Looking for the right listing agent to sell your home? Contrary to what much of the public thinks, even in the best of financial times, making a living as a real estate agent is not easy. So many people enter the field, thinking, "Well, I'll do this evenings and weekends. Should be easy." Or "Well, I need to train for some other profession so that I'm earning a good salary. I think I'll be a real estate agent." Months and thousands of dollars later, they drop their license because they've discovered how long-term and difficult the building of a client base and actually making a sale really is. There's a lot of up-front expenses, with no guarantee that you'll recoup them.
When I became an agent, I worked my hiney off, just as all successful agents do. Eighty-hour weeks were not out of the norm. Being on-call 24/7 so I didn't miss a potential client or listing was part of the job. Yes, I knew a lot of people, but all that does is give you a starting place. You've got to sit down and make cold calls and not fear rejection. You've got to follow up on every possibility. You've got to have your ducks in a row: Know your facts about the locales and the markets; speak your spiel without error or hesitation; project your confidence; provide great service; have enough gas in your car to drive to every point in the county and beyond to meet potential customers; and keep your patience in the face of client backpeddling, waffling, or indecision. And then? Keep your fingers crossed that the expenses you incurred pay off in a listing or a sale.
The best decision I ever made was to form a team so that I could have complementary yins to my yang. I'm dynamite at getting my clients' homes listed and sold. I'm less effective - and happy - at taking clients around to look at homes; but my fellow team member and buyer agent is very talented at that side of the equation. I'm also less skilled at all the administrative parameters of the job - from understanding the ins and out of Web sites to keeping up with all the paperwork to marketing the listings and my team through mailings, blogs, and more; having a quick study as my right hand gets all my office issues handled efficiently - and, more importantly - the way I would handle them myself. It took some time to get the right mix of team members - and ones that I fully trusted were on my wavelength - but once it clicked, the team became a well-oiled machine. What used to be angst and agony became second-nature; I could stop fretting and concentrate on building my listings, trusting that everything else was covered.
I have a broad base of satisfied clients; in fact, that's how I get the majority of my listings - through referrals and repeat business. Now I can utilize that base to generate business.
I refuse to take a listing just to have my sign in the yard. There has to be a meeting of the minds between the seller and myself: an understanding that I will do my absolute best to sell their home for the most amount of money possible, in the least amount of time, with the least amount of headaches for the seller. What's the biggest warning sign for me? I first want to know that the client actually wants to sell the house, regardless of the market. Today's market, in particular, is a very difficult one for sellers; it's not for the faint of heart.
I come prepared with a well-developed sense of a home's worth, based on my study of the home sales in the area and the market in general. If a client and I cannot agree on a realistic price... if we can't agree that no showings in several weeks means the house is priced too high and needs to be adjusted... then I let them know that perhaps I am not the right agent for them. There's got to be trust on both sides, and if they're hiring me for my expertise, then they need to trust that I'm advising them correctly.
My firm beliefs:
- The only way to get an offer is to have people actually looking at the house.
- The only way to get showings is to have the property priced competitively.
- The only way to know what your home is truly worth is to get an offer or two - because a property is worth only what people are willing to pay for it.
Some sellers can't accept these points - particularly the last one; they've got a number in their minds that they won't budge from, no matter how unrealistic it may be. I'd rather not pound my head against a brick wall, and so, I may recommend that they interview another agent.
Pass up business? You bet! I work hard and agressively to sell my clients' homes; I expect the sellers to work just as hard and agressively with me. Those sellers who trust in my business savvy and my advice in most cases get their homes sold in weeks, not dragging on into many months or years.
And that's why my broad base of satisfied clients keeps getting bigger. And that's why I have time for a life as well as for work. And that's all the secrets I'm going to share with you today! ;)