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Working with Sellers in Challenging Times

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By Lesley Geary

Top 5 in Real Estate Network, February 2009–Greg Waldmann
RE/MAX Alliance
Years in real estate:
Region Served: South Denver Metro area
Average sales price in your market: $325,000

What challenges and concerns do sellers in this market face?

Sellers need to be provided the evidence specific to home values in their market. Today, the media is shaping this national impression that it is a horrible time to sell a home. That’s not to say that some markets have, in fact, suffered declines, but all real estate is local and it’s up to the local real estate professional to help sellers understand the specific dynamics that are driving supply and demand in their neighborhoods.

What type of information do you provide sellers with?

I like statistics and I believe all sellers need to know market absorption rates, market trends, list-to-sales ratios, etc. I also clearly define expectations with sellers so that there are no questions down the road. My sellers love this. I always provide sellers a realistic price range and obviously try to trend to the higher end. It is important to be in the correct range so that I can begin negotiations with interested parties.

How do you educate sellers on the new “real estate reality?”

I go through lots of market data and formulas to demonstrate to sellers how their market is trending. I also provide them with the evidence as to how I arrive at their home’s market value. These are the same practices that an appraiser uses. It is important for sellers to understand that the laws of supply and demand govern all pricing and that a lower asking price will stimulate greater demand. Greater demand often leads to higher prices.

How do you work with “expired” listings?

When working with expireds, I leave a flyer and follow up with them on a regular basis. You must establish a professional relationship and a level of trust with them as they are usually frustrated that their home had not sold previously. I continually keep them apprised of their market activity and demonstrate how my proven marketing systems differentiate myself.

How do you get the best possible price for sellers?

By maximizing exposure of the home using multiple media, you generate maximum demand and this frequently results in higher prices. I have over 15 years of experience in negotiations and this is where I excel. I always place my client’s needs above my own. I also target market all of my properties and have all homes professionally staged and photographed.

What’s the most successful way to market a listing?

I find the Internet and social networking sites are best. Also Craigslist is very good for our market. I also use “pay per click.” However, I can drive traffic to my website, I will do it. Business-to-business marketing also works well.

What is the most creative advertising you are using?

For sellers, I make personalized business cards for them, which serve as a small ad for their home. People who are trying to sell their homes hand out their business cards with the house features and my contact information. My sellers really like these cards and tend to hand them out all over the place-soccer games, the dry cleaners…you name it. It’s all about differentiating yourself. In this market you have to be different.

What’s your best idea for turning this market to your advantage?

We are in a short sale/foreclosure market and you have to take the time to become an expert in this process. You have to also educate your clients on the short sale/foreclosure process and set expectations. Sometimes I employ team members specializing in corresponding with the bank on a daily basis-it’s a very time consuming and challenging process.

What’s your best idea for time management?

Time blocking. I schedule specific tasks at the same time each day. For example, I do a lot of administrative work in the morning when I am fresh. Then I have a set time each day where I make follow-up calls. I also have set times during the day when I will be showing houses. Don’t forget to set a time for a lunch date with your spouse! Time blocking allows me to stay focused but also remember that I have obligations outside of work.

Please describe your philosophy for a successful life in real estate.

My big thing is maintaining a work/life balance and always having a positive attitude. You have to enjoy what you do. Times get tough and it’s easy to get negative-I just don’t associate with negative people. There is always a silver lining.

Top 5 in Real Estate welcomes your questions and comments. Please e-mail feedback@top5inrealestate.com.

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