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Op-ed by Howard Brinton

RISMEDIA, May 19, 2008-The other day, a young, female Realtor shared a story with me about one of her previous listings. An “empty nest” couple decided to downsize and were putting their beloved family home on the market.

Despite the advice and admonishment of the Realtor, they insisted on following their beliefs about what the home was worth and what it should sell for, and ended up pricing the home well above what the market dictated. Well, the home languished on the market with no activity, and as each day passed, the listing became more overpriced, until the sellers finally took it off the market. A month later, they re-listed it with a different agent-for a substantially reduced price-at which it eventually sold. The young Realtor telling the story, the one who had originally listed the home, had an indignant tone as she stated, “I told them, but they wouldn’t listen!”

brinton_howard.jpgWhat could she have done differently and what lessons does this story contain for other Realtors? Simply this: pricing-specifically, correct pricing-is the only answer for today’s changing market, and the most important thing a Realtor can do for a client.

After all, that’s why sellers need us now more than ever. But as our young friend discovered, you need to do a lot more than just “tell” a potential client how to price their home; you must educate and convince them. I’m sure that “empty nest” couple was finally convinced, but in the time it took for them to become educated, their home declined in value and our young friend lost a listing. It was an expensive lesson for all.

When I interviewed a dozen, top-producing, active Realtors for the STAR POWER® Changing Markets First Aid Kit, I was impressed by the success they were all having in getting sellers to price their homes correctly by using facts, data, statistics, and logic to overcome emotional objections.

That is what all Realtors should learn if they expect to not just survive this market, but actually capture a larger percentage of it and grow their business. Use the local MLS for the most current statistics, understand and use absorption rates; know your month’s supply of inventory, the number of listings and sales compared to prior months; then present your evidence graphically for full effect.

I observe too many Realtors who attempt to control the market instead of understanding it. It isn’t about will; it’s about facts. Today’s Realtor needs to be a counselor and an educator-not just a salesperson. To do so requires constant research and evaluation of the market and effective interpretation and presentation of that data.

So the answer is simple: do your homework and educate your sellers so they will have the knowledge to place their home on the market at a price that will sell.

And some advice for our young heroine or any Realtor who has experienced losing a listing because the sellers wouldn’t price it correctly: learn from your mistakes, document and share the story with other sellers, and don’t waste your time with listings that won’t sell. Today’s market is challenging, but it is also loaded with potential for the smart Realtor who learns and uses these lessons. RE

Howard Brinton is the founder of STARPOWER Systems.

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