Luxury Home Marketing Tips

Chinese Nationals Buy Luxury US Real Estate Via Social App WeChat

WeChat1

Affluent Chinese nationals are scrambling to invest their wealth in US real estate. As of last year, Chinese consumers are the biggest foreign buyer of US real estate, and they’re the nationality willing to pay the highest prices for their properties. Chinese nationals are also the largest group of luxury consumers in the world, accounting for 32% of global luxury consumption. But with traditional avenues of engagement such as Google and Facebook being banned in China, how do US real estate professionals tap into this high-volume, high-demand market? Believe it or not, one solution might be found in a smartphone app.

WeChat Connects US Brokers With Chinese Buyers

You’ve likely never heard of WeChat, but this social app currently boasts 650 million predominantly-Chinese users. (That’s more than double the population of the United States of America!) Launched by Chinese internet giant Tencent in 2011, WeChat is a one-stop super-app that enables users to do pretty much anything: watch movies, share photos and videos, play games, chat with friends, call cabs, buy clothing, and offer personal loans.

Not only has WeChat had a profound impact on Chinese internet culture and mobile usage, but it’s now becoming something of a gateway between US real estate professionals and Chinese buyers.

Because a flight from the east coast of China to New York City takes a staggering 15 hours, many Chinese prospects are understandably hesitant to personally visit US properties. Instead, some are choosing to carry out the entire process through WeChat—going from initial contact with a US broker all the way to closing without ever setting foot in the country, let alone the purchased property. Significantly, the real estate being bought and sold via WeChat falls within the luxury bracket; a recent Business Insider article features interviews with US real estate professionals who’ve used the app to sell properties worth up to $5million.

How You Can Attract Chinese Buyers On WeChat

If you’re considering getting a WeChat account to tap into the Chinese market, here is some information to get you started.

  • It’s free! Like Instagram or Twitter, it doesn’t cost anything to create an account on WeChat.
  • Blog to build trust. In order to bridge the great distance between agent and prospect, use your WeChat account as a personal blog. In addition to posting your listings, share personal thoughts and photos from everyday life to reassure prospects that you are a real, trustworthy person. A strong personality on WeChat will lead to sales.
  • Virtual tours. Real estate professionals can share photos, walk-through videos, blueprints and other information to “show” a property via WeChat. Clients may also have locally-based representatives tour properties on their behalf.
  • To make communication easier across a massive time difference, you can leave voice messages via WeChat, which your clients can respond to the next day.
  • All digital. Once a deal reaches its final stages, a legal representative will cement your digital communications as binding and send an electronic version of the contract to the client.

Want to know more about working with the affluent Chinese buyer? Checkout The Institute's upcoming Member webinar, on December 17th at 3 pm Central Standard Time. Members of The Institute can register at www.LuxuryHomeMarketing.com/webinars.


The All-Black Kitchen Makes A Statement In Luxury Homes

2015 design trends move away from the all-white kitchen

Luxury Kitchen - Modern Rustic

 

In addition to being a hub of family and social life within the home, kitchens are an important way for homeowners to make a statement about their property, identity, and taste. As a result of their place at the heart of a home, kitchens are the second most frequently remodeled room in the house—second only to bathrooms. This year, the pendulum has swung away from the popular all-white kitchen and toward the opposite extreme: the black kitchen.

Kitchen Design Goes Over To The Dark Side

In 2015, bright-red cabinets and white tile are being eclipsed by darker colors. The beginning of this trend can be seen in the stunning 2014 Kitchen of the Year, designed by designer Steven Miller for the San Francisco Decorator Showcase, which featured all-black cabinetry, dark tile backsplashes, and a steely grey ceiling. But why the turn toward darker hues? Black kitchens—or ones dominated by other dark shades—make a statement about the home and its owners: bold, strong, sleek, and luxurious. This design idea is particularly fitting for the luxury homeowner who craves a high-end kitchen that leaves a lasting impression.

Here are a few tips for incorporating darker tones into luxury kitchen design:

  • Cabinetry or countertops are perhaps the easiest way to introduce dark tones into the luxury kitchen. If all-black cabinets seem overwhelming, why not balance them out with a white marble countertop or soften the look with distressed or textured wood?
  • To darken the kitchen further, consider bringing in black or dark-colored appliances.
  • Dark wood flooring. If you want to go black but worry that the look will be too overwhelming, dark wood floors are a fantastic way to give the space a warm, rustic feel.
  • Black and green. Perhaps the only look more luscious than an all-black kitchen is a black-and-green kitchen. Apartment Therapy suggests this color combination as a way to make the black kitchen warm, earthy, and even more unique.
  • Look books. The internet is brimming with image-rich resources. Use these to show your clients just how stunning their high-end, on-trend black kitchen could be. (For example, check out this Pinterest board.)

2015 Leaders in Luxury Marketing Awards Winners

Thank you to all those who submitted entries for this year's Leaders in Luxury Marketing Awards. We were blown away by the amount of entries submitted, and what our members have accomplished. Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Leaders in Luxury Marketing Awards.

IMAGE-0524

Jennifer Egbert, Dawn Thomas, Christine Battista, Carl Battista, Norka Parodi, Patrick Ryan

2015 Best Agent Market Report

Winner: Dawn Thomas, Dreyfus Sotheby’s International Realty, Palo Alto, CA

2015 Overall Excellence in Personal Marketing

Winner: Jennifer Egbert, JP Egbert Associates, Modern Luxury Real Estate, RE/MAX Alliance; Boulder, CO

2015 Best Marketing Campaign for a Property

Winner: Norka Parodi The Norka Group, Boca Raton, FL

2015 Outstanding Personal Achievement

Winner: Patrick Ryan, Ryan Residential, Related Realty Chicago, IL

2015 Best Marketing Video

Winner: Carl Battista & Christine Battista, The Battista Team, Keller Williams Denver Tech, Denver, CO

Watch for more on these winning entries in upcoming blog posts. Also watch for a webinar in the next few months featuring the marketing award winners’ entries.


The Luxury Shed: So Much More Than A “Man-Cave”

She Shed
I know what you’re thinking: luxury shed? Sheds have historically been used as a place to store farm equipment, garden supplies, firewood, and seasonal sports equipment. Not so long ago, you would’ve been more likely to find a possum in a backyard shed than someone reading a novel on a rainy day! But you can forget the corrugated metal and plastic siding. Luxury homeowners today are recasting backyard sheds as a vessel for their dreams, built and decorated with the same attention to detail and quality of materials as the main household.

You Call That A Shed?

A “man cave” is a room in the house dedicated to a male head of the household—essentially a no-girls-allowed clubhouse for adult men. The trend of tricked-out sheds really took flight when homeowners began moving these so-called “man caves” out of the house and into the outdoors. The women’s equivalent, which some refer to as the “she-shed,” is becoming increasingly popular.

In general, luxury sheds are designed to provide a private hideaway for working or relaxing. (Because sometimes being behind a locked door in the same house just isn’t enough space!) Sheds also offer an opportunity for homeowners to attain the home of their dreams. If the existing floor plan doesn’t have a room with adequate space or privacy for one of the homeowner’s needs, a luxury shed can offer the perfect solution.

Some of the most popular uses for luxury sheds:

  • Cozy, private reading room complete with coffee maker
  • Gardening shed and greenhouse for growing things year-round
  • Master bathroom expansion (if you want the bath to be really relaxing, put it in a different building)
  • Woodshop, workshop, or hobby space
  • Artist’s studio for painters or sculptors
  • Recording studio
  • Backyard home office
  • Adult tree house (for the young at heart)
  • Backyard bar or cocktail lounge

Endless Possibilities

For luxury real estate professionals, sheds are a way to expand the client’s possible uses of a given space or piece of property. If you are showing a home and the client says they are looking for something closer to the forest, why not suggest a luxury shed in a secluded wooded corner of the property? If an existing luxury home doesn’t have the right space for a bar and lounge, a private office, a craft space, or a recording studio—why not inform your client about the endless possibilities afforded by luxury sheds?

The best part? They are affordable, comfortable, and customizable. Because of their small footprint, sheds can be built virtually anywhere and erected in a matter of days.


China’s NWBs: Coming to a Luxury Home Near You

According to NAR’s 2014 Profile of International Home Buying Activity, China is the second largest source of international buyers in the United States. Chinese buyers rank first in terms of dollar value of sales because they most often buy high-end luxury homes. The recent drop in Chinese stock markets, however, wiped out an estimated US$3.35 trillion of wealth. Where U.S. luxury real estate professionals are concerned, these turning economic tides might bring a change in clientele.

What’s an NWB?

Have you heard of NWBs? If not, you should make yourself familiar. The world’s fastest growing wealth segment is that of the NWBs—or “new wealth builders”—who hold financial assets between US$100,000 and US$2 million. While high-net-worth individuals (those with more than US$2 million in assets) accounted for US$43 trillion in global wealth last year, the NWB segment accounted for more than US$88 trillion. Translation: NWBs have a total of double the wealth of high-net-worth individuals! China’s NWBs, in particular, are amongst the world’s wealthiest and fastest growing economic group. It is estimated that China’s NWBs will hold double the wealth of American NWBs by the year 2020.

Most importantly, China’s NWBs seem to be fairing the economic storm better than most, and they are consequently in search of investments that protect their wealth, appreciate over time, or provide stable revenue streams. This makes them prime prospects for luxury real estate professionals in the United States.

Chinese NWBs: What They’re Looking For

A recent McKinsey Quarterly report shows that 69 million Chinese citizens possess the wealth to invest in U.S. properties. This figure is expected to reach 220 million by 2022. These numbers will likely yield an uptick in the number of Chinese buyers who invest in luxury homes abroad. In general, Chinese buyers are likely to be looking for these key features in U.S. real estate:

  • Great educational institutions. As far as Chinese buyers are concerned, education is king.
  • An expanding market with room for new businesses. Chinese buyers are looking to set down roots, and many want to open a business in the U.S. city where they buy a home.
  • Long-term ownership. Property laws in China effectively dictate that individuals hold long-term leases on properties, but can never fully own them. Chinese buyers want to own their homes outright so that they can pass them from one generation to the next.

Amongst Chinese buyers in general, NWBs are unique. Here are some things that luxury real estate professionals need to know about them:

  • Compared to individuals in the higher income bracket, NWBs are younger, more internet savvy, and more likely to rely on online resources when making investment decisions.
  • Chinese buyers take six months to research properties before they begin visiting and making purchasing decisions.
  • NWBs are more likely to look for investment opportunities in secondary cities.
  • NWBs are likely to only visit properties or work with real estate professionals that were visible online (and behind the Great Firewall of China).
  • Chinese prospects prefer to do their research in Chinese, on websites hosted in China.

China’s NWBs seem to be fairing well amidst economic upheaval and will likely be looking to make stable, long-term investments in foreign markets. For luxury real estate professionals, marketing your services and listings on Chinese sites will be paramount for reaching this growing group of international prospects.


Have you met the HENRYs?

If not, let us introduce you. The HENRYs are High-Earners-Not-Yet-Rich households who represent an increasingly important consumer group with strong spending power today and the potential of becoming wealthy. Not defined by age or occupation, they are identified by income. HENRY’s represent a growing group of homebuyers who, in many cases, can afford high-end homes.

Defined as consumers with combined household incomes between $100,000 and $250,000, HENRYs come in all age groups (no, they are not all young). They are excellent prospects for luxury home purchases, beginning at the entry level of luxury and moving up. About 25 million U. S. households fall into this category. That’s about 20% of total households. More important, HENRYs make up about 90% of the affluent consumer market.

HENRYs

HENRY’s are also a key market segment for luxury Realtors. In almost any spending category, the affluent top 20 percent account for about 40 percent of total consumer spending, as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this group may not be buyers and sellers of homes in the double digit millions, they are often buying in the top 10% of the market. And – they may get richer!

Here are a few characteristics of HENRYs which Unity Marketing has identified:

  • They appreciate a high level of service and want to work with pleasant people
  • They respond to stories. What stories are you telling about your listings?
  • They are executives and managers and they don’t leave their smarts at the office. They are careful buyers and their bragging rights come from making a good deal. So, think VALUE and remember that a good deal isn’t always lowest price. 
  • They buy premium products. Is your service premium or standard?

How do you find them? How about using one of your Institute for Luxury Home Marketing member benefits to acquire target lists of HENRYs in the geographic areas you serve. You can select by income, education level, family size and other criteria. Then, farm the list with a market update report, and other information rich materials. HENRYs represent great potential in the high-end market for SLREPs (Successful Luxury Real Estate Professionals)!


Losing buyers due to poor headlines?


NowhereCreating a compelling headline requires more thought than using the street address as your property marketing headline. In fact, using the street address as the headline is one of the biggest mistakes real estate professionals make. It’s also ineffective. Unless the address is the most important thing about the home (1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for instance), use the street address elsewhere in your copy and begin to tell the home’s unique story in your headline. For instance, which headline is more likely to generate interest?

“7432 Johnson Drive”
or
“Just featured in Architectural Digest...yet only $750,000.”

Will a reader be more likely to want to know more about,

“1030 Edgewood”
or
“Small house, small price, BIG yard!”

Don’t be afraid of long headlines or long copy. If it’s good copy, it will be more effective than short copy. Yes, really. Advertising research backs this up, especially if you are writing about a product – like a property listing - that not everyone is familiar with. We’ve been taught in real estate to keep copy short, when in fact, we’d be creating more effective marketing pieces if we’d work to tell a compelling story about the home with plenty of descriptive copy. Here’s a combination headline and sub-headline that illustrates these principles. 

Your offer to buy must come with this promise:

  • I will appreciate the sweeping lake views, 
  • I will open the master bedroom wall and sleep under the stars, 
  • I promise not to gloat too much over the $445,000 price reduction!

This is likely to be more effective at attracting a buyer than, “1657 Hill Crest Lane.”

As you write your copy, do break long copy into short paragraphs and use some bold paragraph headings to help tell the story and create visual interest. Also, be sure there is plenty of white space between the lines. You can even use long copy online, if you format it so that it is reader friendly. Obviously your MLS descriptions have to be short. But don’t use MLS blurbs elsewhere, instead use good selling copy.

You should be getting the idea. In summary, headlines should begin to tell the story of your listing and should create curiosity. One advertising text book says that your headline should capture the reader and make them want to read the subhead and the subhead should pull the reader in to read the body copy.

Think about it this way: every home has a story and it’s your job to tell it in a compelling way. The headline is how you grab the reader’s attention by sharing something important about your listing. And once you’ve captured attention, don’t be afraid to use enough copy to weave your home’s story. After all, stories sell.


A mini-movie for Valentine's Day

Romancing your listings is something we teach in our Institute for Luxury Home Marketing two-day training class. Other purveyors of luxury products and services strive to romance their products, too.

Since today is Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d share a marketing mini-movie with you, one that’s all about romance. Here is uber- jeweler Cartier’s latest mini-movie (actually, it is a composite of three mini-movies which you can also view individually):

(View video on YouTube)

In our opinion, Cartier knows how to tell an effective story that ties emotion and their jewelry together with a big red bow.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Benchmark your real estate marketing against North America’s award winners

Each year in advance of our ILHM Leaders in Luxury (LIL) event -- for members who have achieved Million Dollar Guild status by working successfully at the million dollar and above price point -- we invite attendees to submit their best marketing efforts. Last year in Seattle over one hundred and twenty North American professionals specializing in luxury real estate gathered for networking, educational sessions and to see how their marketing techniques compare to the best in the business.

Here’s our list of award winners from last year– those we think are setting the benchmark for outstanding marketing. 

  • Best Property Marketing
    Ed Kaminsky of Shorewood Realtors, Manhattan Beach (CA)

  • Best Personal Marketing with Emphasis on Agent Branding (a tie)
    Collette Gerber of RE/MAX Select Properties, Vancouver (BC)
    Raziel Ungar of Burlingame Properties, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Burlingame (CA)

  • Best Market Update Report
    Friley Saucier of Premier Sotheby’s International Real Estate, Naples (FL)

  • Outstanding Personal Achievement (a tie)
    Mike Brodie of Keller Williams Realty, Plano (TX)
    Diane Kink of The Kink Team, Keller Williams, the Woodlands (TX)

If you are planning to attend Leaders in Luxury this October 28-30 in Denver, be sure to submit your Marketing Awards entry so that we receive it by Tuesday, September 30th. You may be this year’s winner!

MarketingAwardsColette Gerber’s property marketing cards
are oversized and feature outstanding copy.  
Mailing them in an envelope adds perceived value.

ILHM members who’d like to take a close look at the winning entries should tune into our end-of-summer webinar on Thursday, September 4, 2014 when Laurie Moore-Moore will review the winners’ entries. Watch our email for the webinar invitation and register.

Tune into the webinar for more details.