In my last blog, I talked about pricing and selling tough to sell properties. Many readers reached out with great comments about how much they enjoyed the blog. Also, many of you sent me emails sharing how much anxiety you feel when listings don’t sell, and how much you worry about it. Almost to the point of not wanting to take more listings.
If you feel that way or have ever felt that way, you are not alone. It’s tough to be the bearer of bad news in any situation.
Not long ago I had several of our top producing luxury coaching clients who all called me in the space of a week, to ask me what else they could do to get their luxury properties sold. I decided to put them on a call together to let them brainstorm ideas. It was a great call, and I thought that for this blog you might enjoy reading an excerpt from that transcript.
Ernie, maybe you’d like to lead us off because I know you do some pretty intense property launches, and maybe you can talk a little bit about that and we’ll just go down the list and let everybody, maybe share their best 2 or 3.
So just to refresh, it’s not so much about what we sell the sellers on, the sizzle. It’s more about the actual meat of getting that property exposed on the market to drive the right kind of traffic. So, Ernie, would you like to go first?
Surely. You know, earlier in the call, you had thrown on the table the idea of what we must do to attract the buyers in the current mindset of the marketplace, and I feel that compelling images is where it all begins for us.
We spend a lot of time and focus on professional photography and the quality of that photography, but not only good photographs, being artful in the way they’re presented, and also, looking for the uncommon element. It’s so typical when we see what buyers must be faced with when they start their home search on their phone or on their home computer.
A typical parade of homes. It starts with the front exterior, and then you have entry and living room and all of that. We try to really mix that up. We consider what might be the most intriguing, uncommon, beautiful element of our property, and start with that to capture attention, and to not be like the rest of the crowd. And then, we give to the viewer the procession of rooms.
I do believe less is more. If I’ve got a 5 bedroom house, I’m only showing 2 bedrooms in photos. I am not going to show all 5 bedrooms. They will lose interest on the third and fourth bedroom, you know?
The only person that really wants a video catalog of every square inch of the house is the buyer who ends up buying the house. But that’s not what you’re necessarily trying to attract in your first launch. You just want to get the most attention, but not bore them. So, it starts with compelling images.
Obviously, location has something to do with the attraction of the buyers. They usually are looking in a geographic location, and then, of course, price. But, I think it all starts with imagery.
Okay. Lorie, anything you want to throw in there?
I think that my struggle is that–we’ve got a great launch.
We’re known in our community for our marketing, which makes us even more interesting. So, we really do a great launch as well.
I really like what Ernie just said about the artful and uncommon photos. Particularly, right now, I am trying to market the $6 million property in Hope Ranch, which has been very busy.
You probably heard about the struggles we’ve had with our weather and our mudslides, and we’re on high alert as we speak, but a lot of people are focusing on this area of Santa Barbara, which is Hope Ranch.
So, it’s after the launch. It’s after gorgeous photography. It’s after gorgeous brochures. It’s after the beautiful, aerial, glowing videos and videos. That’s really what I’m looking for, to see what you guys are doing to keep the focus on the property, or to get it out to the target market.
We are doing some Facebook target marketing. Really trying to think outside of the box. But those are the conversations that I’m looking to have.
Okay. Boris, any thoughts you want to add to that? So, once it’s launched on the market, the ongoing marketing effort.
I guess I just wanted to quickly go back and add to the launch. I think besides the compelling imagery, you have to have a compelling description. That’s just as important. So, those are the two components that I feel are the most important.
Basically, it comes down to positioning the property correctly.
In my opinion, if you position the property correctly and you have the great launch and then the property is just sitting on the market, then you just have to reduce the price. But, to do that, you have to keep the lines of communication very open with the seller. And you have to report to the seller as to what’s going on, etc. But really, all the sexy advertising that you can do, and the Facebook ads that you can do and everything else, it’s really to keep the seller happy, but I don’t think it produces any noticeable effect on the outcome. In rare cases, it could, and it does sometimes. As long as the property is positioned correctly, as long as it looks good everywhere it is exposed, and it does not just look good but it catches the attention of the right type of buyer.
I guess, the other idea behind compelling images, as Ernie said, then the compelling awarding. What you have to do is, when you list the property you have to imagine the type of buyer that’s going to buy it, and then when you direct the images and when you write the description, you have to almost speak to that particular buyer, and that works. But, personally, I’m not sure if there’s anything that you can do to keep the property from–Lorie, is this a specific property that you have right now that’s not getting any showing, no activity, and you’re trying to stir things up?
It’s getting very little activity, and yes, I’m trying to stir things up.
So Boris, a couple of thoughts on that, though. I’ll just throw this out to you guys that things I’ve seen work, but of course, nothing’s a miracle cure, but in certain high-end areas I’ve noticed that sometimes you have buyers where the location is not the most ideal, and they move up, they move up to a better location. But, I’ve noticed that in some high-end markets that their best feeder can potentially be neighbors in smaller or less expensive properties.
Sometimes mailings to those people, or inviting them to a sneak preview, for those neighbors has created some transactions in the 4, 5, 6 million dollar range, and then, also, what I’d be curious is, I remember coaching a lady, and Ernie, it’s been so many years. I cannot remember her name. She retired since in Malibu. And one of the things that she said was her best method of selling her properties there is, she had a little core group of about 10 agents or so that kind of did all the business in town, and they had a standing conversation every Friday where they joined each other on the phone and just talked about their properties, and their buyers, and they called it “Let’s Make a Deal.” They would have conversations like, “Okay, well, this one will take a lease option if you do it now, and this one will drop, I think, if you can get a quick closing,” and they would just brainstorm this tight little group.
They were all competitors, but they knew they needed each other in that small market, and her thought was that was one of the most productive prospecting activities and one of the best things she did to get her listings sold.
Ernie, do you have any thoughts on that?
Well, you know, for you Debbie, and the group, I’m inspired by hearing that idea. We do have that in Beverly Hills, and we have two network groups that have met. But I must tell you, because of the market pressures in the last couple of years, we used to meet every other Thursday at a property. We would briefly tour. We would sit in the living room and share all of our “Let’s Make a Deal” opportunities. And it hasn’t disbanded, we now just email each other, but I love the idea that you just launched. I think, just like- this is a conference call among agents in various areas and different specialties and focuses.
I’m going to try and start that among my group because it sounds quite opportunistic to me, and much easier to get on a group conference call, like we’re on right now, rather than getting to a location, everybody settling in and saying their niceties. Who of us has that amount of time anymore? We just don’t.
So, a quick, efficient conference call among elite agents that have good properties to exchange, I think that’s something that I’m going to attempt to implement here and I’ll report to you and let you know how it goes.
And Ernie, I saw once-and, you know, we all know those shows are ridiculous, but I happened to be on the elliptical and it was on, “Selling New York.” And sometimes I just love watching that stuff because I like to see the properties and see the price points, and they did actually have something they were doing that was interesting, which is taking a select group of those types of agents or brokers and inviting them over, special and specific, and taking turns looking at each other’s higher-end listings and critiquing them, then selling that as a benefit to the seller. They would say, “You know, I’m going to bring in the top five agents.
We all work closely together. And they’re going to give us their thoughts or feedback on the home, and I’m going to share that with you.”
Debbie, I’ll just say that your idea, on networking with the other top agents is a really great idea, and we have just started doing that.
We’ve always had a sort of top 100 in our community, go-to agents that we do our special invitations to and we do our previews, but I really like your idea of kind of pulling that down to, in my case, the top elite agents in this Hope Ranch area, of which there’s probably about six of us. So, I think that’s a great idea and that’s a great takeaway.
Another thought I had is, what about two guys – this is something I used to do. It works really well for me and it just seems so basic, but I always had a printout laying on my desk, it was alphabetized, right out of my CRM, of all of my past clients and sphere of influence. So, not miscellaneous, random leads, but the good quality people.
What I would do is, whenever I took a new listing, I would always go to that list, and I would try to identify five prospects. Now, not that they were for sure saying they were hunting for a home, but five where, they could potential move up into that property, or five that might know someone for that property, and it just became a go-to. Who are my top five that I should reach out and talk about this?
I have a question about how – one of the things I think you can do to sell a property that’s not moving is, when there is a showing on the property, you can do it better, and I’m wondering if you have any ideas about how to conduct a showing in a way that maximizes the buyer’s interest.
Boris, that’s a great question, and Ernie is an expert at that. He is obsessed with how his properties are shown, and really trained his team.
So Ernie, any thoughts or tips you’d share there?
Well, I believe this is a good group we have on the phone, and I may not be telling them anything or sharing anything that you don’t already know. But we spend so much time, money and effort on trying to get the buyer to our listing, and then what happens often is, I’ve watched some of my colleagues- they’ve gotten the buyer there, and then they’re just terrible showing hosts. So, all of this preparation, but I think understanding that it continues at the showing is key. And what I teach my group is that the showing occurs before you get to the house.
Here, in Los Angeles, it’s a car city, so it may not be appropriate for Boris in Toronto, if he’s selling a metropolitan city-side location, like New York City, but for Santa Barbara, this may be true. Cars are how people are going to arrive, and I think that the agent cars should basically be invisible.
I can’t believe how many top agents pull up to a showing and park their car right in front of the house. What a big mistake.
The buyer should have the premium parking space, and should not have to navigate around the agent cars at the showing. So, that’s one of the first things I teach people – is, get the preparation before the buyer even gets to the front door, of how their arrival is going to occur.
And then, as you said Debbie, I try to be gracious and very mannerly, with etiquette, and connect with the buyer, even if they’re coming with their own agent, of course. I’m very respectful of the agent relationships. But, I don’t let people just wander through a house.
I expect some cooperative elements, and I’m not going to bore them with a tour and open every closet door. I think that’s also a mistake most agents make. You should be able to read what the buyer wants to see and know, and what they don’t need or don’t care to know, and monitor yourself accordingly.
Most agents just start on some sort of resided speech that they feel everybody wants to know. Not every buyer’s the same. Some buyers want to know every detail. Others just want to see the rooms and how it lays out. So, the agent should be very sensitive to what the buyers’ reactions are, and the body language will tell you.
But, I don’t let a buyer just wander on their own. I guide them, get them started, and once I feel like I’ve oriented them to the space and the house, I then give them the freedom to explore on their own. However, I’m always nearby because I feel that, as agents, we are the monitors and protectors of our listings, and, you know, this is the public that we have walking through our house.
So, I have to think of the listing as if I was the owner, and my agent was letting people walk through, what would I want? Well, I’d want them kind of keeping an eye on things and hearing what’s exchanged, but not having to hover too much.
Well, guys, I want to be respectful of your time, and I know we’ve almost been on an hour.
Truly, you guys are the top teeny, tiny fraction of the top quarter of the percent in the nation, thank you for being on this call.
If you want more guidance on how to grow your luxury real estate practice, you can learn more about the Institute’s training options here.
Thank you- great information and thought-provoking also.
I had to smile- my Mom was my mentor in this business and the comment about not parking in front of the property is time-tested and good advice! I remember her telling me that.
This kind of market creates challenges for both buyers and sellers. For sellers, it’s not just about the price, but also about getting the terms you want. For buyers, there are definitely things you can do to increase your chances.