Luxury home sales — they’re more than just a price point

by Emily Mack

Quartz countertops. An infinity pool. Full-service concierge. Whether you’re in the market for a country manor or a downtown condo, modern listings are peppered with “luxury” amenities. But what counts as luxury, exactly?

The National Association of Realtors defines luxury as a price point: anything $1 million or over. Others categorize luxury as properties priced in the top 5% or 10% of their respective market. But Jennifer Ames, CEO and license partner at Engel & Völkers Chicago, has a slightly different view.

“It’s not about the cost of a big shiny object,” Ames said. “It’s about the experience.”

For many people, buying and selling a home is stressful. But recognizing that a client’s home is their most valued asset, the ethos at Engel & Völkers (E&V) is to provide an experience that is itself a luxury.

“One of the core values of our brand is consistency … we offer the same experience to all clients regardless of price point. It’s not segmented,” Ames explained. “We believe luxury is about giving great service.”

And what constitutes great service? To start, quality photography. The photos of homes listed with E&V are then presented physically through flyers and books and brochures, as well as online assets. The result is something that Ames called “luxury positioning” — whether the property is a one-bedroom condo or a penthouse.

E&V has a luxury reputation, from the firm’s sleek and spacious shops to its website, which touts the company as “one of the world’s leading service companies specialized in the brokerage of premium residential property.” As Ames said, “Sometimes candidates joining our brokerage might be concerned that their average price point is not high enough.” She insisted that it’s not a concern for the E&V team. “Our concern is about how they treat their clients,” she noted. “If they’re service oriented.”

And dedicated service goes both ways. “Another part of what we do is deliver a luxury experience to our advisors. We want to make their life as easy as possible,” Ames said. “Here, we surround our brokers with support. Just as we want them to give clients a great experience, we want to give our advisors a great experience … we have a lot more support staff than most brokerages.” It’s a boutique model that helps to deliver luxury on a big scale. After all, E&V is an international network, operating in 32 countries.

The E&V brand does especially well in affluent markets, like Beverly Hills and South Florida, according to Ames, where they regularly oversee $40 and $50 million listings. “Trophy homes,” Ames calls some of them. But in Chicagoland, where E&V maintains three shops, the market looks a little different. “There’s a Midwest mindset,” she said. “There’s not the same shininess in our market … but there are extraordinary properties. There’s extraordinary wealth, and there’s extraordinary investments in real estate.”

It’s investments like that which drive E&V’s recent “Live Your Luxury” campaign. The series of postcards features the wisdom of local E&V advisors, reflecting on what luxury might mean to their client. “There is nothing better than those small moments,” reads E&V Chicago advisor Wade Marshall’s piece, accompanied by a photo of friends making breakfast.

Another card shows a woman relaxing by the pool. Lizzie Kirchner, another E&V Chicago advisor, writes, “We all get wrapped up in the responsibilities of life. We forget that part of life is living your luxury and finding those things that make you fulfilled.”

Last month, Ames worked with a couple who were moving so their kids could be closer to their grandparents. When the family left town for a brief vacation, Ames and her team created a plan to show and sell their home all before they came back. Between the Friday and Saturday before Easter, 11 sets of buyers viewed the home, and by the end of the holiday morning, the deal was done. For that family, Ames realized, efficiency was luxury.

“Luxury is not conspicuous,” Ames says. “It’s not ballgowns and private jets … The idea that luxury can be a walk in the park or a home-cooked meal, that’s our core value. Life’s moments.”

Read More Related to This Post

Join the conversation

New Subscribe

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.