In the age of the $238 million penthouse sale, as well as one of the slowest luxury markets in years, it takes much more than an online listing and a few glossy ads to move eight- and nine-figure properties.
I spoke to two ultra-high-end New York City real estate brokers to find out how they cater to the world’s wealthiest buyers.
Zachary Vichinsky launched Bespoke Real Estate with his brother, Cody, in 2014 after they both worked as brokers with Corcoran in the Hamptons. Bespoke, which recently expanded from the East End to New York City, distinguishes itself in the luxury market by focusing only on properties listed at $10 million and above. The firm’s most expensive listing is a 42-acre oceanfront estate on Jule Pond in Southampton, currently asking $145 million. Known as Fordune and built for Henry Ford II in 1960, it was originally listed in 2017 for $175 million, the most expensive property on the market in the Hamptons.
Edward Mermelstein of One & Only Realty is a Russian-American real estate attorney who advises high net worth individuals on global investment opportunities.
Vichinsky says his firm has a unique infrastructure that he likens to a private club, with a more curated portfolio of listings and network of clients that is catered to.
The company has 38 full-time, salaried employees who are “not swung by commission incentives.”
“Everything this company does is designed around promoting our assets to the people who can purchase them,” Vichinsky says.
Invest in technology
Vichinsky says Bespoke uses enhanced and drone-based videography and photography, virtual reality tools and marketing materials “commensurate with the price point.”
“People generally don’t buy these listings after seeing them online and on social media,” Mermelstein says. Sales are “based on trust and long-term relationships that go back 20 to 30 years.
“There’s very little done online, which is very different from the mass market,” Mermelstein says.
Mermelstein notes that the best brokers of high-end listings are people who have experience owning and investing in similar homes.
“The people that invest in these homes and buildings are typically relationships that are built because you’re very similar to the people who are buying.”
It’s common knowledge that the best brokers know the market inside and out, and know what a realistic asking price is.
“Some properties command a large premium simply because there’s nothing else like it,” Mermelstein says.
However, with the U.S. luxury real estate market lower activity from overseas buyers — it has become harder for foreigners to get entry visas, there are currency control issues becoming more and more serious in countries such as China and Russia and political issues within Saudi Arabia — high-priced properties will likely sit on the market for a while, Mermelstein says.
Balance finances and emotions
Vichinsky says that some buyers can “get lost in the financial aspects” of a sale without considering the lifestyle aspects of a home purchase, and brokers can help navigate those two things, exceeding expectations for clients who often have plenty of financial and market data already at their disposal.
“Given the quantity of information and data, it can sometimes create a fogginess around a prospective purchaser applying an emotional equation,” Vichinsky says. “They get lost in the weeds of what the owner paid, this is what the one down the street was worth. We’re here to provide as much value as possible.”
As a journalist in the New York, I’ve written about everything from the post-recession housing market in Fairfield County, Conn., to the third-home market in the Hamptons.