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Staying ahead of the competition is oftentimes easier said than done, especially as we continue through today’s volatile market. Here, Joseph Villaescusa, president/broker of CENTURY 21 Allstars in Paco Rivera, Calif. discusses what his team is doing to maintain an edge in today’s market.

Joseph Villaescusa
CENTURY 21 Allstars
Paco Rivera, Calif.

Region served: Los Angeles, Calif.
Years in real estate: 28
Number of offices: 1
Number of agents: 150
Number of closed transactions: 1,805 in 2011
Average time on market: 77 days
Average sales prices: $232,000
Favorite way to connect: We communicate with our REALTORS® through text messages for immediate information and through email correspondence for other information. In 2011, 46 percent of our closed business was double-ending our transactions and we attribute this success to our communication platform.
Top time-management tip: Get to the office on time and prioritize your calendar to optimize results. I try to get through all paper-pushing duties early in the morning.

What are the current market conditions in your area?
Los Angeles County has gone through its share of homeowners losing their property due to foreclosure or being forced to sell through the short sale process. Some areas have experienced a 50 percent reduction in property value. Further, many of those homeowners who have lost their properties in the past are not able to re-enter the re-sale market due to insufficient credit. Fortunately, consumer confidence has stabilized and we do see more cautious homebuyers entering the market. At the same time, hesitant sellers who sat on the fence and watched from afar are now entering the market.

What are some of the most difficult challenges today’s buyers face?
Consumer confidence undoubtedly has had a major impact on our industry and that impact has been magnified as the banks and lenders have gone through fundamental changes when approving buyers for new loan products. It is not uncommon for banks and lender products to change from one month to the next, and those changes, at times, challenge the buyer’s will to continue with the transaction. Lately, it appears that the banks and lenders have gotten their house in order and have streamlined the lending process, which has made obtaining loans more pleasant.

How do you boost agent production in this challenging economy?
It’s as simple as having formal training programs in place. In addition to the training programs we have in place, we meet two times per day, five days a week with the agents to deliver this information. The training consists of learning the contracts, prospecting skills and contract negotiations. We keep track of the agents who are participating in our training programs and try our best to keep each of them engaged on a daily basis and remove the hiding spots regarding anemic production results. We also coach the agents through a one-on-one setting or a small group setting in an effort to improve individual performance.

What is your team doing to stay ahead of the competition?
Showing up and taking action. Though much has been said regarding the downturn in the economy and, more specifically, the real estate market, it’s really not that hard to succeed in real estate if you treat this job as a career and pay attention to what is happening. We all have choices. We can sit around and complain about the market and our surroundings or we can take responsibility, learn this trade and provide exceptional customer service.