One of the reasons Freshome reader’s enjoy visiting us daily is a glimpse into luxury living. From posh interiors and designer furnishings to gorgeous architecture. Luxury real estate is one of those subjects that we often wonder about, but don’t know the right person to ask. Fortunately, I was able to find an expert, Jack Cotton from Sotheby’s International Realty. I interviewed Jack and asked the questions that are on everyone’s minds, especially – how to become a luxury real estate specialist! ‘Jack Cotton has worked continually in the real estate company he started in his college dormitory room 37 years ago… Over the years, Jack has been involved nearly every record breaking luxury residential sale on Cape Cod, either directly as the agent or as coach to the agent involved.’ Within the last week Jack has had huge success with his recent publications, in which Jack said, “There is a saying by Zig Ziglar stating that ‘you can get anything you want if you just help enough people get what they want.’ As I close in on four decades in the real estate business, it is a special treat to reach the top of the Amazon.com best seller list in the real estate category by helping real estate agents across North America and around the world attain their dream of becoming Luxury Real Estate Specialists”. Congratulations Jack for your accomplishment, and we thank you for sitting down with Freshome to give us advice on luxury real estate.
FRESHOME: Many Freshome readers may not realize you founded Cotton Real Estate which is now the renown Sotheby’s International Realty that specializes in luxury real estate worldwide. Please share with us how your company blossomed into this luxury icon. JACK COTTON: I began my company, Cotton Real Estate, in my college dormitory room in 1974. Because of my young age and the resulting difficulty in competing with older, more established practitioners in my marketplace, I decided that it was necessary to enhance and expand my expertise. Understanding that high net worth individuals are keenly interested in property values, I undertook a multi-year program of educating myself in the appraisal and valuation process. My expertise in valuation was helpful to those who serve high net worth individuals: bank trust officers, attorneys, accountants, and financial advisers. As a result of my valuation training, I began preparing 20-30 page written price opinions rather than the “off the cuff” price opinions that were the norm in my market. As my expertise became more known, my business grew until in 2005, it was purchased by Sotheby’s International Realty.
FRESHOME: Buying and selling homes can be intimidating for many people, even seasoned homeowners can have challenges. What suggestions do you have for helping homeowners educate themselves about luxury real estate? JACK COTTON: In the nearly four decades helping luxury home buyers and sellers with their real estate decisions, I have had the opportunity to observe first-hand the techniques they used. Remarkably, these techniques work in any price range. First of all, luxury real estate buyers and sellers treat the buying and selling process as a business. Indeed, it is remarkable to me that while looking for a luxurious second home in my market, luxury home buyers operate as if they are “on the job.” While luxury practitioners like me might like to sell on emotion, the experienced luxury buyer and seller keeps emotion out of the process. They want the facts. Buyers and sellers of luxury real estate always keep their ear to the ground. They ask questions of everyone they meet and decide on the validity and usefulness of that information. They never discriminate on the source of the information. They’ll talk with everyone from the server at the local restaurant to a technician at the marina; tennis pro or highly trained real estate or legal professional. They crave information.
FRESHOME: With the downed home market, is there still an advantage to buying luxury real estate today? Could you explain the advantages as an investment or inhabiting purposes? JACK COTTON: In most luxury markets, prices are down from their peaks of 2005 to 2006. I recently worked with a retired executive from a large investment management company. His comments to me were that in the current market with real estate prices at an all-time low, stock prices high and volatile, and zero returns available in money and cash markets that luxury real estate, i.e. real estate in rare and beautiful places, is in his opinion, the best place for his money at this time. While typical luxury home buyers are not worried about mortgage rates, the fact that there is virtually zero return on cash makes the decision to put money into real estate that much more attractive. I like to refer to real estate in rare and beautiful places such as my market as “the other gold.”
FRESHOME: You have several resources & fine-tuning techniques you have created about the buying and home selling process. Can you explain these training resources and how they can help Freshome readers? JACK COTTON: In my journey to be a luxury real estate expert and trusted advisor to those in the high end, I continue to work on and refine my processes for exceeding expectations in the service area. In 2010, I had three books that were published that all deal with high-end real estate. One was for agents who want to become luxury real estate specialists. The other two are for consumers, one geared toward buyers and the other towards sellers of real estate. With nearly four decades experience in luxury real estate, I feel that I have a lot to share with both buyers and sellers. I have had the opportunity to consult with and coach agents across the United States and the world and to also provide consult to luxury home buyers and sellers.
FRESHOME: Is it true that you have to be wealthy in order to attain luxury real estate? If homeowners are interested in learning about luxury real estate, what facts and myths should they know before beginning? JACK COTTON: The biggest myth about being a successful luxury real estate agent is that you have to be born rich and well-connected to succeed in this arena. In fact, many agents sit on the sidelines of the luxury real estate market thinking that it is an impossible dream. I can assure you from my own experience that this not the case. While being born rich and well-connected can certainly be a “fast track,” it is certainly not the only track. My track was to provide exemplary service, be perceived as an expert in my marketplace, operate at the highest level of integrity, and conduct my business where several times throughout the day; I am asking the question, “What is in the best interest of my client?”
FRESHOME: Your luxury real estate blog on your website – Jack Cotton is full of helpful information and videos. How does it help homeowners, Realtors, etc…? JACK COTTON: People respond to videos today, especially three to five-minute instructional videos. Each week I try to think of a situation or problem, oftentimes one that I encountered the previous week, and create a video around a solution that could help home buyers and real estate agents. By searching my blog, you can find answers to questions on almost any topic and, of course, people can email me directly for answers or for a telephone consultation. FRESHOME: You have written several books about luxury real estate. Can you elaborate on them, and explain about the free downloads that are available with them? JACK COTTON: As mentioned earlier, I have written several books about luxury real estate. I understand that writers are
perceived as experts and I also felt it was important to organize and record my 37 years of experience in the business. Selling Luxury Homes This is a book written for real estate agents who want to succeed in the area of luxury real estate. For those who weren’t born rich and well-connected, this book lays out a concrete step-by-step plan to be perceived as an expert and to make the progression from agent to luxury expert to trusted adviser to luxury home buyers and sellers in a given marketplace. 12 Secrets Luxury Home Buyers Know That You Can Use This book is based upon my experience dealing with luxury home sellers over the past 37 years. I’ve boiled down the 12 most important things I’ve learned from luxury home sellers that can benefit any seller in any price range. 12 Secrets Luxury Home Buyers Know That Anyone Can Use Like the previous book, I took the principles that I’ve learned from wealthy home sellers and boiled it out into 12 principles that any buyer can use in any price range. FRESHOME: On your Jack Cotton Realtor website, you showcase many of the Cape Cod residences that are for sale. Since you are a Realtor and a Speaker/Author, how do you juggle the two? JACK COTTON: Even though I do writing, speaking, and consulting, I still work as a real estate agent in my market. I limit the amount of listings I can take so that I can provide the highest level of personal service to my sellers. In some respects, my real estate practice is like a “test kitchen.” In other words, I create, test, and fine tune new techniques for listing, marketing, and servicing high-end properties that can then be disseminated to other real estate agents across the country and around the world after they are fine-tuned and tested. It does not make for a lot of free time but then real estate is my passion and has been since an early age.
FRESHOME: For those who want to become a luxury property Realtor, or they want to invest in luxury real estate for profit, what steps should they take in order to be successful in their endeavors? JACK COTTON: The most important thing I can share with you about investing in real estate is that over the past several years many people have forgotten the rules of real estate. Real estate is absolutely not a short-term investment. You must have a long-term, horizon, 5-8 years at minimum, to be a successful real estate investor. There’s so much negative media and talk about the real estate market now with all the erosion of value that has recently taken place. This erosion is a correction in the marketplace where prices got ahead of actual value. Nevertheless, based on my experience in the business, there is no better investment on the face of the earth than real estate. That is, of course, as long as the rules set up by our parents and grandparents are followed: Think long-term Don’t overextend or over leverage Pay your real estate off as quickly as possible Maintain your property Understand that you don’t make money in real estate when you sell; you make money when you purchase.
FRESHOME: On Freshome we are always trying to showcase luxury living here too! What do you think of the Freshome website? JACK COTTON: I’m very impressed with the Freshome.com website. What a great resource for staying abreast of the latest, most cutting edge information on design, both interior, exterior, and architecture. This is a fun site to visit to become inspired with the possibilities of beautiful real estate in great locations with great well, thought out design.