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TOP 5 IN REAL ESTATE NETWORK, Sept. 2010—

Kim Gifford
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Years in real estate: 7
Region served: Greater Danbury, Connecticut
Average sales price in your market: $400,000
Average listing time: 120 days

In dealing with multiple-offer situations in your market, what do you advise sellers to do when it is your listing? When I first list a house, I let my sellers know that every offer is a compliment; I try to brace them for lower offers. We want to price it as lean as we can. Then, if we get two offers, we go over them very carefully to see which terms are best. If all things are pretty much equal, we go to a highest and best offer situation. We try to handle them all openly and honestly and not be vague about anything because problems start when there are questions. So I am very straightforward with everyone involved in the transaction. When I am representing the seller, I look at whether the buyer is submitting a contract or a binder with a contract being preferable, because it means the buyers are very serious.

What do you suggest buyers do in a multiple-offer situation? With buyers, I try to find out when the seller wants to close and make sure my buyers agree to the timing of closing. I tell them to stick with the way the listing reads. For instance, if the listing reads, “lights in kitchen excluded,” I make sure my buyers don’t ask to have those kitchen lights anyway.

We do a review of the current market and weigh the pros and cons. We try to come in with the strongest price, remembering that the house has to appraise out. You have to profile the seller and make sure that you do what they want. Then, when we submit the offer, I submit it on a contract so when the seller signs it, they cannot accept any other offers. In our market, we have a choice to do it on a contract or a binder. My buyers have mortgage and inspection contingencies, but the contract always makes it a stronger offer. I am so pro-contracts that I always keep them in the trunk of my car. I have written contracts on the hood of my car—and my buyers usually get the house. I explain everything and I am forthcoming. It pays off because multiple offers can be tricky. I had one situation where I had a listing where we had multiple offers and one was mine. So I removed myself and got a designated agent for my buyer.

How do you communicate effectively? I communicate through whatever platform my client feels most comfortable with. But I lean heavily on e-mail and just communicate, communicate, communicate. I try to put everything in writing. E-mail works. Some people love the phone and you kind of have to go with that.

That said, my clients also text me. I have an iPhone and it is invaluable. For example, recently, a buyer and I were going through a house. She wanted the sellers to remove a pile of wood. So I took a picture of it, e-mailed the seller’s agent, and said, “We would like this pile of wood removed.” And just like that, it was gone. I also keep all my files in my Gmail account so I am completely mobile. This technology is huge.

How do you encourage loyalty? First, let me say that being a Realtor is what I was meant to be. I love it. I am positive. Buying or selling can be very emotional so I try to keep it neutral. And loyalty, well, I give a lot of gifts at the end. I give home warranties to my buyers. And all through the process, I offer gifts. If we have had a long day of showings, I give people gift cards to Starbucks for their drive home. With sellers, I help with staging and they feel grateful. They feel my commitment.

How are you using Top 5 materials to help grow your business? I use all the brochures. I have them printed with my picture on them and then buy magazine racks that I put in places, like the gym, with all of my brochures. Just yesterday (at press time), I got a call from someone who had picked up my brochure at the gym.

What is the one thing you can’t live without? My iPhone.

What is your philosophy for a successful life in real estate? I want to help people save time and money. I pay close attention to their needs and communication.

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