Lifestyle real estate brokerage — that’s a thing?
Just when I think I’ve heard it all as a former real estate broker at Marcus & Millichap in the 1990s, here comes the trendsetters (thanks to HGTV, no less), with a new kind of real estate brokerage that appeals to homebuyers who feel the need to be psychoanalyzed while purchasing a home — or not to purchase a home.
Some might argue such a trend has moved past the point of novelty, and into the realm of real estate reality. During a recent forum at Inman Connect New York 2015, moderator Laura Monroe described and introduced Hawaii-based brokerage firm Hawaii Life as an “iconic real estate brokerage.”
When asked how the brokerage came into being, partner Matt Beall stated that Hawaii Life was a marketing company that got into general brokerage. The marriage of the company came about when partners Winston Welborn and Justin Britt, who at the time were owners of a company called Wasabi Design Elements, decided to get into real estate brokerage. In fact, as Welborn said, “We don’t sell homes or condos. We sell a lifestyle.”
To give you a sense of its novelty, a simple Google search of the phrase “lifestyle brokerage” yielded only 1,860 results (in 0.21 seconds). If that impresses you, I’ve got some swampland in Florida I’d like to sell you. But even more impressive, a closer look reveals that there are brokerages out there, from Arizona to New York, and, yes, Florida as well, that specialize in this niche.
As a recent article in The Epoch News, a New York-based Web periodical, highlighted in September 2014, such a lifestyle brokerage exists in its own backyard:
“When buyers walk into Dallien Realty, they get a consultation not dissimilar to one from an interior designer, where the conversation is all about you, your lifestyle and needs, drilling down to the details of where and when you prefer to bike instead of taking a cab, and where you prefer to get your morning coffee.”
And according to its president and broker, Nile Lundgren, “We’re very full-service. And if they want to get into the latest clubs or restaurants, our agents are savvy.” As Lundgren also noted, not only do its brokers cater to the specific lifestyle needs of its clients, a 20- to 30-minute conversation takes place, that’s the psychoanalyst part, just to see where a client is at. Although Midwestern folk of a more conservative yolk might look askance to such details, evidently it’s working — with or without only 1,860 hits on Google.
For Dallien Realty, apparently CE (that’s continuing education in real estate lingo) isn’t enough for its erudite and cultured agents. With a small army of 20 agents, a series of interviews must take place before an agent gets the green light to sell real estate. As Lundgren proudly points out, a 170-page guidebook is given to each agent. This book is their “training day,” and each agent must pass before having the honor of interacting and fetching new clients for Dallien Realty — while establishing and maintaining the gold standard for lifestyle brokerage. It’s kind of like going to finishing school, but without the finicky mannerisms of an AP class you have to pass.
And in addition to the latter named skill development, company meetings consist of discussions on trendy restaurants and various establishments around town. (Warning: This is not your dad’s Century 21 real estate brokerage. This is a brokerage whose training manuals could have been ghostwritten by an out-of-work script adviser to a TLC lifestyle show.) Ex-baristas are welcome to apply. Even better if you happen to have a real estate license.
D. Sidney Potter is a contributing writer for several online periodicals, such as The Huffington Post, iReports CNN and Demand Studios. He believes someone should start an organization called Real Estate without Borders.
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