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The Team Advantage

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By Lesley Grand

Creating a successful real estate team is no easy feat. “You have to stay in really close touch with team members so that they all feel like they are working together,” says Vickie Howard with Nothnagle REALTORS® in Rochester, N.Y. “You never want agents to feel as though they are individual agents who happen to work in the same office.” For more of Howard’s sage team-building advice, read the following interview.

Vickie_HowardVickie Howard
Nothnagle REALTORS®

Years in real estate: 10.5
Region served: Greater Rochester, N.Y.
Average sales price in your market: $133,000 is the median sales price for the market. $233,000 is the median sales price for my listings.

How does operating as part of a team lead to more success?
I have two buyer’s agents on my team, which enables me to focus on what I do best: listings. I can work with sellers and there is no conflict; when I list a house, I assign one of my buyer’s agents to the new listing, and if a buyer comes to an open house and makes an offer, I work for the seller and my buyer’s agent works for the buyer. That way we avoid a dual agency situation.

What’s the most challenging aspect of being part of a team?
One of the most challenging aspects of offering team service is to have the sellers understand that they are not being handed off to another agent, but rather, by having one of my buyer’s agents work on the listing with me, they are getting a very high level of service. Another difficult part of being a member of a team is having to give up a degree of control.

What’s your best tip for making a team work effectively?
You have to stay in really close touch with team members so that they all feel like they are working together. You never want agents to feel as though they are individual agents who happen to work in the same office.

Please tell us about one of your most creative marketing ideas.
Selling a house can be very stressful. Besides offering new sellers excellent service and marketing that includes an eight-page online brochure, I like to introduce some humor, too, to sort of break the ice and let them know it isn’t all stressful. So at the start of a new listing, I give my clients a St. Joseph’s statue kit with instructions on how to bury it (folklore purports that burying a St. Joseph’s statue will help speed the sale of a home). It just adds a little levity to the situation.

What are some of your best strategies for overcoming low inventory?
Our inventory is down 30 percent from last year, which means there is a very real shortage of available housing stock. To combat this shortage, we have asked our buyers to tell us exactly where they would like to live. Then we send out very sincere letters to all the houses in a three-block area, asking if they would like to sell to our buyer who is looking in that specific area. This targeted approach has been very successful for us and we have been able to uncover new houses for buyers that up until then were not on the market.

How does your broker help you stay successful?
The brokerage offers incredible online tools, a weekly TV show, and a very advanced call-capture system that has been in place for 20 years; we are by far the largest broker here, so we have the most Web traffic.

Best idea for time management?
I always have a “to-do” list and I prioritize. I am also a paperless agent, which helps tremendously.

For more information, visit www.nothnagle.com.

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