Working with the wealthy: How top Realtors do it


The very rich are very different from you and me, as F. Scott Fitzgerald once famously said. Yeah, Ernest Hemingway memorably retorted. They have more money. 

Ever since then, readers have been wondering … who was right?  You may decide for yourself, after learning what Realtors who frequently work with the wealthy have to say.

Janet Price, McEnearney Associates, Alexandria
… give them the toys!
The upscale shoppers are usually more experienced. I think they are much easier to deal with because they know what they want.

She sums that up very simply: location, quality, size and toys.

I work with a high-end builder, and I always tell him to give them the toys … two dishwashers, a steam shower, an en suite bath in every bedroom and a wine cellar with a tasting area.

As in every price range, the gourmet kitchen is literally the heart of the luxury home.

In addition to the two dishwashers, they want the name appliances like Subzero and Bosch. They often choose $30,000 refrigerators, as befit a $200,000 room.

That costly kitchen is often part of a kitchen-family room combination where the guests gather. As a result, she said, “The owners want a kitchen that does not look like one.” That enormous refrigerator is often fitted with custom panels, for instance, so it will blend with the custom cabinets.

As for the location, she said, They want anything overlooking the river or on the water. That way, the guests can literally enjoy the view from the top.

Donnan C. Wintermute, Coldwell Banker, Alexandria King Street
They tend to be more relaxed …
Those clients tend to be well-educated, successful and sophisticated people, who demand quality service and great attention to detail. Their time is valuable, and they want me to be very respectful of it. The more I can pre-screen the property, the more satisfied they are.

I like working with them. I would rather handle one $2 million sale than four for $500,000 each. The (luxury) buyers tend to be more relaxed about the transaction because it is probably the fifth or sixth house they have bought, and they tend not to watch every nickel and dime.

But they do demand a quality Realtor and a quality house. Their needs are very special, and they want a special kind of home.

They want a flow plan that is conducive to formal entertaining, a separate dining room, hardwood floors and crown moldings, granite kitchen counters and stainless-steel appliances, a garage for two cars or more and a pretty garden.

And, like most Northern Virginians, they usually want that classical center-hall Colonial style.
Casey Margenau, RE/MAX Distinctive, Vienna
… two types of luxury buyers …
There are two types of luxury buyers: the local move-up shoppers and newcomers to the area.

The local buyers tend to already have a nice home, but they want more and have very specific ideas about it, he said. They will take their time and wait until they find the right house at a fair price.

The location or the community is usually first and foremost in their thoughts. The size, age and features are also factors, but often less crucial ones.

Fine features like multiple-car garages, ten-foot ceilings and gourmet kitchens are found in most upscale homes, he explained. But they dont all have the right location, like McLean, Great Falls, Vienna or Oakton.

Beyond that, as in any price range, different buyers want different things. Some seek the wow factor, as embodied by million-dollar model homes in the stately Georgian Colonial or French styles. Others prefer understatement.

As for the second type of upscale buyers, who are relocating from out of town, They want to make the decision fairly quickly and to buy whatever is the best value. This means relying more heavily on a Realtor who knows the local market, he said.  They know what they want…