HIGHLAND — Buying a $2.5 million home is not something everyone can afford. In fact, very few can even contemplate such an extravagant purchase.
But a local real estate company has developed a creative strategy to market luxury properties suited to only the most well-heeled Utahns.
It involves putting on what organizers call "the mother of all open houses" for about 150 guests who have the wherewithal to make such a purchase or who know others who might be in the market for a new home.
Marketing of luxury homes was the original focus of Salt Lake City-based Influence Real Estate, explained founder Rob Corcoran. The agency specializes in high-end listings and has developed unique techniques for promoting multimillion-dollar properties.
Client "soirées" are held at luxury properties, replete with red carpets, fine food, string quartets and exclusive viewings from local automotive dealers, design firms, fine jewelry dealers and other luxury partners.
“I thought that I’ve got to do something to generate sales for a luxury listing,” Corcoran said. “If I could pull 100 to 150 (high net worth) people together at one property and make it a networking event like they had never been to before, the odds are very good that they would tell at least a few of their friends.”
Corcoran began organizing the first event back in 2010 and had done others leading up to the most recent event Thursday at a high-priced home in northern Utah County.
Annie Zolman, 35, and her entrepreneur husband, Steve, 37, have lived in their eight-bedroom, eight-bathroom house since 2007. And for the most part, the custom-designed, 12,275-square-foot house situated on a little more than 3 acres in the shadow of Mount Timpanogos has been the family sanctuary they always wanted.
The home includes a gourmet kitchen, high-end finishes throughout, space outside for horses, goats and chickens, along with a full-size playground and tennis court for their five kids to enjoy, not to mention two waterfalls and garage space for up to a dozen vehicles.
Despite all the amenities of the property, Annie Zolman said they have an opportunity to purchase about 10 acres in nearby Alpine that will allow the family to have a similar-sized home with more land to “spread their wings.”
But first they want to sell their current property.
Enter Corcoran, who suggested hosting a soirée that would hopefully attract clients with the financial resources necessary to potentially buy such an expensive, well-appointed residence.
Upon first hearing about the proposed event, Annie Zolman said she was intrigued.
“I thought it was a fantastic idea,” she said. “As a home seller, it gives you an opportunity to have the biggest walk-through you could ever have — all in one night.”
In addition, Zolman said she appreciated the notion of being able to network with other area business people or make new social connections.
“Where else do you get the opportunity to have these kind of people together to gather and mingle?” she said.
While they were unable to attend the event at their property, Zolman said they hope to attend one in the future.
She also said she would recommend the experience to others who might be in the market to sell their luxury property.
“Otherwise it can be a challenge to get people in the home,” Zolman explained. “(This kind of event) gives the property a large amount of exposure.”
From a networking point of view, attendees such as entrepreneur Steve McGhie, 46, of Highland, said the event is an excellent way to interact with others who may operate in some of same business and social circles.
“For me, getting to know other business owners is important,” he explained. “I enjoy the social aspects and find a lot of value and resource in knowing those people.”
McGhie said attending such an event allows him to expand his network of contacts, as well as “experience new things and to grow.”
Having recently purchased a new home through Influence, McGhie said he was not looking to move but would reach out to people he knows who are considering a new home regarding the Zolman property.
Also attending for the networking opportunities was Ronnie Daniel, development director for the Living Planet Aquarium. He said many people who attend such events are often looking to cultivate various kinds of relationships, including charitable giving.
“In my profession, I am always trying to make connections with prospective donors,” Daniel explained. “Obviously, people who are interested in or perhaps have the capacity to purchase a $2.5 million home are people that I would like to make connections with.”
For Corcoran, putting on the event costs about $9,000, and so far each home at which the company has hosted a soirée has sold within a few weeks, making it a worthwhile venture, he said.
“I have a better chance at selling a luxury property if I bring together people who are well connected in the community and/or can afford to purchase a home like this than sitting around hoping that someone calls (the multiple listing service),” Corcoran said.
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