How does a 30-year-old broker who has been in real estate for less than five years snag a $19.9-million listing, then sell it in just 101 days? What’s Steven Liambas’ secret to breaking into the luxury market and having such success?
Liambas, who is with Re/Max Noblecorp in Vaughan, Ont. is happy to share his secrets, and there are many. He says it’s about always being professional, focusing on his brand and being different – he thinks outside the box, but leaves a box (more about that later) – the all-important network/sphere of influence and coming up with a super marketing plan that’s customized for each property.
“One hundred and one days on the market is amazing for a property like this, which can take two or three years to sell,” he says. The reason for the quicker than usual sale? “It’s the nicest showing property in Ontario. It’s gorgeous.”
The eight-plus-one-bedroom, 10-bathroom waterfront home is in a pocket known as Millionaires Row in Oro-Medonte on the shore of Lake Simcoe. The residence offers 19,000 square feet of luxuriously appointed and stylish living space that includes everything a family could want, down to a home theatre, a wrapping room and a hockey rink. Exterior features include an infinity pool, a tennis court, a golf green, docks and a boathouse.
The marketing specialist’s strategy, which took three months to create, was “crazy,” just what the client asked for, Liambas says. “I decided I’d do anything to sell the property in record time. I didn’t put a budget to it.”
He spent those months figuring out which avenues, which publications and which particular demographic of affluent professionals he would target.
Liambas used print, digital and social media. He bought covers for magazines distributed on private jets and to professional athletes, and targeted everyone from new wealth crypto currency individuals to old-money retirees.
The magazine covers resulted in international inquiries, he says. “Print is important for a property like this.”
He also advertised in the Globe and Mail, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. His clients, who originally bought the house in 2010, saw it advertised in the Globe. “I wanted to get it into the newspaper and bring it full circle.”
His $80,000 marketing campaign also included digital billboards along Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway, in the Leslie and Eglinton neighbourhood, and “a few affluent pockets in Vaughan and in Oro-Medonte where the house is located.”
It was also put on 97 international real estate websites.
“I got a lot of exposure through all types of media – 12 million unique impressions,” he says.
Liambas didn’t have to compete for the listing. He says he had worked with this client, who owns multiple properties, for a few years.
The client reached out to Liambas based on their past relationship and his track record. “She knew I’d give him full 100-per-cent attention and marketing. She wanted crazy marketing.”
Part of that crazy marketing included sleeping over at the property and spending two days there with a videographer to create a 10-minute video, which was posted on YouTube. That’s where the international buyers who purchased the property found out about it, he says. “They watched the video many times, fell in love with it and wanted to view it.”
Because of the time during the pandemic (two-week quarantines were still required by international travellers) not all interested parties came to view it but there were between 12 and 18 showings in three months.
Liambas, who has a marketing degree, says one of the reasons he loves the real estate business is because he loves marketing.
He says another secret to selling luxury is to stand out and be different. Think outside the box and leave a box. Each of his clients receives a box containing the listing presentation, sellers and buyers guides and a personalized item, such as a hoodie (branded of course) or a bottle of wine. “People love touch items,” he says.
Prior to becoming an agent, he worked in the sports nutrition business, where he built up a network of professional athletes. He also had a corporate job and made many contacts in that world.
Liambas, son of an Italian mother and a Greek father, grew up in Vaughan then attended St. Michael’s College in Toronto, where he began building his network. He says he got a corporate job through connections, but he soon discovered the 9 to 5 routine wasn’t for him. He says he prefers to set his own schedule, be his own boss and doesn’t want a salary with a ceiling. What better way to satisfy those wants and needs than by becoming a real estate agent, he says.
His business is now based on referrals and past clients. He farms in Toronto and Vaughan, including Kleinburg, Nobleton and King City.
He got his broker’s licence 2.5 years into his career. “Being a broker is like getting your Masters,” he says. It provides further education. “Being a broker means more responsibility. And it’s a way to differentiate yourself from others.”
Another way to stand out is with awards – last year he was one of Re/Max’s Top 30 Under 30.
He says he’s still trying to attract more homes like The Oro-Medonte property. “I’ve been vetted for the luxury market.” He usually works in the $3 million to $6 million range but already has interviews for three homes in Kleinburg priced “beyond $10 million”.