Real Announces Q3 Financial Results Learn more.×
Agent Spotlight: Luxury Real Estate with Andrew Robinson
Andrew Robinson is a Real agent in the Columbus, Ohio region who specializes in luxury real estate. Here he talks about luxury real estate, and how it overlaps and differs from other real estate markets.
How did you get into real estate?
For over two decades I was in retail management, mostly in the furniture industry, and I had a background in advertising. I started my own furniture retail company which had multiple stores in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. After eight years, I was ready to be closer to home, so I left the Fortune 500 company and headed back to Ohio. A lot of my experiences had been in advertising, so I shifted my interest to real estate because it was an area where you could start a multimillion-dollar business without actual inventory. The inventory that you had was your client's inventory. So you just had to manage your lead, lead costs, and try to use their assets - their homes - to build your business.
When I first got started, I was immediately attracted to some of the highest-priced real estate in the area, because I figured that much more visually appealing homes would be easy to build a vision around. So when I started, my first listing was on the golf course of a PGA course here in Muirfield, Ohio, and it was right on the 18th green which was a great way to leverage our visibility. Signage for a house for sale on a golf course really can get someone dreaming! After that, I got another house on that golf course, and then it's a situation in which like attracts like. Once you have a million-dollar listing, you start attracting those types of clients. That was the way I got started, and I've been an agent now for seven years.
What drew you to the luxury market?
When you're building your business, whether as an individual agent or as part of a team, you want to have the highest return on your product. That meant working with this level of clients. It almost always involves multiple transactions, so they're buying a house and selling a house, whereas when you work with a first-time homebuyer, you only have one side of a transaction (you have a purchase, but they don't have anything to sell).
It is very important to maximize the value that I can give my clients, but also to earn for myself by working on two different transactions simultaneously. Also, I chose to focus on Baby Boomers. They usually have lived in their house for a long time and it has appreciated in value. We can look at specific neighborhoods and know the predictability of how long they are going to be in that house. We drive down the street and we see all the signs for the high school graduating seniors, and we know that there's a high likelihood that that house will be available to go on the market within the next two or three years. So it's an easier market to target and find than the first-time homebuyer market.
What makes the luxury market unique?
I think what is unique in luxury is that it is aspirational in nature. Nobody needs a $2 million home, but they want a $2 million home. When I say $2 million, that is a very high-level luxury home in my market, but if you're in New York City or California, it’s clearly something different. It depends on being in the top 10% of prices in any market.
In luxury, you have to speak to someone's desires. For instance, I remember one of the first open houses that I had, in a house valued at around $1.2 million. About six years ago, when Tesla was a really romantic idea and you didn't see them everywhere yet, I went to the Tesla dealership and I said, “Hey can you bring two vehicles to my open house?” We put up a tent and I said “Test-drive the house, test-drive the Tesla.” By doing that, we elevated the appeal, the desire, and the draw.
We didn't sell any Teslas, but we got a lot of potential buyers to come to the house. It’s not only the features and benefits of the house you're selling - you're also selling a lifestyle to the consumer.
If someone asked you what the secret to success is with luxury real estate, what would you tell them?
To start with an example, I had a property that was owned by a client in the NHL, and what was really interesting about it was a beautiful circular driveway in the front. They had already moved out when I listed it, so I went to a good friend who had a number of luxury cars, and we put a few of them in the driveway. We took beautiful photos and created the image that really added that “wow factor” to the house.
I think in real estate, especially luxury, it really comes down to storytelling and understanding what media are most powerful in telling that story. Video is a great way to reveal a property because you can tell these stories visually. People like to live near lakes or near the woods, so another thing I do with properties on a lake or golf course or in the woods is to use high-quality marketing materials like aerial video to take advantage of the natural selling points.
There are so many tools available now that can allow you to build and own your own brand and techniques. For me, having worked in advertising definitely helped, but I also think anyone can get creative and find what works for them.
What are the biggest mistakes you see agents making?
I think the biggest mistake that I see agents making every day- from new agents to very experienced agents- is not understanding the value of online reviews and customer testimonials. You want to take advantage of all the ways that consumers find us nowadays. Think about when you go to Amazon: how often do you buy a product that has zero reviews? You may be willing to pay more money for a product that has 1,000 reviews than one that doesn't have any.
Even getting five to ten clients to leave a review can increase your visibility! When people see my profile, I want to be in the top two or three within the zip codes that I service. So the biggest mistake is not asking for online reviews.
What do you think it takes in today’s market to be a successful agent? Either in luxury or overall?
You need to invest in your marketing now more than ever, and you need to build really strong relationships within the community and within your niche. You have to focus on listing inventory because if you build your entire business around being a buyer's agent, there's just not enough inventory to have a predictable living. I think you also need to reinvest money in the community, whether it be through direct mail or digital marketing. This is key to building referral-based marketing.
No matter what price range you're in, you have to connect and build trust with the client. One of the things that I will do (and every sales professional should do) is to really find out what's important to the seller in the interview process. You’ll find that no matter the price range, a lot of people are so busy with their career and their life that they really want a concierge-level service where they can just turn everything over to you to take care of. And if you're prepared to do that and build that trust, they open up their book and refer business to you.