Selling high-end homes not as easy as it seems

by Olivia D'Orazio18 Nov 2014
It’s the market you’ve dreamed of breaking into, but selling in the million-dollar range isn’t as easy as it looks, say agents, pointing to the small number of potential buyers with higher budgets.

“Your buyer pool is about one-one hundredth of what it would be for a one-bedroom condo,” says Toronto-based agent, David Fleming. “It’s just a function of how many people are looking. So you might have thousands of people looking for condos, but only a hundred people looking for $3-million houses.”

As the number of potential buyers shrink, your target demographic likely narrows, making the sale even more challenging.

“The boomers are selling but there aren’t as many people looking to buy,” Fleming says. “A luxury home speaks to itself. It’s a certain price point that you’ll find only in certain areas, so it’s easier to categorize.”

But, working with that demographic, will likely be easier. Mark D. Evernden, an agent with Sotheby’s International in Calgary, says the buyers of high-end properties are usually more experienced and knowledgeable about the market.

“The clients [who] come to me, [have better] experience and knowledge of the product and understanding the value of what you’re looking at,” he says. “They’re more [market] savvy. Their knowledge is much greater.”

For these reasons, though, marketing for luxury properties is much more arduous. Evernden and Fleming agree that it’s not enough to put a few photos on the MLS.

“If I had a property listed at $3 million, I would market it like a $3-million property,” Fleming says. “I would do a full three-minute video, a full tour, a dedicated website, handwritten letters to the neighbours. You’re going to all the clubs and local schools and restaurants and activity clubs. You have to think outside the box.”

For his part, Evernden says typical real estate marketing avenues won’t work since you’re not marketing to the masses.

“When your demographic changes, your publications change and your investment in the property changes,” he says. “It takes more money to push it into the market place. You’re going to be going to their publications, international architecture and design magazines, more exposure to that side of the market.”

Lifestyle marketing is also effective, Fleming says, though it’s important to really understand the common interests among your demographic.

“Market the property, but market what’s around it too,” he says. “Take photos of the shops and restaurants around there. If you’re marketing to baby boomers, what about churches or lawn bowling or dinner clubs. Is there concierge, underground parking, room service, a valet shuttle? Consider all these things that are [part of] marketing a lifestyle.”

Finally, Evernden says your marketing be consistent until the property is sold – which will likely take longer than for lower-priced properties.

“It could take two years [to sell],” he says. “So your marketing doesn’t stop.”

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