In this interview for The Close, we talk to Michael LaFido, a top-producing Realtor and real estate consultant with over sixteen years of experience in the industry. Throughout his career, Michael learned the importance of high-caliber marketing versus “traditional marketing”, which has become the key to his success.
This approach is based on developing and maintaining relationships with his clients, so that he can serve them with the highest standard of customer service and respect. Over the past sixteen years, LaFido and his team developed a method that takes a more comprehensive, proactive approach to marketing a home.
Michael LaFido is the author of the book “Marketing Luxury” and the best-selling book “Cracking the Real Estate Code”. Michael’s marketing has been the featured cover story in Crain’s Chicago Business and highlighted at noon on FOX News Chicago’s business hour.
Michael is the founder of the Marketing Luxury Group. The Marketing Luxury Group assists other real estate agents and affluent homeowners by providing premium Bespoke services including “lifestyle marketing’, consulting, and PR services to help agents and owners sell their luxury homes using our proven and reputable strategies.
Michael also created the nationally recognized luxury certification for real estate agents which is known as The Luxury Listing Specialist Certification (LUXE). This new certification establishes a minimum set of standards for agents that represent luxury homes and will be offered as Continuing Education (CE) for real estate agents in 8 states initially. These trainings are based on the same principles Michael outlines in his book, “Marketing Luxury”, and that he teaches agents across the world through the Marketing Luxury Group, his marketing and consulting business. Many agents within the industry are calling Michael’s methods “The New Standard” for marketing luxury homes today.
So okay hey everyone we’re here with Michael Lafido. Michael is a top producing luxury broker in the Chicago area, the founder of Marketing Luxury Group which is a coaching agency, a consultancy and helps agents of homeowners sell luxury homes. He’s also created a nationally recognized luxury certification for real estate agents known as the luxury listing specialist certification or LUX which I think looks awesome after an email signature so kudos to that.
He’s also been featured in Crain’s Chicago Business 00:35 on Fox News and a whole bunch of other news sources of real estate expert luxury marketing. So Michael but one more thing too is he’s written a book Luxury Listing Specialist Book: Dominate Luxury Listings in Your Market which is a great book I recommend which is available on Amazon. Michael how are you doing today?
Yeah so thanks again that’s a great question I get that question asked quite often and unfortunately there’s a lot of stumbling blocks that agents put in front of themselves I call them limiting beliefs. So this is a people based business right and people don’t care how much I know until they know I care and so it is a relationship business and so you know if agents are putting themselves out there they’re likeable, they’re building their share their database. They’re positioning themselves as an expert and how do you position yourself as an expert is you provide great content information to your given market place. So you know tips for buyers, tips for sellers maybe market updates that sort of thing. It’s really important and we’re in a Google world where people can Google you and check you up on Facebook, Linkedin etc and you know are you putting great information out there or do you have you know images and your brand doesn’t match your message?
So it’s really important from a foundational standpoint that that agents you know are thinking ahead of that, ahead of time but your reference say if somebody’s a really successful agent but there may be some more entry level you know how do they get to that that that multi-million dollar or some markets you know. Let me let me start there I define high-end homes as two times whatever the average sale price is for that given market and I define luxurious three times whatever the average sale price is for that market. So you know if Rochester, New York the average sale price is three hundred grand while high-end would be six hundred and above and luxury would be three hundred and above.
I think it’s important for those that are watching this video or reading this that they realize it’s all relative given to your market so you don’t have to have a McMansion 03:58 and you’re in your market but based on that terminology if three times is luxury you know how do you how do you break into that? So that’s a very complicated question and there’s a lot of different answers but… But I’m going to give you like one one that’s a big you know Golden Nugget and it’s like Robert De Niro and meet the parents if you remember he talked about the circle of trust it was very difficult to penetrate the circle of trust. So in that movie Ben Stiller was you know that the soon-to-be son-in-law and but getting back to luxury real estate is difficult to penetrate to circle of trust because when you’re dealing with high net worth individuals many times they have their guard up because they’ve been taken advantage of or they’ve been tried people have tried to take advantage of them.
Everything from you know the landscaper to the painter to some of that works on their house to whoever it might be they might add an extra zero at the end because they live in that gated community. So it’s difficult to penetrate that circle of trust and so one of the ways i recommend to agents to penetrate that is indirect ways. So indirect ways would be who the influencers are? Who are the people in their circle of trust? Who are their close confidants? So you know so I recommend to real estate agents that are trying to break into and sell high-end homes in a given market is you start basically what’s called a luxury networking group. And you basically you meet once a month and you have influencers that catered a high network individuals business owners that sort of thing.
And the best way to get referrals is give referrals and so if a real estate agent in Rochester, New York started a luxury networking group and he had the local you know luxury cars it was called Bentley or Lamborghini guy and he had a men’s clothing line, he had a couple of different attorneys, a state plan or a divorce attorney. You know non competing at first off I say this is not Noah’s Ark you’re not getting two of a kind so you know that the host is the only real estate agent unless you don’t do commercial and there’s a commercial real estate agent that caters the high-end network individuals. So you have non competing businesses that that cater and their ideal client is a luxury client and you bring value to those businesses you refer people those business and when you show up and you show up with your book or you know I have a video book that maybe I share with you I have for real estate agents.
I do a lot of these luxury videos where you know you pounds and that sort of thing. And when I show up to a networking meeting I have the video book I’m gonna show and tell business. I don’t just tell them hey you know we showcase properties with amazing photos and drones and we bring in cars I actually bring this and I’ll show them an example. So now they’re like wow that guy is different so when they go back to their database in their sphere and you overhear someone talking I want to sometimes be the second opinion. So hey maybe you know someone that are sick and tired of being on the market with the traditional agents or not getting the results or they keep getting the excuse lower the price you know we give free second opinions. No different than financial advisors or you know you break your leg and you want to get a second opinion from a doctor so I recommend to agents that you position yourself with individuals that cater to high net worth individuals but position yourself with the luxury networking group is one thing but you gotta bring content and education to those marketplaces. You got to know your numbers okay and you have to break in with those high net worth individuals but most individuals unfortunately most real estate agents they have limiting beliefs or excuses that are keeping them.
So some of those excuses might be I’d have to be licensed X amount of years before I can sell luxury homes, with a certain big name brand or maybe you’re with a big name you got to be with a certain boutique in your area. Now you have to be look you know rich yourself or drive a certain car or live in a certain community. These are a false false false false stop telling yourself that because it’s holding you back. So you really have to know it makes you different or your office different because you might be going up against Jenny rock star from this other firm and you have to bring more value to the table but again nobody cares how much you know until they know you care. So build rapport I recommend if an agent has an appointment with a high net worth individual or anybody for that matter you do your research on…
You know I call it the reverse social media scrub do you guys have similar connections? Do you know what called affinities? Do you have some kind of affinity? You ride a Harley, they ride a Harley. You went to you know Harvard they went to Harvard what it might be try to figure out some common ground and that’s how you build affinity because I know for a fact that many real estate agents have lost opportunities to work with high net worth individual to another agent that they could out market they would do a better job but they missed that valuable step and they weren’t likable or they missed that that common ground of building affinity and I’m a big personality profile guy as well. Disc I use there’s Myers-Briggs you need to communicate with others the way they want to be communicated with and so understanding personality types. If you’re a driver like I’m a D a bottom-line guy don’t pull out that PowerPoint and go through your hundred slides because you’ve lost it. You need to present to somebody the way they want to be presented to and they’re not going to come out and tell you I’m a S or I’m a C or I’m this kind of personality you have to pick up on these cues.
Yeah that’s a great question um so there’s several things first off you know the agent representing this the seller representing a home it’s like a product launch just like Steve Jobs that he perfected at Apple and so you got to do the research. Research on the property, on the architect the story of the home you have to create a story. People buy on emotion and they and they and they justify in logic you have to you have to build the story around the property the location the town the history of the property the materials of the property and you 98% of agents miss the mark on that they really do. So all of your research before you go in the market you got to do the research of who your potential buyers? I use the old adage who’s the avatar or you know the bitmoji of who who’s the potential buyer okay?
And then you have to create a marketing plan to cater to the majority okay you can’t be all things to all people but based on who you think the buyer is you want to cater the marketing towards that buyer if it’s a young family with kids then through your marketing efforts are you painting that story that picture so that that young family that has kids can picture themselves utilizing the pool and a trampoline and the parks or the schools? And so figuring out who your buyer is cater your marketing to them are there migration patterns?
Are there certain corporations or buyers are coming in there’s snowbirds or whatever it might be and then cater to those markets. You can cater through them through demographics you know I can I can cater to potential buyers right now in Bradenton, Florida that are looking to move to Chicago through Facebook right and there’s different things you can do so your ad here in Chicago is actually showing up on their computer there and so figuring out that sort of thing is going to be really important. And then how are you gonna position the property? And that is where most agents fail miserably and I say position it’s not just photos, it’s not just description, it’s not just video it’s I’ve developed what I call 21 profit activators that if an agent passes like basically green light, yellow light, red light. If they pass each of those areas the probability of them selling that luxury property skyrockets and I will tell you no matter what marketplace somebody is in at some price point this shift occurs from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market and when you get to a buyer’s market you’ve a lot of inventory and it’s not moving or maybe there isn’t a lot of inventory but the inventory that’s out there is still it’s not moving, days on the market increase, the sale prices are substantially lower than the asking price.
Sometimes years on the market every marketplace that shift occurs from a seller’s market multiple offers, days on the market are low, to a buyer’s market and any homeowner that has one of those difficult properties they need to hire not a traditional Tim or traditional Tami they need to hire a marketer someone that thinks outside the box and is aggressive. So before even the marketing begins you have to do all this research and you have to prepare like a product launch.
It’s definitely not easy you know and so the other part of the problem you know so two things that we really try to help agents is we help agents secure their first trophy listings or if they have that difficult one and it’s not sound we help them get it souls besides the certification. So I just helped the co-founder of a company called EXP Realty secure six and a half million dollar listing in Scottsdale and so he hired me before his appointment we coached him up and he brought my book and he actually I sent him that the same video book I held up he brought this on the listing employment and he got the listing but more importantly we’re coaching him up now that he got the listing on how to go to market.
So it’s been over 60 days before he’s it’s not even on the Multiple Listing Service as we speak today because we have one time to make a first impression and he’s the fourth agent so if we keep doing the same things everybody else is doing you know Albert Einstein says that’s insanity right. So that’s the problem with our industry is there’s too many traditional agents doing the same thing as everybody else and these million-dollar agent shows aren’t helping because they make it look as easy or multiple bids or they come across as rude and or whatever it might be not all but you know what I mean.
Sure so lifestyle marketing, the simple answer is basically when it’s real estate-related we’re talking lifestyle marketing. When you tell my lifestyle marketing with real estate you’re not just selling a brick-and-mortar property, you’re not just selling a plot of land with with a stone you are selling everything that comes with it the amenities of the home, the the lifestyle of the property, the setting, the location, the area amenities, what it backs up to, what it overlooks everything. So you gotta pull those you gotta hit those emotional buttons those hot buttons as I mentioned to you people buy an emotion and they justify in logic you know when you when you go looking in for cars and you’re looking at exotic cars they want to test or get you in a test drive so much they do everything to get you in that car because they know that experience when you sit and you smell that leather versus look at it and in the in the brochure there’s a big difference. So touching on those emotional cues in the various senses so lifestyle marketing brings that to life it puts it front Center because you have left brain right brain people.
Right left brain are your analytical you know linear thinkers and right brain buy an emotion and so the lifestyle marketing taps on both of those features. I could have the best copywriter you could write the copy for all my properties it means jack it means zilch unless you position the home to amazing photos and videos in the position not just great photos it’s knowing what the best features of each of the rooms are and what the focal points are that is a science in itself. And so all of this none of this works all the time but all of it works the majority of time and so it all kind of comes together. So you have to be really good at all of these you don’t have to be the best at all of them but you gotta be really good at all of them. You know one of the best major league baseball pitchers of all time Greg Maddux I was a cub still I’m a Chicago Cubs fan.
He didn’t have the best fastball, the best off-speed, the best curveball but best McCann but you put it all together he’s one of the best of all time so many agents have analysis by paralysis and they they’re overwhelmed they don’t know where to begin because there’s so many social media sites they need to belong to and I tell agents all the time keep it simple, know what your strengths are SWOT analysis. Know what your individual strengths are as an agent and your personality, know what your weaknesses are, know what opportunities are, know what your competitors are doing and that’s really you know my main you know big takeaway for agents but the lifestyle marketing getting back to your original question is everything I mentioned.
Everything from the overall experience a look and feel to the property to what will everyday life look like for them when they have the rat race and they come home and they put their feet up at night what are they looking forward to with this property and it’s an agent’s job to know what the majority of buyers are looking for today based on market research and really accentuate those best features of their lifestyle.
You know that’s that’s a it’s a good question you know I’m a big blocking and tackling guy right. Football comes down to you know blocking in tackling the fundamentals you know a lot of people are on these 3d not necessary virtual reality but you know matter port is to me you know it’s really about some of the fundamentals. Understanding your numbers, knowing what the unique aspects of the property is and then getting it out there to the right potential buyers. And so I’m excited I had some conferences coming up I host these trainings we just had one recently where we had agents from eight states represented. So you know I love helping agents break down those barriers I want to leave you with three quick stories.
The first story is that’s from Dallas she sat through my training, she’s probably 60 years old a veteran agent never had listed anything about 550 in her marketplace, within 60 days in my training she went on a 5.3 million dollar listing appointment. Her name is Joan Blin from Keller Williams Joan said Mike I would have never get a million dollars listing before your class let alone five point three. So those are the things I’m excited about I did a training recently where we had a bus take the class over to an 11 million dollar mansion and I encouraged agents to do their Facebook live videos from there about half the class had never done a Facebook live and a high-end property and so we encourage them to do that and everybody did including a 70 year old agent and she’s like oh my god she said I did five of them but the last one was good I said well you don’t realize all five were live but the last one that was good when he posted it it will be up there forever so like teaching her but she stepped out of her comfort zone. So I’ll leave you at those but that that’s something that I always encourage agents to step out of your comfort zone because that’s where the magic happens and like the sign behind me says you gotta prove them wrong. Someone’s told you you couldn’t do it you gotta be with a certain brand, you’re a female you can’t do this or you got to be licensed X amount of years or you can’t do that it… I love proving people wrong and I hope those that are watching or listening or reading us feel the same way.