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Adapting to Change – In Any Marketplace

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By Kayla O’Brien

melbaRISMEDIA, June 24, 2009-For some Realtors, the key to surviving today’s tumultuous economy as a real estate agent has been adopting new technologies. For others, it’s trimming the fat. But for Melba Franklin, managing broker of RE/MAX Greater Atlanta-John’s Creek and RE/MAX Greater Atlanta- 400/Lanier, her answer to succeeding today is adapting to change. From short sales, to marketing tactics and pricing strategies, here, meet Franklin, and find what’s working in the Atlanta region and how it can be applied to just about any marketplace.

Years in the industry: 31
Number of offices: 2
Number of agents: 90+
Regions served: John’s Creek Office: North Fulton County, Gwinnett County, and South Forsyth County. 400/Lanier: Forsyth County, Hall County, and Dawson County.
Average sales price in your market: John’s Creek: $375,000; 400/Lanier: $250,000
Average listing time: Due to the number of short sales and foreclosures in the market, the numbers are skewed, but on average, 120 days. If a foreclosure is priced right, it can go even faster.
The key to success today: Adapting to change. The term “short sale” wasn’t in my vocabulary when I started in real estate. Agents today need to stay more educated, keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the marketplace and get more training. With the economy, it’s hard to do, but it’s also important to keep a good attitude and realize that you’re going to have to work harder today.
Our biggest challenge has been…the water shortage last year. It created a lot of job problems for landscapers, etc., and the effects filtered down with the economy. In Lanier, the largest type of properties we sell are lake properties-they’re highly sought after and pricey-however, because of the shortage, we had beautiful homes on the market with dry land in their backyard. The water shortage and the economy hurt pricing-that’s a double whammy. We’ll still be paying for it in years to come.

What advice do you offer agents in terms of getting the right listing price?

Stay up-to-date on the statistics and educate sellers on those statistics. You’ve got to be able to prepare the seller and set their expectations. The difficulty has been making the seller understand the market. We want the market to chase the seller, and sellers don’t get that right away, so we’re constantly helping our agents in conversation or with scripts to better educate the seller. One of the more important statistics is showing the seller exactly what the market is doing. Agents need a new CMA every month because, for example, the foreclosure down the street came on the market last week and that can hugely change the seller’s pricing. We’ve got to help our sellers and reevaluate the pricing every 30 days.

How have your agents utilized The Real Estate Book to help stay ahead of the local competition?

Anything you can do to market a property is always a good thing. Agents need to use different ways and mediums to be able to market the home properly-especially when you’re trying to market a property in today’s economic challenges. The Real Estate Book realizes the economic situation of agents and also realizes that print media is not the only way, so by utilizing The Real Estate Book, agents also get Internet presence in today’s difficult market.

In order to best represent a short sale, an agent must…

First, get educated. An agent shouldn’t try working a short sale without taking classes first. Period. With just about 50% of the homes that are going to be sold in 2009 being short sales, you have to get educated about them-it is an evolving process. Banks have never done this before and the rules are changing daily, so stay current. And every bank’s short sale is different. We can’t help sellers with them if we don’t educate ourselves first. Agents need to look at short sales as an opportunity because a lot of the sellers out there are not educated and are getting close to foreclosure. If an educated agent can help that seller along to a successful short sale, the seller can avoid foreclosure. We need to let the public understand that agents are staying up to date-let us help you in successfully listing that property rather than allowing it to go to foreclosure.

What’s the best way to utilize the Internet to differentiate your company?

We make sure that when you Google or Yahoo! us, our website is going to be one of those that comes up first. If a real estate company is going to be successful, technology has to be high on the priority list. Keep your website up to date, don’t be stagnant, change your look and make sure the search engines are there.

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