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RISMEDIA, May 29, 2009-Keeping in touch with your agents is a crucial element in today’s real estate market and real estate professionals across the country are getting back to basics in order to keep their agents informed as to the market conditions. Here, Denton See, president, Carol Jones, Realtors in Springfield and Branson, Missouri discusses the importance of staying visible to your agents in today’s touch market.

Denton See
Carol Jones, Realtors
Springfield and Branson, Missouri

Years in the industry: 38
Number of offices: 7
Number of agents: 350
Average sales price in your market: $160,000
Average listing time: 77 days
When it comes to communicating with agents today…We use e-mail, and if it’s crucial information, we produce a flyer. Fliers tend to get more eyes than just an e-mail. As management, we also do a lot of walking around and talking to agents on a daily basis-sometimes spending more time walking around and speaking with agents than at our desks.
We’ve altered our marketing and advertising by…Reducing our print quite a bit-by about 50%-relying much more on technology. Our website is receiving about 39,000 unique visitors per month.
Is getting back to basics still relevant? We’re actually doing a lot to help agents get back to basics. And, as management, we’ve gotten back to basics, too. We don’t do a lot of fancy things when it comes to recruiting-we’re making a lot of calls, putting the challenge out there to the managers and following up with them-with not a lot of technology involved. Management’s job is back to recruiting, training and retaining-back to basics.
Thoughts on being successful in real estate today as a rookie: There are a number of people who got into the business in 2001 and 2002 when prospecting was a different creature, so they never established prospecting habits. Our brand-new people are making calls and doing a great job. They missed what it was like when it was really easy-so they’re doing the activities and being successful at it. Every week, they realize they need to continue the momentum.

What does it take to get the best possible price for sellers?
We’re big on making sure that consumers understand the data that’s out there-from the absorption rate to the average sales prices of REOs compared to owner-properties, etc. Getting properties priced properly is paramount, and we spend a lot of time sharing data with our consumers to help them place the property on the market to sell.

What’s your biggest challenge in your market and how is your company taking it on?
Our biggest challenge has been with REOs. Compared to the traditional model of selling, the REO process takes more time, as the rules are different with each one. We’ve been trying to manage our consumers’ expectations because people get frustrated when they make an offer and don’t hear back right away. We’ve done a lot of education on the REOs, short sales and resale markets and how they differ. It’s really two different types of markets for agents-resale and REO-so we help them make the distinction and help instruct them on how to counsel their consumers differently in those types of sales.

How are you keeping consumers in your marketplace educated about today’s buying opportunities?
We’ve done a lot with the [first-time home buyer] tax credit. We include sign riders on homes for sale that qualify for the credit. We have also made buttons about the tax credit that our agents can wear, which is a very inexpensive thing to do-about 100 buttons cost $30. And our agents are wearing them everywhere, so consumers are stopping them in grocery stores to ask questions about the tax credit.

What will it take to succeed and prosper in a challenging market?
I really believe it’s two things: recruiting and business. Over the last 18 months, we’ve been getting our company right-sized when it comes to expenses, and now we’re focusing on driving business to our company. We’ve had a spring break program going on, so every week in our sales meetings, we came up with a prospecting vehicle for every agent. For example, send out five thank you notes each day this week, call five past clients each day, take five people to breakfast or lunch. We’re doing that every week to push them to do some grassroots prospecting.

How do you keep your company website competitive?
Every site has a mortgage rate option on the homepage since we have an affiliated mortgage company. I read a statistic recently where 65% of home buyers who find a listing on a website leave the website to find mortgage information, so by having that option on our website, it creates stickiness. We also put all of our open houses on there where they can map the address, too. People are coming through, carrying the map from the website. Prospective buyers can also register on our site and put in their search parameters. When a new listing comes in, they’re automatically sent an e-mail notification.

For agents and their clients, we also have property feedback when a property is shown. The showing agent receives an e-mail and completes the feedback, and the seller gets instant feedback on how the showing went. It’s beneficial because, should the price be on the high side and they get a few feedback responses saying that, it’s the buying community feeding that information back-which is much more adaptable when considering price reductions.