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Business Building by Margaret Kelly

RISMEDIA, Dec. 12, 2008-The only home that’s going to sell in this economy is the one that’s priced right-and it’s up to you to prepare sellers for the competition.

Recent real estate figures stack a pretty tall deck against speedy sales and big profits in many markets. National Association of Realtors’ research shows existing home sales down 10.7% from a year ago and estimates a more than 10-month supply of properties currently on the market across the U.S.

Now, the numbers don’t mean every sale is going to be an uphill battle, but you want to make sure your clients aren’t working against themselves.

Lending has tightened up, but the buyers who are out there are qualified. Helping sellers set realistic expectations up front, increases their chances of appealing to those buyers, and increases your chances of reinforcing client relationships and having a positive effect on your local market.

Here’s some food for thought when preparing for that first meeting with prospective sellers:

1. Determine if the sale is necessary. It’s not unheard of for homeowners to think about putting their property on the market “to see what happens.” You’ll best serve all sellers-and your credibility-by discouraging experimentation. Remind would-be market testers that equity will rebound, and they’ll be far better off selling at that point.

2. Prepare a detailed pricing summary. Consider multiple angles such as comparables, the neighborhood’s outlook and client circumstances to set a recommended price range. Remind your sellers that only a person-not a computer-can properly price a home. And the market-not the cost of upgrades or the mortgage balance-determines its worth.

3. Discourage regular price reductions. You get only one chance to make a first impression-and that goes for homes debuting in the MLS, too. Make sure your sellers know that the greatest interest in a property comes in the first weeks it’s listed. Frequent repricing prolongs the listing and leaves potential buyers questioning a home’s true value. And motivated buyers looking in a lower price range may never realize the overpriced listing is an option.

4. Stage every property. When knick-knacks, quirky paint choices and overly visible personal items greet visitors at a showing, the potential buyers have a tough time picturing a home as their own. Urge your sellers to consolidate and simplify, creating even greater value and appeal.

5. Learn to say no. One of my favorite dialogues for overcoming price objections and, if necessary, exiting gracefully without the listing, is “Mr. and Mrs. Seller, I’d rather turn you down today than let you down in six months.” You’re not doing your sellers or your reputation any favors by taking an overpriced listing that takes twice as long as it should to sell.

Show you’re a true professional by advising and guiding sellers confidently, wisely-and firmly. They’ll thank you for it. RE

Margaret Kelly, CRB, is chief executive officer of RE/MAX International.

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