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TEXAS EDITION

ARE YOU A VALUE-ADDED AGENT? KEEPING IN TOUCH— HOW TO STAY IN YOUR CLIENTS' LIVES FOR THE LONG HAUL

FEATURED AGENT

BRAD DAVIES COVER STORY

JOSIE CERVANTES

TIPS ON BREAKING INTO THE LUXURY MARKET YOUR SECRET PRESENTATION WEAPON


TEXAS EDITION

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JOSIE CERVANTES

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BRAD DAVIES

CONTENTS 4) ARE YOU A VALUE-ADDED AGENT?

PRESENTATION WEAPON

14) KEEPING IN TOUCH—

22) TIPS ON BREAKING

HOW TO STAY IN YOUR CLIENTS' LIVES FOR THE LONG HAUL

19) YOUR SECRET

INTO THE LUXURY MARKET

Phone 888-461-3930 | Fax 310-751-7068 mag@topagentmagazine.com | www.topagentmagazine.com No portion of this issue may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without prior consent of the publisher. Top Agent Magazine is published by Feature Publications GA, Inc. Although precautions are taken to ensure the accuracy of published materials, Top Agent Magazine cannot be held responsible for opinions expressed or facts supplied by its authors. To subscribe or change address, send inquiry to mag@topagentmagazine.com. Published in the U.S.

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Are You a Value-Added Agent?

I’ll bet if I asked ten real estate agents, all ten would answer ‘yes’ to that question. Yet, when I ask agents how they are value-added, they say things like: • I communicate regularly with my clients. • I have a written listing presentation. • I am honest. • I am trustworthy. Are these ‘value-added’ attributes? Or, does the client expect these attributes and services? 4

Are these exceptional services or average services? I’m writing this article at the beginning of a New Year. It’s a perfect time to re-assess your professionalism and master being that ‘value-added’ agent.

Client Expectations are Higher than Ever Unfortunately, too many real estate agents assume they are ‘value-added’ because they are providing the services they want to provide— Top Agent Magazine


the services they think the client values. However, there’s a real client out there, and the client has different expectations. How do I know that? Because so few agents regularly survey their clients. In fact, when I’m speaking to an audience, I survey them, and find that less than 25 percent gather after-sale surveys! So, the majority of agents don’t know if the services they are providing are average or exceptional.

Why Bother Being Exceptional? • Because you want to set yourself apart. • You want to create client loyalty. • You want to create at least 50 percent of your business from client referrals (the latest National Association of Realtors survey Profile of Members found that the average Realtor got only 18 percent of their business from referrals. That’s a hard and expensive way to run a real estate business! • Because you want to run a more pleasant, profitable business.

Four Actions Value-Added Agents Take How can you identify value-added agents? By their actions. Here are four actions I believe show agents that are above just ‘average’. The principle here is:

Watch the actions, not the words. If I were a manager, or a seller or a buyer, and I wanted to find a value-added agent, here’s what I would look for: Top Agent Magazine

1. Has a database and populates it This agent is committed long-term to his clients and to his business. He uses a contact management program (CRM) to manage ‘leads’, so none are lost — and clients do not feel neglected. After all, it takes much longer today to convert a ‘lead’ to a sale than it used to take. Actively using and maintaining a CRM means the agent is committed to forming long-term professional relationships over time. Other demonstrable actions concerning the agent’s CRM are: • Has a rapid-response method to deal with Internet inquiries and other inquiries via email. (The average client expects a response within eight hours—but a recent survey showed the average agent responded in 50 hours!). • Has a method to follow up on all leads until they ‘buy or die’. As a client, that means I won’t get lost. As a seller, it means my agent will follow up with all leads and give it 100 percent to sell my home. 2. Invests in the technology and follow-up pros have This agent makes every decision based on their vision of their career at least three to five years in the future. For example, instead of selling someone a house anywhere just to get a sale, my value-added agent sells only in an area they define as their ‘target area’. That way, they’ll get known, and can build on their reputation. The value-added agent has the ‘guts’ to turn down business! Because they care more about the well-being of the client than getting one grimy commission check, they learn to 5


‘tell the truth attractively’, and work harder to retain the client than to make one commission.

Adding those Client Benefits to your Dialogue

3. Works for referrals, not just sales I said the agent learns to ‘tell the truth attractively’, even if the buyer or seller may not want to hear it. For example, if it’s in the best interests of the seller to list their home at a lower price, the value-added agent has the strategies and the statistics to prove that the seller won’t be well served by pricing higher.

Of course, it’s not enough to actually take these actions. You need to explain to the client why these actions are in their best interests, and how you stand apart from most agents by employing them. Why? Because your client won’t know you run your business so professionally. And, the client probably doesn’t know most agents don’t run their businesses this way!

And, this value-added agent has the intestinal fortitude to walk away if they know the home will not sell at the client’s desired price (but doesn’t have to too many times because they create a stellar reputation amongst their clientele).

TIP: Always show your clients, don’t just tell them. You do have a Professional Portfolio and evidence on your website, don’t you?

4. Keeps the buyers and sellers’ best interests in mind Our value-added agent makes every decision to grow trust, not just to make a fast buck. For example, the agent sits down with a prospective couple and finds out they can’t purchase right away and creates a plan with them to save for their down payment. Then, the agent keeps in touch over a period of months, offering helpful information and market updates.

Put Yourself to the Test

How many of these actions P. S. Managers and team leaders—two tips do you exhibit? What do you want to work on to become a true 1. Call each of your agents’‘value-added’ phone mails. What’s the impre agent? Are they professional? Do they state the company n TIP: represent your culture and image? Managers, give your agents a 2. Create a quick class in phone messaging using the ‘test’ on these four points. In other words, this agent practices seller or buyHow many pass? this blog. er agency representation, not ‘agent agency’!

Copyright ©, 2016 Carla Cros

Carla Cross,CRB, CRB, MA, is theoffounder andSeminars, president Carla Cross & Carla Cross, MA, President Carla Cross Inc.,ofand Carla real management and sales. Herspecializing internationally s Crossestate Coaching, is an international speaker in realbest-selling estate management and Running business planning for all professionals. agents, Up and in 30 Days, is real nowestate going into its 5thHer edition sevenexperience internationallyas published books, including Up and Running in 30 Days , vast a top-selling agent and award-winning manage and 20 agent and management programs have helped thousands of real sales podium, blending her musical background with her proven estate professionals to the greater productivity and teaches profitability.someone Reach Carla strategies (she uses piano AND even to at play—f 425-392-6914 or www.carlacross.com. and practical). Find out more at www.carlacross.com. 6

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JOSIE CERVANTES Top Agent Magazine

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JOSIE CERVANTES “I didn’t get into this business just to be a realtor. I got into it to learn everything I could about real estate, the legal side of it and the civil side of it.”

Top Agent Josie Cervantes is a rare creature in the world of residential and commercial real estate: a novice agent who catapulted herself to the top of the profession in less than a year. 8Copyright Top Agent Magazine

Already a seasoned professional, Josie transitioned into the industry from a legal background following the demise of a short-lived marriage. With four children to support, she did not have time to follow the time-tested process of being mentored, working for another company and starting off slowly. Instead, she jumped in squarely with both feet, and after a brief stint with Keller Williams, formed her own LLC, JCB Realty, working under the umbrella of Realty Associates in Spring, Texas. “I had two options,” says Josie. “I could either roll over and die, or I could get up, push through, and start making things happen.” Choosing the latter, she herself seems a bit surprised by her almost instantaneous success. Top Agent Magazine


“I started lead generating,” she says, “and the clients started falling into my lap. The commercial and the residential work started. I don’t know too many agents who do both. The next thing I knew, I was closing deals and had my own office and an assistant, and I’ve got so much work it’s crazy.”

tiative for her stellar success. “It’s been phenomenal,” she says. “I think many realtors are afraid to take risks, but I’m not. That translates to the way I approach working with my clients. If it weren’t for that, and for my legal background, I don’t think I would be as far along as I am this quickly.”

Selling the entire Houston area, Josie credits her willingness to take the ini-

There are a multitude of reasons Josie entered the business, and making money

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ranks low on the list. “I didn’t get into this business just to be a realtor,” she says thoughtfully. “I got into it to learn everything I could about real estate, the legal side of it and the civil side of it. I got into this business to create jobs and have my own business.” Paying it forward is important to Josie as well, and she is looking forward to increasing her staff and mentoring agents on how to be successful as well. “I’m thankful for everything I’ve been blessed with,” says Josie. “Other agent’s goals might be to just be a realtor, but I want to be a provider, to create jobs and work for other people. Charitable giving is also important to Josie, and to that end she donates to multiple organizations. Her clients are deeply appreciative of the thorough, detailoriented work Josie provides each and every one of them, and staying in touch with them is of paramount importance to her. “I call them, I send them cards, I even send them gifts periodically. I just want to know how they’re doing, let them know how much I appreciate them. My clients are more than clients. They become family.” Copyright Top Agent Magazine 10

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“Other agent’s goals might be to just be a realtor, but I want to be a provider, to create jobs and work for other people.” Her dedication to her client base is made obvious by the long hours she is willing to work, and by her absolute commitment to being available to answer any questions, regardless of the hour. “I’ve never had a client call and not be able to reach me,” she says. Top Agent Magazine

“I’m so blessed,” says Josie. “God has placed me in a situation where I can be a good provider, and that I can help others find success. I never forget that. It’s never about me, it’s about what I can do for other people. That’s what this is all about.” Copyright Top Agent Magazine 11


For more information about JOSIE CERVANTES, please call 832-239-0928 or email Josie803@gmail.com Copyright Top Agent Magazine 12

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HOW TO STAY IN YOUR CLIENTS' LIVES FOR THE LONG HAUL

One sign of a great real estate agent is there long list of loyal client following. Part of achieving a great referral base is being a great realtor during the transaction. But, that’s only half of the work. To truly be your client’s realtor for life and keep them coming back to you as well as referring others to you, you have to stay in their lives past the transaction. Keeping in touch with your past clients can be one of the most important parts of your business, and one that many realtors tend to push to the wayside. Do you stay in your client’s lives, or do you disappear? People refer people that they feel they know well and that they trust, people they consider friends. However, earning and keeping your client’s trust involves maintaining a delicate balance with how much you contact them. Experts recommend reaching out to your clients at least quarterly. But, it’s not just about how often you stay in touch. You also need to be mindful about how you are reaching out to them. Here are some tips on how to keep in touch with your clients for the long haul: 14

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INDIVIDUAL PERSONAL CONTACT One of the best ways to keep in touch with your clients is to simply give them a call every once in a while. Follow up and see how your clients are doing. Offer them assistance if they need it. Personalized contact helps to ensure that you remain as important to your clients long after the sale as you were during the transaction. Giving your clients a call on special occasions such as birthdays or holidays also makes for a great personal touch. Of course, nothing beats face-to-face contact. Stopping by to say hello can be a great way to keep in contact. An even better way to catch up and maintain that friendship is to set up a lunch or coffee date with past clients. Giving individual clients your undivided attention goes a long way towards maintaining that bond you formed during the transaction and earning your client’s loyalty and trust. Interactions like this make a lasting impression on your clients. Of course, many busy REALTORS® may not have time to follow up with every client oneon-one. A great way to still give personal attention to your clients without meeting each and every one for lunch is to throw a client appreciation party. This allows you to get in some face-to-face time with each client and make sure they all get your undivided attention and quality time to catch up with you, even if it’s only for a short time. Now, if you have a lot of past clients, this can be difficult to manage during one party. One way to get around the numbers problem is to organize smaller events based on client’s interests. Instead of throwing one giant party, host a pool party for the families with kids or a wine and cheese get together for single clients. Hosting special events like these ones goes a long way towards keeping your contact with past clients more personalized and setting you apart from those businesses that simply send them a calendar once a year.

PROVIDE CLIENTS WITH USEFUL NEWS PROVIDE CLIENTS WITH USEFUL NEWS One way that many REALTORS® keep in touch with their clients is by sending them newsletters. This form of contact can be a double-edged sword. You want to make sure you provide them with useful information that reminds them of your value as a real estate professional. Otherwise your communication will amount to nothing more than spam, and clients will think of you less as a trusted friend and more as a nuisance salesperson. Clients react much more positively to communication containing information that is pertinent to their lives. Update your clients on what is going on in their local community and Top Agent Magazine

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housing market. Demonstrate your knowledge about the community and the things that are important to your clients. Include information about local cultural events, community news, housing statistics, information on the mortgage market, home maintenance advice, home design tips, and anything else that your clients will find personally useful. Your clients will always be interested in value.

SEND CLIENTS MEMORABLE AND PERSONAL CARDS Sending your clients cards related to important events in their lives and letting them know that you remember those events and care will go a long way towards building and maintaining a close personal relationship with them. You want to make sure your cards stand out, though. Sending popular holiday cards can be a mistake, as they will most likely get lost amongst all of your clients other holiday cards and will be quickly forgotten. Instead send something more personal such as: HOME ANNIVERSARY CARDS: Send cards to each client on the anniversary of the closing of their home.

CONGRATULATORY CARDS: Remember important events such as wedding anniversaries, graduations, new babies, etc.

SPECIAL BIRTHDAY CARDS: Instead of just sending your typical birthday card, add something special to yours that will stand out. Include a $1 scratch off ticket or a $5 gift certificate to Starbucks. Make sure to include a handwritten personal note.

GIVE CLIENTS AN UNUSUAL GIFT Make sure the gifts you send your past clients stand out. Send your past clients an odd gift at the beginning of the year or on a holiday. Think outside the box and send things like funny magnets, customized mugs, a personalized piece of wall décor, and other fun and unusual items. A great way to make your gift stand out even more is to include a funny note with it that will catch their attention as well as make them think of you. For example, one cute idea is to send clients a bag of popcorn with the note, “Real estate is popping, give me a call.” You could send a bag of goldfish with a note attached that says, “I’m fishing for your referrals.” Get creative and have a little fun with it, your clients will notice and remember you for it. 16

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TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOCIAL NETWORKS

Social networking sites make staying in contact with past clients in a more informal and friendly basis much easier. Connect with your past clients on Facebook. This will help you stay up to date on the important things happening in your pact clients’ lives. In return, it provides you a great platform for keeping those past clients up to date with what is going on in your business as well as keep in contact in a more informal manner. Use Facebook to remind past clients to check their basement after a heavy rain or that they can contact you for help during tax time. You can even organize your contacts on Facebook into customized lists such as “past clients,” “industry contacts,” etc. This will help you better manage your Facebook contacts. This will also allow you to view specific news feeds based on these lists and send messages to a particular list of contacts. Don’t forget about the many other social networking sites such as Twitter or LinkedIn either. Utilize this technology to drive personal contact with your clients.

STAY ORGANIZED No matter how you choose to keep in contact with past clients, make sure to be consistent. Consistency will help you stay organized and diligent about reaching out to your past clients regularly. A tool used by many real estate professionals to stay organized is a customer relationship management solution. Whether you use one that is online or a computer software program, this will help you stay organized when managing your contacts and allow you to set notifications to alert you when you need to contact certain clients, send out gifts, plan a client appreciation event, and many other things throughout the year. Staying organized and consistent in your contact with past clients will help you continue to build and manage your referral base, as well as open the door to repeat and referral business. Top Agent Magazine

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BRAD DAVIES Brad Davies loves everything about his career. A people person to his core, he never has to drag himself through his workday—it’s far too enjoyable. “When you’re helping someone in the moment and you can see that it’s making a difference, that they really appreciate it, it makes you want to work harder,” he says. Brad had been a sports radio talk-show host for more than 20 years, working in different parts of the country since he was 18. By the time he landed a job in Houston, he was starting to get burned out. Then, two-and-a-half years into his three-year contract, the station laid everyone off. Brad saw the upheaval as a benefit. “I had kids,” he says, “and I had thought about changing my career.” As luck would have it, the woman who sold Brad and his wife their home had become a family friend, so Brad asked her about real estate. She thought he would be a great fit for it and brought him on. It’s been almost eight years now, and she was right—it’s a perfect fit. Brad’s attentiveness, expertise and enthusiasm translate into a huge repeat and referral business. “Repeats and referrals are the best way to stay on top of this business,” he says, “I swear by it!” Brad stays in touch with everybody. “I fill them in on what’s going on in their part of town, wish them a happy birthday, drop by if I’m in their neighborhood,” he says. “It’s just my personality. I don’t do it out of obligation.”

For his listings, Brad has the best pictures possible taken to post online and holds broker open houses. The main thing for him is communication with other agents. He often calls them before he shows a house to find out what their buyers are looking for. Brad’s always been a helper, even before he was in real estate. For many years he was involved in the Big Brothers organization, but now that he has his own children, their activities keep him busy. He coaches his son’s traveling baseball team, which takes up virtually all his free time—and he loves it. “The best part,” he says, “is when you teach these eight, nine or ten-year-old kids something and see them implement it. It’s the most satisfying feeling of all time.” Just as Brad is helping the kids become better team members, he’s also into helping people as a whole. “That’s why I’m in real estate,” he says. “To enjoy my life and help make my clients’ lives better.”

About 70 percent of Brad’s business is on the west side of Houston, taking in Katy, where his office is located, Sugar Land and Cypress, but he’ll go anywhere if it’s a referral. And rather than mind traveling, he actually likes it. “It’s fun working these other areas every now and then,” he says. “It’s good to know the market there, too.” Did we mention that Brad is a somewhat positive guy? It follows that he’s also a great communicator, someone who emphasizes the importance of establishing good connections. Before showing any house, he stops at Starbucks for a 45-minute conversation with the potential buyers, whom he may or may not work with. When he goes to a listing presentation, he’s less concerned with getting the listing than he is with being a good match for the seller. “I’ll refer folks if I don’t feel like it’s a good fit,” he says. “I always tell them. I’m a straight shooter, people appreciate that.” 18

For more information about Brad Davies of RE/MAX Grand, Katy, Texas, please visit braddavies.remaxtexas.com, call 832.236.2138 or email salespending@gmail.com Copyright Top Top Agent Agent Magazine Magazine


Your Secret Presentation Weapon by Rich Levin

You are at a listing presentation, and Agent: “Do you know the number you know the seller is interviewing one complaint owners, like you, have other agents. Would you like to about their present REALTOR®? distinguish yourself as the best? Here’s how. “The agent doesn’t communicate or loses touch. It’s one of the simplest This is on an age-old and proven things and one of the most sales concept that is taught in high- important. I know some of the best level sales training in every major agents in town who sell a lot of corporation. In real estate, it is a homes and have the best intentions, subtlety that most agents simply but they just don’t follow up like don’t build into their skill set. Those they should, and you fall through who learn and use this skill stand out the cracks. and win against the competition. “I set aside an hour each day just for Have you ever lost a listing and staying in touch with my clients.” could not figure out why? The seller says that they had more confidence “You don’t want to be in the dark, in another agent. This skill is the uncertain and uncomfortable. I reason they will choose you. They want you confident that we are both may not recognize why; they just doing everything we can to get your have more confidence in you. property sold for the most money in the shortest time. “I like to make Sample Seller Script these calls between eleven and Here’s an example. After, I’ll break noon on Thursday mornings. What it down for you so that you can is the best number to reach you at apply it for yourself. that time?” Top Agent Magazine

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Robbins was a twinkle in his AABC: The Breakdown There are four steps to this mother’s eye. Most agents miss the presentation skill. They are subtle mark on this in today’s competitive and easy to learn. You must practice real estate market. To hit a bull’s to be natural with this skill, which I eye, use AABC as your secret weapon. You will begin to notice call AABC. sellers and buyers having more • Step one is the Action you take. In confidence in you, relaxing with the example above, it’s communicating you, and trusting your judgment. regularly. Sample Buyer Script • Step two is the Advantage you “Would you like to have the bring that differentiates you. In the advantage of seeing the newest example above, it is setting aside an properties on the market, every day?” hour each day. A – The Action: “Every day—often • Step three is the Benefit to them. twice a day—I will search for propIn the example above, it is making erties that are new to the market.” them certain, comfortable and A – The Advantage: “In our area confident. there are nearly three thousand real • Step four is the Close, which is estate agents. Every day, some of asking for a decision. In the them are placing new property on example above, it is asking for the the market. Within hours, often less, specific number to be reached on a I make sure that you are aware of any and every property that even specific day and time. remotely matches your desires.” AABC B – The Benefit: “You’ll have the Action: What you do. best opportunity to find the property Advantage: Your distinction. that has the most of what you want Benefit: What’s in it for them? before you are in competition for it, Close: Asking for a decision. and you often get it at the best price. This has been taught by Fortune 500 Each year, many of the homes I sell Companies decades before Anthony are those fresh listings that have 20

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only been viewed by my buyers. It’s fun for me. It’s the best way to give you the competitive edge.” C – Close: “Do you want me to contact you each day as soon as we become aware of any property in which you may be interested? If I call during the workday with an excellent choice—something that looks perfect—would you be able to come fairly quickly to see it?” You will find AABC is your secret weapon. While other agents present their same old way, the buyers and sellers to whom you present see, hear, and feel something different, something more. They will more easily sign exclusive contracts with less commission challenges. They will trust you and make your job with them easier, because they strongly believe in your efforts on their behalf. A Few Subtleties I like to start with a question. Do you know? Have you heard? Would you like? The Action can be very simple. It is your Advantage—the way you do it differently—that makes the distinction. Top Agent Magazine

The Benefit is always more money, the best time frame, and/or more ease and convenience. That is WIIFT: What’s In It for Them. The Close is critical. In addition to confirming their agreement, it makes them an active participant in the process. In my work, I occasionally accompany Agents on listing presentations—Agents who take over a hundred listings a year. Once they begin to apply AABC, they immediately express that they feel, hear, and see the difference in the way their clients responded to them. This is an advanced skill that raises your effectiveness and enhances your relationships and your results. It requires preparation and practice. It is a secret weapon that can shift your work and your career into the next gear.

Rich Levin is one of the most successful Real Estate coaches in the nation by virtue of the measurable results of his clients and creator of the Real Estate Hierarchy of Success, a working model for understanding and planning your business. Copyright©, Rich Levin. All rights reserved. 21


Tips on Breaking Into the Luxury Market So, you’ve been doing residential real estate for a while and you’re looking to up your game. A lot of people consider going into the luxury market at that point. Or, maybe you started in the business always intending to specialize in luxury properties and were just learning the ropes before you tackled one of the industry’s most lucrative specialties.

No matter the reason, the luxury market is a whole new ballgame and you don’t want to go into it unprepared. First impressions are everything in this business, especially when you’re dealing with wealthy clients and investors. Here are few things to consider if you’re thinking of going from starter homes to estates.

LEARN HOW THE LUXURY MARKET AND CLIENTELE ARE DIFFERENT As experienced as you might be in traditional real estate, the luxury market is almost like starting at ground zero. Everything from the buyers, to the sellers, and obviously, the properties themselves, will take a new approach. One of the key ways it is different is that the feeling of exclusivity truly matters. You will be doing more targeted marketing through high-end networking groups as wealthier clients tend to be more comfortable when 22

you come recommended by people they trust to have the highest standards. There are no mass-marketed open houses. It’s all about private showings. Although professional, one-on-one service is key in this business no matter what the price point, wealthier buyers are accustomed to concierge-style service, and the way to stand out from the rest is to provide service that goes above and beyond what even they expect. Top Agent Magazine


LOOK THE PART If you’re thinking of going the luxury route, creating high-end branding and marketing yourself properly is of the utmost importance. That includes your own personal look. You and your business will need a total makeover, or at least a major upgrade. It might even be time to buy that new car you’ve always wanted. It is also key that all of your marketing materials are high end. So start gathering a stable of highly-trained professionals,

photographers, and stagers as every aspect of the service network you’ll be providing complements the brand that you’re selling. It’s well worth the time to get all of this nailed down and seamless before you even think of entering the luxury market. Another good investment? You want to have an indepth knowledge of all the latest real estate technologies and innovations. Don’t just look the part, actually be on the cutting edge.

SELL THE LIFESTYLE Yes, you’re selling a home, but you’re also selling a lifestyle, which in luxury is almost more important. When someone is spending millions of dollars on a home, they want to see the fabulous life they will be living in their new digs. Really highlight amazing party spaces, unique one of kind features,

and amenities. As with anything of value, things that make a property rare, will automatically make it more appealing to people who can afford the best. It also helps people connect more emotionally with a home, giving it even more value than if you just try and sell it as a good investment.

NETWORKING, NETWORKING, NETWORKING Networking is an important aspect of this business at every level, but it a vital tool in the luxury market. Most of your referrals and targeted marketing will be done through luxury agent exclusive networking groups. In addition to that, it is even more important in this segment of the business to be actively

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involved in your community through volunteering and supporting local charitable events. You will not only build a stellar reputation, but you’ll also be giving back to the community you represent, and ultimately, integrity is what it’s all about in this business.

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