Serving real estate to people is a luxury

May 16, 2023

Serving customers with integrity and care, whether they are buyers, sellers or tenants, and all those with whom they interact, is the attitude of silent luxury that any company or professional can have when it sets out to add value and differentiate itself.

It is likely that you are already used to seeing the luxury label on real estate portals, which have transformed a commonplace “T2 in Verdizela” into a “luxury T2 by the beach”, despite having only aged. “What has changed is the number of people who can no longer afford it and now only dream of it”, as Agent Funini joked. I would like to add another perspective, which is not about the luxury label of real estate, but with the luxury label of the real estate brokerage service.

In the Luxury Business Inspiration and Mentorship training with Carlos Ferreirinha, which took place in Lisbon at the beginning of May, a franchisee of a real estate brand asked me what the niche market in which LOBA operates. I replied that the brand was a pioneer in the exclusive service to the buyer, but quickly extended the services to customers looking for the differentiation of a completely personalized service and consultancy. The doubt remained: “No, I want to know if they work with the luxury niche. What is the price of the properties they sell? Over half a million? 1 million?" I thought the best way to explain our difference from conventional agencies would be through a real example: We don't sell real estate; we help people buy it.

In 2017, the CEO of a German multinational hired our services to have five apartments for the company's staff who would be transferred from Berlin to Lisbon. Months later, he hired us to help him buy a house in Alentejo, to renovate, for €125,000. A year later, to help him rent an apartment for permanent residence in Lisbon. This client could buy properties worth millions of euros, but it was not what he needed at any of those times. Our niche is the customer and what we can do for him, not the price of what he buys. Like this client, we have others, who can simultaneously own a modest apartment for rent in Amadora, or a mansion in Cascais.

The same franchisee who raised the issue of the niche later commented that IMPIC (the real estate sector regulator) should do away with agencies that charge 2% commissions because they spoil business for their network. For a moment, my memory revisited the time when taxi drivers demonstrated against the evils of Über.

Despite the increasingly high price of houses, when we look at the way people look at real estate agencies, we see distrustful clients, unmotivated consultants, and a competitive environment, in which the human warmth that transpires is mostly absent or manufactured. However, brands that include the word luxury in the description of their market are banal and even mediocre. In the aforementioned training, Ferreirinha taught “The luxury business is nothing more, nothing less, than an incubator of good value creation practices.”, which requires a good dose of humility and coherence.

We recently contacted an agency called Private Luxury to visit a property of interest to a client. We informed that our client is qualified and has a contract with us and that we do not receive commission sharing. The visit was scheduled for the following day and, thirty minutes before, already on site, the agent called to request internal registration of our client and the sending of a power of attorney, a requirement that violates the rules of the General Data Protection Regulation but is common among agencies that put their interests above the interests of their clients. Caught by surprise, the LOBA consultant informed him that he would take care of whatever was necessary with the client after the visit, as he would not be able to do it a few minutes before the scheduled time, being at the door. The agency's agent in question replied that the visit would be cancelled and that he would not go to the property in order not to waste his time. He hung up without further explanation. In turn, when contacted with the report of what happened, its director replied that he was the one who made the rules of the game and that his collaborator is free to communicate them at the time of the visit and to cancel it without prior notice, because they have better things to do than waste time with other consultants. He also hung up the phone without allowing further conversation. Upon seeing the owner at the window, who was waiting for the visitor to arrive, the LOBA consultant identified himself and, at the invitation of the two owners, with whom he had a pleasant and enlightening conversation, he visited the apartment. In the end, the owners informed that they had already agreed not to renew the contract with the aforementioned luxury agency after three weeks, since there were no visits, no new strategy, no relationship of trust.

This is just one example of poor service disguised by overpriced properties. Agencies that call themselves luxury through their brands and portfolios, but completely ignore the value (or harm) of their service. Most of the time, even the customers themselves are unaware of it, blaming the market.

Let’s do a counterintuitive exercise, which in LOBA is as intuitive as possible. Imagine a mediation service contracted by the owner of a property who intends to sell or rent it, backwards, from the perspective of the client (buyer or tenant) for the property. It is the customer who pays the price of the property and the services and taxes associated with its purchase or lease. So let's anticipate what will make a difference in your experience: fluidity and transparency of the terms of the deal, accuracy of the documentation, the material and legal condition of the property, trust in all parties involved, clear communication, active listening, response with assertive and effective solutions , empathy, neutral advice focused on your specific needs, careful presentation of the property, detailed description, captivating photography and video, ease of finding that property.

When was the price segment of the property differentiating? None. To whom did we start by providing a service? To the property owner who hired us. How do we provide you with a differentiated service? By anticipating all these steps, so that the value of your property is highlighted from the perspective of your client, the buyer of your property, through a dedicated, warm, and discreet attitude towards both.

Serving customers with integrity and care, whether they are buyers, sellers, or tenants, and all those with whom they interact, is the attitude of silent luxury that any company or professional can have when it sets out to add value and differentiate itself, regardless of the price of products. their properties or the commission they charge for mediation services. Quoting Ferreirinha: “the protagonist is the differentiation, not the price”, because “thinking small has never been so big”, “do the colors of your logo transmit luxury?” And your service?

I complement with the description of a luxury service which, for LOBA, is for anyone to feel at home when interacting with us, even if they don't buy it.

Sandra Viana

Photo: DeGournay x Charbonnel & Walker

Article published in Diário Imobiliário

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