TOP 5 IN REAL ESTATE, December, 2009—McGuire Real Estate
Years in real estate: Olivia Edwards: 26 years; Mary Murphy: 20 years.
Region Served: San Francisco Bay area, San Mateo County.
Average sales price in your market: $900,000-$1 million
How does having a partnership help in this market?
To clarify, a partnership is different from a team. The ideal partnership has two main principals who have complementary skills, expertise, negotiating ability and experience in the business. A team consists of one main principal who has a team of assistants, usually less experienced associates, who act in a supporting role. We believe a partnership is more valuable to the client, as they give the client two professionals working for them who are equally qualified and readily available. We believe partnerships are a very powerful advantage for real estate professionals, providing mutual support and peace of mind for each member.
How do you differentiate yourselves from other agents in the market?
Mary: We are on a constant quest for personal improvement in order to be invaluable to our clients. We look for training that compliments each other. Olivia has recently achieved the RCS-D® designation (Real Estate Collaborative Specialist-Divorce), which provides a more collaborative approach to clients experiencing divorce for a stronger financial future. Olivia: We are not playing a lawyer role. It’s important to be attuned to both parties who are through a divorce because it can be equally devastating financially and emotionally. We offer the client more financial protection by outlining the benefits and the drawbacks of the various options they might consider. Mary has the CDPE® designation (Certified Distressed Property Expert). This designation gives her specific understanding of the complex issues confronting those homeowners experiencing financial hardship, and the foreclosure avoidance options available to them. She offers tools and solutions to avoid foreclosure through the efficient execution of a short sale. Mary: We are able to reassure the client they are not alone, they have options and their privacy is completely assured.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
Education. We believe in never-ending learning. We are learning-based and believe that knowledge is one of the key ways we add tremendous value to our clients.
What about marketing? What’s your best idea for getting more for your money?
Right now the real estate industry is experiencing a “seachange” in how real estate professionals market themselves and their listings. Social Media marketing allows agents to spend a lot less money on marketing, and get a lot more marketing done. We stay current on what’s most effective so that our clients receive enormous value from our marketing efforts. Gone are the days when agents need to spend a lot of money on print advertising. We are doing a lot more with Internet marketing and as a consequence our clients are getting more exposure for their properties, and their homes sell faster and for more money.
What strategies do you employ to stay connected to your clients and prospects?
Each client is different and naturally they prefer different methods of communication. When we meet with a client we ask them what method of communication they prefer. Some clients love email; some enjoy the telephone; and some have graduated to texting. Our website has a client page which allows our clients to see what we have completed on their listing 24/7. For some clients this is very important, and for others just the fact that they can check on us 24/7 means they don’t have to, and many times they don’t bother. We definitely believe in over communicating…and it doesn’t matter which one of us makes the call. Communication with each other is paramount. We have a standing weekly partner meeting. What’s most important for us is that we communicate with each other effectively, and sometimes that poses some challenges. Time and error has shown us that if one of us emails a client, we always copy the other.
What types of communications/messages are best received by clients? Because we ask our clients up front how they prefer us to communicate with them, it works. The important thing is to find out what works best for them, respect their wishes, and do it their way. We listen to our clients. That first meeting is very important. We want to make them feel comfortable. We have a client who lives in New Jersey and inherited a property here in California. The property needed a lot of work to it to get it ready for sale. We took the time to video the progress of the work completed on the property and email them to the client every few days. The client has been following the progress and loves receiving the videos. His comfort level with us is high because he can ‘see’ the work being done. We actually offer project management as a value added service for our clients, and they love it. We have a good knowledge of what needs to be done to a property to make it more appealing to buyers, and therefore, maximize sellers’ dollars, giving them a greater return on investment.
Will you walk away from a listing if it is not priced right?
We have a lot of experience and we tell the client the truth, not what they want to hear. When we tell the client what we believe the property should be listed for, and they still want to list the house against our advice, we are always ready to walk away gracefully. Many agents have a hard time telling them the truth. We don’t. We educate them completely so that they understand their market and how pricing correctly is vital to getting their home sold at top dollar.
Why did you become a Member of Top 5?
Mary: It seemed like a top-level organization. Allan Dalton feels it is his mission to improve the real estate industry, to let consumers know there are top agents out there. And that comes across. For the last few weeks we have been impressed with the quality of the deliverables from the Top 5 organization.
What is the key to a successful life in real estate?
Balance, passion, gratitude, humility and humor. Olivia: Humility gives me a desire to keep learning. We enjoy sharing our knowledge and give classes to agents who are willing to learn. We are passionate about raising the bar of professionalism any way we can. We are committed to this business and we have a very positive outlook in any market. Many agents in our area have had no transactions this year – some have had only one. We are grateful for a very good 2009. We appreciate each other and express that regularly, and we are also extremely thankful for the support we get from our husbands. We don’t’ forget to laugh often especially at ourselves. They provide the encouragement that let’s us do what we love to do. We also couldn’t do this without the support of our company, McGuire Real Estate. Family owned and greatly respected, it’s been a fixture in San Francisco for close to 100 years. President and CEO, Charlie Moore encourages us and provides the innovative leadership that also contributes to our success. We are very grateful to be part of this amazing organization.