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Marketing the Mansion
West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Jun. 18, 2015 3 years ago

Marketing the Mansion

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by: Zak Kerr Staff Writer/Reporter

For most people, real-estate transactions occur within a few months through a large company that deals with all sorts of properties in the five- and six-digit dollar range.

For the wealthiest homeowners, a burgeoning niche is developing for companies devoted to marketing and selling luxury homes, sometimes taking years from initial interest to closing.

Mark Hayes, president and broker of Stockworth Realty Group and Windermere-based Isleworth Realty within the Tavistock Group, said this market has grown for five years, with Isleworth Realty on track for a sixth record-setting year. Isleworth Realty deals solely with properties in the exclusive Isleworth Golf and Country Club, whereas Stockworth Realty covers much of Central Florida.

Properties for Stockworth can be around the $500,000 minimum and go higher, but Isleworth properties tend to go for $2 million or more, some even exceeding $25 million, Hayes said. Luxury homes in Central Florida typically range from 3,500 to 10,000 square feet but go up to 25,000 square feet, he said, with square-foot pricing usually between $400 and $700 but shooting up in Isleworth.

“Generally, Isleworth leads the region year after year for values,” Hayes said.

With so much money on the line for such expensive properties, as well as a selling point of seclusion and security in these communities, listing homes for quick showings and open houses is not an option. Instead, luxury homes are often sites for invite-only events, where the high life of each unique home is on display with food and entertainment, Hayes said.

“We try to make the homes stand alone with different themes,” he said. “For example, if there’s an amazing waterfront property, we focus on boats in the back. If there’s an amazing wine cellar, we’ll have a wine-tasting party. One of our homes has a 35-car garage. We’ll do an event with luxury car dealers, and when guests come to this event, they see a garage full of Maseratis and Rolls Royces.”

These themed events last two to three hours, giving suitors a look at life in such homes, with poolside meals taken to them by chefs, expensive boats and car dealership events such as a recent one featuring a McLaren test drive, Hayes said. In Isleworth, prospectives could examine world-class amenities, such as golf, tennis and art, he said.

Especially with these extravagant events, Tavistock deviates from a common one-agent-per-house strategy, with a marketing team, financial and creative guides and photographers and writers dedicated to each house in a complex marketing strategy, with meetings often involving more than a dozen people, Hayes said. These large teams reach targeted buyers by selling the lifestyle of the exclusive community while acclimating them to all Central Florida can offer, he said.

“We have to be very savvy in selling not just the home but Florida and the Central Florida area,” he said. “You have to understand the transportation grid, the hospitals and amenities and the area jobs. Stockworth Realty is the official relocation arm of Tavistock Group in Central Florida. We handle all the company relocations in Lake Nona. We’re now working with USDA to move several families to Orlando.”

These families relocating from around the world count on Tavistock like an arm of their advisement teams to educate them about common features, such as local lawyers, medical specialists and vehicle dealerships, but also what makes the area unique, from world-famous attractions such as Walt Disney World to lesser-known gems, such as the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the Orlando City Lions, Hayes said.

“There’s lots of areas with pockets of strong growth,” he said. “With the transportation grid we have, the venues … it’s something that makes us proud. When you really show them what Orlando has to offer, it’s really special.”

The process is also emotional and affects how buyers can raise families and provide for children and their education, which makes developing deep relationships built on trust the paramount part of luxury transactions, Hayes said.

“We have access to these people strictly through relationships,” he said. “Protecting their privacy is critical. We never disclose who we’re working with or doing deals with. We’re working with some of the wealthiest people in the world. They do come to Florida; they do come to Orlando: top presidents and CEOs of major corporations, top athletes, celebrities, politicians. We work with some of the most self-made, talented investors, artists — people very exciting to actually get to know.”

As word spreads and communities such as Isleworth introduce new phases, Stockworth is looking to hire agents and marketers to help more of the world’s wealthiest realize the greatness of Central Florida and identify with it as home.

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].

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