What makes a luxury home an uber-luxury home? Does it have a kitchen that's big enough for Wolfgang Puck? Does it have a driveway that goes for 200 feet until you reach the main house? Would every single one of you want to represent it? I would say the latter of the three is definitely the most accurate!
In my opinion, a luxury home is a person’s idea of their dream home. It's someone's vision of what luxury is to them. Since most luxurious homes cost a lot of money to build, they have to tempt even the most discriminating buyers on a very emotional level.
Whether that means installing a $50,000 dollar state-of-the-art wireless Crestron system that turns on and off practically anything that has a switch in the house, a spa tub in the master bathroom that was placed perfectly to have a view of the waves crashing, or an infinity pool that stretches out onto a city—you can see where it begins, but not where it ends. All these uber-luxuries play to the buyer’s senses.
I recall showing a $32 million, 20,000 square foot property on six acres of land cascading down to the beautiful Malibu beach. You should have seen the look of surprise on both of my clients’ faces when the listing agent turned to the wife and told her that they were about view the home's private hair salon. I was thinking to myself, "Wow. If only I had one of those I would never want to leave!" If that's not an uber-luxury, I don't know what is.
I'm in the midst of listing the estate of a well-known Hollywood mogul in Beverly Hills for $30 million. It has a temperature controlled garage for 50 of your favorite cars that looks more like a formal living room than a private parking lot. Now a car buff will go crazy over that! Not to mention that it has a grotto and pool area that Hugh Hefner and the Girls Next Door would envy.
In my opinion, an uber-luxury home is a home where you feel like you were just transported to another world. It's a property where you could say, "Wait a sec, I thought I was in Beverly Hills, but everything I am seeing tells me that I'm in the South of France" or "How did I end up in Santorini because I swear I pulled into a home in Malibu and now I am really confused!"
It takes a lot to knock the socks off people with money… people with uber money… who buy these uber-luxury homes. But forget about knocking their socks off. The question is how do you get the listing?!
That was the exact question I asked myself back in 1999 when I was a recent graduate from the University of Denver as a Business major. Like most other graduates, I had no idea what I really wanted to do. I just knew that I didn't want to work at McDonald’s which seemed like the only place that was hiring at the time.
I wanted to finally put my real estate license to use which my dad convinced me to get when I turned 18. I thought the best plan of attack was to find a top Beverly Hills agent and convince them that they could not live without young Mr. Rogers as their assistant. After finding the right fit, I not only convinced the agent to hire me, but I was able to negotiate a pretty decent salary out of the deal. For the next three years I did everything from pulling up daily hot sheets off of the MLS, to showing exclusive listings to celebrities. It was like getting a master degree from the best Ivy League school. After three great years of intense training, it was time to cut the umbilical cord from that amazing Beverly Hills agent and go off on my own. My game plan was to only focus on luxury homes—I take that back—uber-luxury homes.
The commissions were huge and not to mention the clients… I was working with people I was reading about or seeing on the big screen. It was fascinating to me and my college friends back in Denver who still didn't believe me when I told them that I just showed Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston Walter Mathau's $5.5 million beach home, or that I referred Courtney Cox and David Arquette to the $10 million John Lautner home that they purchased on Carbon beach.
That reminds me of Walter Matthau's house on Broad Beach. His idea of a luxury beach home was through his wife Carol's vision, which was to build a dollhouse on the sand—and let me tell you, any 10 year-old girl would have begged her parents to buy it for her! It finally sold to a couple where the wife was a huge doll collector and fell in love with it instantly. She even mentioned to me that she had some of the same dolls that my client had in the house. The deal was all cash and closed in three weeks.
I also represented the listing on a 20,000 square foot villa which went on the market for $9 million. My client was media mogul Ted Fields. This gated compound had everything you can think of, even a full-size indoor basketball court and a 7,000 square foot ballroom. It was no surprise to me when it sold to a basketball player after he was traded to the LA Clippers.
I'm sure that all of you would agree that when a developer builds a luxury home for speculation, the vision that he is working with can't be too specific. The finished product and statement needs to be very neutral so that it will appeal to a wide range of buyers.
There is a 7,000 sq ft $14,250,000 contemporary spec home with a 270 degree ocean view on the market in Malibu. One of the rooms was turned into an extravagant disco that was painted red with mirrors all over it. The only thing missing is a bouncer guarding the door. I believe the developer made a huge mistake by adding a room like this because it appeals to a very specific buyer and it's been sitting on the market for two years. But it will sell when the right buyer comes along. There is a saying that goes "There is an ass for every seat.” Well, there is a buyer for every luxury home with a disco. Maybe it will be Britney Spears… only time will tell.
Almost as important as the luxury home, is finding an agent who is the right match to represent the million dollar-plus listing. This selective group of high-end agents who represent these luxury homes is a highly competitive arena and reputation is everything! We all know that a good reputation is very hard to build but can be shattered within seconds.
Having a specific style and staying within a niche has proven to work for myself. When people think “Chad Rogers,” they not only think, “fifth member of the Beatles!,” surprise, surprise—people associate me with the Malibu Colony and high-end beach communities which isn't a bad niche to have. Most of these people who have beach homes usually have mansions in Beverly Hills.
The single most important thing to brand as a high-end Realtor is you. This could mean having a saying that suits your personality. For instance, mine is: “It's always a wonderful day in Mr. Rogers' neighborhood.” I know it sounds kitschy, but people remember kitschy. The more you brand yourself, the more you will be remembered. I have incorporated many branding tools into my business. For example, I was one of the first Realtors to jump on the blogsite bandwagon. My blog is very personality-driven. My clients and future clients can see what I'm doing, what properties I have listed, and what's going on with the market. It's a way for me to speak to a lot of people and usually by the time I meet new clients, they already have a great sense of who I am and what I'm about by going to both my blog and my website.
Having a website and being exposed on the Internet is very important. The producers of Million Dollar Listing discovered me off the Internet. If it wasn't for my Internet marketing, I most likely would have not ended up with such a great opportunity.
So many people e-mailed me after my show Million Dollar Listing aired and criticized me for my specific look. They said, “It's not professional to wear skinny jeans to work,” “Why don't you were a suit and tie?,” “You look like you just graduated high school,” “Your hair is not a typical hairstyle for a realtor”… Let me just say that if Donald Trump, who is one of the most successful men in our country, could get away with his hairstyle, so can I.
Why get lost in the sea of agents? Stand out and say, “What you see is what you get.” It shows that you have confidence, and exposing your personality brings a certain level of trust and assurance when a high-end buyer or seller is deciding on who they want to represent them. The bottom line is that the last thing you want is someone to forget you.
Being successful in real estate is about creating opportunities in your life. Whether it is on the Internet, going to events and schmoozing, or sitting open houses. You are not going to meet your future clients by waiting for your phone to ring, so it's really up to you to create your opportunities. There is nothing to stop you on your road to success but yourself!
So go out and do it, and I wish all of you a very successful 2009!