An expert in marketing high-end homes offers her tips for realizing the full potential of luxury sales
By Dinah Wisenberg Brin
The luxurious Ontario home deserved a special introduction to the high-end market, says listing agent Cecilia DeFreitas. So she decided to think inside the box – an elegant, black, necklace-style box wrapped with a black satin ribbon.
Rather than mailing out a just-listed card for the opulent home, which went on the market for $6.2 million CAN, the Broker with RE/MAX Premier in Woodbridge, Ontario, sent the box to all 40 homes in the neighborhood.
Inside was a key, a letter of introduction and, under the letter, more than a dozen professional photos of rooms that DeFreitas wanted to highlight, with detailed shots of moldings and finishes.
“It was a beautiful presentation,” she says.
The personalized letters introduced DeFreitas and the property, and invited recipients to view an equally well-produced video tour of the listing posted online.
“You have to appeal to a person’s senses and to their lifestyle – help them picture themselves in the property,” says DeFreitas, who also produced a 28-page brochure for the home and sought out an international audience by posting the listing on World-Properties.com. In addition, she also generated a quarterly marketing report to let the sellers know all she was doing to sell their property and to provide website analytics.
“In the end, I was heavily invested in the listing,” DeFreitas says. “But such a spectacular house deserves a spectacular effort.”
DeFreitas has built her real estate career around marketing and selling high-end homes. The RE/MAX Hall of Fame and Platinum Club member’s listings typically range from $800,000 to $3 million CAN, although she has sold even higher-priced homes.
These fine homes are often unique properties that appeal to a very specific buyer, and DeFreitas tailors her efforts for each home to attract the right prospects. It has paid off. In fact, she received the 2012 Best Property Marketing Award from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, the organization that administers the Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS) designation.
With impressive credentials and more than 28 years of real estate experience – including about a dozen with RE/MAX and six focused on high-end properties – DeFreitas has plenty of knowledge to share. Here are some of her award-winning marketing ideas:
DEVELOP YOUR BRAND
DeFreitas’ slogan is “Focusing on What Matters Most.” She uses 12 complementary messages that reinforce her slogan, such as “focused on the details,” “proven professional” and “bringing it all together,” in her personal promotion materials. DeFreitas worked for a year with a marketing company to get the details right, taking care to choose the right fonts, colors (black, red and taupe) and logo, and spending more than $1,000 on personal photos that exude luxury. “My branding helps me differentiate myself,” she says.
ADVERTISE TO THE RIGHT AUDIENCE
DeFreitas advertises her business in a local real estate magazine, targeted to Greater Toronto’s wealthier neighborhoods. She also uses direct mail and email, and markets her listings using The RE/MAX Collection branding, which is tailored for high-end buyers. Her ads, like her other marketing materials, convey upscale luxury through their elegant simplicity. “The more cluttered your ads are, the less luxurious they look,” DeFreitas says. “Less is more.”
OFFER MORE VALUE WHEREVER POSSIBLE
DeFreitas is primarily a listing agent, and she creates a customized website for each of her listings. “Cookiecutter sites and templates won’t cut it,” she says. “The site must be very sleek and clean.” She follows the lead of high-end websites such as Tiffany & Co. Her own website, CeciliaDeFreitas.com, was designed by the company that also manages her SEO and blogging. She also maintains a branded YouTube channel for her property videos.
INVEST IN YOUR BUSINESS
Every aspect of her business is systematized, and DeFreitas is developing a customized property-search app that she’ll distribute to her clients. She holds the International Real Estate Specialist (I.R.E.S.) certification, and markets most of her properties internationally through resources such as WorldProperties.com. Her properties also appear on global.remax.com, which displays listings in more than 60 countries and territories.
DeFreitas recommends joining organizations and attending events that will help you make worthwhile connections and promote your listings. She attends two luxury-agent conventions a year, and she plans to join a regional builders organization as a way to become better known and possibly win more listings.
“Above all, you need to be passionate about luxury homes – you have to live it and breathe it to be good at it,” DeFreitas says. “Passion is what fuels your focus.” Because of her love of the finer things and her study of architectural styles, DeFreitas says she can describe homes in ways that appeal to wealthy buyers. “You have to create the vision so they’ll want to buy it,” she says. “You’re selling them a lifestyle.”