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Dickson Realty creates new sub-brand for luxury homes

John Seelmeyer

Dickson Realty sold the first million-dollar house in Reno in 1986, and the company so dominates the high-end business that its 50 percent-plus share of the market is at least five times greater than its nearest competitor.

So why is the Reno-based company putting a big effort into creation of a brand that focuses exclusively on luxury homes, those in the $1-million-and-up market?

It’s not to grab a few extra points of market share, says Rebecca Dickson, vice president of the luxury division in the company founded by her mother in 1973.

Instead, Dickson said a few days ago, the company created “Dickson Realty Luxury Collection” as a separate brand to protect its position as the market leader.

“We have a commanding presence. We have had it for a long time,” she says. “But we asked ourselves if it really was good enough.”

The marketing of luxury homes differs substantially from the effort that goes into less-expensive homes, starting with careful photography to show the home’s assets in their best light.

“In luxury marketing, photography is the biggest component where you have to be better than everyone else,” Dickson says.

Sales materials are crafted over days and weeks, rather than the hours devoted to less-expensive homes. They’re more elaborate and printed on better paper. The Internet presence is more carefully developed.

Dickson Realty supports the new brand, meanwhile, with specialized orientation and training for agents who market luxury homes. (A luxury home is defined as one priced at $1 million or more; Dickson Realty today has listings for more than 110 homes in that category.)

While the company initially thought the materials and training associated with the new brand would support its efforts to get listings in the luxury market, Dickson says executives were surprised to find that buyers of luxury homes and their agents were eager to use the new materials.

Dickson Realty’s customers, include those in the luxury category, are split just about evenly between sellers and buyers.

The company took it slow in deciding to create its own sub-brand. Dickson Realty is affiliated with Christie’s Great Estate, Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate and Luxury Portfolio, three national services in the luxury market, and executives for a while thought about co-branding Dickson’s efforts with one of the national outfits.

“But that’s just confusing,” Dickson says.

Instead, the company worked with KPS|3 Marketing of Reno to develop its own brand identity.

Dickson Realty has more than 360 agents working at 12 offices in Reno, Sparks, Carson City and the Lake Tahoe region. Last year, they handled transactions totaling about $1.8 billion.