Richly rewarded: Getting premium price for premium property

Selling a high-end property involves much of the same preparation selling an average one does, yet there is clearly more work that needs to go into getting it ready, especially in a down market. The main challenge is to make sure prospective buyers feel comfortable that they're making a good investment, so they'll pull out their wallets and pay full dollar for a valuable property. Where to start on achieving that comfort level is really a matter of opinion.

Know your price

Many claim a home's curb appeal is the most important aspect of a sale. But that's not actually the case, according to Realtor Kevin Lynch. "When people come to look at a property, their first impression is not the curb appeal. Their first impression is the price. And not enough people get that," says Lynch, who sells homes in Upper Lonsdale Vancouver for Prudential Sussex Realty.

After 20 years in the business, he says pricing, especially in today's marketplace, is the key to any sale. It doesn't matter how well staged a property is; if it's overpriced, it won't sell.

So how do sellers determine what the best price is? Lynch says they must talk to someone who knows the industry very well. But don't be fooled. Just because someone's a real estate agent doesn't necessarily mean they know what they're talking about, he says.

Usually, Lynch will see homeowners bring in three to four Realtors to appraise their home and settle on a price somewhere in the middle. That's a bad strategy, he says. "If you're trying to sell a $1.7 million home you could end up with a range of $300,000. All that ends up doing is confusing the seller," he says. The estimates, many times, create unrealistic expectations, leaving the seller's home priced improperly to meet the demand in the local market.

Get the word out

For sellers who have determined the right price for their property, they often think that posting a listing on, for sales through a Realtor, or on websites such as, for private sales, is all they need to do. But that's not the case for a high-end property.

"If you're marketing right ... you need to go way beyond that scope," Lynch says, adding that the property should be showcased on as many areas of the web as possible.

Sellers should take advantage of free websites, such as Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, Craigslist and Kijiji to post the listing, and Youtube and Yahoo Video to post video blogs about the property.

As for advertising in the local newspaper, Lynch says it's only worth it if the sellers' market is driven by local demand; otherwise, stick to the web. "Remember, the objective of the ad is to get the customer to take the next step. An ad has never sold a home, never has, never will. But what it can do is steer buyers to a place where they can get more information." Ideally, it'll get them to pick up the phone and call the seller.

The strategy of placing ads in high-quality magazines is an avenue most sellers would do well to avoid. While it may showcase the property to people in the right tax bracket, it doesn't effectively target a specific demographic, says Tatiana Konkina, a broker at Re/Max Unique Inc. in Toronto, Ont.

Working in real estate since 1999 and specializing in selling high-end homes for the last six years, Konkina says she's always had the best luck with online listings, so long as they're done properly, starting with professional photos. She warns sellers to never skimp on a photographer because a series of underexposed, improperly angled photos will only hurt the chances of a sale.

For the full article, which also looks into if you really need a Realtor to sell your premium property, download a copy of our October issue.

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