Diane Cookson Real Estate: The Art of Selling Luxury Homes
Selling luxury homes requires a unique blend of business acumen and artistic finesse. For more than a decade, Diane Cookson has been a top Bergen County Realtor®, representing the finest homes throughout North Jersey and we are delighted to welcome her to Vol. 4 of TSGBC. Recently we sat down with Diane to discuss the qualities that make her such a successful agent. It is clear that beyond understanding the unique features and allure of each property to expertly price and negotiate, Diane possesses the emotional intelligence to cultivate trusting relationships with her high-net-worth clientele and the ability to craft compelling narratives around the prestigious lifestyle her listings offer.
TSG: Diane how did you become involved in Real Estate?
Diane: I am a lifelong Bergen County resident, raised in Haworth. My father was involved in real estate, developing and flipping homes and I would frequently accompany him on his projects, giving him input on design selections. After college I worked at the Bergen County Superior Court where I met my husband and together we moved to Upper Saddle River to start a family. When I was ready to return to work after my third son was born, I realized that the real estate bug that my father instilled in me was still there. So while my young boys were at camp I signed up for a Real Estate class. Like any entrepreneur building a new business, the first few years were not easy, or fruitful. I took every opportunity to learn the market, sat countless open houses and remained actively involved in my community, building my personal and professional network. It took 6 months to close my first deal but it wasn’t until 18 months later that things really started to take off. I was approached by homeowners who wanted to quietly sell their home, and through the network I had cultivated, I found the perfect buyer.
TSG: Your name has become synonymous with Luxury Listings and you have received countless industry accolades for your success. Tell us why you are the go-to agent for so many high-end homeowners and buyers.
Diane: Regardless of a home’s price, I think it is my attention to detail and genuine enthusiasm that clients appreciate. There is an art to showcasing a home so that buyers appreciate its details and translate them to value. I bring an extensive knowledge of construction, building materials, and custom craftsmanship and educate clients about the factors that play into the home’s pricing. This knowledge is also especially helpful as I only recommend vendors who are also familiar with high-end custom features such as smart home technology, pools and spas, and driveway gates for example, and best able to assess a home’s condition when listing and buying.
I also have a strong design aesthetic that buyers appreciate when they are trying to envision themselves in a new home. Often luxury homes are so customized that buyers struggle to realize the changes that can be made so the home better suits their needs. My guidance helps buyers see the forest through the trees so they don’t pass up an opportunity over an easy modification. I can’t tell you how many clients ask me to make design choices in preparation for resale or invite me back to their home to help them with design ideas including paint colors, flooring and tile selections.
TSG: Some might say, a beautiful listing sells itself. But tell us about some of the challenges that are unique to the luxury market.
Diane: Discretion is essential. Privacy and security are of utmost importance to many of my clients and open houses are not an option for some, so my homes must be marketed with the best photography and marketing tools to attract the most discerning buyers. I respect the trust that clients place in me; I rarely use lockboxes and personally show the properties I represent. It is also not unusual for me to request proof of funds prior to scheduling a showing so I am certain that the potential buyer is in fact qualified.
TSG: Tell us about your network of buyers and where they are coming from.
Diane: In Bergen County most of the high-end buyers are coming from within the tri-state area. People moving out from NYC and the Gold Coast are ready to trade their exorbitant rent for a beautiful, luxury home. Many of my potential buyers are choosing between Bergen County and Westchester and I am quick to remind them that our lower taxes and outstanding schools, combined with our vibrant downtowns, make Bergen County an easy transition from their city lifestyle.
TSG: What’s next for you.
Diane: This year I am excited to continue to build out my business. The market is very active and I want to ensure that each of my clients receives exceptional individualized service.
I am also very excited to be expanding my reach to Long Beach Island and South East Florida (From Palm Beach to Miami). So many of my clients are ready to sell or purchase a second home, and I am thrilled to be partnering with excellent regional agents who can be our “boots on the ground” while I handle the negotiations and manage the process with them while they are home in Bergen County.
TSG: The Scout Guide is all about celebrating LOCAL, so tell us some of your family’s favorite spots.
Restaurants: The Saddle River Inn, Savini, and our new spot, Lannis Cucina which is just over the Bergen County border in Sparkhill.
Deli: Morano’s Gourmet Market, Ramsey
Gift Shops : Lily & Kate, Ramsey
Hair Salon: Willow & Edge, Allendale. Shout out to Evija for always giving me the perfect blow out.
Interior Design: DRP Interiors
Walking Trail/Park: Ramapo Reservation
Car Wash: Auto Polishing Center, Waldwick