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Sybil Miller
First Team Real Estate
Years in real estate:
Region Served: Irvine, California
Average sales price in your market: $700,000
Average number of time on market: 47 days

How are you helping buyers and sellers adjust their mindset when it comes to pricing in today’s market? The very big thing is to understand what appraisers are doing today. I have been letting my buyers and sellers know about all the lending and appraisal issues out there, today. There are also many multiple offers, so buyers could lose the house if they are not able to come up with extra money.

In today’s market, if people really want a certain house, everybody has to row the boat in the same direction. The buyer has to come up, the seller has to agree to compromise, and both agents have to work together to close the transaction. Buyers now get copies of the appraisals. They can see what the home is being compared to, so they can make educated decisions about what they are buying. We have lots of appraisal issues and the key is to make sure that everybody is informed about all aspects of the transaction. Appraisers are working in a more careful way, so both buyers and sellers need to know this.

How do you deal with buyers who expect unrealistic bargains?
It is really difficult. In our MLS, homes are selling for over the asking price. I print out all the sold homes and the short sales, which are really teaser prices. I show buyers all these houses that have sold for more money than the asking price. For those buyers who are really out of touch, I explain that there is a lot more wealth than people realize. I ask them, “Do you really expect to get something below market?” They just don’t realize that everything is not doom and gloom here. Education is very important.

What features/qualities of a home allow you to negotiate a higher selling price? We do look for upgrades and staging is very important at First Team. Home sellers should keep receipts of everything they have done – tile, granite, hardwood, etc. Then I can provide a detailed listing along with photographs, to all potential buyers and eventually to the appraisers, as well. Association amenities and location are also important-if a home is near a pool or is in a wonderful location, that always helps.

What types of marketing and promotion help justify a higher selling price? You have to have both Internet and print advertising. Lots of people will still look at the Sunday paper. There are people in our market with a lot of money who still like to hold a paper in their hands and look at ads in print for buying houses. We do a lot of print advertising. Additionally, all our properties are on major search engines and important websites.

Why did you become a Member of Top 5?
I am from an older generation, so I did not grow up with the internet. I like the fact that people can click on my site, and get really interesting articles from Top 5. Overall, I like what Top 5 has to offer. Even the handout materials are great. This is not about knocking the next agent; instead, Top 5 seems to be all about giving buyers and sellers information on how to find the best agent for them-someone who will work with them.

How are you/will you utilize the Top 5 program to help build your business? It adds to my professionalism. People like to work with successful people.

What is the key to a successful life in real estate?
You have to have the willingness to do what it takes and to understand that when things aren’t going your way, there is always tomorrow. I keep upbeat and moving forward.