Many homebuyers want the same thing — a house in a community they love where they can watch their family grow. But some people are looking for something extra, whether that’s a prestigious neighborhood, exquisite amenities or a home with notable history.
The definition of a luxury home can vary by region, city and even neighborhood. Usually, the factors that qualify a home as such include price, location, quality, amenities, history and privacy. For example, a house could have average amenities for its neighborhood, but be considered a luxury listing because it was built by a famous architect.
Working with buyers and sellers in the luxury home space can come with a unique set of challenges. Linda Feinstein, a managing broker with RE/MAX Signature Homes working in Hinsdale, Burr Ridge and Oak Brook, said many Chicagoland luxury homebuyers value the history and prestige of particular zip codes more than in-home amenities like a pool or home theater.
So what should real estate professionals keep in mind when working with high-end clients? Feinstein, who has nearly 35 years of experience selling luxury homes, offered these three pieces of advice for agents working in this sector.
Be an expert on the home and the neighborhood.
Feinstein said luxury homebuyers are often set on living in a particular neighborhood, so they may have done their own research by the time you take them on a showing. Still, you should be prepared to answer specific questions about area schools, community amenities and businesses nearby. Not having an answer ready could turn a client off and cause you to lose a sale.
It’s also important to be a historian of the home you’re selling. Feinstein said giving clients thorough information on the home’s past, its designers or architects and any recent updates can help make the sale.
“Buyers will make assumptions if you neglect to tell a home’s background story,” Feinstein said. “A house may have been on the market for 14 months, which could turn a buyer off. However, if the house was going through a remodel and you share before and after pictures, they’ll realize they’re actually looking at something fresh and new.”
Because many luxury homes are historic, they may come with unique challenges. It’s important to work with a seller to ensure a house’s pipes, heating and other basic structures are modernized and up to code.
Get to know your client’s core wants and needs.
Because the prestige and history of a particular neighborhood may be a factor for some luxury homebuyers but not for others, it’s important to learn about your client’s true desires to help them find the best fit. You can learn more about their preferences by showing them a wide range of homes in different areas, even if they think they want to live in a particular neighborhood or want a specific home design.
This knowledge can also pay off when helping clients figure out if they want to make an offer or not. “If a client from Orlando wants a pool but has to compromise having a big yard, you can tell them a pool won’t be put to use in Chicago the same way as it would in Florida,” Feinstein said. “Discussing the risks and benefits of a particular property will encourage clients to home in on their true priorities and will help you close the deal.”
De-personalize luxury homes for showings.
It’s a best practice for any home seller to de-personalize their home as much as possible. “Buyers don’t want to go into a house with photos of someone else’s family all around,” Feinstein said. “They want a clean, fresh look they can picture making their own.”
Feinstein said this is often a particularly vexing problem when working with high-end sellers because they tend to be more attached to their own design choices, and it can be difficult to convince them to change their homes in time for showings. Some sellers’ tastes may be too trendy for the average buyer. You may suggest your seller work with a design or home staging consultant to help create a more neutral space.
Feinstein also suggested agents set expectations with sellers about the need to be flexible with showing availability. Since the market for a luxury home is often smaller, sellers should do their best to accommodate buyers who can only stop by at a specific time.
When working with a client who wants to buy or sell a luxury home, remember that you are the expert, and in most cases, consumers truly value your opinion. At the end of the day, a high-end client wants the same thing as any other homebuyer or seller wants — for you to create a smooth process and help them get the best deal.