luxury real estate

Why does photography matter when selling luxury real estate?

Luxury real estate market specialist Dusty Baker from Sotheby’s in Santa Barbara, California, talks with Melinda Goodwin about the difference between traditional and luxury real estate in this interview:

In this interview Dusty is asked about what’s important when selling luxury real estate, and he made this statement which summarizes what’s important in that niche:

“It’s not about selling real estate – it’s about selling a lifestyle.”

A lot of real estate sales are about selling the lifestyle of a particular property, but Dusty further explained that purchasing a luxury home is about discretionary money, and those buyers are deciding to spend it on a lifestyle that they believe a particular property  will provide.

This is completely different from traditional real estate in which a lot of people purchase a home based on necessity – for example, a family has three children, so they want a four bedroom home, near good schools, the right size to meet their needs, and in their budget.  In the luxury real estate market, those issues may be less important – instead it’s about a home that provides something extra, and it always comes back to the lifestyle the home provides.

So how does a real estate agent start selling luxury homes?

According to Dusty, it comes down to this:

“Thrive in excellence … Do the best you can every single time.”

In other words, focus on making yourself and your marketing look amazing.  How do you do that?  This is what Dusty suggested:

“Don’t even think about taking your own photos. Get a professional photographer, a professional videographer, professional floor plan, get amazing brochures. I do full 20 to 36 page magazine brochures for every single listing, I have a private website for every single listing. I mean I just go above and beyond where people would almost be embarrassed and like, “Oh come on, this is just a small condo!” But you say, “No, this is the largest asset that you own so I’m going to make it look perfect!”

Whether you’re selling a $10 million home, or a $200,000 condo, your marketing should reflect where you want to be with your business.

“Because other people…when they walk into an open house, when they’re seeing your pictures online, everything you do to market a house markets you as well. Which is great! Which is why listings are key. But you’re marketing this listing and it makes you look good as well.”

That’s great advice!  So then why is it important that every single listing look amazing?

“The better you make the listing look the better you look, with phenomenal photography, videography, out of the box marketing brochures, it overwhelms everyone. The seller’s happy, and the other agents in town start to see you and see the way you’re marketing, your catering events, and they start to respect you. They see you as luxurious before you even are luxurious.

So it will quickly escalate. If you treat every single listing, buyer and client as if they’re a $10 or $20 million client, you will shortly be working with $10 to $20 million clients.”

Hopefully you can see why this is important.  If you treat all of your listings as if they are million dollar listings, then you’ll know exactly what you need to do when you have the opportunity to work with those high end clients.

But why should you treat those budget buyers and sellers so well?

“Let’s be real – even if you weren’t trying to climb the ladder your clients deserve it. I mean, I had a friend buy a $550,000 condo recently and okay, that’s not a $20 million sale, but that’s the biggest asset that they own. They went all chips in and they deserve the best representation in the world because, okay, it’s not the biggest payday for me, but it’s a big step for them and we have to respect the human aspect of that. Everyone will grow if I do it like that, and you will grow.”

The real value of those buyers and sellers isn’t how much money they have in the bank, or the kind of car they drive, but the fact that they are people too.  For them, that budget home is their mansion, it’s their castle, and we should show respect for them on those terms alone.

Of course, you can’t go all out when marketing a $200,000 home, because the margins aren’t there, but in terms of photography and marketing you should definitely be able to choose high quality photography and create attention grabbing marketing campaigns.  That’s how you move up the ladder to market luxury real estate, and connecting with a professional real estate photographer is a good place to start.

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