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“Buyers are just beginning to understand that the market is at a turning point and they may no longer be in the driver’s seat with regard to price and terms,” says Christy Budnick, Executive Vice President of Prudential Network Realty. Read on for more information about the changing expectations of buyers and sellers, and how your company can work to meet their demands.

Linda Sherrer
President and CEO
Christy Budnick
Executive Vice President
Prudential Network Realty

Barbara Pronin: Can you give us an idea of what’s happening now in Northern Florida?
Linda Sherrer: We had the strongest first quarter in closed-home sales in five years, and the second quarter is delivering even greater results (at press time). Our closed sales are up 27 percent over last year, outpacing the local MLS average. Pending sales are up 15 percent, and the average selling price is up 16 percent. For the first time in a long time, some sellers are finding they are in the driver’s seat again when it comes to negotiating price and terms—and buyers are realizing that this is the time for them to act.

BP: To what do you attribute this exceptional activity?
Christy Budnick: For one thing, the employment picture is slowly improving here in Northeast Florida, with a substantial number of higher paying jobs coming into the area. With home prices stabilizing and interest rates still at rock-bottom, it’s becoming clear to a lot of buyers that they don’t want to miss this great opportunity to jump into the real estate market.

BP: How is Prudential Network Realty maximizing these opportunities?
LS: We have an unusual two-part business strategy that positively affects both our sales professionals and our customers. The first part is a partnership strategy that brings the input of all our agents into the way we conduct business. The second strategy is a hallmark of our company: We offer single-agency support to our clients. Our clients know we represent them totally and with complete confidentiality. As a result, customers trust us to navigate the market on their behalf and help them make the right decisions.

BP: What are today’s buyers and sellers most concerned with?
CB: Sellers whose properties are competitively priced and properly marketed are excited that, for the first time in nearly six years, they stand a good chance of getting their price and selling within a short period of time—and buyers are just beginning to understand that the market is at a turning point and they may no longer be in the driver’s seat with regard to price and terms.

BP: How has your technology evolved to meet changing demands?
CB: We recently rolled out a new business model in two of our largest offices, where a seasoned manager will work in tandem with a dedicated technology specialist to ensure that our agents have the best of all worlds.
LS: In essence, the team will work together to assist every agent in taking their online, interactive and Web-based initiatives—including social media platforms—to the next level.

BP: Is technology changing the way you connect with customers?
LS: Absolutely. More than ever, it is important for agents to engage technology in their everyday business plan. Ecards and blogs have to have real value, and social networking, handled properly, is one of the best ways to win friends and expand your sphere of influence.
CB: We’re marketing smarter as a company, too. We’re using print media in new ways that pay off tenfold. For example, we now publish consumer real estate articles twice a month in the local newspaper. They are advertorial in nature, but they give consumers good information—tips they can use right now, today.

BP: What are your plans for continuing to grow the company?
LS: Our goal is to continue to grow from within and provide the tools, the training and the business support our people need to reach their maximum potential as the market continues to rebound. Our beautiful new office in San Marco, which I think reflects our high-end image, and the roll out of our exciting new business management model are very symbolic of our deep commitment to remain a market leader in every sense.
CB: We will continue to analyze, re-evaluate and re-tool our resources to make every new beginning a step in the right direction for our agents as well as our customers.

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