Luxury Insider: Just Between Us, Realtors…

OK Realtors, let’s pause for a minute, put our thinking hats on and brainstorm over the peculiar ways we often market high end properties these days. The discussion concerns all of us, whoever you are, whatever firm you are with, and regardless what part of the country you currently work in.

The subject is a touchy one for many of the most successful agents who like to share the info on their upscale listings with only a select few in their office as well as other top guns from the local turf. In the most desirable zip codes, a big chunk of the multi-million dollar homes remain top secret, or off limits, for over 80% of the regional agents’ roster.

This phenomenon is not new. It has been going on for nearly as long as I can remember. It is especially in vogue when the market is hot. The sentiment, among the elite, is often that there is no need to alert the thousands of agents populating the region since the top 10% or so, those who list & sell the bulk of luxury homes, are plenty enough to get the job done. Frankly, I am just as guilty as anyone for having witnessed this practice for years without raising my fingers to try to stop it.

The fact is: it is not proper to think that way and it does not serve the sellers best interest to do it. I fully realize that, for the most part, the listing agents are not the ones telling their clients to keep their listings off MLS, it is the clients who demand it, for confidentiality reasons, security reasons, or to avoid turning their homes into museums open to the public 24/7, with all the disturbance and commotion that this could cause.
Let’s identify the most notable (and regrettable?) habits which are somewhat common in the marketing of exclusive properties:

  • Listings off MLS (Multiple Listing Service) – Remember the objective of listing a property is to get it sold. Focus on the objective when presenting the argument to the seller. Alerting and cooperating with the entire MLS membership does not guarantee the sale, but it does multiply the opportunities. Everything being equal, the greater the pool of Realtors, the greater the pool of potential buyers. That’s what the MLS is all about. There is no way of knowing in advance what agent is going to procure a buyer since we don’t know who the buyer will be and where he will be coming from. If the buyer comes from abroad and learns about the listing through syndicated online sites, it is likely that he will contact the listing agent or the listing office directly, but again, there is no way of knowing. Optimizing the opportunities to connect with buyers is just plain more effective.
  • No For Sale Sign on the property – Someone was telling me last week, with a study in hands, that a For Sale Sign is the reason why roughly 10% of the buyers find the property they end up buying. I don’t know about you but, when I put my own home on the market, I sure don’t want to squander that 10% chance. Buyers may not know what kind of house they will buy but they usually know where they ideally would like it to be. Location, location, location. Trust me, if they see a For Sale Sign while driving through a neighborhood which figures on their top list, they will call and stand mentally ready to buy. Is it not what we are trying to accomplish?
  • No mention of price – Nothing irritates me more than looking at a property showcased in a fancy magazine with the caption “Price available upon request”. Am I the only one? Gone are the days when Realtors were “forcing” prospective buyers to call a real estate office since the listing info was jealously protected.  Today, it is good business to communicate any relevant information to the consumers. We no longer get them to call us because they have too little info on a listing; they now call because they have so much info that they need our expertise to help them find their way through the maze. Not to mention that it can be unnecessarily embarrassing and a waste of time to inquire about an advertised property that we assume to be worth $2 million and find out, upon calling the broker, that the price tag is $10M! I bet this apprehension alone causes 90% of the would-be-buyers not to call in the first place!

Moral of the story: don’t play hard to get by keeping the listing to yourself or some kind of a private club. We promise sellers to use diligence in trying to procure a buyer and a good offer. Let’s do just that. Real estate is a game of numbers.

By Alain Pinel