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Marbella Real Estate: Compete Where You Can Win

Spanish property expert, author, and Managing Director of Marbella-based agency Cloud Nine Spain Sean Woolley chats with local real estate marketing consultant Alfredo Bloy-Dawson about the different markets available to agents and how each agency needs to have a clear picture of where they have the highest likeliness of success.

Sean Woolley (SW): Every agent has a client pool that they feel comfortable dealing with, that they are in tune with. And we feel very comfortable in that. Certainly, a lot of our clients are in that bracket, the 41to 56 years of age group. And I think that’s reflected in the marketing that we do.

The messages that we convey, we’re not particularly prevalent on Instagram, for instance, which I know is more popular with younger people. We’re more your Facebook and your YouTube and writing long emails and stuff like that. But that’s not to say that there isn’t a market there for the younger buyers.

I mean, we know companies who do it very well because they give the younger buyers the message and the content that they absorb very well. So I think it’s horses for courses, really.

Alfredo Bloy-Dawson (ABD): This younger buyer segment is less prevalent in the ultra-high net worth individual (UHNWI) bracket. And I think what you said also about each agency has its own pool. I think there’s a bit of what I might call ‘confirmation bias’, which I understand, and that the agents that are talking to a younger audience, a younger buyer audience, the lifestyle that they’re selling is the lifestyle of somebody in that age bracket.  And somebody in that age bracket isn’t dreaming of sipping a cup of tea over the golf course.

And so this sort of the marketing accompanies that, that maybe two years ago, we thought wasn’t appropriate for the kind of wealthy buyer here in the Marbella area. We’ve kind of been proven wrong in the sense that they are selling to those buyers and that they do exist.  But it really got to be in tune with what you said, in tune with their market.

And the truth is that the agencies that were saying that people would never buy from the younger, more dynamic style rock and roll agencies have been proven wrong. They do.

And maybe the younger ones also realise that the ones that sell to the more traditional, the older buyer, the more considered, the more discreet buyer, they’re also selling to them. They’re both true.

Both markets exist. It’s not one or the other, at least here in the Marbella area.

SW:  I think, as a business owner like me, you then have to, the help of someone like you, you then have to go, okay, how many of these young Bucks are there? How many of these, whatever they are, 25 to 40-year-olds are out there into the Marbella luxury property market? And then how many 41 to 56-year-olds and above are there who are into the luxury Marbella second home market.

And if you’re dealing with a pool of buyers that represent all age groups, if you can quantify this and I don’t know if you can, that 10% of your potential buyers are aged between 25 and 40, and 90% of your potential buyers age between 41 and 56. Then the way I look at it is there are nine times more clients to go at than they would be if I went for the younger brigade.

So I guess, there’s no right answer, is there? I suppose what I’ve thought about and considered is that there are more clients in the pool that I’m fishing in. Then there would be if I went for the younger generation. So I’m perhaps appealing to a larger market. I also probably have more competitors.

But the interesting thing would be if four or five new competitors enter the younger market, what effect would that have? Because then you’re effectively diluting the numbers. We all know which agent we’re talking about here, but if the one or two big ones started getting some serious competition, that would be interesting.

ABD: Arguably, you may find it harder to appeal to the Ferrari-driving Rolex-wearing, helicopter flying, as Pippa Jones described them, type of buyer and agent, then perhaps somebody within your own age group that has an affinity to the way you are and you understand their needs and you understand what it is that they’re likely to be after, and they’re likely to have an affinity with you and respond to what you have to say to them.

I think for a new agent coming into the space if it’s a 25-year-old agent without much life experience, but very swanky and very in tune with what the jet sets are into, you could argue that it might even make more sense for them to go into that, compete in a market where there’s a smaller pool of buyers, but they’re competing where they can win.

SW:  Yes. And I think you have to be comfortable in your own skin, and maybe that comes with age and experience. But for instance, anyone can produce, with money and resources, a swanky video of a palatial villa with, sorry to be sexist, but it’s normally women with bikinis and high heels opening the property, people diving into swimming pools, the bottle of Dom Perignon there as well. It’s easy to do, as I say, with money and resources.

But the problem is if you do that to attract your audience, and then they end up coming here on the ground and meeting me, then there’s going to be a disconnect between what they’ve seen, what always been promised on video and what they’re actually getting in real life. So we have made a decision to just try and make it as seamless as possible in terms of the message that we’re giving, which is one of honesty, transparency, access to the whole of market. We can show everyone all those properties all those swanky properties that have been filmed with the high heels and the jumping in the pools. But we’re not going to be jumping in pools and we’re not going to be (well, I’m certainly not going to be trotting around in high heels, only on a Saturday night), but it’s important I think that people feel comfortable with what they’re getting and that’s why we don’t do those swanky videos.

We do videos which we feel are beneficial in other ways. It’s just about feeling comfortable with who you are and the style in which you’re servicing your clientele.


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