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How to become a luxury real estate agent?

How to become a luxury real estate agent?

12 min read
How to become a luxury real estate agent?

When you’re an established real estate agent and you’re hoping to grow your business and make more money, you have a handful of options. One is to work harder and take more listings to maximize your profit, and that’s certainly a valid pathway to wealth.

Another way to level-up in real estate is to start tackling luxury listings in your market. This also involves working harder in many ways, but for a real estate agent who’s in it for the long haul, learning how to provide services to the high-end segment of their property market is a lucrative and worthwhile venture.

What is a luxury real estate agent?

The exact definition of a luxury real estate agent varies depending on the geographic region. An agent selling the highest-end homes in San Francisco is a luxury real estate agent, as is an agent selling the highest-end homes in Kansas City, Missouri. But the price points at which those luxury agents operate are different.

Luxury real estate agents help the highest-net-worth clients in their area buy and sell luxury real estate, primarily for personal use. This means they work with the most expensive listings and are expected to provide top-notch service; their clients expect nothing less!

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How to get luxury listings

When you hear agents operating in the luxury real estate market talk about how they got into the business, it sounds pretty simple. Many of them started selling real estate, learned the ropes, and then somehow landed their first luxury listing or successful offer written, which then generated another one … and now, that’s their niche.

That’s all fair enough, but how do you land that first listing in the luxury market, or the second if your first wasn’t exactly a home run? These are the tips on how to become a luxury real estate agent and find luxury clients in 2024.

Source: Michael Johnigean

Learn about the high-end market and luxury clients

When you’re working with the wealthiest clients in your market, you’ll need to be able to speak their language, which (in real estate) means understanding the investment they’ve made, ideally better than they do themselves.

You’ll want to do extensive research on the real estate developments in your area that contain the most valuable homes so that you can learn everything you can about those homes. Who were the developers? What unique features do they have, including offerings in individual properties? What are the appliances, the systems used in the new construction? What are the typical maintenance costs and issues that arise?

Visit as many of these homes as you can in the forms of open houses, or ask your friends who live there if they’d mind giving you some details about what it’s been like, the aspects they love, and what’s been not quite as convenient.

Understand how high-end homes are priced and sold

As a licensed real estate agent, you likely already have a sense of what the average home costs in your area and can advise a seller about how much their home is likely to capture based on recently sold homes, list-to-sales price, and other accessible data.

Luxury home appraisals also use comps (comparable recently sold homes) to determine a value, but appraisers understand that comps aren’t the whole story because sometimes there simply isn’t a good comp for the house with (arguably) the best view in town, or a historic property that’s been kept in pristine condition.

You’ll want to have a sense for the home’s past sales prices and how it might have appreciated since it was last sold, current home features and how they compare to the rest of the market, attributes that simply can’t be found in any other home, and the demand for high-end luxury homes (current market, sales in some areas, such as ski resorts, are seasonally driven) in order to be able to give sellers an accurate sense of possible sales price.

Cultivate your network

Real estate is all about networking and reputation, and luxury real estate business is no different. To become a luxury real estate agent, you’ll need to network—and network in the right places to generate leads.

Circulate with people who own luxury listings

To sell high-end real estate, you’ll need to acquaint yourself with the people who own high-end real estate. This might mean adopting a hobby or pastime that (generally speaking) requires money or access and is associated with luxury lifestyle. If you already have a hobby with expensive tastes (think playing golf , horseback riding, or visiting art galleries for example), then you might go deeper into it, or pick it up again if you’ve let it drop off. 

But you don’t necessarily need to be into the same hobbies as the wealthier homeowners in your area; you can also figure out which causes and charity events they care about that are also interesting to you, and see if you can cultivate some connections and start generating leads that way.

Meet other service providers

People who own the most expensive homes in your market require help to manage their wealth and assets, and another way you can start to meet more luxury homeowners and become a luxury real estate agent is to learn who those service providers are in town.

Lawyers who specialize in prenuptial agreements or divorce cases with many assets involved, for example, might be good connections, as would be an estate lawyer. Property caretakers, high-end contractors, and even retail store owners as well as other professionals in the luxury market can help introduce you to their clients if they learn to trust you themselves.

Provide a concierge experience

The difference between a real estate agent who sells median-priced properties and a luxury real estate professionals can typically be found in the client experience. Wealthier clients expect white-glove treatment, and luxury agents work hard to ensure their client experience is smooth and comfortable as much as they possibly can.

Entering the luxury real estate market might entail move-in and repair services, arranging private showings and providing refreshments for buyers, or other small touches that make a huge difference that will make your wealthy clients feel taken care of.

Work every part of the process

A luxury real estate agent typically hasn’t skyrocketed from being a new agent to getting ideal clients and reaching heights in their career overnight; it often takes years of work and dedication to the entire sales process and the right marketing strategy before an agent is ready to serve the highest-net-worth clients. An agent, before they become a luxury realtor, needs to understand how to market luxury homes, tax implications, packing and moving delicate and expensive items, how to communicate with affluent clients and more—at least the basics.

Even if your aspiration is to become one of the high end agents, don’t feel too big or important to spend as much time as possible learning about every part of the sales process, especially if you never participate in it yourself. Ask lots of questions and learn about the specific challenges of the different people you work with (from photographers to your administrative team) behind the scenes so that you can better create a streamlined, polished experience for your clients and the best marketing strategy for the luxury properties.

Be responsive

Luxury real estate agents should expect to be readily available to their clients, which means they might need to work around international schedules and tight deadlines in order to make things happen. It’s critical for agents to be responsive around the entire deal, to both their clients and anybody who’s requesting their attention or information to help move the transaction along.

Offer customized service

“Bespoke” is the standard experience in high-end real estate. In other words, both luxury buyers and sellers expect their agent to tailor any communication and negotiation and other intricacies involved in the deal around their preferences and their schedules.

Being responsive is one way to anticipate and react to this expectation; another is to assume that every client will have their own preferences and needs, and to take responsibility for keeping tabs on all of those preferences and needs.

Expired listings exist here, too!

The common understanding is that it takes longer to sell a luxury home than a median-priced home, simply because the pool of buyers is much smaller, and it takes longer to market it. Those buyers typically also are not in a huge hurry to purchase a house and can take their time to make a decision.

Nonetheless, there is such a thing as expired luxury listings. You wouldn’t necessarily want to approach these the same way as you would a median-priced expired listing, but if the house is in an area or a niche that you have special expertise negotiating, then it definitely pays to keep tabs on expired listings and figure out ways to reach out to the homeowner so you can ask (delicately) what they think happened and possibly offer your services moving forward.

Specialize in a high-end real estate interest

High net worth individuals typically have property-related problems that most homebuyers (or homeowners, or home sellers) will not have to consider. You can help differentiate yourself from the other luxury agents in your market by finding a specialty area in the luxury niche —real estate investing, insurance questions, common property, and so on—and then establishing yourself as the local high-end go-to expert in that area.

Provide lessons or classes

Showcase your experience by offering lessons or classes around the topic that cover the basics and also give you the opportunity to answer any questions and get to know attendees (who will, by definition, be great prospects for you to mine!).

Leverage new builds

Luxury real estate developers in your market might be looking for an agent who specializes in high-end real estate so that they can outsource some of the effort it takes to market and sell those homes to appropriate buyers. If you can create and sustain relationships with those developers, cementing yourself as a dependable and reliable agent who takes good care of luxury clients, that’s an excellent way to establish or continue your business as a luxury realtor.

How to sell million-dollar homes

Source: Michael Johnigean

Know where to find the best buyers

The high-net-worth homebuyers might not necessarily live or work in the same market as where you’re selling a house—think about Lake Tahoe and San Francisco, for example. You’ll want to consider where else your buyers live and circulate, and consider how you can market to them where they are.

Work with an experienced agent or at a luxury brokerage

Many real estate professionals who decide to become a luxury real estate agent break their way into the business by co-listing with a more well-established luxury agent, or pairing with an experienced broker who’s known for high-end listings. Co listing is where some agents who have already been working in real estate for a while may feel like they have to “pay dues” more than they’d prefer, but it’s a good way to establish yourself as a trustworthy resource for high-net-worth individuals.

Network with other agents working in the luxury real estate market

Your high-net-worth buyers are going to want to know that you know how to find homes for sale in the luxury market, and likewise, any listing clients will be curious about how you plan to market their luxury property. 

Cultivating a network of other real estate agents and brokers who also work with luxury real estate properties, both inside and outside your market, can be a big benefit because it gives your affluent clients the (possibly quite accurate!) impression that you’re a well-connected problem-solver.

Make open houses a whole experience

An open house on the luxury market might include live music, catered food and an open bar, guided home tours pointing out the most interesting features, movie screenings in the theater room (with popcorn), or any number of other “extras” that would seem over-the-top at a traditional open house.

The type of experience you want to create with your open house will likely depend on the house itself, and its features. What are the most enticing attributes? What do you want to highlight? Then you can create a cocktail party or modern mixer that fits the venue and highlights the luxury property at its very best.

Luxury real estate marketing

How do you market a luxury listing? The basics are the same, but there are also some considerable differences you might want to think about so you can make sure your marketing is up to par for luxury listings.

Know where the buyers are

As stated above, your buyers might not be located in the same market as your luxury properties listings. You can still use social media and digital marketing to reach them, as well as even targeted mailing campaigns once you have a few sales under your belt and can get a sense for which ZIP codes host a large number of qualified buyers.

Consider listing as a vacation home for some time

If the home is in an area that’s popular as a resort or vacation destination, then this can be a strategy that sells it more quickly; even if it’s not in a much-visited area, putting an ad on Airbnb with a high enough nightly or weekly price point might get your listing on some kind of national list, especially if the photos and marketing copy are on point.

Listing a luxury house in a farm area as a vacation rental means asking sometimes five figures per night, and advertising as a rental to the kinds of people who can afford to drop nearly $100,000 on a week long getaway (for example) is a good place to start!

Get your social media presence and personal brand on point

Some people don’t think you can find any luxury real estate clients on social media, but that’s not necessarily true. Instagram photos of your latest listing, or short video tours, might get forwarded to someone who’s a qualified and interested buyer—but that’s not how many or most luxury real estate agents use social media.

Instead, if you want to become a luxury agent, think of your Facebook and Instagram profiles as a sort of social proof that you move in the same circles and shares the same values as the high-net-worth clients in your market. It’s a lifestyle marketing strategy and personal branding that tells your potential clients in a subtle way that you understand their challenges (and can help solve them) because you’re part of the same world.

Don’t cut corners with marketing

When you’re marketing a luxury real estate listing, then you need to remember that you’re not only selling the property for a high-net-worth client—you’re also trying to find the widest potential pool of affluent people who might be interested in buying this particular house, and cater to their tastes and interests, too.

This means that you need to make sure your marketing materials all reflect the quality of the property. Photos, landing pages, print materials, and anything else you create to showcase the property should be beautiful, well-designed, and inviting for the potential client.

This depends on the market. Typically, a luxury real estate listing will cost at least $1 million, and could range into the tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions of dollars.

For each million dollars in listings that an agent sells, they can expect to make about $30,000 with a standard 3% commission rate. Some agents charge higher commissions than this. And of course, this is a net amount; your marketing budget and other efforts will have to come out of this budget.

But that’s still a pretty fair amount if you’re talking about a $10 million house in one of the larger markets in the country—$300,000 for a single sale, even with expenses removed, is nothing to sneeze at!

If you’re hoping to get into luxury real estate sales in your area, it’s a good idea to start talking to luxury agents and brokers who are already killing it and who might need some help managing their business. This is one of the best ways to learn the luxury world, get to know high end buyers and start to shape your own future as a luxury real estate professional.

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