Selling Multimillion-Dollar Homes On A Smartphone
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Selling Multimillion-Dollar Homes On A Smartphone

These agents explain what it’s like to close high-end deals virtually.

By AMY GAMERMAN
Wed, Jun 2, 2021 12:01pmGrey Clock 3 min

Q. What is it like to do a remote transaction with a client on a multimillion-dollar property?

Ryan Flair

Partner, ranch broker at Hall & Hall in Bozeman, Mont.

I had been working with this client for close to 18 months, so I had a general sense of what he was looking for. Then Covid kind of creeps up and puts us in a situation. We were all in lockdown and couldn’t do much. No one was flying commercially, you had to quarantine for 14 days if you came in from outside the state. My client wasn’t inclined to travel.

One of my partners had a client with a really beautiful property that hadn’t been on the market in a long time—a 20,000-plus-acre ranch. He let us know it was going to come on the market.

I was texting with my client and he said, “I’m very interested, let’s learn more.” We had a tour of the property—five brokers in five trucks—with the ranch manager in his truck. I’m taking photos with my smartphone, and video and panoramas and narrating them, and as soon as I get back service, I’m sending them to him. I went back a separate time and spent six hours there, going around the ranch taking videos on my phone and geo-marking them on a map so the client could see where they were.

One of the most challenging things about the property is access. I had to video myself driving—“Hey look, this road isn’t great, you need to understand you’re not going to drive a motor home on it.” He does have a motor home—one of those super high-end ones.

We put in an offer. This wasn’t a couple-million-dollar deal, it was a very large price tag. My client knew it was one of those rare ranches that don’t come along often. Once we got the ranch under contract, we hired a helicopter. I did the same thing with my iPhone—taking video and narrating from the helicopter.

The sale closed before my client saw it. There were a lot of sleepless nights for me. The first people to see it were his family members and friends—so, hey, no pressure. But he loved it. The guy ended up with a great ranch. It was one of our biggest sales that year.

Jeremy Stein

Associate broker, the Stein Team at Sotheby’s International Realty, New York City

We were approached by clients—friends more than clients—who wanted to sell this absolutely spectacular townhouse in the heart of Greenwich Village. They owned homes in different parts of the country and had thought about living a different way. Then when Covid hit, it made the decision a lot easier for them.

We put it on the market for US$28.5 million. We created a very high-end video of the property, and we did a 3-D Matterport scan, which allows you to tour every nook and cranny. We had a number of virtual showings over the summer, where agents would come and FaceTime with their client in the Hamptons or Jackson Hole or Europe or wherever. We got an offer in the mid-$20 millions. Then an agent I know called and said, “I have a client who is not in New York. They’d like me to come and take a look at it and maybe FaceTime.”

So we did a FaceTime tour. I walked them through the house, just as if they were behind me, as their broker held the phone. I pride myself on reading buyers. Some don’t want to be talked to at all, and some are like, “Show me every drawer.”

I didn’t have that ability to see how the people were reacting. I did see her face to say hello, and from time to time the camera may have gotten turned so we were looking at each other.

These buyers wanted to know about the air conditioning. Maybe a few times they wanted to see what the view was like. If we went to the window, she was, “Oh, can you tilt up? What does the sky look like?” To this day, I don’t know who they are.

Soon after, I got a call from their agent, who said they’d like to make an offer: $27 million. She said, “But we want you to not show the house and not to entertain new offers, we really want exclusivity.”

My clients said, “We’ll do that, but it’s going to cost $1 million.” So we said $28 million. They accepted and we went to the contract stage. It closed last year in November. A few months after the closing they still hadn’t seen it.

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