Turn off the news: Going independent in this market?

Real Estate Agent with Park Place Homes

After working for RE/MAX for 11-1/2 years it was time to step out, step up, and step into my own independent office.  That's right...I opened up a brand new office right before the government bail outs and the fall of WaMu.  I never knew taking that step would draw so many dramatic comments from Realtors, friends, business associates, etc.  "Wow, you are brave!" or "Now?  In this market?"

Yes.  Now, in this market.  This market is only as bad as we let the news tell us it is.  I am not ignoring the economic conditions or the soft real estate market by any means.  Quite the contrary.  I am adapting to it and telling buyers and sellers how to adapt and overcome as well.  By supplying the tools to our clients, we empower them to get past the negative hype and move toward their goal of buying a home or selling a house. 

The biggest danger is not that the house won't sell.  The biggest danger is falling into the self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.  The onslaught of negativity can affect us as real estate agents to the core.  This is why I am turning off the news...just for a little while.  The negative slant is what sells to the population, so we need to take some time as accomplished Realtors to simply turn it off for awhile to find those positive forces to build success on.  Those who know me well, know I am not a cheerleader with inspirational quotes stuck up on my wall, or spewing from my lips on a daily basis.  I am however, a realist.  And reality hits hard sometimes.

I took time at this beginning of 2008 to evaluate my business.  It was not fun after the trials and tribulations of 2007.  If a job is not fun, then it is work.  I analyzed what went wrong and came up with two answers:  I let the seller dictate too much of how the house would be listed and I let the buyers dictate too much how the house was going to sell.  Let me explain.  The sellers were and are still trying to tell us, the professionals, what price they NEED to get.  On top of that, they were telling us, the professionals, what condition the house was going to be listed in (which generally did not line up with the condition we, the professionals, suggested the house should be in).  Are you seeing a pattern here? 

Next, in walks the buyer who sees themselves with the upper hand, in a buyer's market.  And they do have the upper hand.  There are more homes to show them, more competition, and therefore, buyers are trying for lower prices and are pickier about the house.  Who would blame them?  Now comes the home inspection.  Any reason to slash the price, or even walk away, surfaces here.  And it bubbles furiously to the top in an uncomfortable way. 

I analyzed and adapted to this market by making 3 simple requirements of my sellers.  One, we will acknowledge it is a buyers' market and because of that, we will cater to the buyer.  In order to cater to the buyer, the house must be in perfect condition.  I mean PERFECT.  Two, no lipstick on a pig here.  The house can't just look perfect.  Structurally and mechanically the house must also be perfect.  And finally, price the house in the right margin to sell in 60 days.  No more pricing based on need or want.  The house is worth what the market will bear.  Period.  You won't be surprised to know I turned down a fair amount of listings.  You also won't be surprised to know that I am at peace with that.

I overcame the market that took the fun out of my job in 2007 by contracting with a home stager on every listing.  The seller must agree to it and take reasonable efforts to create a masterpiece of their house.  They also had to agree to pre-inspect the home, or they would run the risk of me telling them, "I told you so."  (And I am not above that, by the way.)   If a seller will not take a vested interest in marketing their house, then neither will I.  I felt that was a fair deal.

My last 3 years in business have been 3 of my best producing years.  In 2007 I was down by 5% in gross commission.  Not bad, but disheartening when I see I was up 25% in transactions that did not close.  This year, my escrow fall outs are under control again, my average days on the market is almost 8 weeks less than the board average, and I am on target for another year close to the $200,000 mark in commissions earned.

In answer to the question, "Now?  In THIS market?"  Yes.  Now.  Welcome to Park Place Homes!

(You can visit us on the web at www.ParkPlaceHomesOnline.com)

Comments (75)

Margaret Mitchell
Coldwell Banker Yorke Realty - York, ME
Seacoast Maine & NH Real Estate

Congratulations on a great post and your busines decision.  You made some great points about how to handle these tough times and tough clients.

Oct 04, 2008 03:44 AM
Jason & Amber Gardner
Hasson Company, Realtors - Sherwood, OR
We're Committed to Your Success!

Good for you - You're making change and that is exactly what we need.  We're having a record breaking year because we don't let the market take a toll on us.  Look what happens when you just stick to the basics and get your job done.  What a great story, you WILL be successful.  If you were here, I'd even consider coming to your office - And I LOVE where I am.


Oct 04, 2008 03:51 AM
Sean Carroll
The Get Off Your A$$ Academy - Manhattan, NY
Real Estate Speaker and "Expert" Coach

congratulations and good for you for taking a risk and belieiving in yourself. With your great attitude, you will have NO trouble succeding and thriving in any market

Oct 04, 2008 04:26 AM
Tom Ikonomou Vancouver
RE/MAX City - Vancouver, BC
Pro-active Real Estate Marketing

Congrats on breaking through to the next level. I'm sure your experience will serve you well and guide you through any hoops you may encounter as an entreprenuer.

Oct 04, 2008 04:48 AM
Peter Vekselman
Coaching By Peter-Real Estate Investment Coach - Atlanta, GA
Real Estate Trainer and Coach


Bingo, you hit the nail on the head! First thing you did was analyze your business model and let's not forget this IS a serious business. This allowed you to figure out what was dragging your business down and fix it NOW.

As for the sellers, you absolutely have to take that stance or you will be throwing away good money on advertising and your precious time because the house will not sell if it is not priced right. ANY home will sell as long as the price is right and the fact that you are placing a time line on this and making your sellers follow suit is fantastic. I do agree having the home in perfect shape makes life alot easier when the buyers come around.

Sellers for the most part will respect those who take control in the way that you have, because unless they are just testing the market, the whole idea is to sell the home....right? Sometimes the sellers seem to miss this point, crazy as it seems.

When you weed out the tire kickers on the selling and buying side and get down to the business of selling real estate it is no wonder you are doing so well...Congrats to you for talking a stand.

Thanks for your Post Shelley

Peter Vekselman


Oct 04, 2008 05:02 AM
Scott Cowan
RE/MAX Professionals - Olympia, WA

Shelley- Congrats on the new business. I think you are really smart to be doing this at this point in the cycle. My brokerage is opening in January 09 so I will be right there with you!


Best of luck!



Oct 04, 2008 05:10 AM


Congrats!  You are an inspiration to many people!!!!!

My two partners, Antonella and Lindsey, and I  "jumped out of the balloon" - as one of your commentators pointed out - last year also!  it was the best decision we could have made.

Keep us posted on your progress!

Oct 04, 2008 05:13 AM
Rose Robinson
Coldwell Banker Wright Realty - Conway, NH

sorry forgot to log in first---my comment was the one that mentions "jumping out of balloon" and partners Antonella and Lindsey.  Good work Shelley!

Oct 04, 2008 05:18 AM
Pam Simpson
Bob Leigh & Assoc., LLC - Senatobia, MS
GRI, Broker-Assoc.

What a great attitude and inspiration!  You have given me the impetus I need to re-evaluate my goals and set a direction for next year.

Oct 04, 2008 05:37 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Shelley- Great success will follow I am sure.  You seem like you have the perfect work ethic and attitude to be an owner.  It will take a ton of hard work, but I bet you'll be loving it again in no time flat.  Takes the "job" right out of work when you love it.

Oct 04, 2008 06:03 AM
Ed & Cindy Knight
Rooms Realty - Shelby Township, MI

Shelley congrats...we too opened our own office in Feb of this year and heard the same thing. Here in Michigan as you know we are getting pretty beat up in the press but we ignore it and just keep working. Those that work and keep in control will end up on the other end of this market on top.

Best thing we ever did and we're having one of our best years ever. Again good luck from a fellow Michigander.

Oct 04, 2008 06:55 AM
Lynda Eisenmann
Preferred Home Brokers - Brea, CA
Broker-Owner,CRS,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co

Hi Shelly,

Your no-nonsense, competent approach is something I find refreshing. Sounds to me like you've analyzed your business exceedingly well. Good luck in your new endeavor!

BTW, I'm an independent broker-owner myself and have been so for 32 years.

Oct 04, 2008 07:14 AM
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Shelley ~ Congratulations to you for keeping such a positive attitude!  As a professional stager, I love what you said here:

"I overcame the market that took the fun out of my job in 2007 by contracting with a home stager on every listing.  The seller must agree to it and take reasonable efforts to create a masterpiece of their house." 

By partnering with a stager you are offering your clients one of the smartest marketing tools that an agent can provide.  Staged homes sell faster!  Good luck in your future endeavors, I'm sure you'll have another good year.

Oct 04, 2008 08:07 AM
Tamara Inzunza
Realty One Group Capital - Alexandria, VA
Close-In Alexandria and Arlington Living

You go girl!  See what happens when you take control of your business...and your life?  You start attracting the business that you want, and you continue to reap the benefits.  Thank you for your example.

Oct 04, 2008 08:59 AM
Leigh Newport
Staged by Design® - Leesburg, VA
Northern Virginia Home Staging

Congratulations, Shelley! I think you have an honest, straightforward approach, and I admire that! Owning my own business is scary enough, but my husband began a business of his own as of July 2008 as well. It can be so tempting to comprimise on things like your pricing in order to gain business in lean times, but you must remain true to who you are and your mission.

I recently worked with an agent who told me he beat out four other agents in order to get a listing that I provided a consultation for. I was there at the Broker's Open, and every agent loved the house and the staging, but felt that it was way overpriced. I have to wonder if he simply told the sellers what they wanted to hear, and listed the house at the inflated price. It's still on the market, by the way.

Good for you for being brave enough to turn away business if it makes sense for you. I also agree with Maureen-thank you for appreciating how partnering with a Stager can sell your homes faster.

Best of luck to you in the future.

Leigh Newport

Staged by Design






Oct 04, 2008 11:20 AM
Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International - Saint Petersburg, FL

Shelley - the move should ignite your passion and make real estate fun again.  Congratulations!

Oct 04, 2008 12:12 PM
Deb Brooks
Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas - Wichita Falls, TX

Shelley, Way to go! I did the very same thing just two years ago and have never regretted it. Congrats to you and the very best of luck. You will be a winner.

Later in the rain~Deb








Oct 04, 2008 12:26 PM
Everard Korthals
---Preferred Lifestyle Advisors--- - Lancaster, PA
Mountain Realty

Congratulations to your new business ventures. Sometimes starting your own company makes more sense. We certainly fall right in that category. We wish you the best in your future business endeavors and look forward to hearing more of your success stories here on the Rain. With 200,000 in yearly earnings you truly rank among the best in the country. Your hard work has certainly paid off!

Oct 04, 2008 05:55 PM
Marilyn Harrell
Better Homes and Acres - Beaverton, MI
Wixom Lake - Beaverton MI

Shelly, Congratulations, I sincerely applaud you and I know your company will grow and prosper. Health Wealth and Happiness now and in the coming year. Marilyn

Dec 08, 2008 04:20 AM
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

Just was checking back to see how the change was going? I see you are trying to recruit, hope that is going o as well.

Jan 11, 2009 09:14 AM