When you’re selling a luxury property, the usual rules about how to market a home tend to go out the window. For starters, not all sellers want the universe to know that their home is going on the market, so you might not have the option of advertising the home on a real estate portal or even listing it on the multiple listing service (MLS). And depending on whether or not the seller (or the home) is noteworthy locally or nationally, there could also be quite a few “interested buyers” who don’t have the means to purchase a home but who still want to come inside and look around.
But that doesn’t mean that marketing a luxury home is impossible -- far from it! There are specific tactics and strategies that wouldn’t make sense for another type of property but that are perfect for luxury homes, and you can use some or all of them to secure a qualified buyer without compromising privacy.
Keep it in your pocket
When a home is for sale but it’s not listed on the multiple listing service (MLS), it’s known as a “pocket listing.” There are many reasons why a seller might want to leverage a pocket listing instead of using the reach and network of the MLS, and privacy is usually at the top of the list. If the address or the person who lives there is relatively well-known, then it probably won’t be too long before the media or a fan picks up on the home for sale and turns it into a story.
That can be a tactic that works to your advantage, of course, but you might want to save the step of listing on the MLS until after you’ve used the local luxury network to shop the home (and you have not received any viable offers).
The local community can be your best asset in the home sales process. If you tell your friends, colleagues, and members of any clubs or organizations where you’re a regular attendee that you’re putting your home up for sale, the likelihood of you finding a qualified buyer is heightened -- and your acquaintances can tell anyone they know about the fact that your home is for sale. You might not be telling every buyer in the market that you’re putting a house on the market, but you’ll certainly be reaching a large portion of people who are financially qualified to take on that investment … and possibly interested in buying it.
If you think you could stand to expand that network, host a party. There’s no better way to show off your home than when it’s packed with admirers.
The luxury world is a stage
Even the best-maintained luxury home looks more lived-in than magazine-ready most of the time, so before you showcase yours, it’s smart to take care of any cosmetic issues that might have been lingering and possibly even consider moving yourself and your things to a different location so that it can be staged and presented at its very best.
That might be an extreme idea in your opinion, and there’s a lot you can do to make your home shine short of moving out and leaving it to professionals. Start with the basic curb appeal: Is your lawn manicured and maintained, and is your landscaping polished? Do you need more gravel or flowers anywhere? Do your trees and shrubs -- and grass blades -- look healthy?
Inside, get the place deep-cleaned to within an inch of its life. Steam the carpets and polish the wood floors. Then look at the balance of furniture in the room -- is it arranged to showcase the place at its best, or for human convenience? You might want to remove a piece of furniture or two for every room so that you have plenty of space around each item. Allow for smooth and uninterrupted traffic flow through each room. Some experts recommend leaving space (including between furniture and walls) around each piece of furniture.
Examine your decor with a critical eye, too. It might not be enough to remove those family photos from the guest rooms -- you may also want to think twice about showcasing any artwork or decorations that are tailored to specific tastes. The idea is to invite visitors to imagine themselves living in the home, and some people might not be able to do that around certain images, so if your own preferences tend toward the risque or out-there, think about going a little more moderate while you prepare to sell.
Build your (visual) asset bank
If your home doesn’t sell as a pocket listing and you do decide to put it on the MLS, then you’ll need some high-quality images to help entice a qualified buyer to your doorstep. The people who can afford to buy your home won’t want to waste time visiting a property that doesn’t meet whatever standards they’ve set themselves, and in this era of digital opportunity, it’s a huge mistake to ignore images when you’re trying to sell a luxury property.
It’s not enough to “just” have pictures, either. You want the lighting, staging, and finish that comes with a professional photographer and all of the accompanying cameras, lights, and other tools. And if you really want to make a splash, you’ll need to go a step further and think about creating a video that really showcases what makes your property shine.
There are a lot of examples of good luxury property videos online, whether they tend toward the playful or the serious. Most of them follow one or more members of the household (typically hired actors) as they go about a typical day in the house, but you can get as weird or as standard as you like. Production value matters, of course, so this will also require one or more professionals to get your home in order and possibly even play “you” in the video.
That’s not where visual assets stop by a long shot. There are 3-D tours that you can make available for visitors to virtually walk through your home and see the features you like best, and technology is only bringing more options to the table every day. It might be worth considering some of those tactics when you’re selling your luxury home. Real estate agents who specialize in luxury can offer sound advice around what works and what doesn’t in your market.
Tell a story about the special features
A luxury home wouldn’t be a luxury home without sweeping people away somehow. Whether that’s an architect who’s a household name, finishes fit for royalty, or a view that leaves you breathless, you need to know what makes your home fit for the “luxury” label and how you can convey its attraction to people who have never seen it.
Pick the thing or couple of things that always elicit a comment from the people who visit your house. You probably know them if you begin to think about them -- the beautifully landscaped pool area, perhaps, or the industrially equipped kitchen, or the horse stables, or the view from the master bedroom. Then make sure you make those features a central focus of your property marketing. Help potential buyers feel what it’s like to wake up and look out those windows, or take a dip in that pool after dark. Luxury is a feeling, and if you can spark that feeling in the people who are searching for a place to live, you’ll be working toward a sale in no time.
Pricing and incentives
It can be difficult to price a luxury home to sell because they are usually much rarer than entry-level or mid-level homes, and therefore they don’t exchange hands quite as frequently. That makes it tough to pull comparable sales when you’re wondering how much your home might fetch on this market. Talking to a real estate professional who specializes in luxury sales is essential when you’re trying to nail down the right price for your home. If you overprice it, it will linger on the market for much longer than it should while you consider reducing the price or pulling it off the market -- agonizing for any seller. And it’s equally bad to price it so low that you’re leaving money on the closing table when the time comes to walk away.
A qualified professional can help you pinpoint the price that will get you a maximum return on your investment without spending months and months on the market. And you should also ask an agent about potential incentives, like a piece of artwork that was custom-made for the home, high-end furniture or appliances, or any other “add-ons” that might entice a buyer to make an offer.
Don’t use the l-word
Most buyers in the market for a luxury home aren’t going to Google “luxury homes for sale in my area.” They look for clues that indicate a property is high-end without saying it outright: “gated community,” “estate,” “extravagant,” “opulent,” or “grand,” for example. They might also look for clues in a listing, like whether it’s a waterfront property or the price per square foot.
A real estate professional can walk you through the different cues and clues that qualified buyers in your area are going to be using and help make sure that your marketing materials and listing is peppered with them.