Being a strong listing agent is even more important now that our public has the capability to search a multitude of computerized databases of homes for sale and access a listing agent directly, bypassing any selling agent. The press of competition from other agents will be most apparent when you aspire to win a listing. Most sellers dutifully interview three agents. No matter who you are or what your accomplishments, you will not be right for everyone, so choose an approach that fits your personal style.
There are almost as many listing presentation formats as there are agents. There's the traditional two-step; and the wow ‘em and sign ‘em one-step. Indeed, there are a variety of themes:
• The lecture (great for ex-teachers)
• The personal resume (can be dull for others)
• The term paper approach (overwhelm them with pages)
• The "Ouuu-Ahhhh what a wonderful home you have" routine (OK gag, but it works)
• The unabashed "Here’s Why I’m Great" (if you didn’t have an inflated ego you’d be able to hold a real job)
• The "Look What I’ve Done" (for experienced agents only)
• The "Look What I Know" (please supply documentation)
• The "Look What I’ll Do" (for newcomers)
• The classic "I’m Your Friend" (read on)
Whatever you choose, be sure you are comfortable with it and don’t be afraid to experiment in order to find your best presentation.
Seasoned and successful agents will be able to wow the prospective seller with credentials that should carry the day. But there is an important lesson or two to be derived from the example of sellers who forego experience to hire a relatively inexperienced friend. This demonstrates two important conceptions. First and somewhat shocking, many home sellers do not recognize the depth of technical knowledge required to effectively conduct real estate business. Think back to when you were just a person, you yourself never believed there could be this much technology to real estate. We have a responsibility to help sellers recognize the inherent complexities, so incorporate some appropriate educational flavor into your listing presentation. Lesson One: Sellers do not always hire experience or any other quality, even if it seems to be in their best interest. They often view real estate agents as a commodity item with little or no differences from agent to agent. (Grains of sand rather than snowflakes. - No puns please.)
The second important lesson is that when sellers do forego experience to hire a friend, this often is an attempt to improve their comfort level. Does this indicate that there is a lack of comfort with, or lack of confidence in, an unknown real estate agent? In any event, it will be of great value if you are a friend of your sellers as well as having the experience and technical knowledge to do the job. Lesson Two: As you can not be a personal friend of every seller, it will be of great value if you behave as if you are a friend. Be friendly. Be a person. Listen. Understand. Be concerned. Be responsive. And for goodness sake, smile. In almost every case, they will not care what you know, so make sure they know that you care.
But back to the theme. Sellers are looking for an agent who will “find them a buyer.” They believe that someone with knowledge of their neighborhood and a dynamite marketing program will do just fine. A dynamite marketing program, you muse, have you got their number? Before you wax into your spiel, consider your chagrin if the seller were to ask you about the effectiveness of your program. That is, what percentage of the time is your dynamite program directly responsible for finding the buyer? It is a good idea right now to review the last ten listings you have sold and determine from whence cometh the buyer.
If you really had the magic formula, the majority of your listings would have been sold quickly through that one single technique. You would not even need a program, just that one bit of magic. Reflect on your personal experience of sold listings. In how many cases did your dynamite program directly result in landing a buyer? How often did the buyer come with another agent and how did that other agent learn of your listing? Chances are great that the MLS has been your biggest asset in finding buyers. Why is this? Serious home buyers do not waste time. They know how to find a home: Get an agent. It is a lot quicker than attending open houses or chasing real estate signs. It is likely you will find that over 90% of all homes are sold through your MLS. Investigate this idea in somewhat less personal terms and in a more statistically significant manner. Many computerized MLS systems record the selling broker as well as the listing broker, and sometimes even the individual agents, participating in a home sale. Review data on 200 or more recently sold properties to see how many times the listing agent personally produced the buyer. This can be accurately measured by how many times the listing agent (or alternatively, the listing office) sold their own listing.
Wow, the power of the MLS. If they all find out, we’ll have nothing to sell. Relax, we have much more to provide than information exchange. Let’s de-emphasize the entire marketing plan in our listing presentations. The modern presentation concentrates on the following facets:
• The importance of market value and its use in determining an asking price
• Determining a marketing strategy in view of the specific details at hand
• General market conditions, trends, and what to expect when one’s home is on the market
• The critical importance of negotiating the offer
• Your personal credentials that pertain to the factors above as they relate to this particular listing.
It bears repeating that the above information needs to be imparted in a spirit of friendship. As you work with sellers, ask yourself what they want and what they need. Very simply, they want you to find a buyer quickly, negotiate a contract that maximizes their return, and keep them out of real estate trouble, smiling and holding their hand all the while, even if they don’t know it. You will also need to feel genuine friendship toward them. Practice!
This article is excerpted from David Rathgeber's AGENT'S GUIDE to REAL ESTATE which is free online at http://www.davidr.net/AgentsGuide.html