The allure of vacation properties intersects at a buyer’s love of a location and their desire for certain amenities. Beachfront cottages, mountain cabins, ski chalets, and scenic western ranches are going to appeal to different clientele. That’s why selling vacation properties, no matter where you are in the country, can be achieved only by reaching a specific niche of buyers.
Here are three case studies on how brokers are finding ways to connect with vacation home clientele and sharing their market expertise.
A Third-Party Matchmaker
Yolanda Salas, broker-associate of World Impact Real Estate in Panama City Beach, Fla., sells residential and commercial properties and also vacation homes in the Florida Panhandle. She heard about a new vacation home network called Vacasa Real Estate, which helps people through the process of buying and selling second homes.
Vacasa, a Portland, Ore.-based company that launched in 2009, provides professional rental management for more than 10,000 homes throughout the U.S., Europe, Central and South America, and South Africa. Before the real estate platform even began, Vacasa’s leadership noticed that nearly 5 percent of homeowners in their portfolio sold their properties each year.
In addition, Vacasa has rental property guests who contact them with inquiries on how they could buy the place where they stayed or a similar property. So, the company found itself in a position to help connect brokers and agents with clients looking to buy and sell vacation property, so they created the Vacasa Real Estate platform. Its partner agents, who can sign up for free, can assist vacation buyer and seller leads in their area of expertise.
Since Vacasa doesn’t have the resources to assist on the buying and selling side, Shaun Greer, Vacasa’s senior director of real estate, says, “What better way than to market with partners in those particular markets?”
Vacasa will also send out information to guests of the vacation properties they manage, saying, “If you want to look at vacation homes while in town, here are our recommendations of agents to call.” So far, more than 250 real estate professionals have taken advantage of the service. It’s free publicity for the brokers and agents, and Vacasa’s goal is to grow its portfolio of vacation rentals it manages on behalf of home owners, Greer says.
Providing Resources for Clients Afar
Other vacation and second home brokers have found special ways of connecting with clients and potential clients, too. For instance, Carlos German, founder and CEO of Carlos German & Team Real Estate Advisors with eXp Realty in Celebration, Fla., helps people from all over the world find vacation homes in Orlando, Fla. For those wanting to be close to Disney and other attractions, his website offers a “Distance To” search tool, which allows homebuyers to find the right property near their favorite amusement park or other location.
“A client who is out of the country or out of the state looking to buy a vacation home here knows way less than those just relocating here for a job,” he says. “Their priorities are different.”
German and his team make sure they’re experts in area attractions, golf courses, and other regional amenities. He also offers a “Community Search” tool, which allows clients to find local communities—more than 50 are highlighted on his site—based on the features important to them such as trails, walkability, restaurants, or golf courses.
“They can learn a little about the communities, view the location photos and write-ups, learn the distances to attractions, and a lot of other things about the lifestyles in those particular areas,” German adds.
German and his team provide personal touches to their clients, too, since most don’t live in Orlando fulltime. For instance, when Hurricane Irma came through in 2017, his team sent out emails to ask clients who weren’t in the city at the time, if they needed help bringing in outdoor furniture or securing their homes.
“We got to many of the homes first, before the property management companies did,” he says. “These people want to make sure they have someone they can count on.”
Celebrating a Destination Market
For Christian Collinet, broker-owner of First Colorado Realty in Estes Park, Colo., it’s all about gaining clients’ trust way before a deal is struck.
“When they first come to look at properties, we first provide an everyday tour of the town and give them a look at what life is like here. We introduce them to things they can enjoy as a family or couple,” he says.
They show potential buyers hidden trails that only locals would know about, or bring them to a great lunch at a locals’ cafe. The team goes as far as introducing potential clients to people in the town and to park rangers and park employees. They’ll even get them an annual pass for the Rocky Mountain National Park, Collinet says. The park is the biggest attraction for people who end up buying a vacation home in Estes Park. The town itself has only 5,000 permanent residents.
Collinet emphasizes making connections through trust to his team members. “Get to know them as a person and not as a customer,” he says. “Then get them connected to the community.”