There was a time, not too long ago, when we counselled our luxury home listing clients to be prepared for a long, slow trip to the closing table. Much has changed in this niche of the Madison real estate market over the past year and now, when asked how long the home will take to sell, we answer with “It depends.”
Don’t get us wrong, although the high-end property owners who took our advice last fall and listed their homes for sale did so during a seller’s market, since then, conditions have changed and, since July, demand for these properties has declined slightly. Nationwide, more than 40 percent of luxury listings experienced a price reduction, according to Altos Research.
It’s still a good time to sell your Madison luxury home, but it’s smart to get up to speed on what to expect during the process.
The luxury home seller in Madison
One thing we’ve noticed with our high-end home sellers in Madison is that they are heavily invested in thinking that their home is the best one on the market. This may be true, but when combined with the attitude of many high-end property owners, who can afford to be choosy, and the chances are good that negotiations may become protracted.
If a buyer requests changes, say in your lighting or flooring, it’s not meant as an insult to your taste. The longer you take to determine whether or not you will give in to the requests, the longer the home will take to sell.
Regardless of how affluent you are, your home represents a substantial financial asset, the sale of which needs to be approached as a business deal. Requests for changes aren’t meant to be personally insulting and if you remain unemotional the sale will face a smoother road to closing.
Use caution when choosing your Madison real estate agent
“How do you make the incomparable, comparable?” asks author and luxury real estate expert Jack Cotton who now counsels real estate agents who work in the luxury home nice.
Pricing a home, whether it’s a tract home or an estate, involves comparing the home to similar homes which have recently sold. Since luxury homes are typically custom homes as well, it’s challenging for even an experienced agent to come up with homes to use for comparison.
Determining market value in the world of high-end real estate requires a skill set that agent who don’t often work in this segment of the market haven’t acquired. The necessary knowledge involves experience in adjusting various amenities in a “quantitative manner . . . for the differences among the comps and the subject,” according to Cotton.
Then, there’s the marketing of luxury homes, which in no way compares to the marketing of homes in the lower price ranges. The agent you hire must have a healthy marketing budget to put into action the unique marketing methods required when getting the word out about your home. The rookie or part-time agent (and many, many full-time agents) typically lack even a tiny marketing budget.
Don't sell the steak—sell the sizzle!
Although Elmer Wheeler’s admonition was popularized almost three quarters of a century ago, it still holds true today, especially when marketing million dollar-plus luxury estates.“The sizzle is the tang in the cheese, the crunch in the cracker, the whiff in the coffee and the pucker in the pickle,” Wheeler added.
To a seasoned luxury home real estate specialist, the sizzle is the lifestyle the home represents. He or she understands the affluent buyer, his or her hot buttons, and targets them with the precision of a laser beam.
The luxury homebuyer pool is a small pond compared to the ocean of buyers in the lower price ranges. Competition for these buyers is often quite fierce. It takes money, creativity and the ability to remain sophisticated and stylish to help a home stand out among the competition.
The luxury home buyer in Madison
In a buyer’s market, with so many homes from which to choose and a cushion of affluence beneath her, the luxury homebuyer can afford to take her time and be choosy. Sometimes her demands may seem trivial to others, but they can certainly slow down the sales process and, in the end, may make or break the deal.
Another slow-down in the process may occur if the buyer requires financing for the home. The wealthy are put through a set of financial hoops that those in the lower income brackets don’t face.
The most important aspects of selling your luxury home in Madison include choosing the right real estate agent, savvy marketing and the ability to remain unemotional and flexible. Accommodate those short-notice, private showings. Overall, though, the successful sale of your home depends on you working with your agent as a team.
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