Featured Agent: Dylan Smith of Chris Smith Realty

While working for a production company in New York City, Dylan Smith received a rare opportunity to pursue a career alongside some of the most creative and accomplished names in television. His demanding schedule required diligence, perseverance, grit, and strong communication — skills needed when addressing many of the renowned guests and high-profile staff.  “These traits are an absolute necessity in real estate,” says Smith.

As a real estate professional with Chris Smith Realty, he serves as an able adviser and powerful advocate. His ability to empathize and connect with clients is one of his strongest assets when helping clients find new homes, or aggressively marketing the ones they have. “The real estate industry is constantly changing, and, as agents, we need to be adaptable,” says Smith. By studying trends in the housing market and keeping up with advancements in technology he has developed a strategy that works. “With a genuine approach to your needs, you will acquire a tenacious supporter, and also a friend,” says Smith.

Dylan has spent his entire life calling Southern Monmouth County his home. “These roads, bridges, and boardwalks were the foundation of my childhood and a fundamental aspect of who I am today,” says Smith. “Serving these communities and the people within them is so much more than just a job to me.”


Dylan Smith

Chris Smith Realty


C. 732.682.3268  | O. 732.449.3777

Heather Stewart Kaznoski and Mary Stewart:

Offering Integrity, Trust and Consistent Communication

Representing home buyers and sellers in Marblehead, Massachusetts and the surrounding North Shore communities, Heather and Mary (Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Agents) bring over 60-plus years of real estate experience.

They are trustworthy negotiators offering a high level of service, consistent communication, integrity and trust. Heather and Mary are well known in the real estate industry and have long-standing relationships —  not only with loyal clients, but with fellow agents, attorneys, and lenders — which ensures that your sales transaction will have a successful and positive conclusion. 


Heather Stewart Kaznoski and Mary Stewart originally appeared as Elite agents in the Unique Homes Spring ’20: Elite edition

Success can be defined in many ways. In real estate, the numbers speak for themselves.

Darlene is the #1 sales broker in Santa Fe and the State of New Mexico since 2012, based on sales volume according to the Santa Fe Association of Realtors MLS. She is also #2 of all U.S. Sotheby’s International Realty Brokers in 2018, of all company-owned agencies nationwide. And of all Real Estate Agents in the U.S., Darlene ranks 67th in sales volume.

For Darlene, it has been persistence, hard work, and a gift for intuiting her clients’ needs – along with sourcing solutions for her clients at every step along the way.

Extraordinary personal service and a passion for helping her buyers and sellers sets Darlene apart and contributes to her exceptional success.


Santa Fe Real Estate, Sotheby’s International Realty

417 East Palace Avenue Santa Fe, NM 87501

T. 505.920.8001



Click here to view Darlene’s ELITE agent ad in Unique Homes ELITE 2020.

Click here to view Darlene’s info on the Unique Homes Elite page.

Featured Property: 5 Chippewa Circle, Santa Fe NM

This property offers an expansive 5-bedroom, 6-bath home on one level in the gated community of Las Campanas, on 3.5 acres. The home is a total remodel by Woods Contruction, just completed, and elegantly appointed with diamond plaster walls and radiant heat stone floors.

Natural light flows through skylights and clerestory windows. The living room, with high ceilings accented with crossed vigas and large fireplace flows into the dining area, surrounded by mountain and garden views. The meticulously designed chefs’ kitchen features built-in Sub-Zero refrigerators, Wolf double ovens, a large center island with an 8-burner gas Wolf range, Taj white quartz counters, integrated sinks, food prep areas, walk-in pantry and kiva fireplace.

The large private master bedroom boasts a fireplace, mountain views, solid walnut herringbone pattern wood floors, and custom  walnut built-in cabinets flanked by matching walk-in closets. Two luxurious master en suite bathrooms are excellent accompaniments, one furnished with a modern soaking tub, walk-in shower, steam room, oversized custom dual sink vanity, towel warmers, all complemented by elegant tile and stone floors. 

Outdoor living offers an easy-access grand portal, fireplace and grilling area, contemporary heated swimming pool and spa surrounded by stone patio, and a roof top deck with 360-degree views of the mountains and golf course. A short 10-mile commute to the heart and history that is the Santa Fe Plaza.

To learn more about the area, visit Darlene’s profile at Uniquehomes.com or her website.

Villa Diva, a unique 1,500-square-meter villa in Cyprus Kyrenia, was created by the Cypriot-American businessman Mike Mehmet Mustafoglu (the founder of TransGlobal Financial) for his wife, Grammy Nominee and Opera and Broadway singer Demetra George.

The six-bedroom, eight-bath main residence reflects George’s passion for music throughout and is a replica of the couple’s Beverly Hills home. 

The Villa Diva estate, listed by Aylin Pelin Onar of Coldwell Banker Maximum for $3.185 million, spreads across 6,000 square meters of land with stunning, unobstructed views of the Mediterranean Sea and mountains.

The property lends itself to entertaining, as it has been the focal point of the couple’s social, political and charitable functions.

It features a professional-size lighted tennis court, semi-Olympic-size pool with supporting cabanas, a massive outdoor entertainment and barbecue area with covered circular pool bar, automatic manicured landscaping watered from well water, and a three-car, air-conditioned garage building that can be converted into a guesthouse.

The entire estate is surrounded by a concrete wall and is accessible through large automatic iron gates. The expansive driveway can even accommodate the landing of a helicopter. 




From patterned wallpapers and dark paint to a velvet sofa with a mix of textures pillows, Maximalism calls to be courageous in design and embrace “more."

Better Than Streaming

In a world of commercial-free marathon-watching, a night out at the movies is a luxury. These otherworldly theaters take entertainment to a new level.

Sweet Sustainability

Some of the world’s finest hotels have accepted hundreds of thousands of new guests: honeybees that reflect a commitment to sustainability.

Diagram This

John A. Peralta, a self-taught artist based in Austin, Texas, has a unique taste for both science and how things work as well as art.

A Cut Above The Rest

Sustainable jewelry companies weigh the impact of their creations, in more ways than one.

Safe & Sound

When it comes to kitchens, the popularity of all things smart and sanitary is soaring, as consumers gravitate toward antimicrobial features.

Nap Bars

From nap bars to napping pods, a new set of businesses aims to help a sleep-deprived society relax and rejuvenate. Find the one nearest to you!

Lifestyle and Longevity

New values, shifting demographics and technology are all transformative agents in 2020, and each will shape real estate and design well into the next decade.

A Unique Country Sanctuary in Dublin Hill

Award-winning design-build firm SBP HOMES is bringing life to a six-residence development on private Dublin Hill Drive in a bucolic and convenient section of mid-country Greenwich.

Jump for Jubilado

From benefits for retirees and an assortment of visa options, to the sights and real estate options, there is much to see and experience in Panama.

Sweet Sustainability

Some of the world’s finest hotels have accepted hundreds of thousands of new guests: honeybees that reflect a commitment to sustainability.

Dining Responsibly

Seafood challenges chefs and delights diners, but a world of rapidly depleting resources requires conscientious choices.

A Guide to the Michelin Guide

Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts is proud to announce that both the hotel’s signature restaurants, the Italian Il Ristorante — Niko Romito and the Chinese Bao Li Xuan, have been awarded Michelin stars during the Michelin Guide Shanghai 2020 presentation ceremony.

A Cut Above The Rest

Sustainable jewelry companies weigh the impact of their creations, in more ways than one.

Big Gardens for Small Spaces

By focusing on a desire to nurture carefully grown fauna, this company has rethought the living wall by making gardening easy for small spaces.

How To Make Your Home Sports-Friendly

Whether you’re looking to add a basketball or tennis court, or something more adventurous like a putting green, home golf simulator or bocce ball court, having the ability to play these sports while at home can provide countless hours of enjoyment.

The Art of Writing

Exclusive writing instruments elevate the tradition of putting pen to paper — a ritual technology cannot erase — into fine art

Bedding for a Cause

The Good Sheet, a luxury bedding brand based in Tasmania, Australia partnered with non-profit organization, One Tree Planted, is planting five trees in its home state of Tasmania with every bedding set sold.

Modern Midwestern Makes

These two Midwestern brands, both with a reputation for timeless design, craftsmanship, and innovation, will debut a new collection in January 2020.

Concrete-Inspired Gift Guide

Looking for inspiration this holiday season? Check out this gift guide with an edge. These concrete-inspired items are perfect for your home or office and will stand the test of time to celebrate for years to come.

383 S Beverly Glen Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Asking $9,400,000


Property by Myra Nourmand


Live amongst the captivating properties of Beverly Glen with its beautiful tree-lined canopies and expansive flat lots. This beautifully appointed home is absolutely breathtaking! The entire property opens to the enormous yard, which is totally private and quiet, embracing the ideal of indoor-outdoor living. Soaring ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and an open floor plan, the home has a light and airy feel. Flexible layout features 4 bedrooms upstairs, one large bedroom suite downstairs, office and attached 2-room guest house. Top-of-the-line appliances such as Miele, Viking, Sub-Zero, Fleetwood, and NeoRest. Perfect for outdoor entertaining with the cozy loggia and fireplace, built-in BBQ and saltwater swiming pool and spa. Even solar, making this 7,000-plus-square-foot property almost off the grid! Enjoy the 3-car garage, spectacular 500-plus-bottle wine cellar, Crestron, fully secure, elevator-ready. A fantastic opportunity for an exceptional home in most desirable Warner Elementary school location.

A Cut Above The Rest

Sustainable jewelry companies weigh the impact of their creations, in more ways than one.

Green Dreaming

The color green symbolises life, renewal, harmony and growth and is set to steal the limelight of new interior design concepts in the year ahead.

Give the Gift of Sustainability

Ethical and sustainable jewelry companies are adding some sparkle to the world of fashion.

Flowers & Diamonds

The delicate and fleeting beauty of nature has been preserved in Earth’s hardest natural substance resulting in the perfect combination of jewelry and flowers.

Sustainable Shoes and More by Nisolo

Nisolo, a sustainable fashion brand, shares its impact report online and offers everything from jewelry and accessories, to heels, boots, bags and more. This company focuses on more than low prices. The handcrafted process involves intentional designs, an ethical work environment, and comfortable fashion that can be worn every day.

A Cut Above The Rest

Sustainable jewelry companies weigh the impact of their creations, in more ways than one.

Big Gardens for Small Spaces

By focusing on a desire to nurture carefully grown fauna, this company has rethought the living wall by making gardening easy for small spaces.

How To Make Your Home Sports-Friendly

Whether you’re looking to add a basketball or tennis court, or something more adventurous like a putting green, home golf simulator or bocce ball court, having the ability to play these sports while at home can provide countless hours of enjoyment.

The Art of Writing

Exclusive writing instruments elevate the tradition of putting pen to paper — a ritual technology cannot erase — into fine art

Bedding for a Cause

The Good Sheet, a luxury bedding brand based in Tasmania, Australia partnered with non-profit organization, One Tree Planted, is planting five trees in its home state of Tasmania with every bedding set sold.

Modern Midwestern Makes

These two Midwestern brands, both with a reputation for timeless design, craftsmanship, and innovation, will debut a new collection in January 2020.

Concrete-Inspired Gift Guide

Looking for inspiration this holiday season? Check out this gift guide with an edge. These concrete-inspired items are perfect for your home or office and will stand the test of time to celebrate for years to come.

Luxury Waterfront Property on Hilton Head Island

Only once in a lifetime does a legacy property like 136 Fort Walker Drive on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina become available!

Exceptional Luxury in Minnesota

With 500 feet of privately owned river frontage (with a dock) this stunning home in Minnesota overlooks the St. Croix River and is set on 17 acres.

Direct Oceanfront in Massachusetts

Sophistication abounds in this property, which has sweeping views over all of Plum Island sound and the Atlantic Ocean in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

One-of-a-Kind Residence on Lake St. Clair in Michigan

With approximately 445 feet of water frontage, this property is set on 4.3 acres in Grosse Point Shores, Michigan and showcases panoramic views of Lake St. Clair.

Elegance, Luxury and Sophistication in Michigan

This captivating Michigan offering features luxury living indoors and out and can accommodate a guest house and/or boat house on Bay Harbor Lake.

World-Class Retreat on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire

This one-of-a-kind waterfront estate listed by Maxfield Real Estate boasts 710 feet of protected shoreline in Moultonborough New Hampshire and is the perfect home or getaway!

Jump for Jubilado

From benefits for retirees and an assortment of visa options, to the sights and real estate options, there is much to see and experience in Panama.

Live the Island Life on Panama’s Isla Saboga

Escape to Isla Saboga to live the true island life with this oceanfront property.

The Ways to Wellness

With Spring just around the corner, now is the perfect time to swing into health and wellness. Envisioning and reflecting on your health goals is a breeze when your home supports and sustains your best self.

A Sunset Paradise

This exquisite new construction estate will excite the discerning buyer who is looking for quality, uniqueness and all the beauty of the Florida Keys.

“Real estate was not what I wanted to do,” states Los Angeles super-agent Gary Gold who explains “I always envisioned myself as a writer and/or cast member for Saturday Night Live.” But Gold applies his penchant for creativity — he spent years as a stand-up comedian and has written seven screenplays — to the rarified L.A. luxury market. In 2016, Gold sold the Playboy Mansion for a then-record $105 million.

“It was the most iconic home in the world and the highest-priced sale in L.A. history, so closing the deal gave me a whole new level of confidence,” says Gold, who adds, “It was like getting a Super Bowl ring!” Currently, Gold is a listing agent for the 25,000-square-foot Chartwell Estate in Bel-Air, priced at a staggering $245 million. The veteran real estate professional reports the home occupies the most coveted 10 acres in Southern California, offering a unique combination of privacy, acreage and views.

Gold, who approaches life with an infectious sense of humor, reports he entered the business at age 17. “I tried painting my car — Jews should never paint cars, by the way — and ruined it,” he jokes. “My brother was a real estate agent and said, ‘Come work for me and I’ll buy you a car,’” recounts Gold, who proceeded to create a marketable persona for his new boss. “Back then everybody was so square, like buying from your elderly aunt, so we transformed Rich into a compelling brand, which now, 30 years later, is very common.

Gary Gold, Hilton & Hyland. Photo courtesy of Gary Gold. 

 For more than five years in his thirties, Gold flexed his creative muscles, a passion more powerful than real estate. Encouraged by a Hollywood agent who saw him deliver a toast at a wedding, Gold began performing at comedy clubs and writing screenplays. “I loved it, but it destroyed my real estate business because all of my mojo and passion were being invested elsewhere,” he explains. “I asked myself, ‘What can I do in real estate that’ll give me the same buzz as a stand-up routine’ and eventually found ways to channel my creativity into the business,” he recalls.

With the emergence of Internet marketing, Gold discovered he had a gift for transforming the mundane business of real estate into something creative and sexy. “Now I get as jacked up preparing real estate marketing campaigns as performing at the Comedy Store,” he says.


The Playboy Mansion. Photo courtesy of Jim Bartsch.

Gold is very open about his former cocaine addiction, which began in his late teens and reoccurred in his mid-twenties. “Oddly enough, the drug had the effect of making me obsessive about work and success, and when I got sober I worried if I could function without it,” says Gold. “But I discovered that energy was actually in me,” he explains, and has now been sober for 33 years. “Those painful experiences gave me humility, and sharing them makes me a more effective public speaker,” suggests Gold, who is in demand for his humor-laced keynote addresses. The agent’s candor also inspires audience members struggling with their own sobriety.

Gold currently serves as Executive Vice President at Hilton & Hyland, the prominent Beverly Hills-based luxury agency for which he has worked for 25 years. He places a priority on providing consistent value to clients in the ultra-competitive L.A. luxury market, delivering insights and intelligence beyond the reach of other agents.

Most importantly, the influential luxury agent insists on bringing creativity, a powerful asset, to his profession every day.

Luxury Portfolio International® (LPI), the luxury marketing division of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, has released a new, global report: The Allure of the Second Home: Why Affluent Buyers are Displaying Confidence in Resort Markets.

This detailed research focuses on affluent consumers (the top 10 percent and above income earners in 26 countries) who are in the market to buy or sell a second or vacation home in the next three years.

The Allure of the Second Home reveals that the potential for luxury property has never been bigger. Just in the last four years, personal wealth globally has grown by 15 percent and the number of high-net-worth-individuals has increased by 25 percent. For those at the highest end of the wealth spectrum (over $10 million in assets), this represents a unique opportunity. While the mainstream market has concern and is showing caution, this consumer, and particularly those in the market to buy a second home, is becoming more aggressive and feeling a high degree of confidence in the market.

Photo by Jessica Bryant​.

“Today’s affluent second home buyers have more assets than in the past, they are younger, with nearly half under 40 years, and they are experienced with home ownership,” said Stephanie Anton, president of Luxury Portfolio International®. “This group is looking for additional residences for their portfolio that cater to their discerning lifestyles, where amenities and wellness are priorities.”

Photo by Expect Best.

Beyond physical and emotional wellness, which most affluent consumers focus on, luxury second home buyers are especially keen to improve their intellectual, social and even spiritual wellness, with 96 percent taking at least one aspect of wellness seriously. Learn more about how luxury developers are keeping this in mind to differentiate themselves in the full report.   

Key Takeaways

  • The high-end second home market is a net growing market

  • Younger buyers make up half of the luxury second home market right now

  • Ultra-high-net-worth individuals are investing more aggressively

  • Buyers are ultimately seeking a life well-lived

Download the complete report at luxuryportfolio.com/whitepaper

Based in Milan, Spagnulo & Partners has been one of the forerunners of architecture and luxury interior design not only in Italy but throughout the world. Federico Spagnulo, the founder and senior partner of the firm, shared his insights on the recent trends in design and his experience in the industry.

Where are you from and where did you learn design?

I was born in Milan where I studied by the Politecnico, University of Architecture. I also lived in Berlin in the 90s and worked by the architectural office Steinebach & Weber.

What is your style, and what makes you stand out among other designers?

We have a tailored approach to the Interior Design Project. In our mind, every project should be different depending on the aim of the place, the cultural context and the client’s needs. Like a tailor, I love to customize our projects and to face them as it was the first time. Thanks to this approach, the style is shared on each new project, changing every time to create a unique and custom-made experience.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a designer?

My father was an artist. He taught me and my brother, our art director, that the only way to be really free is simply to love our job. To be an architect is fantastic.

What are some recurring trends that you are seeing in 2019?

The most important new trends are some subject matters which are not strictly referred to the architectural and design world. A lot of influence is, for instance, coming from the contemporary art experience and from the cultural aspects related to India, China, Russia etc. That’s why I consider the real new trend in our job as the capacity to hear and to watch what’s coming from the outside world.

The real new trend in our job as the capacity to hear and to watch what’s coming from the outside world.

— Federico Spagnulo

What 2019 trends surprise you the most and why?

The last exhibition of Marina Abramovic in Florence. The courage to provoke a new way of thinking is always a generator of a concept. It doesn’t matter if positive or negative, but it’s always in the direction of a new beginning.

What are you working on right now?

We are involved in two new 5-star hotel projects in Dubai with 200 rooms and Doha with 300 rooms. We are also involved in the restoration of one of the most important antique palaces in Florence, Palazzo Portinari Salviati, which will be completely transformed into a luxury residence with about 40 flats. We are involved in a new architectural project of 110,000 square meters for a co-living house, offices, 3 theaters and vertical farms in Taipei, Taiwan; two new fine dining restaurants in London; two Villas on the Como Lake, and in Tuscany.

What is the most challenging part of your job and why?

To respect the client’s needs and expectations within the cultural and styling choices coming from the aim of the place where the project is located. I don’t like to continually propose the same approach to our projects, as we always work in different places and situations. This means that every time we start from scratch to invent a new story.  

What does Italian design mean to you?

Just three important elements: hundreds of years of history; an incredible capacity of workers, artisans and small companies; and good architects able to talk with the first two elements and understanding that that alone it is not possible to reach good results. 

Explain your process when beginning a new project.

We always start from the place and from the cultural aspects of where we are working. This analysis is combined with the client’s requests and becomes a concept that contains the strategic, cultural styling and practical elements that are the main pillars of the entire project. We spend a lot of time and effort on this phase, providing sketches, stories, videos, materials, music, samples and all that is necessary to create the right starting point for all the rest.

What inspires you?

If you are able to hear and watch what is outside from your usual context, it will be possible to catch real unexpected suggestions. The real inspiration, for me, is the surprise. 

Photos courtesy of Spagnulo & Partners

Ryan Serhant, costar on Bravo’s hit show Million Dollar Listing New York and the star of Sell It Like Serhant, released his new book, “Sell It Like Serhant,” on Tuesday, September 18th, 2018, sharing hilarious and essential tips to sell just about anything.



Serhant, who started humbly as a hand model, entered the real estate business in 2008, in the midst of the economic recession. Though his start was shaky, he today is one of the top realtors in the world, and has mastered the art of selling. Today, Serhant has 1.1 million followers across all social media platforms, is the real estate correspondent for The Daily Mail and has appeared on 20/20, CNN, CNBC, The Today Show, Insider, BloombergTV.

In his book, Serhant shares his journey from a small-town, shy theater kid constantly bullied throughout high school to a successful spokesperson for Chase, Zillow, and StreetEasy. Sections of the book include, Negotiating Like A BOSS, The Seven Stages of Grief Selling, Getting FKD: How to Be a Time Manager, Not a Time Stealer, Pulling the Indecisive Client Forward, and many more. Serhant shares the secrets behind how to close more deals than anyone else, expand your business, and keep clients coming back to you.


This book is the blueprint for becoming a sales machine through Serhant’s useful lessons, lively stories, and examples that illustrate how anyone can employ his principles to increase profits, maximize potential and achieve success. Sell It Like Serhant will give entrepreneurs and employees across industries a head-to-toe business overhaul.


Photos courtesy of BWR Public Relations

The practice is not new, but the frequency and acceptance of pocket listings has grown.

By Camilla McLaughlin

Off market … private listing … coming soon. These phrases in high-priced markets characterize properties offered for sale, but not publicly listed in the traditional manner in the MLS. The way these listings are perceived has changed significantly in the last 10 years.

Even after the advent of formalized platforms such as the MLS, the most expensive properties were often closely held, giving rise to the term “hip-pocket” listing. Traditionally, in the industry, pocket listings have evoked concern that unscrupulous agents would keep them in house and pocket the entire commission.

Post recession, the number of pocket listings seemed to increase exponentially; most in the industry remained skeptical. Today, the terms “off-market” or “private” listing are often used instead of pocket, and, in a number of places, it is becoming an acceptable — some would even say savvy — marketing strategy.

“Now I’ve noticed it’s really changed and it’s a lot more accepted,” says Patrick Ryan, senior vice president and managing broker, Related Realty, Chicago.

“It’s certainly become a very big part of our market, and it’s not something we’re necessarily driving. We’re being led by what the sellers want,” says Chris Dyson with The Agency in Beverly Hills.

In a survey of members conducted by the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing (ILHM) for Unique Homes, an overwhelming majority, 97 percent of agents responding, said private listings were part of their market. A third indicated there were only “a few,” while 17 percent saw it as a growing trend.

“As I travel around the country training agents from a variety of other states, I hear differing opinions,” says Florida agent Tami Simms with Coastal Properties Group International in St. Petersburg, who is also a trainer for the Institute. “In some markets, it works in a positive way, and in some markets, it’s considered to be underhanded.”

In the ILHM survey, 38 percent of respondents agreed that industry professionals looked more
favorably on off-market listings. About a quarter disagreed with this statement, while 35 percent neither agreed or disagreed.

The latest twist in off-market properties are platforms and professional networks, accessible only to licensed agents, designed to facilitate the sharing of information. The Top Agent Network, a national affiliation of agents in the top 10 percent of the market, is a forum for premier agents to exchange information. Additionally, networks formed just to publicize off-market properties are popping up in hot market cities such as Austin.

In August, several agents from The Agency in Beverly Hills launched thepls.com, the Private Listing Network. In little more than six months, the network claims 600 active listings worth $3 billion. Approximately 5,000 agents have signed on to the service. “Information shared on the platform is information they already email to one another on a daily basis,” says Dyson, who founded the network along with James Harris and Mauricio Umansky of The Agency.

“We have always had off-market activity. However, I think it is even greater right now,” says Meghan Bach with Colorado Landmark, Realtors in Boulder. Not only have they become more common, but there is greater acceptance among consumers. “People used to think they were Realtor-driven and that the listing agent was trying to double-end the sale. This is very much not the case today. It is seller-driven,” says Bach.

Ask agents about off-market practices and responses vary by location. In Palm Springs, Lucio Bernal with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage says, “We typically do not see off-market as being common in the valley. Privacy does not seem to be an apparent issue here.”

On the other hand, in Los Angeles’ platinum locales, Bob Hurwitz, founder and president of Hurwitz James Company, says, “Off market, a.k.a. pocket listings, have become so popular that the terms are basically oxymorons. It is frankly ludicrous.”

Technology also plays a role in this trend. “There have always been pocket listings, but it’s a little more evident now because of our electronic world and the fact that information is so immediate and widespread. The truth is if a house is of any substance, it generally doesn’t remain private,” says Joyce Rey, executive director, Coldwell Banker Global Luxury.

Lack of inventory is also boosting interest in private listings. Boulder has seen 10-plus percent appreciation year-over-year since 2013; demand still far exceeds inventory. “Good products fly off the shelf, so having a pocket that brokers chat about, and get under contract fairly hassle-free is ideal for sellers, particularly in the high end,” says Bach.

In Atlanta, Jaime Turner and Heather Armstrong with Engel & Völkers find, “The shortage of inventory is worrisome to both buyers and sellers. Sellers are hesitant to list and sell without an identified home to move to. By using an off-the-market strategy, sellers are able to command a price that gives them the comfort of selling while they look for a home to purchase. Buyers like it because they feel like they are getting ahead of the curve and are able to see a home that has limited showings. It has also been a good tool for us because when we have a seller that is concerned with finding a home, we utilize our agent connections and resources to locate the right home for our seller.”

For properties not in a luxury price bracket, off-market might not be the right route. “In the lower end, anything below $1.5 million in our market, coming to market creates a bidding war and advantageous sales prices for sellers. The higher end, $2.5 million and up, sells word of mouth and pretty close to where initially priced,” says Bach. Even for high-end properties, she says, “I do see huge value in coming to the market and being broadly online. That said, when there are privacy issues — divorce, job transitions, health issues — off market makes so much sense.”

Desire for privacy remains a major incentive for sellers. According to research from Luxury Portfolio International, privacy has never been more important to wealthy consumers who are also concerned about identity theft.

This desire has fueled an increase in requests from high-end sellers asking agents to privately market their homes. “Sellers actually demand it more than a Realtor suggests it to them,” explains Ryan. “They don’t want to be bothered with people just going through the house. They don’t want it to be a museum tour, so they instruct agents to be strategic and not make property information available to the public.”

Some contend not being available to the general market potentially enhances a home’s cachet. “A lot of buyers want something that they officially can’t have. Anyone that can essentially offer something that not everyone else can have, has a unique value in itself,” says James Harris. “The reality is the less you can tell people, the more exclusive it becomes, and the more people want it.”

But restricting information about a property to a limited audience is not without risk. “It’s a two-edged sword for sellers,” says Rey. “Is privacy worth getting less money for their home? If they do not get wide exposure, they may not be getting the best price.” “It also defies logic,” says Hurwitz. “The more qualified buyers who can find a property, the more likely a sale. If a property is not visible to agents with a qualified buyer, they aren’t going to know about it and will sell something else they can find.”

“I also hear a variety of opinions. Some sellers like the idea of avoiding showings, open houses, etc. (for privacy and convenience) if they can get a price they’re happy with without listing on the open market. The opposing argument tends to be that not offering it on the open market isn’t working in the best interest of the customer if there could be better terms/conditions in a wider pool of prospective buyers,” says Simms.

Even those who express concern about this approach recognize there are situations in which not being on public platforms is a strategic move. Hurwitz has used pocked listings on rare occasions for celebrity clients who wish to remain as anonymous as possible.

“Sometimes certain types of clients are not really comfortable having lots of people come see a property,” says agent Jennifer Ames with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago. In instances like this, Ames says she will do a marketing campaign directly to agents who work in this price bracket. Invitation-only previews of big, exclusive properties are a traditional avenue to publicize properties.   

Luxury properties often take significantly longer to sell than those priced close to the median.
According to research from Concierge Auctions, average days on market for the highest-priced properties in top markets hovers around 522 days, ranging from 55 days in San Francisco to 1,062 in Nashville.

Once a home is listed on the MLS the clock begins ticking on the number of days on market. “The way the market works in the U.S., if you go on the market everything has to become public. Not just the price and the address, but the days on market. The longer a property is on the market, the more detrimental it becomes for the property,” explains Harris.

Being on the MLS opens the door to inclusion on public platforms including Zillow, Trulia and many others. Along with days on market, changes in photography, prices, and broker representation are all tracked. “We’ve started to realize more and more with the Internet, you want to have all your ducks in a row before going on the MLS,” says Ryan.

“Coming soon” has become an official category incorporated into a growing number of MLS systems. “We see a lot of Coming Soon strategy as opposed to off market in Florida,” says Simms. “I believe that the off-market approach is more appropriate for properties that are particularly expensive and/or unique, which would likely end up having a tremendous number of days on the market if listed traditionally.

Initially offering a property off market is considered an effective method to test a price. “If you are trying to get a very aggressive number for your house, you may want to start off market to test the price,” says Harris. Agents also use this strategy when an owner has a much higher price in mind than the market will likely accept.

“It’s a way to test the market without going on record,” says Ames. Another circumstance that could call for an interval of off-market strategy, she says, is a situation where owners don’t actually plan to move for months, but still want to give the property exposure.

In the pre-Internet era, agents relied on phone calls to agents who worked in similar price brackets. But, “you could only call so many people and network so much,” shares Ryan. Today, robust CRM systems give agents a laser focus on most-likely buyers. Additionally, national brands and affiliate groups promote networking among agents both nationally and internationally.

More formalized networks and platforms such as thepls.com are a way for agents to keep track of what’s available. For example, in Los Angeles, agents might receive hundreds of emails a week regarding off-market properties. “The PLS is essentially a place where agents can put information, so it can be searched when another agent needs it. That was really the motivation behind it,” says Dyson.

Tried and true methods to ensure those who work in luxury are aware of new listings, both off-market and publicly listed, remain the most important marketing tools, particularly for well connected agents.

Will the penchant for private listings continue if markets cool? While blockchain reduce reliance on the MLS? Both questions point to variables that could affect the off-market trend in the future.

The “Market Maker”

“Market maker” is the way Robert Dankner characterizes what he does. Dankner, president of Prime Manhattan Residential, takes off-market to the next level by finding and creating opportunities for buyers and sellers in tight markets in New York City. “There are a lot of people looking for the same thing that doesn’t exist, which is why they’re all creating things for themselves,” he says referring to the boom in renovations.

Dankner sees market potential others often overlook and is equally skilled at bringing clients —buyers and/or sellers — together, crafting a deal advantageous to both. “In my world, off-market is something that not everybody can do. In addition to obviously being extremely well connected, you have to have a memory like a computer because as things arise on both sides of the equation, you have to be able to mix and match very quickly to see what can be put together. It’s just a matter of having the resources and tools to know where and how to hunt. There’s no algorithm, no smoking gun. It’s just a matter of understanding every nook and cranny from the standpoint of things that used to be on the market or understanding through connections who, what, why and where somebody might be willing to part with something under the right conditions.”

Photos courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

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