Working With High Net-Worth Clients

Real estate agents work hard. Sometimes, we feel like we toil away, cranking out listing after listing, hammering on closings, all in an effort to reach our financial goals and answer the ‘why’ of our exertions.

We’d all like to get maximum return for minimum work and a high net worth client base is one way to get there: just one closing for a million-dollar property brings the same fee for us as multiple lower-priced listings.

But, breaking into that market requires not only effort but some special commitments and it’s not for everyone. Let’s examine what it takes to work with high-income clients and assess the skill set needed so you can determine if that’s where your future lies.

Breaking In

  • Study the existing industry leaders. Who leads your market in high-end properties? Do your best to study their methods. And, there’s nothing like going to the source, asking for advice, and trying to work with them. There’s no better way to start than as an apprentice to someone who already has the relationships.
  • Make the rounds with insiders. Network with the experts your target audience goes to for advice – the financial advisers, brokers, lawyers, and even architects who typically work with the audience you want to reach. One tip: join a civic group or volunteer with a local charity that hosts high-end social events. There’s nothing like meeting someone on their home social turf to make a connection.
  • Clothes make the man – and woman. John T. Molloy’s 1975 book Dress for Success was a whopping bestseller for good reason: its sole purpose was to analyze the effect of attire on personal and business success and its principles hold true. For better or worse, clients in the high net worth bracket will size you up on first meeting and you need to look the part. Don’t despair if you can’t afford to look like you just stepped off 5th Avenue in New York: when in doubt, dress conservatively.

Once You’re In

  • Don’t be a ‘yes’ person. CEO-types not only get used to lackeys and flunkies but they recognize their attention for what they are: non-subtle attempts to get in their pockets and pocketbooks. Shoot straight with them and tell them the hard truths others aren’t comfortable doing. If their asking price is unreasonable, it’s up to you to tell them.
  • Don’t be afraid of unconventional strategies. Entrepreneurial types didn’t get where they are by following the school solution and will be open to non-traditional methods if it gets them what they want.
  • Be a personal concierge. It’s not that we shouldn’t offer each of our client’s excellent service, but when you specialize in luxury properties, you will find yourself working with clientele to expect and are accustomed to service providers going over and beyond. You need to learn to anticipate their needs and provide what they want before they ask for it.

While being able to meet your annual goals with the sale on only a couple of properties a year sounds exciting, this work isn’t for everyone and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you work less: it’s a different type of work, so don’t let money alone turn your head. There’s a market for every agent and an agent for every type of client, so choose the luxury property market if the work – and not the payout – sounds appealing.