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Securing the Deal

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By Maria Patterson

When polishing your business strategy, it’s important to look outside the box. For some successful real estate companies, home warranties are the answer when it comes to knocking out competition. For more information on utilizing home warranties, read the following interview with Maryann Vitale Alles, CRB GRI, CEO and President of Prudential Select Properties in St. Louis, Mo.

Vitale_Alles_MaryannYears in real estate: 32
Current market conditions: Our current market conditions are much like other areas throughout the country. We are struggling with low inventory and multiple offers. Home sales in Missouri climbed 2.4 percent in December, reaching 4,764 sales. This figure exceeded sales from a year ago by 1.4 percent.
How prevalent are home warranties in your market? More than 30 percent of our business has home warranties. If our agents have a home warranty on a property, the E&O deductible is cut in half.

Why are home warranties an important part of your business strategy?
I believe home warranties have grown in popularity due to the economy we have experienced in the last few years. Homeowners have struggled to keep up with deferred maintenance on their homes, which has created more issues with their homes. The home warranty helps sellers and buyers come to an agreement, thanks to the security of a home warranty under their belts.

How do home warranties help your agents build relationships and grow their business?
When our agents are well educated on the home warranty product, it helps put the homeowner’s mind at ease in terms of any potential issues they may face during the listing period. Their home is covered at no cost to them until the closing of the transaction. The same holds true for our buyers; when an agent educates a buyer on how a home warranty will protect them from unforeseen issues that can arise, the buyer gains a little peace of mind. The confidence the agents have in the home warranty product helps them build confidence within their client relationships.

What sets HSA apart in the home warranty space?
Over the last few years, HSA has added a la carte items to their menu to help keep up with trends in home maintenance, and only just recently did they have a small price increase. Their customer service and coverage exceeds their competition. Our clients have high accolades for the product HSA provides and they are always proving that they are willing to go above and beyond, and truly be a partner.

I understand HSA has hosted educational sessions for your agents. How has this benefitted your firm and helped your agents increase business?
HSA really goes beyond just providing exceptional products and service. HSA’s Chief Communications Officer, Burke Smith, conducted live presentations that helped educate our agents and increase their knowledge. He gave them ideas and skills to use in social media that have helped them generate listings and buyers. He also did a training session for our managers, which included follow-up coaching sessions.

What do today’s agents need to focus on to succeed?
Buyers and sellers have access to far more information than ever before. Some may view this as a negative to the service we provide, but really it is a positive. We just have to change the way we build our relationships with our clientele by educating them on the tools we have available. So what is our main focus? It never changes: We focus on superior customer service and building relationships with our clients through knowledge, innovative thinking and great attitudes.

For more information, visit http://www.onlinehsa.com.

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