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Today’s market brings a plethora of new challenges to both the real estate business professional and the buyer. “The mortgage process has changed and many buyers are not prepared for the process of obtaining a mortgage loan. Buyers also face competition with cash buyers,” says Bessie Conway, the broker/owner of Realty Executives Premier Group in Towson, Md. Read on as she gives RIS the scoop on reaching out to buyers through education.

Bessie Conway
Realty Executives Premier Group
Towson, Md.

Region served: Baltimore metropolitan area and surrounding counties
Years in real estate: 11
Number of offices: 1
Number of agents: 25
Average time on market: 97 days
Average sales price: $284,596
Top tip for keeping organized: I carry a notebook with me at all times and write everything down in real time.
Must-have technology tool: My BlackBerry

What is the climate like in your local market?
The real estate climate in the Baltimore metropolitan area is good; 2012 has proven to be a year with much more sales activity. Inventory that is realistically priced is moving, interest rates are at incredible historic lows, the resale market has been fairly steady, new home construction starts are up for the first time in several years, there are many first-time homebuyers in the market, and the credit and lending crunch has eased, making it easier for homebuyers to obtain financing to purchase a home.

How does your company work to keep today’s buyers educated?
Our company is very involved with educating not only first-time homebuyers but move-up buyers as well. Several of the real estate agents in our company are preferred speakers at various first-time homebuyer counseling agencies in our area. We also have agents who regularly give first-time homebuyer seminars in our office. During these workshops, representatives from local title companies, loan officers and home inspectors come in to share with our homebuyers their role in the home-buying process.

We also conduct one-on-one meetings with potential buyers to evaluate their ability to purchase real estate. If they are ready and are first-time homebuyers, we give them the opportunity to participate in classes that qualify them to receive available grant money and down payment assistance.

What are some of the most difficult challenges buyers face today?
Surviving the mortgage approval process and keeping credit scores where they need to be. The mortgage process has changed and many buyers are not prepared for the process of obtaining a mortgage loan. Buyers also face competition with cash buyers. With lower housing prices, there are more cash buyers in the market who often outbid a buyer who is financing their home.

FHA buyers can also face special challenges when they must compete with not only the cash buyer but the conventional buyer as well.

How do you see the market evolving as 2012 comes to a close?
Coming out of such a fast-paced summer, the market seems to have slowed just a bit as the third quarter comes to an end. I think some homebuyers may be stepping back to see what 2013 will bring. I also believe more sellers will emerge on the market as we enter 2013, which will add to the availability of inventory and encourage consumers to continue to buy as they have in 2012. It seems many economists believe we are pretty close to the bottom now.

What is your top strategy for keeping expenses down while still remaining ahead of the competition?
I am making an effort to really evaluate our needs as a company, and I am learning to seek the advice of others, especially the real estate agents in my office who have introduced me to more cost-effective methods of operating on a day-to-day basis. Rather than outsourcing many of our office needs, I am learning to use the talents of those agents who are currently a part of our brokerage. This fosters good will and creates ownership within our team of committed professionals. Since our agents know the business and understand how we do business, it is a win-win for both the brokerage and the agents. We are also focusing more on websites, Internet marketing and social media as a means of communicating and advertising, which has been huge in managing expenses.