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In the New Home Trenches: How 3 Agents Adapt to the Changing Marketplace

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By Christian Walsh

RISMEDIA, Nov. 9, 2007-Although many eyes focus on statistics, the viewpoint of those who are actually in the trenches is another valuable perspective. Certified New Home SpecialistTM reached out across the nation to learn how those in the field are dealing with the changing marketplace.

Here is a sampling of some of the great information we received:

Kathy Hart of RE/MAX Properties in Sarasota, FL has seen things change, “though we’re beginning to see a return to a normal market, our area experienced unprecedented appreciation and unprecedented sales with average time on the market being counted in days and multiple offers. We’re now a bit heavy on condo inventory and builders are severely reducing prices to move stale inventory. Gated communities and waterfront condos are still moving.”

Some recent concessions that builders have had some success with include: decorating bonuses, weekend “sale” prices, 1st year of mortgage payments “free” and a free car lease (typically a Lexus or Mercedes).

One of the keys to her continued success is international thinking – Hart has placed MLS listings in areas far outside of her own. She is seeing some activity from Great Britain, Germany, Italy and South Africa.

According to Leo Sebus of RE/MAX of Kansas City, MO he is in the midst of, “a buyer’s market with a tremendous amount of bank repossessions, over built new construction and destructive media reports combining to create a large supply with a smaller demand.

Sebus remains optimistic because some of the best deals for home buyers are found in new homes, “new home construction is still preferred as long as the new needs are being met. A new home that is built with features that are identical to resale homes doesn’t cut it. If a builder is putting in the new features: larger closets and kitchens, bigger decks, decks off the master, high-end features in the master bath especially the shower, he or she will be less likely to be competing with the foreclosed properties that are pouring on to the market. Temporarily builders with standing inventory are offering discounts and upgrades that were unheard of even a year ago. That makes it a great time to buy because as the market corrects and inventory reduces these deals will go away.

Sebus’s strategy for success is clear cut: “Our business is growing because we aren’t waiting for the market to correct. We have doubled our marketing budget, increased our focus on listening to clients instead of telling them what we have, tripled our face to face contacts, created a new, exciting high feature Web site and taking more educational classes to increase our ability to answer clients’ current questions more completely. We are encouraging our buyers to consider new home construction and its advantages.”

Stephen M. Cooper in Whitby, ON finds that, “the more things change, the more they stay the same. As always, home buyers still seek value for their hard-earned income. Home buyers are better-informed in this millennium thanks to the Internet and the wide variety of home-themed television productions, they know what to look for, and what to avoid.”

As a real estate agent he knows that most buyers today are starting their search on the Internet. As a professional photographer he knows the best way to catch the attention of the Internet-searching buyer is through the “use of user-friendly, well-designed Web sites with lots of high-quality photos that will hold the interest of the consumer. Many online real estate listings don’t even bother to include photos and those that do often look uninspired.”

Sally McNulty of RE/MAX Properties and McNulty Residential in Hixson, TN brings a unique perspective because she is both an agent and a custom home builder. Things have slowed for builders in her area, but through the use of a commitment to customer satisfaction and the Certified New Home Specialist training program, they are surviving,

“I think we will see the disappearance of a lot of real estate agent and a lot of builders because their businesses haven’t been built on providing strong relationships and customer service with their clientele. Promoting your reputation with client testimonies is a good survival tactic. I believe instead of cutting back on advertising you have to continue to be consistent. Networking and being more involved in the local homebuilder’s association helps, too. Also, many designers/architects will advertise builders on their Web sites who have built their plans.”

“Here is something else that we do. We live in a home that we built. I have a background in decorating so we stage our home as a model and make a point of opening it or showing it by appointment to generate activity. It shows much better than an empty spec house and every single person that we have built a custom home for has come via an open house or specifically calling off our ad to make an appointment with us. It has been a Godsend.”

“I think Certified New Home Specialist is a valuable certification course and it is frustrating to me that more agents don’t take advantage. The agents and builders that make it through this market will survive anything. I hope you will be able to bring some fresh practical advice to the new home industry to turn things around for today’s builder…so they will be here tomorrow!”

Christian Walsh is a licensed broker in California and co-owner of Dennis Walsh & Associates, Inc., a leading source for training and sales tools for success in both new home sales and resale real estate business. More than 30,000 real estate professionals have participated in their Certified New Home SpecialistTM and Residential Construction CertifiedTM certification courses.

For more information, visit www.sellnewhomes.com or call 800.428.1122.

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