Thinking about selling your luxury home in Atlanta? Here is our “Top 10 Things Atlanta Luxury Home Sellers Should Consider” checklist. Check it out!
After nearly 20 years in Atlanta’s residential real estate trenches, we continue to see 80% of the homes struggle to sell in the Luxury niche. Most people write that off to the uniquenesses of the homes in the most prestigious neighborhoods. It is true. When home automation systems and customized cabinets can each run $250,000, personal preferences can add up fast! Not to mention raw land value, stunning terrace levels and outdoor entertainment amenities.
So, we decided to use our insider perspective from previewing and selling these homes over the years to create a Top 10 Things Atlanta Luxury Home Sellers Should Consider checklist. Our goal was to create a tool to use in interviewing various real estate professionals for the job of managing the sale if we were selling a luxury property in Atlanta today. Most real estate professionals can talk a good game and flatter your house. They can also let you drive the process. Why? Because getting their sign in your yard carries prestige and generates leads – whether your house sells or not. That brings us to the difference between “Listing” your house and “Selling” it. We wanted to create a checklist that actually sells the house.
Here are our basic assumptions:
- The house is occupied and filled with personal furnishings.
- There is no financial pressure to sell fast – Selling is a lifestyle choice.
- In addition to this being our home, it is a large asset. We want an aggressive Realtor to manage the sale so that we know we got the highest price possible.
To get started, we used the basic categories for selling any home – Pricing, Condition, Marketing, Negotiations and Systems.
1. Get a SOLID Pricing Plan based on objective market data. Forget the slick real estate company marketing pieces and polished agent resume’s. Everyone in real estate sales can cook their numbers to make themselves look good. What really matters most is what someone is going to do for YOU. Get a pricing strategy that looks like a well thought-out business plan – customized for your house. The reality is that for the third quarter in 2014, 34% of luxury properties went thru multiple listing periods with 50% going through at least one price reduction. So, your pricing plan also needs contingencies when life does not go exactly as planned. The odds for outright failure with homes listed above $1.5M stands at 57%! Only 1 in 5 sellers get the strategy right from the start. You want to be one of those sellers. The key is market awareness and optimum price positioning.
2. Listen to the staging experts. We believe Sun Tzu made a great point when he a wrote “Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.” Preparation is a HUGE part of the success formula when selling homes for the highest price in a reasonable period of time without major league hassles. If you really are planning to move, start now! No one lives in a model home environment because model homes are set up to show the house in the best light – even if it is not functional for real life. Sort of like airbrushing a magazine model or digitally altering a photograph to make it more flattering. Captivating the buyers takes effort and skill. We even use a 2-Step Process for Staging our listings.
3. Form a team so you can make things happen in a timely manner. Most people do not have a list of contractors at their fingertips. There are various sources for vendor recommendations but do you really want to conduct multiple interviews ro get your house ready to sell? You need a list (or a person with a list) of good contractors who are reasonable AND trustworthy. You need contractors that will do a good job and stand behind their work because they may be called on something comes up on your Buyer’s home inspection. These days, contractors are busier than ever. Getting contractors out for small jobs can be a challenge because anyone who does good work is booked. Your best bet is to hire a real estate professional who has people they use all the time so you can knock the to-do’s out on your schedule. DO NOT WAIT until the items show up on an inspection report when you are under contract with the clock running.
4. Your marketing plan HAS to be geared towards lifestyle rather than facts and features. Most full-time real estate professionals will have broad-spectrum internet syndication channels for marketing your home. There is no need in getting too worked up about any particular website. Try it out for yourself. Where would you look for houses in a particular area? Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Redfin?? National real estate websites like Zillow have spoiled us all with the ease of access to listed properties. They have revolutionized the initial phase of the house shopping process. The result? Digging through printed magazines, newspapers and smaller niche websites feels like a real pain in comparison. So, people don’t do that much anymore. Don’t worry, your house will get found. What you should worry about is your story and your photos! MAKE SURE YOUR AGENT TELLS A STORY about your house THAT CAPTIVATES THE AUDIENCE. In our view Staging is a given. Professional photography is also a given. Storytelling, though, is an art. In the luxury realm, you do not need a book of features for a Buyer to labor through. You need a story that they can’t stop reading.
5. Make SURE you get high quality photos. Today’s buyers are flooded with images from websites like Houzz and Pinterest. Most of those images are painstakingly crafted to produce energy and emotion thus sparking some sort of dream. An an example, some of our projects can be viewed on our YouTube Channel. When it comes time to sell a house, home seller’s can easily underestimate the playing field because they are emotionally involved. The tables get turned as sellers go from “being” the consumer to “having to appeal to” the consumer. After reviewing countless photos, we have found that not all professional photographers have the same eye when it comes to capturing the strengths of a home. Some photographers have a consistent hue on the coloring. Some photographers do better with features and lighting. Some make you just shake your head… The key again is to look at previous projects – that is how we found the photographer we use and we could not be happier!
6. Use special events, deadlines and timing to your advantage. There is a reason companies like Sotheby’s use auctions to sell luxury items like art. Buying luxury art involves discretionary spending. Beauty and value are in the eye of the beholder. In an Auction Environment, the pending sale deadline and competition drive the prices higher than they would get if simply advertised for sale with no specific sense of urgency. The typical concern with real estate auctions is that they can come off sometimes looking like a bit of a cheap circus. However with a known luxury auction service like our partner, Supreme Auctions, the luxury real estate auction experience has been redefined – not unlike how Cirque du Soleil approached the circus 🙂 Crisp, professional, exciting and well worth the price of admission. Make sure your marketing plan includes some innovative steps to create auction environments. You will net more money!
7. Video can only take you so far. We have seen some really impressive video productions for houses that did not ever sell. With most of these videos, the objective is image branding for the real estate agent rather than a high percentage shot for selling the house. Why? Because time after time houses stand on their own. Location, pricing and condition prevail. The luxury buyer is well-educated in the market. Some times even more so than most agents because the buyers are hyper focused on a market niche where they want to live. Luxury buyers who are seriously in the market to buy spend their leisure time browsing and comparing properties on their tablet, phone or laptop. They generally know when a house is out-of-bounds on pricing. They may watch the slick video (if it is under 3 minutes), but they are not going to overpay for a house because of it. If the photography is really good, the video is just a curiosity that may take too long to download on a mobile device.
8. Rehearse the contract negotiations in advance. Make sure you hire a real estate professional who ACTIVELY previews properties in your price range and in your area. There is no substitute for first hand knowledge when it comes to contract negotiations. Your Realtor also needs to have professional negotiation training and the poise to hold firm when necessary. If you are interviewing agents, go through some scenarios and role play to see how they would respond under pressure. If you are not interviewing agents and already have one in mind to use,go through some scenarios and role play to see how they would respond under pressure 🙂 How would they defend your house? You may end up interviewing other agents after all… Tens of thousands of dollars are at stake here and you need someone who can manage the negotiations with confidence and skill.
9. Make sure you have an established routine for gathering information and follow-up. Speaking of checklists… Make sure you have checklists throughout the process for monitoring your competition, following up on showings, sustaining the marketing campaign and promoting your property. Top agents will have documented systems that they use routinely because predictable results come from systematic behaviors. This is where the details matter. Yes, your house could “fly off the shelf” with multiple offers and in that case, all the preparation and strategy worked to perfection. That is just not very common in the luxury realm. So, it is better to plan thoroughly so you can win the sale under average market conditions with other luxury sellers who have prepared well and have solid marketing strategies. Real estate agents are usually very personable. For the most part though, they are not naturally gifted with details. Ask to see the checklists and systems! You do not want someone managing your sale who just wings it.
10. Google can reveal A LOT. One thing people may not think of when interviewing real estate agents is to Google the agent’s name to see what comes up. You might be surprised. Results vary from nothing, to mug shots, to social media posts to professional websites and blogs. If nothing comes up, the agent is not very active online so they may have limited influence with organic marketing efforts. If mug shots come up – well, you know what to do with that. Usually, some sampling of the agent’s professional endeavors comes up and you can get a feel for who the agent is, how they approach their own marketing and whether or not you are impressed with that. Can you lick up on the agent’s personality? Does it feel generic (like some service is producing the content)? Chances are they will market your house with the same level of professionalism that they market themselves. Don’t expect them to change their approach just for you – while your sale hangs in the balance.
11. Proactive Prospecting Increases Your Chances of Selling. If you are looking for the X-Factor when is comes to selling houses it is probably prospecting. If you are selling your house on your own, you will be faced with doing this and if you are not in the habit of prospecting it probably will not get done. Hiring a real estate agent who has a daily routine for calling people they know to proactively prospects for buyers will give you an advantage over marketing plans that do not include prospecting. THIS can be an interesting question to pose to a real estate agent in an interview – especially if they got into real estate for unlimited income and a flexible schedule. Those notions fight against daily prospecting habits and systematized selling procedures. We have found the most successful real estate agents manage their schedules well and thus can in turn manage your sale well too.
On second thought… this applies to just about any property!