The luxury real estate market in Switzerland offers a selected range of high-end properties in the most beautiful areas amid picturesque mountains and lakes. Given the high level of demand from homeowners and buyers, real estate agencies provide impeccable quality services to meet the expectations of clients. One of the most prominent examples is Luxury 778 Ltd, which this year won the Luxury Lifestyle Awards as the best luxury real estate brokerage in Switzerland. CEO and co-founder Daniel Ittig shares with us some of the secrets of his agency’s success and insights into the Swiss high-end real estate market.
Your professional path began long before the foundation of Luxury 778 Ltd. Tell us, please, what in your life preceded the opening of the agency.
It probably started when I was about six years old. I used to spend hours leafing through a thick, orange book with hundreds of photos of skyscrapers and elegant houses in it. The buildings really captivated me.
As a teenager, I made the decision to steer my professional career in the direction of architecture. However, it soon became clear to me that there had to be more. This thought stayed with me, and I pursued it on countless summer days after work in the architecture office. I would often visit a small private lake where I would sit on the dock, equipped with my sketchpad, surrounded by tall reeds and the calm water. “What if there were no boundaries?” was the question that always preoccupied me.
The idea of planning the tallest building in the world was an inevitable consequence of my fascination with limitless possibilities and an important beginning for me at that time. So, little by little, the idea of a skyscraper which would house a complete city with big, beautiful parks, playgrounds, shopping centers, and everything it needed was born.
During the planning, it turned out that a building height of 778 meters was perfect. (This was before the time of Burj Khalifa, which is currently the tallest building in the world.) It seemed to me that the proportions of my design were not only majestic and sublime but also aesthetically light.
The number 778 has been with me ever since, and our first property for sale (even before the actual founding of the company) was a luxury chalet with exactly 778 square meters of living space.
You and your father, Stefan Ittig, are co-founders of Luxury 778 Ltd. Why did you decide to start the business together with your father, and what are the advantages of such a partnership?
My father and I had often talked about setting something up together. I also wanted to spend as much time as possible with him and to learn from him. He’s a great role model, with a wealth of experience and expertise in the construction field. He’s always been able to find a solution for everything. And everyone who knows him praises his pleasant, down-to-earth manner. I admire how he’s managed to build such an impeccable reputation.
In 2009, we decided to combine our knowledge of real estate and enthusiasm for the industry and found the company. This process took three years and we officially launched in 2012.
How would you describe Luxury 778 Ltd to someone who has never heard of it before?
If you’ve never heard of us, it’s because we are so discreet! (laughs). Luxury 778 sells luxury real estate to celebrities and UHNWI—in other words, to very wealthy people. One of the most exclusive off-market real estate portfolios in Switzerland awaits you as a client, that is, luxury properties that you will not find on any other real estate portal.
What sets your agency apart from other real estate agencies on the market?
Class instead of mass! Only a select number of properties are managed by each consultant. This gives your personal consultant enough time to study the property in detail and more time to understand your wishes and look after you as a buyer.
How do you achieve customer satisfaction?
That’s a very good question. We achieve it by showing warmth and enthusiasm in every single encounter with our clients. That’s our goal. This requires a great commitment from our team. If we see beaming faces or even tears of joy at the end, then we know we’ve done everything right.
You have been an active participant and influencer in the luxury real estate market in Switzerland and beyond for many years. What changes have you seen over this time in the sector?
The trend is clearly toward economical building materials and homes that produce their own electricity. People’s awareness of their health and the environment has also changed a lot in recent years. What used to be smoking lounges are now yoga rooms, for example.
Smart homes and new building materials produced by 3D printers now give architects the freedom to design in spheres that were previously unknown.
In terms of home design, the focus of families’ lives has shifted from the living area to the eat-in kitchen. Current trends show that the home office is becoming increasingly important. And in the future, we expect cyber rooms to find their place.
However, the one thing that remains unchanged is special requests, such as an elevator made of glass that moves through a swimming pool, a dedicated gas station in the garage, or radiation protection paint, that protect against the 5G network. Also interesting is the demand for antiviral building materials since the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the keys to success in the real estate industry?
An extensive network, an excellent reputation, and customer trust. The prerequisites for these are, among other things, sound professional knowledge and a keen awareness of quality.
What would you advise sellers of high-end properties to pay attention to in the first place?
You should rely only on providers whose staff have sound training and the appropriate qualifications and references.
In Switzerland, there are no barriers to entry for real estate agents. This provides a platform for countless agents looking for a quick deal. Whether they are lawyers, notaries, trustees, bankers, insurance service providers, or freelancers, everyone wants to earn some extra money, often without having the necessary skills.
We also advise sellers of high-end properties not to hire brokers who collect properties, put them on the Internet, and wait for someone to contact them.
On the other hand, what are the main points real estate buyers should consider?
Trust is the most important point they should consider.
If an agent is allowed to accompany a property buyer, it’s important that the buyer provide his or her full contact information right from the initial contact. (If desired, a non-disclosure-agreement can also be signed, granting the buyer the highest level of privacy).
The reason for this is as follows: It often happens that there are several interested parties for the same property. Interested party A contacts the broker with his or her full name, address, and telephone number. Interested party B leaves only a name and an e-mail address. Since a serious real estate agency first checks all interested parties before sending them any documents, interested party A has a head start, which could be decisive, while interested party B still has to be checked extensively.
Another important point they should consider is taking the time to have an initial meeting with the real estate agent because it will save them a lot of time later if the agent knows exactly what they want. When choosing a broker, you will find out very quickly if he can grasp what you want and has the necessary knowledge to advise you holistically.
How do you find the right person to talk to when there are multiple brokers offering the same property?
You should pay attention to these two points:
1) what the provider offers. (Is the provider a property collector who sells everything from one-bedroom apartments to villas, or is the provider an agent who works exclusively in the luxury segment?)
2) how many properties the agency has for sale and how many brokers it employs. (If a single agent has to manage many properties at the same time, you will find that the quality of his or her advice suffers. Look for quality rather than quantity when selecting a property.)
Please tell us about the luxury chalet you built in Zermatt. What is special about it?
Our biggest and most interesting challenge was to understand the wishes of the clients, even though they had only been on site a few times. In the end, we were able to implement all their wishes and exceed their every expectation.
Everything in the chalet is made of the highest quality and was perfectly installed down to the smallest detail. There are custom-made and unique pieces as far as the eye can see. A special highlight is the elegant wellness area, which extends over two floors. The wet rooms are designed with seamless, large-area tiles made of pressed marble dust and look elegant and refined. It’s a harmonious symphony of sights for the eye.
Of course, there is also the majestic view of the Matterhorn to brighten their day.
What are your emotions about winning the Luxury Lifestyle Awards?
The team and I felt, and still feel, deeply honored. The joy and excitement were immense at this news. It shows that our tireless efforts are paying off and that we are on the right track to set new standards in the real estate industry. It gives us an additional impetus to take our services for our clients to the next level and to become even better.
What is the most important and inspiring thing about your work for you?
Enthusiasm – for the people I meet, for the work I do, for real estate.