For Sale by Owner, a Multimillion-Dollar Mountain Estate…New York Times
This is a wonderful article article in the New York Times by Paul Sullivan, that describes the efforts being taken by a successful businessman to sell his wonderfully designed 10,000+sf ultra luxury home (Sagee Manor) Highlands NC. without using a broker.
Sagee Manor is a full-blown estate — a 10,000-square-foot mansion with a 2,500-square-foot guesthouse sitting on a mountain top in Highlands, N.C., a resort town. It is surrounded by professionally designed gardens. The asking price was $18 million to $25 million, depending on how many acres the buyer wanted.
As Paul Sullivan points out, this is no ordinary home. It’s a true masterpiece.
The article points out the lengths to which Mr Bob Fisher (owner) has gone to market his home without a listing agent, is quite amazing. Brokers will surely say that without using them this magnificent home won’t sell, or it will take longer to sell…but I don’t agree with that assessment especially with this home.
The only thing that a broker could do that Mr Fisher hasn’t done, is to list the home on their site and the local mls. If it’s a local brokerage then their reach is local and maybe regional at best…and who’s to say how many hits a local brokerage gets for a home in this price range. And even if the brokerage is part of a national or “global” franchise, how many people can they reach in this price range around the world. The idea that millions of buyers all around the world can see your home is more hype than reality.
Millions of buyers will never see this listing, and never talk to an agent about it.
A listing, is a listing. But a listing is not marketing
Mr. Fisher built a web site for the home, that has amazing pictures and videos, and he’s “worked” his network, and has also worked hard to create new networks to spread the word…and to appeal to a Realtors weak spot…money! What firm will go this far top market a home, even knowing that if they sell the home their potential commissions are enormous ($$750,000 @ $15,000,000)? None of them will go this far and further.
The reality is, this home could take 3-5 years to sell…even in good times.
Here in Alpine New Jersey which has been touted by Forbes to being one of the most expensive zip codes in the country…some home in the 8 figure range have been on the market for up to 5 years. And we have one mega ultra luxury home that was listed at $56 million…but was just taken off the market. And this home has been on the market for about 3 years, but was only completed about a year ago. How many years will this home take to sell…and it’s not even the most expensive home in Alpine.
Ask Donald Trump how long it took him to sell the $100+ million home he built in Florida…I think it took almost 5 years to sell.
The buyer pool is incredibly small for $18-25million homes in their local region. And when you extend your marketing nationally and internationally, which you need to do for these mega expensive luxury homes, your ability to attract a buyer becomes a daunting task. Mr. Fisher has obviously learned that paying a sales commission isn’t worth his cost if all he’s getting is the same basic sales tools that everyone else gets (lawn sign, free web listing and a brochure). This is just isn’t enough to warrant such a large fee.
They need to do more, but typical brokerage isn’t set up to do more.
Though it hasn’t worked as of yet, Mr. Fisher has done more marketing than any Realtor would consider doing … he has spent a tremendous amount of money on print advertising, personal networking and to build a high quality website that shows a tremendous number of HD photos and some of the finest videos ever produced for a home sale. The brokerage business model isn’t set up for this type of work…they simply gravitate towards the easier sale, as most companies do. The hard sell homes remain on the higher branches and become tough sales.
Real estate is local and brokerages have been able to get away in the past, with classified ad listings and free web listing because most buyers are already living within the general vicinity of the homes for sale. Such is not the case in a market where there are very few buyers in this price range, and those who are in the market probably live hundreds or thousands of miles away, and possibly in another country.
It’s extremely hard to grab a buyers attention
I had done some strategic consulting work for a builder who was building a project of some very ultra expensive custom homes ranging up to $50+ million. And when I came on board with them, they had the same exact problem that Mr Fisher is facing at Sagee Manor. How can we target our marketing so that we get in front of a potential buyer.
It’s all about marketing.
At the time this developer was listing their homes with a local brokerage firm that has an international presence. But this approach wasn’t working, so the developer turned to me to develop a way to reach out to a specific niche market…to those who could afford to purchase such an expensive home. He asked me how to find a needle in a humongous haystack.
The first thing I did was to talk to the head of marketing for the national franchise. I asked him a simple but important question…”what are you specifically going to do for us in the way of marketing, (beyond listing this home on your website), so it gets the exposure that will be needed to sell this home”.
All he said was that they would list it on the web, and it would be seen by all of their affiliate across the globe. That was all he would offer.
To get a better feel for how this was going to work, or if it was going to work, I called numerous affiliates in London, several in Russia and Singapore, Japan, Argentina, Palm Beach, and Beverly Hills. And by the third call, I saw just how hard this sale was going to be. But in all fairness, this is an industry wide problem for every ultra luxury homeowner. The system doesn’t work in their favor…thus, there’s a need to do more than the basics, And that’s where everything becomes extremely complicated,
Mr Fisher obviously realized that he needed much more than anyone could offer him…so he’s doing just that. And he’s is the perfect spokesman for his marketing. He a soft spoken and seemingly nice person.
Watching his videos made me feel like I’ve known him my entire life, and he personalizes his home like no one else could ever do.
Go for it Mr Fisher! You’re headed in the right direction, and with a few adjustments to your approach, your home will sell. When I don’t know, but no one else does either. However, at some point though you should consider working out a deal to use one of the large brokerages., who will hopefully come through for you. You’ll know when the time is right.