Cities around the US are seeing prices of luxury pads skyrocket, and they’re not showing any signs of slowing. Chicago is right in the mix, as the city has seen its share of high seven figure and several eight figure listings come to the market over the past year. The priciest listing in the city is currently at Trump International Hotel & Tower, which is available for $32 million.
As the amount of properties that command seven and eight figure asking prices increase, so too does the number of agents who want to claim their stake in the luxury market.
For those of you who are thinking about either putting your Chicago luxury home on the market or purchasing one of your own, here are some tips to help you narrow down the field of agents and select one that will work best with you:
Many agents have had successful careers in related professions before making the transition to real estate. By just browsing the sites of many of the top brokerages, you’ll find agents who have worked as corporate attorneys, architects, finance professionals, to name a few. Having a background in one of these fields can be extremely helpful to you, but you must also make sure that they have a solid track record of success buying and selling properties in the price range that you’ve targeted. A list of current properties and closed transactions are clear indications of their market savvy. This doesn’t automatically mean that an agent with 25 years working in luxury real estate is a better agent than one who has only been in the field a few years, which is why you must do your homework. An agent who is young and hungry to close deals may be a better fit for you than one who is well established. Don’t make assumptions based on age, and make sure to ask detailed questions concerning experience. What you learn may pleasantly surprise you.
You have to make sure to discuss availability before signing on with an agent. Will you have direct access to them on their cell phone or will you have to communicate through an assistant? Is the agent assigning your property to junior agents or will they handle showings and inquiries? You should know if the agent who you’re signing on with is the primary contact for your potential buyers and how you can reach them if you have any questions or want information. The same goes for a buyer’s agent. Ask the agent how much time they’re able to dedicate to you. If you’re working with someone who has very limited availability, it may take a bit longer before you see the properties that you’re interested in. If that isn’t a concern, then it’s not a problem, but again, it’s important to find this out in the beginning rather than figuring it out after a few weeks or months if your schedules are not compatible.
A luxury home specialist should be able to discuss the available inventory, average number of days a property is on the market before going under contract, list to price ratio –all by price range. They should know the ins and outs of the luxury market and how your home will fare against the comp set. A buyer’s agent should know if your budget places you in or out of certain neighborhoods or buildings, and if it isn’t the right time to buy because there are certain factors that may affect a neighborhood’s value in the future. Your agent should know when a property is priced reasonably versus when the seller is reaching, and keep you from overpaying for a home. Also, be sure to keep in mind that your agent may not know 100% of everything you want to know. Don’t be thrown if you ask a question and the answer you receive is: “I don’t know the answer, but I’ll find out for you.” That proves you’re working with someone who wants to get you the most accurate information and has your best interests in mind.
Ask for a Specific Marketing Plan
Your agent should outline his or her proposed strategy for your home. They should take the time to explain the details, as well as why they have chosen each particular aspect of their plan. As part of your evaluation process, you should examine the quality of the marketing pieces the agent is using to present to you. Again, don’t be afraid to ask questions about specifics. How will your property be presented online? If your property is very expensive and the pool of buyers in the area is limited, you should ask what sites and publications it will appear in to target an international audience. Your agent should have a plan in place for your property from the beginning, not after your listing has lingered on the brokerage website for months.
A luxury agent in the year 2013 should embrace technology. This is not to say they have to shy away from print ads or networking, but at this point, technology should play just as big of a part in selling your home as traditional methods. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the tools out there in order to suggest that they be incorporated into the marketing package of your home. Some questions to ask: What sites does the agent network on that can give your listing visibility? Will your house appear on any national listing sites? Is your listing optimized for mobile? Does the agent use software to track the data for inquiries and to digitally send documents? Buying agents can do wonders with technology. From narrowing down your search to specifics that are important to you to automatically alert you of matching properties, such programs and software make finding your perfect home much easier.
Open Lines of Communication
Luxury properties can take time to sell as well as find. Some properties are on the market years before the agent finds a buyer. Remember, the higher the price point, the fewer the number of buyers out there who are able to afford it. You should never have to hunt your agent down to find out if there is any new activity on your listing, what the latest news is with a potential buyer, or if they have been searching and finding anything. In order to build a successful relationship, you and your agent need to sit down on day one and map out your needs and expectations of one another. Open lines of communication and a good rapport will help the entire process run smoothly.
There are a lot of different factors that need to be taken into account when buying and selling a luxury property. A good agent will be able to guide you each step of the way so that you feel at ease with the process. Just make sure that before you take the step of signing that you’ve gone through your checklist and been as open as possible with your agent, so that the groundwork is laid for a relationship that will be successful for everyone.
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