Spotlight On… Laura Brady, President, Concierge AuctionsNovember 28th, 2012 by engineadmin
Spotlight on . . .Laura Brady
With luxury property auctions still seeing major numbers in both attendance and profits, we wanted to delve further into what’s driving this area of the real estate market. This month we spoke to Laura Brady, President of Concierge Auctions, discussing several topics including marketing strategies, geographical popularity and the use of social media in the industry.
PA: Tell us about Concierge Auctions and your role with the company.
LB: Concierge Auctions is the preeminent luxury real estate auction firm serving high-end sellers nationwide through an accelerated marketing process that obtains fair market value for high-end properties — typically valued between $2.5 million and $20 million — in a 60-day timeframe. The company has executed auctions in 23 states, from New York to Hawaii, and hosts a database that includes more than 100,000 luxury real estate buyers and agents from all 50 states and 38 countries and territories. The principals of Concierge Auctions have been involved in the transfer of more than $2 billion in luxury real estate sales over the past 10 years. [For more information, call 888-966-4759 or visit ConciergeAuctions.com.]
As the President of Concierge Auctions, I am responsible for overseeing the company’s corporate initiatives and brand growth. My strategic vision for the firm focuses on three fundamental deliverables: white-glove service worthy of the most discerning clientele; a brand that radiates luxury and is forever strengthened by the quality assets it represents; and the latest technologies and innovations to enhance the company proficiency and customize the client experience.
PA: What are your thoughts on the rise of luxury properties being sold via auction?
LB: The auction process has been utilized for centuries to identify value for unique items — be it art, antiquities, jewels, wine or real estate. Over the past five years the state of the real estate market has directed an increased number of sellers to seek alternative methods to sell their properties, as the traditional brokerage method renders a number of uncertainties. Savvy sellers, particularly those with unique properties, have come to realize that today a property is not necessarily worth its “asking price” nor reproduction cost, but rather the value a buyer is willing to pay for it. This realization has led sellers to utilize the auction process to generate a fair, market-driven price for their home, so they can move on to other opportunities. Auctions give control back to sellers by allowing them to name all the terms of the sale other than the price — timing, no contingencies, as-is, etc.
PA: Do you foresee the number of luxury properties being sold via auction increasing or decreasing in the near future?
LB: I believe the number of luxury properties sold via auction will continue to increase for the near future and will remain constant even after market stabilization. When the market reaches a constant absorption rate, the process will continue as a stronghold for savvy sellers of unique, one-of-a-kind properties who understand that the auction platform is the best way to maximize value for incomparable assets.
Today, as the public continues to watch our success — including significant sales such as Pa Gomo, which achieved the highest price in over five years in Telluride, CO ($13.2M); Villa Collina, which was the highest price ever in Knoxville, TN ($9.5M); Teton Valley Ranch, which was the highest price in over a year in Jackson Hole, WY ($15M); and others — an increasing number of high-end sellers are beginning to consider our process from the onset of offering their property for sale. One recent example is our September sale of the Rocky Creek Ranch in Statesville, North Carolina.
PA: What are the components of a successful luxury home auction? What do you look for in a property (or in a seller) when you decide whether to take on an assignment?
LB: Currently our firm is analyzing 20-25 properties for every one we accept. The two elements of utmost consideration are the property itself and the seller. The property must be unique — able to command attention and aggregate a pool of potential buyers. The seller must understand the dynamics of an auction and be willing and able to allow the market to identify the value.
PA: What areas of the country have you found to be most successful for luxury home auctions? Why?
LB: We have executed auctions in 23 U.S. states, and while we have certainly found success with metro-market primary residences, most of our properties are vacation homes in luxury resort markets valued $2.5 million to $20 million. Whether an oceanfront estate, sprawling ranch or slope-side ski home, these properties are discretionary purchases, and the typical buyer plans to personally enjoy them with family and friends.
PA: Your company has recently been handling a number of Hawaiian luxury properties – why the increase in this area?
LB: Of the 23 states where we have executed auctions, we have generated the most sales in Hawaii — $79 million to be exact. Most of our Hawaiian buyers and sellers reside off-island and use these homes as vacation escapes. We have been very successful at attracting interest from all over the world and concentrating on the properties and lifestyle of the Hawaiian islands.
Our ongoing success in Hawaii is indicative of most of the luxury markets where we are active. Real estate agents, buyers and sellers in the area have become aware of our process due to our successful execution of sales in the area, and that knowledge has led them to present additional opportunities to us. Similarly, our continuous auctions in a particular market grow our database of buyers, and since there is only one successful buyer for each property sold, we are able to contact the remaining prospects first when we launch the next sale.
PA: What would sellers need to know about how you would determine a marketing budget for their luxury home auction event?
LB: We create a custom marketing, advertising, sales and public relations plan for every property we represent. We utilize a number of national and international print, online and mobile media outlets consistently, but in addition we supplement that exposure with more specific outlets for each auction — local news and societal publications, local event sponsorships, amenities-specific outreach, etc.
PA: How is marketing a luxury property different from traditional real estate?
LB: The Concierge Auctions process benefits from the fact that every member of our management team had a prior career in luxury real estate sales and brokerage. We understand the dynamics of selling a high-end home, whether traditional or otherwise. We appreciate real estate brokers, and we are familiar with home construction, financing, title and other intricacies of property transfer.
The main differences between marketing a property for auction versus for a traditional real estate sale are the opportunity and the deadline. When we present a home for auction, the buying public knows that it is a real opportunity — that the seller is committed to selling. The auction date presents a deadline to become involved. If a buyer is interested, they need to stop sitting on the fence and become involved, as the property will not be around for long.
PA: Does social media play an active role in your marketing plan?
LB: Absolutely. Social media and mobile devices are the future of communication and transacting. We have a team committed to our social media endeavors and encourage everyone in our company to become involved both professionally and personally. The new social world is removing the barriers of communication, and the more we can not only convey our business acumen but also relay our unique personalities, the more the public will become knowledgeable about and enjoy relating to our process. You can follow us on Twitter at FollowConcierge and on Facebook and Instagram at ConciergeAuctions.
PA: How does your company set itself apart from other luxury auction companies (J.P. King, Grand Estates, Supreme Auctions, etc.)?
LB: Concierge Auctions only focuses on the sale of unique, luxury properties. We uphold standards of sophistication and success and are very particular about the properties and clients we accept to our process. We do not compare ourselves to other real estate auction firms but rather consider the time-honored auction houses of other fine assets. Our clientele transacts with these auction houses in relation to their art, antiquities and jewels, and they expect the same level of execution when they engage us to sell their properties. We strive to not merely meet but rather exceed those expectations.
PA: What are your top 3 tips for buyers and sellers?
LB: For buyers:
1. Be Prepared. When interested in purchasing a luxury home at auction, be ready to consider an opportunity quickly when you become aware of it. Our properties are advertised for 4-6 weeks prior to auction, which is plenty of time to research the property itself. However, the process will go most smoothly if you are prepared financially and have your professional representatives on hand for advice when the opportunity arises (see #3).
2. Know What You Want, but Keep an Open Mind. Tell us your lifestyle preferences, and then keep an open mind. Many of our buyers are searching for a certain lifestyle but don’t necessarily need to be geographically contained. If you are on the lookout for a mountain home, we urge you to consider our auctions in Aspen, Big Sky AND Jackson Hole. Although you may think you only want to purchase in one market, the next great opportunity may just surprise you.
3. Seek Professional Advice. Buying a property of this caliber involves research and decision-making. For example, a Rocky Mountain ranch purchase may also involve the hiring or continuation of care-taking staff, and a Hawaiian oceanfront estate may need to adhere to government regulations regarding the proximity to the water. Hire attorneys, financial advisors and real estate brokers who you know and trust.
1. Educate Yourself. The best sellers for our platform are savvy and sophisticated. They are open to new ideas and thus new ways of transacting. They are intelligent and feel most comfortable when they are knowledgeable. We do our best to educate you about our process and the timeline and exposure tactics we have planned, so once the auction launches there are no surprises.
2. Understand “Market Value”. This title is purposefully a bit misleading. Most of the properties we represent are incomparable. They cannot be judged against another home down the street or even in the same market. Thus, trying to identify value is impossible, even for a real estate agent or professional appraiser. Today, a property is not necessarily worth the previous asking price or the reproduction cost. The definition of “Market Value” is the price the asset will command in an open market — the highest and best bid that will be produced on auction day, assuming the auction exposure was widespread enough to generate competition between multiple interested buyers.
3. Seek Professional Advice. Just as buying a luxury property involves a great deal of decision-making, so does selling. Trust in your attorneys, financial advisors, real estate brokers and title companies to help you make the right decisions — from the onset of hiring an auction firm all the way through the property exposure and closing.
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