Stephanie Anton, president of Luxury Portfolio International, the luxury home marketing division of Lead Real Estate Companies of the World, sat down with us to share her insights for our latest Expert Interview. Stephanie has been in charge of the daily marketing operations of the global luxury marketing program for Luxury Portfolio International since its founding in 2005 and has amassed a great deal of experience in her field. She is also a frequent speaker to audiences around the world about topics like the luxury industry, real estate marketing and research and insights into the affluent consumer.
We asked Stephanie to give us her opinion on the state of the US luxury real estate market and its evolution, where she thinks the market’s going in 2019, as well as tips on a few modern marketing techniques agents should keep an eye out for.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background and why you chose a career in real estate.
I am not so sure I chose a career in real estate. I think it really more chose me. My father was a real estate developer (and ironically, my husband is too) and I literally grew up immersed in real estate conversation. Ultimately I chose the arts as a personal path, theater then film, but I preferred the business and marketing side. I went back to graduate school to study marketing, having already bought my first condo, while pursuing design, architecture and real estate as personal passions. So when I came out of grad school in the early 2000s, I had an opportunity to interview for a communications director position at a real estate franchise. I jumped at the chance and have been in it ever since as it has been a perfect marriage of my passions. I’ve since worked on the brokerage side as well as having spent time at the network level and having a front row seat to watch the internet arrive in real estate. It’s been an incredible ride so far, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Q: How would you describe the luxury real estate market in the U.S. today in terms of trends and challenges?
I would definitely describe it as a tale of two markets. There is the very hot, and the very cool. Everything is hyper influenced by macro trends such as the state of wealth and the economy and influences like tax changes and the environment, but layered into that are local market forces such as inventory, demand, local business investments (à la Amazon, Google or Apple), not to mention local political forces. There are others as well, of course, but these factors influence the fact that the NE of the US, places like NYC, or Westchester County, or much of Connecticut are struggling with soft markets, high inventory and lack of buyers, while markets with attractive tax incentives like Florida, or resort markets like Vail, are very hot and setting records for price growth and sale prices. At the same time, affordability is a factor, in much of California and places like Seattle where there is little inventory and high job security due to corporate investment. These are interesting—and contradictory—times indeed.
Q: How do you think the market will change in 2019 compared to last year?
I remain hopeful that it will not be as bad as many people fear it will be. The pockets that have been hit hard will remain buyers markets, but nationally, in the high end, I believe we will mostly remain in seller’s markets. April, when so many citizens will file their taxes, will definitely set the tone as the individual household impact has not truly been felt just yet. On the positive side, I expect that inventory in high growth, high priced markets will rise based on the development at the high end that we are seeing in markets like Seattle, San Jose, Boston, and Nashville. In the overall market (not just luxury), experts seem to agree that home price growth will continue to slow to possibly just low single digit values. Millennials, however, will finally begin to make their mark with almost half of mortgages in 2019 expected to be for this cohort.
Q: What are some of the innovative and modern techniques and tactics for marketing a home that didn’t exist even ten years ago?
Th last ten years was an eon in the real estate marketing world. Even 2-3 years ago some of the most exciting things I’ve seen in real estate marketing didn’t yet exist. I’m talking about these new virtual reality technologies that enable a buyer to envision and even feel what it’s like to be in the room in a not-yet-built property, new development etc. I also am loving the real-world appearance of many of these latest virtual staging tools, that enable agents to show the potential of a property by digitally altering an image. I think these are amazing tools that are so exciting for our industry.
Q: How has the evolution of online marketing impacted the luxury real estate market?
Online marketing has fundamentally changed luxury real estate for the buyer, the seller, the agent and the marketer! I love that there are so many more amazing tools and so much more transparency in real estate today. People have access to a wealth of resources to not only search for a property, but to get an idea of inventory, comps, trends, neighborhoods and so much more. As a marketer, my mind is constantly blown at the insights we can garner with new tools like Google campaigns, the way we can specifically reach and re-reach our audience with things like retargeting, and how we can tailor our marketing messaging and reach with the sophisticated tools we now have with Facebook, Instagram and more. You can be so much more surgical with your marketing today, eliminating waste and ensuring you get the right message to the right audience.
Q: Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
I think every responsible real estate professional should be focusing on and contributing to how we’re going to solve the issue of a lack of affordable housing in so many of our cities today. It’s great to be in luxury real estate when the market has been hot, but what are the consequences for that economic trend and, ultimately, the imbalance over time? This is a very real issue and if we don’t work together to be creative, thoughtful and helpful about trying to fix the problem, it’s quickly going to become impossible to fix.
About Stephanie Anton
Stephanie Anton is the president of Luxury Portfolio International® and a frequent luxury industry and real estate marketing speaker. She has been named to the Inman 101 list of innovative leaders, to Luxury Daily’s ‘Luxury Women to Watch’ and she was recognized by the National Association of Women in Real Estate Businesses (NAWRB) as Marketer of the Year in 2018. She also sits on the Board of Managers for Upstream.