44 REALTOR® NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 REALTORMAG.REALTOR.ORG
Three pros share strategies for
working with deep-pocketed clients.
High-end real estate is booming. About 9 percent of U.S. buyers bought homes priced at $500,000 and above last year, up from 6 percent in 2010, according to the National
Association of REALTORS®’ Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.
But it takes more than a pricey marketing campaign or rubbing elbows with luxury specialists to succeed in high-end sales,
defined by realtor.com® as an entry point between $500,000
and $1 million depending on the region. Unrivaled market expertise and impeccable customer service are core principles that
should be mastered. Here’s how three practitioners put these
fundamentals to work.
The Condo Queen
Karen Rodriguez, a salesperson with Dorsey Alston,
REALTORS®, has cultivated her business in Atlanta’s prestigious Buckhead neighborhood over the past 11 years. As she
landed more and more higher-priced condo sales, developers
took notice. In December 2013, Rodriguez won an exclusive
agreement to handle sales at The Residences at Mandarin
Oriental where she has sold eight units (as of September),
with a total volume of $16 million.
Rodriguez targets other high-end buildings in downtown
The Resident Expert
Atlanta with direct mailings and advertises in The New York
Times and The Wall Street Journal. Because her buyers are
financially savvy and detail oriented, they want to understand
the developer’s financial picture as well as the story behind the
building. She provides it all, sending her clients home with nu-
merous pictures and handouts. Her sales team also posts pro-
fessional photos of their staged listings on Pinterest. Whether
or not prospective buyers are on Pinterest, their designers and
decorators are, and they’ve been a rich source of buyer leads.
Over the past 17 years, Minneapolis-based sales associate Gary
Bennett with RE/MAX Results has been inside the vast majority
of homes in the Lowery Hill and Kenwood neighborhoods—an
area with some of the Twin Cities’ most sought-after luxury
Bennett’s familiarity with the housing stock, his nearly
two decades as a resident, and his background in older home
renovations (he has restored three homes in the area) have propelled his success. Entry-level prices in his market are between
$750,000 and $1 million.
Bennett’s remodeling experience enables him to advise clients on how new projects will factor into the price. Dated kitchens or bathrooms will kill a sale, he says. Bennett finds success
with direct mail campaigns, which other practitioners abandoned during the recession. “You just can’t survive online; this is
a people business,” Bennett says. “I’ve taken calls from people
gearing up for next year directly related to those mailings.”
The Savvy Developer
Carlos Tosca, who cofounded Palmcorp Development Group in
2009, builds homes in Miami with prices ranging from
$699,000 to $4.5 million. He saw an opportunity when little was
being built right after the recession. That first year, his company
did 80 percent rehabs and 20 percent new construction—but
after that, the new construction side took o;.
Tosca and his partner, Gus De Ribeaux, o;er spec homes
that include customizable features for virtually every aspect of
the design. They add amenities high-end buyers desire, including open floor plans and energy e;cient systems, which are
features most pre-2006 builds didn’t include. They deliver fast,
too—within eight months, while other luxury developments can
take two years or longer. “As soon as we saw it was working,
we raised capital and we abandoned rehabs completely in
2010,” he says. In 2013, Palmcorp delivered $13 million in home
sales, and Tosca’s projecting $24 million for 2014.
By Erica Christo;er
how to . . .
tap the luxury niche
COUR TES Y OF THE RESIDENCES AT MANDARIN ORIEN TAL, ATLAN TA ©2014