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Price and Affordability

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By Kayla O'Brien

RISMEDIA, June 25, 2009-It’s no secret that the oldest adage in real estate has been “location, location, location.” But in today’s market, it’s time for an update. According to Barbara Wolcott, chairman & CEO of Prudential Towne Realty in Hampton Roads, Virginia, a more accurate approach would be “price, price, affordability.” In this article, meet Wolcott and find what best practices her company is utilizing to not only succeed, but also stay upbeat in today’s marketplace.

wolcott_barbaraYears in the industry: 38
Number of offices: 12
Number of agents: 538
Region served: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Average sales price in your market: $228,000
Average listing time: 70 days
Key to succeeding today: Staying realistically upbeat so that everyone recognizes we’re all focused on moving forward.
Tips for reaching first-time home buyers: It’s a smaller buyer pool so you must do as much as you can to attract as great a segment of that pool as possible. We’ve begun a program of staging multiple open-house events every other week. We promote these events on our website, through the MLS and with picture advertisements in the local newspapers. We enhance these promotions with direct mail and open-house signage.
Outlook on today’s marketplace: The most important factor in marketing a property used to be location, location, location. Now it’s also price, price, affordability. Sellers make concessions that help buyers get into the house, such as paying for repairs, closing costs and other buyer obligations. Offsetting upfront costs greatly affects the affordability of the property.
In order to get the right price for sellers…Be completely honest and give sellers a true overview of what’s happening in the marketplace-what has and hasn’t sold.

How are you keeping your meetings productive in today’s market?

We incorporate recent market data and input from our lenders, and have panel discussions featuring agents who have been successful in this market. We leverage their expertise by sharing it with the other agents.

What’s your biggest challenge in today’s market and how is your company taking it on?

Now that properties are staying on the market longer, every sale that occurs has a direct effect on the value of what is listed. If you’re not communicating this to your sellers, you’re really doing them an injustice. Sellers, at times, have unrealistic expectations, particularly in this market. There are many sellers who are still looking back at prices from several years ago. If the properties are priced right and are in good repair, we now get multiple offers and we sell the properties quickly. Our job as Realtors is to put the seller in tune with today’s market by pricing properties to be competitive.

How are you keeping consumers in your marketplace educated about the buying opportunities of today?

There is such a wide range of consumers today. The majority go to the Internet, so the placement of your information on the Web is critical. The more sites on which you place your information, the better you communicate with consumers. There are still buyers and sellers who prefer direct mail and print advertising. We really try to do the whole gamut and adjust to the needs of the consumer.

When it comes to recruiting, what strategies have been most effective for your company?

There’s nothing that can surpass the company reputation and the one-on-one communication between brokers and managers in the prospective talent pool. When you go beyond that, you have to show prospects that you have the support internally that will help them become successful-or even more successful-than they already are. Prudential training, marketing and branding give us exposure well beyond the real estate industry.

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