Real estate agents breaking into the business will not find themselves at a loss when it comes to mentoring, coaching and training programs, but the options become increasingly scarce once they set their sights on high-end properties.
That’s where Michael LaFido, a broker with @properties in Elmhurst, comes in. LaFido has spent more than 20 years in the industry working in luxury sales and training agents to work in the field. In 2016, he launched his Luxury Listing Specialist (LUXE) certification program.
“I was training agents on how to sell more homes and get more listings at the time, and I ended up coaching a couple of luxury agents, and through that process, I realized there was a need for additional support for agents who want to work in luxury,” LaFido tells Chicago Agent magazine.
In addition to the courses, LaFido maintains a high profile through public speaking engagements, a podcast (LuxuryListingPodcast.com) and promotion of his book, “Luxury Listing Specialist: Dominate Luxury Listings in your Market.”
His work primarily focuses on educating agents on positioning homes most effectively for their clients. LaFido’s training also emphasizes the importance of “not being afraid to educate the seller and buyer on the market and being able to articulate that message to the consumer in a way that is honest, direct and professional.”
“Don’t tell them what they want to hear; tell them what they need to hear,” he said.
LaFido created the program partly to protect consumers, noting in a recent interview that part-time real estate agents often rely on friends and family for work but frequently are unfamiliar with many of the nuances of selling luxury property. That can lead to major problems like underpricing or overpricing a home.
They’re also frequently not proactive about marketing the property and rely on the buyer’s agent to sell the listing. “Then the home sits on the market, and they reduce the price,” LaFido said.
That not only hurts the industry by giving sellers’ agents a bad reputation, but it also can hurt the seller’s neighbors by hurting property values in the area, he said. That bad experience means the next time around, the seller may decide they can list the property on their own, which often results in sellers “leaving money on the table,” LaFido added.
“A successful agent will educate their client so the client can make a sound decision,” he said.
The Luxury Listing Specialist certification requires no previous luxury experience, LaFido said, noting that unlike his, some luxury certifications require two or three luxury sales a year to be certified. “I take a different approach and say, ‘We’ll work with you.’ We have a self-paced course we’ve created … and once they go through the 16-module course, they have access to the information for a full year,” he said.
The second half of the coursework focuses on how to compete with other luxury agents. “They are focused on now that you have this luxury listing, how are you going to get it sold so the buyer’s agent picks yours versus the competition’s? That’s something we really focus on because those upper markets are challenging,” LaFido said.
The base course for the training and designation runs $597, and an upgraded option, which runs $997, gives students additional access to nearly 300 examples of tactics and other information via word docs, PDFs and MP3s.
That’s in addition to the dozens of free podcasts available on LaFido’s website. He noted that he recently posted his 134th episode of the Luxury Listing Specialist podcast, where he talks with luxury sellers from around the world.
More information about the designation is available at luxurylistingspecialist.com, and the next live training takes place in Napa Valley on May 26 and 27. The Napa Valley event includes a wine tasting and a tour of luxury properties in the area.