Real estate agents who have successfully carved niches serving high-end clients know the dos and don’ts of making it in this discretionary market. They say the unspoken rules are quite different when catering to a luxury clientele. These are some of those not-to-be-ignored nuances.
Privacy, discretion, trust
Privacy and discretion are high on the priority list for ultra-high-net-worth clients, according to “The delicate rules of serving luxury clients under the radar,” published September 2, 2016, on Inman.com. Often these clients like to stay under the radar. So, while an agent might engage in open and chatty conversation with many clients when they run into them out in public—while shopping, for example—that same agent should likely exercise discretion with a high-net-worth individual. A smile, eye contact, and brief conversation tend to be better than an animated, long-winded chat.
Often because of their high net worth, privacy is a big deal in the luxury market. These clients, whether buying or selling, expect agents to respect their privacy, according to an article published on Inman.com, September 1, 2016, by Kevin M. Leonard, founder of Luxury Agent and Valore Group.
The privacy aspect is relevant when it comes to how an agent markets high-end properties and networks with luxury market clientele. For example, Inman.com reported, effective networking isn’t best in community cafes or other public meeting places. Rather, agents should go, seamlessly, to where potential high-end clients go. Philanthropic events can be great networking opportunities, as well as boat shows, art exhibits, or luxury car shows.
Marketing high-end customers’ properties should include all the important bells and whistles, but using class and tact demanded by most luxury clients. So, while social media should be part of the strategy, the social media communication should be low key and “delicate,” according to Inman.
One thing that’s common in the non-luxury market but rarely happens when marketing high-end luxury residences is the open house. Often, high-end clients don’t want people who they haven’t vetted coming through their properties. While agents might offer a few select brokers a tour, traditional open houses in this market generally are no-nos.
Often, according to Leonard, high-end clients will have done their due diligence before hiring a real estate agent. As a result, agents who want to gain the trust of these discretionary clients should have good track records and reputations for handling high-end transactions.
On their terms, with their people
Communicating with luxury clients often means communicating with their staff. These gatekeepers include the house manager, attorney, and others who assist with the daily lives and business transactions of the ultra-rich. It’s important for the real estate agent, according to the September 2 Inman.com piece, to gain the trust of the client’s team.
It’s also important not to disappoint. That means being accessible. Agents told Inman.com that it might be necessary to have a team handling high-end clients to provide cover if the main agent is away or unavailable.
Upscale clients want agents who understand what’s important to high-net-worth people. An agent’s understanding of the luxurious lifestyle, whether that has to do with fine wines, boating, travel, or other interests, helps to gain client engagement and trust.
Finally, these tend not to be emotional transactions
Another important distinction between high-net-worth clients and others buying and selling properties is the process tends not to be an emotional experience for those in the luxury market. Rather, a residence may be one of many in a client’s portfolio or a business or lifestyle decision, according to Inman. Agents should understand what their clients are looking for and why and have that information readily available when the client agrees to take a look.