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RISMEDIA, February 15, 2010—Real estate professionals across the country are wondering what is going to happen to the economy next, and are beginning to realize that people need to get back to work for things to really improve. Here, Ed Prodehl, Owner, Coldwell Banker Onig-Bell in Chicago, Illinois discusses how with a little hard work, real estate professionals can find success in any market.

Ed Prodehl
Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell
Chicago, Illinois

Region served: The Greater Chicago area
Years in real estate: Since 1971
Years company has been in existence: 55
Number of offices: 20 residential, two commercial
Number of agents: 700
Your take on short sales? There is no need for a short sale if clients price homes accordingly. If they follow what we advise in terms of pricing, then they have no problem selling.

How would you describe current market conditions?
We had a really great increase through September, October and November and then it fell a little bit in December. So we were up over a year ago, but not to the degree that we had been.

What’s most on the minds of your agents as you start 2010 and how are you addressing their concerns?
I think they’re like everyone else—wondering what’s going to happen to the economy and realizing that for things to really improve, people have to get back to work. We still have the home buyer tax credit available, but we burned through a lot of those first-time home buyers during the last four months (at press time). I’m not sure it will be as effective this time. Agents have to work like they’ve never worked before because there’s less pie to share. The strong ones are the ones who are surviving.

What about the move-up credit?
For the last year-and-a-half we’ve told people who were interested in selling their home, this is the best time to move up and buy. That’s still the way it is today, regardless of the credit. If you can afford to sell your home, you can get a better buy than ever, whether it’s a short sale or another situation where a client has to make a move.

How have you managed to maintain the company’s success over so many years?
By staying involved in the everyday operations of the company and staying on top of what was happening and making changes as needed. You need to cut expenses when they need to be cut, but we always tried to make sure they were cuts that didn’t affect the agents. This is about the third or fourth downturn we’ve been through. This one is worse because lending is so tight and we’re relying on banks…the appraisal issue is also huge. If a home doesn’t appraise at what it should, that’s a big problem.

What are you doing differently with consumers in today’s marketplace?
The consumer has to believe in us. They know that we’ve been here for more than 50 years and that we’ve built our reputation on honesty and this is the reason they believe in us today. It’s better for us to tell people they shouldn’t sell now, for example. That’s hard to do, but it comes back tenfold.

What are your predictions for a market turnaround?
We’ve been optimistic through the end of last year when we had a good four or five months. I want to remain optimistic. We work hard at what we do and that’s all we can do. We did cut hours last year, but our people are all back to working full time. We all need to get people back to work.