Luxury brokers are putting shock and awe into creative marketing ideas for their multi-million dollar listings. Whether its taking clients on helicopter tours for aerial views of properties, hosting elaborate parties catered by award-winning chefs, or spending $40,000 producing a "lifestyle film" to spotlight a home, luxury property marketing is getting extreme.
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Real estate professionals Rayni and Branden Williams told The Los Angeles Times that they spent months arranging a director, cast, and crew to produce a "lifestyle film" spotlighting a $33 million, 12,530-square-foot home in West Hollywood that shows a wife inviting her girlfriends over to enjoy the home's gym, wine room, infinity-edged pool, massage space, movie theater, and more. They spent more than $40,000 on the production.
"Regular marketing doesn't work anymore. We're appealing to a more sophisticated and savvy group of buyers," Rayni Williams said. "We're taking it to a whole other level."
The Williamses say they'll do whatever they can to make the properties look desirable. They spent $300,000 in marketing an eight-bedroom, 15-bath estate in Beverly Hills recently. They advertised the listing in luxury publications, like Yacht Magazine, and each month devoted $50,000 toward billboards on Sunset Boulevard that featured the slogan "Dream Big, Live Bigger."
Qualified buyers who were interested received leather satchels that could be used as airplane carry-ons and included with crocodile-bound books that detailed the house. They also received boxes of high-end Beverly Hills chocolates and bottles of Cristal. During one private showing for a potential buyer, the Williamses spent $5,000 to hire a private chef to prepare lamb chops and fresh sushi that was served by models. That buyer from Sweden ultimately paid $70 million in cash for the property in December.
"The moral of the story is: Money is not an object when we market these homes," Rayni said.
"It's a gamble — you stand to make a million-dollar commission, but there's always the possibility that you don't sell the property and end up hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket."
David Kramer of Hilton & Hyland, an affiliate of Christie's International Real Estate who sold the late Aaron Spelling's 4.7-acre estate in $150 million for 2011, says he lets the homes speak for themselves. He will throw poolside picnics for potential clients and their families, and for listings with ocean views, he'll invite clients over for champagne at sunset.
"When you're selling a house like this, what they're looking for is lifestyle, not specifics," Kramer said. "We're in the want business, not the need business."