It’s one thing to dream of helping affluent clients buy and sell beautiful up-market homes. But how do you actually become a luxury real estate agent?
For the past 10-plus years, I’ve coached agents on how to attract and retain high-net-worth clients and the truth is, breaking into the world of luxury real estate is surprisingly simple. It does take some creativity, hard work, and tenacity, but mostly, you need a real passion for all things luxury. In this article, I’ll teach you how to become a luxury real estate agent using my 11 favorite tried-and-tested methods—and you can start today!
First Things First: The Luxury Real Estate Market in 2023
What Is Luxury Real Estate?
A property is generally considered “luxury” when it is priced in the top 10% of the local market. Because each area is different, a luxury home in a small charming town might sell for $1 million, while one in a bright bustling city could be valued at tens of millions of dollars.
While the price tag matters, a property could also be “luxury” for other reasons. Maybe it offers a unique location, is attached to extensive acreage, was made from exceptional materials, showcases cutting-edge technology, was designed by a famous architect, or boasts a prestigious history.
What Is the Luxury Real Estate Market Like in 2023?
The luxury real estate market has changed radically over the past few years, but especially in the past 12 months. Both the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) research department and Coldwell Banker’s annual Global Luxury Trend Report offer valuable insight into the current high-end real estate market and are helpful resources for anyone wanting to become a luxury agent.
2023 Luxury Market Takeaways:
- Almost 90% of respondents to the Coldwell Banker survey agree that the real estate market will be better than or the same as 2022 for investment in real estate.
- The top international buyers in 2022 were from China ($6.1 billion), Canada ($5.5 billion), India ($3.6 billion), and Mexico ($2.9 billion).
- The top states that drew foreign real estate investment were Florida, California, and Texas.
- With the current instability of the bond and stock markets, investors are increasingly turning to real estate.
- Buyers are investing in second and third homes as a hedge against inflation.
- Traditional luxury hot spots, like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston, are heating up.
- Cash is king, as buyers take money out of the fluctuating stock market to invest in tangible assets like real estate. Twenty-six percent of transactions were all-cash in November 2022, which was up from 24% earlier in the year.
Put all of this data together and it paints a picture of a healthy luxury real estate market, as, according to Colwell Banker’s report, “increasing numbers of the affluent appear to be gravitating toward real estate to create financial, emotional, and psychological stability.”
So be encouraged! There’s plenty of room for motivated real estate agents to take the luxury market by storm.
Getting Started: What You Need
What really matters is your commitment to becoming a luxury real estate agent. Those who excel in the high-end market provide service, consistency, and excellence. You’ll need to be passionate, creative, dedicated, and authentic every single day. And you can start right now with my proven tips below!
1. Adopt a Fancy Hobby
The best way to meet high-net-worth clients is by doing something you already enjoy. This can be as easy as joining a local antique car group, attending a few fine art shows, sipping your way through wine tastings, or finding a local polo club.
While you might not be in a position to buy your own polo pony, there are many ways to be an enthusiast. No 1955 Jaguar D-Type? No problem. Educate yourself on antique cars and attend meetups and car shows to show off your knowledge. Then, if you are attending a vintage car race, you can bring a list of luxury properties in your area that feature large garages or outbuildings that would be perfect for a vintage car collector.
But—and I cannot stress this enough—start with a hobby you actually enjoy or at least find interesting. No one likes a poser.
2. Make Luxury Part of Your Personal Brand
A key step to breaking into the luxury market is to make sure all your marketing materials—including your business cards, website, advertising, and social media—are cohesive and sophisticated.
Attract the attention of high-end homebuyers by showing them the best of the luxury lifestyle in your farm area. Marketing the luxury lifestyle is easier than ever before with social media as the perfect place to “fake it until you make it.” It won’t cost you a lot of money to feature and discuss high-end restaurants, gallery openings, or golf tournaments on your social media accounts.
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3. Get Involved With Charities & Causes
It’s no secret that affluent people often support causes, attend charity events and auctions, volunteer, and fundraise. Target an issue that means something to you and get involved. Organize a toy drive, chair an event, join a board, or start donating a portion or your commission to a specific cause.
Relationships and opportunities will develop naturally when your dedication to the cause shines through. From there, you can build a network that will lead to new opportunities.
This is another strategy that requires authenticity and sincerity. Don’t fake a love of rescue dogs if you don’t like animals—people will see right through you.
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4. Sweat the Small Stuff
In a property worth millions of dollars, every detail is important. You need to be ready to point out the luxury finishes, from the big obvious indoor basketball court to the tiniest cutting-edge audio speaker. You need to know about the Italian quarry where calacatta marble is found, which high-end French range is en vogue, and how a property’s eco-friendly green roof is not just cool—it cools.
If, for example, you work in a market with lots of expensive historic homes, you need to have the proper vocabulary: know a cornice from a corbel and the difference between balusters and the balustrade. And be familiar with easements and zoning boards that may get a say in future renovations and restorations.
On the water? Know your boat lifts and dock permits. In the mountains of Colorado, what are the fire risks, the best ski lodges, and stocked trout streams? If someone is going to pay a premium for luxury property features, you need to become the luxury agent who knows what they are and why (or if) they’re worth it.
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5. Solve a Problem Specific to the Wealthy
Remember, you’re not just a real estate agent, you are a luxury real estate agent, and you offer more profound knowledge and broader expertise. Here is a list of common concerns for high-net-worth individuals, which often dovetail perfectly with your real estate services.
Think of one (and only one) problem that a luxury client may have that you can solve. You can then position yourself as the one person in your market who solves this problem for affluent clients. Reflect on your career and experiences and ask yourself the following questions:
- What experiences, skills, and knowledge are valuable to a luxury client?
- Which luxury clients would benefit from my skills and experience?
Then, write a positioning statement to use on all your marketing. For example:
“I help high-income individuals create, acquire, and manage a diverse property portfolio.”
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6. Teach a Relevant Course
Once you know which specific problem you are uniquely qualified to solve, get out there and start educating your prospective clients. High-net-worth individuals may desire a deeper knowledge of real estate investing, 1031 exchanges, recent zoning changes, second home purchases, or development opportunities—and you can be the one to teach them.
How to Explain 1031 Exchange Rules to Your Clients (in Plain English)
Position yourself as the real estate educator and local authority by creating a 30- to 45-minute presentation or workshop. Ideally, you want to share all the ways that they can solve the problem without telling them exactly how to do it. End with a simple call to action: If they would like more information, they will need to schedule a meeting with you.
Focus on educating without getting anything in return. Even if you don’t set any meetings at first, you will eventually become a trusted authority on your chosen subject, leading to opportunities in the future.
🧁🍩🍬Don’t forget to bring snacks! Offering cookies, coffee, or even wine and cheese can go a long way toward breaking the ice. 🍸🧀🍷
7. Level Up With Designations
If you choose to become a respected luxury real estate agent, you need proof that you have the knowledge, skills, and experience to handle such an expensive asset. There are several designations and certifications explicitly designed for agents in the luxury real estate market, including:
9 Real Estate Designations That Will Actually Make You Money
8. Hitch Your Wagon to a Star
You can gain serious skills and connections by helping other luxury agents with their marketing, events, and open houses. When you can show your well-to-do peers that you are hungry, they will be more likely to take a chance on you as a referral partner when they’re too busy to give their high-end clients the attention they often demand.
Don’t be too proud to co-list, either. If someone is too busy to take on a luxury listing, offer to jump in, co-list, and do the grunt work. Half of the commission of a luxury listing is well worth it. Becoming a luxury real estate agent is all about the hustle.
33 Open House Ideas That Will Actually Get You Leads in 2023
9. Mine Expired Luxury Listings & FSBOs
Luxury homes can take two to three times longer to sell than the average home because fewer people can afford them. Plus, many are custom-designed and have unique features, making them more difficult to price correctly the first time.
Some luxury listings can sit on the market for years and change listing agents multiple times before they sell. You don’t necessarily need to close your first luxury listing to get started—you just need to get one, and more will follow.
Luxury for sale by owner (FSBO) sellers can also find it difficult to attract “real” homebuyers for their premium-priced homes. This means that there is opportunity for savvy agents to prospect for both luxury expireds and FSBOs.
When I coach agents on how to get listings by prospecting expired luxury listings and FSBOs, I encourage them to present themselves as ambitious (yet professional) luxury real estate agents who offer the ultimate solution to a client’s problem.
10. Claim New Construction as Your Own
Hustling to become the representative for a new residential construction project is one of the fastest ways to establish yourself in the luxury market. If a developer has one project and likes the work you’ve done to sell it, chances are they’ll have another one … and then another one.
Here, networking is key. Take any opportunity you can to get in front of developers and show off your skills. It might even be possible to consult on projects before they ever begin. After all, you’re the real estate expert and have plenty of knowledge about what the market will bear. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that can grow and develop over time.
11. Have a Service Mindset
High-net-worth individuals are used to a certain level of service. Promptly responding to emails and texts and answering the phone is just the beginning. Exceptional service is all about making the client feel like they are your first—and most important—priority.
We’re not talking about splashing out on fancy gifts or splurging on expensive meals. Showing clients you care is often about the smallest details. Remembering birthdays, anniversaries, and children’s names (and their hobbies or favorite sports teams) can go a long way. A simple handwritten note can speak volumes about the kind of agent you are.
Too busy at the polo fields or charity auctions for handwritten notes? Addressable crafts personalized messages and uses its proprietary technology to recreate your handwriting, crafting a note that looks just like the real thing.
Bonus Tip: Luxury Marketing on a Budget
If you can’t quite afford a full luxury marketing team yet, try LabCoat Agents Marketing Center. It’s the first design platform created just for real estate agents. They offer beautiful, easy-to-edit templates for email newsletters, just-sold flyers, door hangers, social media posts, business cards, and much more.
Bringing It All Together
Becoming a luxury real estate agent sounds daunting, but in the end, it’s pretty simple. Connect with your passion. Be genuine in your pursuit of relationships and networks. Create a plan to meet affluent people who share the same excitement for luxury real estate properties that you have. Brand yourself appropriately, work hard, and provide a professional, unparalleled client experience. Take these steps and you’re already on your way to becoming a luxury real estate agent.
Remember that, in today’s world, luxury is not about price—it’s about the uniqueness of an experience and elite level of service. Keep track of your progress with our luxury agent checklist.
Do you have a way to break into luxury that we didn’t mention here? Let us know in the comment section!