This summer we’re looking at the state of the luxury agent & broker in today’s increasingly complex real estate market. In October, we’ll gather in Beverly Hills at Luxury Connect to share best practices, network, and create blueprint for the luxury agent/broker of tomorrow. Don’t miss it.
Paul Benson has captured the title of the top global agent at Engel & Völkers, so it’s safe to say that this luxury real estate professional knows what he’s doing. Benson has built his business in Park City, Utah, largely around feeder markets, finding the outside markets most interested in purchasing a second ski-resort or mountain-ranch home and extending his reach into those markets. “For a long time, our biggest feeder markets were in Texas,” Benson explained, “but since the recession, the majority of our business has come from California, especially since oil prices dropped — these are the kinds of things you have to know and speak to and understand.”
Benson will be moderating a panel discussion on managing feeder market business plans — how to start one and how to grow one — at Luxury Connect, October 16 through 18 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
How do you get started with a feeder market? “For a new agent just starting out, I found sources like the Chamber of Commerce or local national-brand hotels extremely helpful in establishing who your feeder market is, because they spend money typical real estate agents can’t waste in doing the demographic searches,” Benson noted. “Many times if you take a montage of St. Regis, a Waldorf, a Hilton, a Hyatt — we see where they’re advertising, and it gives us a little cheat sheet into where we could spend some money.”
Once you’ve identified those markets, it’s important to “stay up on the economy and current events in the markets you’re advertising,” he added. Understanding the lifestyle of the people in your feeder markets who will be drawn to real estate where you practice is key; this will help you target the publications and digital outlets where those people spend time, giving you a better idea of where to put your marketing dollars.
Hear more from Benson and other feeder market experts at Luxury Connect, coming up quickly — register today!
What do you think the luxury agent of the future looks like?
Luxury agents of the future will understand that their role truly is an advisor position and not a sales position.
There’s a lot of technology and information out there, and ultimately a client is looking for a person who can assimilate that information, decipher it, determine what is real and not real, and who can be a bigger part of the transaction. Right now you can sit at home and order Amazon and have groceries delivered to your house in two hours or less — people don’t want to spend 10 weeks selling a home. They want to know who’s going to handle their mortgage, who’s going to handle their utilities, what’s the country club they’ll join on the other end. Real estate will be a lot more service-focused and community-focused.
What do you feel are the challenges facing the luxury market this year?
Confusion. The stock market’s at an all-time high, unemployment’s at an all-time low, inventory’s at an all-time low even though it’s climbing, and there’s a lot of press that the end is near for the peak of the housing market. So buyers are pausing and asking “am I paying top, top, top dollar?” We still have a solid market as far as an overall economy, but prices in a lot of markets have exceeded what a buyer is comfortable with. That confusion is something we’re going to have to work through.
What are some of the biggest problems you’ve faced in growing your business?
I wish I’d defined myself earlier, what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. As soon as I decided to not be everything to everybody, my career skyrocketed. One of our risks is to be too much, say too much, know too much, do too much, and that’s been a challenge, is to find that balance.
How has technology changed your business, and what are you most intrigued by that you’re not currently using?
It’s helped me get more organized in finding clients, tracking leads and adjusting my budget in understanding which leads are working and not working. It’s helped me stay in contact with clients; it’s helped in many ways. There’s something technology-focused for everything in real estate that’s made life a little easier.
What I’m probably not using the most would be something like a Boomtown that automates the process overall, simply because I’m still crossed in where the client prefers the personal touch vs. the automation, and I’m still trying to define that for myself.
What’s the question you hear most from your clients? And what’s your answer to them?
Are you afraid of what Zillow and Compass are trying to do to the industry? Are you afraid they’re taking over the Realtor and that it’s due for a major change? Isn’t that the future, and what are you going to do?
My answer is actually exactly how I feel: I’m not afraid. I’m just tired of answering the question! Because in a seller’s market, a Zestimate from Zillow or the information sources from Compass — the future of what Compass says they’re going to be — are very valuable in helping you price and sell a home and all of the above. In a buyer’s market, the very first thing that’s going to happen when someone’s home doesn’t sell is they’ll pick up a phone and say “I need your help, what can I do?” And the whole cycle will start over.
I don’t see the cycle changing; I just see that we need to adapt to the reality that the client no longer needs us, therefore we can’t believe we can control the sale.
Thinking of bringing your team? There are special onsite perks and discounts when you buy those tickets together too. Just contact us to find out more.