Keeping a High-Profile Deal Together
I understand high-profile buyers and sellers – often, you need to have a different approach than the average buyer and seller out there. High-profile people, in general, are very accustomed to getting what they want when they want it, and I just have to make sure they understand that they are being taken care of from the moment that we start the process, from the discovery phase when we’re going through the properties, to negotiating the deal all the way up to the closing. One of the keys of keeping a deal together with clients like these is to never let anything lapse.
That being said, I feel like every deal I do I save from falling through. And I don’t like it to get to the point where it is going to fall through. I stay on top of everything up to the point where we are sitting at the closing table. Even after we’re under contract and they’re 100 percent committed to it, I will still talk to them on a regular basis and tell them what’s going on in the market, what else has come out on the market and what else has sold in the market.
It makes them feel good about what they’re doing – that is another big part of keeping these types of deals together; you need to constantly make people feel good about their purchase. My clientele, for the most part, love information, especially if it supports their decision to purchase. I feel the more knowledge that a buyer has, the more sure they’re going to feel about the decision they’re making.
Because I always make it a point to educate my clients, if they change their mind about a deal, I think it’s usually a case of “cold feet.” For instance, they might say that they don’t like the inspection report, but there’s a difference between an inspection report that says the property is falling down and a report that says there’s some maintenance issues that need to be taken care of. If somebody loves the property, I’m never scared about inspection items, because you can always take care of them. If somebody has cold feet, they’re going to use whatever they can to support their belief that they shouldn’t go through with the sale.
Sometimes, if you bring clients everything that they want too early in the game, they aren’t able to pull the trigger, so to speak, and they get cold feet. But if you show them all the other options, they almost always end up circling back to what they thought they wanted – the challenge there is to make sure the buyer feels educated about all options so they feel they are making an educated decision. Education is the key to everything, including keeping a high-profile deal together.
Something else that keeps a deal together, especially when it comes to high-end clients, is privacy. I am notoriously private about all of my clients. A majority of my deals are done before the home can be listed on the MLS, because these people don’t want it known that their property is on the market. I am working right now with a public figure in Chicago, and he has asked that it remain as private as possible, but every media outlet in the city has written about this client selling his house – everybody except Baird & Warner. The house I have is not even listed in his name; it’s in his wife’s name, and he doesn’t share the same last name. But once it’s published and public knowledge that they are selling, there’s almost no way to prevent the media from covering it.
I have to manage the expectations of my sellers, and I explain that to them that I can only do so much in terms of keeping private, because once it gets publicly listed, it is a reporter’s job to figure out who owns the property. But, while this is true, I need to make sure my client trusts that the information going public is not going to come from me – that will obviously damage the relationship. And as a matter of respect, I am private with all of my clients, not just people who are in the public domain.
In addition, selling and buying real estate is always very emotional, and I try as much as possible to respect that fact. Even for the clientele I work with who are numbers people and are able to look at business aspects of the deals, they still are emotionally attached or they are making an emotional decision selling or buying a property. I always try to support their emotional concerns and be sensitive to them.
I will give them honest information about their situation; if they are selling, maybe that means explaining that there’s no doubt a potential buyer recognized the value, quality and finishes, but they’re looking for a space that is brighter, and perhaps they couldn’t see through the rooms that are too heavily furnished for them. I then follow that up with a suggestion that I clean it up and restage it. You have to handle things very, very delicately. And actually, that’s not just high-end. I deal with that regardless of the end of the market I’m working in, and I have to really respect that this is not just business for people; this is emotional, and I have to be sensitive to that.