Inspiration and ideas abound at The RE/MAX Collection 6th Annual Luxury Forum
By Mike Taylor
Even the most casual observer could see The RE/MAX Collection Luxury Forum was something special. Debra Beagle, Managing Broker/Owner for the No. 3 RE/MAX Team in the U.S., was there and brought along several team members. So was Jordan Cohen, the No. 1 RE/MAX Agent in the U.S. (for the past three years!) who took a red-eye flight from his home in California to share insights with attendees as a featured speaker at the Georgia gathering.
The sixth annual event brought together Affiliates from three countries and 22 U.S. states for two days of networking, idea-sharing, and insights for excelling in the luxury space from some of the top producers in the high-end sector.
Held Oct. 28-29 at the magnificent Ritz-Carlton Resort on Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia, the main event was preceded by a daylong course that leads to the Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS) designation. Registration for the course sold out before the event began, resulting in a packed room of enthusiastic luxury professionals.
What followed was a full day of one inspiring speaker after another. “If attendees pick up one idea to implement in their business, it’s a win,” said Anne Miller, Vice President, Luxury and Commercial for RE/MAX LLC, who has spearheaded all six of The RE/MAX Collection Luxury Forum events. “I overheard one of our agents say, ‘I came to The Forum hoping I could pick up one or two tips; I’ve gotten five already.’ And that was yesterday, during the Luxury Live class.”
Among the presentations was “Understanding the Evolution of the Affluent,” during which Winston Chesterfield, Director of Customer Research for Wealth-X, captivated attendees with some interesting facts on wealth. For example, he said 93 percent of high net-worth individuals (those with a net worth of $1 million or more) are from North America, Europe or Asia Pacific. And, Chesterfield said, “The majority of wealth is created wealth, not inherited wealth.”
“The good news is, the HNW population is going to grow,” he added. “And grow by quite a lot.”
Chesterfield’s colleague on stage, Blake Henneberry, Senior Manager of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, added some relevance and tips for practical application of Chesterfield’s demographic data.
“As a luxury brand, you must be liked, trusted and remembered as much as any of those other brands,” Henneberry said. He also advised, “Gather your marketing materials. Are they consistent? And are you using The RE/MAX Collection brand to your advantage? Your marketing materials are your uniform. Do they coordinate or clash?”
As a luxury brand, you must be liked, trusted and remembered as much as any of those other brands
- Blake Henneberry
Along with the acronym HNWI for high net-worth individuals, Henneberry introduced another one: HENRYs – high earners not rich yet. “Cultivate relationships with them,” he advised.
Another memorable speaker was Chris Voss, a former hostage negotiator for the FBI and now CEO and founder of The Black Swan Group. As part of his discussion, “Why ‘Yes’ is the Last Thing You Want to Hear in a Negotiation,” he explained why doggedly pursuing a ‘yes’ from a prospective client might feel like a win for you, the agent, but it just makes the client feel trapped.
“Every time you ask a question driving for a ‘yes,’ you pour acid on that relationship,” Voss said, comparing it to a cold courtroom tactic. “Attorney’s are taught never to ask a question they don’t know the answer to. They call it ‘cornering.’ You’ve got to get out of the ‘yes’ habit.”
Offering insights on upping your photo game was Peter Schravemade, Strategic Relationship Manager for BoxBrownie, a provider of photo editing, virtual staging, floor-plan redraws and renderings. He demonstrated a technique called “bracketing” in which the photographer takes multiple photos at different shutter speeds, then blends or merges the photos for both a sharp interior and clear view of landscaping out the window.
Schravemade said that a high-end agent’s marketing materials, specifically photos of a property and its rooms, should be “a silent salesperson showing what this space does.”
Another excellent takeaway came from Tony Giordano, a popular author, speaker, coach, luxury real estate standout and social media expert. “Every agent should have a minimum of 2,000 friends on their personal Facebook page, and settings should be set to ‘Public.’”
Of course, that might mean curtailing some of the personal photos and comments agents enjoy posting on Facebook. To that Giordano countered: “Real estate agents do not get the luxury of using Facebook the way others do.”
Culminating the great cast of speakers was the aforementioned Jordan Cohen, the No. 1 RE/MAX producer in the U.S. in 2017.
“I’m not a speaker, I’m a Realtor like everyone else in here,” said the agent with RE/MAX Olson & Associates as he took the stage. Of course, as his insights and career ascent make clear, Cohen is like no other agent.
Cohen discussed how he started in real estate at 23 and did everything his broker advised – knocked on door after door and cold-called relentlessly. Finally, he landed a listing presentation, but he didn’t get the listing. Then he got another chance. “Lost that one, too.”
It was at that point that he began focusing all his energy and attention on his listing presentation. He began excelling in his middle-income area. When he sold a high-end home to ex-NBA player Don McLean and looked at the commission check, he promptly moved his family to a high-end neighborhood and set about carving out a share of the luxury market in his new community.
“When I chose that (high-end) farm area, I was going to implement some of the exact same listing language I used in the lower-end market. But in reality, I completely changed all my marketing. I decided to invest heavily in myself and high-end marketing materials in order to earn listing appointments.”
Now the go-to agent for celebrity athletes, actors and singers, Cohen says with authority that if you’re thriving in an average-price market, you can succeed in the luxury space. However, you must have a strong, powerful and dominating listing presentation.
“I believe real estate is all about confidence,” he said. “Look them in the eye when you talk about pricing.”
Another tidbit: “I like to go first in the listing presentation. A lot of agents want to go last.” Cohen believes enough in his presentation that the homeowner will often cancel appointments with other agents after meeting with Cohen.
He also tries not to talk about price until the end of a listing presentation, “Because I want them to think they need me, not just want me,” he said.
The event’s curated lineup of the most relevant and popular speakers in the high-end real estate space didn’t come by accident. Miller says she attends luxury-geared conferences and conventions throughout the year, looking for content that’s relevant and timely. She also relies on feedback from Luxury Forum attendees, who average 15.6 years of real estate experience.
That feedback is why she brought back Cohen for a second time, the only repeat speaker in the event’s six years. “Our agents love hearing from Jordan because his success is self-made,” Miller said. “He shares the exact same strategies that helped him reach the top, and can provide real world examples of working with affluent clientele.”