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How to Break Into the Luxury Home Market
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. 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?
Title: 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 titled
“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.
- What would you say about your neighbors?
- What community events occur throughout the year?
- What local shopping is available nearby?
- What are the schools in your neighborhood area?
- What are some of the best restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
- Is there access to public transportation?
- Is there a local park, playground or dog park?
- Is there a community pool or fitness facility?
- What is the crime rate in your neighborhood?
- Where are the medical clinics and hospitals located?
- What’s available nearby for entertainment (movie theaters, nightlife, children activities)?
- 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?
Title: 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Title: How to Coach Home Buyers about the Mortgage Process
I know that one of the first things you ask, when working with a new client, is if they need a mortgage to buy a home—and if they have been pre-approved for a mortgage.
If they have not been pre-approved, I’m sure you recommend that they talk to a lender (hopefully me) to make sure they qualify and at what loan amount.
However, not everyone will take your advice.
So, I wanted to share some client “scripts” that you can use that outline some of the things that lenders require.
And if you feel uncomfortable providing this information, think of this this way—it’s your commission on the line if you sell them a home and, in the end, they don’t qualify for the mortgage loan.
- Have you checked your credit score? One of the reasons to check your credit and your score BEFORE talking to a lender is to make sure all the information is correct. It also gives you a chance to increase your credit score because the lower your credit score, the higher your interest rate will be.
- Do you know where your down payment and closing costs will be coming from? Lenders need to verify that you not only have the money to close your loan, but that you have money left over (called cash reserves) after you have signed the paperwork. So, you need to keep bank statements for at least 2 to 3 months. If you are getting a gift from a relative, certain rules apply and you will definitely NEED to talk with a lender.
- Do you have a steady job or income? The loan officer will want to make sure that you have income coming in monthly to make the mortgage payments. You will usually need to provide them with paycheck stubs or investment statements showing a history of income being received. If you are self-employed, tax returns and income statements will be required.
- Why get pre-approved for a mortgage? There is a difference betweenpreapproved and being prequalified. A pre-approved means that your credit has been checked and that you have the income to buy the home. The preapproval letter is one of the advantages that you have over other buyers—especially if you get into a bidding war with other home buyers.
- Don’t stretch your budget. A mortgage payment that takes most of your paycheck can leave you strapped for cash. You may not have enough money to make repairs, have fun or for future savings.
The scripts are an easy way to advise your homebuyers without being intrusive. Please call so I can help pre-approve your homebuyers.
Title: Why You Should Let the Neighbors Know When You List a Home for Sale
So, you’ve listed a home.
The neighbors are curious.
But do you realize that the surrounding neighbors could not only be your “eyes and ears,” but also help you sell the home?
A top real estate agent suggests that you meet the neighbors.
Here’s what she does—
- Introduces herself and provides them with several flyers. Interior pictures of the home. The sales price.
- She gives them her business card and contact information.
- She asks them if they have any friends or relatives who might like to move into the neighborhood.
- If the house is vacant, she asks them to report any problems—like maybe the lights get left on or a window is broken.
Here’s the thing.
Usually, when a home is listed and sold, and based on the selling price, there tend to be other homes in the neighborhood that go up for sale. Why not be the real estate agent they know (because you have introduced yourself) to list their home?
Additionally, potential buyers sometimes talk to the neighbors to ask about the area, the activities, the schools.
Being pro-active and sharing this information will help you sell the home quicker.
Question: Do you meet the neighbors when you list a home?
Title: Are You Telling a Story When You List a Home For Sale?
Have you ever heard of the term “storyselling”?
It’s been around for a long time, but I hardly ever see Realtors using the technique when listing and advertising a home for sale.
Storyselling has two parts to it.
The selling part is describing the listing – the square feet, bedrooms, baths, lot size.
The story part is describing the emotional side of the listing – describing the interior of the home in great detail. Describing the neighborhood. The yard.
(Note: you can’t mention “it’s a great home for a large family,” or that the home is a great “singles” home (due to discrimination laws).
How do you start the story?
By asking the seller questions!
Why did they buy the home in the first place?
What shopping, parks, schools are in the area? The arts? Restaurants?
What do they like about the neighborhood? Dislike?
What are the best features of the home? ( Awesome kitchen island where everyone can sit and talk while cooking. Large windows to view the bird feeder in the back yard. Master bedroom separated from other bedrooms. )
What improvements have they made but, more importantly, why?
In addition to posting photos/videos, here are some suggestions from the storyselling marketing pros:
MLS listing – Within the “more information” section, start with the story first and then list the features of the home that you wish to point out.
Social Media – Engagement is the whole reason to post listings on social media. Start out by asking a question. Example: Have you read the story about…why the seller purchased the home…or what the seller likes about the neighborhood…or what improvements have been made to the home.
It’s a waste of time and advertising dollars if you just post photos and info about the house if you don’t tell the seller’s story.
Open Houses – Prepare an open house flyer and start with the story.
Your Information – Instead of the usual (I’m a top-producing Realtor, won these awards, been in the business for umpteen years), I suggest that you re-write your “resume” so it tells a story too. Why you got into the business. Your niche market. What you specially contribute to the real estate transaction (and not just “good service”).
It’s not about promoting yourself. It’s not about the listing.
It’s about adding “value” that creates an emotional connection between the home and the potential buyer.