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Commentary by Lelia Chapman 

RISMEDIA, August 7, 2008In any industry, the most successful businesses prepare each and every one of their employees to compete. In a highly competitive market, successful real estate firms should ensure their agents are prepared to take full advantage of every sales opportunity. Similarly, at American Home Shield, we thrive in competitive markets by staying focused on our number one priority: our customer. 

While a sluggish real estate market is hampering the sales of many, maintaining an active, positive approach to your business can help your firm enjoy continued success…there are still customers hunting for their next home and it is important for your agents to be equipped to make the sale. Your firm’s next buyer may be walking into one of your agent’s open houses, but without the proper preparation, your agent could drive potential customers away from your business. 

Sharpening staging skills and getting back to basics with your agents may be the difference between a sale and just another listing on your roster. Here are a few quick reminders to share that may help your agents bring in customers and move those listings.

It pays to advertise: 

          More and more people are turning to the Internet for home listings. Post your ads on popular national and local real estate websites.

          No amount of advertising in the world will help you if your customers cannot locate the house. Make sure to provide clear, concise directions on flyers and post plenty of simple but attractive direction signs in the neighborhood.

          Be careful of the words you choose to describe the property to customers. Use clear, easily understood descriptors and be wary of using clichéd terms buyers may consider ambiguous or deceptive.

          Promote any open house far enough in advance so that people can plan to visit.

          Publicize the properties you and your company sell. Many potential customers could be nervous about buying a home in the current economic state. It is important to demonstrate that homes are still selling in large numbers in the area.

 Know your customers’ needs: 

          When selecting a time for the open house, keep in mind religious observances or sporting events that could distract the crowd.

          Learn all the details about the property in advance. For example, know what schools are nearby, typical weather patterns and property tax and utility information. Do not assume all buyers are familiar with the area.

          Offer refreshments to guests. Cold drinks and light snacks in the summer and hot chocolate or coffee in the winter.

          Set up a workstation complete with photos of the house during different seasons, full-color flyers detailing the house with various financing options, and signage promoting home warranty protection on the listing.

          Encourage the homeowner to invest in a seller’s inspection and have the report highlights available for review at the open house.

          Be cheerful and greet each person who walks through the door. Make certain to sound genuine and interested in their questions.

          Talk to the buyer. Find out what they are looking for in a home and, if possible, show them why this home could be a good fit for them. Also, do not be afraid to ask about their concerns about the house and if something specific does not appeal to them.

 Clean house: 

          Make sure the house being shown is exceptionally clean. Advise the homeowners to declutter areas and put away personal items such as family photos and children’s drawings. The idea of an open house is for visitors to envision themselves living in this home.

          Check the outside of the house for cosmetic flaws. Suggest homeowners touch up paint and tidy the yard.

          Have all vehicles out of the driveway on the day of the open house.

          Open all blinds and drapes allowing natural light to flood the house.

          Turn on desk lamps and make sure all lights in the house are in working order in case a potential customer flips the switch.

          Arrive early and set up. Make sure you are at the home at least 15 minutes prior to the open house start time in order to avoid rushing in the door the same time as the possible buyer.

          Be wary of using artificial room deodorizers, as many customers could be allergic. Instead, opt for natural candles with light scents.

          Have soft music playing in the background on each floor to set the mood.

 Sell not only a home, but comfort: 

  Consumers want to make sure they are investing in a strong home, not a potential nightmare. Make the right first impression by ensuring potential buyers know they have home warranty protection for the first year of homeownership.

By attaching a home warranty to each listing, Realtors can convey confidence in the properties and help demonstrate that their real estate company is looking out for the buyer’s and seller’s best interest.

  In this market, it is important to maintain the morale of your firm. Don’t let your agents become discouraged if they don’t see homes moving as quickly as they have in previous years. By putting in a little genuine extra effort, they may find buyers responding and calling on your firm the next time they are in the market for a Realtor. 

Lelia Chapman is vice president of real estate sales for AHS. 

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