Previous month:
November 2008
Next month:
January 2009

December 2008

Coming soon: Online Training

If you've always wanted to become a Member and earn the Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS) designation, but you haven't wanted to travel to one of our live training classes (or perhaps you just learn best in your pajamas and fuzzy house shoes) you'll be happy to know that very soon you'll be able to take our CLHMS training online


The online course includes the same great content you get in our full two-day live training, delivered in a dynamic, multimedia format that allows you the freedom to complete the course at your own pace, on your own schedule, anywhere you have an internet connection.

We'll be launching it in the first part of the new year. 
(We'll launch it in English, with other languages to follow).

If you would like more information and a notification when the online training is available, here's a link to our CLHMS online training notification email list.

California luxury home priced at 75,227,354 Chinese Yuan

Don’t despair.  Even though the drop in oil prices has reduced the probability that a Russian Billionaire might have an eye on your latest luxury listing, there may yet be a foreign buyer in your future. Especially if your listings are in San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Las Vegas. 

Guess who’s coming to town?   Chinese bargain hunters.  The Financial Times reports that SouFon, the organization which created the largest real estate website in China, is organizing a January trip for Chinese investors to look at properties in California and possibly Nevada.  The group plans to bring a small group over for its first bargain hunting event. 

To give you a sense of the level of interest, the company’s CEO, Liu Jian, reported that in the first 72 hours after the trip was advertised, about 300 people responded.  This is an indication that wealthy Chinese may view the US residential housing market as a desirable place to put their money (yuan).  

SouFou is reportedly owned by Australia’s Telstra and provides information on property markets in more than 100 markets. 

As international prospects grow in importance, You may wish to look for ways to develop the international niche. Remember that as an Institute member, you can join The International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI-USA) and save the application fee.  Learn the appropriate ways to deal with people of different cultures through books like "Kiss Bow or Shake Hands" by Morrison, Conaway and Borden.  Find a Title Company - like Stewart Title - that can provide interpreter service at closing and provide documents translated into foreign languages.

By the way, $1 million US converts to about 75 million Chinese Yuan Renminbi

Bush in our backyard


Well, it's confirmed.  President Bush is going to be living right in our back yard.  No, not the pool house!  He's bought a house in Preston Hollow at 10151 Daria Place (map, listing webpage)

Local real estate blogger extraordinaire Candy Evans of DallasDirt appears to have called it first and broke the story in a post a few days ago.  You can see her all her posts about the Bush home here

I guess that explains the helicopters and horrible traffic this week!

What is LUXURY and how much does it cost?


These are a couple of the questions that The American Affluence Research Center (AARC) sought to answer with its recent survey which asked affluent Americans to define a brand preference and expected price point for 37 different goods and services. 

The answer?  "It depends!"

As Ron Kurtz of AARC puts it,"The results of this new research demonstrate that surveys that attempt to measure spending on "luxury" items are useless, at best, and dangerously misleading, at worst, if "luxury" is not precisely defined by specific price points. The same appears to be true for surveys that attempt to identify "luxury" brands without specifying price points to define "luxury".

And here's why: "The affluent market, as defined by the wealthiest 10% of US households, is composed primarily of people with middle class backgrounds who continue to pursue a somewhat middle class lifestyle with middle class values. They are not conspicuous or ostentatious consumers. They spend conservatively and save carefully...with the exception of a small niche segment, this market does not appear to be very knowledgeable about the pricing and brands of products that are generally recognized by marketers as being in the higher price points associated with the luxury category."

In even simpler terms--many of the affluent in America truly are the "Millionaires Next Door"

The AARC website has more information on the Luxury Defined: What the Affluent Will Spend for Luxury study.

(In the interest of full disclosure, we do have a relationship with the AARC, which offers our Members discounts and custom packages on custom mailing lists of affluent Americans for agent and property marketing).

The Rewards of Giving


Speaking of finding success through giving back, about the time Laurie published the previous post today, I got an email from Sharon Simms letting me know that Member and Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS) Russell Lewis of AvenueOne Properties in Austin has received the Austin Board of Realtors 2008 Community Service award. 

Russell posts some of his thoughts and comments upon receiving the award.

Congratulations Russell!

The first in a series of member success stories…

Kelly Cobb
Fonville Morisey (Cary, NC)

Institute member Kelly Cobb builds success through giving

By anyone’s estimation, Kelly Cobb has had a successful, fruitful career in real estate.  It’s a career based on equal parts entrepreneurialism and hard work that spans more than two decades.  But what distinguished Cobb from her colleagues is her equally impressive career in the non-profit sector – an addiction to altruism that began just after college and hasn’t released its grip for nearly forty years.

“Good things happen when you take care of good people,” says Cobb.  “If you take care of people, the money will take care of itself.”

For Cobb, it’s more than lip service.  It’s a mantra that permeates her approach to real estate – even at the highest levels.  And she found a kindred spirit in the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing (ILHM).  One member benefit she is sure to take advantage of each year is ILHM’s Leaders in Luxury conference [the invitation-only ILHM meeting for agents who work in the million dollar plus market].

“Since joining, I’ve only missed one of the annual Leaders in Luxury events, and that was because of my brokerage company retreat!” says Cobb.  “I have been hugely impressed by the quality of, well, everything!  The exposure, the networking, the information – even the opportunity to be part of a group of such great people.”

This year, one of ILHM’s Leaders in Luxury speakers was Frank McKinney, who became a home builder shortly after he graduated from high school. “He builds multi-million dollar homes, then takes a portion of the profits and uses them to build homes for people in Haiti and in other underdeveloped countries,” explains Cobb.  “He said, ‘I think God taps certain people on the shoulder and gives them stewardship of special gifts so they can share with others.’”

“It was life-changing for me – it recommitted me to volunteer service and to improving my community for those who are of lesser means and deserve a better life.  It’s one thing to be a luxury agent and sell multi-million dollar homes and associate with the people who can buy them – but I think it’s important to remain grounded and remember that we came into this world with nothing and will leave with nothing.  It’s our job to make things better while we’re here.”

That theme of altruism is something ILHM takes to heart.  Our research, information about luxury home buyer habits and preferences, the “leg up” we give our members – it all underscores the desire to understand the needs and do what’s best and what’s right for those we serve. In this same spirit, we made a contribution to McKinney’s foundation and built two homes in Haiti.

If you aren’t familiar with McKinney, he is known around the globe as a real estate "artist," and the creative building force behind some of the world's unique mansions. A true maverick with a charming flair, he is an author, speaker, and a daredevil in the risky world of speculative high-end real estate. McKinney is nearing completion of "Acqua Liana," an opulent eco-friendly "green" mansion priced at $29 million and "Crystalina," a $30 million Polynesian green home. Another current McKinney project is a $135 million spec home, The Manalapan Residence.

Although McKinney builds new dream mansions, he lives with his family in an historic 3000 square foot home, offices in a 150 sq. ft. tree house, and is committed to his Caring House Project Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating self-sufficiency by providing housing, food, water, medical support and opportunity for the desperately poor and homeless around the world.  It is this passion of McKinney’s that sparked Cobb’s desire to increase her efforts to give back to the community.   

--Author, Julia Kennedy Jayes

How to make Kelly Cobb’s Success Your Own 

Research tells us that eight out of ten of the wealthy are involved with non-profit organizations -- often as major donors, committee members, or members of the Board of Directors. 

Getting involved with non-profits, from cultural organizations to charitable groups, allows you to give back (and that’s important), but it is also good business. If you have a cause or group you wish to support, get involved.  This doesn’t mean go to your first committee meeting and hand out your business card.  Instead, work hard, establish your professionalism, create relationships, and over time, you will establish rapport and credibility that will lead to business.  Here are some specific ideas for the “good business” of giving back.

  •  Buy a table at a charitable fund raising event and invite past clients and customers.  A great way to stay in touch in a significant way with those most likely to give you repeat or referral business. They appreciate your “buying a chair” at the event in their name. While you are there, network with others.
  • Donate a small portion of each commission check to charity in your buyers' or sellers’ names.  You can do this with each closing or all at once at the end of the year. Choose a cause you can be passionate about.
  • Create a social card – an elegant, slightly oversized card containing only your name and basic contact information (phone and email). Use this card in your volunteer activities. This allows people to get in touch without your being viewed as inappropriately pushy. 
  • Even if you don’t get involved as a volunteer, compile a prospect list of boards of directors of cultural and charitable organizations in your market.  These folks are generally affluent and may be good prospects.  Put them on your list to receive your regular Market Update Reports and begin to position yourself as a luxury home expert.

In short, as you work to give back to the community, you will also interact with those who will appreciate your willingness to give your time and energy and will be impressed with your professional approach. Over time, this can lead to the added value of generating business for you.  As Kelly Cobb believes, generous giving of yourself seems to create more abundance for you as well.