KW associate Francie Little just negotiated her clients’ purchase of the most expensive Austin property ever recorded on the MLS. Little, who is known for her integrity and work ethic, shares how to build a successful luxury real estate career.
In July, Keller Williams associate Francie Little negotiated her clients’ purchase of the most expensive Austin property ever recorded on the MLS. The $21,794,000 price tag puts Barton Canyon Ranch – with its 128 acres of gently rolling, tree-covered land and a 6,600-square-foot residence – in the impressive trophy estate category of luxury homes in the United States.
“This just happened to be a perfect storm,” Little says, “where they came together and agreed on what the seller was willing to take and what the buyer was willing to pay for a very unique property.”
According to Lesli Akers, president of KW Luxury International, the sale brings more credibility to the luxury price point in Austin. “That in turn attracts the attention of not only local Austinites but also executives and investors from all over the world,” Akers says, noting that with Little as a member of KW Luxury, the division achieved an all-time high closed sales volume from January through July of over $18 billion.
Little has worked in real estate for 13 years and joined KW about six years ago when the local luxury boutique company she was with closed its doors. A small core group from that firm knew that KW’s tightknit, family-like culture would be a great home for them and created Austin Portfolio Real Estate, a luxury office operating under the KW umbrella where Little is an individual agent.
Throughout her career, Little has set herself apart by creating a business that is chiefly based on past client referrals and referrals from within her sphere. Here she shares some best practices for building a stellar reputation that results in clients coming back and spreading the word.
Little stresses that the key to being successful in the luxury real estate arena is to treat these clients as you would anybody else. “A person buying a lower-priced home, to me, is equal to the person buying a multimillion-dollar house,” Little says. “Everybody’s home is their biggest asset – and they should all be given the same amount of respect and time and value.”
Her down-to-earth mindset puts luxury clients at ease and also means that Little doesn’t turn down potential business in other markets. “I’m appreciative of every single transaction and client that I have,” she says, noting that she sold a much smaller and lower-priced home in Pflugerville in the same month as Barton Canyon Ranch.
Focus on the Experience
In order to make her clients happy time and time again, Little focuses less on a specific price point and more on the experience that the potential homeowners would have living at the property. Little, a resident of Westlake Hills who has long served on the boards of charitable and arts organizations, got started in the luxury market by tapping into her existing network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. She understands their lifestyle and what they’re looking for.
“Luxury has to do with your feeling in that home, the way you live in that home, or what you consider that home to be – it’s the whole experience,” she says. “In this day and age, it’s simply not enough to have a high price tag to denote luxury; people need to have an emotional connection to the pieces they purchase.”
Provide Concierge-Level Service
An essential part of the client’s experience, Little says, comes from the way in which the entire transaction process plays out. “To me, luxury is that level of service and comfort that makes one feel special,” she says.
Though transactions for luxury properties can take longer and require more due diligence, it’s important to maintain a high level of attention to detail, Little says, pointing out that this effort should be given to clients in any price tier.
Of the several qualities that luxury clients value in an agent, Little says it’s essential to be available and respond to calls and emails in a timely manner because these clients have busy schedules. “People need to know that you’re there for them.” They also often expect an agent to be discreet and keep their transaction confidential. “I could be working with a seller or buyer whose best friend also called me,” Little says, “and neither one of them will even know unless they tell each other. They don’t hear it from me.”
With the upper-level negotiations common with luxury transactions, these sophisticated and often high-powered clients need to be able to trust that their agent is prepared. “It’s amazing how much they still look toward you for your expertise and knowledge,” Little says. “So you need to stay on point all the time.”
Embrace KW Luxury International’s Resources
To make sure she’s on top of her game, Little taps into the extensive resources provided by Keller Williams and KW Luxury International, whose elite members are welcomed into the division when a home qualifies for the luxury price point, as well as when they themselves qualify as a luxury agent. “That’s not the case in all companies – usually it’s just the house price that qualifies,” Akers says, adding that with KW Luxury, “there’s a deeper level of specialization.”
KW Luxury International members have the opportunity to receive targeted training and support as well as connect with luxury agents around the world via a roster available only to members. At the division’s annual retreat, individuals create deeper and strategic referral relationships – not just referral contacts.
Little says it’s essential to take advantage of this yearly retreat as it’s where she develops her referral base and shares best practices with other top luxury agents. “The need to stay one step ahead is paramount in this business,” she says. “Ultimately, you have a responsibility to your clients to give them the best service that you can.”