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Top Real Estate Agents Reveal Their Tips For Landing a Whale

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How do you sell a house to a big-shot with a ton of cash? We hoped some broker would regale us with stories of helicopter flights with buyers pointing out the properties they wanted, and sellers festooning their roofs with "For Sale" signs, but it seems that high-rollers shop for houses a lot like the rest of us. The whales among us may not hit the Sunday open house circuit, but, as Hugh Evans at Partners Trust says, their homes are still "bought by women at night, surfing the internet." But while the non-whale may just be looking for something in his budget, the whales in our midst need just a little bit more.

Tell me a story: High-rollers seem to take a very feelings-based approach to house buying, and so the brokers who cater to them share a common strategy: telling stories. Find a house and spin a delightful tale about the beautiful children who had beautiful childhoods, or the boldfaced names who got very drunk at parties there. Brendan Fitzpatrick at The Agency told us that he likes to "create a story of the house [that] touches the buyer emotionally."

Show and tell: Photos are fine, but Evans says buyers are much more likely to get excited about a house if they see a video tour plus interviews with the sellers or builders. The latter group is especially important since, as he says, "high-end buyers want quality, but they don't always understand it, or can't recognize it."

Cast a net (big or small): You have your story, you've got it on film, now you just have to find the right pod of whales to show it to. While The Agency relies on finding just the right whale for just the right home, Partners Trust takes the opposite approach. Remembering the women and their internetting ways, Evans likes to get the word out far and wide and let the whales come to him. Lest you think even those with more money than sense wouldn't buy a house they found on a social network, think again: he recently sold a $15 million house to someone who found a Partners Trust video on YouTube.

Be very, very nice: One high-end broker up in Santa Barbara tells us she puts out-of-towners up in the fancy Four Seasons Biltmore, Bacara, or the San Ysidro Ranch and "We like to have them greeted with a particularly voluptuous fruit basket in their suite or cottage."
· Whale Week 2013 [Curbed LA]