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MS Photo-Full-1-Top5TOP 5 IN REAL ESTATE, November 2009—Marion Suro
Illustrated Properties Real Estate, Inc.
Years in real estate: 11
Region Served: Northern Palm Beach County
Average sales price in your market: $300,000
Average number of days a home spends on the market: 180

How has this market changed due to the real estate downturn?
The second home market has been affected even more than the first home market. With so many people having trouble paying mortgages on their first homes, they tend not to be in a position to buy a second home. On the other hand, because prices have decreased so much—prices are down one-third year-over-year, including short sales and foreclosures—we are starting to see people who were thinking about buying a second home some time in the future, jumping into the market now. Also, we used to think of the second-home buyer as someone 65 years and older, a retiree. But now we are seeing the 40-year-olds coming into the market and investing in second homes because the prices are so low. Typically, the 40-something buyer may buy a second home and rent it out (the rental market is very good in our area) then use it themselves later. Circumstances are so different that people are starting to take advantage of the market and look at is an opportunity to make a good investment.

How do you market to attract second-home buyers?
The Internet is my main thrust. Most people, at least 80% of them, go on the Internet to do preliminary research. I also rely heavily on my website and Any print publications that I use have a website component. Most of my buyers are very tech savvy. They want to be texted to all day long. If you are not technologically astute, real estate can be a dying profession. I am also blogging, which has proven to be a very good marketing tool.

How do you turn the down market to your advantage?
You look for the positive. There is always an upside. Real estate is always a good buy.

How does the international population factor in?
I don’t think we see as much international traffic as I would like to see. Part of the issue we are dealing with right now is that people living overseas have been affected as much if not more than we have in this downturn. Because Europeans can now afford homes they couldn’t previously afford in the South of France they might buy there instead of Florida. So Florida has a lot of marketing to do to tell why it’s such a great place to own. Miami has more international buyers than we do but we will get there!

Why did you become a Member of Top 5?
The marketing. Top 5 provides high-quality timely information. Joining Top 5 versus paying an assistant for one or two hours a week, is a much more cost-effective investment. I wasn’t keeping in touch with previous clients as well as I would have liked, and now I can send out the Top 5 information automatically and stay connected—it’s all done for me.

How are you utilizing the Top 5 program to help build your business?
I am taking the daily articles and using the topics on my blog. I have the Top 5 buttons on my website that link to the Top 5 consumer information. People are using it and loving it.