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costa-pRISMEDIA, July 3, 2009-Today’s real estate market is a price-driven market, so it’s understandable that if a property is not priced right, prospective home buyers will drive right by. As homeowners have the luxury of looking at many homes and comparing others for sale, real estate agents simply must stay on top of the market, helping home sellers to achieve a saleable price. In this broker best practice article, meet Costa Poulopoulos, broker of record/owner, and Mary Johnson, salesperson/owner of Realty Executives Elite who offer their input on what it takes to send the right message to consumer today.

Costa Poulopoulos, Broker of Record/Owner
Mary Johnson, Salesperson/Owner
Realty Executives Elite
London, Ontario

mary-johnsonYears in the industry: Poulopoulos: 22; Johnson: 12
Years as business partners: 13
Number of offices: 1 head office in London; 1 satellite office in the city
Number of agents: 45 sales Executives/agents (at time of publication)
Region served: London, Ontario-nestled between Detroit, Michigan and Toronto, Ontario
Average sales price in your market: $210,000 (Canadian dollars)
Average listing time: Between 60 and 90 days
Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Yes, about 75% of the sales Executives here are using social networking forums. It’s hard to track, but our associates say they’ve gotten a listing/sale from Facebook because, for example, they were friends with someone on Facebook who was friends with someone who needed an agent.
Our brokerage is unique because…At Realty Executives, even though most agents operate under an independent contractor status, we’re interdependent. When you compete with someone, you either win or lose. When you cooperate with somebody, everybody wins. That’s what has happened in our brokerage.
One way we help our agents stand out is by…The office we built. It’s an environment that lends itself to collaboration and sharing amongst our sales Executives. We’ve worked hard to make our office inviting and professional with marble floors, a fireplace, an espresso machine, boardrooms, client rooms, sitting areas, etc., that are all available for use by anyone, at anytime. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a $70,000 condo or $700,000 home-everyone’s treated equally. You get by giving; you don’t give to get.

What’s the best strategy to get the best possible price for sellers?
In different pockets of the city you have to price properties properly and a lot of that has to do with experience. We offer a caravan every Monday, where the sales Executives tour homes just listed or homes that are going to be listed within the next seven days. During the caravan, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., the agents in our brokerage go out and tour and preview all of these listings and, at end of day, they put comments about what should be done to the homes-whether it needs to be staged, pricing, adjustments as far as appearance, etc. They offer objective comments, so instead of one agent giving an opinion, the seller has 45 sets of eyeballs on it.

How are you keeping your meetings productive in today’s market?
We have monthly luncheon meetings at hotels. It’s a working lunch that’s exclusively just for our sales Executives. A week before the meeting we ask them if they have any items they want to discuss. It’s their meeting and we’re there to facilitate, so any topics, concerns, new business, etc. that they want to discuss is forwarded via e-mail. We then circulate our full-blown agenda prior to the meeting. It’s a formal meeting, so we do introductions and offer name tags because, even though we all work in same brokerage, we don’t see everyone every day. We all brainstorm and trade secrets and implement ideas that are legal, ethical and good for the brokerage.

What’s your biggest challenge in today’s market and how is your company taking it on?
The fear of the economy. Today, both the buyers and sellers have to adjust to the fluctuation of market prices. The market has changed and it’s no longer a matter of listing on the MLS and, within a week, getting a sold sign put out front. Now is the time where agents are worth more and, when the market changes, you have to pull together as a team and as an expert. It’s our job to explain to the client and seller that you have to spend money to make money. It’s our job to market, stage, arrange prelisting inspections, etc. Based on that, we have to convey to sellers that our fee is this, but you’re hiring a professional who knows who to market your property. And when you do it collectively, with a big group of people that go out during the caravan, that’s the biggest asset we’ve found. It’s more than using a CMA, it’s using professionalism and sensitivity to relay the recommendations of the sales Executives in our brokerage. Do you spend $5,000 to get the price you want or put it at a price to sell as is? It’s all about tact professionalism and sensitivity.

What type of marketing sends the right message to consumers in today’s economy and real estate market?
Realty Executives has such an amazing tech-based marketing campaign that the tools and technology are light years ahead of other companies. We have digital magazines that entail taking a property and putting it in a digital magazine with photos-nobody else in our market is using this. When you send a property brochure digitally, the response we’ve had has been phenomenal. We also use a coffee table listing book. As an Executive with Realty Executives, you create your copy, select the number of pages and create a bound book that sits in the seller’s home. Buyers are going through the house and looking at it. They’re impressed. When sellers sell the house, they keep this book and take it with them. They’ll leave it in their bookcase; it has the sales Executive’s face and company name in it, helping to generate tremendous interest for more business.

How are you communicating with agents today?
We are using technology. When you go to our website, there’s an “Executive Access” login area. If we want to communicate with each other, we use the discussion board. This works because, out of 45 Executives in our office, there may only be 10 who have offices in the brick-and-mortar building. While we do have an area for them to use when they come into the office, when they work from home, they can use the discussion area. You can login and post that you’ve got a buyer looking to move into a particular area under $200,000, before you put on MLS, give me a call. Say I log on and see your post, I can send you a private message with the listing information and tell you to give me a call, etc. It’s like a virtual office.