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By Cliff Baird, PhD

In a world full of distressing headlines which constantly feed the fears of current clients and potential clients it is imperative that we clearly look at the future with an awareness of the present that only fellow Realtors can provide.

Here are the opinions of three great Team Leaders.

Roxanne DeBerry has been in real estate for approximately 32 years and has earned both the CRS and e-Pro designations. She is ranked as one of the top producing agents in Collin County, North Texas and in the U.S. She has 8 members on her team,

Cary Arnold has been in real estate most of her life. Her father Doug Arnold is the owner broker of Colwell Banker Doug Arnold in Davis, CA. As a consequence she has been the receptionist, property management manager, advertising manager and office manager before embarking on her own successful career.

Pat Haddad has had her real estate license since 1993. She now holds a broker’s license and has earned many designations and certifications including ABR, CRS, e-PRO and GRI. Pat manages The Haddad Team which consists of four buyer’s agents, an administrative assistant, and a marketing/communications assistant.

1. Has the current market affected your overall Team strategy?

RD: The present market has not affected my overall team strategy. We are a well established team and we look for ways to improve continually. It is built into our process. This allows us to be flexible in changing markets. Our focus is built around our present and past clients in mind. The importance of building strong relationships that last is paramount to our strategy. This allows us to continually service people long after they have used my team to either buy or sell a home. Even in a world built around the internet and other technologies, we still believe and continue to stay in personal contact with our clients, even after 30 years.

CA: The market has affected how we’re all spending our time meeting people and prospecting for clients. There are so many agents so hungry for business. Everyone is doing open houses and taking floor time in the hopes of meeting a new client. We’re taking another approach by joining networking groups, starting Davis Life Magazine and doing other activities that we all enjoy that might, as a bonus, introduce us to future clients. We’re doing floor time and open houses as well, but we’re thinking outside of the box. I’m also enjoying the extra time with my family and friends because I know that someday the market will turn and we’ll be working 24/7 again.

PH: Yes, the current market caused us to step back and evaluate what we were doing. We always try to make sure our sellers are informed on current conditions but this year we found ourselves sharing every tidbit with them. We found it especially helpful to share newsletters from Realtor associations and organizations. This is correspondence normally from Realtors to other Realtors. We wanted our sellers to know that we were not simply handing them excuses for what was happening and we wanted them to know that they were not alone.

Our very educated and informed sellers really became a part of our team at that point helping us help them sell their homes. This year our sellers were more willing to make those price adjustments and to use the services of stagers. Staging is preparing a home to appeal to the masses. Sometimes this can mean removing items from the home. Sometimes it can be adding accessories. Sometimes it is both. Staging and getting the price right along with an increase in the number of open houses we held for our sellers have helped us weather the storm. We also found that with the changes happening in the mortgage world, we had to rely more heavily on a known and trusted lender to ensure we made it to the closing table. After having a few transactions fall through due to financing issues, we clamped down both on who our buyers used for their mortgage as well as making sure all buyers for our listings came with pre-approvals from reputable and trusted companies. Guidelines and requirements from lending institutions have become more stringent. Not all lenders have kept up with the changes.

2. What is your prediction of the immediate future (next 12 months)

RD: I see the market in the north Dallas area as remaining fairly stable. Prices will continue to rise in some areas and in others they will stabilize. I don’t see major price decreases in our near future based on our employment and the affordability of housing. Texas does better than the U.S. during national down turns in housing. However, even with this said, I feel there will be many Realtors leaving the business because of financial difficulties. This exodus takes place in real estate all the time. When times are booming we have a major influx of Realtors and then as things settle back to a more normal pace, many leave the business. This presents more opportunities for established, well positioned Realtors such as my team. As I stated previously, we form long lasting relationships with our clients and they in turn provide us with a significant part of our business. We don’t see that changing over this next year.

CA: I think that the market will remain the same for the next 12 months, which for us in the Davis market, isn’t bad. The same amount of units sold in 2007 as 2006, but the average price has dropped slightly.

PH: Most of the forecasts are predicting more of the same for at least the next 12-18 months. I am not one to argue with experts who have done their research and specialize in their field. However, our team’s business grew by 13% this year. People are still buying and selling houses. Homes priced right and staged to outshine the competition will sell.

3. What marketing concepts are you emphasizing to your Team?

RD: Our marketing concepts are very simple but crucial to our success. We believe that personal contact is extremely important to provide people with the knowledge that will assist them in their real estate decisions. I continue to speak to people that I have sold homes to for over 30 years on a regular basis. We answer every email personally or if people leave us their phone number in an email we call them instead of emailing them. We provide technology that allows our clients to get information on a home through an 800 service; this also allows them to connect to an agent immediately. We usually find that if we can speak directly to a person we can guide and assist them in their real estate needs. So our marketing concept is “reach out and help someone” personally and with care.

CA: We’re continuing to encourage our team to meet people through things they enjoy doing as well as offering our clients services and marketing strategies for their homes that other agents don’t. For example, we’re doing free staging of homes. It’s not full staging, but staging of kitchen, baths and a focal point in each room. We also stage vacant homes with art from local artists and host art show open houses with live music, snacks, etc. We also continue to offer top notch marketing materials for our team including unique advertising and full-color brochures and we have the most comprehensive home flyers than any of our competitors and we pay for virtual tours for every listing.

PH: We continue to believe that internet marketing is the best way to sell a home. Statistics we are hearing from the National Association of Realtors are that over 80% of home buyers are now starting their home search online. Homes with pictures and virtual tours are viewed exponentially more than those without. The internet is helping both buyers and sellers. Technology is playing a big part in real estate. Buyers and sellers prefer shopping the internet initially and communicating via e-mail. I used to think the only text messages I would ever get would be from my teenagers. It is now common for me to receive a text message from someone inquiring about a property I have listed for sale. Today’s buyers and sellers want information and they want it now.