By Lesley Geary
RISMEDIA, February 28, 2009-Speaking with Top 5 Member Julie Vanderblue of Fairfield, Connecticut’s the Higgins Group, she makes a point to recognize the effort it takes to move listings at a time when they’re staying on the market longer. From charity event open houses, to proactively finding buyers, in this interview, learn more best practices Vanderblue and her team are utilizing to stay one step ahead of the local competition.
The Higgins Group
Christie’s Great Estates
Years in real estate: 15
Region served: Fairfield County, Connecticut
Average sales price in your market: $900,000
Average listing time: 130 days
How are you working with sellers whose listings aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like them to?
We get very creative about getting people in to see the listings. We do a lot of charity events at the homes we are selling. It’s a good cause so the money we spend is well-spent. It’s not just a huge open house.
We are also very proactive about finding buyers. We work very closely with lenders and we do a lot of swapping. Say I have a property on the market that is listed for $1.1 million and the sellers are looking to downsize and buy a $600,000 house. We call every seller who has a home in that range and ask if they are looking to upgrade. We find someone who wants to upgrade and is selling a $600,000 house. By coordinating buyers with sellers, we have been able to put deals together. This also opens doors to relationships with other agents. We are all in this together and we have to work hard to improve market conditions.
How do you help sellers determine the best price?
I am definitely an optimist. My glass is overflowing. So when I first get a listing, I do a CMA and I look at the comps and come up with a range of value. I first tell the sellers that we think they should price their house closer to the low end because people want value in this market. Then I get my entire team of 10 agents to walk through the property. They each weigh in on the house’s merits and its debits and then we sit down with the homeowner again and, thinking of the industry and the competition, we come up with a very realistic price for the market. We want the price to excite the market when it first comes out. We don’t want to test out a price in this market. We really do a lot of fine tuning.
How do you adjust your marketing strategy to move listings?
I do a great deal of online marketing. I also believe very strongly in personal touch. I use my networking skills to reach out to buyers through after-hours events. Everyone knows people who would be buyers. This is the best opportunity, best time to buy. So if you are upgrading, it’s an ideal time to buy. You just have to be in front of people. I also go to a lot of seminars and bring back new ideas to my market.
How do you encourage buyers to act instead of waiting?
You explain that it’s a great market. You are never going to know when we have hit the bottom and once the market turns, interest rates will go up. I ask buyers how far they think it’s going to go down if they say they don’t want to buy until the very bottom of the market. When they say perhaps another 5%, I suggest they just offer 5% less. People are afraid and we just need to educate them about everything. They need to feel that they are being heard.
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