How to sell luxury homes

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.  Everyone wants to know about it, but few realtors actually talk about how they do it.  In reality a lot of realtors say they are, but in reality don’t do anything differently.  What I’m talking about is actually marketing your luxury home.

In Austin the luxury market is defined as properties over $500,000.  That’s  the upper 10% of all homes sold in Central Texas.  These can be waterfront homes, downtown penthouses, and estates with hill country views, but excludes farms and ranches.  They are mostly defined by location, but also the style and quality of finishes contributes to them being in this category, as well.

The people who buy these homes will surprise you.  I’m sure when you think of luxury home buyers the first thought that comes to mind are older people with a lot of family money.  I know that’s what I used to think.  But in reality it’s quite different.

Most of the luxury buyers who are moving to Austin are self-made millionaires.  Perhaps they are successful entrepreneurs, executives, investors, doctors, lawyers, or tech moguls.  They have limited amounts of time to spend looking for a home.  And they want to live in one of the best cities in the country.

While some of these estates are bought by people living in Austin, most  are purchased by out of state buyers (source).  And as the properties get more and more expensive, the likelihood that the buyer will come from more than 500 miles away increases significantly.

So how do these out of Texas buyers find these luxury homes?  That’s a great question.

Before I share with you how they find properties today, let’s take a little walk through history, and review how the process used to work.

It used to be that Real Estate agents would maintain a rolodex of other luxury brokers around the country.  Clients would contact an agent in their home city, and hopefully they would have a connection in the new town they wanted to move to.  These two agents would connect, share what the client wants in a home in the new city, and hopefully the agent in the new city would have something that matched.  It was the good ‘ol boy’s network at work.  And when a sale was made a referral fee was paid.

There are lots of problems with this method – they easily stand out.  What if the agent didn’t have a connection in the home town?  What if they wanted the commission all to themselves?  What if they only showed their own listings?  In the end, the buyer got a good house, but maybe it wasn’t the perfect home for them because the agents had other motives.

However, today marketing has changed.  Over 90% of all home searches begin on the web.  Buyers, even those of high end homes want to see virtual tours, PDFs of floor plans, and even cinematic movies of homes in the area they want to buy, no mater how far away they are.  They are busy professionals but want to know exactly what they are getting before they even visit  a new house.

Also, we all know that print advertising is dying.  Newspapers are folding.  People don’t have the time to read a magazine anymore, and how are out of town people going to see all the fancy ads in a local magazine when they live in a different city?

That’s why I run this blog.

That’s  why I’m active on social media.

That’s why I use the power of the internet.

The idea is to get as many eyeballs as possible on your home.  Without people knocking on your door, interrupting your life, and dirtying your carpets.

Everybody is on Facebook.  Google + is already becoming polular among real estate agents.  Blogs appear in the top 10 search results.  People check their e-mail 652 times a day.  These are the places I market luxury homes.  If your real estate agent isn’t maybe they should be (or maybe you should find a different agent).

September 2012 Austin Real Estate

What a market we are in. For the last 18 months we have experienced increases in the number of homes sold.

Usually, the winter months show a decline in houses being sold, but not in Austin.  We sold 23% more homes in November of 2012 than we did last year.  Houses get listed, and quickly sold.

What does this mean?  Depending on your situation, you will experience different things.  Tere are no if’s and’s or but’s about it, we are in a very strong Seller’s market, and I don’t see signs of this changing any time soon.  Interest rates are extremely low, and will remain that way through at the very least the spring of 2013, and probably longer.  Lenders are beginning to loosen requirements a little bit, although appraisers are reluctant to overvalue homes in Austin based on what the rest of the country is experiencing.  Inventory of places to live in Austin are extremely low.  New home builders can’t pour slabs fast enough, and apartments are 98% rented.

Why?  Because everyone is Moving to Austin.  It’s all over the news.  There are so many TV shows about us.  And we are on all of the top 10 lists, too.  Austin is one of the best the best city for vegetarians.  Austin is one of the healthiest cities in the nation.  Austin is a great city to meet singles.  The lists go on and on.

For home sellers:

Now is the time to sell.  Whatever your price range you are bound to get some activity.  If you are at the lower end of the market be prepared to receive multiple offers, and if you are at the upper end of the luxury market, I wouldn’t be surprised if you experienced more activity, and a shorter time on the market overall.

For home buyers:

Don’t delay!  Work closely with your realtor and trust them.  I’ve always said that if you see a house that you like, don’t dilly-dally.  Make an offer.  If you don’t, it is very likely that someone else will.  Among my buyers half believe me, and they get the home of their dreams, but the other half think they know better, and see a house, wait a week, and then go back to look at it and it’s sold.

Remember, I do this day in, and day out, every day of the year.  I know the Austin Real estate market.

Austin Modern Home Tour 2013

Saturday Feb 2 2013 from 11 am – 6pm (advance ticket purchase).

Quinta Azul

 

There are lots of modern homes in Austin, and you can see some of them on the 2013 Austin Modern Home Tour.  I’ve always loved the clean lines of a modern home. I think it’s a good idea to use sustainable materials. I think it is an even better idea to spend a little more money on increased energy efficiency (like instant hot water heaters, solar, and triple pane windows) today, to save for our future tomorrow.

Last year I went to the 2012 Modern House Tour, and I’ve already marked my calendar to attend the 2013 Tour.  Buy your tickets early, this event sells out every year.

Last year didn’t dissapoint, and I’m looking forward to some great weather and another fantastic showcase.  Some of the homes I’m specifically interested in are:

1844 Logans Hollow Dr.
355 Cortona Drive
212 W. Live Oak
1615 Garden Street

There are some spectacular examples this year. One of the homes was featured in the Architectural Digest Mexico. Another is over 6000 square feet, and yet a third is built on piers and rises above the ground. There is even a house that is cantilevered over the driveway.

Are you going to go? You should!

I gonna make this house your home

I’ve been hearing this song on the radio all the time lately it seems.

Every time I hear it, I think its’ the perfect song for moving to Austin. It’s got that laid back feeling, some great harmonies, and just enough Acoustical vibe.

When I hear it I think about a lazy family picnic, on a late summer sunday afternoon. The sun is not quite ready to set, everybody is just hanging out on the back patio by the pool, everyone’s tired after a day of just relaxing. We’ve been eating and snacking all day on the goodies that came off the BBQ from lunch, and nobody’s hungry for dinner.

The kids are running around on the lawn, the dogs are laying at our feet, and we are sitting around the large wooden outdoor table remembering good times, and making a few new ones, too.

What do you thi

What do you think of when you hear this song?

MLS

Question:  What is the MLS?

I often hear realtors talk about the MLS?   What does it do?  How can it help me get my house sold fast?

The MLS, or Multiple Listing Service is a database that Realtors use that has all of the listing information about a house.  Since the information about a house is entered by the listing agent, there can be a large differences too.  I’ve seen some MLS entries that just have the bare bones basics (and these houses don’t seem to sell as fast)

In the Austin MLS there are over 200 fields that contain all the details about a listing.  There is also space for up to 25 photos.  It takes me, over 3 hours to completely enter all the information when I get a listing.  I take this time to ensure all of your home’s features are accurate listed.  I never know what people are going to search for, and by having as much information as possible, I can make sure that when someone does a search, my properties come up.

Each region of the country has it’s own independent MLS, and generally an agent from one area doesn’t have access to a different region.  For instance, even thought I am a Nationally licensed Realtor, with a complete Texas license, I only pay for, and have acces to the Austin MLS.  I can’t see houses for sale in Dallas, or San Francisco, or anywhere else for that matter.

As a licensed agent, I can access the MLS on any computer, iPad, and even on my smartphone.  We can search for  pretty much anything – hardwood floors or tankless water heaters, or large trees over 40 feet tall.

But mostly we do quick searches based on price, number of bedrooms, and location.

Consumers can access a limited version of the MLS on sites like Trulia, Zillow, and Austin Home Search.  Each of these websites has a different interface, but they all access the same information.  However, these sites aren’t updated as frequently as the true MLS so sometimes the info isn’t as accurate or up to date.  That’s why it’s best to contact a Realtor to get the latest scoop.

If you want to see an actual Sample MLS, you can download one for one of my listings.  This is actually a client version.  A true agent version has even more detailed information, which is hard to believe.

One last note, sometimes houses aren’t listed in the MLS.  These are known as Pocket Listings.  There are a bunch of reasons agents or owners might not want to list on the MLS, and these Pocket listings are usually for higher-end properties, but they are also not as widely advertised.  More of a word of mouth kind of thing.  But that’s a whole different enchilada.