listener in the beginning, ask the questions that will let you know how you can be the biggest asset to the transaction and then, over-deliver,” she said.
A technology-based marketing plan
According to Hertzberg, a well-off 20-to 45-year-old wants an agent who is tech savvy, understands social media and is able to communicate fluidly on their preferred channel or medium. “These clients understand the value of online and social media marketing to a greater extent than their older counterparts and look for an agent who is constantly utilizing the latest technological advances,” Hertzberg said. “When selling their homes, they want an agent who uses the newest marketing features to expose their home to the largest audience, across multiple platforms. When buying homes, they look for an agent who makes the process as efficient and seamless as possible; they want to receive alerts of properties that fit their criteria immediately, sign contracts digitally, and [access] all available information on their smart phones or tablets instantly.”

“When selling their homes, [20- to 45-year olds] want an agent who uses the newest marketing features to expose their home to the largest audience, across multiple platforms.” — Danny Hertzberg
To attract these clients, agents should establish a strong and genuine presence on social media, where they can interact with them through direct messaging, Instagram stories and Facebook live, according to Hertzberg. “Keep your tone conversational and incorporate lifestyle into your narrative. When showcasing properties, use drones and invest in quality property virtual tours. It is also imperative that you maintain a cutting edge website with strong SEO and invest heavily in digital marketing,” Hertzberg said.
Pricing these properties correctly is a big deal and common mistake. In fact, it’s extremely important not to set the price at the highest possible price point—even in the luxury market. Rather, luxury properties should be priced competitively or aggressively to attract buyers from the start, they write.
Get invited to the party with these tips for marketing high-end properties
Luxury home selling does require a higher level of expertise than in general real estate sales, according to a blog by real estate professionals Keith and Kyle Hiscock, of the Hiscock Sold Team.
Marketing tools for high-end properties might be similar to those in residential real estate, but the extent to which they’re used and how they’re used differ. Photos and video quality take on new dimensions with high-end properties in order to capture locations, amenities and more.
Traditional open houses generally are not a successful sales tool for luxury properties, but broker open houses can be.
Staging, done right, can help to showcase luxury homes’ amenities. For example, a home with an oversized, formal dining room should have elegant place settings to help buyers imagine fine dining events at the home, according to the blog.
Finally, agents should know that selling luxury homes might take more time than other residential property types. One reason is there are not as many buyers as in the general real estate market, according to the Keith Hiscock Sold Team.
Capture the luxury market
Engage the wealthy home buyer and seller with the right marketing techniques
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