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By Dr. Cliff Baird

RISMEDIA, Oct. 25, 2007-In today’s market, it’s not only the agents who need to be on their toes when it comes to staying ahead in the changing market, but buyers and sellers as well. Here, three agents discuss the three most important things every one involved in the real estate transaction needs to know.

Erick Harpole is a team leader with Keller Williams Realty in Reno/Sparks Nevada. Having been in real estate for six years, Harpole has production in excess of $25 million a year. He has increased his market share and sales by 100% in the past 12 months even though the market has dropped over 50% in the past two years.

Diane Ivas is a member or the RE/MAX Circle of Legends, the Top 20 Teams Northern Illinois, the Chairman’s Club, the Hall of Fame, and has received the Life Time Achievement award. She is no stranger to success. With annual sales in excess of 80 homes in the exclusive western suburbs of Chicago, Ivas and her team understand the current market situation.

Mark Des Jardins is a Virginia native and 20-year Florida resident. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and with over 20 years of technology business experience he is currently providing first-tier professional real estate service in unique, picturesque Ocala, Florida.

What are the three skills every agent must develop to be successful in today’s market?

Erick Harpole feels his top three skills are lead generation, solid presentation skill and market knowledge, and constant follow-up.

Lead generation: “As an agent our first job is lead generation-defined as the ability to generate buyer and seller leads consistently. If we have no potential customers we are dead in the water. Leads are the life blood of the real estate business.”

Solid Presentation Skills and Market Knowledge: “Once you have a client, you have to be able to clearly articulate why they should use you versus using another agent in your marketplace. Then you must the ability to explain market conditions and the benefits of buying or selling in our current market.”

Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up: “As agents we need to have systems in place to make sure that no one falls through the cracks. Consistent, long term follow-up insures that you don’t lose clients and potential referrals.”

For Diane Ivas, she, too agrees that follow-up is one of her musts, but she also feels that listening and empathy play a major role in her day to day success.

Excellent Listening Skills: “Because every buyer and seller has unique needs, a great sales agent is always “listening” for the indication of authentic needs.”

Immediate Follow up: “Successful agents are not careless and do not procrastinate. They understand that clients want answers ASAP. Future referrals come from contented clients and successful agents really strive to build their future by satisfying their present clients.”

Empathy: “Great agents display compassion and are sympathetic to their clients who are enduring a stressful market.”

When it comes to his chosen skillset, Mark Des Jardins feels the process starts with the prospect and isn’t completed until all objections are handled before closing day.

Prospecting Skills: “Regardless of the market, successful agents are always searching for business leads by phone or in person. This is the only way to determine real sellers and real buyers.”

Listing Presentation: “Now, more than ever, it is imperative to obtain listings. Even though many markets are flooded with them it is a fabulous time to take control of the inventory. To do so, a superior listing (marketing) presentation is essential to differentiate you from the rest.”

OHT – Objection Handling Techniques: “Especially in the overriding anxiety in today’s situation, learning the skill of overcoming stalls and objections is fundamental to success. It allows the seller/buyer to make informed decisions by relying on your professionalism. This skill should never be confused as some verbal wizardry or manipulation. Quite to the contrary for it causes the seller/buyer to become very clear on what the delay is really all about. Don’t forget that you can’t sell a home to a buyer, they buy it! Likewise, you can’t list a home for a seller they choose to sell it!”

What are the three most important things every seller needs to consider in today’s market?

For Harpole, he breaks it down to the basics of business, from the Law of Supply and Demand through educating the agent in market value, and ensuring the seller is really ready to sell.

The Law of Supply and Demand: “When inventory goes up and demand goes down, prices fall. It’s a law…no exceptions. Sellers need to understand that the market is not what it was in 2005. Unfortunately, they will not see those two-year-old values when there is currently over 12 months of housing inventory on the market.”

Market Value: “…is what a buyers is willing to pay you for your home and what you are consequently willing to sell it for. Buyers are comparison shopping. They are looking for the house that offers the most benefits and features for the best price.”

Sellers, who sell, Sell! “Are you really motivated? There are a lot of motivated sellers in our market place; 1) Bank-owned Property (REO), 2) Pre-Foreclosure (short-sales), 3) Builders, 4) Divorces, 5) Bankruptcies, 6) Relocation for jobs, then everybody else. When there are a limited amount of buyers and you don’t have to sell then you are better off not listing your house. Increased inventory on our market drives values down.”

For Ivas, however, it’s a mix between old-fashioned accurate pricing and new-age proactive thinking through staging and home inspections.

Accurate Pricing: “Historically, under any market conditions an overpriced home seldom sells. Successful agents know that they have to be “in line” or better than the competition.”

Staging the Home: “Because most markets are filled with inventory, a home needs to look as presentable and immaculate as possible. There are just too many homes available for buyers to have to look past the unkempt, untidy and cluttered conditions. They will move on very quickly.”

Pre-home Inspection: “Oftentimes it is a good idea to perform a pre-home inspection to show potential buyers and also as a pre-emptive strike to discover any defects that need to be corrected.”

Mark Des Jardins takes a traditional approach taking it back to the basics for agents. He offers his best advice with an accurate price, timing, and good terms.

An Accurate Price: “Definitive pricing provides a true perspective on current market variables. It is most difficult for sellers in the early shifting of a market to be come willing to set a more competitive price. A successful agent is prepared with the “facts”. It is so important not to be casual or cavalier but to demonstrate an abundance of market awareness while not being adversarial with the seller.”

Timing: “One of the confirming factual tolls successful agents use with power is the average length of time on the market statistic. It provides fair estimate on when the property will sell. It takes the “heat” off the agent. However, it is incumbent that the agent continue to stay in touch regularly.”

Terms: “Good terms are clearly significant influences for potential buyers and their selling agents to see and show the property. Terms are marketing tolls not merely facts about a listing.”

What are the three most important things every buyer needs to consider in today’s market?

According to Harpole, the best homes sell first. Buyers need to set their expectations by a little planning ahead, with the help of their agent.

The best homes sell first: “Regardless of the market the best always sell first. If a home is priced in the correct price range and is in outstanding condition it will sell first and for the best price.”

Length of stay: “How long do they plan on staying in their new house? With buyers concerns about the market continuing to decline in value and by understanding their goals and dreams you are able to overcome this objection. Real estate markets go up and they go down, buying a home is an emotional purchase, understand what they want.”

Buyers are looking for a deal: “Ask them what does a deal look like to them, price, incentives, concessions. Narrow down what they are looking for and why. Most buyers don’t even know what they are looking for.”

Ivas knows that in this market, buyers need to understand that it’s a great time to buy, underneath much of the national hype. Her other thoughts? Thinking of a home as a home, and location.

Excellent time to buy: “Since prices and interest rates remain low this continues to be a wonderful time to buy. There are no guarantees about the future but the present is opportunistic.”

A Home First not only an Investment: “Don’t just look at buying a home for investment. They need to love what they have chosen to purchase. This is where their family will enjoy living.”

Location: “It is important to study the home’s location to accommodate buyer’s needs such as schools, driving, shopping and other unique family circumstances. There are plenty of choices.”

Mark Des Jardins encourages his buyers that there’s no day, but today to buy a home. And while today’s real estate industry has a great presence on the Web and innovative technology, he also presses the value of hiring an agent to aid the personal process, when the time is right for them to decide on a home.

Cost Associated with Waiting: “Given that we cannot predict the bottom of the market an overly cautious may miss a golden opportunity. Prices may go up, inflation, taxes, political change and on and on.”

One cannot sell a property over the Internet/phone: “Properties sell themselves in person. Almost 100% of our home buyers visit properties to purchase. Dissuade them from being obsessive about making selective decisions through virtual touring. Yes, it is a phenomenal tool but we should never relinquish our responsibility to them to encourage the onsite viewing. This, of course, allows us to more adequately understand their wants and desires.”

Be Ready to Decide: “The best opportunities belong to those who can decide “now”. Get your buyers to have all their ‘ducks in a row’ …. current house on the market competitively priced, financing in order and able and willing to buy ‘today’ not tomorrow or three months from now.”

For more information, visit,,

Cliff Baird, MBA, PhD has spent over 25 years inspiring agents and managers to live above their circumstances by focusing on business systems that lead to abundant success. He is the developer of The RealSTAR Online Recruiting System which frees managers from the pressure of recruiting and trains them to then use the total system to select and coach their agents to phenomenal success. Cliff can be reached at or visit for your FREE Temperament Profile.